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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

Ambrose Chan Enters Document Security Systems (DSS), a Partly Patent Troll Entity

Thursday 21st of September 2017 07:26:50 AM

De-storying the destructive strategy of destroying one’s competitors (by litigation).

Summary: The Board of Directors of DSS enlists a man from Singapore, whose lack of technical background suggests that the company is still more of a bully than an innovator

Serial litigator DSS is at it again, hiring non-technical people as its real business collapses. For background, read this 2012 article about DSS (comparing it to Vringo, a patent troll).

According to this press release and form (8-K), DSS turns to Singapore, which harbours some patent trolls (not just tax evaders, having become one of the top 5 places for people to pursue tax havens in), and hires this man:

While Chan does not appear to have much of a background in technology or intellectual property, his comments when appointed as a board member suggest that his focus is on the operating part of DSS’s business….

[...]

Today’s incarnation of DSS is the product of the first known merger between an NPE (Lexington Technology Group) and an operating business. Ronaldi, who led the previous standalone patent licensing business, took over as chief of the merged entity in 2013.

It’s true that DSS may still have some products, but those are gradually going away as the company turns to serial litigation (“NPE” is a euphemism for patent troll). Earlier this year it filed lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas.

Meanwhile, over at IP Kat there’s this new puff piece about IPOS, Singapore’s patent office.

UPC Threatens to Weaponise Software Patents in Countries That Forbade These

Thursday 21st of September 2017 06:38:19 AM

Summary: The reality of software patents in Europe and what a Unified Patent Court (UPC) would mean for these if it ever became a reality

“Having to inspect the patent database before writing a single line of code, that’s not what I call Happy Programmer’s Day,” Benjamin Henrion wrote the other day, adding that “it does not change much to the fact that the EPO and al [sic] still forces you to read their invention garbage.”

The EU rejects software patents, but the EPO flagrantly disobeys the rules, instructions, common sense etc.

Henrion took note of this new article from an EPO-friendly site, relaying the words of “Francisco Mingorance [who is] executive secretary of IP Europe, a lobby group representing European technology companies and research institutes.”

“Open standards and Francisco Mingorance do not go well in the same sentence,” Henrion wrote. “We now await a communication from the European Commission on FRAND licensing this autumn,” he added. FRAND is a euphemism for patent traps inside standards.

To say the least, Mingorance is an enemy of programming. He used to work for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a pro-FRAND, anti-FOSS, pro-software patents lobby (and the whole bundle of Microsoft lobbying).

At the moment, the main concern we have is that Unitary Patent lobbying threatens to bring software patents to more countries, even countries which explicitly disallow software patents. We wrote many articles about that before.

There’s one particular comment in IP Kat which reinforces our views about the UPC. The comment is very long so its author was prevented from posting it (or rather having it published) — to the point of stating: “It would be nice to see comments appearing a little sooner on this thread. There is still a lot to discuss (including the points made in comments that I posted over 9 hours ago!).”

Here is the comment in full, posted in fragments as follows (with emphasis added):

OK, so my later comment from yesterday eventually appears, but not the earlier, more substantive one. I shall try again (in two parts).

Part 1:
Wow, not even a deliberate, glaring error in my first comment from yesterday can provoke a response! Either no one cares or no one is watching who has a thorough understanding of EU law.

As decided by the CJEU in C-274/11, “it must be concluded that the competences conferred by Article 118 TFEU fall within an area of shared competences for the purpose of Article 4(2) TFEU and are, in consequence, non-exclusive for the purpose of the first paragraph of Article 20(1) TEU”.

Thus, the hypothetical arguments based upon Article 118 TFEU and “traditional” EPs don’t work… meaning that more subtle arguments need to be deployed if incompatibilities between the UPCA and EU law are going to stand up.

OK, so my shorter comment makes it through quickly but my longer, more substantive comment still does not appear. I shall assume that the problem is length and not content and will therefore have another go, breaking down my comments even further.

[...]

For me, the major issue with the Unitary Patent Package has still got to be the (impermissible) retroactive application of new / different law to pre-existing cases. The fact that the UPC would (in theory) be free to apply the infringement law of the UPCA to “traditional” EPs in fact makes the effects of retroactivity a lot worse.

To illustrate, consider a pending EP that has the same claims for enough EU Member States to qualify (in theory) for unitary effect. Which law of infringement would you say will be applied (e.g. in the UK) to the claims of that EP, once granted? To me, it seems that there are, in fact, multiple choices.

(1) In this scenario, a request for unitary effect is filed after the patent is granted.

The law of infringement applied by the UPC (the only litigation forum for the “unitary” patent) will then be dictated by Articles 5 and 7 of the UP Regulation. For the sake of simplicity, we shall assume that the patent proprietor has no residence or place of business in the Participating Member States, meaning that the UPC will apply German national law for the purposes of determining infringement.

(2) In this scenario: unitary effect is not requested; no opt-out is filed; and the “traditional” EP patent (the UK validation, plus a handful of other validations) is litigated at the UPC.

Which law of infringement will the UPC apply to the “traditional” EP? Whilst this is a tricky question to answer, we can apply some common sense to work out the most likely result.

Firstly, the UPC will not be bound to apply the same national law as under scenario 1. This is because the UP regulation does not apply to “traditional” EPs.

Secondly, in all likelihood, the UPC will apply a single law… as otherwise there would be no benefit to using a supposedly “unified” court!

Thirdly, Article 24 UPCA provides a hierarchy of laws. With no overarching EU law to consider (as the UP Regulation is irrelevant to “traditional” EPs), the next stop for the UPC will be the UPCA itself (Article 24(1)(b) UPCA).

Thus, in all likelihood, the UPC will apply the infringement law of the UPCA (Articles 24 to 30 UPCA) to all validations of “traditional” EPs that are litigated in that forum.

(3) In this scenario: unitary effect is not requested; no opt-out is filed; and the UK validation of the “traditional” EP patent is litigated at the UK High Court.

Here the answer is simple. The UK High Court will apply UK national law for the purposes of determining infringement. There is simply no basis under UK law for the court to do anything else… not least because the provisions of the UPCA have not been incorporated into UK law (instead, a few “tweaks” have been made that only partially align UK law with the UPCA provisions on infringement).

(4) In this scenario: unitary effect is not requested; an opt-out is filed; and the UK validation of the “traditional” EP patent is litigated at the UK High Court.

Here, the same answer applies as under option 3, namely UK national law will be applied for the purposes of determining infringement.

So, for a single, pending EP, there are actually three possible choices of law of infringement (namely German national law, UPCA law or UK national law) that will be applied in respect of a single territory (the UK). More worryingly, the choice of law will be dictated by post-filing actions of the proprietor, ie whether or not unitary effect is requested, whether or not an opt-out is filed (and, if so, whether or not it is later withdrawn) and/or which litigation venue is selected (from the UPC or national courts).

Remember, national laws of infringement have not been fully harmonised with one another across the Participating Member States, nor have they been fully harmonised with the infringement provisions of the UPCA. Thus, it will make a difference to the outcome which law of infringement is selected.

So, the UPCA coming into force will bring the advent of what I like to call “Schrödinger’s patents”, which are pending EPs whose precise effect upon third parties cannot be fully pinned down until they are actually granted and litigated (at a specific forum). As will be evident from the above, until the proprietor has made final, irreversible choices with regard to all three of unitary effect, opt-out and litigation forum, uncertainties will remain as to the law of infringement that will be applied.

Bringing such “Schrödinger’s patents” to life seems to me to be irreconcilable with the principle of legal certainty, and no doubt countless other provisions and principles of EU law (especially fundamental principles relating to the rule of law). But why has this issue attracted so little attention?

It is about time that this changed, I would say. It would be horrible to “sleepwalk” into a nightmare scenario that might become impossible to wake up from.

We certainly hope that patent examiners understand why British software companies, for instance, dread the UPC and oppose it.

Some more EPO articles are on the way. The big series about Battistelli will start quite soon, culminating some time ahead of the quarterly meeting of the Administrative Council.

The Latest Lies About the Unitary Patent (UPC) and CIPO’s Participation in Those

Thursday 21st of September 2017 05:54:48 AM

They got CETA, but they won’t get UPC

Summary: Team UPC continues to overplay its chances, conveniently ignoring simple facts as well as the Rule of Law

THE EPO is quiet. So is SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, whose Web site has not been updated for a while. On the UPC front, however, spin continues. Left unchallenged, some people out there might even believe it. Team UPC extravagantly lies, exaggerates, and places too much emphasis on perceived positives. Everything else is discarded, ignored, or ridiculed.

As we noted earlier this week, there’s UPC propaganda coming to Canada pretty soon. We can’t help but wonder, why would anyone actually pay to be lied to by Team Battistelli about the UPC in Montreal (Canada)? Maybe to make contacts/connections? A few days ago CIPO wrote: “Only 2 days left to register to the #Montreal roadshow with @EPOorg on Unitary #Patent & Unified Patent Court!”

That’s just basically Battistelli’s right-hand liar. She’ll be spreading the usual lies there. They will have the audience believe that the UPC is coming very soon. Bristows is doing the same thing this week, with staff pretty much repeating themselves regarding Scotland (never mind the reality of Brexit).

IAM’s chief editor also did his thing earlier this week. The UK-based IAM is perfectly happy that the EPO’s declining patent quality (which IAM helps Battistelli deny) brings its beloved patent trolls to Europe. Joff Wild speaks of the UPC again, joined by the term “BigTech” with the usual whipping boy being “Google”. Here are some portions:

And that brings me to patents. As everyone in the IP market knows, over recent year Europe has emerged as a much more important part of the equation for patent owners seeking to assert their rights. For multiple reasons – including the perceived quality of EPO-granted assets, speed to get a decision, the relatively low cost of litigating, the expertise of courts and, crucially, the availability of injunctions – the worsening environment for rights holders in the US is driving more companies to try courts in Germany, the UK and other European jurisdictions. Should the Unified Patent Court ever become a reality that process is likely to accelerate.

[...]

Where that leaves lobbying efforts that seek to water down or eliminate the UPC injunction regime, for example, remains to be seen. My guess is that as long as BigTech identifiably campaigns as BigTech it is unlikely to get much traction. Instead, what it needs are examples of small European companies falling foul of abusive patent litigants – the kinds of stories that it has always been possible to dig out in the US. The problem is that in Europe these are tough to find – precisely because the system is not troll-friendly. Getting around that may be a challenge that even the expertise of Silicon Valley’s best paid public relations advisers and lobbyists will struggle to meet.

Again, notice the term “BigTech”. The patent trolls’ sites (or patent maximalists) are openly demonising technology companies, e.g. those that protect PTAB. It makes it abundantly clear that they, the patent radicals, are against technology. We shall revisit the subject later this week.

The matter of fact is, UPC is a failed project. Even some insiders are willing to admit it now. The Boards of Appeal (BoA) need to stay and regulate patent quality, just like PTAB does at the USPTO. After Battistelli sent BoA judges to exile (as punishment, or simply to warn them) the EPO has the nerve to talk as if everything is fine and dandy. Earlier this week it wrote: “Oral proceedings at the new Boards of Appeal site are planned to start on 9 October” (but without independence for judges).

With Jesper Kongstad leaving in just over a week (end of this month), it remains to be seen if BoA has a future. If the UPC fails, which seems increasingly likely, many hirings will be needed for BoA (not UPC). Can the new (actually old) building in Haar facilitate growth? The only new building is in Rijswijk and Dutch media wrote about it some days ago. If there is something interesting in this Dutch article, it would be worth knowing. We try to keep abreast of the facts ahead of the ‘grand’ opening.

For those who are wondering where the UPC stands, not much has changed since we last wrote about it. Yesterday IP Kat summarised it as follows: “It has been confirmed that the complainant who filed the constitutional complaint against the ratification of the UPC Agreement in Germany was the attorney Ingve Stjerna. Stjerna has long been a vocal critic of the Unified Patent Court, and the complaint reflects some of his earlier criticisms.”

Looking at some of the latest comments at IP Kat, people now debate whether the UPC is “an EU institution” (it most certainly is) and therefore the UPC (which explicitly requires “UK” amid Brexit) is dead by definition.

Here is a comment about that, relaying the question to the CJEU:

If it is not an EU institution, then I do not understand why in the the preamble of the UPCA the following is said:

RECALLING the primacy of Union law, which includes the TEU, the TFEU, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the general principles of Union law as
developed by the Court of Justice of the European Union, and in particular the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal and a fair and public hearing within a
reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal, the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and secondary Union law;

Furthermore Art 1 of the UPCA states: The Unified Patent Court shall be a court common to the Contracting Member States and thus subject to the same obligations under Union law as any national court of the Contracting Member States.

If I understand well, the TEU and TFEU should thus be clearly applicable. Or did I miss something?

Divisions of the UPC can bring forward prejudicial questions to the CJEU, but the the text governing the UPCA cannot be submitted to the CJEU. I fail to understand the logic behind such a position.

Could somebody explain.

They then went off on a CJEU tangent.

One person said about the UPC, “how can the provisions of that Agreement be used to “harmonise” patent law” (they can’t).

Here’s the comment in full:

It’s not that hard to understand, given the limits of the jurisdiction of the CJEU.

In essence, the CJEU can only review the legality of EU Treaties and the (legislative) acts of EU bodies. The UPCA is not an EU Treaty or legislative act, as it is instead an international agreement (that just so happens to be exclusively between EU Member States).

However, this is not to say that the CJEU will have no teeth when it comes to the effects of the UPCA. That is, pursuant to Article 258 or 259 TFEU, the CJEU will be able to assess whether the Member States that are party to the UPCA are fulfilling their obligations under the EU Treaties. Unfortunately for the public, however, such actions can only be commenced either by the Commission or another Member State.

This effectively means that a challenge by Spain (under Article 259 TFEU) might be the only hope of sorting out whether the actions of the UPC (or the Participating Member States) are compliant with EU law.

It remains to be seen which grounds could be raised by Spain under Article 259 TFEU. However, Article 118 (attributing the European Union with exclusivity regarding the creation of uniform IP rights) is an interesting possibility.

In C-146/13, the CJEU held that:
Notwithstanding the fact that the contested regulation contains no list of the acts against which an EPUE provides protection, that protection remains uniform in so far as, regardless of the precise extent of the substantive protection conferred by an EPUE by virtue of the national law which is applicable, under Article 7 of the contested regulation, that protection will apply, for that EPUE, in the territory of all the participating Member States in which that patent has unitary effect”.

In other words, the CJEU held that Art. 118 TFEU was not contravened because EU law (the UP Regulation) has been used to achieve (partial) harmonisation, through the designation of a single, national law.

However, this would appear to mean that failure of the UPC to apply a single, national law (as determined under Art. 7 of the UP Regulation) would therefore not only contravene the Member States’ obligations under the UP Regulation but also their obligations under Art. 118 TFEU.

This puts an interesting “spin” on the law of infringement to be used under the UPP, doesn’t it?

For a start, it would appear that the UPC would only be able to refer to the infringement provisions in the UPCA to the extent that those provisions are fully incorporated into the national law selected under Arts. 5(3) and 7 of the UP Regulation. This means that the UPC, as well as all patent attorneys, will need to become experts on the extent to which this is true in each of the relevant Member States… and also what the significance might be of seemingly contradictory / non-identical provisions in national laws.

On the other hand, it would also seem to force the UPC to issue judgements for “traditional” (not opted out) EPs on a country-by-country basis. This is because the UP Regulation does not contain any provisions on the law to be applied to “traditional” EPs… meaning that there is no basis under EU law for the law of infringement for those EPs to be “harmonised”. Also, attempts by the Member States to “go it alone” with harmonisation of the law with respect to such EPs may well contravene the provisions of Art. 118 TFEU.

To put it another way, as the UPCA is not part of EU law, how can the provisions of that Agreement be used to “harmonise” patent law (for UPs or not opted out EPs) within the EU without infringing Art. 118 TFEU?

Spain was then brought up too. “Spain could think about a further challenge the legality of Regulation 1257/2012,” said the following comment.

Alternatively, Spain could think about a further challenge the legality of Regulation 1257/2012.

As previously mentioned, the impermissible, retroactive effect of Article 5(3) might be one ground for such a challenge. This is because that Article applies new / different laws (of infringement) to pre-existing patents and patent applications, as well as to acts committed prior to entry into force of the UPP. That hardly seems compliant with the principle of legitimate expectations!

Another, very interesting possibility might be alleged contravention of Article 18 TFEU (“any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited”) by Article 5(3) of the UP Regulation.

Understanding this ground requires a little thought.

Firstly, Art. 5(3) states that the applicable law of infringement is determined by Art. 7. Secondly, the primary factor to be considered under Art. 7(1)(a) is residence / place of business. For many individual and corporate applicants, their residence / place of business will be the same as (ie equivalent to, or a surrogate for) their nationality.

Thus, the UP Regulation requires the selection of a single, national law based upon a criterion that, for many applicants, will be a surrogate for their nationality.

The final step is to realise that the national laws of infringement are not harmonised. Thus, inventors / applicants that have identical claims, but that have different nationalities, would have different laws of infringement applied to those claims (and hence potentially different results from litigation).

It really is hard to understand how this could possibly be compliant with Article 18 TFEU!

The next comment said:

If it is an EU institution why would it need its own dedicated Protocol on Privileges and Immunities ?
Surely it would be covered by the EU PPI ?

Regarding the situation in Germany and the CJEU, one person said that “here we are back to the other complaints before the German Constitutional Court.”

We are ahead of interesting times, and it might be possible that the CJEU considers the UPCA not in accordance with EU law. In view of the sometimes political nature of the CJEU’s decisions, I doubt that it would blow up the whole system, but it could severely harm it.

In the same vein, there is a further question which could be tricky as well. If an opposition is launched against a UP, can the opposition division be composed of nationals of non EU member states?

This becomes particularly critical if the EP has only been validated as a UP.

One could consider that since the EPO regains competence by virtue of an opposition, then the composition of the OD is irrelevant.

On the other hand, one could also consider that having become, at least in some member states of the EPC which are also members of the UPC, an asset according to EU law, its fate can only be decided by nationals of member states of the EU.

If the patent is revoked, then there is no revision possible. And here we are back to the other complaints before the German Constitutional Court.

This question was raised at the latest conference on the UPC in July in Munich, and has up to now not received a reply.

More on CJEU:

“the sometimes political nature of the CJEU decisions”? Are you suggesting that the CJEU might not demonstrate complete independence from the executives of the Member States and/or the executive arms of the EU?

If there is a (perception of) lack of independence, then perhaps it is high time that someone took a close look at the conditions of appointment of the judges of the CJEU, in order to see how well the CJEU fares regarding internationally recognised “best practice” for achieving judicial independence.

Speaking of “political decisions,” the next comment talked about Spain again:

I do not want to claim that all decisions of the CJEU are more of political than strictly judicial nature. It is a minority of decisions, but the manner in which the CJEU has dismissed the second complaint of Spain against the UPC is an example to me of more political decisions.

Any reason not to consider Spain’s complaint were good to dismiss the claims. Some of the questions were however quite specific.

In decisions on the correct application of directives it is certainly not politic. Plenty of those have been published and commented on this blog.

The bottom line is, for those lacking the time or background to read all the above, there are multiple aspects and levels that act as barriers to UPC, ranging from central to pertinent (e.g. Spain, UK, Germany and even Poland). Don’t be misled by EPO staff whose job is to lie about the UPC. No doubt the Canadian press (and maybe European press as well) will soon publish some lies about the UPC. The EPO has a sick habit of paying the media for puff pieces, including patently untrue statements.

The Patents Policy of Facebook is Causing an Exodus

Thursday 21st of September 2017 04:40:18 AM

“They “trust me”. Dumb fucks”

–Mark Zuckerberg, President and Founder of Facebook (source)

Summary: Yet another major player walks away from Facebook’s code because of software patents

THE history of Facebook when it comes to patents is anything but relieving.

Facebook’s dirty patent games have in fact just driven away another company. We didn’t write much about this controversy until recently (relegated to our daily links), but now that the cautionary tale grows wings we decided it’s worth a mention. Last night there was another new example of this, with Gitlab being the latest to walk away. As The Register put it:

Using GraphQL, an increasingly popular query language for grabbing data, may someday infringe upon pending Facebook patents, making the technology inherently problematic for corporate usage.

In an analysis posted to Medium and in a related discussion in the GraphQL repo on GitHub, attorney and developer Dennis Walsh observed that Facebook’s GraphQL specification doesn’t include a patent license. In other words: using GraphQL in your software may lead to your code infringing a Facebook-held patent on the technology in future.

“The patents (as of a few weeks ago) were granted but not issued,” said Walsh in an email to The Register today. ”Damages can start before issuance but litigation cannot. But post-issuance, the threat is very real. My reading of two GraphQL granted applications and the GraphQL spec is that any properly implemented GraphQL server infringes.”

What’s pleasing to see here is that fairly large companies, not just individual developers, are willing to throw away code because of patent clauses. Spectators should take that for a sign that software patents have no room in software development. There’s a price to be paid for clinging onto them.

Links 20/9/2017: Wine Staging 2.17, Randa 2017, Redox OS 0.3.3

Thursday 21st of September 2017 04:01:43 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • 5 fundamental differences between Windows 10 and Linux

    This comparison really only scratches the surface. And don’t get me wrong, there are areas where Windows 10 bests Linux (few, but they do exist). In the end, however, the choice is yours. Chances are you’ll be making the choice based on which platform will allow you get more work done and do so with a certain level of efficiency and reliability. I would highly recommend, to anyone, if Linux can enable you to get your work done…give it a go and see if you don’t find it more dependable and predictable.

  • Desktop
    • Manchester police still relies on Windows XP

      England’s second biggest police force has revealed that more than one in five of its computers were still running Windows XP as of July.
      Greater Manchester Police told the BBC that 1,518 of its PCs ran the ageing operating system, representing 20.3% of all the office computers it used.
      Microsoft ended nearly all support for the operating system in 2014. Experts say its use could pose a hacking risk.
      The figure was disclosed as part of a wider Freedom of Information request.
      “Even if security vulnerabilities are identified in XP, Microsoft won’t distribute patches in the same way it does for later releases of Windows,” said Dr Steven Murdoch, a cyber-security expert at University College London.

    • Pixelbook leak: Google’s new high-end Chromebook expected October 4

      According to Droid Life, on October 4, Google will release the first new retail version of the Chromebook Pixel since 2015, the Pixelbook.

      The Chomebook Pixel was the Rolls-Royce of Chromebooks. It was faster, more powerful, and came with a better display than any other laptop in its day. Google, however, decided that, while the company would still release new Pixels for in-house use, it wouldn’t sell them.

      Thanks to Chromebook Pixel fans, Google has elected to start selling this luxury Chromebook again.

    • Linux: Come for the Kernel, Stay for the Popcorn

      Linux offers so much for users to sink their teeth into that even among desktop and more casual users, it’s easy to get caught up in the tradecraft. It’s only too tempting to put your system’s technical capabilities to the test by trying out a new program or practicing a new command. As with any other interest, though, Linux is not much fun unless you can revel in it with fellow fans and enjoy the camaraderie.

      Here’s a short tour of some of the major cultural hallmarks of the vibrant Linux world, and some of the hubs where you can witness and indulge in the Linux life.

  • Server
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel 4.12 Reached End of Life, Users Are Urged to Move to Linux 4.13

      Greg Kroah-Hartman published on Wednesday new maintenance updates for various of the supported Linux kernel branches that he maintains, including the Linux 4.12 series, which appears to have reached end of life.

    • Linux 4.9.51
    • Linux 4.13.3
    • Linux 4.12.14
    • Linux Weather Forecast

      This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your “chief meteorologist” is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments below.

    • Graphics Stack
      • A New DRM Driver Is Coming For Linux 4.15

        TVE200 is a new Direct Rendering Manager driver being queued for Linux 4.15.

        The TVE200 DRM driver is for the Faraday Tech TVE200 “TV encoder” block. This mini driver was written by Linus Walleij of Linaro.

      • XDC2017 Kicks Off With X.Org, Wayland & Graphics Talks

        The X.Org Developers Conference kicked off a short time ago at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. But even if you are not at the event, there is a livestream.

      • Mesa Sees An Initial Meson Build System Port

        A few months ago was a vibrant discussion about a Meson proposal for libdrm/Mesa while today the initial patches were posted in bringing a possible Meson build system port for Mesa.

      • NVIDIA Offers Update On Their Proposed Unix Device Memory Allocation Library

        James Jones of NVIDIA presented this morning at XDC2017 with their annual update on a new Unix device memory allocation library. As a reminder, this library originated from NVIDIA’s concerns over the Generic Buffer Manager (GBM) currently used by Wayland compositors not being suitable for use with their driver’s architecture and then the other driver developers not being interested in switching to EGLStreams, NVIDIA’s original push for supporting Wayland.

      • NVIDIA Legacy Linux Drivers Updated With Newer Kernel Support

        NVIDIA has issued new releases of its two legacy drivers for Linux.

        The NVIDIA 340.104 driver is now available for older Tesla architecture graphics processors while the NVIDIA 304.137 is out for the GeForce 6 and GeForce 7 generations.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Call for design: Artful Banner for Kubuntu.org website

        Kubuntu 17.10 — code-named Artful Aardvark — will be released on October 19th, 2017. We need a new banner for the website, and invite artists and designers to submit designs to us based on the Plasma wallpaper and perhaps the mascot design.

      • Randa 2017 Report – Marble Maps

        Just came back home yesterday from Randa Meetings 2017. This year, even though my major motive for the sprint was to use Qt 5.8’s Qt Speech module instead of custom Java for text-to-speech during navigation, that could not be achieved because of a bug which made the routes not appear in the app in the first place. And this bug is reproducible both by using latest code, and old-enough code, and is even there in the prod app in the Google Play Store itself. So, although most of my time had gone in deep-diving on the issue, unfortunately I was not able to find the root-cause to it eventually. I will need to pick up on that in the coming weeks again when I get time, to get it fixed.

      • Kube in Randa

        I’ve spent the last few days with fellow KDE hackers in beautiful Randa in the Swiss Mountains.
        It’s an annual event that focuses on a specific topic every year, and this time accessibility was up, so Michael and me made our way up here to improve Kube in that direction (and to enjoy the scenic surroundings of course).

      • KMyMoney’s Łukasz Wojniłowicz in Randa

        Please read the following guest post from Łukasz who joined me last week in Randa to work on KMyMoney.

      • Randa 2017 – Databases are back to KMyMoney

        On the morning of Day 5 we chased and fixed a problem that was introduced a long time ago but never caused any trouble. The code goes back into the KDE3 version of KMyMoney and was caused by some changes inside Qt5. The fix prevents a crash when saving a transaction which opens an additional dialog to gather more information (e.g. price information). With the help of other devs here in Randa, we were able to drill down the problem and update the code to work on KF5/Qt5 keeping the existing functionality.

      • Randa 2017 – Days 3 and 4

        On Day 3, we started out at 7:02 as usual with the team responsible for breakfast meeting in the kitchen.

        KMyMoney wise, we worked some more on keyboard navigation and porting to KF5. The dialog to open a database and the logic around it have been rewritten/fixed, so that it is now possible to collect the information from the user and proceed with opening. The database I have on file for testing does not open though due to another problem which I still need to investigate.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Usability testing for early-stage software prototypes

        In this article, Ciarrai Cunneen and I describe how to do a paper-based usability test, using an early redesign of the GNOME Settings app as an example. The updated Settings features in GNOME 3.26, released on September 13.

        When writing open source software, we often obsess about making our logic elegant and concise, coming up with clever ways to execute tasks and demonstrate ideas. But we sometimes forget a key fact: Software is not useful if it is not easy to use.

        To make sure our programs can be used by our intended audience, we need usability testing. Usability is basically asking the question, “Can people easily use this thing?” or “Can real people use the software to do real tasks in a reasonable amount of time?” Usability is crucial to the creative process of building anything user-based. If real people can’t use our software, then all the hard work of creating it is pointless.

        [...]

        In early 2016, GNOME decided to make a major UI update to its Settings application. This visual refresh shifts from an icon-based menu to drop-down lists and adds important changes to several individual Settings panels. The GNOME design team wanted to test these early-stage design changes to see how easily real people could navigate the new GNOME Settings application. Previously, GNOME relied on traditional usability tests, where users explore the software’s UI directly. But this wouldn’t work, since the software updates hadn’t been completed.

      • GNOME Foundation partners with Purism to support its efforts to build the Librem 5 smartphone

        The GNOME Foundation has provided their endorsement and support of Purism’s efforts to build the Librem 5, which if successful will be the world’s first free and open smartphone with end-to-end encryption and enhanced user protections. The Librem 5 is a hardware platform the Foundation is interested in advancing as a GNOME/GTK phone device. The GNOME Foundation is committed to partnering with Purism to create hackfests, tools, emulators, and build awareness that surround moving GNOME/GTK onto the Librem 5 phone.

        As part of the collaboration, if the campaign is successful the GNOME Foundation plans to enhance GNOME shell and general performance of the system with Purism to enable features on the Librem 5.

      • Now GNOME Foundation Wants to Support Purism’s Privacy-Focused Linux Smartphone

        GNOME Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the popular GNOME desktop environment designed for Linux-based operating systems, announced on Wednesday that they plan on supporting Purism’s Librem 5 smartphone.

        The announcement comes only a week after KDE unveiled their plans to work with Purism on an implementation of their Plasma Mobile interface into the security- and privacy-focused Librem 5 Linux smartphone, and now GNOME is interested in advancing the Librem 5 hardware platform as a GNOME/GTK+ phone device.

        “Having a Free/Libre and Open Source software stack on a mobile device is a dream-come-true for so many people, and Purism has the proven team to make this happen. We are very pleased to see Purism and the Librem 5 hardware be built to support GNOME,” said Neil McGovern, Executive Director, GNOME Foundation.

      • GNOME Joins The Librem 5 Party, Still Needs To Raise One Million More Dollars

        One week after announcing KDE cooperation on the proposed Librem 5 smartphone with plans to get Plasma Mobile on the device if successful, the GNOME Foundation has sent out their official endorsement of Purism’s smartphone dream.

        Purism had been planning to use GNOME from the start for their GNU/Linux-powered privacy-minded smartphone while as of today they have the official backing of the GNOME Foundation.

      • GNOME partners with Purism on Librem 5 Linux-based privacy-focused smartphone

        The Librem 5 smartphone by Purism has a long and difficult road ahead of it. Competing against the likes of Apple and Google on the mobile market has proven to be a death sentence for many platforms — including Microsoft with its failed Windows 10 Mobile. With that said, I am rooting for Purism and its Pure OS, as the world would benefit from a device that uses Linux and focuses on both privacy and security. Such an alternative to iPhone and Android would be a breath of fresh air.

        Luckily, Purism has found itself a new partner on this project — one of the most important organizations in the Linux community — The GNOME Foundation. Yes, the maker of the absolute best desktop environment is offering to assist with the Librem 5 — if it is successfully crowdfunded, that is. To date, it is only about 33-percent funded, although there is still more than a month to go.

      • GNOME Foundation Gives its Backing to Purism’s Linux Phone

        The GNOME Foundation has today given its backing to Purism’s ambition of building a free, open-source smartphone with user privacy and encryption as a central feature.

  • Distributions
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • A Quick Review Of PCLinuxOS

        Sometimes while I review distros I come across some cool distros that many persons don’t know about. PCLinuxOS is one of them. A user-friendly, stable and quite cool in features and app selection are the things that made me love this distro.

    • Slackware Family
      • liveslak 1.1.9 and new ISO images

        The ‘liveslak‘ scripts used to create the ISO images for Slackware Live Edition have been stamped with a new version, 1.1.9. The updates are significant enough to warrant an ‘official’ update and new ISO images.

        The latest set of Slackware Live Edition ISOs are based on liveslak 1.1.9 and Slackware-current dated “Tue Sep 19 20:49:07 UTC 2017“. Just in time (I was already creating ISOS based on -current “Mon Sep 18 19:15:03 UTC 2017“) I noticed that Patrick downgraded the freetype package in Slackware, and I re-generated all of the ISO images to incorporate the latest freetype package – because that one is working and the previous one had serious issues.

        If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Free software log (July and August 2017)

        August was DebConf, which included a ton of Policy work thanks to Sean Whitton’s energy and encouragement. During DebConf, we incorporated work from Hideki Yamane to convert Policy to reStructuredText, which has already made it far easier to maintain. (Thanks also to David Bremner for a lot of proofreading of the result.) We also did a massive bug triage and closed a ton of older bugs on which there had been no forward progress for many years.

        After DebConf, as expected, we flushed out various bugs in the reStructuredText conversion and build infrastructure. I fixed a variety of build and packaging issues and started doing some more formatting cleanup, including moving some footnotes to make the resulting document more readable.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, August 2017

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #125

        16 package reviews have been added, 99 have been updated and 92 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues.

      • Derivatives
        • There’s Now a Windows 10 Installer for the Debian-Based Q4OS Linux Distribution

          The Q4OS development team is pleased to inform us today about the immediate availability for download of a Windows installer for their Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution, Q4OS, allowing users to create a dual-boot environment on their PCs.

          For those not familiar to Q4OS, it’s an open-source and free Linux distro based on the popular Debian GNU/Linux operating system and built around the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE), which resembles the look and feel of the old-school KDE 3.5 desktop environment.

          Created with an emphasis on Windows users who want to migrate to a free, open-source, and more secure operating system, Q4OS now lets them install the distribution alongside Microsoft Windows in an easy manner, without having to do any modifications to your personal computer or install any other apps.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu GNOME Shell in Artful: Day 13

            Now that GNOME 3.26 is released, available in Ubuntu artful, and final GNOME Shell UI is confirmed, it’s time to adapt our default user experience to it. Let’s discuss how we worked with dash to dock upstream on the transparency feature. For more background on our current transition to GNOME Shell in artful, you can refer back to our decisions regarding our default session experience as discussed in my blog post.

          • Ubuntu Server Development Summary – 19 Sep 2017
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter 519

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #519 for the weeks of September 5 – 18, 2017, and the full version is available here.

          • Ubuntu Desktop default application survey results

            Canonical has released the results of its default applications survey for the 18.04 long-term support release of Ubuntu.

            The results of the previous survey – for Ubuntu 17.10, dubbed Artful Aardvark – yielded great suggestions, many of which have made their way into the beta version of the operating system.

            For Ubuntu 18.04, over 15,000 responses were processed by the Ubuntu Desktop team.

            “The team is now hard at work evaluating many of the suggested applications,” said Canonical.

          • Ubuntu Dock Now Has Dynamic Transparency

            Ubuntu devs have listened to our gripe on the jarring contrast between GNOME 3.26′s transparent top bar and the Ubuntu Dock.

          • Ubuntu Dock Features Adaptive Transparency on Ubuntu 17.10, Here’s How It Works

            Ubuntu contributor Didier Roche continues his development on the look and feel of the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, and today he announced that Ubuntu Dock is getting adaptive transparency.

            Canonical confirmed that Ubuntu 17.10 would come with the GNOME 3.26 desktop environment by default, though the default session has suffered numerous modifications compared to the vanilla one to make things easier for those using the Unity interface on Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

            Most probably, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS users won’t upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10, but we’re sure Ubuntu 17.04 users will because it’ll reach end of life in about four months from the moment of writing, sometime in January 2018. Therefore, Canonical wants to make their Unity to GNOME transition as painless as possible.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Information Released

              Linux Mint Project Leader Clement Lefebvre, otherwise known as “Clem” released a blog post on Sept. 18, giving some information about the upcoming release of Linux Mint 18.3, dubbed “Sylvia.”

              In his blog post Lefebvre gave some ideas to some of the pieces of software and changes that will be coming, such as the inclusion of the popular system restoration tool Timeshift.

              For those of you who haven’t used Timeshift, it’s an application that creates snapshots of your system, and then restores them later, similar to Windows System Restore, or Mac OS’s Time Machine.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Architecting the future with abstractions and metadata

    The modern data center is built on abstractions, with Docker, Kubernetes, and OpenShift leading the way.

  • SRT open-source video project adds transfer, multiplexing features that can reduce streaming costs

    The SRT Alliance, an open-source initiative focused on developing methods for low-latency video streaming, has released version 1.3 of the SRT video transport protocol.

    This version supports encrypted fast file transfer of VOD files and the multiplexing of streams within the same network port.

    Founded by streaming video providers Haivision and Wowza, the SRT Alliance is focused on developing an open source alternative to proprietary technologies.

  • Redox OS 0.3.3 Released, Lowers RAM Usage

    The Rust-written Redox operating system is out with a new feature release.

    Redox OS 0.3.3 is the operating system’s new version and its primary benefit is much lower memory use. Redox OS 0.3.3 is now using just about 480MB of RAM rather than around 1.3GB.

  • Events
    • Watch the Keynote Videos from Open Source Summit in Los Angeles

      If you weren’t able to attend Open Source Summit North America 2017 in Los Angeles, don’t worry! We’ve rounded up the following keynote presentations so you can hear from the experts about the growing impact of open source software.

    • uniprof: Transparent Unikernel for Performance Profiling and Debugging

      Unikernels are small and fast and give Docker a run for its money, while at the same time still giving stronger features of isolation, says Florian Schmidt, a researcher at NEC Europe, who has developed uniprof, a unikernel performance profiler that can also be used for debugging. Schmidt explained more in his presentation at Xen Summit in Budapest in July.

      Most developers think that unikernels are hard to create and debug. This is not entirely true: Unikernels are a single linked binary that come with a shared address space, which mean you can use gdb. That said, developers do lack tools, such as effective profilers, that would help create and maintain unikernels.

  • Web Browsers
  • SaaS/Back End
    • Fast track Apache Spark

      These tips highlight Spark’s ability to deliver serious gains in productivity despite limited user computing capability. There is definitely an ideal Spark setup for each organization’s particular needs. One or all of the following will most likely be necessary once there is buy-in from stakeholders to create a robust analytics system: expanding to a cluster setup, building a data warehouse, and utilizing an infrastructure team. My hope is that this post has given you some tips to make it easier to create a proof-of-concept with Spark that justifies stakeholder investment, and that it has provided some pointers if you decide that a bare bones Spark setup is best for you.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Marketing activities so far in 2017: Mike Saunders

      Thanks to donations to The Document Foundation, along with valued contributions from our community, we maintain a small team working on various aspects of LibreOffice including documentation, user interface design, quality assurance, release engineering and marketing. Together with Italo Vignoli, I help with the latter, and today I’ll summarise some of the achievements so far in 2017.

  • CMS
    • Magento’s Open Source Release

      On 14th September 2017, Magento released “Open Source” (Magento 2.1.9) which seeks to improve and upgrade current Magento software.

      According to the Magento team, the new release contains 40 security fixes and enhancements.

  • Education
    • 7 Things You Should Know About… Open Source Projects in Education

      Halfway through the semester, Dr. Margaret Broadwater was excited by the progress her students were making in her course Open Source Software Development. Working with open source software projects and development communities gave her students hands-on experience with software development practices, technology frameworks, data structures, and product development. Students also completed installation exercises for open source projects from both developers’ and users’ perspectives, followed by finding and patching bugs in the software. Broadwater knew that her students were learning more than just how to work their way around code. In talking with students she emphasized that open source code was the heart of applications that had become ubiquitous in business and education, including Chrome and Firefox, and was the driver for software like the Apache web server, Fedora Linux, and OpenSSL. Moreover, open source had gained purchase in use by companies, organizations, and government agencies and was thus something they would need to know once they entered the workplace as software devel- opers and engineers. Broadwater knew that by working on open source projects in depth, her students were also learning about the ethos of building code in a community of developers—and, indeed, were becoming part of that community.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • LibrePlanet 2018: Let’s talk about Freedom. Embedded.

      The call for sessions is open now, until November 2nd, 2017. General registration and exhibitor and sponsor registration are also open. Pre-order a LibrePlanet 10th anniversary t-shirt when you register to attend!

      Do you want to discuss or teach others about a topic relevant to the free software community? You’ve got until Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 at 10:00 EDT (14:00 UTC) to submit your session proposals.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts and everyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For the past nine years, LibrePlanet has brought together free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who are at the beginning of their free software journeys. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

    • LibrePlanet free software conference celebrates 10th anniversary, CFP and registration open now

      The call for proposals is open now, until November 2, 2017. General registration and exhibitor and sponsor registration are also open.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For the past nine years, LibrePlanet has brought together free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who are at the beginning of their free software journeys. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

    • dot-zed extractor
    • FSFE Newsletter – September 2017

      To push our demand, the FSFE launched a new campaign last week: “Public Money Public Code”. The campaign explains the benefits of releasing publicly funded Software under free licences with a short inspiring video and an open letter to sign. Furthermore, the campaign and the open letter will be used in the coming months until the European Parliament election in 2019 to highlight good and bad examples of publicly funded software development and its potential reuse.

    • Free Software Foundation Europe Leads Call For Taxpayer-Funded Software To Be Licensed For Free Re-use

      Considered objectively, it’s hard to think of any good reasons why code that is paid for by the public should not be released publicly as a matter of course. The good news is that this “public money, public code” argument is precisely the approach that open access advocates have used with considerable success in the field of academic publishing, so there’s hope it might gain some traction in the world of software too.

    • New FSF membership benefit: LibreOffice certification

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced that the opportunity to apply for LibreOffice certification for migrations and trainings is now available to FSF Associate Members.

      LibreOffice is a free software project of The Document Foundation (TDF), a non-profit based in Germany. An office suite, LibreOffice encompasses word processing, and programs for the creation and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, databases, diagrams and drawings, and mathematical formulae. It uses the ISO standard OpenDocument file format (ODF).

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • LipidFinder: An Open-Source Python Workflow for Novel Lipid Discovery

      Obtaining precise, high-quality lipidomic (or metabolomic) datasets comes with its challenges. One factor that I am sure comes to mind is the ability to minimize, or even better, eliminate those large numbers of artefacts that could otherwise hinder your mass spectrometry data analysis, to ensure accurate interpretation.

    • The Github threat

      The Github application belongs to a single entity, Github Inc, a US company which manage it alone. So, a unique company under US legislation manages the access to most of Free Software application code sources, which may be a problem with groups using it when a code source is no longer available, for political or technical reason.

    • Stack Overflow gives an even closer look at developer salaries

      Today, Stack Overflow announced a slightly more useful application for that same data, with the Stack Overflow Salary Calculator. Tell it where you live, how much experience and education you have, and what kind of developer you are, and it will tell you the salary range you should expect to make in five national markets (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany) and a handful of cities (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin).

    • IBM open-sources a microservices-friendly Java app server

      A few weeks ago, Nginx released its multilanguage microservices-friendly app server, but without Java support at launch. Now IBM has a beta build of its own microservices-friendly app server for Java applications: the open source Open Liberty, which implements IBM’s version of Java EE and MicroProfile microservices implementation.

      Open Liberty will provide a runtime supporting Java microservices that can be quickly updated and moved among different cloud environments. When combined with the Eclipse OpenJ9 Java Virtual Machine, OpenLiberty will provide a full Java stack, IBM said. (OpenJ9 had been IBM’s J9 JVM, which it contributed to the Eclipse Foundation that now manages Java EE.)

    • The Future of HHVM

      Several months ago, PHP officially announced the end-of-life for PHP5.

      The HHVM team is happy about the direction PHP has taken with PHP7, and we’re proud of the role we’ve played in pushing the language and runtime to where they are today. Since the PHP community is finally saying goodbye to PHP5, we’ve decided to do so as well.

    • The Ten Essentials for Good API Documentation
Leftovers
  • Science
    • An introduction to machine learning today

      Machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) mean different things to different people, but the newest approaches have one thing in common: They are based on the idea that a program’s output should be created mostly automatically from a high-dimensional and possibly huge dataset, with minimal or no intervention or guidance from a human. Open source tools are used in a variety of machine learning and artificial intelligence projects. In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the state of machine learning today.

      In the past, AI programs usually were explicitly programmed to perform tasks. In most cases, the machine’s “learning” consisted of adjusting a few parameters, guiding the fixed implementation to add facts to a collection of other facts (a knowledge database), then (efficiently) searching the knowledge database for a solution to a problem, in the form of a path of many small steps from one known solution to the next. In some cases, the database wouldn’t need to or couldn’t be explicitly stored and therefore had to be rebuilt.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Media ‘Extremes’ on Healthcare: Universal Coverage or Taking Healthcare From Millions

      For many years, corporate media have largely ignored a single-payer system as a possible solution to the United States healthcare crises (FAIR.org, 3/6/09). This silent treatment, however, is increasingly hard to justify now that the most popular politician in the country has forced the issue into the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill now has 16 cosponsors, up from zero when he introduced a similar bill in 2013. Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, a record 119 of 194 Democrats are cosponsors of HR676, John Conyers’ single-payer legislation. The math is simple enough: 135 of 242 Democrats in Congress (and counting) are on the record as supporting the federal government assuming responsibility for the costs of healthcare.

      Unable to continue ignoring the policy, corporate media have, with predictable uniformity, undermined it as utopian nonsense. The typical elite narrative since Sanders’ bill was announced last Wednesday has been to amplify the same kind of scare tactics that have been injected into the national discourse for decades (at a considerable expense) by the for-profit health industry, the American Medical Association (AMA) and right-wing think tanks.

    • See jerkface bacteria hiding in tumors and gobbling chemotherapy drugs
    • Single Payer, the Democratic Party and the Non Profit Industrial Complex

      It’s not just the likes of Sierra Club taking $25 million from Chesapeake Energy and backing natural gas expansion or Sierra Club aligning itself with Clorox to greenwash the company. Or nominally anti-corruption groups like Transparency International in the United States and Canada getting taken over by corporate lobbyists and law firms.

      It’s more the public interest careerists who want to be players. And to be a player means to cut deals. And to cut deals means to cut out the grassroots activists, who are less likely to want to cut deals.

    • So Much for States’ Rights — GOP Senator Wants to Ban State Single Payer In New Health Care Bill

      Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy plans to use the most recent effort to repeal and replace portions of the Affordable Care Act to push an amendment that would bar states from enacting their own single-payer systems, he told reporters on Monday.

      When asked by The Intercept on Tuesday about the status of his legislation, Kennedy said that the bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., told him that the measure already bans single payer, but that he was welcome to offer his amendment either way.

      “I don’t think states should have the authority to take money from the American taxpayer and set up a single-payer system,” Kennedy said. “Now some people think that that’s inconsistent with the idea of flexibility. But that’s what the United States Congress is for. I very much believe in flexibility, and I know the governors want flexibility. But it’s our job to make sure that that money is properly spent.”

    • Without opioids, our collective life expectancy would be 2.5 mos longer

      In a startling announcement, authorities in New York and New Jersey reported Monday that they had confiscated a whopping 122 kilograms (nearly 270 pounds) of opioids worth more than $30 million in a pair of recent busts. One of the seizures yielded 64 kilograms (more than 140 pounds) of the extremely potent fentanyl opioid. That batch alone is enough to provide lethal doses of opioids to 32 million people.

    • Covering All People With Single Payer, Says GOP Senator, Is Not Money ‘Properly Spent’

      Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced his intention Tuesday to introduce four amendments to the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one of which would forbid states from using the law’s block grants to provide residents with a state-run single payer healthcare system—provoking some to question his commitment to the perennial Republican issue of “states’ rights.”

    • Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers

      At a time when the United States is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, many insurers are limiting access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.

      The reason, experts say: Opioid drugs are generally cheap while safer alternatives are often more expensive.

  • Security
    • WordPress 4.8.2 Security and Maintenance Release

      WordPress 4.8.2 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

    • Attack on CCleaner Highlights the Importance of Securing Downloads and Maintaining User Trust

      Some of the most worrying kinds of attacks are ones that exploit users’ trust in the systems and softwares they use every day. Yesterday, Cisco’s Talos security team uncovered just that kind of attack in the computer cleanup software CCleaner. Download servers at Avast, the company that owns CCleaner, had been compromised to distribute malware inside CCleaner 5.33 updates for at least a month. Avast estimates that over 2 million users downloaded the affected update. Even worse, CCleaner’s popularity with journalists and human rights activists means that particularly vulnerable users are almost certainly among that number. Avast has advised CCleaner Windows users to update their software immediately.

      This is often called a “supply chain” attack, referring to all the steps software takes to get from its developers to its users. As more and more users get better at bread-and-butter personal security like enabling two-factor authentication and detecting phishing, malicious hackers are forced to stop targeting users and move “up” the supply chain to the companies and developers that make software. This means that developers need to get in the practice of “distrusting” their own infrastructure to ensure safer software releases with reproducible builds, allowing third parties to double-check whether released binary and source packages correspond. The goal should be to secure internal development and release infrastructure to that point that no hijacking, even from a malicious actor inside the company, can slip through unnoticed.

    • Apache bug leaks contents of server memory for all to see—Patch now

      There’s a bug in the widely used Apache Web Server that causes servers to leak pieces of arbitrary memory in a way that could expose passwords or other secrets, a freelance journalist has disclosed.

      The vulnerability can be triggered by querying a server with what’s known as an OPTIONS request. Like the better-known GET and POST requests, OPTIONS is a type of HTTP method that allows users to determine which HTTP requests are supported by the server. Normally, a server will respond with GET, POST, OPTIONS, and any other supported methods. Under certain conditions, however, responses from Apache Web Server include the data stored in computer memory. Patches are available here and here.

    • The Pirate Bay Takes Heat for Testing Monero Mining

      Cryptocurrencies usually are mined with CPU power initially, she told LinuxInsider. Users then find ways to speed up the hashing before going to GPU. They build specialized hardware and field programmable gate array (FPGA) chips to carry out the hashing function in order to mine much faster.

      [...]

      The notion that The Pirate Bay effectively would borrow resources from its own users is not the problem, suggested Jessica Groopman, principal analyst at Tractica.

    • Safer but not immune: Cloud lessons from the Equifax breach
    • Warning: If you are using this Kodi repository, you could be in danger

      Kodi is quite possibly the best media center software of all time. If you are looking to watch videos or listen to music, the open source solution provides an excellent overall experience. Thanks to its support for “addons,” it has the potential to become better all the time. You see, developers can easily add new functionality by writing an addon for the platform. And yes, some addons can be used for piracy, but not all of them are. These addons, such as Exodus and Covenant, are normally added using a repository, which hosts them.

      [...]

      We do not know 100 percent if the person that re-registered the metalkettle name on GitHub is planning anything evil, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

    • Infrared signals in surveillance cameras let malware jump network air gaps

      The malware prototype could be a crucial ingredient for attacks that target some of the world’s most sensitive networks. Militaries, energy producers, and other critical infrastructure providers frequently disconnect such networks from the Internet as a precaution. In the event malware is installed, there is no way for it to make contact with attacker-controlled servers that receive stolen data or issue new commands. Such airgaps are one of the most basic measures for securing highly sensitive information and networks.

      The proof-of-concept malware uses connected surveillance cameras to bridge such airgaps. Instead of trying to use the Internet to reach attacker-controlled servers, the malware weaves passwords, cryptographic keys, and other types of data into infrared signals and uses a camera’s built-in infrared lights to transmit them. A nearby attacker then records the signals with a video camera and later decodes embedded secrets. The same nearby attackers can embed data into infrared signals and beam them to an infected camera, where they’re intercepted and decoded by the network malware. The covert channel works best when attackers have a direct line of sight to the video camera, but non-line-of-sight communication is also possible in some cases.

    • Turning Off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in iOS 11′s Control Center Doesn’t Actually Turn Off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth [Ed: Proprietary software means you cannot trust it and anything you think it does it likely won't]

      Turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you’re not using them on your smartphone has long been standard, common sense, advice. Unfortunately, with the iPhone’s new operating system iOS 11, turning them off is not as easy as it used to be.

      Now, when you toggle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off from the iPhone’s Control Center—the somewhat confusing menu that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of the phone—it actually doesn’t completely turn them off. While that might sound like a bug, that’s actually what Apple intended in the new operating system. But security researchers warn that users might not realize this and, as a consequence, could leave Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on without noticing.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Afghanistan Again?
    • Trump Apparently Wants a Massive Military Parade. ‘What’s Next, Portraits of Dear Leader Everywhere?’

      Citing France’s Bastille Day celebration in July—a “dramatic show of pageantry” featuring thousands of French troops and dozens of military jets—U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday suggested that he would like the United States to put on a massive display of “military might” on Independence Day, a proposal commentators immediately portrayed as evidence of Trump’s affinity for authoritarian displays of force.

    • Starve Them to Death: Wall Street Journal’s Solution to North Korea
    • An Escalating North Korea Crisis

      With President Trump demeaning North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, tensions over Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program grow worse, as Dennis J Bernstein reports.

      [...]

      On August 21, the joint US/South Korean war games took place, but they were scaled down a little bit. So, instead of the usual 25,000 US troops, there were 17,500 US troops. That is not an insignificant de-escalation. In response to the war games, the North Koreans fired three short-range missiles.

      A little while later the US conducted new war games with Japan; And North Korea, to express its displeasure, fired an ICBM, which flew over Hokkaido and landed in the ocean. The US retaliated by bringing in B-1 bombers that were doing decapitation runs. This is exactly the kind of strategic asset deployment that the North Koreans consider to be a red line.

      In response to that, they detonated what they claim is an H-bomb on September 3. Later reports said that it was 6.3 on the Richter scale, somewhere between 100 and 150 kilotons, making it ten to fifteen times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. They claimed that this was the perfect test, that it was adjustable and that they were also capable of launching an electromagnetic pulse.

      So, if we look back, we can see a tit-for-tat process. In game theory, this is the only procedure that has been shown to result in de-escalation between two parties who are in conflict and who do not have accurate information.

    • Dealing with North Korean Missiles

      The real purpose of North Korea’s two recent missile tests over Japan is to cause a rupture in relations among the US, China, Japan, and South Korea. Rather than attack Japan, which would galvanize the US-Japan security treaty, these missiles provoke debate in Japan—about US reliability, Japan’s constitutional limitations on taking defensive or offensive action against a threat, and choices of weapons systems (including everything from missile defense to nuclear weapons). All these issues have implications for Japan’s relations with South Korea and China, both of which would strongly protest a major military buildup by Japan and undermine trilateral cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

    • Trump’s War on the North Korean People

      Amid renewed talk by the Trump administration of a military option against North Korea, one salient fact goes unnoticed. The United States is already at war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – the formal name for North Korea). It is doing so through non-military means, with the aim of inducing economic collapse. In a sense, the policy is a continuation of the Obama administration’s ‘strategic patience’ on steroids, in that it couples a refusal to engage in diplomacy with the piling on of sanctions that constitute collective punishment of the entire North Korean population.

      We are told that UN Security Council resolution 2375, passed on September 11, was “watered down” so as to obtain Chinese and Russian agreement. In relative terms, this is true, in that the original draft as submitted by the United States called for extreme measures such as a total oil embargo. However, Western media give the impression that the resolution as passed is mild or mainly symbolic. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Trump Falls in Line with Interventionism

      President Trump’s U.N. speech showed that despite his America First rhetoric, his policies are virtually the same as the neocon strategies of George W. Bush and liberal interventionism of Barack Obama, says Robert Parry.

    • The Greatest Threat Facing America

      The greatest threat facing America is not “radical Islamic terrorism.” Nor is it North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, eliciting American UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s propagandistic charge that Kim Jong-un is ”begging for war.“ Nor is America’s greatest threat Muslim immigrants’ believed to be intent on gaining power and establishing Sharia law. Nor is it hordes of “criminally-disposed” Mexicans, whose “invading” presence is assumed to require more deportation officers and a border wall. Neither is it “inner city crime.” Nor is it about Black Lives Matter people, who are seen by many as a threat to established white status quo order.

      [...]

      Before running for president, Donald Trump was not guided by law and order in his business dealings. He faced lawsuits for refusing to rent apartments to black persons in his buildings. (See “ ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias,” By Jonathan Mahler and Steve Eder, The New York Times, Aug. 27, 2016) He became a one-man vigilante committee, taking out ads in New York City papers, claiming five black and Latino Harlem teenagers were guilty of assaulting and raping a white woman in Central Park and calling for reestablishing the death penalty. The teens spent several years in jail, and were finally released and awarded $41 million dollars after a serial rapist confessed to the crime and no DNA evidence had connected them to it. (See “Trump continues to blast Central Park Five long after they were exonerated: ‘They admitted they were guilty,’ “ By David Boroff, New York Daily News, Oct. 7, 2016) Trump says he is about protecting American workers, yet, as reported, “At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work.” (“USA TODAY exclusive: Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills: among those who say billionaire didn’t pay: dishwashers, painter, waiters,“ By Steve Reilly, USATODAY, June 9, 2016).

    • A Captured American ISIS Fighter Could Undermine the Whole War

      An American citizen fighting for the so-called Islamic State is currently in the U.S. military’s custody. If Donald Trump decides to keep him there, it could spark a far-reaching legal challenge that could have a catastrophic effect on the entire war against ISIS, leading national security lawyers say.

      The unnamed American, whom the Pentagon says surrendered to U.S.-allied forces battling ISIS in Syria around Sept. 12, is currently held by the military as an enemy combatant. Multiple officials told The Daily Beast that the Trump administration has yet to decide whether that will be his long-term fate.

      Neither the Defense Department nor the Justice Department would comment Monday on active deliberations concerning whether the American will face criminal charges in the United States or remain a military detainee. “The disposition for any detainee is ultimately determined by what best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law,” said the Pentagon’s detentions spokesman, Maj. Ben Sakrisson.

    • US’ NSA Knew About India’s Secret Missile Projects: Edward Snowden’s Documents
    • US Knew About India’s Secret Missile Programmes in 2005: Leaked Documents
    • From Edward Snowden trove: US had data on Indian nuclear missiles in 2005
    • The Empire’s Hustle: Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn’t Include Anti-War

      Libertarian U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared from the Senate floor last week in anticipation of the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2018:

      “I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared and unconstitutional war…What we have today is basically unlimited war, anywhere, anytime, any place upon the globe.”

      With these words, Paul became one of the few voices to oppose the obscenity that is known as U.S. war policy. But only two other senators joined him: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). But there is a wrinkle here: Paul is not concerned with the size of the military budget. He’s pointing his finger at the continuation of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF) of 2001, which was the “legal” basis for the U.S. global “war on terror.” He wants Congress to re-assess this legislation that has prompted endless wars abroad.

      After Paul’s amendment to the NDAA was defeated, the Senate went on to approve it with a vote of 89-9 Monday in what the New York Times correctly identified as a bi-partisan effort, to authorize a military budget of $696 billion—an increase in the military budget of almost $75 billion and well over the $54 billion that Pres. Donald Trump had originally proposed.

    • Trump Uses UN Podium to threaten Nuclear Annihilation

      President Donald Trump raised the possibility of launching high-stakes US military operations in three corners of the world on Tuesday, at his first address to the United Nations General Assembly.

      The president targeted North Korea, Iran and Venezuela–which he termed as “rogue regimes,” from the UN podium, in a speech reminiscent of George W. Bush’s pre-Iraq War “Axis of Evil” State of the Union.

      Trump’s harshest rhetoric was reserved for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

      “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he said.

      Pyongyang has recently conducted intercontinental ballistic missile tests over Japan, including one last week. On September 3, the North Korean military also conducted a hydrogen bomb test. The United Nations Security Council responded by voting to impose harsh economic sanctions on North Korea.

      South Korean officials have reacted to the tests by outlining an “aggressive response,” if Pyongyang is preparing a “missile or nuclear” attack on Seoul.

      While the plan would target “North Korean leadership,” it makes no invocation of the sort of wholesale destruction promised by Trump on Tuesday. Last month, Trump responded to North Korean missile tests by promising “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

    • Rand Paul: Unconstitutional Saudi War in Yemen Is Not in Our Interest and Congress Should Vote

      Last week, on the Senate floor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) called out US participation in the Saudi war in Yemen.

    • Donald Trump Used the United Nations to Threaten a Massive Violation of International Law

      The United States has never cared much about international law. But most U.S. presidents had at least made an effort to pretend that they did. Based on President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly, this is yet another American tradition that he’s discarding.

      [...]

      To clarify the legal significance of Trump’s words, here’s a quick explanation of the rules that purportedly govern the U.S.’s use of force.

      The U.S. was one of the original 26 signatories to the U.N. Charter in June 1945. The U.S. Constitution states that “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” The U.N. Charter is a treaty, so it therefore is the “supreme law” of the U.S.

      Chapter I, Article 2 of the charter states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters

      Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.

    • At Harvard, Chelsea Manning Lost Her Fellowship. At Fordham, a Former CIA Torture Proponent Kept His.

      It took less than 48 hours for Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government to revoke its fellowship invitation to whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The announcement that Manning would be a visiting fellow at the school’s Institute of Politics had been met with resistance from current and former denizens of the national security state — a former CIA director resigned his position as a fellow, and President Donald Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo withdrew from a planned speech at the school.

      About 200 miles south of Cambridge, Massachusetts, an inverse but much quieter debate unfolded after a top CIA veteran was named to an elite university fellowship. This much, however, resembled the row at Harvard: The security state is poised to win out in this showdown, too.

      On September 4, former CIA Director John Brennan began a two-year stint as a “distinguished fellow for global security” at Fordham University’s Center on National Security at Fordham Law, in New York. Brennan, a 1977 Fordham graduate, will participate in discussions at the school, make himself available to students during office hours, and sit in on classes in advance of teaching his own in the future.

      Some in the Fordham community — including faculty and alumni who were involved in activism against awarding Brennan a 2012 honorary doctorate of humane letters from the school — believe naming the former top spy to a fellowship sends the wrong message, especially given Brennan’s record of support for controversial policies.

      “By making him a fellow, Fordham is clearly endorsing the human rights violations committed under Brennan by the CIA through illegal torture and missile strikes,” said Sapphira Lurie, who graduated from Fordham this year. “Brennan’s status as a public figure is a result of severe violations of human rights.” Lurie noted that the administration has, in the past, distanced itself from Brennan’s actions at the CIA, but questioned whether his record outside of the CIA merited accolades from the university: “Why else would they be giving him an honorary degree and a position as a fellow?”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • We’re building roads to withstand last century’s climate

      Does it make sense to build something that will almost certainly end up wrecked before its useful lifetime is over? In most contexts, the answer is clearly “no,” since doing so is a waste of money and resources. But lots of people seem to have a blind spot when it comes to planning ahead for climate change. North Carolina, for example, went through a protracted debate over whether it should allow people to build on sites that were likely to be under water. And the Trump administration recently cancelled rules that were intended to prevent infrastructure from being built where the ocean would rise to meet it.

    • “Potentially catastrophic” Hurricane Maria set to strike Puerto Rico

      Only one Category 5 hurricane has ever made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. That was the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane that crossed the island with sustained winds of 160mph and caused more than 300 deaths on the island. Later, that storm would become the second-deadliest hurricane in the history of the continental United States, with 2,500 deaths in Florida.

      Now, Hurricane Maria seems likely to become the second Category 5 to hit Puerto Rico. As of 5pm ET, the storm is intensifying, with 165mph sustained winds. Critically, the storm’s central pressure is also falling, and it is down to 916 millibars as of Tuesday evening. At that central pressure, Maria would rank among the 10 most-intense landfalling hurricanes in the Atlantic basin in the last 150 years.

      In response to the threat to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, warnings from the National Hurricane Center have become increasingly dire during the last 48 hours. In a Tuesday evening public advisory, forecasters warned of Maria’s “potentially catastrophic” winds, rainfall, and storm surge. They urged that final preparations be rushed to completion.

    • ‘Devastating’: Thousands Evacuate as Mexico Struck By Yet Another Massive Earthquake

      On the anniversary of the horrific 1985 earthquake that killed at least 5,000 people, Mexico City on Tuesday was rocked by yet another powerful quake that destroyed buildings and forced thousands to pour into the streets for safety.

      The U.S. Geological Survey placed the quake’s preliminary magnitude at 7.1, and local outlets are reporting that several people have been killed.

    • Trump’s Response to Climate-Related Disasters: Open America’s “Crown Jewels” to Oil Drilling

      You would have thought that after being battered by two devastating hurricanes in recent weeks, which experts believe were fuelled by warmer seas caused by climate change, even the most die-hard climate denier would think again.

      But you would be wrong.

      You would have thought that as the cost of rebuilding after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey mounts, with an estimated bill of $150 billion so far, that politicians would press to move away from a fossil fuel economy.

      But you would be wrong again. In fact the opposite is happening.

      Instead of pushing for clean technology and to end our oil addiction, the Trump Administration is quietly pushing to open up one of America’s great last wilderness areas, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to oil drilling.

    • Hurricane Maria hits Virgin Islands and bears down on Puerto Rico

      Hurricane Maria is edging towards Puerto Rico as the devastating storm continues its north-westerly path across the Caribbean.
      The eye wall of the storm has now reached the outlying island of Vieques, the US National Hurricane Center says.
      The category five hurricane earlier hit St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
      Dominica was badly hit on Monday night and aerial footage shows flattened houses. Details are scant as communications are down.
      The storm briefly weakened to a four but is now again packing top sustained winds of 280km/h (175mph).

    • Hurricane Maria – live updates: Category 4 storm hits Puerto Rico after battering British Virgin Islands and Dominica
    • Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico
    • Our hurricane-hit islands deserve aid. The rules that block it are wrong

      In a manner reminiscent of Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams, dark clouds of despair and destruction hover yet again over the Caribbean with the passage of Hurricane Maria.

      The most recent version of our recurring ecological nightmare included Hurricane Harvey followed by Hurricane Irma, the latter setting a new record of three consecutive days as a category 5 storm with maximum wind speeds of 185mph, and leaving a trail of devastation British foreign secretary Boris Johnson described as “absolutely hellish”.

      Maria’s full fury is yet to be revealed but social media posts from Dominica’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, and acting high commissioner for Dominica to the UK, Janet Charles, early on Tuesday morning described the destruction, the latter posting on Facebook: “Dominica has been brutalised by the hurricane. Please let the world know. We need help!” Communications with Dominica have since been lost.

    • Trump admin wants to allow seismic study of Alaska refuge for oil drilling

      The US Department of the Interior (DOI) is moving to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, which could reverse 30 years of conservation efforts in the far north of the 49th state. According to a document obtained by The Washington Post that was written in mid-August, the DOI requested that the US Fish and Wildlife Service update a 1980s provision to allow new seismic exploration in the Alaska refuge.

    • Fresh Hope Raised of Global Warming Limit

      Scientists in the UK have good news for the 195 nations that pledged to limit global warming to well below 2°C: it can be done. The ideal limit of no more than 1.5°C above the average temperatures for most of human history is possible.

      All it requires is an immediate reduction in the combustion of fossil fuels − a reduction that will continue for the next 40 years, until the world is driven only by renewable energy.

    • Koch Brothers Fuel the GOP’s War on Climate Science

      Now, in the wake of these two unprecedented storms, a third massive hurricane is bearing down on islands already reeling from Irma’s ferocity. Overnight, Hurricane Maria strengthened to a dangerous Category 3 hurricane, and is expected to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico as an even more dangerous Category 4 storm. Puerto Rico sustained serious damage from Irma but was spared the worst of the storm, and it is therefore harboring many who fled the devastation of neighboring islands, and those evacuees are now in harm’s way yet again.

      On The Real News, we have been speaking to leading climate scientists about the clear links between climate change and the ferocity of these storms. In one such interview, which we published on September 7, renowned climate scientist Michael Mann had this to say about the links between climate change and hurricane intensity.

    • Hurricane Maria knocks out power to island of Puerto Rico
    • Still a lethal Category 4 storm, Hurricane Maria pummeling Puerto Rico

      A ferocious Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico early Wednesday as the island girded for an entire day of vicious winds that are expected to devastate the nation.

      As of 5 a.m, the center of the storm was 50 miles southeast of San Juan – but winds overnight had already pummeled Puerto Rico, toppling trees and sparking flash-flood warnings in the nation’s capital.

      With sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, Maria weakened slightly, enough to make it a still-lethal Category 4 storm.

    • A Proterra electric bus just drove 1,100 miles on a single charge
    • Nikola Motor Company and Bosch team up on long-haul fuel cell truck
    • Setback for group seeking “hockey stick” climate scientists’ e-mails

      Those prone to rejecting the conclusions of climate science sometimes fixate on weird things. For years, there has been a concerted effort to prove that a specific paleoclimate record—often referred to as “the hockey stick” because of the sharp rise at the end—was somehow fraudulent. It doesn’t seem to matter that many other researchers have replicated and advanced those findings. These people seem to feel that all of climate science would come crashing down if you could just dig up a golden e-mail that reveals a dastardly scheme.

      The original record was partly the work of Michael E. Mann, now at Penn State, and he has been hounded ever since. There have been a number of attempts to get universities to turn over his e-mails over the years. But last year, an effort targeting one of Mann’s colleagues in Arizona seemed to have finally found success.

  • Finance
    • California Regulators Require Auto Insurers to Adjust Rates

      California regulators said they have required Nationwide and USAA to adjust their auto insurance rates as a result of a report by ProPublica and Consumer Reports that many minority neighborhoods were paying more than white areas with the same risk.

      The regulators said their review confirmed our finding that linked the pricing disparities to incorrect applications of a provision in California law. The statute allows insurers to cluster neighboring zip codes together into a single rating territory.

    • Can China help fix Venezuela?

      The Chinese government has said little about the dire situation in Venezuela, while few other outside actors – including nearby Latin American neighbours – have called attention to China’s role in it.

      This oversight is both puzzling and misguided, given China’s high-profile economic and diplomatic partnership with Venezuela. The lapse is rooted in China’s foreign policy principle of noninterference in other countries’ domestic politics, its own undemocratic political system, and its claims of fostering win-win relationships with other developing countries. All of these factors have combined to create a deafening silence regarding Beijing’s role in addressing what is, in the end, a crisis of democratic governance in Caracas.

      It is long past time to ask whether there is more that Beijing can and should do to help set Venezuela on a more sustainable path, both out of principle and China’s own practical national interest. Ultimately, China’s involvement in and response to Venezuela’s multilayered turmoil underscore a range of broader economic and diplomatic challenges that Beijing faces in its relations with other resource-rich, crisis-wracked developing countries around the world.

    • Facebook still booking most Australian revenue in Ireland, US

      Facebook has told a standing committee of the Australian Senate that it booked a vast majority of its Australian income for 2016 outside the country.

    • Uber Faces Widespread Asia Bribery Allegations Amid U.S. Criminal Probe

      Attorneys are focused on suspicious activity in at least five Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. For instance, Uber’s law firm is reviewing a web of financial arrangements tied to the Malaysian government that may have influenced lawmakers there, the people said.

    • Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

      This past June, Florida’s top education agency delivered a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy in suburban Jacksonville for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as the worst public school in Clay County, and one of the lowest performing in the state.

      Two-thirds of the academy’s students failed the state exams last year, and only a third of them were making any academic progress at all. The school had had four principals in three years, and teacher turnover was high, too.

      “My fourth grader was learning stuff that my second grader was learning — it shouldn’t be that way,” said Tanya Bullard, who moved her three daughters from the arts academy this past summer to a traditional public school. “The school has completely failed me and my children.”

    • This Year’s Poverty Data Look a Lot Different When You Break Them Down by Race

      Yesterday’s Census release of data on income, poverty, and health insurance demonstrated two things: There are policies that work for people who are struggling, and there is still a lot of work left to do—especially for people of color in America.

    • The real saboteurs are the Tory fantasists backing hard Brexit

      In a startling announcement, authorities in New York and New Jersey reported Monday that they had confiscated a whopping 122 kilograms (nearly 270 pounds) of opioids worth more than $30 million in a pair of recent busts. One of the seizures yielded 64 kilograms (more than 140 pounds) of the extremely potent fentanyl opioid. That batch alone is enough to provide lethal doses of opioids to 32 million people.

      “The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking. It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, said in a statement.

    • Condemned to Repeat It History as Rerun

      People on social media red with ire rage about the double-standard applied to both the left anti-fascist protestors, the antifa anarchists, and the white supremacist marchers. Numberless voices rant about how the police protected the free speech of the white supremacists, but actively cracked down on anti-fascists. Now the government is moving to label antifa groups as domestic terrorists while doing nothing to apply the same tag to violent fascist racists. Some fairly argue that antifa are not the same as the majority of anti-fascist protesters. The former are violent, the latter peaceful. But the violence of antifa will be used to brand the entire progressive left with the stigma of domestic terrorism. The right will largely be left alone.

      But this is nothing new. Capitalists and fascists have always had a symbiotic relationship. Before World War Two, historians blame insufficiently strident capitalist politicians like UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for “appeasing” the Nazis, as though they miscalculated the threat of fascism. What is forgotten is that they appeased the Nazis on purpose. Western capitalists rebuilt the German military and funded the rise of National Socialism after World War One. After all, the real threat to capitalism is communism, not fascism. As prolific and fearless author Michael Parenti writes, “fascism is nothing more than a final solution to the class struggle, the totalistic submergence and exploitation of democratic forces for the benefit and profit of higher financial circles.”

    • Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Trump-Republican Tax Plan
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Is Facilitating a Paid Informant Program Part of Journalism’s Job?

      The practice of encouraging people to provide incriminating information for money, however, raises questions. The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report last year that called into question the Drug Enforcement Agency’s use of paid informants, because “poor oversight” led to “an unacceptably increased potential for waste, fraud and abuse.” Lawyers and advocates against the drug war told the Washington Post (9/30/16) that “paying informants creates incentives to lie or fabricate evidence.”

      With those concerns being raised about a federal agency, which can be audited, what kind of protections or protocols do local, private nonprofits use when they dangle money in front of us in exchange for crime tips?

    • Francoist Clampdown in Catalonia

      I have received an email appeal from the Candidaturas de Unidad Popular in Barcelona to say that their party HQ is under siege by the Guardia Civil and that its leaders are resisting arrest.

      There is a peculiar reluctance in the British and other European mainstream media to state the truth about the very real Francoist origins of the Spanish government. The current government of Spain are the direct political heirs of Franco and that many of their ministers have personal and family connections to his rule. Rajoy, Spain’s current Prime Minister, started his political career in 1981 by joining the People’s Alliance, a party founded in 1979 and led by 7 of Franco’s ministers to carry on the Francoist legacy. The People’s Alliance became the major component in the now governing People’s Party. It is a directly Francoist party.

    • Forced Takeover of Catalan Government Institutions by Spanish Police

      I just got of the phone with Josep Maria Sole Sabaté, my friend and a leading Catalan historian and public intellectual. He was nothing short of breathless as he described the helicopters flying overhead stated flatly that he was in the the midst of a coup being carried out by the Spanish State.

      He wanted to get in touch with me and others “out there” because he was not sure how much longer free communication would be available to him and other out in the street protesting against he Spanish central government’s arrest of members of the Catalan Autonomous government.

    • How Netanyahu’s Son Became the Poster Boy for White Supremacists

      It depicts an Illuminati-like figure and a reptilian creature controlling the world through money and dark arts. Alongside them are a cabal of conspirators, their faces altered to show Netanyahu’s main opponents. They include George Soros, a Holocaust survivor who has invested billions in pro-democracy movements, and Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister turned government critic.

      This is not Yair’s first troubling outburst. Last month he emulated US President Donald Trump in decrying demonstrators who opposed a rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left a woman dead.

    • John Kelly Is All Of Us
    • Resisting Trumpism

      New studies show that fascism and populism in government were successful when relied on their ability to keep support by mixing coercion and demagoguery. But they also succeed when the opposition was divided and the population became apathetic and politically disengaged. Trump fomented such divisions after Charlottesville by distributing blame for violence between the Nazis and the “Antifa” movement, and was echoed by others who sought to depict anti-fascism as just another form of totalitarianism. These politicised reactions are not surprising, but they present a genuine challenge: to what extent successful resistance to these governments requires coalitions of political parties, labour movements, and other mass organisations.

    • At U.N., Trump Hides Behind ‘Sovereignty’ to Shield His Administration From Scrutiny

      Trump mentioned “sovereignty” 21 times at the UN today. Here’s what he was getting at.

      This morning, in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump deployed a transparent and familiar tactic to justify a shameful record: an appeal to national sovereignty over human rights.

      In his address, Trump mentioned “sovereignty” 21 times. That’s in contrast to a single reference to “human rights.” The United Nations, he stated, “was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security and promote their prosperity.” That may be, but it’s far from the full picture.

      The U.N., and other international institutions that the United States helped build after the horrors of World War II, recognized that without justice and fundamental human rights, there can be no peace or security. As a result, the 1945 charter of the United Nations is actually more rigorous in its requirements that “human rights and fundamental freedoms” be protected and defended than it is in its defense of national sovereignty. Indeed, it explicitly assigned to the General Assembly the responsibility of “assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights set out those rights in clear terms just a few years later.

    • Media’s Instinct to Rehabilitate the Powerful Has Not Changed Under Trump

      When Stephen Colbert introduced a surprise guest at the end of his Emmys opening monologue on Sunday night, the audience didn’t seem to expect to see former Trump administration press secretary Sean Spicer. The Late Night host shocked most of the crowd—Veep actress Anna Chlumsky was particularly amazed—with the selection of one of comedy’s favorite targets of the last year.

    • On Anthony Barnett’s ‘Lure of Greatness’

      In the era of Brexit and Trump, if another world is possible, what should it look like? Jeremy Fox finds much to praise in Barnett’s timely new study – but also interrogates the book’s interpretations of nationalism and neoliberalism.

    • How to read Donald Trump

      The organizers of the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville last month knew just what they were doing when they decided to carry torches on their nocturnal march to protest the dethroning of a statue of Robert E. Lee. That brandishing of fire in the night was meant to evoke memories of terror, of past parades of hate and aggression by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Adolf Hitler’s Freikorps in Germany.

      The organizers wanted to issue a warning to those watching: that past violence, perpetrated in defense of the “blood and soil” of the white race, would once again be harnessed and deployed in Donald Trump’s America. Indeed, the very next day, that fatal August 12th, those nationalist fanatics unleashed an orgy of brutality that led to the deaths of three people and the injuring of many more.

      Millions around America and the world were horrified and revolted by that parade of torches. In my case, however, they also brought to mind deeply personal memories of other fires that had burned darkly so many decades before, far from the United States or Nazi Europe. As I watched footage of that rally, I couldn’t help remembering the bonfires that lit up my own country, Chile, in the aftermath of General Augusto Pinochet’s September 11th coup in 1973 – that “first 9/11,” which, with the active support of Washington and the CIA, had overthrown the popularly elected government of Salvador Allende.

      We faced the task of finding the words for, the look of, a new reality.

    • Being anti-Trump won’t win in 2020. What will?

      Anti-Trumpers harbour grief and anger about their defeat – this they couple with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Trump’s sins. But Democrats have provided no clear idea of how to move forward.

    • Germany’s right-wing AfD Party poised for major gains on election day

      A little over a year ago, few people gave Germany’s controversial, right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party any chance of making a dent in German national elections. In recent months, the party suffered through several embarrassing internal spats and saw its polling numbers sink amid growing support for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

      But AfD is now poised to become Germany’s third largest political party after Sunday’s elections. Opinion polls show the AfD scoring as much as 12 percent of the vote on Election Day, allowing it to send dozens of lawmakers to national Parliament – or Bundestag – and potentially disrupting German politics.

      If the predictions hold, it will be the first time since the end of World War II that a far-right party has attracted enough votes to enter Germany’s Parliament. And the strong showing means the AfD will be the biggest opposition party if Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) continues its governing coalition with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

    • Unwanted ads on Breitbart lead to massive click fraud revelations, Uber claims

      Uber has sued an advertising firm, Fetch Media, over allegations that the British firm and its Japanese parent company, Dentsu, fraudulently billed Uber tens of millions of dollars for various fake online ads.

      According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday afternoon in federal court in San Francisco, Uber first realized that something was wrong when, earlier this year, the company began receiving complaints that its ads were appearing on Breitbart, a well-known conservative news website. Uber had specifically requested that its ads not appear on Breitbart at all.

      However, when Uber looked into the matter, “the publisher-reported name of the websites and mobile applications where Uber advertisements supposedly appeared did not match the actual URL accessed. For example, one publisher retained by Fetch reported clicks on Uber ads as coming from placements such as ‘Magic_Puzzles’ and ‘Snooker_Champion.’”

    • They said Melania Trump was the face of success. She made them take down billboards with her face.
    • Spanish police storm Catalan government buildings to stop independence referendum
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Senators hear emotional testimony on controversial sex-trafficking bill

      The legislation would alter Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects web publishers from being sued for content posted by third parties on their sites.

    • Is There A Single Online Service Not Put At Risk By SESTA?

      Earlier today, I wrote up a list of the many problems with SESTA and how it will be abused. Over and over again, we’ve seen defenders of the bill — almost none of whom have much, if any, experience in managing services on the internet — insist that the bill is “narrowly targeted” and wouldn’t create any problems at all for smaller internet services. However, with the way the bill is worded, that seems unlikely. As stated in the last post, by opening up sites to facing both lawsuits from state Attorneys General and civil lawsuits, SESTA puts almost any site that offers services to the public at risk. The problematic language in the bill is that this is the “standard” for liability…

    • Senator Blumenthal Happy That SESTA Will Kill Small Internet Companies

      So, earlier today the Senate Commerce Committee held a two and a half hour hearing about SESTA — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017. The panelists were evenly split, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Yiota Souras from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children being in support of the bill, and Professor Eric Goldman and Abigail Slater from the Internet Association worrying about the impacts of SESTA (notably, both highlighted that they’re not against all changes to CDA 230, they just want to be quite careful and are worried about the language in this bill). I was actually somewhat surprised that the hearing wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There certainly was some grandstanding, and some insistence that because SESTA says it will go after sex trafficking, it obviously will — but many Senators did seem willing to listen to concerns about the bill and how it’s written. Much attention was paid to the sketchy “knowledge” standard in the bill, which we wrote about this morning. And that’s good — but there was a fair bit of nonsense spewed as well.

    • Russian Sketch-Comedy Caved to State Censorship, Says Former Writer

      A former editor and actor in Russia’s leading humor television show revealed in a Sept. 11 Youtube interview that the show’s content passes through several rounds of censors before being broadcasted.

      Since it first aired in the Soviet Union, the KVN comedy game show has been broadcast on state-run Channel 1, Russia’s most popular TV network, whose shares are divided between the Russian government and businessmen loyal to the Kremlin.

      In an interview on the Youtube channel Wanna Banana, award-winning comedian Dmitry Kolchin described numerous instances when the show’s content was cut or filtered by Channel One editors.

    • Author of key Internet freedom law opposes new sex trafficking bill

      The United States Senate is moving toward passage of a bill that would—for the first time—water down a landmark 1996 law that shields website operators from lawsuits and state prosecution for user-generated content. And one of the authors of that 1996 law, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), argued Tuesday that this would be a mistake.

      The Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act now has 28 co-sponsors, and the breadth of that support was evident at a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. The legislation would allow state attorneys general to prosecute websites that are used to promote sex trafficking—something that’s currently barred by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It would also allow private lawsuits against sites that host sex trafficking ads.

    • Censorship, social media and Saudi Arabia

      Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms in Middle Eastern countries, especially in Saudi Arabia with more than seven million users a day.

      However, they are not being allowed to see the Al Jazeera Discover Publisher Channel on Snapchat.

      It is blocked by Snapchat because the Saudi government said the channel’s content violates the cybercrime laws.

      It is the latest measure announced by Saudi leaders after they cut diplomatic ties with Qatar n June 5 and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on it along with few neighbouring states.

    • Saudi Arabia To Unblock Internet Calling Applications
    • ORG response to calls for automated takedowns of online extremist content

      “Internet companies have a role to play in removing illegal content from their platforms but we need to recognise the limitations of relying on automated takedowns. Mistakes will inevitably be made – by removing the wrong content and by missing extremist material.

      “Given the global reach of these companies, automated takedowns will have a wide-reaching effect on the content we see, although not necessarily on the spread of extremist ideas as terrorists will switch to using other platforms.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Government Drops Facebook Search Warrant Gag Order At Eleventh Hour

      Details from the case are limited, but the warrant appears to target protesters arrested during Trump’s inauguration. Nearly eight months after having the gag orders challenged, the government has decided to let Facebook inform users affected by the government’s demand for 90 days of Facebook activity from three accounts. But there’s no victory here for Facebook, because it appears the government is merely seeking to avoid losing the case and having gag order-unfriendly precedent established in a district where it does a whole lot of secretive work.

    • The NSA’s Weird Interest In File Sharing Programs

      Another large Snowden document dump from The Intercept uncovers many more off-brand uses of NSA surveillance tools. The pile of documents come from the NSA’s “SID (Signals Intelligence Directorate) Today” files, of which there are apparently thousands of available pages. The documents released late last week show that if it happened online, the NSA was looking at it.

    • Over 40,000 mobile phone ID users in Portugal

      Portugal’s Chave Móvel Digital (Digital Mobile Key) is now used by more than 40,000 citizens, reports the Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA). This authentication method for eGovernment services, combining a PIN code and a one-time security number sent by SMS or email, was introduced by AMA in 2014.

    • CYBERCOM and NSA leadership needs to evolve and that may mean a leadership split

      President Donald Trump already announced that U.S. Cyber Command will split off from the National Security Agency and become a full-fledged combatant command, but the matter of leadership is still to be determined.

    • What Cybercom’s independence means
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Middlebury College Policy Rewards Censorship And Makes Violent Threats Effective [Ed: GOP-aligned media continues to malign education, usually under the "college" flag]
    • Women who had relationships with police spies criticise inquiry

      Women who were deceived into sexual relationships with undercover police officers have called for an urgent meeting with the home secretary over fears the official public inquiry lacks openness and fails to recognise claims of institutional sexism within the Metropolitan police.

      In an open letter to Amber Rudd, 13 women who had relationships with men they did not know were undercover officers criticise delays and raise concerns over the suitability of the new chair of the undercover policing inquiry, Sir John Mitting QC.

    • No easy answers for ending forced labour in India

      The current targets and indicators proposed by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation as of 8 March 2017 for the realisation of SDG 8.7 are wholly inadequate. In particular, the implementation of laws should be monitored (as indicators) rather than the mere ratification of international conventions or adoption of laws. Similarly, alongside measuring the number of prosecutions of traffickers, it is essential to monitor or report on the budgetary allocation and expenditure on assistance to exploited people (bonded labourers, trafficked persons, etc.). In order to draw up an appropriate baseline, the government of India is urged to take advantage of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018 to set out relevant data about the way in which Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being respected in India.

    • Let Jeffrey Sterling Go

      Risen’s book was published soon after Sterling filed a racial discrimination suit against the CIA, arguing that he was denied an overseas assignment because, as his supervisor told him at the time, he would attract attention “as a big black guy speaking Farsi.” Sterling’s suit was dismissed on national security grounds (“We’d love to defend ourselves, but to do that we’d have to release classified information”) by the hanging judge who would later oversee Sterling’s conviction and send him to prison.

      After the book was published, the CIA argued that Sterling was Risen’s source, claiming that Sterling was seeking revenge against the Agency for having his suit dismissed. Prosecutors pointed to metadata indicating that Sterling and Risen had had a handful of phone conversations over the course of 18 months, and that Sterling was probably giving Risen classified information. That’s it. No proof. There were no recordings, no emails, no witnesses, no in-person meetings, no nothing. Just the CIA telling Sterling’s jury, “Take our word for it.”

      Sterling left for prison at Colorado’s FCI Englewood in mid-2015. The BOP has a regulation that prisoners will be assigned to prisons within 500 miles of their homes. It’s supposed to be an effort to keep families intact. But Sterling was sent to a prison nearly 900 miles from home. The BOP said – again, disingenuously – that it was a bed space issue.

      The BOP set out from the very beginning of Sterling’s sentence to make it as difficult as possible. A year ago, Sterling suffered a heart attack in prison that went undiagnosed and then untreated until activists petitioned Colorado Democratic senator Michael Bennett to inquire about his health. Sterling was denied medication until further activism forced some action. In April, he was sent to solitary confinement for several days for “standing too closely” to a corrections officer, an unprovoked outrage that was later dismissed by more senior prison officials.

    • Keith Tharpe’s Scheduled Execution Tests Our Nation’s Tolerance for the Death Penalty’s Racial Bias

      Only a unanimous jury can convict and impose a death sentence in Georgia, and the law has long recognized that misconduct by a single juror requires reversal. The juror’s stunning admission of racially biased views, including his view of the defendant, should have led to a hearing and a new trial. Instead, Tharpe faces possible execution next Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

      In what threatens to be a grave miscarriage of justice, no court has ever considered the testimony about this misconduct. The federal courts must act now under the law’s constitutional promise of equality and fairness and reopen his case so that his claim of racial bias can finally be heard.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • T-Mobile’s unlimited plan will soon let you use 50GB before slowdowns

      T-Mobile USA will soon let subscribers to its unlimited data plans use at least 50GB of data each month before risking slowdowns in congested areas.

      All four major nationwide carriers slow down their heaviest data users when they connect to congested cell towers. But while Verizon Wireless and AT&T set the potential throttle point at 22GB, and Sprint at 23GB, T-Mobile is already letting customers use at least 32GB a month before risking slowdowns.

    • Sign the open letter: European businesses concerned about US changes to net neutrality

      Josh from Fight for the Future writes, “The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is threatening to rollback its net neutrality protections, which help make the Internet a place of equal opportunity and international innovation.”

      “If these rules are repealed, major US Internet service providers will become gatekeepers of the country’s digital economy, and will be in a position to harm or destroy global businesses. For example, US ISPs would gain powers to block your sites and apps, or force your businesses to pay expensive “prioritization” fees just to reach customers online.

    • Stand Up for Net Neutrality: Help Paperstorm the FCC

      Ajit Pai, current Chairman of the FCC, put it bluntly: “We need to fire up the weed whacker” and remove rules like net neutrality, he said recently.

      To keep net neutrality (and a healthy internet) intact, Mozilla is deploying Paperstorm, our activism website developed alongside design studio Moniker.

  • DRM
    • HP Brings Back Obnoxious DRM That Cripples Competing Printer Cartridges

      Around a year ago, HP was roundly and justly ridiculed for launching a DRM time bomb — or a software update designed specifically to disable competing printer cartridges starting on a set date. As a result, HP Printer owners using third-party cartridges woke up one day to warnings about a “cartridge problem,” or errors stating, “one or more cartridges are missing or damaged,” or that the user was using an “older generation cartridge.” The EFF was quick to lambast the practice in a letter to HP, noting that HP abused its security update mechanism to trick its customers and actively erode product functionality.

      HP only made matters worse for itself by claiming at the time that it was only looking out for the safety and security of its customers, while patting itself on the back for being pro-active about addressing a problem it caused — only after a massive consumer backlash occurred.

    • EFF quits W3C over decision to accept EME as Web standard

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has resigned from the World Wide Web Consortium after the latter announced it was accepting the published Encrypted Media Extensions as a Web standard.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Court Allows San Diego Comic-Con’s Suit Against The Salt Lake City Comic Con To Move Forward

        A few months ago, we alerted our readers that a trademark dispute between the San Diego Comic-Con and a company producing a Salt Lake City Comic Con, originally filed in 2014, was still going on. In fact, the district court hearing the case just recently ruled on several motions from both parties, including motions for judicial notice (essentially having the court affirm basic facts about the case), motions to exclude expert testimony, and motions for summary judgement. On the face of it, the news is mostly bad for the Salt Lake City convention, with nearly every ruling coming down against it. However, digging into the ruling itself, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

        As for the bad news, it seems to be mostly of the Salt Lake City Comic Con’s own making, or the making of its legal team. The court points out that the defendant’s lawyers motion and defenses are all over the place, in some places arguing for generecide — or that “comic con” has become a generic term — while in others arguing that “comic con” is generic ab initio — or that the term was generic even prior to San Diego Comic-Con’s initial use of it. It’s an important distinction for a couple of reasons, including that the defenses SLC has stated it will make revolve around genericide, yet much of the evidence in the motions in this ruling revolve around generic ab initio and, more importantly, the 9th Circuit doesn’t have any precedent or acknowledgement of generic ad initio as a matter of law, and this district court is governed by 9th Circuit precedent.

    • Copyrights
      • Pepe the Frog’s Creator Goes Legally Nuclear Against the Alt-Right

        Update: Several people who received legal threats from Matt Furie say they will fight back. Read our update—The Great Meme War II: Amid Lawsuit Threats, the Alt-Right Says Pepe Belongs to Them.

        Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has made good on his threat to “aggressively enforce his intellectual property.”

        The artist’s lawyers have taken legal action against the alt-right. They have served cease and desist orders to several alt-right personalities and websites including Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the r/the_Donald subreddit. In addition, they have issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests to Reddit and Amazon, notifying them that use of Pepe by the alt-right on their platforms is copyright infringement. The message is to the alt-right is clear—stop using Pepe the Frog or prepare for legal consequences.

      • Man who made “Pepe” wants his frog back, and he’ll use copyright to get it

        Matt Furie created the cartoon character Pepe the Frog in 2005 as a kind of peaceful stoner animal for his comic “Boys Club.” By 2008, the frog had become a meme at 4chan. In the 2016 election cycle, though, Pepe became something completely different—an ever-meme of the alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League characterizes Pepe as a hate symbol and has catalogued some of the most viciously racist and anti-semitic examples.

        Now Furie wants his comic frog back. After years of letting it slide, Furie has lawyered up and sent demand letters to several alt-right personalities, including white supremacist Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the subreddit “The_Donald.”

      • Publishers’ Legal Action Advances Against Sci-Hub

        On Friday (September 22), a hearing for ACS’s case against Sci-Hub will take place at a federal trial court in Virginia. The society filed a default judgement request on September 1, asking the court to order the site to cease illegal distribution of its material and pay $4.8 million in damages.

      • Stream Ripping Piracy Goes From Bad to Worse, Music Industry Reports

        New data not only reveals that stream ripping remains the music industry’s main piracy threat, but it’s growing too. IFPI’s latest music consumer insight report shows that more than a third of all Internet subscribers use stream rippers to access unlicensed music.

When Google Used Alex Converse to Raid the Public Domain With Software Patents

Wednesday 20th of September 2017 05:34:41 PM

Summary: In its overzealous pursuit of software patents, Google is now turning public domain methods into private ‘property’ (in defiance of critics)

Google lost its way; it lost its way on patents too. Google is not only pursuing software patents but it is also trying to privatise the public domain. As we had covered this twice already [1, 2] we decided to explore where things stand.

It turns out that the person who first brought up the subject is currently pursuing ways to “find legal help for defending ANS coding,” according to him.

“Google is not only pursuing software patents but it is also trying to privatise the public domain.”“I have seen your Techrights article mentioning my ANS Goolge patent situation,” he told us. “There is also another ongoing patent attempt which is nearly granted by USPTO (second Notice of Allowance), also for basic obvious possibility.

“This defense requires a serious legal help, I have no chance to afford. I have tried asking EFF and EFFE, but there was nearly no response (I wouldn’t be surprised if they were supported by Google, like in the Barry Lynn sandal).”

We have decided that the least we can do is raise this subject again (mention it publicly) and name the culprit/s in hope that bad PR alone would discourage him/them from proceeding. Failing that, we shall escalate with patent offices or whatnot.

“We have decided that the least we can do is raise this subject again (mention it publicly) and name the culprit/s in hope that bad PR alone would discourage him/them from proceeding.”It was all over the media in Poland, we have been told, but as usual, “Google does not comment.”

I have this experience too.

As it turned out, the so-called ‘inventor’ has fled Google. His name is Alex Converse and people have already noticed that he left. From a comment:

According to his LinkedIn profile he is no longer with Google https://www.linkedin.com/in/al… [linkedin.com]

And another right after that:

The engineer may no longer work for Google, but it is Google that is paying and pushing forward said patent. This shows Google patent team acting out with scum-like behaviour.

If higher levels of management are aware of what is going on and they choose not to drop this from patent submission, then they too are likely showing scum-like behaviour

“If Google would admit the mistake,” told us the complainer, “it should be accompanied with some declaration of reparation, emphasizing pathology of software patents and need to fight it…

“Prior art or not, public domain or not, this is a software patent that must never be granted.”“While it seems there is no hurry with Google, the first attempt got second “Notice of Allowance” a month ago. It covers ANS with the most basic statistical modeling (Markov) — what was mentioned in my paper, and much earlier there was other implementation, now it is widely used in CRAM DNA compressor.”

As is typical/usual, when one lives in a country not so wealthy, challenging a company like Google in or outside the patent system is far too expensive. It means that, unless there’s public scrutiny, those with deeper pockets will get their way.

We shall keep an eye on this and find out if Google (or Mr. Converse) is still willing to go further with this. Prior art or not, public domain or not, this is a software patent that must never be granted.

Mark Kokes, the Man Behind BlackBerry’s Patent Aggression, Leaves the Company

Wednesday 20th of September 2017 04:46:37 PM

He’ll be biking his scooter somewhere else

Summary: The man behind the patent troll-like behaviour of BlackBerry is leaving

DURING the weekend we wrote about BlackBerry becoming more like a patent troll. It was far from the first time we dabbled in this subject; we had been covering that for years.

BlackBerry’s patent deal was still in the news on Monday, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This non-story (press release) simply refused to die.

But then, the following day, IAM said that the man behind this strategy was leaving. To quote:

Mark Kokes has left BlackBerry and is no longer its senior vice president of intellectual property, licensing & standards, IAM has learned. In a sudden move, Kokes departed in mid-August and is not thought to have taken another position. For its part, BlackBerry does not seem to have appointed a direct replacement. In a recent press release announcing that Timex had entered into a patent-based agreement with the company, reaction from BlackBerry came from senior director of intellectual property licensing, Jerald Gnuschke.

Kokes is the third big name corporate IP departure in the space of just a month, following Allen Lo’s move from Google to Facebook and Brian Hinman’s decision to leave Philips.

A non-lawyer with an engineering background, as well as the holder of six granted patents, Kokes joined BlackBerry in June 2014 from InterTrust. After a year spent largely on strategic planning and internal reorganisation, including building a transactions team from scratch, he made his first big splash in June 2015, when BlackBerry announced a royalty-bearing licence deal with Cisco. Others with Canon and International Game Technology followed soon afterwards, as did the company’s first forays into the courts – with a suit launched against Avaya in Texas in July 2016, followed by others against the likes of Nokia and BLU. On the sales side, meanwhile, patents were transferred to Centerbridge Partners and Chinese mobile company Oppo, among others.

Might BlackBerry be wise enough to change strategy after the departure of Kokes? We certainly hope so.

WordPress Demonstrates That Facebook’s Patent Strategy is Deterring/Alienating Developers

Wednesday 20th of September 2017 04:27:21 PM

“Yeah, I’m going to fuck them in the ear”

–Mark Zuckerberg, President and Founder of Facebook (source)

Summary: React is being dumped following Facebook’s attempt to restrict distribution/derivatives using software patents

HAVING spent years covering Facebook’s patent strategy, we recently came to see its troubling licensing issue resurfacing again in the media (it’s actually fairly old news, but Apache’s intervention brought that back from the dead). There’s a lot more about it in our daily links; we considered that mostly a software issue rather than a patents issue.

This week, however, things got a little ‘hotter’ for Facebook because one of the main project that disseminated React said that it would cease doing that. In a sense, Facebook is killing its own projects/products with software patents. The subject was covered not only by WordPress and its founder but also by technical media yesterday and the day before that.

As US media put it:

Facebook is in the middle of a fraught battle. No, it’s not over the pernicious tide of fake news surging onto our newsfeeds, nor is it about privacy issues on the platform. Rather, it pertains to how the social media giant deals with the open source community, the code it releases to the world, and one cool piece of software called React.

Put simply, React is a JavaScript library that makes it easier for developers to write sophisticated front-ends. It was built by an engineer at Facebook, and in 2013, Facebook released it to the developer community under an open-source license. This isn’t unusual; tech companies release open source software all the time.

Facebook used a license derived from the popular BSD license, which is used by other popular open source projects. But here’s the problem: Facebook also threw in a few other clauses, which many developers and companies are finding to be problematic.

British media put it like this:

Automattic, the developer of the popular content management system WordPress, has decided to stop using Facebook’s React.js library, citing legal concerns.

WordPress’ founding developer Matt Mullenweg explains the decision by noting that Automattic has used React since 2015, when it put the code to work in the “Calypso” update that emerged in 2016. At the time, WordPress’ legal people felt there was no problem with React and developers liked it so much they planned to use it again in another big update called Gutenberg.

[...]

“Automattic still has no issue with the patents clause,” he writes, “but the long-term consistency with core is worth more than a short-term hit to Automattic’s business from a rewrite. Core WordPress updates go out to over a quarter of all websites, having them all inherit the patents clause isn’t something I’m comfortable with.”

A Microsoft propaganda site, as one might expect, blames “Open Source”, but actually it’s the fault of software patents (not “Open Source Licensing”). David Ramel’s spin does not merit much attention.

Facebook will find out the hard way that the community has little or no tolerance for these patent traps. Software developers loathe software patents.

More in Tux Machines

Laptops: Chrome OS and System76

  • Chrome OS Gets Material Design for "Do Not Disturb," Android-Like Screenshots
    Chromium evangelist François Beaufort is sharing today information on a new Material Design refresh for Google's Chrome OS' "Do Not Disturb" mode, which landed in the latest Chrome Canary channel. According to the developer, the Material Design refresh for the "Do Not Disturb" mode will make the Notification Center look nicer, but also consistent with the Android user experience. Those using the Chrome Canary experimental channel can give it a try right now.
  • System76 'Lemur' and 'Galago Pro' Ubuntu Linux laptops get 8th gen Intel Core CPUs
    The famed Linux-laptop seller also says, "The Lemur you know and love is now even better with the Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake CPU with 4 cores and 8 threads, allowing you to multitask up to 40-percent faster. The slim, 3.6 lb laptop with impressive 14.1-inch 1080p IPS display is still your perfect travel companion; easy to carry from meeting to meeting or across campus." New processors aside, these laptops should be pretty much identical to prior generations -- which is a very good thing. If you want to configure a Lemur with a Coffee Lake chip, you can build your own here. A Galago Pro with an 8th Gen Intel Core processor can be configured here.

Events: Open Source Summit Europe, LibrePlanet 2018

Licences: Eclipse Public Licence 2.0, GPL Copyright Troll, Fiduciary License Agreement 2.0

  • Eclipse Public License version 2.0 added to license list
    We recently updated our list of various licenses and comments about them to include the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 (EPL). In terms of GPL compatibility, the Eclipse Public License version 2.0 is essentially equivalent to version 1.0. The only change is that it explicitly offers the option of designating the GNU GPL version 2 or later as a "secondary license" for a certain piece of code.
  • Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll
    Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman and several other senior Linux figures have published a “Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement” to be included in future Linux documentation, in order to ensure contributions to the kernel don't fall foul of copyright claims that have already seen a single developer win "at least a few million Euros.” In a post released on Monday, October 16th, Kroah-Hartman explained the Statement's needed because not everyone who contributes to the kernel understands the obligations the GNU Public Licence 2.0 (GPL 2.0), and the licence has “ambiguities … that no one in our community has ever considered part of compliance.”
  • Fiduciary License Agreement 2.0
    After many years of working on it, it is with immense pleasure to see the FLA-2.0 – the full rewrite of the Fiduciary License Agreement – officially launch.

Security: Let’s Encrypt, Updates, Google, DHS, Adobe