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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 41 min ago

Links 12/11/2018: Linux 4.20 RC2, Denuvo DRM Defeated Again

8 hours 39 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Behind the scenes with Linux containers

    Can you have Linux containers without Docker? Without OpenShift? Without Kubernetes?

    Yes, you can. Years before Docker made containers a household term (if you live in a data center, that is), the LXC project developed the concept of running a kind of virtual operating system, sharing the same kernel, but contained within defined groups of processes.

    Docker built on LXC, and today there are plenty of platforms that leverage the work of LXC both directly and indirectly. Most of these platforms make creating and maintaining containers sublimely simple, and for large deployments, it makes sense to use such specialized services. However, not everyone’s managing a large deployment or has access to big services to learn about containerization. The good news is that you can create, use, and learn containers with nothing more than a PC running Linux and this article. This article will help you understand containers by looking at LXC, how it works, why it works, and how to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.

  • Desktop
    • Samsung’s Linux on DeX app enters private beta

      In context: Almost exactly one year ago, Samsung announced it was working on an app called Linux on DeX (DeX is that gimmicky app/dock combo that got mediocre reviews). This was supposed to allow users to run Linux distros on their phone, which would seem to create a more PC-like experience — at least in theory.

      It looks as if Linux on DeX is almost ready. On Friday Samsung launched the private beta for the app. If you signed up for alerts when it was announced last year, you should have already received an email to allow you to register for the beta.

  • Server
    • How Will the $34B IBM Acquisition Affect Red Hat Users?

      Red Hat users looking to maintain hybrid cloud or multi-cloud deployments because they can’t go “all in” on the cloud will benefit from IBM’s $34 billion acquisition of the enterprise open source solutions provider, Nintex chief evangelist Ryan Duguid told CMSWire.

      Duguid and others offer more thoughts how the largest software acquisition to date will have on Red Hat users.

  • Kernel Space
    • EXT4 Getting Many Fixes In Linux 4.20, Including For Some Really Old Leaks

      Last month I reported on a number of fixes for really old bugs in the EXT4 code with some of the issues dating back to the Linux 2.6 days in the EXT3 file-system code that was carried over to the EXT4 driver. Those fixes are now working their way into the Linux 4.20 stable kernel.

      Ted Ts’o sent out a fixes pull request today containing 18 patches. Sixteen of those patches are from Vasily Averin who was nailing these really old bugs/leaks. Of them, Ted noted, “A large number of ext4 bug fixes, mostly buffer and memory leaks on error return cleanup paths.”

    • Apple’s new bootloader won’t let you install GNU/Linux

      Locking bootloaders with trusted computing is an important step towards protecting users from some of the most devastating malware attacks: by allowing the user to verify their computing environment, trusted computing can prevent compromises to operating systems and other low-level parts of their computer’s operating environment.

      But as with every security measure, there’s a difference between “secure for the user” and “secure against the user.” Bootloader protection that doesn’t allow an owner to decide which signatures they trust is security against the user: security that prevents the user from overriding the manufacturer, and so allows the manufacturer to lock the user in.

      Apple’s latest bootloader protection, the controversial T2 chip, is a good example of this. The chip comes with a user-inaccessible root of trust that allows for the installation of Apple and Microsoft operating systems, but not GNU/Linux and other open and free alternatives.

    • Linux 4.20-rc2

      Fairly normal week, aside from me traveling.

      Shortlog appended, but it all looks fine: about half drivers, wih the
      rest being the usual architecture updates, tooling, networking, and
      some filesystem updates.

    • Linux 4.20-rc2 Released With EXT4 Bug Fixes, New NVIDIA Turing USB-C Driver
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 122 – What will Apple’s T2 chip mean for the rest of us?

      Josh and Kurt talk about Apple’s new T2 security chip. It’s not open source but we expect it to change the security landscape in the coming years.

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMDGPU DRM-Next Driver Picks Up Support For Vega 20 “A1″ Stepping

        Among the work queuing in the AMDGPU DRM-Next branch for what will in turn appear with the next kernel cycle (Linux 4.21) is support for Vega 20 A1 ASICs.

        The current Linux 4.20 cycle appears to have good support for Vega 20 GPUs at least from our tracking without having any access to the GPUs for now, but it looks like the production graphics cards will be on a new “A1″ stepping rather than A0 that was used for the bring-up of this first 7nm Vega GPU.

      • Gallium D3D9 “Nine” Support Gets New Patches To Help Fight Lag Without Tearing

        While most Linux gamers these days are mesmerized by DXVK for mapping Direct3D 10/11 to Vulkan for better handling Windows games on Linux, for those with older Direct3D 9 era games there is still the Gallium Nine initiative for D3D9 implemented as a Mesa Gallium state tracker. A new patch series posted this weekend will make that Gallium Nine experience even better.

        Axel Davy who has been the lead developer on the Gallium D3D9 state tracker posted a set of two patches that allow the thread_submit=true option to be used with tearfree_discard=true option.

      • SteamOS/Linux Requirements For Valve’s Artifact Is Just A Vulkan Intel/AMD/NVIDIA GPU

        With just two weeks to go until Valve unleashes their latest original game, Artifact, it’s now up for pre-order and there are also the system requirements published.

        This cross-platform online trading card game is available to pre-order for $19.99 USD. As known for a while, there is day-one Linux support alongside Windows and macOS.

      • Intel “Iris” Gallium3D Continues Advancing As The Next-Gen Intel Linux OpenGL Driver

        While we haven’t had much to talk about the Intel “Iris” Gallium3D driver in development as the future Mesa OpenGL driver for the company’s graphics hardware, it has continued progressing nicely since its formal unveiling back in September.

        Iris Gallium3D driver is the new Intel Open-Source Technology Center project we discovered back in the summer as an effort to overhaul their open-source OpenGL driver support and one day will likely replace their mature “i965″ classic Mesa driver.

    • POWER9
      • The Performance Impact Of Spectre Mitigation On POWER9

        Over the past year we have looked extensively at the performance impact of Spectre mitigations on x86_64 CPUs but now with having the Raptor Talos II in our labs, here are some benchmarks to see the performance impact of IBM’s varying levels of Spectre mitigation for POWER9.

        By default, Raptor Computing Systems ships their system in the safest mode of providing full kernel and user-space protection against Spectre Variant Two. But by editing a file from the OpenBMC environment it’s possible to control the Spectre protections on their libre hardware. Besides the full/user protection against Spectre there is also kernel-only protection that is more akin to the protection found on x86_64 CPUs. Additionally, there is the ability to completely disable the protection for yielding the greatest performance (or what would be considered standard pre-2018) but leaving your hardware vulnerable to Spectre. More details on controlling the Spectre protections on Talos II hardware can be found via the RaptorCS.com Wiki.

      • ICYMI: what’s new on Talospace

        In the shameless plug category, in case you missed them, two original articles on Talospace, our sister blog: making your Talos II into an IBM pSeries (yes, you can run AIX on a Talos II with Linux KVM), and roadgeeking with the Talos II (because the haters gotta hate and say POWER9 isn’t desktop ready, which is just FUD FUD FUD).

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 44

        Week 44 in Usability & Productivity is coming right up! This week was a bit lighter in terms of the number of bullet points, but we got some really great new features, and there’s a lot of cool stuff in progress that I hope to be able to blog about next week!

      • KDE Plasma Now Supports WireGuard, Alt-Tab Switching Improvements

        The WireGuard secure VPN tunnel is not in the mainline kernel yet but the KDE Plasma desktop is the latest project already adding support for it, which can be useful today if making use of WireGuard’s DKMS kernel modules.

        KDE Plasma now supports WireGuard VPN tunnels if enabling the NetworkManager WireGuard plug-in. Previously KDE Plasma didn’t play well with this plug-in but now it’s all been fixed up to deliver a first-rate experience for this open-source VPN tech.

        This week KDE also received some alt+tab switching improvements for screen readers and supporting the use of the keyboard to switch between items. These alt+tab window switching and WireGuard VPN support will be part of the KDE Plasma 5.15 release.

      • Akademy 2018 Vienna

        You have probably read a lot about Akademy 2018 recently, and how great it was.

        For me it was a great experience too and this year I met a lot of KDE people, both old and new. This is always nice.
        I arrived on Thursday so I had one day to set everything up and had a little bit of time to get to know the city.

        On Friday evening I enjoyed the “Welcoming evening”, but I was very surprised when Volker told me that I would be on stage the next day, talking about privacy.

        He told me that someone should have informed me several days before. The scheduled speaker, Sebastian, couldn’t make it to Akademy.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • The GNOME (and WebKitGTK+) Networking Stack

        One guess which of those we’re going to be talking about in this post. Yeah, of course, libsoup! If you’re not familiar with libsoup, it’s the GNOME HTTP library. Why is it called libsoup? Because before it was an HTTP library, it was a SOAP library. And apparently somebody thought that when Mexican people say “soap,” it often sounds like “soup,” and also thought that this was somehow both funny and a good basis for naming a software library. You can’t make this stuff up.

        [...]

        Haha no, it uses a dynamically-loadable extension point system to allow you to pick your choice of OpenSSL or GnuTLS! (Support for NSS was started but never finished.) This is OK because embedded systems vendors don’t use GPL applications and have no problems with OpenSSL, while desktop Linux users don’t produce tivoized embedded systems and have no problems with LGPLv3. So if you’re using desktop Linux and point WebKitGTK+ at an HTTPS address, then GLib is going to load a GIO extension point called glib-networking, which implements all of GIO’s TLS APIs — notably GTlsConnection and GTlsCertificate — using GnuTLS. But if you’re building an embedded system, you simply don’t build or install glib-networking, and instead build a different GIO extension point called glib-openssl, and libsoup will create GTlsConnection and GTlsCertificate objects based on OpenSSL instead. Nice! And if you’re Centricular and you’re building GStreamer for Windows, you can use yet another GIO extension point, glib-schannel, for your native Windows TLS goodness, all hidden behind GTlsConnection so that GStreamer (or whatever application you’re writing) doesn’t have to know about SChannel or OpenSSL or GnuTLS or any of that sad complexity.

  • Distributions
    • Fedora
      • Review: Fedora 29 Workstation

        Fedora 29 is a good release, but there are some issues with it. Users who are interested in trying out new things and are okay with the the occasional bug should feel comfortable trying out Fedora 29 Workstation. However, users wanting a polished experience might want to hold off until a few more bugs are fixed.

        I would be okay with a few rough edges if they were just limited to the new features, but the two show-stopper bugs I had were playing full-screen video with GNOME Videos and being able to install texlive-scheme-full. Only the latter has been fixed, while video playback remains an issue. Playing full-screen videos in GNOME Videos on Wayland has worked perfectly on my hardware for the last several Fedora releases, but in Fedora 29 it is unusable. The video playback bug has already been reported in Red Hat’s Bugzilla, but the bug is still classified as new.

        Overall, Fedora 29 Workstation is worth checking out, but I have to say “buyer beware” and encourage people to check to make sure all of the things they need are in a functional state before making the switch or upgrade. Things should be fixed in a few weeks, but I have honestly run beta releases of previous Fedora versions that had fewer issues than the final release of Fedora 29.

    • Debian Family
      • Debian Linux 9.6 released and here is how to upgrade it

        he Debian GNU/Linux project has released an updated version of its stable Linux distribution Debian 9 (“stretch”). You must upgrade to get corrections for security problem as this version made a few adjustments for the severe issue found in Debian version 9.5. Debian is a Unix-like (Linux distro) operating system and a distribution of Free Software. It is mainly maintained and updated through the work of many users who volunteer their time and effort. The Debian Project was first announced in 1993 by Ian Murdock.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 19.04 Daily Builds Available to Download

            Prep a partition because Ubuntu 19.04 daily builds are now available to download.

            A new “Disco Dingo” daily build will be produced each and every day from now until the Ubuntu 19.04 release date in April 2019.

            For dedicated Ubuntu developers, testers, and community enthusiasts the arrival of daily builds is the horn blare that declares the development cycle well and truly open.

            Furthermore, these images are the only way to sample the upcoming release before a solitary beta release pops out sometime in late March.

            Do remember that Ubuntu daily build ISOs are intended for testing and development purposes only. Don’t run these images as the primary OS on mission critical machines — and yes, that includes your brother’s laptop — unless you really know what you’re doing and (more importantly) how you can undo it.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • TeXConf 2018 – the meeting of the Japanese TeX Users

      Having attended several international TeX conferences, I am always surprised how many Japanese TeX users find their way to this yearly meeting. This year we were about 80 participants (wild guess). We had five full talks and two lightning talks, followed by a very enjoyable dinner and after-party.

  • Databases
    • Why We Paired Open Source and Managed Services to Optimize Our Database

      Launching Peloton has certainly been a tremendous ride – one that’s included an exhilarating acceleration resulting in two-fold year-over-year growth and a tripled subscriber base in under a year. Among the steepest hills climbed along this journey, though, has been keeping up with our database requirements and pushing through the pains experienced throughout intensely-paced user growth.

      Our challenge managing an exponentially growing user base has been kicked into a higher gear by the fact that our consumer product utilizes so much user data. The idea for Peloton was born out of the founders’ desire to bring studio-style, group fitness classes home that still included the feeling – and benefits – of actual in-person classes. In practice, this has resulted in storing vast volumes of personal fitness data. As customers exercise on their home bikes and experience live or on-demand cycling classes, we need to continuously collect and retain a swath of telemetric data that includes pedaling speed, heart rate, the selected resistance setting, and many other metrics germane to the experience. This data is important to both our product and our customers, providing feedback that helps us shape the user experience and enabling us to deliver performance information to each customer via statistics, graphs, achievements, lists of top rides and routines, etc.

      [...]

      The managed provider route helped us diagnose and fix our production issues on day one; the overly dense production nodes and environment were adjusted for better (and noticeable) optimization. With our database back to running smoothly, we faced a choice as to how we’d acquire the Cassandra expertise we clearly needed in the long term: either investing to build that expertise in-house or relying on managed services going forward. Given the higher expenditures in both time and money, and the focus building an in-house team would take away from our product, it was an easy decision to stick with the managed provider route for our Cassandra production environment.

  • CMS
    • Migrating my website from Drupal 7 to Hugo

      My first interaction with Drupal was with its WSOD. That was it until I revisited it when evaluating different FOSS web tools to build a community site for one of my previous employer.

      Back then, we tried multiple tools: Jive, Joomla, WordPress and many more. But finally, resorted to Drupal. What the requirement was was to have something which would filter content under nested categories. Then, of the many things tried, the only one which seemed to be able to do it was Drupal with its Taxonomy feature, along with a couple of community driven add-on modules.

      We built it but there were other challenges. It was hard to find people who were good with Drupal. I remember to have interviewed around 10-15 people, who could take over the web portal and maintain it, and still not able to fill the position. Eventually, I ended up maintaining the portal by myself.

  • BSD
    • Showing a Gigabit OpenBSD Firewall Some Monitoring Love

      Now that the machine was up and running (and fast!), I wanted to know what it was doing. Over the years, I’ve always relied on the venerable pfstat software to give me an overview of my traffic, blocked packets, etc. It looks like this: [...]

  • Programming/Development
    • Sourcegraph: An Open-Source Source Code Search Engine

      In a recent announcement, a Code Search and Navigation tool named Sourcegraph was declared Open Source. As it makes navigating through Source Code much more convenient, the tool itself going Open Source is definitely a big plus for developers!

    • Compile any C++ program 10× faster with this one weird trick!

      The main reason that C++ compiles slowly has to do with headers. Merely including a few headers in the standard library brings in tens or hundreds of thousands of lines of code that must be parsed, verified, converted to an AST and codegenerated in every translation unit. This is extremely wasteful especially given that most of that work is not used but is instead thrown away.

      With an Unity build every #include is processed only once regardless of how many times it is used in the component source files.

      Basically this amounts to a caching problem, which is one of the two really hard problems in computer science in addition to naming things and off by one errors.

    • Future Developments in clang-query

      I am not aware of any similar series existing which covers creation of clang-tidy checks, and use of clang-query to inspect the Clang AST and assist in the construction of AST Matcher expressions. I hope the series is useful to anyone attempting to write clang-tidy checks. Several people have reported to me that they have previously tried and failed to create clang-tidy extensions, due to various issues, including lack of information tying it all together.

      Other issues with clang-tidy include the fact that it relies on the “mental model” a compiler has of C++ source code, which might differ from the “mental model” of regular C++ developers. The compiler needs to have a very exact representation of the code, and needs to have a consistent design for the class hierarchy representing each standard-required feature. This leads to many classes and class hierarchies, and a difficulty in discovering what is relevant to a particular problem to be solved.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • A trip through the peer-review sausage grinder

      It is often said that peer review is one of the pillars of scientific research. It is also well known that peer review doesn’t actually do its job very well, and, every few years, people like me start writing articles about alternatives to peer review. This isn’t one of those rants. Instead, I’m going to focus on something that is probably less well known: peer review actually has two jobs. It’s used to provide minimal scrutiny for new scientific results, and to act as a gatekeeper for funding agencies.

      What I would like to do here is outline some of the differences between peer review in these two jobs and the strengths and weaknesses of peer review in each case. This is not a rant against peer review, nor should it be—I have been pretty successful in both publications and grant applications over the last couple of years. But I think it’s worth exploring the idea that peer review functions much better in the case of deciding the value of scientific research than it does when acting as a gatekeeper for scientific funding.

    • How bicycles have changed in the last 25 years
  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Rules of the Economy Are Taking a Tragic Toll on Women and Their Pregnancies

      Recently, The New York Times published a report about women who, while working in physically demanding jobs, lost their pregnancies after requests for less-strenuous assignments were denied. The profile is a tragic example of the steep toll levied on women, and particularly women of color, who face economic and social rules that are rigged against them—rules that ultimately prioritize profit over life.

      The Times investigated the stories of workers at XPO Logistics, a Verizon-contracted warehouse near Tennessee’s border with Mississippi, piecing together the picture of a cruel and punishing work environment. In one case, a 23-year-old woman, whose proactive requests for a lighter workload upon learning that she was pregnant were denied, miscarried after eight hours of heavy lifting. She was in the second trimester of her first pregnancy.

      For many American workers and families, the experiences of the women in this story are not uncommon. In fact, the Times investigation is a stark demonstration of the collision of three dangerous trends in our economy that threaten women.

      First, we’ve seen a decades-long decline in workers’ voice and agency resulting from the rapid erosion of unionization and labor rights. The workers at the Tennessee XPO warehouse are—despite efforts to unionize—part of the growing majority of employees in the United States who lack union representation. Over the past 40 years, union membership has plummeted from 20.1 percent of workers in 1983 to just 10.7 percent in 2017. This decline wasn’t inevitable. It was driven by a broken labor law system that ignores entire sectors of the economy and by harmful corporate ideology, behavior, and practices that put the interests of shareholders above all others.

    • Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools

      This is a fact that would have been worth mentioning in a NYT piece on how health care may be affected by last Tuesday’s elections. Near the end, the article referred to the Trump administration’s promotion of short-term insurance policies but only said that they, “do not have to cover pre-existing conditions or provide all the benefits required by the health law.”

      The important feature of these short-term plans from the standpoint of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that they are designed to be appealing to relatively healthy people. By excluding people who are likely to suffer from costly health conditions, they can offer insurance at a lower price. This has the effect of pulling healthier people out of the ACA insurance pools.

    • Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank

      The year was 2011. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg proposed loosening conflict of interest rules for doctors sitting on advisory committees because non-compromised doctors were disappearing. The FDA could not find “knowledgeable experts who are free of financial conflicts of interest,” said news reports.

      How bad is Pharma’s brazen financial infiltration into US medicine? The New York Times and ProPublica recently reported that Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s own CEO, Dr. Craig B. Thompson, its chief medical officer, Dr. José Baselga, and one of its immunotherapy specialists, Dr. Jedd Wolchok, were swimming in Pharma money.

      Thomas sat on the boards of Merck and Charles River Laboratories and actually founded a cancer start-up. Wolchok, says the Times and ProPublica, has links to 31 Pharma companies. Baselga, who has since resigned, received undisclosed millions from Pharma.

      I have personally attended medical conferences where doctors unflinchingly show slide after slide of Pharma companies who pay them as if the payments did not affect their presentations to follow.

      The responses of doctors exposed for the payola/bribes are downright embarrassing. Lee Cohen, lead author of a 2006 JAMA article promoting antidepressants during pregnancy listed 76 financial relationships with Pharma that he and the other authors had not mentioned explaining that, “We did not view those associations as relevant to this study.”

    • Measure To Cap Dialysis Profits Pummeled After Record Spending By Industry

      Record-breaking spending by the dialysis industry helped doom a controversial California ballot measure to cap its profits.

      The industry, led by DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, spent nearly $111 million to defeat Proposition 8, which voters trounced, 62 to 38 percent, and appeared to approve in just two of 58 counties. The measure also faced strong opposition from medical organizations, including doctor and hospital associations, which argued it would limit access to dialysis treatment and thus endanger patients.

      The opposition presented a powerful message that “if you can’t get dialysis, you will die,” said Gerald Kominski, a senior fellow at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “If you didn’t know that, the commercials made it clear.”

      Despite arguments about the outsize profits of dialysis companies, Kominski said the “Yes on 8” case wasn’t as clear. The measure, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, sought to cap dialysis clinic profits at 115 percent of the costs of patient care. Revenues above that amount would have been rebated primarily to insurance companies. Medicare and other government programs, which pay significantly lower prices for dialysis, wouldn’t have received rebates.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Britain funds research into drones that decide who they kill, says report

      Technologies that could unleash a generation of lethal weapons systems requiring little or no human interaction are being funded by the Ministry of Defence, according to a new report.

      The development of autonomous military systems – dubbed “killer robots” by campaigners opposed to them – is deeply contentious. Earlier this year, Google withdrew from the Pentagon’s Project Maven, which uses machine learning to analyse video feeds from drones, after ethical objections from the tech giant’s staff.

      The government insists it “does not possess fully autonomous weapons and has no intention of developing them”. But, since 2015, the UK has declined to support proposals put forward at the UN to ban them. Now, using government data, Freedom of Information requests and open-source information, a year-long investigation reveals that the MoD and defence contractors are funding dozens of artificial intelligence programmes for use in conflict.

    • Intelligence: Spy For The CIA And Die

      Once more the American CIA proved itself spectacularly inept at managing spies in foreign countries. This example was recent revelations about how between 2009 and 2013 the CIA used a vulnerable (to enemy access) Internet based communications system to supervise local agents in China and Iran. During that time a growing number of CIA tech staff and even field agents warned that the system was vulnerable and should be changed. That was done when it was obvious that the Internet based messaging system was the reason who over 50 local agents in China (mostly) and Iran were rounded up. Most of these agents were executed after being interrogated (often with considerable violence, that being the custom in those nations). This incidence of fatally incompetent management was not unique for the CIA. Such fatal incompetence handling foreign spies is a bad habit going back decades and seemingly immune to change. It basically comes down to senior management becoming too complacent or unwilling to act lest it cause problems with elected superiors. Key allies like Britain, Israel, France and others, with much smaller, but less lethal (to their own agents) espionage agencies have learned not to share data on their field agents with the Americans. Meanwhile it is incredibly difficult for CIA field agents to recruit useful spies in foreign nations. The reason for this, those who spy for the CIA tend to die.

    • The Fate of Yemen’s Baha’is

      It is common these days to read headlines such as “At least 19 killed, 10 injured in Saudi-led coalition air raid in Yemen” (Sputnik, October 24, 2018). We are reminded often how many Yemenis have died and are starving. But it is not common to learn that the Houthis, the Islamic extremist group who are fighting the Saudis, are persecuting the minority of Baha’is currently living and working in Yemen. In fact, the Left seldom turns its eyes to the on-going persecution of Baha’is in Iran and other places in the Islamic world. How often do you hear, for instance, that Baha’is are not even permitted to attend post-secondary institutions in Iran?

      The Houthi regime believes that Baha’is are fighting a “Satanic war” against Muslim Yemenis. In the last five years, in particular, spiteful rhetoric has intensified. This enflamed language has reminded Baha’is of the horrible fate many faced in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian theocratic revolution. Since December 3, 2013 Hamed bin Haydara, a Baha’i leader, has been imprisoned, indicted for apostasy and accused of “being a destroyer of Islam.”

      The National Security Office raided his home and seized laptops and documents. Reports indicate that he has been tortured (beaten and electrocuted). The history of the torture of Baha’is since the mid-19thcentury is like visiting a haunted house of horrors. He has also been denied legal and medical assistance.

      In October 2014, Hamed was transferred to the Central Prison under the jurisdiction of the Prosecution Service. But the process of prosecution has been delayed. He was accused of being a spy for Israel; medical requests were repeatedly blocked; his prosecutor was extremely prejudiced against Hamed; he had been forced to sign several documents while blindfolded and repeated torture. On April 3, 2016, his sixth visit of the year, 100 supporters gathered peacefully outside the court. By mid-September of 2016, it was plainly evident that a faction within the Houthi political movement was under the influence of Iran. Hatred of Baha’is runs deep in Iran, and they pushed the Houthi faction to persecute the Yemeni Baha’is.

    • These pilots fly 100-year-old airplanes

      As historians mark exactly a century since the end of World War I, a group of pilots take to the air in a museum’s vintage airplanes, bringing a bygone era back to life.

      Located just two hours north of New York City, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York’s Hudson Valley boasts around 60 vintage biplanes — including reproductions of the famed SPAD VII and the classic Sopwith Camel.

      Take a turn off picturesque Stone Church Road, cross a foot bridge and you’re jumping back 100 years to a time when airplanes were made of wood and fabric held together by a bit of wire — and not much more.

    • US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre

      The UK appears now to be gearing up towards authoring a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Yemen, following years of blocking any resolutions on the issue. The UK has been the official ‘penholder’ on Yemen, meaning that it has been up to the UK to table resolutions, which it has steadfastly refused to do, whilst simultaneously blocking anyone else’s attempts to do so. The apparent about-turn is a response to last week’s statements from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis calling for a ceasefire in Yemen within 30 days, to be followed up with UN-facilitated peace talks. The UK dutifully followed suit shortly afterwards, expressing their support for the initiative. This was somewhat ironic given that minister Alistair Burt, obviously not privy to the seeming about-turn, had just spent the day providing MPs with excruciatingly contorted explanations of why calling for a ceasefire was not a good idea in the circumstances. “Passing a ceasefire resolution risks undercutting the UN envoy’s efforts to reach a political deal and undermining the credibility of the Council” he told the House of Commons at midday; yet within 36 hours, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was telling Newsnight that the US call for a ceasefire was “an extremely welcome announcement because we have been working towards a cessation of hostilities in Yemen for a long time.” In the parallel universe of British double-speak, it is of course natural that unrelenting support for what is fast turning into a war of national annihilation gets recast as “working towards a cessation of hostilities”.

      Yet this latest call does appear to be at odds with the hitherto existing strategy; it was only in June, after all, when the US and UK torpedoed a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the face of impending famine. Many commentaries (such as this one in the Telegraph, for example), have suggested that the US is now taking advantage of pressure on Saudi Arabia following the murder of Saudi insider-turned-dissident Khashoggi to push the kingdom towards a less belligerent position in the disastrous Yemen war. The ever-more desperate humanitarian situation is giving the war a bad name and – so the story goes – the US are now keen to end it. David Miliband, former UK foreign secretary and now president of the International Rescue Committee, even called the US announcement “the most significant breakthrough in the war in Yemen for four years”.

    • Applauding Plan to Stop Refueling Saudi Planes, Progressives Call for Further Action to End Yemen’s “Humanitarian Nightmare”

      Anti-war groups and progressive lawmakers expressed cautious optimism this weekend after the Trump administration announced it would end its policy of refueling Saudi planes that are engaged in Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen—but called for bolder and broader policy changes to ensure an end to the attacks that have killed more than 15,000 civilians.

      On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the refueling practice would end, with Saudi Arabia claiming in a statement that it now has the ability to refuel its own planes—a claim that U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis bolstered in his own comments on the policy changem but that drew skepticism from critics. The change came amid heightened calls from across the political spectrum to end the U.S. military’s cooperation with the Saudis, following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon

      The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at unwinding over 50 years of agreements to control and limit nuclear weapons, returning to an era characterized by the unbridled development weapons of mass destruction.

      Terminating the INF treaty—which bans land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 300 and 3400 miles— is not, in and of itself, a fatal blow to the network of treaties and agreements dating back to the 1963 treaty that ended atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. But coupled with other actions—George W. Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 and the Obama administration’s program to upgrade the nuclear weapons infrastructure— the tapestry of agreements that has, at least in part, limited these terrifying creations, is looking increasingly frayed.

      “Leaving the INF,” says Sergey Rogov of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, “could bring the whole structure of arms control crashing down.”

      Lynn Rusten, the former senior director for arms control in the National Security Agency Council warns, “This is opening the door to an all-out arms race.”

      Washington’s rationale for exiting the INF Treaty is that the Russians deployed the 9M729 cruise missile that the US claims violates the agreement, although Moscow denies it and the evidence has not been made public. Russia countercharges that the US ABM system—Aegis Ashore—deployed in Romania and planned for Poland could be used to launch similar medium range missiles.

    • The terror wreaked by the ‘war on terror’

      In a distressing reminder of the death and destruction caused by America’s so-called war on terror following the 9/11 attacks, a study report released by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs puts the death toll at between 480,000 and 507,000, recognizing though that the actual number is likely higher, and that the ‘war on terror’ remains intense. Indeed, the number is much, much higher than that and continues to increase. Giving a country-wise casualty count, the report says between 182,272 and 204,575 people have been killed in Iraq, 38,480 in Afghanistan and 23,372 in Pakistan. Predictably, there is no mention of the US and its allies’ meddling in Syria, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and driven millions out of their homes forcing them to seek shelter in neighbouring countries or to knock at the EU countries’ doors.

    • Permanent war

      The 9/11 attacks, in which nearly 3000 people were killed, was universally condemned as one of the greatest atrocities of our time. What followed has been less remarked on but may be the bigger crime against humanity. A report by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs estimates that at least half a million people have been killed in the wars unleashed by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Of that number, only about 7000 are American troops that have been fighting these wars. The overwhelming majority of the killings have been of those unlucky to find themselves in the path of the rampaging Americans.

    • Was President Kennedy Going To Destroy the CIA?

      Many people on the internet and in articles have said that President JFK was going to smash the Central Intelligence Agency into the wind. But was he? In this video I explain what really happened. JFK made a move to eliminate the name CIA from everything and even split it apart in 1961 – but did not do it. Here are the details and the real reasons why. JFK did make changes though. I touch on some of them and in the next video will go into more detail.

    • Poppy Fascism and the English Education System

      What Jon Snow, the Channel 4 broadcaster (on English television), wisely discerned as ‘poppy fascism’ several years ago, reached its crescendo this weekend – as it does every year now it seems, with more vitality. However, this year, 2018, being the centenary of the Armistice of World War I, the crescendo’s pitch felt louder than usual.

      As, mid-week, I watched Sky News Live on YouTube from my Philadelphia apartment, a seemingly unwitting child appeared on my screen and announced the importance of passing down the ‘knowledge’ of the First World War from those who had gone before him. This segment was aired alongside report on an ‘artist’ [read, ‘lunatic’] named Rob Heard who had carved thousands of wooden figurines, over a period of five years, of British soldiers killed in the conflict and laid them out on the ground somewhere in England to commemorate this centenary of futile slaughter. No context, ever.

      Lest we get ahead of ourselves and assume that the fanaticism cease there, we’re reminded intermittently throughout the week from various English news sources that 10,000 torches (remember those torches carried by Trumpite fascists in Charlottesville last year?) are lit each night at the Tower of London to remember the ‘fallen’.

    • Physicians Work to Bring Back the Anti-Nuclear Movement

      It is a move that many, including former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, believe has ignited a new nuclear arms race. This is because the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Gorbachev and former US President Ronald Reagan, banned all short and mid-range nuclear and non-nuclear missiles, and helped eliminate thousands of land-based missiles.

      The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Trump has already promised to build new nuclear weapons, in addition to having withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, heightening tensions further after having previously threatened the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea. Trump has also promised to build new nuclear weapons.

      While these deeply concerning issues, which are clear existential threats to the entire planet, often fly under the radar, a large and diverse coalition of groups across Washington State has formed with the aim of reviving the anti-nuclear movement.

      “Kitsap Bangor Naval Base is the single largest collection of nuclear weapons in the US, and each of those warheads is many times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Estela Ortega, the executive director of El Centro de la Raza, told Truthout. El Centro de la Raza is a Seattle-based civil rights, human services, educational, cultural and economic development organization.

      Ortega explained that the mission of her organization is “to struggle for a clean, safe, and nuclear waste-free environment for our people and future generations. To work for a rational use of natural resources in the interests of the preservation of Mother Earth and the peaceful development of humankind.”

    • A Note on the Paris Peace Forum

      France is the the world’s third arms suppliers and its exports increased by 27% compared to 2008-2012, according to SIPRI Arms Tranfers Database.

    • Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class

      One cannot serve both the one percent and the 99 percent as their interests are at odds with each other. Although many join for righteous reasons, actions speak louder than intentions. Actions of the U.S. military has always been death, destruction, anguish of the working class, and entitlements for the elites. When the ruling class benefits it’s always at the expense of the poor.

      I’m a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Not only that, I’m a veteran of both surges. Eight years after separating from the military I see that I did not provide a service for my country. Clearly the wars have sucked our hard-working dollars and placed them on a silver platter for the economic ruling class–war contractors (oops I mean ‘defense’ contractors), politicians, and corporations that literally profit from the death of innocent people, including little children.

      Although I served in the U.S. Army as a Paratrooper working as a mechanic, the world sees me as nothing but an imperialist watchdog. The people impacted by the wars in which I participated don’t care about the difference between an infantry soldier and an administrative paper-pusher. It’s all the same to them: soldiers occupying their homelands and pointing weapons at innocent people, like women, children, and the elderly.

    • Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans

      In the United States, however, we take particular pride in recognizing as heroes those who have served in the military.

      Yet while we honor our veterans with holidays, parades, discounts at retail stores and restaurants, and endless political rhetoric about their sacrifice and bravery, we do a pitiful job of respecting their freedoms and caring for their needs once out of uniform.

      Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts more than 20 million veterans who have served in World War II through the present day, the plight of veterans today is America’s badge of shame, with large numbers of veterans impoverished, unemployed, traumatized mentally and physically, struggling with depression, suicide, and marital stress, homeless, subjected to sub-par treatment at clinics and hospitals, and left to molder while their paperwork piles up within Veterans Administration offices.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia

      When it comes to planetary carnage, Trump (Amerika’s president) is facing strong competition. Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro aka “Tropical Trump” will likely outdo Amerika’s destroy the EPA Trump. Bolsonaro declared war on the Amazon rainforest. Thus, he’ll likely outpace Trump’s arbitrary efforts at eco annihilation because he has a much bigger target!

      The Amazon Rainforest, affectionately known as “the planet’s lungs,” inhales CO2 and exhales precious oxygen (“O”), which serves as a life force for every living being on the planet. As a result, everybody from New Zealand to Finland is impacted by what happens to the global rainforests, as unlike Las Vegas, what happens in the tropical rainforest does not stay in the tropical rainforest.

      Significantly, a University of Leeds study found forests absorb 35% of human-made fossil fuel emissions (CO2) every year. Dr. Simon Lewis, a tropical ecologist from the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, said trees are much more important to tackling climate change than previously thought. (Source: Forests Absorb One-Third of Global Fossil Fuel Emissions, University of Leeds, Environment News, July 15, 2011)

      “The large uptake of CO2 by forests implies that the world’s agricultural lands, grasslands, desert and tundra each play a more limited role as globally significant carbon dioxide sources or sinks at present. This new information can help pinpoint where actions to conserve carbon sinks are likely to have most impact,” Ibid.

    • Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range

      The Buffalohorn and Porcupine drainages (BHP) that drain into the Gallatin River near Big Sky, Montana are a miniature ecological equivalent of the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone.

      [...]

      Until conservationists advocate for wilderness designation for the entire Gallatin Range, one cannot know what may be politically possible.

      There are other issues with the GFP that needs remedy including greater wilderness advocacy for areas in the Hyalite Canyon region such as South Cottonwood Canyon and Chestnut Mountain, but suffice to say that it is my hope that wilderness advocates including organizations like the Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society and Greater Yellowstone Coalition reassess their promotion for the halfway measures of the GFP and instead seek full wilderness protection for all roadless lands in the range, especially for the Buffalohorn Porcupine drainages or what could be called the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range.

      If you are a member of any of these organizations, I urge you to contact them and compliment them for making protection of the Gallatin Range a priority but ask them to advocate for wilderness designation for all of the roadless lands in the Gallatin Range.

      Keep in mind these are lands owned by all Americans, as well as internationally significant. The Buffalohorn and Porcupine drainages lie just north of Yellowstone National Park which was designated International Biosphere Reserve in 1976, and a World Heritage Site in 1978.

      Therefore, the Gallatin wildlands deserve the best protection possible and wilderness is the Gold Bar for conservation status. Conservationists should be advocating nothing less.

    • Drone actions in ‘inspirational’ bear video ‘could have killed the cub’

      Millions of people have watched and shared “inspirational” video of a bear cub struggling to climb a steep, snow-covered slope after its mum as “proof of why you should never give up”.

      In the video, captured by a drone in eastern Russia and first uploaded to YouTube in June, the cub repeatedly tries to scramble up the ridge, only to fall back down. The mother swipes at her cub at one point, knocking it back down the slope – a “lesson in child-rearing”, wrote one Twitter user.

      But grizzly bear researcher Clayton Lamb, of the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, is among the scientists who say the drone was to blame for the bears’ behaviour.

      [...]

      Dmitry Kedrov, who filmed the bears off the coast of Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk, told the Russian website Lenta.ru he and his colleagues had seen the bears slip down the ridge several times before filming them. He insisted he they didn’t get too close to the animals and they added a zoom effect in post-production.

      However, Lamb said while he wasn’t a videographer, he was a drone operator as well as a scientist, and the effect looked exactly like when he flew his drone closer to something, rather than a zoom.

  • Finance
    • Winners Take All: Modern philanthropy means that giving some away is more important than how you got it

      Giridharadas’s point was that the business elites who were gathered to “give back” and “solve the big problems” were some of the most egregious contributors to those problems. They had looted the world’s treasuries, shut down businesses and shipped jobs to low-wage, low-regulation free trade zones, gutted public services and replaced them with low-bidder private sector contractors, and had done so while formulating and promulgating the philosophy that business leaders’ individual judgment about the provision of public services were always to be preferred to those policies set by democratically elected politicians.

    • An Honest Look at Poverty in the Heartland

      A few weeks before the election, a roomful of Wisconsinites gathered to share some of the stories that are often left out of political campaigns. At a Racine gathering of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, visitors shared real-life stories about poverty in the state.

      Solo Little John of Kenosha, Wisconsin was one of those who testified. He’s a fast food worker at Wendy’s and a leader of the Fight for $15 living wage campaign. “My voice represents the voices of the voiceless,” he said, “those who live in poverty and are directly impacted by low wages because we can’t form unions.”

      “I only make $8.75 an hour,” he added. “You can probably imagine that day in day out, this is very hard for me, that it makes it a very difficult time for me to pay my bills, my light bills, my gas, the necessities.”

      Some 1.2 million Wisconsin workers make under $15 an hour — that’s 44 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • If Trump and Whitaker Undermine the Mueller Investigation, That’s an Impeachable Offense

      Do not mourn the end of Jeff Sessions. But recognize that the motivation for Trump’s removal of Sessions points to a constitutional crisis.

    • A World Off Balance

      It is a moral duty to restore the balance we have lost. Moral because our effort to restore a healthy equilibrium must include what we call Nature for it is the only thing which sustains us and we are now at the point where it is threatened irreparable damage. We may imagine that our vast technological triumphs and the plastic, steel, aluminum, iron and cement cages (cities) we inhabit provide us enough to survive but the very the air we breathe is being threatened worldwide led, in part, by the newly elected supporter of fascism Juan Bolsonaro.

      Seriously. An admirer of fascism has been elected President in Brazil and he is advocating even more “development” of the rainforests which give us more than 20% of the oxygen we need to live. This is beyond crazy. Where are the cries for UN intervention to stop this rapacious insanity and instead restore the planet so that we all have enough oxygen to survive? I know, this sounds outmoded (“UN intervention”?) and crazy, but how did we get so far that our planetary life-giving essentials are treated as commodities to be traded in for the short-term profits of a few? Many will answer that that’s been capitalism all along (and agreeing I’ll happily support its overthrow) but still, we no longer wince at the extremities advocated by and spoken of by “world leaders”, chalking it up to yet another piece in the gradualist onslaught of vertigo we are all suffering. There’s no prednisone for this illness. There are no tests needed to confirm that something is terribly wrong in our sense of balance and that this is dangerous not only for us, but for the whole teetering planet.

    • Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock

      The 2018 election looks at first glance like a wash: Republicans gained seats in the Senate and Democrats regained control of the House with enough of a margin to ensure that they can put some limits on presidential power.

      But longer term impacts of 2018 are, I believe, more significant. In this election, with President Trump as party leader pushing a rabidly racist claim that immigrants fleeing from the largely US-caused poverty, chaos and violence in Honduras hoping for a better life for their kids in the US were actually an “invasion” of the US that would bring across the border everything from disease to Arab terrorists, gangs and dark-skinned rapists, and with his claiming that Democrats were behind what he labeled a “caravan” of tens of thousands (it is really just several thousand mostly young people and parents with children and babies), Republicans have hit bottom.

    • Harold Pinter’s America: a Giant Criminal Conspiracy…

      If you’ve never read or seen Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, it’s amazing—a 46-minute piece of thunderous power—but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. Pinter’s plays, when well-acted, braid together moments of existential terror and electric comedy, but his Nobel speech is not a bundle of laughs. It begins with an intriguing but much too long rumination on his creative process, but just when you think he’s going to call it a wrap, he suddenly pivots from the inward to the outward and begins a furious condemnation of the United States government that kicks so hard and hurts so deeply that it makes you ashamed not to be an outright leftist revolutionary. He forces us to look at what the great William Burroughs called the “naked lunch”—calmly but viciously indicting us for our crimes in South America and all around the world. And though he delivered the speech in 2005, it could run as an op-ed piece today, with only a few minor details changed.

      Watching the speech is exponentially scarier than reading it. Pinter couldn’t travel to Stockholm to accept the prize in person because he was hospitalized with some God-awful kind of cancer, so he sent a video which shows him sitting in a chair with a blanket on his knees, obviously ill, but methodically building his indictment as he stares at the camera, as if daring you to look away. And you want to look away. You don’t want to be a silent partner in all the murders we commit, all the rapes we encourage, all the torture we teach and practice, all the money we steal, all the air and water and creatures we poison, all the stupidity manufactured by our media, all the—well, you get the picture. To wit: “the United States has supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths,” Pinter asks: “Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy?” Then he answers his own question: “The answer is yes, they did take place, and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.”

    • #MeToo could become a national reckoning – if the new House treats it like a financial crisis

      More than 500 women ran in primaries for federal office, a pipeline that ultimately led to a record number of women set to take office.

      Even so, it also reveals how far women are from achieving parity in politics – they are projected to hold barely more than a fifth of seats in the House and Senate. For comparison, that’s less than in Iraq, where the post-Saddam Hussein Constitution sets a 25 percent minimum for female representation in the national assembly.

      In a way, it reflects the ways in which the #MeToo movement, for its many achievements, has thus far stalled at the federal level. After a year of headlines involving sexual misconduct in a variety of industries, Congress has not passed a single piece of legislation on harassment.

    • Is Yugoslavia an “alien” or are we alien to Yugoslavia?

      There is obviously a long-lasting fascination with the character of Josip Broz Tito. To this day, Yugoslav partisan movies are still broadcast on Chinese TV channels; children and streets in China are named after the characters from the film “Walter defends Sarajevo” (1972), and there is even a beer brand “Walter”. The recent docu-fiction Houston: We Have a Problem! (Žiga Virc, 2016), about Yugoslavia’s clandestine space program, and Cinema Komunisto (Mila Turajlić, 2012), about the rise and fall of Yugoslavia’s cinematography and Tito’s personal love of the cinema, add to the growing current interest in Tito. At the same time, a recurring sentiment ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia alongside the nationalism, in Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia, is a sort of nostalgia toward “ the good old Yugoslav times” that prompted the Slovenian sociologist Mitja Velikonja – in his book Titostalgia – A Study of Nostalgia for Josip Broz published in 2008 – to coin a neologism “Titostalgia”. It describes a specific sort of nostalgia, which is part of the more general “Yugonostalgia”, but more concrete and directly connected to the Yugoslav leader Tito.[3]

    • “Words Can’t Articulate the Joy”: Wisconsin Workers Celebrate Scott Walker’s Defeat

      Joy is the order of the day as 100 people or so congregate at the rotunda of the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison just hours after incumbent Republican Scott Walker conceded the gubernatorial election to Democratic challenger Tony Evers, a former teacher who heads the state’s education department.

      It’s an emotional celebration. Old friends and allies greet one another with warm hugs, happy tears, cheers of delight and sighs of relief. They form a circle for, literally, the 1,999th gathering of the “Solidarity Sing Along,” an hour-long, informal event held every Monday through Friday at noon.

    • The Issues That Won’t Go AwayThe Issues That Won’t Go Away

      How much closer did we move to becoming a nation able and willing to focus on the real issues that threaten the planet?

      [..]

      F. The prison-industrial complex. The United States has the largest prison system in the world (and it’s becoming increasingly privatized), with 2.3 million people — mostly impoverished people of color — behind bars. Our prison system is a regrouping of Jim Crow America, which can’t stand having a country without second-class and tenth-class citizens. But here’s some good news from this year’s midterms: “Florida restored voting rights to more than 1 million people with felony records, which amounts to the biggest enfranchisement since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the women’s suffrage movement,” Vox reports.

      G. Immigrant scapegoating, hatred and fear. Because our unwinnable, endless wars can no longer serve the function of unifying the country, Trump has turned to immigrants — in particular, that “invading caravan” of desperate, shoeless Central Americans — as the Other he needs to rev his base and get the vote out. However, the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants, including the cruel separation of parents and children, has shocked and enraged much of the country, putting the country’s long-standing policy of cruel indifference to global suffering (and of course one of its leading creators as well) into the national spotlight like never before.

      H. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, hacking. Ah, democracy, a nuisance to the powerful, a system to be gamed! If the voting can’t be controlled, my God, Republicans could lose. Witness Georgia and North Dakota, where bureaucratic twists deprived African-American and Native American citizens of their right to vote in large enough numbers to skewer election results. Stacey Abrams may yet prevail in her quest for the governorship of Georgia over Secretary of State and Purger in Chief Brian Kemp. But American democracy is not safe from itself, no matter how much the media insists on blaming all its flaws on the Russians.

    • Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán

      The Paris Review recently called Gabriela Alemán “a literary citizen of the Andes.” One might also call her a “citizen of the Americas,” and of the world as well. After all, her work has appeared in Chinese, Hebrew, French and Croatian; her fictional characters belong to the U.S., Germany, Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Argentina.

      Moreover, Alemán isn’t just a “literary citizen,” though that’s a fine thing to be, but also an overtly political citizen as so many writers from South America are today and have been, from Pablo Neruda and Carlos Fuentes to Gabriel García Márquez.

      A journalist and a reporter as well as a novelist and a playwright, she was born in 1969 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the granddaughter of Ecuadorian poet, Hugo Alemán, and the daughter of the Ecuadorian diplomat Mario Alemán.

      Her novel, Poso Wells, which was published by City Lights of San Francisco in English in 2018, originally appeared in Spanish in 2007. Novelist Dick Cluster did the translation.

      A reviewer on Amazon wrote, “Poso Wells is a perfect compliment for the current political state of the United States and the hopelessness caused by constant access to terrible news via social media.” Indeed, it’s a freewheeling work of fiction that defies genres and mixes satire and surrealism, the literary and the political.

    • Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’

      Indeed, Trump and his administration have focused on immigrants as a major threat to the security of nation. Such hyped-up racist rhetoric is completely false.

      This vitriol against the caravan of Central Americans and Mexicans on their way to the US border was cruel electioneering, no more. These people are poor and are fleeing horrific violence in their home countries. Some of this violence has been caused by US policies in the region.

      Nonetheless, Trump has staged the national guard at the border for photo opportunities of soldiers building coil wire fencing. Trump’s words of racist hatred have also inspired and summoned numerous paramilitary posses of armed militias to the US/Mexican borderlands.

      Fear-mongering and racism against immigrants is nothing new in the history of the United States.

      Toward the end of the 19th-century and at the turn of the 20th-century, many in the US promoted “Nativism”—an all-white America where good jobs belonged to Whites, not foreigners. This was the historical period known as the “Second-Industrial Revolution,” the “Gilded Age,” and the “Progressive Era”—a time of enormous economic transformation for the country through industrialization and urbanization.

    • The Real Lessons From the Debate Between David Frum and Steve Bannon

      Last November 2 the Toronto-based group Munk Debates organized a well-publicized debate between David Frum and Steve Bannon titled “Be it resolved, the future of western politics is populist not liberal…” [2] Frankly, I didn’t care about the debate so I will not refer to its content because both debaters at this point in time don’t have anything new to contribute in my view. Also, the Munk Debates are just an elitist show of intellectual entertainment for a select privileged group of people, or in Frum’s exclusivist words, for “the learned, the preeminent, and the notorious.”

      However, I read very carefully the article by David Frum in The Atlantic, “The Real Lesson of My Debate With Steve Bannon.” [1] Not having attended the debate I was curious about what he had to say about it.

      I found out that apparently he “lost” the debate, or, as he put it, “bungled it” to Bannon by some questionable voting system that the organizers had set up. That outcome must have been quite a surprise to usually self-confident Frum who saw it necessary to write about what he had learned; and he did write about …sour grapes in both a self-effacing and unrepentant way.

      My reading about the debate did teach me some lessons, and they come from two specific issues that I question in Frum’s article.

      First, he dismisses the relevance of the protests about validating someone with the reputation of Trump strategist Steve Bannon by bringing him to the debate. I was one that signed a petition against his coming to Toronto, and I would have been protesting if I were there.

    • Getting Past Gingrich

      Journalist McKay Coppins traces the toxic politics of today back to Newt Gingrich in the 1990s. Gingrich, he said, pioneered “strategic obstructionism.”

    • Donald Trump and the politics of emotion

      In 2017 Donald Trump posted a clip of himself on Twitter wrestling an avatar of CNN to the ground. In the thirty-second vignette he seizes an individual with CNN’s logo where the head should be and pummels them. The point was to position himself as a defender of truth, flattening media enemies who spread disinformation about his reign.

      It was a predictable move: Trump is a recurring character on World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), body slamming its CEO Vince McMahon, “buying” its ‘Monday Night Raw’ program and remaining unperturbed by an egregiously racialised boogeyman who regularly appears in the ring. He is the only US President to be inducted as a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.

      His immersion in this world might appear to be just another instance of the absurdly comic combining with the brutally terrifying in his presidency, but it is much more than that: the collision between Trump and wrestling provides an insight into his tactics and the broader contemporary transformation of electoral politics. The WWE taught Trump how to fuse the interests of big business with a mass of people coagulated around shared rage.

      Nationalist populism is an odd phenomenon in the ways in which it creates alliances between voters who occupy structurally opposed positions. Trump has managed to combine support from the corporate world, evangelical Christians, rural southerners and ex-union Democrats in a way that confounds existing psephological models. Transcending, at least to some extent, distinctions between left and right, this alliance melds together the ultra-rich with the people they have actively disempowered.

      There’s an obvious inconsistency here: big capital fattens itself on the democratic choices of its victims. But this also suggests that ideology and demography no longer provide a satisfactory explanation for the results of elections. Something else brings this bloc together – mass emotion which has taken the place of ideological identification. What unites the electoral victories of nationalist populists is their ability to manipulate affect, to induct their voters into a shared mood that usually resonates in the key of anger and hate. So could ‘emotional politics’ of this kind also be used to anchor a progressive revival?

      The shift from ideology to emotion that has taken place in politics over the past 30 years passed through a phase of centrism in the 1990s when liberal democracy was seen as the ‘end of history.’ Dominated by a managerial technocracy, the role of politicians was to oversee public affairs in a rational, detached manner in an affectless world. Neither the governments they ran nor the people they governed were expected to behave emotionally. Politics was stripped of any sense of mob mentality in order to save the populace from their supposedly self-destructive urges.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Following Outcry, Washington Arts Council Reverses Course on Amendment

      A Washington arts council reversed a decision on Thursday to make all of its grantees sign new contracts that several arts groups said would leave recipients open to censorship.

      The arts groups who were greenlighted for grants from the council, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which is partially backed by the National Endowment for the Arts, received a letter on Monday. There was an amendment to the original grant contracts that they were instructed to sign to receive the money, for which they had already signed paperwork for.

      It stipulated that the work of recipients was susceptible to losing funding if it was “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, excessively violent, constitutes sexual harassment, or is, in any other way, illegal.” It did not specify how “overtly political” would be defined, or who would be making those judgments. The decision also came as a surprise to commissioners of the council, volunteers throughout Washington who are supposed to represent the public.

    • After outcry, DC commission backs down on censoring art
    • Mayor Bowser To Withdraw Censorship Amendment from DC Arts Grants
    • After Outcry, DC’s Mayor Overrules Grant-Giving Organization’s Attempt to Restrict ‘Lewd or Political’ Work
    • DC Commission Reverses Course After Attempt to Censor Artists

      Just days after the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) issued an eleventh-hour amendment on its already-signed contracts with grantees that prohibited “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, and/or excessively violent” projects from being funded, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office rescinded the controversial guidelines.

      On Thursday evening, DCCAH sent a letter to all its grantees explaining that the amendment was an “over-correction” and has been officially rescinded.

      Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evan initially confirmed the news to the Washington City Paper. “It should never have been sent out in the first place,” he said. “We should not be censoring artwork or anything of that nature. It was not well thought out.”

    • ‘I don’t pay attention to censorship’
    • Govinda alleges Bollywood conspiracy to curb release of his films
    • Second C in CBFC stands for certification, not censorship
    • Censorship, strong-arm tactics of AIADMK draw flak

      It has happened again. Actor Vijay’s Sarkar, which was certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, has been forced to undergo fresh cuts by ministers and ruling AIADMK cadre, alleging “insult” to their late leader Jayalalithaa and the government.

      Though it is not uncommon for movies to be “ambushed” by fringe groups, what has taken certain political leaders and the film industry by surprise is the response of the ruling party whose cadre took the law into their hands, forcing some theatres to suspend shows of Sarkar for two days.

    • Aussie Amarok ad mocks censorship, gets banned

      Sydney – Authorities in certain countries can get quite grumpy, to say the least, about adverts that show cars unleashing their performance potential.

      Anything that even remotely encourages spirited driving of any kind must be silenced at all cost, before every member of the public is suddenly and subliminally brainwashed into becoming a reckless driver, ultimately resulting in mayhem on the roads of an apocalyptic scale.

    • Vietnam’s Lady Gaga is pressuring Facebook to stop complying with censorship laws

      Mai Khoi never intended on becoming an activist.

      “I had a lot of fans, songs, and money,” said the Vietnamese pop star who’s been likened to Lady Gaga and Pussy Riot (paywall). “Life was easy and comfortable, but it wasn’t enough for me.”

      At the Oslo Freedom Forum in Taipei, Khoi opened her talk with a performance of her song “Vietnam,” which urged her fellow citizens to “step out from the fear” and “raise our voice, speak, sing, scream.”

    • Hypocrisy and censorship: China’s human rights model

      In early September, a seemingly ordinary incident involving Chinese tourists being ejected from a hotel in Stockholm made international headlines when it erupted into a minor diplomatic quarrel between China and Sweden. Almost a month later, an altercation between a reporter from China’s state-run CCTV network and a speaker at a London forum addressing the erosion of rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong similarly escalated tensions between China and the UK. In both instances, Beijing accused the European governments of violating basic human rights and flouting international norms and diplomatic protocol.

      While this is not the first time either country has been the target of China’s sharp diplomatic rhetoric, the approach implies a new trend in employing this particular tactic on European nations — one not lost on Western media outlets. Drawing links between the two events, the tactic has been identified as a new strategy of applying diplomatic pressure by stirring national outrage. However, for countries more exposed to China’s reach, there is nothing new about it.

    • How censorship became deadly during the First World War

      The Boer War wasn’t just a disaster for the British army in terms of geopolitics and the perception of its power on the world stage. It was also a disaster in terms of public relations.

      Much of the European and American press had supported the Boers, casting these Dutch settlers as victims of brutal British colonialism (though very little ink was devoted to the dispossessed indigenous Africans who were colonized by the Boers and the British). Meanwhile, foreign press printed stories about the new British invention, the “concentration camp” where Boer civilians were herded, and of the boldness of the guerrilla campaigns waged by these farmers against the professional army of one of the world’s greatest powers.

      So the British learned their lesson for their next war—the First World War, almost 12 years later—investing significant money and effort into developing a scientific censorship and propaganda system to manipulate world public opinion. The best minds in the British press and universities were co-opted to develop censorship and propaganda systems, and they learned that it only worked if the marketplace of ideas was cleansed of competing narratives.

    • Hollywood Movie ‘Hunter Killer’ in Russian Limbo – ‘Veiled Censorship‘?

      “Hunter Killer,” the new American action thriller film starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman, was scheduled to premiere in Russia on November 1. However, it was not released due to what officials say was a bureaucratic issue, not censorship. Critics disagree.

      The Russian Ministry of Culture, which gives permits to all art productions before they can be shown to the public, said the problem was with the Russian distributor, which did not provide a proper copy of the film to be preserved in the state film archive (Gosfilmfond).

    • Former Post-Gazette cartoonist discusses censorship

      Though politics are growing more polarized, former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers said artists need not shy away from them in their work. While they shouldn’t feel pressured to take a side, he said, entertainers should also recognize that it’s okay to use their platforms as a means of making political statements.

      “When you see government cutting arts programs in schools and trying to demonize Hollywood,” Rogers said, “I think it’s really important for artists to stand up.”

      Rogers, who was fired from the Post-Gazette in June for works critical of President Trump, spoke Nov. 1 at a panel on free speech and censorship held at the Carnegie Stage. He was joined by attorney John Gisleson of the Pittsburgh law firm Morgan and Lewis, and by the American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Pittsburgh Vice President Brenda Lee Green.

    • Censorship And The Future Of Media!

      In modern times, Mass Media play vital role by providing information and entertainment to people across the border. Media’s different forms have influenced our lives. It was time, when print media ruled over the world, but now it faces competition from electronic media. And electronic media is now facing the same condition from social media. But these mediums still play their role by adopting changes of the time. Radio has been remained the main factor of providing entertainment apart from news and views.

      As we are living in the digital world, media has also reshaped itself and emerged as new media. With the internet new mediums of disseminating the information and views across the globe have revolutionized the media.

      Media with responsibility defended its freedom and played vital role, but the authoritarian governments and dictatorship narrowed its scope. We take an example of Pakistan; we see the dismal picture of media. Couple of the media institutions tend to maintain and protect its freedom, but the sense of social responsibility is not showed that is linked with the freedom of expression. Here we see media divided into anti-government, pro-government and righteous groups’ blocks. Meantime, it propagates the campaign against the rivals and trying to represent the skewed views on national issues. As a result, the truth and responsibility are vanished in vain.

    • Bending Over Backward: A Biased Look at Left-wing Censorship

      To provide “balance” and indicate similar incivility on the right the authors cite “off-campus” groups, regularly described as “alt-right’ and “white supremacist,” that send online threats to political opponents, one to a professor who called for “white genocide.” This subtle academic term, the authors explain, was taken literally by the ill-informed online bigots. Another professor’s commencement address, they note, sparked a flurry of fifty hate-filled internet responses, as if that number of electronic threats were extraordinary given the speaker’s use of the celebratory occasion to call President Trump “a racist and sexist megalomaniac.” Contrast those cyber-insults with the vile face-to-face confrontations and threats that were endured by an instructor at Yale’s Child Study Center who offered the modest email opinion that the school shouldn’t be so paternalistic as to prescribe Halloween costumes for adult students. Both she and her husband were harassed and insulted by an on-campus mob. To make matters worse, the couple received no backing from colleagues or administrators and eventually resigned over this picayune questioning of PC orthodoxy,

    • ‘Political censorship’: United Nations removes submissions from int’l civil groups at China’s human rights review

      nternational civil groups have expressed concern after the United Nations removed their submissions from papers relating to China’s human rights review. In response, the UN said that it must respect the “sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity” of China.

      The United Nations Human Rights Council conducted its Universal Periodic Review on China on Tuesday. It welcomed constructive contributions from civil society on human rights issues to be submitted by March.

      However, international civil groups, including Hong Kong’s Demosisto, have said that they were dismayed after at least seven submissions were completely removed from the final document. The document is presented to UN member states so they may draft recommendations as part of China’s review.

    • Not Safe for Facebook: Censorship and the Modern Public Square

      Semi-nude paintings by Austrian artist Egon Schiele surprised recent riders of the New York subway, London Tube, and Cologne bus. The works were part of an ad campaign launched by the Vienna Tourism Board. Originally, they were supposed to stand on their own as advertisements for the Leopold Museum. City regulators protested this request to depict nudity in their public spaces, which prompted a change from the Board: the addition of a strategic banner reading, “SORRY, 100 years old but still too daring today.” Facebook also refused to run the original images. Justice Anthony Kennedy dubbed Facebook the modern public square, an arena where citizens around the world can share and access information, buy and sell goods, and gather to discuss current events. Unlike the physical town square, Facebook does not have roots in civic organization. A private corporation, Facebook has no obligations or accountability to the public, only to business imperatives and shareholders. And yet, it has many of the powers typically ascribed to a government, due to its prominence in everyday life and ability to decide who sees what and when. Returning to a time before Facebook and a handful of other tech companies have quasi-governmental authority is impossible. The only alternative is to challenge censorship of free expression on the platform itself by pointing out omissions and opening up a dialogue.

    • Facebook and Twitter intensify censorship in 2018 elections

      Stepping up its online censorship less than a day before polls opened for the 2018 mid-term elections, Facebook announced on Monday the shutdown of 115 social media accounts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms. Nathanial Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook wrote in a newsroom blog post that US law enforcement had “contacted us about online activity that they recently discovered and which they believe may be linked to foreign entities.”

      The 30 Facebook and 85 Instagram accounts were blocked, according to Gleicher, because they “may be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior” and some of the accounts “appear to be in the French or Russian languages.” Acknowledging the threadbare character of the assertions, Gleicher also wrote that Facebook had not even completed an investigation before shutting down the accounts. He added, “Once we know more—including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities—we will update this post.”
      Meanwhile, Reuters reported on November 2 that Twitter had deleted 10,000 “automated accounts” in September and October that “wrongly appeared to be from Democrats” and “discouraged people from voting” on election day. Admitting the political motivation behind the censorship, the report said that Twitter took that action “after the party flagged the misleading tweets to the social media company.”

    • Russian Trolls Were at It Again Before Midterms, Facebook Says
    • Facebook Says Russia’s Internet Research Agency Likely Behind Online Election Meddling, Removes Additional Accounts
    • A Russian troll farm set an elaborate social media trap for the midterms — and no one bit
    • Facebook takes down fake accounts over Russian troll farm concerns

      Facebook says it removed more than 100 accounts this week from the main service as well as its subsidiary Instagram over concerns they may be connected to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) — the same troll operation targeted by special counsel Robert Mueller in his sprawling Russia investigation.

    • Internet Freedom and China’s censorship influence
    • Report Warns of “China Model” of Net Control
    • Rainbow Six Siege gets review bombed after Chinese censorship announcement
    • Rainbow Six Siege review bombed amid China censorship backlash
    • ‘Rainbow Six Siege’ In Censorship Row As “Aesthetic Changes” Are Made To Fit Asian Regulations
    • Ubisoft Will Censor Rainbow Six Siege’s References To Sex And Gambling Prior To Chinese Release
    • Pahlaj Nihalani Moves Bombay HC Against Censor Board Cuts to ‘Rangeela Raja’
    • If censorship is wrong, isn’t Pahlaj Nihalani and Rangeela Raja wronged too?
    • Elastos back on track after the “unlocking funds” drama – 220k ELA carriers distributed in October. Censorship-free Internet is making a comeback
    • Ex-CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihalani, Known For His Love Of Censorship, Has Moved Bombay HC Over Cuts To His Film
    • SENSATIONAL: ‘Prasoon Joshi Doesn’t Do Any Work’, Blasts Predecessor Pahlaj Nihalani Going To Court Over CBFC’s 20 Cuts In His Film

      Pahlaj Nihalani has filed a plea at the Bombay High Court against the censor board for demanding 20 cuts in his upcoming film ‘Rangeela Raja’.

    • Once scissor-happy, Nihalani now has second thoughts on censorship
    • Rangeela Raja Vulgarity Controversy: Ex-Censor Chief Pahlaj Nihalani Declares War On His Successor Prasoon Joshi
    • Govinda on 20 cuts given to Rangeela Raja: My films being targetted for last nine years
    • New Zealand slaps warning on A Star is Born over two teens getting ‘severely triggered’
    • A Star Is Born: Hollywood blockbuster sparks NZ censorship concerns

      he Office of Film and Literature Classification added a suicide warning to the recently released film A Star Is Born, just days after its release, following reports of young viewers being deeply affected by the content.

      The film, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, is a remake of a Hollywood classic and has received positive reviews on the global stage.

      It was rated M in Australia making it automatically an M in New Zealand.

      However, Chief Censor David Shanks said it did bring into question whether cross rating regulations with Australia were fit for purpose.

      “There is definitely additional attention that needs to be paid in New Zealand with the vulnerable population we have, that could be affected by this content,” he said.

    • ‘A Star is Born’ Rating Changed in New Zealand After Claims That Teens Were ‘Triggered’ By Pivotal Scene

      According to a series of tweets from the country’s Office of Film & Lit Classification, “Thanks to public feedback we’ve updated the descriptive note for #AStarIsBorn to include a warning for suicide. The depiction is subtle but emotionally arresting.”

      The film is now classified as “M” for “sex scenes, offensive language, drug use & suicide.”

    • FCC warns of fears and self-censorship

      The Foreign Correspondents’ Club warned today that journalists working in Hong Kong face fear and self-censorship if the government fails to explains its decision to deny entry to the Asia editor of the Financial Times newspaper, RTHK reports.

      Victor Mallet was denied entry into Hong Kong yesterday when he arrived as a visitor. British citizens are usually given a visa-free stay of up to six months.

      The FCC said it’s “shocked and baffled” over the entry denial and it is demanding an immediate explanation for this “aggravated and disproportionate sanction that seems completely unfounded.”

      A statement from the FCC said the action by the Immigration Department has placed journalists working in the SAR in an opaque environment in which fear and self-censorship may replace the freedom and confidence essential to a free society, and guaranteed by the Basic Law.

    • Fake court papers trick Google into censorship

      Forged court orders have been used in an attempt to deceive Google into removing hundreds of links.

      A British businessman’s name appears to be among dozens of instances where the documents have been served on the search engine to try to force it to remove damaging information from search results.

      Last week two fake documents were sent to Google in an attempt to censor a Times article revealing concerns about an online pharmacy run by an alleged internet spammer. The documents, including an order which purported to be from the UK Supreme Court, were sent to the tech giant in an attempt to get the article removed from its search result.

      The “de-indexing” request was submitted in the name of Mason Soiza, 24, the owner…

    • National Coalition Against Censorship Celebrates Free Expression on Stage

      On November 5th, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) hosted its annual Free Speech Defender Awards at a benefit celebration in New York City, honoring Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theatre, and featuring a highly-anticipated performance from musical theater icons Joe Iconis and George Salazar of Be More Chill. The event was hosted by comedian Michael Ian Black.

      [...]

      In the summer of 2017, The Public’s production of Julius Caesar, featuring a Trump-like Caesar, drew ire from right-wing media, resulting in the withdrawal of two of the play’s largest corporate sponsors. NCAC honors Eustis for his dedication to artistic freedom, his fierce defense of the value of provocative art to democracy and his unwavering commitment to the free expression of his directors, playwrights, actors and entire the entire theatrical community.

    • Freedom’s just another word for everything left to lose

      In this age when information flows internationally, it’s not enough for your country’s press to be free; it has to be free around the world.

      Two stats for you, one to make you happy, one to make you scared. Of the 180 countries ranked by the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, South Africa is number 28. Yay for us. Despite the gross attempts at Media Capture™ by the Guptas and their 24-hour Comedy News Channel, and by Mandela’s Dr Survè and his laughingly named Independent Media (at least the guy has a sense of humour), and despite our government’s corrupt channelling of millions in state advertising away from legitimate newspapers and into the Zuptas’ bank accounts, we still have a press that’s ranked as more free than countries like the US (45), the UK (40), and Uganda (117).

    • Twitter Censorship Strikes Again

      It is known that Twitter likes to censorship content. They have the power to ban and shut down the accounts of regular people, and even the ability to ban world leaders and their posts. It looks like Silicon Valley can decide what we are permitted to see on the modern web. Recently they shut down the account of a vocal Trump supporter who happens to be a black woman.

      [...]

      Obviously, this young black conservative Trump supporter doesn’t fit into the far-left vision that Twitter has. It looks like Twitter and its fellow Silicon Valley cronies are using their powerful platform to silence the voice from the right.

      President Trump is figuring out how to avoid social media platforms and this kind of liberal manipulations, and reach his supporters directly.

    • Activists Use Crypto to Protect ‘Rap Against Dictatorship’ from Government Censorship

      Anti-government activists in Thailand are using crypto tech to help prevent authorities from censoring “Rap Against Dictatorship,” a controversial music video that has gone viral in the country. The video, which excoriates Thai government and military authorities on a number of social issues, has achieved runaway success in Thailand, amassing more than 28 million views on YouTube since it was released on October 22.

    • Second EN Thompson lecture discusses free speech over censorship
    • Tajikistan: Internet censorship surges amid unrest and tax break report

      Security-related incidents and reporting on alleged tax breaks for businesspeople within Tajikistan’s ruling family appear to have triggered a fresh wave of internet censorship.

      Some websites, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, have been only sporadically inaccessible for months, even years. Total blocks on other websites, such independent newspaper Asia-Plus, are more recent.

      The worst situation of all is in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO, which was cut off from the internet altogether as of November 9. The Pamiri region is currently the focus of an intense security sweep and has seen at least one show of mass discontent by local residents.

    • Thai Rappers Adds Song on Zcoin’s Blockchain to Fight Censorship

      A rap song titled Prathet Ku Mee (Which is My Country), centered on government oppression in Thailand has garnered over 25 million views on YouTube. The viral song, which is topping Thailand’s iTunes download list as at October 27, 2018, was released by Thai rappers who dropped fiery rhymes about government corruptions, censorships, military dictatorship and much more.

      Thailand has been under the rule of a military government since 2014. The generals who toppled the elected government have kept a tight lid on dissent, going as far as telling the Thai population that the song violates the law, warning citizens not to watch or share it.

      Filmed in an old-fashioned black and white, the lyrics of the video seems to target junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

    • White Rabbit Red Rabbit denounces censorship

      “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” — an experimental play without a set, director or any rehearsals — will open to the public this weekend at Wild Goose Creative.
      Each night, the play will be performed by a different actor — Adam Humphrey, Acacia Duncan and Brian Evans— from the Columbus-based theater company Available Light. Written in 2010, the play has been performed in more than 20 languages by several famous actors and celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg and Martin Short during its premiere in New York City.
      Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, having refused mandatory military service, was not permitted to leave his country. In response, he wrote “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” as a means to express himself through borders.
      “This is a play about censorship, about one’s voice and about whose voice you obey,” said Eleni Papaleonardos, artistic director at Available Light Theatre and visiting assistant professor of Theatre at Denison University.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • The DEA and ICE are hiding surveillance cameras in streetlights

      The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have hidden an undisclosed number of covert surveillance cameras inside streetlights around the country, federal contracting documents reveal.

      According to government procurement data, the DEA has paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC roughly $22,000 since June 2018 for “video recording and reproducing equipment.” ICE paid out about $28,000 to Cowboy Streetlight Concealments over the same period of time.

    • ICE and the DEA have secretly hidden cameras in some streetlights

      Government procurement data reveals that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency have each spent tens of thousands of dollars on products from Houston’s Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC, which specializes in fake streetlight housings designed to conceal surveillance cameras.

      Since June, the DEA has spent $22,000 with Cowboy; ICE’s total is about $28K. Neither the government agencies nor Cowboy Streetlight Concealments will reveal where or how the hidden camera housings were used.

    • Researchers claim to have permanently neutralized ad-blocking’s most promising weapons

      Last year, Princeton researchers revealed a powerful new ad-blocking technique: perceptual ad-blocking uses a machine-learning model trained on images of pages with the ads identified to make predictions about which page elements are ads to block and which parts are not.

      However, a new paper from a group of Stanford and CISPA Helmholtz Center researchers reveals a powerful machine learning countermeasure that, they say, will permanently tilt the advantage toward advertisers and away from ad-blockers.

    • Amazon must give up Echo recordings in double murder case, judge rules

      According to local media accounts, Strafford County Superior Court Presiding Justice Steven M. Houran compelled Amazon to disclose not only the audio files but any associated data—such as what phones were paired to the smart speaker—that may be connected to the January 2017 murder of Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Police ‘hamstrung’ over facial recognition tech, says Met chief

      She was reported as saying she was keen to press ahead with greater use of facial recognition. “I am very keen that the law keeps up with the technology and I don’t feel that we are working in a tremendously enabling environment at the moment,” Dick said.

    • Experts oppose gov’t proposal to restrict right to assembly

      “Even that would obviously restrict the right to assembly. And saying that police are too busy to respond in six hours is not a justification for this bill proposal,” Lavapuro said.

    • Reflections on the role of philanthropy in the world of work

      The fifth strategy listed by the Ford Foundation – amplifying the voice and influence of young and old workers, migrant workers, and returnee migrants – is vital. Conventionally this was done by promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining, and trusting that trade unions would transmit the workers’ voices. However, experience has shown that this is not enough: many workers go unrepresented and the trade union structures at the international level are sometimes part of the top-down problem.

    • As California Burns, Undocumented People Face Gap in Recovery Aid

      California is on fire.

      As this piece is being written, the Camp Fire is racing across northern California at a rate of about eighty football fields per minute. To the south in Ventura County, the Hill Fire has already scorched 30,000 acres in a single day. Although I am sitting safely in my home hundreds of miles away from either blaze, I can actually smell the smoke. The air is hazy and the sun has taken on an eerie reddish hue. It’s November. It hasn’t rained in months. And it’s not forecasted to anytime soon.

      Earlier this summer, the largest wildfire in the state’s history — the Mendocino Complex Fire — burned so intensely that it generated its own weather patterns, creating ‘fire whirls’ that uprooted trees and ripped roofs off of homes. Stretching out over almost 500 square miles, the Mendocino Complex fire burned through an area roughly the size of the city of Los Angeles, and it was just one of more than a dozen infernos active in the state at the time.

      Wildfire has always been a normal feature of California’s ecosystems. Periodic blazes serve to clean up dead litter on the forest floor and play an important role in the reproduction of certain plants. What is not normal are the climate change-fueled extreme weather conditions that have led to larger and more frequent fires. The period between fall of 2011 and fall of 2015 was the driest in California’s history, with 62 million trees dying in 2016 alone, largely due to drought. According to science writer Gary Ferguson, these prolonged droughts, coupled with broken heat records, have led to forests filled with trees as flammable as the kiln-dried timber found in lumber yards.

    • Insult to Injury: US Citizen Children of Migrants Already Suffer Under Immigration Law, Even Without an Executive Birthright Order

      One of President Trump’s stated reasons for the proposed elimination of birthright citizenship is: “a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits.” Among the many problems with this statement is its disregard for the difficulties that current immigration law imposes on the US citizen children of migrants. One of the most wrenching examples plays itself out when migrants seek permanent resident status through applications for “cancellation of removal” under section 240(A)(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

      This provision established a type of relief sought by certain migrants who are in removal proceedings before an immigration court.o

    • In remembrance of Kristallnacht

      Eighty years ago, on 9 November 1938, an order was given by Nazi German authorities to terrorize and arrest German Jewish citizens, resulting in tens of thousands of people being sent to concentration camps. Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, marked a violent escalation against Jewish people. This escalation of violence was a continuation of antisemitic policies instituted in 1933, but was also part of a long history of discrimination against Jewish people.

      In the October issue of The American Historical Review, the most prominent professional history journal in the United States, historians have taken on the task of understanding “the vexed history of anti-Semitism.”[1] In a “roundtable discussion”, historians debate the origins of the term itself, which only appeared in the late nineteenth century. They discuss alternative terminologies, such as Judeophobia, which Jewish historian Jonathan Judaken “defends as an overarching category for the field’”[2] In his writing, Judaken pushes us to understand and differentiate ancient Judeophobia and medieval anti-Judaism, Nazi anti-Semitism and contemporary anti-Zionism. Judaken prompts us to understand both continuities and changes. Searching to understand the origin of the word “anti-Semitism”, historian David Feldman locates its usage in the 1870s – after political and civil equality for Jews is achieved in Germany in 1871.[3]

      As Feldman points out, the prominent British-Jewish journalist, editor and activist Lucien Wolf wrote of antisemitism in an entry commissioned for the Encyclopedia Britannica’s eleventh edition, which came out in 1910. In that entry, Wolf writes, “In the political struggles of the concluding quarter of the nineteenth century an important part was played by a religious, political and social agitation against the Jews, known as ‘Anti-Semitism’. The origins of the remarkable movement already threaten to become obscured by legend. The Jews contend that anti-Semitism is a mere atavistic revival of the Jew-hatred of the middle ages”.[4] In this way, Wolf describes antisemitism as being felt as part of a continual form of oppression by Jews.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • HTTP/3

      The protocol that’s been called HTTP-over-QUIC for quite some time has now changed name and will officially become HTTP/3. This was triggered by this original suggestion by Mark Nottingham.

      The QUIC Working Group in the IETF works on creating the QUIC transport protocol. QUIC is a TCP replacement done over UDP. Originally, QUIC was started as an effort by Google and then more of a “HTTP/2-encrypted-over-UDP” protocol.

      When the work took off in the IETF to standardize the protocol, it was split up in two layers: the transport and the HTTP parts. The idea being that this transport protocol can be used to transfer other data too and its not just done explicitly for HTTP or HTTP-like protocols. But the name was still QUIC.

      People in the community has referred to these different versions of the protocol using informal names such as iQUIC and gQUIC to separate the QUIC protocols from IETF and Google (since they differed quite a lot in the details). The protocol that sends HTTP over “iQUIC” was called “hq” (HTTP-over-QUIC) for a long time.

  • DRM
    • Bad News For Denuvo, Hitman 2 Gets Cracked Before Official Release

      DRM companies have been in constant battle with scene groups for quite some time. We have seen multitudes of DRM software over the years with varying degrees of success. There hasn’t been any software that has stopped scene groups from cracking a game.

      Yet Denuvo has been the most successful DRM software till date. The software doesn’t protect a game indefinitely, but it does manage to delay the cracks and protect the initial launch window. This approach has been highly successful and Denuvo has seen its popularity soar, being present in most AAA titles now.

      [...]

      A lot of games using Denuvo’s new 5.2 version were also cracked recently. Just Cause 4 will also be protected by Denuvo, so there’s some possibility scene groups bring out cracks in a few days of release.

      This isn’t really bad news for Game Developers, but it might be for Denuvo. If cracks start appearing within a few days after launch, companies might start looking for other providers, or use their in-house protection software.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • More than a dozen public interest statements filed in investigation of Qualcomm’s first ITC complaint against Apple

      In late September, the ITC’s meanwhile-retired Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Thomas B. Pender recommended that the U.S. trade agency refrain from banning Intel-powered iPhones he deemed to infringe a Qualcomm patent, given Qualcomm’s overtly anticompetitive litigation tactics of targeting only Intel-powered iPhones. In late October, a heavily-redacted version of his findings became available. On Halloween, the parties filed their public interest statements.

      The parties, government agencies, and the general public have multiple opportunities to submit public interest statements to the ITC. I’ve created a three-page diagram that shows at which procedural milestones the ITC requests and/or invites such statements.

      On Thursday (November 8), the latest round of statements by the general public was due. A total of thirteen statements were filed that day. Here are some observations:

      Intel’s statement is particularly relevant. Its testimony on what would happen if Qualcomm could successfully exclude Intel-powered iPhones from the U.S. market is at the heart of ALJ Pender’s factual findings relating ot the public interest.

    • Recent Critiques of Post-Sale Confusion: Is Materiality the Answer?

      Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman are well known as the authors of the book, The Knock-Off Economy: How Imitation Sparks Innovation (2012). In their new article, Rethinking Post-Sale Confusion, Raustiala and Sprigman level a critique at “post-sale confusion” theory that supports many of their book’s conclusions about the virtues of so-called knock-offs. In post-sale confusion cases, courts find infringement even when it is abundantly clear that consumers of obvious knock-offs are not confused at the time of purchase.

      Raustiala and Sprigman’s critique of post-sale confusion theory adds to similarly critical scholarship by others such as Jeremy Sheff and Mark McKenna, whose articles Veblen Brands and A Consumer Decision-Making Theory of Trademark Law, respectively, provide the backbone for much of the discussion in this post. Professor Sheff also has a forthcoming book chapter in the Cambridge Handbook on Comparative and International Trademark Law, where he places American post-sale confusion doctrine in perspective by comparing it to the European approach.

      This post attempts to synthesize this scholarship, though cannot hope to serve as a replacement for the much more comprehensive and eloquent original work by these experts. The post also draws attention to a growing refrain by trademark scholars such as Rebecca Tushnet, Mark McKenna, and Mark Lemley: that a possible response to trademark courts’ embrace of alternative theories of confusion is to institute a materiality requirement, like courts use for false advertising claims.

    • Copyrights
      • Researchers Report Elsevier to EU Anti-Competition Authority

        Academic publisher Elsevier has repeatedly made the news for its battle with Sci-Hub, the “Pirate Bay” of science. However, while Elsevier is using copyrights to protect its business, academic-insiders accuse the publisher of “anti-competitive” actions.

      • MPAA Considers a ‘Makeover’ As It Faces Shrinking Budget

        Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox has been one of the major entertainment industry stories this year. Indirectly, it also impacts Hollywood’s industry group the MPAA, which loses one of its six members. This prompted insiders to rethink the organization’s future and reportedly, streaming giants such as Netflix are being considered as future members.

      • Spotify to Musicians: Let Us Be Your Label

        Of course, the direct upload plan isn’t altruistic. Spotify, which is on track to lose more than $170 million this year, pays out more than 70 percent of its monthly sales to rights holders. The direct upload system ups Spotify’s take even as it delivers 50 percent to the artists, who’d typically get more like 15 percent to 20 percent under the old system.

Automation of Searches Will Not Solve the Legitimacy Problem Caused by Patents Lust

Sunday 11th of November 2018 11:11:53 PM

Related: Michael Frakes and Melissa Wasserman Complain About Low Patent Quality While Watchtroll Lobbies to Lower It Further

Summary: The false belief that better searches and so-called ‘AI’ can miraculously assess patents will simply drive/motivate bad decisions and already steers bad management towards patent maximalism (presumption of examination/validation where none actually exists)

THE emergence of SCOTUS‘s decision on Alice and today’s 35 U.S.C. § 101 was quite revolutionary. We have no issue with USPTO-granted patents on physical things (an example from several hours ago can be seen here) but on algorithms — something which the European Patent Office (EPO) too has been guilty of lately.

“Examiners need to better understand and respect patent scope, irrespective of what was done in the past (prior art).”Recently there were those who framed prior art [1, 2] — not patent scope — as a core issue. Not even Watchtroll was happy about it (labeling it “An Overstated Solution to Patent Examination”). Examiners need to better understand and respect patent scope, irrespective of what was done in the past (prior art). Compare this to prior Watchtroll rants/coverage about prior art (like this from 2 days earlier).

We don’t mean to say that prior art never matters; alluding to this failing company (GoPro), for instance, Patently-O recently highlighted this case where prior art eliminated wrongly- and already-granted US patents, thanks to PTAB’s availability/existence. To quote:

On appeal, the Federal Circuit disagreed with the PTAB’s conclusions — holding that the Board too narrowly “focused on only one of several factors that are relevant to determining public accessibility in the context of materials distributed at conferences or meetings. . . . [O]ur case law directs us to also consider the nature of the conference or meeting; whether there are restrictions on public disclosure of the information; expectations of confidentiality; and expectations of sharing the information.”

After reviewing the matter Federal Circuit rejected the PTAB analysis and found that the catalog’s use at the show counted as prior art.

“My win in the GoPro v. Contour IP case is the subject of Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O post,” Professor Lemley wrote in Twitter (about the above). It is worth noting that Watchtroll is proudly promoting Iancu’s war on PTAB. Like Battistelli, Iancu hopes that the patent legitimacy problem will go away by marginalising the auditor.

“Search has always involved a degree of so-called ‘AI’ without it being exploited as a buzzword; this is becoming ridiculous.”Speaking of prior art, there’s no way to automate search for it as well as assessment. Domain experts are needed, hence the role of examiners. Days ago we saw the report “North Side company secures $250K to help develop AI-powered patent search tool”; They said “AI”, so someone gave them money for something that would work poorly (if at all). IPPro Patents coverage of Dennemeyer buying Octimine also used the term “AI” in the headline. Search has always involved a degree of so-called ‘AI’ without it being exploited as a buzzword; this is becoming ridiculous. To quote:

The Dennemeyer Group has acquired patent search service provider Octimine Technologies, a start-up based in Munich, Germany.

Octimine, which was founded in 2015 founded by former LMU Munich and Max Planck Institute scientists Michael Natterer, Matthias Pötzl and Dietmar Harhoff, provides patent-searching and analysis tools utilising artificial intelligence (AI).

Judging by the everyday nonsense we see as early as this morning, there’s “AI” nonsense everywhere. The latest fashion/trend? Marketing? António Campinos uses it all the time to promote software patents in Europe.

The Federal Circuit and PTAB Are Not Slowing Down; Patent Maximalists Claim It’s ‘Harassment’ to Question a Patent’s Validity

Sunday 11th of November 2018 10:18:54 PM

The duo that strikes out a lot of questionable patents is still besieged or at least berated by the litigation ‘industry’

Summary: There’s no sign of stopping when it comes to harassment of judges and courts; those who make a living from patent threats and litigation do anything conceivable to stop the ‘bloodbath’ of US patents which were never supposed to have been granted in the first place

AS we noted in the previous post, there’s a coordinated effort to squash reviews of patents wrongly granted by the USPTO. Battistelli did something similar at the European Patent Office (EPO) when he relentlessly attacked judges and their collective independence.

The USPTO, unlike the EPO, cannot quite influence the courts (it’s definitely trying to, as we warned earlier this month), so if patents are granted in error they will be invalidated/rejected by the courts; Iancu and his new sidekick (patent trolls' apologists) can just stare and glare. They can’t quite touch the judges. They make a bit of a turmoil at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) though, mirroring Battistelli’s assault on the appeal boards.

Recent Law360 coverage spoke about fake patents (that are, as usual, software patents) being thrown out by the excellent Federal Circuit, which has changed a lot under its current chief judge. There is virtually nothing Iancu can do to the Federal Circuit and ignoring its outcomes/caselaw he can only ever do at his own peril. Suzanne Monyak’s report says that “[t]he Federal Circuit on Wednesday refused to revive technology company PurePredictive Inc.’s claims that an open-source software company ripped off its predictive analytics patent, leaving in place a lower court’s ruling…”

Notice how they attempted to use patents against Free/Open Source software.

Having failed to slow down the Federal Circuit and PTAB, Dennis Crouch changes strategies again (published on 29/10/18, based on someone else’s publication); these patent maximalists are looking/assessing a basis for rejecting/suppressing IPRs. Authored by Dennis Crouch last month: “The article provides its expectation that the PTO will likely become even more aggressive at limiting this approach of repeat filings. “Therefore it may be prudent to concentrate the best arguments into a single petition, that is, to only count on a single bite at the apple.””

The use of the apple parable is interesting because Apple, the company, is relevant to this.

They just to to make patents above challenge and pass the burden of proof to others. Watchtroll soon joined Crouch, as usual (the sites are connected in some ways and occasionally flatter one another). To quote: “Recently another Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to do something about the problem of multiple post issuance challenges against the same patent – even the same patent claims. If the Court takes the case it will clarify the proper role of AIA proceedings within the wider scheme of the patent system and determine whether title to a patent ever quiets, or whether it can be endlessly challenged in a never-ending series of duplicative challenges until the patent owner finally loses all rights. See Supreme Court asked to apply Multiple Proceedings rule to end harassing validity challenges.”

Really? They use the word harassing? As if questioning patent bullies is “harassment”? Who does the harassing here? And here goes Watchtroll again: “The USIJ report states that a basic premise behind Congressional enactment of the PTAB through passage of the AIA was to give those parties being sued or threatened with a suit for patent infringement “one bite at the apple” to challenge patents through inter partes review (IPR) or other AIA trial proceedings.”

It doesn’t matter if we like Apple or not (we don’t), the underlying principles of law are important; sites like Watchtroll prefer to pretend that they do their lobbying for ‘altruistic’ reasons like squashing “Big Tech”. All they want is more litigation, even at innovation’s expense.

Apple, we might add, has just been bitten again by fake patents that are obviously software patents. From last week’s blog post/article:

Apple has been hit by a new patent lawsuit from Dynamic Data Technologies, with the suit alleging Apple’s products and services have infringed on 11 patents relating to video streaming, processing and optimization.

These can only be software patents, at least in part.

We could go on and on giving examples of these attempts to deplete/eliminate patent challenges. Last week Watchtroll was bashing courts again, implying that courts or judges don’t do their work properly. And this is the person Trump's pick (Iancu) associates with? The President who attacks judges and puts rightwing activists in SCOTUS?

Going back to Crouch, on IPRs he noted a “consolidated appeal [which] involves 12 different inter partes review proceedings collectively challenging three Acceleration Bay patents.”

The more IPRs, the merrier. Crouch hardly makes it a secret that he dislikes PTAB and recent articles of his [1, 2, 3] deal with claim interpretation and a situation wherein SCOTUS is asked to look at patent aspects associated with outsourcing/production abroad. Taking note of an AIA gap in legislation/law, there’s also this:

In Alexander Milburn Co. v. Davis-Bournonville Co., 270 U.S. 390 (1926), the U.S. Supreme Court provided a portion of the answer — holding that an unclaimed invention found in a later issued patent is “made public property” as of its filing date. That statement though came as an interpretation of no-longer-active provision that the patentee must be “the original and first inventor.” Rev. Sts. § 4920. In addition to interpreting a different statute, the court in Milburn also did not consider the priority question.

The relevant statute for this case is pre-AIA 102(e) — which also does not spell out what should happen in this situation — but nothing in the statute suggests to me that we should limit the prior art impact of priority filings to disclosures that are claimed in later patents or patent applications. However, the Federal Circuit ruled in this case that that a published application can count as prior art as of its provisional filing date — but only as to features actually claimed in the application. According to the court, features disclosed in the provisional but not claimed in the published application will only be prior art as of their date of public disclosure.

Waste of courts’ time and human productivity? Here’s another take on the case (same as above):

The Supreme Court’s request for views from the Solicitor General in Ariosa Diagnostics v. Illumina has renewed interest in this nerdy issue of patent prior art. I appear to be in a very small minority that believes that Federal Circuit’s rule on this may be right (or at least is not obviously wrong), so I thought I would discuss the issue.

[...]

Then why do I say this is an uneasy case? Well, did I mention that I like Alexander Milburn? The policy it states, that delay in the patent office shouldn’t affect prior art can easily be applied here. So long as the description is in the provisional patent, and so long as that provisional patent is eventually publicly accessible, then the goal, even if not the strict language, of the statute is met.

Also, my reading leads to a potentially unhappy result. A party could file a provisional that supports invention A, and then a year later file a patent that claims invention A but describes invention B. The patent could then be asserted against B while relying on the earlier filing date of A, even though B was never described in the provisional as of the earlier date. Similarly, a provisional patent could describe B, and B could then be removed from the final patent application, and the patent would not be prior art because B was not described in the patent, even though B had been described in the earlier, now publicly accessible provisional application.

I don’t know where I land on this – as readers of this blog know, I tend to be a textualist. Sometimes the Court has agreed with that, but sometimes (see patentable subject matter and patent venue) it does not.

The author, Michael Risch, says he feels “in a very small minority,” but who did he ask? Lawyers? In the world of technology there’s overwhelming support for PTAB and CAFC’s affirmation of PTAB’s decisions (not quite the same as above). Either way, as always, one can be sure and abundantly certain that patent maximalists will attempt to exploit SCOTUS to swing the patent system in favour of litigation, not innovation. This needs to be talked about openly as it makes them shy away.

Patent Maximalists Will Latch Onto Return Mail v US Postal Service in an Effort to Weaken or Limit Post-Grant Reviews of US Patents

Sunday 11th of November 2018 09:06:08 PM

Summary: An upcoming case, dealing with what governments can and cannot do with/to patents (specifically the US government and US patents), interests the litigation ‘industry’ because it loathes reviews of low-quality and/or controversial patents (these reviews discourage litigation or stop lawsuits early on in the cycle)

THE DEPARTURE of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from science and technology was noted here earlier today; it not only abandons actual innovation but also justice itself. It’s rather troubling. It all happened quite fast under Donald Trump and corrupt Wilbur Ross (new Director and deputy appointed); at the same time two right-wing ‘activists’ were also appointed as Justices.

Looking back at the past fortnight’s news we take note of Watchtroll’s article from two weeks ago about Bayh-Dole, wherein Joseph Allen defends public work (government/universities) being handed over for trolls to attack the public with. Remember that USPTO chiefs are rather sympathetic towards trolls. This cannot be ignored.

One other topic covered here two weekends ago was that chasm separating individuals and non-human entities, i.e. “person” versus “government”/”corporation” (similar to “corporations” as “people” or corporate bribery as “free speech”). Watchtroll explained it as follows on the last day of last month: “Return Mail also cites to the Supreme Court’s 1991 decision in International Primate Protection League v. Administrators, Tulane Educational Fund to note that the Court has previously said that courts should be reluctant to read “person” as meaning the sovereign where such a reading is “decidedly awkward.””

IPPro Patents’ coverage said this:

The US Supreme Court has granted Return Mail v US Postal Service and will consider whether the government is a “person” who may petition to institute review proceedings under the America Invents Act (AIA).

Return Mail had petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari following a US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision last year.

Return Mail had originally tried to licence its patent for the processing of mails items that are undeliverable to the US Postal Service but was unsuccessful.

Return Mail then filed a lawsuit in the US Claims Court, alleging patent infringement.

The US Postal Service countered this by filing a petition with the USPTO for a covered business method review.

Dissatisfied with the Federal Circuit‘s decision and what it means for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions, namely inter partes reviews (IPRs) — filed by or against the government — they take it up to SCOTUS. As Patent Docs explained:

On Friday, October 26, 2018, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Return Mail, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, in order to answer the question whether the government can bring post-grant review proceedings under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, or AIA. Specifically, the Supreme Court agreed to review whether the government is a “person” under the AIA, as is required to file a petition seeking the institution of AIA review proceedings.

The case began with Return Mail seeking to license its patent to the Postal Service as early as 2006. Return Mail is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548, which claims methods, computer programs, and systems for processing undeliverable or returned mail. Claim 1 covers using encoded data (essentially, a bar code) that is added to the item before mailing to identify the intended recipient and notify the sender with new recipient information to allow the sender to update its records. Instead of licensing the ’548 patent, the Postal Service filed a petition for ex parte reexamination with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO instituted the reexamination proceeding, but eventually confirmed the validity of the patent. Return Mail then filed a complaint against the Postal Service in the Court of Federal Claims.

SCOTUS has generally declined to revisit patent scope case (those that truly matter to us) and repeatedly defended PTAB IPRs. The above case, to us at least, does not matter all that much, but surely it will be looked at quite closely for months to come. Patent maximalists hope to exploit it to limit AIA review proceedings.

Guest Post: EPO Spins Censorship of Staff Representation

Sunday 11th of November 2018 08:17:11 PM

Summary: Another concrete example of Campinos’ cynical story-telling

THE FOLLOWING is composed/presented as two parts. The first is a reader’s response to the second, which is spin from António Campinos, published after censoring SUEPO's E-mails.

The situation prior to Battistelli

Under all EPO presidents, CSC/LSC as well as SUEPO could send the messages they wanted with no limitation (obviously they never spammed EPO staff with silly contents, much less aggressive messages since it is not EPO’s culture and it would have fired back).

There was no problem.

The situation under Battistelli

Battistelli rapidly feared that staff reps/SUEPO could issue to staff reasoned and substantiated critiques exposing his wrongdoing. He then decided to ban mass emails of both CSC/LSC and SUEPO, based on fake motives: Elodie Bergot (HR) falsely accused staff reps/SUEPO of sending defamatory contents or aggressive emails, but surprisingly no one was ever disciplined for an aggressive/defamatory message sent to staff via mass emails (and you best believe that if staff reps/SUEPO officials had sent something truly defamatory or insulting, Bergot would have disciplined them ASAP as sanctioning staff is her hobby).

The situation under Campinos

Campinos now wants EPO staff and the public to believe he re-establishes communication channels only without doing it.

Interesting aspects of his communiqué:

1 – it is limited to CSC/LSC = it thus excludes SUEPO (the union representing half of EPO staff) which emails remains banned within the EPO.

2 – it is limited to TWO (2) messages/year (don’t laugh) and only to call for general assemblies (something which occurs about twice a year).

The communication ban remains intact and impedes not only the communication but de facto the daily work of staff reps/SUEPO as they cannot properly inform staff on the very issues which concern them e.g. top managerial decisions, planned reforms etc.

3 – this “change” is on trial for one year (again don’t laugh). So the ban is not only not lifted but the tiny “improvement” can even be reversed.

4 – Campinos suggests that receiving mass email from CSC/LSC (who are elected by staff) would be an intrusion amounting to spam: how nice of him!

Conclusion

Nothing has changed at EPO so far. Actually it is quite pathetic to see Campinos being manipulated by Elodie Bergot (HR) and her husband Gilles Requena, head of Campinos’ presidential cabinet. They are hijacking the EPO. Campinos wants staff to believe he is the boss, but everyone starts to understand that he is only a puppet at the hands of the infernal duo.

Communication means for Staff Representation

05.11.2018

Certain mass emails permitted

Dear Colleagues,

Today I want to inform you that we will be allowing Staff Representatives to send mass emails for certain purposes.

In the scope of our regular discussions, staff representatives have requested authorisation to send mass emails to all staff. Currently, they have a wide range of methods to communicate, such as dedicated intranet pages, RSS feeds and notice boards, among others. However, the ability to send mass emails is not one of them, as a result of our IT policy.

One of my strategic priorities is to enhance dialogue across the Office. If we are truly going to do that, we have to recognise that emails in certain situations are necessary, especially if we want to support Staff Representatives in reaching out to staff so they can represent them effectively. Allowing this possibility would also respect freedom of speech and freedom of association and “contribute to the smooth running of the service by providing a channel for the expression of opinion by the staff”, as cited in our Service Regulations.

As a result, the CSC and each Local Staff Committee will be permitted to send invitations to their assemblies by mass email.

I should underline that this is not an entirely new measure. Some of my predecessors had authorised staff representatives to send mass emails. However, this was withdrawn in view of what was then deemed to be inappropriate use, in terms of volume and offensive content. We have to recognise that while Representatives enjoy a large freedom of expression and criticism, communications have to respect fundamental principles, such as respect of personal data, rights and privacy of individuals, and abstain from using language that could be seen as insulting, offensive or humiliating towards any third party.

The measure will therefore be implemented as a pilot for one year, which we hope will prove to be successful and constructive. Specifically, invitations can be sent for two of their respective assemblies to all staff at the workplace where assemblies are due to take place.

For some of you, like me, receiving mass emails may be seen as intrusive and perhaps not the most appropriate medium to communicate internally with our colleagues. However, at this stage, the possibility to send invitations by email is seen as an effective way in which Staff representatives can invite you to learn more about their activities and follow their progress in social dialogue – goals I support entirely.

António Campinos
President

Andrei Iancu and Laura Peter Are Two Proponents of Patent Trolls at the Top of the USPTO

Sunday 11th of November 2018 01:49:18 PM

And the EPO isn’t much better at the top (banker as President)

Summary: Patent offices do not seem to care about the law, about the courts, about judges and so on; all they care about is money (and litigation costs) and that’s a very major problem

THE previous post noted that patent lawsuits had significantly decreased in number because the confidence associated with USPTO-granted patents (certainty of validity) just isn’t there anymore. Many lawsuits go astray.

The litigation ‘industry’ fights back with misinformation and ‘moles’ (entryism). Sure it can’t change the courts/judges, but it certainly can lie to the public and to firms, encouraging them to file more patent lawsuits (even frivolous ones are profitable to lawyers). The other day we saw the headline “Experts Assess Coming Changes In US Courts And Patentability” (it’s mostly behind a paywall) — a rather mystifying claim that appeared on Friday. “Experts” in this context means patent/litigation ‘industry’ insiders; they express what they want to happen, not what is actually happening. We’re very disappointed to see IP Watch going along with this although not so surprised anymore; they stopped covering European Patent Office (EPO) scandals and their chief takes selfies with António Campinos (see above), who persists with union-busting and software patents in Europe. Hours ago Michael Loney from Managing IP (patent maximalists) referred to aggressors, trolls and thugs as “patent monetisation market”, citing the notorious IP Dealmakers Forum, an event of predators and trolls (even led by them). This is what Loney wrote about the think tank that’s just next door to him:

The average price of a US patent is down 30% to $176,000 this year. The reason this may not be bad and what is driving “realistic optimism” among patent monetisers were some of the takeaways from the IP Dealmakers Forum

The mood among attendees and speakers at the IP Dealmakers Forum in New York on November 7 and 8 was a marked contrast to the downbeat tone in recent years.

Maybe they’ve noticed who’s being put in charge of the USPTO; but that doesn’t change what courts/judges are saying. For those who missed it, the USPTO has just chosen a Deputy Director who used to work for (arguably) a patent troll. As Benjamin Henrion put it: “USTPO is now filled with patent trolls in the top level position, Laura Peter, here an article from 2007 http://actonline.org/2007/02/22/immersion-corp-gives-small-biz-innovators-a-bad-name/ …”

He cites a Microsoft AstroTurfing group, which does not like this troll, having already (almost 12 years ago!) specifically named Laura Peter:

On February 20, the Wall Street Journal decided to publish an Op-Ed by the Patent Counsel for Immersion Corporation – a tech and patent shop which most famously owns the patent on the “force feedback” technology we all turn off on our gaming consoles. And while I am sure Ms. Peter and I would agree on the importance of IP, our mutual affection for patents, and the passion that only a good licensing deal can bring, she does an enormous disservice by equating patent trolls to technology creators. In a ham-handed attempt to attack the patent system reforms currently under consideration in Congress she suggests that “small business” will be harmed by the myriad of suggested reforms, and we should look more kindly upon the creatures dwelling under the bridge.

Laura Peter will of course be praised by the patent trolls’ lobby, which views her as a potential ally if not ‘mole’. Here we have Watchtroll reposting press releases from the USPTO again. This promotional piece makes it clear that corrupt Wilbur Ross is once again responsible for the pick:

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced the appointment of Laura Peter as deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), effective November 13, 2018. Ms. Peter most recently held the position of deputy general counsel of A10 Networks in Silicon Valley and provided counsel on worldwide legal matters, including commercial transactions, intellectual property (IP), licenses, litigation, and regulatory compliance.

“Laura Peter brings a breadth of experience and a deep understanding of intellectual property issues to her new role as deputy director of the USPTO,” said Secretary Ross. “She will be an asset to our administration as we look to increase reliability and balance in the intellectual property system, as well as provide more predictability so that businesses can grow and invest with confidence.”

Ms. Peter has practiced IP law for over 20 years. Among other positions, she was previously vice president and general counsel of Immersion Corporation, where she led all aspects of the company’s legal issues, including its IP portfolio. She was also assistant general counsel and director of intellectual property at Foundry Networks, where she built their patent portfolio and led successful patent actions against large competitors. She began her career as a commercial and intellectual property litigator at Townsend, Townsend and Crew (now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP).

“I am thrilled that Laura Peter will join the USPTO as deputy director,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu. “Her thoughtfulness, business sense, and keen understanding of the important role intellectual property plays in today’s economy will be extremely valuable to the USPTO and the IP community.”

“I am honored to be chosen as USPTO deputy director at a time when intellectual property matters are at the forefront of national and international affairs,” said Peter. “I look forward to working with Director Iancu and the nearly 13,000 employees of the USPTO to protect and improve our IP system, which is a crown jewel in the American economy.”

Ms. Peter holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Cornell University and a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law and received a Master of Laws from King’s College London.

So there is now a Director and a deputy who are both proponents of patent trolls. Great.

Iancu denies that patent trolls exist or that they’re a problem.

“Sorry, Director Iancu,” says this new article from yesterday “trolls are real.” Iancu is being somewhat of a troll by belittling the problem of trolls. The following article was composed by “Kenneth R. Carter [who] is the general counsel to Bitmovin, Inc., a multimedia technology company that provides services that transcode digital video and audio to streaming formats using cloud computing and streaming media players.”

That’s software — a domain in which trolls prey on just about everyone, especially small companies that cannot afford a long legal battle (or are reluctant to contest the claims because settlement is cheaper).

To quote:

I live in an enchanted and magical land of rainbows and unicorns called “Silicon Valley.” In addition to unicorns, Silicon Valley is also inhabited by trolls, who emerge from under their bridges to threaten the denizens of the valley with lawsuits based on dubious patents.

I was shocked to read that Andrei Iancu, director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gave a recent speech where he complained that people who call non-practicing entities (NPE) patent trolls are “storytellers” who are “scaring our inventors and our entrepreneurs …”. Given how far this is from reality, I could not imagine what kind of fantasyland Director Iancu lives in.

Patent trolls exist in Silicon Valley and are a very real threat to innovators. I should know. I have fought off two patent trolls, most recently this past summer as the general counsel of Bitmovin.

[...]

These three protections have helped companies like mine and Congress, and the USPTO shouldn’t allow them to be weakened. Sorry, Director Iancu, trolls are real. They don’t just exist in fairy tales, and the real ones are a threat to innovators. And that’s not crying “wolf.”

So, in summary, the litigation ‘industry’ may be happy that a couple of unqualified nobodies whose sole accomplishment is suing companies now run the Office. Courts and judges, however, equipped with 35 U.S.C. § 101 (or Alice/SCOTUS in case Iancu waters down § 101), will just further lower the certainty associated with US patents. We are pretty certain that the Federal Circuit will persist, even if Iancu keeps vandalising the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), e.g. by discouraging or pricing out of reach inter partes reviews (IPRs).

What we see in the US right now is a bunch of villainous lawyers, who used to work for Donald Trump, declaring a war on law, on justice, on courts and on judges. This won’t end well. There’s an “innovation wave” coming.

The Patent ‘Industry’ Wants Incitations and Feuds, Not Innovation and Collaboration

Sunday 11th of November 2018 12:58:42 PM

Summary: The litigation giants and their drones keep insisting that they’re interested in helping scientists; but sooner or later the real (productive) industry learns to kick them to the curb and work together instead of suing

THE US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has fallen prey or has been compromised at the hands of the litigation lobby. Patently-O has just promoted IPO indoctrination videos and Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) carries on with his patent propaganda (it’s pretty shallow and easy to debunk, albeit it’s time-consuming and brings attention to the original).

“If companies/people learn to get along with each other, these lawyers will become redundant and their occupation mothballed.”From what we can gather, litigation-wise the US changed for the better; the number of patent lawsuits fell sharply, OIN has just added another member to its non-aggression (no litigation) pact [1, 2, 3, 4], and this major case between Nokia and Blackberry came to an end without a clear winner. Only the lawyers won (money, legal bills) and the lawsuit basically got dropped (not even a settlement). As Bloomberg put it some days ago:

BlackBerry and Nokia agreed to end a patent-infringement lawsuit over royalties on Nokia’s mobile network products that use an industrywide technology standard, according to a court filing.

A federal judge in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 7 granted the companies’ request to dismiss the case, according to a filing on an electronic docket.

Crackberry, a pro-Blackberry site, seemed pleased with the outcome and said:

Back in February of last year, BlackBerry filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nokia alleging Nokia’s networking gear, including its Flexi Multiradio base stations, radio network controllers, and Liquid Radio software infringed 11 patents. Now, the two have dropped the suit.

At the time the complaint was filed, BlackBerry noted that the company ‘was seeking to ‘obtain recompense for Nokia’s unauthorized use of BlackBerry’s patented technology’, and while they were not looking to block use, they wanted Nokia ‘to license them on fair and reasonable terms’ because according to BlackBerry ‘Nokia has persisted in encouraging the use’ without a license from BlackBerry.

Well, “dropped the suit” and settling isn’t the same thing (although no details are given). Either way, that can’t possibly be good news for lawyers. If companies/people learn to get along with each other, these lawyers will become redundant and their occupation mothballed.

EPO ‘Outsourcing’ Rumours

Sunday 11th of November 2018 12:24:24 PM

Summary: The EPO advertises jobs in Prague and Lisbon; this leads to speculations less than a year after António Campinos sent EU-IPO jobs to India (for cost reduction)

THE volume of patent news definitely seems to have decreased in recent months. We’re not sure why, we can only speculate and say that journalism in general is on the demise.

The European Patent Office (EPO) is nowadays playing if not paying the media for publicity stunts (not journalism). António Campinos, like his predecessor, comes up with more tricks for enabling software patents in Europe. We’re meanwhile trying to figure out what goes on recruitment-wise (HR is still led by Bergot).

“The EPO does not operate there, at least not yet, and back in the days people entertained the possibility of EPO expanding to Romania for ‘cost savings’.”One reader asked us: “Have you seen the job offers on LinkedIn?”

EPO job offers are in themselves news because there’s a hiring freeze in effect for years to come (waiting for examiners to leave or retire).

The reader asked: “Does the EPO have branches in Prague and Lisbon?”

If any EPO insiders/friends are aware of something, please do get in touch.

It was almost exactly one year ago that António Campinos was involved in an outsourcing scandal; he tried hard to suppress debate about it.

If anyone out there can send us information regarding Prague and Lisbon EPO jobs, we’ll be able to clarify. Nobody else is likely to cover it. The EPO does not operate there, at least not yet, and back in the days people entertained the possibility of EPO expanding to Romania for ‘cost savings’. Does Campinos have ‘plans’ he isn’t sincere about? There’s no disputing the fact that under Campinos the EPO is even less transparent than it was under Battistelli.

Links 11/11/2018: Bison 3.2.1 and FreeBSD 12.0 Beta 4

Sunday 11th of November 2018 11:10:12 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Google May Bring GPU Acceleration Support For Linux Apps on Chromebooks In Early 2019

      First off, let’s put this one down as a bit of conjecture and a strong dose of logic. Google hasn’t officially announced a firm release date for GPU Acceleration for Linux apps on Chromebooks just yet, but we know they are already working on it.

    • How Microsoft Ignores Millions of Windows 10 Version 1809 Users

      Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) is without a doubt one of the buggiest releases in a long time, and the way Microsoft handles its very own blunder shows the company still has a lot to learn both from its rivals and from customers who have been sending their feedback for so long.

    • Paging Linux Users: What Made You Give Up on Windows? [Ed: Microsoft propagandist Bogdan Popa keeps spreading the "Microsoft Loves Linux" lie. That doesn't mean anything good. "Enemies closer" and all...]
    • Microsoft Acquires Obsidian & inXile Entertainment [Ed: The game studios always shut down after Microsoft buys them]

      As what could spell bad news for seeing native Linux game ports of future Pillars and Wasteland titles, among others, Microsoft announced they are acquiring Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.

      Microsoft is acquiring Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment as part of their effort to deliver “a steady stream of new, exclusive games to our fans.” That exclusive reference doesn’t bode well if you were fans of inXile or Obsidian games on Linux.

    • Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment have officially joined Microsoft

      Some rather interesting news here, both Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment (source) have now officially joined Microsoft.

      Together, they’ve made some pretty interesting Linux games such as Pillars of Eternity, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Tyranny, Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera, The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep and more to come.

      [...]

      As long as both studios retain a certain amount of freedom, I think we should be okay for future titles. Microsoft loves Linux after all…right? [sarcasm]

      I have to be honest, I’m a little in shock myself at this news.

  • Server
    • Cloudy weather ahead for IBM and Red Hat?

      The world is buzzing about the software industry’s largest acquisition ever. This “game changing” IBM acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion eclipses Microsoft’s $26.2 billion of LinkedIn, which set the previous record. And it’s the third largest tech acquisition in history behind Dell buying EMC for $64 billion in 2015 and Avago’s buyout of Broadcom for $37 billion the same year.

      Wall Street certainly gets nervous when it sees these lofty price tags. IBM’s stock was down 4.2 percent following the announcement, and there are probably more concerns over a broader IBM selloff around how much IBM is paying for Red Hat.

      This sets the stage for massive expectations on IBM to leverage this asset as a critical turning point in its history. Given that IBM’s Watson AI poster child has failed to create sustainable growth, could this be their best opportunity to right the ship once and for all? Or is this mega merger a complicated clash of cultures and products that will make it hard to realize the full potential?

    • A Slow Motion Strategic Train Wreck With The Color Blue

      IBM’s high premium price for the Red Hat buyout places its stamp of approval on Linux cloud services while cheapening its own brand value.

    • VMware Buys Kubernetes-based Heptio to Boost Its Multi-Cloud Strategy
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.18.18
    • Linux 4.14.80
    • Linux 4.9.136
    • Linux 4.4.163
    • Linux 3.18.125
    • POWER On-Chip Controller Driver Coming For Linux 4.21

      The IBM POWER On-Chip Controller (OCC) driver is queued for inclusion in the next version of the Linux kernel. This on-chip controller driver collects sensor data from the system and processor, including temperature and power metrics, and exposes that to the user as well as handling thermal/power management tasks.

      The on-chip controller is embedded into POWER processors with P8/P9 processors. The newly-queued OCC driver exposes via sysfs temperatures, frequencies, power usage, power capacity/minimum/maximums, and other sensor data. The OCC driver documentation covers the information in more detail.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA Open-Sources New I2C USB Type-C Turing GPU Driver In Linux 4.20

        The Linux 4.20 kernel has just received a new post-merge-window new driver: i2c-nvidia-gpu that is being contributed by the NVIDIA crew for their newest Turing graphics cards.

        While it’s great seeing NVIDIA contribute code for their latest generation graphics hardware to the mainline Linux kernel, i2c-nvidia-gpu comes down to just being a bus driver for the USB Type-C controller that is accessible over I2C. These newest NVIDIA graphics cards have a USB Type-C port for next-gen VR headsets using the VirtualLink standard. VirtualLink allows for four HBR3 DP lanes, USB 3.1 data, and up to 27 Watts of power over this slim cable — much better than the mess of cables currently needed for VR headsets.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • A Journey on Budgie Desktop #1: Top Panel

      I decided to make a series of review about Budgie Desktop, the original GUI from Solus OS, now featured on Ubuntu Budgie. Thanks to Ikey Doherty the father of both Budgie and Solus, we can enjoy such free desktop environment that is innovative and customizable. This first part article covers in brief the top panel, the adaptive-transparent one, and introducing its menu and tray, how they look with and without customization. Enjoy!

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.52.0

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.52 Released With KWayland Virtual Desktop Protocol, Spins Down Drives

        KDE Frameworks 5.52 is now the latest monthly update to this collection of KDE add-on libraries complementing the functionality of Qt5.

      • Automatic C++ comparison operators

        C++ comparison operators are usually fairly straightforward to implement. Writing them by hand can however be quite error prone if there are many member variables to consider. Missing a single one of them will still compile and mostly work fine, apart from some hard to debug corner cases, such as misbehaving or crashing algorithms and containers, or data loss. Can we do better?

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Purism Fractal sponsorship

        I’m happy to announce that Purism agreed to sponsor my work on Fractal for the next couple of weeks. I will polish the room history and drastically improve the UX/UI around scrolling, loading messages etc. which will make Fractal feel much nicer. As part of this I will also clean up and refactor the current code. On my agenda is the following:

      • Developer Center Initiative – Meeting Summary 10th November 2018

        Thibault currently holds a branch for gnome-devel-docs. The branch contains the old GNOME Developer docs ported to markdown. To ensure that no duplicate work happens between gnome-devel-docs master and the branch, the next step is to announce to relevant mailing lists that further contribution to the developer docs should happen in the gnome-devel-docs branch. Even more ideal would be to have the branch pushed to master. The markdown port is not synchronized in any way with the mallard docs in master, so any changes to the mallard docs would require re-synchronization and that’s why currently editing ported markdown docs in the branch currently is a no-go for now.

        Pushing the branch does imply that we initially loose translations though and most changes made to gnome-devel-docs seem to be translations these days with a few exceptions (mostly grammar corrections). Thibault and Mathieu expressed interest in supporting translated docs in the future, but it is a substantial amount of work and low on the todo list.

        We agreed that I should try to get in touch by e-mail to the relevant mailing lists (including translations) and to individuals who contributed to gnome-devel-docs recently to hear their opinion before we proceed.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • CAINE 10.0 “Infinity” is out!

        CAINE represents fully the spirit of the Open Source philosophy, because the project is completely open, everyone could take on the legacy of the previous developer or project manager. The distro is open source, the Windows side is freeware and, the last but not least, the distro is installable, thus giving the opportunity to rebuild it in a new brand version, so giving a long life to this project ….

    • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • Updated Debian 9: 9.6 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the sixth update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

        Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old stretch media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

        Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won’t have to update many packages, and most such updates are included in the point release.

        New installation images will be available soon at the regular locations.

      • Debian 9.6 Released With Many Security & Bug Fixes, Adds In Rust’s Cargo

        Debian 9.6 is out this weekend as the latest stable update to the Debian GNU/Linux “Stretch” series.

        Debian 9.6 ships with the latest stable updates and security fixes for this year-old stable operating system. Debian 10 “Buster” meanwhile is the next feature version of the Linux distribution that is under development for release around the middle of next year.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Samsung Announces Linux On DeX; Uses Ubuntu

            Developers who are always on the go – now there’s a new way for you to actually enjoy the full Linux experience on your Galaxy smartphone. Samsung has chosen the Ubuntu distribution, claiming that it’s the “favored Linux distribution amongst their audience.”

            Announced first at Samsung Developer Conference 2018, the new Linux on DeX (that’s what they’re calling it) will appear as a separate app in DeX mode. Upon launching that Linux on DeX app, the entire DeX experience becomes Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu Core and Kura: A framework for IoT gateways

            The Linux distribution model, whilst established and well understood for computing, has some limitations when it comes to IoT edge gateway devices. Due to often being located in remote or hard to access areas, there is a greater demand for a system that offers both high levels of robustness and security.
            With the IoT gateway market growing at a fast pace in recent years and continuing to grow even more rapidly – mostly due to increasing demand for big data collection and analytics, there is greater importance being placed upon finding solutions that are capable of offering this.

            Having a standard Linux distribution as the base is often not the optimal choice due to these systems often lacking a clear update story, creating security risks caused by an unmaintained system. Updates are often deferred because they are identified as risky operations, without a good recovery path. This makes such systems an unsuitable fit for unattended devices.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Web Browsers
    • Ghostery – The eye of the tracker is upon you

      Here’s a mind-blowing but obvious realization: the Internet is one giant shopping litmus test lab, with billions of voluntary participants helping big corporations fine-tune their products and marketing strategies. This is done without the use of elaborate, interruptive questionnaires. All it takes is some Javascript running behind every visible Web page, and Bob’s your uncle.

      The most pervasive form of marketing is, you guessed right, online ads. Shown to you in all sorts of shapes and colors, they not only peddle wondrous solutions, they also directly and indirectly measure (i.e. track) the human response to the shown content, and this wealth of statistical data is used to make future products and future ads work even better for the selling party. On its own, this might not be bad, except people are greedy. What might have been just innocent marketing has become one giant data harvesting industry, going way beyond simple browsing habits. If you are not so keen on participating mind and soul, you are probably using an ad blocker tool of some sort. We talked about Noscript, we talked about UMatrix, we talked about Adblock Plus. Today, we will talk about Ghostery.

      [...]

      Ghostery is an interesting tool, with a pleasant interface, flexible and granular control of tracking elements, some odd quirks, and a questionable opt-in feature. It is indeed as I expected, a bridge between a plug-n-play ad blocker and a fully featured Javascript manager like Noscript. The good thing is, it works well in unison with either one of these, so you can mix. Shake ‘n’ bake. For example, intimidated by Noscript or UMatrix? You can use Adblock Plus plus [sic] Ghostery. The former for ads, the latter for extra trackers, no crippling of Javascript functionality. And then, the tool can block ads on its own, too.

      I believe Ghostery works best in the complementary mode. It is also best suited for less skilled users who seek more control than just ad blocking, and the cross-platform availability sure makes it appealing. The one thing that remains outstanding is the use of the opt-in policy. Not sure how that fits into the larger scheme of things. That said, I believe it’s worth testing and exploring. So far, I’m pleased with its mode of work, and the results from my escapade are promising. Now whether one should really care about these trackers and all that, well that’s a separate story. Or as they say, all your ad are belong to us.

    • Mozilla
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice Landing New Custom Widgets Theme, Powered By Cairo

      In an interesting flurry of commits since yesterday, a new custom widgets theme is landing inside this open-source office suite.

      Tomaž Vajngerl and Ashod Nakashian of Collabora has been working on these custom widgets for LibreOffice. The custom widgets are being rendered via Cairo, as an alternative to utilizing the standard GTK or Qt widgets, etc. It appears at least for now much of this custom widget work is intended for use with LibreOffice in its headless mode. At this point the work still appears to be in the very early stages but we’ll see where it leads.

  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Bison 3.2.1 released [stable]

      We would have been happy not to have to announce the release of Bison 3.2.1,
      which fixes portability issues of Bison 3.2.
      Bison 3.2 brought massive improvements to the deterministic C++ skeleton,
      lalr1.cc. When variants are enabled and the compiler supports C++11 or
      better, move-only types can now be used for semantic values. C++98 support
      is not deprecated. Please see the NEWS below for more details.
      Many thanks to Frank Heckenbach for paving the way for this release with his
      implementation of a skeleton in C++17, and to Nelson H. F. Beebe for testing
      exhaustively portability issues.

    • GCC 9 Lands Initial Support For The OpenRISC Architecture

      It’s been a long journey for the OpenRISC CPU instruction set architecture not to be confused with RISC-V, but with the GCC 9.1 compiler release due out in early 2019 will finally be initial mainline support for this ISA.

      There had been GCC OpenRISC patches for a while, but the original developers were not okay with assigning their copyrights to the Free Software Foundation as is required to contribute to the GCC project (and most other FSF projects for that matter). Since earlier this year a clean-room rewrite of the GCC OpenRISC port has been taking place and the GCC steering committee approved of this CPU architecture seeing a port in GCC.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • FDA releases open source code, open source software gets emotional, and more news

      In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at two open source companies getting funding, the FDA open sources app code, Barcelona upping its open source investment, and more.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Arduino Gets a Command Line Interface

        When using an Arduino, at least once you’ve made it past blinking LEDs, you might start making use of the serial connection to send and receive information from the microcontroller. Communicating with the board while it’s interacting with its environment is a crucial way to get information in real-time. Usually, that’s as far as it goes, but [Pieter] wanted to take it a step farther than that with his command line interpreter (CLI) for the Arduino.

        The CLI allows the user to run Unix-like commands directly on the Arduino. This means control of GPIO and the rest of the features of the microcontroller via command line. The CLI communicates between the microcontroller and the ANSI/VT100 terminal emulator of your choosing on your computer, enabling a wealth of new methods of interacting with an Arduino.

  • Programming/Development
    • py3status v3.14

      I’m happy to announce this release as it contains some very interesting developments in the project.

    • Holger Levsen: 20181110-lts-201810

      Today while writing this I also noticed that https://lists.debian.org/debian-lts-announce/2018/10/threads.html currently misses DLAs 1532 until DLA 1541, which I have just reported to the #debian-lists IRC channel and as #913426. Update: as that bug was closed quickly, I guess instead we need to focus on #859123 and #859122, so that DLAs are accessable to everyone in future.

    • RcppArmadillo 0.9.200.4.0

      A new RcppArmadillo release, now at 0.9.200.4.0, based on the new Armadillo release 9.200.4 from earlier this week, is now on CRAN, and should get to Debian very soon.

      Armadillo is a powerful and expressive C++ template library for linear algebra aiming towards a good balance between speed and ease of use with a syntax deliberately close to a Matlab. RcppArmadillo integrates this library with the R environment and language–and is widely used by (currently) 532 (or 31 more since just the last release!) other packages on CRAN.

    • Just a techie? – Techies, Devs, Boffins and Geeks

      What’s the solution? We could start by giving up on the dream of developers all being equal in ability, who can then be traded as commodities. Developers have different strengths – some are fantastic systems thinkers, some are drawn towards architecture, and others possess a laser focus on delivery. Some are better at communicating, whilst some just want to think deeply about the problem and to ponder every edge case.

      If developers are recognised as individuals and emboldened with trust and freedom, then they will play to their strengths to give an overall multiplying effect. We can embrace individualism rather than chasing it away, by celebrating and raising up the role of the software developer.

      I want my boffins and techies to be seen as surgeons. They know what they’re doing and you’re in safe hands. We’ve got junior doctors in there also to learn, but the junior doesn’t become the senior overnight. When we’ve got top surgeons the results will speak for themselves, and the good news is that the top surgeons aren’t required in such large quantities. This can make everyone happy.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Samantha Zyontz on CRISPR Adoption

      In a subsequent paper with Neil Thompson, Who Tries (and Who Succeeds) in Staying at the Forefront of Science: Evidence from the DNA-Editing Technology, CRISPR (posted in 2017), Zyontz was able to match individual labs that requested CRISPR plasmids with their subsequent publications, allowing a more direct examination of which researchers succeeded in adopting the technology (what Thompson and Zyontz call “conversion”). Overall, they find that of the 164,993 US authors who publish in genetic engineering, 1.81% ordered CRISPR tools in 2012-14, with an average success rate (subsequent CRISPR publication) of 11.30%. Interestingly, once they control for researcher quality, there is no location effect on experimenting with CRISPR—researchers in Cambridge and Berkeley were not more likely than similar researchers in other locations to order CRISPR tools. But location had a large effect on successful conversion into a publication: researchers were more successful with mammalian CRISPR use if they were located in Cambridge (where CRISPR was first successful with mammalian cells).

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry

      Astonishing as these unverified news stories were, government agencies rushed to give them credence. I heard representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeating the questionable newspaper and TV stories about the Zika virus. In addition, CDC keeps saying that fighting Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes in Brazil and Florida with a neurotoxin named “naled” is harmless. After all, farmers and mosquito controllers have been spraying naled for more than fifty years in the United States.

      CDC said nothing about the deleterious effects of naled: that this chemical is an organophosphate compound linked to chemical warfare agents: targeting and harming the central nervous system and the brain of man and beast, of birds and insects and fish, of all wild animals.

  • Security
    • Bank of England stages day of war games to combat cyber-attacks [iophk: "neglects to implicate Windows as the key facilitator of attacks, both by making victims vulnerable and by providing a platform for attackers"]

      Up to 40 firms are taking part in the voluntary exercise, alongside the BoE, the Treasury, City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority and UK Finance, the industry trade body.

    • North Korean hackers filched tens of millions from cash machines in ATM heist

      Symantec reports that the scheme has been going on for some time, and while the 2018 attack targeted 23 countries in Africa and Asia, the US government reports a similar attack in 2017 which saw 30 nations’ ATMs breached simultaneously.

      The good news – well, goodish – is that all Trojan.Fastcash attacks seem to have hit servers running outdated software.

    • The US Military Just Publicly Dumped Russian Government Malware Online

      The malware itself does not appear to still be active. A spokesperson for Symantec told Motherboard in an email that the command and control servers—the computers that tell the malware what commands to run or store stolen data—are no longer operational. The spokesperson added that Symantec detected the sample when the company updated its detection tools a couple of months ago.

    • Supply-chain attack on cryptocurrency exchange gate.io

      On November 3, attackers successfully breached StatCounter, a leading web analytics platform. This service is used by many webmasters to gather statistics on their visitors – a service very similar to Google Analytics. To do so, webmasters usually add an external JavaScript tag incorporating a piece of code from StatCounter – www.statcounter[.]com/counter/counter.js – into each webpage. Thus, by compromising the StatCounter platform, attackers can inject JavaScript code in all websites that use StatCounter.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • China recruits ‘patriotic’ teens to work on autonomous weapons

      China has aspirations to become a world leader in AI and autonomous tools and has already been accused of using the technology in espionage. This week, the Xinhua state news agency unveiled AI news presenters at the World Internet Day conference – China’s answer to Davos.

    • China’s brightest children are being recruited to develop AI ‘killer bots’

      Each student will be mentored by two senior weapons scientists, one from an academic background and the other from the defence industry, according to the programme’s brochure.

      After completing a short programme of course work in the first semester, the students will be asked to choose a speciality field, such as mechanical engineering, electronics or overall weapon design. They will then be assigned to a relevant defence laboratory where they will be able to develop their skills through hands-on experience.

    • The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions

      George W Bush used the phrase ‘Axis of Evil’ in his State of the Union address in January 2002, referring to North Korea, Iran and Iraq, accusing the last of having “plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade.” There were already comprehensive UN sanctions on Iraq, but as pointed out by Global Policy Forum, “The US and UK governments always made it clear that they would block any lifting or serious reforming of sanctions as long as Hussein remained in power. After more than twelve years of sanctions had passed, the US and the UK made war on Iraq again in March, 2003, sweeping away Hussein’s government.” And the rest is history.

      By 1996 “as many as 576,000” Iraqi children had died as a result of sanctions, and an independent analysis determined that there was “a strong association between economic sanctions and increase in child mortality and malnutrition rates.”

      On realizing this, it would be expected that the United States and its allies would cease employing economic sanctions as a weapon of coercion because it was definitively shown that the suffering caused to innocent children was catastrophic to the point of genocide.

    • Europe and Secondary Iran Sanctions: Where Do We Go Now?

      Any country can of course withdraw from the Paris Accord, the INF treaty, UNESCO, UNWRA, the community of nations that recognize that Jerusalem is in part an illegally occupied city, etc. But the U.S. withdrawal from the UNSC-approved JCPOA (or Iran Deal), followed by its imposition of secondary sanctions on countries that without specific U.S. approval trade with Iran is another matter. The U.S. is placing its law over international law. It is placing the judgment of Trump, Bolton and Pompeo over that of Putin, Xi, Merkel, Marcon, May, Mogherini, Obama, etc…. the pillars of the existing if crumbling world order.

      In that world, in order of GDP, Iran ranks around 25th, above Austria, Norway, UAE, Nigeria. With its vast natural resources and educated population, it has boundless development potential and is eager for foreign investment. It’s a country much of the world (China, Russia, India, Pakistan) engages with routinely, while much of the world engages it only to the extent the world’s policeman permits. (Italy and Greece have managed to maintain Iranian oil imports, having received permission from Washington to do so for an extra 180 days. They’re the only European, NATO-member countries exempted. Other countries granted “waivers” by the world cop are China, India, Iraq, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. )

      Europe once traded freely and profitably with Iran. For the U.S. to now say to Daimler-Mercedes and Peugeot, you can’t assemble cars in Iran, or Airbus you can’t supply passenger aircraft to Iran as you’d planned—because we insist that Iran stop supporting Hizbollah and withdraw its forces fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria and open up its nuclear sites even more than it has so far—-is to say, follow us towards war. You’re our allies, for god’s sake. We pay for your security. Obey!

    • Here’s how many people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11
    • The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed at least 500000 people, according to a new report that breaks down the toll
    • 500000 killed in US war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan
    • Here’s How Many People Have Died In The Wars In Afghanistan And Iraq
    • US ‘War on Terror’ Has Body Count of Half a Million, Claims Brown U. Report
    • US ‘war on terror’ claimed half a million lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Iraq – study
    • US war on terror has killed at least 65,000 people in Pakistan
    • US War On Terror Kills Nearly 147,000 In Afghanistan
    • These 8 iconic images tell the story of every US conflict from World War I to Afghanistan
    • Half Million Killed by America’s Global War on Terror ‘Just Scratches the Surface’ of Human Destruction

      The “direct deaths” accounted for in the estimate include U.S. military, contractors, and Defense Department employees; national military and police as well as other allied troops; opposition fighters; civilians; journalists; and aid workers. About half of those killed were civilians—between 244,000 and 266,000 across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Up to 204,000 of them were Iraqis.

      While the U.S. government has repeatedly underestimated the costs of waging war, since the project launched in 2011, its team has aimed to provide a full account of the “human, economic, and political costs” of post-9/11 U.S. military action in the Middle East, “and to foster better informed public policies.”

      This latest report comes on the heels of the U.S. midterm elections in which Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Looking forward, Savell suggested that “House Democrats will try to advance a national security strategy emphasizing restraint and accountability for the costs of the War on Terror.”

    • Drone, terror attacks killed thousands since 2004

      A total of 2,714 people were killed and another 728 injured during 409 drone attacks conducted in Pakistan since January 2004, a local media outlet reported on Thursday.

      Most of the attacks occurred between 2008 and 2012 which claimed 2,282 lives and injured another 658.

      The year 2010 saw the highest number of drone strikes at 117.

      On the other hand, at least 19,17

    • 2,714 people killed in 409 US drone attacks in Pak since January 2004: Report

      The US has carried out a total of 409 drone attacks in Pakistan targeting suspected militants since January 2004, killing 2,714 people and injuring 728 others, a media report said on Friday.

      The attacks, carried out by the CIA-operated drones, over the years have targeted the areas of Bajaur, Bannu, Hangu, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, Nushki, Orakzai, and South Waziristan, Dawn reported.

    • 2,714 people killed, 728 injured in 409 US drone attacks in Pakistan since January 2004; 289 attacks conducted in North Waziristan alone

      The US has carried out a total of 409 drone attacks in Pakistan targeting suspected militants since January 2004, killing 2,714 people and injuring 728 others, a media report said on Friday.

      The attacks, carried out by the CIA-operated drones, over the years have targeted the areas of Bajaur, Bannu, Hangu, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan, Nushki, Orakzai, and South Waziristan, Dawn reported. Majority of the drone strikes were carried out during the government of the Pakistan Peoples Party between 2008 and 2012.

    • US drone strikes in Pakistani ‘regrettable’, says army chief Raheel Sharif
    • Rising death rate prompts some in Congress to reassess “war on terror”

      The United States’ “war on terror” in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq has directly killed at least 480,000 people since 2001, according to a new report by the Costs of War Project at Brown University. This is an increase of 113,000 over the last count, issued just two years ago.

    • Turkey Says Recordings Of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder Have Been Given To The US
    • CIA chief ‘seen all proof’ related to Khashoggi murder
    • Khashoggi killing: CIA Director has seen all evidence in relation to killing, says media report
    • Audio tape of Khashoggi killing has been given to US, Saudis, Europeans, Erdogan says
    • On A CIA Mission In Laos an Airman Held Off An Assault For Hours With Just A Radio And An M-16

      On March 11, 1968, on a remote mountaintop in Laos called Lima Site 85, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger single-handedly repelled a North Vietnamese assault and ultimately gave his life to save his teammates.

      Etchberger was part of a secret CIA operation in Laos. Due to the mission’s secrecy, and its questionable legality, Etchberger’s own family knew little of the details of his death — only that he lived and died a hero. It wasn’t until 1998 that the details of the mission were finally declassified, and a reevaluation of the Air Force Cross he had originally been awarded was ordered.

    • Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe

      In April, I made new estimates of the death toll in America’s post-2001 wars in a three-part Consortium News report. I estimated that these wars have now killed several million people. I explained that widely reported but much lower estimates of the numbers of combatants and civilians killed were likely to be only one fifth to one twentieth of the true numbers of people killed in U.S. war zones. Now one of the NGOs responsible for understating war deaths in Yemen has acknowledged that it was underestimating them by at least five to one, as I suggested in my report.

      One of the sources I examined for my report was a U.K.-based NGO named ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project), which has compiled counts of war deaths in Libya, Somalia and Yemen. At that time, ACLED estimated that about 10,000 people had been killed in the war in Yemen, about the same number as the WHO (World Health Organization), whose surveys are regularly cited as estimates of war deaths in Yemen by UN agencies and the world’s media. Now ACLED estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.

      ACLED’s estimates do not include the thousands of Yemenis who have died from the indirect causes of the war, such as starvation, malnutrition and preventable diseases like diphtheria and cholera. UNICEF reported in December 2016 that a child was dying every ten minutes in Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened since then, so the total of all deaths caused directly and indirectly by the war must by now number in the hundreds of thousands.

    • Turkey Says Saudi Chemists Erased Evidence of Journalist’s Killing

      Turkey said agents sent to Istanbul by Saudi Arabia to help investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance worked instead to remove murder evidence—a finding Ankara said reinforced their conclusion that top Saudi officials knew in advance of a plan to kill the journalist.

    • How Veterans Changed the Military and Rebuilt the Middle Class

      We thank labor unions for the eight-hour work day, pensions, the weekend, and many other employment benefits Americans enjoy. Organized workers staged direct actions — strikes, sit-ins, boycotts, etc. — forcing bosses to the bargaining table. It’s a history most of us learn in high school.

      More overlooked is the history of how the modern military was shaped by veteran-led direct actions.

      For one thing, our military is famously all-volunteer. Civilians no longer fear being drafted.

      To get those volunteers, recruiters and guidance counselors tout the free college education, sign-on bonuses, food and housing allowances, and VA benefits that come with military service. I was continually reminded of these things when I joined the Army in 2003.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Shark Attack: Fearing Monsters in the Whitsundays

      It begins with a gruesome account: a tourist, paddleboarding and swimming in an idyllic setting baked by sun – in this case, Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays, Queensland – attacked by a shark. He suffers a massive loss of blood; he goes into cardiac arrest. The accounts that follow are just as predictable as the consequences of the shark’s work: a hunt for the animal, a debate about how best to curb future attacks, and an attempt to minimise adverse publicity for the tourist industry.

      The death of medical researcher Daniel Christidis sent jitters through dive boat operators in the region. Local dive boat operator Tony Fontes remained philosophical. “People are willing to take the risk of swimming in waters that are potential risk of a jellyfish, using precautions like stinger suits, and I’m sure that tourists will do the same with sharks.”

      Marine biologists such as Blake Chapman have also made it into the news with cautionary notes, but there is a feeling that calm heads are about to be lost. “We really need to be smarter than what we have been and actually learn from these things as opposed to just going out and killing animals.” The increased number of attacks could, surmised Chapman, be the result of a range of factors: the movement of shark food sources in the area, increased rainfall or changes in water temperature. According to Inspector Steve O’Connell, the Whitsunday area was not famed for its vicious shark attacks, featuring the odd “minor” nip and bite without more.

    • The Colonial Logic of Geoengineering’s “Last Resort”

      The men and women who are trying to sell us the solution of sulfur injections tend to be strangely silent on the fact that these injections would “disrupt the Asian and African summer monsoons, reducing precipitation to the food supply for billions of people,” as Alan Robock and other scientists reported in a 2008 paper published the Journal of Geophysical Research (the authors of a more recent study published in Nature Geoscience indicate that while sulfur injections would likely cool the earth, they would also reduce global rainfall).[1]

      The effort to resolve our climate crisis in this manner is itself an extension of colonial logic. After all, as Heather Davis and Zoe Todd explain, “colonialism, especially settler colonialism – which in the Americas simultaneously employed the twinned processes of dispossession and chattel slavery – was always about changing the land, transforming the earth itself, including the creatures, the plants, the soil composition and the atmosphere. It was about moving and unearthing rocks and minerals. All of these acts were intimately tied to the project of erasure that is the imperative of settler colonialism.”If history is any indication, the last resort might very well be western civilization’s final act of colonial violence, exclusion and erasure – first, of the peoples and sentient beings it has always exploited and disregarded; then – and no doubt unintentionally – of western civilization itself.

  • Finance
    • China’s internet titan has had a bruising 2018

      It would be no surprise if Tencent were feeling touchy as it approaches its 20th anniversary on November 11th. Its shares, traded in Hong Kong since 2004, have fallen by 28% in 2018 (see chart). This time last year it was the first Asian company to be worth half-a-trillion dollars, hitting a record valuation in January of $573bn. It has since shed $218bn, roughly equivalent in value to losing Boeing or Intel. Other Chinese internet stocks have fared worse than Tencent, among them NetEase, a gaming rival, and JD.com, an e-commerce firm. But even so, the drop stands out.

      The company posted its first quarterly profit decline for nearly 13 years in the three-month period ending in June. [...]

    • Australians pay 34% more for Amazon Prime Video than US customers: report

      Australians and their Canadian counterparts are paying 34% more for using Amazon Prime Video than US users of the video streaming services which were launched worldwide by Amazon two years ago.

    • Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco

      After the current Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau last year, Matteo Renzi in 2016, Ukrainian billionaire President Petro Poroshenko, or Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, it was the turn of Argentine President Mauricio Macri to receive the “Global Citizen Award”. A few months earlier, awarded by the same American think tank, The Atlantic Council, George W. Bush was honoured to receive the Distinguished International Leadership Awardalong with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

    • Manfred Weber is nominated to be European Commission president

      Missing one chance to renew the EU, Europe’s centre-right may have created another

    • The First Guaranteed Basic Income Program Designed for Single Black Moms

      Ebony, a single mother of three, works two jobs to make ends meet and takes in around $11,000 a year. In addition to a part-time job at a beauty supply chain, she works as a communication specialist at a Jackson, Mississippi, nonprofit, a temporary position that could end in December.

      She’s hoping her employers will keep her on, and she’s doing all she can to inspire them, including showing up for work an hour early.

      “I want to make a good impression,” she says about showing up to work early. “It would be great if [the employers] tell me, ‘You worked so hard, how about you go ahead and stay with us?’”

      Staying on could mean that Ebony’s annual income could double next year if she’s selected to participate in an upcoming guaranteed basic income pilot project for low-income single Black mothers in Jackson.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The fake video era of US politics has arrived on Twitter

      On Wednesday, CNN reporter Jim Acosta had a pointed exchange with the president over immigration during a press conference, resulting in the Trump administration banning him from the White House. During the exchange, a Trump aide attempted to wrestle his microphone away from him. Today, a partisan war broke out over what a video of that incident really showed — and in so doing, seemed to herald the arrival of an era in which manipulated videos further erode the boundaries between truth and fiction.

    • Donald Trump’s White House Using Fake Videos Is What Russia Does, Says Former Top CIA Operations Officer

      President Donald Trump’s White House employed tactics similar to Russian intelligence when it released a doctored video Wednesday to claim CNN’s Jim Acosta had “placed his hands” on a White House aide during a testy exchange with the president at a press conference, according to a former CIA chief of Russian operations.

      Steven Hall, who is now a national security analyst for CNN, said Thursday that the use of “fake videos” was an accusation historically used against Russia, not the “American White House.”

      “Fake videos are things we used to ascribe to Russia and other autocracies, not the American White House. Google the name Kyle Hatcher if you want to see how the pros (Russian FSB) do it,” Hall tweeted.

    • White House press secretary uses fake Infowars video to justify banning CNN reporter

      Looking back at the video, it does not in fact show Acosta “placing his hands” on the woman. But about 90 minutes after she posted her string of tweets, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson tweeted out a video of the incident that was doctored to make it look like Acosta chopped the woman’s arm with his hand.

      Less than an hour later, Sanders tweeted out the doctored video, writing, “We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”

    • Revealed: How Arron Banks’s campaign ‘ambassador’ made his millions in Russia

      In early 1990s Russia, a lot of people died. Organised criminals and ex-Soviet officials fought vicious turf wars for control of industries and political power. And a man called Jim Mellon became fabulously wealthy.

      Two decades later, Mellon toured his friend Nigel Farage around a number of potential major political donors. In late summer 2014, he introduced the UKIP leader to the insurance salesman Arron Banks. Within a few weeks, Banks had pledged a million pounds to the anti-EU party and, the next year, Mellon donated a reported £100,000 to theKnow.eu, a forerunner to Banks and Farage’s Leave.EU campaign. Mellon was described as an “ambassador” for Leave.EU, and was scheduled to appear at Leave.EU’s launch.

    • At Long Last, Donald Trump Knows True Fear

      There is a soul-searing symmetry to the fact that the morning after yet another man with yet another gun slaughtered yet another crowd of people in yet another all-American massacre, a mother who lost her son to gun violence and made that loss her cause of action won her election to Congress.

      Six years ago, Jordan Davis was sitting in a car with friends at a Florida gas station when a man named Michael Dunn opened fire on them because he thought the music they were playing was too loud. Davis was killed in the hail of bullets. His mother, Lucy McBath, became a gun-violence activist and joined forces with the Parkland survivors after that nightmare unfolded.

      [...]

      Beto O’Rourke lost in heartbreaking fashion in Texas, as Andrew Gillum appeared to in Florida — although that may change. However, neither Scott Walker nor Kris Kobach will be governors come January. Voters in Oregon handily defeated an anti-choice ballot measure while voters in Alabama and West Virginia approved them. Ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid won in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska but lost in Montana. Nearly a million and a half people with felony convictions regained the right to vote in Florida, while four states passed “victims’ rights” measures that will exacerbate incarceration.

      [...]

      A White House aide attempted to take Acosta’s microphone away from him during the exchange, and Acosta discovered later in the day that his White House privileges had been summarily revoked. Adding insult to injury, the White House press office fobbed off a demonstrably doctored video claiming Acosta had been violent with the microphone-grabbing aide. The ruse was promptly exposed, and a variety of national press organizations are now raising every shade of Hell on Acosta’s behalf.

    • Millions in masked money funneled into 2018 elections

      The 2018 election cycle has attracted record spending by partially-disclosing groups that give the appearance of reporting at least some of their donors but, in reality, are little if any more transparent than other ‘dark money’ groups.

      Voters may not be left totally in the dark about these groups’ spending but, in many cases, the identities of funders behind the spending ultimately remain hidden. By deploying novel tactics to mask their financial activities, these groups have been able to keep donors secret while giving some illusion of more transparency.

      Partially-disclosing groups have already reported $405 million in 2018 election spending, according to federal election records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

      This is the third consecutive election cycle that the portion of outside spending made up by partially-disclosed groups has more than doubled. Making up more than 31 percent of all outside spending, spending by partially disclosing groups this election cycle is up from 12.5 percent in 2016 and 6.1 percent in 2014. The 2018 election cycle is even on track to amass around $100 million more in spending by partially disclosing groups than the previous record of $306.9 million in the 2012 election cycle.

    • How Labor Helped Bring Down Scott Walker and Bruce Rauner

      On Tuesday night, in a strong rebuke to the anti-labor agendas of Wisconsin and Illinois’ Republican governors, voters elected Democrats to lead their states. Illinois’ new governor, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, won the race with 54 percent of the vote, while Wisconsin’s new governor, Tony Evers, won his contest, though final votes are still being tallied. Both ran on strong, clear messages of supporting unions and working families.

      It would be hard to understate the damage to workers wrought by Scott Walker, elected during the Tea Party wave of 2010, and Bruce Rauner, elected in 2014. Walker wasted no time taking aim at organized labor: In 2011 he proposed the notorious Act 10, legislation which stripped public school teachers of their right to collectively bargain, on top of slashing their health insurance and pension benefits. Act 10 inspired 100,000 people to protest at the state capitol, but when Walker easily won a recall election in 2012, he grew emboldened. Republicans repealed Wisconsin’s prevailing wage laws for state and local government funded projects, and Wisconsin’s minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25. The last time it was raised was nearly a decade ago.

      [...]

      Meanwhile, the contrast presented by their opponents, Pritzker and Evers, was tremendous. Both Democrats support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and spoke often about the important role unions play in building strong, inclusive economies. Pritzker described his intent to beef up enforcement for a 2010 wage theft law, and a state task force meant to tackle worker misclassification. Evers, who has served as Wisconsin’s state superintendent since 2009, spoke regularly about the ways Act 10 hurt educators, and public education more broadly. He also spoke out against changes made to the state’s prevailing wage laws, and Wisconsin’s prohibition on local communities raising their minimum wage or passing other pro-worker measures like paid sick leave.

    • Not Much of a Wave

      What is the situation like now? Yesterday Americans voted in the most hotly contested election since.. 2016. It is remarkable how quickly cultural amnesia takes hold and electoral memory dissipates—I was left staring in a bookshop yesterday at a New Yorker article on Claire McCaskill’s run in deep-red Missouri, on how she avoids partisan politics and focuses on commonalities—and how this can be a model for Democrats. (She lost).

      Americans voted in the hopes (of some) that this will stymie the Trump agenda, return a semblance of normalcy to politics and social life in this country, and halt the apparently inexorable rise of fascism. I suspect it will not. Enough political analysis has been written of the moment. Suffice it to say, I think the fair take is that the Democratic leadership will take exactly all the wrong lessons from their win in the House; evidence includes among many other data points the aforementioned New Yorker article, Nancy Pelosi’s expected reascension to Speaker of the House and immediate appeals to ‘bipartisanship,’ not to mention the Democrats apparently running exclusively Marine pilots as candidates.

    • Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Europe’s collision course with copyright censorship: where we stand today

      I’ve just published a comprehensive explainer on Medium about the EU’s new Copyright Directive, which was sabotaged at the last minute, when MEP Axel Voss snuck in the long-discredited ideas of automatically censoring anything a bot thinks infringes copyright and banning unpaid links to news articles.

    • Europe’s Copyright Rules Will Stifle Free Expression

      The Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive had been under negotiation for years, and it was set to be the first update to E.U. copyright since the 2001 Copyright Directive. In the 17 intervening years, the copyright landscape had experienced massive shifts. The new Directive was seen as a must-pass piece of omnibus legislation comprising dozens of wonky and technical fixes to E.U. copyright rules. It was largely seen as uncontroversial — that is, until May 25.

      That was the day German MEP Axel Voss reinserted two long-abandoned, hugely controversial rules into the draft regulation: [...]

    • Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi leaves jail, flies out of Multan

      Ms Asia Bibi’s release comes a week after her acquittal in a landmark case that triggered angry Islamist protests in Muslim-majority Pakistan and following appeals from her husband for Britain or the United States to grant the family asylum. Her lawyer fled to the Netherlands on Saturday under threat to his life.

      Ms Bibi’s conviction was overturned by the country’s highest court last Wednesday, but she remained in prison as the government negotiated with hardliners who blockaded major cities and demanded her immediate execution.

    • White House defends doctored Trump-Acosta clip used to justify reporter’s ban

      But in an analysis done for Storyful, which describes itself as a social-media intelligence agency that sources and verifies insights for media, there are apparently several frames repeated in the video.

      According to an analysis by Shane Richmond, a Storyful journalist, “these frames do not appear in the original C-SPAN footage, and appear to exaggerate the action of Acosta.”

    • Interesting petition

      The California Court of Appeal reversed the trial judge’s denial of a Motion to Strike, and dismissed Miss de Havilland’s claims, based on a First Amendment defense for docudramas.

      The Question for the Court is: Are reckless or knowing false statements about a living public figure, published in docudrama format, entitled to absolute First Amendment protection from claims based on the victim’s statutory and common law causes of action for defamation and right of publicity, so as to justify dismissal at the pleading stage?

    • Google Should Rethink Censorship Policies, EFF Says

      Prager University, which sued Google’s YouTube for allegedly censoring video clips based on their conservative political views, may have a legitimate bone to pick with the company. But Prager doesn’t have grounds to sue.

      That’s the gist of new legal papers filed by the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. “YouTube’s moderation of Prager University’s content was faulty on many accounts, but it was not unconstitutional,” the EFF writes in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Wednesday with a federal appellate court.

      The EFF is weighing in on a battle dating to October 2017, when Prager sued Google for allegedly censoring conservative videos on YouTube by applying the “restricted mode” filter, which made the clips unavailable to some students and library visitors.

    • Sundar Pichai makes case for a potential move into China by saying Google already censors information elsewhere
    • Google CEO’s China argument doesn’t hold water
    • Sundar Pichai defends Google’s controversial search effort in China
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Snowden warns Israelis of dangers of state surveillance
    • Edward Snowden Issues Surveillance Warning To Israelis
    • Snowden issues surveillance warning to Israelis
    • Edward Snowden: Israeli software tracked Khashoggi

      Technology made by an Israeli company was used to target groups of journalists in Mexico and other problematic areas, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Edward Snowden, the infamous “whistle-blower” who leaked classified NSA information, told a conference in Israel on Tuesday. Snowden spoke via video-conference from an undisclosed location in Russia to the closed audience.

      Though he was not physically present due to concerns that he would be handed over to US authorities, Snowden was responded to by former Mossad deputy chief Ram Ben Barak and took questions from other members of the audience.

    • Israeli Spyware May Have Helped Khashoggi Killers, Snowden Says
    • Snowden Verifies NSA Report In EFF Spying Case

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to urge a California federal court to keep alive its long-running class action against the National Security Agency over its alleged unlawful mass surveillance of Americans,…

    • CIA’s ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all

      Over time, the CIA upper echelon has secretly developed all kinds of policy statements and legal rationales to justify routine, widespread surveillance on U.S. soil of citizens who aren’t suspected of terrorism or being a spy.

      The latest outrage is found in newly declassified documents from 2014. They reveal the CIA not only intercepted emails of U.S. citizens but they were emails of the most sensitive kind — written to Congress and involving whistleblowers reporting alleged wrongdoing within the Intelligence Community.

      The disclosures, kept secret until now, are two letters of “congressional notification” from the Intelligence Community inspector general at the time, Charles McCullough. He stated that during “routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computer systems,” the CIA collected emails between congressional staff and the CIA’s head of whistleblowing and source protection.

    • Open-plan office? No, thanks – I’d rather get some work done

      There are echoes of the open-plan fiasco in another workplace phenomenon, highlighted on the Study Hacks blog: the way many people spend a big chunk of each week doing tasks that are, to put it bluntly, below their pay grade. In the 1980s, the economist Peter Sassone studied the impact of computer systems on American corporations, and found that senior executives spent “surprisingly large percentages of their time” on things support staff might previously have done. Because computers make it easier for managers to type their own memos, prepare graphics for presentations, schedule appointments and so on, support roles got phased out, to save money. But money wasn’t saved: Sassone estimated that a typical office could save thousands of dollars per employee per year by returning to a clearer delineation between the two kinds of job.

    • Why surveillance is even worse for your privacy than you thought: three cautionary tales

      Readers of this blog hardly need to be told that surveillance represents a grave threat to privacy. By its very nature, it seeks to know who we are and what we do, whether we wish that or not. But there is a secondary harm that surveillance brings – a collateral damage – as three recent and very different stories underline.

    • Flyers should worry about “customer lifetime value” scores

      When it comes to flying, a CLV score takes into account information such as how frequently a customer makes complaints and how often they are affected by flight delays and lost luggage. Companies do not perceive much value in retaining the business of customers who complain all the time, so regular whiners get bad scores. Conversely, frequent flyers in business class who rarely moan get some of the best. Sometimes these scores are transmitted to flight attendants, many of whom are now issued with handheld digital devices on which they can read about passengers. Cabin crew can use this information to wish flyers a happy birthday or decide whether they are worth compensating for inconveniences such as a spilled coffee or broken screens.

    • Facebook joins Google, halts mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases

      Arbitration, a private dispute resolution process that resembles the public legal system, is often preferred by corporations as a way to reduce costs and scrutiny surrounding such complaints.

    • New Google Harassment Policy Falls Short of Worker Demands

      Google announced changes to how it will handle claims of sexual harassment among employees, including making arbitration optional for individual harassment and sexual assault claims. While additional transparency and protection for workers is a sign of progress, the change is incremental rather than transformative, because Google’s arbitration provision still prohibits collective action. Harassment claims will no longer be forced into private arbitration, but only individuals can now bring their claims before a jury.

    • Google says no forced arbitration for sexual harassment

      Google has announced that from now on it will not force individual employees with sexual harassment or sexual assault claims to go through arbitration, though the company said that arbitration may still be the best option.

    • China Infiltrates American Campuses

      The main points of contact for Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) chapters in the U.S. are often intelligence officers in the embassy and consulates. China’s Ministry of State Security uses CSSA students to inform on other Chinese on campus.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Dark Money Paid New Trump Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Salary for 3 Years

      Today, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew G. Whitaker, who served as chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would replace his boss. Sessions was forced from office a day after the midterm elections, which were rough for climate and anti-fracking measures around the country.

      Whitaker was appointed as Session’s chief of staff on September 22, 2017. Before that, he served for three years as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.”

      FACT has come under fire for its own lack of transparency, with the Center for Responsive Politics calling attention to FACT’s funding, which in some years came entirely from DonorsTrust, an organization also known as the “Dark Money ATM of the Conservative Movement” and whose own donors include the notorious funders of climate denial, Charles and David Koch.

    • Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Connected to World Patent Marketing Fraudulent Scheme to Bilk Inventors

      In May 2018, Scott Cooper and his companies, World Patent Marketing Inc. and Desa Industries Inc., agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business, and ordered payment of $25,987,192. The FTC charged World Patent Marketing with being nothing more than a scam, bilking millions of dollars from inventors. “The record supports a preliminary finding that Defendants devised a fraudulent scheme to use consumer funds to enrich themselves,” concluded United States District Judge Darrin P. Gayles as he issued a preliminary injunction in August 2017. Matthew G. Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General of the United States who ascended to the position with the resignation of Jeff Sessions, served on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing. Worse, as PatentlyO reported yesterday, Whitaker was involved in some of the egregious intimidation that led to the charges, issuance of an injunction and ultimately the settlement.

      The Federal Trade Commission originally charged the operators of World Patent Marketing with deceiving consumers and suppressing complaints about the company by using threats of criminal prosecution against dissatisfied customers. At least one such threat of criminal prosecution was made by Whitaker.

      “I am a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and I also serve on World Patent Marketing’s Advisory Board,” wrote Whitaker via e-mail in August 2015 to a disgruntled inventor who was attempting to get relief from World Patent Marketing for broken promises. “Your emails and message from today seem to be an apparent attempt at possible blackmail or extortion. You also mentioned filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and to smear World Patent Marketing’s reputation online. I am assuming you understand that there could be serious civil and criminal consequences for you if that is in fact what you and your ‘group’ are doing.”

    • Trump’s acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings

      Matthew Whitaker was paid advisory board member for WPM, of which veteran tells Guardian: ‘I spent the money on a dream. I lost everything’

    • Why Jeff Sessions’s Resignation May Be Sketchier Than You Think

      It could be part of a larger Trump administration agenda.

    • The US Must Take Responsibility for Asylum Seekers and the History That Drives Them

      Some may be influenced by administration efforts to induce panic about immigrants “invading” the US — for instance, President Trump’s decision to send troops to counter the latest migrant caravan, even though US Army planners have concluded that “only a small percentage of the migrants will likely reach the border.”

      But others look around at failing schools, collapsing infrastructure, neighbors dying of drug overdoses or going without affordable medical care, and they ask themselves whether the United States can really spare any of its limited resources to help people from somewhere south of the border. When they hear Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham saying, “It’s not our problem,” and President Trump at the United Nations telling migrants to stay home and “[m]ake their countries great again,” they tend to nod in agreement.

    • One year on from a planned “revolution” in Russia, dozens of people are facing jail time

      “Can somebody explain what this organisation is? Who’s the organiser? Who are the members? Where are the offices? The finances? It’s hilarious, to be honest,” this is how Sergey Okunev, an ally of Vyacheslav Maltsev, responded to the news that the Artpodgotovka movement had been banned in late October 2017. “If the information on the ban of Artpodgotovka is confirmed, it’s the Artillery Forces who will suffer the most,” Okunev joked on Twitter.

      By that time, Okunev had known Saratov politician Vyacheslav Maltsev for two years and, according to Okunev, had conducted several hundred live broadcasts with him on YouTube.

      [...]

      Sergey Okunev, who, like Maltsev, is originally from the Volga city of Saratov, says he met Maltsev just before the PARNAS primaries. At the start of 2o17, they began talking about forming a political party together. Initially, they wanted to take over a small party already registered with Russia’s Ministry of Justice, but these negotiations were unsuccessful. Instead, they came up with the idea of setting up a “Party of Free People” — and they opened a party office in Saratov on 26 May 2017, even before they’d made their first attempt at officially registering the party. Together with the Nationalists’ Party, supporters of Maltsev spent their weekends in towns across Russia, holding “walks for free people”. These actions often ended in arrests. “And there never existed any movement named Artpodgotovka as an organisation,” Okunev insists, adding that Maltsev came up with the date of 5 November 2017 back in 2013. Originally, though, this was supposed to be a “non-stop peaceful protest”.

      Okunev believes that the campaign against Maltsev supporters before October 2017, the last month before the “revolution”. He recalls the case of Alexey Politikov, a businessman from the far eastern city of Ussuriysk and a close associate of Maltsev. Politikov was arrested at the beginning of June 2017 on charges of assaulting a police officer during the 26 March anti-corruption protest in Moscow. (Politikov was sentenced to two years in prison in October 2017, his sentence was reduced to 18 months on appeal.)

    • How old CIA reports reveal that China has been repressing Muslims since the 1950s

      The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has recently released a 117-page report titled, Eradicating Ideological Viruses — China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims.

      It gave fresh evidence of Beijing’s “mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.”

      The US-based agency affirmed: “Throughout the region, the Turkish Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of international human rights law.”

    • Religion, Reformation, and Modernity

      It is extremely important for educated Muslims to argue for a rational Islam and to seek to reconcile Islamic teachings and democracy. We cannot afford to disavow the space of religion for fundamentalists to do whatever they like with it. To keep fundamentalist forces at bay, educated and rational people must endeavor to bring about a reformation, so that religion can be perpetuated in a modern age as a liberal force. We can try to combine the concepts of an Islamic state with the principles of a socialist state, advocating social equality and economic and political democratization. We need to keep in mind that communities can grow historically within the framework created by the combined forces of modern national and transnational developments.

      I agree that the politics of religion as a monolith is hostile to pluralism and evolution, because it insists on the uniform application of rights and collective goals. Such uniformity is oblivious to the aspirations of distinct societies and to variations in laws from one cultural context to another.

      For fundamentalist organizations, religion is meant to be a hostile and vindictive force that ignores art and tradition. For instance, impassioned appeals of the clergy to the outdated concept of Islam have bred rancorous hate against “outsiders” and exploited the pitiful poverty and illiteracy of the majority of Muslims in the subcontinent, who are unable to study progressive concepts of the religion for themselves. This strategy of fortifying fundamentalism has created a bridge between the “believers” and “non-believers,” which, I would argue, is rooted in contemporary politics. The ideology propounded by the ruling fundamentalist order reflects and reproduces the interests of the mullahcracy. Mullahs justify repression of the poor and dispossessed classes, subjugation of women, and honor killings with the language of culture and religion. Such practices have led to regrettable ruptures of the Indian subcontinent and to a denial of science, technology, and historical understanding of the precepts of Islam. I am highly critical of the kind of nationalist logic in theocratic countries in which an image of the non-Islamic world as chaotic valorizes the dominance of the fundamentalist order.

    • Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet, Good Old Boys Are Hunting

      In a recent New York Times column titled “White Male Victimization Anxiety,” Charles Blow described how President Trump publicly apologized to Justice Brett Kavanaugh for “the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure” at the hands of Christine Blasey Ford, who claimed that Kavanaugh had tried to rape her. Blow also cited Senator Lindsey Graham’s own plucky #MeToo moment during the Kavanaugh hearings, when Graham proclaimed, “I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I should shut up.”

      Blow’s fine op-ed piece joins a growing media chorus studying the current “victimization” of white American men. We queers can assume – since everybody else does already – that we’re talking straight white American men, who, excoriated for their lapses of “politically correct” behavior, now identify as victims.

      Frankly, I find the term “victim” offensive. These people are survivors! Straight white men haven’t recently begun to feel victimized: they’ve felt that way since the dawn of time. It’s one of their main feelings. I know. I went to a “Make America Straight White Male Again” rally and got a free MASWMA baseball cap! This deeply moved me.

      So I sat down and composed a little history for first graders, to educate them about the oppressed straight white male diaspora. To explain the patriarchy, I’ve devised an unthreatening little Elmer Fudd-type character that children of all ages are sure to love.

    • #GoogleWalkout update: Collective action works, but we need to keep working. – Medium

      Last week, 20,000 Google employees and TVCs (Temps, Vendors and Contractors) walked out to protest discrimination, racism, sexual harassment and a workplace culture that only works for some. By taking collective action, and joining a global movement, these workers took a risk. The risk was calculated, and their demands were reasonable: these employees were asking for equity, dignity, and respect.
      What they showed is that collective action works, and when we work together we can make change.
      Today, Google made progress toward addressing these demands. The company followed Uber and Microsoft by eliminating forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment. It also committed to more transparency in sexual harassment reporting, and will allow workers to bring representatives to meetings with HR. We commend this progress, and the rapid action which brought it about.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Joke: What do you call a claim without a transition phrase?

      This consolidated appeal involves 12 different inter partes review proceedings collectively challenging three Acceleration Bay patents.[1] The patents at issue here are all related to methods of broadcasting information over a peer-to-peer network. The basic approach here is to ensure that the network is sufficiently connected and then send data through each node to its neighbor participants. I made the gif below that provides a simple example.

      [...]

      The unchallenged testimony was that the article by Lin was uploaded to the UCSD Computer Science and Engineering website (on a page of CSE technical reports). The upload took place in 1999 before the critical date for the patents and the site was indexed and searchable – although the search function was limited. Still, the PTAB found that the document was not “published” — a conclusion affirmed on appeal.

      To qualify as a “publication” the document must either (1) be actually distributed to the public or (2) be publicly available. Because there was no evidence that the document actually reached members of the public, the focus was on the second prong, public availability. The question here: “whether an interested skilled artisan, using reasonable diligence, would have found Lin on the CSE Technical Reports Library website.” Although the site was indexed and searchable, the PTAB concluded that the search function was limited and that the evidence only “suggests that an artisan might have located Lin by skimming through potentially hundreds of titles in the same year, with most containing unrelated subject matter, or by viewing all titles in the database listed by author, when the authors were not particularly well known.”

      Treating public accessibility as a factual determinatoin, the Federal Circuit affirmed — finding that “[s]ubstantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that there “is insufficient evidence of record to support a finding that a person of ordinary skill in the art in 1999 could have located Lin using the CSE Library website’s search function.”

    • Conflicts of Interest in Patent Practice

      Addresses conflicts of interest in patent practice, including patent prosecution, patent opinion work, and patent litigation.

    • Interpreting Claims — Claiming Elements from the Background Art

      Cave Consulting’s U.S. Patent No. 7,739,126 covers a method of determining physician efficiency that includes, inter alia, a step of calculating a “weighted statistic” associated with various “episodes of care.” The broader claims are not expressly limited to the particular statistic used, while the dependent claims require alternatively require “indirect standardization” (Claim 25) or “indirect standardization” (Claim 26) of the weighting. To be clear, the specification spends substantial time focusing on indirect standardization in detail, whereas direct standardization is a method known in the prior art.

      In its case against Optum (a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare and my insurance provider), the patentee argued that Optum used the direct-standardization weighting as claimed and a jury found agreed with a $12 million damages award.

      On appeal the Federal Circuit shifted claim construction and reversed — holding that the independent claims implicitly excluded direct-standardization weighting. In its holding the court relied upon its precedent in Retractable Techs., Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson & Co., 653 F.3d 1296, 1305 (Fed. Cir. 2011) in stating that claims should be construed to “tether the claims to what the specifications indicate the inventor actually invented.”

    • Infringing?: Offers (made in the US) to Sell (abroad)

      A tough aspect of the patent case against Intersil itself is that 98.8% of its products are manufactured, packaged, and tested abroad — then delivered to customers abroad. U.S. patent law is territorial and almost none of the products were made, used, or sold “within the United States.” 35 U.S.C. 271(a). In its new petition for writ of certiorari, TAOS argues that the infringer should still be liable becase it made “offers to sell” the invention within the US.

      Here, the evidence shows that an offer was made in California by Intersil to sell the accused sensors to Apple at $.035 each. Although the offer was made in California, delivery was set outside the U.S. The delivery location is critical under the leading Federal Circuit decision in Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Contractors USA, Inc., 617 F.3d 1296 (Fed. Cir. 2010). In Transocean, the court held that “offers to sell . . . within the United States” are limited to offers where – if accepted – the sale will occur in the United States.

    • CCIA Files Additional Comments In Qualcomm ITC Case

      Last June, CCIA filed comments on the public interest issues implicated by Qualcomm’s ITC complaint against Apple. (The ITC is required to take into account whether the public interest would be harmed by exclusion.)

      Last month, the ITC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) agreed with our comments, determining that an exclusion order was not in the public interest. However, ALJ Pender’s determination isn’t final—the International Trade Commission (ITC) has been asked to review his determination. As part of that process, the Commission invites further comments from members of the public.

      Yesterday, CCIA filed additional comments, reiterating certain aspects of the original analysis, while also confirming the analysis provided by ALJ Pender was correct. In particular, CCIA’s comments note that an exclusion order would harm consumers, would harm competition in the United States, and would pose a risk to U.S. national security.

    • Enforcing FRAND Commitments

      In an important decision, Judge Koh granted partial summary judgment for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will require Qualcomm to license its Standard-EssentialPatents (SEPs) for 3G Mobile (and other) communication standards on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. [FTC v Qualcomm]

      Qualcomm agreed that it was subject to its prior FRAND commitment, but argued that it only applied to “complete devices like cellular handsets” and not to components like modem chips. In other words, Qualcomm was happy to license to its chip customers, but not to its competitors. This decision follows other cases, including Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola, Inc., 696 F.3d 872 (9th Cir. 2012) where the 9th Circuit held that “FRAND commitments include an obligation to license to all comers, including competing modem chip suppliers.”

    • ITC’s Chance to Restore Reason and the Public Interest in the Qualcomm v. Apple Case

      An administrative law judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission recently found patent infringement in Qualcomm’s case against Apple (See Qualcomm v. Apple), but then inexplicably refused to recommend that the commission issue an exclusion order against infringer Apple.

      [...]

      To be clear, the ITC has only one remedy available in Section 337 cases: an import exclusion order. The commission cannot award monetary damages or any other damages, under current law.

      In all previous smartphone cases before the ITC, when an importer was found to infringe, the commission has always issued exclusion orders. In its history, the commission has only previously denied an import ban three times when finding infringement.

    • Judge rules that Qualcomm must license essential patents to chip competitors
    • Judge Koh’s high-profile summary judgment order doesn’t bode well for Qualcomm’s efforts to elude patent exhaustion finding

      This is a follow-up (as I promised) to Judge Lucy Koh’s summary judgment order according to which Qualcomm must meet its self-imposed obligation to license its cellular standard-essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipset makers. On Tuesday I mostly wanted to publish the news quickly, and I focused on the commercial consequences.

      The legal standard applied by Judge Koh was stated as follows in the Ninth Circuit’s 2006 opinion in Miller v. Glenn Miller Prods., Inc.: summary judgment is warranted “[i]f, after considering the language of the contract and any admissible extrinsic evidence, the meaning of the contract is unambiguous.” (emphasis added)

      Qualcomm unsuccessfully argued that an alleged need for two U.S. standard-setting organizations (ATIS and TIA) to be consistent with policies established by other organizations supported its position that there was no obligation to extend a SEP license to rival chipset makers, and that baseband chips don’t actually implement the standards in question.

    • Qualcomm must license chip patents to competitors, judge rules
    • Public Knowledge Asks International Trade Commission to Protect Competition

      Today, Public Knowledge and the Open Markets Institute sent a letter to the International Trade Commission supporting a recent administrative law judge’s decision that Qualcomm’s requested relief of banning certain models of Apple’s iPhone from the U.S. market would harm the public interest, by reducing competition in the premium baseband market. Currently Intel is Qualcomm’s only competitor for this vital smartphone component, and the judge found that granting Qualcomm’s request would cause it to exit the market entirely.

    • Why Judge Koh’s Qualcomm FRAND ruling is a big deal

      The ruling that Qualcomm must license SEPs to competitors on FRAND terms helps the FTC but will also have a wider impact – upending the licensing practices of SEP owners, who have criticised the decision

      An important ruling in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit against Qualcomm in the Northern District of California raises many questions for standard essential patent (SEP) holders, who are critical of the uncertainty created by decisions out of the US…

    • Qualcomm must license its chip tech to competitors, judge rules

      Qualcomm has to license its wireless chip patents to its competitors, a judge ruled Tuesday.

      District Court Judge Lucy Koh granted the US Federal Trade Commission’s motion for partial summary judgment in its suit against Qualcomm. The FTC had sought a ruling that declared “two industry agreements obligate Qualcomm to license its essential patents to competing modem chip suppliers.” Koh agreed with the motion and on Tuesday said Qualcomm has to give rivals like Intel access to its technology.

      “Undisputed evidence in Qualcomm’s own documents demonstrates that a modem chip is a core component of the cellular handset, which only underscores how a [standard essential patent] license to supply modem chips is for the purpose of practicing or implementing cellular standards and why Qualcomm cannot discriminate against modem chip suppliers,” Koh wrote.

    • LG Patents Smartphones With Oval-Shaped Display Camera Holes

      LG has patented some new smartphone designs in order to keep up with the competition. If you take a look at the provided images, you will notice that the company actually patented two different designs, and each of those two designs have camera holes in different places on the display (top left, top center, and top right). Both of these designed have been submitted in the company’s home country, South Korea, at the KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office) by LG Display. Patents themselves were published on October 24 and November 2, and as you can see, these two designs are somewhat different, but both look quite similar from the front. Both devices sport what is essentially a bezel-less design, but they do have a camera hole in the display. You will notice that the camera hole looks the same on both phones, it has an oval shape to it, which is a bit different than other designs that we’ve seen, and that we’ll talk about a bit later. So why is this camera hole oval? Well, either LG plans to include two front-facing cameras in this phone, or perhaps it’s reserved for both a front-facing camera and an earpiece, which is a possibility, as it will give LG more room above the display to trim down those bezels.

    • The Netherlands’ preferential IP regime for software companies [Ed: Tax evasion loopholes using patents that are likely not patent-eligible either]

      The Netherlands government is promoting engagement in research and development (R&D) activities through a preferential corporate income tax regime, as well as specific R&D tax incentives granted to employers with regard to salaries paid to employees who perform qualifying R&D activities and related capital expenditures.

      Following international scrutiny, most preferential intellectual property (IP) regimes have been amended in line with base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) Action 5. The new Dutch innovation box also follows the internationally approved standards under BEPS Action 5.

      Briefly, the new rules require companies that apply the new innovation box to have performed substantial R&D activities, and that eligible R&D profits are related to patents or other IP rights that are capable of being registered and to which the profit allocation is sufficiently documented. Moreover, the extended application of the Netherlands innovation box has been welcomed by most Netherlands companies that typically have to rely on R&D declarations, but may now also rely on copyrights to support their innovation box position.

    • Copyrights
      • MPAA Considers a ‘Makeover’ As It Faces Shrinking Budget

        Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox has been one of the major entertainment industry stories this year. Indirectly, it also impacts Hollywood’s industry group the MPAA, which loses one of its six members. This prompted insiders to rethink the organization’s future and reportedly, streaming giants such as Netflix are being considered as future members.

      • Greek ISPs Ordered to Block 38 Domains, Including The Pirate Bay

        Following a request from a local anti-piracy group, Greek Internet service providers are required to block access to The Pirate Bay, 1337x, YTS, and several other pirate sites. The order, issued by a special Government-affiliated commission, also targets several popular subtitle sites.

Pro-Litigation Front Groups Like CIPA and Team UPC Control the EPO, Which Shamelessly Grants Software Patents

Sunday 11th of November 2018 12:34:16 AM

Summary: With buzzwords and hype like “insurtech”, “fintech”, “blockchains” and “AI” the EPO (and to some degree the USPTO as well) looks to allow a very wide range of software patents; the sole goal is to grant millions of low-quality patents, creating unnecessary litigation in Europe

THE death spiral of patent quality is overseen by Iancu and Campinos, two non-scientists who head the USPTO and EPO, respectively. The only quantity or currency they understand is money. Campinos, being a former banker himself, would no doubt drool over the amounts of money gained by just printing papers (European Patents). It doesn’t seem to bother them that 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the EPC should in principle deny US patents that are abstract (like algorithms) and software patents in Europe. Those ‘pesky’ laws are just ‘obstacles’ when one’s objective is to maximise revenue, not quality, innovation etc.

“Those ‘pesky’ laws are just ‘obstacles’ when one’s objective is to maximise revenue, not quality, innovation etc.”The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which deals with trademarks as well as patents, makes over 3 billion dollars (latest figures) in exchange for granting man-made monopolies, mostly to large corporations that bully rivals (money out of nothing). It’s great, isn’t it? Money by the billions… for just printing things.

IPPro Patents has just repeated self-promotional claims about “insurtech” — a fairly new buzzword for what typically alludes to fake/bogus patents on software and/or business methods. We mentioned “insurtech” some days ago; it’s similar to “fintech”, which we’ll come to in a moment.

We’d like to focus on the EPO, however, because its software patents extravaganza truly went out of control last week. On Thursday, for example, half of its tweets promoted such patents. The EPO promoted (RT) this tweet which said: “We are teaming up with @EPOorg to deliver an online services workshop, making online filing easier to understand. Join us on 14 or 15 Nov at @TheCIPA in #London.”

“Remember that someone from UK-IPO becomes a Vice-President at the EPO next month.”So this coming week UK-IPO will do a ‘workshop’; CIPA is a litigation ‘industry’ front group and the EPO is notoriously corrupt. Not too wise for UK-IPO to associate with either of these (as opposed to scientists), but this is where we are today…

Remember that someone from UK-IPO becomes a Vice-President at the EPO next month.

And another event is coming. It’s called “Global patenting and emerging technologies”, but the corresponding page makes it very clear that by “emerging technologies” they mean software patents. The EPO already promotes this; it’s advancing software patents very shamelessly (if not aggressively) in this event. Those are disguised using buzzwords, as usual.

On Friday the EPO wrote: “Speakers from @Siemens , @Samsung , @Tatacompanies, @Wipro and @Ericsson will take to the stage at our “Global patenting and emerging technologies” conference in Munich. To book your place, go to http://bit.ly/indoeur pic.twitter.com/kAiLXNxtfz”

They also asked: “Are you involved in patents and #blockchain developments?”

“So that same old “AI” and “blockchain” nonsense has also been interjected into the Patent Information Conference.”By “blockchain developments” they mean software development — something on which they’re marketing patent monopolies; this was also promoted in the following tweet: “The @EPOorg has an exciting agenda for next week’s Patent Information Conference in Brussels! #AI, #blockchain, #textmining and more: bit.ly/2RqxlmP Visit us at stand 4 to hear what’s coming in 2019! #patents pic.twitter.com/dB3PBxbNSj

So that same old “AI” and “blockchain” nonsense has also been interjected into the Patent Information Conference. They know why they do this. The law firms gleefully play along. James Gatto (Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP) is now reposting in more sites his article titled “10 Lessons On Blockchain And Open-Source Licenses” (mentioned before in Techrights). JD Supra (press release/coverage) is the latest. They falsely assert that such patents are compatible with Free/Open Source software. Meanwhile in the US Salesforce is getting bogus patents or software patents disguised by buzzwords/hype like “blockchain”. Here’s one example:

U.S. software company Salesforce has won a patent to detect spam emails using blockchain technology. The patent filing was published on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Salesforce, which offer its customers is a cloud-based mailing platform, patented a solution that allows for the detection of whether an initial email was modified while being sent. In addition, the blockchain-driven program could help improve the existing filters that often fail to distinguish between spam and regular emails, such as promo letters.

As explained in the technical part of the document, to assure the authenticity of the message, the first email message server will record a selected component of the current message into a block to get other nodes’ approval. When the second server receives the message, it checks the blockchain record to find out whether the data has been replaced. If the two messages match, the email is marked as wanted. If the content has been altered, the mail goes to the spam folder.

“Salesforce Awarded New Blockchain Patent For Blocking Email Spam via Custom Matching System,” another article said (specialising in this area). It explained this as follows:

Salesforce, a giant of the software industry, has recently been awarded with a patent that will outline how a platform based on the blockchain technology could be used in the prevention of spam and other unwanted emails that fill up people’s inboxes with trash.

The document that outlines this story was published Tuesday, November 6, by the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. According to it, the idea is to create a platform powered by the technology of the blockchain that can be used to check your emails and their integrity (in the case of malware) using a matching system.

These are very obviously software patents and the USPTO oughtn’t be granting these (Section 101). We saw many articles about this last week, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Funny how nobody mentioned that these patents oughtn’t be allowed? Too mesmerised by hype waves? Here they go again:

This platform is going to use a blockchain matching system to determine if emails are being sent legitimately to the address owner. When a user sends emails, part of it will be recorded on the blockchain. As soon as the second server receives the message, it will cross-reference it with a component and determine if it matches the part of the email that was saved on the blockchain. As long as the component matches, the email will be forwarded to the inbox. If it doesn’t match, it will be marked as spam. The system makes sure that messages are not modified during transit from one server to the other.

This is very clearly an algorithm. How can anybody claim otherwise?

Another example of patents on algorithms being granted came out a few days ago in the form of a press release/publicity with buzzwords like “bank, fintech, retail, and cloud service customers.”

“This is very clearly an algorithm. How can anybody claim otherwise?”This speaks of “detection algorithms. BehavioSec has also received new patents related to its new capabilities.”

Well, software patents are bunk. Section 101 applies it they themselves call it “algorithms”. See the press release [1, 2]. Are they no longer shy to use the word “algorithms”, even in the post-Alice era? How about IronClad’s latest press release that says: “IronClad Encryption Corporation (OTCQB: IRNC), a cyber defense company that secures digital assets and communications across a wide range of industries and technologies, today announced that it has received notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office that six of its patents have been allowed and should be issued by the end of the year.”

But those are software patents.

“Section 101 applies it they themselves call it “algorithms”.”Going back to the EPO, notice how it’s again bringing up “AI” by saying: “A summary of the EPO’s first conference on patenting #artificialintelligence as well as recordings of the keynote speeches, panel discussions and Q&A sessions are now available here: http://bit.ly/AIconf pic.twitter.com/3gS9IcMdwu”

Mark Bell from Dehns (Team UPC) has meanwhile encouraged — yet again — software patents in the UK. He does so even though they’re not worth a quid; he uses EPO-promoted buzzwords like “AI” to mislead potential clients when he writes (e.g. in Mondaq):

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are very much growth technologies that are being exploited in many different industries. These techniques aim to replicate the intelligence and learning capabilities of humans in machines and computers. Examples of uses include speech recognition, self-driving cars and robotics.

It follows that new inventions using AI and machine learning will be the desired subject of patent protection from companies investing in these technologies. However, not all jurisdictions allow these types of “inventions” to be patented. For example, there are restrictions on being able to obtain patents for pure computer software, in which AI and machine learning will often be implemented. Handily, in Europe, the European Patent Office (EPO) publishes their “Guidelines for Examination” which set out how the patentability of such inventions should be examined.

A recent update to the examination guidelines includes, for the first time, a section on how patent applications directed towards inventions for AI and machine learning in particular should be assessed. This section notes that the computational models and algorithms behind AI and machine learning (e.g. neural networks, genetic algorithms, support vector machines, k-means, kernel regression and discriminant analysis for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction) may be of an abstract mathematical nature and thus prohibited from being granted patent protection.

These people (like Dehns) continue to rely on bypassing actual patent courts; they still fantasise about an EPO-connected UPC — one that would accept software patents. Lexology has just carried this article of Wrays’ Phil Burns on “The impact of BREXIT on UK & European patents”; well, the UPC is dead, but EPs — whose rapidly-declining quality is a growing concern — are still a threat to Brits. It doesn’t bother these law firms because such threats are something for them to gain from (financially). They ‘monetise’ threat and risk.

“…the EPO isn’t too concerned about facts. All it cares about is money and if the law stands in the way, then it will construct some phony justification for ignoring or working around the law.”“Kluwer Patent blogger” (typically the patent zealots from Team UPC who profit from litigation) has just joined in, trying to make excuses for the EPO granting software patents in defiance of EPC (the law/legislation today’s EPO is based upon). A days days ago it said:

As these models and algorithms “are per se of an abstract mathematical nature, irrespective of whether they can be ‘trained’ based on training data”, the guidance concerning mathematical methods (G-II 3.3) – which are generally excluded from patentability, applies.

However, “If a claim is directed either to a method involving the use of technical means (e.g. a computer) or to a device, its subject-matter has a technical character as a whole and is thus not excluded from patentability under Art. 52(2) and (3).”

The new guidelines give two examples of technical application of AI and ML: “For example, the use of a neural network in a heart-monitoring apparatus for the purpose of identifying irregular heartbeats makes a technical contribution. The classification of digital images, videos, audio or speech signals based on low-level features (e.g. edges or pixel attributes for images) are further typical technical applications of classification algorithms.”

That’s just a bunch of algorithms; I should know, having developed some a decade and a half ago. But the EPO isn’t too concerned about facts. All it cares about is money and if the law stands in the way, then it will construct some phony justification for ignoring or working around the law. The mistreatment of EPO staff proves to be a consistent pattern at the EPO. Lawlessness is now ‘normal’.

Latest Loophole: To Get Software Patents From the EPO One Can Just Claim That They’re ‘on a Car’

Saturday 10th of November 2018 11:05:16 PM

EPO is riding (or driving) hype waves again

Summary: The EPO has a new ‘study’ (accompanied by an extensive media/PR campaign) that paints software as “SDV” if it runs on a car, celebrating growth of such software patents

THE age of ‘computerised’ cars is here. What does that mean? Usually general-purpose computers inside cars, that’s all. Innovative? Maybe. Exciting? Arguably. A novel/new concept? Not quite. Some computers are there just for entertainment (like in commercial aircrafts/airliners), whereas others connect to various mechanisms inside the car, e.g. brakes, throttling, steering, electric system, seats/belts and physical locking (windows, doors). None of that is particularly complicated except the steering as that relies on sound input and computer vision; both of those are reducible to software. Sensory components are general-purpose sensors. We wrote about them before, e.g. US patent number 10,000,000.

Take for example these new (days-old) reports about Tesla [1, 2]. The latter of these says: “A recently published patent has revealed that Tesla is exploring the idea of a user interface allowing drivers to launch and display up to four apps simultaneously in a four-way split screen arrangement. What’s more, Tesla also seems to be preparing a setting that will enable users to customize the arrangement of icons in their vehicles’ main taskbar.”

That’s just a classic software patent, likely invalid as per/in lieu with 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). So why was it granted? We know that Tesla pledged not to sue with its patents, but how is this considered innovative and patent-eligible? It’s neither. There’s also prior art in other contexts/domains.

Unfortunately, things like the above are becoming normal and more fake patents (or software patents) are being granted to entities in the capital of patent trolls. Several days ago Dallas Business Journal showed ‘news’ ‘coverage’ being reduced to spammy advertising of malicious patent bullies and a site called Dallas Invents (or Innovates) revealed new patents, including one of Toyota whose summary/abstract says: “An adaptive vehicle control system that includes processors, memory modules communicatively coupled to the processors, and machine readable instructions stored in the one or more memory modules that cause the adaptive vehicle control system to determine an autonomous operation profile of a target vehicle positioned in a vehicle operating environment, wherein the vehicle operating environment includes a roadway having one or more lanes, determine an autonomous operation profile of one of more neighboring vehicles positioned within the vehicle operating environment, compare the autonomous operation profile of at least one of the one or more neighboring vehicles with the autonomous operation profile of the target vehicle, and alter a condition of the target vehicle such that the autonomous operation profile of the target vehicle matches an autonomous operation profile of an individual neighboring vehicle of the one or more neighboring vehicles positioned in the same lane as the target vehicle.”

This boils down to algorithms. It’s very easy to see this. But because cars are a physical thing we assume that examiners can somehow convince themselves that it’s not abstract.

To make matters worse, the EPO under the leadership of António Campinos constantly promotes software patents in Europe and the latest stunt is pretending these patents have something to do with “cars”. They started a whole new PR campaign (the EPO keeps coming up with new three-letter acronyms by which to promote software patents), so the media plays along, e.g. German media (RTL), east European media [1, 2], and British media (examples to follow below). There’s even Les Échos coverage, not noting that it’s actually a paid propaganda apparatus which Battistelli notoriously used to mislead the public. Here’s a new article about “automotive software” that mentions patents. A Web site of a law firm, Out-Law.com, also helped the EPO some days ago when it wrote: “Technology and telecoms companies dominate the list of companies that have filed the most applications for European patents relating to driverless cars, according to data compiled by the European Patent Office (EPO).”

They use the acronym SDV to make it sound catchy. The distribution of such patents is the same as for other areas: “Europe, the US, Japan, South Korea and China are the five most popular jurisdictions for applying for driverless car patents, according to the EPO.”

So how’s that even unique? It’s not. On Friday the EPO wrote: “We had a look at the trends in European #patent applications for one of today’s emerging technologies: self-driving vehicles. Read our findings here: http://bit.ly/SDVstudy #FutureOfCars #SelfDriving pic.twitter.com/oLYhJL0YI9″

They do exactly what Battistelli did; they commission their own ‘study’ to advance some questionable agenda. IPPro Patents wrote that the EPO “conducted [this 'study'] in cooperation with the European Council for Automotive research and development (EUCAR)…”

No vested interests there? These are mostly software patents (e.g. computer vision, my research domain in which I developed car navigation software) referred to by another name; the EPO should be shamed of itself. We should note that about half of all EPO tweets on Thursday (about a dozen in total) promoted software patents. They also retweeted this thing about patents on “cars” (actually software, albeit used somewhere inside a car) and retweeted this blog post’s tweet that said: “@EPOorg has just published a report on “Patenting and Self-Driving Vehicles”. This is one of the fastest growing technologies for patent applications. The report analyses and categorizes the patent data and considers some of the uses for those technologies https://nipclaw.blogspot.com/2018/11/patents-and-self-driving-vehicles.html …”

Notice how none of them bothered checking the underlying patents, except naively assuming that they’re something to do with “a car”; never mind if those mostly come down to algorithms that aren’t patent-eligible as per the EPC.

The Huge Cost of Wrongly-Granted European Patents, Recklessly Granted by the European Patent Office (EPO)

Saturday 10th of November 2018 10:06:52 PM

Summary: It took 4 years for many thousands of people to have just one patent of Monsanto/Bayer revoked; what does that say about the impact of erroneous patent awards?

THE QUALITY of patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) may have slipped to the same level as the USPTO if not lower. According to one major law firm, it’s now easier to get software patents in Europe than in the US. Thanks, António Campinos and Battistelli!

“So it took this many years and many other patents remain to be dealt with; notice how much public effort/energy is required to squash just one single patent.”The foremost patent families we oppose are software patents and patents on life/nature; there’s no evidence that these contribute to innovation and there’s ample evidence that these discourage development and cause deaths, respectively. So why are such European Patents being awarded (and sometimes rewarded for)? As we noted a few days ago, citing coverage from various sources except the EPO itself (the EPO’s management prefers to dodge any admission of errors), patents on life/nature are being eliminated only after massive backlash and parliamentary intervention. It shouldn’t be the case; the threshold of opposition should never be this high. Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, a propaganda site for patents on life, belatedly (towards the end of the week) ended up saying something about rejection of Monsanto patents (only after many protests). “EPO revokes Bayer broccoli patent,” said the headline, alluding to patents originally granted to Monsanto (before the takeover). To quote:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a Bayer-owned patent which covers a type of broccoli adapted to make their harvesting easier.

In late October, the office revoked European patent number 1,597,965. Originally granted in 2013 to agrochemical company Monsanto (which has since been acquired by Bayer), the patent covers broccoli plants that have an “exerted head”, making them easier to harvest.

The revocation follows an opposition filed in 2014 by a coalition of organisations.

So it took this many years and many other patents remain to be dealt with; notice how much public effort/energy is required to squash just one single patent.

Links 10/11/2018: Mesa 18.3 RC2, ‘Linux on DeX’ Beta and Windows Breaking Itself Again

Saturday 10th of November 2018 10:24:17 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 7 reasons I love open source

    Here’s why I spend so much of my time—including evenings and weekends—on GitHub, as an active member of the open source community.

    I’ve worked on everything from solo projects to small collaborative group efforts to projects with hundreds of contributors. With each project, I’ve learned something new.

  • Tractor Drives Itself, Thanks to ESP32 and Open Source

    Modern agricultural equipment has come a long way, embracing all kinds of smart features and electronic controls. While some manufacturers would prefer to be the sole gatekeepers of the access to these advanced features, that hasn’t stopped curious and enterprising folks from working on DIY solutions. One such example is this self-steering tractor demo by [Coffeetrac], which demonstrates having a computer plot and guide a tractor through an optimal coverage pattern.

    A few different pieces needed to come together to make this all work. At the heart of it all is [Coffeetrac]’s ESP32-based Autosteer controller, which is the hardware that interfaces to the tractor and allows for steering and reading sensors electronically. AgOpenGPS is the software that reads GPS data, interfaces to the Autosteer controller, and tells equipment what to do; it can be thought of as a mission planner.

  • Web Browsers
  • Databases
    • ScyllaDB Releases Scylla Open Source 3.0

      ScyllaDB, the real-time big data database company, is releasing Scylla Open Source 3.0, introducing new production-ready capabilities.

      The company also previewed Scylla support for concurrent OLTP and OLAP, an industry first that enables simultaneous transactional and analytical processing.

      Scylla Open Source 3.0 features a close-to-the-hardware design that makes optimal use of modern servers. Written from the ground-up in C++ to provide significant improvements to throughput, latency and administration, Scylla delivers scale-up performance of more than 1,000,000 IOPS per node, scales out to hundreds of nodes, and consistently achieves a 99% tail latency of less than 1 millisecond.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Import your files from closed or obsolete applications

      One of the biggest risks with using proprietary applications is losing access to your digital content if the software disappears or ends support for old file formats. Moving your content to an open format is the best way to protect yourself from being locked out due to vendor lock-in and for that, the Document Liberation Project (DLP) has your back.

      According to the DLP’s homepage, “The Document Liberation Project was created to empower individuals, organizations, and governments to recover their data from proprietary formats and provide a mechanism to transition that data into open and standardized file formats, returning effective control over the content from computer companies to the actual authors.”

    • Changelog for VirtualBox 5.2
    • VirtualBox 5.2.22 Released, Disables 3D For Wayland & Brings Linux 4.19 Fixes

      While VirtualBox 6.0 is in beta, VirtualBox 5.2.22 was released today as the latest stable release for this Oracle virtualization software.

      Announced earlier this week was a VirtualBox zero-day vulnerability that went public with the researcher being upset over current bug disclosure processes… That 0-day vulnerability in VirtualBox touches its PRO/1000 network adapter code and allows the guest to escape to the host’s ring three and from there paired with other exploits potentially hitting the host’s ring zero. Details on that zero-day via virtualbox_e1000_0day. Surprisingly though there is no word in today’s VirtualBox 5.2.22 release information whether this vulnerability is addressed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Apollo GraphQL Platform [Ed: That is fostering Microsoft tools like a VS Code plugin which helps Microsoft sell proprietary software.]

      Also available to open-core users is the VS Code plugin, which DeBergalis explained “puts valuable information about your schema — like the average latency of a specific field — right at your fingertips at development time.”

    • Facebook’s GraphQL moved to a new GraphQL Foundation, backed by The Linux Foundation

      The foundation will provide a neutral home for the community to collaborate and encourage more participation and contribution. The community will be able to spread responsibilities and costs for infrastructure which will help in increasing the overall investment. This neutral governance will also ensure equal treatment in the community.

      [...]

      In the next few months, The Linux Foundation with Facebook and the GraphQL community will be finalizing the founding members of the GraphQL Foundation.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GIMP 2.10.8 Released

      Though the updated GIMP release policy allows cool new features in micro releases, we also take pride on the stability of our software (so that you can edit images feeling that your work is safe).

      In this spirit, GIMP 2.10.8 is mostly the result of dozens of bug fixes and optimizations.

    • GIMP 2.10.8 Gets Better Performance Boost On Lower-End Hardware

      It doesn’t look like GIMP 3.0 will be under the tree this Christmas, but at least GIMP 2.10 continues progressing with new stable releases to provide new optimizations and enhancements.

      GIMP 2.10.8 should perform better on lower-end systems now with its chunk size being determined dynamically based on processing speed. This should make this imaging program more responsive. There is also the groundwork in this release towards delivering more performance optimizations moving forward.

    • GRUB Bootloader Picks Up A Verifier Framework For Secure Boot, TPM, PGP Verification

      Landing in the GRUB boot-loader minutes ago is a new “verifiers” framework providing core verification functionality for the likes of UEFI Secure Boot, Trusted Platform Modules, and PGP.

      The GRUB verifiers framework can be used by modules whereby the boot-loader needs to handle some verification steps at boot-time. The obvious focus on this verification framework is for security mechanisms like Secure Boot or TPM support.

    • GCC 9 Lands Support For Intel PTWRITE

      There has been a flurry of activity recently for the GCC 9 compiler due to feature development ending soon. The latest work hitting their mainline tree this morning is support for the Intel PTWRITE instruction.

      PTWRITE is a new instruction for Intel CPUs that allows writing values into the processor trace (PT) log. The intention of this is for allowing lightweight instrumentation/tracing of programs. The PTWRITE instruction is initially supported by Intel Geminilake / Goldmont Plus hardware.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Open source licensing: Is your vendor a troll?

      This shouldn’t be an issue, of course. Open source is supposed to be about collaboration and community. When Red Hat, Facebook, Google, and IBM initially proposed the GCC in November 2017, therefore, it was a bit of a surprise. By July 2018, 20 more companies had joined, including Toyota, Intel, and Royal Philips. More head scratching. This week 16 more companies joined the GCC, including my employer, Adobe, and I finally asked the question, “Is this really a problem? Are individuals or companies really weaponizing GPL licensing against (likely) innocent wrongdoers?”

      The answer is “Yes.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • The Evolution Of Open

      I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s a mistake to think of federation as a feature of distributed systems, rather than as consequence of computational scarcity. But more importantly, I believe that federated infrastructure – that is, a focus on distributed and resilient services – is a poor substitute for an accountable infrastructure that prioritizes a distributed and healthy community. The reason Twitter is a sewer isn’t that Twitter is centralized, it’s that Jack Dorsey doesn’t give a damn about policing his platform and Twitter’s board of directors doesn’t give a damn about changing his mind. Likewise, a big reason Mastodon is popular with the worst dregs of the otaku crowd is that if they’re on the right instance they’re free to recirculate shit that’s so reprehensible even Twitter’s boneless, soporific safety team can’t bring themselves to let it slide.

      That’s the other part of federated systems we don’t talk about much – how much the burden of safety shifts to the individual. The cost of evolving federated systems that require consensus to interoperate is so high that structural flaws are likely to be there for a long time, maybe forever, and the burden of working around them falls on every endpoint to manage for themselves. IRC’s (Remember IRC?) ongoing borderline-unusability is a direct product of a notion of openness that leaves admins few better tools than endless spammer whack-a-mole. Email is (sort of…) decentralized, but can you imagine using it with your junkmail filters off?

    • How to make an open-source, computerized map of the brain

      This post was contributed by Mason Muerhoff, who is the Associate University Relations Specialist for the Waisman Center.

      In search of a way to improve how scientists analyze brain images, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Waisman Center decided to build a brain.

      Or at least, a brain model.

      Waisman Center senior scientist Alexander Converse and colleagues from several international universities recently published a rhesus macaque brain atlas aligned to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) template. The result is a three-dimensional, computerized map of the rhesus brain.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Why you should care about RISC-V

        If you haven’t heard about the RISC-V (pronounced “risk five”) processor, it’s an open-source (open-hardware, open-design) processor core created by the University of Berkeley. It exists in 32-bit, 64-bit, and 128-bit variants, although only 32- and 64-bit designs exist in practice. The news is full of stories about major hardware manufacturers (Western Digital, NVidia) looking at or choosing RISC-V cores for their product.

        But why should you care? You can’t just go to the local electronics boutique and buy a RISC-V laptop or blade server. RISC-V commodity hardware is either scarce or expensive. It’s all still early in its lifespan and development, not yet ready for enterprise tasks. Yet it’s still something that the average professional should be aware of, for a number of reasons.

        By now everyone has heard about the Meltdown and Spectre issues, and related “bugs” users have been finding in Intel and AMD processors. This blog is not about how hard CPU design is – it’s hard. Even harder than you realize. The fear created by these bugs was not that there was a problem in the design, but that users of these chips had no insight into how these “black boxes” worked, no way to review code that was outside their control, and no way to audit these processors for other security issues. We’re at the mercy of the manufacturer to assure us there are no more bugs left (ha!).

  • Programming/Development
    • Developers are the new kingdom builders

      These are today’s geniuses and visionaries of the blockchain world—the Linus Torvalds of blockchain. But there are many following them, using the platforms created by these geniuses to create new business models and experiment with their own kingdoms. Some will fail, and some will succeed. But clearly, there is a new path for developers to conquer the world—and now it’s for real.

Leftovers
  • Robert Jackson Bennett Uses Magic To Make Sense Of How Technology Shapes Our Lives

    In Robert Jackson Bennett’s critically-acclaimed new novel, Foundryside, a scrappy thief-cum-spy explores a world where items can be “scrived” to think for themselves and bend natural laws. The role scriving plays in this alternate reality is powerfully analogous to how software defines so many aspects of our own lives, and the four merchant houses that dominate Bennett’s fictional society map closely to the tech monopolies that are accruing more and more power every day in the real world. In the following interview, we discuss the political consequences of technology and the power of imagination.

    [...]

    Revolution is examined much more closely in the sequel, but I would say that it’s important to realize that a revolution is not a singular event, but a violent series of tug-of-war that has actions and reactions. One can argue, for example, that the French Revolution lasted nearly a century, if not more, as various kinds of liberals seized power, only for various kinds of conservatives to pop up and take it back, practically right up until the First World War.

    I think we should view revolutions in terms of survival. You should ask: Which groups are the most threatened? Which threatened group has the most power to organize and respond? You fight a lot more when your future’s on the line, and your fight makes a difference when you have the actual power to see it through. You can think of this in terms of the Clayton Christensen model of disruption, where disruptors are put into positions where they must disrupt in order to survive, or you can look at the Founding Fathers, who were almost exclusively upper class landholders and merchants — a critical reason why the American Revolution succeeded.

  • Hardware
    • Why I use a 20-year-old IBM Model M keyboard

      The Model M is more pleasant and accurate to type on than any other keyboard I’ve used. So behind my desk at home, where size, weight, and noise don’t enter into the equation, the Model M is front and center.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Why politicians need to ‘take responsibility’ for children’s health too

      Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health rightly points out that preventing ill health is crucially important in tackling the soaring costs of health care. This week he exhorts people to “take responsibility” for their health.

      But he omits to say that much adult ill health has its roots in childhood. And current government policy is not only failing to give children to the best start in life, but creating an economic environment driven by austerity where parents and families are unable to take control of their children’s health.

      This government is betraying children on a grand scale, and making positive ‘choices’ impossible.

    • The White House Unleashes More Attacks on Reproductive Health Care

      The White House released rules this week attacking insurance coverage for abortion and birth control.
      On Tuesday, voters turned out in record numbers for the midterm elections — and there is good evidence that health care motivated many of them to head to the polls. They voted to expand Medicaid in several states and elected more women than ever before to represent them in Congress.

      But less than 24 hours after ballots were cast, the Trump administration moved to undermine access to women’s health care, releasing a series of rules, one proposed and two final, attacking insurance coverage for both abortion and contraception.

      On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a proposed rule that would create burdensome and unnecessary regulations designed to cause insurance companies in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace to stop covering abortion care. The proposed rule could push abortion care out of reach for many of the 1.3 million people who purchase plans through the government marketplaces, and possibly more if insurers opt to drop coverage in additional plans.

  • Security
    • Chinese drones could be [cracked] to access videos and credit card details

      China’s DJI accounts for approximately 70pc of the global commercial and consumer drone industry.

      User accounts for the DJI website and app, used to control and manage drones, were vulnerable to cyber-attacks, giving [crackers] access to live aerial drone footage, location of drone pilots and personal details of owners.

    • [Cracker] who launched DDoS attacks against EA, Sony and Steam pleads guilty

      Charged with causing Damage to a Protected Computing, Austin Thompson targeted Valve Software’s Steam, the most popular PC gaming portal, as well as Electronic Arts’ Origin service and the Sony PlayStation network.

    • Britain flashes amber light at Huawei with review of telecoms supply chains

      The British government has launched a probe into the security of supply chains in its fast-evolving telecommunications industry, in a move that will kick-start debate over the key role of Chinese telco giant Huawei in the country’s telecoms infrastructure.

      Britain’s review comes just months after Australia and the US effectively blocked Huawei and fellow Chinese equipment maker ZTE as suppliers to the rollout of 5G mobile telecoms infrastructure – so it will likely be welcomed by Britain’s key intelligence partners.

    • Red Hat’s Operating System Gets NIST Data Security Recertification; Paul Smith Quoted

      Red Hat has received Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 recertification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for its Enterprise Linux 7.5 operating system.

      Paul Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s public sector in North America, said in a statement published Thursday the FIPS 140-2 recertification seeks to show the capability of the company’s software to deliver “secure computing at both the operating system and layered infrastructure levels.”

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 renewed FIPS 140-2 security certifications from National Institute of Standards and Technology
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Linux CryptoMiners Are Now Using Rootkits to Stay Hidden [Ed: This impacts already-cracked machines; unlike Windows, where rootkits come though official channels like CD-ROM (Sony)]

      As the popularity of cryptocurrency rises, so does the amount of cryptominer Tojans that are being created and distributed to unsuspecting victims. One problem for cryptominers, though, is that the offending process is easily detectable due to their heavy CPU utilization.

      To make it harder to spot a cryptominer process that is utilizing all of the CPU, a new variant has been discovered for Linux that attempts to hide its presence by utilizing a rootkit.

      According to a new report by TrendMicro, this new cryptominer+rootkit combo will still cause performance issues due to the high CPU utilization, but administrators will not be able to detect what process is causing it.

      “We recently encountered a cryptocurrency-mining malware (detected by Trend Micro as Coinminer.Linux.KORKERDS.AB) affecting Linux systems,” stated a report by TrendMicro. “It is notable for being bundled with a rootkit component (Rootkit.Linux.KORKERDS.AA) that hides the malicious process’ presence from monitoring tools. This makes it difficult to detect, as infected systems will only indicate performance issues. The malware is also capable of updating and upgrading itself and its configuration file.”

    • Linux cryptocurrency miners are installing rootkits to hide themselves [Ed: By hiring Catalin Cimpanu CBS ZDNet basically imported the same misleading headlines and style as the sensationalist Bleeping Computer (above, where he came from). Because all CBS judges "success" by is clicks and ad impressions.]
    • The Morris Worm Turns 30
    • DJI Fixes Massive Vulnerability In User Accounts That Could’ve Allowed Hackers To Take Control Of Your Drone And Steal Personal Information

      DJI drones are the hot trend of 21st century. However, as functional and well built they are, some vulnerabilities in them could pose serious threat to your security. As these drones rely on a DJI account to be functional, you can land in serious trouble if a hacker gains access to your account. The hacker may access your drone and fly or crash it into a sensitive more or no fly zone. Not only that, personal information can also be accessed through the exploit and that may put you in more danger.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Ukraine shows downed Russian drone to Austrian delegation in Donbas

      Ukrainian Joint Forces Commander Serhiy Nayev has briefed an Austrian delegation headed by Ambassador to Ukraine Hermine Poppeller on the security and operational situation in Donbas, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has reported.

      “The number of civilians killed or injured in the blasting of explosive devices in the territory beyond Ukraine’s control has increased in the past month. This is a result of the neglect by the Russian aggressor of any mine safety standards. Five civilians, three of them children, were killed when they hit enemy mines, and one more boy was seriously wounded,” Nayev said, speaking with the Austrian delegation.

      He also said that the enemy continues shelling settlements, including with the use of heavy weapons. Five civilians have been killed and ten more wounded in 58 shelling attacks on settlements and one attack on an area since the beginning of the Joint Forces Operation (April 30, 2018), he said.

    • The True Cost of Punishing Iran With Snapback Sanctions

      According to official figures , U.S. government drone strikes killed 2,436 people in 473 counterterrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya under the Obama administration, representing an exponential increase from the prior eight years. Experts have called the Obama administration’s intensive and unrelenting use of drones as a key feature of his foreign-policy legacy. Drone strikes represented an effective means of targeting terrorists and were broadly popular among Americans as they carried little cost in money, American lives and geopolitical consequences.

    • Drone warfare: the autonomous debate

      This September, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) announced plans to launch covert drone strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIL) militants from a base in north-eastern Niger. President Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had sought to put drone operations under military control. However, under Trump’s rule, there has been a move to give the CIA an expanded role in drone strikes. Can society trust those in power to ensure these powerful weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands, or is the ever-growing development in autonomous technology a factor we need to be concerned about?

    • Britain Our 51st State? Better That It Become–Gasp–a U.S. Territory

      One recent and much-reprinted column bemoaned the setting sun of Empire that once ruled over 24% of Earth and 23% of its population. The writer chronicled events, artfully omitting the American Revolution in setting off the unraveling of its other defiant colonies up to the 1997 peaceful hand off of Hong Kong to China. Readers could easily conclude that after Britain leaves the EU in March, it will become a bankrupt, drifting lonely orphan in desperate need, as the writer said, of “a new way to rise ethically, morally, economically, politically and diplomatically.” Without that, the “current trajectory is to be the 51stState of America.”

      [...]

      Despite yesteryear’s contemptuous jest, today’s perilous times for both countries do suggest that the UK’s departure from the EU consider some kind of official union rather than continue our historic loose-knit alliance. After all, the EU is determined to become a major financial and trading rival of both the U.S. and U.K. Shades of 1939! The economic organization conceived for post-WWII peace now plans to establish its own army. Naturally, the Germans are in the forefront to field 200,000 troops by 2024. A navy and air force will follow.

      Statehood, of course, is an unlikely route for the UK. It took Hawaii 60 years to become our 50th. It was one of the U.S. major territories: Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, Swains Island and 11 other South Pacific islands and atolls. Puerto Rico has held five referendums since 1967 for statehood. It was finally successful last June only to be blocked by Hurricane Maria and president Trump’s imperious remark: “Puerto Rico should not be thinking about statehood right now.” That’s blatant avoidance of Hurricane Maria’s recovery bills and fears that voters among its 3.5 million residents might favor the Democratic party.

    • Drone Pictures Reveal Landscapes Still Scarred By First World War

      Aerial photographs reveal First World War mass graves, trenches and bomb craters that have been covered over by grass.

      The images from 125ft up show the scale of the destruction – with ranks of white grave marking the Belgian countryside.

      Lochnagar Crater marks the site of an explosion from a British mine beneath the German lines signalling the start of the Battle of the Somme.

    • CIA agents in Bolivia: From Miami to Vallegrande

      Fifty-one years after Che’s death, today it is known that Gustavo Villoldo Sampera, Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutía, and Julio Gabriel García García, who received military training at U.S. bases, were responsible for his assassination

    • Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib & Peace Activist Kathy Kelly Condemn Saudi Cruelty in Yemen

      We turn now to the crisis in Yemen, where the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has drastically escalated its assault on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. The Guardian reports there have been at least 200 airstrikes in the past week, killing at least 150 people. One Saudi airstrike destroyed a home in Hodeidah, killing a father and his five children. The increased fighting comes as calls grow for a ceasefire to the 3-year war, which has devastated Yemen. On Thursday, a group of Yemeni and international organizations called for “immediate cessation of hostilities” in Yemen, warning that 14 million people were now “on the brink of famine.” UNICEF has warned that the Saudi assault and blockade on Hodeidah is increasing shortages of food, drinking water and medicine. The group says a Yemeni child now dies from a preventable disease every 10 minutes. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have both called for a ceasefire in Yemen. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is considering designating the Houthis a “terrorist organization.” We speak to newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare. She took part in Thursday’s protest.

    • How Britain is a bad influence on the Gulf states – an interview with David Wearing

      Britain imported a lot of oil from the Middle East during the post-war years, but this tailed off significantly from the 1970s as North Sea oil came on stream. At this point, we import a little more than we export, and only about 3% of our imports come from Saudi Arabia, less from the other Gulf states. However, gas is an important part of the UK’s energy mix, and imports from Qatar comprise about 13% of our gas consumption.

      Gulf oil does matter to the UK, but in different ways. First there’s the structural power in the world system that major states gain from control over hydrocarbons – the lifeblood of the industrialised world economy. Those sorts of geopolitical questions are slightly above the pay-grade of post-imperial Britain, but are of real relevance for the global hegemon, the United States, and the UK of course supports and complements US power in the Gulf. A reasonably stable flow of oil out of the Gulf is also important to the world economy (and thus to British capitalism, with its extensive global connections) since price shocks can be hugely disruptive. And Gulf oil remains a major commercial prize for two of the UK’s leading firms, BP and Shell.

      What the UK is interested in above all is the wealth that Gulf oil sales generate, and how it can use the connections developed with the Gulf Arab monarchies during the imperial era to attract those “petrodollars” into the British economy and arms industry.

    • When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House

      The fascist Donald Trump reached a new low when he called on immigrants who throw rocks to be shot by the border police. CNN, the Trump-obsessed liberal wing of the corporate fascist state, was surprisingly helpful in pointing to a statistic that stated that zero border patrollers have died as a result of rock throwing. Donald Trump said that if immigrants have rocks, the border patrol should treat the rocks as rifles. It fits well with his stance of believing that armed white gunman shooting up schools, synagogues, and the like, should be treated as if they were merely holding rocks.

      Donald Trump, a force of ignorance, greed and stupidity—a one man wrecking ball that has taken down so much in so little time—is worth condemnation. But how on earth does one stop a truck barreling at full speed? Will it really be through polite conversations about fascism, its historical significance, and what it means to be white? It’s hard to find a liberal these days who is not quite busy running for cover by helping to explain how guilty they are as a ‘privileged’ ‘white’ person.

      While liberals may seem heroic for turning themselves in for the crime of whiteness, let’s charge the liberal class with a far more specific (and consequential) crime: the support of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The appeal of the liberal confession under Trump is the same appeal as most liberal sadomasochism. When it comes to Trump guilt, liberals must remain in control of their own crimes. They want to be punished for being so “privileged” and “safe” in the age of Trump! Punished for being privileged and safe? Isn’t that what we all want to be in the age of Trump? It’s as if by proclaiming how privileged one is, it’s a backhanded way of saying “I’m still more rich than you” with a dose of “feel sorry for me” put on top!

    • Russia’s Mediterranean call: from Kerch to Palmyra, but without Constantinople?

      In August 2018, Russia’s fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean conducted major naval exercises, confirming the Sea’s newfound – or renewed – importance to Russian strategy and power projection. The 2014 military doctrine and the new National Security Doctrine, as well as the 2015 Maritime Doctrine, mention the Eastern Mediterranean as a region of influence, setting a goal of a permanent Mediterranean presence that would include one or two multi-purpose vessels and 10 to 15 surface ships. This presence is part of Russia’s broader plan to transform from a “green water” navy into a “blue water” one, capable of operating in open waters.

      Of course, this renewed presence in the Mediterranean is directly linked to Russia’s military operations in Syria. The civil war has offered a unique launchpad for Russia to test its capacities in a “real war” context outside the post-Soviet space and reassert itself in a region it largely abandoned with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The day may come when Moscow leaves the Syrian theatre, but it will nevertheless maintain a foothold in the region through its military bases at Tartus and perhaps Khmeimim.

      Beyond Russia’s military return to the Eastern Mediterranean lies a more profound and long-term trend: Russia’s efforts to oversee the Black Sea and turn it into a mare nostrum. This strategy, given an additional impulse by the annexation of Crimea and important port of Sevastopol, has been a concern of Moscow’s since the 2000s, as evidenced by the August 2008 war with Georgia, with Abkhazia a central piece in this Black Sea puzzle. After years of being forgotten, the Black Sea Fleet is now being revitalised and modernised, and should, Admiral A.V. Vitko explained, also be able to provide a presence in the Mediterranean. Russia’s perception of a weakened southwestern flank is no phantom of the mind: the routine nature of NATO’s naval presence in the Black Sea is interpreted as a threat to Russia’s traditional domination of the region, further challenged in recent years by the war with Ukraine and the two countries’ competition to navigate the sea.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Wildlife researchers horrified by ‘cute’ drone video of bear cub
    • Upsetting truth behind viral video of baby bear climbing snowy mountain
    • Viral bear video shows dark side of filming animals with drones
    • Wildlife experts condemn viral drone footage of bear cub climbing a snowy mountain – declaring it ‘harassment’
    • Don’t Harass Wildlife With Drones
    • Troubling truth behind viral video of a plucky baby bear climbing a mountain side
    • Why Experts Are Troubled by a Viral Video of a Baby Bear’s Mountain Climb

      Over the past few days, you may have seen a viral video of a little brown bear and its mother traversing an impossibly steep, snowy cliff side. The mother makes it to the top, but her cub struggles, sliding down the cliff several times until, after nearly three nail-biting minutes, it succeeds in reuniting with its mom. To many viewers, the video was an inspiration, a reminder to be like that fluffy little creature who does not give up in the face of adversity. But to wildlife experts, the clip was a worrying example of how drone users harass animals for the sake of getting a perfect shot.

      The video was taken by one Dmitry Kedrov while flying his drone on the coast of Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk this summer, reports Jason Bittel of National Geographic. And from the start, something is off about the clip. Why was the mother bear trying to cross such perilous terrain with a small and vulnerable cub? It is very possible, experts say, that she was frightened into unusual behavior by the drone hovering overhead.

      “The bears would not have felt the need to take these risks were they not disturbed by the drone,” Dani Rabaioitti, a PhD student with the Zoological Society of London, wrote on Twitter. “The drone operator could have killed the cub.”

    • Researcher slams viral video of bear cub: ‘The drone definitely put these animals at risk’

      Almost everyone loves a dramatic wildlife video, but are photographers doing enough to ensure their subjects are safe in the process?

      One bear researcher says some photographers are putting wildlife at risk as they chase social media hits over safety.

      Over the weekend, a harrowing and initially heartwarming video surfaced on Twitter giving the world a bird’s-eye view of a mother bear and her cub scaling a treacherous slope.

      Although it was shared by multiple accounts, a version on one user’s feed has pulled north of 17 million views, and climbing, capturing the cub repeatedly clambering up and sliding down a steep incline — and, at one point, nearly slipping off a cliff.

      [...]

      Usually a female grizzly wouldn’t dare take a cub that young and small on such a steep slope, he said, questioning what (including the documenting drone) may have driven the animals to traverse the snow-covered slope.

      [...]

      Usually a female grizzly wouldn’t dare take a cub that young and small on such a steep slope, he said, questioning what (including the documenting drone) may have driven the animals to traverse the snow-covered slope.

      [...]

      Still, he’s encouraged the public is taking an interest in wildlife, and hopefully, wildlife conservation, as well. But he hopes this lesson will serve as a reminder to operators who see themselves as wildlife documentarians.

      “There’s a lot of positive ways to use drones to protect wildlife,” Lamb said, “but I don’t think this is one of them.”

    • After Man-Eating Tiger Is Killed in India, a Backlash Against the Hunters

      Days after a man-eating tiger was shot dead in central India, a backlash is underway, with politicians and animal rights advocates denouncing the killing and a senior government minister threatening legal action against people involved in the hunt.

      The female tiger, called T-1 by forest rangers, was believed to have killed at least 13 villagers over the last two years, and to have partially eaten several. A military-style operation aimed at tranquilizing and capturing the animal, which had two cubs, ended instead with the tiger’s death on Friday night.

    • Fracking in the UK

      Burning fossil fuels is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), and, greenhouse gas emissions (water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O)) are the principle cause of man-made climate change. Given this fact, governments throughout the world should be moving away from fossil fuels and investing in, and designing policies that encourage development of, renewable sources of energy. But the British Conservative government, despite public opinion to the contrary, has all but banned the construction of onshore wind turbines and is encouraging fracking in England. The Tories are the only UK political party to offer support for this regressive form of energy production, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens having all promised fracking bans should they gain political office at the next general election.

      Hydraulic fracking is the process of releasing gas and oil from shale rock: huge quantities of water, proppant (usually sand) and chemicals are injected at high-pressure into hydrocarbon-bearing rocks, rocks that can be up to a mile down and were once thought to be impermeable. This process of fracturing (or cracking) forces the rocks to crack open, and gas held inside is released and allowed to flow to the surface.

      Shale gas is a fossil fuel, and when combusted produces GGE, albeit at around 50% less than coal or oil, but GGE nevertheless. The leading fracking company in Britain is the energy firm Cuadrilla. An organization that according to its website, aims “to be a model company for exploring and developing shale gas in the UK,” they state that they are “acutely aware of the responsibilities this brings, particularly with regard to safety, environmental protection and working with local communities.” Really?

    • Saying Approval by Trump Ignored Obvious Facts and Threats, Federal Judge Halts Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline

      In a major victory for the planet and blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to ramp up fossil fuel extraction and production in the face of grave climate consequences, a federal judge on Thursday halted all construction of TransCanada’s 1,200-mile long Keystone XL pipeline and tossed out the White House’s fact-free approval of the project.

      Issued by Judge Brian Morris of the District of Montana, the ruling ripped President Donald Trump’s State Department for blithely tossing out “prior factual findings related to climate change” to rush through the Keystone pipeline and using “outdated information” on the severe threat the tar sands project poses to endangered species, tribal lands, and the water supply.

  • Finance
    • Change incentives, change the outcomes: three ideas to stop the global race to the bottom

      When I co-founded the fair labour company FSI Worldwide in 2006, my colleagues and I thought that we were in the vanguard of an ethical business revolution. The illegal and unethical practices of recruiters were well known by then, and we sensed that the tide was turning on the issue of workers’ rights in global supply chains. It seemed there was a growing willingness and ability on the part of governments, businesses, and consumers to properly invest in better protections for vulnerable workers.

      We were wrong.

      Global corporate demand for our services, which seek to provide migrant workers to employers willing to offer safe and protected employment, remains a tiny fraction of the overall market. Only a handful of multinational companies have been prepared to elevate ethical practice over rhetoric and invest in the services provided by companies like ours.

    • How Aristocracies are Born

      This year’s stock market saw high returns for month after month, as retirees and stock runners alike saw their portfolios rise. Then one day this fall, the market took a turn, and all of the increases of the past several months vanished.

      That’s how it goes for the market. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down.

      For the three wealthiest families in the country, however, the market only ever shoots skyward. The Waltons of Wal-Mart, the Kochs of Koch Industries, and the Mars of Mars chocolate own a combined $348.7 billion. Since 1982, their wealth has skyrocketed nearly 6,000 percent.

      None of the living members of these families founded the companies from which their fortunes come — all were started by earlier generations.

      In fact, more than a third of the Forbes 400 inherited the businesses that generated their wealth. These modern wealth dynasties exercise significant economic power in our current gilded age of extreme inequality.

    • The Election Was Step One. Now It’s Time to Take On the Capitalist Class.

      Neoliberal House Democrats will collaborate with Trump unless grassroots pressure prevents them. Now that the midterm election is over, what can we do to preempt that collaboration? We need to shift from a short-term electoral to a long-term community and union focus, and shift from preaching to the choir to expanding our base. To build the multiracial working class coalition it will take to win in the face of climate crisis and neofascism, we must make a real commitment to solidarity and lift up a vision of a transformed society with democracy and dignity for all. Only we ourselves can save us.

      On election night Nancy Pelosi said, “We will strive for bipartisanship with fairness for all sides.” This signals a dangerous rhetorical capitulation to the politics peddled by President Trump, one that could easily continue the rightward slide of the country. Rather than reinforcing the idea that the far right is a reasonable balance to moderate Democrats, House Democrats must refuse to collaborate. Strategically, this means building a disciplined bloc capable of passing dramatic reforms like a federal living wage, free college for all, and a Green New Deal, which would materially improve the lives of poor and working-class people, and sending them along to be voted on by the Republican Senate. Newly-elected democratic socialist Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib could be the warriors leading the charge rhetorically, as Sen. Bernie Sanders does in the other chamber, rallying the grassroots and bringing an ideological challenge to the very idea that for some to do well, the majority must suffer in the wealthiest country in the history of the world.

    • Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth

      Several people on my Twitter feed touted the drop in the stock market last month as evidence of the failure of Donald Trump’s economic policy. I responded by pointing out that he was reducing wealth inequality. I was being only half facetious.

      I have always been less concerned about wealth than income both because I think wealth is less well-defined and because income is the more important determinant of living standards. In the case of the stock market plunge, the vast majority of the losses go to the richest 10 percent of the population and close to half go to the richest 1 percent, for the simple reason that this is distribution of stock ownership.

      When people decry the rise in inequality in wealth over the last decade, they are basically complaining about the run-up in the stock market. The real value of the stock market has roughly tripled from its recession lows. With the richest one percent holding close to 40 percent of stock wealth and the richest 10 percent holding more than 80 percent, a tripling in the value of the stock market pretty much guarantees a big increase in wealth inequality. If we think this increase is bad, then why would we not think a drop in the stock market is good?

      There is a correlation between the stock market and economic growth. The market generally rises when the economy is strong and falls in recessions, but this link is weak. Remember the recession of 1988?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Georgia’s secretary of state Brian Kemp doxes thousands of absentee voters

      Georgia’s secretary of state and candidate for state governor in the midterm election, Brian Kemp, has taken the unusual, if not unprecedented step of posting the personal details of 291,164 absentee voters online for anyone to download.

      Kemp’s office posted an Excel file on its website within hours of the results of the general election, exposing the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot — including their reason why, such as if a person is “disabled” or “elderly.”

    • Georgia’s Brian Kemp Decides To Dox Absentee Voters, Revealing Why They All Voted Absentee

      Kind of a key part of the American election setup is the concept of a secret ballot for hopefully obvious reasons. We haven’t gone quite so far as eliminating that, but down in Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp (who was running for governor at the same time as he was overseeing the integrity of the election and also putting in place a bunch of attempts at voter suppression) has doxxed hundreds of thousands (291,164 to be exact) of absentee voters by posting an Excel file on the state’s website listing out the names, addresses and reasons why they voted absentee.

      [...]

      More concerning, of course, is the idea that this could scare off future voters as well who don’t want such info being released in such a manner.

      Either way, the idea that the Secretary of State, who kept insisting how wonderful his electronic voting systems were, would then release a giant Excel spreadsheet should again raise questions about the technological skills of whoever set up the system, let alone Kemp for overseeing such a system.

    • Georgia Voter Purge Victim: “This Was a Strategy From Kemp”

      Atlanta — “I was blocked from voting for Stacey Abrams.” Yasmin Bakhtiari is upset, horrified and determined. Her family had fled Iran for American democracy. But New York-born Yasmin found democracy disappeared now that she’s located down in Brian Kemp’s Dixie.

      Kemp, until Thursday, was Georgia’s secretary of state in charge of voting – and in charge of “maintaining” the voter rolls to make them more accurate. But he used that power to cancel more than half a million Georgian voter registrations without notice.

      Bakhtiari, who planned to vote for Kemp’s Democratic opponent Abrams, said poll workers told her, “Your name has been purged [from voter rolls] because you haven’t voted in two election cycles.”

      Yet, according to rights attorney Jeanne Mirer of Mirer, Mazzocchi and Julien, New York, “The National Voter Registration Act is crystal clear that you cannot lose your vote for not voting.”

    • 700 Wrapped Voting Machines Found In A Georgia Warehouse

      According to Stacey Abrams camp, Fulton County did not have the adequate amount of machines for voters. They discovered 700 wrapped machines in a warehouse. This evidence is more proof of widespread voter suppression throughout the state.

    • The Strange Case of American Diplomats in Cuba: As the Mystery Deepens, So Do Divisions in Washington

      There’s a lot to think about in terms of who “won” in the 2018 midterms, but there’s also a lot to think about in terms of how we locate electoral politics in our efforts to change the world. As Phyllis Bennis and Rev. William Barber wrote: “Elections are not how we change history. But they are a big part of how we — social movements, poor and disenfranchised and marginalized people, communities of color—engage with power.” So Tuesdays in November and what happens every other day of the year is our topic.

      First we’ll hear from Negin Owliaei, inequality editor and researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, about choices voters made about a range of ballot initiatives that can have major impact in their communities.

      We also talk with civil rights attorney Liz OuYang, of the New York Immigration Coalition, about the fight over the 2020 Census. If you don’t know just how that relates to elections, you certainly should.

    • Impeach!

      The midterm elections have concluded. The Democrats have regained the majority in the House of Representatives. One can be fairly certain that a number of those Democrats will begin to backpedal on their more progressive campaign statements in the coming weeks. After all, like their GOP counterparts, those backpedalers are primarily interested in their own future, not the future of those who voted for them, especially the voters with little or no money. Consequently, it is up to the voters who put these Democrats in power to turn up the pressure on these politicians and keep it up.

      There is no better way to do so than to demand that an impeachment investigation begin against Donald Trump. His administration’s abuse of power is at the least on par with that of the Nixon White House. Indeed, his Wednesday afternoon firing of Attorney General Sessions (who deserved to go for completely different reasons) and replacement with the Trump sycophant and scam artist Matt Whitaker is a page straight out of Nixon’s script in 1973. Congress would be failing in its duty to the US Constitution and the American people if it does not begin the process. Ideally, the Special Prosecutor’s office will provide any investigative committee with the evidence it has accumulated on the various criminal actions of Trump and his people. This evidence has already led to the convictions of numerous government and Trump campaign officials. One assumes it will lead to more. Trump’s continuous attempts to intrude and block the investigation are just one example of his ongoing attempts to obstruct the course of justice. One can safely assume that his actions known and unknown in this growing scandal are enough to make him a co-conspirator. Whether or not he is indicted for being so does not remove the fact of his participation. In a historical sidenote, it seems important to recall that Congress did not want to begin impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon in 1973 but did so after overwhelming political pressure from their constituents.

    • Election 2018: The More Things Don’t Change, the More They Stay the Same

      In 1992, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton ran on a platform of “change.” He used the word a lot. His first campaign slogan was “for people for change.” “Change” here, “change” there, “change” everywhere and all the time.

      I found the “change” theme kind of odd coming from Clinton. At the time he ran, his party had controlled both houses of Congress for nearly 30 years straight. It had controlled the White House for 22 of the previous 50 years. And when his party hadn’t been in control, only one other party ever had been. For 132 years.

      How would electing yet another Democratic president — and one who held himself out as a “moderate,” not too terribly unlike his Republican opponent, to boot — constitute “change?” Independent candidate Ross Perot or Libertarian candidate Andre Marrou, maybe. Bill Clinton? No.

      But he won. And, hopefully surprising no one, eight more years — wait, make that 26 more years — of business as usual followed.

      This year, a lot of Americans seemed to agree that, again, “change” was needed.

    • The Senate Is an Institutional Barrier to Democracy

      The 2018 midterms offer more proof that the US Senate must — someway, somehow — be democratically reformed or abolished. Unless projected outcomes in Arizona or Florida change, the Democratic Party stands to lose a net two Senate seats despite its senatorial candidates racking up, as counted so far, 46.7 million votes versus Republicans’ 33.8 million. Even entirely excluding the more than 6.4 million votes cast in California, where no Republican senatorial candidate appeared on the general ballot, Democrats still secured 6.4 million more votes nationally, an 8-percentage point lead.

      Yes, the 2018 Senate map was historically bad for Democrats — but the map is always bad for Democrats. The 2020 map is no exception. While Republicans will be defending 21 seats to the Democrats’ 12, as the Cook Political Report notes, “The GOP has just three of their 21 seats that are up in states that Trump either lost or won by 5 points or less.” In order to take back the Senate, Democrats will have to: hold all of their seats, including Alabama; win both Maine and Colorado; and flip several seats in red states, an exceedingly unlikely outcome.

    • What Now?

      The good news is that Democrats will take over the House of Representatives and hold onto or take back governorships in the upper Midwest and elsewhere. That less odious duopoly party also did well in statewide elections all over the country, and about as well as could be expected in gerrymandered state legislatures.

      Had this not happened, Donald Trump would now be feeling empowered to be even more mean spirited and wicked than he usually is, and more careless of democratic norms and the rule of law. Worse still, the benighted folk in the cult that has grown up around him would be even more prone to believe the nonsense they get from rightwing media and more likely to act out in violent and destructive ways.

      The bad news is that the more odious duopoly party still controls the Senate, and is therefore still able to pack the judiciary with troglodytes, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh types and worse.

      Were the Senate under Democratic control too, Trump would now be facing investigations from both chambers of Congress, and the possibility of removal from office in the constitutionally prescribed way.

    • Many states pass campaign finance reform measures during midterms

      During Tuesday’s midterm elections, a number of reform measures aimed at money-in-politics and ethics were on many states’ ballots. Here are the highlights from the ones that were passed or defeated.

      Massachusetts

      A Massachusetts measure will create a citizens commission made up of 15 Massachusetts citizens. This commission will create a report to promote amendments to the U.S. Constitution to improve campaign finance.

      [...]

      Missouri

      In Missouri, voters passed Amendment 1 — also known as Clean Missouri — which will create stricter campaign finance laws for state lawmakers. This measure received more than 60 percent of the vote.

      This measure most notably will change the redistricting process in the state. It will also lower the campaign contribution limits to state legislature candidates and will ban lobbyist gifts worth more than $5. Politicians will also have to wait two years after leaving office before taking a job as a lobbyist.

    • Revealed: Arron Banks’s staff crunched millions of voters’ data after Brexit vote

      Senior staff at Arron Banks’s insurance company had access to the personal information of millions of British voters months after the Brexit vote, according to a new whistleblower from inside Banks’s Brexit campaign.
      Under UK electoral law, this data should have been securely destroyed after the referendum – and Banks has previously claimed to MPs that there was no data sharing between his insurance business and his Leave.EU campaign.

      openDemocracy has already revealed that Banks misled Parliament about how his Brexit campaign was run, and the role played by staff at his Eldon insurance business. He also failed to declare the part played by Eldon staff to the Electoral Commission, as is required by law.

      Now further emails seen by openDemocracy reveal for the first time the scale of the data warchest that Banks, Brexit’s largest donor, has built. He has since pledged to use his Leave.EU campaign to unseat anti-Brexit Tories and encourage his supporters to take over the Conservative party.

      Damian Collins, chair of the parliamentary inquiry into fake news, said that openDemocracy’s latest revelations about Leave.EU and Eldon “suggest that they were potentially holding data that they knew they shouldn’t have, which would be a clear breach of the law, as well as contradicting, once again, what Arron Banks said to Parliament”.

    • The Left Has Better Things to Do Than Watch Liberals Scratch Their Heads

      But as I paint, the news is (still) all about him. And Bolsonaro, and Brexit, and half the leaders of Europe. Modi, in India, just built the world’s tallest homage to self-rule by way of forced relocation. Here, somehow praying for a ‘blue wave’ didn’t exactly fix things. In all, Liberals are scratching their heads over why democracy has turned against itself.

      They shouldn’t be. After all, liberal-democracy -according to their own matrix, rests on capitalism, and capitalism is a particularly-modular system. Over which democracy is the thinnest of veneers. And of which, like my house, time paints in so many different colors that you probably can’t say which it really is, nor trust its variations. (I mean, from slavery on through the current fire sale we’ve been a ‘democracy’.) In other words, it’s not simply vulnerable to the creative/destructive process, but–like all capitalist production–relies on it, if it’s to remain at all part of capitalism. Of course, it has a life-force outside of capitalism. But that’s not what they’re mourning.

      The ‘democracy’ liberals pine for is a Baudrillardian strain; a near-seamless image, but with an exchange-value quite void of the labor-value of democracy. No wonder, panicking about it hasn’t exactly rattled Trump’s walls. On the contrary, it’s made room for Trump and his like to call their own equally-vacuous signage, ‘democracy’. Of course, both are in a race to funnel power to the very top, the liberals to get a corporate pat on the head, and Trump, I assume, just to be a dick.

    • Election Day Was Filled With Frustrations, Claims of Mischief and Glimmers of Hope

      Election Day in America brought its familiar mix of misery and allegations of mischief: Aging voting machines crashed; rain-soaked citizens stood in endless lines; laws that many regarded as attempts to suppress turnout among people of color led to both confusion at the polls and angry calls for recounts and investigations.

      The root causes have been at play for years. The neglect of America’s elections infrastructure, after all, has persisted, and all levels of government are responsible. And since the Supreme Court in 2013 voided a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, local governments have been emboldened in crafting hotly debated requirements for people to cast their ballots.

    • ‘Moderation’ and the Midterms

      Rubin didn’t mention any of these three senators, presumably because they greatly undercut the point she wants to make. Instead, she called attention to the defeat of Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, whom she described as “a progressive darling” and “a ‘tax and spend’ progressive” that “moderates in the suburbs might shy away” from. (When Rubin warned Democrats against the “Sanders type,” Cordray was the example she offered.)

      In fact, Cordray campaigned in 1992 for Ohio’s 15th congressional district on a platform of fiscal conservatism. As Ohio attorney general, Cordray was a fierce proponent of the death penalty, complaining that “Ohio’s appeal process for inmates sentenced to death is still too long and sometimes defeats the possibility of justice being served” (AP, 4/1/09). In this governor’s race, the headline of his economic platform was “Support for Small Businesses to Grow and Spread Economic Opportunity”—not exactly a line stolen from Eugene V. Debs.

      There was another Democrat on Ohio ballots this election—Sen. Sherrod Brown—who’s more aptly described as a “progressive darling.” Brown’s reputation as a progressive maverick may be overstated—during the current administration, he’s voted on Trump’s side 28 percent of the time, which is about half as often as Heitkamp, but three times as often as New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand—but it’s unclear why Rubin saddled progressives with Cordray’s 4-point loss but didn’t give them credit for Brown’s 6-point victory.

    • Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing?

      Ever since the Democratic Party abandoned its New Deal legacy and adopted the neoliberal centrism associated with the Carter presidency and then cast in stone by the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985, each election loss has generated a chorus of remonstrations in the left-liberal press about the need to run “progressive” candidates if the party wants to win. The latest instance of this was a post to the Jacobin FB page that stated: “By running to the right, Democrats insist on losing twice: at the polls and in constructing an inspiring agenda. Bold left-wing politics are our only hope for long-term, substantive victory.”

      The question of why Democrats are so okay with losing has to be examined closely. In some countries, elections have huge consequences, especially in Latin America where a job as an elected official might be not only a source of income for a socialist parliamentarian but a trigger for a civil war or coup as occurred in Costa Rica in 1948 and in Chile in 1973 respectively.

      In the 2010 midterm elections, there was a massive loss of seats in the House of Representatives for the Democrats. In this month’s midterm elections, the Democrats hoped that a “Blue Wave” would do for them what the 2010 midterms did for the Republicans—put them in the driver’s seat. It turned out to be more of a “Blue Spray”, not to speak of the toothless response of House leader Nancy Pelosi who spoke immediately about how the Democrats can reach across the aisle to the knuckle-dragging racists of the Republican Party.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Google in China: When ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Met the Great Firewall

      Interviews with more than 18 current and former employees suggest the company’s predicament resulted in part from failing to learn from mistakes that played out a decade earlier, when it first confronted the realities of China’s economic and political might. This history is known to many at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., but mostly unknown outside of it. In an interview in September, Downey, 42, elaborates. “There’s this Utopian idea: Technology will come in, and people will take these tools, change their government, and get their freedom,” he says. “We tried that experiment, and it didn’t work.”

    • Gab cries foul as Pennsylvania attorney general subpoenas DNS provider

      Shapiro’s subpoena asked that the letter be kept confidential, but Gab defied that request, posting screenshots of the subpoena on the Gab Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. Gab removed the screenshots from its Twitter account a few hours later.

    • White House suspension of CNN reporter ‘unacceptable’: Journalist group

      “The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship,” the group said in a statement. “We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”

    • How an InfoWars Video Became a White House Tweet

      However, the main issue with the White House video is its editing. While the video itself is 15 seconds long, the only footage in the clip is the three-second GIF shared by ForAmerica and The Daily Wire. The GIF is shown in its entirety at the beginning of the video posted by Sanders; it’s the wide shot that includes the C-Span logo. This GIF is shown six times over the course of the 15-second video, with a variety of edits and zooms that serve to make the relatively inconsequential moment seem more dramatic.

      “At issue here is how video speed and frame rate affects the human ability to perceive force,” said Britt Paris, a researcher with Data & Society studying audio-visual manipulation. “Context matters, and time and duration is an oft-overlooked part of context that helps us interpret the content of a video.”

      Let’s break this down.

    • No Evidence the White House Video of Jim Acosta Was Doctored, Forensic Expert Says

      It’s important to recognize that Trump is not like a typical politician when it comes to press briefings. Lots of politicians dodge questions and obfuscate, but Trump also interrupts and berates reporters, calling them liars, fake news, and “the enemy of the people.” In doing so, he’s been able to keep the narrative focused on the media and has been able to get people to argue about minute details like the Acosta video, instead of the issues that actually affect people, like banning Acosta.

      [...]

      As much as we like to believe video is conclusive, we know that isn’t always the case (ahem, DeepFakes). People on both sides are going to see what they want in this video. But the bigger issue is the Trump administration’s attempts to silence, discredit, and block the free press from holding this president to account. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, having journalists barred from asking the president questions should send a chill down your spine.

    • Why Sarah Huckabee Sanders Can’t Be Sued for Her Acosta Lie

      Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a whopper about CNN correspondent Jim Acosta on Wednesday, accusing him of “placing his hands on” a White House intern during a press conference.

      That didn’t happen. The video of the incident shows it was the intern who tried to grab the microphone from Acosta’s hands while he was asking the President a question. Nevertheless, Acosta’s press pass was revoked, underscoring the false implication that Acosta had assaulted a defenseless staffer.

    • Censorship Will Not Stem Violence

      Four weeks ago, I wrote a piece criticizing the idea that unfettered expression would lead to violence. Since then, some very high-profile incidents of murder and attempted murder have occurred. Although I share in the outrage that political and religious divides are the source of so much hate, I also couldn’t help from cringing at the thought that these tragedies would be used to further the blame game. Unfortunately, inexplicably, and yet somehow predictably, that blame game was taken up by none other than the President of the United States.

      In a dark week, however, there was some encouraging news: a majority of Americans are not as predictably absurd as this president. A recent poll demonstrated that most Americans do not hold the president directly responsible for the mail bombers actions. This is encouraging because it reflects an important awareness of how incredibly difficult it is to gauge the impact of rhetoric on action. Sane Americans have always been able to absorb pugnacious, even belligerent rhetoric regarding politics without resorting to acts of violence. Obsessive and violent individuals such as the mail bomber or the anti-Semite who attacked a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh are motivated by delusions drawn from unhinged mental states. A “normal” person simply does not shoot those they have never met nor interacted with, and it is vitally important that we not limit our freedom of speech based on how these disturbed people might react.

    • Justice Minister becomes ‘Minister of Censorship’

      A large poster reading ‘Minister of Censorship’ and sporting a photo of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has been stuck to new hoarding surrounding the whole of Great Siege Square.

      The square was sealed off on Wednesday, ostensibly for further restoration works but effectively added another barrier to activists using the foot of the Great Siege Monument as a makeshift memorial to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

    • Photos: Culture Minister called out as ‘Minister of Censorship’

      #Reżistenza activists have placed a banner reading “Minister of Censorship” accompanied by a photo of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici over the newly laid out second hoarding. On Wednesday, a second barrier was set up which effectively blocking activists from using the area around the Great Siege Monument as a makeshift memorial to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

      In a statement, the activist group said that Bonnici was ‘clearly abusing’ the power entrusted to him by the people when insisting to suppress genuine calls for justice. They also described his “obsession to suppress legitimate calls” as having given rise to the Minotaur’s labyrinth. #Reżistenza noted in their statement that despite the Minister frequently pronounced himself against censorship, in their understanding he did not hesitate to place a second hoarding allowing free protest.

    • Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor

      Facebook and other social media companies give governments free reign to censor political dissent on their websites – and that is not “fake news.” Facebook’s unholy alliance with government actors includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. These partnerships have led to arrests and killings both in the US and abroad.

      Glenn Greenwald reported last year on Facebooks’ admission that it unashamedly deletes accounts at the behest of the US and Israeli governments. An example he gives is the deletion of the Facebook and Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram) accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Facebook’s reasoning was not that he had been accused of human rights violations or due to the content of his page, but simply because he had been added to a United States sanctions list. This came after reports that a Facebook delegation had met with Israeli officials to improve “cooperation against incitement” –which led to the deletion of pro-Palestinian accounts and news agencies. Hundreds of cases in which Palestinians were arrested for their Facebook postssubsequently took place also.

      US support of Israel has a lot to do with maintaining hegemony in the Middle East. One of the reasons Saudi Arabia is such an important partner to the United States government is because of its role of backing US and Israeli policies and influence in the Arab world. An example is Saudi Arabia’s support of US and Israeli efforts to undermine the governments of Iran and Syria.

      US social media companies work with the Saudi Arabian government to censor dissent and to cover up wrongdoing. In August, when news broke out that Saudi Arabia was planning on beheading Esra al-Ghamgam for peacefully protesting (which they did) Facebook and Twitter deleted hundreds of anti-Saudi accounts. The social media companies cited FireEye, the private intelligence firm, for their discovery. FireEye in turn accused the account of being Iranian propaganda. Facebook also deleted posts from users who shared an article on the Saudi Arabian warin Yemen, claiming that the photographs of starving Yemeni children went against their community standards.

      All of this is compounded in the context of Saudi Arabian laws that jail people if they post satireon social media. It should also be kept in mind that the Deputy Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salam has met with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Microsoft CEO Satya Narayana Nadellato work on business deals and cooperation.

    • Sony Censorship Row Returns as Mature Rated Switch Title Is E for Everyone on PS4

      The title features nudity along with some sexually-charged scenes and dialogue, as well as a ‘breast jiggle’ slider that lets you choose how bouncy you want your catgirls to be. Because of all this, the game’s rated M, or Mature on Switch. However, on PS4, it’s sat there with an E for Everyone. That’s quite the change.
      That’s because on Sony’s system, there’s less nudity thanks various visual effects, and the breast jiggle slider has been removed entirely.

    • Sudan’s Journalists Face Continued Extortion and Censorship by National Security Agency

      The day before Amnesty International released a statement calling on the government of Sudan to end harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists following the arrests of at least 15 journalists since the beginning of the year, the head of the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) Salah Goush accused Sudanese journalists, who recently met with western diplomats, of being spies.

      Goush made the statement before parliament where he signed the code of conduct for journalists.

    • A Tale of Two Massacres

      His social life may have been largely restricted to social media, and there he freely expressed himself. He found his comfort zone on a rightwing websight entitled Gab. Gab promotes a concept of unfettered free speech. In theory this might sound like an admirable aim, but in practice it can just turn into an arena to vent hatred, conspiracy theories and incitement of oneself and/or others to violence. Apparently, that was the environment that attracted Robert Bowers.

      Bowers used Gab to express classic anti-Semitic views. He wrote that “jews [sic] are the children of satan [sic],” and asserted that President Trump’s mantra of “making America great again” was impossible to realize as long as there is “a kike infestation.” Bowers hated Jews first and foremost because they were Jews. But he also hated them for what they were allegedly doing to “his people”—driving “white Americans,” and by extension “Western Civilization,” to extinction.

    • Washington, DC artists recall 1980s culture wars as grant-making commission issues morality clause

      The Washington-based DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) flirted with censorship this week, adding a restrictive amendment onto a contract for grantees and then withdrawing it three days later.

      In early October, the commission, which annually awards millions of dollars to individual artists and arts organisations across disciplines, announced the recipients of its grants for fiscal year 2019. Several weeks later, the agency sent out a new contract with minor revisions. On 5 November, it sent out yet another update, this one with a passage requiring grantees to agree that any work made with the funding would not be “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, excessively violent, constitutes sexual harassment, or is, in any other way, illegal.” The amendment went on to give the DCCAH “sole discretion” to determine what qualified as such and accordingly terminate the contract.

      The language immediately alarmed people in the Washington, DC, arts scene, with some saying it recalled the culture wars of the late 1980s, when the National Endowment for the Arts introduced an “anti-obscenity” clause into its rules for grantees. Artists quickly organised an online petition, while trying to figure out whether they could afford to forego the funds they’d been promised. “These grants are very, very important to those of us that get them,” said the artist Amy Hughes Braden, who was due to receive $5,000 from the DCCAH this year.

    • Mayor Bowser To Withdraw Censorship Amendment from D.C. Arts Grants
    • Online Censorship
    • The Danger in Censorship

      When granting power to the government, like the ability to dictate with legal authority what individual persons may think and express, it is much easier to conceive when politicians you like are in the government. Instead of imagining Democrats or Republicans in Washington, imagine Klansmen or Stalinists in Washington. There’s a good chance they also find hateful speech to be repulsive and consequently desire to censor it, but their definitions of hateful are obviously not the same definitions most fellow students and Americans have. Would you want them to wield the ability to dictate what you can and cannot say or express without the fear of legal punishment? If these ideologues theoretically made up a majority, does that by extension now grant them inherent moral superiority? According to the logic of censorship advocates, it fundamentally must. We don’t live in a Utopia where the best candidates are our options, either, as we’ve learned well from the 2016 election. Any democracy will be perpetually threatened by those with a lust for power and oppression so long as it is a democracy. Giving the government the tool to draw lines for speech while expecting the threat of abuse to never manifest whatsoever is both unrealistic and dangerously naïve.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Manhattan DA Cy Vance Says The Only Solution To Device Encryption Is Federally-Mandated Backdoors

      Because no one has passed legislation (federal or state) mandating encryption backdoors, Manhattan DA Cy Vance has to publish another anti-encryption report. An annual tradition dating back to 2014 — the year Apple announced default encryption for devices — the DA’s “Smartphone Encryption and Public Safety” report [PDF] is full of the same old arguments about “lawful access” and evidence-free assertions about criminals winning the tech arms race. (h/t Riana Pfefferkorn)

      You’d think there would be some scaling back on the alarmism, what with the FBI finally admitting its locked device count had been the victim of software-based hyperinflation. (Five months later, we’re still waiting for the FBI to update its number of locked devices.) But there isn’t. Vance still presents encryption as an insurmountable problem, using mainly Apple’s multiple patches of security holes cops also found useful as the leading indicator.

      The report is a little shorter this year but it does contain just enough stuff to be persuasive to those easily-persuaded by emotional appeals. Vance runs through a short list of awful crime solved by device access (child porn, assault) and another list of crimes unsolved (molestation, murder) designed to make people’s hearts do all their thinking. While it’s certainly true some horrible criminal acts will directly implicate device encryption, the fact of the matter is a majority of the locked phone-centric criminal acts are the type that won’t make headlines or motivate lawmakers.

    • Privacy International lodges complaints against seven firms for breaching data protection

      Privacy international ain’t happy with seven major companies and has filed complaints against them for “wide-scale and systemic infringements of data protection law”.

      Acxion, Oracle, Criteo, Quantcast, Tapad, Equifax and Experian are all in Privacy International’s sights, with the organisation filing complaints in the UK, Ireland and France, urging data protection authorities to look into what it alleges is the “mass exploitation” of individuals’ data.

    • Mark Zuckerberg won’t attend the UK’s ‘international grand committee’

      Then again we rather suspect he won’t really care; when you’re a billionaire with a platform with more than 1.5 billion users, you might not worry what politicians on a small island might think of you.

    • Zuckerberg rebuffs request to appear before UK parliament

      He says “five parliaments are now calling on you to do the right thing by the 170 million users in the countries they represent.”

    • Researchers expose ‘critical vulnerabilities’ in SSD encryption

      After considering a handful of possible flaws in hardware-based full-disk encryption, or self-encrypting drives (SEDs), the pair reverse-engineered the firmware of a sample of SSDs and tried to expose these vulnerabilities.

      They learned that hackers can launch a range of attacks, from seizing full control of the CPU to corrupting memory – outlining their findings in a paper titled ‘self-encrypting deception: weakness in the encryption of solid state drives (SSDs)’.

      There are a host of exploits that can be used, such as cracking master passwords, set by the manufacturer as a factory default. These are routinely found in many SSDs, and if obtained by an attacker could allow them to bypass any custom password set by a user.

    • Crucial and Samsung SSDs’ Encryption Is Easily Bypassed

      Researchers from Radboud University in The Netherlands reported today their discovery that hackers could easily bypass the encryption on Crucial and Samsung SSDs without the user’s passwords. The researchers also pointed at Microsoft for defaulting to using these broken encryption schemes on modern drives.

      The Dutch researchers reverse-engineered the firmware of multiple drives and found a “pattern of critical issues.” In one case, the drive’s master password used to decrypt data was just an empty string, which means someone would have been able to decrypt it by just pressing the Enter key on their keyboard. In another case, the researchers said the drive could be unlocked with “any password” because the drive’s password validation checks didn’t work.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • In online ruse, fake journalists tried to [crack] Saudi critic

      AlAhmed was right. The BBC said it wasn’t aware of anyone called “Tanya Stalin” working for the broadcaster and that the title she claimed to hold did not formally exist. An Associated Press analysis of her messages suggests the interview request was a sloppily executed trap, an attempt to get AlAhmed to click a malicious link and break into his inbox.

    • Trump’s acting attorney general was part of firm US accused of vast scam

      Donald Trump’s new acting attorney general was part of a company accused by the US government of running a multimillion-dollar scam.

      Matthew Whitaker was paid to sit on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing, which was ordered in May this year to pay a $26m settlement following legal action by federal authorities, which said it tricked aspiring inventors.

      Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general on Wednesday afternoon after the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was fired by Trump.

    • Jeff Sessions Was the Worst Attorney General in Modern American History

      On Wednesday, the Trump administration bid farewell to one of its most infamous members: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In his brief tenure, Sessions managed to dismantle and rescind an astounding range of efforts by prior administrations to protect civil rights and civil liberties and introduced new policies that endanger some of the most vulnerable citizens in the U.S.

      From his draconian approach to immigration policy to his efforts to erase protections for transgender people to his many moves to dismantle his predecessors’ attempts to decrease the federal prison population, the list of Sessions’ offenses is long. We’ve rounded up some of the former attorney general’s most egregious actions below to showcase Sessions’ contempt for civil rights and liberties.

    • Labour history shows us where workers “took back control” without building walls

      Labour history should be a field in demand. Jeremy Corbyn appears as a possible British Prime Minister, and a growing number of Americans see their salvation in strikes and socialism. Journalists write endlessly about the “white working class,” a force with the power to elect Trump, vote for Brexit, and support a slew of rightist demagogues across Europe. Shelves of books anticipate full automation and the end of work, or the casualisation of work, or the rise of a post capitalist order from within the existing system. These events and trends all have a past, and they can and must be found in the history of work, workers, and their movements.

      Yet labour history is the subject that dare not speak its name. Unions no longer promote their own history with the old enthusiasm.

      The men behind New Labour forgot their Party’s past as much as humanly possible, and blundered, as amnesiacs often do, from Iraq to Northern Rock. Marginalised in the academy, senior labour historians anxious to help junior ones advise them to rebrand as a social historian, political historian, economic historian – anything but a labour historian – if they want that elusive permanent job.

      This abdication leaves the survival of labour history in fewer hands. Small academic societies, such as the Society for the Study of Labour History, hold the fort in the universities. Institutions such as the People’s History Museum still put labour history before the public. Musicians keep the old songs of protest alive, and write new ones. Trade unionists with great passion, few resources, and disparagingly referred to by some academics as amateurs, do the bulk of the work. They have kept the labour movement in touch with its past.

    • Google Changes Sexual Harassment Policies After Massive Global Protests

      After the massive Google Walkout where over 20,000 protestors led an agitation against the sexual harassment cases at Google, the company has now come up with new sexual harassment and sexual assault policies.

      Along with publicly posting CEO Sundar Pichai’s e-mail to the employees, the company has released a long PDF file named ” Our commitments and actions.” The three-page file talks about the new steps taken by Google to add “more transparency on how we (Google) handle concerns.”

    • Liberal Backlash To Protest At Tucker Carlson’s Home Reinforces Crackdown On Dissent

      An anti-fascist group of around twenty or so people gathered at the two-story Colonial home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson to protest how he spreads fear and racism on television.

      Reports on the protest and misinformation spread by right-wing media outlets fueled a backlash to the demonstration. Twitter even suspended the account of Smash Racism D.C., the group that organized the protest, without providing any notice.

      Police in Washington, D.C., told the press they were investigating the protest as a “suspected hate crime” and that the motivation for the “incident” was “anti-political.” Officers went to the home of Dylan Petrohilos, who was part of the protest and a former #J20 defendant (one of several people who faced charges after protesting on President Donald Trump’s inauguration day).

      The language used by figures in media yielded to right-wing attacks on dissent and reinforced how law enforcement criminalizes protest.

      Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show” on CBS, declared, “Fighting Tucker Carlson’s ideas is an American right. Targeting his home and terrorizing his family is an act of monstrous cowardice. Obviously don’t do this, but also, take no pleasure in its happening. Feeding monsters just makes more monsters.”

    • Jeff Sessions Leaves a Dark Mark on the Justice Department

      Under almost any other circumstances, the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be a moment for dancing in the streets. Sessions oversaw a Justice Department that systematically undermined civil liberties and civil rights.

      But his departure portends no improvement on these fronts. And the fact that President Trump fired him, notwithstanding his faithful advancement of the president’s agenda, should raise alarm bells.

      Sessions leaves the Justice Department far less committed to justice than he found it. Under President Barack Obama, the department expanded the rights of LGBTQ individuals, responded aggressively to police abuse, directed federal prosecutors to use their charging discretion wisely to reduce mass incarceration, promoted voting rights, reduced reliance on private prisons and commuted lengthy sentences imposed on nonviolent drug offenders. Sessions could not reincarcerate the men and women whose sentences Obama commuted, but he reversed virtually everything else.

    • China’s growing influence swallows global criticism on human rights
    • Tackling the kilil system: a critical response to ‘Ethiopia: Climbing Mount Uncertainty’

      In terms of 1980s prices, for example, real income per capita has declined in Ethiopia by more than six-fold. Consequently, living standards have been going downhill for quite some time in the country. There is no economy in Ethiopia that one can call an “unquestionable success”. In fact, Ethiopia’s age-old, hand-to-mouth economy has long failed to generate wealth to cope with a population explosion unprecendented the country has ever seen in its history.

      Lefort blames Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad for “overhastiness”, like, according to him, allowing “the return of formerly outlawed OLF and A-G7” and the “normalization with Eritrea.” Here, Lefort overlooks the fruits borne by the Prime Minister’s astute actions. For instance, normalization with Eritrea has made the port of Assab available to Ethiopia. It has also helped deny a haven to anti-government rebels, who used to operate from Eritrea.

      I find the following assertion by Lefort particularly concerning. He writes, “For the founders of National Movement for the Amhara (NAMA), the Amhara nation is to be defined according to the territorial criterion, not based on ethnic features. Now this territorial criterion is expansionist.” Here, Lefort blames the victim. In fact, it is the TPLF that is expansionist because it has annexed forcibly territories from the Amhara regions of Gondar and Wello.

      [...]

      There are three areas where a permanent consensus may be worked out between these two camps: First is the reorganization of the society on other than ethnic or so-called linguistic basis. Second is an all-inclusive national unity based on equal citizenship, and equality of all languages, religions and cultures. Third is private ownership of land and a free market economy.

      Rene Lefort’s biggest worry is “a race against time between escalating ethnic conflicts and the emergence of a powerful leadership.” But, emphasizing the need for a powerful leadership, Lefort fails to see the connection between ethnic conflicts and the kilil system. A powerful leadership cannot resolve the endless ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia and save the country. Only a genuine transition to a democracy can.

    • The Weaponization of Social Media

      The use of ‘bots’ present modern society with a significant dilemma; The technologies and social media platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook) that once promised to enhance democracy are now increasingly being used to undermine it. Writers Peter W Singer and Emerson Brooking believe ‘the rise of social media and the Internet has become a modern-day battlefield where information itself is weaponised’. To them ‘the online world is now just as indispensable to governments, militaries, activists, and spies at it is to advertisers and shoppers’. They argue this is a new form of warfare which they call ‘LikeWar’. The terrain of LikeWar is social media; ‘it’s platforms are not designed to reward morality or veracity but virality.’ The ‘system rewards clicks, interactions, engagement and immersion time…figure out how to make something go viral, and you can overwhelm even the truth itself.’

      In its most simple form the word ‘bot’ is short for ‘robot’; beyond that, there is significant complexity. There are different types of bots. For example, there are ‘chatbots’ such as Siri and Amazon’s Alexa; they recognise human voice and speech and help us with our daily tasks and requests for information. There are search engine style ‘web bots’ and ‘spambots’. There are also ‘sockpuppets’ or ‘trolls’; these are often fake identities used to interact with ordinary users on social networks. There are ‘social bots’; these can assume a fabricated identity and can spread malicious links or advertisements. There are also ‘hybrid bots’ that combine automation with human input and are often referred to as ‘cyborgs’. Some bots are harmless; some more malicious, some can be both.

      The country that is perhaps most advanced in this new form of warfare and political influence is Russia. According to Peter Singer and Emerson Brooking ‘Russian bots more than simply meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election…they used a mix of old-school information operations and new digital marketing techniques to spark real-world protests, steer multiple U.S. news cycles, and influence voters in one of the closest elections in modern history. Using solely online means, they infiltrated U.S. political communities so completely that flesh-and-blood American voters soon began to repeat scripts written in St. Petersburg and still think them their own’. Internationally, these ‘Russian information offensives have stirred anti-NATO sentiments in Germany by inventing atrocities out of thin air; laid the pretext for potential invasions of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by fuelling the political antipathy of ethnic Russian minorities; and done the same for the very real invasion of Ukraine. And these are just the operations we know about.’

    • Governor Of Tanzania’s Capital Announces Plan To Round Up Everyone Who Was Too Gay On Social Media

      There has been an unfortunate trend in far too many African nations in which governments there look at the internet as either a source of evil in their countries or purely as a source for tax revenue, or both. The end result in many cases is a speech tax of sorts being placed on citizens in these countries, with traffic being taxed, bloggers being forced to register with the federal government, and populations that could otherwise benefit from a free and open internet being essentially priced out of the benefit altogether.

      But things have taken a different and far worse turn in Tanzania, where the governor of the country’s capital city, Dodoma, has announced his plan to round up anyone who is perceived as being gay on the internet and chucking them in prison.

      [...]

      If this indeed goes forward, the international moral outrage had better be swift and massive, or we’ll have confirmation that the world has lost its way.

    • Before Resigning, Jeff Sessions Handcuffed the Justice Department’s Ability to Police the Police

      The former attorney general’s last action all but eliminates federal oversight of abusive law enforcement agencies.
      In his final move as attorney general, Jeff Sessions on Wednesday issued a new policy that all but eliminates federal oversight of state and local law enforcement agencies that engage in unconstitutional and unlawful policing. While Sessions — a white man with money and political connections — will likely never be personally affected by this policy change, his decision to sabotage the legal instruments of federal civil rights enforcement is going to harm people and communities of color for years to come.

      The new policy sets unprecedented barriers for Justice Department attorneys to negotiate consent decrees, which are court orders jointly agreed on by the federal government and a state or local law enforcement agency accused of serious rights violations. They usually require new training and policies to resolve these violations at a systemic level, with implementation overseen by a court-appointed monitor until the agency has successfully carried out the required reforms. Such decrees have covered everything from use of force to racial bias and officer hiring and oversight to basic recordkeeping.

      Ever since Sessions took office, he was openly hostile to consent decrees as a “harmful federal intrusion” on state and local law enforcement authority. And his final decision as attorney general codified his contempt.

    • President Trump’s Proclamation Suspending Asylum Rights Is Illegal, So We’re Suing

      Refugees fleeing violence have a right to declare asylum regardless of how and where they enter the country.
      Claiming that the illegal entry of immigrants across the southern border of the United States is a national crisis, President Trump on Friday issued a proclamation purporting to bar the entry of all persons entering the United States at any place other than an official port of entry.

      The Trump administration’s action is contrary to the founding values of the country — welcoming homeless refugees to our shores. It also violates U.S. law, so we, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed suit against the administration on behalf of several nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. The plaintiffs include the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab, and the Central American Resource Center.

      Federal law specifically guarantees that “[a]ny alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States,” at a designated port of entry or not, is entitled to apply for asylum. In writing that law, Congress was specific and clear that immigrants who fear persecution in their home countries are entitled to seek asylum regardless of how they entered the United States.

      This right is particularly important because U.S. government officials are routinely denying entry to asylum seekers at official ports of entry. We and our partners have documented numerous instances of Border Patrol agents arbitrarily and unreasonably delaying access to the asylum process by threatening, intimidating, providing misinformation, and using physical force to turn away people seeking asylum.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The Fight for Net Neutrality Heats Up as Democrats Take the House

      The fight to restore net neutrality is heating up in the wake of the midterm elections.

      Every Democrat in the House of Representatives who supports reversing the Trump administration’s decision to repeal popular net neutrality rules has held on to their seat. House Democrats also secured a majority in the lower chamber, setting the stage for a potential showdown between Congress, the White House and the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over how the government should regulate powerful internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Cox and Comcast.

      Democratic state attorneys general, who have been united in challenging the Trump administration’s effort to end net neutrality in federal court, now hold a majority of state seats nationwide. Democrats flipped four attorney general seats in the midterms, including in Colorado, where longtime net neutrality proponent Phil Weiser defeated Republican George Brauchler after campaigning on the issue. Weiser said Colorado would join 22 other states in a lawsuit filed against the FCC earlier this year to block the net neutrality repeal. Oral arguments will be heard in February.

    • The Internet Is Splitting in Two Amid U.S. Dispute With China

      Critics of the model say players like Alibaba and Tencent thrive because Beijing dampens competition by making it nigh-impossible for global players such as Facebook to operate. They say the government’s heavy hand and unpredictability is counter-productive. Exhibit A: a months-long crackdown on gaming that helped wipe out more than $200 billion of Tencent’s market value this year. That cultivates a pervasive climate of fear, said Gary Rieschel, founding partner at Qiming Venture Partners.

    • Sprint Is Throttling Microsoft’s Skype Service, Study Finds

      Sprint Corp. has been slowing traffic to Microsoft Corp.’s internet-based video chat service Skype, according to new findings from an ongoing study by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts.

      [...]

      Among leading U.S. carriers, Sprint was the only one to throttle Skype, the study found. The throttling was detected in 34 percent of 1,968 full tests — defined as those in which a user ran two tests in a row — conducted between Jan. 18 and Oct. 15. It happened regularly, and was spread geographically across the U.S. Android phone users were more affected than owners of Apple Inc.’s iPhones.

    • Cory Doctorow: What the Internet Is For

      The internet is not a revolutionary technology, but it makes revolution more possible than ever before. That’s why it’s so important to defend it, to keep it free and fair and open. A corrupted, surveillant, controlled internet is a place where our lives are torn open by the powerful, logged, and distorted. A free, fair, and open internet is how we fight back.

    • tell your kids about css overflow-wrap
  • DRM
    • Denuvo: Every Download Is A Lost Sale For This Anonymous AAA Title We’re Referencing, So Buy Moar Dunuvo!

      The saga of antipiracy DRM company Denuvo is a long and tortured one, but the short version of it is that Denuvo was once a DRM thought to be unbeatable but which has since devolved into a DRM that cracking groups often beat on timelines measured in days if not hours. Denuvo pivoted at that point, moving on from boasting at the longevity of its protection to remarking that even this brief protection offered in the release windows of games made it worthwhile. Around the same time, security company Irdeto bought Denuvo and rolled its services into its offering.

      And Irdeto apparently wants to keep pushing the line about early release windows, but has managed to do so by simply citing some unnamed AAA sports game that it claims lost millions by being downloaded instead of using Denuvo to protect it for an unspecified amount of time.

    • Denuvo Research Claims Unnamed “major sports title” Lost $21m in Revenue Because of Piracy [Ed: Amplifying the lies of disgraced DRM firm Denuvo]

      Denuvo, the infamous video game anti-piracy software provider, was acquired by Irdeto earlier this year in January. In a statement posted on Irdeto’s website, the software company shared research results which claim game piracy caused a potential loss of $21 million for an unnamed AAA sports title in the two weeks following its release.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Qualcomm’s Patent Nuclear War Turning Into Nuclear Winter

      We haven’t written much about Qualcomm and Apple’s all out nuclear war over patents, but a few recent developments suggest it’s worth digging in and discussing. In some ways it sweeps in other companies (mainly Intel) and also involves the FTC and the ITC. I won’t go through the entire history here because I’d still be writing this post into next year. Qualcomm is a pretty massive company and while it does produce some actual stuff, it has long acted quite similar to a patent troll. It has also vigorously opposed basically all patent reform efforts, while at the same time quietly funding a bunch of “think tanks” that go after anyone advocating for patent reform (I expect some fun comments to show up below).

      The reason Qualcomm acts this way is that it has long abused the patent system to jack up prices to ridiculous rates. And it’s finally facing something of a reckoning on that. In early 2017, the FTC went after Qualcomm for abusing its patents — notably: “using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones and other consumer products.” Specifically, the FTC alleged that Qualcomm, despite promises to the contrary to get its patents into important standards, was not following the FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) licensing of its patents, as required to have its inventions be a part of the standard. Just days later, Apple sued Qualcomm, also regarding Qualcomm’s patent shakedown, claiming that Qualcomm had been massively overcharging Apple for the use of its patents, rather than licensing them on a FRAND basi

    • Paediatric extensions – Switzerland to follow suit as of January 2019

      In order to provide adequate incentives for the research and development of high-quality medicinal products adapted for paediatric needs, special rewards, such as a 6-month paediatric extension of the term of a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) have been made available in the EU since 2007.

      Switzerland, which participates in the EU’s single market and traditionally has adapted its IP provisions to those of the EU, will now follow suit.

      In line with this, the Swiss Patent Act and Patent Ordinance have been amended so as to provide for an additional 6-month paediatric extension of proprietary protections, by either extending the term of a pending or granted SPC or by way of a new paediatric certificate, which is linked directly to the term of the basic patent.

    • Apple not in settlement talks ‘at any level’ with Qualcomm: source

      In the past, Apple used Qualcomm’s modem chips in its flagship iPhone models to help them connect to wireless data networks. But early last year, Apple sued Qualcomm in federal court in San Diego, alleging that the chip company’s practice of taking a cut of the selling price of phones as a patent license fee was illegal.

      Qualcomm denied the claims and has alleged that Apple owes it USD 7 billion in unpaid royalties.

    • Copyrights
      • The Satanic Temple Apparently Believes In Copyright And Is Suing Netflix For $50 Million It Will Not Get

        So… the Satanic Temple is suing Netflix for $50 million for copyright infringement. Please insert your own joke here.

        To be honest, you would kind of hope that the Satanic Temple would, you know, maybe have a bit more excitement when filing federal cases, but this case is just… dumb. I’m almost wondering if it’s just a sort of publicity stunt for both the Satanic Temple and the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The crux of the complaint is that the show features a Baphomet statue that they feel is too similar to their own Baphomet statue (which the Temple tries to get erected in front of courthouses who want to post the 10 Commandments). If you’re thinking but isn’t Baphomet “a historical deity which has a complex history, having been associated with accusations of devil worship against the Knight Templar,” I’d agree with you and perhaps copy and paste that statement straight from the Satanic Temple’s complaint. But… wouldn’t that also likely mean that it had been around in a design form for many, many years, meaning most depictions are probably public domain? Yes, again.

      • AT&T Ignores Numerous Pitfalls, Begins Kicking Pirates Off Of The Internet

        We’ve noted for years how kicking users offline for copyright infringement is a terrible idea for a myriad of reasons. Severing access to what many deem an essential utility is not only an over-reaction to copyright infringement, but a potential violation of free speech. As France quickly learned it’s also a technical nightmare to implement. Most pirates hide their traffic behind proxies and VPNs, and even if you kick repeat offenders offline, you then need systems to somehow track them between ISPs. There’s also the fact that entertainment industry accusations of guilt are often based on flimsy to nonexistent evidence.

        None of this is stopping AT&T, which this week quietly indicated they were going to start kicking some users off the internet for copyright infringement for the first time in the company’s history.

        Axios was the first to break the story with a comically one-sided report that fails to raise a single concern about the practice of booting users offline for copyright infringement, nor cites any of the countless examples where such efforts haven’t worked or have gone poorly. I talked a little to AT&T about its new plan, who confirmed to me that while they’d still been sending “graduated warnings” to users after the collapse of the “six strikes” initiative, this policy of actively kicking users offline is new, and comes on the heels of the company’s $89 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

        Though this doesn’t make the idea any better, it’s arguably difficult to get on AT&T’s bad side under this new program. According to the company, users will need to ignore nine different warnings about copyright infringement before they lose access. AT&T repeatedly tried to make it clear that the actual users getting kicked offline (around a dozen to start) will be relatively minor.

      • EU’s proposed link tax would [still] harm Creative Commons licensors

        In September the European Parliament voted to approve drastic changes to copyright law that would negatively affect creativity, freedom of expression, research, and sharing across the EU. Now the Parliament and Council (representing the Member State governments) are engaged in closed-door negotiations, and their task over the coming months is to come up with a reconciled version of the directive text, which will again be voted on in the European Parliament next year.

      • Dutch Govt Agency Warns Against Fake ‘Piracy’ Fines

        The Dutch Government’s Telecom Agency is alerting the public that its name is being abused by scammers to demand piracy fines. In a warning issued today, it recommends recipients not to respond to these emails. It appears that scammers are capitalizing on the news that rightsholders may soon start sending ‘fines’ to alleged pirates.

Unified Patents Takes Aim at Velos Media SEPs, Passed From Patent Aggressor Qualcomm

Friday 9th of November 2018 11:14:58 AM

Summary: The latest endeavour from Unified Patents takes aim at notorious standard-essential patents (SEPs), which are not compatible with Free/Open Source software and are typically invalid as per 35 U.S.C. § 101 as well

IN THE previous post we noted that PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, could invalidate a lot of patents only to be reaffirmed (the invalidation) by the Federal Circuit because these patents had been granted in error (citing Alice/SCOTUS). We also noted that there had been attempts to disenfranchise Unified Patents (and RPX), denying them access to IPRs. We’ll say more about that in the weekend (other patterns try to deal with whether a government is a person and whether patents can enjoy sovereign immunity). Put simply, when Unified Patents serves some common or communal interest (collective action) there are those trying to assert that it isn’t legally entitled or eligible to do so. They’re afraid of Unified Patents.

The subject of standard-essential patents (SEPs) has meanwhile surfaced again; now that the MPEG cartel is trying to assemble a pool of patents on life we’re seeing Unified Patents’ ongoing effort to eliminate underlying patents in the HEVC / H.265 standard. As they put it yesterday:

On November 7, 2018, Unified filed a petition (with Wilmer Hale serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 9,338,449, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos) as part of Unified’s ongoing effort to eliminate unsubstantiated assertions of allegedly standard-essential patents (www.unifiedpatents.com/sep).

The ‘449 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the third-largest known to be owned by Velos and represents approximately 5.9% of Velos’s total known assets. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard. The ’449 patent, originally assigned to Qualcomm, was transferred to Velos Media in 2017. After conducting an independent analysis, Unified has determined that the ‘449 patent is likely unpatentable.

We previously wrote about HEVC patents [1, 2] and Qualcomm in relation to its dispute with Apple. The latter is covered more typically in our daily links (Qualcomm’s affairs were also covered here in past posts). The USPTO-granted patents of MPEG-LA are a ‘case study’ regarding what’s wrong with SEPs. If Unified Patents can shatter these, then we wholeheartedly support Unified Patents.

Stacked Panels of Front Groups Against PTAB and in Favour of Patents on Life/Nature

Friday 9th of November 2018 10:46:20 AM

Summary: So-called ‘panels’ where the opposition is occluded or excluded try to sell the impression that greatness comes from patent maximalism (overpatenting) rather than restriction based on merit and rational scope

The Intellectual Property Owners Association, IPO (there are many other things in this domain with the same acronym), is truly nasty and harmful. It not only lobbies for software patents; it lobbies for just about everything that harms science and technology for the sake of scientists and technologists being taxed by lawyers and patent trolls. IPO should be approached/treated/viewed with the same disdain the public has for front groups of oil and coal giants; even military contractors…

“IPO should be approached/treated/viewed with the same disdain the public has for front groups of oil and coal giants; even military contractors…”It hardly surprised us to learn that there was yet another stacked panel (of this litigation zealots’ front group, IPO) taking place yesterday; it was promoted by Patent Docs the other day; it’s a site which campaigns for software patents, patents on life, and is expectedly (given those two things) against PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board whose inter partes reviews (IPRs) invalidate a lot of patents, soon to be reaffirmed by the Federal Circuit. There has been an attempt to disenfranchise Unified Patents (and RPX), denying them access to IPRs. Watch who debated these things yesterday:

The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) will offer a one-hour webinar entitled “Federal Circuit Appeals and Remands to the PTAB: Recent Lessons and a Look Ahead” on November 8, 2018 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (ET). Michael Flibbert of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP; Sheila Kadura of Dell Technologies; and John O’Quinn of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP will review case law and discuss strategies for affirming or reversing a PTAB decision.

It’s a totally stacked panel (maybe except Dell). Where are all the attendants who represent the other side? There are none. Kevin E. Noonan from Patent Docs meanwhile continues to defend and advocate patents on life and nature itself, as he profits from evil litigation in this domain (privatising life using pieces of paper). Does it not matter that patent scope has already gone out of control? There’s this case in the UK Supreme Court which deals with patent scope and the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) wants to get involved. Guess who BIA represents/fronts for (similar to BIO in the US). It’s revealing:

The UK Supreme Court has granted permission to the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) to intervene in an ongoing life sciences dispute.

Actavis v ICOS is a patent dispute that addresses the patentability of a discovery made during the dosage regime testing stage of a clinical trial.

BIA is arguing that medical innovations should be patentable irrespective of how the invention is made.

So they basically say that everything should patented irrespective of prior art (like nature itself), public interest and so on. Will the court realise whose interests are served there? These people already stuff the media, overwhelm the courts, and stage ‘debates’ where only one side is presented. Litigation is, after all, big ‘business’. They want to make it bigger.

With Patent Trolls Like Finjan and Blackbird Tech out There, Microsoft in OIN Does Not Mean Safety

Friday 9th of November 2018 09:39:13 AM

LOT and OIN (DPAs) used by Microsoft to promote "Azure IP Advantage"

Summary: With many patent trolls out there (Microsoft’s Intellectual Ventures alone has thousands of them) it’s not at all clear how Microsoft can honestly claim to have reached a “truce”; OIN deals with issues which last manifested/publicly revealed themselves a decade ago (Microsoft suing directly, not by proxy)

PUBLISHED behind paywall yesterday (and then promoted in Twitter) was an article titled “More valuable to offer patent licences through LOT and OIN than do it ourselves, says Microsoft IP chief” (based on a Microsoft-friendly and trolls-funded publisher).

We can imagine the gist of it because we covered it based on the tweets while also expressing concerns about the new Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Even Dennis Crouch noted that “[s]he was also GC at Immersion Corp — by that point the company was really just enforcing its patents on haptic feedback game controllers.” By “enforcing” he meant suing. They sue a lot of companies, having already earned themselves a reputation as “patent troll” (some news sites do call them that].

As we explained yesterday, Microsoft still relies on patent trolls to attack companies, enticing them into Microsoft’s “protection racket” in Azure (“Azure IP Advantage” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]). OIN members would be defenseless.

OIN has just published this press release about expanding the scope of “protection” (from other OIN members), “bringing the total number of protected packages to 2,873,” it said.

Here are some key parts:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, with more than 2,750 community members, announced today that it has increased its patent non-aggression coverage through an update to its definition of the Linux System. The expansion is part of Open Invention Network’s program to regularly revise its Linux System coverage to keep pace with innovation.

“Linux and open source software are thriving, and they continue to transform industries,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of Open Invention Network. “This Linux System expansion enables OIN to keep pace with open source innovation, promoting patent non-aggression in the core. As open source grows, we will continue to protect Linux and adjacent technologies through strategic software package additions to the Linux System.”

The expansion includes 151 new packages, bringing the total number of protected packages to 2,873. “With this update to the Linux System definition, OIN continues with its well-established process of carefully maintaining a balance between stability and innovative core open source technology,” stated Mirko Boehm, OIN’s director for the Linux System definition. “While the majority of the new additions are widely used and found in most devices, the update includes a number of key open source innovations such as Kubernetes, Apache Cassandra and packages for Automotive Grade Linux.” The 5.5 percent growth over the 2017 coverage reflects OIN’s conservative and consensus-driven Linux System update process.

[...]

Funded by Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Red Hat, Sony, SUSE and Toyota, OIN has more than 2,750 community members and owns more than 1,300 global patents and applications. The OIN patent license and member cross-licenses are available royalty-free to any party that joins the OIN community.

But OIN cannot defend from trolls. It cannot. At best it can discourage Microsoft from passing yet more patents to patent trolls, but those trolls can get patents from other avenues and OIN can, at best, try to outbid them. According to this press release, within a few days the Microsoft-funded patent troll Finjan can decide which Microsoft rival to sue next, having already sued many of them. What good would OIN membership have been? No good, no use.

A Section 101 challenge (invoking 35 U.S.C. § 101, based on Alice/SCOTUS) has meanwhile been noted in relation to a notorious patent troll called Blackbird. It uses software patents for extortion (sometimes Microsoft’s rivals) and the case needs to be escalated to the Federal Circuit (expensive) for invalidation that seems likely. To quote:

In the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, Plaintiff (Blackbird) sued Defendant (Niantic) alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,802,127. Niantic filed the present motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), on the basis that the asserted patent claims are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The Court followed the two-step approach set forth by Alice to evaluate the section 101 challenge, and ultimately found the claims satisfied step 1 (leaving step 2 unnecessary), and thus, the motion was denied.

The ’127 patent is directed to a video game in which user determined location information (e.g. GPS, Google Maps, an entered address or the like) is acquired, and the determined location information of a physical location is mapped to a video game environment so that the user of the video game experiences objects from the user’s physical location while playing the video game.

The bottom line is, as we’ve explained before (even yesterday), OIN does not do anything to eliminate software patents (it does not oppose these!) and it’s almost pointless when patent trolls, including Microsoft’s own, launch the litigation campaigns. Microsoft has a “clever plan”, but Microsoft staff is not allowed to speak.

Links 9/11/2018: Qt 5.12.0 Beta 4, Ubuntu On Samsung Galaxy Devices, Rust 1.30.1

Friday 9th of November 2018 06:19:26 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Choosing a printer for Linux

      We’ve made significant strides toward the long-rumored paperless society, but we still need to print hard copies of documents from time to time. If you’re a Linux user and have a printer without a Linux installation disk or you’re in the market for a new device, you’re in luck. That’s because most Linux distributions (as well as MacOS) use the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS), which contains drivers for most printers available today. This means Linux offers much wider support than Windows for printers.

    • System76 laptops are on sale, plus they will donate to select open source projects from sales until Jan 3rd

      After recently releasing their own in-house designed Thelio desktop system, System76 have announced they’re giving away some funding to open source projects from laptop sales.

      The projects include KiCad, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Software Foundation (FSF), and the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). “We picked these four projects to represent a wide array of efforts within open source initiatives.” Says Louisa Bisio at System76.

    • A Bug In Windows 10 Pro Is Forcing Users Downgrade To Windows 10 Home

      A bug-free Windows 10 October Update still seems to be far away, and Windows users have already come up with another issue.

      According to a trending Reddit thread, many Microsoft Windows users are complaining that their Windows Pro version is demoted to Windows Home version without any notification or prior warning.

    • Microsoft Confirms It Accidentally Deactivated Some Windows 10 PCs

      Some Windows 10 users are upset today after Microsoft suddenly deactivated their Windows installations, resulting in “Activate Windows” nags. Microsoft has confirmed the error and said a fix is in the way.

      This problem seems to affect Windows 10 Professional users who upgraded from Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8 Professional. Microsoft’s activation servers suddenly decided their digital licenses were no good and deactivated them. After running the activation troubleshooter, Windows 10 said their systems should actually be using Windows 10 Home instead of Windows 10 Professional. That’s what many Windows 10 users on Reddit report happened to them.

    • Microsoft’s October Update Failure is Holding the Whole PC Industry Back

      Microsoft still hasn’t re-released Windows 10’s October 2018 Update. Now, PC manufacturers are shipping PCs with unsupported software, and Battlefield V is coming out next week with real-time ray-tracing technology that won’t work on NVIDIA’s RTX hardware.

    • Got a Screwdriver? GalliumOS Can Turn Chromebooks Into Linux Boxes

      GalliumOS is a Chromebook-specific Linux variant. It lets you put a real Linux distro on a Chromebook.

      My recent review of a new Chromebook feature — the ability to run Linux apps on some Chromebook models — sparked my interest in other technologies that run complete Linux distros on some Chromebooks without using ChromeOS.

      GalliumOS is not a perfect solution. It requires making a physical adjustment inside the hardware and flashing new firmware before the GalliumOS installation ISO will boot. However, it can be a handy workaround if your Chromebook does not support Linux apps and/or Android apps.

      If you follow directions explicitly and can wield a screwdriver to remove the bottom panel, GalliumOS is an ingenious Linux distro that can give you the best of two computing worlds. You can install it as a fully functional replacement for the ChromeOS on a compatible Chromebook. You can install it as a dual boot to give you both ChromeOS and a complete Linux distro on one lightweight portable computer.

  • Server
    • The future of Red Hat: How will IBM’s acquisition affect the company?

      Only 11 days have passed since the announcement about IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat. Yet industry analysts are busily projecting the effects that this notable acquisition will have on the future of Red Hat.

      Having had a chance to compare notes with Richard Slater, principal consultant and DevOps/SRE Leader at Amido (an independent, vendor-agnostic technical consultancy focused on cloud native technology and located in London), I feel compelled to toss some reflections and a few hopes into the mix.

    • Red Hat Refines Hybrid Cloud Innovation with Latest Version of the World’s Leading Enterprise Linux Platform

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions today announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6, a consistent hybrid cloud foundation for enterprise IT built on open source innovation. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 is designed to enable organisations to better keep pace with emerging cloud-native technologies while still supporting stable IT operations across enterprise IT’s four footprints.

      According to Gartner, “the landscape of cloud adoption is one of hybrid clouds and multiclouds. By 2020, 75% of organisations will have deployed a multicloud or hybrid cloud model.” Red Hat believes that this indicates that a common foundation, one that can handle workloads in a consistent fashion regardless of whether they are running on bare metal or on a public cloud instance, is a key need for enterprises as they embrace a variety of cloud computing models.

    • Oracle Updates Its Linux Distro with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Compatibility

      Derived from the sources of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6, the Oracle Enterprise Linux 7 Update 6 release ships with Oracle’s Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) Release 5 version 4.14.35-1818.3.3 for both 64-bit (x86_64) and ARM architectures, and the Red Hat Compatible Kernel 3.10.0-957, which is only available for 64-bit systems.

    • Infrastructure Migration Solution, an open source technical tale

      Red Hat announced its infrastructure migration solution in late August, with information about what it is and the value it can offer. What I’d like to talk about is how it came to be, and some of the behind-the-scenes work to make it happen.

    • Docker Enterprise 2.1 Accelerates Application Migration to Containers

      Docker Inc. announced the release of Docker Enterprise 2.1 on Nov. 8, providing new features and services for containers running on both Windows and Linux servers.

      Among the capabilities that Docker is highlighting is the ability to migrate legacy applications, specifically Windows Server 2008, into containers, in an attempt to help with the challenge of end-of-life support issues. The release also provides enterprises with the new Docker Application Convertor, which identifies applications on Windows and Linux systems and then enables organizations to easily convert them into containerized applications. In addition, Docker is boosting security in the new release, with support for FIPS 140-2 (Federal Information Processing Standards) and SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) 2.0 authentication.

      “We’ve added support for additional versions of Windows Server, and we’re the only container platform that actually supports Windows Server today,” Banjot Chanana, vice president of product at Docker Inc., told eWEEK. “All in all, this really puts Windows containers at parity with Linux counterparts.”

    • Why VMware Is Acquiring Heptio and Going All In for Kubernetes

      VMware is the company that did more than perhaps any other to help usher in the era of enterprise server virtualization that has been the cornerstone of the last decade of computing. Now VMware once again is positioning itself to be a leader, this time in the emerging world of Kubernetes-based, cloud-native application infrastructure.

      On Nov. 6, VMware announced that it is acquiring privately held Kubernetes startup Heptio, in a deal that could help further cement VMware’s position as a cloud-native leader. Heptio was launched in 2016 by the co-founders of Kubernetes, Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, in an effort to make Kubernetes more friendly to use for enterprises. Financial terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed, though Heptio has raised $33.5 million in venture funding.

      VMware’s acquisition of Heptio comes a week after IBM announced its massive $34 billion deal for Red Hat. While Heptio is a small startup, the core of what IBM was after in Red Hat is similar to what VMware is seeking with Heptio, namely a leg up in the Kubernetes space to enable the next generation of the cloud.

    • The Kubernetes World: VMware Acquires Heptio

      One week ago, a one hundred and seven year old technology company bet its future, at least in part, on an open source project that turned four this past June. It shouldn’t come as a total surprise, therefore, that a twenty year old six hundred pound gorilla of virtualization paid a premium for one of the best regarded collections of talent of that same open source project, the fact that containers are disruptive to classic virtualization notwithstanding.

      But just because it shouldn’t come as a surprise in a rapidly consolidating and Kubernetes obsessed market doesn’t mean the rationale or the implications are immediately obvious. To explore the questions of why VMware paid an undisclosed but reportedly substantial sum for Heptio, then, let’s examine what it means for the market, for Heptio and for VMware in order.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E35 – Stranger on Route Thirty-Five

      This week we’ve been using windows Subsystem for Linux and playing with a ThinkPad P1. IBM buys RedHat, System76 announces their Thelio desktop computers, SSD encryption is busted, Fedora turns 15, IRC turns 30 and we round up the community news.

      It’s Season 11 Episode 35 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

    • Episode 6: Conferences and Community

      Katherine Druckman talks to Doc Searls about Freenode Live, conferences, and the Linux community.

    • The One About DevSecOps

      Bad security and reliability practices can lead to outages that affect millions. It’s time for security to join the DevOps movement. And in a DevSecOps world, we can get creative about improving security.

      Discovering one vulnerability per month used to be the norm. Now, software development moves quickly thanks to agile processes and DevOps teams. Vincent Danen tells us how that’s led to a drastic increase in what’s considered a vulnerability. Jesse Robbins, the former master of disaster at Amazon, explains how companies prepare for catastrophic breakdowns and breaches. And Josh Bressers, head of product security at Elastic, looks to the future of security in tech.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux could be banned on Apple’s new Macs

      A report by Phoronix states that the T2 Chip has been blocking Linux from booting and only allows Apple MacOS and Microsoft Windows OS to work well.

      Apple explains that there is currently no trust provided for the Microsoft Corporation UEFI CA 2011, which would allow verification of code signed by Microsoft partners. UEFI CA is commonly used to verify the authenticity of bootloaders for other operating systems such as Linux variants.

    • 4.20/5.0 Merge window part 1

      Linus Torvalds has returned as the keeper of the mainline kernel repository, and the merge window for the next release which, depending on his mood, could be called either 4.20 or 5.0, is well underway. As of this writing, 5,735 non-merge changesets have been pulled for this release; experience suggests that we are thus at roughly the halfway point.

    • Improving the handling of embargoed hardware-security bugs

      Jiri Kosina kicked off a session on hardware vulnerabilities at the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit by noting that there are few complaints about how the kernel community deals with security issues in general. That does not hold for Meltdown and Spectre which, he said, had been “completely mishandled”. The subsequent handling of the L1TF vulnerability suggests that some lessons have been learned, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in how hardware vulnerabilities are handled in general.

      There are a number of reasons why the handling of Meltdown and Spectre went bad, he said, starting with the fact that the hardware vendors simply did not know how to do it right. They didn’t think that the normal security contact (security@kernel.org) could be used, since there was no non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place there. Perhaps what is needed is the creation of such an agreement or, as was discussed in September, a “gentleman’s agreement” that would serve the same role.

    • Removing support for old hardware from the kernel

      The kernel supports a wide range of hardware. Or, at least, the kernel contains drivers for a lot of hardware, but the hardware for which many of those drivers was written is old and, perhaps, no longer in actual use. Some of those drivers would certainly no longer work even if the hardware could be found. These drivers provide no value, but they are still an ongoing maintenance burden; it would be better to simply remove them from the kernel. But identifying which drivers can go is not as easy as one might think. Arnd Bergmann led an inconclusive session on this topic at the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit.

      Bergmann started by noting (to applause) that he recently removed support for eight processor architectures from the kernel. It was, he said, a lot of work to track down the right people to talk to before removing that code. In almost every case, the outgoing architectures were replaced — by their creators — by Arm-based systems. There probably are not any more architectures that can go anytime soon; Thomas Gleixner’s suggestion that x86 should be next failed to win the support of the group.

    • The proper use of EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL()

      The kernel, in theory, puts strict limits on which functions and data structures are available to loadable kernel modules; only those that have been explicitly exported with EXPORT_SYMBOL() or EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() are accessible. In the case of EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL(), only modules that declare a GPL-compatible license will be able to see the symbol. There have been questions about when EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() should be used for almost as long as it has existed. The latest attempt to answer those questions was a session run by Greg Kroah-Hartman at the 2018 Kernel Maintainers Summit; that session offered little in the way of general guidance, but it did address one specific case.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Cloud-native app development: buzzword or breakthrough?

        Organizations can struggle with the term, “digital transformation.” Some find it hard to understand and difficult to define. That’s because many conversations about it inevitably focus on the unicorns–those born-of-the-web companies that have completely disrupted their industries.

      • How LF Energy plans to open source energy

        The prospects from the UN’s most recent climate report are bleak. There are less than two decades until the point of no return for the planet’s climate, and the leaders of major countries seem to be retracting political willingness to fix the existential threat.

        But, the roadblocks might not be as daunting as they first appear. Shuli Goodman, executive director of the newly created LF Energy group, hopes to fundamentally transform the way energy is distributed, reduce waste, and build new models that could be scaled out with an open source framework.

        [...]

        There are just fifteen transmission system operators in the world carrying 70 percent of the current, Goodman says, so if the group is able to create “resiliency and flexibility” in a “relatively rigid, centralised system” for on-boarding renewables it only needs to go after a small number of organisations.

        And there is some early interest – not least because of security. National critical systems such as electric grids were built quite some time ago – and with a proprietary model. Combine this with recent cyber attacks on national grids, such as in Ukraine, and security is a concern for operators and governments.

      • GraphQL Moving to Neutral, Open-Source Foundation
      • Blockchain as a Catalyst for Good

        Blockchain and its ability to “embed trust” can help elevate trust, which right now, is low, according to Sally Eaves, a chief technology officer and strategic advisor to the Forbes Technology Council, speaking at The Linux Foundation’s Open FinTech Forum in New York City.

        People’s trust in business, media, government and non-government organizations (NGOs) is at a 17-year low, and businesses are suffering as a result, Eaves said.

      • Homeless in Vancouver: B.C. Ministry of Citizens’ Services joins the Linux Foundation

        A funny thing happened on my way to writing about IBM buying the open-source company Red Hat: I noticed that a ministry of the B.C. government is listed as a member of the Linux Foundation.

        According to a B.C. government spokesperson, the Ministry of Citizens’ Services of British Columbia joined the Linux Foundation as an associate member on September 4, 2018, as part of becoming an associate member of the Foundation’s Hyperledger project.

    • Graphics Stack
      • The Anticipated Linux Driver Requirements For The Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 (Vega 20)

        With this week’s announcement of the Radeon Instinct MI60 and MI50 as what we previously knew as Vega 20, here’s a look at what is likely required from the Linux software side for making use of these professional GPUs that will begin shipping in early 2019.

      • AMD Lands Big Batch Of AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Changes To Start November

        As it had been two weeks since AMD developers last pushed out new source updates to their AMDVLK Vulkan Linux driver, rather than their normal weekly release cadence, today’s driver updates are a bit on the heavier side than some of their past light updates.

      • NVIDIA 415.13 Beta Linux Graphics Driver Released With Assorted Improvements

        NVIDIA today released their first beta release for Linux/Solaris/BSD users in the 415 release stream.

        NVIDIA 415.13 is now the first post-410 series driver for Linux users. That 410 driver series was big for introducing NVIDIA RTX “Turing” graphics card support and initial Vulkan ray-tracing support. The NVIDIA 415 driver isn’t as significant but has various fixes and improvements throughout its large driver stack.

      • More AMD Zen Microarchitecture Tuning For Mesa Is Likely Ahead

        Published back in September was some Mesa RadeonSI tuning for AMD Zen CPUs. That tuning to pin the application thread and driver execution thread to the same L3 cache benefits the Zen micro-architecture with its multiple core complexes (CCX). That code was merged a short time later unconditionally but it looks like that behavior needs to be refined for delivering maximum performance.

    • Benchmarks
      • Raptor Talos II POWER9 Benchmarks Against AMD Threadripper & Intel Core i9

        For those curious about the performance of IBM’s POWER9 processors against the likes of today’s AMD Threadripper and Intel Core i9 HEDT processors, here are some interesting benchmarks as we begin looking closer at the POWER9 performance on the fully open-source Raptor Talos II Secure Workstation. This open-source, secure system arrived for Linux testing with dual 22-core POWER9 CPUs to yield 176 total threads of power.

        As mentioned a few days ago in the aforelinked article, Raptor Computing Systems recent sent over a Talos II system for benchmarking to deliver more frequent benchmarks from this high-end workstation/server that’s fully open-source down to the motherboard firmware and BMC stack. We previously have carried out some remote benchmarks of the Talos II, but now having it in our labs allows us to more frequently conduct tests as well as swapping out the hardware, matching other test systems, and also other tests like performance-per-Watt comparisons that were not possible with the remote testing.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Cinnamon 4.0 Desktop Update Begins Rolling Out As A Tasty Update

      Linux Mint’s Cinnamon desktop environment derived from GNOME/GTK components has tagged its v4.0.0 release in source and is already beginning to appear in distribution repositories from the likes of Manjaro.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Plasma 5.14.3 Desktop Further Improves Firmware Updates, Flatpak Support

        Coming about two weeks after the October 23rd release of the KDE Plasma 5.14.2 point release, the KDE Plasma 5.14.3 point release continues to improve the new firmware update functionality implemented in the Plasma Discover graphical package manager, as well as support for the Flatpak and Snap universal binary formats.

      • KDE Applications 18.08 Reaches End of Life, KDE Apps 18.12 Launches December 13

        KDE Applications 18.08.3 is now available as the third and last point release of the open-source and cross-platform KDE Applications 18.08 software suite, brining about 20 20 bugfixes and improvements to applications like Ark, Dolphin, Kate, KDE Games, Kontact, Okular, and Umbrello, as well as translation updates.

        Highlights of this last point release include the ability for the KMail email client to remember the HTML viewing mode, as well as to load external images if allowed, support for the Kate text editor to remember meta information, including bookmarks, between sessions, and updated automatic scrolling in the Telepathy text UI.

      • French Krita book – 2nd edition

        Last month was released the 2nd edition of my book “Dessin et peinture numérique avec Krita”. I just received a few copies, so now is time to write a little about it.

        I wrote the first edition for Krita 2.9.11, almost three years ago. A lot of things have changed, so I updated this second edition for Krita version 4.1.1, and added a few notes about some new features.

      • Qt 5.12.0 Beta4 released

        We have released Qt 5.12.0 Beta4 today. As earlier you can get it via online installer. Delta to beta3 attached.

      • Qt 5.12 Fast Approaching With The Final Beta Now Available

        The Qt Company has announced the release of Qt 5.12 Beta 4 as the final beta release for this upcoming LTS tool-kit update.

        Qt 5.12 Beta 4 is arriving just two days late, which still provides for hope of closely meeting the planned release target of Qt 5.12.0 as 29 November, but long story short this Qt tool-kit update should be shipping at the end of November or early December.

  • Distributions
    • Gentoo Family
      • Compartmentalized computing with CLIP OS

        The design of CLIP OS 5 includes three elements: a bootloader, a core system, and the cages. The system uses secure boot with signed binaries. Only the x86 architecture was supported in the previous versions, and there are no other architectures in the plan for now. The core system is based on Hardened Gentoo. Finally, the cages provide user sessions, with applications and documents.

        Processes running in separate cages cannot communicate directly. Instead, they must pass messages using special services on the core system; these services are unprivileged and confined on the cage system, but privileged on the core. These communication paths are shown in this architecture diagram from the documentation. Cages are also isolated from the core system itself — all interactions (system calls, for example) are checked and go through mediation services. The isolation between applications will be using containers, and the team plans to use the Flatpak format. The details of the CLIP OS 5 implementation are not available yet, as this feature is planned for the stable release.

        A specific Linux security module (LSM) inspired from Linux-VServer will be used to add additional isolation between the cages, and between the cages and the core system. Linux-VServer is a virtual private server implementation designed for web hosting. It implements partitioning of a computer system in terms of CPU time, memory, the filesystem, and network addressing into security contexts. Starting and stopping a new virtual server corresponds to setting up and tearing down a security context.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Develops Legal Review System

        The open-source community has a new project designed to help Linux/GNU distributions with the legal review process of licenses.

        The new project called Cavil is legal review system that is collectively beneficial not only for the openSUSE Project, but distributions and projects that want to use it.

        The project provides an add-on service for the Open Build Service.

        Every OBS request for openSUSE Factory goes through a legal review process to ensure licenses are compatible. Cavil indexes these and creates a legal report for every single request. Bot comments in OBS are made through the legal-auto python script, but the entire project is much larger than the script and bots.

    • Fedora
      • PHP version 7.1.24 and 7.2.12

        RPM of PHP version 7.2.12 are available in remi repository for Fedora 28-29 and in remi-php72 repository for Fedora 26-27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS).

        RPM of PHP version 7.1.24 are available in remi repository for Fedora 26-27 and in remi-php71 repository for Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).

      • Fedora Women’s Day 2018 – Trieste

        On September 29, the hackerspace Mittelab of Trieste had the honor to host the first edition of the Fedora Women’s Day event. Organized by the Fedora Diversity and Inclusion team, the event aims to break down gender walls to allow all women passionate about IT and technology in general to approach the Fedora operating system. During the day there were a series of conferences whose purpose was to show this distribution and define the main features of Linux.

      • FAW 2018 Day 4: “You know you can do it”
      • Fedora 29 Released – Here’s What’s New

        Fedora 29 will hide the GRUB menu when running in a system with single OS. Fedora project feels that when you have only OS, it is not needed to have GRUB menu and it is useless in this use case.

    • Debian Family
      • Neil McGovern: GNOME ED update – October

        As per usual, our main focus has been on the hiring of new staff members for the Foundation. We’ve completed a few second interviews and a couple of first interviews. We’re aiming to start making offers around the end of November. If you have put in an application, and haven’t heard back in a while, please don’t worry! It’s simply due to a large number of people who’ve applied and the very manual way we’ve had to process these. Everyone should hear back.

        We’ve also had some interesting times with our banking. The short version is, we’ve moved banks to another provider. This has taken quite a bit of work, but hopefully, this should be settling down now.

      • New and improved Frikanalen Kodi addon version 0.0.3

        If you read my blog regularly, you probably know I am involved in running and developing the Norwegian TV channel Frikanalen. It is an open channel, allowing everyone in Norway to publish videos on a TV channel with national coverage. You can think of it as Youtube for national television. In addition to distribution on RiksTV and Uninett, Frikanalen is also available as a Kodi addon. The last few days I have updated the code to add more features. A new and improved version 0.0.3 Frikanalen addon was just made available via the Kodi repositories. This new version include a option to browse videos by category, as well as free text search in the video archive. It will now also show the video duration in the video lists, which were missing earlier. A new and experimental link to the HD video stream currently being worked on is provided, for those that want to see what the CasparCG output look like. The alternative is the SD video stream, generated using MLT. CasparCG is controlled by our mltplayout server which instead of talking to mlt is giving PLAY instructions to the CasparCG server when it is time to start a new program.

      • New Debian Developers and Maintainers (September and October 2018)

        The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

        Joseph Herlant (aerostitch)
        Aurélien Couderc (coucouf)
        Dylan Aïssi (daissi)
        Kunal Mehta (legoktm)
        Ming-ting Yao Wei (mwei)
        Nicolas Braud-Santoni (nicoo)
        Pierre-Elliott Bécue (peb)
        Stephen Gelman (ssgelm)
        Daniel Echeverry (epsilon)
        Dmitry Bogatov (kaction)

        The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

        Sagar Ippalpalli
        Kurt Kremitzki
        Michal Arbet
        Daniel Pocock
        Peter Wienemann
        Alexis Bienvenüe
        Gard Spreemann

        Congratulations!

      • Init system support in Debian

        The “systemd question” has roiled Debian multiple times over the years, but things had mostly been quiet on that front of late. The Devuan distribution is a Debian derivative that has removed systemd; many of the vocal anti-systemd Debian developers have switched, which helps reduce the friction on the Debian mailing lists. But that seems to have led to support for init system alternatives (and System V init in particular) to bitrot in Debian. There are signs that a bit of reconciliation between Debian and Devuan will help fix that problem.

        The Devuan split was acrimonious, much like the systemd “debate” that preceded it. Many bits were expended in describing the new distribution as a waste of time (or worse), while the loudest Devuan proponents declared that systemd would cause the end of Debian and Linux as a whole. Over time, that acrimony has mostly been reduced to random potshots (on both sides); there is clearly no love lost between the pro and anti sides (whether those apply to systemd, Devuan, or both). Some recent developments have shown that perhaps a bit of thawing in relations is underway—that can only be a good thing for both sides and the community as a whole.

        Holger Levsen alerted the debian-devel mailing list that the Debian “Buster” (i.e. Debian 10) release was in danger of shipping with only partial support for running without systemd. The problem is that two packages needed for running with System V init (sysvinit-core and systemd-shim) are not really being maintained. The shim is completely unmaintained and sysvinit-core has been languishing even though it has two maintainers listed.

      • Record number of uploads of a Debian package in an arbitrary 24-hour window

        Seeing the latest post from Chris Lamb made me wonder: how hard would it be to do better? Splitting by date is rather arbitrary (the split may even depend on the timezone you’re using when you’re doing the query), so let’s try to find out the maximum number of uploads that happened for each package in any 24 hour window.

      • Record number of uploads of a Debian package in a day

        bunk looks at dxvk and wonders whether 9 uploads of a package on 1 day are a record

      • My Free Software Activities in October 2018
      • Jonathan Dowland: duc

        The GUI and CGI resemble the fantastic Filelight KDE tool, which I’ve always preferred to the similar tools available for GNOME, Windows or macOS. (duc itself works fine on macOS). The CGI could be deployed on my NAS, but I haven’t set it up yet.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 19.04 – Release Date, Features & More Recently updated!

            Everything you need to know about the new Ubuntu 19.04 – release date, new features, code name, download links, and more.

            After our posts on Ubuntu 18.04 and 18.10, it’s time to create a new post about 19.04.

            This release is NOT going to be an LTS release.

          • Samsung announce Linux on DeX with Ubuntu: for developers on the move

            The Samsung Developer Conference, held this week in San Francisco, brings creators together to discover and learn about the latest technologies in Samsung’s portfolio and further afield. One of the technologies showcased, following the initial demo in 2017, is Samsung’s Linux on DeX. Samsung DeX, launched last year, lets users of Samsung flagship Galaxy devices enjoy apps on a bigger screen for a better viewing experience, whether watching films, playing games or just browsing the web.

            This year, Samsung is announcing the beta launch of Linux on DeX which extends the value of Samsung DeX to Linux developers. Linux on DeX empowers developers to build apps within a Linux development environment by connecting their Galaxy device to a larger screen for a PC-like experience.

          • Ubuntu Linux On Samsung Galaxy Devices Finally Reaches Beta (Samsung DeX)

            In October of 2017 Samsung announced convergence and traditional Linux distributions for Samsung Galaxy smartphones as the “Samsung DeX.” Since then we hadn’t heard anything more about this initiative while this week they appear to be ready with a beta.

            While the Samsung Open-Source Group is going through a restructuring, fortunately, Samsung DeX appears unaffected as it didn’t appear to be part of that group. After a year of forgetting about this effort, Samsung DeX is going into beta and has been on display at the company’s Samsung Developer Conference.

          • Samsung ‘Linux on DeX’ Enters Beta, Here’s How to Take Part

            Do you dream of being able to use an Android phone as a Linux PC when connected to a big screen and full-size keyboard? If so, you’re gonna love Samsung.

            The South Korean tech giant has launched its “Linux on DeX” app in beta, and is inviting early adopters to register to help test it out.

            Previously known by the ‘Linux on Galaxy‘ title, the Samsung Linux on DeX app lets owners of specific Samsung devices “run” a full Ubuntu desktop on their device alongside Android.

            The feature, being shown off at the Samsung Developer Conference 2018 (SDC18), is compatible with two devices: the Samsung Note 9 and the Samsung Tab S4.

          • Samsung’s Linux on DeX beta program starts November 12

            Developers attending SDC 2018 can try Linux on DeX at its dedicated booth, and they will be able to access the beta from November 12. The option to register for the program will be available until December 14th. Linux on DeX supports Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, with a customized version for DeX made in partnership with Canonical (the maker of the Ubuntu Linux distribution). Other Linux distributions may work, although Samsung isn’t offering official support for those. Linux on DeX will also require either a Galaxy Note 9 or Galaxy Tab S4. There’s no word on whether last year’s flagships will be supported at some point.

            Linux on DeX will work through an app installed on the Note 9/Tab S4, but it remains to be seen if it will be the full Ubuntu experience or a limited one just for coding. Samsung’s intro video suggests it may lean towards the former, and if you’re interested in trying it out, you might want to register for the beta. Once you have registered, you will be sent a link for the app once it goes live next week.

          • Samsung launches Linux on DeX beta (run Linux on an Android phone or tablet)

            Almost a year after promising to release software that would let you turn select Android phones into full-fledged Linux PCs, Samsung is now allowing users to sign up for its Linux on DeX beta program and the company says the private beta will officially launch November 12th.

            In a nutshell, the software works by allowing you to download a desktop Linux distribution, set it up on a container, and launch it as if it were an Android app.

            The cool thing is that by supporting Samsung’s DeX platform, you can connect a monitor, mouse, and keyboard to your phone and use it like a desktop computer — while running desktop Linux apps.

          • Samsung to take Linux on DeX into private beta

            Samsung will start a private beta of its Linux on DeX product on November 12 that will allow users to open an Ubuntu desktop from a Note 9.

            Linux on DeX will only support one Ubuntu version, namely 16.04 LTS, and only works on Note 9 and Tab S4 devices with at least 8GB of storage and more than 4GB of memory, Samsung said. All packages must be compiled for Arm 64.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 6 reasons for making the open source argument

    Making the open source argument is worth the effort. Community-based software development has proven its value in some of the most challenging spaces. Marketplace competitive forces suggest that any business turning a blind eye to the open source movement is ceding a significant advantage to competitors. Just as low-cost, shared resources on the internet have dramatically reduced the barrier to entry when it comes to infrastructure, the rapidly evolving breadth and quality of open source components will quickly alter the competitive landscape across many vertical marketplaces.

  • FFmpeg 4.1 “al-Khwarizmi” Open-Source Multimedia Framework Officially Released

    Dubbed “al-Khwarizmi”, the FFMpeg 4.1 release comes six months after the April 2018 debut of the FFmpeg 4.0 “Wu” series. It’s a major update that adds lots of new filters, decoders and encoders of all kinds, as well as some exciting new features and enhancements to make FFmpeg the best free multimedia backend on the market.

    Highlights of the FFmpeg 4.1 “al-Khwarizmi” release include support for the highly efficient AV1 codec in the MP4 container, an AV1 parser for parsing AV1 encoded streams, Transport Layer Security (TLS)-based mbedTLS support, a SER demuxer, as well as a libtensorflow backend for DNN-based filters like srcnn.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Splash 2018 Mid-Week Report

        I really enjoyed this talk by Felienne Hermans entitled “Explicit Direct Instruction in Programming Education”. The basic gist of the talk was that, when we teach programming, we often phrase it in terms of “exploration” and “self-expression”, but that this winds up leaving a lot of folks in the cold and may be at least partly responsible for the lack of diversity in computer science today. She argued that this is like telling kids that they should just be able to play a guitar and create awesome songs without first practicing their chords1 – it kind of sets them up to fail.

        The thing that really got me excited about this was that it seemed very connected to mentoring and open source. If you watched the Rust Conf keynote this year, you’ll remember Aaron talking about “OSS by Serendipity” – this idea that we should just expect people to come and produce PRs. This is in contrast to the “OSS by Design” that we’ve been trying to practice and preach, where there are explicit in-roads for people to get involved in the project through mentoring, as well as explicit priorities and goals (created, of course, through open processes like the roadmap and so forth). It seems to me that the things like working groups, intro bugs, quest issues, etc, are all ways for people to “practice the basics” of a project before they dive into creating major new features.

      • WebRender newsletter #29

        To introduce this week’s newsletter I’ll write about culling. Culling refers to discarding invisible content and is performed at several stages of the rendering pipeline. During frame building on the CPU we go through all primitives and discard the ones that are off-screen by computing simple rectangle intersections. As a result we avoid transferring a lot of data to the GPU and we can skip processing them as well.

        Unfortunately this isn’t enough. Web page are typically built upon layers and layers of elements stacked on top of one another. The traditional way to render web pages is to draw each element in back-to-front order, which means that for a given pixel on the screen we may have rendered many primitives. This is frustrating because there are a lot of opaque primitives that completely cover the work we did on that pixel for element beneath it, so there is a lot of shading work and memory bandwidth that goes to waste, and memory bandwidth is a very common bottleneck, even on high end hardware.

        Drawing on the same pixels multiple times is called overdraw, and overdraw is not our friend, so a lot effort goes into reducing it.
        In its early days, to mitigate overdraw WebRender divided the screen in tiles and all primitives were assigned to the tiles they covered (primitives that overlap several tiles would be split into a primitive for each tile), and when an opaque primitive covered an entire tile we could simply discard everything that was below it. This tiling approach was good at reducing overdraw with large occluders and also made the batching blended primitives easier (I’ll talk about batching in another episode). It worked quite well for axis-aligned rectangles which is the vast majority of what web pages are made of, but it was hard to split transformed primitives.

      • Into the Depths: The Technical Details Behind AV1

        Since AOMedia officially cemented the AV1 v1.0.0 specification earlier this year, we’ve seen increasing interest from the broadcasting industry. Starting with the NAB Show (National Association of Broadcasters) in Las Vegas earlier this year, and gaining momentum through IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam, and more recently the NAB East Show in New York, AV1 keeps picking up steam. Each of these industry events attract over 100,000 media professionals. Mozilla attended these shows to demonstrate AV1 playback in Firefox, and showed that AV1 is well on its way to being broadly adopted in web browsers.

      • Cameron Kaiser: Happy 8th birthday to us

        TenFourFox is eight years old! And nearly as mature!

      • Extensions in Firefox 64

        Following the explosion of extension features in Firefox 63, Firefox 64 moved into Beta with a quieter set of capabilities spread across many different areas.

      • Happy BMO Push Day!
  • Databases
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • FreeBSD 12.0 Faces A Minor Setback But Still Should Be Out Ahead Of Christmas

      The big FreeBSD 12.0 release still is expected to happen in December but will be a bit later than originally planned.

      The FreeBSD release engineering team has decided that a fourth beta is warranted before branching the FreeBSD 12 code and moving onto the release candidate phase. There already has been a number of alpha releases and three betas, but due to a boot time issue and allowing more time for ARM/ARM64 builds to complete, a fourth beta has been penciled into the schedule.

    • malloc.conf replaced with a sysctl
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GPL Initiative Expands with 16 Additional Companies Joining Campaign for Greater Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Adobe, Alibaba, Amadeus, Ant Financial, Atlassian, Atos, AT&T, Bandwidth, Etsy, GitHub, Hitachi, NVIDIA, Oath, Renesas, Tencent, and Twitter have joined an ongoing industry effort to combat harsh tactics in open source license enforcement by adopting the GPL Cooperation Commitment. By making this commitment, these 16 corporate leaders are strengthening long-standing community norms of fairness, pragmatism, and predictability in open source license compliance.

    • The completion of David’s internship work on the Free Software Directory

      One of the main projects of my internship has been importing information about free software extensions for Mozilla-based browsers on the Free Software Directory based on data from addons.mozilla.org. I call this project FreeAMO (AMO stands for addons.mozilla.org) and it exists as part of the directory package on Savannah. After many weeks of work, it generates usable directory entries. In the same project is a script to import entries from the Debian package repository. I also fixed bugs in that script, and got it to a usable state. However, before importing entries to the Directory, we want to solve one remaining issue: making it so we can import the data automatically on a regular basis, but also allow users to edit parts of the imported entry. I hope to complete this work sometime after my internship is done.

      [...]

      There are still packages with nonstandard license names that need to be evaluated one by one. One common issue is explained in the article For Clarity’s Sake, Please Don’t Say “Licensed under GNU GPL 2”! When people tell you a program is released “under GNU GPL version 2,” they are leaving the licensing of the program unclear. Is it released under GPL-2.0-only, or GPL-2.0-or-later? Can you merge the code with packages released under GPL-3.0-or-later?

      Unfortunately, Mozilla is contributing to this problem because when someone uploads an addon package to addons.mozilla.org, they are asked to specify which license the package is under by selecting from a drop-down list of licenses. Then that name is displayed on addons.mozilla.org. However, the GPL license options are ambiguous and don’t specify “only” and “or-later.” To accurately specify the license, uploaders should choose “Custom License” and then mention the correct license in the description field. We hope Mozilla will change this, but since the Directory only lists free addons, and anyone can improve the Directory, we encourage people to use it instead of addons.mozilla.org.

    • Recent licensing updates

      We added the Commons Clause to our list of nonfree licenses. Not a stand-alone license in and of itself, it is meant to be added to an existing free license to prevent using the work commercially, rendering the work nonfree. It’s particularly nasty given that the name, and the fact that it is attached to pre-existing free licenses, may make it seem as if the work is still free software.

      If a previously existing project that was under a free license adds the Commons Clause, users should work to fork that program and continue using it under the free license. If it isn’t worth forking, users should simply avoid the package. We are glad to see that in the case of Redis modules using the Commons Clause, people are stepping up to maintain free versions.

  • Public Services/Government
    • FDA Targets Patient Data With Open-Source MyStudies mHealth App

      The federal agency in charge of regulating new mHealth technology is looking to include digital health data from consumers into the mix.

      The US Food and Drug Administration has unveiled an open-source mHealth app called MyStudies “to foster the collection of real world evidence via patients’ mobile devices.” Officials say the connected health platform will improve the development of new mobile health technologies by giving developers and researchers a direct link to the patients who would be using the technology.

      “There are a lot of new ways that we can use real world evidence to help inform regulatory decisions around medical products as the collection of this data gets more widespread and reliable,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a press release. “Better capture of real world data, collected from a variety of sources, has the potential to make our new drug development process more efficient, improve safety and help lower the cost of product development.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • Leading Open Access Supporters Ask EU To Investigate Elsevier’s Alleged ‘Anti-Competitive Practices’

        Most of the complaint is a detailed analysis of why academic publishing has become so dysfunctional, and is well-worth reading by anyone interested in understanding the background to open access and its struggles.

        As to what the complaint might realistically achieve, Tennant told Techdirt that there are three main possibilities. The European Commission can simply ignore it. It can respond and say that it doesn’t think there is a case to answer, in which case Tennant says he will push the Commission to explain why. Finally, in the most optimistic outcome, the EU could initiate a formal investigation of Elsevier and the wider academic publishing market. Although that might seem too much to hope for, it’s worth noting that the EU Competition Authority is ultimately under the Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager. She has been very energetic in her pursuit of Internet giants like Google. It could certainly be a hugely significant moment for open access if she started to take an interest in Elsevier in the same way.

  • Programming/FOSS Adoption
    • Culture is holding back operator adoption of open source

      At a panel session featuring STC and Vodafone at Light Reading’s Software Defined Operations and the Autonomous Network event, the operational culture was suggested a significant roadblock, as well as the threat of ROI due to shortened lifecycles and disappearing support.

      Starting with the culture side, this is a simple one to explain. The current workforce has not been configured to work with an open source mentality. This is a different way of working, a notable shift away from the status quo of proprietary technologies. Sometimes the process of incorporating open source is an arduous task, where it can be difficult to see the benefits.

    • Open Source Report Highlights Tension Between Devs & Employers

      Of the respondents to Digital Ocean’s survey, most individual contributors (80 percent) say they’ve been involved with open source for less than five years, and 66 percent interact with it weekly (with 19 percent saying they are “involved with open source projects” daily). Those figures alone may lead you to think open source is healthy and growing, and it is, but it also has a huge issue getting people and companies involved.

      Some 45 percent of respondents say they don’t know how to get started in open source, while 44 percent report they don’t feel their skillset is up to par. Around 30 percent report their company doesn’t allow them time to work in open source, and 28 percent are just plain intimidated.

    • Announcing Rust 1.30.1

      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.30.1. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

    • What is developer efficiency and velocity?

      As I previously mentioned I am currently in the information gathering phase for improvements to desktop Firefox developer efficiency and velocity. While many view developer efficiency and velocity as the same thing–and indeed they are often correlated–it is useful to discuss how they are different.

      I like to think of developer velocity as the rate at which a unit of work is completed. Developer efficiency is the amount of effort required to complete a unit of work.

      If one were to think of the total development output as revenue, improvements to velocity would improve the top-line and improvements to efficiency would improve the bottom-line.

    • Solid: a new way to handle data on the web

      The development of the web was a huge “sea change” in the history of the internet. The web is what brought the masses to this huge worldwide network—for good or ill. It is unlikely that Tim Berners-Lee foresaw all of that when he came up with HTTP and HTML as part of his work at CERN, but he has been in a prime spot to watch the web unfold since 1989. His latest project, Solid, is meant to allow users to claim authority over the personal data that they provide to various internet giants.

      Berners-Lee announced Solid in a post on Medium in late September. In it, he noted that despite “all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas”. Part of what he is decrying is enabled by the position of power held by companies that essentially use the data they gather in ways that run directly counter to the interests of those they gather it from. “Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance — by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.”

      Users’ data will be stored in a Solid “pod” (sometimes “personal online data store” or POD) that can reside anywhere on the internet. Since Solid deliberately sets out to build on the existing web, it should not be a surprise that URLs, along with Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs), are used to identify pods and specific objects within them. Pods also provide one place for businesses, including Inrupt, which was co-founded by Berners-Lee, to provide services for Solid. As he noted in his post, people are willing to pay companies like Dropbox for storage; hosting Solid pods would be a similar opportunity for Inrupt and others.

    • Should a programming course be mandatory for high school students?

      But further, understanding at least the basics of programming is important to being able to fully reap the benefits of open source. Having the code available to review, edit, and share under an open license is important, but can you really make use of the full power of an open license if you’re locked in by your own inability to make the changes you wish to make?

    • A Summer Of Code Question

      This is a lightly edited response to a question we got on IRC about how to best apply to participate in Google’s “Summer Of Code” program. this isn’t company policy, but I’ve been the one turning the crank on our GSOC application process for the last while, so maybe it counts as helpful guidance.

      We’re going to apply as an organization to participate in GSOC 2019, but that process hasn’t started yet. This year it kicked off in the first week of January, and I expect about the same in 2019.

      You’re welcome to apply to multiple positions, but I strongly recommend that each application be a focused effort; if you send the same generic application to all of them it’s likely they’ll all be disregarded. I recognize that this seems unfair, but we get a tidal wave of redundant applications for any position we open, so we have to filter them aggressively.

      Successful GSOC applicants generally come in two varieties – people who put forward a strong application to work on projects that we’ve proposed, and people that have put together their own GSOC proposal in collaboration with one or more of our engineers.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • OpenMP 5.0 Specification Released, GCC 9.0 Lands Initial Support

      The OpenMP ARB has announced the release today of the major OpenMP 5.0 specification. OpenMP 5.0 has been three years in the making and is a big update to this parallel programming specification relative to past updates.

      OpenMP 5.0 is intended for use from embedded and accelerators to multi-core NUMA systems. OpenMP 5.0 offers portability improvements, full support for accelerators, better NUMA handling on HPC systems, improved device constructors, and various other benefits for parallel programming on C / C++ / Fortran systems.

    • Introducing ODPi Egeria – The Industry’s First Open Metadata Standard

      Egeria is built on open standards and delivered via Apache 2.0 open source license. The Egeria project creates a set of open APIs, types and interchange protocols to allow all metadata repositories to share and exchange metadata. From this common base, it adds governance, discovery and access frameworks for automating the collection, management and use of metadata across an enterprise. The result is an enterprise catalog of data resources that are transparently assessed, governed and used in order to deliver maximum value to the enterprise.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • A Glimmer of an Idea on an Experimental Use Exemption [Ed: Kevin E. Noonan continues to defend and advocate patents on life and nature itself, as he profits from evil litigation in this domain (privatising life)]

      One of the most powerful, visceral arguments made by the American Civil Liberties Union in Assoc. Molecular Pathol. v. Myriad Genetics, 689 F. 3d 1303 (2013), was that permitting Myriad and the University of Utah to have patent rights to isolated human DNA inhibited basic research. Indeed, the meme that patents can interfere with free access to the “building blocks” of science and technology can be found in Supreme Court dicta from Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U.S. 127 (1948), to Myriad and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). Similarly, opponents of the Bayh-Dole Act (codified at 35 U.S.C. §§ 200-212), which permits universities to patent inventions made using Federal funding, base some of their arguments on the inequity visited on the public in allowing these inventions to be protected by patent and thus (at least technically) making scientific and research use an act of infringement.

      These concerns were exacerbated by the Federal Circuit decision in Madey v. Duke Univ., 307 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2002), where the Court agreed that the practice of a patented invention by Duke University researchers was not protected by an “experimental use” exemption.

    • The Trump Administration Thinks Your Employer Should Make Your Birth Control Decisions

      The administration finalized rules allowing employers to deny health insurance for contraception if they object for religious or moral reasons.

      The Trump administration moved forward on Wednesday in its quest to give businesses and other institutions a license to discriminate by issuing a regulation allowing employers and universities to deny health insurance coverage for contraception — currently required by law — if they object because of religious or moral views. The move could leave thousands of people across the country without contraceptive coverage.

      The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans cover birth control and other critical women’s preventive services without a co-pay or other cost-sharing. This provision, which took effect in 2012, expanded access to health care and was an important step toward gender equality. As the Supreme Court said in 1992, the “ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

      Thanks to the ACA’s birth control benefit, an estimated 62 million people now have co-pay free insurance coverage for birth control. After it took effect, women saved $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs on birth control in one year alone. It’s an incredibly popular provision of the ACA, so it’s no surprise that the Trump administration waited until the day after Americans cast their ballots in the midterm elections to partially undo it.

    • Ukraine: interim injunctions in pharma cases

      The Ukrainian Supreme Court in Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp v Aurobindo Pharma Limited has recently introduce a bold approach to applying interim injunctions in disputes between originators and generics over the registration of patented pharmaceuticals.

      MSD learned that Aurobindo had filed an application for registration of an allegedly infringing pharmaceutical with the State Expert Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine (the “Centre”). MSD argued that a compound protected under its patent was used in Aurobindo’s pharmaceutical.

  • Security
    • Secure Shell: What is SSH?

      So, here is my ode to Secure Shell for those that are unaware of SSH (It will not be any kind of artistic prose.) Many outside of the technology world may not realize how oft-utilized and important SSH and, indeed, shelling is in our everyday technological lives. This article will examine SSH and shelling, in general, and go over some of the technical aspects that encompass SSH and secure shell.

    • A Columbia cyber firm’s open source project is looking to improve IoT security

      Columbia-based MasterPeace Solutions is working on an open source project to address security vulnerabilities in Internet of Things devices.

      osMUD is aimed at protecting internet-connected devices used at homes and small businesses. The project was shared with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, which is based in Rockville, according to MasterPeace.

      Now, the cybersecurity firm will participate in a consortium that was formed around the effort that looks to bring together bring together device manufacturers, network security companies, and network administrators. Participating organizations include Cable Labs, Cisco, CTIA, Digicert, ForeScout, Global Cyber Alliance, Patton, and Symantec. Each organization will provide code and expertise to the effort. MasterPeace is providing network security engineering and defense operations expertise. The longtime government contractor has previously shown willingness to gather the community in recent years with efforts like an in-house accelerator.

    • What is a “Dark Web Scan” and Should You Use One?

      The “dark web” consists of hidden websites that you can’t access without special software. These websites won’t appear when you use Google or another search engine, and you can’t even access them unless you go out of your way to use the appropriate tools.

      For example, the Tor software can be used for anonymous browsing of the normal web, but it also hides special sites known as “.onion sites” or “Tor hidden services.” These websites use Tor to cloak their location, and you only access them through the Tor network.

    • Reproducible Builds Joins Conservancy

      We are very excited to announce the Reproducible Builds project as our newest member project. Reproducible builds is a set of software development practices that create an independently-verifiable path from the source code to the binary code used by computers. This ensures that the builds you are installing are exactly the ones you were expecting, which is critical for freedom, security and compatibility and exposes injections of backdoors introduced by compromising build servers or coercing developers to do so via political or violent means.

      The Reproducible Builds project, which began as a project within the Debian community, joins our other adjacent work around this distribution, such as the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project. Reproducible Builds is also critical to Conservancy’s own compliance work: a build that cannot be verified may contain code that triggers different license compliance responsibilities than those which the recipient is expecting. Unaccounted-for code makes it hard for anyone who distributes software to guarantee that they are doing so responsibly and with care for those who receive the software.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • VirtualBox Zero-Day Vulnerability Goes Public, No Security Patch Yet Available

      A zero-day vulnerability in VirtualBox was publicly disclosed by an independent vulnerability researcher and exploit developer Sergey Zelenyuk. VirtualBox is a famous open sourced virtualization software which has been developed by Oracle. This recently discovered vulnerability can allow a malicious program to escape virtual machine and then execute code on OS of the host machine.

    • Red Hat Continues Drive for More Secure Enterprise IT, Re-Certifies Red Hat Enterprise Linux for FIPS 140-2
    • Red Hat re-certifies Red Hat Enterprise Linux for FIPS 140-2

      Red Hat Inc. announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 has renewed the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS 140-2) security certifications from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

    • Keep legacy applications secure with Extended Security Maintenance

      Application updates come and go, often they provide your business with added value, but sometimes an update isn’t what is needed or wanted for a legacy application.

      Choosing not to update an application can cause issues. Often, that application becomes unsupported, and with security patches no longer available, it can see your business falling foul of regulatory demands, such as GDPR or security threats.

      Ubuntu LTS users have a five-year window for support, for ITstrategen, when that window came to an end on 12.04, some of ITstrategen’s customers still depended on servers running the now out of support operating system and without support, the security of those servers was at risk.

      The German hosting provider, which was founded in 2011 and supports some of Germany’s most successful businesses, uses Ubuntu as its server operating system.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Saudi journalist tortured to death in prison

      Saudi journalist and writer Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser has died after being tortured while in detention, the New Khaleej reported yesterday.

    • Saudi journalist ‘traced by Twitter spies’ forcibly disappeared

      A Saudi journalist is thought to have been forcibly detained for the past eight months after Saudi spies allegedly infiltrated Twitter’s Dubai headquarters and connected him to an account that recorded abuses committed by the royal family.

    • GUNTER: Canada’s confused approach to the Saudis continues

      We should be standing up for Badawi, who is as much a Saudi-Canadian as Khashoggi was Saudi-American.

    • How Saudi “Donations” to American Universities Whitewash Its Religion

      Saudi funding of an American academic “doesn’t mean that he’s bought and paid for.” Rather, “there is a kind of silencing effect. It’s more about what doesn’t get written about… there may be some self-censoring on certain topics you don’t raise unnecessarily, topics that are sensitive to the Saudis.” — from a Washington, DC “insider,” quoted in Vox.

    • 1918-2018: France and Germany Mourn

      On November 11, 2018, France commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice, the victory of the French troops and their allies (including soldiers from its African and Asian colonies) in the First World War.

    • Masquerading Reforms: The Tricks of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

      The surgical dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi has sent the military establishments of several countries into a tizz. Arms manufacturers are wondering whether this is an inconvenient blip, a ruffling moral reminder about what they are dealing with. Autocratic regimes indifferent to the lives of journalists are wondering whether the fuss taken about all this is merely the fuss endured, till the next bloody suppression. But importantly, those states notionally constituting the West may have to reconsider the duping strategy that the House of Saud has executed with the deft efficiency of the dedicated axeman.

      The ranks are closing in around the Saudi royals, notably the purportedly suspicious son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose status has been given an undue measure of inflation from various powers happy to see reform in the air. The measures taken by MBS have been modest and hardly worth a sigh: the cutting of subsidies, permitting women to drive, and restructuring the economy. But like a fake article of purchase at an inordinately expensive auction, the prince’s counterfeit credentials are starting to peer through the canvas.

      The Crown Prince has been happy to provide a train of examples to suggest to his Western audience that the roots of a liberal Saudi Arabian past are very much in evidence. To Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, the beguiling royal explained that, “Before 1979 there were societal guardianship customs, but no guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia.”

      The tactic is clear: speak of a yesteryear that was jolly and a touch tender, and promise that a current era seemingly harder can emulate it. Goldberg was good enough to make the observation that the Crown Prince had gotten one thing right from the perspective of his sponsors in Europe, the Middle East and the United States: “He has made all the right enemies.”

    • Editorial: U.S. must push Saudi leaders to end atrocious war in Yemen

      The United States has aided Saudi Arabia and its allies in their often indiscriminate campaign against Iranian-supported insurgents in Yemen, making this country complicit in a humanitarian disaster of horrific proportions. In addition to the more than 17,000 civilians killed and injured by the United Nations’ conservative count, millions have been left homeless and beset by disease and starvation. Now the Trump administration is finally moving to try to end the conflict.

      Last week, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo called on both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels who control much of the country to move to a cease-fire so that U.N.-sponsored negotiations on a political settlement can proceed. He added that a “cessation of hostilities and vigorous resumption of a political track will help ease the humanitarian crisis as well.”

      But Pompeo suggested that the Houthis had to make the first move, specifically by ending missile and drone strikes on targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “Subsequently,” Pompeo said, “coalition airstrikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen.” That “subsequently” provided an opening for the coalition to continue its air campaign. On Friday, it conducted airstrikes on Sana, the Houthi-occupied capital.

    • Misremembering Vietnam

      “I’m going to Saigon,” said Secretary of Defense James Mattis last month before correcting himself. “Ho Chi Minh City — former Saigon.”

      It was the fifth time that Mattis would meet with his Vietnamese counterpart, Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich, and it marked the defense secretary’s first visit to a former U.S. military base outside of Ho Chi Minh City. In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, Bien Hoa Air Base was home to 550 aircraft. Today, it is one of many sites heavily contaminated by America’s toxic defoliant of choice, Agent Orange.

      During that conflict, the United States deliberately sprayed more than 70 million liters of herbicidal agents across the Vietnamese countryside to wipe out forests providing cover for the guerrillas — known as the Viet Cong, or “VC” — and across rice paddies to drive civilians from their villages. A 1967 analysis by the RAND Corporation concluded that “the civilian population seems to carry very nearly the full burden of the results of the crop destruction program; it is estimated that over 500 civilians experience crop loss for every ton of rice denied the VC.” Of course, toxic defoliants didn’t just fall on foliage. According to hamlet census data, herbicides were sprayed on as many as 4.8 million Vietnamese. Immediate reactions to such exposure included nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. In the longer term, the defoliants have been associated with a higher incidence of stillbirths as well as cancers and birth defects like anencephaly and spina bifida that affect Vietnamese children to this day.

      “USAID is about to start a major remediation project there at Bien Hoa Air Base from the old days,” said Mattis, using the acronym for the United States Agency for International Development. That soil restoration project at the former base, agreed upon in 2014, will take at least several years to complete and cost U.S. taxpayers $390 million. “So, this is America keeping her promise to remediate some of the past,” Mattis explained. Some indeed. So many decades later, there are countless other contaminated hotspots, as well as at least 350,000 tons of live bombs, artillery shells, rockets, and mines that could take hundreds of years to clear. There are also the surviving wounded of the conflict and those who continue to be injured by all that leftover ordnance. And then, of course, there are the still-mourning relatives of those slain then and of the victims of its lethal remains. The past, in such cases, has yet to be remediated.

    • The Great War, and how it ended

      Despite its extensive Remembrance coverage, the BBC hasn’t actually tried to explain to its audience how and why Germany lost the war in 1918.

      [...]

      Four years ago, programmes marking the outbreak of the war had a simpler task. There were, of course, no “ordinary people” to personalise the sweep of events. And the fact that the entire stampede into war after the assassination at Sarajevo took just 37 days made it easier to tell the full story. I had my criticisms of BBC TV’s 3-hour drama “37 Days” but at least it tried to cover the ground. Likewise, many other programmes on radio and television dealt with the lead-up to the war. Particular credit was due to Radio 4 for its deployment of leading historians Margaret MacMillan and Christopher Clark, one telling the story of that lead-up day by day, the other offering five 15-minute essays on the broader picture. (Sadly, Radio 4 had no room for my 2-hour audio drama, entitled “July 1914: Countdown to War”, which told the full story. I do not believe any of the many executives I sent the CD to even listened to it.)

      [...]

      Perhaps the closest to overview – at least, in its title, “100 Days To Victory” – has been an Australian-Canadian co-production, with a credit for BBC Scotland, telling the story of how Australian and Canadian soldiers (and some Scottish regiments) made a distinctive, even decisive, impact on the fighting on the Western Front in the last months of the war. This was a mixture of archive, specially shot drama footage (of battle, and of the leading generals interacting), dynamic graphics and expert interviews. It was certainly refreshing to have a wide range of rarely seen Canadian, Australian and Scottish academics offering pithy opinions. That Field Marshal Haig was a Scot meant that the story could focus on him alongside the Monash and Currie, the talented and unusual Australian and Canadian commanders (neither came from a military background). The trio were joined by Ferdinand Foch, the French general appointed to co-ordinate the Allied war effort, with the four of them repeatedly marching abreast towards camera, in true “Law and Order” style.

    • The Awful Reason Police Don’t Go After Right-Wing Extremists

      Not for the first time nor the last, the U.S. has recently been hit by a wave of political violence by right-wing political extremists. People are stunned; aren’t far-right groups like the KKK and Nazi Party relics of history?

      Clearly not. Package bombs mailed to Democratic politicians and celebrities, the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, another mass killing at a Florida yoga studio and the double murder of African-Americans in a Kentucky grocery store have Americans asking two questions: who’s to blame, and why didn’t the people we pay to keep us safe see this coming?

      The answer to the first question can be answered in part by digging into the second: law enforcement and intelligence agencies have long had a dismal record of tracking the activities of right-wing extremist groups, much less disrupting violent plots before they can be carried out.

      Considering that the right is responsible for three out of four political terrorism-related deaths, the police are failing to do their job of protecting the public from the biggest threat. (The other fourth are almost all attributable to radical Islamists. In the U.S. the political left hardly ever kills anyone.)

      Turning a blind eye to right-wing violence isn’t new. “Law enforcement’s inability to reckon with the far right is a problem that goes back generations in this country,” Janet Reitman wrote in The New York Times, referencing the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

    • Worthy and Unworthy Victims: Jamal Khashoggi and US Imperial Management

      Daniel Falcone: Americans are calling the journalist Jamal Khashoggi a courageous politico who “spoke truth to power,” but as Noam Chomsky has stated power already knows the truth.” Is U.S. response to these types of events reliant upon lazy narratives?

      Anthony DiMaggio: It depends on who we are referencing when we talk about elite responses. The U.S. political elite are quite fragmented at the moment between 1) a creeping fascist-wing, as personified by Trump and reinforced by his followers/lackeys in the Republican Party and far-right corporate media; and 2) a liberal wing that favors corporate power and empire, but has never felt comfortable embracing a full-throated authoritarian, fascistic politics when it comes to domestic affairs.

      On the one hand, the authoritarian/creeping fascist wing of the U.S. political-economic elite, as led by Trump, has little concern with a journalist for a major American newspaper (the Washington Post) who was murdered and dismembered by an allied Saudi terror state that practices medieval torture. It seems silly to try and deny this point in light of the available evidenceof Saudi Arabia’s responsibility for the murder, despite the Trump administration’s efforts to play stupid on the matter. Now the Saudi monarchy is backpedaling from their initial denials, claiming Khashoggi’s death was a “rogue operation” from elements internal to the Saudi security apparatus. But there’s little reason for any critically minded independent thinker to take them seriously considering that they’ve already been exposed as liars on this issue, and considering Khashoggi’s history of being critical of the Saudi regime, rather than simply being critical of individual, allegedly “rogue” operators within that repressive regime.

    • EXCLUSIVE: UK spy agencies knew source of false Iraq war intelligence was tortured

      British intelligence agencies fed questions to the interrogators of a captured terrorism suspect whom they knew was being seriously mistreated in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and ministers then relied upon his answers to help justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

      Through a close analysis of redacted official documents, Middle East Eye has established that an MI6 officer was aware that CIA officers had placed Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi inside a sealed coffin at a US-run prison in Afghanistan. The officer had then watched as the coffin was loaded onto a truck and driven to an aircraft that was waiting to fly to Egypt.

      In an incident report sent to MI6 headquarters in London, the officer and his colleagues reported that “we were tempted to speak out” at the treatment of Libi, but did not. “The event reinforced the uneasy feeling of operating in a legal wilderness,” they said.

      Despite being aware that Libi had been flown to Egypt inside a coffin, and despite that country’s well-documented record of human rights abuses, both MI6 and MI5 decided to pass questions to be put to him, and continued to receive reports about what he was saying.

      [...]

      Blair added that the case for war against Iraq was not based upon the links with al-Qaeda, but Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction programme: “I believe that our case on weapons of mass destruction is very clear indeed. It is perfectly obvious that Saddam has them.”

    • How the End of World War I Brought the Beginning of Drone Warfare
    • MBS Usurps King Salman’s Authority

      A Reuters news agency report October 19, 2018, said that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has intervened to contain the growing scandal surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi. The five sources cited in the report have connection to the Saudi ruling family. One of the sources mentioned that the King has been “asserting himself” to handle the current situation. Two other sources indicated that the King was ignorant of the severity of the “crisis” because the aides to MbS had been guiding the King to only TV channels that showed Saudi Arabia in good light.

      [...]

      Unsurprisingly, the question gnawing many minds is: why one reporter’s murder caused such a huge outcry in the Western world whereas the horrific war against Yemen carried out by Saudi Arabia with US-supplied weapons has elicited little reaction?

      Yemen has witnessed blind bombings of its cities, towns and people causing heavy death, destruction, famine, and misery.

      Every ten minutes a child dies; the insecurity for the next meal is felt by 8.4 million people; statistics of the Yemeni tragedy are indeed heart wrenching.

      The answer for the unbalanced reaction to the two tragedies is simple: Khashoggi wrote for a very powerful US newspaper without deviating from the information permitted the mainstream media in the US.

      The Saudi war against Yemen would have gotten a Khashoggi type coverage if:

      Thomas Friedman of the New York Times would have gotten killed in Yemen by Saudi bombing while he was justifying the Saudi war against that country or Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person and the owner of Washington Post, had become a part of a collateral damage in Yemen looking for warehouse workers who used toilets at the assigned time only or … so on and so forth.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Why Forests are the Best ‘Technology’ to Fight Climate ChangeWhy Forests are the Best ‘Technology’ to Fight Climate Change

      The warning from the world’s top climate scientists that carbon dioxide (CO2) will need to be removed from the atmosphere to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is both a due and dire recognition of the great task in front of us. What must not be forgotten, however, is the hope that our forests provide.

      The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said limiting global warming to 1.5C is not only achievable but also critical, given the previously underestimated accelerating risks for every degree of warming beyond that target.

      It has also suggested that the amount of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) that will be needed can be limited by significant and rapid cuts in emissions, but also reduced energy and land demand to a few hundred gigatonnes without relying on Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

      This means forests and land use can and must play a key role in efforts to achieve 1.5 degrees, but governments and industry too often overlook why improved forest protection, as well as forest restoration, are crucial alternative solutions to risky CDR technologies such as BECCS.

    • NOAA 2019 Tide Tables are Available

      NOAA 2019 tide tables are now available. NOAA tide predictions are used by both commercial and recreational mariners for safe navigation. Printed tide tables provide users with tide and tidal current predictions in an easy-to-read format for particular locations. NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services produce these tide tables on an annual basis.

      Member nations of the International Hydrographic Organization make their annual tide and tidal current predictions publically available. This allows each member country to produce annual predictions for locations around the world, in their native language, for use by mariners, shipping industry, and recreational sector. NOAA’s annual tide and tidal current tables include predictions for more than 10,000 international locations.

      You can get tide predictions and tidal current predictions online for U.S. coastal stations and some islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, for up to two years. NOAA also provides printed copies of the 2018 Tide Tables and Tidal Current Tables, visit the Tides and Currents website.

      Since World War II, U.S. Coast Guard regulation 33 CFR 164.33 requires that all commercial vessels operating in U.S. waters must have copies of the annual tide and tidal current tables for their area.

    • The Grizzlies of Wapusk: an Unfolding Story of Change

      Wapusk’s grizzlies probably dispersed from established populations to the northwest in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, though their historic distribution is not particularly well documented. Their range is also apparently expanding in other areas of the Arctic too. Very little is known about grizzlies in northern Manitoba. How are grizzly bears making a living up there? Where do they den? What has driven their most recent range expansion? Is it likely to continue, and if so, how far? Optimistically, could they ever make it around the Bay and back to the Ungava Peninsula or Labrador? No evidence of breeding has been seen in the park, though given the very large home range of barren-ground grizzlies in the central Canadian Arctic, the bears observed in northern Manitoba are very likely part of a larger, continuous regional population of barren-ground grizzlies. These bears appear to be benefiting from a warming Arctic, at least temporarily, though precisely why isn’t clear. There’s probably not just one cause either since there have been repeated range expansions and contractions by barren-ground grizzlies over time. One possible clue about what could be driving the dispersal was revealed by my kids late last summer when they went berry picking near Churchill. They filled a bucket with blueberries in less than an hour. I was stunned because twenty-five years ago I measured berry production in the same area when I was a graduate student and it would have taken at least a whole day to fill that bucket back then.

      While food is important, grizzly bear survival usually comes down to human tolerance, so the human dimensions of this situation are probably going to determine how thoroughly grizzlies establish themselves in northern Manitoba. Some communities, such as Baker Lake, Nunavut, initially had a hard time adapting to them when they showed up in the early 2000’s. Inuit there faced increasing conflicts with grizzlies, mainly over caribou meat they’d harvested and often processed at their cabins. Remarkably though, the community showed impressive restraint towards bears considering many of the town’s residents are survivors of the mass starvation that occurred in the 1950s and ‘60s when the caribou they depended on failed to show up. Some in the region have described this expansion as a wave of grizzly bear colonization that moved past Baker Lake almost two decades ago and is now hitting Churchill. I’ve heard the whole gamut of responses to grizzlies there, ranging from fear of the unknown to intense curiosity about something new. Attitudes have shifted since 1998 when a Park Management Board member told me to get out there with a trap and a rifle and get rid of the grizzly we saw. There’s still caution but now there’s also pride as Churchill residents realize that they now live in the only place where all three North American bear species have actually been observed living together.

  • Finance
    • Big Tech Sets Up a ‘Kill Zone’ for Industry Upstarts

      Today’s star companies hire the best engineers and copy the novel ideas of startups, choking off potential competition.

    • Where the streets have no change: how buskers are surviving in cashless times

      Campbell is definitely a busker for the 21st century. She has cards, with information on how to find her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And as well as the guitar case for coins, she also has something that might make you look twice – a contactless card reader. Because hardly anyone uses cash any more – just like the Queen. (Even two years ago, a survey found that the average Briton carried less than £5 on them.) No cash? No problem; tap Campbell’s card reader, to give a quid.

    • Spoof London billboards seek to celebrate Putin’s ‘role’ in Brexit

      Britain has said it found no evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 Brexit vote and Moscow has repeatedly denied even trying, though opponents of Brexit have repeatedly questioned whether the Kremlin played a role.

      In the referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, backed staying. Britain is due to leave on March 29.

      The posters in London showed a picture of Kremlin chief Putin winking and holding the Russian flag beside the slogan: “Lets celebrate a Red, White and Blue Brexit.” The “r” of Brexit was reversed to give it the look of a Cyrillic letter.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump White House suspends credentials for CNN’s Jim Acosta UPDATE: Sanders uses Prison Planet video as “proof”

      After an outcry from several media outlets and the White House Correspondents Association, Sarah Sanders doubled down on the claim that Accosta manhandled the intern who tried to take his mic. You’ll notice the timing is a bit off in the video. That’s because the video has been sped up to make it look like Acosta “chopped” the intern’s arm. The source of the edited video Sarah Sanders used?

    • Stacey Abrams Vows To Fight On: ‘We Still Have A Few More Miles To Go’

      As Election Day gave way to the early morning hours Wednesday, the bruising, often bitter race to become Georgia’s next governor continued to defy a ready resolution. With nearly all votes counted, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp enjoyed a slim lead — but his defiant Democratic opponent, former state lawmaker Stacey Abrams, has vowed to push on in hopes of a runoff election.

      The state’s electoral rules require a candidate to garner a majority to win the governorship. If neither nominee manages to win more than 50 percent — and with Libertarian Ted Metz also on the ballot, that remains a possibility — Kemp and Abrams would need to square off again in a new round of voting.

      “Tonight we have closed the gap between yesterday and tomorrow. But we still have a few more miles to go,” said Abrams, who is vying to become the first female African-American governor in U.S. history.

      She addressed her supporters early Wednesday morning, in a speech far more characteristic of a campaign than a concession.

    • Trump Repeatedly Threatens Retaliation Against Russia Investigators

      The day after Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump threatened retaliation against lawmakers who “waste Taxpayer Money” by scrutinizing him and his administration, and boasted of his power to end Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Then, late on Wednesday, he announced the resignation of the man at the helm of the department responsible for the Mueller probe: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Representative Adam Schiff, one of the top Democrats preparing to investigate the president, had a response at the ready. On Wednesday, he tweeted: “We will protect the rule of law.”

    • Trump Will Only Get More Dangerous

      Jeff Sessions was unfit to serve as attorney general of the United States. He had lied about his civil-rights record, claiming that he’d desegregated schools in Alabama when he hadn’t, as he later admitted under oath. He and his surrogates misled the public by insisting that he had begun his political life campaigning against the segregationist Lurleen Wallace, without mentioning that her GOP opponent was also a segregationist. He exaggerated his role in the prosecution of the Ku Klux Klansmen who lynched Michael Donald. He praised the racist 1924 immigration law that targeted nonwhites, Eastern and Southern Europeans, and Jews. He was rejected for a federal judgeship for allegedly calling a black attorney a “boy” and a civil-rights attorney a “race traitor.” On every crucial question of civil rights in the past 40 years, Sessions has been on the wrong side.

      He also misled the Senate, under oath, about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, then lied about having lied. If his record opposing basic constitutional rights for marginalized groups were not disqualifying, his rank dishonesty should have been.

      As attorney general, Sessions rolled back civil-rights enforcement, failing to file even a single voting-rights case in a country where the Republican Party has settled on disenfranchisement of rival constituencies as a tactic for winning elections. He failed in his duty to prevent the president from attempting to influence the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and then aided the president in presenting a patently false justification for firing former FBI Director James Comey over that investigation. In virtually every consequential way, Sessions should go down in history as one of the worst attorney generals ever to hold the office.

    • Lies, women and migrants turn against Trump

      The balance of powers that defines liberal democracy is most apparent in the US, and could produce three possible scenarios.

      The first is that the same political party dominates the Executive and the Legislature, which was the case before the mid-terms. The second is that parties are split, and one controls the Senate whilst the other controls the House of Representatives which is what has just occurred.

      And finally, the last scenario is that in which the opposing party gains control over the entire Legislature whilst the executive remains in other hands, the most desirable for the Democrats, which they failed to achieve.

      This complex system was designed so that its inefficiency stopped the imposition of one body upon another, allowing for controls of the executive to be put in place.

      Facilitating partisan equlibriums between these two powers creates a dynamic of bi-partisan negotiation and reinforces democratic consensus, whilst limiting presidential power.

      This is of great importance, particularly when the White House is occupied by a figure with authoritarian tendencies.

      In what has been one of the most tense campaigns in electoral history, many issues affecting Latin America have also taken centre stage. That is why we present some of the key factors that influene the election results.

    • Midterm Takeaway: We Need a Lot More Democracy

      I can’t be the only one who spent the night of the midterms tossing and turning. Though I managed to shut off the coverage and try to sleep, spasms of anxiety woke me repeatedly throughout the dreary hours.

      Ultimately, Republicans picked off several red-state Senate seats while Democrats won back the House and at least seven governships.

      A Democratic House will serve as a badly needed check after two years of aggressive Republican monopoly, but I can’t help feeling uneasy. For one thing, I can’t shake the last days of the campaign.

      For a while, Republicans “merely” lied about their policy agenda.

      Rather than campaigning on the $2 trillion tax cut for rich people they actually passed, they promised a middle class tax cut they never even had a bill for. And after spending all last year trying to throw 20 to 30 million Americans off their health care, they (unbelievably!) promised to defend Americans’ pre-existing condition coverage — even as they actively sought to undermine it.

      But the lies took a much darker turn as the White House took hold of the narrative.

      Led by the president, GOP propagandists turned a few thousand refugees — over a thousand miles away in southern Mexico — into an “invading army.” The White House put out an ad about it so shockingly racist and false that even Fox News stopped airing it.

      Unashamed, President Trump kept repeating the obvious lie that the homeless refugees were funded by Jewish philanthropist George Soros — even after a refugee-hating extremist murdered 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

    • After the midterms: Trump learns nothing, and America’s slide into pseudo-democracy continues

      Since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and through his first two years in office, the American news media has been in a state of shock. Their old rulebook has been shredded. Trump has no respect for the truth, democratic norms, the Constitution or the rule of law. As we saw in his press conference immediately following the midterm elections, he views journalists as his enemies.

      Trump wants compliance and obedience; checks and balances are viewed with contempt. Reporters are to be his messengers and mouthpieces, not his critics.

      In the face of such a threat, the American news media first viewed candidate Trump as a spectacle worth billions of dollars in advertising. When Trump became the Republican presidential nominee, many voices in the corporate media desperately tried to normalize him. And then, much too late, these same voices have finally and begrudgingly realized that President Trump is not going to “pivot.” He is an authoritarian and autocrat by nature, temperament and style and political goals.

    • The Election Is Over. And Now the Next Elections Begin.

      The official slogan of the state of Illinois remains “Land of Lincoln,” and lots of Republicans still live here. But it’s no longer the land of his political party. The GOP isn’t winning many elections, which is generally considered the purpose of a political party.

      And that brings us to the bluebath that happened this week, when Illinois Democrats seized two congressional seats that for decades had been held by Republicans, ousted one-term Gov. Bruce Rauner, easily held onto every other statewide office, solidified control of the General Assembly and toppled the Cook County commissioner who chairs the state GOP.

      In short, it wasn’t a great night here for the Republicans.

    • So What Trump Investigations Could Be Coming? — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      For two years, journalists have operated in an environment in which Congress has declined to inquire into key issues surrounding President Donald Trump’s family business: Is he profiting from his presidency? Are his friends, family and appointees? Is Trump violating the Constitution when members of foreign governments make payments to his company by staying at his properties?

      Now, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives after this week’s midterm elections, that could change. Already, several high-ranking members are vowing to look into aspects of the relationship between Trump’s business and his administration.

    • What Will It Take?

      President Trump promotes a precarious situation. One day he says the troops can shoot immigrants who throw rocks. The next day he denies saying it, and stresses rock-throwers will be arrested.

    • A Challenge to the New Blue Congress: Govern as Progressives

      Election results were still pouring in Tuesday night when pundits on cable news channels began to revive a media refrain that conventional wisdom has been aiming at Democratic Party leaders for decades: Stay away from the left and move toward the center.

      We should expect plenty of such advice during the months ahead as Democrats take control of the House for the first time in eight years. It may sound prudent to urge “affordable health care” instead of Medicare for All, or “subsidies for community colleges” instead of tuition-free public college. But such positions easily come across as wonky mush that offers no clear alternative to a status quo that played a role in driving populist anger into the arms of the right wing in the first place.

      Last week, in the closing days of the midterm campaign, Barack Obama campaigned saying that he wanted to appeal to “compassionate conservatives,” a phrase propagated by George W. Bush two decades ago. Few Republicans actually turn out to be persuadable at election time. Efforts to pander to them show contempt for progressive principles. Such pandering can lessen the kind of grassroots enthusiasm that helped to defeat GOP candidates in the latest midterms.

    • These Voters Had to Wait for Hours: “It Felt Like a Type of Disenfranchisement”

      Melanie Taylor arrived at her polling place in a Charleston, South Carolina, church at 7:30 a.m., only to find more than 100 people in line ahead of her. Some of them had already been waiting since 6:15. The voting site was using a computerized login for the first time, and the system was down.

      After 45 minutes, with the line still out the door, Taylor had to give up and leave for work. (She leads a social work program.) She’s planning to try again later and has been monitoring the wait times through a neighborhood Facebook group. The news was not encouraging.

      “It felt like a type of disenfranchisement, even though there wasn’t any violation of voting rights,” Taylor said. “The wait has been all day three hours or more, which is ridiculous.”

    • The Needle and the Damage Done

      Of course, it’s easy to say: Just report the election results, and put it into context. But what happens when corporate media—in their zeal to give the public the big picture (and to draw eyeballs)—get too far ahead of the actual facts?

      Projecting winners in individual races based on official returns, exit polls and precincts left to report is one thing. But extrapolating early results to make broad leaps in logic about what will happen hours later, across dozens of states where polls haven’t even closed yet, is quite another. That can be a reckless gambit, one that doesn’t take much to turn supposedly “objective” data journalism into flawed, rank speculation, as anyone closely following the whipsawing Election Night media narrative on Tuesday can attest.

      If political journalism has become increasingly about polls and the horserace, Election Night coverage has grown to be more and more about flashy gimmicks and real-time scoreboard watching. On TV, this has evolved into things like hologram pundits, as well as the ubiquitous, massive touchscreens that dominate every studio. There’s also been a corresponding push online to create eye-catching dashboards that let you know not just who is ahead right now, but who will likely end up winning at the end of the night. Which brings us to “the needle.”

    • A response to Wolfgang Sperlich on ‘The latter day critics of Noam Chomsky’

      Chomsky’s claim about his supervisor is extraordinarily difficult to countenance; hence, my remarks about Chomsky’s unreliability. It is also, of course, extraordinarily irresponsible – not a “heinous crime,” Wolfgang, but certainly disagreeable. It is a charge of gross professional misconduct, something for which there are no other indications at all in Harris’s career; quite the contrary. Harris signed all of these theses to indicate his approval, or Chomsky would never have received his degrees, which amounts to public testimony that he did exactly what Chomsky says he did not do.

      But those signatures are only a sliver of the public record on this question. There are many written statements by Harris, and equally by Chomsky, which wholly contradict the charge. I include a few of these in my article, but here’s another one, from the preface to Chomsky’s PhD dissertation: “This study was carried out in close collaboration with Zellig Harris, to whom I am indebted for many of the fundamental underlying ideas.” There is also an eyewitness report (see p. 476). Really, the claim is just so utterly reckless and so flagrantly at odds with the record that it beggars belief. I admit that what it says about Chomsky is not flattering, but I merely document the facts of the case. I draw no other conclusions from those facts other than that what Chomsky says about his own intellectual biography is not reliable. Apparently that’s enough to earn me a place in your Knight-inspired, anti-Chomskyan dogpile.

      Some critical thinking advice now, while I have you on the line, Wolfgang. Try reading all of the relevant articles, substituting the name John Smith for the name Noam Chomsky and see if you have the same visceral reaction that everyone is out to get the beleaguered Smith, or if it is just an exchange of facts and opinions about a major contributor to the intellectual life of the last sixty years, an exchange in which only one colloquist is overwrought, you.

    • Gaining perspective on Chomsky’s linguistics

      The pull of this mechanical metalinguistic framework can be felt in Newmeyer’s own defence of Chomsky’s ‘autonomous linguistics’ on the grounds that “the form of language exists independently of its content”. Similarly, Alexander Luria, one of the founders of Vygotskian cultural-historical psychology, no less, paid tribute to the revolutionary impact of Chomsky’s “revolutionary findings” in syntax, comparing Chomsky favourably with Soviet scholars of the 1940, notably Lev Scherba, who “demonstrated the independence of grammatical form from content in Russian.”

      Chomsky himself pushed the distributionalist credo of American descriptivism to unheard of extremes; he purged the methodology of all ‘empirical’ contaminants (i.e. anything to do with linguistic ‘behaviour’) and presented syntax as the domain of an autonomous mental device which he dignified by cloaking it, with confident materialist-mechanist sleight of hand, in the ancient and mystical doctrine of innate ideas.

      Thereby, the asocial, apolitical, and acultural nature of language, and its immunity from human influence, was secured, though the formulation, promulgation and acceptance of the theory itself had far-reaching human consequences from which we still have a long way to recover.

    • Progressives Are Pushing Economic Democracy. Democrats Need to Listen.

      Democrats have the opportunity to advance this vision by bringing attention and resources to powerful local organizing throughout the country and by advancing legislation that can move the party and the political mainstream to the left. The newly-elected progressive House Democrats have a chance to greatly impact national political narratives by creating a left caucus or a Democratic Socialist caucus.

      The progressive agenda must include displacing the corporate economy and creating a democratic political economy in which everyone controls together the systems that provide the things we need to live meaningful and joyous lives — our workplaces, schools at all levels, our systems for health care, housing, energy, food, and so on. As progressives build this vision, we should look to the movements in the US and around the world that are already building economic democracy through solidarity economy institutions. These movements include Cooperation Jackson and the New Economy Coalition in the US, the Zapatistas in Mexico, the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement in Brazil, the Kurds in Rojava in Northern Syria and the municipalist movement in Spain.

    • How to Support the Caravan and Fight Racism

      We have also seen powerful movements to fight racism and inequality around the world, from revolutions in Russia and China, reforms in Cuba, anti-colonial movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the civil rights movement in the US.

    • It’s time to go on the offensive against racism

      When I read this in the morning paper, my heart stopped: Just 40 minutes away from me, the white mother of black children in New Jersey was repeatedly harassed via Facebook by a stranger, who told her that her children should be hung.

      Kentucky police arrested the young white man on Oct. 18, as he was backing out of his driveway with weapons, 200 rounds of ammunition and plans for shooting up a nearby school. The authorities thanked the mom — Koeberle Bull of Lumberton, New Jersey — for alerting them.

      I’m the white grandfather of a family of mostly black children. Someone armed and active is so offended by a mixed-race family that he wants to kill children like mine. Supported by my white daughter Ingrid, I allowed the terror to move through me while I raged and cried.

      After a while, when the intensity of my feelings lessened, Ingrid asked, “Isn’t it time to go on the offensive against racism?”

      I needed to access positive energy. While I was still identifying with the New Jersey mom and immersed in the feelings of fear, the ideas running through my head were all about defense.

      That’s the intention of terror, after all, whether it’s expressed in packages of bombs sent to prominent people or conducting a massacre in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. I was gripped by my human programming: When under attack, defend!

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Tanzania detains reporters Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo

      The Committee to Protect Journalists says authorities in Tanzania have forcibly detained Angela Quintal, Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative. Their passports were seized.

    • CPJ calls on Tanzania authorities to release staff Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo

      Officers who identified themselves as working with the Tanzanian immigration authority detained Quintal and Mumo in their hotel room in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this evening, according to Quintal. The officials searched the pair’s belongings and would not return their passports when asked. Quintal and Mumo were then escorted from the hotel and have been taken to an unknown location. They were in the country on a reporting mission for CPJ.

    • Iowa State Students Make Demands Over School Trademark Policy Public, Plan Possible First Amendment Lawsuit

      Iowa State University just cannot stop shooting itself in the foot. After attempting to bully a pro-marijuana student organization out of using school iconography, the school both lost the lawsuit that came afterwards and managed to piss away nearly half a million dollars in taxpayer money in having to pay out the would-be victims of its bullying. Instead of learning its lesson after that whole episode, ISU instead decided to alter its trademark usage policy to be way more restrictive, which only pushed student organizations to drop references to the school en masse. At the same time, the student government issued a resolution demanding the school review its policy again and make it less restrictive. Administration officials at that time agreed to meet with the student government to hear their concerns.

      Well, that meeting happened this past week, and everybody is still seriously pissed off.

    • Student organizations voice concerns at meeting on trademark policy

      Student organizations demonstrated their issues with Iowa State’s administration for its implementation of a new trademark policy at a meeting Thursday evening.

      Under guidelines instituted in the summer of 2018, many student groups had to remove the name of the university from their organization name as well as stop using Cy in their logo. Student Government is currently fighting this plan by issuing a resolution and talking with the administration.

      “Moving forward, we don’t know what they are going to do yet,” Speaker Cody Woodruff said. “Right now it’s a waiting game. The ball is in their court.”

      For the immediate future, Student Government wants an apology from the university and an immediate block on the enforcement of the policy. They have alternate plans of action if this deliberation works out poorly.

    • Scruton and Soros

      This is one of those occasions when I know that a significant number of people here will not agree with me. I like George Soros and consider him to be a good man. I should declare an interest; he once bought me a pizza, over 20 years ago. But I considered then, and I consider now, that Soros is a man who has devoted huge amounts of his personal resources, in terms of time and in terms of money, to attempting to make the world a better place, from motives of altruism.

      Furthermore I believe that a lot of the work of the Open Society Institute, which I witnessed first hand, in Poland and Uzbekistan and elsewhere, is good work, particularly in the field of human rights and media freedom.

    • CDA 230 Doesn’t Support Habeus Petition by ‘Revenge Pornographer’

      As you may recall, Kevin Bollaert ran UGotPosted, which published third-party submitted nonconsensual pornography, and ChangeMyReputation.com, which offered depicted individuals a “pay-to-remove” option. Bollaert appeared multiple times in my inventory of nonconsensual pornography enforcement actions. Bollaert’s conduct was disgusting, and I have zero sympathy for him. Nevertheless, I also didn’t love the path prosecutors took to bust him. The lower court convicted him of 24 counts of identity theft and 7 counts of extortion and sentenced him to 8 years in jail and 10 years of supervised release. Pay-to-remove sites are not inherently extortive, and identity theft crimes often overreach to cover distantly related activities.

      Worse, the appeals court affirmed the convictions despite a significant Section 230 defense. The opinion contorted Section 230 law, relying on outmoded legal theories from Roommates.com. Fortunately, I haven’t seen many citations to the appellate court’s misinterpretation of Section 230, so the doctrinal damage to Section 230 hasn’t spread too much (yet). However, that still leaves open whether Bollaert’s conviction was correct.

      Bollaert raised that issue by filing a habeus corpus petition in federal court. Such petitions are commonly filed and almost never granted, so Bollaert’s petition had minimal odds of success as a matter of math. Not surprisingly, his petition fails.

    • Don’t Throw Out The First Amendment’s Press Protections Just Because You Don’t Like President Trump

      Back in April, when the DNC first sued a whole bunch of people and organizations claiming a giant conspiracy between the Russians, Wikileaks and the Trump campaign, we warned that beyond the complaint including a ton of truly nutty claims, it was also an attack on the 1st Amendment. Much of what was described as violating the law by Wikileaks and others was classic journalism activity — and a ruling in favor of the DNC would do massive harm to the 1st Amendment. Indeed, as the case has continued to move forward, more and more media organizations are warning about the possibility of a catastrophic outcome for news media should the DNC win this case.

      Perhaps ironically, this puts Donald Trump on the same team, legally, as the people he repeatedly insists are “the enemy of the people.” His lawyers, of course, don’t mind the double standard and have been quick to correctly wrap themselves in the First Amendment to try to get the lawsuit dismissed. This is the proper result.

    • Marsha Blackburn Continues To Be Rewarded For Screwing Up The Internet

      You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger telecom sector crony than Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn has long made headlines for her support of SOPA, attacks on consumer protections like net neutrality and the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. She’s also come out in favor of turning ISPs into censors, and has been first in line to support giant ISP-backed protectionist state laws hampering competition. AT&T is routinely one of Blackburn’s top donors, and her home state of Tennessee remains one of the least connected states in the nation as a direct result.

      Even in our current hyper-tribalistic, post-truth reality, you’d have a hard time arguing that Blackburn has been anything but terrible for the health of the internet and consumer rights. Yet somehow, Blackburn just keeps getting rewarded for giving consumers the tech policy equivalent of a giant middle finger.

    • “Tickers of terror” – the crisis of Polish media as told by news crawls

      In the wake of the controversy that surrounded the 2017 Warsaw Independence Day March (which was hailed as “patriotic” by the Polish right wing press but decried as “fascist” and “xenophobic” by the Polish opposition and the international press), Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz has just announced that this year she has prohibited the event

      This does not seem to have deterred the right-wing organisers of the march however, who are threatening to demonstrate on November 11 despite the ban, while Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have announced an alternative, government-led independence march. As Poland prepares for another divisive and violent independence day holiday in 2018 (celebrating “100 years of independence”), this may be an opportune moment to reflect on the role of television coverage in the mediation of the unfolding spectacle a year ago.

      Since the Polish government took control of state media in 2016, Polish public television has been heavily criticised for its censorship practices and partisan identity. Against a backdrop of pronounced changes to the structure and audio-visual content of Polish programmes, a particularly salient example of the shift in broadcasting is the changing role of television tickers on public television.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • U.S. official says China violating 3-year-old cybertheft accord
    • China Violated Obama-Era Cybertheft Pact, U.S. Official Says
    • U.S. accuses China of violating bilateral anti-hacking agreement
    • China violated Obama-Xi cyber pact banning cyber-enabled economic espionage: NSA official
    • NSA official: China violating agreement on cyber economic espionage

      Senior National Security Agency official Rob Joyce said Thursday that he believes China is violating a 2015 agreement with the U.S. to end cyber economic espionage.

      Then-President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached a deal at the time to stop conducting cyber-enabled intellectual property theft. However, Joyce said at the Aspen Institute’s Cyber Summit on Thursday that it “is clear they are well beyond the bounds of the agreement today that was forged between our two countries.”

    • Motel 6 to pay $7.6 million for giving guest lists to U.S. immigration

      Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million to Hispanic guests to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming that it violated their privacy by regularly providing guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

    • Motel 6 Agrees To Pay $7.6 Million Settlement For Sending Guest Lists To ICE

      Motel 6 franchise owners suddenly decided it was their job to play part-time cop/immigration officer and use their paying customers as grist for the laughably-named criminal justice system. One branch began faxing guest lists to the local PD without any prompting from the recipient agency. Another decided anyone who didn’t look American (guess what that means) should be reported to ICE.

      This drew the attention of the internet. It also drew the attention of the Washington state attorney general. Finally, it drew the attention of the federal court system, but not for the reasons these self-appointed posse members expected. The chain was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging privacy violations related to the unprompted reporting of Hispanic guests to ICE.

      This is going to cost the motel chain some of its light money, as Reuters reports.

    • The Dystopian Future of Facebook

      This year Facebook filed two very interesting patents in the US. One was a patent for emotion recognition technology; which recognises human emotions through facial expressions and so can therefore assess what mood we are in at any given time-happy or anxious for example. This can be done either by a webcam or through a phone cam. The technology is relatively straight forward. Artificially intelligent driven algorithms analyses and then deciphers facial expressions, it then matches the duration and intensity of the expression with a corresponding emotion. Take contempt for example. Measured by a range of values from 0 to 100, an expression of contempt could be measured by a smirking smile, a furrowed brow and a wrinkled nose. An emotion can then be extrapolated from the data linking it to your dominant personality traits: openness, introverted, neurotic, say.

      The accuracy of the match may not be perfect, its always good to be sceptical about what is being claimed, but as AI (Artificial Intelligence) learns exponentially and the technology gets much better; it is already much, much quicker than human intelligence.

      Recently at Columbia University a competition was set up between human lawyers and their AI counterparts. Both read a series of non-disclosure agreements with loopholes in them. AI found 95% compared to 88% by humans. The human lawyers took 90 minutes to read them; AI took 22 seconds. More incredibly still, last year Google’s AlphaZero beat Stockfish 8 in chess. Stockfish 8 is an open-sourced chess engine with access to centuries of human chess experience. Yet AlphaZero taught itself using machine learning principles, free of human instruction, beating Stockfish 8 28 times and drawing 72 out of 100. It took AlphaZero four hours to independently teach itself chess. Four hours from blank slate to genius.

    • China Is Using “Gait Recognition” To Identify People By How They Walk

      We have seen some of the most bizarre usages of AI, by the Chinese surveillance system. Now, it appears like the tracking system is on an altogether new level.

    • Chinese ‘gait recognition’ tech IDs people by how they walk
    • Strange snafu misroutes domestic US Internet traffic through China Telecom

      For almost a week late last year, the improper routing caused some US domestic Internet communications to be diverted to mainland China before reaching their intended destination, Doug Madory, a researcher specializing in the security of the Internet’s global BGP routing system, told Ars. As the following traceroute from December 3, 2017 shows, traffic originating in Los Angeles first passed through a China Telecom facility in Hangzhou, China, before reaching its final stop in Washington, DC. The problematic route, which is visualized in the graphic above, was the result of China Telecom inserting itself into the inbound path of Verizon Asian Pacific.

    • Police decrypt 258,000 messages after breaking pricey IronChat crypto app

      In a statement published Tuesday, Dutch police said officers achieved a “breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication” in an investigation into money laundering. The encrypted messages, according to the statement, were sent by IronChat, an app that runs on a device that cost thousands of dollars and could send only text messages.

    • Goodbye, Cortana: Microsoft’s Javier Soltero leaves, putting the digital assistant’s future in doubt

      Soltero confirmed his decision via Twitter after ZDNet reported the story earlier on Tuesday. Microsoft representatives had not previously responded to requests for comment, but confirmed his departure after Soltero’s Twitter message.

    • Content regulation: what legal obligations for the GAFAM ?

      Last week, we explained that decentralizing the web would bring hope to organize our online exchanges democratically, to counter the hegemony of the online attention economy. Indeed, the GAFAMs are distorting our exchanges for economical reasons while propounding hateful, caricatural, violent or even paid statements… to the detriment of others. This must be fixed.
      To promote a decentralized alternative, we proposed that libre/open hosting providers (who do not impose a hierarchy of content) should no longer be subject to the same legal obligations as the giant’s ones (who do force their hierarchy of content on us).
      These legal obligations, which require an increasingly rapid censorship of “manifestly illegal” content which are notified to hosting providers, are hampering the development of the decentralized Web. Thus, we proposed that these hosting providers no longer have to bear these heavy obligations: only a judge can require them to censor content.

      Today’s question is not about these hosting providers but about the others : what obligations should be applied to the Giants ?

    • Pressure grows on Zuckerberg to attend Facebook committee hearing

      In the six months since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Zuckerberg has appeared just three times in front of legislatures: twice in the US Congress, and once in the European parliament.

      In a statement, Collins said: “His response is not good enough for my committee nor for the parliamentarians from around the world who also consider that Mark Zuckerberg has questions to answer in person. That’s why we’re inviting him once more […] It’s a call that’s growing, not diminishing.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • NPR Posits Nazis Are Recruiting All Of Our Children In Online Games With Very Little Evidence

      At this point, journalistic handwringing over the assumed dangers of video games has moved beyond annoyance levels and into the trope category. Violence, aggression, becoming sedentary, and the erosion of social skills have all been claimed to be outcomes of video games becoming a dominant choice for entertainment among the population that isn’t collecting social security checks, and all typically with little to no evidence backing it up. This has become so routine that one can almost copy and paste past responses into future arguments.

      But NPR really went full moral panic mode with a post that essentially claimed the recruitment of children into rightwing and Nazi extremist groups is a full on thing, while an actual analysis of what it relied on to make that claim reveals, well, very little of substance at all.

    • Under Trump, ICE Is Targeting Political Dissidents Like Me

      After the separation of parents and children at the US-Mexico border this summer renewed uproar over the abuses of the US immigration enforcement agencies, the call to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency charged with detentions and deportations inside the country, began to catch fire.

      People protesting ICE for the first time joined those who have been on the front lines of the fight for immigrant justice for decades. While I have been heartened by all who have joined the movement to end detentions and deportations, my own activism has come at a cost: Some leading activists like myself who have long opposed ICE now face retaliation from the agency itself, with surveillance, arrests and deportations of ICE’s opponents on the rise.

      This kind of targeting did not start with Trump. I know from documentation secured through a Freedom of Information Act request that ICE has been surveilling my actions and those of the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance, the group I helped co-found to support immigrants detained at the now-infamous Tacoma immigrant detention jail, since the Obama administration.

    • Six Women of Color Who Campaigned for Congress on Inequality and Won

      Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, after her shocker defeat of a 10-term incumbent in the June primary, strolled to victory as the new member of Congress from New York’s 14th district, earning 78 percent of the vote. At 29, she’s the youngest woman ever to hold a seat in the House.

      In the months leading up to the election, Ocasio-Cortez lent her political star power to support other candidates and to mainstream bold progressive proposals like Medicare for All, debt-free college, and raising taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

      Ocasio-Cortez also calls for carbon taxes to help speed up the transition from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewables. “Right now, the economy is controlled by big corporations whose profits are dependent on the continuation of climate change,” she said during the campaign. “This arrangement benefits few, but comes at the detriment of our planet and all its inhabitants.”

      In her acceptance speech Tuesday night, Ocasio-Cortez said, “In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, our greatest scarcity is not a lack of resources but the absence of political courage and moral imagination.”

    • Deb Haaland, One of Nation’s First Native Congresswomen, Calls for Probe of Missing Indigenous Women

      Two Native American women have made history in the midterms, becoming the nation’s first Native congresswomen. Democrat Sharice Davids won the 3rd Congressional District in Kansas, unseating Republican Kevin Yoder. In New Mexico, Democrat Deb Haaland won in the 1st Congressional District, defeating Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. They will join more than 100 women in the U.S. House of Representatives—another historic first. We speak to Deb Haaland about her plans for Congress, the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women around the country, and whether she’ll attempt to impeach Donald Trump.

    • Ex-Congresswoman Who Voted to Impeach Nixon: Trump Firing Sessions Brings Back Troubling Memories

      Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives, flipping more than two dozen seats in a historic midterm election that gives Democrats subpoena power for the first time since President Donald Trump was elected two years ago. A day after the election, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump’s firing of Sessions has led to many comparisons between Trump and former President Richard Nixon. On Wednesday, CNN’s Jake Tapper called Sessions’s ouster another chapter in “a slow-motion, multi-monthed Saturday Night Massacre.” He was referencing the infamous Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy resigned after President Richard Nixon ordered Richardson to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. We speak with Elizabeth Holtzman, former U.S. congressmember from New York who served on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Richard Nixon. Her new book, “The Case for Impeaching Trump,” is out on Monday. And we speak with David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor of law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center.

    • Bolsonaro’s Win Brings Big Dangers, but Brazil’s Left ‘More United Than Ever’

      Bolsonaro is not a “Trump of the Tropics” because, although Trump has used racist, homophobic and sexist rhetoric to generate controversy and ratings, he’s essentially a conman. He’s not someone that you get the feeling grew up believing this sort of stuff.

      Bolsonaro, on the other hand, is literally a neo-fascist who comes out of Brazil’s neo-fascist tradition.

      [US academic] Noam Chomsky and others coined the phrase neo-fascist to describe the dictatorships of Latin America, especially in Brazil, in the 1960s and ’70s.

      That’s the time in history Bolsonaro values most highly.

      He has appointed into top cabinet positions three military generals who were active during the dictatorship and his vice president is a military general.

    • New Acting Attorney General Part Of A Patent Scam Company Recently Shut Down By The FTC And Fined Millions

      Fascinating. But, getting even closer to the usual stuff that we cover on Techdirt, it also appears that Whitaker played a key role in a patent promotion scam company that was recently fined millions of dollars by the FTC. And, Whitaker apparently used his former job as an Assistant US Attorney to try to intimidate an unhappy “customer” of this firm away from filing a Better Business Bureau complaint. In other words, not only is Whitaker associated with a scammy patent marketing company, he also abused his former title in an effort to create a chilling effect on someone’s speech.

      The Miami New Times had a big article last year about the scam that was World Patent Marketing, which (of course) was based in Florida (why are so many of these scams based in Florida?).

      [...]

      Anyway, in March of 2017, the FTC filed a complaint concerning Cooper and World Patent Marketing. In May of this year, the case was closed out with the court granting a permanent injunction and monetary judgment against Cooper and World Patent Marketing. The court ordered a $26 million payment from the defendants, but also required Cooper specifically to hand over nearly $1 million from the sale of his $3.5 million home, and the rest of the judgment was suspended. There are a bunch of other stipulations in the order, requiring Cooper to accurately submit details of his business activities for many years into the future, and he is “permanently restrained and enjoined from advertising, marketing, promoting or offering for sale, or assisting in the advertising, marketing, promoting or offering for sale of any Invention Promotion Service.”

      Whitaker, it seems, was a bit player in this invention promotion scheme, but clearly was closely enough involved that he acted as a legal threat bully in at least that one case. That should certainly raise significant questions about how just a couple years later that same guy is suddenly the country’s acting Attorney General.

    • Whitaker on Patent Marketing

      Following up on the patent experience of US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Although not a patent attorney, Whitaker has been a board member of the now defunct invention promotion scam World Patent Marketing. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit against the company, won a preliminary injunction against its ongoing business, and then a consent decree for $27 million in judgments and injunction against ongoing business. (Apparently at least $24 million is gone and not being repaid.)

      [...]

      Whitaker was not prosecuted by the FTC and was not named in either the preliminary injunction or the consent decree. Unlike other board members, Whitaker has not returned the cash he received in the scheme and has made no public statement regarding his role or the scam. My hope is that the AG will have learned from this experience, however his ongoing silence on the issue is troubling.

    • Jeff Sessions’ Successor Had Advised Company Accused of Scam

      Matthew Whitaker, appointed acting attorney general on Wednesday after Jeff Sessions resigned, was a paid advisory-board member of an invention-promotion company shut down by federal regulators last year as an alleged scam.

    • The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Agenda for the New Congress

      Oregonians defeated an anti-immigrant ballot measure, reaffirming no one should be targeted based on the color of their skin, their accent, or their perceived immigration status.

    • Fierce Critic of Mueller Probe Now Has Power to Sabotage the Investigation

      The day after the midterm elections, Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointed Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Whitaker, who has criticized the Mueller probe in the past, could fire Mueller or defang his investigation.

      Although Sessions was faithfully carrying out Trump’s draconian agenda on civil rights, immigration and policing, the president had Sessions in his sights since the latter recused himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017. Sessions’s recusal resulted from his failure to disclose at his confirmation hearing that he met with Russian officials when he was a Trump campaign advisor in 2016. The recusal paved the way for the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

      Champing at the bit to fire Sessions, Trump was convinced by his advisers to wait until after the midterms to avoid harming GOP candidates.

      Sessions’s recusal infuriated Trump because it resulted in Rosenstein appointing Mueller in May 2017. Mueller has been methodically following his mandate to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Nintendo awarded damages and injunction against public road go-karting with Mario costume

      On September 27 2018, Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of the claim by Nintendo against a company which had lent costumes of Nintendo’s game characters such as Mario to make its customers ride a go-kart on public road under the name of “MariCar”. The defendant appealed to IP High Court the next day, September 28.

    • Copyrights
      • An Immodest Proposal for the Music Industry [Ed: Doc Searls means recording industry, not music industry. The recording conglomerates merely exploit musicians; they're merely distribution channels]

        They want to solve this by lobbying: “The value gap is now the industry’s single highest legislative priority as it seeks to create a level playing field for the digital market and secure the future of the industry.” This has worked before. Revenues from streaming and performance rights owe a lot to royalty and copyright rates and regulations guided by the industry.

      • Romanian ISPs to Block The Pirate Bay Following Hollywood Complaint

        The campaign to have The Pirate Bay blocked worldwide has taken another step forward. Several Hollywood studios including Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Sony, Paramount, Universal, and Columbia, have obtained a court order in Romania that forces several local ISPs to restrict access to the site. Two other sites, FilmeHD and FilmeOnline, will also be targeted.

      • AT&T disconnects whole families from the internet because someone in their house is accused of copyright infringement

        The [I]nternet is not a video-on-demand service, it’s the nervous system of the 21st century. Terminating someone from the internet terminates their access to family, education, employment, civic and political engagement, health care information, and virtually everything else we use to measure whether a society is functioning well for its citizens.

Microsoft is Supporting Patent Trolls, Still. New Leadership at USPTO Gives Room for Concern.

Thursday 8th of November 2018 12:58:41 PM

Summary: New statements from Microsoft’s management (Andersen) serve to show that Microsoft hasn’t really changed; it’s just trying to sell “Azure IP Advantage”, hoping that enough patent trolls with their dubious software patents will blackmail GNU/Linux users into adopting Azure for ‘protection’

THIS morning we wrote four articles about the European Patent Office (EPO), but we haven’t lost sight of American matters, which we typically cover in the weekend due to lack of time. Yesterday we wrote about the aggressive past (arguably patent trolling) of the new Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This past of hers has been mentioned in IPPro Patents coverage that yesterday noted “Peter was also previously vice president and general counsel of Immersion Corporation, where, among other legal roles, she led its IP portfolio.”

Immersion Corporation is a patent aggressor that many out there have also dubbed “patent troll”. Peter’s boss/superior is another person who comes from a questionable background and was likely appointed because of nepotism. So what on Earth is going on? It’s not hard to see who benefits (cui bono).

The Microsoft-friendly and Microsoft-sponsored IAM (it is also sponsored by Microsoft’s patent trolls) has just quoted/paraphrased Microsoft’s patent chief Andersen as saying: “more valuable for us to essentially license our patents through Open Invention And LOT Networks than to try to license them on our own…”

What on Earth does that even mean? Can that be interpreted as Microsoft using OIN to just tax/cross-license with software patents? Remember that Microsoft staff was forbidden from commenting on it. That can only mean that Microsoft is hiding something.

Microsoft, morever, supports the terrible Director who supports patent trolls. Quoting IAM’s tweet: “Andersen on PTO Director Iancu – I’m a fan, he’s doing a super job. One of things we’ve told him is importance of getting certainty back particularly post-Alice. PTO has a role to play in giving us more clarity and I think he’s taken that to heart…”

That doesn’t inspire a positive view of Microsoft’s ‘new’ policy or strategy, which also involves selling ‘protection’ from its patent trolls through Azure (they call it “Azure IP Advantage” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]). Microsoft uses OIN and LOT Networks to actively promote this racket.

EPO Stacking up Buzzwords (4IR, AI, Now SDV) to Compel Examiners to Grant Patents on Algorithms

Thursday 8th of November 2018 12:25:04 PM

Summary: Instead of looking for ways to better obey the law and comply with the EPC, President Campinos is creating new loopholes, further lowering patent quality in order to fake ‘growth’

FRENCHMAN (dual national) António Campinos has brought promotion of software patents in Europe to unprecedented levels. The European Patent Office (EPO) promotes such patents about twice or thrice a day, on average. We never saw anything quite so grotesque under Battistelli. In that regard, namely scope/quality of patents, Campinos seems to be even worse than Battistelli (and that’s just the start of his term; it can get a lot worse in years to come).

“Self-driving vehicle technologies are progressing strongly,” the EPO wrote yesterday, citing its very own study (“a new EPO study confirms”). It’s like another one of those Battistelli ‘studies’; has much actually changed since Battistelli left? Maybe only the buzzwords. Battistelli kept saying “4IR”; now they have a new three-letter buzzword, SDV, to obsses over. This typically means software patents pertaining to something inside the car (like those infamous “over the Internet” or “on a phone” patents).

It didn’t take long for the EPO to also tweet: “@RobertaRomanoG, COO for Mobility & Mechatronics at the EPO, spoke on the panel debate of the #EUCAR conference about the recently published study on trends in #selfdriving vehicle innovation…”

For all we can see/gather, EPO staff hates her. It’s hard to forget that Roberta is a career climber close to Battistelli. She allegedly defended his abuses and corruption [1, 2] — something for which people get rewarded at the Office. In other words, the only/best way to get a raise/promotion is to be evil and potentially complicit in criminal activities.

“The number of European patent applications related to autonomous driving has grown 20 times faster than other technologies in recent years, an EPO study has found,” Michael Loney wrote in order to help the EPO’s propaganda that tries to pass off patents on algorithms, i.e. bogus software patents, as "cars" something. Loney writes for a patent maximalists’ publication that has historically been close to Battistelli.

There’s similar coverage this week not just in English (e.g. in Heise). To give another example which is in English, consider World Intellectual Property Review’s (WIPR) participation in this latest stunt:

The number of European patent applications related to autonomous driving has grown 20 times faster than filings for other technologies in recent years, according to a study by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Council for Automotive R&D.

A release shared by the EPO yesterday, November 7, said that the statistics may “signal the coming of a transport revolution”.

The study, titled “Patents and self-driving vehicles”, showed that between 2011 and 2017, patent filings at the EPO relating to autonomous driving increased by 330%. However, filings directed to all other technologies in the same period rose by just 16%.

Over the past decade, the EPO said it has received approximately 18,000 patent applications related to self-driving vehicles; almost 4,000 filings were made in 2017 alone.

So EPO management can now pressure examiners to grant abstract patents if these have something to do with a car. As of one week ago, new guidelines came into effect which put similar pressure on examiners, instructing them to grant software parents if the applicant says “AI”. The National Law Review has just published this ‘ad’ of Michael T. Renaud and Marguerite McConihe (Mintz); they’re the latest of many to exploit EPO abuses to market software patents disguised as “AI”. The ‘ad’ is disguided as information:

On November 1, 2018, the European Patent Office (“EPO”) issued new guidelines for the patentability of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and machine learning (“ML”) inventions which indicate that applications within this subject matter may be treated as largely unpatentable. The new guidelines, G-II 3.3.1, provide that AI and ML are “based on computational models and algorithms for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction, such as neural networks, genetic algorithms, support vector machines, k-means, kernel regression and discriminant analysis.” These “computational models and algorithms” are, according to the guidelines, “per se of an abstract mathematical nature.”

Mathematical methods and purely abstract mathematical concepts are generally excluded from patentability under EPO guidelines. Chapter 3 of the EPO Guidelines for Examination provide the “List of Exclusions,” which includes the exclusion for claims based on mathematical methods in section G-II 3.3. That the AI and ML guidance is provided within this section, as G-II 3.3.1, indicates that claims based on this subject matter will likely face default exclusion from patentability.

They are again (mis)using buzzwords to work around the law and violate the EPC. Another term they like to abuse is “blockchain”, which very obviously refers to algorithms. The EPO has resorted to promoting these fake patents using hype waves. Here’s a tweet from yesterday: “The Office is organising a conference on patenting #blockchain. Among other things, we’ll be discussing the future implications of blockchain #patents for society. Sign up for free here: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 pic.twitter.com/PNll8H3wqp”

So that’s the EPO in a nutshell: it just doesn’t care what the law says, it always tries to work around it.

EPO Needs to Publicly Apologise for Granting Bogus/Fake Patents to Aggressive Companies Like Monsanto (Now Bayer)

Thursday 8th of November 2018 11:46:20 AM

Battistelli era patents



Summary: Admission of patents being granted in error and/or against public interest may be a step towards acceptance that there is a problem; EPO management, however, keeps quiet about it

THE quality of European Patents (EPs) is low. António Campinos takes it even lower by openly promoting software patents in Europe — a subject we’ll cover in our next post. How about patents on life and nature? Both the European Patent Office (EPO) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are guilty in this regard. Both grant monopolies on these things which aren’t even inventions.

“EPs were once known for legal certainty; nowadays, upon close enough scrutiny, many can be invalidated.”Belatedly (years late) the EPO admit there’s a problem. It revokes patents. It has no choice. IEG Policy wrote about it, but the European Patent Office (EPO) did not say anything in its Web site, a tweet etc. Maybe they hope nobody will notice; why was such a patent granted in the first place? A lot of anger and a petition led to this.

“EPO revokes controversial broccoli” was the headline from IPPro Patents, which to its credit began writing about EPO scandals about a year ago. Now it covers this wake-up call about EPO granting lousy patents and correcting only after immense public/outside pressure. To quote:

The patent, which was granted to Monsanto in 2013 and later sold to Bayer, covered plant, seeds and harvested severed broccoli heads that grow slightly higher in order to ease harvesting. An opposition to the patent was originally filed in 2014.

No Patents on Seeds protested the patent by erecting the “largest broccoli in the world” outside of the EPO building in Munich. A petition with around 75,000 signatures supporting opposition to the patent was also handed over.

The EPO introduced new rules for examination in 2017, which mean that patents on animals and plants can no longer be granted if they are derived from conventional breeding using methods like crossing and selection. European law prohibits patents on plant varieties and animal varieties.

Why has the EPO not said anything about it? Instead it produced some puff piece about WIPO a few days ago, soon to be repeated by patent maximalists who write:

The European Patent Office has now decided to participate in WIPO’s Digital Access Service (DAS) for the exchange of certified copies of priority documents from 1st November 2018.

DAS supports the automatic electronic exchange of priority documents within participating patent offices (participating Offices). Applicants may request the Office of First Filing (OFF) to make certified copies of previously filed patent applications available to the DAS system and then request Offices of Second Filing (OSF) to retrieve the copies via DAS.

The purpose of DAS is to establish a cost- and time-effective electronic system for processing and exchanging priority documents within participating Offices, by relieving the applicant of the need to submit the documents to the OSF.

What good are these if EPO guidelines have been perturbed to allow abstract patents and examiners are subjected to unrealistic demands which deny them access to sufficient evidence, e.g. prior art?

The EPO is still going in a very dark direction. EPs were once known for legal certainty; nowadays, upon close enough scrutiny, many can be invalidated. It can devastate companies.

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