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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 30 min 35 sec ago

EPO Uses Bunk ‘Study’ and Team UPC Uses Italy to Prop Up Delusions About the Unitary Patent

Saturday 25th of November 2017 06:40:23 AM

Corruption bred by EPO reminiscent of other scandals


Reference: Germany Rocked By Allegations of Ph.D. Bribes

Summary: In spite of so-called ‘progress’ in Italy, as claimed by Team UPC and AIPPI (villainous lobby), the UPC is dead in every country that matters other than Battistelli’s France

THE EPO just cannot help itself. The UPC is dead/dying, so the EPO has corrupted academia, allegedly in order to pressure courts. Having already corrupted the media (bribes and threats), Battistelli’s Office resorts to actions that insult the very background of many examiners. His latest ‘study’ is already being debunked. It’s propaganda ‘dressed up’ as something scholarly and those footing the bill are stakeholders who are being lied to.

“Having already corrupted the media (bribes and threats), Battistelli’s Office resorts to actions that insult the very background of many examiners.”Yesterday, the EPO yet again pushed this propaganda, as it had been doing every day for the past week or so. “This study [sic] assesses the role of the European patent system in supporting the circulation of inventions through trade & foreign direct investment,” the EPO wrote. But as even some people in the area argued, it’s flawed. “Seems to rely on dodgy assumption about stronger patent protection leading to greater trade and inward investment,” David Pearce wrote about it. He is a former ‘Kat’.

It’s not hard to see that Team UPC and Team Battistelli presently scrape the bottom of the barrel. If they corrupt some academics in the process, so be it. I happened to have a conversation about such corruption of academia less than a day ago. A very senior academic (Head of Centre) told me that this issue had become worryingly rampant. Academics are basically being paid (bribed) to produce lies. Such is the case with the EPO here, along with LSE and others.

“Academics are basically being paid (bribed) to produce lies. Such is the case with the EPO here, along with LSE and others.”Both Team Battistelli and Team UPC have corrupted the media, but as far as we’re aware, only Team Battistelli also corrupts academia.

Looking at the latest talking point from Team UPC, it’s about Italy. it is ignoring all the hard barriers and pretending — already — that Milan replaces London and all is therefore fine and dandy. Self-delusion.

“Looking at the latest talking point from Team UPC, it’s about Italy.”Bristows’ Gregory Bacon wrote: “A local division of the UPC will be in Milan (in an existing court building at via San Barnaba 50, which has potential for expansion), and Milan is also a potential location for the central division’s business currently allocated to London, if the UK cannot participate in the UPC following Brexit (see here).”

Team UPC in Italy said: “The Italian Parliament approved the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of Unified Patent Court.”

AIPPI wrote: “One more step to #UPC: Italian Parliament approved Protocol on Privileges and Immunities…”

But the issue is not Italy. Italian isn’t even an official language for the UPC. Italy does not have so many EPs. So the above is designed to distract or to shift attention. Bristows’ Brian Cordery, who has been pretty much invisible lately, chose to cover an entirely different topic yesterday and Bristows staff inside IP Kat has said absolutely nothing about the UPC for months.

“But the issue is not Italy. Italian isn’t even an official language for the UPC.”FFII’s Benjamin Henrion has meanwhile updated the petition against UPC and wrote: “In need of people in the UK to oppose the UPC monster next wesdnesday, an undemocratic agreement with software patents backdoor…”

We very much doubt any progress can be made on this in the UK. The subject/agenda has been repeatedly shelved (not that Team UPC mentioned that) and it’s no better in Germany. Without both countries giving the green light, nothing is going to happen and due to Brexit talks it can take years for any substantial progress. Battistelli is leaving in just 7 months.

Battistelli’s Home Country, France (Where He is a Politician in Defiance of the Rules), is a Patent Troll

Saturday 25th of November 2017 06:03:52 AM

Quite shamelessly, and not just privately like Alcatel-Lucent and Technicolor

Summary: Academic paper from Dr. Thibault Schrepel‏ highlights the disturbing role played by French patent trolls that would certainly benefit from something like UPC in Paris (which Battistelli lobbies hard for)

THIS scholarly paper [PDF] from Dr. Thibault Schrepel‏ was sort of recalled yesterday when its author said that “the French state still has its public patent troll, @FranceBrevets. Let’s not forget.”

“As a reminder, IAM spent years whitewashing France Brevets, as it does pretty much every troll, including Technicolor (we wrote many article about that).”“My paper on the subject,” he said, is actually 3 years old. He then mentioned a written unanswered question on the subject. Here are the conclusions from the 9-page publication:

France Brevets is a public patent troll which, under the guise of protecting French innovation, creates well-­‐documented destructive effects on R&D. In sum, France Brevets reproduces the illusion of protectionism in the field of intellectual property.

In addition, its public nature reinforces the risk to see European states fight against each other, which would be extremely damaging to the European innovation. Plus, we believe that the creation of France Brevets is not only harmful, but illegal.

The initial endowment of France Brevets was conducted as part of the “future investment program”. Indeed, if the future is to kill innovation in Europe, France Brevets is a terrific investment.

Pay attention to how the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, then creeps into the comments and ‘interrogates’ the author. As a reminder, IAM spent years whitewashing France Brevets, as it does pretty much every troll, including Technicolor (we wrote many articles about that).

IAM’s intervention there serves to suggest that Schrepel‏ strikes a nerve and it may or may not be related to the EPO under Battistelli (which works closely with IAM). As we mentioned in past years, Battistelli’s helping hand to trolls’ agenda cannot be ignored and it goes even further than the UPC. EPO staff ought to raise more questions about these matters. Who does Battistelli really work for and serves?

“IAM’s intervention there serves to suggest that Schrepel‏ strikes a nerve and it may or may not be related to the EPO under Battistelli (which works closely with IAM).”As a side note/footnote, yesterday afternoon Alberto Casado (Team Battistelli) got mentioned in relation to EPI, which criticised Battistelli and then deleted its own criticism. Marks & Clerk, a bunch of UPC boosters, showed how EPI had reacted to the thug, Battistelli, along with his controversial (harmful) practices. Stephen Blake wrote: “An innovative economy is something to be celebrated, but increased numbers of patent applications can cause problems for intellectual property offices tasked with examining them. It has long been known that the European Patent Office (EPO) has a large backlog of patent applications to examine, with applicants waiting years to receive a first examination report. At the meeting of the EPI Council last week in Warsaw, I learned of a new proposal presented to Council by Alberto Casado, Vice President of the EPO, for tackling this backlog. If implemented in its proposed form then it is likely to have implications for applicants, but most notably for third parties who may be significantly disadvantaged. [...] Council discussed the matter at some length and the view of the current proposal was broadly negative. Indeed, many were against any form of deferment of examination at all. Chris Mercer, former (and likely next) Chairman of the European Patent Practice Committee of the EPI will be submitting a letter to the EPO giving Council’s views and requesting reconsideration of the proposals where necessary.”

We eagerly await that.

Raw: The EPO’s Elodie Bergot Suppressed Staff Representation While Cracking Down on Staff’s Rights

Saturday 25th of November 2017 05:16:56 AM

Full PDF

Related and very recent: The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) is Rightly Upset If Not Shocked at What Battistelli and Bergot Are Doing to the Office

Summary: Early suppressions against staff communications which were perfectly legitimate and necessary for ensuring the security of EPO staff and their rights

Links 24/11/2017: Mesa 17.2.6 RC, KDevelop 5.2.1

Saturday 25th of November 2017 04:45:59 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Products Over Projects

    However, projects are not the only way of funding and organizing software development. For instance, many companies that sell software as a product or a service do not fund or organize their core product/platform development in the form of projects. Instead, they run product development and support using near-permanent teams for as long as the product is sold in the market. The budget may vary year on year but it is generally sufficient to fund a durable, core development organization continuously for the life of the product. Teams are funded to work on a particular business problem or offering over a period of time; with the nature work being defined by a business problem to address rather than a set of functions to deliver. We call this way of working as “product-mode” and assert that it is not necessary to be building a software product in order to fund and organize software development like this.

  • Why we never thank open source maintainers

    It is true that some of you guys can build a tool in a hackathon, but maintaining a project is a lot more difficult than building a project. Most of the time they are not writing code, but [...]

  • Events
    • Free software in the snow

      There are an increasing number of events for free software enthusiasts to meet in an alpine environment for hacking and fun.

      In Switzerland, Swiss Linux is organizing the fourth edition of the Rencontres Hivernales du Libre in the mountain resort of Saint-Cergue, a short train ride from Geneva and Lausanne, 12-14 January 2018. The call for presentations is still open.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Can the new Firefox Quantum regain its web browser market share?

        When Firefox was introduced in 2004, it was designed to be a lean and optimized web browser, based on the bloated code from the Mozilla Suite. Between 2004 and 2009, many considered Firefox to be the best web browser, since it was faster, more secure, offered tabbed browsing and was more customizable through extensions than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. When Chrome was introduced in 2008, it took many of Firefox’s best ideas and improved on them. Since 2010, Chrome has eaten away at Firefox’s market share, relegating Firefox to a tiny niche of free software enthusiasts and tinkerers who like the customization of its XUL extensions.

        According to StatCounter, Firefox’s market share of web browsers has fallen from 31.8% in December 2009 to just 6.1% today. Firefox can take comfort in the fact that it is now virtually tied with its former arch-nemesis, Internet Explorer and its variants. All of Microsoft’s browsers only account for 6.2% of current web browsing according to StatCounter. Microsoft has largely been replaced by Google, whose web browsers now controls 56.5% of the market. Even worse, is the fact that the WebKit engine used by Google now represents over 83% of web browsing, so web sites are increasingly focusing on compatibility with just one web engine. While Google and Apple are more supportive of W3C and open standards than Microsoft was in the late 90s, the web is increasingly being monopolized by one web engine and two companies, whose business models are not always based on the best interests of users or their rights.

      • Firefox Nightly Adds CSD Option

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Firefox 57 is awesome — so awesome that I’m finally using it as my default browser again.

        But there is one thing it the Linux version of Firefox sorely needs: client-side decoration.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • 5 new OpenStack resources

      As OpenStack has continued to mature and move from the first stages of adoption to use in production clouds, the focus of the OpenStack community has shifted as well, with more focus than ever on integrating OpenStack with other infrastructure projects. Today’s cloud architects and engineers need to be familiar with a wide range of projects and how they might be of use in their data center, and OpenStack is often the glue stitching the different pieces together.

  • Programming/Development
    • An introduction to the Django ORM

      One of the most powerful features of Django is its Object-Relational Mapper (ORM), which enables you to interact with your database, like you would with SQL. In fact, Django’s ORM is just a pythonical way to create SQL to query and manipulate your database and get results in a pythonic fashion. Well, I say just a way, but it’s actually really clever engineering that takes advantage of some of the more complex parts of Python to make developers’ lives easier.

    • Hey, Coders! Google India Is Offering 130,000 Free Developer Scholarships — Here’s How To Apply
    • Google to prepare 1.3 lakh Indians for emerging technologies

      “The new scholarship programme is in tandem with Google’s aim to train two million developers in India. The country is the second largest developer ecosystem in the world and is bound to overtake the US by 2021,” William Florance, Developer Products Group and Skilling Lead for India, Google, told reporters here.

    • Google puts a little of Apple’s Swift in its future OS

      On what appears to be a quest to dump Linux, Google is allegedly developing a new mobile OS called “Fuchsia”. We don’t know much about the OS. We don’t know if it will replace Android, Chrome, or turn out to be some other kind of animal. We have been told it could potentially run computers as well as smartphones.

Leftovers
  • The incredible inventiveness of Hedy Lamarr

    Her own family believed she died without telling her full story; obituaries devoted scant space to her inventions. Ms Dean was determined to try and correct that and make Lamarr the narrator of her own story. After some tenacious digging, that became possible: Fleming Meeks, a staff writer at Forbes in the 1990s, said that he had been “waiting 25 years for someone to call me about Hedy Lamarr, because I have the tapes.” In these audio recordings, Lamarr laments the lack of recognition that her invention, and her intellect generally, received. It provides the backbone of the film, and brings to life Lamarr’s beguiling persona.

  • Science
    • IceCube turns the planet into a giant neutrino detector

      Neutrinos are one of the most plentiful particles out there, as trillions pass through you every second. But they’re incredibly hard to work with. They’re uncharged, so we can’t control their path or accelerate them. They’re also nearly massless and barely interact with other matter, so they’re hard to detect. All of this means that a lot of the predictions our physics theories make about neutrinos are hard to test.

      The IceCube detector, located at the South Pole, has now confirmed a part of the Standard Model of physics, which describes the properties of fundamental particles and their interactions. According to the Standard Model, neutrinos should become more likely to interact with other particles as their energy goes up. To test this, the IceCube team used neutrinos thousands of times more energetic than our best particle accelerators can make and used the entire planet as a target.

  • Security
    • Firefox “Breach Alerts” Will Warn If You Visit A ‘Hacked’ Website

      One more thing is coming to add to the capabilities of the recently released Firefox 57 aka Firefox Quantum.

      Mozilla is working on a new feature for Firefox, dubbed Breach Alerts, which will warn users when they visit a website, whether it was hacked in the past or not.

    • GCHQ: change your passwords now even if Uber says it contained the breach

      Uber claims to have paid $100,000 to secure 57 million accounts exposed in a breach last year, but the UK’s spy agency, GCHQ, suggests consumers don’t place too much faith in Uber’s claim.

      The GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on Thursday published guidance for Uber users, reminding those affected by the firm’s just revealed 2016 breach they should take precautionary action even if their personal details may not have been compromised.

      The agency warned that Uber drivers and riders should “immediately change passwords” that were used for Uber.

    • Drive-By Phishing Scams Race Toward Uber Users

      Indeed, hardly any time elapsed after Uber came clean Tuesday about the year-old breach it had concealed before crack teams of social engineers unleashed appropriately themed phishing messages designed to bamboozle the masses (see Fast and Furious Data Breach Scandal Overtakes Uber).

    • EU authorities consider creating data breach justice league to tackle uber hack

      Multiple investigations prompted by Uber’s admission that it concealed a hack could join together for one big mega-probe into the incident.

      An EU working group which has responsibility for data protection will decide next week whether to co-ordinate different investigations taking place in the UK, Italy, Austria, Poland and the Netherlands.

    • Intel Didn’t Heed Security Experts Warnings About ME [Ed: Intel refused to speak about back doors until it became too mainstream a topic, then pretended it's a "bug"]

      For nearly eight years, the chip maker has been turning a deaf ear on security warnings about the wisdom of Intel Management Engine.

    • Necurs botnet spreading new strain of Windows ransomware

      The Internet’s biggest spam botnet Necurs has been spreading a strain of Windows ransomware known as Scarab over the last two days, security companies say.

    • Will Uber’s Data Breach Cover-up be the Final Straw for Its Most Loyal Users?
    • Uber contributing to growth of cyber crime: claim

      “In opting to not only cover up the breach, but actually pay the hackers [sic], Uber has directly contributed to the growth of cyber crime and the company needs to be held accountable for this.”

    • Intel is dropping support for legacy BIOS

      The UEFI Class 3 system will remove support for this software module, thereby ending support for any non-64-bit operating systems or software. As noted by Anandtech, it’ll also mean that any non-compliant older hardware, such as graphics cards, network cards and some storage adaptors, would also stop working.

    • Massive Intel ME Bugs Threaten Millions Of Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Panasonic, Fujitsu Computers

      The downsides of the Intel ME chips have already alarmed the security community. The recent addition to the threat was revealed in the security advisory published by Intel earlier this week.

      After doing an in-depth security review of their products, Intel found a pool of eight critical privilege escalation vulnerabilities affecting Intel Management Engine (ME), Trusted Execution Engine (TXE), and Server Platform Services (SPS), the company said.

    • HP patches severe code execution bug in enterprise printers

      HP has issued firmware patches to fix a security flaw which allowed attackers to perform remote code execution attacks on enterprise-grade printers.

      FoxGlove Security researchers issued an advisory disclosing the technical details of the bug, CVE-2017-2750, earlier this week.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • 7 Things to Know About the Changing Security Landscape

      This year saw dozens of massive data breaches — and 2017 isn’t over yet. It also saw record investments in security startups, with at least 20 in the $40 million and up range. Older IT giants like Cisco and IBM boosted their revenues from newer security businesses as well. With the size and scope of attacks expected to increase exponentially, security spending probably won’t drop anytime soon. Cybersecurity Ventures puts it at a $1 trillion market from 2017 to 2021.

    • TNS Guide: How to Manage Passwords and Keep Your Online Accounts Secure
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Saudi Arabia still blocking aid to Yemen despite pledge to lift siege

      Aid agencies said Saudi Arabia had not fulfilled its promise to reopen humanitarian aid corridors into northern Yemen on Thursday, leaving the main aid lifeline closed for tens of thousands of starving people.

      Following intense pressure from western governments, Saudi Arabia agreed on Wednesday to lift a fortnight-long blockade of the port of Hodeida from noon (9am GMT) on Thursday, but more than eight hours after the deadline, aid agencies said no permissions for humanitarian shipments had been given.

      A UN source in Yemen said: “We have submitted the request to bring in aid, as we have every day, but there has been nothing. At this stage, we do not know the reason for the delay.”

    • Trump Administration Plays Media Like Fiddle on Iran/HBO Hacking Story

      All of these reports were 36–48 hours after the Post broke the story that the targeting of Iranian nationals was a deliberate political ploy by Trump to single out their alleged crimes for the entirely unrelated purposes of stoking a war panic, imposing harsher sanctions, and doing what the administration has long—and quite openly—wanted to do: get out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Deal. But none of these reports mention this crucial piece of context, context that would put the sensational headlines about Iranians hijacking our precious pop culture assets into proper perspective.

      Most of the articles had a throwaway line explaining that Justice wasn’t technically implicating the Iranian government, but it was heavily implied they were involved, with citations of the defendant’s “links” to the Iranian military, and one or two paragraphs devoted to previous Iranian and North Korean government hacks.

      After noting the alleged hacker had “previously worked as a hacker for the Iranian military,“ and spending roughly 100 words on historical examples of government’s hacking, LA Times’ Ryan Faughnder did note in paragraph 11 that “the indictment did not say the Iranian government was behind the HBO hack.”

      The Daily News skipped the caveat all together and strongly suggested the defendant was working on behalf of the Iranian government, writing he was a “member of the Iran-supported Turk Black Hat Security team” and “had worked on behalf of the Iranian armed forces to attack military and nuclear software systems, as well as Israeli infrastructure.” The DoJ’s reluctant admission that he had no connection to the government didn’t merit a mention.

    • Oxford Circus Tube station: Police reopen Tube stations after alert

      The British Transport Police said it received reports of gunfire on the westbound Central Line platform, at Oxford Circus.

      “This caused a significant level of panic which resulted in numerous calls from members of the public reporting gunfire,” the force said.

      Police said additional officers will remain on duty in the West End to reassure the public.

      BBC reporter Helen Bushby said she had seen a “mass stampede” of people running away from the station in the panic.

    • Friedman’s Love Letter to a War Criminal

      It would be more accurate to say that only a fool would be so quick to take all of this at face value. I don’t see the news value in having a prominent columnist working as a foreign leader’s publicist, but it is extremely useful for the crown prince to be given a major platform to deliver his spin to someone who will uncritically endorse it. There is practically nothing in the long profile that might displease its subject, whose assurances are taken as proof that he is the zealous “reformer” that his cheerleaders say that he is. Friedman tells us that he couldn’t find anyone with a bad word to say about MBS’ purges, as if anyone there would feel free to do so after the dramatic mass arrests that the crown prince has orchestrated.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Virginia Governor Defies Trump on Paris Climate Deal, Pushes Investments in Solar & Wind

      At the U.N. Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany, a number of U.S. senators, mayors and governors staged a defiant anti-Trump revolt. The lawmakers were part of a coalition of cities, universities, faith groups and companies who attended the U.N. climate summit to reject Trump’s vow to pull the U.S. out of the Paris deal and instead proclaim “We Are Still In.” We spoke with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

    • Special Episode on Climate Disruption

      As Americans celebrate a fairly tale about the relationship between Native Americans and settlers, actual Native Americans are mourning the pollution of more of their land, and lives, by fossil fuels. The November 16 spill of more than 200,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone pipeline occurred adjacent to the South Dakota reservation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe. The inevitability of such spills is, of course, only one of many reasons millions of people resist pipelines.

    • Judge: Lawsuit challenging Keystone pipeline can continue

      A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a bid by the Donald Trump administration to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges a presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

      U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls, Montana, dismissed U.S. Justice Department arguments that the court had no authority to second-guess the cross-border permit that was issued by the State Department.

      Morris also rejected motions by TransCanada Corp., the company behind the project, to dismiss the suit.

    • Trump Resists Progress on Global Warming

      With petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch paying many of the GOP’s bills these days, it’s no wonder conservative policymakers are pushing hard to protect dirty fossil fuels against competition from clean, renewable energy. But entrepreneurial capitalists whom conservatives claim to worship are fighting back, slashing costs for wind and solar power to the point where few customers can refuse them.

    • The Fires This Time

      But the politicians don’t. They see fire as an opportunity for plunder. Sonny Perdue and his wrecking crew at the Agriculture Department, which through a bureaucratic quirk controls the Forest Service, are portraying old-growth trees as standing weapons of mass destruction. Taking the Vietnam approach to the National Forests, which Perdue calls the “woodbasket of the world,” Perdue intends to save the forest by clearcutting it, without any restraint from troubling environmental laws. “We’re not going to roll over at every ‘boo’ from the environmentalists,” he vowed in Montana in July. How convenient for the timber industry.

  • Finance
    • The Forks and Fights Behind Bitcoin’s Turbulence
    • The YouTube Celebrity Taking the H-1B Fight Public
    • Black Friday loses its luster as people opt for alternatives

      All 12,000 or so REI employees are given a paid holiday on Black Friday and encouraged to “opt outside” — which is also the name of the campaign REI started in conjunction with the Black Friday closure.

      Park districts are encouraging what has become a movement of people seeking respite in the outdoors over indoor shopping trips. The East Bay Regional Park District has made the day after Thanksgiving its annual free park entrance day — dubbing it “Green Friday.”

    • Workers at Amazon’s main Italian hub, German warehouses strike on Black Friday

      Unions said in a statement more than 500 Amazon workers at the Piacenza site in northern Italy had agreed to strike following a failure to negotiate bonuses with the company.

    • DNA Exclusive: Post demonetization, Bitcoins new ‘black’ in property market

      Investigation conducted by DNA, which included attending several meetings where cryptocurrency was being hard-sold, especially as an investment option, shows that cryptocurrency is fast replacing the cash — read black — component in real estate deals.

    • Value of London’s parks revealed as green spaces boost house price by up to £500k

      London’s public parks are worth a combined £91 billion and living near a green space can boost the value of home by as much as £500,000, according to a new report published today.

      A fifth of Greater London is designated as public parkland, but there are huge disparities over access to green spaces across the capital’s 33 local authorities. Richmond is the greenest borough with 41 per cent of it classified as public green space, followed by Merton (29 per cent), Hounslow (28 per cent), and Hackney and Waltham Forest (both 26 per cent).

    • How to get out of a gigantic mess – of Brexit, citizens assemblies, and popular sovereignty

      The UK is in a mess thanks to an ill-defined ‘Leave’ option in the Brexit vote. More genuine popular sovereignty could have prevented the mess – and could yet get us out of it.

    • Will Brexit upset the City’s ‘democratic’ plans?

      A shadowy network of lobby groups work hard to keep the City of London at the heart of global finance. But has Brexit spoiled the party?

    • Jeremy Corbyn tears into the Tories over incoherent Brexit bumbling

      A frequent criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and the revitalised, principled, post-Blair Labour Party is their lack of clarity on Brexit — some speculated that Corbyn felt that Brexit would, at least, allow for re-nationalisation of privatised industries, something the EU might block — but at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Corbyn shredded Theresa May and the Tories with a series of relentless, devastating questions about the slow-motion train-wreck that is the Tories’ bungling handling of Brexit.

      Polly Toynbee’s postmortem on the Prime Minister and Exchequer’s humiliating performances and Corbyn’s sea-change sounds very plausible to me: noting that the EU was sold in part by guaranteeing neoliberal financial deregulation and the essential role of the EU in imposing brutal austerity to working people in order to ensure capital flows to bondholders (in Greece, Spain and elsewhere), Toynbee hypothesises that Corbyn has an instinctive “‘capitalist club’ Euroscepticism”, but that this has been overriden by the views of Corbyn’s base in the party’s youth wing and the trade unions.

    • Ethereum Price Crosses $400 To Reach An All-Time High

      Following the footsteps of Bitcoin, Ethereum cryptocurrency has been increasing at a rapid pace in the past few days. As a result of this rise, Ethereum has crossed the $400 mark to reach an all-time high price of $414.90.

    • Morocco’s Bitcoin Ban Would Result in Financial Censorship

      Governments all over the world are being forced to pay attention to cryptocurrency all of a sudden. With officials scrambling to draft regulatory guidelines, we may see some interesting developments in the coming months. Over in Morocco, things are not looking all that great, as the country’s government may soon move to ban cryptocurrency. As is usually the case, enforcing such a ban will be pretty difficult.

    • Foolish consistency: Spain’s Kosovo-Catalonia conundrum

      By equating Kosovo with Catalonia, Spanish leaders reveal themselves as unable to distinguish between legitimate aspirations for self-rule and destabilizing separatism.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Public Are All Alone: Understanding How The Enemy Of Your Enemy Is Not Your Friend

      Most of the American public have been successfully deceived by the ‘news’media, and by the ‘history’-books (likewise published by agents for the aristocracy), to believe that the U.S. Government serves the public-interest, and not the interest of the centi-millionaires and especially billionaires, who finance political campaigns.

    • Top Trump aides didn’t file required financial reports after leaving WH: report
    • Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

      Bannon, for example, was supposed to sell his $1 million to $5 million stake in the company Cambridge Analytica while he served in the administration as part of his ethics agreement but it’s unclear whether he sold the stake.

    • Mike Flynn business partner Bijan Kian now subject of Mueller probe

      A former business associate of Michael Flynn has become a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his role in the failure of Flynn’s former lobbying firm to disclose its work on behalf of foreign governments, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

      Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have questioned multiple witnesses in recent weeks about his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey. The grand jury convened for the investigation will soon have a chance to question some of those witnesses, the sources say.

    • Former National Security Advisor has cut all legal ties with Trump administration in sign he may be cooperating with Mueller

      A lawyer for former national security adviser Michael Flynn has told President Donald Trump’s legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

      The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation or negotiate a deal for himself.

      The decision was communicated this week, said a person familiar with the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

    • Here Are the White House Visitor Records the Trump Administration Didn’t Want You to See

      The Trump White House tried to block public access to visitor logs of five federal offices working directly for the president even though they were subject to public disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act. Property of the People, a Washington-based transparency group, successfully sued the administration to release the data and provided the documents to ProPublica.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Google will downrank Russian state news agencies

      Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, says the problem is largely down to Russia Today and Sputnik, and that the company is “trying to engineer the systems to prevent it”. Speaking at an event in Halifax, Canada, he said that Russia’s disinformation strategy should prove easy to tackle as it hinges on “amplification around a message”, and that such patterns can be detected and therefore “taken down or deprioritised”. He firmly denied simply banning the news sites, saying the focus is on using Google’s skill in algorithms and ranking. “We don’t want to ban the sites. That’s not how we operate. I am strongly not in favor of censorship. I am very strongly in favor of ranking. It’s what we do.”

    • Inspired by censorship: The Rubber Lady

      In October 1978, the New Mexico Museum of Art was to host its first exhibition of installation art — titled, simply, Installations — as part of the citywide Santa Fe Festival of Arts. But the exhibition, curated by MaLin Wilson-Powell, never opened. During the installation process, Bradford Smith’s piece — a pair of humanoid rubber figures connected by a long rubber hose to a separate installation by Doris Cross — was deemed obscene by the powers that be, and Smith was asked to remove it. An uproar ensued, with some of the artists pulling their work from the show in protest and others getting caught in the middle. One proposed solution by the museum’s administration was to display Smith’s work in the men’s basement restroom, with a sign to warn museumgoers about the potentially objectional viewing material behind the door. The artist said no, and the show was canceled.

    • ‘We live in a time of strict censorship, there is no freedom of speech’: Actor Rohini

      Censorship is not just for cinema but literature too in contemporary India, National Award-winning actor Rohini said on Friday, while also claiming that the chaos following protests against “Padmavati” was also being used to divert attention from “real” crises in the country.

    • IFFI 2017: Padmavati protests a ploy to divert attention from real issues, says actress-filmmaker Rohini

      Censorship is not just affecting cinema but literature as well in contemporary India, National award-winning actress and filmmaker Rohini said on Friday.

      She said the chaos following protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati was being used to divert attention from real crises in the country.

    • Love, rape and censorship take the stage at the NCPA

      A poet, jailed for his words, uses iCloud to share his banned verse across social media, in a timely comment on freedom, creativity and censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Federal Judge Lauds But Dismisses High-Profile Lawsuit Against NSA Surveillance

      Judge Richard Leon of United States District Court of the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction in December 2013 and described the technology used for the NSA program as “almost Orwellian.” But twice, in 2014 and 2015, the federal appeals court in the same circuit sent the lawsuit back to the district court, asserting plaintiffs did not meet the “burden of proof” necessary to sue. Each time the appeals court avoided key constitutional issues.

    • As DOJ calls for “responsible encryption,” expert asks “responsible to whom?”

      In recent months, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has emerged as the government’s top crusader against strong encryption.

      “We have an ongoing dialogue with a lot of tech companies in a variety of different areas,” he recently told Politico Pro. “There [are] some areas where they are cooperative with us. But on this particular issue of encryption, the tech companies are moving in the opposite direction. They’re moving in favor of more and more warrant-proof encryption.”

    • 482 Popular Websites Are Recording Your Every Keystroke And Mouse Movements

      Most of you might be knowing that the websites you visit use third-party analytics scripts to record your visits and the pages you open. This anonymous statistics collection is pretty standard stuff. However, in recent past, there has been an increase in the number of sites using “session replay” scripts, which can record your keystrokes, mouse clicks, scrolling, etc., and send them to third-party servers. This data is used to record and playback of individual browsing sessions.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Education, Islam and Criticality

      The intersection of Islam and education is a fragile, difficult place. On the one hand is a great and humane educational tradition, stretching back to world centres of learning in Baghdad, Cairo, Fes, Nissapur, Qum, Samarkand and Herat, among many other cities that flourished while Rome was a dangerous, sheep-infested ruin and London a small, unhygienic port. On the other is the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism and the widely shared sense that in some way education is one of its motors, and one of several keys to understanding, confronting and defusing it.

    • Conservatives have a breathtaking plan for Trump to pack the courts

      Conservatives have a new court-packing plan, and in the spirit of the holiday, it’s a turducken of a scheme: a regulatory rollback hidden inside a civil rights reversal stuffed into a Trumpification of the courts. If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years (325). American law will never be the same.

    • For Some Victims, Reporting a Rape Can Bring Doubt, Abuse — and Even Prosecution

      The women accusing the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct have faced doubt and derision. Other women, who have alleged sexual assault or harassment by powerful men in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and elsewhere, have become targets for online abuse or had their careers threatened. Harvey Weinstein went so far as to hire ex-Mossad operatives to investigate the personal history of the actress Rose McGowan, to discourage her from publicly accusing him of rape.

      There are many reasons for women to think twice about reporting sexual assault. But one potential consequence looms especially large: They may also be prosecuted.

      This month, a retired police lieutenant in Memphis, Tennessee, Cody Wilkerson, testified, as part of a lawsuit against the city, not only that police detectives sometimes neglected to investigate cases of sexual assault but also that he overheard the head of investigative services in the city’s police department say, on his first day in charge: “The first thing we need to do is start locking up more victims for false reporting.” It’s an alarming choice of priorities — and one that can backfire.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Investigation of fake net neutrality foes has been stymied by the FCC, New York attorney general says

      The reports started trickling out in May, in the weeks after the Federal Communications Commission had begun soliciting public comments on a proposal to repeal net neutrality rules that govern the flow of information on the Internet.

      A large number of messages lambasting the Obama-era regulation began appearing on the FCC’s public forum with the same text. While it is not unusual for commenters to use form letters provided by activist groups, people began complaining they hadn’t submitted the comments that carried their names and identifying information.

    • UK advertising watchdog cracks down on ‘misleading’ broadband speeds

      The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced on Thursday that, from next year, ISPs will only be able to advertise “average” download speeds if at least 50 per cent of customers are able to receive them during the peak times of 8pm and 10pm.

    • Think the internet is doomed? Kim Dotcom has an idea

      Exactly what form MegaNet will take – and more importantly, what sort of security will be implemented, is still unknown at this stage but Dotcom has revealed that it’ll be a non-IP based system.

    • Looming Net Neutrality Repeal Sparks BitTorrent Throttling Fears

      The FCC is determined to repeal US net neutrality rules. If this happens, Internet providers will have the freedom to restrict or charge for access to certain sites and services, if they please. It also means BitTorrent throttling and blocking could become commonplace again, which would set us back a good ten years.

    • Americans are spending Thanksgiving fighting for net neutrality
    • The US net neutrality fight affects the whole world

      This seemingly internal fight overflows US borders in a number of important ways. Here are the two key aspects that trouble me, as someone who doesn’t reside in the US but interacts with a panoply of its internet services as a matter of daily and professional routine

    • Canada and the U.S. stand divided at the crossroads of net neutrality

      Unlike the United States, Canada has emerged as a world leader in supporting net neutrality with clear endorsements from both political leaders and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Navdeep Bains, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, responded to the U.S. developments by affirming that “Canada will continue to stand for diversity and freedom of expression. Our government remains committed to the principles of net neutrality.”

    • America Won’t Forget Net Neutrality Over Thanksgiving

      The FCC has managed to turn net neutrality into a dinner table issue: 200,000 people have called Congress in the past 24 hours.

    • AT&T and Comcast lawsuit has nullified a city’s broadband competition law

      AT&T and Comcast have convinced a federal judge to nullify an ordinance that was designed to bring more broadband competition to Nashville, Tennessee.

      The Nashville Metro Council last year passed a “One Touch Make Ready” rule that gives Google Fiber or other new ISPs faster access to utility poles. The ordinance lets a single company make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself, instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires.

      AT&T and Comcast sued the metro government in US District Court in Nashville, claiming that federal and local laws preempt the One Touch Make Ready rule. Judge Victoria Roberts agreed with AT&T and Comcast in a ruling issued Tuesday.

  • DRM
    • How four Microsoft engineers proved that the “darknet” would defeat DRM

      By itself, the paper’s clever and provocative argument likely would have earned it a broad readership. But the really remarkable thing about the paper is who wrote it: four engineers at Microsoft whose work many expected to be at the foundation of Microsoft’s future DRM schemes. The paper’s lead author told Ars that the paper’s pessimistic view of Hollywood’s beloved copy protection schemes almost got him fired. But ten years later, its predictions have proved impressively accurate.

      The paper predicted that as information technology gets more powerful, it will grow easier and easier for people to share information with each other. Over time, people will assemble themselves into what the authors called the “darknet.” The term encompasses formal peer-to-peer networks such as Napster and BitTorrent, but it also includes other modes of sharing, such as swapping files over a local area network or exchanging USB thumb drives loaded with files.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Google & Apple Order Telegram to Nuke Channel Over Taylor Swift Piracy

        Popular instant messaging service Telegram has for the first time blocked access to an entire channel following pressure from Google and Apple. It’s understood that following complaints from Universal Music, that the channel was offering illegal downloads of the Taylor Swift album Reputation, the companies ordered Telegram to take action.

Raw: Why EPO Host Nations (Netherlands and Germany) Turn a Blind Eye to Horrific Scenarios

Friday 24th of November 2017 09:55:02 PM

Source PDF

Summary: Put bluntly, attacks on the staff don’t matter as much as the money, so host nations look the other way and try to brush a defunct system under the rug

Raw: EPO ‘Social Democracy’ is Like a 1AM Vote on UPC by Only 5% of Politicians

Friday 24th of November 2017 09:55:19 AM

Context: How Big a Lie is Team UPC Spreading About Germany and Unitary Patent? A Must Read.

Summary: A reminder that the EPO’s disdain for democracy goes more than three years back

Amid Constitutional Court Barrier, Unitary Patent (UPC) Looks Dead Even to UPC Proponents, the EPO’s UPC ‘Study’ Comes Under Fire

Thursday 23rd of November 2017 11:18:15 PM

The EPO is paying for so-called ‘studies’ whose purpose is believed to pressure the court

Summary: This Thanksgiving Day is spent by Team UPC trying to prop up the UPC even though no progress whatsoever is being made and the EPO’s ‘study’ on the UPC is said to be flawed

TEAM UPC refuses to give up on the zombie known as the UPC. We’re already seeing some jokes being thrown around about it. Few in this profession actually believe that the UPC is going anywhere. But Team UPC, having invested a vast amount of time and money in the UPC/A, just cannot let go.

“Few in this profession actually believe that the UPC is going anywhere.”Was this post from ealier today published by Bristows? We don’t know for sure, but we are guessing so (based on recent anonymous posts which echoed Bristows and linked to Bristows). It was posted anonymously. The post is totally nonsensical. Posted anonymously by someone from Team UPC, it spreads the lie that the “industry” wants the UPC (variant of the “UPC for SMEs” lie). To quote a portion:

Ahead of the meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council, 30 November and 1 December 2017 in Brussels, a group of European companies and associations have sent a letter to EU member states urging them to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement and join the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) as soon as possible, if they haven’t done so yet.

According to the letter, the Unitary Patent system will ‘encourage investment, spur growth and create new jobs across Europe. The patent reform will substantially contribute to increased European competitiveness.

This post was not accessible this morning because Kluwer Patent Blog was down (yet again) for a long period of time. When we finally managed to read it we just thought, “wow! So much for peer review or quality control at Kluwer!” It’s hogwash from headline, to start, to finish. Anyone reading this would be led to believe that Europe is salivating over the UPC (unless one knows better).

“Posted anonymously by someone from Team UPC, it spreads the lie that the “industry” wants the UPC (variant of the “UPC for SMEs” lie).”A similar lie was then pushed by Bristows itself. Edward Nodder from Team UPC/Bristows (a relatively new name whose employer is a chronic liar) wants us to think that UPC has a chance. It’s total spin and distortion of the actual situation. The blog says:

Both Germany and the UK have parliamentary approval to ratify; the UK is expected to do so shortly but Germany’s ratification (and consent to the PPA) is on hold due to the challenge brought in its Constitutional Court. Other than Germany, action is needed by two more member states before the provisional application phase can start.

They say “on hold” and they also wrongly assume that the UK would soon follow. Both are false assumptions. Even IAM, which was used as a UPC propaganda tool by the EPO, admits that the UPC is in fatal trouble. Earlier on it wrote: “Where things are with the UPC. Basically, German ratification is on hold thanks to the Constitutional Court case; so the whole project is subject to unknown, perhaps permanent, delay.”

Here’s that framing again, “on hold,” followed by “permanent, delay.”

“People are amused by the spin from the likes of IAM and Bristows, whose comments on the UPC are motivated purely by financial agenda.”One EPO insider said about it, “how cute,” to which I responded: “My dog is not dead, he is just “permanently asleep”” (implying that the UPC — like the EPO — is in disarray).

There’s more in that thread. People are amused by the spin from the likes of IAM and Bristows, whose comments on the UPC are motivated purely by financial agenda.

David Pearce, a former Kat (of IP Kat) and UPC sceptic, took note of the EPO’s new ‘study’ (corrupting academia for UPC promotion). He — like many others — also thinks that EPO’s claims are bunk/empty, to put it politely. “I am a bit sceptical about @EPOorg ‘s claims for 14.6 bn Euro increase in trade if the #UP and #UPC come into force,” he wrote. “Seems to rely on dodgy assumption about stronger patent protection leading to greater trade and inward investment. Here’s the full report…”

“The thing is, OSS is not compatible with software patents. At all.”IAM is meanwhile pushing software patents agenda using “CII” as the euphemism of choice for software patents. This weasel term is not new. The EPO has, for a long time (over a decade), used this misleading term to dodge the rules and break the law. We already wrote many articles about how the UPC would usher software patents into Europe. It’s a Trojan horse for plenty of bad things. IAM quotes that what “would be positive, especially for SMEs, is the interplay between open source software (OSS) and patents…”

The thing is, OSS is not compatible with software patents. At all. Surely IAM already knows that. As this one report put it earlier today, Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux was “temporarily put on hold while a study investigates whether it could be derailed by software patents.” That was just before Europe decided to ban such patents.

The European Patent Office Has Become the ‘Foxconn’ of Patent Offices

Thursday 23rd of November 2017 10:37:47 PM

Suicide nets? Instead, windows have been bolted shut at the EPO.


Photo credit: Gizmodo

Summary: The demise of the EPO, which emulates patent offices that are racing to the bottom, is a life-threatening employer which now jeopardises its very existence

THE EPO under Battistelli has already seen nearly seven suicides. Some workers would rather be dead than alive, seeing themselves subjected to Chinese trials (politics or a ‘royal’ decree as arbiter), Chinese human rights, Chinese ‘justice’ (on patents), and SIPO examination standards.

“Some workers would rather be dead than alive, seeing themselves subjected to Chinese trials (politics or a ‘royal’ decree as arbiter), Chinese human rights, Chinese ‘justice’ (on patents), and SIPO examination standards.”It’s no secret that patent quality has sunk. European Patents (EPs) are nowhere near the same level of quality they’ve boasted about for decades. In fact, many were recently invalidated in bulk owing to intervention from outside the Office. Those were patents on life. But the push for patents on plants, as one might expect, carries on. Who’s behind it? People who are trying to ‘own’ plants — as ridiculous as that notion would seem to a farmer and outlandish even to aliens. As IP Watch put it earlier today: “A new “position paper” by a plant breeders industry group revives the argument that plant-related inventions should be patentable. New plant breeding techniques modifying the plant genome are not essentially biological processes, thus should be patentable, the paper says. The group also calls for a worldwide harmonised research exemption on plant variety rights and patents for the purpose of improving the invention.”

EPs on genome made their debut in the EPO this year. Even the USPTO had rejected such patents. Would these be invalidated en masse some time in the next year or two? We don’t know. But this, among other things, is a symptom of the worrying quality of EPs. Many EPs are still being granted on software — a subject we shall deal with separately — even though such patents are banned almost everywhere but China.

China?

“Many EPs are still being granted on software — a subject we shall deal with separately — even though such patents are banned almost everywhere but China.”Yes, China.

I have nothing against China, but their patent system is trouble. It’s also a recipe for disaster. Last year alone the number of patent applications there exceeded one million. It may sound like a joke, but it’s not. That’s an order of magnitude more than countries of the same size. So do such patents represent a surge/boom for innovation in China? Of course not. It’s just a patent gold rush that is being encouraged by the government as a matter of policy.

The United States, by contrast, tightens patent scope. In addition, the number of patent applications from the US (for EPs) nosedived over the past year. The EPO tries hard to hide or at least belittle this nugget of information.

“…the number of patent applications from the US (for EPs) nosedived over the past year.”Earlier today the EPO wrote that “Patent Translate helps you understand patent documents from all over the world,” but as even EPO insiders repeatedly explain, automated translations of technical documents don’t work well. There’s no ‘magic’ bridge for legal purposes. One cannot rely on an incomprehensible document either to study a patent or deal with legal action. I spoke to someone (earlier today) whose application for a European Patent was rejected. I told him not to worry because examiners work too fast, so inevitably mistakes are made. Sometimes applications get rejected based on formalities alone. If it carries on like that, people may stop bothering; they will stop even applying. Patent applications are down at the EPO (not worldwide) and not even growth from China has been enough to balance the books (it was still down year-to-year). So guess where Battistelli is flying. The EPO was proud to state (this afternoon) that Battistelli met (warning: epo.org link) the person whom he had previously met where he's a politician (in the same town in France). If the EPO is aspiring to be close to the worst patent office (in terms of scope/quality), what does that say about Battistelli’s goals?

Check out the last paragraph:

China is a leading country of origin for patent applications at the EPO (6th largest country of origin), and applications from China have grown rapidly in recent years (+25% in 2016). With Huawei (no. 2) and ZTE (no.22), two Chinese companies were among the most active patent filing companies at the EPO last year.

China won’t save the EPO. It will merely destroy the reputation of EPs. There has been this one news report parroting the above and it repeated the same talking point: “Applications from China at the EPO grew by 25 percent in 2016, with Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei, becoming the second most active patent filing company at the EPO last year.”

Notice the wording. It’s almost like a copy-paste job edited somewhat to look original. Maybe the EPO’s PR team ‘shipped’ it over for publication — something which journalists I’ve met in person told me that the EPO certainly does.

“Maybe the EPO’s PR team ‘shipped’ it over for publication — something which journalists I’ve met in person told me that the EPO certainly does.”If this is all that Battistelli has to brag about, then the EPO is in serious trouble. He recently reduced fees and the Office changed methods of payment, probably to offset the declining ‘demand’ for EPs. Earlier today the EPO wrote: “Patent fee payment methods will change on 1 Dec 2017.”

That’s next week. We remind readers that if it seems like there’s an increase in applications (and that’s a big if), one must account for decrease in fees. When granting soars by about 40% and applications decline in the same period of time, well… any scientist can tell that it spells doom. So-called ‘production’ vastly outpaces ‘demand’. The good, experienced examiners (i.e. scientists) won’t relocate to Munich (with family that doesn’t speak German) to work for an Office on a short-term contract and writings on the wall that say “layoffs coming”.

“When granting soars by about 40% and applications decline in the same period of time, well… any scientist can tell that it spells doom.”We are not exaggerating when we say that the EPO faces a mortal danger. Insiders say so too.

Recent articles about SUEPO and sources closest to SUEPO used the following lemon analogy: “One thing is sure, Campinos will find a problematic legacy which no doubt will hinder progress—a squeezed lemon does not produce much.”

Also among the quotes: “With a precarious future, there will be a temptation to squirrel away as much cash as possible for the post-EPO life. Some will do so honourably, others perhaps less so. Employees have access to highly confidential, sensitive industrial secrets worth hundreds of millions of euro.”

Among the more recent quotes, the product pressure is “sabotaging the arrival of Campinos since it will be hard for Campinos to maintain such extravagant production pressure in the future”.

“We are not exaggerating when we say that the EPO faces a mortal danger.”The SUEPO memo is quoted as saying: “The permanent and excessive work pressure and unreachable targets are likely to cause staff members to become sick and exhausted. That is not a good place to be. [...] First of all, illness is always unpleasant. But also, the callous way with which the office treats sick colleagues is not conducive to reduction of the stress levels, and can lock the sick colleagues in a vicious circle.”

Regarding quality, this latter article (cited by SUEPO right now) says “the 15,000-product increase was a problem as it comes suddenly at the end of the year, comes years after a steady increase and puts patent quantity before quality.”

Links 23/11/2017: Lumina and Qt Quick

Thursday 23rd of November 2017 09:16:58 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Recommended Privacy Tools (Apps, Add-Ons, Search Engines) for Ubuntu Users

      This is an user-friendly list of tools to protect user’s internet privacy for Ubuntu users. The tools including search engine (StartPagec.com), add-ons (HTTPS Everywhere, Disconnect), and programs (DNSCrypt Proxy, OpenVPN) that are easy for beginners to install on Ubuntu. This list introduces the importance of privacy for all of you (yes, please read PrivacyTools.io) and that protecting your privacy is not difficult. This list is kept short so you can learn one by one and exercise them on many computers you have. I wish this helps you a lot!

    • From Linux to Windows 10: Why did Munich switch and why does it matter?

      Most notable is perhaps the French Gendarmerie, the country’s police force, which has switched 70,000 PCs to Gendbuntu, a custom version of the Linux-based OS Ubuntu. In the same country 15 French ministries have made the switch to using LibreOffice, as has the Dutch Ministry of Defence, while the Italian Ministry of Defence will switch more than 100,000 desktops from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice by 2020 and 25,000 PCs at hospitals in Copenhagen will move from Office to LibreOffice.

      Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), says this list continues to grow, and that “almost every two weeks you have a new example of free software being used in a public administration”.

    • How a Linux stronghold turned back to Windows: Key dates in Munich’s LiMux project [Ed: This explains the progression of Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux, typically using proxies]

      The project is temporarily put on hold while a study investigates whether it could be derailed by software patents.

    • End of an open source era: Linux pioneer Munich confirms switch to Windows 10 [Ed: Microsoft paid (bribed) all the right people, got a Microsoft fan -- by his own admission -- in power, gifted him for this]

      Mayor Dieter Reiter said there’s never been a unified Linux landscape in the city. “We always had mixed systems and what we have here is the possibility of going over to a single system. Having two operating systems is completely uneconomic.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.15 Will Treat The HTC Vive VR Headset As “Non-Desktop”

      Currently if plugging in the HTC Vive for a virtual reality experience on Linux, the head-mounted display (HMD) is treated just as a conventional display. But now with a new set of changes for Linux 4.15, the kernel will know it’s a “non-desktop” display.

      Besides the DRM leasing support that has already landed during the Linux 4.15 merge window with the main DRM pull request, David Airlie has sent in another pull today for further benefiting SteamVR with Linux 4.15. (And among other benefits, also the AMDGPU priority scheduling landed too for 4.15 as another benefit for VR Linux gaming when using AMD graphics.)

    • Linux Foundation
      • Open Source Cloud Skills and Certification Are Key for SysAdmins

        System administrator is one of the most common positions employers are looking to fill among 53 percent of respondents to the 2017 Open Source Jobs Report. Consequently, sysadmins with skills in engineering can command higher salaries, as these positions are among the hardest to fill, the report finds.

        Sysadmins are generally responsible for installing, supporting, and maintaining servers or other computer systems, and planning for and responding to service outages and other problems.

      • How Cloud Foundry Helps Developers Embrace Flexibility While Balancing Security

        The intersection of software development, security, and operations can be difficult for some businesses to traverse. Platforms such as Cloud Foundry aim to help organizations bridge the gap, while still focusing on security.

        Snyk CEO and co-founder Guy Podjarny addressed the announcement of the architectural decisions seen by Cloud Foundry in the Cloud Foundry Container Runtime and Cloud Foundry’s continued focus on the BOSH platform in a discussion with TNS founder Alex Williams on today’s episode of The New Stack Makers.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Greenfield: An In-Browser HTML5 Wayland Compositor

        Earlier this year we covered the Westfield project as Wayland for HTML5/JavaScript by providing a Wayland protocol parser and generator for JavaScript. Now that code has morphed into Greenfield to provide a working, in-browser HTML5 Wayland compositor.

      • New Polaris Firmware Blobs Hit Linux-Firmware.Git

        Updated firmware files for the command processor (CP) on AMD Polaris graphics cards have landed in linux-firmware.git.

        These updated firmware files for Polaris GPUs are light on details besides being for the CP and from their internal 577de7b1 Git state.

      • Report: Ryzen “Raven Ridge” APU Not Using HBM2 Memory

        Instead of the Vega graphics on Raven Ridge using HBM2 memory, it appears at least for some models they are just using onboard DDR4 memory. FUDZilla is reporting today that there is just 256MB of onboard DDR4 memory being used by the new APU, at least for the Ryzen 5 APU found on the HP Envy x360 that was the first Raven APU system to market.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • How to emulate Plasma Mobile on your machine with qemu

        If you want to develop for Plasma Mobile, but you don’t have a Mobile device, it is useful to emulate a Plasma Mobile on your desktop or laptop. Earlier this was not documented and has been asked multiple times on how to achieve this.

        This blog post is intended to help install a Plasma Mobile on the qemu-x86.

      • Qt Quick Controls 2: Imagine Style

        Back in April we wrote about image-based styling for Qt Quick Controls 2. Since then, we have made good progress and nailed down some aspects that were still under consideration. We call the new style “Imagine”.

      • Are you ready for Qt Quick Controls 2.3?

        This blog post takes a brief look at some of the new features in Qt Quick Controls 2.3 released as part of Qt 5.10. See also New Features in Qt 5.10 for a more detailed list.

      • Say hello to Qt Quick Pointer Handlers

        We’ve known for several years that our multi-touch support in Qt Quick has been inadequate for many use cases. We have PinchArea, to handle two-finger scaling, rotation and dragging; and MultiPointTouchArea, which can at least be used to show some sort of interactive feedback for the touchpoints, or maybe you could write a little state machine in JavaScript to recognize some kind of gesture. As for the rest of Qt Quick though, the main problems are 1) support for mouse events came first; 2) Qt assumes there is only one mouse (the “core pointer”); 3) QMouseEvent and QTouchEvent (and a few more) have no suitable intermediate base class, so they end up being delivered independently; 4) that being hard, shortcuts were taken early on, to treat touch events as mouse events and deliver them the same way. So the result is that you cannot interact with two MouseAreas or Flickables at the same time, for example. This means you cannot press two Buttons at the same time, or drag two Sliders at the same time, if they are implemented with MouseArea.

        At first I hoped to fix that by making MouseArea and Flickable both handle touch events separately. The patches to do that were quite complex, adding a lot of duplicated logic for the full parallel delivery path: a QMouseEvent would take one path and a QTouchEvent would take another, in the hope that the interaction would work as much the same as possible. It was months of work, and at the end it mostly worked… but it was hard to keep all the existing autotests passing, and colleagues worried about it being a behavior change. MouseArea proclaims by its name that it handles mouse events, so as soon as it begins to handle touch events separately, it becomes a misnomer. Suddenly you would be able to press two Buttons or Tabs or Radio Buttons at the same time, in applications and sets of controls which weren’t designed for it. (So we tried adding a bool property to opt in, but needing to set that in every MouseArea would be ugly.) MouseArea and Flickable also need to cooperate a lot, so the changes would have to be done together to keep everything working. It was possible, but narrowly missed shipping in Qt 5.5 due to uncertainty.

      • Big thanks to KDE!

        It has been over a week now that I attended Grace Hopper Celebration India 2017 in Bangalore from 16-17 November, yet the excitement still flows in me! I attended GHCI 2017 as a KDE Developer and student attendee. Big thanks to KDE Community for funding me!

        The Grace Hopper Celebration India (GHCI) is the largest and most influential event for women pursuing technical careers in computing and technology in the country. The conference was held at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre(BIEC), a premier exhibition center in Bangalore. The place was vibrant and energetic with close to 2000+ attendees.

        The conference began early morning around 7:30 with registrations. There was a warm welcome and a presentation session followed by keynote session by Pankajam Sridevi, MD at ANZ Bengaluru. Even on the second day, the event started early and there was a keynote by Dr. Rebecca Parsons, CTO at ThoughtWorks. Both the days, the event continued till evening till 5 pm with many interesting tracks based on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Open Source, Machine Learning and several speed-mentoring sessions.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • gThumb 3.6 GNOME Image Viewer Released with Better Wayland and HiDPI Support

        gThumb, the open-source image viewer for the GNOME desktop environment, has been updated this week to version 3.6, a new stable branch that introduces numerous new features and improvements.

        gThumb 3.6 comes with better support for the next-generation Wayland display server as the built-in video player, color profiles, and application icon received Wayland support. The video player component received a “Loop” button to allow you to loop videos, and there’s now support for HiDPI displays.

        The app also ships with a color picker, a new option to open files in full-screen, a zoom popover that offers different zoom commands and a zoom slider, support for double-click activation, faster image loading, aspect ratio filtering, and the ability to display the description of the color profile in the property view.

      • Many Broadway HTML5 Backend Improvements Land In GTK4

        Earlier today I wrote about the experimental HTML5 Wayland compositor. While that may be more like an experimental toy at this point, for those wanting to run GTK3/GTK4 applications within a web-browser, there’s the longstanding Broadway HTML5 back-end to the GTK tool-kit. Broadway received a number of significant improvements for GTK4 today.

        It’s been a while since last having anything new to report on this Broadway HTML5 back-end for GTK and even looking like it might be dropped from GTK4, but Red Hat’s Alexander Larsson today submitted a number of improvements to this back-end for streaming GTK+ programs into a web-browser via the HTML5 canvas capabilities.

  • Distributions
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Nine free and open source Microsoft Excel alternatives business-users should consider
  • 9 Excellent Open Source Configuration Management Applications

    End users at public and private sector organizations sometimes perceive IT teams a barrier to the development of the business. When the business demands new services and applications, it may take months before progress is made. Why is that? It’s too common for IT teams to spend too much time fighting fires; after all they can come from so many different sources.

    An IT team’s main responsibility is to maintain, secure, and operate an organization’s systems and networks. This, in itself, carries a huge responsibility. IT teams that maintain technology infrastructure, deploy applications, and provisioning environments with many manual tasks are inefficient. In modern environments, services are rarely deployed in isolation. Simple applications may need several services to run – such as a web server and a database. Deploying more complex systems, many services may need installing, configuring, and linked together.

    Streamlining system administration must therefore be part of an IT solution. And one of the most time-consuming activity for IT teams is the management of the business’s infrastructure. Automation minimizes manual work, reducing the risk of human mistakes, and offering the ability to quickly deploy new services and applications without risking reliability. Whether it involves container orchestration, real-time big data, deep learning, or stream processing, large software demands operations to be automated.

    Here’s where configuration management system software steps in. This software automates the configuration of machines to a particular state. Like any other tools, they are designed to solve specific problems in certain ways. The goal is to get a system from whatever state it is in, into the desired state. Configuration management software are the tools of choice for many system administrators and devops professionals.

    Cloud platforms enable teams to deploy and maintain applications serving thousands of users, and the leading open source configuration management tools offer ways to automate the various processes.

  • ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ Easter egg in man breaks automated tests at 00:30

    The maintainer of the Linux manual program man has scrapped an “Easter egg” after it broke a user’s automatic code tests.

    On Tuesday, Unix systems administrator Jeff Schaller wrote in a Stack Exchange post: “We’ve noticed that some of our automatic tests fail when they run at 00:30 but work fine the rest of the day. They fail with the message ‘gimme gimme gimme’ in stderr, which wasn’t expected.”

  • Open source and standards – The path towards 5G and the Internet of Things

    Following the success of last year’s event, the 2nd workshop “Open Source and Standards – The Path Towards 5G and the Internet of Things”, jointly organised by NGMN and the ITU, took place on 1st November 2017 in Bellevue (Seattle), Washington, USA. The workshop was hosted by Microsoft and co-organised by the IPR Plenary of the NGMN Alliance and the International Telecommunication Union.

    Bringing together key representatives of a wide range of industry, including standards bodies, open source communities and academia, the discussions focused on how best standard-setting organisations and open source communities can capitalise upon each other’s deliverables and expertise for building a consistent and coherent 5G eco-system. With more than 100 participants, the workshop discussed how diverse stakeholders can rely on the respective strengths and development models to place a broad range of industries in a strong position to achieve the common vision for 5G and beyond.

  • Sponsored development is a win-win for users and developers

    There is a myth that simply by making a software platform open source, qualified people will give up their nights and weekends to contribute to its development. With rare exceptions, that’s not how the open source world works. Building a community of contributors takes time, and complex applications often have a steep learning curve before a developer becomes comfortable working with the code.

    Open source software companies are the fuel behind a lot of software development, forming the communities and providing the financial backing that support it. And, like any other type of business, open source software companies need to earn money to stay in business.

  • Events
    • VR Hackathon at FIXME, Lausanne (1-3 December 2017)
    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 2

      Four more sessions are waiting for us, the effort of the participant who has finished and passed the program successfully (based on git, posts, quizzes) will be prized, thanks to the Linux Foundation scholarship and a nice black sweatshirt of the program. Best luck guys!

    • 10 things I learned about making LEGO bricks glow

      By day, Jen Krieger is chief agile architect at Red Hat, but by night she architects stunning LEGO creations, including a Parisian café she demonstrated in her All Things Open 2017 Lightning Talk, “10 Things I Learned About Making LEGO Bricks Glow.”

      Jen wanted to add lighting to her LEGO model, but in the open source maker tradition, she wanted to do it herself instead of simply ordering a pre-fab LEGO lighting kit.

  • BSD
    • Lumina 1.4 Desktop Environment Debuts with New Theme Engine and ZFS Integrations

      Lumina 1.4.0 is a major release that introduces several new core components, such as the Lumina Theme Engine to provide enhanced theming capabilities for the desktop environment and apps written in the Qt 5 application framework. The Lumina Theme Engine comes with a configuration utility and makes the previous desktop theme system obsolete, though it’s possible to migrate your current settings to the new engine.

      “The backend of this engine is a standardized theme plugin for the Qt5 toolkit, so that all Qt5 applications will now present a unified appearance (if the application does not enforce a specific appearance/theme of it’s own),” said the developer in today’s announcement. “Users of the Lumina desktop will automatically have this plugin enabled: no special action is required.”

    • Lumina 1.4 Desktop Environment Released

      The TrueOS BSD folks working on their Qt5-powered Lumina Desktop Environment have issued a new feature update of their open-source desktop.

    • Lumina Desktop 1.4.0 Released

      Lumina 1.4.0 carries a number of changes, optimisations, and feature improvements.

      Lumina is the default desktop of TrueOS, a BSD-based operating system. The desktop itself is lightweight, modular, built using Qt, and uses Fluxbox for window management.

      Although Lumina is mostly aimed at BSD users it also runs on Linux, including Fedora, Arch and — *mario coin sfx* — Ubuntu.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Am I willing to pay the price to support ethical hardware?

        The planned obsolescence is even worse with tablets and smartphones, whose components are all soldered down. The last tablet with a removable battery was the Dell Venue 11 Pro (Haswell version) announced in October 2013, but it was an expensive Windows device that cost as much as a mid-range laptop. The last Android tablet with a removable battery was the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (GT-N8000 series), released in August 2012. It is still possible to find mid-range smartphones with removable batteries. Last year the only high end phones with removable batteries were the LG G5 and V20, but even LG has given up on the idea of making phones that will last longer than 2 years once the battery starts to degrade after roughly 500 full charge and discharge cycles. Every flagship phone introduced in 2017 now has its battery sealed in the case. According to the gmsarena.com database, the number of new smartphone models with non-replaceable batteries grew from 1.9% in 2011 to 26.7% in 2014, and now to 90.3% in 2017. It is highly likely that not a single model of smartphone introduced next year will have a replaceable battery.

Leftovers
  • EU rules British cities cannot be capitals of culture

    The EU will not allow a British city to become European capital of culture in 2023 after Brexit, dashing the hopes of Dundee, Leeds and others who were preparing bids costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    The European commission said it would not be possible because only countries that were in the EU, the European Economic Area or in the process of becoming members were eligible for inclusion.

  • Science
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Turkeys Are Twice as Big as They Were in 1960

      A turkey today is not the turkey of yesteryear.

      For decades, animal breeders have been transforming the genomes of turkeys to make them grow larger. Since 1960, the weight of turkeys has gone up about a quarter of a pound each year. The average weight of a turkey has gone from 15.1 pounds in 1960 to 31.1 pounds in 2017.

    • Decades later, Vietnam vets may be silently fighting cancer-causing parasite

      A small pilot study hints that a startling number of Vietnam veterans may be infected with a liver parasite that can induce a rare type of cancer, the Associated Press reports.

      The study, conducted by the Northport VA Medical Center in New York, involved blood samples from 50 Vietnam veterans. Testing performed at Seoul National University in South Korea found that more than 20 percent of those samples were positive or borderline positive for antibodies against the parasite, a liver fluke.

      The results are preliminary and require follow-up research. It’s also unclear how the 50 blood samples were chosen. That said, the results hint that many veterans may have the cancer-inducing infection and not yet know. The study follows a report last year by the AP, which raised questions about the rate of that otherwise rare type of cancer in veterans.

    • Sir Robin Jacob calls for System 2 thinking for patent law

      Earlier this week Sir Robin Jacob delivered a thought-provoking lecture at the University of Hong Kong. The topic? Patents and medicine.

      [...]

      In short: using System 2 thinking in patent law is a matter of life and death.

  • Security
    • Key Dem calls for FTC to investigate Uber data breach

      A key Democrat is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate a massive Uber breach that released data on 57 million people, as well as the company’s delay in reporting the cyber incident.

    • Multiple states launch probes into massive Uber breach
    • Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go

      The problem, Minnich said, is that Linux has lost its control of the hardware. Back in the 1990s, when many of us started working with Linux, it controlled everything in the x86 platform. But today there are at least two and a half kernels between Linux and the hardware. Those kernels are proprietary and, not surprisingly, exploit friendly. They run at a higher privilege level than Linux and can manipulate both the hardware and the operating system in various ways. Worse yet, exploits can be written into the flash of the system so that they persist and are difficult or impossible to remove—shredding the motherboard is likely the only way out.

    • Connected sex-toy allows for code-injection attacks on a robot you wrap around your genitals

      However, the links included base-64 encoded versions of the entire blowjob file, making it vulnerable to code-injection attacks. As Lewis notes, “I will leave you to ponder the consequences of having an XSS vulnerability on a page with no framebusting and preauthed connection to a robot wrapped around or inside someones genitals…”

    • Chromebook exploit earns researcher second $100k bounty

      For Google’s bug bounty accountants, lightning just struck twice.

      In September 2016, an anonymous hacker called Gzob Qq earned $100,000 (£75,000) for reporting a critical “persistent compromise” exploit of Google’s Chrome OS, used by Chromebooks.

      Twelve months on and the same researcher was wired an identical pay out for reporting – yes! – a second critical persistent compromise of Google’s Chrome OS.

      By this point you might think Google was regretting its 2014 boast that it could confidently double its maximum payout for Chrome OS hacks to $100,000 because “since we introduced the $50,000 reward, we haven’t had a successful submission.”

      More likely, it wasn’t regretting it at all because isn’t being told about nasty vulnerabilities the whole point of bug bounties?

    • Why microservices are a security issue

      And why is that? Well, for those of us with a systems security bent, the world is an interesting place at the moment. We’re seeing a growth in distributed systems, as bandwidth is cheap and latency low. Add to this the ease of deploying to the cloud, and more architects are beginning to realise that they can break up applications, not just into multiple layers, but also into multiple components within the layer. Load balancers, of course, help with this when the various components in a layer are performing the same job, but the ability to expose different services as small components has led to a growth in the design, implementation, and deployment of microservices.

    • The PC BIOS will be killed off by 2020 as Intel plans move to pure UEFI [Ed: UEFI/BIOS, as even the NSA acknowledged a few years back, is a component that can be used for remote access. For Intel to maintain worldwide dominance it isn’t unthinkable it would spread ME back doors (and more) everywhere. Digital imperialism.]
    • Security updates for (US) Thanksgiving Day
    • Uber Paid Hackers $100,000 To “Protect” 57 Million Users’ Data

      On Tuesday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowashahi revealed in a blog post what the ride-hailing company was hiding from the public since October 2016, i.e., for almost a year. No, it’s not their dream of flying taxis.

    • Uber Hid Security Breach Impacting 57 Million People, Paid Off Hackers

      It’s no secret that Uber’s management over the years has been pretty sketchy, if not downright nefarious. At some point I may write a longer post about this, but it appears that the company culture took the idea of reasonably pushing back on bad laws (such as those that restricted competition in the taxi space) and took it to mean that it could just ignore all sorts of rules. And it appears that a company culture was created that celebrated rulebreaking in all sorts of ways — most of which were bad. The company has a new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, who comes in with a strong reputation and has indicated his intent to change the culture. On Tuesday, the company admitted that it had covered up that data on 57 million users had been leaked. While the data didn’t include credit card info or trip data, it did include drivers’ license info for 7 million drivers, and the email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million riders.

    • Uber data breach “raises huge concerns”, says UK watchdog
    • Uber data breach: Information Commissioner’s Office expresses ‘huge concern’ about cover-up
    • Uber hack: The UK’s top cyber crime and data authorities are investigating the massive data breach
    • Uber scandal: Britain’s spy chiefs begin investigating cover-up of data hack of 57 million customers
    • Uber hit with 2 lawsuits over gigantic 2016 data breach

      In the 48 hours since the explosive revelations that Uber sustained a massive data breach in 2016, two separate proposed class-action lawsuits have been filed in different federal courts across California.

      The cases allege substantial negligence on Uber’s part: plaintiffs say the company failed to keep safe the data of the affected 50 million customers and 7 million drivers. Uber reportedly paid $100,000 to delete the stolen data and keep news of the breach quiet.

      On Tuesday, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote: “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it.”

    • Intel Releases Linux-Compatible Tool For Confirming ME Vulnerabilities [Ed: ‘Damage control’ strategy is to make it look like just a bug.]

      While Intel ME security issues have been talked about for months, confirming fears that have been present about it for years, this week Intel published the SA-00086 security advisory following their own internal review of ME/TXE/SPS components. The impact is someone could crash or cause instability issues, load and execute arbitrary code outside the visibility of the user and operating system, and other possible issues.

    • Open source’s big weak spot? Flawed libraries lurking in key apps [Ed: Linux basher Liam Tung entertains FUD firm Snyk and Microsoft because it suits the employer's agenda]
    • SSD Advisory – Linux Kernel XFRM Privilege Escalation
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Accused Nazi War Criminal Is a ‘Lifelong Republican’ Who Gave Thousands to GOP

      A Minnesota man accused of committing war crimes when he commanded a Nazi-led unit during World War II contributed thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee, a Daily Beast review of federal campaign records found.

      Michael Karkoc is wanted for arrest in Poland after the country’s war crimes prosecutors said they are “100 percent” certain that Karkoc commanded a SS company and that there was “no doubt” that his men razed two Polish villages, killing 40 civilians. In July, Poland requested Karkoc’s extradition from the U.S. and is waiting for a decision. (The Justice Department said it does not comment on extradition requests.)

    • Iraq: Suicide Bomber Kills 23 at Marketplace in Tuz Khurmatu

      In Iraq, at least 23 people were killed and scores more injured after a suicide bomber in a truck set off a massive explosion in a crowded marketplace in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu. There’s been no claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on state television that his military had ended ISIS’s presence in Iraq.

    • How US Tries to Link Iran to Al Qaeda

      For many years, major U.S. institutions ranging from the Pentagon to the 9/11 Commission have been pushing the line that Iran secretly cooperated with Al Qaeda both before and after the 9/11 terror attacks. But the evidence for those claims remained either secret or sketchy, and always highly questionable.

      [...]

      There was a time when Iran did view Al Qaeda as an ally. It was during and immediately after the war of the mujahedin against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. That, of course, was the period when the CIA was backing bin Laden’s efforts as well. But after the Taliban seized power in Kabul in 1996 — and especially after Taliban troops killed 11 Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 — the Iranian view of Al Qaeda changed fundamentally. Since then, Iran has clearly regarded it as an extreme sectarian terrorist organization and its sworn enemy. What has not changed is the determination of the U.S. national security state and the supporters of Israel to maintain the myth of an enduring Iranian support for Al Qaeda.

  • Finance
    • Finnish regulator warns investors about dangers of Bitcoin

      The value of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has risen by an unprecedented 700 percent this year alone. Bitcoin’s value is expected to grow even further, but some say cryptocurrencies’ bubbles could burst at any time, leaving hopeful investors out in the cold.

    • Not a fan of Black Friday sales? Try making it Buy Nothing Day
    • A report shows the Senate GOP tax bill ultimately raises taxes on 50 percent of people. That’s a problem.

      Republicans are losing the public relations battle on their tax-cut bills. While a tax bill cleared the House last week, several Senate Republicans appear skeptical of their chamber’s version. And polls show that Americans are much more opposed to the GOP’s tax effort than supportive — a fact that has to be weighing on those same wavering Senate Republicans.

      A new report should make it even more difficult for these GOP senators to get to yes.

    • Gibraltar heading for​ abrupt exit from single market, says Spain

      Gibraltar is heading for an abrupt exit from the single market without the benefit of any transition deal, according to senior Spanish government sources, who revealed that the British government had failed to offer any proposals on the future of the Rock.

      The EU shocked Downing Street in April when it effectively backed Spain in the centuries-old territorial dispute. In guidelines outlining their approach to the Brexit negotiations, the 27 member states insisted Gibraltar would be outside any future trade deal with the UK unless an agreement was reached in advance with Madrid over its future status.

    • UMich Consumer Confidence Slides In November As Faith In Stocks Falters

      Expewctations for inflation dipped. Consumers saw inflation rate in the next year at 2.5 percent after 2.4 percent the prior month. Inflation rate over next five to 10 years seen at 2.4 percent, lowest since May, after 2.5 percent in October

    • How Brexit looms over the Irish border: ‘It’s the Berlin Wall approaching us’

      Mervyn Johnston sips his tea while sizing up the pristine-looking 1957 Mini Cooper that has come in for repairs from across the border. As the UK’s historic decision to quit the EU plays out, it doesn’t take much for the softly spoken 78-year-old and five-times rally-driving champion to cast his mind back to the days when customs posts and army checkpoints brought life in the picturesque village of Pettigo to a halt.

      “We had about half a dozen incendiary bombs before the big one,” he says, tilting his chin to the other classic-cars garage across the road, now run by his son. “That blew the garage right into the river.”

      Pettigo is unique in Ireland as it is the only village divided by the border after Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1922. The river that runs beneath his workshop window places Johnston’s Protestant family in Northern Ireland and his largely Catholic neighbours on the other side of the 1820s cut-stone bridge in the republic of Ireland.

    • We gave May clear evidence of tax avoidance. Why won’t she act?

      In the three weeks since the unveiling of the Paradise Papers, the government has clung to familiar arguments. These arguments have not been to do with the Panama Papers – the forerunner investigation into tax havens and offshore empires that the Guardian published last year. Instead, the echoes have come from another remarkable, though unrelated, case: the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook will soon let you check if you followed and ‘liked’ Russian troll [sic] farm propaganda

      Facebook has announced the creation of a new portal that will allow users to see what dubious pages created by Russian operatives they may have followed, liked or interacted with during the 2016 US presidential election. The new tool will be available via its “Help Center” by the end of the year.

    • By year’s end, you’ll know if you liked a Kremlin-created Facebook page

      On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it would create a “portal to enable people on Facebook to learn which of the Internet Research Agency Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts they may have liked or followed between January 2015 and August 2017.”

      The Internet Research Agency (which the New York Times Magazine extensively profiled in 2014) is believed to be a pro-Kremlin troll farm that helped create false politically themed pages.

    • Don’t Let the Koch Brothers Buy ‘Time’ Magazine

      Can you imagine what it would be like to see your life’s work suddenly go down the drain? I can—right now. As a former Time editor who spent 13 years editing the magazine’s coverage of environmental issues, I am in despair over reports that Time Inc. will soon sell itself to Meredith Corp. in a deal that includes a $600 million investment from Charles and David Koch, whose Koch Industries is a big player in the oil and gas business and whose philanthropy has long funded climate denial.

    • Trump Fans Are Owning Libs by Losing All Their Friends

      The evidence of this is (of course) on social media. On Tuesday, popular pro-Trump Twitter account @Education4Libs tweeted out, “I just saved a bunch of money on Christmas presents by sharing my political views on Facebook,” a sentiment that subsequently went viral, with more than 2,700 retweets. Obviously the original post was meant to be (at least partially) satirical, but as beloved cool guy of online @RandyGDub pointed out, it precipitated thousands of replies from @Education4Libs’s fellow Trumpers, many of whom seemed gleeful that their breathless support of America’s big wet leader has alienated them from their loved ones…

    • We’ll Be Paying For Mark Halperin’s Sins For Years To Come

      The Note purported to reveal Washington’s secrets. In fact, its purpose was the exact opposite: to make the city, and US politics, appear impossible to understand. It replaced normal words with jargon. It coined the phrase “Gang of 500,” the clubby network of lobbyists, aides, pols, and hangers-on who supposedly, like the Vatican’s cardinals, secretly ran DC. That wasn’t true — power is so diffuse. But Halperin claimed he knew so much more than we did, and we began to believe it.

      Once you believe that, it’s not hard to be convinced that politics is only comprehensible, like nuclear science, to a select few. There were those chosen ones — the people who’d flattered Halperin to get a friendly mention in his newsletter, the ones he declared to be in the know — and the rest of us. Halperin wrote about Washington like it was an intriguing game, the kind that masked aristocrats played to entertain themselves at 19th-century parties: Everyone was both pawn and player, engaged in a set of arcane maneuvers to win an empty jackpot that ultimately meant nothing of true importance.

      At the same time, The Note made it seem that tiny events — a cough at a press conference, a hush-hush convo between Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell in a corridor — held apocalyptic importance. Cloaked in seriousness, with the imprimatur of Peter Jennings’ ABC News, in reality The Note was not news but simple gossip.

      Gossip: The word comes from the old English for “baptismal sponsor” — a godparent — and Halperin positioned himself as the priest who stood between the layman and the sacred mysteries of Washington, only letting a person through in exchange for the corrupting coin of accepting your own personal idiocy. It required acknowledging, like a cult initiate, that you had to learn the Master’s arcane knowledge before claiming to know anything at all.

      The Note was a cult. Between bits of knowledge in each mailer, Halperin inserted birthday wishes to his gang, cementing the impression of Washington as a place where people are much more interested in buttering each other up than they are in the lives of the kind of Americans whose names Mark Halperin did not know.

    • A President Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 16 Women Endorses a Senate Candidate Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 9

      Why is anyone surprised?

      Donald Trump finished one last bit of work as he left for a Mar-a-Lago Thanksgiving, effectively endorsing disgraced former judge Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP Senate nominee, because “we don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.” Trump continued attacking Democrat Doug Jones: “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.”

      But Jones isn’t “terrible on crime.” The former US Attorney successfully prosecuted two of the men accused of the Birmingham church bombing that killed four little black girls in September 1963. It must also be observed: Moore himself is credibly accused of committing a crime, when he brought 14-year-old Leigh Corfman to his home and sexually molested her. It seems as though Corfman refused to consent to Moore’s pushing the boundaries, but it doesn’t matter: She was 14, too young to consent. Roy Moore is an accused child molester. Trump endorsed him nonetheless.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Your Kids Could be Seeing too Much Adult Content on YouTube, and It’s Cracking Down

      The streaming video service removed more than 50 user channels in the last week and stopped running ads on over 3.5 million videos since June, YouTube vice president Johanna Wright wrote in a blog post.

    • EU to end consumer ‘geoblocking’ by end of 2018

      What the new rules don’t cover, however, is shipping of those products – if the online retailer doesn’t offer international shipping, the onus is on the buyer to arrange collection of the item within the shipping terms that are offered.

    • EU agrees to end country-specific limits for online retailers

      The agreement late on Monday between the European Parliament, the EU’s 28 member states and the Commission will allow EU consumers to buy products and services online from any EU country. The agreement applies to e-commerce sites including Amazon and eBay.

    • China blocks debate about downfall of internet censor Lu Wei

      China has moved to censor discussion of its censor-in-chief’s censure, apparently fearful the country’s 750 million internet users might use his downfall to assail the Communist party’s draconian online controls.

      One week after China was re-crowned the world’s worst contravener of internet freedoms, a leaked censorship directive indicated online publishers had received orders to extinguish debate over the toppling of former internet tsar Lu Wei.

      On Tuesday it emerged that Lu, who ran China’s cyberspace administration from 2014 until last year, had fallen victim to Xi Jinping’s high-profile war on corruption.

    • China’s internet regulator denounces ex-boss facing graft probe

      China’s internet regulator has denounced its former boss, Lu Wei, who is under investigation for alleged corruption.

      The Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement that Lu had damaged its image and jeopardised the Communist Party’s efforts to manage the internet.

      Lu, who headed the organisation for three years until June 2016, was widely seen as the public face of China’s draconian control over the internet.

      He was uncharacteristicly outspoken and straightforward among Chinese officials, according to analysts, regularly defending the ever-increasing censorship the cyberspace administration carried out on his watch.

    • European Law Claims to Protect Consumers… By Blocking the Web

      Last week the European Parliament passed a new Consumer Protection Regulation [PDF] that allows national consumer authorities to order ISPs, web hosts and domain registries to block or delete websites… all without a court order. The websites targeted are those that allegedly infringe European consumer law. But European consumer law has some perplexing provisions that have drawn ridicule, including a compulsory warning against children blowing up balloons unsupervised and a restriction on abnormally curved bananas. Because of these, the range of websites that could be censored is both vast and uncertain.

    • Apple drops hundreds of VPN apps at Beijing’s request
    • Google’s Eric Schmidt admits political censorship of search results
    • Eric Schmidt Says Google News Will ‘Engineer’ Russian Propaganda Out of the Feed
    • Moscow Slams Google’s Bid to Derank RT, Sputnik: Violation of Freedom of Speech

      Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced last week that the company would “engineer” algorithms that would make it harder for articles from Sputnik and RT to appear on the Google News service. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has commented on the announcement.

      “We would like to draw your attention to the fact that such an artificial ranking of search results is a direct censorship and violation of the fundamental principles of freedom of speech,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stated, commenting on Google’s intention to derank Sputnik and RT.

    • Russia says Google down-ranking Sputnik, RT would be censorship

      Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that moves by Alphabet Inc.’s Google to place articles from Russian news outlets Sputnik and Russia Today lower in search results would amount to censorship.

      Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking on stage at an international forum last Saturday, responded to a question about Sputnik articles appearing on Google by saying the company was working to give less prominence to “those kinds of websites” as opposed to delisting them.

    • Google to ‘derank’ Russia Today and Sputnik
    • ‘Modern censorship: Google decides RT is propaganda, yet millions disagree’
    • Censorship Comes to Google
    • Google’s plan to “de-rank” Russian media equals censorship, Moscow says

      Google’s intention to “de-rank” Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik is equal to censorship, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

      It is a violation of freedom of speech and censorship at the technological level, she told a weekly news briefing.

      Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, said last week that RT and Sputnik could be de-ranked on the popular Google News service, which ranks various media outlets depending on their reach, article length and veracity.

    • Russia Threatens To Go To War With Google Over Stupid Comments By Eric Schmidt

      To be clear: I have no doubt that RT and Sputnik have engaged in attempts to push anti-US propaganda in the US. That seems fairly obvious at this point. My concern is twofold: first of all, saying that “it’s basically RT and Sputnik” suggests Schmidt thinks that the issue is just those two sites and merely downranking them will solve problems related to propaganda. That’s both wrong and naive. Second, having the executive chair of Google’s parent company directly announce that Google is working on ways to downrank two specific sites is bad. Part of Google’s longstanding position has always been that they don’t interfere to go after specific sites, in part because that creates a massive slippery slope. Of course, Google gave up on part of that position five years ago when it caved in to Hollywood and agreed to start downranking sites based on accusations (not actual convictions) of copyright infringement.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Google Is Tracking Your Android Phone’s Location Even With Location Turned Off
    • Former ‘Economic Hit Man’ Reveals to Sputnik How CIA, NSA Conceal Activities

      In the second part of an exclusive interview with Sputnik Germany, former “economic hit man” John Perkins tells about the cooperation between his employer and American intelligence agencies, their role in the global economic system and, finally, his decision to quit and write his revealing book, “The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”

    • Exclusive: Years after jolting Snowden leaks, NSA battles to regain edge

      Several years after contractor Edward Snowden abruptly left the U.S. in 2013 with a trove of highly classified secrets, the National Security Agency and its counterparts in the U.S. intelligence community continue to struggle under the crushing impact of his actions.

      “It should be pretty obvious to everyone that what Snowden did was a jolt to our system. Not only did he endanger what we’ve spent years developing, but he endangered the lives of the people we try to protect,” NSA Deputy Director George C. Barnes told WTOP in an exclusive interview.

      Although Snowden revealed specific sources and methods, which may now be obsolete, the principal damage is that he provided global insight into the NSA’s thought process, Barnes said. More egregiously, Barnes added, Snowden made the agency’s secrets the stuff of dangerous global gossip.

    • Give us the right to defend the elderly and children’s privacy, say campaigners

      Campaigners asked for the right for organisations to seek redress directly, when personal data is abused, without having to seek out individual complainants.

      This could be hard when the victims are young, old, or simply not aware of the problem.

      As the Bill stands, individuals will be able to take up their own cases but in many cases that might require more time or technical knowledge than most people possess. The current system does not allow organisations, such as consumer protection agency Which?, to follow up on flaws it uncovers.

      The option for consumer organisations to be allowed to make independent complaints exists under Article 80(2) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    • DHS Deploying Stingrays Hundreds Of Times A Year

      It’s no secret most law enforcement agencies own or have access to Stingray devices. But some deployment totals can still raise eyebrows. The Baltimore PD, for example, deployed Stingrays 4,300 times over an 8-year period — more than once per day. And it hid these behind pen register orders, so that judges, defendants, and defense lawyers had no idea exactly how the PD located suspects.

    • Vulnerability Found In Amazon Key, Again Showing How Dumber Tech Is Often The Smarter Option

      As with most things in the internet of things space, secure, smart door locks have traditionally been frequently shown to be neither. In fact, a recent study that looked at 16 different smart locks found twelve of them to be easily compromised. And again, many of these vulnerabilities were of the vanilla stupid variety, with passwords being transmitted unencrypted, letting anybody with a modicum of technical skill and a Bluetooth sniffer to pluck your front door access code out of thin air. Like most things in the IOT space, companies have been so eager to make a buck they’ve left common sense standing on the front porch.

    • NSA Internet Surveillance Under Section 702 Violates the First Amendment

      The First Amendment is too often overlooked in discussions of the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance authorities. But as Congress considers whether to reauthorize Section 702 of FISA this winter, we must remember that it’s not just our Fourth Amendment rights to privacy that are in the crosshairs, but also our First Amendment rights. These rights to anonymously speak, associate, access information, and engage in political activism are the bedrock of our democracy, and they’re endangered by the NSA’s pervasive surveillance.

      The NSA uses Section 702 to justify ongoing programs to siphon off copies of vast amounts of our communications directly from the Internet backbone as well as require system-wide searches across the information collected by major Internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple.

    • Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuits Over NSA’s Bulk Collection

      A federal judge threw out two long-running lawsuits challenging the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records under a surveillance program that Congress curbed in 2015.

    • Judge who once ruled against NSA metadata program tosses lawsuit

      A federal judge in Washington, DC has dismissed two long-running lawsuits that aimed to shed light on the often secretive surveillance state. As the National Security Agency’s metadata program no longer exists, the cases are now moot.

    • Has Web Advertising Jumped The Shark?

      There are at least three major, and one so far minor, business opportunities for the bad guys in Web advertising:

      Fraud
      Malvertising
      Domain spoofing
      Cryptojacking

      They’re all enabled by the fact that, as blissex wrote in this comment, we are living:

      In an age in which every browser gifts a free-to-use, unlimited-usage, fast VM to every visited web site, and these VMs can boot and run quite responsive 3D games or Linux distributions

    • Websites Use Session-Replay Scripts to Eavesdrop on Every Keystroke and Mouse Movement
    • Data release: list of websites that have third-party “session replay” scripts

      Methodology for detecting evidence of session recording is given below

    • ‘Online censorship’: Several apps including Microsoft’s Skype disappear from app stores in China
    • Goodbye Skype. China’s internet censorship juggernaut rolls on without its former cyber tsar

      Beijing is continuing to tighten its grip on cyberspace with the removal of internet phone services, including Microsoft’s popular Skype application, from China’s app stores.

      The app’s disappearance came as the Communist Party’s watchdog announced that former internet tsar Lu Wei had been detained on suspicion of “serious violations of party discipline”, a euphemism for graft.

    • Skype Vanishes From App Stores in China, Including Apple’s

      For almost a month, Skype, the internet phone call and messaging service, has been unavailable on a number of sites where apps are downloaded in China, including Apple’s app store in the country.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Behold! The astonishing mental gymnastics of TSA apologists explaining why rich people don’t need to be screened

      Fletcher and Abbas find that, more than anything, fliers value skipping the TSA checkpoints and will do almost anything to avoid them. Given that TSA checkpoints have no nexus with safety — that they exist solely to perform a security theater dumbshow that satisfies the security syllogism (“something must be done; there, I’ve done something”), this is OK, because letting everyone skip the TSA checkpoints would have no meaningful impact on aviation safety.

    • Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude
    • Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race

      Imagine if, during the Jim Crow era, a newspaper offered advertisers the option of placing ads only in copies that went to white readers.

      That’s basically what Facebook is doing nowadays.

      The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.

    • St. Louis Police Are Now Under Federal Investigation for Violating Protesters’ Civil Rights

      The federal investigation centers on allegations of civil rights violations by law enforcement officers when the community expressed its outrage, pain, and grief in protests after the September acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. Police pepper-sprayed protestors and bystanders without warning, even spraying some people in the face when they were sitting on the ground with their hands zip-tied. Officers interfered with people recording police activities in photos and on video. Police also unlawfully detained people during a kettling incident in downtown St. Louis.

    • Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Thanksgiving: “It Has Never Been About Honoring Native Americans”

      As much of the United States prepares to mark Thanksgiving this weekend, many Native Americans will gather in Plymouth to commemorate the 47th National Day of Mourning. This year is dedicated to water protectors at Standing Rock and to the struggle for recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. To discuss this and more, we speak with indigenous historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. She is the author of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” and co-author of “All the Real Indians Died Off: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Breitbart is too dumb to survive the net neutrality apocalypse

      What Breitbart doesn’t realize is that the weapon they fashion for Trump and his FCC will remain locked and loaded for the administrations that come next: once you erode the principle of net neutrality, then a 2018 Democratic Congress or a 2020 Democratic President could simply turn Breitbart off.

    • FCC ignored fraudulent net neutrality comments, New York attorney general says

      New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is openly calling out the Federal Communications Commission for not caring that thousands of people were submitting fraudulent comments regarding the potential repeal of net neutrality, something he compared to “identity theft on a massive scale.”

    • Senator Schatz on net neutrality: “This has to be a real political movement”
    • FCC releases final proposal to end net neutrality

      The FCC has released the final draft of its proposal to destroy net neutrality. The order removes nearly every net neutrality rule on the books — internet providers will be free to experiment with fast and slow lanes, prioritize their own traffic, and block apps and services. There’s really only one rule left here: that ISPs have to publicly disclose when they’re doing these things.

    • Reddit’s diverse subreddits in an uproar over FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed net neutrality repeal

      American internet users are facing a dire situation: The FCC has officially started its net neutrality repeal. The FCC’s move would end strong net neutrality protections and additionally stop states from enacting their own net neutrality rules. The telecom lobby has successfully pushed for that last caveat – likely because they saw the uproar of state level internet privacy activism after their repeal of internet privacy protections earlier this year. Several states and even some cities, proposed local laws that would maintain the stricken federal protections. The new proposed destruction of net neutrality will be revealed for all to see today. Each time that net neutrality, and the financial censorship that results, has come up in the past (like with SOPA and PIPA)- the internet has banded together to defeat the challenge.

    • Seven Things You Can Do Right Now to Save the Internet

      1. Sign up to volunteer with Team Internet, a grassroots group of connected Net Neutrality supporters run by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future and Free Press Action Fund. It takes five minutes to sign up for a special volunteer text-team shift to message other open-internet supporters about the news and invite them to take action. Get texting from the comfort of your own home!

      2. Call Congress and tell your lawmakers to save Net Neutrality. We need to do all we can to get as many members of Congress as possible to speak out against FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut the open internet. But we’re hearing from lawmakers who are on the fence that they need to hear from more constituents in order to act on this. Make their phones ring off the hook.

      3. Attend a protest at a Verizon store near you on Dec 7. On that day — exactly a week before the FCC votes on Pai’s terrible plan — internet users will gather to highlight Verizon’s role in locking down and controlling our internet. (Did we mention Pai used to work for Verizon?)

    • An Open Letter to the FCC:

      Specifically, for six months my office has been investigating who perpetrated a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC’s notice and comment process through the misuse of enormous numbers of real New Yorkers’ and other Americans’ identities. Such conduct likely violates state law — yet the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed.

    • Trump’s FCC Chief Unveils Plan to End Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

      The attempt to repeal net neutrality has triggered protests from consumer groups and internet companies. More than 22 million comments have been filed with the FCC about whether net neutrality should be rolled back.

      The Internet Association, a group whose members include major internet companies such as Google and Amazon, vowed to continue to fight to keep the current net neutrality rules intact.

    • FCC ignored your net neutrality comment, unless you made a ‘serious’ legal argument

      Americans by and large aren’t lawyers capable of putting together cogent legal analysis of telecommunications law, and prewritten form letters were widely offered to net neutrality supporters and opponents as a way to make their voice heard by the commission. The commission is required to accept and review public input. But if you were hoping that input would make a difference in the end, the FCC is now making it very clear that most letters it received didn’t change a thing.

    • Net neutrality: why are Americans so worried about it being scrapped?

      On the other side of the battle are companies relying on the internet to connect to customers. Their fear is that in an unregulated internet, ISPs may charge customers extra to visit certain websites, demand fees from the sites themselves to be delivered at full-speed, or privilege their own services over those of competitors.

      The fear is well-founded. Outside the US, where net neutrality laws are weaker and rarely enforced, ISPs have been experimenting with the sorts of favouritism that a low-regulation environment permits.

    • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange warns Trump that his tweets will ‘load slowly’ without ‘some’ net neutrality

      In response to another Twitter user’s comment, Assange said net neutrality rules “should be reformed and extended to prevent hyper dominant intermediaries like Google from engaging in political censorship, slowing down and re-ranking and let smaller players do whatever they like”.

    • FCC explains why public support for net neutrality won’t stop repeal

      Net neutrality rules are popular with Americans who use the Internet. When the Federal Communications Commission deliberated on possible net neutrality rules in 2014 and 2015, millions of comments poured in to support strict regulation of Internet service providers.

      Public opinion helped push the FCC to adopt rules that prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling Internet content and from charging websites or other online services for priority treatment on the network.

      Public opinion hasn’t changed much in the two-plus years that the rules have been on the books. The cable lobby surveyed registered voters this year and found that most of them continue to support bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Multiple polls have found that net neutrality rules are popular with both Democratic and Republican voters.

    • GAME OF PHONES: HOW VERIZON IS PLAYING THE FCC AND ITS CUSTOMERS

      Tomorrow, the FCC starts deciding the future of the internet. It’s an emotional, controversial, drawn-out battle that has been building for years, pitting some of the biggest internet providers in the world against the government, American citizens, and virtually every denizen of the web.

      At issue is how (or if) the FCC will protect the internet’s openness, free of special treatment and data “fast lanes” offered to the highest bidders. And while Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and others have been clamoring to prevent heavy regulation from being considered this week, it turns out that communications providers have actually been working the system for years, using exactly this kind of regulation to their advantage. In fact, strict FCC rules have helped Verizon build a largely unregulated network — a network that’s valued in the tens of billions of dollars.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Sci-Hub Loses Domain Names, But Remains Resilient

        While Sci-Hub is praised by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe the site from the web.

      • Google Wipes 786 Pirate Sites From Search Results

        Google and several leading Russian search engines have completely wiped 786 ‘pirate’ sites from their search results. That’s according to telecoms watch Rozcomnadzor, which reports that the search providers delisted the sites after ISPs were ordered by a Moscow court to permanently block them.

EPO is Imploding as Benoît Battistelli Drains Out Work, Talent, and Justice

Thursday 23rd of November 2017 07:45:24 AM

And UPC isn’t happening, contrary to the lies we still see coming from Team UPC

Summary: Battistelli’s vicious assault on the Office, culminating in an attack on justice and the drainage of work (declining/decreasing ‘demand’ for ‘products’) necessarily means mass layoffs and nothing to fill the vacuum left

THINGS have been relatively quiet on the EPO front this week, but that does not mean that the EPO’s management ceased working towards its nefarious goals. Just yesterday, for example, it carried on pushing for UPC, claiming that “high-IP trade and FDI flows to or between EU countries are expected to increase by 2% & 15% respectively.”

“The push for the UPC by Battistelli and the ‘circle’ (Team Battistelli) means that they want to expel the appeal boards.”These EPO-funded talking points have been produced, reportedly, in order to help pressure German courts. It’s part of the lobbying. The EPO also wrote about the exile to Haar, calling it a relocation. This is not a “relocation”, however, but a coordinated attack on the law itself. The push for the UPC by Battistelli and the ‘circle’ (Team Battistelli) means that they want to expel the appeal boards. They want to eliminate auditors of patent quality. They planned it for a long time. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that the UPC is collapsing.

Team UPC’s Robert Burrows wrote yesterday regarding alleged progress, but it’s pretty laughable. In his own words:

Although any MP may attend and speak at a Delegated Legislation Committee meeting, only the Committee members are entitled to vote.

Several new comments in IP Kat show that even stakeholders mock those who believe that the UPC will come to the UK. So this is sheer desperation from Team UPC, which is unable to report any substantial process.

“So this is sheer desperation from Team UPC, which is unable to report any substantial process.”Just a month ago Keltie LLP's Mark Richardson promoted loopholes for software patents and this week he amplifies these UPC lies that the EPO has paid for (corrupted academia).

Currently patent applicants in the EU can file a central application at the EPO and prosecute this as a single application through to grant at which point the granted European patent needs to be validated into a bundle of national patents. The post grant procedure therefore involves multiple validated patents with the associated need to track and renew multiple individual patents. Enforcement of this bundle of nationally validated patents across Europe potentially involves multiple court actions with the chance of conflicting decisions in different territories.

It’s against the above summary of the European patent system that the paper then introduces the “forthcoming” Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court and the possibility that this change to the patent system in Europe will help to alleviate some of the current limitations.

It’s not “forthcoming” at all; it is collapsing. Those who say otherwise have something to gain from it (IAM, for instance, having just published this sponsored ‘article’ for Frederick Nicolle from Carpmaels & Ransford LLP, regarding supplementary protection certificates).

“It’s the end of the EPO (as we know it) and there’s not even a replacement in the horizon.”As we have said and shown before, a lot of media was literally paid for UPC promotion. We continue to see such overt subversion of journalism.

Yesterday, for a change, IPPro Patents published something that’s not spam (advertisement in ‘article’ form). Barney Dixon wrote about SUEPO, relaying some internal messages voicing concerns about decline in patent quality. Much of the article is direct quotes, but here is an introduction.

According to an internal memo from the union, the official target for 2017 of 400,000 ‘products’ has been increased to an unofficial target of 415,000 and could lead to negative consequences for staff health and patent quality.

Products are granted only for a few actions that an examiner is expected to perform: a patent search, a patent grant, or a patent refusal. Examiners are awarded points, which determine whether employees have reached their individual and collective targets.

A source close to SUEPO said that the EPO point system is “perverted” as it “does not reward the issuing of a very solid patent after a thorough search, but, on the contrary in the current work climate where fear of reprisal plays a huge role, it has become an unhealthy incentive to support the mass-production of (low-quality) patents”.

The source said that under the outgoing president of the EPO Benoît Battistelli, the product targets have “increased tremendously”, leading to examiners being forced to cut corners.

This isn’t the EPO I once knew. And judging by the above numbers, the EPO will have run out of work some time next year. Layoffs can therefore be expected. It’s the end of the EPO (as we know it) and there’s not even a replacement over the horizon. The UPC is going nowhere and appeal boards and grossly understaffed.

Links 22/11/2017: Qt 5.9.3 Released, FCC v the Internet

Wednesday 22nd of November 2017 09:48:35 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Why Linux can make you feel thankful or merely stuffed

    There are many reasons why I came to appreciate Unix and then Linux and why they became such an important part of my life. These operating systems provided a focus and a career specialty that I’ve greatly enjoyed. I appreciate Linus Torvalds and the many thousands of developers who have contributed their time and energy into building a powerful, efficient and enjoyable operating system. I appreciate the many tools and commands that make them so easy to use and get my work done. And I appreciate the chances that I’ve had to share what I’ve learned with so many others. It’s been fun, and it’s been very rewarding.

  • Desktop
    • PINE64 PINEBOOK Review — Is This $89 Linux Laptop Worth it?

      A while back, there were articles circulating about the “World’s Cheapest Laptop,” but they really weren’t accurate. The PINEBOOK weighs in at $89USD for the 11″ model and $99USD for the 14″ model. But, can a sub-$100 laptop, new or used, really be worth it? It would almost be unanymously be argued not, but the PINEBOOK makes a very compelling case. Let’s tell you about it in detail.

      PINE64, the company behind the first budget/hobbyist 64bit single board computer by the same name, has started offering a lot more in the alternative computing arena. They have a wide variety of inventory on their website containing all sorts of odds and ends in addition to the flagship offerings. Everything a tinkerer might need, from microSD cards to USB wifi, USB ethernet, even power over ethernet broken-out into a DC barrel adapter and LCD panels, all for very appealing prices.

    • Surface Book 2 can’t stay charged during gaming sessions

      The Surface Book 2 is aimed at graphic pros, but with a stout NVIDIA 1060 GPU, it’s a tempting gaming machine, too. As we observed during our review, gaming drains the battery pretty fast, though. Worse, The Verge noticed that the power supply can’t actually charge the battery fast enough to prevent it from draining in some cases. A Microsoft spokesman has confirmed to The Verge that “in some intense, prolonged gaming scenarios with Power Mode Slider set to ‘best performance’ the battery may discharge while connected to the power supply.”

  • Server
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel 4.14 Now Ready for Mass Deployments as First Point Release Debuts

      Renowned Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced today the Linux 4.14.1 kernel, the first point release of the Linux 4.14 kernel series, which is the first to be supported for the next six years. The Linux 4.14.1 kernel is marked as “stable” on the kernel.org website, giving the green light to OS developers to add it to their repositories.

      Arch Linux developers have already pushed the Linux 4.14.1 kernel to the “Testing” repositories, for early adopters, so we may soon see a rebase of the operating system on Linux kernel 4.14, which brings major new features like support for AMD Secure Memory Encryption, Heterogeneous Memory Management to support upcoming GPUs, and bigger memory limits in x86 hardware.

    • Five fresh kernels

      Stable kernels 4.14.1, 4.13.15, 4.9.64, 4.4.100, and 3.18.83 have been released. They all contain important fixes and users should upgrade.

    • Linux 4.14.1
    • Linux 4.13.15
    • Linux 4.9.64
    • Linux 4.4.100
    • Linux 3.18.83
    • ‘Urgent data corruption issue’ destroys filesystems in Linux 4.14

      A filesystem-eating bug has been found in Linux 4.14.

      First reported last week by developer Pavel Goran, the problem struck bcache, a tool that lets one use a solid state disk drive as a read/write cache for another drive. bcache is often used to store data from a slow disk on faster media.

      Goran noticed the problem after trying to upgrade Gentoo from version 4.13 of the Linux kernel to version 4.14. During that effort he noticed “reads from the bcache device produce different data in 4.14 and 4.13.”

    • Linux Foundation
      • Inspiring the Next Generation of Open Source

        The Linux Foundation works through our projects, training and certification programs, events and more to bring people of all backgrounds into open source. We meet a lot of people, but find the drive and enthusiasm of some of our youngest community members to be especially infectious. In the past couple of months, we’ve invited 13-year-old algorithmist and cognitive developer Tanmay Bakshi, 11-year-old hacker and cybersecurity ambassador Reuben Paul, and 15-year-old programmer Keila Banks to speak at Linux Foundation conferences.

        In 2014 when he was 12, Zachary Dupont wrote a letter to his hero Linus Torvalds. We arranged for Zach to meet Linus–a visit that helped clinch his love for Linux. This year, Zach came to Open Source Summit in Los Angeles to catch up with Linus and let us know what he’s been up to. He’s kept busy with an internship at SAP and early acceptance to the Computer Networking and Digital Forensics program at the Delaware County Technical School.

    • Graphics Stack
    • Benchmarks
      • Looking At The Power Use From Linux 4.6 To Linux 4.15

        In addition to looking at system boot times from Linux 4.6 to Linux 4.15, while doing this kernel testing session on the Lenovo ThinkPad I also took some battery power consumption measurements.

        Using the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with Core i7 (Broadwell) processor, I also compared the battery power consumption on these tested mainline Linux kernels from 4.6 to 4.15.

      • Sabrent EC-SS31: A $10 USB 3.1 To SATA 2.5-Inch Drive Adapter

        If you are looking out for a SATA 2.5-inch HDD/SSD to USB3 adapter, the Sabrent EC-SS31 is quite simple, works with Linux, supports USB 3.1, and retails for about $10 USD.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 7.6 M3 Is The Last Ahead Of The Stable “Alvdal”
      • Running Radeon RX Vega On Linux 4.15, NVIDIA/Radeon Benchmarks

        With AMDGPU DC having been merged a few days ago for the Linux 4.15 merge window, it’s now possible to run the Radeon RX Vega graphics cards with display support using the mainline kernel without having to resort to using a patched/third-party kernel build or using the AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver. Here are some tests I have carried out with the Radeon RX Vega 56, RX Vega 64, and other graphics cards from Linux 4.15 Git compared to a few NVIDIA GPUs.

      • Linux 4.10 To Linux 4.15 Kernel Benchmarks

        The ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been enjoying its time on Linux 4.15. In addition to the recent boot time tests and kernel power comparison, here are some raw performance benchmarks looking at the speed from Linux 4.10 through Linux 4.15 Git.

        With this Broadwell-era Core i7 5600U laptop with 8GB RAM, HD Graphics, and 128GB SATA 3.0 SSD with Ubuntu 17.10 x86_64, the Linux 4.10 through 4.15 Git mainline kernels were benchmarked. Each one was tested “out of the box” and the kernel builds were obtained from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel archive.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Samsung Galaxy S8 Icon Theme for KDE Plasma

        A new KDE icon theme is bringing a sprinkle of Samsung Experience to the Plasma desktop.

        The Dex icon theme for KDE draws inspiration from the icons used on the Samsung Galaxy S8.

        Like its source Dex uses a “squircle” shape for the majority of its app icons. This reminds me (a little) of the Ubuntu Suru icon theme.

      • Qt 5.9.3 Released

        I am pleased to inform that Qt 5.9.3 is released today. As a patch release Qt 5.9.3 does not add any new functionality, focus is in bug fixes and performance improvements.

        Compared to Qt 5.9.2, the new Qt 5.9.3 contains over 100 bug fixes and in total more than 500 changes since Qt 5.9.2. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.9.3.

      • Qt 5.9.3 Packs More Than 500 Changes, Fixes Security Issues for Android Port

        The Qt Company, through Tuukka Turunen, announced today the third maintenance and stability update to the latest Qt 5.9 LTS open-source and cross-platform application framework.

        While Qt 5.9.3 does not add any new functionality to the long-term supported Qt 5.9 series, it would appear to be a major bugfix release that adds more than 500 changes compared to the previous update, Qt 5.9.2, which is currently used by default in various Linux-based and other operating systems.

      • Qt 5.9.3 Released With Fixes & Performance Improvements

        The Qt Company has issued Qt 5.9.3 as the latest tool-kit update in the Qt 5.9 Long-Term Support series.

        As is standard practice for Qt point releases, no new functionality is presented by Qt 5.9.3 but there are bug fixes and performance improvements. There are more than 100 bug fixes for this latest update and more than 500 changes in total since Qt 5.9.2. There are also security fixes, noted are two vulnerabilities being addressed for Qt on Android.

      • Security advisory about Qt for Android

        Two vulnerabilities have been identified in Qt for Android which could be used by a malicious application to hijack an existing Qt for Android application on the same device. The vulnerabilities in question were found by JPCERT Coordination Center, and have been assigned the following vulnerability IDs: JVN#27342829 and JVN#67389262.

      • Qt Creator 4.5 RC released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.5 RC!

        We think that we are pretty close to what we want to release as Qt Creator 4.5.0, so please take this opportunity to give us final feedback through the bug tracker, our mailing list, or on IRC (#qt-creator on chat.freenode.net). For information about the new features and improvements in this version, please have a look at the beta blog post or our change log.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Raspberry Slideshow 10 Operating System Released for Raspberry Pi Computers

        Raspberry Slideshow is another Linux-based operating system that runs on Raspberry Pi single-board computers, this time designed to provide image and video slideshows, as its name implies. The OS is capable of playing different media formats from a Windows (Samba), FTP, or web server share, or from a USB flash drive.

        The latest version, Raspberry Slideshow 10.0, is using packages from Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Raspbian Stretch release, which is based on the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series. It also adds support for all the Raspberry Pi models available on the market, as well as a number of improvements for better performance.

      • Kali Linux 2017.3 Ethical Hacking OS Brings InSpy, Sublist3r, and SMB3.0 Support

        Coming two months after the previous release, Kali Linux 2017.3 is here with a new kernel, namely Linux 4.13.10, which adds better support for the latest hardware components, as well as all the security patches pushed upstream in the Debian Testing repositories, as well as various new tools.

        First off, the Linux 4.13.10 kernel adds SMB 3.0 support to CIFS by default, rises the EXT4 directories limit from 10 million entries to up to 2 billion, and enables TLS support. Second, Offensive Security updated several of the included tools for this release, such as The Social Engineering Toolkit, Reaver, Burp Suite, PixieWPS, and Cuckoo.

      • TheSSS (Smallest Server Suite) Linux OS Receives Latest MariaDB & Apache Servers

        TheSSS 23.1 is a small update to the open-source, server-oriented GNU/Linux distribution and it’s based on the recently released 4MLinux Server 23.1 operating system, which means that it runs the Linux 4.9.61 LTS kernel under the hood, along with other updates like OpenSSL 1.0.2m, Postfix 3.2.4, and Stunnel 5.43.

        On the server side of things, TheSSS 23.1 updates the MariaDB database server to version 10.2.10, the Apache web server to version 2.4.29, as well as the PHP packages to both 7.0.25 and 5.6.32 releases, the latter being available for compatibility reasons.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • OpenMandriva Is Dropping 32-Bit Support, OpenMandriva Lx 3.03 Is the Last One

        Powered by the Linux 4.13.12 kernel, OpenMandriva Lx 3.03 is an enhancement to the previous OpenMandriva Lx 3 releases, adding major improvements to the boot process. The OS also uses the Mesa 17.2.3 graphics stack with S3TC support enabled, the X.Org Server 1.19.5 display server, and systemd 234 init system.

        On the user-visible side of changes, OpenMandriva Lx 3.03 ships with the KDE Plasma 5.10.5 desktop environment and KDE Frameworks 5.39.0 software stack, along with the latest Firefox Quantum web browser compiled with LLVM/Clang 5.0.0 and Calamares 3.1.8 as default graphical installer.

      • OpenMandriva Is Going To Do Away With 32-bit Support

        Following in the steps of Ubuntu 17.10 dropping 32-bit desktop images and other Linux distributions also lessening their focus on 32-bit support, OpenMandriva has issued its final i586 release.

        OpenMandriva Lx 3.03 was released on Tuesday with boot speed improvements, updates to Linux/systemd/Mesa, KDE Plasma 5.10.5, LLVM Clang 5.0, and other package upgrades. This is also going to be their last planned release in the OpenMandriva Lx 3 series.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.03 – Get it while it’s hot!

        This release Lx 3.03 is an enhancement and upgrade to the previous Lx 3 releases.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Buster-Based SparkyLinux 5 Development Version Adds Full Disk Encryption

        Shipping a few days after the release of SparkyLinux 4.7 “Tyche” stable operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch,” the SparkyLinux 5-dev20171120 development build includes up-to-date packages based on the repositories of the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system.

        Apart from rebasing the operating system on the latest Debian Testing repos as of November 20, 2017, the new SparkyLinux 5 development images are the first to enable full disk encryption by default in the Calamares graphical installer, as you can see from the screenshots attached at the end of the article.

      • Debian package depicts ‘Tux the penguin’ with sheep in intimate ASCII

        A Debian software package containing an “ASCII representation of zoophilia” has been installed automatically on some users’ machines.

        According to a bug report, Debian user Felicia Hummel installed a package called “cowsay”, which turns text into ASCII art of cows (or other animals) with speech or thought balloons. But with default settings of “install suggests” enabled, a controversial second “recommends” package called “cowsay-off” was also installed.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • MAAS 2.3.0 (final) Released!

            I’m happy to announce that MAAS 2.3.0 (final) is now available!
            This new MAAS release introduces a set of exciting features and improvements to the overall user experience. It now becomes the focus of maintenance, as it fully replaces MAAS 2.2
            In order to provide with sufficient notice, please be aware that 2.3.0 will replace MAAS 2.2 in the Ubuntu Archive in the coming weeks. In the meantime, MAAS 2.3 is available in PPA and as a Snap.

          • LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Ubuntu MATE 17.10

            Ubuntu Mate 17.10 is a pretty stable and rock solid distribution which has got most things right. There is nothing unlikable about the distro. However, I feel it could have been a lot better if they had allowed 4 windows to be snapped on each corners and done something about the opaque top panel. The software included are very much standard and even though some of their names have been changed we all know what’s under the hood. Overall Experience has been good. Having already tested Ubuntu with Gnome 3, I can say that Ubuntu Mate 17.10 feels a lot faster and quicker in terms of GUI response.

          • Join us at the Ubuntu Enterprise Summit!

            Bloomberg, Walmart, eBay, Samsung, Dell. Ever wonder how some of the world’s largest enterprises run on Ubuntu? This December, we are hosting our first ever Ubuntu Enterprise Summit to tell you how and help guide your own organisation whether it be running the cloud in a large telco to deriving revenue from your next IoT initiative. The Ubuntu Enterprise Summit is a two day event of webinars on December 5th and 6th where you can join Canonical’s product managers, technical leads, partners and customers to get an inside look at why some of the world’s largest companies have chosen Ubuntu. Whether you are focused on the cloud or are living life at the edge, the webinars will also look at trends and the considerations for your organisation when implementing such technologies. To kick off the event on December 5th, Canonical CEO and founder Mark Shuttleworth will deliver a keynote talk on 21st Century Infrastructure. Following Mark’s opening, there will be a series of other events and you can register now for those that spark your interest by clicking on the links below

          • Ubuntu Server Development Summary – 21 Nov 2017

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team. If you would like to reach the server team, you can find us at the #ubuntu-server channel on Freenode. Alternatively, you can sign up and use the Ubuntu Server Team mailing list.

          • Late Post For Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day 2017

            I am also very thankful for LaTeX2e and Tex Live. It has been a great thing to have to prepare devotional materials for church. I am thankful for the MOTU folks maintaining Gummi which is the editor I use on Xubuntu. Xubuntu is what I run on my laptop that goes many places with me. Tex Live is run both on the laptop and on the Raspberry Pi 2 at home.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Users Get Major Kernel Update, 20 Security Vulnerabilities Patched

            If you’re using the latest Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system on your personal computer, you should know that it received it’s first major kernel update since the official release back in October 19, 2017. The update addresses a total of 20 security vulnerabilities for Ubuntu 17.10′s Linux 4.13 kernel packages, including the Raspberry Pi 2 one.

            Among the security issues patched in this update, five are related to Linux kernel’s USB subsystem, including a use-after-free vulnerability, which could allow a physically proximate attacker to crash the affected system by causing a denial of service (DoS attack) or possibly execute arbitrary code. Other three are related to the ALSA subsystem, including a race condition.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Ubuntu-Based ExLight Linux OS Is One of the Few to Use Latest Enlightenment 0.22

              ExLight Build 171121 replaces last week’s Build 171112, which used the older Enlightenment 0.20 desktop from the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) software repositories, to update Enlightenment to the latest 0.22 release that the developer compiled from sources. This makes ExLight one of few distros to use Enlightenment 0.22.

              “Version 171112 uses Enlightenment 0.20 installed from Ubuntu’s repositories. Build 171121 of ExLight uses Enlightenment 0.22 installed by me from source,” said the developer in the release announcement. “Only two Linux distributions in the whole wide world (besides ExLight) use Enlightenment 0.22 as desktop environment.”

            • LXLE Eclectica 16.04.3 Released

              LXLE 16.04.3 is built upon Ubuntu Mini LTS. Lubuntu-core is used as a starting point.

            • LXLE 16.04.3 “Eclectica” Linux Distro Is Out Now Based on Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS

              The developers of the Ubuntu-based LXLE GNU/Linux distribution have announced the release of LXLE 16.04.3, the latest update to the Eclectica series based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

              Incorporating all the updates and core components of Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS, the LXLE 16.04.3 release is here to further integrate various of the components of the MATE and LXQt desktop environments, as well as some from the Linux Mint operating system.

              On top of that, the application menu received improvements to its layout and how items are organization, the system theme was tweaked for consistency, LXhotkey replaces the Obkey Openbox key editor, and Pithos has been removed because it required a user account.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Interview with FreeDOS Founder and Lead Dev Jim Hall

    It’s been 23 years to the FreeDOS project. FreeDOS founder Jim Hall shares some interesting insight into this veteran open source project.

  • ONAP Rolls Out Amsterdam Release

    Less than nine months after AT&T and the Linux Foundation merged their open source projects to become the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), the group today rolled out its first code release, Amsterdam.

    The highly anticipated release, which integrates AT&T’s ECOMP and the Linux Foundation’s Open-O code bases into a common open source orchestration platform, aims to automate the virtualization of network services.

  • The advantages of open source tools

    Open source software, applications, and projects are becoming more commonplace, at least more than they ever have been. That’s because major organizations and brands have now embraced the development philosophy.

    Some of the more renowned examples of open source projects include WordPress, Android, FileZilla, Audacity, GIMP, VLC Media Player, Notepad++, Blender, and, of course, Ubuntu/Linux.

  • The 2 Best Ways to Build a Business Around Open Source Software

    There are many things to think about when building and starting a company. However, I’ll say a few things that are particularly different about building a business around open source technology. First, open source isn’t a business model; it is a go-to-market strategy. Done right, it really solves one of the hardest problems in building a business — getting traction for the product. Focusing on developer evangelism and community building is key to adoption of open-source technology. In the early days of Apache Kafka and even now, this is a big part of what I and the team do. Second, while building any business, it is important to understand the new buyer and then influence them. For most open-source businesses, the developer is the new buyer. This fundamentally changes the role of marketing in open-source companies. Third, there has been a constant evolution of open source software business models since Red Hat blazed the first trail. The two common OSS business models that are successfully pursued by many companies like Cloudera, Elastic and Confluent are:

  • Events
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta to Arrive by Week’s End for Second Bug Hunting Session

      Announced today by Mike Saunders, the event will be held for the first time on a Monday, on November 27, 2017, from 8 a.m. UTC to 10 p.m. UTC. During the event, which will take place online, LibreOffice developers will try to triage and fix as many bugs as possible for the first LibreOffice 6.0 Beta.

      A few days before the event, The Document Foundation will release the LibreOffice 6.0 Beta 1 builds for GNU/Linux distributions using either the DEB or RPM binary formats, as well as for macOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems. These beta builds can run in parallel with the production version, LibreOffice 5.4.

    • LibreOffice Calc Is Finally Being Threaded

      While LibreOffice Calc for a while now has been offering OpenCL support for speeding up spreadsheet computations, with not all drivers/GPUs supporting OpenCL, this Microsoft Office alternative is finally receiving proper multi-threading support.

      Collabora developers have landed their initial work on multi-threading / parallelism as they look to speed-up the LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet program’s calculations.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • BSD
    • pfSense 2.4.2-RELEASE now available

      We are excited to announce the release of pfSense® software version 2.4.2, now available for new installations and upgrades!

      pfSense software version 2.4.2 is a maintenance release bringing security patches and stability fixes for issues present in previous pfSense 2.4.x branch releases.

      pfSense 2.4.2-RELEASE updates and installation images are available now!

    • pfSense 2.4.2 Open-Source Firewall Patches OpenSSL, Improves Network Performance

      Netgate’s Jim Pingle announced the availability of the second maintenance and stabilization update to the latest 2.4 series of pfSense, world’s most trusted open-source firewall.

      pfSense 2.4.2 is a security and bugfix release that updates the OpenSSL packages to version 1.0.2m to fix two recently disclosed vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-3736 and CVE-2017-3735), addresses three potential XSS vectors, fixes the VLAN priority handling, and addresses issues with PPP interfaces that have VLAN parents.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open education: How students save money by creating open textbooks

        Most people consider a college education the key to future success, but for many students, the cost is insurmountable. The growing open educational resource (OER) movement is attempting to address this problem by providing a high-quality, low-cost alternative to traditional textbooks, while at the same time empowering students and educators in innovative ways. One of the leaders in this movement is Robin DeRosa, a professor at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. I have been enthusiastically following her posts on Twitter and invited her to share her passion for open education with our readers. I am delighted to share our discussion with you.

  • Programming/Development
    • 5 approaches to learning Python

      Python is a powerful, versatile programming language that’s popular with open source software developers. Whether you’re a seasoned developer looking to test your code, or you just want to learn the basics, the following resources might help.

    • Google’s mysterious Fuchsia OS gets Apple Swift language support

      Google has given its mystery operating system Fuchsia an update to support Apple’s Swift programming language.

      Swift has quickly become one of hottest languages among developers. Google last week caused a stir after it forked Swift, causing speculation that Google wanted to take the language in a different direction.

    • devRantron – An Unofficial Desktop Client for devRant Programmers

      devRantron is a free, open-source, and cross-platform (unofficial) desktop client for the famous Dev Rant Android and iOS social media application for programmers, developers, and designers.

      Before now, devRant was only accessible on the mobile phones, but now users can post complaints and follow up on rants by developers from all around the globe even while working on their desktops and it’s thanks to a group of friends who concluded that devRant was taking too long to deliver a desktop client.

    • The New Compiler Features & Changes Of GCC 8

      With GCC 8 feature development over and onto bug fixing, here is a look at some of the changes to find with the GCC 8 compiler stack that will be released as stable early next year in the form of GCC 8.1.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • British water utilities admit they use divining rods to find leaks

      Ten out of 12 water utilities in the United Kingdom admitted that their technicians use divining rods to find underground leaks or water pipes, according to an investigation by science blogger Sally Le Page.

      Dowsing is a centuries-old technique for locating underground water. Someone searching for water holds two parallel sticks—or sometimes a single Y-shaped stick—called divining rods while walking in an area where there might be water under the surface. The branches supposedly twitch when they’re over a water source.

      Needless to say, there’s zero scientific evidence that this technique actually works better than random chance. But Le Page got a bunch of UK water companies to admit that their technicians still employ the superstitious practice.

  • Hardware
    • HPE CEO Meg Whitman to step down in 2018

      As part of its quarterly earnings report, Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced Tuesday that CEO Meg Whitman would be stepping down from her position as of February 1, 2018.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • How an unpaid UK researcher saved the Japanese seaweed industry

      The tasty Japanese seaweed nori is ubiquitous today, but that wasn’t always true. Nori was once called “lucky grass” because every year’s harvest was entirely dependent on luck. Then, during World War II, luck ran out. No nori would grow off the coast of Japan, and farmers were distraught. But a major scientific discovery on the other side of the planet revealed something unexpected about the humble plant and turned an unpredictable crop into a steady and plentiful food source.

      Nori is most familiar to us when it’s wrapped around sushi. It looks less familiar when floating in the sea, but for centuries, farmers in Japan, China, and Korea knew it by sight. Every year, they would plant bamboo poles strung with nets in the coastal seabed and wait for nori to build up on them.

    • WHO Draft Work Program To Be Presented, Discussed This Week

      The World Health Organization is presenting its draft work program for 2019-2023 for consideration by member states this week.

      The 34-member WHO Executive Board is meeting in a special session on 22-23 November to consider the draft thirteenth General Programme of Work (GPW 13 [pdf]), recently published by the WHO (IPW, WHO, 1 November 2017).

      According to the draft programme of work [pdf], comments received this week will feed into a revised draft GPW 13 for consideration by the Executive Board at its 142nd session in January.

    • Before Peter Thiel invested, research on herpes vaccine began in US hotel rooms

      Halford’s actions represent a flagrant violation of laws governing human clinical trials. They will likely further ensnare SIU and Halford’s company, Rational Vaccines, in controversy.

      Halford’s conduct has already drawn sharp criticism and rebuke following the August report of his unapproved trial on the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Experts called the trial “patently unethical.” Scientists rejected data generated by the trial from publication. And authorities from St. Kitts opened an investigation into the trial, while US authorities from Health and Human Services sent an inquiry to SIU regarding Halford’s work.

      But conservative investors critical of US regulations, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, invested $7 million into Halford’s research based on results of the trial. Those results were considered “partly wishful thinking” by scientists. But Halford painted the trial and the vaccine as a success, as did Agustín Fernández III, the co-founder of Rational Vaccines.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Chilling New Report Cites Greater Death Toll in Allende Massacre

      A disturbing report released today by researchers at the prestigious Colegio de Mexico provides new details about a 2011 massacre in Allende, a quiet Mexican ranching town less than an hour’s drive from the United States, and suggests that many more people were killed in the incident than estimated by Mexican authorities. The report’s authors also repeatedly cite an investigation of the incident by ProPublica and National Geographic in calling for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to provide information about its role in triggering the killing spree.

    • Nigeria: Suicide Bombing Kills Up to Fifty People at Mosque

      In Nigeria, a suicide bombing at a mosque in the northeast has killed up to fifty people. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though local officials blamed it on Boko Haram.

    • Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?

      Lebanon is being accused by 5 GCC members and a growing list of allies regionally and globally of declaring war on Saudi Arabia by its corrupt ‘leaders’ essentially deeding the country to Iran. Consequently, the KSA and other countries have joined in demanding that the Lebanese “government” choose between peace or allegiance to Iran and Hezbollah. The new reactive strategy appears to include targeting Lebanon’s already challenged economy.

      [...]

      Mr. Sabhan’s declaration raises the distinct possibility of a GCC “Dahiyeh Doctrine” wherein Saudi Arabia and her allies could take a page from Israel’s 2009 “Dahiyeh Doctrine” wherein the occupiers of Palestine are now committed to targeting all of Lebanon in the next war and not just Hezbollah areas. The justification for both “total wars” is claimed to be that the Lebanese government has failed to effectively control or disarm Iran’s Hezbollah militia but instead has ceded Lebanon’s sovereignty. Some are suggesting that Saudi Arabia, along with her regional and even some global allies may well launch an economic “Dahiyeh Doctrine” wherein all of Lebanon’s economy is fair game for targeting much as Iran’s continues to be.

    • The Uncounted: New York Times Finds US Airstrikes Kill Far More Iraqi Civilians Than Pentagon Admits

      We spend the hour looking at a damning new report that reveals how U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq have killed far more civilians than officials have acknowledged. The coalition’s own data shows 89 of its more than 14,000 airstrikes in Iraq have resulted in civilian deaths, or about one of every 157 strikes. But their an on-the-ground investigation by The New York Times magazine found civilian deaths in “one out of every five” strikes. We are joined by the two reporters who co-authored this investigation titled “The Uncounted.” Azmat Khan is an investigative journalist and a Future of War fellow at New America and Arizona State University; and Anand Gopal is a reporter and an assistant research professor at Arizona State University. A civilian survivor who lost his family and home to a 2015 U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Basim Razzo, also joins us from Erbil, Iraq.

    • Trump Designates North Korea as State Sponsor of Terrorism

      President Trump has officially designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, escalating the rising tensions between the two countries. Other countries on the list are: Sudan, Syria and Iran. The diplomatic move comes amid an escalating threat of nuclear war, with Trump repeatedly threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and to unleash “fire and fury” on the nation of 25 million people. This is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    • U.S. Navy plane carrying 11 crashes into ocean near Okinawa

      A U.S. Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa on Wednesday afternoon, the Seventh Fleet said.

      The aircraft was traveling to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea, when it crashed. The cause of the crash is not known, the Seventh Fleet, based in the Japanese port of Yokosuka, said in a statement.

    • Report: U.S. Air Force on Track to Triple Number of Bombs Dropped in Afghanistan

      In news on the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force is on track to triple the number of bombs there dropped this year, compared with last year. The major increase in bombing comes as the Trump administration has deployed thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in recent months. By early 2018, there are slated to be about 16,000 U.S. troops there. The ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history.

    • U.S. Government Planned False Flag Attacks to Start War With Soviet Union, JFK Documents Show

      The U.S. government once wanted to plan false flag attacks with Soviet aircraft to justify war with the USSR or its allies, newly declassified documents surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy show.

      In a three-page memo, members of the National Security Council wrote, “There is a possibility that such aircraft could be used in a deception operation designed to confuse enemy planes in the air, to launch a surprise attack against enemy installations or in a provocation operation in which Soviet aircraft would appear to attack US or friendly installations to provide an excuse for U.S. intervention.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Lack of planning, investment will continue to drive up electricity costs: report

      With energy storage and a reliable, sustainable supply of power — and government energy policies — a hot topic in Australia, a group of Australian academics has warned that without proper planning and investment in energy storage, electricity costs in Australia will continue to rise and electricity supply will become less reliable.

    • ‘Wealthy Countries Have Damaged the Climate in Incredible Ways’

      A New York Times explainer in advance of the Bonn climate talks told readers the worst case scenario for the UN summit is it “could get bogged down by the traditional rift between richer and poorer nations.” That might “stall momentum right before the next big round of climate talks in 2018.” Of course, others may see different forces behind any stalled momentum, and might offer a different frame for questions of climate justice than that of a “traditional rift” between the world’s rich and poor.

      Karen Orenstein is the deputy director of the Economic Policy Program at Friends of the Earth US where she works on issues of international public finance and climate finance in particular. She joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Karen Orenstein.

    • USA Today Ignores Climate Change as Factor in Alaskan Drilling

      The lead story of the November 20 USA Today, “Drilling Closes In on Alaska Wildlife Refuge,” was supposed to give readers the basics surrounding proposed legislation to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The article is intended as an explainer—“Here’s What You Should Know,” its online headline concludes—but one idea is conspicuously absent from its explanation: climate change.

      Sales of drilling rights in the northeastern Alaskan coastal plain are slated to be attached to the Senate version of the tax bill, ostensibly as a way to raise revenue to offset the cost of massive tax cuts. The article’s lead frames the issue in terms of proponents’ view of the refuge “as an area rich with natural resources that could help fuel the United States’ drive for energy independence”—despite the fact that the United States became a net exporter of oil in 2013, and any increase in oil production would likely go to overseas markets.

    • Hinkley Point C subsidy has dealt consumers ‘a bad hand’, say MPs

      MPs have accused the government of failing to protect consumers over the price it has promised to pay for power from the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.

      The Commons public accounts committee said the subsidy contract for Hinkley Point C, agreed in 2016 after years of delays, would hit poorest households hardest.

      The power station is expected to cost billpayers £30bn over the lengthy of the 35-year contract, adding £10-£15 to the average household energy bill.

    • Oysters and Celery Aren’t Only for Holiday Stuffing!

      Roasted birds on the holiday table are often stuffed with a blend of breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices that includes chopped celery. Many stuffing recipes even call for chopped oysters, a briny bivalve that for centuries has been served raw on the half shell as a token of good luck in the coming year.

      But did you know that oysters and “celery” (the wild variety, a common seagrass) also serve as vital underwater habitats?

      As you celebrate the season, consider the diverse roles of oysters and celery (both wild and cultivated). Far more than delectable treats on the holiday menu, they provide protective lairs and nutritious fare for our fragile aquatic communities.

    • ‘Looting’ spree threatens wildlife and forests across eastern Europe

      An environmental “looting” spree is threatening biodiversity and pristine forests across 15 countries in central and eastern Europe, the UN has warned.

      Environmental crimes such as illegal logging, fishing, poaching and the caviar black market are putting “high pressure” on ecosystems in the Danube-Carpathian region, according to a report by the UN Environmental Programme (Unep) and WWF.

  • Finance
    • Brexit Diary: A “reality check” for Remainers

      21st November 2017

      The UK government is encountering problem after problem with Brexit.

      There is a real prospect either of there being “no deal” or of a capitulation to the EU’s demands.

      In terms of administration – basic points such as customs and border control – the UK state is nowhere near ready.

      But the accumulation of these difficulties does not make Brexit any less likely.

      Unless something exceptional happens, the UK will leave the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019.

      Very little can prevent this.

    • Five-a-day eating targets ‘will be unaffordable for millions after Brexit’

      Five-a-day eating targets for fruit and vegetables could become unaffordable for millions of low-income families as a result of Brexit-related food price rises, a report says.

      The Food Foundation says that already-feeble consumption rates of healthy food in the UK could nosedive under Brexit because the triple impact of exchange rates, labour costs and tariffs could add up to £158 a year to the amount a family of four spends on fruit and vegetables.

      The thinktank warns that the poorest families – which spend the biggest proportion of their household budget on food – will be hardest hit, and calls for an expanded healthy food voucher system to help boost household nutrition in deprived areas.

    • Airbus boss says Brexit risks losing UK aviation’s ‘crown jewels’ to China

      Airbus has told MPs that Britain risks losing the “crown jewels” of its aviation industry to China as a result of Brexit, putting up to 7,000 wing-manufacturing jobs in Wales at risk.

      The company’s senior corporate representative in the UK warned the business select committee that the threat of new customs bureaucracy and reduced employee mobility could deter long-term investment and accelerate a shift to Asia.

      Though there are no current plans to move, Katherine Bennett said, she was “fighting to ensure that wing design – the crown jewels of aerospace – remains in this country”.

    • Expect A Budget That Pays Lip Service To The Marvellous Opportunities Of Brexit – The Reality Is An Unfolding Economic Calamity

      When the Chancellor gets up to deliver his Budget statement it will be too much to expect consistency between his view of the impact on the economy of Brexit now and what it was before the referendum. It is now party line for Conservative politicians to pay lip service to the marvellous opportunities that Brexit offers in stark contradiction to their view before the referendum.

      In this respect at least, the establishment of the independent Office for Budget Responsibility has been a blessing for us all. Their duty is to provide an objective, and apolitical, perspective on public spending. While public opinion can be swayed on issues such as the likelihood that our former colonies will rush to our aid, or the potential for us to export innovative jams to France and naan breads to India; or the likelihood that Argentina will vote for us to have tremendous terms at the WTO, the hard facts of economic statistics remain unmoved.

    • Uber is ripping off riders in Singapore, charging thousands for ‘phantom’ trips
    • Colorado fines Uber $8.9M for allowing dozens of unauthorized drivers

      Colorado authorities have issued an $8.9 million fine against Uber for authorizing drivers who had prior disqualifying criminal or vehicle-related offenses.

      According to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, Uber allowed 57 drivers over the last 18 months to drive who should not have been permitted to drive for the company.

    • French bank to close far-right Front National’s accounts

      France’s second largest bank has asked the Front National to close all its accounts and take its business elsewhere. The bank, Société Générale, told the far-right party, led by Marine Le Pen, that it wished to end its 30-year “banking relationship”. It gave no specific reason for the decision.

      FN officials said they were fighting the move and claimed that the party was being persecuted. The party headquarters in Nanterre, outside Paris, and local FN federations, have all been targeted, the news website Mediapart and France Inter radio reported on Tuesday.

      According to an internal party communication leaked to Mediapart, the bank is seeking to close all current and savings accounts held by the party.

    • MP demands answers on DUP Brexit funders’ fine

      Martin Docherty-Hughes MP grilled the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on a secret fine charged to the DUP’s dark-money Brexit funders.

      [...]

      Martin Docherty-Hughes, the SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire, used Northern Ireland Questions to ask the Secretary of State James Brokenshire why the DUP’s Brexit donors had been charged a record fine by the Electoral Commission. The secretive donors to the Tories’ partners in government are protected from public scrutiny by Northern Irish secrecy laws.

    • Modern slavery, Brexit, migration, and development: connecting the dots

      Regardless of how one feels about migrants, protecting them in the labour market will bring benefits to all workers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Hungary’s Russian-built nuclear plant powered by politics in Brussels

      The European Commission brokered a “global political solution” with Hungary over its controversial Russia-backed nuclear power station rather than escalate a fight amid already fraught relations with Budapest, according to internal documents obtained by an MEP and reviewed by POLITICO.

      More than 200 pages of Commission memos, emails and meetings minutes from 2016 show that Commission officials expressed serious doubts about Hungary’s numerous attempts to justify awarding the contract to build the €12 billion Paks II nuclear project to the Kremlin-owned Rosatom without opening up the project for bids.

    • Former U.S. ethics official files complaint against Trump aide Conway

      The former head of a U.S. government ethics watchdog said on Wednesday he had filed a complaint claiming senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway violated a law barring executive branch employees from engaging in political activity when she spoke on television against a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Civil Liberties Committee joins the opposition against automated censorship machines

      The Committee voted to remove the obligation for [I]nternet platforms to employ technologies like automated content recognition to surveil all user uploads and try to pre-empt copyright infringement. It also proposes strengthening people’s ability to contest the takedown of works they’ve uploaded. This is the same balanced approach previously taken by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

    • Data bill means censorship, BBC warns

      New powers allowing pre-publication censorship of the media would have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism, the BBC has warned.

      The newspaper industry has also raised objections to the Data Protection Bill, which is passing through parliament. It seeks to give individuals more control over their personal information and imposes harsher penalties on companies that misuse it. Journalists are granted significant exemptions to the rules if they are working to expose wrongdoing and criminality.

    • China’s Flashy Ex-Internet Censor Faces Corruption Investigation

      The former Chinese official in charge of internet censorship, who hobnobbed with top executives from Facebook, Apple and Amazon and flatly denied that his government engaged in censorship, has been put under investigation by the Communist Party’s anti-corruption agency, state media reported on Tuesday.

      The downfall of the censorship official, Lu Wei, was a long time coming. He once held a cluster of titles that gave him formidable influence over internet policy. But he was removed from many posts last year, suggesting that his career was under a cloud.

    • China’s former internet tsar Lu Wei faces graft probe
    • China has detained a key architect of its massive internet censorship regime
    • Chinese censor feted by Mark Zuckerberg is accused of corruption
    • China’s former chief internet censor Lu Wei investigated for ‘severe disciplinary violations’
    • Sage is latest publisher to warn of China censorship pressures

      Another leading academic publisher has been warned that it may have to censor in China or be forced out of the market, as Beijing intensifies its control over foreign education and publishing.

    • Editors Claim Censorship at a Public Health Journal

      The editorial board at the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health accuses its publisher of promoting corporate interests.

    • 7 pull out of KL Biennale over ‘censorship’

      ONE day before its official opening, a group of Malaysian and Indonesian artists withdrew today from the Kuala Lumpur Biennale (KL Biennale) 2017, claiming that their artworks have been removed from the exhibition.

      The group, a collaboration of five Malaysians from Pusat Sekitar Seni (PSS) and two Indonesians from Population Project, had produced an installation entitled Under Construction.

    • Poliakoff: Censorship takes stage on campus

      The censors seem to be out in force lately on the American college campus. November saw Brandeis University cancel the world premiere of a play about Lenny Bruce. Then Knox College in Illinois cancelled the staging of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan.” In both cases, the charge against the dramas was racial insensitivity. And in both cases, only cloudy reasoning could lead viewers to ignore the clear anti-racist intent of these plays.

      The ironies are overwhelming, with poor Lenny and Bertolt bludgeoned first from the right and now from the left. In 1947, Brecht found himself face-to-face with the House Committee on Un-American Activities, charged with his creation of “a number of very revolutionary poems, plays, and other writings.” In 1961, Bruce, a quintessential counter-culture figure, was prosecuted for “obscenity.”

    • Laurier university issues apology amid censorship controversy

      Wilfrid Laurier University officials have offered one of their T.A.s an apology for the way they handled a complaint surrounding her tutorial.

      The issue started when Lindsay Shepherd, a master’s student, played a controversial YouTube clip about gender-neutral pronouns in her tutorial for students in a communications class.

    • Laurier University Apologizes to TA For Jordan Peterson Censorship Drama
    • Alabama Media Group Isn’t Messing Around With Roy Moore’s Silly Threat

      Last week, we wrote about the truly ridiculous letter sent by Senate candidate Roy Moore’s nutty lawyer, Trenton Garmon, threatening to sue Alabama Media Group for defamation for daring to write about reports of Moore’s sketchy behavior towards girls and young women. In that piece, we noted that AMG made it clear it wasn’t going to back down, noting that it stood behind its reporting and the threats only made the news organization that much more interested in “doggedly” pursuing the truth. Now, as pointed out on Boing Boing, we see the official response from Alabama Media Group’s lawyer, John G. Thompson Jr.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • The Senate’s Liberty Act Helps Close the “Backdoor”
    • The Safest Conversation You’ll Have This Holiday

      Do your friends and family rope you into providing tech support when you’re home for the holidays? Use this opportunity to be a digital security hero and rescue your family from tracking cookies, unencrypted disks, insecure chats, and recycled passwords.

      Check out EFF’s Security Education Companion for ideas and inspiration. And remember: People learn by doing! Encourage friends and family members to walk through new security concepts and tools with you, and avoid the pitfalls of taking over their devices and doing it yourself.

    • New York Court Says NYPD Must Get Warrants To Deploy Stingrays

      Another court has decided warrants must accompany Stingray use. (via the New York Times) The ruling handed down earlier this month clarifies the distinction between the records obtained and the records requested. In this case, police used a pen register request to deploy their Stingray device. As the court points out, Stingray devices grab a lot more than just phone numbers.

      [...]

      The decision also notes Stingray use was “conceded” by the prosecution, suggesting it fought this disclosure for as long as it could.

      This is good news for residents of New York and another small step towards a unified judicial view on Stingray deployments. Better yet, it has probably resulted in audible wailing and gnashing of teeth in the upper levels of the NYPD bureaucracy.

    • Dozens Of Tech Experts Tell DHS & ICE That Its Social Media Surveillance And Extreme Vetting Should Be Stopped

      In short, this is the tech world telling DHS and ICE that its belief that there’s a “nerd harder” solution to using computers and algorithms to sniff out terrorists is a load of pure hooey. It may be true, as Arthur C. Clarke once stated, that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” but the corollary does not apply: not all magical solutions can be implemented in technology. It’s kind of ridiculous that actual technologists were needed to explain this to DHS, but that’s where things are these days.

    • Google secretly tracks people even after they’ve explicitly told it to stop
    • Google tracks Android users even with location services turned off

      Google has been tracking Android users even if they had location tracking turned off and did not have a SIM in their smartphones, according to a published report.

    • Google admits it tracked user location data even when the setting was turned off

      Since January, all kinds of Android phones and tablets have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers and sending the encrypted data to Google’s push notifications and messaging management system when connected to the internet. It’s a practice that customers can’t opt out of — even if their phones are factory reset.

    • Investigation Finds Google Collected Location Data Even With Location Services Turned Off

      So much for going off the grid. There are some caveats to Google’s permissionless collection of cell site location data, with the most significant being the fact Google didn’t store the auto-collected cell tower info. That doesn’t excuse the practice, but it at least keeps it from becoming tracking data the government can access without a warrant.

      Google’s collection of cell tower data occurred when notifications were pushed or phone users utilized the phone’s built-in messaging service. In both cases, it’s reasonable to assume users weren’t expecting Google to be collecting this data. (It wouldn’t be necessarily reasonable to assume cell providers weren’t, as that’s what’s needed to deliver messages and notifications if the user isn’t using a WiFi connection.) But no one would reasonably assume the operating system would still send cell tower info to Google with the SIM card pulled.

      This is a troubling practice to be engaged in, no matter how temporary the storage of cell site data. It flies directly in the face of what phone users expect when they shut off location services or undertake other affirmative actions to minimize their digital footprint.

    • ProtonMail: An Open Source Privacy-Focused Email Service Provider

      The difference between most people in 2017 and myself is which email providers we use. I am going to throw out a wild guess and say you use a Gmail account as your main email address. And if you don’t I bet you know SEVERAL people that do.

    • New NSA breach believed worse than Snowden – naturally Russia was blamed

      Another scandal that’s currently still gaining speed in the US is connected to the major US intelligence agency – the National Security Agency (NSA). This Monday, the New York Times reported that a year ago unknown hackers infiltrated the NSA network and stole secret programs for cyber break-ins. Because one of its employees had Kaspersky anti-virus software on his computer, the NSA claimed ‘Russia did it’.

    • Apple formally asked to release Texas shooter’s iCloud data

      Texas authorities have recently gotten formal permission from a state judge to search the deceased Sutherland Springs shooter’s seized iPhone SE and LG candybar-style phone. In addition, the Texas Rangers have also submitted a formal request to Apple in order to access Devin Patrick Kelley’s iCloud data.

    • Skype is the latest messaging app to disappear from Chinese app stores
    • Germany is dealing with children’s surveillance watches in the right way

      The problem here isn’t so much a fear of hackers [sic] – it’s the things that parents are doing with these smartwatches. Not only are they listening to their kids as they go about their daily lives; they’re also using the kid-borne gadgets to listen to what their teachers are saying. And in a country that takes privacy very seriously, that’s a no-go.

    • Letter to the Minister of State for Digital: Give us the right to defend the elderly and children’s privacy

      We urge the Government to allow for not for profit bodies, as defined in Article 80(1) of the GDPR, to act in the public interest to help groups of affected people to seek collective redress from those in breach of their data protection obligations.

    • Two ways to help preserve privacy in an age of massive leaks and deep hacks

      We live in the golden age of leaks. That’s not to say that leaks didn’t happen before. But the move to digital data and the availability of high-speed Internet connections has made the exfiltration of data on a massive scale much easier. Where in 1971 Daniel Ellsberg had to photocopy 7,000 pages of what became known as the Pentagon Papers before he could leak them to the New York Times, Chelsea Manning was able to give 750,000 military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks in 2010 by copying them onto writable CDs. Later, Edward Snowden is believed to have gathered and removed around 1.7 million intelligence files – something that would have been impossible had it been analog data. All those leaks were made by whistleblowers who wanted the public to know about US government activities. But alongside the actions of Manning and Snowden there have been an increasing number of thefts of personal data on a massive scale.

    • NSA Section 702 Q&A Glosses Over Incidental Collection Problems, Domestic Surveillance

      As the clock winds down to the end of the year, the NSA (along with the FBI, CIA, and other government components with access to NSA collections) is hoping it won’t have its internet surveillance programs limited in any way. So far, it’s receiving plenty of help from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has offered up a zero-reform package. (The House has its own version, which actually includes a few reforms, but it still leaves plenty of loopholes for domestic surveillance.)

      To that end, the NSA has released a highly-misleading Q&A on Section 702 surveillance — one that conveniently ignores its historic problems with incidental collection and the other authorities being renewed that actually do allow it to target US persons.

      The NSA chooses to focus solely on Section 702 and the issue of targeting. But these focal points are misleading. The NSA has plenty of ways of obtaining US persons’ communications without targeting them. On top of that, the NSA has a few options for targeting US persons that go completely unmentioned. And the FBI is allowed to target US persons for a number of reasons using NSA surveillance programs — again, something the Q&A ignores completely.

    • Treasury Department Concludes Fraud Investigation into ComputerCOP “Internet Safety” Software

      Three years ago, EFF exposed how hundreds of law enforcement agencies were putting families at risk by distributing free ComputerCOP “Internet safety” software that actually transmitted keystrokes unencrypted to a third-party server. Our report also raised serious questions about whether the company was deceiving government agencies by circulating a bogus letter of endorsement from a top official in the U.S. Treasury Department.

      This month, our suspicions were confirmed. A document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act shows that, in response to EFF’s research, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General launched an investigation into ComputerCOP. The final report concluded that the company had, in fact, doctored a government letter to improperly convince law enforcement agencies to spend asset forfeiture funds to buy the product.

    • A Privacy Case Before the Supreme Court Is About Press Freedom, Too

      If the government can access cellphone location records without a warrant, journalism suffers. So does democracy.

      For today’s journalists, cellphones are mobile newsrooms that go where a reporter goes. They’re used to contact sources, record interviews, write notes and articles, take photos and videos, share work on social media, follow breaking news, and more.

      So when the government can access — without a warrant — cellphone location records that could be used to reconstruct a person’s movements over time, it not only infringes upon the public’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy, but also threatens reporters’ ability to maintain the confidentiality of their sources and gather the news without being surveilled.

      That’s why the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 19 other media organizations are urging the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn an appeals court ruling in Carpenter v. United States and require the government to obtain a warrant to acquire cellphone location data.

    • For the European Parliament, personal data are not commodities!

      This morning, the European Parliament has adopted its position on a new Directive regulating ‘contracts for the supply of digital content’. It has enacted a fundamental principle, already drawn few weeks ago in the ePrivacy Regulation: “personal data cannot be compared to a price, and therefore cannot be considered as a commodity’.

      On 26 October 2017, the European Parliament has adopted its position on the ePrivacy Regulation, specifying that ‘no user shall be denied access to any [...] service [...] on grounds that he or she has not given his or her consent [...] to the processing of personal information [...] that is not necessary for the provision of that service’ (see art. 8, paragraph 1a, of the LIBE report).

    • The latest threat to your online privacy: exfiltration of personal data by website session-replay scripts

      Last week, Privacy News Online reported on a worrying trend of increased surveillance in the workplace. This kind of spying includes capturing every keystroke workers make. The practice is regarded in many jurisdictions as acceptable because people are working on equipment provided by their employer, and use it to carry out tasks for the company that pays their wages. So the logic is that an employer has permission to check that the equipment is being used properly, and that employees are working diligently. But a blog post on the Freedom to Tinker blog reveals that keystroke capture and more is taking place on public websites too:

    • The Motherboard Guide to Sexting Securely

      Once we attached cameras to computers, people predictably started sending each other nudes over the internet. Research now indicates the majority of Americans are sending and receiving explicit messages online: 88 percent of the 870 people who participated in a 2015 Drexel University study said they’ve sexted.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Police Assault on Black Students in Kentucky Sparks Calls for Reform

      Police in schools criminalize students and don’t make anyone safer. They’ve got to go.

      Families in Louisville, Kentucky, are rightly calling for an end to police in schools following the recent assault on two Black students perpetrated by law enforcement at a local high school that was caught on camera.

      Before the video begins, two students at Jeffersontown High School were said to have been in a fight over a pair of headphones when a police officer intervened. He reportedly called for additional officers after being attacked by the student. The video clip shows three police officers on top of a teenager. One officer presses the teen’s head into the linoleum floor while another holds his legs, and the third can be seen kicking him multiple times. As students look on, some crying out for the police to stop, an officer waves what appears to be a stun gun at the onlookers. The stun gun had reportedly been used on the detained student.

      As the video comes to an end, someone can be heard telling the student to turn off the recording.

      Outrage at the incident started within the community and was then shared widely on social media after activists posted video of the disturbing incident on Twitter. This assault on students of color at a high school by police represents the latest evidence that police do not belong in our schools.

    • John Lasseter’s Pattern of Alleged Misconduct Detailed by Disney/Pixar Insiders

      Rashida Jones is still credited as a writer on Toy Story 4, the next installment in the beloved franchise. But, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, the actress and her writing partner at the time, Will McCormack, left the project early on after John Lasseter, the acclaimed head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, made an unwanted advance.

    • John Lasseter Takes Leave of Absence From Disney/Pixar, Apologizes for Unwanted Hugs

      John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and one of the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry, acknowledged Tuesday that he had crossed the line with employees. He is taking a six-month leave of absence.

      Lasseter sent a memo to staff apologizing for making employees feel disrespected or uncomfortable, Variety has confirmed.

      “That was never my intent,” he wrote. “Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form.”

      Lasseter is taking a leave as several prominent Hollywood figures are grappling with allegations of sexual harassment. His name has continued to be mentioned privately, with a number of former Pixar employees telling Variety that he has behaved inappropriately and describing a culture at the company as “toxic” and “sexist” for women. His leave was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

    • Not One Person With A Discrimination Case Was Referred To See A Legal Aid Lawyer In The Last Year

      Not one person with a discrimination complaint was referred to see a legal aid lawyer in the last year, BuzzFeed News has learned.

      New Ministry of Justice figures reveal the impact of legal aid cuts on people who cannot afford a lawyer to bring discrimination cases against their employer or companies they use.

      Funding for almost all employment cases was scrapped in 2013 as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). To soften the blow, the government said legal aid would be available in discrimination cases – but could only be accessed after first getting advice over the phone.

    • Chinese students claim they worked illegal overtime making the iPhone X

      A report in the Financial Times claims Foxconn has employed teenaged students to manufacture iPhone X components and that those students worked illegal overtime. Additionally, according to one of the students cited in the report, a school had students working at the factory as part of their educational programs.

    • US Justice Department threatens to sue Harvard over Asian-American admissions

      “We sincerely hope that Harvard will quickly correct its non-compliance and return to a collaborative approach,” the letter said, adding that “Harvard has not yet produced a single document.”
      The inquiry is related to a federal lawsuit filed by a group of students in 2014 alleging Harvard limits the number of Asian Americans it admits each year. A similar complaint was made to the Justice Department.

    • Facebook (still) lets housing advertisers exclude users by race

      In February, Facebook said it would step up enforcement of its prohibition against discrimination in advertising for housing, employment, or credit.

      But our tests showed a significant lapse in the company’s monitoring of the rental market.

      Last week, ProPublica bought dozens of rental housing ads on Facebook but asked that they not be shown to certain categories of users, such as African-Americans, mothers of high school kids, people interested in wheelchair ramps, Jews, expats from Argentina, and Spanish speakers.

    • DHS Trying To Bury Report Showing Violations Of Travel Ban Court Orders By CBP Officers

      An Inspector General’s report showing Customs and Border Protection violated court orders during its implementation of Trump’s travel ban appears to be headed for a burial by the DHS. A letter from the Inspector General to high-ranking senators says the department has indicated it will invoke an unchallengeable privilege to withhold large portions of the report, if not its entire contents.

    • How a Racially Polarized New York School District Is Violating Voting Rights Law

      In East Ramapo, a white voting bloc has taken control of the school board and shut out public school supporters.

      Even if your school district isn’t as deeply troubled as the East Ramapo Central School District in the Lower Hudson Valley, it might very well be suffering from the same Voting Rights Act violation.

      East Ramapo is a racially diverse district — a little less than half of the residents in the district are people of color — but it has a very segregated school system. Ninety-six percent of the district’s public school students are children of color, while 99 percent of its private school students are white.

      But because of a very common method of electing school board members, the entire East Ramapo Board of Education consists of candidates preferred by the district’s white voters. The district uses at-large elections, which means that board members are elected by all the voters of the school district, rather than voters from individual geographic areas. Extreme racial polarization in the school system is reflected in racially-polarized voting in district elections. The white majority tends to vote as a bloc to support candidates who favor low taxes and high investment in private school services, while black and Latino voters tend to support candidates who favor investment in the public schools.

    • Trump Resumes Abuse of ‘Terror List’

      The U.S. government has long abused its “terrorism list” by including disfavored nations while leaving off “allies” implicated in 9/11 and other terror attacks, a practice President Trump has resumed, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

      [...]

      Other countries besides North Korea have been the subject of misuse of the state sponsor list. The Reagan administration took Iraq off the list as part of its tilt toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. The George H.W. Bush administration returned Iraq to the list after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Neither move had to do with any change in Iraqi behavior regarding international terrorism.

      [...]

      Misusing the list of state sponsors of terrorism sends the message that the United States does not care all that much about terrorism itself. It undermines the credibility of efforts that really are focused on countering terrorism. Most fundamentally, it diminishes the incentive of the targeted regime to get out or stay out of international terrorism. If the North Korean regime sees that it is going to be branded a state sponsor of terrorism regardless of what it is doing terrorism-wise, it has that much less disincentive against sliding back into the reprehensible things it was doing in the 1980s.

    • FBI Racially Profiling “Black Identity Extremists”

      In early August 2017, the counterterrorism division of the FBI released a report warning of the danger of “Black Identity Extremists.” Jana Winter and Sharon Weinberger reported for Foreign Policy that, as “white supremacists prepared to descend on Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, the FBI warned about a new movement that was violent, growing, and racially motivated. Only it wasn’t white supremacists; it was ‘black identity extremists.’”

      The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch Staff reported that the FBI report used the term BIEs (the Bureau’s acronym for “Black Identity Extremists”) to describe “a conglomeration of black nationalists, black supremacists, and black separatists, among other disaffiliated racist individuals who are anti-police, anti-white, and/or seeking to rectify perceived social injustices against blacks.” According to the SPLC report, the FBI was “taking some heat from historians, academics and former government officials for creating the new ‘BIE’ term,” which categorized a range of activists, not by their common ideologies or goals, but by race.

    • Extreme Digital Vetting of Visitors to the U.S. Moves Forward Under a New Name

      The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of U.S. visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

      The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Net neutrality supporters plan nationwide protests on December 7

      The Obama administration’s network neutrality rules are in danger, and the activists who helped get those regulations enacted aren’t giving up without a fight. They’re planning a series of protests nationwide to pressure the Federal Communications Commission to reject Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back network neutrality protections.

      The protests will be held outside Verizon stores on December 7, a week before an expected December 14 vote on Pai’s proposal. They chose Verizon because Verizon has been a leading opponent of the net neutrality rules and because Pai worked as Verizon’s associate general counsel from 2001 to 2003.

      “The company has been spending millions on lobbying and lawsuits to kill net neutrality so they can gouge us all for more money,” the protest organizers write. “We’re calling on our lawmakers to do their job overseeing the FCC and speak out against Ajit Pai’s plan to gut Title II net neutrality protections.”

    • FCC Releases Net Neutrality Killing Order, Hopes You’re Too Busy Cooking Turkey To Read It

      As we noted yesterday, the FCC is trying to use the Thanksgiving holiday to distract the press and public from its blatant handout to one of the least liked and least competitive industries in America. As we also noted yesterday, trying to bury such an epic middle finger to consumers behind the cranberry sauce is an obvious underestimation of just how unpopular this plan is, and the policy, political, and cultural backlash it’s going to generate for years.

      That said, all six of you not currently driving long distances, buying turkeys and potatoes, or otherwise distracted by holiday preparation can now read a fact sheet provided by the FCC (pdf) explaining what Ajit Pai and his lobbying friends in the telecom industry have planned for you.

    • FCC stonewalled investigation of net neutrality comment fraud, NY AG says

      New York’s attorney general has been trying to investigate fraud in public comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s anti-net neutrality plan but alleges that the FCC has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

    • America [sic] is about to kill the open [I]nternet – and towns like this will pay the price

      Michelle Conrow picks up a book about the history of the US postal service lying next to her laptop, flicking through the pages.

      “It talks about when there was a debate over whether we should have service to rural areas. It was all the same arguments about why we shouldn’t – too expensive, it doesn’t return the investment – and why we should – farmers need the news, people need to order things. It was a similar debate with the telephone, electricity … we’ve been here before.

    • Creators for Net Neutrality : The Open Letter

      The Internet is essential infrastructure for our economy and culture. It has ushered in an unprecedented era of freedom for communication. And thanks to strong net neutrality rules, users have been in the driver’s seat of choosing what is successful online, without interference from government or Internet service provider (ISP) gatekeepers.

    • FCC announces vote to destroy net neutrality next month

      The Internet Association, a trade group that represents web 40-some web companies including Google and Facebook, pointed to lack of ISP options as a critical flaw in the plan. “Consumers have little choice in their ISP,” the organization said, “and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps.” And ACLU policy analyst Jay Stanley issued a similar warning, saying, “Gutting net neutrality will have a devastating effect on free speech online. Without it, gateway corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will have too much power to mess with the free flow of information.”

    • R.I.P. The Internet, 1983-2017: End of Online Liberty

      If the FCC abandons its commitment to net neutrality, Congress can and should step in to put it back on course. That means enacting real, forward-looking legislation that embraces all of the bright-line rules, not just the ones ISPs don’t mind. And it means forcing the FCC to its job, rather than handing it off to another agency that’s not well-positioned to do the work.

    • Can a Free Internet Survive FCC End to Net Neutrality?

      Pai’s FCC is also planning to remove monopoly regulations in the media sector, including bans on cross ownership of TV stations and newspapers in major sectors.

    • As The FCC Guts Net Neutrality, Comcast Again Falsely Claims You Have Nothing To Worry About

      As the Trump administration guts oversight of some of the least liked and least competitive companies in America in one of the most brazen examples of crony capitalism in tech policy history, ISPs like Verizon and Comcast seem intent on insisting that none of this is actually happening. Verizon, you’ll recall, went so far as to publish a comical video in which the company used a fake journalist to try and construct an alternate timeline; one in which Verizon hasn’t been trying to undermine net neutrality and a healthy, competitive internet for the last fifteen years:

    • Ajit Pai announces net neutrality vote ahead of long Thanksgiving weekend

      Most major internet sites have said that they disagree with plans to axe net neutrality – even those such as Amazon and Netflix which represent a large proportion of internet traffic in the US, and could afford to pay the fees (though may well end up passing the costs on to end customers.

      Fight For The Future which is spearheading protests and lobbying senators to delay or even challenge the decision on legal grounds has reacted furiously.

    • FCC Plans to Gut Net Neutrality, Allow Internet ‘Fast Lanes’

      Of course, well-established services from deep-pocketed companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft will likely remain widely available. But net-neutrality advocates argue that smaller companies that don’t have the money to pay for fast lanes could suffer. In other words, protecting net neutrality isn’t about saving Netflix but about saving the next Netflix.

    • Net Neutrality, John Conyers, Zimbabwe: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

      It’s expected to be approved on Dec. 14 in a party-line vote by the agency’s five commissioners. But some companies will probably put up a legal fight to prevent it from taking hold. This video explains how net neutrality works.

    • Here’s How the End of Net Neutrality Will Change the Internet

      INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS like Comcast and Verizon may soon be free to block content, slow video-streaming services from rivals, and offer “fast lanes” to preferred partners. For a glimpse of how the internet experience may change, look at what broadband providers are doing under the existing “net neutrality” rules.

      When AT&T customers access its DirecTV Now video-streaming service, the data doesn’t count against their plan’s data limits. Verizon, likewise, exempts its Go90 service from its customers’ data plans. T-Mobile allows multiple video and music streaming services to bypass its data limits, essentially allowing it to pick winners and losers in those categories.

    • FCC will also order states to scrap plans for their own net neutrality laws

      In addition to ditching its own net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission also plans to tell state and local governments that they cannot impose local laws regulating broadband service.

      This detail was revealed by senior FCC officials in a phone briefing with reporters today, and it is a victory for broadband providers that asked for widespread preemption of state laws. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed order finds that state and local laws must be preempted if they conflict with the US government’s policy of deregulating broadband Internet service, FCC officials said. The FCC will vote on the order at its December 14 meeting.

    • Internet Defenders Urge Mass Revolt to Fight FCC’s “Scorched-Earth” Attack on Net Neutrality

      Open internet advocates warned that “we’re running out of time” to save the web from corporate control and called on Americans to make their representatives’ phones “ring off the hook” Tuesday after FCC chairman Ajit Pai unveiled his long-awaited plan to scrap net neutrality that critics slammed as “naked corporatism” designed to give a major gift to the telecom industry at the expense of the public.

      “The reckless wrecking ball strikes again,” former FCC commissioner and current special adviser at Common Cause Michael Copps said in a statement. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s scorched-earth plan for net neutrality displays callous disregard for both process and substance. The chairman’s plan to do away with net neutrality will be a disaster for consumers and yet another handout for big business.”

      Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, said Pai’s plan “makes no sense” for a variety of key reasons.

    • RIP net neutrality: FCC chair releases plan to deregulate ISPs

      The Federal Communications Commission today announced its plan to deregulate the broadband industry and eliminate net neutrality rules, setting up a December 14 vote to finalize the repeal.

      As expected, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing to reverse the commission’s classification of home and mobile ISPs as common carriers, eliminating the legal justification for the net neutrality rules and numerous other consumer protections. The Republican-controlled FCC is likely to vote 3-2 along party lines in favor of Pai’s plan at its regular monthly meeting in December, ignoring Internet users who voiced widespread support for net neutrality rules.

    • FCC Plan To Use Thanksgiving To ‘Hide’ Its Attack On Net Neutrality Vastly Underestimates The Looming Backlash

      Except this obfuscation plan isn’t “devilishly brilliant,” it’s a massive underestimation of the brutal backlash awaiting the broadband industry and its myopic water carriers. Survey after survey (including those conducted by the cable industry itself) have found net neutrality has broad, bipartisan support. The plan is even unpopular among the traditional Trump trolls over at 4chan /pol/ that spent the last week drinking onion juice. It’s a mammoth turd of a proposal, and outside of the color guard at the lead of the telecom industry’s sockpuppet parade — the majority of informed Americans know it.

      Net neutrality has been a fifteen year fight to protect the very health of the internet itself from predatory duopolists like Comcast. Killing it isn’t something you can hide behind the green bean amandine, and it’s not a small scandal you can bury via the late Friday news dump. This effort is, by absolutely any measure, little more than a grotesque hand out to one of the least competitive — and most disliked — industries in America. Trying to obfuscate this reality via the holidays doesn’t change that. Neither does giving the plan an Orwellian name like “Restoring Internet Freedom.”

    • Say Goodbye to Net Neutrality. Say Hello to the FCC’s Trickle-Down Experiment

      Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission’s Trump-appointed chairman, is moving to gut the net neutrality rules that progressive activists and a massive online movement successfully pushed for during the Obama administration.

      The effort to kill net neutrality adds to a long list of deregulatory moves that media rights advocates say will hurt people the FCC is charged with protecting: everyday consumers, low-income families, underserved Indigenous communities, disabled people, as well as women and people of color, who remain underrepresented in broadcast media.

      Last week, Pai and the FCC’s Republican majority began overhauling the Lifeline program that subsidizes phone and internet service for low-income people, an effort that Democratic commissioners say will punitively cripple the crucial safety net. Commissioners also voted along party lines to repeal a list of media ownership regulations, a move that critics say will usher in a new era of media consolidation in local markets and help a massive, right-leaning broadcasting company gobble up TV stations without selling others off.

    • Today—and Every Day—We Fight to Defend the Open Internet

      Today, we heard from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about its plans to devastate Network Neutrality. Instead of responding to the millions of Americans who want to protect the free and open Internet, the FCC instead is ceding to the demands of a handful of massive ISPs, like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.

      EFF will be analyzing the full plan when it is released. But based on what we know so far, it’s clear that Chairman Pai is seeking to reverse the 2015 Open Internet Order that established clear but light touch protections for Internet users and Internet innovation. The FCC’s new approach invites a future where only the largest Internet, cable, and telephone companies survive, while every start-up, small business, and new innovator is crowded out—and the voices of nonprofits and ordinary individuals are suppressed. Costs will go up, as ISPs take advantage of monopoly power to raise rates on edge providers and consumers alike. And the FCC’s proposed plan adds salt to the wound by interfering with state efforts to protect consumer privacy and competition.

    • [Mozilla] Statement on FCC proposal to roll back net neutrality in the U.S.

      Today, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the next step in their plan to roll back net neutrality. The FCC still has time to remove the vote from the docket, which we hope they do before the December 14 meeting.

      If the FCC votes to roll back these net neutrality protections, they would end the internet as we know it, harming every day users and small businesses, eroding free speech, competition, innovation and user choice in the process.

      Our position is clear: the end of net neutrality would only benefit Internet Service Providers (ISPs). That’s why we’ve led the charge on net neutrality for years to ensure everyone has access to the entire internet.

    • The Right Choice For The Wrong Reasons? DOJ Sues To Kill The AT&T Time Warner Merger

      If you’ve been paying attention, the Trump admninistration has been engaged in a frontal assault on everything from net neutrality to media consolidation rules, its legacy-industry-cozy policies driving a new wave of mergermania in telecom and media. As such, few thought the administration would block AT&T’s $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. After all, AT&T wasn’t acquiring a direct competitor, and the harms caused by vertical integration — however real — haven’t been a genuine concern in regulatory telecom oversight from either party for years (see Comcast NBC Universal or Sinclair Tribune).

      But then rumors began to emerge that the Trump DOJ was contemplating suing to block AT&T’s latest megamerger — unless it was willing to sell either DirecTV (acquired by AT&T last year) or Turner Broadcasting, owner of CNN. Reports indicate that AT&T refused both options and was primed for a court showdown

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Nobel Prize Winning Economist Says Non-US Countries Have Unique Opportunity To Reform Intellectual Property

      For well over a decade, we’ve noted that Nobel Prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz has been one of the many, many economists who are skeptical of the benefits of our current patent system, noting that it appears to do a lot more harm than good, both to the process of innovation and (importantly) to the wider distribution of the gains from innovation. He’s been particularly critical of pharmaceutical patents over the years. And, it appears that he may sense a somewhat unique opportunity to actually get countries around the world to actually rethink traditional patent and copyright regimes — in part because the US, under the Trump administration, is pulling back from various international agreements and fora.

      Earlier this year, along with Dean Baker and Arjun Jayadev, Stigliz authored an interesting paper about ways to rethink innovation, intellectual property and development. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the paper, but I do agree with much of it — especially the presentation of the problems of today’s systems.

    • Copyrights
      • 3 Million Dish Customers May Miss Thanksgiving Football In Latest Example Of TV Industry Dysfunction

        So for several years now consumers have faced a growing number of obnoxious retransmission blackouts, which occur when broadcasters and cable providers can’t agree on new programming contracts. Such feuds usually go something like this: a broadcaster will demand a fairly obnoxious price hike for the same content, to which the cable provider (already awash in complaints about higher rates) will balk. Instead of negotiating their differences like adults, this content is subsequently blacked out for paying customers, who never see refunds for the inconvenience.

Patent Lawyers’ Media Comes to Grips With the End of Software Patents

Wednesday 22nd of November 2017 06:27:38 PM

The Federal Circuit always says “no” to software patents (this year at least) and the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rejects any petitions for it to deal with such matters

Summary: The reality of the matter is grim for software patents and the patent microcosm, ‘borrowing’ the media as usual, tries to give false hopes by insinuating that the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) may overturn Alice quite soon

THE battle in the courtroom is over. Software patents are pretty much over. So the battle has been taken to the press, where the patent ‘industry’ places its lies and marketing on an almost daily basis. We keep track of all this.

“So the battle has been taken to the press, where the patent ‘industry’ places its lies and marketing on an almost daily basis.”Yesterday/today, using the word “survive” in the headline (inverting narratives, wherein the aggressor merely “survives” or is “attacked” by the defendant), the high-factor media of lawyers speaks of Alice and asks, “Will Any Software Patents Survive?”

Here is the outline:

In his Patent and Trademark Law column, Robert L. Maier writes: In recent weeks, the Federal Circuit has continued to affirm district court decisions finding software-related patents invalid for failure to meet the patentable subject matter requirement of 35 U.S.C. §101. At the same time, a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court was filed seeking to challenge the availability of this very defense—a petition that, if heard by the Supreme Court, could have dramatic implications for U.S. patent litigation.

They have been saying things like these for a number of months, but it never materialises. SCOTUS won’t be revisiting the subject of software patents any time soon (if ever). We wrote about this dozens of times before. The above is one of those “real soon now” prophecies/narratives (akin to Team UPC’s); they just try to give a glimmer of hope to clients and convince them to carry on pursuing software patents.

What does all this say about the patent law firms? Or about the media? Watch this new example of marketing disguised as a report. There are lots of these. Is the media engaging in any real journalism of just PR/advertising?

“What does all this say about the patent law firms? Or about the media? “Going back to the subject of patents, TiVo has just won an ITC battle against rivals [1, 2, 3] and Uber got a patent on something which sounds like marketing and/or placebo effect (lots of these around, this time motion-induced sickness prevention for Uber’s “own self-driving software”). This whole article is like an advert based on a patent and there are also press releases bragging about software patents this week. This particular one says:

StorONE is the first company in the last decade to invest a six-year period of massive research and development, covered by more than 50 awarded and pending patents, prior to its first software release.

What’s worth noting here is that at least some of the above pertain purely to software, even if used in conjunction with something like a car, a set top box, or storage device.

It seems safe to say, based on people who studied a large number of patents, that hundreds of thousands of granted US patents are software patents and are thus ‘dormantly’ invalid. They just haven’t been challenged yet; if they had, they would evaporate. Such is the profound impact of Alice and precedential decisions it led to.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Foes Manipulate the Facts to Belittle the Impact of PTAB

Wednesday 22nd of November 2017 05:46:15 PM

Summary: In an effort to sabotage PTAB with its inter partes reviews the patent microcosm is organising one-sided events that slam PTAB’s legitimacy and misrepresent statistics

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is loved by everyone except those whose entire business [sic] model is litigation. This isn’t exactly surprising and hopefully the Justices have already grasped that. In a matter of months they will likely cement PTAB’s role in the USPTO.

The patent ‘industry’ isn’t happy. It’s not supposed to be happy. It’s a parasite.

A short while ago Managing IP published “Michael Shore vows to “take a wrecking ball to the IPR system”” — an article in which Michael Shore, an architect of a “scam” or a “sham” (he schemed to misuse tribal immunity), is portrayed as anything but a con artist. Speaking to the aggressors and sharks at IP Dealmakers Forum, he thinks this behaviour of his is normal and acceptable:

The lawyer behind Allergan’s controversial transfer of patents to a Native American tribe said at the IP Dealmakers Forum that other companies are “lining up to do deals” and that universities’ endowment funds are interested in getting involved. Shore outlined why he believed these types of deals are here to stay

It’s one of those echo chamber-type events. It’s stacked/loaded with PTAB foes. These people aren’t doing so well. Their business is certainly diminishing. It looks, for example, like a lot of IAM staff left quite recently. About half the names (of writers) are gone in just a matter of months. Is this patent trolls’ lobby dying with the trolls?

Yesterday, Fenwick & West, proponents of software patents in the US and elsewhere, braced hands with the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM et al) in this PTAB-bashing article which is based on an IAM event. To quote: “So we see some evidence supporting both sides of the argument. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to draw meaningful conclusions from these facts. Many factors go into a bull or bear market, whether in the technology sector or otherwise. Even if the investors speaking at the IAM 2017 conference provide only anecdotal evidence, still it is evidence that is directly relevant to the issue at hand: whether the threat of narrowed patent protection drives investment away from the U.S. The views expressed by the IAM 2017 investor speakers seem intuitively reasonable.”

IAM would cherry-pick what suits its funders and target audience, i.e. patent predators.

Statistics actually do matter (contrary to the headline, “Did you hear about the statistician who drowned in a lake with an average depth of two feet?”) and they suggest growth for PTAB, little success for patents on software and so on.

It’s not about belief and prayers as these would not improve one’s chances in litigation.

Earlier today saw Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck, PC (Jenny L. Colgate and Eric Blatt as the writers) commenting on PTAB in relation to the patent troll Uniloc. This troll lost its software patents very recently. Here is what they wrote: “A petitioner in an inter partes review may request to cancel as unpatentable one or more claims only on a ground that could be raised under section 102 or 103 and only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications. This is expressly set forth in the statute, 35 U.S.C. § 311(b). Notwithstanding this limitation, there are creative ways to bring other challenges, such as written description challenges under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 1, before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). And there are good reasons for doing so. Notably, PTAB judges, unlike district court judges that would otherwise preside over § 112, ¶ 1 arguments, have technical expertise—and in some cases, prior patent prosecution experience—and, consequently, are typically more receptive to hyper-technical arguments. [...] In Uniloc, the Petitioners (Sega et al.) had challenged the claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,490,216 (“the ’216 Patent”) as being anticipated by U.S. Patent No. 5,509,070 (“Schull”). Because Schull had an effective prior art date later than the provisional applications to which the ’216 Patent claimed priority, the Petitioners’ anticipation theory could only prevail if the Petitioners were successful in defeating the priority claim to the provisional applications. The Petitioners did not, however, present a conventional § 112, ¶ 1 argument that the claim elements were not disclosed in the provisional applications. Instead, the Petitioners argued that a claim recitation calling for a “unique ID generating means” was properly interpreted as a MPF limitation under § 112, ¶ 6, and that the provisional applications merely disclosed the claimed function and did not describe the structure (i.e., an algorithm) for performing that function. The PTAB and the Federal Circuit agreed with the Petitioners’ analysis, and held that the priority claim was ineffective because the priority documents did not comply with the requirements of § 112, ¶ 6.”

PTAB and the Federal Circuit have both, in this case, put an end to the troll’s weapon. This is exactly why the patent ‘industry’ is so angry at PTAB and Dennis Crouch, a closeted supporter of trolls, carried on with his PTAB bashing earlier today when he cherry-picked yet another patentability affirmation (those are in the clear minority). “The PTAB instituted review,” he said, “but ultimately affirmed patentability of the claims – although with a changed claim construction in the final decision.”

Don’t be misled. Like the aforementioned IAM propaganda, what they try — and maybe succeed at doing — is tilt the expectation of patents being upheld as valid.

Links 21/11/2017: LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.2.1 MR, Mesa 17.3.0 RC5

Tuesday 21st of November 2017 10:03:37 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Why the open source community needs a diverse supply chain

    Diversity and inclusivity in the technology industry—and in open source communities more specifically—have received a lot of coverage, both on Opensource.com and elsewhere. One approach to the issue foregrounds arguments about concepts that are more abstract—like human decency, for example.

    But the “supply chain” metaphor works, too. And it can be an effective argument for championing greater inclusivity in our open organizations, especially when people dismiss arguments based on appeals to abstract concepts. Open organizations require inclusivity, which is a necessary input to get the diversity that reduces the risk in our supply chain.

  • Is your company an open source parasite?

    Getting involved in the open source projects that matter to a company, in other words, gives them more ability to influence their future today, even as dependence on a vendor results in putting one’s future in the hands of that vendor to resolve on their timetable. It’s simply not smart business, not if an open source alternative exists and your company already depends upon it.

    In sum, the GitHub contributor counts should be much higher, and not merely for those in the business of selling software (or tech, generally). Any company defined by software—and that’s your company, too—needs to get more involved in both using and contributing open source software.

  • How Open Source Tech Helps Feds Solve Workforce Turnover Issues

    Just as a mainframe from decades ago might be ready for retirement, the IT staff who originally procured and installed that system might also be preparing for a new phase in their lives. It’s up to the current and next generation of government IT employees to prepare for that eventuality, but there are indications they may not be ready, despite evidence that older IT professionals are retiring or will soon be leaving their positions.

    Unfortunately, a skills gap exists even among younger generation IT workers. Agencies are scrambling to find personnel with expertise in cloud service management, cybersecurity, technical architecture and legacy technologies, such as common business-oriented language (COBOL) and mainframes, among other areas. At the same time that many workers are getting ready to retire, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge, many younger IT professionals are struggling to gain the knowledge they will need to take their agencies into the future.

  • Introducing Fn: “Serverless must be open, community-driven, and cloud-neutral”

    Fn, a new serverless open source project was announced at this year’s JavaOne. There’s no risk of cloud lock-in and you can write functions in your favorite programming language. “You can make anything, including existing libraries, into a function by packaging it in a Docker container.” We invited Bob Quillin, VP for the Oracle Container Group to talk about Fn, its best features, next milestones and more.

  • Events
    • Debian seminar in Yokohama, 2017/11/18

      I had attended to Tokyo area debian seminar #157. The day’s special guest is Chris Lamb, the Debian Project Leader in 2017. He had attended to Open Compliance Summit, so we invited him as our guest.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Overclock Labs bets on Kubernetes to help companies automate their cloud infrastructure

      Overclock Labs wants to make it easier for developers to deploy and manage their applications across clouds. To do so, the company is building tools to automate distributed cloud infrastructure and, unsurprisingly, it is betting on containers — and specifically the Kubernetes container orchestration tools — to do this.

      Today, Overclock Labs, which was founded two years ago, is coming out of stealth and announcing that it raised a $1.3 million seed round from a number of Silicon Valley angel investors and CrunchFund — the fund that shares a bit of its name and history with TechCrunch but is otherwise completely unaffiliated with the blog you are currently reading.

  • Databases
    • MariaDB Energizes the Data Warehouse with Open Source Analytics Solution

      MariaDB® Corporation, the company behind the fastest growing open source database, today announced new product enhancements to MariaDB AX, delivering a modern approach to data warehousing that enables customers to easily perform fast and scalable analytics with better price performance over proprietary solutions. MariaDB AX expands the highly successful MariaDB Server, creating a solution that enables high performance analytics with distributed storage and parallel processing, and that scales with existing commodity hardware on premises or across any cloud platform. With MariaDB AX, data across every facet of the business is transformed into meaningful and actionable results.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • AT&T Wants White Box Routers with an Open Operating System [Ed: AT&T wants to openwash its surveillance equipment]

      AT&T says it’s not enough to deploy white box hardware and to orchestrate its networks with the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) software. “Each individual machine also needs its own operating system,” writes Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture, in a blog post. To that end, AT&T announced its newest effort — the Open Architecture for a Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS).

  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 8 Feature Development Is Over

      Feature development on the GCC 8 compiler is over with it now entering stage three of its development process.

      SUSE’s Richard Biener announced minutes ago that GCC 8 entered stage three development, meaning only general bug fixing and documentation updates are permitted.

  • Public Services/Government
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Mastodon is Free Software, But It Does Not Respect Free Speech

      Mastodon was always known to be tough on Nazis; it was known that they were strict on free speech only to a degree. After the treatment that I received yesterday, however, I can no longer recommend Mastodon. It may be Free software, but it’s very weak on free speech.

    • Open-source defenders turn on each other in ‘bizarre’ trademark fight sparked by GPL fall out

      Two organizations founded to help and support developers of free and open-source software have locked horns in public, betraying a long-running quarrel rumbling mostly behind the scenes.

      On one side, the Software Freedom Law Center, which today seeks to resolve licensing disputes amicably. On the other, the Software Freedom Conservancy, which takes a relatively harder line against the noncompliance of licensing terms.

      The battleground: the, er, US Patent and Trademark Office. The law center has demanded the cancellation of a trademark held by the conservancy.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Swift code will run on Google’s Fuchsia OS

      A few days ago, there was a flash-in-the-pan controversy over Google “forking” Apple’s open-source programming language Swift. After a few minutes of speculation over whether Google was going to make its own special flavor of the language for its own purposes, Swift’s creator Chris Lattner (who now works at Google) helpfully clarified the situation:

    • Brilliant Jerks in Engineering

      This are numerous articles and opinions on the topic, including Brilliant Jerks Cost More Than They Are Worth, and It’s Better to Avoid a Toxic Employee than Hire a Superstar. My colleague Justin Becker is also giving a talk at QConSF 2017 on the topic: Am I a Brilliant Jerk?.

      It may help to clarify that “brilliant jerk” can mean different things to different people. To illustrate, I’ll describe two types of brilliant jerks: the selfless and the selfish, and their behavior in detail. I’ll then describe the damage caused by these jerks, and ways to deal with them.

      The following are fictional characters. These are not two actual engineers, but are collections of related traits to help examine this behavior beyond the simple “no asshole rule.” These are engineers who by default act like jerks, not engineers who sometimes act that way.

    • [Older] The missing career path for software developers

      You started hacking on technology thrilled with every stroke of the key, making discoveries with every commit. You went about solving problems, finding new challenges. You were happy for a while, until you hit a plateau. There was a choice to be made. Continue solving the same problems or start managing others. You tried it out, and hated it. Longing to focus on technology, not people, you turned to your open source project. When it became successful, you became an open source maintainer but ended up overwhelmed and burned out. Hoping to get back to doing work that fascinates you, you went work for yourself. Lacking experience running a business, you’re crushed with all the decisions you need to make. You’re nearing burnout — again. It feels like you’re on a hamster wheel.

    • Exploring the Linguistics Behind Regular Expressions

      Regular expressions inspire fear in new and experienced programmers alike. When I first saw a regular expression — often abbreviated as “regex” — I remember feeling dizzy from looking at the litany of parentheses, asterisks, letters, and numbers. Regular expressions seemed nonsensical, impenetrable.

    • Uber Pyro: an open source ‘probabilistic’ language

      Online transportation company Uber has released its open sourced Pyro – a homegrown probabilistic programming language that has been developed internally.

    • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppClassic 0.9.9
    • RcppEigen 0.3.3.3.1

      A maintenance release 0.3.3.3.1 of RcppEigen is now on CRAN (and will get to Debian soon). It brings Eigen 3.3.* to R.

Leftovers
  • Science
  • Hardware
    • Marvell Technology to buy chipmaker Cavium for about $6 billion

      In another consolidation move in the semiconductor industry, chipmaker Marvell Technology announced it will acquire competitor Cavium Inc. for approximately $6 billion. It’s estimated that the combined company will generate about $3.4 billion in annual revenue.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • How an unpaid UK researcher saved the Japanese seaweed industry

      The tasty Japanese seaweed nori is ubiquitous today, but that wasn’t always true. Nori was once called “lucky grass” because every year’s harvest was entirely dependent on luck. Then, during World War II, luck ran out. No nori would grow off the coast of Japan, and farmers were distraught. But a major scientific discovery on the other side of the planet revealed something unexpected about the humble plant and turned an unpredictable crop into a steady and plentiful food source.

      Nori is most familiar to us when it’s wrapped around sushi. It looks less familiar when floating in the sea, but for centuries, farmers in Japan, China, and Korea knew it by sight. Every year, they would plant bamboo poles strung with nets in the coastal seabed and wait for nori to build up on them.

    • Denying the Imperium of Death

      The tens of thousands of American deaths from drug overdoses are a measure of the hopeless desperation left behind by the soul-starving socio-economic system of late-stage capitalism, writes poet Phil Rockstroh.

    • GP numbers crash as equivalent of 1,000 full-time NHS doctors quit last year

      The NHS has lost the equivalent of 1,000 full-time GPs in the past year as workload pressures and funding squeezes drive out senior doctors who are increasingly looking for flexible freelance work.

      Official figures for GP numbers in England show that numbers collapsed by 3.5 per cent since September 2016, from 34,495 full-time equivalent GPs to 33,302 in September this year.

      While there are around 41,324 doctors working in general practice, 500 fewer than two years ago, the pressures of the job mean they are increasingly working less than the NHS definition of “full-time”.

  • Security
    • MuddyWater: Hackers target Middle Eastern nations using fake NSA, Kaspersky documents

      An unknown hacker group has been targeting Middle Eastern countries as well as others such as India, Pakistan, US and Georgia as part of what appears to be a massive cyber-espionage campaign. On Monday (20 November), the Saudi Arabian government’s national cyber security center reportedly confirmed that the kingdom had been targeted by hackers since February.

      The hacker group, dubbed MuddyWater, used fake documents, purporting to be from the NSA, Russian cybersecurity firm Kasperksy and the Iraqi government, among others, to trick victims into clicking on malicious documents. Security experts at Palo Alto Networks, who uncovered the campaign, said that the hackers are making use of a PowerShell-based first-stage backdoor called “POWERSTATS”.

    • Drone-Maker DJI Offers Bug Bounty Program, Then Threatens Bug-Finder With The CFAA

      Far too many companies and industries out there seem to think that the best way to handle a security researcher finding security holes in their tech and websites is to immediately begin issuing threats. This is almost always monumentally dumb for any number of reasons, ranging from the work these researchers do actually being a benefit to these companies issuing the threats, to the resulting coverage of the threats making the vulnerabilities more widely known than they would have been otherwise.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #133
    • Windows, Mac and Linux all at risk from flaws in Excel file reader library
    • Some ‘security people are f*cking morons’ says Linus Torvalds

      Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has offered some very choice words about different approaches security, during a discussion about whitelisting features proposed for version 4.15 of the Linux kernel.

      Torvalds’ ire was directed at open software aficionado and member of Google’s Pixel security team Kees Cook, who he has previously accused of idiocy.

      Cook earned this round of shoutiness after he posted a request to “Please pull these hardened usercopy changes for v4.15-rc1.”

    • Free Software Principles

      Ten thousand dollars is more than $3,000, so the motives don’t add up for me. Hutchins may or may not have written some code, and that code may or may not have been used to commit a crime. Tech-literate people, such as the readers of Linux Magazine, understand the difference between creating a work and using it to commit a crime, but most of the media coverage – in the UK, at least – has been desperate to follow the paradigm of building a man up only to gleefully knock him down. Even his achievement of stopping WannaCry is decried as “accidental,” a word full of self-deprecating charm when used by Hutchins, but which simply sounds malicious in the hands of the Daily Mail and The Telegraph.

    • New warning over back door in Linux

      Researchers working at Russian cyber security firm Dr Web claim to have found a new vulnerability that enables remote attackers to crack Linux installations virtually unnoticed.

      According to the anti-malware company, cyber criminals are getting into the popular open-source operating system via a new backdoor.

      This, they say, is “indirect evidence” that cyber criminals are showing an increasing interest in targeting Linux and the applications it powers.

      The trojan, which it’s calling Linux.BackDoor.Hook.1, targets the library libz primarily. It offers compression and extraction capabilities for a plethora of Linux-based programmes.

    • IN CHATLOGS, CELEBRATED HACKER AND ACTIVIST CONFESSES COUNTLESS SEXUAL ASSAULTS
    • Bipartisan Harvard panel recommends hacking [sic] safeguards for elections

      The guidelines are intended to reduce risks in low-budget local races as well as the high-stakes Congressional midterm contests next year. Though most of the suggestions cost little or nothing to implement and will strike security professionals as common sense, notorious attacks including the leak of the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, have succeeded because basic security practices were not followed.

    • Intel Chip Flaws Leave Millions of Devices Exposed

      On Monday, the chipmaker released a security advisory that lists new vulnerabilities in ME, as well as bugs in the remote server management tool Server Platform Services, and Intel’s hardware authentication tool Trusted Execution Engine. Intel found the vulnerabilities after conducting a security audit spurred by recent research. It has also published a Detection Tool so Windows and Linux administrators can check their systems to see if they’re exposed.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Ignoring Washington’s Role in Yemen Carnage, 60 Minutes Paints US as Savior

      In one of the most glaring, power-serving omissions in some time, CBS News’ 60 Minutes (11/19/17) took a deep dive into the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and did not once mention the direct role the United States played in creating, perpetuating and prolonging a crisis that’s left over 10,000 civilians dead, 2 million displaced, and an estimated 1 million with cholera.

      Correspondent Scott Pelley’s segment, “When Food Is Used as a Weapon,” employed excellent on-the-ground reporting to highlight the famine and bombing victims of Saudi Arabia’s brutal two-and-a-half year siege of Yemen. But its editors betrayed this reporting—and their viewers—by stripping the conflict of any geopolitical context, and letting one of its largest backers, the United States government, entirely off the hook.

      [...]

      To compound the obfuscation, 60 Minutes doesn’t just omit the US role in the war, it paints the US as a savior rescuing its victims. The hero of the piece is American David Beasley, the director of the UN’s World Food Programme, the organization coordinating humanitarian aid. “The US is [the World Food Programme]’s biggest donor, so the director is most often an American. Beasley was once governor of South Carolina,” Pelly narrates over B-roll hero shots of Beasley overseeing food distribution.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Nebraska approves controversial Keystone XL pipeline with conditions

      On Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission issued its final order (PDF) on the fate of energy company TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The commission conditionally approved the pipeline, but it ordered the pipeline to be moved east of Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.

      The condition sets up a hurdle for TransCanada—now the company needs to seek the approval of different local landowners, according to The Washington Post. Still, the approval likely means Keystone XL will be able to deliver tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas in the near future. Reuters called the Nebraska approval “the last big regulatory obstacle” to the completion of the pipeline.

    • Delhi smog levels drop from severe to very poor—you know, half-marathon weather

      Despite extremely dangerous levels of air pollution smothering Delhi and creating “gas chamber” conditions, thousands took to the streets to run a half marathon Sunday. Most ran without masks that would filter out harmful pollution.

    • If you liked the Cambrian Explosion, you’ll love the Ordovician Radiation

      Over half a billion years ago, during the Cambrian geological period, life on Earth started to get a lot more interesting. Thanks to the rise in free oxygen generated mostly by photosynthesizing algae, lifeforms could draw much more energy out of the environment. That meant the rise of multicellularity and the beginnings of a world full of the macro-sized plants and animals we know and love. That moment, full of weird-ass animals like Anomalocaris, is called the Cambrian Explosion.

      The Cambrian Explosion gets a lot of play because it was the first time multicellular creatures ruled the planet. What few people (other than geologists and paleontologists) realize is that there was an even crazier time for early life. It came during the Ordovician period, right after the Cambrian came to a close 485 million years ago. The Ordovician Radiation, also called the Great Ordovician Diversification Event (GOBE), saw a quadrupling of diversity at the genus level (that’s the category one step above species). Life also started occupying new ecological niches, clinging to plants floating in the ocean’s water column and burrowing deep into the seabed.

  • Finance
    • Consumers Want Tech Firms to Take On the Banks

      Nearly 60 percent of U.S. bank customers are willing to try a financial product from tech firms they already use, according to a survey conducted by consultant Bain & Co. For younger respondents, the interest was especially high. About 73 percent of people age 18 to 34 said they would try a tech firm’s credit card, deposit account, investment or mortgage.

    • The uncertainty of Brexit

      A lot has happened on Brexit in recent weeks and this post sets out what some general views as to where we are now in this adventure (or misadventure, depending on taste).

      There is one thing which is more likely than not: the United Kingdom will, by automatic operation of law, cease to be a member of the European Union on 29 March 2019.

      This is regardless of there being a deal or not.

    • Bitcoin hits $13,000 on Zimbabwe exchange

      Mining requires huge amounts of electricity, and Golix says that energy prices in the region are simply too high to make the process cost effective.

    • Why Bitcoin Costs Nearly Twice as Much in Zimbabwe as the Rest of the World Right Now

      The surge has been fueled by Zimbabwean investors seeking a safe haven from domestic banks amid the country’s ongoing political, financial and monetary woes. While Zimbabwe once had its own currency, it began using a mix of currencies from stable economies including the U.S. dollar in 2009 after hyperinflation made its own note nearly worthless.

    • Bitcoin Demand Surges in Zimbabwe Following Successful Coup

      According to Golix, it has processed over $1 million worth of transactions in the past 30 days, a sharp increase from its turnover of $100,000 for the entire year of 2016.

      According to Golix co-owner Taurai Chinyamakobvu, the prices for Bitcoin are determined by supply and demand. The sellers of the digital currency are paid in US dollars that are deposited electronically. The money, however, can only be converted into hard cash at a sizeable discount on the black market.

    • Amid soaring drug prices, FDA reverses stance and cracks down on cheap imports

      The agency sent in criminal investigation agents with search warrants for computer files and any paperwork related to sales of foreign drugs. The agents also took files on customers and the stores’ financial records. They left behind a letter for store owners to sign, acknowledging that the practice of importing foreign medicines is illegal.

      Although none of the stores has closed due to the activity, the owners are spooked by the turn of events—and puzzled by the timing.

      Bill Hepscher, co-owner of Canadian MedStore, which owns six of the nine raided storefronts, said that the FDA’s actions “worr[y]” him. For years, his stores have helped patients with valid prescriptions order the medicines they need at steeply discounted prices compared with those in the States. The stores don’t dispense the drugs, rather they simply arrange for the medicines to be delivered directly to the customers’ homes. Hepscher estimates that he has about 10,000 customers a year.

    • Top German Judges Slam EU Plans To Create Global Court To Enforce Corporate Sovereignty

      A few weeks ago, we wrote how many — even the US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer — seem to think it’s time for corporate sovereignty, also called “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS), to go. For some reason the European Commission disagrees. As Techdirt readers may recall, after receiving a bloody nose in a public consultation about corporate sovereignty, the Commission announced to great fanfare that it was “replacing” ISDS with something called the Investment Court System (ICS). In fact, this amounted to little more than putting lipstick on the ISDS pig, since ICS suffered from the same fundamental flaw: it gave companies unique rights to sue countries in a supra-national court. T

    • MEP and QC begin legal proceedings to release Brexit studies

      Lawyers representing Molly and Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project have written again to David Davis and Philip Hammond giving them 14 days to release in full government studies into the economic impacts of Brexit. If they refuse to make the documents publicly available, they will start judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

      The letter points to the fact that, following a Labour motion which pressed the government into agreeing to release the documents to a government committee, recent government statements ‘leaves it wholly uncertain what information will be made public, and when’.

      Molly and Jolyon Maugham QC are demanding that 58 sectoral impact studies be released as well as a Treasury report comparing the predicted economic impacts of Brexit with potential benefits of alternative free trade agreements. They say the information must be made publicly available in its entirety without redaction.

    • Belief that customs system will be ready for Brexit ‘borders on insanity’

      One of the world’s biggest logistics companies, whose clients include Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Primark, has said it is “bordering on insanity” to think new Brexit customs systems will be in place for 2019.

      Leigh Pomlett, the executive director of CEVA Group, which specialises in road, air and ocean-going freight, said Downing Street and the Treasury did not understand how difficult it would be to have a system in place in 15 months’ time, when the UK leaves the EU.

      “It is just the urgency of this that worries me. It takes me longer to negotiate a supply chain contract than we have here. Arguably, it is already too late,” he said.

      CEVA employs 6,000 people in the UK and counts supermarkets, car manufacturers, food producers and pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline among its clients.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Can Facebook, Twitter Crack Down on Deception?
    • EFF Wins Over Patent Troll Trying To Silence EFF Calling Its Patent Stupid

      Earlier this year we wrote about the EFF going to court in California to protect it against an Australian patent troll, GEMSA, who objected to EFF naming a GEMSA patent one of EFF’s “Stupid Patents of the Month.” Apparently GEMSA sued in Australia, didn’t properly serve EFF, and then got an injunction in Australia, which it threatened to enforce in California. EFF went to court using the all important SPEECH Act, which bars foreign judgments from being enforced in the US if they are in conflict with the First Amendment.

      GEMSA, perhaps not surprisingly, declined to show up in the California court, leading EFF to move for default. A magistrate judge initially recommended against this, arguing that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over GEMSA. EFF asked the court to try again, and in a extraordinarily detailed and careful ruling, Judge Jon Tigar rejects the magistrate’s recommendation and gives EFF the default judgment it sought. We’ve complained in the past that often the problem with default judgments is that courts are only too willing to just grant them if one party declines to show up for the case. This is not one of those situations. Tigar goes out of his way to explore pretty much every possible argument that GEMSA might have for why the court shouldn’t have jurisdiction, for why the SPEECH Act should not apply and for why EFF’s post may have been defamatory. And one by one by one, he points out why GEMSA is wrong and EFF is right. I won’t repeat all the reasoning here, in part because there are so many different elements, though it’s a fun and quick read in the filing.

    • How China made Victoria’s Secret a pawn in its ruthless global game

      Victoria’s Secret staff are said to believe their emails are being watched. To which seasoned business travellers to China might respond: why do you think we’ve been carrying burner phones and disposable laptops there for years?

    • Angry Lawyer Already Engaged In A SLAPP Suit Promises To Sue More Critics, Use His Machine Gun If Sanctioned

      Earlier this year, we mentioned the Texas lawyer Jason Lee Van Dyke in relation to a story in which Twitter, ridiculously, banned Ken “Popehat” White after he wrote about threats from Van Dyke. We had written about Van Dyke years earlier when he sued the Tor Project because a revenge porn site was using Tor. We also noted that that case involved a guy who had been declared the leader of a hate group, Kyle Bristow — and appeared to involve Van Dyke deliberately and knowingly “serving” the wrong party. The revenge porn site that Van Dyke claimed he was targeting had sarcastically provided Bristow’s address as its address to mock Van Dyke, and Van Dyke then claimed he had properly “served” the revenge porn site by serving it on Bristow.

    • Orchid Labs Unveils Open Source Protocol to Fight Internet Surveillance and Censorship

      Orchid Labs, a company headquartered in San Francisco, has launched the private alpha version of its blockchain-based Orchid network, which is said to allow users to access the Internet free of censorship, restrictions and surveillance.

    • Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds screening, buzz on film censorship dominate Day 1

      A cloud of concern seems to hang around the International Film Festival in Goa — regarding increasing film censorship and no reason for banning films this year (so far three films have been dropped from IFFI: S Durga, Nude, Saawan).

    • Trial Set To Start For Journalist Facing Decades In Prison For Covering Inauguration Day Protests

      There’s little more chilling to First Amendment freedoms than the possibility of spending decades in jail for documenting a protest that turned into a riot. But that’s exactly what independent journalist Alexi Wood is facing. Traveling from Texas to Washington DC to document anti-Trump protests on Inauguration Day, Wood was “kettled” and arrested along with the protestors he was covering. He wasn’t the only journalist to be detained for hours and hit with charges, but most of the others have seen their charges dismissed.

    • Ulysses versus the censors

      Ulysses is a book that has inspired books. Indeed, there is something of a Ulysses industry, with books dedicated to the controversies around the publication and the numerous court cases instigated by it. Yet despite the fuss over the printed word, it was the 1967 film version of the tale which shocked Irish sensibilities most. Denounced by the authorities as being ‘subversive to public morality’, it remained banned in Ireland for more than three decades, having the dubious honour of the longest film ban in the history of the Irish state. The film proved controversial globally, even inspiring a walkout protest at the Cannes Film Festival, with the audience of critics who booed the film denounced as ‘illiterates’ by a festival official. The use of the word ‘fuck’, coupled with a nude man shown from behind, was too much for some.

    • North Korea’s Socialist Mother’s Day Comes Under Censorship
    • North Korea likely to launch ballistic missile before year-end: spy agency
    • North Korea Slowly Goes Online
    • Sanctions prevent Google from North Korea operations: Eric Schmidt

      Alphabet Inc. chairman says DPRK would be less dangerous opponent if “better connected to the world”

    • Google’s Censorship of Sputnik and RT ‘Very Dangerous’ – Psychologist
    • Google will ‘de-rank’ RT articles to make them harder to find – Eric Schmidt
    • Algorithmic Censorship: Google News to ‘De-Rank’ RT, Sputnik

      “Good to have Google on record as defying all logic and reason: facts aren’t allowed if they come from RT,” said Editor-In-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

      In the face of an ongoing outcry regarding alleged Kremlin meddling in U.S. electoral processes, Alphabet’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the parent company to Google News would begin to reduce the presence of Russian state-owned media sites that had previously been given normal placement on the search company’s news and advertising sites.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Confidentiality clubs becoming more common in Indian patent disputes

      The Delhi High Court at the end of October allowed Ericsson’s request to create a confidentiality club to limit access to documents in a patent dispute with Xiaomi.

    • Skype becomes victim of Chinese censorship, disappears from App Stores
    • Skype Removed From Apple’s App Store in China
    • Skype disappears from app stores in China, including Apple’s
    • Microsoft’s Skype Gets Pulled from Apple China App Store
    • The Good, the Bad, and the Unspeakably Ugly: A Reason Surveillance Reform Bill Primer

      Before the year’s end Congress needs to decide what it’s going to do about Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits the federal government to engage in surveillance of foreign targets that are not on U.S. soil, secretly and without warrants.

      Section 702 amendments sunset at the end of the year if Congress does not act to renew it. These amendments were originally passed in 2008 and renewed in 2012.

    • US Senate takes aim at “warrantless surveillance”

      The US Congress still hasn’t passed any legislation to reign in what critics call “warrantless surveillance” of US citizens by the nation’s multiple spy agencies. But there are now five proposals on the table aimed in that direction.

      The latest, introduced last week, is the Senate version of the USA (United and Strengthening American) Liberty Act of 2017, which at least some privacy advocates say is a marked improvement over a House bill of the same name that was introduced in early October 2017.

    • US Sleepwalking into Renewing Vast NSA Surveillance Law

      Several bills that would extend the US government’s ability to grab and search vast numbers of communications without a warrant – including users’ data from companies such as Google and Facebook – are marching toward passage in Congress with little public attention or debate.

      US law currently allows these activities under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was adopted in 2008. As former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed, Section 702 is the basis for two enormous warrantless snooping programs: one in which the government demands communications from US-based internet companies, and one in which it allegedly scans massive amounts of the internet traffic that flows between the US and other countries. Although the government cannot legally target people in the US for this monitoring, it scoops up untold quantities of their correspondence “incidentally.”

    • Nothing you can do stops this code from watching you online

      Have you ever typed something into a search box on a website and then thought better of it? New research shows that 482 sites may be passing on that information anyway.

      We have long known that information we provide online can be tracked. A website you visit might have hundreds of scripts running in the background; some deposit cookies, others track you to other websites. The variety of tracking tools mean it is almost impossible to know what happens to your data when you visit a site.

      But all of these seem tame compared with what Steven Englehardt and his colleagues at Princeton University found after combing through hundreds of websites to examine the scripts they were running: the widespread use of a type of script, called a session replay, that logs everything you do on a website, including what you type…

    • No, you’re not being paranoid. Sites really are watching your every move

      If you have the uncomfortable sense someone is looking over your shoulder as you surf the Web, you’re not being paranoid. A new study finds hundreds of sites—including microsoft.com, adobe.com, and godaddy.com—employ scripts that record visitors’ keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior in real time, even before the input is submitted or is later deleted.

      Session replay scripts are provided by third-party analytics services that are designed to help site operators better understand how visitors interact with their Web properties and identify specific pages that are confusing or broken. As their name implies, the scripts allow the operators to re-enact individual browsing sessions. Each click, input, and scroll can be recorded and later played back.

    • Why We’re Helping The Stranger Unseal Electronic Surveillance Records

      Consider this: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been going around talking about “responsible encryption” for some time now— proselytizing for encryption that’s somehow only accessible by the government—something we all know to be unworkable. If the Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking this aggressive public position about what kind of access it should have to user data, it begs the question—what kind of technical assistance from companies and orders for user data is the DOJ demanding in sealed court documents? EFF’s client The Stranger, a Seattle-based newspaper, has filed a petition with one court to find out.

    • Brooklyn Judge’s Ruling Raises Bar for Covert Cellphone Tracking

      A Brooklyn judge has ruled that the police need an eavesdropping warrant to covertly track the cellphones of criminal suspects, raising the bar in New York for the use of a surveillance device that is facing challenges across the United States.

    • Microsoft attempts to provide internet in Puerto Rico with unused TV frequencies

      The company’s introduction of its white spaces on the island comes as it makes moves to expand the technology to rural parts of the U.S., where [I]nternet service have not kept pace with urban and suburban areas.

    • We Can’t Trust Facebook to Regulate Itself

      The more data it has on offer, the more value it creates for advertisers. That means it has no incentive to police the collection or use of that data — except when negative press or regulators are involved. Facebook is free to do almost whatever it wants with your personal information, and has no reason to put safeguards in place.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Sheriff’s Office To Pay $3 Million For Invasive Searches Of 850 High School Students

      It’s been barely a month since news came to us of the Worth County (GA) Sheriff’s Department’s search of an entire school’s worth of high school students. Over 800 students were searched without a warrant, subjected to invasive pat downs that included breasts and genitals by Sheriff Jeff Hobby and his deputies.

      Sheriff Hobby thought there might be drugs in the school, but despite the search of hundreds of students and the use of drug dogs, no drugs were found. A class action lawsuit [PDF] alleging multiple rights violations brought by some of the students was filed in June. In October, Sheriff Hobby and two of his deputies were indicted for sexual battery and false imprisonment.

    • British MPs appeal to end US extradition battle of ‘hacker’ Lauri Love

      More than 70 British MPs have pledged support for Lauri Love, an alleged computer hacker currently battling extradition to the US – where he faces up to 99 years in prison.

      A letter sent on 17 November, addressed to UK prime minster Theresa May and attorney general Jeremy Wright QC, argued Love should be tried for any alleged crimes in the UK.

    • The Justice Department Continues to Roll Back Civil Rights Protections

      In a speech on Friday, the attorney general signaled that he will rescind more civil rights guidance from the Obama era.

      On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions strongly hinted that he isn’t done trying to roll back the civil rights gains made during the Obama administration.

      In a speech before the conservative Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, Sessions described an internal Justice Department memo he signed prohibiting his department from issuing “improper” guidance documents. According to the document, “Effective immediately, Department components may not issue guidance documents that purport to create rights or obligations binding on persons or entities outside the Executive Branch (including state, local, and tribal governments). The document also stated the Justice Department will no longer issue guidance that “effectively bind private parties without undergoing the rulemaking process.”

      Behind this bureaucratic language is an attack on the civil rights legacy of the Obama-era Justice Department. Throughout the Obama administration, the Department of Justice worked with state and local governments to protect civil rights and liberties by suggesting practical ways, for example, to eliminate gender bias in policing, legally enforce fines and fees, and dismantle the school to prison pipeline. Sessions has indicated that he may “repeal and replace” these policies, which will roll back important efforts to ensure equal protection for all under the law.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Will Congress Bless Internet Fast Lanes?

      As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gets ready to abandon a decade of progress on net neutrality, some in Congress are considering how new legislation could fill the gap and protect users from unfair ISP practices. Unfortunately, too many lawmakers seem to be embracing the idea that they should allow ISPs to create Internet “fast lanes” — also known as “paid prioritization,” one of the harmful practices that violates net neutrality. They are also looking to re-assign the job of protecting customers from ISP abuses to the Federal Trade Commission.

      These are both bad ideas. Let’s start with paid prioritization. In response to widespread public demand from across the political spectrum, the 2015 Open Internet Order expressly prohibited paid prioritization, along with other unfair practices like blocking and throttling. ISPs have operated under the threat or the reality of these prohibitions for at least a decade, and continue to be immensely profitable. But they’d like to make even more money by double-dipping: charging customers for access to the Internet, and then charging services for (better) access to customers. And some lawmakers seem keen to allow it.

    • Trump administration files suit to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

      The Trump administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) today filed a lawsuit to block AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

      AT&T has been the nation’s largest pay-TV company since it acquired DirecTV in 2015. Acquiring Time Warner and its stable of popular TV programming would give the company too much control over programming and distribution, the DOJ said.

      Together, AT&T and Time Warner would attempt to impede competition from online video distributors and raise prices on rivals that want access to Time Warner programming, the DOJ alleged.

    • Disgusted With Charter Spectrum Merger, Lexington To Build Entirely New Fiber Network

      When Charter Spectrum acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in a blockbuster $69 billion merger last year, the company promised the deal would result in all manner of “synergies” and consumer benefits. But as is the case with most telecom megamergers, most of these acquired users say the deal only resulted in significantly higher prices — and somehow even worse customer service than the historically awful service the company was already known for. In many areas, users say they’ve been socked with price hikes up to 40% for the exact same service.

    • FCC Chairman to Seek Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules (Report)

      The news of the proposal — expected to be unveiled on Tuesday — drew immediate criticism from public interest groups. They warn that the removal of the regulations will invite telecom companies to block or throttle traffic, or to sell “fast lanes” to internet providers willing to pay for speedier access to the consumer. Fight for the Future, which has been waging a campaign to preserve the rules, has been warning that Pai will seek to eliminate most of the rules altogether.

    • FCC is expected to unveil its plan to destroy net neutrality during Thanksgiving week

      The FCC’s next meeting, where it votes on proposals, is December 14th. That’s when it’s expected to vote on its plan to reverse net neutrality. There’s no firm date on when the proposal will be announced, but the commission usually details its plans for each meeting several weeks ahead of time, and, as of this year, publicly reveals the text of what it’ll be voting on, too. Scheduling the net neutrality announcement for Thanksgiving week may be a coincidence, but it certainly seems like the FCC is trying to release this plan at a time when it’ll be harder for net neutrality advocates to give it their full attention.

    • FCC will reveal vote to repeal net neutrality this week

      The important point, as we’ve said before, is that once the genie is out of the bottle, getting it back in is almost impossible and for our readers outside the US, don’t think this doesn’t affect you – everything that passes through US servers will be affected in some way and will knock on to you.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • The Sad Legacy Of Copyright: Locking Up Scientific Knowledge And Impeding Progress

        We’ve repeated this over and over again, but the Constitutional rationale for copyright is “to promote the progress of science” (in case you’re wondering about the “useful arts” part that comes after it, that was for patents, as “useful arts” was a term that meant “inventions” at the time). “Science” in the language of the day was synonymous with “learning.” Indeed, the very first US copyright law, the Copyright Act of 1790 is literally subtitled “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.” Now, it’s also true that the method provided by the Constitution for the promotion of this progress was a monopoly right — locking up the content for a limited time. But the intent and purpose was always to promote further learning. This is why, for years, we’ve questioned two things: First, if the monopoly rights granted by copyright are hindering the promotion of learning, should they still be Constitutional? Second, if the goal is the promotion of learning, shouldn’t we be exploring if there are better methods to do that, which don’t involve monopoly rights and limiting access. And this, of course, leaves aside all the big questions about how much copyright has changed in the past 227 years.

      • UK Government Publishes Advice on ‘Illicit Streaming Devices’

        The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has today published advice on so-called ‘Illicit Streaming Devices’. Noting the importance of ensuring that copyright holders get paid, the IPO warns that ‘Kodi boxes’ and ‘Android TV boxes’ present a threat to child welfare while presenting an electrical safety hazard to the public. If you have one, you should wipe it clean now, the government says.

      • Kodi-Addon Developer Launches Fundraiser to Fight “Copyright Bullies”

        Shani, the developer of the popular Kodi-addon ZemTV, is asking the public for help so he can defend a lawsuit filed by American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network. A proper defense is needed to avoid a bad precedent, he stresses. “The fight is rigged against the little guy, they are trying to make something illegal that shouldn’t be illegal.”

PTAB Inter Partes Reviews (“IPRs”) Are Essential in an Age When One Can Get Sued for Merely Mocking a Patent

Tuesday 21st of November 2017 05:41:25 PM

Reexaminations (akin to but not identical to IPRs) can help weed out “stupid patents” like the one below


USPTO patent ‘quality’ (US 6368227 B1)

Summary: The battle over the right to criticise particular patents has gotten very real and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) fought it until the end; this is why we need granted patents to be criticised upon petitions too (and often invalidated as a result)

THE USPTO, prior to some recent reforms, had been granting a lot of dubious patents on software — patents which were later invalidated by PTAB, the appeal board which is half a decade old (US patents typically last two decades).

“GEMSA wrote to EFF accusing us of “false and malicious slander.” It subsequently filed a lawsuit and obtained an injunction from a South Australia court purporting to require EFF to censor itself.”
      –EFFWe are very gratified to see PTAB’s growth and the crackdown on software patents. Earlier today I saw this press release about a new software patent on brain segmentation (my field of research). Do examiners seriously think that computer vision is anything but software and reducible to mathematics? Did words like “brain” and fancy jargon like “dynamic atlas” make them think that this is not an algorithm? This is where PTAB comes handy and such “stupid patents” (as the EFF calls them) get invalidated as though they were never granted.

Yesterday we saw this press release about Axon potentially losing its patent lawsuit (patent aggression against a practising rival [1, 2) after intervention by PTAB. To quote: “The U.S. Patent Office previously had rejected Axon’s attempts to invalidate Digital’s Patent No. 9,253,452 (the “’452 Patent”) through two separate petitions for inter partes review (“IPR”). This was Axon’s final attempt to invalidate the ‘452 Patent before the Patent Office. Despite its loss before the Patent Office, Axon desperately sought to convince the Court to maintain the stay of the litigation to avoid answering to Digital and a jury for its willful infringement of Digital’s ‘452 Patent. On Friday, November 17, 2017, the Court rejected Axon’s request and lifted the stay of the litigation. In ruling on the motion regarding the stay, the Court found that the evidence submitted by Digital “weigh heavily against continuing the stay of the ‘452 patent” and that “the Court denies Defendant’s [Axon’s] request to continue the stay of this case with respect to the ‘452 patent.” The Court has set a hearing for December 14, 2017, to discuss a schedule for moving the case forward to trial.”

“We declined and filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking a declaration that EFF’s post is protected speech.”
      –EFFThis is not about software, but still, it’s interesting to see if PTAB can defuse and disarm the aggressor. It’s no secret that many of the millions of US patents (a total which exceeds 10 million) are of questionable quality, especially those that have not yet expired (because the patent bar was lowered).

PTAB is very scary to patent trolls and other aggressors, whose apologist Dennis Crouch tries hard to help. This week, as usual, he travels almost 150 years back in time to scrape something which looks like an argument against PTAB. As a reminder, Crouch spent a great deal of time trying to discredit and/or slow down PTAB (his PTAB-bashing posts were almost a daily occurrence some months back) ahead of a Supreme Court’s decision on it. Shortly before this, Crouch wrote about these ridiculous design patents that we mentioned a month ago and said:

I previously wrote about Columbia Sportswear design patent verdict and damages award against Serius. The patent – D657,093 – covers a wavy-pattern as part of a heat reflective material. Post trial, the court has now issued an emergency Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining Serious from initiating a reexamination of the design patent — finding that the reexamination could improperly “avoid the jury’s verdict in this case.”

Just look at that design. It’s outrageous that a patent would be granted on that and any sane reexamination would immediately invalidate the patent.

“Just look at that design. It’s outrageous that a patent would be granted on that and any sane reexamination would immediately invalidate the patent.”The worrying thing is, if one is big and wealthy enough (like the EFF) and decides to criticise ridiculous patents, there’s a risk of getting sued. It happened several times to the EFF and, as we’ve covered before, the EFF eventually won the case (albeit at a great expense, namely legal fees). To quote TechDirt, which is itself subjected to a SLAPP lawsuit: “GEMSA, perhaps not surprisingly, declined to show up in the California court, leading EFF to move for default. A magistrate judge initially recommended against this, arguing that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over GEMSA. EFF asked the court to try again, and in a extraordinarily detailed and careful ruling, Judge Jon Tigar rejects the magistrate’s recommendation and gives EFF the default judgment it sought. We’ve complained in the past that often the problem with default judgments is that courts are only too willing to just grant them if one party declines to show up for the case. This is not one of those situations. Tigar goes out of his way to explore pretty much every possible argument that GEMSA might have for why the court shouldn’t have jurisdiction, for why the SPEECH Act should not apply and for why EFF’s post may have been defamatory. And one by one by one, he points out why GEMSA is wrong and EFF is right. I won’t repeat all the reasoning here, in part because there are so many different elements, though it’s a fun and quick read in the filing.”

The EFF has just written about it as well: “A federal judge has ruled that EFF need not obey an Australian injunction ordering EFF to take down a “Stupid Patent of the Month” blog post and never speak of the patent owner’s intellectual property again.

“It should be OK to criticise patents that should not have been granted, but in a country as litigious as this (the US is notorious for litigiousness) the above legal action can cause “chilling effect”; it would lead organisations such as the EFF to fear of “slander” (defamation/libel) lawsuit when stating the simple truth.”“It all started when Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA)’s patent was featured as the June 2016 entry in our Stupid Patent of the Month blog series. GEMSA wrote to EFF accusing us of “false and malicious slander.” It subsequently filed a lawsuit and obtained an injunction from a South Australia court purporting to require EFF to censor itself. We declined and filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California seeking a declaration that EFF’s post is protected speech.”

It should be OK to criticise patents that should not have been granted, but in a country as litigious as this (the US is notorious for litigiousness) the above legal action can cause “chilling effect”; it would lead organisations such as the EFF to fear of “slander” (defamation/libel) lawsuit when stating the simple truth.

Chinese Patent Policy Continues to Mimic All the Worst Elements of the American System

Tuesday 21st of November 2017 04:38:15 PM

This will crush Chinese innovation

Summary: China is becoming what the United States used to be in terms of patents, whereas the American system is adopting saner patent policies that foster real innovation whilst curtailing mass litigation

THE USPTO, together with US courts, may have done what’s necessary to stave off at least some patent trolls. With software patents on the rocks, venue-shifting becoming tough and various other notable factors, patent trolls either go out of business [sic] or move somewhere else. Some of them go to China.

Even China, based on yesterday’s blog post, is lost in an appalling trap of a patent gold rush. The Chinese government now signals that competing/emergent players (those which compete against state-connected giants) are to be banned. From the blog: “While many past customs enforcement campaigns have focused on foreign rights owners (often big international brands), this one was carried out on behalf of domestic tech companies. China Daily explains that it is part of the government’s plan to “nurture Chinese companies with IP advantages in their exported goods”. In planning the “Soaring Dragon” operation, the Shenzhen authorities selected patent owners that were deemed “capable of independent innovation” – Huawei and ZTE chief among them.”

“The Chinese government now signals that competing/emergent players (those which compete against state-connected giants) are to be banned.”So put another way, a quarter million products were denied access to the market. Who exactly benefits from that? “Whatever the details behind the numbers GACC is publicly promoting,” it concludes, “the message is clear: if you’re an innovative Chinese company and your patents are being infringed, the customs services is one of the tools at your disposal. The more proactive they become, the more potent a remedy this will be, especially for the likes of Huawei and ZTE.”

Those are massive corporations. They now shield themselves with a massive number of low-quality patents, just like in the US. This actually suppresses innovation and reduces competition. It’s like ITC in the US.

Earlier today Watchtroll wrote about ITC action against Apple — action which, as we explained before, would likely go nowhere. ITC, like the above Chinese equivalent, guards the domestic giants.

China will never admit anything like that and with tight control over the media it’s already perfuming the above action. Watch how the Chinese official news site (government site in English) calls embargoes “Reforms open up fair playing field” (a euphemisms salad). “Officials said such ordinances,” the short report says, “meant to encourage enterprises to increase their brand-building awareness and improve product quality, had partly played a positive role.”

“Those are massive corporations. They now shield themselves with a massive number of low-quality patents, just like in the US.”In whose favour? Giants such as Huawei and ZTE? They basically use government-enforced protectionism in the same way Apple tried to guard itself from devices imported from China, Taiwan and Korea. Apple is still stockpiling patents and as we explained a couple of days ago, we expect it to become the next BlackBerry in the sense that it will litigate when little/no market is left for "i" devices. The Microsoft-connected patent troll Finjan already does exactly that (except it was never successful) and it’s is still at it, based on today’s press release. The good news is, victims of this troll are fighting back and challenging the patents. As for BlackBerry, in the absence of Kokes it carries on chasing companies with legal actions, albeit it looks like it explores doing so via intermediaries. As IAM explained yesterday:

Teletry is described as “an independent operating company with expertise in building relationships between patent holders and licensees in the wireless technology industry”. It is headed up by Kasim Alfalahi, who will be known to just about everyone who reads this blog as the former chief IP officer of Ericsson and the current CEO of Avanci, the IoT licensing platform.

Avanci is one of several businesses that sit within the Marconi Group, which was created earlier this year. Another is PanOptis, the NPE which, among other assets, owns a number of patents previously held by Ericsson. Although it is not entirely clear, it looks as if Teletry has been specifically created for the BlackBerry venture – it does not have its own website as far as I can tell and the only mention of it on the Marconi website is the press release announcing the BlackBerry deal.

Aside from Alfalahi, there are a number of other very well-known patent deal makers on the Marconi roster, including: former Google and Motorola Mobility patent transactions rainmaker Kirk Dailey; Eric Reifschneider, previously with Qualcomm; and Fred Telecky, once of Texas Instruments and most recently head of the licensing operation at PanOptis.

[...]

For the following ones, though, both parties will be expecting a return. If Kokes was right about the strength and breadth of the BlackBerry portfolio, outsourcing a large part of the smartphone licensing business to Teletry will free internal deal makers at the company to chase businesses in other verticals. That, in turn, should hasten the arrival of royalties into the company’s coffers – something that will undoubtedly please investors. The hook-up with Teletry may not have been a move that BlackBerry entered into entirely willingly, but it could be one that bears significant fruit.

Stick a fork in BlackBerry. It’s a patent troll by proxy now, for the actual business is just virtually dead. Now that we know what Teletry actually is, our predictions turn out to have been accurate all along. They’re just “managing” “portfolios” of patents (as per this press release from yesterday) and doing so by aggressive/proactive means, notably lawsuits. But will they succeed in the current atmosphere in the US?

“Stick a fork in BlackBerry. It’s a patent troll by proxy now, for the actual business is just virtually dead. Now that we know what Teletry actually is, our predictions turn out to have been accurate all along. “Today’s post from IAM, regarding RPX, says it’s a “tough market reality” and RPX is therefore moving to China. Many patent trolls are moving to China (good riddance!) and the only ones who complain about it are the patent ‘industry’. Technology companies are vastly relieved that all this nuisance is moving as far away as possible.

As a reminder, RPX was imploding somewhat earlier this year. Here’s the latest:

On a recent quarterly earnings call, RPX CEO Marty Roberts told analysts that the firm is looking to expand its presence in China in 2018. The exact dimensions of the aggregator’s planned investment aren’t known as of yet, but when you speak with senior IP executives inside Chinese companies one thing becomes clear very quickly: saying you want to be in China and actually being there are two very different things. If RPX really does want to take advantage of the opportunities the country presents it will need to be very serious about building a long-term project that may not immediately bear fruit.

We don’t yet know whether RPX plans to expand the coverage of its existing defensive aggregation model to China (perhaps by targeting more Chinese patents for acquisition), or whether it might seek to provide some different services designed specifically for Chinese clients. As a service provider with a defensive mission and a large portfolio, it could potentially provide a tailored service that helps Chinese entities gain freedom to operate in overseas markets and defends them against NPEs. However, the decrease of the NPE threat in the US, together with the emergence of the IPR system, have already brought down the costs of defence there – this is something that impacts Chinese companies as much as it does anyone else.

That last sentence is pretty revealing. RPX was directly profiting from a lot of troll activity (IAM uses the euphemism “NPE”) and now that trolls are ebbing away (or moving to China) those who offered a so-called ‘solution’ to it (for large corporations) fail to find themselves.

Links 20/11/2017: Why GNU/Linux is Better Than Windows, Another Linus Torvalds Rant

Monday 20th of November 2017 09:20:13 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • A soft push for the fairer sex

      International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous institution under Government of Kerala and Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment (SPACE), an NGO promoting free software, have been conducting ‘Women Hackers,’ a project to bring more women into free software. The programme involves intensive residential workshops on college campuses.

      It was during one such hackathon that the idea for ‘I install’ was put forward by the students of LBS College of Engineering, Kasaragod. A GNU/Linux installation camp, the event aims to promote the idea of taking control over the technology that you use. Those students who received training at the hackathon will be part of ‘I install’ where they impart their learning to other students.

  • Server
    • 6 Reasons Why Linux is Better than Windows For Servers

      A server is a computer software or a machine that offers services to other programs or devices, referred to as “clients“. There are different types of servers: web servers, database servers, application servers, cloud computing servers, file servers, mail servers, DNS servers and much more.

      The usage share for Unix-like operating systems has over the years greatly improved, predominantly on servers, with Linux distributions at the forefront. Today a bigger percentage of servers on the Internet and data centers around the world are running a Linux-based operating system.

    • All the supercomputers in the world moved to Linux operating systems

      In the June 2017 Linux system stood at 498 computers from the list of TOP 500.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.15 Is A Huge Update For Both AMD CPU & Radeon GPU Owners

      Linux 4.15 is shaping up to be a massive kernel release and we are just half-way through its merge window period. But for AMD Linux users especially, the 4.15 kernel release is going to be rocking.

      Whether you are using AMD processors and/or AMD Radeon graphics cards, Linux 4.15 is a terrific way to end of the year. There are a number of improvements to make this release great for AMD customers.

    • The Linux Kernel Is Still Rectifying The Year 2038 Problem

      The Linux kernel is still working to rectify the Year 2038 problem whereby the time values stored as signed 32-bit integers will wrap around.

      If you somehow are not familiar with the Year 2038 “Y2038″ problem, you can learn more via Wikipedia.

      The Linux kernel has been receiving fixes and workarounds for years now through many Y2038 commits to work through the many different areas of the kernel that are relying upon 32-bit signed ints for storing time values. With Linux 4.15, this work has continued.

    • The Big Changes So Far For The Linux 4.15 Kernel – Half Million New Lines Of Code So Far

      We are now through week one of two for the merge window of the Linux 4.15 kernel.

      If you are behind on your Phoronix reading with the many feature recaps provided this week of the different pull requests, here’s a quick recap of the changes so far to be found with Linux 4.15:

    • Intel 2017Q3 Graphics Stack Recipe Released

      Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has put out their quarterly Linux graphics driver stack upgrade in what they are calling the latest recipe.

      As is the case with the open-source graphics drivers just being one centralized, universal component to be easily installed everywhere, their graphics stack recipe is just the picked versions of all the source components making up their driver.

    • Intel Ironlake Receives Patches For RC6 Power Savings

      Intel Ironlake “Gen 5″ graphics have been around for seven years now since being found in Clarkdale and Arrandale processors while finally now the patches are all worked out for enabling RC6 power-savings support under Linux.

    • LVFS makes Linux firmware updates easier

      Traditionally, updating a BIOS or a network card’s firmware in Linux meant booting into Microsoft Windows or preparing a MS-DOS floppy disk and hoping everything would work correctly after the update. Periodically searching a vendor website for updates is a manual and error-prone task and not something we should ask users to do. A firmware update service makes it simpler for end users to implement hardware updates.

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu: -ENOFIRMWARE is now available

      GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu sources and tarballs are now available at
      http://www.fsfla.org/selibre/linux-libre/download/releases/4.14-gnu/ .
      It didn’t require any deblobbing changes since -rc6-gnu. Binaries are
      expected to show up over the next few days.

      The biggest change in this release is that the firmware subtree was
      removed upstream (thus the codename -ENOFIRMWARE), removing from the
      Linux kernel distribution a few pieces of Free firmware, and a number of
      non-Free ones. Alas, there are still a few pieces of non-Free firmware
      remaining in Linux 4.14; hopefully this problem will be addressed in a
      future release, and Linux will then be Free Software again. For the
      time being, it still requires some cleaning up to be Free Software, and
      plenty of additional cleaning up to meet the GNU Free Software
      Distribution Guidelines.

      The larger problem, that several drivers in Linux will not work at all
      unless you provide them with pieces of proprietary software, is not
      affected by this move: the drivers still refuse to work, a number of
      them for no good reason, and the non-Free firmware is still demanded by
      the upstream drivers, it is just distributed separately. This avoids
      legal problems for distributors of the kernel Linux, who refrain from
      distributing the non-Free firmware. However, that a number of drivers
      and corresponding firwmare are updated in lockstep suggests that they
      might actually be a single program, in spite of running on separate CPUs
      and having pieces distributed separately, and it might even be the case
      that the firmware happens to be a derivative work of the kernel. If
      that is so, those who distribute them together, or even just the
      firmware by itself, might be in violation of the terms of the GNU GPL,
      the Linux license, and thus losing their license to distribute Linux!

    • GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu Released, Still A Battle Deblobbing Driver Firmware
    • Linus Torvalds: ‘I don’t trust security people to do sane things’

      Linus Torvalds has offered his thoughts on Linux security approaches, branding some security professionals as “f*cking morons” for focusing on process-killing rather than debugging.

      Torvalds, the creator and principal developer of the Linux kernel, does not often pull his punches when it comes to the kernel’s behaviors and security.

      The engineer carried on the tradition over the weekend, as Google Pixel developer Kees Cook submitted a pull request for hardened usercopy changes for v4.15-rc1, which according to Cook, narrows areas of memory “that can be copied to/from userspace in the face of usercopy bugs by adding explicit whitelisting for slab cache regions.”

    • Linux creator slams security bods
    • Why Linus is right (as usual)

      Last year, some security “hardening” code was added to the kernel to prevent a class of buffer-overflow/out-of-bounds issues. This code didn’t address any particular 0day vulnerability, but was designed to prevent a class of future potential exploits from being exploited. This is reasonable.

      This code had bugs, but that’s no sin. All code has bugs.
      The sin, from Linus’s point of view, is that when an overflow/out-of-bounds access was detected, the code would kill the user-mode process or kernel. Linus thinks it should have only generated warnings, and let the offending code continue to run.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Kube-Node: Let Your Kubernetes Cluster Auto-Manage Its Nodes

        As Michelle Noorali put it in her keynote address at KubeCon Europe in March of this year: the Kubernetes open source container orchestration engine is still hard for developers. In theory, developers are crazy about Kubernetes and container technologies, because they let them write their application once and then run it anywhere without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. In reality, however, they still rely on operations in many aspects, which (understandably) dampens their enthusiasm about the disruptive potential of these technologies.

        One major downside for developers is that Kubernetes is not able to auto-manage and auto-scale its own machines. As a consequence, operations must get involved every time a worker node is deployed or deleted. Obviously, there are many node deployment solutions, including Terraform, Chef or Puppet, that make ops live much easier. However, all of them require domain-specific knowledge; a generic approach across various platforms that would not require ops intervention does not exist.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Announcing Season of KDE 2018

        KDE Student Programs is pleased to announce the 2018 Season of KDE for those who want to participate in mentored projects that enhance KDE in some way.

        Every year since 2013, KDE Student Programs has been running Season of KDE as a program similar to, but not quite the same as Google Summer of Code, offering an opportunity to everyone (not just students) to participate in both code and non-code projects that benefits the KDE ecosystem. In the past few years, SoK participants have not only contributed new application features but have also developed the KDE Continuous Integration System, statistical reports for developers, a web framework, ported KDE Applications, created documentation and lots and lots of other work.

        For this year’s Season of KDE, we are shaking things up a bit and making a host of changes to the program.

      • [LabPlot] Improved data fitting in 2.5

        Until now, the fit parameters could in principle take any values allowed by the fit model, which would lead to a reasonable description of the data. However, sometimes the realistic regions for the parameters are known in advance and it is desirable to set some mathematical constrains on them. LabPlot provides now the possibility to define lower and/or upper bounds for the fit parameters and to limit the internal fit algorithm to these regions only.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • [GNOME] Maps Towards 3.28

        Some work has been done since the release of 3.26 in September. On the visual side we have adapted the routing sidebar to use a similar styling as is used in Files (Nautilus) and the GTK+ filechooser.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • MX 17 Beta 2
      • SparkyLinux 4.7 “Tyche” Out Now with Latest Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Updates

        Powered by a recent kernel from the long-term supported Linux 4.9 series, version 4.9.51, SparkyLinux 4.7 is now available for download (see link below) with all the updates pushed upstream in the software repositories of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series as of November 17, 2017.

        This version comes with the Xfce 4.12.3, LXDE 0.99.2, and Openbox 3.6.1 graphical environments, the latest Calamares 3.1.8 graphical installer, as well as Mozilla Firefox 52.5.0 ESR, Mozilla Thunderbird 52.4.0, LibreOffice 5.2.7, VLC Media Player 2.2.6, Pidgin 2.12.0, Transmission 2.92, HexChat 2.12.4, and DeaDBeeF 0.7.2.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat OpenStack platform 12 imminent, paves way for Kubernetes in platform 13

        Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat is poised to release its OpenStack Platform 12. It’s the first step in a longer vision to ultimately deploy via Kubernetes.

        Red Hat released Fedora 27 last week offering containers and the latest GNOME, but for big business, it’s the next OpenStack release to watch out for.

        Red Hat announced OpenStack Platform 12 at the OpenStack Summit in Sydney earlier this month, with the release expected within weeks.

      • Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 3.7 boosts AWS, Kubernetes integration

        Red Hat recently unveiled OpenShift Container Platform 3.7, the latest version of its Kubernetes container application platform, which includes native integrations with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Service Brokers.

        Modern applications made for digital transformation are dependent on a combination of component and microservices, making consistency across cloud providers difficult. The company said the newest platform is intended to address this challenge by allowing IT companies to connect any application running on OpenShift to a host of services, regardless of where the service runs.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Review: Fedora 27 Workstation

          On the whole there are several things to like about Fedora 27. The operating system was stable during my trial and I like that there are several session options, depending on whether we want to use Wayland or the X display server or even a more traditional-looking version of GNOME. I am happy to see Wayland is coming along to the point where it is close to on par with the X session. There are some corner cases to address, but GNOME on Wayland has improved a lot in the past year.

          I like the new LibreOffice feature which lets us sign and verify documents and I like GNOME’s new settings panel. These are all small, but notable steps forward for GNOME, LibreOffice and Fedora.

          Most of the complaints I had this week had more to do with GNOME specifically than Fedora as an operating system. GNOME on Fedora is sluggish on my systems, both on the desktop computer and in VirtualBox, especially the Wayland session. This surprised me as when I ran GNOME’s Wayland session on Ubuntu last month, the desktop performed quite a bit better. Ubuntu’s GNOME on Wayland session was smooth and responsive, but Fedora’s was too slow for me to use comfortably and I switched over to using the X session for most of my trial.

          Two other big differences I felt keenly between Ubuntu and Fedora were with regards to how these two leading projects set up GNOME. On Ubuntu we have a dock that acts as a task switcher, making it a suitable environment for multitasking. Fedora’s GNOME has no equivalent. This means Fedora’s GNOME is okay for running one or two programs at a time, but I tend to run eight or nine applications at any given moment. This becomes very awkward when using Fedora’s default GNOME configuration as it is hard to switch between open windows quickly, at least without installing an extension. In a similar vein, Ubuntu’s GNOME has window control buttons and Fedora’s version does not, which again adds a few steps to what are usually very simple, quick actions.

          What it comes down to is I feel like Ubuntu takes GNOME and turns it into a full featured desktop environment, while Fedora provides us with just plain GNOME which feels more like a framework for a desktop we can then shape with extensions rather than a complete desktop environment. In fact, I think that describes Fedora’s approach in general – the distribution feels more like a collection of open source utilities rather than an integrated whole. Earlier I mentioned LibreOffice can work with signed documents, but Fedora has no key manager, meaning we need to find and download one. Fedora ships with Totem, which is a fine video player, but it doesn’t work with Wayland, making it an odd default choice. These little gaps or missed connections show up occasionally and it sets the distribution apart from other projects like openSUSE or Linux Mint where there is a stronger sense the pieces of the operating system working together with a unified vision.

          The big puzzle for me this week was with software updates. Linux effectively solved updating software and being able to keep running without a pause, reboot or lock-up decades ago. Other mainstream distributions have fast updates – some even have atomic, on-line updates. openSUSE has software snapshots through the file system, Ubuntu has live kernel updates that do away with rebooting entirely and NixOS has atomic, versioned updates via the package manager, to name just three examples. But Fedora has taken a big step backward in making updates require an immediate reboot, and taking an unusually long time to complete the update process, neither of which benefits the user.

          Fedora has some interesting features and I like that it showcases new technologies. It’s a good place to see what new items are going to be landing in other projects next year. However, Fedora feels more and more like a testing ground for developers and less like a polished experience for people to use as their day-to-day operating system.

        • Mark McIntyre: How Do You Fedora?

          Mark McIntyre is a geek by birth and Linux by choice. “I started coding at the early age of 13 learning BASIC on my own and finding the excitement of programming which led me down a path of becoming a professional coder,” he says. McIntyre and his niece are big fans of pizza. “My niece and I started a quest last fall to try as many of the pizza joints in Knoxville. You can read about our progress at https://knox-pizza-quest.blogspot.com/” Mark is also an amateur photographer and publishes his images on Flickr.

    • Debian Family
      • MiniDebconf in Toulouse

        I attended the MiniDebconf in Toulouse, which was hosted in the larger Capitole du Libre, a free software event with talks, presentation of associations, and a keysigning party. I didn’t expect the event to be that big, and I was very impressed by its organization. Cheers to all the volunteers, it has been an amazing week-end!

      • DebConf Videoteam sprint report – day 0

        First day of the videoteam autumn sprint! Well, I say first day, but in reality it’s more day 0. Even though most of us have arrived in Cambridge already, we are still missing a few people.

        Last year we decided to sprint in Paris because most of our video gear is stocked there. This year, we instead chose to sprint a few days before the Cambridge Mini-Debconf to help record the conference afterwards.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Sustainable Open Source is About Evolution as a Group

    The role of a CMO in a software company is fundamentally different from that in any other category. We have a really interesting role in marketing and technology, and it’s one of education and guidance. There used to be a place 20 years ago where, as a marketer, you would come up with a simple pithy message and buy a bunch of advertising and people would believe it.

    That’s not true anymore. Now we have to position ourselves alongside the architectures and the thought leadership that our customers are interested in to prove our value.

  • Reveal.js presentation hacks

    Ryan Jarvinen, a Red Hat open source advocate focusing on improving developer experience in the container community, has been using the Reveal.js presentation framework for more than five years. In his Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, he shares what he’s learned about Reveal.js and some ways to make better use of it.

    Reveal.js is an open source framework for creating presentations in HTML based on HTML5 and CSS. Ryan describes Gist-reveal.it, his project that makes it easier for users to create, fork, present, and share Reveal.js slides by using GitHub’s Gist service as a datastore.

  • Font licensing and use: What you need to know

    Most of us have dozens of fonts installed on our computers, and countless others are available for download, but I suspect that most people, like me, use fonts unconsciously. I just open up LibreOffice or Scribus and use the defaults. Sometimes, however, we need a font for a specific purpose, and we need to decide which one is right for our project. Graphic designers are experts in choosing fonts, but in this article I’ll explore typefaces for everyone who isn’t a professional designer.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • The Fox Hunt – Firefox and friends compared

      So what should you use? Well, it depends. You want extensions, the entire repertoire as it’s meant to be? Go with Pale Moon, but be aware of the inconsistencies and problems down the road. However, another piece of penalty is less than optimal looks. If you are more focused on speed and future development, then it’s Firefox, as it offers the most complete compromise. The add-ons will make it or break it. Waterfox makes less sense, because the margins of benefit are too small.

      My take is – Firefox. It’s not ideal, but Pale Moon does not solve the problem fully, it combines nostalgia with technicals, and that’s a rough patch, even though the project is quite admirable in what it’s trying to do. Alas, I’m afraid the old extensions will die, and the new ones won’t be compatible, so the browser will be left stranded somewhere in between. But hopefully, this little comparison test gives you a better overview and understanding how things work.

      Finally, we go back to the question of speed. We’ve seen how one flavor of Fox stacks against another, but what about Chrome? I will answer that in a follow-up article, which will compare Chrome to Vivaldi, again based on popular demand, and then we will also check how all these different browsers compare using my small, limited and entirely personal corner of the Web. Stay tuned.

    • Firefox Private Browsing vs. Chrome Incognito: Which is Faster?

      Firefox Quantum is the fastest version of Firefox we’ve ever made. It is twice as fast as Firefox 52 and often faster than the latest version of Chrome in head to head page load comparisons. By using key performance benchmarks, we were able to optimize Firefox to eliminate unnecessary delays and give our users a great browsing experience.

      Most browser performance benchmarks focus on the use of a regular browsing mode. But, what about Private Browsing? Given that Private Browsing use is so common, we wanted to see how Firefox’s Private Browsing compared with Chrome’s Incognito when it came to page load time (that time between a click and the page being fully loaded on the screen).

  • SaaS/Back End
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Intel Icelake Support Added To LLVM Clang

      Initial support for Intel’s Icelake microarchitecture that’s a follow-on to Cannonlake has been added to the LLVM/Clang compiler stack.

      Last week came the Icelake patch to GCC and now Clang has landed its initial Icelake enablement too.

  • Public Services/Government
    • 2018 is Year for Open Source Software for Pentagon

      The US Pentagon is set to make a major investment in open source software, if section 886 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 is passed.

      The section acknowledges the use of open source software, the release of source code into public repositories, and a competition to inspire work with open source that supports the mission of the Department of Defense.

  • Programming/Development
    • How startups save buckets of money on early software development

      Moving along, we have to segue with a short modularity lesson. More specifically, how modularity applies to software.

      Essentially, all products and services become cheaper and more plentiful when all the processes involved in production become modularised.

Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a power problem

      Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a power problem. When operating at peak performance, it may draw more power than its stock charger or Surface Dock can handle. What we’ve discovered after talking to Microsoft is that it’s not a bug—it’s a feature.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • 15 dead, 5 hurt in a stampede for food aid in Morocco

      Moroccan state TV channel 2M reports that at least 15 people have died and 5 others have been injured in a stampede as food aid was being distributed in a southern village.

      It said the stampede took place Sunday in the village of Sidi Boulalam, in the southern province of Essaouira.

      Distributions of food aid are common in the North African nation, notably in remote parts of the country. They are organized by private sponsors and groups as well as by the authorities.

    • The lobbies of glyphosate: a danger to the health of Europeans and of their democracy

      On November 9, nine citizens were summoned before a Brussels tribunal for a peaceful action to denounce the European lobbies of the agro-chemical sector and their overweening influence in the EU negotiations on the ban on glyphosate, a carcinogenic pesticide notably commercialized by Monsanto. The report by the NGO “Corporate Europe Observatory” shows that these lobbies of the agro-chemical sector have been particularly active in the debates during the last 6 months.

      A bunch of Belgian activists decided to face down the powerful lobbies through symbolic non-violent actions. Their affinity group was named the “Zoological Assemblage for the Liberation of Nature”, better known by its French acronym “EZLN” in a clear reference to the Mexican Indigenous rebel “Zapatista Army for National Liberation” that has the same acronym in Spanish (“Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional”). While the context and the causes are much different, the Belgian EZLN activists have been inspired by the Mexican rebels. They borrow the poetic language of their communiqués, as well as their determination in the struggle from below against those in power, building from below “a world in which many worlds fit”.

      On March 9, 70 activists held a hilarious action denouncing the power of these lobbies. They entered the corridors of the European Crop Protection Association’ headquarter in Brussels, disguised as animals with the ecological slogan “We are the nature that defends itself”. This 5-minute tour of the building left some straw, stickers and some red water paint on the windows, but nothing was broken. Eight months later, nine of these activists faced trial in the main tribunal of Brussels.

    • Compulsory licencing proposed in the Netherlands to enforce lower prices for medicines

      ‘For rare conditions, this monopoly on medicines is strongly exacerbated by the European regulations that came into force in 2000 for orphan drugs. These are medications for conditions that occur in the European Union in less than five out of every 10,000 inhabitants. In addition to protection by patents, a company has additional protection such as ten years’ market exclusivity after licensing. This means that no medicines based on the same mechanism of operation for the disease in question may be put on the market during that period. The regulation has strongly encouraged the development of new orphan drugs. It has however also had the perverse effect of medicines being investigated and licensed for narrow and restricted indications in order to obtain the status of an orphan drug, while the study results indicate that its efficacy is broader.’

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Undercounting the Civilian Dead

      During the “war on terror,” the U.S. government has understated the number of civilians killed (all the better to manage positive perceptions back home). But a new report underscores the truth, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • With Trump Silent, Sanders and Dems Demand Aid for Iranian Earthquake Victims

      As the death toll from the “horrific” earthquake that struck the Iran-Iraq border earlier this week climbs above 500, and as President Donald Trump remains entirely silent on the matter, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and four Democratic senators sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding that the White House waive certain sanctions on Iran and allow aid to reach those desperately in need.

      “After earthquakes in 2003 and 2012, the United States demonstrated its compassion and goodwill by offering assistance to the Iranian people and allowing private relief donations,” the senators wrote. “This time should be no different.”

      While the 7.3 magnitude quake affected both Iran and Iraq, Iran bore the brunt of the overall destruction and casualties.

    • The Breakthrough: Used as ‘Guinea Pigs’ by the U.S. Military, Then Discarded

      Soldiers are shown racing through a smoke screen, to which tear gas had been added by surprise to test their powers at detecting its presence, during a drill at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1941. They also were given a sniff of four world war gases — phosgene, chloropicrin, mustard and lewisite. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

      When we think of the harm that befalls soldiers during wartime, specific images come to mind. The fallout from scientific experiments — especially those carried out by our own government — isn’t one. But that was the reality of tens of thousands of military men in the 1940s, who were poisoned with mustard gas by the U.S. government to see how their bodies would react. It took decades to bring to light the vast scope of the experiments, and it couldn’t have been completed without the work of two NPR journalists.

      For years, veterans were sworn to secrecy about the tests, prohibited from even discussing them with doctors. While this curtain was lifted in the 1990s, and Congress and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs promised medical care and services, many vets didn’t get it. NPR reporter Caitlin Dickerson and research librarian Barbara Van Woerkom found records for and called hundreds of vets who were used in these experiments, and their work paved the way for the men — who are now well into their 80s — to receive the care and recognition they needed.

    • Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine

      Yemen is in the grip of the world’s worst famine and public health crisis, with all aid to Sana’a and the north presently blocked by the closure of the aiport and closest port, al-Hodeidah. The airport of Sana’a has been closed to all except aid flights since August 2016 and even to aid since the renewed Saudi blockade in retribution for the Houthi (Al-Ansar) missile directed at Riyadh. For good measure, the Saudi Coalition then struck the radio navigation tower of Sana’a airport, eliminating the possibility of any aid traffic, with the brave and hypothetical exception of relying solely on the pilots’ sight, as the runways and terminal still are intact. Al-Hodeidah, the Red Sea port with the closest and most direct route to Yemen’s capital Sana’a, has been ceremonially “re-opened,” but no aid ships have as yet received permission to dock and unload their cargoes. International aid groups, for most of the millions in Yemen, are their only hope for food, clean water, medicine, and other essentials for life.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Trump and WikiLeaks: Five things to know

      The revelation this week that Donald Trump Jr. corresponded with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign has added a new wrinkle to the competing probes into Russian interference.

      Legal experts say the development is likely to intensify scrutiny of Trump’s eldest son, who is already under the microscope for a controversial June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.

      Separately, a pair of senators revealed Thursday that Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had received correspondence about WikiLeaks prior to the election. They said Kushner has not yet turned over those documents to congressional investigators.

    • Journalism Made Possible Because of the Freedom of Information Act

      If the Freedom of Information Act were a person, who would it be? That’s a real question I asked our newsroom this week, because that’s the kind of thing I randomly think about.

      Really, though, I asked this of our newsroom because I genuinely want you to care about FOIA. And I thought that if I could get inside our reporters’ heads — to understand what they envision when that acronym comes up, be it Dwight from “The Office” or whoever — I could help you put a metaphorical face on a law that is not only fundamental to the work we do as investigative journalists but is also essential to our democracy. Plus, if you have a face to associate with FOIA, maybe that would help it stick in your brain.

      If you’re unfamiliar, the Freedom of Information Act is a law that allows anyone — yes, including you — to request records and documents from the government. This could mean, for example, a homeowner filing a request for records of government spending in their town, a lawyer filing for environmental assessments of a property or a journalist filing for records of incident reports in a prison. Although filing a FOIA request seems pretty straightforward — technically, all you need to do is send a letter or email to the FOIA officer detailing your request — we can vouch for the fact that, sometimes, the process can be anything but.

    • Why progressives should support wikileaks

      Some rights reserved.History is replete with disquieting figures, it is often difficult to know whether they deserve our support or mistrust. Julian Assange seems increasingly to be one of these figures. When I started writing about whistleblowers a few years ago, there was genuine sympathy for whistleblowers across international public opinion, and one sensed a common feeling of indignation at the repression whistleblowers suffered. But during the last few months, something seems to have changed. There now seems to be a real mistrust – if not outright hostility – with regard to Assange. The same cannot be said for Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning: they each continue to receive widespread support from journalists, academics, and various advocates for human rights and freedom of the press. But what little support remains for Assange is now much more distanced and qualified.

      Indeed, I get the impression that a kind of “WikiLeaks bashing” has taken hold: journalists, academics, and intellectuals have not only begun to distance themselves from Assange; they now question, attack, and discredit him on the slightest pretext.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Manitoba NDP floats idea of loans to help switch to electric vehicles

      The Manitoba NDP is pitching a plan to encourage people to ditch their fossil-fuel burning vehicles and switch to electric.

      The plan was included in the opposition NDP’s alternative throne speech, released Friday ahead of the Progressive Conservative government’s throne speech, which Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon is expected to read on Tuesday.

      The NDP plan includes a zero-interest, government-backed loan for the purchase of electric vehicles, which would be paid back over the life of the vehicle. Under the plan, the province would pool revenue from its upcoming carbon tax, which would then be doled out to Manitobans as repayable loans.

    • Scientists Issue Dire Warning on Climate Change & Key Researcher Urges “Changes in How We Live”

      At COP23, the International Energy Agency predicts U.S. oil production is expected to grow an an unparalleled rate in the coming years—even as the majority of scientists worldwide are saying countries need to cut down on fossil fuel extraction, not accelerate it. Meanwhile, a group of 15,000 scientists have come together to issue a dire “second notice” to humanity, 25 years after a group of scientists issued the “first notice” warning the world about climate change. We speak with the co-author of this report, Kevin Anderson, one of the world’s leading climate scientists. Anderson is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester in Britain. The report is entitled “Can the Climate Afford Europe’s Gas Addiction?”

  • Finance
    • Aussies increasingly turn away from retail stores to online shopping: report

      Australians are turning to online shopping after disappointing experiences with bricks and mortar stores and the inability to find a product while shopping instore, according to a new study.

    • Some Instacart workers to strike over pay that can be as low as $1 per hour

      Seated at a dimly-lit bar, a gregarious man dressed in a scarf and beanie of his favorite local sports team, explained to Ars last week why he and some of his fellow Instacart shoppers plan on not working this Sunday and Monday.

      “We’re going to sign up for shifts and then when it’s time, if I’m working from 10am to 1pm on [November 19], the first order, I’m going to decline it, not accept the batch,” he said, using Instacart’s term for multiple pickups at a single retail location. “They’ll kick us off and we’ll continue to do that until they kick us off [for the day].”

      The man, who goes by Ike, declined to let Ars use his full name for fear of reprisal—he also doesn’t want unwanted scrutiny from his colleagues at his full-time public sector job.

    • The House Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students

      Republicans in the House of Representatives have just passed a tax bill that would devastate graduate research in the United States. Hidden in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a repeal of Section 117(d)(5) of the current tax code, a provision that is vital to all students who pursue master’s degrees or doctorates and are not independently wealthy.

    • Working for former masters in Madagascar: a ‘win-win’ game for former slaves?

      Despite being formally illegal since the 1970s, sharecropping is one of the more common working agreements between landowners and their labourers in the highlands of Madagascar. Sharecropping agreements are often represented as a sort of win-win game by both landowners and tenants, particularly for rice cultivation, the main agricultural sector of the island. They have allowed otherwise landless families to install themselves in fertile regions for anywhere from a few years to several generations while keeping two-thirds of the production for themselves. At the same time, landowners, without moving a finger, obtain rice to satisfy domestic consumption or to resell, prevent others from illegally occupying their land, and maintain a strong emotional and economic link to the land of their ancestors (tanindrazana) and their family tombs, a crucial benefit if they have moved to urban areas.

    • Fund Local News to Fight Inequality

      After the reporters in New York decided to unionize, Ricketts took just a week to decide that the entire venture —including the local newsrooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — was no longer worth it for him. The decision to shut down the sites reminded reporters of what they know all too well: there’s a crisis in funding journalism, especially the local kind. And many times, the money that does come in is dictated by whims of the ultra-wealthy.

    • Capitalism Is Not the Only Choice

      Since the breakup of the Soviet bloc and China’s turn toward free markets, many economists have pronounced an “end of history,” where capitalism reigns supreme as the ultimate form of economy. Perhaps “there is no alternative” to a globalized neoliberal economy, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher often said. Indeed, free markets in which individuals compete to get what they can while they can are glorified in popular culture through reality shows such as Shark Tank.

      [...]

      Economy is not just something that happens to us, a sea in which we swim or sink. Rather we are all part of multiple economies, some in which we are the main actors—such as our household economies—and others in which we are the extras—such as venture capital markets.

    • TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?

      After throwing Obama’s TPP out of the window, Asia experts in Washington were busy looking for alternatives to TPP which excluded China. Lo and behold, they found the term “Indo Pacific”! Trump dutifully brandished the term like a new toy before leaving for his longest tour to Asia. Indo Pacific became vogue in the media overnight. To spice up the alphabet soup, QUAD (comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia) was served up as a new strategy to slow, if not thwart, China’s rise as the predominant economic powerhouse in Asia Pacific.

      There are two problems with that geostrategy. One, Trump is agnostic about multilateral trade arrangements, to put it mildly. Two, Australia, Japan and India, the other three co-conspirators in QUAD, have China as their largest trade partner. They aren’t about to jeopardize their trade relations with China by ganging up with America to antagonize Beijing. As one commentator put it : “Whatever their problems with China, America will not be the answer.”

    • House to vote on giving Amazon $53 billion deal to become main Pentagon supplier

      Members of the US House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees announced Wednesday that they have reached agreement on the proposed $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense spending bill. This astronomical figure—an $80 billion increase over spending in 2016 and roughly $26 billion more than was requested by President Donald Trump—is a clear signal that the US will expand its ongoing wars around the world and is preparing to engage in far broader conflicts potentially involving North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.

      The NDAA will now be voted on by the House of Representatives, where it has been rubber-stamped every year since 1961, before being signed into law by Trump. While reporting by the bourgeois press on the NDAA has been limited overall, a key section of the bill, titled “Procurement Through Commercial E-Commerce Portals,” has been almost entirely overlooked. This section establishes the framework whereby Amazon will be able to corner the market for Defense Department procurements worth roughly $53 billion, and its inclusion in the NDAA is a product of the direct links connecting Amazon with the state and military-intelligence apparatus.

    • Bitcoin Price Crosses $8,000 To Reach A New All-time High
    • Live blog: EU agencies leaving London after Brexit

      The EU27 countries today decide the new homes of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, with multiple rounds of voting behind closed doors in Brussels.

      The EMA is the biggest prize and the first to be decided, with 16 countries bidding to host the drugs regulator. Attention then turns to the banking authority, with EU officials picking between eight bidders sometime after 7 p.m.

      National governments have been promising anything in exchange for votes behind closed doors — from support for the new Eurogroup presidency to NATO troops.

    • London loses EU agencies to Paris and Amsterdam in Brexit relocation

      London is losing the European Medicines Agency to Amsterdam and the European Banking Authority to Paris, in one of first concrete signs of Brexit as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

      The two cities were selected to host the agencies after tie breaks that saw the winner selected by drawing a name from the ballot box.

      The Dutch capital beat Milan when lots were drawn after three rounds of Eurovision-style voting on Monday had resulted in a dead heat.

      Paris won the race to take the European Banking Authority from London, after the favourite Frankfurt was knocked out in the second round.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny

      Facebook, which disclosed that Russian groups bought over 3,000 ads on its platform, recently hired Luke Albee to lobby on matters of “election integrity,” according to a lobbying disclosure form this month.

    • My fear and fury in the eye of the Russia-Leave storm

      Last week, nearly one year on from the first stories about possible collusion between Donald Trump and the Kremlin, Theresa May stood up and finally talked about Russia. The country had “weaponised” information, she said. It had planted “fake stories and photoshopped images”, and it had our society and institutions in its sights.

      It was a watershed moment. Finally, the government was acknowledging that Britain is not uniquely insulated from what is a global firehose of disinformation, lies and fake news – from Russia and other actors.

      And then, just a few hours later, I clicked a link on Twitter. It was from Leave.EU’s official account – the Ukip-allied Brexit campaign headed by Nigel Farage. “WATCH @carolecadwalla takes a hit as the Russian conspiracy deepens.”

      Leave.EU is now the subject of two Electoral Commission investigations into potentially illegal sources of funding, the first of which followed an article I wrote in March. They’ve been calling me crazy for months and I thought this would be more of the same. But it wasn’t. The video was a clip from the film Airplane!, in which a “hysterical” woman is told to calm down and then hit, repeatedly, around the head. The woman – my face photoshopped in – was me. And, as the Russian national anthem played, a line of people queued up to take their turn. The last person in the line had a gun.

      [....]

      It was clearly unacceptable. And yet it was accepted. It remained on a “public” forum – beyond the reach of any law enforcement agency, immune to public opprobrium – for 42 hours. And it did its job: Leave.EU launders extremist content. It tests the ground. It gets unpalatable ideas out into the mainstream – racism, islamophobia, homophobia, death threats to journalists – and it normalises them.

    • ‘Grab-Em-by-the-Pussy’ President Slammed for Grand Hypocrisy as Trump Goes After Franken

      Critics were quick to label President Donald Trump a hypocrite late Thursday after the president—who’s been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct—took to Twitter to take aim at Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who has been accused of groping a woman without her consent.

    • Bill Maher: Al Franken Is Not Like Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump

      The late-night comedian said Franken “did a bad thing” but shouldn’t be “lumped in” with other high-profile figures.

    • Revenge Is a Rotten Way to Run a Country

      Yielding to one of the basest of human impulses, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are subverting Western society and democracy.

    • Stacking the Bench

      Talley is only 36 — and extraordinarily unqualified. He was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week for a lifetime position on the Alabama federal bench and will be voted on by the full Senate as early as this week. As The New York Times reported, Talley has never tried a case, has practiced law for just three years and was unanimously deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association — a distinction given to only four nominees since 1989. Talley also provides plenty of media-distracting fodder: He’s a horror novel writer, once belonged to a ghost-hunting group and is a right-wing blogger who has disparaged “Hillary Rotten Clinton.” Talley also pledged his “financial, political and intellectual” support to the NRA after the Newtown shooting. Even so, he refused during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to say he would recuse himself from cases involving guns.

      The subplot to this story, however, began to unfold Monday when The New York Times reported that Talley failed to disclose in his Senate questionnaire, or during his hearing, or when specifically discussing his contact with White House lawyers, that he happens to be married to Ann Donaldson, the chief of staff to White House counsel Donald McGahn. Talley told the senators in his testimony that he regularly advised judicial candidates in his current role as deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. He should know better than most that he is expected to be transparent. This is not a small oversight.

    • Sanders: Trump Spewing ‘Total Nonsense’ Over GOP Tax Giveaway for Billionaires

      “Democrats,” Sanders told Jake Tapper on CNN’s Face The Nation, “have been shut out of this process just as they were shut out of the healthcare legislation process.”

      Going further, Sanders said that Trump “should understand” exactly what’s going on and why Democrats, as well as a large majority of the U.S. public, do not like or trust what the Republicans in Congress are attempting to do with what they call “tax reform” but which progressive critics have identified—and numerous analyses have shown—as nothing more than a “tax scam” that gives to the rich at the expense of the lower- and middle-classes.

    • Under GOP Plan, Wealthy Foreign Investors Benefit Nearly Three Times More Than US Taxpayers

      If the Senate Republicans’ latest version of their tax overhaul bill passes, foreign investors will receive a financial benefit nearly three times larger than all U.S. taxpayers combined, according to a new analysis released Saturday.

      In its updated analysis, the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that while U.S. households would receive $8 billion in net benefits from the plan, wealthy overseas investors would capture an astonishing $22 billion.

      “By 2027,” the anlysis states, “foreign investors would benefit more than American households overall under the bill as written. While some households would pay more and others would pay less, in 2027 the average net effect for U.S. households would be a tax cut of $8 billion, which is much smaller than the $22 billion benefit to foreign investors.”

    • When Will Democrats Stop Being Losers?

      Much was made of the “blue wave” some saw on November 7th. Blue ripple is more like it. Don’t expect those results to translate into a 2018 landslide for Democrats, unless the Party figures out what it’s for, not simply what it’s against.

      Most of the Party leaders are only too eager to tell you what an idiot Trump is, or how mean Ryan, McConnell and the rest of the conservative wrecking crew is. But they are loath to tell you what, exactly, they, themselves stand for.

      Oh, yes, you will hear some vaguely progressive platitudes, especially around election time, but in terms of real, specific and substantive stands on behalf of the middle class and poor Americans, there’s more rhetoric than substance.

      And yes, the Democratic Party Platform is one of the most progressive since the New Deal. But it’s also the greatest story never told, and you won’t hear many of those progressive ideals pushed by or embraced by the Party’s leaders. The fact is, much of what is progressive found its way in there from the Bernie delegates, and—as politicians know—Party platforms are where popular, but inconvenient ideas go to die.

    • Mugabe agrees to stand down as Zimbabwe president: source

      Robert Mugabe agreed on Sunday to resign as Zimbabwe’s president hours after the ruling ZANU-PF party fired him as its leader following 37 years in charge, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

    • ‘Russiagate’ Zealots (Mainly Democrats) Have Become a Major Threat to US National Security

      Cohen argues that America is now in unprecedented danger due to two related crises. A new and more dangerous Cold War with Russia that is fraught with the real possibility of hot war between the two nuclear superpowers on several fronts, including Syria. And the worst crisis of the American presidency in modern times, which threatens to paralyze the president’s ability to deal diplomatically with Moscow. (To those who recall Watergate, Cohen points out that, unlike Trump, President Nixon was never accused of “collusion with the Kremlin” or faced reckless, and preposterous, allegations that the Kremlin had abetted his election by an “attack on American democracy.”)

      What Trump did in Vietnam last week was therefore vitally important and courageous, though uniformly misrepresented by the American mainstream media. Despite unrelenting “Russiagate” attempts led by Democrats to impeach him for “collusion with the Kremlin” (still without any meaningful evidence), and perhaps even opposition by high-level members of his own administration, Trump met several times, informally and briefly, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Presumably dissuaded or prevented by some of his own top advisers from having a formal, lengthy meeting, Trump was nonetheless prepared. He and Putin issued a joint statement urging cooperation in Syria, where the prospects of a US-Russian war had been mounting. And both leaders later said they had serious talks about cooperating on the crises in North Korea and Ukraine.

      What Trump told the US press corps after his meetings with Putin was even more remarkable—and defiantly bold. He reiterated his longstanding position that “having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing—not a good thing—it would be a great thing.” To this Cohen adds that it would be an essential thing for the sake of US national security on many vital issues and in many areas of the world, and should be the first foreign-policy principle of both political parties. Trump then turned to “Russiagate,”saying that Putin had again denied any personal involvement and that in this Putin seemed sincere. Trump quickly added that three of President Obama’s top intelligence directors—the CIA’s John Brennan, Office of National Intelligence’s James Clapper, and the FBI’s James Comey—were “political hacks,” clearly implying that their declared role in “Russiagate” had been and remains less than sincere. He also suggested that Russia had been too “heavily sanctioned” to be the national-security partner America needs, a point Cohen reminded listeners he himself had made many times.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Radio Free Asia Cambodian journalists charged with providing information to foreign nation

      The two former RFA reporters were detained for questioning last Tuesday after police discovered they had rented a hotel room in Phnom Penh, which they were suspected of using as an office in continuing to provide news about the country

    • Censorship packaged as cyber transparency in China’s new website

      China’s military on Sunday launched a website inviting the public to report leaks and fake news, as well as illegal online activities by military personnel, the latest step in a push to ensure Communist Party control over the internet.

      Beijing has been ramping up measures to secure the internet and maintain strict censorship, a process that accelerated ahead of the party’s five-yearly National Congress that took place in October.

    • The Chinese Communist Party’s guide to moral living

      The censorship order handed down from the Chinese Communist Party earlier this year reads like a decree from a Puritan: depictions of underage drinking, gambling and extreme violence are not permitted online; images of scantily clad people and portrayals of homosexuality are off-limits; spiritual figures and beliefs cannot be satirized.

      [...]

      Some of Xi’s measures build on existing tools of control: The official state news agency issued an update to its style guide in July, banning the use of crude language and online slang in news reporting; internet censors shut down scores of blogs in June for their sensationalist coverage of celebrity gossip; other information channels, including school textbooks and street billboards, promote traditional virtues like honesty, obedience and filial piety, which are hailed as the foundation of a good society.

    • This week, Russian citizens have been arrested for intolerance towards Cossacks

      Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for preparing (non-existent) acts of terrorism in Crimea, has spent the past two weeks in solitary confinement. Sentsov had been moved to the White Bear prison colony in the Labytnangi settlement (in Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous district) where he was immediately placed in solitary confinement. This is how the prison carried out a decision by the pre-trial detention centre in Irkutsk, where Sentsov had formerly been held, who had decided the prisoner had been in serious violation of regulations, but had not had time to punish him.

      In Chelyabinsk, environmental activist Irina Mochanova is under criminal investigation for using violence against a representative of the authorities while holding a one-person protest in front of president Putin’s car as it drove past. The activist was protesting against the construction of the Tomino copper mining plant.

      [...]

      Russian law enforcement haven’t forgotten about the dangerous criminals who exploit the internet for their nefarious purposes. Krasnodar blogger Leonid Kudinov has again been jailed for posting a video containing a swastika. In the video, Kudinov urges the police to stop using Article 20.3 of the Administrative Law Code against activists, and to take into account the context in which Nazi symbols may be used.

    • Removal of statues is not intolerance or censorship

      They are laudable reappraisals of what persons, values, ideas and events we wish to honor and affirm publicly and officially.

      The purpose of removing a statue to a museum (or qualifying its presence with additional information) or of renaming a building is not to rewrite or deny history, to change the past, or to prevent people from affirming, discussing, or propagating the ideas and values represented by the memorial.

    • Atul Kasbekar: “We don’t have any censorship issue so we can push the envelope more”

      “We don’t have any censorship issue so we can push the envelope more. Although we are not making a controversial series but people on this forum are enjoying the fact that they can use bad language and just insert sex scenes, even if it doesn’t need it. After going through so much of repressed censorship people have just gone berserk with the freedom.”

    • Nick Cave reject Israel boycott calls

      Nick Cave, the dark poet of rock, says he’s taking a “principled stand” against activists working to ostracise the Jewish state and people who tried to boycott his performances in the country.

      At a press conference on Sunday, the Australian spoke about the logistical challenges of playing in Israel then said musicians also endure pressure from an international movement known as BDS that seeks to ostracise Israel by lobbying corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state.

    • Nick Cave playing Israel shows to “take a stand” against censorship

      Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds end their European tour with a pair of controversial shows in Israel, on November 19-20, at Tel Aviv’s Menorah Arena. Roger Waters, Thurston Moore, and Tunde Adebimpe spoke out against Cave’s decision to play Israel in an open letter, saying “don’t go – not while apartheid remains.” Radiohead’s Israel show back in July attracted similar furor and protests from Waters and Moore, among others, and was also defended by Michael Stipe.

    • Fighting Censorship … With Trigger Warnings

      She was talking about a class she taught, Representations of Rape in Literature, and how her syllabus’s trigger warnings on the course’s violent content also called for an inclusive classroom — and specifically welcoming the inclusion of straight, cisgender men — in order to encourage debate and make sure every student felt welcome to share their opinions. The idea of calling for a safe space in the classroom and using trigger warnings, Spampinato said, wasn’t to stifle debate, as conservative pundits often charge, but quite the opposite: to foster “a diversity of opinions,” the same phrase that conservatives often use when claiming feminism or liberalism is intolerant of their views.

    • Iranian Official Threatens “Restrictions” on Social Media Networks That Reject State Censorship Policies

      A senior official representing Iran’s top internet regulation body has threatened to take action against social media applications that refuse to comply with the country’s strict censorship rules.

    • Chinese tech groups duel over violent video games
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Bug Or Feature? — Facebook Removes Delete Post Option From Desktop Website

      As Facebook enjoys an unchallenged position in the world of social networks, it keeps trying out new features in its web interface and mobile without any fear of losing the user base. Who can forget the company’s act of removing Messenger from the mobile apps and pushing it down the throat of users as a separate app!

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Democrats Missed A Chance To Draw A Line In The Sand On Sexual Misconduct
    • How algorithms are pushing the tech giants into the danger zone
    • School threatens to sue parents after they used Facebook to accuse teachers of failing to stop bullying
    • Wisconsin Police Gun Down Young Teen on Reservation

      According to multiple news reports, Pero — an 8th grader – was home from school with the flu when he left his house and encountered Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich. The Wisconsin Department of Justice stated that the Ashland County police department received a phone call just prior reporting that a male matching Pero’s description was walking down the street with a knife — a call that Department says that Pero made himself.

      When Mrdjenovich confronted Pero, the boy allegedly refused to drop the knife and even lunged twice at Mrdjenovich, causing Mrdjenovich to eventually shoot Pero twice — including at least once in the chest.

      [...]

      “Be clear,” writes The Root’s Kirsten West Savali, “Even if this child were holding a knife—which has not been proved—he did not deserve a bullet through his heart. But that is the state’s instinct when they see children of color as neither children nor human beings worthy of protection.”

      [...]

      Pero’s community is reeling from the violence he faced at the hands of those who are supposed to be trusted to keep the peace, and it is not surprising that they appear so far to doubt the details released by the Department of Justice on Pero’s motive, his alleged attack on an officer and the other actions leading to his murder. They aren’t wrong to be dubious, either: This isn’t an isolated incident, but a steady pattern of violence against communities of color.

    • This Is Where Hate Crimes Don’t Get Reported

      On Monday, the FBI released its latest tally of hate crimes in the U.S. Despite a 1990 law that mandates data collection on hate crimes, the FBI’s count remains only a fraction of what an annual national crime victims survey estimates the real number to be.

      The above map shows some of the gaps that remain in the data. It marks every law enforcement agency serving at least 10,000 residents that failed to report at all in 2016, that reported zero hate crimes, or that reported fewer than one hate crime per 100,000 residents.

      ProPublica’s reporting has shown that local jurisdictions often fail to properly recognize, investigate or prosecute hate crimes, and thus do not report them to the FBI.

    • The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb

      The death (or possibly murder) of Frank Olson was but a hint of the enormous secret CIA program of research into techniques of mind alteration and control. The whole enterprise was assigned the code-name MK-ULTRA and was run out of the CIA’s Technical Services Division, headed in the 1950s by Willis Gibbons, a former executive of the US Rubber Company. In the division’s laboratories and workshops researchers labored on poisons, gadgets designed to maim and kill, techniques of torture and implements to carry such techniques to agonizing fruition. Here also were developed surveillance equipment and kindred tools of the espionage trade. All of these activities made the Technical Services Division a vital partner of the covert operations wing of the Agency.

      Within Technical Services MK-ULTRA projects came under the control of the Chemical Division, headed from 1951 to 1956 by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, a New York Jew who received his doctorate in chemistry from California Tech. Born with a clubfoot and afflicted with a severe stammer, Gottlieb pushed himself with unremitting intensity. Despite his physical affliction he was an ardent square dancer and exponent of the polka, capering across many a dance floor and dragging visiting psychiatrists and chemists on terpsichorean trysts where appalling plans of mind control were ruminated amidst the blare of the bands.

    • U.S. Military And CIA Leaders May Be Investigated For War Crimes

      On November 3, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) informed the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber, ”[T]here is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”

      In what Amnesty International’s Solomon Sacco called a “seminal moment for the ICC,” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court for authorization to commence an investigation that would focus on US military and CIA leaders, as well as Taliban and Afghan officials.

      Bensouda wrote in a November 14, 2016, report that her preliminary examination revealed “a reasonable basis to believe” the “war crimes of torture and ill-treatment” had been committed “by US military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, principally in the 2003-2004 period, although allegedly continuing in some cases until 2014.”

      The chief prosecutor noted the alleged crimes by the CIA and US armed forces “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” but rather were “part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees.” She added there was “reason to believe” that crimes were “committed in the furtherance of a policy or policies … which would support US objectives in the conflict of Afghanistan.”

    • A ‘Routine’ Stop Almost Ended My Career Before It Started

      BEING RANDOMLY STOPPED and questioned by the police is par for the course for black men in America. It’s an injustice so familiar that it barely registers as an injustice. That’s something I knew intellectually. Still, I was stunned when officers stopped me while walking on my law school campus back in the spring of 2011.

      From that stop and my subsequent complaint came a series of events that changed my life forever. That interaction led to the ruin of my reputation as a student and it almost ended my legal career before it started. Moreover, it confirmed for me, not just how unfairly people of color are treated by police, but the tremendous risk that comes with speaking up about that mistreatment.

      The law gives police officers incredible leeway when it comes to stops. Ever since Terry v. Ohio, the watershed 1968 Supreme Court case, officers have been permitted to stop and search anyone without probable cause, so long as the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is armed, or that he or she has committed, or is about to commit, a crime.

    • How (Not) to Cross the Street in Jacksonville

      Jacksonville, Florida, issues more tickets to pedestrians than all but five Florida counties. And it issues those tickets disproportionately to black pedestrians.

      The city’s population is 29 percent black, but black pedestrians received 55 percent of the pedestrian tickets issued from 2012 to July 2017. Looking at each type of ticket issued reveals even bigger disparities.

    • Infosec star accused of sexual assault booted from professional affiliations

      A well-known computer security researcher, Morgan Marquis-Boire, has been publicly accused of sexual assault.

      On Sunday, The Verge published a report saying that it had spoken with 10 women across North America and Marquis-Boire’s home country of New Zealand who say that they were assaulted by him in episodes going back years.

      A woman that The Verge gave the pseudonym “Lila,” provided The Verge with “both a chat log and a PGP signed and encrypted e-mail from Morgan Marquis-Boire. In the e-mail, he apologizes at great length for a terrible but unspecified wrong. And in the chat log, he explicitly confesses to raping and beating her in the hotel room in Toronto, and also confesses to raping multiple women in New Zealand and Australia.”

    • Exclusive: NYT White House correspondent Glenn Thrush’s history of bad judgment around young women journalists

      Sexual harassment claims against yet another powerful man in media inspired New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush to post an impassioned note on his Facebook page in October, calling on his fellow journalists to stand by women entering the field.

      In the post, which linked to an article about the latest accusations against political journalist Mark Halperin, Thrush wrote, “Young people who come into a newsroom deserve to be taught our trade, given our support and enlisted in our calling — not betrayed by little men who believe they are bigger than the mission.”

      It was a noble statement — but some Washington journalists I spoke to say it rings hollow, given Thrush’s own behavior with young women in the industry.

      [...]

      The downfall of Hollywood titan Weinstein, has been a catalyst for a movement to stamp out workplace harassment, particularly the variety to pits powerful men against much-less-powerful women. They are facing consequences for their behavior like never before, including men in media. Halperin lost a coveted book deal. NPR news chief Michael Oreskes resigned. Leon Wieseltier lost funding for his new magazine. And Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, Vox’s parent company, was fired for misconduct.

      Thrush wasn’t my boss at Politico. He was a reporter and I was an editor. We were on different teams and hardly crossed each other’s paths. But he was an incredibly influential person in the newsroom and in political journalism, a world I was still trying to break into in a meaningful way at the time.

      It wasn’t that Thrush was offering young women a quid pro quo deal, such as sex in exchange for mentorship. Thrush, just by his stature, put women in a position of feeling they had to suck up and move on from an uncomfortable encounter.

    • Fascist salutes in Madrid mark anniversary of Spain’s dictator General Francisco Franco’s death

      Far-right supporters giving fascist salutes have held rallies to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Spain’s former dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who died on 20 November 1975. Franco supporters gather every year to mark his death and that of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the nationalist Falange Española party, 42 years earlier. He was executed by the republican government on 20 November 1936, during the Spanish Civil War.

    • Libya: Enslaved Migrants Sold at Auction

      In Libya, human rights groups are accusing the government of looking the other way as migrants are sold at auction in a modern-day slave trade. New video obtained by CNN shows men at an unknown location in Libya auctioning off enslaved sub-Saharan African migrants. One grainy cell-phone video shows two enslaved men sold for 1,200 Libyan dinars—or about $800—as a man off-screen promises, “big strong boys for farm work”. The CNN investigation comes after the United Nations warned the EU over its support for Libya’s coast guard, as it turns back migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and forces them into migrant camps, where they face “appalling” conditions.

    • Trump calls for Lynch suspension if anthem protest continues

      U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch should be suspended by the NFL if he continues to protest during the national anthem after Lynch sat during a rendition of the song before Sunday’s game in Mexico City.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • DRM/Antifeatures
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • “The Commercial Usenet Stinks on All Sides,” Anti-Piracy Boss Says

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has responded to last week’s Usenet related raids. The Hollywood-backed group describes Usenet as a refuge for pirates of all ilks, with uploaders, site owners and resellers working in tandem to facilitate copyright infringement. “It’s stinking on all sides,” Kuik says.

      • The Truth Behind the “Kodi Boxes Can Kill Their Owners” Headlines

        This week, tabloid headlines screamed that so-called “Kodi Boxes” are a threat not only to the entertainment industries, but also to life itself. Claiming that devices could kill their owners due to electrical safety standards failures, we took a look at the actual report. Forget just throwing set-top boxes in the trash, it looks like anything electrical without a brand name needs to be discarded immediately.

      • Danes Deploy ‘Disruption Machine’ to Curb Online Piracy

        Danish anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen is taking a scattered approach to combat piracy. The piracy ‘disruption machine,’ as they call it, distributes a list of hundreds of pirate sites to ISPs, ad-brokers, search engines, payment processors and other intermediaries, who all expected to take action in response. In the future, this could expand to social media sites and web browsers, the group envisions.

      • Kodi Addon Dev Says “Show of Force” Will Be Met With Defiance

        Cease-and-desist letters, hand-delivered this week to several Kodi developers by the world’s most powerful entertainment companies, were designed to intimidate. That’s the belief of an as-yet-untouched Kodi dev who informs TF that while many people in the scene are simple “one man bands”, most won’t be intimidated by these multi-billion dollar rivals.

“US Inventor” is a “Bucket of Deplorables” Not Worthy of Media Coverage

Monday 20th of November 2017 10:39:35 AM

Summary: Jan Wolfe of Reuters treats a fringe group called “US Inventor” as though it’s a conservative voice rather than a bunch of patent extremists pretending to be inventors

A VERY short while ago Jan Wolfe, who had been covering PTAB for a while, published this article about so-called ‘conservatives’ attacking PTAB. We wrote about it yesterday. These are not quite the classical Conservatives but anti-government groups that are also misogynist and racist — the uglier face of US politics that aligns with the anti-scientific party (GOP). "US Inventor" (covered here before) is mentioned by Wolfe, who is perhaps easily misled by the name of the group. These are the people who bully Michelle Lee and resort to terms like “drain the swamp”. They could only get less than a dozen people to gather for an illegal protest on USPTO premises, so why even pay attention to them?

From the article:

“It’s time for us to make patents great again,” Michael Caputo, an advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told those gathered. US Inventor, the group behind the protest Caputo now represents as a spokesman, is calling for the abolition of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative tribunal run by the patent office that reviews the validity of patents.

The rallying cry marks an about-face for some conservatives, who broadly supported the board’s creation in 2011 as a way to rein in trial lawyers and “patent trolls,” who hold patents for the sole purpose of suing big companies for licensing fees.

“Things have really flipped when it comes to the conservative perspective on patents,” said Charles Duan, a lawyer with left-leaning consumer group Public Knowledge.

Much of the credit goes to activists who have convinced many conservatives that the real problem is not out-of-control litigation but how the tribunal designed to speed up resolving patent disputes favors big business over smaller rivals.

Public Knowledge is a reputable group that has existed for a long time. We don’t understand why Wolfe saw the need to give an impression of parity. To entertain “US Inventor” on patent matters is like entertaining the NRA on public safety matters. Better not done at all, in the name of quality control rather than censorship.

Team Battistelli’s Attacks on the EPO Boards of Appeal Predate the Illegal Sanctions Against a Judge

Monday 20th of November 2017 09:39:39 AM

Summary: A walk back along memory lane reveals that Battistelli has, all along, suppressed and marginalised DG3 members, in order to cement total control over the entire Organisation, not just the Office

LAST night we wrote about the EPO‘s latest attack on the boards, which have already been relegated to the ‘suburbs’ of Munich (Haar). It’s like Battistelli does not want these boards to exist, or wishes to overburden them to the point where they become useless for assurance of patent quality (prior art search and the like). He cannot legally knock them out of existence because of the EPC, but the EPC does not say anything about punishing them relentlessly, so Battistelli will probably get away with it. Now that his departure is almost imminent it’s ever more unlikely that he’ll lose his immunity and himself be subjected to disciplinary actions. 6 weeks from now he and Bergot will officially put the axe to long-term contracts. In other words, 6 months before he’s gone he’s totally destroying any prospects of the EPO ever recovering or salvaging the talent it once had.

Disturbing. To say the least.

We very much doubt the press will cover our findings regarding the Haar ‘party’, which is a sad display of irony if not black comedy. The press repeatedly ignores important stories and developments, as recently as weeks ago. Even comments on the matter might not get through. Here’s yesterday’s report of censorship in IP Kat (or maybe slow moderation by Bristows, or perhaps approval only after a complaint about it). “Censorship is never good,” the comment said. And yes, it’s about the boards. It often seems as though these matters cannot be brought up at IP Kat anymore, as people’s names cannot safely be mentioned (this limits useful debate). Truths are now “personal attacks”. To quote the comment at hand:

Why has my comment relating to recent case re entitlement of priority at the EPO not been accepted?

Is it because I mentioned the plea of a well known specialist about the fact that the EPO should only looking whether there is identity of invention?

I considered my comment as showing that the problem is not a specific one of British courts. No more, no less.

Censorship is never good.

We have meanwhile dug some archives and found the following letter from 3 years ago. We believe it demonstrates how, even before the ‘house ban’ of a judge (Battistelli broke the rules), the boards had come under attacks from Battistelli. This is for readers to judge:

DG3 nominees

Dear Mr Battistelli,

On 12.08.2014 you informed staff of your decision to reduce the “administrative tasks“ performed by the members of the Boards of Appeal and of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. The administrative tasks concerned are the participation in selection boards for procedures external to DG3 and in the work of other bodies under the Service Regulations. In practice, this decision heavily affects nominations in selection boards and in the Disciplinary Committee, where the staff representation used to rely on colleagues from DG3 to provide some independence in those procedures in the past.

As to the reasons, you referred to “possible consequences resulting from the discussion” on the interlocutory decision R 19/12 by the Enlarged Board of Appeal.

As we understand it, the Enlarged Board decided in decision R 19/12 that the obligation imposed on the Vice-President DG3 (VP3), when acting as a high-ranking officer directly under the President, to consider and support efficiency and productivity goals to be reached by the Office may conflict with his duty, when acting as a member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, to review decisions of the Boards of Appeal as an independent judge and, in so-doing, to contribute to the development of the case law as regards the protection of the procedural rights of the parties. In other words, the Enlarged Board saw in decision R 19/12 a potential conflict of interest between VP3′s managerial and judicial responsibilities.

We do not see such a general potential conflict in the involvement of DG3 members in selection boards, in the Disciplinary Committee or in other bodies under the Service Regulations, essentially because DG3 members have no managerial responsibilities in other DGs.

We therefore respectfully ask to be informed why you consider decision R 19/12 to be relevant to their involvement in those tasks.

We further respectfully ask to be informed why you considered that the obligation to consult the General Consultative Committee in accordance with Article 38 ServRegs did not apply to your decision.

As we now know, this Disciplinary Committee became a farce around that time. Grant Philpott, a thin-skinned advocate of software patents with background in the British Army, was Chairman of the notorious Disciplinary Committee (which ILO deemed to be unsuitably composed months after its union-busting activities had ‘decapitated’ SUEPO).

Those who pretend that the boards were “asking for it” or deserved punishment engage in artistic revisionism of history. Battistelli never wanted them. He wanted to destroy them, having already destroyed several other auditory jobs.

PTAB is Safe, the Patent Extremists Just Try to Scandalise It Out of Sheer Desperation

Sunday 19th of November 2017 10:53:57 PM

Tyranny of the patent microcosm continues to slip away


Nice try, patent zealots, but patent quality matters more than your ‘protection’ money

Summary: The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which gave powers to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) through inter partes reviews (IPRs), has no imminent threats, not potent ones anyway

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a subject we get to revisit every weekend. A lot is happening there. Technology companies like PTAB, whereas law firms are trying to destroy PTAB, which really says a lot about whose interests are served by improved patent quality.

A few days ago the patent trolls’ lobby expressed its interest in an old proposal for slicing USPTO. By “independent” USPTO they just mean a private USPTO, i.e. a for-profit monopoly whose goal would be to maximise profit, potentially by lowering patent quality (a la EPO).

Quoting IAM:

The USPTO is one of the few federal agencies that actually makes a profit from its operations, versus the majority of other US federal agencies which require taxpayer dollars to carry out their delegated functions. At present, the USPTO collects filing fees from applicants for patents and trademarks, as well as additional fees for many other services. These fees cover the USPTO’s operations, including the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Historically, however, the federal government has diverted excess fees collected by the USPTO away from that office and into unrelated government programmes – some estimates put the figure at more than $1 billion diverted from the USPTO since the early 1990s alone. With the enactment of the America Invents Act in 2011, the Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund was created to hold all patent and trademark fees collected by the USPTO, with all allocations from the reserve fund to be determined by Congress under the USPTO’s annual appropriation amount.

Things as they stand at the moment aren’t pleasing to those who became accustomed to a venue-shifting, litigant-friendly system (favouring plaintiffs with patents that lack merit). Loopholes are being closed, patent scope is being tightened, trolls are turned away, and thousands of patents are being formally invalidated by PTAB.

Recently, some patent extremists went to the USPTO to literally burn patents there. They also attacked — viciously and repeatedly — the Director of the USPTO until she resigned. How low will they sink? How poor-quality a bunch of patents are they striving to protect? A couple of days ago Ian McCarthy wrote about “consumer generated intellectual property” — a bizarre term which is 4 offensive words (and lies) in a row. Incredible what these people can come up with! Some of them actually want computer-generated patents to be examined and accepted by computer algorithms alone. Maybe they want billions if not trillions of patents, rendering the entire purpose (and manageability) of the Office moot. A patent system without restrictions on quality would be ignored; quantity should barely even be a parameter to strive for. At all!

PTAB’s job is, quite generally, to ensure patent quality is preserved if not improved. So who would oppose it? The answer is obvious: those whose patents are of no value (and know their patents lack any value). They don’t want any legal scrutiny. By avoiding actual litigation (initiated by themselves) they can dodge such scrutiny, but PTAB is different. Their patents are constantly under threat even if they initiate no legal action but only threaten vulnerable companies.

A Web site of patent extremists has just spoken to a firm favoured among patent trolls. It’s about bashing PTAB. That’s their goal. On another day that site showed that PTAB rules/procedures got altered, albeit only after repeated pressure. To quote:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has revised the “Standard Operating Procedure 9 (SOP9)” for cases remanded from the Federal Circuit, including requiring panels to meet with the PTAB chief, deputy chief or a delegate to discuss remanded cases

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has revised the “Standard Operating Procedure 9 (SOP9)” directed to procedures for cases remanded from the Federal Circuit.

That does not seem to have changed anything so substantial; patent extremists are trying hard to sabotage PTAB and help trolls with shoddy patents. Will they succeed? We doubt it. Have they made any progress? Not so far. PTAB is still going strong, but that should not be taken for granted.

United for Patent Reform wrote the other day some words from the pro-PTAB group, High Tech Inventors Alliance. Its head, John Thorne, told the panel: “For those who are not aware of what #IPR is, it’s an opportunity for @uspto to correct its own mistakes.”

Yes, exactly.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

If the USPTO does its job (examination) properly, PTAB will not be necessary.

Yesterday (yes, a Saturday!) Watchtroll went on another PTAB rant, stating the obvious in an attempt to demonise those who dispute validity of patents, e.g./notably PTAB. Alluding a lot to i4i vs Microsoft, Watchtroll said this:

Microsoft argued that the standard for proving a patent invalid should be by a preponderance of the evidence because the PTO did not consider the software in question when it issued the patent. According to Microsoft, the patent on which i4i relies is invalid because of prior art using the technology before the application was filed with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Microsoft questioned why the “clear and convincing evidence” standard should apply even for issues that the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) did consider. Furthermore, Microsoft argued that the “clear and convincing evidence” standard is an unjust creation of the Federal Circuit.

i4i Limited Partnership maintained that Microsoft had infringed on a patent i4i received in 1998, US Patent No. 5,787,449. This patent makes clear that i4i claimed a particular “method and system for querying a structured document stored in its native format in a database, where the structured document includes a plurality of nodes that form a hierarchical node tree…” While the language may appear inscrutable to a layman, essentially i4i maintained that the XML-editing features in Microsoft Word infringed on i4i’s patent. In response to Microsoft’s argument, i4i argued that it did not sell a product which served as prior art and that only the product’s source code could meet the “clear and convincing evidence” standard. Since the source code was no longer available, this was a convenient interpretation for i4i. In addition, i4i strongly argued that the Court should use the “clear and convincing evidence” standard instead of the “by a preponderance of the evidence” standard supported by Microsoft.

We wrote several dozens of posts about this case. For Watchtroll it’s just another cheap excuse to claim that when it comes to patents the “Burden is on the Challenger” (to quote the headline). This wasn’t the only Watchtroll attack on PTAB lately. Watchtroll also spoke to patent maximalists in an effort to tilt a sense of expectation in Oil States, basically bashing PTAB ahead of a Supreme Court decision that can determine its fate. Such is the nature of that lobbying site.

For those who rely on the Supreme Court to stop PTAB, forget about it… it won’t happen. We have already explained the whys many times before. Some have attempted other tricks/shams/scams for bypassing PTAB, but loopholes like these will be no more (pretty soon). As one legal blog put it the other day, “Legislation to Curtail Sovereign Immunity in IPR May Be On the Way” (as reported elsewhere as well). To quote the background and the latest outcome:

A Native American tribe’s recent deal to obtain several pharmaceutical patents and seek dismissal of pending IPRs on the basis of sovereign immunity has piqued the public’s interest in sovereign immunity to IPR. The same tribe also recently asserted several other patents against Microsoft and Amazon, and may assert sovereign immunity from IPR there too. Prompted by the tribe’s actions, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on what Congress can and should do about it. Although much of the hearing focused on what many perceive as the problem of tribal sovereign immunity in IPR—not the use of sovereign immunity to IPR by state universities—many of the proposed reforms would also target state universities. Whether any of these reforms will be enacted remains to be seen, but there are reasons to doubt their constitutionality.

[...]

The hearing also explored whether statutory changes could be made to permit IPR to go forward without participation of sovereign patent owners that refuse to waive their immunity. The hearing offered few details about how such changes would be implemented, or whether, for example, such a proceeding would resemble ex parte reexamination—a proceeding already available to challengers. Further, the hearing did not address how such a proceeding would address the Supreme Court’s ruling that sovereign immunity bars an agency from adjudicating a private party’s complaint against a sovereign, even where participation by the sovereign is optional.[3]

This hearing suggested that some in Congress are interested in curtailing the use of sovereign immunity in IPR, but whether state universities will be targeted in ways that raise constitutional concerns remains unclear. While state immunity from IPR provides a privilege that private citizens do not enjoy, that is not new, as states enjoy immunity from numerous types of actions.[4] As the Supreme Court has explained, states’ unique constitutional role “sets them apart” for special treatment.[5] Thus, a one-size-fits-all reform to IPR that addresses the concerns of some about tribal sovereign immunity, but also seeks to limit states’ rights, may not be constitutionally possible.

The above spoke about ex parte reexamination — a subject also explored earlier this month in another legal blog.

Overall, what we are seeing here is a clear trend in favour of PTAB, which is growing each year and becoming more effective at tackling a broader range of patents, setting precedents in the process. Don’t expect PTAB to vanish any time soon. The “USPTO Finalizes Rule for Privileged Communications in Trials Before the PTAB,” said another blog earlier this month, showing that the USPTO too recognises the long-term operation of the board. To quote:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) provided for trials before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in inter partes reviews, post-grant reviews, the transitional program for covered business method patents, and derivation proceedings. While patent agents are registered to practice before the USPTO, they are not attorneys. Therefore, it has been unclear whether attorney-client privilege prevents discovery in PTAB proceedings of communications between these non-attorney agents and their clients. Addressing this ambiguity, the USPTO just issued a final rule for trial practice before the PTAB that explicitly protects communications between patent agents or foreign patent practitioners and their clients. The amended rule becomes effective December 7, 2017.

That’s just three weeks from now.

In an effort to perhaps find something negative, patent maximalists are now measuring rates of rather irrelevant things. Instead of measuring the number of IPRs or successful invalidation they look at number of “stays” (in the legal sense). “Overall success rates of motions to stay district court litigation pending review at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board have dropped noticeably in the past fiscal year,” it says.

Well, district court litigation is relatively low profile and the number or proportion of “stays” does not say anything so interesting. It’s almost irrelevant. It’s like the ‘other’ “IPR” (the propaganda term that is meant to mislead, which these same patent maximalists use in relation to India). The interesting figures show that PTAB activity is growing or is at least stable (after year-to-year growth for half a decade).

“The flood of bad patents fueled an explosion of wasteful litigation in the tech industry,” United for Patent Reform quoted the other day, “brought by patent trolls that exist for no reason other than to make money filing lawsuits. #IPR has been a step toward reining in that problem…”

It has been happening more and more over time. Demand for PTAB has grown.

As we noted last week, the USPTO succumbed to bullying/pressure from patent extremists and the patent trolls' lobby, at least judging by the fact that it made PTAB less affordable. The patent maximalists wrote about that a few days later. dubbing it a “72% IPR request fee change”. To quote:

The USPTO has released a final rule detailing fee increases to go into effect in January. The combined cost of an inter partes review request and institution at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will go up to $30,500

See how they’re trying to make PTAB less accessible, especially for small and vulnerable companies? Not good. If they cannot stop PTAB using Native American tribes and Justices, then maybe they can just price PTAB out of reach. There’s also the STRONGER [sic] Patents Act, which is an abomination that is going nowhere (so far). Rachel Wolbers mentioned it the other day. “This radical piece of legislation would leave startups without any of the tools they currently have to protect themselves from patent trolls,” she said.

Here’s more:

The real reason clever patent trolls are moving their patents to Indian tribes is to avoid the USPTO’s Inter Partes Review process, which provides startups with a quick and effective way to invalidate bad patents. Weakening the IPR process would cause the most damage to America’s startup ecosystem and we should not upend the good work done by the USPTO to improve patent quality.

Another potential threat to the current patent system would be the “STRONGER Patents Act” introduced by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in June. The bill would completely gut the IPR system and would overturn decades of Supreme Court precedent on patents. This radical piece of legislation would leave startups without any of the tools they currently have to protect themselves from patent trolls. Furthermore, it would make investing in a technology startup much riskier, deterring investment in a sector of the economy that has been steadily growing for a decade.

IAM does a rather poor job hiding the fact that it’s a think tank for patent radicals and trolls. Watch who it gave a platform to (in its own event): “One of our keynote speakers was Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the author of the STRONGER Patents Act and one of the relatively few US legislators who demonstrates a keen understanding of the importance of strong IP rights to an innovation economy. In an engaging speech he called for Congress to take action to strengthen patent rights in the US. Here’s a part of what he had to say:”

Where were the engineers? Totally absent from these stacked panels and lobbying events, as usual.

Various ‘Conservative’ sites have also been lying about the STRONGER [sic] Patents Act, by which they attempt to destroy patent reform. The National Center’s Jeff Stier came up with this misleading headline under a month ago and here is what Heartland wrote some days ago. Notice who wrote it: “Seton Motley is the president of Less Government, a DC-based non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the power of government and protecting the First Amendment from governmental assault.”

So they basically stand for reckless markets in which patent extortion would be ‘normalised’ and not subjected to government intervention.

Going back to IAM, watch what it wrote when PTAB was invoked and ITC then got involved:

Interestingly, the separator technology on the line in this case, which LG Chem calls Safety Reinforced Separator (SRS), has previously been an IP moneymaker for LG Chem. It was able to license the technology to UBE Maxell, a Japanese joint venture, back in 2014 (not before UBE Maxell tried and failed to IPR one of the patents now being asserted against Amperex).

LG Chem is not the only company seeking to license-out battery-related technology. UBE itself assigned two US patents for a “Cell electrode sheet with displaced electrode depolarizing mixes” to a Japanese licensing firm called Ryujin Patent & Licensing in 2014. One of them is now facing an IPR filed by Dell, HP, Asus and LG Chem, indicating the range of companies it may be approaching as potential licensees.

This is an example where PTAB impedes actions not just by patent trolls with software patents but also large companies which try to tax everything. This kind of case is the reason we see growing support for PTAB even from large technology companies. As Washington is generally dominated by those companies and their lobbyists, expect PTAB to remain in tact (albeit, perhaps, more accessible to large and wealthy corporations).

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