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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 19 min ago

Links 19/1/2018: Linux Journalism Fund, Grsecurity is SLAPPing Again

Friday 19th of January 2018 09:56:09 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • $25k Linux Journalism Fund

    Linux Journal’s new parent, Private Internet Access, has established a $25k fund to jump-start the next generation of Linux journalism—and to spend it here, where Linux journalism started in 1994.

    This isn’t a contest, and there are no rules other than the ones that worked for journalism before it starting drowning in a sea of “content”.

  • Private Internet Access and Linux Journal set up $25,000 fund to reward experienced and aspiring writers
  • NHS used Linux project to negotiate with Microsoft: claim

    Britain’s National Health Service appears to have used a project set up to create a Linux alternative for its employees’ smartcards — and later, hopefully, a desktop alternative to Windows — to bargain with Microsoft and obtain an enterprise-wide desktop deal.

  • Desktop
    • Introducing my new friend: a Slimbook

      I have been following Slimbook for some time now. As you probably know, they ship a KDE laptop that is very cool, with KDE Neon pre-installed. They have attended to a couple of events I have attended to so I have been able to test their laptops, get feedback from buyers and ask them questions directly. The fact that they are a Spanish company was a beautiful surprise, We do not have that many hardware integrators and vendors in Spain.

      But what definitely caught my attention was the fact that they pay a lot of attention to the software. They ship the laptops with Linux pre-installed. Ok, that is not new any more. But they do pre-install several different distros. Now, that’s uncommon. But news do not stop there.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • Android Support Removed from Intel Graphics Driver Debugging Tool for Linux

        For those unfamiliar with intel-gpu-tools, it’s a collection of tools for GNU/Linux distribution that allows the debugging the official Intel graphics driver for Intel GPUs. Tools include a GPU hang dumping program, performance microbenchmarks for regression testing the DRM, as well as a performance monitor.

        The latest release, intel-gpu-tools 1.21, adds quite a bunch of changes, including automatic loading of DRM modules when opening a DRM device, much-improved GPU quiescing code to more thoroughly flush pending work and old data, as well as production support for the Meson build system while automake is still kept around.

      • X.Org Server Finally Adapted To Better Deal With 16:9 & 16:10 Displays

        In 2018 the X.Org Server will introduce better support for 16:9 and 16:10 ratio monitors!

        While 16:9 has been the most common aspect ratios for TVs and monitors for about the past decade and 16:10 ratio displays were popular in the early 2000′s, the X.Org Server is finally being adapted in moving past the time of being focused on supporting 4:3 aspect ratio CRT monitors.

    • Benchmarks
      • 16-Way Graphics Card Comparison With Radeon On ROCm, NVIDIA With Initial 2018 Linux Drivers

        Towards the end of December AMD quietly released ROCm 1.7.60 as the newest version of their Radeon Open Compute stack complete with their maturing OpenCL implementation. With the improvements there plus NVIDIA recently introducing their 390 Linux driver series (390.12 Beta currently), I ran some fresh Linux OpenCL GPU compute benchmarks on a variety of AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards for those curious how the current performance stacks up.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME Photos App Improves Its Editing Tools

        The next stable release of GNOME Photos includes a number of core improvements, including new photo editing features. As a Shotwell alternative Photos is …Well, it’s getting there. It handles the basics well enough, letting you import and browse photos, sort them into albums, and share them via email.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Educational-Oriented Escuelas Linux 5.6 Distro Released with LibreOffice 6.0

        Based on the latest release of the Ubuntu-based and Enlightenment-focused Bodhi Linux operating system, Escuelas Linux 5.6 is powered by the Linux 4.14.13 kernel, which includes patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, and comes with a bunch of up-to-date educational apps.

        These include the OnlyOffice 4.8.6 office suite (only for the 64-bit edition), Vivaldi 1.13, Chromium 63, Google Chrome 63, and Mozilla Firefox 57 “Quantum” web browsers, Geogebra 5.0.414 geometry, algebra, statistics, and calculus app, latest Adobe Flash Player 28 plugin, and the upcoming LibreOffice 6.0 open-source office suite.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat global survey finds field services operations bullish on emerging technologies

        For many industries, from transportation to utilities, manufacturing and more, field workers are pivotal to the success of business operations, the satisfaction of customers, and the growth of the bottom line. Field workers are now at the forefront of digital transformation where artificial intelligence (AI), smart mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and business process management (BPM) technologies have created new opportunities to better streamline and transform traditional workflows and workforce management practices.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora Makes Progress On Their New Modularity Concept

          After abandoning their Fedora Server 27 Modular Edition work last year, Fedora developers interested in modularizing Fedora packaging have drawn up new plans that are now approved by the Fedora Council.

          At Wednesday’s Fedora Council meeting, the new Fedora modularization plan was approved. The goal outlined by “Objective: Fedora Modularization — The Release” is “Modularity will transform the all-in-one Fedora OS into an operating system plus a module repository, which will contain a wide selection of software easily maintained by packagers. This iteration of the Objective focuses on the second part — providing a wide selection software in various versions — while laying the groundwork for the first.”

          The new Fedora Modular plans no longer involve modularizing the entire distribution but rather “traditionally built packages” will remain and only components benefiting from modular features would be modularized. The components targeted are things like database servers, web servers, Node.js, etc, where users may prefer sticking to one particular version of a program and not upgrade until it’s end-of-life or has other particular reasons to want to move on to a newer version.

        • PHP version 7.1.14RC1 and 7.2.2RC1
    • Debian Family
      • Google moves to Debian for in-house Linux desktop

        Google has officially confirmed the company is shifting its in-house Linux desktop from the Ubuntu-based Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the DebianTesting-based gLinux.

        Margarita Manterola, a Google Engineer, quietly announced Google would move from Ubuntu to Debian-testing for its desktop Linux at DebConf17 in a lightning talk. Manterola explained that Google was moving to gLinux, a rolling release based on Debian Testing.

      • Building packages with Meson and Debhelper version level 11 for Debian stretch-backports

        Enforce the build to pull-in meson from stretch-backports, i.e. a meson version that is newer than 0.40.0.

      • Not being perfect
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Wants to Stick to Older Nautilus for Desktop Icons in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            As you may be aware, upstream GNOME team decided to remove the handling of desktop icons from the Nautilus file manager, moving it to the GNOME Shell user interface through an extension. The change will take effect with the upcoming GNOME 3.28 desktop environment, due for release on March 14, 2018.

            Now that Ubuntu switched to GNOME as default desktop environment, the change will affect all upcoming releases of the operating system, starting with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), which is currently under heavy development.

          • Slack comes to Linux as a snap

            Slack’s ambition to become the default, go-to place for employees chat to each other and link into hundreds of other applications to get work done is getting one more step up today by becoming available on a new platform. From today, Slack will be available as a Snap, an application package that’s available across a range of open-source-based Linux environments.

          • Slack now available as a Snap for Linux

            At the end of last year, the Linux desktop scored a huge win when Spotify became available as a Snap. If you aren’t familiar with Snaps, please know that they are essentially software packages designed to run as a container on any Linux distro. Not only does it make installing software packages easier for users, but it makes things simpler for developers too. Ultimately, Snaps have the potential to solve the big fragmentation problem in the Linux desktop community.

          • Slack Is Now Available as a Snap for Ubuntu and Other Linux Distros

            Canonical and Slack announced today that the popular Slack team collaboration and communication platform is now available as a Snap for Ubuntu and other Snappy-enabled GNU/Linux distributions.

            With the promise of making your working life simpler, more productive and pleasant, Slack is used by numerous organizations and businesses to increase the productivity of their employees. It’s an all-in-one platform that offers messaging, planning, calendaring, budgeting, code reviewing, and many other tools.

            “Slack brings team communication and collaboration into one place so you can get more work done, whether you belong to a large enterprise or a small business. Check off your to-do list and move your projects forward by bringing the right people, conversations, tools, and information you need together,” reads project’s page.

          • Canonical brings Slack to the snap ecosystem

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, today announced the first iteration of Slack as a snap, bringing collaboration to open source users.

            Slack is an enterprise software platform that allows teams and businesses of all sizes to communicate effectively. Slack works seamlessly with other software tools within a single integrated environment, providing an accessible archive of an organisation’s communications, information and projects.

            In adopting the universal Linux app packaging format, Slack will open its digital workplace up to an-ever growing community of Linux users, including those using Linux Mint, Manjaro, Debian, ArchLinux, OpenSUSE, Solus, and Ubuntu.

          • Want to Install Slack on Ubuntu? It’s Now Easier Than Ever

            You can easily install Slack on Ubuntu as a Snap application from the Ubuntu Software app. The popular app lets people chat and collaborate in realtime.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • SBC kit runs Linux on a quad -A53 i.MX8M SoC

      CompuLab released details and pricing for its “SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit.” The sandwich-style SBC includes an i.MX8M-based CL-SOM-iMX8 module, and provides WiFi, BT, GbE, USB 3.0, PCIe, HDMI 2.0, and more.

      Earlier this week when we reported on CompuLab’s CL-SOM-iMX8 compute module, there were only a few details on the board’s SBC-iMX8 Evaluation Kit. Now, Compulab has posted a product page and a price, which for single units including the COM, start at $415.

    • RF-enabled Raspberry Pi add-on brings Google Assistant to gizmos, speakers, and robots

      JOY-iT and Elector have launched a $42 “Talking Pi” RPi add-on that enables Google Home/AIY compatible voice activation of home automation devices linked to the Pi’s GPIO, and includes a mic board, PWM servo controls, and support for a 433MHz SRD radio.

      Elektor has begun selling a $42, open source voice control add-on board that is programmable via the Google Assistant SDK. Built by Germany based JOY-iT, and marketed by Conrad Business Supplies, the RF-enabled Talking Pi enables voice control of home automation equipment such as smart lights, power sockets, and other gizmos via addressable extensions to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Jio is committed to use open source technology: Akash Ambani

    Speaking at the India Digital Open Summit 2018, Akash Ambani, Director of Reliance Jio Infocomm, said that open source is very important for his company.

    “The year 2017 was the tipping point for AR and VR globally. In India, AR and VR are in the initial stages of adoption but at Jio, we believe it will grow at a 50 percent compounded rate for the next five years,” Akash said.

    He also spoke on the evolution of artificial intelligence and blockchain.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • VMware and Pivotal’s PKS Distribution Marries Kubernetes with BOSH [Ed: It looks like Swapnil Bhartiya has been reduced to Microsoft propaganda and other openwashing puff pieces sponsored by proprietary software giants. We have given up on several writers who used to support GNU/Linux. Seeing their activity, it seems as though they ended up with neither gigs nor credibility (used to get far more writing assignments from LF, often for Microsoft openwashing).]
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Linux’s Grsecurity dev team takes blog ‘libel’ fight to higher court

      Open Source Security, Inc., the maker of the Grsecurity Linux kernel patches, suffered a setback last month when San Francisco magistrate judge Laurel Beeler granted a motion by defendant Bruce Perens to dismiss the company’s defamation claim, with the proviso that the tossed legal challenge could be amended.

      The code biz and its president Brad Spengler sued Perens over a blog post in June in which Perens said that using the firm’s Grsecurity software could expose customers to a contributory infringement claim under the terms of the Linux kernel’s GPLv2 license.

      Open Source Security contends that statement has damaged its business.

    • Israel’s Information and Communications Technology Authority Bows to Pressure to Comply with Affero GPL

      Under pressure from open source advocates, the Israeli Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Authority recently shared its first open source software, extensions made by the ICT Authority to the CKAN data portal platform to help make the platform usable in Hebrew.

      The CKAN software is an open source data portal platform used since 2016 by the ICT Authority to make Israeli government data open and available on its government database website. The CKAN software is licensed under the GNU AGPL Version 3 license, an “ultra-strong” open source license that requires users of modified versions of CKAN software to offer its source code, even in the absence of distribution, to users interacting with software over the Internet.

    • Xiaomi Violating GPL 2.0 License With Mi A1 Kernel Sources

      Xiaomi is in violation of the GPL 2.0 license of the Linux Kernel project by still not releasing the kernel sources for the Mi A1 Android One and has been publicly criticized on the matter by established Android developer Francisco Franco earlier this week. While the smartphone was released in September and the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer’s official policy is to publicize kernel sources for its devices within three months of their market launch, the Android One edition of the Mi A1 remains undetailed in this regard. Mr. Franco — best known for his work on the Franco Kernel, one of the most popular custom OS cores in the Android ecosystem — had some harsh words for the company on Twitter, calling its laidback approach to publicizing the kernel sources for the Mi A1 “an embarrassment” for the open source community and the type of software it allows it to create its commercial devices in the first place.

  • Programming/Development
    • Hehe, still writing code for a living? It’s 2018. You could be earning x3 as a bug bounty hunter

      Ethical hacking to find security flaws appears to pay better, albeit less regularly, than general software engineering.

      And while payment remains one of the top rationales for breaking code, hackers have begun citing more civic-minded reasons for their activities.

      A survey of 1,700 bug bounty hunters from more than 195 countries and territories by security biz HackerOne, augmented by the company’s data on 900 bug bounty programs, has found that white-hat hackers earn a median salary that’s 2.7 times that of typical software engineers in their home countries.

      In some places, the gap is far more pronounced. In India, for example, hackers make as much as 16 times the median programmer salary. In the US, they earn 2.4 times the median.

Leftovers
  • China’s two-child policy has already stopped working

    When China officially ended its one-child policy in 2015, couples promptly heeded the call and had a lot more babies. Under its new two-child policy, China recorded 18.46 million births in 2016—the highest since 2000—with almost half of those babies having at least one older sibling.

    But in 2017, the number of live births fell 3.5% to 17.23 million from the year before, according to data released by the government. About half of them were second children in the family. The reason for the decline was attributed to a decrease in the number of women of fertile age and more women delaying marriage and pregnancy (paywall).

    [...]

    China’s working-age population has been falling since 2012, and the government warns of a “sharp decline” after 2030. A rapidly aging population will also put huge strain on the country’s social services.

  • Science
    • Using crumpled graphene balls to make better batteries

      Lithium metal-based batteries have the potential to turn the battery industry upside down. With the theoretically ultra-high capacity of lithium metal used by itself, this new type of battery could power everything from personal devices to cars.

    • Bullets and bombs on China’s high-speed rail network

      Christened Fuxing, which means “renaissance” or “rejuvenation” in Mandarin, the bullet trains will be able to cruise at 400 kilometres per hour and will replace the slower Hexie (“harmony”) locomotives on the nation’s sprawling 22,000 km high-speed rail network.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Heading Off Global Action On Access To Medicines In 2018

      At the dawn of 2018, political and health leaders must seize the growing momentum and opportunities to tackle the protracted challenges of access to medicines that undermines efforts to save lives and improve health as committed under the Agenda 2030 SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] by all UN member states.

    • Angered by high prices and shortages, hospitals will form their own generic drug maker

      A

      Angered by rising prices and persistent shortages of generic drugs, four of the nation’s largest hospital systems are forming a new, not-for-profit manufacturer.

      The new company plans to either directly make or subcontract manufacturing to combat “capricious and unfair pricing practices” that are damaging the generic drug market and hurting consumers, according to a statement from the four hospital groups — Intermountain Healthcare, Ascension, SSM Health, and Trinity Health, which together run more than 300 hospitals.

      “It’s an ambitious plan,” said Dr. Marc Harrison, chief executive officer and president of Intermountain Healthcare, which is leading the initiative, “but healthcare systems are in the best position to fix the problems in the generic drug market. … We are confident we can improve the situation for our patients by bringing much needed competition to the generic drug market.”

    • U.S. court invalidates J&J cancer drug patent, hitting UK’s BTG

      A U.S. administrative court invalidated a Johnson & Johnson patent on its blockbuster prostate cancer drug Zytiga, bringing rivals closer to selling generic versions and hitting shares in its British partner BTG Plc .

      The Patent Trial and Appeal Board said a Johnson & Johnson patent describing a method of administering Zytiga should not have been granted because the process it described was obvious.

      Wednesday’s ruling was a victory for U.S. generic drug company Argentum Pharmaceuticals LLC, which had asked the board to invalidate the patent in the hope of being able to bring its own version to market.

    • Senate committee approves Trump pick for Health Secretary who vowed to tackle ‘gaming’ of the patent system

      But, even if Azar is unlikely to push for radical reforms, his words – coming as they do from a former branded pharmaceuticals chief – reflect the extent to which drug prices, and especially market exclusivity for pharmaceuticals, are under the political spotlight in the US at present. Whether or not Azar clears the final hurdle to become Health and Human Services Secretary, that seems unlikely to change – and one day, perhaps not too far into the distance, that might mean we see developments that could have a significant impact on the market where many big pharma patent owners tend to make most of their money.

    • Industry Alliance Report: Companies Invest In AMR R&D, Need More Pull Incentives

      According to a press release of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), in 2016, 22 Alliance companies invested at least US$2 billion in research and development, and more than two out of three Alliance companies have strategies, policies or plans in place to improve access to their AMR-relevant products.

  • Security
    • CentOS Linux 7 and 6 Users Receive New Microcode Updates for Intel and AMD CPUs

      CentOS developers released new microcode updates for Intel and AMD processors for the CentOS Linux 7 and 6 operating system series to revert to the previous microcode update.

      CentOS Linux is an open-source, free, enterprise-class, and community-supported operating system based on and compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As such, it regularly receives new important security updates as soon as they are released upstream by Red Hat.

    • Ubuntu Preparing Kernel Updates With IBRS/IBPB For Spectre Mitigation

      Canonical has rolled out Spectre Variant One and Spectre Variant Two mitigation to their proposed repository with updated kernels for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS / 16.04 LTS / 17.10. These kernels with IBRS and IBPB added in will be sent down as stable release updates next week.

    • Canonical Invites Ubuntu Users to Test Kernel Patches for Spectre Security Flaw

      Canonical has released preliminary kernel updates to mitigate both variants of the Spectre security vulnerability in all supported Ubuntu Linux operating systems, including all official flavors.

      The company promised last week that it would release new kernel updates on Monday, January 15, 2018, for all supported Ubuntu releases. But it didn’t happen as they needed more time to thoroughly test and prepare the patches that would presumably address variant 1 and 2 of the Spectre exploit, which is harder to fix than Meltdown, so that it won’t cause any issues.

    • Purism Progress Report, Spectre Mitigation for Ubuntu, Malicious Chrome Extensions and More

      Canonical has made Spectre Variant One and Spectre Variant Two mitigation availble in Ubuntu Proposed with updated kernels for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, 16.04 LTS and 17.10. Those kernels will be in the stable release updates starting January 22, 2018. See ubuntu insights for more information.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Security From Whom, Indeed
    • Firefox locks down its future with HTTPS ‘secure contexts’
    • EFF and Lookout Uncover New Malware Espionage Campaign Infecting Thousands Around the World

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and mobile security company Lookout have uncovered a new malware espionage campaign infecting thousands of people in more than 20 countries. Hundreds of gigabytes of data has been stolen, primarily through mobile devices compromised by fake secure messaging clients.

      The trojanized apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, function like the legitimate apps and send and receive messages normally. However, the fake apps also allow the attackers to take photos, retrieve location information, capture audio, and more.

    • Four Malicious Google Chrome Extensions Affect 500K Users
    • Latest Fedora 27 Linux Updated Live ISOs Ship with Meltdown and Spectre Patches

      Fedora ambassador and founder of the Fedora Unity project Ben Williams announced the release of a new set of updated live ISO images for the Fedora 27 Linux operating system.

      The F27-20180112 respin live installation images are now available, including the Linux 4.14.13-300 kernel with patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, as well as all the latest software updates and security fixes.

    • Some thoughts on Spectre and Meltdown

      Contrast that with what happened this time around. Google discovered a problem and reported it to Intel, AMD, and ARM on June 1st. Did they then go around contacting all of the operating systems which would need to work on fixes for this? Not even close. FreeBSD was notified the week before Christmas, over six months after the vulnerabilities were discovered. Now, FreeBSD can occasionally respond very quickly to security vulnerabilities, even when they arise at inconvenient times — on November 30th 2009 a vulnerability was reported at 22:12 UTC, and on December 1st I provided a patch at 01:20 UTC, barely over 3 hours later — but that was an extremely simple bug which needed only a few lines of code to fix; the Spectre and Meltdown issues are orders of magnitude more complex.

    • Menacing Malware Shows the Dangers of Industrial System Sabotage

      At the S4 security conference on Thursday, researchers from the industrial control company Schneider Electric, whose equipment Triton targeted, presented deep analysis of the malware—only the third recorded cyberattack against industrial equipment. Hackers [sic] were initially able to introduce malware into the plant because of flaws in its security procedures that allowed access to some of its stations, as well as its safety control network.

    • 25 per cent of hackers don’t report bugs due to lack of disclosure policies

      One of the standout discoveries was that almost 25 per cent of respondents said they were unable to disclose a security flaw because the bug-ridden company in question lacked a vulnerability disclosure policy (VDP).

    • ‘Professional’ hack [sic] on Norwegian health authority compromises data of three million patients [iophk: "Windows TCO"]
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • FBI Whistleblower on Pierre Omidyar and His Campaign to Neuter Wikileaks

      FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds asserts Pierre Omidyar decided to create The Intercept to not only take ownership of the Snowden leaks but also to continue his blockade against WikiLeaks and create a “honey trap” for whistleblowers.

      [...]

      Lee has also claimed that Assange is a “Putin fanboy” who doesn’t care “about government transparency if the government in question is Russia,” even though WikiLeaks has published information damaging to the Russian government while Putin was president. Lee also intimated that Assange may have a direct relationship to the Kremlin, an outlandish claim for which there is no basis.

      [...]

      Sibel Edmonds, FBI whistleblower and founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, told MintPress News that the FPF has a reputation for being a “very, very partisan organization and populated with ideologues.” She further asserted that the “number one reason” for the FPF’s decision was directly related to Wikileaks’ releases in 2016, namely the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Facebook top choice for Philippines wildlife traders: Watchdog

      “This magnitude of commerce in live wild animals online is just mind-boggling,” said Serene Chng, TRAFFIC’s programme officer for South-east Asia.

    • Infiniti says it will go ‘all electric’

      Infiniti, the luxury brand of Japanese automaker Nissan, will start phasing out gas-powered vehicles in 2021 and switch to “all electrified” models, the maker’s new CEO Hiroto Saikawa said Tuesday afternoon.

      Making an appearance at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit — his first in the U.S. since succeeding Carlos Ghosn as Nissan Motor Co. CEO last April — Saikawa also suggested that the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance could look to add a fourth partner.

      “Infiniti will have a specific focus on electrification,” said Saikawa, adding, “We are trying to position Infiniti as the premier electrified brand” as part of the five-year Nissan business plan that will extend through 2022.

  • Finance
    • Corbyn on Carillion: we’ll end outsourcing ‘racket’ in rule change

      Labour will call a halt to the “outsourcing racket” exposed by Carillion’s collapse, by tearing up procurement rules to make the public sector the default choice for providing government services, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed.

      Carillion’s collapse has emboldened Corbyn to press home his message that Labour rejects the “dogma of privatisation”.

    • The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought

      A year ago, before the investor lawsuits and the federal investigations, before the mass resignations, and before the connotation of the word “Uber” shifted from “world’s most valuable startup” to “world’s most dysfunctional,” Uber’s executives sat around a hotel conference room table in San Francisco, trying to convince their chief executive officer, Travis Kalanick, that the company had a major problem: him.

    • Forget banks, in 2018 you’ll pay through Amazon and Facebook
    • Majority back continued single market membership after Brexit, new poll finds

      The majority of Britons would support remaining in the single market and customs union post-Brexit, a new opinion poll suggests.

      Some 60 per cent of those surveyed said they backed remaining in the single market, with 24 per cent neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 16 per cent opposed.

      The BMG Research poll for website Left Foot Forward found that 57 per cent said the UK should remain a member of the customs union, with 16 per cent said it should leave.

      The survey was carried out before French President Emmanuel Macron warned that a post-Brexit free trade agreement would not provide full access to the single market for financial services at the same level as that offered to members.

    • Power will always trump mutual interest in the Brexit talks

      Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.

      https://www.ft.com/content/7641d1f8-fc2e-11e7-9b32-d7d59aace167

      Politicians in London are looking on the bright side of the Brexit negotiations. The phase one deal in December showed agreement was possible and ministers have stopped issuing the empty threat that they were happy with “no deal”. In Germany last week, chancellor Philip Hammond described the negotiations as a “courtship”. Dangling the carrot of easy access to the British consumer in front of the EU27, an ally of the prime minister says “economics are going to come to the fore now”.

      The specific theory this official had in mind was one of constrained optimisation. Britain’s red lines are inviolable: it wants to be out of the single market, giving it regulatory freedom and immigration control; it wants to leave the customs union to allow autonomy in trading agreements; and it wants to end net contributions to the EU budget. Accepting those constraints, the optimisation part is for the EU27 to seek the best deal compatible with the UK’s stipulations.

      London envisages that economic considerations will dictate the answer. The result will be close to frictionless borders for goods but not people, mutual recognition of regulations and the UK continuing to sell services into the single market almost as now. Anything less would involve the EU shooting itself unnecessarily in the foot, it deduces.

    • Everything you need to know about the Brexit endgame in five minutes

      Things are going OK, right? We’ve got that first-phase agreement. Next they’ll talk transition and then a trade deal. Maybe everything’s going to be alright.

      Hah, you poor fool. No, we’re still screwed. Take a closer look at that first-phase agreement. It’s a tremendous fudge. It took the major problem at the heart of Brexit and kicked it into 2018.

      We’ve been given a hospital pass by our past selves?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Here’s how Donald Trump changed social media

      US President weaponised Twitter, using it not just to reach the masses but to control news through bullying and distraction.

    • NBI: Case about search of journalist’s home should be handled behind closed doors

      The person in charge of the preliminary investigation, Markku Ranta-aho said that the police will request that the matter be handled in private and that the documents concerning the probe be confidentially sealed.

    • Newsweek says DA raided its offices for computer server information
    • Newsweek’s headquarters just got a visit from the police

      More than a dozen police showed up this morning at the office that serves as the shared headquarters for Newsweek magazine and IBT Media, which rebranded in 2017 as Newsweek Group, according to multiple sources who were present.

      The reason for the visit was not clear, but one employee said police were taking photos of the company’s servers.

      Employees said the police appeared to be from the NYPD, but a spokesperson for the NYPD said its officers were not involved. A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney declined to comment.
      The office is at 7 Hanover Square in New York’s financial district. Police also visited the office in December, a former employee said. Employees were told that it was because a white substance had been mailed to Executive News Director Ken Li, which they were then told turned out to be a false alarm.

      Representatives for Newsweek Group did not immediately respond to questions.

    • Democrats Prepare Bill to Censure Trump over “Shithole” Comments

      On Capitol Hill, Democrats are preparing a bill that would formally censure Donald Trump over racist comments in which the president reportedly called African nations, El Salvador and Haiti “shithole countries.” The effort is being led by New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Representative Cedric Richmond, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. It comes as several Democratic lawmakers have announced they will skip the State of the Union address on January 30 over Trump’s racist remarks. Among them are Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Frederica Wilson of Florida, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Maxine Waters of California and John Lewis of Georgia.

    • ‘Independent’ Watchdog’s Secret Funder: Conservative Small-Government Group

      When former Chicago City Council inspector general Faisal Khan launched his not-for-profit anti-corruption group close to two years ago, he insisted that it was independent and nonpartisan.

      At the same time, Khan refused to disclose who was funding the organization, which he called Project Six — a reference to the group of civic leaders who led the fight against Al Capone during Prohibition.

      Now, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times and ProPublica Illinois show almost all the money to launch Khan’s Chicago-based watchdog organization came from a right-leaning group that is leading a crusade against government regulations, state spending and labor unions in Illinois.

      The most recent federal tax filing for the Illinois Policy Institute shows it gave $623,789 to Project Six in 2016 — accounting for 98 percent of the group’s first-year budget. The records don’t reveal — and Project Six officials haven’t said — where the rest of its money comes from.

    • Trump Ends Protections for El Salvador

      El Salvador is the latest country targeted by the Trump administration’s termination of protections for people under TPS, which provides relief for migrants fleeing humanitarian crises, reports Dennis J. Bernstein.

    • The President and the Porn Star
    • Moscow Protests Leak Of Russian Embassy Bank Transfers Around 2016 U.S. Election

      The Russian Foreign Ministry is demanding that the United States stop the leak of confidential diplomatic information after a media report this week provided details of what it said were “suspicious” Russian embassy bank transfers.

      The Kremlin demand on January 18 came after the U.S. online outlet Buzzfeed reported that U.S. officials investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are studying bank transfers to and from the Russian Embassy in Washington before and after the November 2016 election.

      Buzzfeed said U.S. banks flagged a number of embassy bank transfers and reported them to U.S. regulators, as required by U.S. law, because they were large and looked “suspicious.”

    • FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump

      The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

      FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

      It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

      It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

      All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information.

    • How Trump’s Base Inspired an International Racist Fiasco, Again

      Stephen Miller, the administration’s latest iteration of Official Screaming Person, flexed his White House muscles last week and made history in all the wrong ways. Everything that has gone down since “Shithole Thursday” — the collapse of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) negotiations, the real threat of a government shutdown and an eruption of unvarnished racist invective from the president of the United States — came about because Miller picked up the phone with one priority in mind: Play to the Trump base.

      Unspooling this pluperfect fiasco takes some doing. A week ago Tuesday, Donald Trump staged a bit of theater by not being demonstrably incapacitated by incompetence for 90 whole minutes during a meeting with members of Congress on immigration. The White House felt such a performance was necessary after Trump went on Twitter and accused the leader of a volatile nuclear adversary of having a small penis. Editorial pages from sea to shining sea were dusting off the text of the 25th Amendment again, so a good showing with the Congress members was pretty much required.

      During the entire Tuesday meeting, Trump was smiling, friendly and coherent. He was open to several legislative proposals offered by Democrats, including one for a clean DACA bill, to which he reacted enthusiastically — said enthusiasm being later erased “accidentally” from the transcript of the event. The press loved it. That night, most news stations led their evening broadcasts with some permutation of, “Wow, the president didn’t humiliate us all today!”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Marriott says it chose to stop posting on social media after China ban

      The Shanghai government had shut down Marriott’s Chinese website and mobile app for a week as punishment for a Mandarin-language survey sent to customers that listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as separate countries, as reported by Reuters. There was backlash from the Chinese public as well. Marriott’s Instagram posts from a week ago are littered with comments like “get out of China” and “remember!people’s republic of china!only one!marriott hotels roll out of china!”

    • Facebook and Google outline unprecedented mass censorship at US Senate hearing

      Behind the backs of the US and world populations, social media companies have built up a massive censorship apparatus staffed by an army of “content reviewers” capable of seamlessly monitoring, tracking, and blocking millions of pieces of content.

      The character of this apparatus was detailed in testimony Wednesday from representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by South Dakota Republican John Thune.

      The hearing was called to review what technology companies are doing to shut down the communications of oppositional political organizations. It represented a significant escalation of the campaign, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, to establish unprecedented levels of censorship and control over the Internet.

    • YouTube and Google planning new anti-extremism technique: the ‘Redirect Method’

      Social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube appeared in front of the US Senate cyber-terror committee yesterday and everyone seemed very happy with the progress they have made in tackling extremist content.

      The session, which was entitled “Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough?” was expected to be a grilling of the three platforms seen by many as being most responsible for the spread of extremist content online.

    • The problem with human moderators

      If Big Tech in 2018 already has a theme, it’s that social networks are passive platforms no longer. Since the new year, both Facebook and YouTube have stepped up with new guidelines and processes to manage — and in some cases police — content on their networks.

      All of this started well before the new year, of course. Twitter has been following through on a lengthy project to both clarify its content policies and take a more active role in saying who and what is allowed on its platform, most recently with its so-called “Nazi purge.” The current trend arguably started with Reddit, when then-CEO Ellen Pao pushed for tighter control of harassment and revenge porn on the site.

    • Philippines Trying To Shut Down Popular News Site For Reporting On President Duterte

      From Filipinos I’ve spoken to, they seem rightfully proud of this right to free speech. And they should be. But these things only matter if they’re actually respected. And there’s growing evidence that, under President Duterte, there’s little respect for such things. A few days ago, the news broke that the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission was pulling the license of Rappler, a popular Filipino news source started by Maria Ressa. I was privileged to hear Ressa speak at a conference last summer (she was originally supposed to be a participant in a session that I was organizing, but it was much better having her speak separately about the challenges she was facing in covering news in the Philippines). Rappler has really done some amazing work under fairly challenging circumstances.

      And… it appears that those challenging circumstances are leading the government in the Philippines to try to shut them down. The official reason for pulling the license is the claim from the SEC that Rappler has violated rules concerning foreign ownership.

    • Bigoted Landlord Files Criminal Complaint Against Critic Who Called Him Bigoted

      In yet another example of how the UK’s government’s stated respect for free speech is continually undercut by its actions, a bigoted landlord is bringing charges against a YouTuber for calling him bigoted.

    • Iowa State’s Attempt To Violate Its Students First Amendment Rights To Cost State Nearly $400k In Damages

      In the early part of 2017, we brought you the story of an Iowa State University student group pushing for marijuana reform in the state that was being targeted by the university for trademark infringement after the group used some school iconography on t-shirts it developed for its cause. The whole episode was fairly bonkers, with the school initially approving the students’ use of the imagery, only to rescind that approval after Iowa House Republicans sent a letter to the school’s leadership questioning the decision. That sort of infringement of speech by a school and, in the background, by state legislators that really should have known better, was always destined to result in legal proceedings, given the enormous First Amendment implications. Well, as we reported, that trial ran its course, including an appeal, and was decided in the favor of the student group.

      While all of that was settled last year, what we didn’t know until recently is just how much taxpayer money would be paid out as a result of a public university and state legislators seeking, quite plainly, to infringe on perhaps the most sacred right this country enjoys. Now we have an answer to that question: at least $350,000.

    • EFF to Court: Requiring Universities to Ban Anonymous Online Speech Platforms on Campus is Counterproductive and Unconstitutional

      Requiring public universities to ban access to anonymous online speech platforms would undermine activism occurring on those campuses and violate the First Amendment, EFF argued in a brief filed on Thursday.

      Plaintiffs in the case, Feminist Majority Foundation et al. v. University of Mary Washington, claim that university officials violated federal anti-discrimination law by not taking appropriate steps to address threats and harassment directed at students, including messages posted on the now-defunct online platform Yik Yak.

      One way university officials could have prevented the harassment, according to plaintiffs, is by blocking access to Yik Yak. After a federal trial court dismissed their claims last year, the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • A Bunch Of Politicians Who Complain About Trump’s Authoritarian Tendencies Just Gave Him 6 Years To Warrantlessly Spy On Americans

      As was widely expected after Tuesday’s close vote on cloture, the Senate officially voted to renew (in a somewhat expanded way) Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act by a vote of 65 to 34. That also means a few of those who voted against cloture switched over and voted for the program, including Senators Ted Cruz and Chuck Schumer. President Trump will almost certainly sign the bill shortly, despite confusing basically everyone last week by tweeting out complaints about the program, despite his White House vehemently supporting it.

      Trump’s confusion isn’t all that surprising. What is surprising is just how many people who have been complaining and warning about Trump made this possible. In the House, vocal Trump critics including Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were among those who voted for this bill which, again, gives the FBI the power to spy on Americans without warrants via the collection of content (not metadata) swept up by the NSA. While defenders of the program keep insisting the program cannot be used to “target” Americans, they leave out that a ridiculous amount of American content is swept up into this collection, which can then be sifted through without a warrant, including a huge amount of communications of Americans.

    • Stasi files: scanner struggles to stitch together surveillance state scraps
    • After The ‘Octopus Incident’ White House Threatened To Stop ‘Menacing Logos’ From Spy Satellites

      Records released to William Pierce show that the fallout from the National Reconnaissance Office’s infamous “world-eating octopus” logo was enough for the White House to threaten veto power over future logos on spy satellites. Despite this warning to steer clear of controversy, the designers for the NROL-76 logo tried their best to sneak in a “Talladega Nights” reference – even resorting to Latin to get around copyright.

      In early May of 2016, someone within the NRO asked if the mission patch for the NROL-76 mission had been approved.

    • How License Plate Covers Would Protect Vulnerable Communities

      EFF is a strong supporter of S.B. 712, a California bill that would allow vulnerable communities to cover their license plates when parked. This provides a way for individuals to protect their confidentiality when visiting sensitive locations, such as religious sites of worship, medical facilities, and social support centers.

      Under current law, drivers can cover their entire vehicles, including the license plates, when parked. S.B. 712 simply says that you are allowed to cover just the plate when you are parked. This common-sense solution allows drivers to opt-out of unwanted data collection when they have reached their destinations, not unlike how installing an ad-blocker may prevent online advertisers from gathering your information.

      The threat to privacy is increasing as automated license plate readers (ALPRs) have made it easier for private companies to amass billions of records in commercial databases. This data can be used to track drivers in real time or to reveal their travel patterns and community networks.

    • Congress Just Passed a Terrible Surveillance Law. Now What?

      Both Democrats and Republicans deserve sharp criticism for continuing to allow the NSA to engage in mass, warrantless spying.

      Congress today missed a historic opportunity to reform an unconstitutional surveillance law, instead passing a version that makes it worse. Both Democrats and Republicans deserve sharp criticism for continuing to allow the NSA to engage in mass, warrantless spying.

      (You can see how your member of Congress voted here and here, so they can be held accountable.)

      The vote concerned Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a law disclosed by Edward Snowden that revealed the NSA had been spying on Americans in unprecedented ways. As a result of the expiration of this law, Congress needed to decide, for the first time since those revelations, whether to reform, reauthorize, or do away with the law altogether.

      For years, the government claimed that Section 702 was primarily used to stop foreign terrorists. In 2013, we learned that was a lie. The government uses the hundreds of millions of communications collected under Section 702 — which it gets directly from tech companies or by tapping into the physical infrastructure that makes up the internet — to access the sensitive information of Americans for purposes that have nothing to do with national security.

    • California Police Chiefs Misrepresent License Plate Privacy Bill

      EFF supports S.B. 712, a California bill that would allow drivers to cover their plates when they’re parked. This simple privacy measure would create an opportunity for drivers to protect sensitive information about their travel and whereabouts from mass collection by law enforcement and private data brokers.

      The threat is all too real. Police agencies have surveilled Muslims by collecting plates in parking lots at mosques. Police officers have used license plates of vehicles parked at gay clubs to blackmail patrons. Anti-choice activists are trained to amass license plates of doctors and patients parked at reproductive health centers. Immigration & Customs Enforcement plans to use private license plate databases, effectively dodging state restrictions on data sharing, as it ramps up its deportation efforts.

      The California Police Chiefs Association opposes our bill. This week, its lobbyists issued a “floor alert” to state senators that misrepresents how the bill would work.

    • EFF to NSA: you scammed your way to another six years of warrantless spying, and you’d better enjoy it while it lasts

      Last week, cowards from both sides of the aisle caved into America’s lawless spy agencies, and today bipartisan senators reprised that cowardice to ensure that the Senate would not get a chance to vote on amendments to the renewal of Section 702, the rule that has allowed the NSA to conduct mass, warrantless surveillance on Americans in secret, without meaningful oversight or limits.

      It was a crushing defeat for anyone who cares about civil liberties, the rule of law, and the Bill of Rights. In a stirring open letter, Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director Cindy Cohn (previously) gives us all the furious post-game analysis we need: people everywhere, of every political persuasion, are waking up to the dangers of the mass surveillance that the spies poisoned the digital world with, and their time is running out. More people than ever, from more walks of life, stood up for limits on Section 702, and that number will only grow from here on in.

    • Senate passes bill renewing internet surveillance program

      The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, overcoming objections from civil liberties advocates that it undermined the privacy of Americans.

      The legislation, which easily passed the House of Representatives last week, is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump by Friday.

    • NSA surveillance programs renewed by Senate

      With little debate, the US Senate voted 65 to 34 Thursday to renew the law authorizing key surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.

      The programs, known as Prism and Upstream, allow the NSA to collect online communications of foreigners outside the US. Prism collects these communications from internet services, and Upstream taps in to the internet’s infrastructure to capture information in transit. Some communications from Americans and others in the US are collected in the process.

    • An Open Letter to Our Community On Congress’s Vote to Extend NSA Spying From EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn

      Today, the United States Congress struck a significant blow against the basic human right to read, write, learn, and associate free of government’s prying eyes.

      Goaded by those who let fear override democratic principles, some members of Congress shuttered public debate in order to pass a bill that extends the National Security Agency’s unconstitutional Internet surveillance for six years.

    • Senate passes bill to renew controversial NSA spying powers

      The bill was passed 65 to 34, and now moves to President Trump’s desk. He is expected to sign it into law. Earlier this week, a group of senators threatened to filibuster the bill, but lawmakers cleared a 60-vote hurdle earlier this week that allowed them to block the attempt.

      The bill allows for continued spying operations under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Critics charge that the bill, which renews 702 and powers National Security Agency spying, is nominally for foreign targets, but allows the government to sweep up American communications with few safeguards.

    • It Wasn’t Just Republicans — Democrats Also Voted to Shut Down Debate on Trump Administration’s Surveillance Powers

      A critical mass of Senate Democrats voted with Republicans on Tuesday to shut down any further debate on a bill that strengthens the government’s spying powers. The bill would renew a key surveillance authority for the National Security Agency until 2023 and consolidate the FBI’s power to search Americans’ digital communications without a warrant.

      The motion, which passed 60-38, virtually guarantees that the final bill will pass likely later this week and quashes any opportunity to debate whether protections should be added. Eighteen Democrats — including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who had previously proposed an amendment to restrict the FBI’s surveillance authority — voted in support of the motion. They were joined by 41 Republicans and one independent, Angus King, giving the pro-surveillance bloc the supermajority needed to push the bill forward. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Dan Sullivan, R-Ala., did not vote.

    • US Senate Ends Debate on NSA’s Warrantless Mass Surveillance Proposal

      The bill in question doesn’t bode well for American citizens. Nor is it good news for anyone else on the planet, as the NSA conducts mass surveillance on a very large scale these days. The government agency was granted significant surveillance power decades ago, and it seems things have only gotten worse over time. This week, the US Senate moved a step closer to giving the NSA the right to spy on all American citizens in a virtually limitless and warrantless manner, which is shocking.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Facebook is a ‘living, breathing crime scene,’ says one former tech insider

      “Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene for what happened in the 2016 election — and only they have full access to what happened,” said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google. His work centers on how technology can ethically steer the thoughts and actions of the masses on social media and he’s been called “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by The Atlantic magazine.

    • Tencent Widens Its Lead Over Facebook

      That entrenches the Chinese company among the global top five, well ahead of arch-foe Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Investors are betting that Tencent can lean on its billion-plus users and hit games to evolve into an advertising and entertainment titan along the lines of a Google or Facebook. Created almost two decades ago as a desktop messaging platform before morphing into one of the world’s biggest purveyors of video games, the argument is that its dominance of Chinese social networking also bankrolls an expansion into newer markets from video streaming to finance.

    • Tory youth tsar Ben Bradley backed police brutality

      A vice-chairman of the Conservative Party said that “police brutality should be encouraged” after the London riots, The Times can reveal.

    • Diversion Keeps Kids Out of the Criminal Justice System, but Too Many Police in New Jersey Fail to Use It

      Ending mass incarceration starts with keeping young people from being arrested in the first place.

      We’ve all seen something like this on TV or in an old movie: A parent arrives at a police station to pick up their child, who, instead of being arrested and charged with a crime, has just been given a stern warning and an opportunity to make amends.

      The technical term for this practice is diversion, and it’s a critical tool in ending mass incarceration. If we’re going to reduce the number of people we put behind bars, we can’t only focus on people who are incarcerated or who have already had extensive contact with the criminal justice system. We need to prevent that involvement in the first place. That starts in childhood with diversion.

      A forthcoming report from the ACLU of New Jersey, “Missed Opportunities: Youth Diversionary Programs in New Jersey,” delves into strategies to stop the criminalization of our youth, specifically programs that allow young people to avoid arrest for low-level offenses.

    • Appeals Court Says Accessing Data In A Way The Host Doesn’t Like Doesn’t Violate Computer Crime Laws

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled [PDF] that accessing publicly-accessible info in a way the hosting entity has said isn’t permissible isn’t a violation of the law. In this case, it’s a couple of laws, since Oracle’s bid to shut down a competitor involves two different states and two different computer crime laws.

      Oracle sued Rimini Street alleging a bunch of computer law-related violations after it continued to harvest data without Oracle’s explicit permission. The EFF, which filed a brief in this case backing Rimini Street, breaks down the details of the alleged violation.

    • Baltimore Judge Tosses Alford Plea, Rebuking Prosecutor

      In a hearing in Baltimore City Circuit Court today, a judge threw out Demetrius Smith’s conviction for a shooting he has long insisted he did not commit and chastised the prosecutor in the case for making several misrepresentations to the court.

      Judge Barry Williams said wiping the shooting conviction from Smith’s record was “in the interest of justice,” adding “there’s too much going on to leave it as is.”

      Smith rejoiced that after a nine-year odyssey through the justice system, he had finally cleared his name. The conviction, he said, “shouldn’t be on my record, because I’m innocent. Period.”

    • Macron-May talks: UK and France must put a stop to ‘systematic violation’ of Calais refugees, warn charities

      The UK and France must urgently put an end to the “systematic violation” of refugees in Calais, a group of charities has warned.

      In a letter shared exclusively with The Independent, eight aid organisations urged leaders Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to uphold their commitment to human rights law, as conditions for the thousands living on the border become increasingly perilous.

      The group, which includes l’Auberge des Migrants, Help Refugees, Safe Passage and Utopia56, wrote to the leaders on the same day Ms May welcomed the French President to the UK-France Summit at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • .UK overseer Nominet abandons its own charitable foundation – and why this matters

      Nominet, which runs the UK’s domain-name registry, has abandoned its own charitable foundation, raising questions about the organization’s direction and accountability.

      In an email earlier this week, CEO Russell Haworth stunned members of the non-profit, public-interest outfit by announcing that he was withdrawing from the Nominet Trust – a foundation set up over a decade ago by Nominet’s board to deal with excess revenue from registrations of .uk domain names.

      “We’ve been working with Nominet Trust to think about how best to deliver public benefit,” Haworth wrote. “It became clear that the grant-giving, single funder model we set up in 2008 was not the most effective route to greatest impact moving forward. With that in mind, we have agreed that Nominet Trust should be free to attract other investors in order to fulfill their social tech ambitions.”

    • Senate panel approves FCC commissioner for full term

      The panel advanced the nomination in a 14-13 party-line vote on Thursday. Carr, a Republican, was nominated and confirmed in August to a partial term that was set to expire later this year.

    • FCC Won’t Redefine ‘Broadband;’ Move Could Have Worsened Digital Divide

      The FCC announced Thursday that it will continue to define home broadband as connections that are 25 megabits per second (mbps). The commission also established a new standard for mobile broadband as a connection of 10mbps or higher, and said it had rejected the idea—which it had floated last year—of labeling mobile internet service an adequate replacement for home broadband.

    • FCC admits mobile can’t replace home Internet, won’t lower speed standard

      Pai’s FCC has determined that mobile broadband is not a full substitute for home Internet services. The FCC says this even after previously suggesting that mobile Internet might be all Americans need. The FCC also won’t be lowering the speed standard that it uses to judge whether broadband deployment is happening quickly enough.

    • The first lawsuits to save net neutrality have been filed

      Attorneys general from 22 states filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to block the repeal of the rules. Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, also said it has filed a suit against the FCC, and several public interest groups have filed petitions in court.

      New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading the charge among the states, calling the FCC’s repeal “arbitrary and capricious,” according to a press release announcing the lawsuit. The suit also claims that the FCC “improperly and unlawfully includes sweeping preemption of state and local laws.”

    • Senate Push To Save Net Neutrality Needs Just One Vote, But You Still Shouldn’t Get Your Hopes Up

      While success here has long odds (though this shouldn’t discourage you from contacting your lawmaker anyway), the gambit does have the practical purpose of forcing AT&T, Verizon and Comcast’s lackeys in both houses to put their disdain for the public down on the public record. That’s going to prove particularly useful during the looming midterms, where net neutrality is very quickly becoming a wedge issue. That’s especially true among Millennial voters, who seem to have a more innate understanding of why letting Comcast run amok isn’t a particularly great idea.

      The entire effort again highlights the stupidity of viewing net neutrality through a partisan lens. Despite a healthy, competitive internet being in everybody’s best interest, ISPs have spent fifteen years successfully framing net neutrality as a partisan issue to help sow dissent and stall progress on meaningful rules. Survey after survey however have indicated that the concept has broad, bipartisan support among the public at large. Anger at being ignored will drive voter turnout, and lawmakers (as well as Ajit Pai, whose post-FCC political ambitions couldn’t be clearer) are going to figure that out the hard way.

      All of that said, there’s still plenty of ways to bring net neutrality back to the table should this effort fail. While it will take a while, the looming lawsuits have a solid chance at reversing the FCC’s repeal given the FCC’s numerous procedural and ethical missteps. A massive shakeup in Congress could also finally drive support for a real net neutrality law down the road, provided ISPs aren’t successful in passing their own, entirely bogus legislation first.

    • Mozilla, Consumer Groups Sue The FCC For Its Attack On Net Neutrality

      The Open Technology Institute also says it also filed its own lawsuit against the FCC early, hoping to ensure a favorable court selection during the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) lottery. All told, four of the net neutrality lawsuits were filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, while the Free Press lawsuit was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
      This is just the opening salvo in what will be a long-standing legal standoff between people who’d prefer the internet remain healthy and competitive, and ISPs eager to abuse a lack of competition in the broadband last mile to their own, additionally anti-competitive advantage. All of the lawsuits will attempt to prove that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act by engaging in an “arbitrary and capricious” reversal of extremely popular policy without proving that the broadband market changed dramatically enough in just two years to warrant it.

      As we’ve noted previously, the lawsuits will also focus on how the FCC turned a blind eye to identity theft and comment fraud during the FCC’s open comment period, and efforts by some group or individual to try and downplay the massive public opposition to the FCC’s handout to the telecom sector. Expect more details on the origins (and potentially funding) of these efforts as the legal fight moves forward over the coming months and years. Though some ISPs surely won’t be able to help themselves, expect ISPs to try and remain on their best behavior for a while to avoid undermining their arguments in court.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Google inks patent deal with Tencent

      “We’re pleased to enter into a patent cross-license with Tencent. [...] ”

    • Trademarks
      • Trump DOJ Considering Challenging Brunetti Scandalous Mark Decision

        In Brunetti, the Federal Circuit extended Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017) to further reject the Lanham Act’s restriction on registration of immoral or scandalous marks — finding the limitation to be an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. (In Tam, the Supreme Court found the restriction on registering disparaging marks to be unconstitutional.)

        In this case, the USPTO is being represented by attorneys from the Department of Justice rather than the its own internal solicitors. The DOJ is considering requesting en banc rehearing and has now requested and received an extension to file its petition until February 12, 2018.

    • Copyrights
      • EFF to Court: Linking Is Not Copyright Infringement

        Playboy Entertainment’s lawsuit accusing acclaimed website Boing Boing of copyright infringement—for doing nothing more than reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds—is groundless and should be thrown out, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal court today.

        As EFF and co-counsel Durie Tangri LLP explain in a request to dismiss the lawsuit filed on behalf of Boing Boing owner Happy Mutants LLC, Playboy’s copyright claim seeks to punish Boing Boing for commenting on and linking to an archive of Playboy “playmate” centerfold images that a third party posted. The blog contained links to an imgur.com page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing. But courts have long recognized that simply linking to content on the web isn’t unlawful.

      • Happy Together Once More: The California Supreme Court and Congress Take Up The Question of Copyright in Old Music Recordings

        Federal copyright law doesn’t give artists and labels the right to control most ways music recordings are played in public. That’s how FM and AM radio stations work. That’s how stores playing soothing “don’t you want to buy something?” music work. And that’s how restaurants playing music at an uncomfortably loud decibel so you can’t talk to your friends work. But because older recordings aren’t covered by these laws, some copyright holders keep trying to use them to gain more control over how their recordings are played – something they’ve never been able to do.

        EFF just weighed in on one of these cases, in the California Supreme Court. In Flo & Eddie v. Pandora Media, we argued that state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances of sound recordings, including radio play. If this sounds familiar, that’s because this fight has played out across the country over the past three years. The high courts of New York and Florida have already ruled that their own state laws don’t let pre-1972 copyright holders control public performances of their sound recordings.

      • Copyright, The First Wave of Internet Censorship

        When someone wants to remove speech from the Internet, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) notice and takedown process can provide the quickest path. This has made copyright law a tempting tool for unscrupulous censors. As content companies push for even more control over what gets posted online, it’s important to remember that any tool used to police copyright will quickly be abused, then adapted, to censor speech more widely.
        We’ve seen abusive DMCA takedown notices from a would-be Senate candidate, small businesses, and Ecuador’s President. We’ve also seen robots-run-amok and sending takedowns for public domain material and white noise. One disturbing trend involves businesses targeting bad reviews. The business, or a shadowy reputation management company acting on its behalf, copies the bad review and “publishes” it elsewhere on the Internet. The business then sends a DMCA takedown notice alleging infringement of the copied, and falsely backdated, review.

      • Playboy is suing Boing Boing – but linking is not copyright infringement

        Playboy’s lawsuit is based on an imaginary (and dangerous) version of US copyright law that bears no connection to any US statute or precedent. Playboy — once legendary champions for the First Amendment — now advances a fringe copyright theory: that it is illegal to link to things other people have posted on the web, on pain of millions in damages — the kinds of sums that would put us (and every other small publisher in America) out of business.

The EPO Ignores This Week’s Decision Which Demonstrates Patent Scope Gone Awry; Software Patents Brought Up Again

Friday 19th of January 2018 07:37:55 AM

It’s all about money and replacing examiners with machines

Summary: The worrisome growth of European Patents (EPs) — a 40% jump in one year in spite of decline in the number of patent applications — is a symptom of the poor judgment, induced largely by bad policies that impede examiners’ activities for the sake of so-called ‘production’; this week’s decision regarding CRISPR is another wake-up call and software patents too need to be abolished (as a whole), in lieu with the European Patent Convention (EPC)

THE EPO has said absolutely nothing about the Board or about Broad. Odd, isn’t it? Not even a tweet. Sometimes they do link to decisions of the Boards of Appeal, but not this time. Instead, there’s this junk about a new Benoît Battistelli photo op (warning: epo.org link). We don’t know if they’re intentionally distracting from something, but we can only guess. Got to maintain the perception of top-notch patent quality, right?

“Battistelli took a flight on some plane and all he got was a lousy photo op (in which he is barely even visible).”As usual, this EPO ‘news’ is all about Benoît Battistelli. Heck, the entire Web site of the EPO is a shrine to Battistelli. How many years will that take to undo?

The world’s news aggregators said nothing about the above meeting, which is pretty insignificant anyway. Battistelli took a flight on some plane and all he got was a lousy photo op (in which he is barely even visible). Blog post imminent? Either way, let’s look at the real news.

“The EPO went overboard, unhinged from the actual purpose and function of patent offices.”Fallout of EPO granting (in error) patents on life is very much visible. It’s prominent in the news. We already wrote 3 articles about it earlier this week (on Wednesday and Thursday [1, 2, 3]). On Thursday it was widely covered by sites that — judging by their names — promote these monopolies for the most part [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Sites of lawyers too weighed in (some of them profit from CRISPR prosecution if not persecution). IAM, by the way, has still said nothing about it; the same goes for Watchtroll and other patent maximalists who would rather pretend nothing happened on Wednesday. CRISPR monopolists are in ‘damage control’ mode over this decision. They issue paid press releases which are face-saving spin.

“Merit-based patents (e.g. on economic grounds) will endure, but algorithms are already protected by copyright law and actual programmers do not want patents.”Yesterday, IP Watch published an article (behind paywall) about an “EPO-EU Conference [which] Examines Hot Topic Of Patentability Of Plants In Europe” and to quote what’s outside the paywall: “The last couple of years have brought heated discussions in Europe on the patentability of plant innovations, leading to a recent amendment of patent application rules at the European Patent Office. Two major actors share this innovation landscape: the biotechnologists and the plant breeders, with similar but not identical needs for protecting their invention. A joint conference on innovation in the plant sector was held recently by the EPO and the Community Plant Variety Office.”

The Community [sic] Plant Variety Office is somewhat of a sham. We wrote several articles about it. The EPO should never permit patents on life and the Community Plant Variety Office is basically the opposite of what its name suggests [1, 2]. It helps to think of it like a corporate think tank.

Curiously enough, not even IP Kat wrote about any of the above. Not at all. Instead, revisiting software patents in Europe, IP Kat wrote this blog post yesterday.

“But what if the Boards lacked independence and feared the Office whose President is a clueless patent maximalist?”“Is the EPO stretching the line for patentable subject-matter, again?”

So asks the headline. Sooner or later all software patents (the EPO always says “computer-implemented inventions” (CII) — a sneaky term which avoids “software patents” being mentioned) too will get wiped, as per the EPC. It happened with plants, seeds, genome etc. so why not software?

The EPO went overboard, unhinged from the actual purpose and function of patent offices. Merit-based patents (e.g. on economic grounds) will endure, but algorithms are already protected by copyright law and actual programmers do not want patents. Any time the EPO loses touch/alignment with the law the Boards should be there to correct it. But what if the Boards lacked independence and feared the Office whose President is a clueless patent maximalist? Battistelli's cluelessness is well documented and it’s an embarrassment to the entire organisation, not just the Office. There were warning signs about it right from the early stages (his candidacy) when he publicly admitted to not having a talent like creative people and inventors (his own words). His inability to comprehend software has repeatedly led to poor decisions, letting automation poorly replace some workflow at the Office. Staff repeatedly complained about it.

As Frantzeska Papadopoulou put it yesterday:

The new Guidelines for Examination of the EPO, valid from 1st of November 2017, include an interesting revised (and rather detailed) section G II 3.7, dedicated to the patentability of claims based on presentation of information. Presentation of information under 52(2)(d) of the EPC includes any form of information (such as visual or, audio) and covers both its cognitive aspect as well as the means of communication. However, the fact that the claims include purely cognitive (and thus non-technical) aspects does not automatically mean hat they are excluded from patentability. Presentation of information that assists the user in achieving a technical task has a technical effect (confirmed also in T336/14 and T1802/13).

Read the comments as well (they tend to be better than IP Kat posts). The first one says

Rather the Guidelines add examples from the case law in order to assist users how to find the rather difficult boarderline between patentable and non-patentable inventions in the field of computer implemented inventions.

The term “computer implemented inventions” is just a synonym of software patents. Don’t be misled by it. The next comment says: “I must confess that I’m slightly confused as to how a claim to lean manufacturing would be considered as a presentation of information, unless the claims were very poorly drafted. The link to pure business methods isn’t convincing at all, I’m afraid.”

“what is the definition of the word “technical” that is so heavily being leaned upon?” So said the next comment and one person replies: “What is a “pure business method?””

“Let’s quit pretending that these semantic and syntactic trick somehow (miraculously) permit the impermissible.”Exactly. These are pretty meaningless terms (“technical”, “pure” and so on) which were created to set up loopholes (“as such”) for patenting algorithms. The Boards ought to put an end to all this nonsense; the sooner, the better. Sure, it would harm Battistelli’s ‘productivity’ claims, but who cares about this megalomaniac? Just because he’s still bullying a judge from the Boards? One might suggest that — gasp! — he does so intentionally.

Anyway, the above issue was also brought up yesterday by Simon Kahn and Joshua McFarlane from Boult Wade Tennant. They’ve just published “EPO Board of Appeal advises how to determine technical subject matter for assessing inventive step” and here are a couple of portions:

Computer implemented inventions, such as computer software, can be easy to copy but time-consuming to develop. Therefore, companies and developers are keen to ensure that relevant intellectual property is obtained for the computer implemented inventions, in which they have invested considerable resources. Patent protection seems like a good choice for protecting such products, because it can provide broad protection and can be enforced without any need to prove copying. Although patent law often restricts protection for computer-implemented inventions, many such inventions are patentable. Nevertheless, there are still grey areas, where protection may be obtainable, but only in certain circumstances and each patent office assesses such inventions in a different way.

[...]

This decision does not change the approach taken by the EPO to assessment of inventive step for computer-implemented inventions that contain some technical subject matter. Nevertheless, it does remind us of the difficulties that are often faced in securing patent protection for computer-implemented inventions. Such objections from Examining Divisions come up frequently and it is important to be aware of how they can be overcome, so the applicant can be awarded the protection to which they are entitled.

Notice their use of words like “inventive step”, “computer-implemented inventions” and so on. Let’s quit pretending that these semantic and syntactic trick somehow (miraculously) permit the impermissible. In the US, more so after Alice (2014), the word “abstract” is thrown around a lot. Based on major European law firms, the US is now more strict than the EPO and has made it harder to obtain software patents (than in Europe). If the EPC still means anything and isn’t just an old piece of paper, then it’s time to enforce the rules and curtail the endless expansion of patent scope. WIPO might not like it, but so what? The patent systems need not operate like a capitalist enterprise in pursuit of constant growth. What is this growth anyway? An expansion of monopoly? Is this even desirable?

WesternGeco v ION Geophysical (at the US Supreme Court) Won’t Affect Patent Scope

Friday 19th of January 2018 06:25:28 AM

The de facto reference for the case

Summary: As WesternGeco v ION Geophysical is the main if not sole ‘major’ patent case that the US Supreme Court will deal with, it seems safe to say that nothing substantial will change for patent scope in the United States this year

THE patent microcosm has begun speaking more and more about WesternGeco v ION Geophysical — a case which we’ve mentioned several times so far this week, usually in the context of Alice being safe from challenge [1, 2].

“It has absolutely no impact on patent scope.”To avoid misunderstandings, let is be stressed that the decision — whichever way it may go — won’t have any profound effect on anything we cover. It’s barely of any relevance to us. An article from Prof. Kumar (last revised days ago) is titled “Patent Damages Without Borders” [via] and the abstract is a concise summary of the case: “The presumption against extraterritoriality is a deceptively straightforward principle: that U.S. law applies only inside the United States. But there is confusion regarding whether the presumption applies when a court calculates patent damages. In WesternGeco L.L.C. v. Ion Geophysical Corp., the Federal Circuit held that patent holders who show infringement under § 271(f) of the Patent Act cannot recover foreign lost profits. The court maintained that allowing recovery of such damages would result in the Patent Act applying extraterritorially, which cannot be done without Congress’s clear intent. This interpretation severely limits the ability of district courts to make patent infringement victims whole. This Article maintains that the Federal Circuit’s reliance on the presumption is misplaced. The presumption was established to prevent U.S. law from applying to extraterritorial conduct; it was not intended to cover situations where foreign harm flows directly from an act of domestic patent infringement. The presumption has been rebutted under the Supreme Court’s two-step extraterritoriality test. By creating this bright-line rule, the Federal Circuit has unduly restricted the ability of patent holders to recover damages, including in cases where there is no other applicable law. This Article proposes that the Federal Circuit adopt a flexible test that balances prescriptive comity concerns with the United State’s interest in making victims of domestic patent infringement whole.”

One can be sure that IAM will already spin that with sensationalist headlines and tweets (saying that the “the US patent system is recovering some of its bite”). From their article:

What gives all this an added angle is that Trump’s comments followed the Supreme Court’s decision to grant cert in WesternGeco LLC v ION Geophysical Corp, a case focused on whether a patent owner, having been successful in an infringement assertion, can recover lost profits that it would have earned outside of the US if the infringement had not occurred. Should the petitioner WesternGeco, which owns the original patents in suit related to conducting marine seismic surveys, be successful then patent owners could see big jumps in the amount of damages they can recoup. The case, which the US Justice Department urged the court to take, is not specifically focused on China, but taken with the trade investigation represents another way in which US authorities maybe about to get much tougher on the infringement of US IP overseas.

IAM’s obsession with China has long been noted here. They don’t like seeing how all/much of the trolling activity has moved to China, which necessitates coverage of Chinese affairs (something IAM lacks the staff to deal with; only one writer can cope with Mandarin and she’s new).

For better coverage of the relevance of this decision, see the CCIA’s Patent Progress, which yesterday wrote:

Last Friday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in WesternGeco v. ION Geophysical. Essentially, the case asks whether, when components for a patented process or machine are manufactured in the U.S. and combined or used abroad, the profits lost due to the foreign activities can be considered lost profits and awarded as damages under U.S. patent law.

This is inherently a “damages” case. It has absolutely no impact on patent scope. It’s therefore not likely that we’ll cover it closely later in the year.

Links 18/1/2018: MenuLibre 2.1.4, Git 2.16 Released

Thursday 18th of January 2018 05:39:36 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Reliance Jio and global tech leaders come together to push Open Source in India

    The India Digital Open Summit which will be held tomorrow at the Reliance Corporate Park campus in Navi Mumbai -is a must-attend event for industry leaders, policymakers, technologists, academia, and developer communities working towards India’s digital leadership through Open Source platforms.

    The summit is hosted by Reliance Jio in partnership with the Linux Foundation and supported by Cisco Systems.

  • Open-source software simulates river and runoff resources

    Freshwater resources are finite, unevenly distributed, and changing through time. The demand—and competition—for water is expected to grow both in the United States and in the developing/developed world. To examine the connection between supply and demand and resulting regional and global water stresses, a team developed Xanthos. The open-source hydrologic model is available for free and helps researchers explore the details and analyze global water availability.

    Researchers can use Xanthos to examine the implications of different climate, socioeconomic, and/or energy scenarios over the 21st century. They can then assess the effects of the scenarios on regional and global water availability. Xanthos can be used in three different ways. It can operate as an independent hydrologic model, driven, for example, by scenarios. It can serve as the core freshwater supply component of the Global Change Assessment Model, where multiple sectors and natural systems are modeled simultaneously as part of an interconnected, complex system. Further, it can be used by other integrated models and multi-model frameworks that focus on energy-water-land interactions.

  • “The Apache Way” — Open source done well

    I was at an industry conference and was happy to see many people stopping by the Apache booth. I was pleased that they were familiar with the Apache brand, yet puzzled to learn that so many were unfamiliar with The Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

    For this special issue, “All Eyes On Open Source”, it’s important to recognize not just Apache’s diverse projects and communities, but also the entity behind their success.

    Gone are the days when software and technology, in general, were developed privately for the benefit of the few. As technology evolves, the challenges we face become more complex, and the only way to effectively move forward to create the technology of the future is to collaborate and work together. Open Source is a perfect framework for that, and organizations like the ASF carry out a decisive role in protecting its spirit and principles.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Telemetry Use Counters: Over-estimating usage, now fixed

        Firefox Telemetry records the usage of certain web features via a mechanism called Use Counters. Essentially, for every document that Firefox loads, we record a “false” if the document didn’t use a counted feature, and a “true” if the document did use that counted feature.

      • Firefox 58 new contributors
      • Giving and receiving help at Mozilla

        This is going to sound corny, but helping people really is one of my favorite things at Mozilla, even with projects I have mostly moved on from. As someone who primarily works on internal tools, I love hearing about bugs in the software I maintain or questions on how to use it best.

        Given this, you might think that getting in touch with me via irc or slack is the fastest and best way to get your issue addressed. We certainly have a culture of using these instant-messaging applications at Mozilla for everything and anything. Unfortunately, I have found that being “always on” to respond to everything hasn’t been positive for either my productivity or mental health. My personal situation aside, getting pinged on irc while I’m out of the office often results in stuff getting lost — the person who asked me the question is often gone by the time I return and am able to answer.

      • Friend of Add-ons: Trishul Goe

        Our newest Friend of Add-ons is Trishul Goel! Trishul first became involved with Mozilla five years when he was introduced to the Firefox OS smartphone. As a JavaScript developer with an interest in Mozilla’s mission, he looked for opportunities to get involved and began contributing to SUMO, L10n, and the Firefox OS Marketplace, where he contributed code and developed and reviewed apps.

        After Firefox OS was discontinued as a commercial product, Trishul became interested in contributing to Mozilla’s add-ons projects. After landing his first code contributions to addons.mozilla.org (AMO), he set about learning how to develop extensions for Firefox using WebExtensions APIs. Soon, he began sharing his knowledge by leading and mentoring workshops for extension developers as part of Mozilla’s “Build Your Own Extension” Activate campaign.

      • Making WebAssembly even faster: Firefox’s new streaming and tiering compiler

        People call WebAssembly a game changer because it makes it possible to run code on the web faster. Some of these speedups are already present, and some are yet to come.

        One of these speedups is streaming compilation, where the browser compiles the code while the code is still being downloaded. Up until now, this was just a potential future speedup. But with the release of Firefox 58 next week, it becomes a reality.

        Firefox 58 also includes a new 2-tiered compiler. The new baseline compiler compiles code 10–15 times faster than the optimizing compiler.

      • Firefox 58 Bringing Faster WebAssembly Compilation With Two-Tiered Compiler

        With the launch of Mozilla Firefox 58 slated for next week, WebAssembly will become even faster thanks to a new two-tiered compiler.

      • New Kernel Releases, Net Neutrality, Thunderbird Survey and More

        In an effort to protect Net Neutrality (and the internet), Mozilla filed a petition in federal court yesterday against the FCC. The idea behind Net Neutrality is to treat all internet traffic equally and without discrimination against content or type.

        Make your opinions heard: Monterail and the Thunderbird email client development team are asking for your assistance to help improve the user interface in the redesign of the Thunderbird application. Be sure to take the survey.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • LLVM 6.0-RC1 Makes Its Belated Debut

      While LLVM/Clang 6.0 was branched earlier this month and under a feature freeze with master/trunk moving to LLVM 7.0, two weeks later the first release candidate is now available.

      Normally the first release candidate comes immediately following the branching / feature freeze, but not this time due to the shifted schedule with a slow start to satisfy an unnamed company seeking to align their internal testing with LLVM 6.0.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Hackers can’t dig into latest Xiaomi phone due to GPL violations

      Yet another Android OEM is dragging its feet with its GPL compliance. This time, it’s Xiaomi with the Mi A1 Android One device, which still hasn’t seen a kernel source code release.

      Android vendors are required to release their kernel sources thanks to the Linux kernel’s GPLv2 licensing. The Mi A1 has been out for about three months now, and there’s still no source code release on Xiaomi’s official github account.

    • 2017 – The Year in Which Copyright Went Beyond Source Code

      2017 was a big year for raising the profile of copyright in protecting computer programs. Two cases in particular helped bring attention to a myth that was addressed and dispelled some time ago but persists in some circles nonetheless. Many lawyers hold on to the notion that copyright protection for software is weak because such protection inheres in the source code of computer programs. Because most companies that generate code take extensive (and often successful) measures to keep source code out of the hands of third parties, the utility of copyright protection for code is often viewed as limited. However, copyright also extends to the “non-literal elements” of computer programs, such as their sequence, structure and organization, as well as to things such as screen displays and certain user interfaces. In other words, copyright infringement can occur when copying certain outputs of the code without there ever having been access to the underlying code itself.

  • Programming/Development
    • Git v2.16.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.16.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 509 non-merge commits since v2.15.0, contributed by 91 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.16 Released

      Git maintainer Junio Hamano has released version 2.16.0 of this distributed revision control system.

    • Announcing The Node.js Application Showcase

      The stats around Node.js are pretty staggering. There were 25 million downloads of Node.js in 2017, with over one million of them happening on a single day. And these stats are just the users. On the community side, the numbers are equally exceptional.

      What explains this immense popularity? What we hear over and over is that, because Node.js is JavaScript, anyone who knows JS can apply that knowledge to build powerful apps — every kind of app. Node.js empowers everyone from hobbyists to the largest enterprise teams to bring their dreams to life faster than ever before.

    • Google AutoML Cloud: Now Build Machine Learning Models Without Coding Experience

      Google has been offering pre-trained neural networks for a long time. To lower the barrier of entry and make the AI available to all the developers and businesses around, Google has now introduced Cloud AutoML.

      With the help of Cloud AutoML, businesses will be able to build machine learning models with the help of a drag-and-drop interface. In other words, if your company doesn’t have expert machine-learning programmers, Google is here to fulfill your needs.

    • Re-imagining beta testing in the ever-changing world of automation

      Fundamentally, beta testing is a test of a product performed by real users in the real environment. There are a number of names for this type of testing—user acceptance testing (UAT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), customer validation and field testing (common in Europe)—but the basic components are more or less the same. All involve user testing of the front-end user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX) to find and resolve potential issues. Testing happens across iterations in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), from when an idea transforms into a design, across the development phases, to after unit and integration testing.

    • IBM code grandmaster: what Java does next

      Reports of Java’s death have been greatly exaggerated — said, well, pretty much every Java engineer that there is.

      The Java language and platform may have been (in some people’s view) somewhat unceremoniously shunted into a side ally by the self-proclaimed aggressive corporate acquisition strategists (their words, not ours) at Oracle… but Java still enjoys widespread adoption and, in some strains, growing use and development.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Announcing WebBook Level 1, a new Web-based format for electronic books

      Eons ago, at a time BlueGriffon was only a Wysiwyg editor for the Web, my friend Mohamed Zergaoui asked why I was not turning BlueGriffon into an EPUB editor… I had been observing the electronic book market since the early days of Cytale and its Cybook but I was not involved into it on a daily basis. That seemed not only an excellent idea, but also a fairly workable one. EPUB is based on flavors of HTML so I would not have to reinvent the wheel.

      I started diving into the EPUB specs the very same day, EPUB 2.0.1 (released in 2009) at that time. I immediately discovered a technology that was not far away from the Web but that was also clearly not the Web. In particular, I immediately saw that two crucial features were missing: it was impossible to aggregate a set of Web pages into a EPUB book through a trivial zip, and it was impossible to unzip a EPUB book and make it trivially readable inside a Web browser even with graceful degradation.

      When the IDPF started working on EPUB 3.0 (with its 3.0.1 revision) and 3.1, I said this was coming too fast, and that the lack of Test Suites with interoperable implementations as we often have in W3C exit criteria was a critical issue. More importantly, the market was, in my opinion, not ready to absorb so quickly two major and one minor revisions of EPUB given the huge cost on both publishing chains and existing ebook bases. I also thought – and said – the EPUB 3.x specifications were suffering from clear technical issues, including the two missing features quoted above.

Leftovers
  • Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0

    Bernstein offers three answers to these questions, and also warns of three distractions: things that we believe are making things better, but may actually be making things worse. It seems a good time to revisit them. Let’s get the distractions out of the way first.

  • Science
    • Crowds within crowd found to outperform ‘wisdom of the crowd’

      A team of researchers affiliated with institutions in Argentina, the U.S. and Germany has found that there is a way to improve on the “wisdom of the crowd”—separate the people in a given crowd into smaller groups and let them talk about an issue at hand before an answer is given. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes an experiment they carried out with a large crowd of volunteers, and what they learned from it.

      Most people have heard of the “wisdom of the crowd,” in which individuals in a crowd are privately asked to give an answer to a question, such as how many jelly beans are in a jar. When averaged together, the answer given by the crowd will generally be better than for any given individual. Now, it appears there may be a way to improve the accuracy of a crowd.

    • The Physics of the 69-Degree Intersection That Kills Cyclists

      In short, the problem comes about because of the angle of the intersection (it’s not perpendicular) and the angle of the blind spot in the car from its front pillar.

    • A material that superconducts continuously up to extreme pressures

      Researchers have discovered a metal alloy that can conduct electricity with zero resistance, or superconduct, from ambient pressure up to pressures similar to those that exist near the center of the Earth. The material, which is likely the first to show this kind of robust superconductivity, is described in a paper in the December 12, 2017, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

      The material is a member of a new family of metal alloys known as high-entropy alloys (HEAs), which are composed of random atomic-scale mixtures of elements from the block of “transition metals” on the periodic table. HEAs are interesting in multiple ways, including structurally. They have simple crystal structures, but the metals are arranged randomly on the lattice points, giving each alloy the properties of a both a glass and a crystalline material.

    • Study: Pulsating dissolution found in crystals

      When German researchers examined time-lapse images of dissolving crystals at the nanoscale, they found a surprise: Dissolution happened in pulses, marked by waves that spread just like ripples on a pond.

      “What we see are waves or rings,” said lead investigator Cornelius Fischer, who conducted this research at the University of Bremen in the group of Prof. Andreas Lüttge. “We have a pit in the middle, and then around these pits are rings of mass removal.” The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fischer and Lüttge specialize in studying minerals-fluid interactions, and have collaborated for more than 15 years in the US and Germany.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

      This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that was made from soybean oil. They’re doing it, though, not because it’s cheaper or better, but because they’re required to, by law.

      The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it’s the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it’s a wasteful misuse of resources.

    • MEAT AND THE H-WORD

      I am going to beg you. I am going to desperately plead with you. Let me say the word, and let me say why I’m saying the word, and then let’s have a discussion about it. I know that for some people, even to suggest that the word might apply to this case is tantamount to denialism. Just to have the conversation is to dishonor the victims. I realize, too, that I don’t strictly need this word, of all words, in order to discuss the subject. I have been advised that it is counterproductive: feelings about the word are so fraught that the offense caused will outweigh any good I could possibly do, and will cause me to be far less persuasive than I otherwise would be. And isn’t this about persuasion, ultimately? But I can’t help it: every time I examine the facts, I can’t stop thinking the word. If I’m being honest with you, and I want to be, I need to be able to tell you the question that I’m stuck on, and the question contains the word.

      The word is “holocaust” and the question is this: “Given the amount of suffering and death that it entails, why is it improper to describe the mass slaughter of animals for human consumption as a holocaust?”

      I appreciate why people react badly to any description of the loss of non-human life as a holocaust. One of the most disturbing features of the capital-H Holocaust was the dehumanization process. David Livingstone Smith, in Less Than Human, describes how a common prerequisite to atrocities is reconfiguring perceptions of a group, to make them seem not just metaphorically but literally “subhuman.” We all know that the Nazis described the Jews as rats and the Hutus describe the Tutsis as cockroaches. “Comparing people to animals” is such a common feature of organized brutality that any argument to draw parallels between animal-victims and people-victims can be seen as partly replicating the very thought process that led to the actual Holocaust.

    • Global Summit On IP And Access Discusses Impact Of TRIPS-Plus Measures On Public Health

      A network of civil society organisations chose the birthplace of the World Trade Organization, Marrakesh, to hold a global summit on intellectual property and access to medicines this week. Part of the summit focused on stringent IP measures in free trade agreements in particular with the European Union, introducing patent term extension and data exclusivity periods.

    • Dangerous Deliveries

      Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

    • Supermarkets under pressure to reveal amount of plastic they create

      Supermarkets are coming under growing pressure from politicians and campaigners to reveal the amount of plastic they create, and pay more towards its safe disposal, following a Guardian investigation.

      Amid mounting concern about the devastating environmental impact of plastic pollution around the globe, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost 1m tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year.

      However, the system is shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian asked leading retailers to reveal the exact amount of waste they are responsible for, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Lidl all refused, saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Latvia’s e-health system hit by cyberattack from abroad

      Latvia said its new e-health system was on Tuesday hit by a large-scale cyberattack that saw thousands of requests for medical prescriptions pour in per second from more than 20 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the European Union.

      No data was compromised, according to health officials, who immediately took down the site, which was launched earlier this month to streamline the writing of prescriptions in the Baltic state.

      “It is clear that it was a planned attack, a widespread attack—we might say a specialised one—as it emanated from computers located in various different countries, both inside the European Union and outside Europe,” state secretary Aivars Lapins told reporters.

      “We received thousands of requests in a very short space of time. That’s not the normal way the system works,” he said, adding that an investigation is under way.

    • Linux Lite Developer Creates Automated Spectre/Meltdown Checker for Linux OSes

      The developer of the Ubuntu-based Linux Lite distribution has created a script that makes it easier for Linux users to check if their systems are vulnerable to the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws.

      As we reported last week, developer Stéphane Lesimple created an excellent script that would check if your Linux distribution’s kernel is patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month and put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Purism Releases Meltdown and Spectre Patches for Its Librem Linux Laptops

      Purism, the computer technology company behind the privacy-focused, Linux-based Librem laptops and the upcoming smartphone, released patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities.

      The company was one of the first Linux OEMs and OS vendor to announce that it’s working on addressing both the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits on his Linux laptops. Meltdown and Spectre have been unearthed in early January and they are two severe hardware bugs that put billions of devices at risk of attacks.

    • Facebook Awards Security Researchers $880,000 in 2017 Bug Bounties

      Facebook is hardly a small organization, with large teams of engineers and security professionals on staff. Yet even Facebook has found that it can profit from expertise outside of the company, which is why the social networking giant has continued to benefit from its bug bounty program.

      In 2017, Facebook paid out $880,000 to security researchers as part of its bug bounty program. The average reward payout in 2017 was $1,900, up from $1,675 in 2016.

    • Multicloud Deployments Create Security Challenges, F5 Report Finds
    • Will U.S. Corporations Ever Take Cybersecurity Seriously?

      It’s another month, and another major IT-related security problem has been uncovered. The latest, the security flaws discovered in Intel, AMD, and AMR chips that can allow the bypassing of operating system security protections are a bit different than most vulnerabilities. They are hardware rather than software-based, and their impacts are exceptionally widespread, impacting nearly every Intel processor made since the mid-1990s. Billions of chips in total could be affected.

    • Spectre Mitigation Updates Available for Testing in Ubuntu Proposed
    • What is Mirai Okiru? New botnet found targeting billions of ARC-based IoT devices worldwide

      ARC-embedded processors are found in a wide range of internet-connected devices including cars, mobiles, TVs and cameras and are reportedly shipped in more than a billion products every year.

    • Hospital pays $55,000 in bitcoin to hackers [sic] after ‘SamSam’ ransomware locks systems [iophk: "hospital + Microsoft financing more crime"]

      Last Thursday (11 January), staff at Hancock Regional Hospital, Indiana, found their computers had been infected with malware, which was demanding bitcoin to regain access. As reported, the hack [sic] impacted emails and health records, but no patient data is believed stolen.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Assange recalls fake reporting on Turkish defeated coup

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pointed out the fake news regarding defeated coup in Turkey was not mentioned in U.S. President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “Fake News Awards”.

      “The most serious case of recent fake news is not on Trump’s #FakeNewsAwards list. NBC substantially assisted the military coup in Turkey which killed hundreds,” Assange wrote on his official Twitter account.

      Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 others injured.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Fracking Lobbyists Plan to Spend Big at Trump Hotel

      FRACKING FIRMS HAVE had much to celebrate over the last year, as the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have moved swiftly to approve pipeline projects, roll back environmental regulations, and expand drilling access on public lands.

      It may come as no surprise, then, that the fracking lobby is the latest industry to return the favor by spending thousands of dollars at a Trump family property.

      The Independent Petroleum Association of America will hold its 2018 “Congressional Call-Up” lobbying event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. from March 5 to 7. The agenda, which is publicly available, includes a meeting with officials in Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as meetings for conference attendees that will take place at the hotel.

    • Europe will hike climate finance spending, insists Cañete

      The EU’s climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete has vowed to increase the bloc’s funding for climate change adaption, pledging that 20% of the EU’s foreign spending would be allocated to climate-related projects.

      Speaking at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on Wednesday (17 January), Cañete, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action, insisted that EU-provided climate finance to developing countries would increase in 2018.

      However, he warned that public money could not form the main contribution to the $100 billion annual target which wealthy countries have promised to invest in renewable energy and climate change mitigation projects in developing countries.

  • Finance
    • Apple to pay $38 billion in US taxes on overseas cash

      Apple didn’t have a choice about this. Under the new tax bill, all overseas cash is subject to a one-time 15.5 percent tax whether Apple leaves it overseas or moves it to the United States.

    • Apple to repatriate overseas cash stash, invest heavily in US

      Apple will pay taxes of about US$38 billion in order to repatriate the US$246 billion in cash it holds overseas, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • Homeland Security’s Over Obsession With Counterfeits Now Harming Innocent Buyers Of Counterfeit Goods Online

      For many years we’ve talked about the kind of derangement that happens among many — especially among those working for Homeland Security’s Customs and ICE divisions — considering the supposed “dangers” of counterfeit goods. Over and over again we’ve pointed to studies that have shown that the “harm” of counterfeits is massively overblown. And these are not just random studies picked out of a hat. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the OECD have put out studies on this. When you look at the details, you quickly learn that while there are a few cases of people tricked by counterfeit goods — and a vanishingly small number of cases where people are put at risk due to counterfeits — in many, many cases, no one is actually losing out due to counterfeits. They are frequently an aspirational buy. That is, the buyer knows they’re buying a counterfeit good, but are doing so because they so appreciate the real version, but can’t afford it. And studies show that buyers of counterfeits quite frequently buy the real deal later when they’re able to afford it. Thus, counterfeits often act as marketing for the original.

      But, for whatever reason, Homeland Security likes to play up the “threats” of counterfeits and makes lots of noise about how many counterfeit things it seizes at the border every year (or… not at the border — such as the time it raided a lingerie store to get “counterfeit” panties advertising sports teams). And sure, Homeland Security really really wants you to believe it’s protecting the public with this kind of thing.

    • 5 key reasons bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies have lost a stunning $370 billion in 10 days

      The No. 1 digital currency and its cohort continued to unravel Wednesday, extending a downturn that has seen the entire sector cough up a whopping $370 billion since Jan. 7, or more than 40% of their total value.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Art of State Trolling – a Growing Market

      Last week, while I was doing a number of talks for Funzing.com in London, I was invited into RT to discuss a new report about the US military advertising for programmers who could develop software that targeted Iranian, Chinese and Russian audiences via social media.

      The timing proved interesting. Only days before, it was revealed by @musalbas at the CCC and then via Wikileaks that the UK government listening post, GCHQ, had apparently been doing the same thing since 2009.

    • Porn Star Stormy Daniels to In Touch: Trump Said I Was “Just Like His Daughter”

      Although Donald Trump is alleged to have paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about a reported affair that took place 10 years previously, In Touch Weekly has published an interview with Daniels from 2011, before the signing of any NDA, in which she spills intimate details of meeting the then-Apprentice host at a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe.

      A frequent theme throughout the interview concerns Trump being taken aback by how smart and business savvy Daniels was, with Trump going so far as to tell Daniels that he wanted to put her on The Apprentice. One of Daniels’s quotes on the subject which In Touch published in the print edition of the story but not online, is particularly striking.

    • “It’s Even Worse Than You Think”: David Cay Johnston on Trump’s First Year in Office

      Uninformed. That was the word White House Chief of Staff John Kelly used to describe his boss, President Trump, on Thursday. According to The Washington Post, Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that some of Trump’s hardline immigration policies—including his call to build a wall along the entire southern border— were “uninformed.” Kelly said, “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed.” Well, today we spend the hour looking at Trump’s first year in office with David Cay Johnston, a journalist who has been covering Donald Trump since 1988. He is out this week with a new book titled “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • YouTube to manually review popular videos before placing ads

      Previously, creators could join YPP if they had more than 10,000 views over the lifetime of their activity on the site. Now, however, they will need 1,000 subscribers to their channel, and a total of 4,000 hours of video viewed over the previous 12 months.

    • Quack Doctor Treating Cancer With Baking Soda Sues Skeptic For Questioning Her Cancer Treatment Methods

      Very little attracts legal threats faster than someone calling a quack a quack. If it energizes tap water like a duck and promotes off-label use of dangerous drugs like a duck, it’s probably a duck. The legal history of “alternative” medical practices is littered with cease-and-desist orders and failed lawsuits. The legal present is just as cluttered.

      Blogger/skeptic Britt Hermes could have gone down the road to quack infamy. She was on the “naturopathic” career path when she came to the realization the whole things was horseshit. Rather than exploit the horseshit to make sick people sicker, Hermes decided to let the world know just how much horseshit her former colleagues were peddling.

    • Psychiatrist Drops His Lawsuit Against Critic Who Left Wordless One-Star Review

      It looks like the psychiatrist who sued a pseudonymous reviewer over a wordless one-star review has finally decided to stop digging this particular hole. Since news broke of psychiatrist Mark Beale’s defamation suit against “Richard Hill,” Beale has amassed a great many one-star reviews by non-patients. There’s no telling if Beale will be seeking to file an en masse lawsuit against these Does (taking a page out of copyright trolls’ handbooks), but this cannot possibly be what he envisioned when he decided the original one-star review was worth suing over.

      Unbelievably, Beale managed to convince a judge to allow him to seek the real identity of “Richard Hill” in order to continue with his lawsuit. Not only did the judge give enough credence to Beale’s argument that a one-star review was per se defamatory, but the judge granted the unmasking order, calling a review of business “commercial speech” — something given less protection under the First Amendment.

    • David North, Chris Hedges and WSWS.Org on Organizing Against Internet Censorship

      On January 16, 2018, the World Socialist Web Site hosted a discussion on Internet censorship, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and WSWS International Editorial Board Chairperson David North, moderated by WSWS reporter Andre Damon.

      The webinar explored the political context of the efforts to censor the Internet and abolish net neutrality, examined the pretexts used to justify the suppression of free speech (i.e., “fake news”), and discussed political strategies to defend democratic rights. Hedges and North also fielded questions from on-line listeners.

    • Terry Glavin: As China pushes censorship on B.C. students, democracy falls back

      It’s a story about the way the Beijing regime bullies people far beyond its borders, with a few amusing twists and several disgusting instances of corporate cowardice, but it begins innocently enough, with a 28-year-old student at the University of British Columbia and a post he put up on Twitter last Wednesday.

      Shawn Zhang, a Peking University alumnus who came to Canada on a student visa two years ago to study law, posted an image of the Tibetan flag below a tongue-in-cheek announcement on the Twitter account of Friends of Tibet, a solidarity group based in India that keeps an eye on China’s brutal occupation of the exiled Dalai Lama’s Himalayan homeland.

    • Philippines: Journalists Decry Gov’t Crackdown Against News Outlet Rappler

      In the Philippines, journalists and press freedom advocates are condemning Duterte’s government for trying to shut down the highly popular independent news outlet Rappler. On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s license to operate on the charges that the website is foreign-owned, even though the website is owned by Filipinos. This morning, the Philippines Justice Department authorized the opening of a criminal investigation into the website. Rappler and press freedom advocates say the website is being targeted for its critical reporting on Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and his devastating so-called drug war.

    • Student journalists speak up for Missouri bill that would shield them from censorship

      Opioids, race and politics are some of the topics Kirkwood High School senior Camille Baker has led coverage of as her school newspaper’s editor in chief.

      She’s lucky enough to have the support of her school’s leaders. But she realizes her peers across the state may not have the same freedom.

      On Wednesday, she testified before a Missouri House committee in support of a bill that would prohibit a school’s administration from censoring student journalists.

    • To Combat High-Profile Abuse of Its Platform, YouTube Punishes Small Timers
    • Lebanon allows Spielberg film ‘The Post’ after censorship threat
    • Conservatives invited to pressure Twitter over censorship
    • Assange Keeps Warning Of AI Censorship, And It’s Time We Started Listening

      Throughout the near entirety of human history, a population’s understanding of what’s going on in the world has been controlled by those in power. The men in charge controlled what the people were told about rival populations, the history of their tribe and its leadership, etc. When the written word was invented, men in charge dictated what books were permitted to be written and circulated, what ideas were allowed, what narratives the public would be granted access to.

      This continued straight on into modern times. Where power is not overtly totalitarian, wealthy elites have bought up all media, first in print, then radio, then television, and used it to advance narratives that are favorable to their interests. Not until humanity gained widespread access to the internet has our species had the ability to freely and easily share ideas and information on a large scale without regulation by the iron-fisted grip of power. This newfound ability arguably had a direct impact on the election for the most powerful elected office in the most powerful government in the world in 2016, as a leak publishing outlet combined with alternative and social media enabled ordinary Americans to tell one another their own stories about what they thought was going on in their country.

    • Libraries sue Elbert County Commissioner over censorship fears

      Libraries in Elbert County are suing county commissioners who want to take a stronger role in determining who is appointed to lead boards and commissions.

      Next reported last month that the three new Republican commissioners voted to approve a policy that states appointments to boards or committees are to be “generally reflective of the overall citizenry of the county.”

      Now, Pines and Plains Libraries, which are part of the Elbert County Library District, are suing the board of county commissioners. The libraries want an injunction to stop the commissioners from interfering with its board of trustees.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • EU GDPR and personal data in web server logs

      Web server logs contains information classified as personal data by default under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new privacy regulation comes in effect in May 2018, and just about everyone needs to take action now to become compliant.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing you legal advise. Contact your legal council for help interpreting and implementing the GDPR. This article is provided for entertainment purposes, and amounts to nothing but my interpretation of the GDPR.

      The General Data Protection Regulation shifts the default operating mode for personal data collection from collect and store as much information about everyone as possible for all eternity to don’t collect any information about anyone unless there is documented and informed consent for the collection; and don’t use that information for anything but the specific purposes consent were given for. The GDPR turns big-data collection of personal data on the web from an asset to a liability with fines as high as 20 000 000 Euro or 4 % of global revenue (whichever is greater).

      I’ve limited the scope of this article to discuss and focus on some of the technical requirements surrounding personal data collected by default in the logs generated by popular web server software. I’ll not go through the entire GDPR and all the requirements, but focus on some actionable points.

    • Sweatcoin lets you earn crypto for working out

      Want a way to workout and earn some coin? Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store for helping folks get something more than just a glow for taking those daily steps.

      The startup says it has accumulated more than 5 million users in the past year and increased revenue by 266 percent in the last quarter. There are more than 2 million weekly active users on the app, and growing, making it one of the fastest-growing fitness apps in the App Store and second to the top in the free apps, next only to the Google Arts & Culture app that blew up over the weekend.

      It works like this: users sign up and then hook up their smartphone’s health and fitness data and GPS location to the app. The app then tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you a monetary “sweat” value according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins.” Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards and a number of other offerings.

    • Using AI To Identify Car Models In 50 Million Google Street Views Reveals A Wide Range Of Demographic Information

      Google Street View is a great resource for taking a look at distant locations before travelling, or for visualizing a nearby address before driving there. But Street View images are much more than vivid versions of otherwise flat maps: they are slices of modern life, conveniently sorted by geolocation. That means they can provide all kinds of insights into how society operates, and what the differences are geographically. The tricky part is extracting that information. An article in the New York Times reports on how researchers at Stanford University have applied artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to 50 million Google Street View images taken in 200 US cities. Since analyzing images of people directly is hard and fraught with privacy concerns, the researchers concentrated on a proxy: cars.

    • US Telcos Threatened With Loss Of Government Contracts If They Do Business With Huawei

      Last week we noted how AT&T was forced to scrap a partnership with Huawei to sell the company’s smartphones here in the States, just hours before it was set to be announced at CES. The reason? Apparently a few members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees fired off a letter to the FCC demanding that they pressure US telcos into avoiding Huawei. The letter, which nobody has published, allegedly accuses the company of being little more than an intelligence proxy for the Chinese government.

      There are several problems with this. While it’s certainly possible that Huawei helps the Chinese government spy, there’s been no hard evidence of this. In fact, numerous investigations (including one eighteen months long) found no evidence of any spying whatsoever. What inquiries did find is that these allegations pretty consistently originate with U.S. hardware vendors like Cisco, who routinely enjoy playing up the threat simply because they don’t want to compete with Chinese hardware vendors. You know, the very same thing we routinely (often quite accurately) complain about China doing.

    • Privacy expectations and the connected home

      Traditionally, devices that were tied to logins tended to indicate that in some way – turn on someone’s xbox and it’ll show you their account name, run Netflix and it’ll ask which profile you want to use. The increasing prevalence of smart devices in the home changes that, in ways that may not be immediately obvious to the majority of people. You can configure a Philips Hue with wall-mounted dimmers, meaning that someone unfamiliar with the system may not recognise that it’s a smart lighting system at all. Without any actively malicious intent, you end up with a situation where the account holder is able to infer whether someone is home without that person necessarily having any idea that that’s possible. A visitor who uses an Amazon Echo is not necessarily going to know that it’s tied to somebody’s Amazon account, and even if they do they may not know that the log (and recorded audio!) of all interactions is available to the account holder. And someone grabbing an egg out of your fridge is almost certainly not going to think that your smart egg tray will trigger an immediate notification on the account owner’s phone that they need to buy new eggs.

      Things get even more complicated when there’s multiple account support. Google Home supports multiple users on a single device, using voice recognition to determine which queries should be associated with which account. But the account that was used to initially configure the device remains as the fallback, with unrecognised voices ended up being logged to it. If a voice is misidentified, the query may end up being logged to an unexpected account.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • DHS’ Threat to Prosecute Officials of Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional

      In testimony before Congress yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed that her agency is seeking the prosecution of state and local officials in jurisdictions that limit their entanglement with federal immigration enforcement.

      Even in the context of the Trump administration’s frequent disregard for the Constitution, Nielsen’s threat to prosecute mayors, legislators, and police chiefs over policy disagreements is shocking. There is no basis in federal law to prosecute government officials who decide, with and on behalf of their constituents, that their communities are better served by opting out of participation in the federal deportation system. And that kind of prosecution would be an assault on the principles at the core of our constitutional system.

    • Judging WaPo’s MLK Quotes by the Content of Their 280 Characters

      It’s a predictable approach—removing MLK’s critiques of capitalism and US imperialism—from a reliable protector of capitalism (1/30/16, 11/1/16, 10/3/17) and US imperial aggression (2/6/03, 5/25/17, 6/26/17, 12/4/17), but rarely is sanitizing MLK done in such a haphazard and patronizing fashion. Not only is all blood taken from his words, but the quotes highlighted seem handpicked precisely to ameliorate the guilt of the Post’s more conservative white readers in the hackiest manner possible; a shoddy whitewash by a paper supposedly representing a majority African-American city.

    • Innocent But Still Guilty

      After Fred Steese spent two decades in a Nevada prison for murder, evidence indicating that he was innocent was found buried in the prosecution’s files. It was proof that Steese, as he’d always claimed, had been hundreds of miles away on the likely day of the murder and couldn’t have been the killer.

      In Maryland two years earlier, the conviction of James Thompson, who had also served 20 years for murder and rape and whose case involved police and prosecutorial misconduct, was thrown into overwhelming doubt when his DNA didn’t match the semen found in the victim.

    • Sheriff’s Officers Working Black Section of Jacksonville to Get Bias Training

      The training will be conducted by Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Daytona Beach. It will be concentrated on officers and residents of the Sheriff Office’s Zone 5, which makes up Northwest Jacksonville. That patrol zone has among the highest concentrations of black residents in the city. Research released by the University of North Florida last year showed that the patrol zone has the lowest level of trust in law enforcement.

      Trainings for officers will focus on improving negative perceptions and attitudes that exist between the community and police. The university’s work with local residents will center on the community’s role in neighborhood safety and how citizens can improve relationships with police. The training will involve 135 Sheriff’s Office personnel and 120 community members and 52 total hours of training. It will cost about $23,500.

    • China: Democracy Activist Sentenced to Prison for 2014 Hong Kong Protests

      In more news on China, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to three months in prison for his role in organizing the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests in Hong Kong. This is Joshua Wong, speaking before his sentencing Wednesday.

    • Mechanical Turkers may have out-predicted the most popular crime-predicting algorithm

      The most surprising results came when researchers compared COMPAS to other kinds of prediction. Farid and Dressel recruited 462 random workers through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, and asked the Turkers to “read a few sentences about an actual person and predict if they will commit a crime in the future.” They were paid one dollar for completing the task, with a five dollar bonus if their accuracy was over 65 percent. Surprisingly, the median Turker ended up two points better than COMPAS, clocking in at 67 percent accuracy.

    • Study shows software used to predict repeat offenders is no better at it than untrained humans

      “Claims that secretive and seemingly sophisticated data tools are more accurate and fair than humans are simply not supported by our research findings,” said Dressel. “The use of such software may be doing nothing to help people who could be denied a second chance by black-box algorithms.”

    • Crime-Predicting Algorithms May Not Fare Much Better Than Untrained Humans

      “There was essentially no difference between people responding to an online survey for a buck and this commercial software being used in the courts,” says Farid, who teaches computer science at Dartmouth. “If this software is only as accurate as untrained people responding to an online survey, I think the courts should consider that when trying to decide how much weight to put on them in making decisions.”

    • Algorithms that change lives should be trialled like new drugs

      Who should we listen to when deciding whether a criminal will reoffend: a sophisticated algorithm, or random people on the internet? Trick question – it turns out they both produce the same results, according to a new analysis that demonstrates the danger of handing over control of our lives to the machines.

    • Court Software No Better Than Mechanical Turks at Predicting Repeat Crime

      Software now widely used by courts to predict which criminals are likely to commit future crimes might be no more accurate than regular people with presumably little to no criminal justice expertise, a new study finds.

      Predictive algorithms now regularly make recommendations regarding music, ads, health care, stock trades, auto insurance, and bank loans, among other things. In the criminal justice system, such algorithms have been used to predict where crimes will likely occur, who is likely to commit violent crimes, who is likely to fail to appear at their court hearings, and who is likely to repeat criminal behavior in the future.

    • Trump’s Roundup of Immigrant Leaders Has Begun

      On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, President Donald J. Trump visited his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly his 91st trip to a golf club since taking office. Meanwhile, in New York City, hundreds rallied in Judson Memorial Church, demanding freedom for Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir, two men who had just been detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Both men have been in the U.S. for almost 60 years between them, and both are prominent immigrant-rights organizers. They aren’t the only ones who’ve been targeted by ICE lately, either, suggesting a concerted effort by the Trump administration to round up leaders in the immigrant community.

      Jean Montrevil, originally from Haiti, has been in the U.S. for over 30 years. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also is one of those countries that Trump reportedly singled out in a racist screed last Thursday, calling Haiti, El Salvador and countries in Africa “shitholes.” The comment was made at the White House, where Trump and senators were discussing a possible legislative deal on immigration. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here,” Trump reportedly asked, adding, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He went on to say that we need more immigrants from places like Norway, one of the whitest countries on the planet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • 22 US states are suing the FCC over net neutrality

      The suit has been filed in the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia. Joining them, are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

    • 22 State Attorneys General File Suit Against The FCC For Its Net Neutrality Repeal

      The legal fight over the FCC’s historically unpopular decision to kill net neutrality has begun. An announcement by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office indicates that 22 State Attorneys General have filed suit against the FCC. The AGs says the multi-state coalition has filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first of what’s expected to be numerous lawsuits in the weeks and months to come.

      The announcement makes it clear the suit intends to focus on the FCC’s potential violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the Act the FCC will need to prove that the broadband market changed so substantially since the passage of the original rules in 2015 to warrant such a stark reversal (tip: it didn’t). Under the Act, a decision can be declared “arbitrary and capricious” (Ajit Pai’s agenda is undeniably both) if the regulator in question can’t prove such a dramatic change, which is why you’ve watched industry lobbyists and their BFF Pai routinely and falsely claim that the modest rules somehow devastated sector investment.

    • Senate Democrats Push for a Net Neutrality Vote. Do They Have a Chance?

      Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday that they were one supporter away from winning a vote to restore the so-called net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission rolled back in December.

      But even if Democrats win that vote, Democrats have a long ways to go before they are able to reinstate rules that prevent internet service providers from creating fast and slow lanes for online users. Here is a look at their difficult road ahead, and some of the motivations:

    • Apple Is Blocking an App That Detects Net Neutrality Violations From the App Store

      The most pervasive feeling about the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality repeal is one of hopelessness. If we all need to use the internet, big telecom companies control our access to the internet, and there’s no choice about what company to use, how are we supposed to stop these companies from messing with our connections?

      The FCC has suggested that consumer outrage will prevent companies from violating net neutrality, but it if you’re not a network engineer, it can be hard to know if net neutrality is being violated at all. David Coffnes, a researcher at Northeastern University, set out to change that. He created an app to detect net neutrality violations, but Apple has banned it from the App Store, preventing consumers from accessing the information they need to at least know when they’re getting screwed over.

  • DRM
    • Open-Source HDCP Support Gets Extended To More Platforms

      With the Linux 4.17 kernel (not the upcoming 4.16 cycle) there is likely to be added initial HDCP support to Intel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver. Ahead of that this High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection support continues getting improved upon.

      While Google developers working on Chrome/Chromium OS were the ones originally working on the patches and proposing this HDCP functionality be upstreamed into the mainline i915 DRM Linux driver, coming out today are patches from an Intel developer for extending the HDCP content protection coverage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • The Commodores Trademark Fight Decided in Florida Court

        The exclusive right to use The Commodores’ name and trademarks belongs to a company run by founding members William King and Walter Orange, a Florida appellate court has ruled.

        Commodores Entertainment Corporation, a company run by King and Orange, in 2014 sued ex-bandmate Thomas McClary for trademark infringement after discovering that he had been performing using variations of the famous funk group’s name. (McClary left the band in 1984.)

      • A Trademark War Almost Tore Apart The Adult Baby Community

        A company that makes diapers for the adult baby/diaper lover fetish community (known as ABDL) gave up on its attempt to trademark the term “ABDL” on Thursday after message boards for the community exploded in anger last week.

        Rearz, a Canadian-based supplier of adult diapers with cutesy patterns and other adult baby accessories, like pacifiers, told BuzzFeed News, “we had no malicious or strange intentions in trying to register it, but obviously it struck a nerve with people. This is a community we love and serve, and we don’t want to make people feel less valuable.”

      • Community Backlash Leads Adult Diaper Company To Drop Its Trademark Application for ‘ABDL’

        When a company goes down a wrong or abusive road regarding trademark rights, the public has a lot of tools for remedy. Legal disputes between interested parties can often times correct a company attempting to secure trademark rights it ought not have. Invalidating a trademark that never should have been granted is another tool. But often times, the best and quickest remedies can come from the public itself in the form of a good old fashioned backlash.

        The likelihood of such a backlash is necessarily a function of the devotion of a particular fanbase. The craft beer industry has had to learn this lesson several times, with a portion of the public devoted to seeing the industry thrive also being unwilling to let stand aggressive trademark bullying that threatens that same industry. We saw another of these backlash instances cause a company to reverse course recently and I struggle to think of a more potentially devoted fanbase to an industry than those among us whose fetish is role-playing as adult babies.

    • Copyrights
      • Pirate IPTV Mastermind Owns Raided Bulgarian ISP, Sources Say

        Last week police forces across Europe raided and shut down one of the largest ‘pirate’ IPTV operations in the world. With information continuing to drip out, the true scale is now becoming clear. In Bulgaria alone, where the illicit service had its alleged base,140 servers were seized. Only adding to the intrigue are fresh claims that the owner of a local ISP was the brains behind the entire operation.

      • How Closed Trade Deals Ratchet Up the Copyright Term Worldwide

        Although copyright is a subject of international law—principally the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s Berne Convention from 1886 and its Internet Treaties from 1996—it is still implemented and enforced primarily through national laws. Those laws differ from one country to another in significant ways. One of the most significant differences is the length of the term of copyright protection, which varies from the life of the author plus 50 years (the Berne Convention’s minimum requirement), up to life plus 100 years (in Mexico).

        Differences in the law aren’t a bug; they’re a feature. Just as a country has the right to craft specific exceptions to copyright law based on its own national circumstances (for example in India, where many foreign books are not available for sale, copyright law allows public libraries to make up to three copies of such books), so too it should be able to adopt the copyright term that makes the most sense for its citizens—which in most if not all cases will be the shortest term allowed.

        But because differences in copyright term make things more complicated for copyright holders, there are constant efforts by some copyright holders to try to homogenize the duration of copyright so that they can more easily enforce their copyrights worldwide—and of course, they would like them to be harmonized at the life-plus-70 year term, so that they can extract another 20 years of monopoly rents, over and above the Berne Convention’s standard life-plus-50 year term. Trade agreements are one way that they are trying to achieve this. Here’s how.

      • Kim Dotcom Loses Megaupload Domain Names, Gets “Destroyed” Gaming Chair Back

        The U.S. Government has won another civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. As a result, the U.S. now owns several online bank accounts, cars, servers, as well as Megaupload’s domain names. Around the same time, the US returned two containers of seized property, as previously ordered by a Hong Kong court. These goods were not treated properly, according to an outraged Dotcom.

Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

Thursday 18th of January 2018 12:34:24 PM

Sleight of hand, but extortion is still extortion

Summary: A review of Microsoft’s ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the “enforcement” element in this whole racket

THE ‘new’ Microsoft is no different from the company we wrote about back in the “Boycott Novell” days; only the marketing/PR has improved. The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about those things.

“The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about it.”Extortion using patents doesn’t work as most people assume; people tend to believe that patents are being used only when there’s a lawsuit. But no… that’s not how it usually works. As United for Patent Reform has just put it: “A report by @marklemley @kentrichardson @elosf found a silent tax on #innovation: 70% of #patent-related threats didn’t result in litigation, meaning the costs of over-broad litigation never go to court.”

For those who have patience and time (the Internet discourages reading of long articles), here is the paper from Professor Lemley, who is renowned for his strong views about patent aggression.

Abstract says:

How often do companies and individuals assert patents outside of litigation? No one knows for sure. The problem is that licensing negotiations and license deals that don’t result in litigation are almost invariably kept secret. The result is that patent litigation is like the proverbial tip of the iceberg – the observable piece sticking out of the water, but probably not all or even most of what there is. Various people have speculated that unlitigated (and therefore unobserved) assertions are a majority and probably as much as 90% of all patent enforcement.

We wanted to know how often companies were approached to take patent licenses without a lawsuit being filed. So we asked them. Using a simple survey, we got data from dozens of companies about how often they were sued, how often they were approached to take a license without being sued, and the characteristics of those licensing proposals. The result is the first real look at what goes on beneath the surface of patent enforcement.

We found that while patent litigation does not reflect everything that is going on, there was less unlitigated – and therefore unseen – patent enforcement than some of us had thought. Roughly one-third of all patent licensing efforts among our survey respondents end in litigation, significantly less than the 10% some had predicted. And, for the majority of respondents, about one half of the demands end in litigation. Our results allow us to get a handle on the actual size of the patent enforcement business and to try to estimate the total cost of responding to enforcement efforts. We offer some ballpark estimates of the cost of responding to patent assertions in Part III.

Our survey respondents are a significant segment of the economy, but they are far from all of it. And they differ in certain ways from companies as a whole. We hope to be able to expand the universe of respondents in a later round of surveys. In Part I we explain what we did. In Part II we explain what we found. And in Part III we consider some implications for business and public policy if we extrapolate our limited results to the broader economy. Under plausible assumptions, responding to patent assertions costs defendants between $80 and $100 billion per year.

This brings us to Microsoft; Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along. That’s racketeering; it’s like the Mafia burning down houses and businesses of those who refuse to pay ‘protection’ money. That’s just how extortion works, but Microsoft burns the victims’ money (legal fees) rather than the actual businesses (although they too will go up in flames if legal fees result in bankruptcy).

“Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along.”In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE. SLES was the only ‘Microsoft-authorised’ distribution of GNU/Linux at one point. And now, instead of SLES/SLED what we have is Azure. Microsoft threatens those who do not pay Azure 'rents' that patent trolls (which Microsoft passes patents to) might come along and destroy their business. It’s the “cloud” equivalent of the Novell plot. IAM has just published this self-promotional ‘report’ that says “litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700%” (well, they just made up the term “cloud” and now everything that already existed is called “cloud”). Here is what they said, linking to an older ‘article’ (promotion) of theirs:

A recent study revealed that US patent litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700% over the past four years (for further information please see “Cloud computing patent litigation on the rise”)

Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear). At the same time, Microsoft is lobbying for software patents. Less than a day ago, for example, the BSA (using “Enterprise Innovation” as a platform) wrote in its capacity as a Microsoft front group: “Patent protections: Governments should have non-discriminatory protection for software patents.”

“In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE.”Well, actually it seems like only China offers that now. But Microsoft would like to change that. The extortion heavily relies on it.

Lost in the midst of Microsoft puff pieces about patents (see one of the latest examples) is this original announcement from Microsoft about extending the reach of the ‘protection’ racket.

“Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear).”“Excited to announce that we are extending the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage #patent protection program to our Azure Stack customers,” wrote the person in charge of it. Yes, Microsoft is very “excited” about patent extortion against GNU/Linux. They just say it with a smile and euphemistically call it “Azure IP Advantage”. This is already being covered by longtime Microsoft boosters. Kurt Mackie, for instance, said that the “”springing license” reference means that the patents that Microsoft may transfer to other companies under this program can’t be used to make IP claims against other Azure customers.”

As Microsoft also controls some of the trolls, it can help determine who gets sued. The potential for abuse is vast.

“Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).”Don’t expect Red Hat or Canonical or even the Linux Foundation to say anything about it. The Linux Foundation is far too busy sucking up to Microsoft this week, having received Microsoft cash for silence and complicity. Even when Microsoft attacks Linux with patents the Linux Foundation will say nothing at all because these attacks often come from proxies, just as the OIN’s CEO warned us a long time ago. One such proxy is Finjan. Microsoft patent trolls like Finjan are held up as good examples at Watchtroll this week not because they create anything but because they’re targeting Microsoft’s rivals (every company except Microsoft, which supported Finjan since its early days).

The latest case, Finjan v Blue Coat Systems, is a case that we wrote about on Monday. Banner & Witcoff’s Aseet Patel and Peter Nigrelli have just said the following about the case, citing a Microsoft case in favour of software patents (Enfish):

There are several takeaways from Finjan. xi Notably, building on its precedent in Enfish, the Federal Circuit has reaffirmed that purely software-based inventions that do no interact with the tangible world remain patent-eligible subject matter. Moreover, the Finjan court’s reasoning reiterates the importance of drafting a patent specification that showcases and contrasts inadequacies of prior art solutions. Finally, Finjan underscores the continuing importance of claim construction in obtaining a favorable patent-eligibility holding—even more so when the claimed method only recites three steps.

Finjan’s trolling being used to support and promote the software patents agenda? Surely convenient for Microsoft. We expect to hear a lot more about this troll’s lawsuits and hear nothing at all from the Linux Foundation. Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).

Patent Prosecution Highway: Low-Quality Patents for High-Frequency Patent Aggressors

Thursday 18th of January 2018 11:34:31 AM


Reference: Patent Prosecution Highway

Summary: The EPO’s race to the bottom of patent quality, combined with a “need for speed”, is a recipe for disaster (except for litigation firms, patent bullies, and patent trolls)

Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is not an EPO thing but an international thing (WIPO et al). The USPTO, for example, has that too. Nevertheless, the EPO’s blind embrace of PPH — more so in the midst of rushed patent examination — gives room for concern, especially with UPC being on the agenda. It’s like litigation, not justice, is on the priority list. Patent trolls must absolutely love that.

“…the EPO’s blind embrace of PPH — more so in the midst of rushed patent examination — gives room for concern, especially with UPC being on the agenda.”IAM has just published a sponsored piece* for the patent microcosm in Brazil (Battistelli has some cooperative deals with Brazil, e.g. PPH/validation). What good are patents from Brazil? This has become a subject of great concern because Brazil is possibly copying INPI (France/Battistelli but also the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office) and may soon grant a patent for every single application. Quality control? Naaaaa… who needs that? Just call an “emergency” and grant everything.

Battistelli’s EPO is becoming more like INPI (France) over time. Yesterday we saw a whole class of patents getting invalidated (again, just like last year) and lack of proper examination will certainly destroy the value of Brazilian patents/European Patents. A few days ago IAM published this so-called ‘report’ titled “Pulling the plug on INPI’s patent backlog” and to quote:

The government is expected to launch an emergency measure to eliminate the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office’s (INPI’s) patent backlog by automatically granting 231,000 pending non-pharmaceutical applications. The proposed rules for implementing the new measure were made available for public comment in early 2017 – the deadline to provide comments was August 31 2017.

INPI officials recently held that certain proposals made by local associations could complicate the process.

While it is difficult to know the precise details and timing for this measure, companies may soon need to deploy a short-term strategy – as short as 90 days – to mitigate potential risks and take full advantage of the new system (eg, using the proposed opt-out system for selected applications and filing pre-grant oppositions against competitors). Companies should also consider entering the national phase of Patent Cooperation Treaty applications before the 30-month deadline; likewise, Paris Convention filings should be made whenever possible.

The INPI implied that no other viable option could solve the backlog in the short term. All pending non-pharmaceutical applications filed before the emergency measure is published and becomes effective should be covered.

Too great an abundance of patents would defeat the whole purpose of a patent system, which is merit-based. It would also help frivolous litigation skyrocket. And speaking of litigation, look who gets priority; it’s those who litigate. That’s what PPH is all about.

A few days ago Lexology carried this article which acted as a sort of EPO puff piece. To quote:

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) recently announced a three-year extension to its pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (“PPH”) agreement with the European Patent Office (“EPO”). Notably, the previous requirement for an application to have entered the Canadian national phase on or after January 5, 2015 has been lifted. Applicants with applications that were previously considered ineligible for CIPO-EPO PPH due to this date restriction may wish to consider if their applications could now qualify for expedited treatment, bearing in mind that examination must not yet have commenced for an application to be PPH-eligible.

A CIPO-EPO PPH agreement that would speed up examination is not necessarily a good thing or a selling point. It overburdens examiners, potentially making examination a lot more error-prone. Who wants a bogus patent that would never survive in court? Instead of focusing on patent quality, accelerated examination is intended to facilitate patent aggressors (let’s face it, SMEs are more likely to settle outside the courts, so they would suffer the most). Combine PPH with already-declining patent quality at the EPO and what we have is a surge in oppositions (i.e. more burden for EPO staff) and a decision like yesterday's (which devastated Broad).
____
* IAM appears to have just renamed “international reports”; now it’s called “industry reports” (paid, self-promotional placements) and in addition IAM’s placements get reposted elsewhere. Here’s a new example. “This article first appeared in IAM” it says at the very bottom.

Press Coverage About the EPO Board Revoking Broad’s CRISPR Patent

Thursday 18th of January 2018 10:36:09 AM

Summary: Even though there’s some decent coverage about yesterday’s decision (e.g. from The Scientist), the patent microcosm googlebombs the news with stuff that serves to distract from or distort the outcome

YESTERDAY was an important day for the EPO… for reasons other than EPO scandals. It was all about a case which we covered in the morning and right after the decision (we had complained about that a long while back).

“IAM has apparently not found that worth covering. Says a lot about IAM…”We always argued that patent offices should reserve patents to things that are actually inventions, not computer code or genetics (code of life). Pretty much every programmer agrees about the former. A lot of civil rights groups agree with us on the latter. These views are not unusual or outlandish. Nor should they be…

“The EPO has denied the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s reliance on its US priority provisional application in revoking a CRISPR patent. The institute has already said it will appeal,” Michael Loney wrote some hours ago. It’s about the EPO saying goodbye to (probably) all CRISPR patents, for the decision can extend to others.

IAM, which blatantly fronts for patent maximalists, ended up posting — for a fee — CRISPR propaganda on the very same day EPO buried patents on it. IAM has apparently not found that decision worth covering. Says a lot about IAM…

Expect some IAM spin shortly, complete with some highly misleading headline (i.e. the usual).

“The EPO has denied the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s reliance on its US priority provisional application in revoking a CRISPR patent.”
      –Michael LoneyAlexander Esslinger, writing about the demise of CRISPR patents in Europe having watched this closely for a long time, wrote this and “EPO Revokes Broad’s CRISPR Patent” was the headline from The Scientist.

A Web site dedicated to patent propaganda about life science did not actually cover the news; its headline focused on the future appeal rather than the actual outcome (just like Board wanted); “Broad Institute to appeal CRISPR patent revocation,” the article says. Missing the real story much?! That’s a really bad summary and many people read just headlines. To quote the body:

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT has said it will appeal against a decision by the European Patent Office (EPO) to revoke one of its patents covering CRISPR/Cas9 technology.

In an oral hearing today, January 17, the EPO’s Opposition Division revoked European patent 2,771,468 in its entirety after finding that Broad could not claim two key priority dates.

Broad released a statement saying the decision was a “technicality” and that it will appeal to the EPO’s Technical Board of Appeal.

Team UPC, which has already attacked me for my coverage about this decision, apparently did this paid-for placement about the decision.

In a decision delivered today the European Patent Office revoked a patent relating to CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology which had been granted to the Broad Institute, MIT and Harvard University.

There is probably more coverage on the way, but it’s worth noting how patent maximalists attempt to distract from the news (or did not cover the news at all).

Links 17/1/2018: HHVM 3.24, WordPress 4.9.2

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 05:21:18 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • The best open source video editors 2018: free to download, edit, use and share

    There are lots of superb free video editors around, but many are cut-back versions of commercial software. If you’re looking for something truly free that you can use for personal or commercial projects, open source software is the way to go. All of these video editors are developed by communities dedicated to making top quality software available to everyone.

    One of the advantages of open source software is that users are free to develop versions for different platforms. All of the open source video editors in this roundup are available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

    VLMC (VideoLAN Movie Creator) is another open source video editor to keep an eye on. It’s still under development and not yet available to download, but it’s being developed by the same team as the superb VLC Media Player, so we have high hopes.

  • How to get all the benefits of open source software

    Open source software continues its meteoric rise, as more and more large enterprises weave open source code into various areas of their operations, increasingly shunning the big-name, proprietary software vendors.

    In fact, according to open source software development company, Sonatype, represented locally by 9TH BIT Consulting, 7,000 new open source software projects kick-off around the world every week, while 70,000 new open source components are released. Accessing this massive ‘hivemind’ of software development expertise is a highly attractive prospect for CIOs and business managers in all industries.

  • What is open source?

    What is open source software and how do vendors make their money? We answer your questions

    Open source is the foundation of modern technology. Even if you don’t know what it is, chances are you’ve already used it at least once today. Open source technology helped build Android, Firefox, and even the Apache HTTP server, and without it, the internet as we know it would simply not exist.

    The central idea behind open source is a simple one: many hands make light work. In short, the more people you have working on something, the quicker and easier it is to do. As it applies to software development, this means opening projects up to the public to let people freely access, read and modify the source code.

  • Open Source Initiative Announces New Partnership With Adblock Plus

    Adblock Plus, the most popular Internet ad blocker today, joins The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) as corporate sponsors. Since its very first version, Adblock Plus has been an open source project that has developed into a successful business with over 100 million users worldwide. As such, the German company behind it, eyeo GmbH, has decided it is time to give back to the open source community.

    Founded in 1998, the OSI protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure. Adblock Plus is an open source project that aims to rid the Internet of annoying and intrusive online advertising. Its free web browser extensions (add-ons) put users in control by letting them block or filter which ads they want to see.

  • What if Open-Source Software Can Replace Dozens of Multi-Billion Dollar Companies? That is Exactly What Origin Protocol Wants to do Using Blockchain
  • Events
    • My trip in Cuba

      Olemis Lang is one of the founders and very active in promoting open source in Cuba. We’ve had some similar experiences in running user groups (I founded the Python french one a decade ago), and were excited about sharing our experience.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla and Sundance Film Festival Present: VR the People

        On Monday January 22, Mozilla is bringing together a panel of the top VR industry insiders in the world to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to explain how VR storytelling is revolutionizing the film and entertainment industry.

        “We want the storyteller’s vision to exceed the capacity of existing technology, to push boundaries, because then the technologist is inspired to engineer new mechanisms that enable things initially thought impossible” says Kamal Sinclair, Director of New Frontier Lab Programs at Sundance Institute. “However, this is not about creating something that appeals to people simply because of its novel technical achievements; rather it is something that has real meaning, and where that meaning can be realized by engineering the technologies to deliver the best experience possible.”

      • Host an Open Internet Activist [Ed: Mozilla now in the pockets of the Ford Foundation, just like the ‘Guardian’]

        Today, we’re launching the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship call for host organizations. If your organization is devoted to a healthy internet for all users, we encourage you to apply.

      • WebRender newsletter #12
      • The User Journey for Firefox Extensions Discovery

        The ability to customize and extend Firefox are an essential part of Firefox’s value to users. Extensions are small tools that allow developers and users who install the extensions to modify, customize, and extend the functionality of Firefox. For example, during our workflows research in 2016, we interviewed a participant who was a graduate student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While she used Safari as her primary browser for common browsing, she used Firefox specifically for her academic work because of the extension Zotero was the best choice for keeping track of her academic work and citations.

        Popular categories of extensions include ad blockers, password managers, and video downloaders. Given the variety of extensions and the benefits to customization they offer, why is it that only 40% of Firefox users have installed at least one extension? Certainly, some portion of Firefox users may be aware of extensions but have no need or desire to install one. However, some users could find value in some extensions but simply may not be aware of the existence of extensions in the first place.

        Why not? How can Mozilla facilitate the extension discovery process?

        A fundamental assumption about the extension discovery process is that users will learn about extensions through the browser, through word of mouth, or through searching to solve a specific problem. We were interested in setting aside this assumption and to observe the steps participants take and the decisions they make in their journey toward possibly discovering extensions. To this end, the Firefox user research team ran two small qualitative studies to understand better how participants solved a particular problem in the browser that could be solved by installing an extension. Our study helped us understand how participants do — or do not — discover a specific category of extension.

      • Firefox Release, Xen, KDE’s Plasma and More

        Set your calendars for January 23, 2018, to download the latest Firefox 58 release packed with performance/bottleneck and bug fixes, an even better site source code debugger and more.

      • Have You Taken the Thunderbird Redesign Survey?

        Monterail and Thunderbird are now working on the same team.

        Yes, that Monterail, the Poland-based development company whose stunning Thunderbird mock-up went viral last year, before becoming a real, working Thunderbird theme.

        “We got in touch with […] the Thunderbird core team to discuss possibilities. We wanted to establish how to enhance user retention and make Thunderbird more user-friendly for potential and current users. We also learned how Thunderbird is built which helped with planning iterations,” Monterail’s Krystian Polański explains in a new blog post on the company’s website.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • MapR: How Next-Gen Applications Will Change the Way We Look at Data

      MapR is a Silicon Valley-based big data company. Its founders realized that data was going to become ever increasingly important, and existing technologies, including open source Apache Hadoop, fell short of being able to support things like real-time transactional operational applications. So they spent years building out core technologies that resulted in the MapR products, including the flagship Converged Data Platform, platform-agnostic software that’s designed for the multicloud environment. It can even run on embedded Edge devices.

    • 7 Open-Source Serverless Frameworks Providing Functions as a Service

      With virtualization, organizations began to realize greater utilization of physical hardware. That trend continued with the cloud, as organizations began to get their machines into a pay-as-you-go service. Cloud computing further evolved when Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its Lambda service in 2014, introducing a new paradigm in cloud computing that has become commonly referred to as serverless computing. In the serverless model, organizations pay for functions as a service without the need to pay for an always-on stateful, virtual machine.

    • Bonitasoft Offers Open Source, Low-Code Platform on AWS Cloud

      Bonitasoft, a specialist in open source business process management and digital transformation software, is partnering with the Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) cloud to broaden the reach of its low-code development platform.

      That platform, just released in a new version called Bonita 7.6, comes in an open source version and a subscription version with professional support and advanced features.

    • Bonitasoft gets cute on AWS for low-code BPM

      There has been an undeniable popularisation of so-called ‘low-code’ programming platforms.

      This is a strain of technology designed to provide automated blocks of functionality that can be brought together by non-technical staff to perform specific compute and analysis tasks to serve their own business objectives.

  • CMS
    • New York magazine is making its CMS available open-source

      There’s a short history of publishers fancying themselves as technology companies and building a business selling their tech to other publishers. Publishers realized that building a whole new side business around licensing their tech is a headache and that they needed to focus on what they’re good at, and leave the tech to others.

      New York magazine is trying out a different approach. It built its own content management system (publishers like to give their homegrown CMSes cute names; this one is called Clay, for the magazine’s founder Clay Felker) in 2015 and then licensed the software to the online magazine Slate. Slate started using Clay a year ago and was set to fully migrate its site to Clay this week. But instead of New York charging Slate a licensing fee, Slate is paying New York in the form of code. The CMS is open-source, and developers from both titles contribute to it.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 7.3 Preparing For Release To Ship Spectre Patches

      GNU developers are preparing to quickly ship GCC 7.3 now in order to get out the Spectre patches, a.k.a. the compiler side bits for Retpoline with -mindirect-branch=thunk and friends.

      It was just this past weekend that the back-ported patches landed in GCC 7 while now GCC 7.3 is being prepared as the branch’s next bug-fix point release.

    • Announcing LibrePlanet 2018 keynote speakers

      The keynote speakers for the tenth annual LibrePlanet conference will be anthropologist and author Gabriella Coleman, free software policy expert and community advocate Deb Nicholson, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior staff technologist Seth Schoen, and FSF founder and president Richard Stallman.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and tackle challenges facing the free software movement. The theme of this year’s conference is Freedom. Embedded. In a society reliant on embedded systems — in cars, digital watches, traffic lights, and even within our bodies — how do we defend computer user freedom, protect ourselves against corporate and government surveillance, and move toward a freer world? LibrePlanet 2018 will explore these topics in sessions for all ages and experience levels.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • 17,000% Cost Reduction with Open Source 3D Printing: Michigan Tech Study Showcases Parametric 3D Printed Slot Die System

        We often cover the work of prolific Dr. Joshua Pearce, an Associate Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech); he also runs the university’s Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Research Group.

        Dr. Pearce, a major proponent for sustainability and open source technology, has previously taught an undergraduate engineering course on how to build open source 3D printers, and four of his former students, in an effort to promote environmental sustainability in 3D printing, launched a business to manufacture and sell recycled and biodegradable filaments.

      • Open Source 3D printing cuts cost from $4,000 to only $0.25 says new study

        Slot die coating is a means of adding a thin, uniform film of material to a substrate. It is a widely used method for the manufacturing of electronic devices – including flat screen televisions, printed electronics, lithium-ion batteries and sensors.

        Up until recently, slot die components were only machined from stainless steel, restricting development and making the process expensive. Now slot dies for in-lab experimental use can be made on a 3D printer at a fraction of the cost.

      • Dutch firm unveils world’s first 3-D-printed propeller

        Three-dimensional (3-D) printing technology has caught the logistics world’s attention for its potential to save on warehouse and shipping costs by producing items on demand at any location. In the past two years, for example, UPS Inc. announced plans to partner with software developer SAP SE to build a nationwide network of 3-D printers for use by its customers, and General Electric Co. spent nearly $600 million to buy a three-quarters stake in the German 3-D printing firm Concept Laser GmbH.

        Recently, transportation companies have begun turning to the same technology for another application, creating the actual hardware used in vehicles that move the freight. For instance, in late 2016, global aircraft maker Airbus S.A.S. contracted with manufacturing firm Arconic Inc. to supply 3-D printed metal parts for its commercial aircraft.

  • Programming/Development
    • HHVM 3.24

      HHVM 3.24 is released! This release contains new features, bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places.

    • HHVM 3.24 Released, The Final Supporting PHP5

      The Facebook crew responsible for the HHVM project as a speedy Hack/PHP language implementation is out with its 3.24 release.

      HHVM 3.24 is important as it’s the project’s last release focusing on PHP5 compatibility. Moving forward, PHP5 compatibility will no longer be a focus and components of it will likely be dropped. As well, Facebook will be focusing on their Hack language rather than PHP7. Now that PHP7 is much faster than PHP5 and all around in a much better state, Facebook developers are focusing on their Hack language rather than just being an alternative PHP implementation.

    • How to get into DevOps

      I’ve observed a sharp uptick of developers and systems administrators interested in “getting into DevOps” within the past year or so. This pattern makes sense: In an age in which a single developer can spin up a globally distributed infrastructure for an application with a few dollars and a few API calls, the gap between development and systems administration is closer than ever. Although I’ve seen plenty of blog posts and articles about cool DevOps tools and thoughts to think about, I’ve seen fewer content on pointers and suggestions for people looking to get into this work.

    • RcppMsgPack 0.2.1

      Am update of RcppMsgPack got onto CRAN today. It contains a number of enhancements Travers had been working on, as well as one thing CRAN asked us to do in making a suggested package optional.

      MessagePack itself is an efficient binary serialization format. It lets you exchange data among multiple languages like JSON. But it is faster and smaller. Small integers are encoded into a single byte, and typical short strings require only one extra byte in addition to the strings themselves. RcppMsgPack brings both the C++ headers of MessagePack as well as clever code (in both R and C++) Travers wrote to access MsgPack-encoded objects directly from R.

    • GitHub Alternative SourceForge Vies for Comeback with Redesigned Site

      SourceForge wants to be more than just another GitHub alternative, but an additional repository for developers to utilize to help gain users.

    • This Week in Rust

      Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

Leftovers
  • YouTube shows smaller video artists the door

    YouTube will drastically cut down on the number of its partners who can make money from the platform, making it possible only for those who have 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of viewing to earn anything from ads.

  • How to quit your tech: a beginner’s guide to divorcing your phone

    • Delete all social media apps from your phone; check these only from a desktop computer.

    • Turn all banner-style/pop-up/sound notifications off all other apps (keep the badge-type notifications where you have to visually check the app).

    • Leave your phone in your pocket or keep it out of sight for meetings/get-togethers/conversations/meals involving other people.

    • Keep your phone out of sight during your commute.

    • Don’t take your phone with you into the bathroom or toilet.

  • Google Memory Loss

    Why? · Ob­vi­ous­ly, in­dex­ing the whole Web is crush­ing­ly ex­pen­sive, and get­ting more so ev­ery day. Things like 10+-year-old mu­sic re­views that are nev­er up­dat­ed, no longer ac­cept com­ments, are light­ly if at all linked-to out­side their own site, and rarely if ev­er visited… well, let’s face it, Google’s not go­ing to be sell­ing many ads next to search re­sults that turn them up. So from a busi­ness point of view, it’s hard to make a case for Google in­dex­ing ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how old and how ob­scure.

    My pain here is pure­ly per­son­al; I freely con­fess that I’d been us­ing Google’s glob­al in­fras­truc­ture as my own per­son­al search in­dex for my own per­son­al pub­li­ca­tion­s. But the pain is re­al; I fre­quent­ly mine my own his­to­ry to re-use, for ex­am­ple in con­struct­ing the cur­rent #SongOfTheDay se­ries.

  • Science
    • Science search engine links papers to grants and patents

      The marketplace for science search engines is competitive and crowded. But a database launched on 15 January aims to provide academics with new ways to analyse the scholarly literature — including the grant funding behind it.

      Dimensions not only indexes papers and their citations, but also — uniquely among scholarly databases — connects publications to their related grants, funding agencies, patents and clinical trials. The tool “should give researchers more power to look at their fields and follow the money”, says James Wilsdon, a research-policy specialist at the University of Sheffield, UK.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Domestic worker died because she was too frightened to access healthcare over immigration fears, MPs told

      Illegal immigrants are “too frightened” to access healthcare because of a data-sharing agreement between the NHS and the Home Office to track, MPs have heard.

      One domestic worker died because she was too afraid to see a doctor out of fear that her immigration status would be shared with the Home Office, evidence presented to the Health Committee stated.

      Immigrants are being “driven underground” by the legislation, MPs heard at a session which explored the impact of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) published last January, setting out how patient data may be provided to the Home Office by the NHS.

    • Apple Supplier Workers Describe Noxious Hazards at China Factory

      At a Catcher Technology Co. manufacturing complex in the Chinese industrial city of Suqian, about six hours’ drive from Shanghai, workers stand for up to 10 hours a day in hot workshops slicing and blasting iPhone casings for Apple Inc., handling noxious chemicals sometimes without proper gloves or masks.

      These conditions — some described in a report Tuesday by advocacy group China Labor Watch and others in Bloomberg News interviews with Catcher workers — show the downside of a high-tech boom buoying the world’s second-largest economy. Chinese recruiters play up the chance to build advanced consumer electronics to attract the millions of typically impoverished, uneducated laborers without whom the production of iPhones and other digital gadgets would be impossible.

    • Teens are daring each other to eat Tide pods. We don’t need to tell you that’s a bad idea.

      First, it was the “gallon challenge” and the “cinnamon challenge.”

      Then some teenagers started playing the “bath-salt challenge.”

      They have dared each other to pour salt in their hands and hold ice till it burns, douse themselves in rubbing alcohol and set themselves ablaze, and throw boiling water on unsuspecting peers.

      Now videos circulating on social media are showing kids biting into brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets. Or cooking them in frying pans, then chewing them up before spewing the soap from their mouths.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • The Terror Attack Survivors Who Refuse To Be Silenced

      “The more of us speak out, defend our freedom and refuse to give up on our liberties, the less the danger will be … focused on certain people,” El Rhazoui told AFP on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the Danish parliament on Saturday.

  • Finance
    • BofA Tops IBM, Payments Firms With Most Blockchain Patents

      The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property [sic].

    • IBM, Maersk Form New Blockchain Company for International Cargo

      Maersk, the Danish conglomerate that owns the world’s largest container shipping line, will be the first to use the new platform, while International Business Machines Corp. will provide the back end and support for the technology. The new company said it expects to sign up large shippers, ports and customs officials for the service, set to become available in the second half of 2018.

    • Heads Of State At Davos’ Door: Trump, Modi, Macron, May

      Davos will have a three-part feature, he said: a collaborative approach since nobody alone can solve the issues of the global agenda, an integrated approach, and a constructive approach. There are many opportunities and perils like never before, and faced with the danger of the collapse of the global system, “it is in our hands to improve the state of the world, that’s what the World Economic Forum stands for,” Schwab said.

    • Automation, robots and the ‘end of work’ myth

      Can you imagine travelling to work in a robotic “Jonnycab” like the one predicted in the cult Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall? The image from 1990 is based on science fiction, but Mercedes Benz does have a semi-autonomous Driver Pilot system that it aims to install in the next five years and Uber is also waging on a self-driving future. Its partnership with Volvo has been seen as a boost to its ambitions to replace a fleet of self-employed drivers with autonomous vehicles.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Why Senator Cardin Is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning

      The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin [Md.], has become a big star in national media by routinely denouncing Russia as a dire threat to American democracy. The senior senator from Maryland personifies the highly dangerous opportunism that has set in among leading Democrats on the subject of Russia.

      Chelsea Manning confirmed on Sunday that she is challenging Senator Cardin’s re-election effort in the Democratic primary this June. Her campaign has real potential to raise key issues. One of them revolves around the kind of bellicose rhetoric that heightens the dangers of conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

    • The People v. Donald Trump

      In the first year of Trump’s presidency, the courts have acted exactly how the Founders intended them to.

      Legal scholars and progressives have long expressed doubt about the utility of courts in advancing social justice. They argue that courts are inherently conservative, that victories often prompt costly backlashes, and that focusing on courts diverts attention from the more important work that needs to be done in the political arena.

      The first year of the Trump administration suggests that this skepticism is overstated. Much to the president’s dismay, those he calls “so-called judges” have repeatedly ruled against the Trump administration. Judges appointed by Republicans and Democrats alike have enforced constitutional guarantees against a president who has shown little regard for the Constitution.

      In this respect, the courts have performed just as Alexander Hamilton hoped they would. In the Federalist Papers, Hamilton argued that a judiciary with life tenure and the power to declare the political branches’ actions unconstitutional was essential, so that judges could serve as “the bulwarks of a limited Constitution.” Rarely has that role been more essential.

    • Martin Luther King stood up for more than love

      Martin Luther King often spoke of the need for unconditional love. In 1955 he told Black America, “We want to love our enemies — be good to them. This is what we must live by; we must meet hate with love. We must love our white brothers no matter what they do to us.” In his remarks on the King holiday President Trump referred to love five times in three sentences.

      “[King] would later write, ‘It was quite easy for me to think of a god of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central.’ That is what Reverend King preached all his life. Love. Love for each other, for neighbors, and for our fellow Americans. Dr. King’s faith in his love for humanity led him and so many heroes to courageously stand up for civil rights of African-Americans,” Trump said.

      [...]

      King stood up for much more than love. And the kind of love that praises King one day after making repeated racist statements, most recently calling African countries and Haiti “shithole countries,” is really no love at all.

    • Media Freaks Out About Facebook Changes; Maybe They Shouldn’t Have Become So Reliant On Facebook

      >From Facebook’s standpoint, this move is a pretty easy one to make. Even though it had spent the past few years heavily courting news publishers (including directly paying large publishers many millions of dollars to “pivot to video”), the company hadn’t totally succeeded in becoming the go to source for news (that remains Twitter’s strength). And yet, Facebook was also getting more and more grief over news items in its feeds, especially post-election when people incorrectly wanted to “blame” news on Facebook for Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

      On top of that, this move will only enforce something that Facebook had been inching towards for a while: forcing businesses and publishers to pay to have their news reach a larger audience. So… if this means that Facebook makes more money, distresses fewer people, and doesn’t get attacked as much for the so-called problem of “fake news” it looks like a total win from Facebook’s perspective.

      Publishers, on the other hand, were generally freaked out. Many have spent the past 5 years or so desperately trying to “play the Facebook game.” And, for many, it gave them a decent boost in traffic (if not much revenue). But, in the process, they proceeded to lose their direct connection to many readers. People coming to news sites from Facebook don’t tend to be loyal readers. They’re drive-bys.

    • Sens. Cotton and Perdue are outed for lying on Trump’s behalf

      There is no honor among anti-immigrant advocates and liars, I suppose. After dutifully lying on behalf of the president regarding his abhorrent language (“shithole countries”), Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were outed by the White House.

    • Breaking News: Haiti to unseal files pertaining to former dictator, Jean Claude Duvalier, laundering money through Trump Tower during his time in power

      Haitian officials on Monday evening held an emergency high court session which resulted in an agreement to unseal and publicly released documents relating to Jean-Claude Duvalier’s indictments for money laundering through Trump tower, during his brutal 15 years dictatorship.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • ‘Killing ­Original Content ­Creators Isn’t In ­Silicon ­Valley’s Interest’
    • Duterte had ‘nothing to do’ with move to revoke news site’s licence: Spokesman

      Foreign press organisations and human rights groups have rallied behind Rappler, joining a chorus of domestic outrage among the media and political opposition at what they saw as move to muzzle those scrutinising Duterte.

    • Opposition Chief Criticises PM for Censorship

      ocial Democratic Party (SDP) chief Davor Bernardić on Wednesday criticised Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for censorship, asking him “Where’s the money?” which in Croatian (Di su pare?) is the name of a satire Facebook profile, to which Plenković responded there was no censorship in Croatia and that everyone was allowed to speak their mind responsibly and in accordance with the law.

      “Why can’t the ‘Di su pare?’ Facebook profile continue to be open in Croatia? It had over 300,000 followers, I followed it and I laughed when they wrote satirically about me. The government cannot ban satire or a Facebook profile,” Bernardić said during Question Time in Parliament.

    • Julian Assange says Google and Facebook have become an ‘existential threat to humanity’

      Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said that Google and Facebook, two of the world’s biggest technology and social media companies, are an “existential threat” to humanity.

      The chief of the anti-secrecy and whistleblowing platform, who describes himself as a “geopolitical analyst” on his Twitter profile, believes the tech giants have evolved into powerful “digital superstates”.

      “While the internet has brought about a revolution in our ability to educate each other, the consequent democratic explosion has shaken existing democratic establishments to their core,” Assange said Tuesday (16 January), in a statement later posted online.

      His comments were read during an “Organising Resistance to Internet Censorship” webinar, sponsored by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) this week.

    • Radio 4’s Laurie Taylor: “There’s a creeping censorship at the BBC”

      It was a programme, Laurie Taylor says, that wasn’t supposed to be – something he succeeded in “sneaking in” because BBC management’s attention was elsewhere. “Entirely bogus” is how he describes the launch of Thinking Allowed in 1998, but, 20 years on, Taylor’s weekly Radio 4 series that looks at research arising from the academic world is long established as the genuine article, and one of the best-loved half-hours on the network.

    • Librarians despise censorship. How can prison librarians handle that? It’s complicated.

      Last week, officials at the American Civil Liberties Union made public a letter they had written to the New Jersey Department of Corrections, accusing the department of violating inmates’ rights: Several prisons were refusing to allow inmates access to the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander. Restricting prisoners from reading about injustices in the U.S. prison system struck many as a shocking and ironic overreach. And the state apparently agreed. After being challenged by the ACLU, the department decided to reinstate the book and vowed to review restriction policies for prison libraries.

      This was hardly the first time prison library censorship has drawn criticism. At the end of 2017, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice came under fire when it was discovered that the prison system banned such books as “The Color Purple” and a collection of Shakespearean sonnets, while inmates were free to read Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” And this month, news that New York’s state prison system is restricting what books an inmate may receive through the mail to a handful of claptrap titles generated instant outrage.

    • It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech

      For most of modern history, the easiest way to block the spread of an idea was to keep it from being mechanically disseminated. Shutter the news­paper, pressure the broad­cast chief, install an official censor at the publishing house. Or, if push came to shove, hold a loaded gun to the announcer’s head.

      This actually happened once in Turkey. It was the spring of 1960, and a group of military officers had just seized control of the government and the national media, imposing an information blackout to suppress the coordination of any threats to their coup. But inconveniently for the conspirators, a highly anticipated soccer game between Turkey and Scotland was scheduled to take place in the capital two weeks after their takeover. Matches like this were broadcast live on national radio, with an announcer calling the game, play by play. People all across Turkey would huddle around their sets, cheering on the national team.

    • Conservatives Get ‘Shi**y’ Treatment from Twitter, Google – Again

      Legacy media organizations can be counted on to squawk when their voices aren’t heard in Republican-controlled forums – such as White House press conferences.

      But when it’s conservatives who are censored on powerful, widely read platforms, it’s hard to find any journalists who care.

      Such was the case last week when Project Veritas exposed, in an undercover investigation, how Twitter systematically diminishes – and even bans – access to posts published by those on the Right. One Twitter manager in charge of gatekeeping called their censorship victims “shi**y people.”

    • Are conservative voices being silenced by Twitter?

      Social media platform Twitter may be trying to reshape the online narrative by editing out conservative voices, a new undercover video released by Project Veritas alleges.

    • James O’Keefe: Twitter’s Censorship Algorithm Targets ‘Breitbart Audience’
    • Lebanon censors ban ‘The Post’ over Steven Spielberg’s support for Israel
    • Lebanon bans The Post movie
    • Lebanon bans ‘The Post’ over Spielberg’s support for Israel
    • Lebanon’s ‘outdated’ film censors under fire after banning Spielberg’s The Post
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Shooting The Messenger: Reporter Who Exposed Massive Indian Data Breach Targeted By Law Enforcement

      For many years now, we’ve been among those raising concerns about India’s giant identity database known as Aadhaar. A few weeks ago, we wrote that there appeared to be a fairly massive breach of data from that database, and that the information was now available on the dark web for cheap.

      [...]

      The details on the “police complaint” remain sparse, so perhaps it’s not a huge deal — but any attempt to investigate and/or intimidate (and those can be one and the same in some cases) a reporter for merely exposing a fairly big possible data breach that could effect over a billion people at least suggests an interest in covering up the breach, rather than in understanding the breach and preventing further damage.

    • Our View: NSA reboot revives citizen surveillance concerns

      Privacy advocates hailed incremental steps taken to reduce surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency since widespread abuses were first reported about four years ago.

      The reassurances are apparently enough for Congress to approve the continuation of a long-standing program that, while aimed at foreign communications traffic, nonetheless picks up the communications of millions of Americans along the way.

      The biggest controversy in the recent House vote was the stance of President Trump, who tweeted out mixed messages about his support of continuing Section 702 of the post-9/11 foreign intelligence act. The section allows the government to collect internet and email date from Americans if it has any relationship to a foreign country.

    • Senate, Rebuffing Privacy Concerns, Clears Path to Extend Surveillance Law
    • US senators vow to filibuster FBI, er, NSA’s domestic, errr, foreign mass spying program

      A number of US senators from both sides of the aisle have said they will filibuster an effort to approve the continuation of a controversial American government spying program.

      This mass snooping effort was authorized by section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, which expired at the end of last year, and the NSA wants it renewed with a new law passed. Section 702 is supposed to allow Uncle Sam’s g-men to keep close tabs on non-Americans abroad.

      However, the rules have been interpreted by the Feds over the years to give the FBI warrantless access to the NSA’s database so agents can investigate crimes using records on American citizens on American soil. You’d think now would be a good time, while renewing section 702, to rein in the intelligence agencies so that truly only foreigners are targeted.

    • Senate advances bill to continue NSA surveillance program; passage expected this week

      A bill to continue the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs for five more years advanced Tuesday in the Senate, overcoming objections that it did not do enough to protect Americans’ civil liberties.

      Opponents came close to filibustering the measure, which was approved by the House last week. But the Senate’s narrow 60-38 vote puts it on track for final passage this week.

      Voting stretched more than an hour as senators lobbied key holdouts in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor.

    • After Basically No Debate, And No Opportunity For Amendments, Senate Votes To Expand NSA Surveillance

      As was unfortunately expected, after a very short (and fairly stupid) debate that was full of misleading statements that focused more on “but… but… terrorism!” than anything substantive, the Senate has voted for cloture on the same bill the House approved last week that extends and expands the NSA’s 702 surveillance program, opening it up to widespread abuse and refusing to do simple things like adding in a warrant requirement when used to spy on Americans. The vote was actually surprisingly close — going right down to the wire. They needed 60 votes to get this bill over the top and they almost didn’t get them. The final vote was 60 to 39 with the final vote (well over an hour after the vote starting) coming from Senator Claire McCaskill in favor of warrantless spying on Americans.

    • NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle

      The Senate narrowly voted to begin winding down debate over legislation renewing government surveillance powers, defeating a filibuster by privacy hawks.

      Senators voted 60-38 to wrap up debate on the legislation, which cleared the House last week and extends the surveillance program with only a few small changes.

      The program, absent congressional action, is scheduled to expire on Jan. 19.

    • Warrantless Spying Careens Toward Reauthorization

      Last week, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act—and its controversial Section 702, which establishes general warrants for wiretapping foreigners—and rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Justin Amash that would have at least required the FBI agents to obtain a warrant before sifting through the NSA’s massive database of intercepted communications for Americans’ messages. As I noted in a blog post at the time, the few supposed “reforms” embedded in the authorization bill are cosmetic at best, and more likely will serve to actually expand the scope of warrantless surveillance. But at least Amash’s amendment got a vote, although without the benefit of much in the way of substantive debate.

    • U.S. Senate advances bill to renew NSA’s internet surveillance programme

      The U.S. Senate on Tuesday advanced a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance programme, as a final push by privacy advocates to derail the measure came up one vote short.

    • U.S. Senate to vote to renew NSA’s internet surveillance program

      The U.S. Senate on Tuesday planned to vote to advance a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, as privacy advocates made a final push to derail the measure.

    • The House Has Voted. They Will Allow Warrantless Surveillance.

      In 2013, documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden ignited a national debate on the agency’s warrantless surveillance program and citizens’ right to privacy in the digital age. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives held a vote that may have put an end to that debate.

      The NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In 2008, Congress passed Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a law legalizing the previously secret program. The 256 to 164 vote permitted a six-year extension of the soon-to-expire law, while also legalizing the controversial practice of “about” surveillance.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (11/21): Our parents used anonymous cash

      It’s also that the transactions of our digital children are permissioned. When our digital children buy a bottle of water with a debit card, a transaction clears somewhere in the background. But that also means that somebody can decide to have the transaction not clear; somebody has the right to arbitrarily decide what people get to buy and not buy, if this trend continues for our digital children. That is a horrifying thought.

    • New UIDAI features prove that data is unsafe: Experts

      E-governance expert Anupam Saraph said that the decision to come up with virtual ID was admission by UIDAI that storage of Aadhaar number was “dangerous and wrong”.

    • Aadhaar number details: Yet another ‘leak’ UIDAI needs to fix

      If someone knows your Aadhaar number, then they can find out with which bank you have an account easily by dialling a USSD code provided by Aadhaar helpline number.

    • Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.

      The result is that carmakers have turned on a powerful spigot of precious personal data, often without owners’ knowledge, transforming the automobile from a machine that helps us travel to a sophisticated computer on wheels that offers even more access to our personal habits and behaviors than smartphones do.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • 1,000 Danish youths face charges for sharing 15-year-olds’ sex videos

      The sharing occurred in late 2017 and depicted a sexual encounter between two 15-year-olds. The young people charged with sharing the materials ranged in age from 15 to the early 20s. When Facebook learned that the material was being shared, the company notified US authorities, who in turn alerted authorities in Denmark.

    • Saudi Arabia: Three years on, flogged blogger Raif Badawi must be released
    • Donald Trump vs. Guantánamo’s Forever Prisoners
    • In New York, Crime Falls Along With Police Stops

      If you grew up in New York City in the 1970s, the number can be hard to get your head around: 291. If you were a reporter in New York City in the early 1990s, the number can almost make your head explode: 291 murders in 2017, the lowest total since the 1950s.

      But the number is perhaps most striking when set not against the numbers of murders in other years, but against this figure: the roughly 10,000 police stops conducted in 2017.

    • Big Corporations Make Millions by Selling People a Chance to Get Out of Jail

      Who benefits from wealth-based incarceration? The bail sharks.

      If you got arrested, could you come up with the bail needed to buy your immediate freedom?

      For most people, the answer is no. Even though those arrested haven’t been convicted of a crime, the only way for them to get out of jail while they await their day in court is to come up with an alternative source of money. Enter big insurance companies like Lexington National. They’ll get you out, but you have to pay them a fee that you’ll never get back, which guarantees them a hefty profit regardless of the outcome of the case.

      If you think this is corporate greed run amok, you aren’t alone. The legal right to turn a profit on bail is a rare phenomenon globally: It’s only legal in the U.S. and the Philippines. And for good reason.

      After all, the people accused of a crime — and their families desperate to have them home — are hardly in a position to bargain. Since they run the risk of losing their job or home, the accused are at the mercy of bail bond companies, which have a huge amount of leverage over people who sign their exploitative contracts. That’s why bail contracts often contain terms like installment plans and high interest rates that lead to years of debt.

    • Porn didn’t invent women’s desire or exploitation, but, looking back at history, it has a powerful role in shaping both
    • Danish police charge 1,000 people following Facebook sex video

      Danish police have charged 1,004 young people (some under 18) after Facebook notified authorities that Messenger users were sharing a video of two teens under 15 years old having sex, violating laws against the distribution of indecent images of children. Many of those who shared the video did so ‘just’ a few times, police said, but others shared it hundreds of times — they knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t realize it was illegal.

      Anyone found guilty would face no more than 20 days in prison, but they’d also be added to an offender registry for the next 10 years.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • If one only more GOP senator flips, the FCC’s Net Neutrality order will be up for grabs

      It’s a lost cause — after the Senate passes its CRA resolution, Congress would have to follow suit and then Trump would have to go along with the gag and not veto them — but it’s still a useful one, forcing lawmakers to publicly declare a position on Net Neutrality, an issue that has an improbably high recognition and approval from voters regardless of political affiliation.

    • Democrats are just one vote shy of restoring net neutrality

      Right now the resolution has the support of all 49 Democrats in the Senate and one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine. But Schumer and the rest of the caucus will have to win over one more Republican vote to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from breaking tie and allowing the repeal to stand.

    • Community Broadband: Privacy, Access, and Local Control

      Communities across the United States are considering strategies to protect residents’ access to information and their right to privacy. These experiments have a long history, but a new wave of activists have been inspired to seek a local response to federal setbacks to Internet freedom, such as the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality protections, and Congress’ early 2017 decision to eliminate user privacy protections.

      Internet service providers (ISP) have a financial incentive and the technical ability to block or slow users’ access, insert their own content on the sites we visit, or give preferential treatment to websites and services with which they have financial relationships. For many years, net neutrality principles and rules, most recently cemented in the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, helped prevent much of this activity. Net neutrality helped create a landscape where new ideas and services could develop without being crowded out by political pressure or prioritized fast lanes for established commercial incumbents.

    • Blackburn Doubles Down On A Decade Of Lies As She Pushes Fake Net Neutrality Law

      So we’ve repeatedly noted how the FCC’s assault on popular net neutrality protections sits on pretty shaky legal ground. The agency not only ignored the public in trashing the rules, it ignored the nation’s startups, the people who built the internet, and any and all objective data. They also ignored the rampant comment fraud that occurred during the public comment period of the proceeding, a ham-fisted attempt by “somebody” to downplay the massive public opposition to the plan. For good measure the agency also blocked a law enforcement investigation into said fraud and even made up a DDOS attack.

      ISP lawyers and lobbyists know their victory could be short lived if looming lawsuits are able to convince a court that the FCC rushed to pass an “arbitrary and capricious order” while disregarding the public and violating FCC procedure. That’s why they’ve begun pushing hard for new net neutrality legislation they’re claiming will put the debate to bed, but has one real purpose: to pass flimsy, loophole-filled rules now to prevent the FCC (or a future, less cash-compromised Congress) from passing tougher, better rules down the road.

      Just days after Comcast began pushing harder for such legislation, the telecom industry’s most loyal ally in the House, Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, began pushing a law that perfectly mirrors everything Comcast asked for. Namely, it makes everything but the most ham-fisted abuses (like outright blocking of websites) legal, effectively codifying federal apathy on net neutrality into law. The law doesn’t ban paid prioritization, zero rating, interconnection shenanigans, or any of the areas the modern net neutrality debate currently resides.

    • Mozilla Files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

      Today, Mozilla filed a petition in federal court in Washington, DC against the Federal Communications Commission for its recent decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order.

  • DRM
    • DRM Puts the Brakes on Innovation

      Copyright law is slow. Whenever you hear about a case of alleged copyright infringement and you think, “What was illegal about this?” consider that the law probably came many, many years before anyone conceived of the activity it’s being used to target. Then it starts to make a little bit more sense.

      Look at how U.S. copyright law treats DRM, the annoying array of methods that digital content providers use to restrict their customers’ behavior. Passed in 1998, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it illegal to bypass DRM or give others the means of doing so. When Congress passed Section 1201, it was mostly thinking of restrictions intended to stop users from making infringing copies of music and movies. The DMCA passed well before manufacturers began putting digital locks on cars, microwaves, toilets, and every other electronic product. We’re now living in a world where it might be a crime to modify the software on your rice cooker. If that sounds absurd, that’s because it is.

      You can almost forgive Congress for this mess—it didn’t know that DRM would soon crawl into every aspect of your life. On the other hand, Congress helped bring the infestation on. The DMCA encouraged manufacturers to build DRM into their products, because doing so gave them ammunition to fight people using their products in ways they didn’t approve of. Can’t compete with unauthorized repair shops? Make them illegal.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Shipyard Brewing Sues The Brewery It Is Trademark Bullying Over The Public Backlash To Its Trademark Bullying

        You may recall that the middle of last summer saw us reporting on a somewhat odd trademark dispute between two breweries, Shipyard Brewing Co. and Logboat Brewing Company. Chiefly at issue was the fact that both breweries used images of schooners on their respective labels, except that the images used were laughably different. Also at issue was that Logboat’s “Shiphead” beer used the word “head”, which Shipyard says it uses in a variety of other beers, such as Pumpkinhead, Melonhead and other variations. Shipyard, notably, does not have a beer called “Shiphead”, making this all the more eyebrow-raising.

    • Copyrights
      • New presidency of the Council of the European Union … new position on the EU copyright reform?

        Following the conclusion of the 6-month Estonian presidency, the presidency of the Council of the European Union is now Bulgarian, and will be so for the first semester of 2018.

        The Council is one of the key EU institutions and brings the voice of Member States’ governments into the decision- and law-making process. In fact and among other things – together with the European Parliament – the Council is in charge of adopting EU legislation.

      • Copyright Troll Gets Smacked Around By Court, As Judge Wonders If Some Of Its Experts Even Exist

        When last we checked in with Venice PI, the copyright troll claiming to hold rights to the movie Once Upon A Time In Venice and attempting to claim in court that a 91 year old man with dementia was part of a torrent swarm offering the movie who, oh by the way, had recently passed away, it was being lightly slapped around by judge Thomas Zilly. Zilly had barred Venice PI from contacting the family of the deceased, halted the trial, questioned the quality of the evidence Venice PI had put before the court, and likewise demanded more information on how that evidence was collected in the first place. Given that the evidence mostly amounted to IP addresses obtained by Venice PI, I had written that this particular judge was likely to be unimpressed by whatever the copyright troll provided.

        Well, hoo-boy, was that ever an understatement. The end result of what Venice PI put before the court in response was the judge issuing a minute order declaring that the company essentially explain its copyright trolling efforts entirely across several cases and slapped the company around for some truly stunning misbehavior. The order goes into three different areas in which Venice PI appears to have really, truly screwed up, starting with the fact that the troll’s claims of ownership and affiliations can’t even be substantiated.

      • We found a deleted page that reveals the paparazzi roots of Kodak Coin

        Kodak’s stock price has tripled since Tuesday as the company announced plans to develop a new blockchain-based digital rights management platform for photographers. Called KodakOne, the new platform, which isn’t available yet, will allow photographers to publicly register their rights in digital photographs on an immutable blockchain.

        The platform will include a digital currency called Kodak Coin that will be used to make licensing payments. There’s an initial coin offering scheduled for January 31.

        “KodakOne provides continual Web crawling in order to protect the IP of its members,” the KodakOne website says. “Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, KodakOne can efficiently manage the post-licensing process.”

      • Kodak’s Supposed Crytocurrency Entrance Appears To Be Little More Than A Rebranded Paparazzi Copyright Trolling Scheme… With The Blockchain

        For a few years now I’ve debated writing up a post about why a “blockchain-based DRM” is an idea that people frequently talk about, but which is a really dumb idea. Because the key point in the blockchain is that it “solves” the “double spend” problem of anything digital, there are always some who have argued that it could be useful in stopping the infinitely copyable nature of digital content. But… actually doing that is a much more difficult proposition. Instead, we just get simplistic ideas around using a blockchain ledger merely to establish a form of a rights database. Which… is fine, but hardly all that compelling a use of the blockchain (a regular old database is probably a lot more useful and efficient for that use case).

        But, last week, there was an awful lot of hype, fuss and confusion around what was billed as Kodak launching its own cryptocorrency / blockchain effort called KODAKone and Kodak Coin, that would “create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform.”

No Patents on Life (CRISPR), Said EPO Boards of Appeal Just a Few Hours Ago

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 05:01:35 PM

The Boards nail Broad

Summary: Broad spectacularly loses its key case, which may soon mean that any other patents on CRISPR too will be considered invalid

THE decline of patent quality at the EPO is a real problem. The granting of CRISPR patents is an issue we wrote about this morning, having addressed the subject many times before (here’s some background).

Thankfully, the appeal board ended up deciding to toss out these stupid patents (metaphorically speaking, not politely put as courts typically do). This was foreseen by a longtime observer and UPC booster. They benefit from sheer abundance of patents. Here is what he wrote last year:

In Europe, the first patent of UC Berkeley has very recently been granted by the EPO.

As in the US, however, the Broad Institute has been the first one to get a patent issued in Europe, namely EP 2 771 468. Against this patent, 9 oppositions have been filed, most of which appear to be so-called strawman oppositions.

The final decision was covered by Daniel Lim, who describes himself as “IP lawyer at Allen & Overy, specialising in life sciences patent litigation. I am particularly interested in CRISPR, I-O and molecular Dx.”

“These patents should never have been granted in the first place.”So he’s into patent litigation in CRISPR, hence he relies on CRISPR patents. Earlier today he wrote: “BREAKING: #EPO’s opposition division has revoked the @broadinstitute’s #CRISPR-Cas9 patent EP2771468 in its entirety. Things wrapped up v quickly once priority was lost. Broad’s 64 aux requests not admitted and novelty not contested. Appeal already flagged…”

Found via Team UPC were a bunch of his other tweets (maybe Broad is his client) and there’s lots more in this thread, noting for example: “Appeal to the Technical Board of Appeal of the #EPO already flagged. The Broad considers this to be an issue of “international inconsistency, not just for CRISPR patents, but for a wider range of European patents and applications that originated as U.S. provisional applications…”

He then wrote: “BREAKING: #EPO has just found @broadinstitute’s European #CRISPR Patent (EP2771468) not entitled to claim priority from P1, P2, P5 and P11 – upholding the preliminary opinion on this point – inventorship dispute with Marraffini and Rockefeller Uni comes back to bite…”

Broad is in ‘damage control’ mode (over loss of European Patent/s) and Lim mostly amplifies their side in this dispute. They wrote “[f]or journalists”:

In a decision that is unrelated to the substantive merits of the CRISPR patent, an initial review panel of the European Patent Office (EPO) denied the Broad Institute’s reliance on its U.S. priority provisional application in Europe based on a technical formality.

This technicality concerns the current interpretation of rules that dictate what happens when the names of inventors differ across international applications. This interpretation affects many other European patents that rely on U.S. provisional patent applications, and is inconsistent with treaties designed to harmonize the international patent process, including that of the United States and Europe.

These patents should never have been granted in the first place. It’s not hard to see why Lim relies on such patents; his desire, however, should not become policy. It’s about public interest.

Only Two Weeks on the Job, Judge Patrick Corcoran is Already Being Threatened by EPO Management

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 02:37:22 PM

Summary: The attack on a technical judge who is accused of relaying information many people had already relayed anyway (it was gossip at the whole Organisation for years) carries on as he is again being pushed around, just as many people predicted

THE EPO scandals keep getting more scandalous. Yes, it’s possible for them to further escalate, still

As we noted this morning, there’s an important decision on the way, soon to be delivered by the appeal boards (formally called the Boards of Appeal). But many rightly doubt or question the independence; or the appeal boards being able to judge and rule in peace. They have already complained — publicly even — about Battistelli bullying the judge, their colleague, in several jurisdictions (considerably raising the cost of legal defense as even interpreters would likely be needed).

“Mr Corcoran is sent to work in the Hague,” a source told us today. “If he disagree to removing his family to a different country, he can be dismissed.”

“Mr Corcoran is sent to work in the Hague. If he disagree to removing his family to a different country, he can be dismissed.”
      –AnonymousIncredible, isn’t it? It didn’t even take long! Just as many people expected and publicly predicted. He is now under the control of Team Battistelli, so they actually have this kind of leverage over him. They are endlessly pushing the man and his wife around. This is truly appalling and incredibly damaging to the EPO’s reputation. To put it bluntly, who would want to even relocate to work there (another country) and then be thrown around from place to place like some “gypsy”? Corcoran’s colleagues too have already been pushed out of Munich and into the suburbs (Haar). This is part of a pattern of bullying/punishment by Team Battistelli, “making an example” to scare others, including Corcoran’s colleagues.

“He is now under the control of Team Battistelli, so they actually have this kind of leverage over him.”How on Earth can the UPC even be considered under such extraordinary circumstances? The German courts hopefully keep an eye on all this…

Regarding the German courts, there’s lots of “fake news” this week. We wrote about some of that yesterday. It carries on. Michael Loney (chief at Managing IP, one of the key pushers of the UPC) is repeating the lie that DAV is ‘the’ “German Bar Association” in order to promote UPC agenda. The title of this piece says “German Bar Association says constitutional complaint inadmissible” and the opening sentence says “DAV, the German Bar Association, has submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court its view on the constitutional complaint against German participation in the Unified Patent Court.”

“The readers aren’t as gullible or dumb as Team UPC wants and needs them to be.”It’s not actually ‘the’ German Bar Association, but Team UPC intentionally presents it as such (falsely). Also yesterday there was this article from Dugie Standeford who said “Unified Patent Court Remain High On EU Priority List” and “[o]n the patent side, a pressing question is whether – and when – the EU unified patent and patent court (UPC) might finally launch.”

No, the Unified Patent Court is pretty much dead. What they really want isn’t what they’ll get. They have been trying — and failing — for at least a decade and in the process they destroyed order/lawfulness at the EPO (and workers sometimes lost their lives, as “collateral damage” of so-called ‘reforms’). There are many national and cross-national barriers to UPC which is just a stupid plot of profiteers, not compliant (w.r.t. Constitutions etc.) lawmakers. It ought to be permanently halted. Even some people in the patent ‘community’ (like attorneys) are saying the same. The UPC is a failed project. We can now see that Team UPC (Alex Robinson) is being blasted by dozens of commenters for lying about the UPC on Friday. Live and learn. You lie and then there’s karma. The readers aren’t as gullible or dumb as Team UPC wants and needs them to be.

EPO Board of Appeal Has an Opportunity to Stop Controversial Patents on Life

Wednesday 17th of January 2018 10:02:49 AM

“Since the birth of the Republic, the U.S. government has been in the business of handing out “exclusive rights” (a.k.a., monopolies) in order to “promote progress” or enable new markets of communication. Patents and copyrights accomplish the first goal; giving away slices of the airwaves serves the second. No one doubts that these monopolies are sometimes necessary to stimulate innovation. Hollywood could not survive without a copyright system; privately funded drug development won’t happen without patents. But if history has taught us anything, it is that special interests—the Disneys and Pfizers of the world—have become very good at clambering for more and more monopoly rights. Copyrights last almost a century now, and patents regulate “anything under the sun that is made by man,” as the Supreme Court has put it. This is the story of endless bloat, with each round of new monopolies met with a gluttonous demand for more.”

Lawrence Lessig in “Reboot the FCC”

Summary: Patent maximalism at the EPO can be pushed aback slightly if the European appeal board decides to curtail CRISPR patents in a matter of days

PATENT scope at the EPO has long been its clear advantage over, for example, the USPTO. Recently, however, the EPO put an end to this advantage, having allowed patents on things even that USPTO had long denied.

Right now in the US lobbyists and professionals who profit from the practice of patenting life/genetics are putting together events and reports to the effect that they want. They want to stop PTAB (the US appeal board), which uses decisions such as Mayo (at SCOTUS) to put an end to all this lunacy of patents on genetics.

What happens in Europe this week is noteworthy. The only media coverage we’ve found of it (so far) is this:

Today could play a pivotal role in the CRISPR patent landscape in Europe.

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Opposition Division has begun its oral hearing into the eligibility of one of ten European patents covering CRISPR/Cas9 technology that has been issued to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

In April last year, the EPO issued a preliminary and non-binding opinion which found that European patent 2,771,468 was invalid.

“EPO opposition hearing just started,” Alexander Esslinger wrote a couple of days ago, adding: “The opposition hearing at the EPO against #CRISPR patent EP 2 771 468 of the Broad Institute starts tomorrow at 9 am and is scheduled for 4 days”

Lars de Haas wrote about T1955/13, but it’s interesting that not even patents-centric blogs are covering the above. None of them as far as we can see (and we have broad scope/optics).

This morning, perhaps even timed to coincide (today) with the proceedings of a similar (but not identical) case, a statement titled “Growing opposition to patents on seeds” was published to say:

Around 25 patents were approved last year, despite the EPO officially claiming that it no longer grants such patents. The patents cover crops such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumber, grapes, sunflower, sorghum and soybeans. In response, there is growing opposition to EPO practice. And for the first time, a joint letter written by COPA/COGECA, No Patents on Seeds! and organisations from the organic sector has been sent to the EU Commission. COPA/COGECA is the largest farmers’ organisation in the EU and also represents many breeders.

Despite growing criticism, the seed giants are still trying to push their agenda of misappropriation of natural resources: Syngenta has asked the EPO to abolish existing restrictions. The company filed an appeal in August 2017, and this will be the subject of a public hearing at the EPO tomorrow.

The existing regulations prohibit patents on conventional (non-technical) methods of breeding and the resulting plants and animals. However, the way in which the EPO applies these rules makes them mostly ineffective: according to the new rules, adopted in 2017, plants and animals are still patentable if they are identified as inheriting genetic variations or random mutations that are relevant for breeding.

As we noted last year, European authorities already helped put an end to various EPs on life. Is more of that about to happen?

European authorities can hardly be described as patents-hostile. Yesterday, for example, an apologist of Battistelli (James Nurton) asked a loaded question: “How helpful is the EU Commission’s SEP guidance?”

How helpeful? It was not helpful at all, except for the SEP lobby!

To quote Nurton:

Both patent owners and implementers have welcomed the European Commission’s communication on standard essential patents. Does that mean it has successfully balanced competing interests or merely dodged the difficult questions? James Nurton investigates

Since this site began in 2006 we have primarily protested software patents; the only other type of patents we’re fundamentally against is pertaining to naturally-occurring things such as nature. Stop overpatenting. Or else the whole system will simply lose its purpose and perceived legitimacy.

Links 16/1/2018: More on Barcelona, OSI at 20

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 05:24:09 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source software

    THE SPANISH CITY OF BARCELONA plans to replace its Microsoft software with open source alternatives including Linux, Libre Office and Open Xchange.

    Barcelona plans to invest 70 per cent of its annual software budget in open source this year, according to El Pais, with the aim of completing the transformation by spring 2019.

    Microsoft’s Outlook and Exchange Server email software is to be replaced by Open-Xchange, Microsoft Office will be ditched in favour of Libre Office, and Mozilla’s Firefox will be made the default browser across systems.

  • Barcelona becomes the poster child for Linux

    The City of Barcelona is migrating its computer systems away from Windows making it the poster child for Open Source rather than Munich which is frantically trying to migrate back.

    According to the Spanish newspaper El País, the City’s strategy is first to replace all user applications with open-source alternatives until the underlying Windows operating system is the only proprietary software remaining. Then the operating system will be replaced with Linux.

    Commissioner of Technology and Digital Innovation at Barcelona City Council, Francesca Bria, said the transition would be completed before the current administration’s mandate ends in spring 2019.

  • Barcelona gives Microsoft the boot in move to open source

    With this move Barcelona becomes the first city to join an initiative by Free Software Foundation Europe dubbed ‘Public code, public money’ which calls on public bodies to invest tax revenues in free reusable systems that are open to local businesses rather than proprietary licensed software.

  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source Linux software

    Catalan capital Barcelona is planning to ditch proprietary software products from Microsoft in favour of free, open source alternatives such as Open-Xchange email.

    That’s according to a report by Spain’s national paper El Pais, which reports that Barcelona plans to invest 70% of its annual software budget in open source this year.

  • Barcelona Aims To Oust Microsoft In Open Source Drive

    The city of Barcelona has embarked on an ambitious open source effort aimed at reducing its dependence on large proprietary software vendors such as Microsoft, including the replacement of both applications and operating systems.

  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft software for open source software

    Barcelona, one of the most popular cities in the Europe is now switching to open-source software by replacing Microsoft Windows, Office and Exchange with Linux, Libre Office and Open Xchange respectively. The city council is already piloting the use of Ubuntu Linux desktops along with Mozilla Firefox as the default browser. With this move, Barcelona city is planning to save money over the years by reducing software/service licensing fees. They are also planning to hire new developers to write open-source software. The open-source product will also be made available to other Spanish municipalities and public bodies further afield allowing them the opportunity to save money on software licences.

  • Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source Linux software

    Catalan capital Barcelona is planning to ditch proprietary software products from Microsoft in favour of free, open source alternatives such as Open-Xchange email.

    That’s according to a report by Spain’s national paper El Pais, which reports that Barcelona plans to invest 70% of its annual software budget in open source this year.

  • Barcelona is moving to Linux; why not Dhaka?

    The Spanish city of Barcelona just announced a few days ago (https://www.itwire.com/open-source/81377-barcelona-plans-move-to-open-source-software.html) that it has successfully completed a pilot project of moving 1,000 desktops of municipality employees from Microsoft Windows and MS Office to free/open-source alternatives, Ubuntu Linux (www.ubuntu.com/desktop) and LibreOffice (www.libreoffice.org).

    The question is why countries like Bangladesh, which are much less wealthy than Spain, are not making similar moves to replace expensive Microsoft software with free/open-source alternatives.

    The simple fact is that there is almost no awareness of the real cost of Microsoft software in Bangladesh, as software piracy is so commonplace. Every market has shops stocking pirated MS Windows/MS Office DVDs; so the public can be forgiven for thinking that these are practically free of cost.

  • Barcelona abandons Windows and Office, goes with Linux instead
  • Windows vs Linux: Open source beats Microsoft to win Barcelona’s backing
  • Barcelona quits Windows and Office goes Linux
  • Adios Microsoft: We’re ditching Office and Outlook for open source, says Barcelona
  • Best Linux desktop of 2018

    The desktop is a critical aspect of your Linux experience, providing you with a user-friendly way to interact with your computer. Unlike Windows or Mac, Linux doesn’t tie you to a single desktop. Switching desktop environments is incredibly straightforward – just install a new one, log out and choose it from the login screen. You can install as many desktop environments as you like, although you can only use one at a time.

    In this guide, we’ve rounded up seven of the most popular desktops, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Before you dive in, however, take some time to think about what you want from your desktop.

    A desktop environment is more than the wallpaper which appears when you log in. It also includes a window manager and usually a set of utilities. It may come in the form of a pre-assembled package, such as Gnome or KDE, or it may be assembled by the distro maintainer, such as CrunchBang++’s Openbox or Puppy’s JWM.

  • Best Linux distros 2018: the finest open source operating systems around

    Linux is widely-regarded as the discerning techie’s operating system of choice, and with good reason. The open source OS has an awful lot to recommend it, and it’s every bit as capable as Windows or macOS.

    One of the reasons Linux has proved to be so popular with developers, engineers and technical professionals is that it’s almost infinitely versatile, with a wealth of customisation options. It’s also got a reputation as being extremely secure.

    Linux doesn’t just cater to traditional desktop PCs, either. There are also distros designed to run enterprise-grade applications and servers as well as desktop clients.

  • Linux kernel mailing list back online; Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities; Mobile OS eelo; Barcelona now using Linux

    The popular Linux Kernel Mailing List website is back online after going down and staying down for several days due to a power outage to the home server where it was hosted. Upon reboot, a password (for dm-crypt) was required to mount the root device; however, that in itself was not the problem. The problem was the fact that the PC’s owner, Jasper, was on vacation when all of this occurred. Anyway, the site is now back up and continuing to operate as it always has.

    Speaking of the kernel mailing lists, Johannes Weiner issued a call for proposals for agenda topics to the upcoming annual 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem and Memory Management (LSF/MM) Summit. The deadline is January 31, 2018, and the summit will be held between April 23-25 At Deer Valley Lodges in Park City, Utah. For more information, visit the Linux Foundation Events page.

  • Documentary films on Linux!

    The Code & Revolution OS! Those are documentary films released in 2001. The Code is based on birth and journey of Linux & Revolution OS is based on 20 years journey of Linux, GNU, Open Source world.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Red Hat launches new podcast series, Command Line Heroes

      Technology has become so integrated into our daily lives that it can be easy to take it for granted. But we’ve only gotten to where we are today because of the command line heroes that shaped the industry – and continue to do so.

      Command line hero. What does that really mean? To us it’s the developers, programmers, hackers, geeks and open source rebels – the people who are on the front line, transforming technology from the command line up. The biggest technology advancements and innovations didn’t happen by accident. They were made possible through the passion, creativity and persistence of technologists around the world.

    • Command Line Heroes

      I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while, ever since it was announced: today, the first two episodes of Command Line Heroes were published. Command Line Heroes, or CLH for short, is a series of podcasts that tells the stories of open source. It’s hosted by Saron Yitbarek, of CodeNewbie fame, and sponsored by Red Hat.

  • Kernel Space
    • Retpoline Backported To Linux 4.9, Linux 4.14 Kernels

      Retpoline support for mitigating the Spectre vulnerabilities will soon be present in the Linux 4.9 and 4.14 stable kernels.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has sent out the latest patches for the Linux 4.9 and 4.14 point releases, which now include the Retpoline support.

    • Retpoline Is Still Being Improved Upon For Intel Skylake/Kabylake

      While initial support for Retpoline was merged into the Linux 4.15 Git kernel last week and is now being backported to some supported Linux kernel series, there is still additional work ongoing for properly mitigating Spectre v2 on Intel Skylake CPUs and newer.

      It turns out Skylake CPUs and newer require additional patches to fully mitigate against the Spectre Variant Two vulnerability. These newer CPUs can fallback to a potentially poisoned indirect branch predictor when a return buffer underflows. Andi Kleen of Intel has sent out a new patch series dubbed “RETPOLINE_UNDERFLOW” that gets enabled by default for Skylake CPUs and newer.

    • VirtualBox Guest Driver Being Mainlined With Linux 4.16

      The upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle will be mainlining the VirtualBox Guest “vboxguest” kernel driver.

      As part of an effort led by Red Hat, the VirtualBox guest drivers are finally working towards mainline in the Linux kernel and with 4.16 there is the vboxguest driver as a notable step following the VirtualBox DRM/KMS driver in Linux 4.13.

    • Linus Torvalds Is Hopeful for a January 21 Release of the Linux 4.15 Kernel

      The eighth and probably the last RC (Release Candidate) of the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel series has been announced by Linus Torvalds over the weekend and it’s now ready for public testing.

      Coming a week after the seventh RC, Linux kernel 4.15 Release Candidate 8 is here with more patches against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities publicly disclosed earlier this month. Most specifically, it brings x86 “retpoline” support, a solution developed by Google and other security researchers to not allow speculation on the CPU.

    • LSFMM 2018 call for proposals

      The 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit will be held April 23-25 in Park City, Utah. The call for proposals has just gone out with a tight deadline: they need to be received by January 31.

    • Analyzing the Linux boot process

      The oldest joke in open source software is the statement that “the code is self-documenting.” Experience shows that reading the source is akin to listening to the weather forecast: sensible people still go outside and check the sky. What follows are some tips on how to inspect and observe Linux systems at boot by leveraging knowledge of familiar debugging tools. Analyzing the boot processes of systems that are functioning well prepares users and developers to deal with the inevitable failures.

    • BPF Getting Error Injection & More In Linux 4.16

      While BPF has been under the spotlight recently in light of Spectre, with the upcoming Linux 4.16 cycle this in-kernel virtual machine and originally packet filter will be picking up new features.

    • Jailhouse Guest Support Queued For Linux 4.16

      Yet more functionality to find with the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel is the first bits of Jailhouse hypervisor functionality being mainlined.

      Since at least 2013 Siemens has been developing the Jailhouse hypervisor for Linux systems. This partitioning hypervisor aims to be lighter than KVM and Siemens has been designing it for “highly demanding real-time, safety or security” workloads.

    • Retpoline patch coming to Linux 4.9 and Linux 4.14

      Several Linux kernel versions, including 4.9, 4.14, and the upcoming 4.15, will have Retpoline support built in to mitigate against the Spectre vulnerability. Greg Kroah-Hartman, one of the head honchos overlooking kernel development, accepted the patch into the 4.9 and 4.14 kernels meaning Linux users everywhere should be secure from Spectre without any performance hits.

      The exact kernel versions to look out for are 4.9.77 and 4.14.14. Unfortunately, for those of us still on Linux 4.4 and 3.18, which are still supported, there is no sign of the Retpoline patch just yet despite getting receiving other updates. Hopefully it’ll be released in a subsequent update after they’ve had time to monitor for any problems in 4.9 and 4.14.

    • Retpoline Support Backport Lands In GCC 7

      The backporting of -mindirect-branch, -mindirect-return and -mindirect-branch-register, a.k.a. the GCC “Retpoline” patches, have been back-ported and merged into the GCC 7 branch.

      Given the severity of the Spectre vulnerability, these features for Retpoline support are being back-ported to GCC branches normally only reserved for bug/regression/documentation fixes.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Experimental XDG-Shell Support For Mir’s Wayland Support

        Mir’s Wayland support continues being hacked on and now being tackled is support for the XDG-Shell protocol.

        A proof of concept implementation for the XDG Shell protocol has been posted for Mir. The XDG-Shell protocol as a reminder is used for managing surfaces under Wayland compositors for dealing with window dragging, resizing, stacking, and other actions.

      • Vulkan 1.0.68 Published

        Coming just over one week since Vulkan 1.0.67 is now the Vulkan 1.0.68 graphics/compute programming specification update.

        Given the short time from Vulkan 1.0.67 to 1.0.68, this updated version does not introduce any new extensions. Vulkan 1.0.68 just has documentation fixes: correcting some typos and making other clarifications for helping developers understand expected behavior of some elements of Vulkan.

      • Intel’s Mesa Driver Is A Step Closer To ARB_gl_spirv Support

        Igalia has sent out the fourth version of their patches for wiring in ARB_gl_spirv support into the Mesa OpenGL driver. This extension is the last main blocker from Intel having OpenGL 4.6 support and allows for SPIR-V ingestion support for better interoperability between OpenGL and Vulkan.

      • Mesa Gets Patches For EGL_ANDROID_blob_cache

        An Intel open-source developer has sent out a set of patches implementing the EGL ANDROID_blob_cache extension for Mesa.

      • GPU Voltage Control Support Coming To AMDGPU Driver

        Patches are being prepped to improve the OverDrive overclocking/underclocking support within the AMDGPU DRM driver and for allowing voltage controls.

      • Mesa 17.3.3 Is On The Way With Better Vega Support On Vulkan

        Mesa 17.3.3 should be released later this week with nearly three dozen fixes over the previous Mesa 17.3 point release.

      • Advanced DRI Configurator: A New Mesa GUI Project

        An independent open-source developer has announced “Advanced DRI Configurator” in what he’s hoping could eventually replace DriConf for configuring Mesa parameters.

        Developer Jean Hertel has announced his initial work on trying to write a DriConf replacement. The Advanced DRI Configurator, or “adriconf” for short, is this young project written in C++ and GTKmm.

      • Red Hat Developer Manages Full Clock-Gating For Kepler With Nouveau

        In improving the power-savings of NVIDIA GeForce 600/700 “Kepler” GPUs running on the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver, Red Hat developer Lyude Paul has published a set of patches allowing for full clock-gating with these older graphics cards.

        Following lots of reverse engineering, rewrites, and tracing the behavior of the NVIDIA proprietary driver, Lyude has implemented all known levels of clock-gating for Kepler1/Kepler2 GPUs. Lyude was also working on Fermi GPU support, but its clock-gating is being handled differently and currently that code isn’t yet ready.

    • Benchmarks
      • ADATA XPG SX6000: Benchmarking A ~$50 USD 128GB NVMe SSD On Linux

        While solid-state drives have generally been quite reliable in recent years and even with all the benchmarking I put them through have had less than a handful fail out of dozens, whenever there’s a bargain on NVMe SSDs, it’s hard to resist. The speed of NVMe SSDs has generally been great and while it’s not a key focus on Phoronix (and thus generally not receiving review samples of them), I upgrade some of the server room test systems when finding a deal. The latest is trying an ADATA XPG SX6000 NVMe SSD I managed to get for $49.99 USD.

      • 16-Way GPU Comparison With NVIDIA GPUs Going Back To Kepler

        Last week I provided a fresh look at the NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux gaming performance using the latest drivers at the start of 2018. That testing included the latest NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, but for those curious how these numbers compare for older NVIDIA GPUs, here’s a look with the Kepler and Maxwell graphics cards added to the comparison.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Flatpak Support Getting More Mature in KDE Plasma’s Discover Package Manager

        Those interesting in installing Flatpak universal Linux apps on their KDE Plasma-based GNU/Linux distros, should know that Flatpak support in the Plasma Discover package manager is now more mature and ready for production. It can handle multiple Flatpak repos, as well as installing of packages from the Flathub repository.

        With the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, Plasma Discover will support different backends, including Flatpak and Snappy, allowing users to search, download and install Flatpak and Snap apps. However, such a backend doesn’t come installed by default, so you’ll have to add it manually.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.42 Open-Source Software Suite Released for KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS

        KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 is out now just in time for the soon-to-be-released KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS Beta desktop environment, and includes numerous improvements and bug fixes for various components like Baloo, Breeze icons, KActivities, KCoreAddons, KDeclarative, KDED, KDBusAddons, KConfig, KDocTools, KHTML, KEmoticons, KFileMetaData, KI18n, KIO, KInit, Kirigami, and KJobWidgets.

        It also improves things like KNewStuff, KNotification, KRunner, KWayland, KTextEditor, KWallet Framework, KWidgetsAddons, KXMLGUI, NetworkManagerQt, Plasma Framework, Prison, QQC2StyleBridge, Sonnet, syntax highlighting, KPackage Framework, as well as KDELibs 4 support and extra CMake modules. The complete changelog is available below for more details on the new fixes.

      • KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS Enters Beta, Brings Unified Look and Phone Integration

        Designed as the next long-term support (LTS) version of the popular desktop environment, replacing the KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS on users’ computers when it will be out early next month, KDE Plasma 5.12 is an important milestone that introduces numerous stability and reliability improvements, along with a bunch of new and long-anticipated features.

        One of the most important changes in KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS is the greatly improved support for the next-generation Wayland display server, with a long-term support promise as the KDE Project will continue to patch bugs and other issues until the end of life of the desktop environment next year.

      • KDE Plasma 5.12 Reaches Beta With Faster Start-Up Time, Better Wayland Support
      • This App Automatically Disables Compositing in KDE When Opening Steam

        Compositor Switcher for KDE is a small utility that can disable compositing on the KDE Plasma desktop when running a specific gaming client.

      • digiKam 5.8 Open-Source Image Manipulator Adds UPnP/DLNA Export, Improvements

        The digiKam 5.8.0 open-source cross-platform image editor, viewer, and organizer tool has been released over the weekend with numerous improvements and some new features.

        Coming four months after the previous release, digiKam 5.8.0 is here with another set of enhancements for fans of the applications. For starters, the new version introduces a new tool that allows users to export their image collections to UPnP/DLNA-compatible devices. It can be accessed in all of digiKam’s views through the Tools menu.

        “In September 2017, the digiKam team has been invited to take part in the Randa Meetings,” reads the release announcement. “We have focused the reunion on including the new media server dedicated to sharing collection contents on local networks with compatible DLNA devices or applications, such as tablets, cellulars, TV, etc.”

      • Season Of KDE

        After contributing for several months at GCompris, I applied for SoK 2018 and finally my proposal got selected among top 10 participants. I am very happy with the results I have got.

      • SoK Project – Week 1 & 2

        With all the happiness after being selected for SoK 2018, I was looking forward to start working on my project with whole dedication. My project aims to complete port of a brain-boosting memory activity called “Railroad” (in which kids have to observe the given train and memorize it within given time and then try to rebuild it) from Gtk+ to Qt version. It is a part of project GCompris(a high-quality educational software suite, including a large number of activities for children aged 2 to 10). My mentors are Timothée Giet and Rudra Nil Basu, along with them I’d like to thank a lot to Johnny Jazeix and Divyam Madaan for helping me with my project. My SoK proposal can be found here –> SoK Proposal. And my progress can be tracked at –> Railroad branch.

      • Reasons to Get Excited about KDE in 2018
      • Three old Plasma Weather applet TODO items gone for Plasma 5.12

        Just when I thought to have missed yet another Plasma feature freeze deadline with the one for Plasma 5.12 LTS and thus a good(?) excuse to re-decrease priority of some planned work on the Plasma Addons Weather applet (from the kdeplasma-addons repo, not to be mixed up with clearmartin’s one from github/store.kde.org) once more and thus delay things even further to a day that may never come, the Plasma team found they need to shift the deadline by some weeks to be after the KDE Frameworks 5.42.0 release.
        So excuse gone, no other quickly found… time to do a git pull and open the editor.

      • Plasma on ARM: State of the Union

        For the past year at Blue Systems my colleagues and I have been working on getting Plasma 5 ready for ARMv8 systems such as the Pinebook. If you were at QtCon this year, you might have also seen our awesome team demo’ing these systems at the KDE booth along with Plasma on ARMv7 systems such as the ODROID C1.

      • Sharing Files on Android or iOS from or with your Qt App – Part 2
      • KDE Plans to Introduce New Apps and Plasma Stability Improvements in 2018

        For starters, 2018 will bring KDE users a new, long-term supported Plasma desktop environment, version 5.12, which just entered beta stages of development the other day giving us a first glimpse into its new features and improvements.

        While it’s mostly focused on stability and speed improvements, the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS release promises better, long-term Wayland support, smartphone integration, a unified look, infinite customizations, as well as integrated desktop widgets and search.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • How to Install GNOME Shell Extensions GUI / CLI

        GNOME Shell extensions are small and lightweight pieces of codes that enhance GNOME desktop’s functionality and improves the user experience. They are the equivalent of add-ons in your browser. For instance, you can have add-ons that download videos like IDM downloader or block annoying ads such as Adblocker.

        Similarly, GNOME extensions perform certain tasks e.g. Display weather and geolocation. One of the tools used to install and customize GNOME Shell extensions is the GNOME tweak tool. It comes pre-installed in the latest Linux distributions. This article we cover how to install GNOME Shell extensions from GUI and from the command line on various Linux distros.

      • Musings on bug trackers

        I love bugzilla, I really do. I’ve used it nearly my entire career in free software. I know it well, I like the command line tool integration. But I’ve never had a day in bugzilla where I managed to resolve/triage/close nearly 100 issues. I managed to do that today with our gitlab instance and I didn’t even mean to.

      • ABI stability for GXml

        I’m taking a deep travel across Vala code; trying to figure out how things work. With my resent work on abstract methods for compact classes, may I have an idea on how to provide ABI stability to GXml.

        GXml have lot of interfaces for DOM4, implemented in classes, like Gom* series. But they are a lot, so go for each and add annotations, like Gee did, to improve ABI, is a hard work.

      • GXml is near for ABI stability

        Today I managed to create a patch to provide ABI stability for GXml and any other Vala library.

        ABI is one of the more important aspect in a library; allows to produce binaries fixing issues and add features while the applications, depending on it, don’t need to be recompiled

  • Distributions
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SLES 12 Toolchain Update Brings new Developer Tools
      • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 Updates Its Developer Toolchain to GCC 7

        SUSE’s Andreas Jaeger writes in a blog post about the updated toolchain of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 operating system and the new developer tools it brings.

        The article notes the fact that with the release of GNU Compiler Collection 7, the GCC team brought numerous improvements for developers, including better diagnostics, DWARF 5 support, as well as support for the C++ 17 standard.

        GCC 7 also contains improved optimization passes and takes advantage of some of the features of modern processors, and now it is available to all SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 customers with an active subscription.

      • Become a Google Summer of Code Mentor for openSUSE

        The application period for organizations wanting to participate in the Google Summer of Code is now and the openSUSE project is once again looking for mentors who are willing to put forth projects to mentor GSoC students.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • RHL’18 in Saint-Cergue, Switzerland

        In between eating fondue and skiing, I found time to resurrect some of my previous project ideas for Google Summer of Code. Most of them are not specific to Debian, several of them need co-mentors, please contact me if you are interested.

      • Quick recap of 2017

        After the Stretch release, it was time to attend DebConf’17 in Montreal, Canada. I’ve presented the latest news on the Debian Installer front there as well. This included a quick demo of my little framework which lets me run automatic installation tests. Many attendees mentioned openQA as the current state of the art technology for OS installation testing, and Philip Hands started looking into it. Right now, my little thing is still useful as it is, helping me reproduce regressions quickly, and testing bug fixes… so I haven’t been trying to port that to another tool yet.

        I also gave another presentation in two different contexts: once at a local FLOSS meeting in Nantes, France and once during the mini-DebConf in Toulouse, France. Nothing related to Debian Installer this time, as the topic was how I helped a company upgrade thousands of machines from Debian 6 to Debian 8 (and to Debian 9 since then). It was nice to have Evolix people around, since we shared our respective experience around automation tools like Ansible and Puppet.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Wallpaper Contest Welcomes Talented Photographers and Artists

            Announced today by Ubuntu member Nathan Haines, Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is now officially open for submissions, and since Ubuntu 18.04 it’s an LTS (Long-Term Support) version, which Canonical will support for the next five years with software and security updates, it’s more than a wallpaper contest.

            Well, of course, it’s not a contest, because you won’t win any prize besides the fact that your work will be showcased to millions of Ubuntu users worldwide. This time, besides wallpapers, Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase also looks for new video and music files that will be available in the Examples folder of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS’ live installation medium.

          • Introducing the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase for 18.04

            Ubuntu’s changed a lot in the last year, and everything is leading up to a really exciting event: the release of 18.04 LTS! This next version of Ubuntu will once again offer a stable foundation for countless humans who use computers for work, play, art, relaxation, and creation. Among the various visual refreshes of Ubuntu, it’s also time to go to the community and ask for the best wallpapers. And it’s also time to look for a new video and music file that will be waiting for Ubuntu users on the install media’s Examples folder, to reassure them that their video and sound drivers are quite operational.

            Long-term support releases like Ubuntu 18.04 LTS are very important, because they are downloaded and installed ten times more often than every single interim release combined. That means that the wallpapers, video, and music that are shipped will be seen ten times more than in other releases. So artists, select your best works. Ubuntu enthusiasts, spread the word about the contest as far and wide as you can. Everyone can help make this next LTS version of Ubuntu an amazing success.

          • Ubuntu Core: A secure open source OS for IoT

            Canonical’s Ubuntu Core, a tiny, transactional version of the Ubuntu Linux OS for IoT devices, runs highly secure Linux application packages, known as “snaps,” that can be upgraded remotely.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Lubuntu 17.04 has reached End of Life

              The Lubuntu Team announces that as a non-LTS release, 17.04 has a 9-month support cycle and, as such, reached end of life on Saturday, January 13, 2018. Lubuntu will no longer provide bug fixes or security updates for 17.04, and we strongly recommend that you update to 17.10, which continues to be actively supported with security updates and select high-impact bug fixes.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Source turns 20

    While open source software is ubiquitous, recognized across industries as a fundamental infrastructure component as well as a critical factor for driving innovation, the “open source” label was coined only 20 years ago.

    The concept of open source software – as opposed to free software or freeware – is credited to Netscape which, in January 1998, announced plans to release the source code of its proprietary browser, Navigator, under a license that would freely permit modification and redistribution. This code is today the basis for Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird.

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) regards that event as the point at which “software freedom extended its reach beyond the enthusiast community and began its ascent into the mainstream”.

  • Coreboot 4.7 Released With 47 More Motherboards Supported, AMD Stoney Ridge

    Coreboot 4.7 is now available as the latest release of this free and open-source BIOS/UEFI replacement.

    Coreboot 4.7 is the latest tagged release for this project developed via Git. This release has initial support for AMD Stoney Ridge platforms, Intel ICH10 Southbridge support, Intel Denverton/Denverton-NS platform support, and initial work on supporting next-gen Intel Cannonlake platforms.

  • Google’s Kelsey Hightower talks Kubernetes and community

    Google developer advocate Kelsey Hightower says that he always figured that the (now wildly successful) Kubernetes container orchestration platform “would get big on its own at some point.” He shared some of the reasons he sees for Kubernetes’ success in a podcast recorded in December at CloudNativeCon in Austin.

    The first is that Kubernetes is an effective platform on which to do other things. It provides “better primitives than I had before” as Hightower puts it. At the same time, he says that this is something people misunderstand about Kubernetes. “It’s not the end game,” he says. Rather, at some point, it increasingly becomes “the new platform for building other platforms.”

  • A FOSS Year Resolution

    It’s that time of year again. The time when some people are taking a long hard look at their lives and trying to decide what they want to change about themselves over the course of the next year. Some of us want to lose weight, or exercise more, or spend more time with our kids. The trouble is only about 9% of these resolutions actually happen.

  • Events
    • Dr. Lovesource: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the open

      I used to write code. I don’t anymore. There are lots of reasons for this, including the fact that I wasn’t very good at it. To clarify, I was, I think, good at writing code,1 but I wasn’t very good at writing code.2 It turns out that I’m quite good at a variety of other things, so my career3 moved in a different direction—or, in fact, a variety of different directions. After a number of roles ranging from “Electronic Information Controller” to “Product and Programme4 Manager” through software engineering and pre-sales, I finally settled into something called “architecture.” Which means that I mainly draw boxes and lines on whiteboards and expect people who are very good at writing code to make the boxes “real.”

    • Thank you CUSEC!

      Last week, I spoke at CUSEC (Canadian Undergraduate Software Engineering Conference) in Montreal. I really enjoy speaking with students and learning what they are working on. They are the future of our industry! I was so impressed by the level of organization and the kindness and thoughtfulness of the CUSEC organizing committee who were all students from various universities across Canada. I hope that you all are enjoying some much needed rest after your tremendous work in the months approaching the conference and last week.

    • Percona Announces Sneak Peek of Conference Breakout Sessions for Seventh Annual Percona Live Open Source Database Conference
    • Do not limit yourself

      The motto of Learn yourself, teach others is still very strong among us. We try to break any such stupid limits others try to force on our lives. We dream, we try to enjoying talking about that book someone just finished. We discuss about our favorite food. I will end this post saying one thing again. Do not bound yourself in some non existing limits. Always remember, What a great teacher, failure is (I hope I quoted Master Yoda properly). Not everything we will try in life will be a super successful thing, but we can always try to learn from those incidents. You don’t have to bow down in front of anyone, you can do things you love in your life without asking for others’ permissions.

    • Benjamin Mako Hill: OpenSym 2017 Program Postmortem

      The International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym) is the premier academic venue exclusively focused on scholarly research into open collaboration. OpenSym is an ACM conference which means that, like conferences in computer science, it’s really more like a journal that gets published once a year than it is like most social science conferences. The “journal”, in iithis case, is called the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Open Collaboration and it consists of final copies of papers which are typically also presented at the conference. Like journal articles, papers that are published in the proceedings are not typically published elsewhere.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • Bromite Is the New NoChromo — Open Source Chrome Port with Ad Blocking

        A while back, we told you about NoChromo, a no-root ad-blocking browser based on Google Chrome’s open source code base, Chromium. That browser was wildly successful, as it offered an identical interface to regular Chrome, but without any ads. Sadly, the developer abandoned NoChromo, but a new ad-blocking Chromium port called Bromite has been released to fill its void.

    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 60 Product Integrity Requests Report

        Late last year I was putting out weekly reports on the number of requests Mozilla’s Product Integrity group was receiving and how well we were tracking toward our self-imposed service-level agreement (respond to 90% within 48 hours).

        The initial system we set up was only ever intended to be minimally viable and has not scaled well, although that’s probably to be expected. There’s been quite a lot of growing pains so I’ve been tasked with taking it to the next level.

      • Tab Warming: How Firefox Will Improve Web Browsing Experience? How To Get It Now?

        Mozilla developer Mike Conley described the details about Tab Warming in a post on his personal blog. It will improve tab switching by pre-loading the contents of a tab before it gets displayed in front of the users.

      • NVDA and Firefox 58 – The team is regaining strength

        A week before the Firefox 57 “Quantum” release in November, I published an Article detailing some bits to be aware of when using Firefox and the NVDA screen reader together. In Firefox 58, due on January 23, 2018, the reliable team is regaining strength in playing well together and offering you good and fast web accessibility.

        After the Firefox 57 release, due to many changes under the hood, NVDA and Firefox temporarily lapsed in performance. Statistics quickly showed that about two thirds of the NVDA user base stayed with us despite of this. So to all of you who stuck with us on this difficult release: Thank you! Many of the others moved to the extended support release of Firefox 52. Thank you to those of you as well, you decided to stick with Firefox! Also, statistics show that barely any of those of you who stuck with 57 decided to turn off multi-process Firefox, but instead used the new technology, and some of you even reported problems to us.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • The Universal Donor

      A few people reacted negatively to my article on why Public Domain software is broadly unsuitable for inclusion in a community open source project. Most argued that because public domain gave them the rights they need where they live (mostly the USA), I should not say it was wrong to use it.

      That demonstrates either parochialism or a misunderstanding of what public domain really means. It should not be used for the same reason code known to be subject to software patents should not be used — namely that only code that, to the best efforts possible, can be used by anyone, anywhere without the need to ask permission (e.g. by buying a patent license) or check it it’s needed (e.g. is that PD code PD here?) can be used in an open source project. Public domain fails the test for multiple reasons: global differences in copyright term, copyright as an unalienable moral rather than as a property right, and more.

      Yes, public domain may give you the rights you need. But in an open source project, it’s not enough for you to determine you personally have the rights you need. In order to function, every user and contributor of the project needs prior confidence they can use, improve and share the code, regardless of their location or the use to which they put it. That confidence also has to extend to their colleagues, customers and community as well.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 8.0 Moves On To Only Regression/Documentation Fixes

      The GCC 8 compiler is on to its last stage of development

    • Retpoline-enabled GCC

      There will be upstream backports at least to GCC 7, but probably pretty far back (I’ve seen people talk about all the way to 4.3). So you won’t have to run my crappy home-grown build for very long—it’s a temporary measure.

      Oh, and it made Stockfish 3% faster than with GCC 6.3! Hooray.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • Nokia, Optus seal 5-year network deal

    Under the deal, Nokia will provide network operations and software services, and deploy robotics, artificial intelligence and extreme automation to help Optus standardise and scale its operations, while Nokia Field Services will manage all components of work associated with mobile base station equipment and facilities.

  • Science
    • Pollution is endangering the future of astronomy

      Three sources of pollution — space debris, radio interference and light pollution — already are particularly worrisome. And the situation is getting worse.

    • Novel 3-D printing technique yields high-performance composites

      Since ancient civilizations first combined straw and mud to form bricks, people have fabricated engineered composites of increasing performance and complexity. But reproducing the exceptional mechanical properties and complex microstructures found in nature has been challenging.

    • Blood-vessel-on-a-chip provides insight into new anti-inflammatory drug candidate

      One of the most important and fraught processes in the human body is inflammation. Inflammatory responses to injury or disease are crucial for recruiting the immune system to help the body heal, but inflammation can also cause an increase in the production of thrombin, which can lead to dangerous blood clots and other conditions. Activated protein C (APC) is a naturally occurring anti-coagulant protein with anti-inflammatory and other protective effects that has been used medically to treat severe blood infections and wounds; however, its use is limited because its inhibition of thrombin also impacts the blood’s ability to clot, increasing bleeding risk.

    • Device creates negative mass—and a novel way to generate lasers
    • Light may unlock a new quantum dance for electrons in graphene

      A team of researchers has devised a simple way to tune a hallmark quantum effect in graphene—the material formed from a single layer of carbon atoms—by bathing it in light. Their theoretical work, which was published recently in Physical Review Letters , suggests a way to realize novel quantum behavior that was previously predicted but has so far remained inaccessible in experiments.

      “Our idea is to use light to engineer these materials in place,” says Tobias Grass, a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and a co-author of the paper. “The big advantage of light is its flexibility. It’s like having a knob that can change the physics in your sample.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Suppressing a sneeze can be dangerous, doctors warn

      Stifling a sneeze can rupture your throat, burst an ear drum, or pop a blood vessel in your brain, researchers warned on Tuesday.

      Many people – when they feel a sneeze coming on – block all the exits, essentially swallowing the sneeze’s explosive force.

      Just how dangerous this can be was illustrated when a 34-year-old man showed up at the emergency service of a hospital in Leicester, England recently, with a swollen neck and in extreme pain.

    • Trump’s new assistant Drug Czar: a 24-year-old campaign volunteer with no experience, in charge of billions to end the opioid epidemic

      In 2016, Taylor Weyeneth took a break from his studies as an undergrad law student at St John’s University and used the skills he’d acquired organizing a single golf tournament and working in his father’s chia seed factory (closed abruptly when his father went to jail for processing illegal Chinese steroids in the plant) to campaign for Donald Trump. Now Weyeneth, at 24 years old, is the deputy chief of staff for Office of National Drug Control Policy, in charge of billions of dollars in spending to curb the opioid epidemic and fight illegal drug use.

    • Peruvian herders use ancient technology to manage water for the future

      Dams, canals, and reservoirs dating back 3,000 years ago are being revived by alpine herders in partnership with The Mountain Institute in order to more efficiently manage water for pastures and animals.

    • Global drugmakers complain over violations of patent rights in Russia

      Multinational drugmakers operating in Russia have filed a complaint with the Russian Federal Antimonopoly…

  • Security
    • Beware! Fake Spectre & Meltdown Patches Are Infecting PCs With “Smoke Loader” Malware [Ed: Welcome to Microsoft Windows]

      One of the most common tactics employed by notorious cybercriminals involves taking advantage of the popular trends and creating fraudulent websites/apps to trick users. It looks like some of the players have tried to exploit the confusion surrounding Meltdown and Sprectre CPU bugs.

      Forget buggy updates which are causing numerous problems to the users, Malwarebytes has spotted a fake update package that installs malware on your computer. The firm has identified a new domain that’s full of material on how Meltdown and Spectre affect CPUs.

      [...]

      The fake file in the archive is Intel-AMD-SecurityPatch-10-1-v1.exe.

    • An update on ongoing Meltdown and Spectre work

      Last week, a series of critical vulnerabilities called Spectre and Meltdown were announced. Because of the nature of these issues, the solutions are complex and requires fixing delicate code. The fixes for Meltdown are mostly underway. The Meltdown fix for x86 is KPTI. KPTI has been merged into the mainline Linux tree and many stable trees, including the ones Fedora uses. Fixes for other arches are close to being done and should be available soon. Fixing Spectre is more difficult and requires fixes across multiple areas.

      Similarly to Meltdown, Spectre takes advantage of speculation done by CPUs. Part of the fix for Spectre is disallowing the CPU to speculate in particular vulnerable sequences. One solution developed by Google and others is to introduce “retpolines” which do not allow speculation. A sequence of code that might allow dangerous speculation is replaced with a “retpoline” which will not speculate. The difficult part of this solution is that the compiler needs to be aware of where to place a retpoline. This means a complete solution involves the compiler as well.

    • CPU microcode update code for amd64
    • Using a Yubikey for GPG and SSH
    • Inspect curl’s TLS traffic

      Since a long time back, the venerable network analyzer tool Wireshark (screenshot above) has provided a way to decrypt and inspect TLS traffic when sent and received by Firefox and Chrome.

    • Mageia Weekly Roundup 2018 – Week 2

      The year is definitely under way, with an astonishing 412 packages coming through commits – mostly for cauldron, but a few are the last remaining updates for Mageia 5, as well as important security updates for Mageia 6.

      Among those updates are all the kernel and microcode updates – our thanks to tmb and our untiring devs for these – to begin hitting Meltdown and Spectre on the head.

      A big hand for the upstream kernel team, as well as our own packagers, QA testers and everyone else that was involved in getting this tested and released.

    • Fedora Project Continues to Work on Mitigating Meltdown & Spectre Security Flaws
    • Black Lab Enterprise Linux Distro Gets Patches Against Meltdown and Spectre Bugs
    • Linspire and Freespire Linux OSes Now Patched Against Meltdown and Spectre Flaws
    • Gentoo-Based Porteus Kiosk 4.6 Linux OS Released with Meltdown and Spectre Fixes

      orteus Linux developer Tomasz Jokiel announced today the release and immediate availability for download of the Porteus Kiosk 4.6.0 Gentoo Linux-based operating system.

      Including all the upstream security and software updates from the Gentoo Linux repositories as of January 14, 2018, Porteus Kiosk 4.6.0 is powered by the Linux 4.14.13 kernel and includes the Mozilla Firefox 52.5.3 ESR and Google Chrome 63.0.3239.132 web browsers, protecting users against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that have been publicly disclosed earlier this month.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Secure Contexts Everywhere

      Since Let’s Encrypt launched, the Secure Contexts specification has become much more mature. We have witnessed the successful restriction of existing, as well as new features to secure contexts. The W3C TAG is about to drastically raise the bar to ship features on insecure contexts. All the building blocks are now in place to quicken the adoption of HTTPS and secure contexts, and follow through on our intent to deprecate non-secure HTTP.

    • Linux and Windows Servers Targeted with RubyMiner Malware

      Security researchers have spotted a new strain of malware being deployed online. Named RubyMiner, this malware is a cryptocurrency miner spotted going after outdated web servers.

      According to research published by Check Point and Certego, and information received by Bleeping Computer from Ixia, attacks started on January 9-10, last week.

    • Virtual currency miners target web servers with malware
    • ZAP provides automated security tests in continuous integration pipelines

      Commonly, a mixture of open source and expensive proprietary tools are shoehorned into a pipeline to perform tests on nightly as well as ad hoc builds. However, anyone who has used such tests soon realizes that the maturity of a smaller number of time-honored tests is sometimes much more valuable than the extra detail you get by shoehorning too many tests into the pipe then waiting three hours for a nightly build to complete. The maturity of your battle-hardened tests is key.

    • BitTorrent users beware: Flaw lets hackers control your computer

      There’s a critical weakness in the widely used Transmission BitTorrent app that allows websites to execute malicious code on some users’ computers. That’s according to a researcher with Google’s Project Zero vulnerability reporting team, who also warns that other BitTorrent clients are likely similarly susceptible.

      [...]

      Among the things an attacker can do is change the Torrent download directory to the user’s home directory. The attacker could then command Transmission to download a Torrent called “.bashrc” which would automatically be executed the next time the user opened a bash shell. Attackers could also remotely reconfigure Transmission to run any command of their choosing after a download has completed. Ormandy said the exploit is of “relatively low complexity, which is why I’m eager to make sure everyone is patched.”

    • AMD Releases Linux and Windows Patches for Two Variants of Spectre Vulnerability

      AMD has published a press announcement on Thursday to inform its customers that it released patches for two variants of the Spectre security vulnerability disclosed to the public earlier this month.

    • ‘Shift Left’: Codifying Intuition into Secure DevOps

      Continuous delivery (CD) is becoming the cornerstone of modern software development, enabling organizations to ship — in small increments — new features and functionality to customers faster to meet market demands. CD is achieved by applying DevOps practices and principles (continuous integration and continuous deployment) from development to operations. There is no continuous delivery without implementing DevOps practices and principles. By that, I mean strong communication and collaboration across teams, and automation across testing, build, and deployment pipelines. But often achieving continuous delivery to meet market demands presents numerous challenges for security.

    • Purism patches Meltdown and Spectre variant 2, both included in all new Librem laptops

      Purism has released a patch for Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754, aka variant 3) as part of PureOS, and includes this latest PureOS image as part of all new Librem laptop shipments. Purism is also providing a microcode update for Intel processors to address Spectre variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715).

    • Intel Fumbles Its Patch for Chip Flaw

      Intel is quietly advising some customers to hold off installing patches that address new security flaws affecting virtually all of its processors. It turns out the patches had bugs of their own.

    • Wi-Fi Alliance announces WPA3 to secure modern networks

      The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an odd place to announce an enterprise product, but the Wi-Fi Alliance used the massive trade show — which has more or less taken over where Comdex left off — to announce a major upgrade to Wi-Fi security.

      The alliance announced the Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3), a new standard of Wi-Fi security that greatly increases the security capabilities of the wireless standard. WPA2, which is the current standard in wireless security, has been around for 14 years, so this is way overdue.

    • More iOS 11 Jailbreak Tweaks Could Be Released by the Weekend

      The Electra jailbreak tool is better than LiberiOS because it comes with Substitute. This is the alternative to Cydia substrate that was first developed by Comex. This would allow users to install and use jailbreak tweaks compatible to iOS 11.

    • Hospital [sic] sent offline as hackers infect systems with ransomware, demand payment [iophk: "Windows"]
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #142
    • Spectre and Meltdown patches causing trouble as realistic attacks get closer

      Applications, operating systems, and firmware all need to be updated to defeat Meltdown and protect against Spectre, two attacks that exploit features of high-performance processors to leak information and undermine system security. The computing industry has been scrambling to respond after news of the problem broke early a few days into the new year.

      But that patching is proving problematic. The Meltdown protection is revealing bugs or otherwise undesirable behavior in various drivers, and Intel is currently recommending that people cease installing a microcode update it issued to help tackle the Spectre problem. This comes as researchers are digging into the papers describing the issues and getting closer to weaponizing the research to turn it into a practical attack. With the bad guys sure to be doing the same, real-world attacks using this research are sure to follow soon.

    • Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

      new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

      F-Secure said in a statement that the flaw had nothing to do with the “Spectre” and “Meltdown” vulnerabilities recently found in the micro-chips that are used in almost all computers, tablets and smartphones today.

      Rather, it was an issue within Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), “which is commonly found in most corporate laptops, (and) allows an attacker to take complete control over a user’s device in a matter of seconds,” the cybersecurity firm said.

    • What is RubyMiner? New malware found targeting Windows and Linux servers to mine cryptocurrency
    • BitTorrent flaw could let hackers take control of Windows, Linux PCs

      According to Project Zero, the client is vulnerable to a DNS re-binding attack that effectively tricks the PC into accepting requests via port 9091 from malicious websites that it would (and should) ordinarily ignore.

    • BitTorrent critical flaw allows hackers to remotely control users’ computers

      A critical flaw in the popular Transmission BitTorrent app could allow hackers to remotely control users’ computers. The flaw, uncovered by Google Project Zero security researchers, allows websites to execute malicious code on users’ devices. Researchers also warned that BitTorrent clients could be susceptible to attacks as well if the flaw is leveraged.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Army Strategist Exposes The Disturbing Parallels Between US Domestic Policing & Military Tactics Abroad

      Nonetheless, take a moment to consider the ways in which counterinsurgency abroad and urban policing at home might, in these years, have come to resemble each other and might actually be connected phenomena

    • There are indicators of one other India-China border spat

      India considers Arunachal Pradesh, lying east of Bhutan, to be one of its 29 states, but China claims the area as part of southern Tibet. The territory, a key focus of a 1962 war fought between the Asian giants, lies along the Sino-Indian border, which is represented by a demarcation line called the Line of Actual Control.

    • The Pope welcomes Sunni migrants while Sunni Islamists seek to cleanse Egypt, Iraq, and Syria of Christians

      Even when the Pope went to Bangladesh and Myanmar he failed to mention the plight of Buddhists and Hindus throughout history and the ongoing reality of mass Bengali Muslim migration that is overwhelming indigenous Buddhists and Hindus in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Likewise, in Rakhine, it seems that the deaths of Buddhists, Hindus, the Mro, and others, in this part of Myanmar don’t count to the current Pope – and the same applies to other Christian denominations and the mass media.

    • From Pakistan with hate: Hindus murdered, converted, forced to flee

      “Families of weaker communities specially Meghwals which comprise 40% of the town’s population are the most vulnerable ones. Young girls are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslims in this village and Saeed’s outfit provide financial help to the perpetrators,” said Rajesh Maheshwari (name changed), who had fled from Mithi leaving behind all his fortune.

    • Isis executioner who threw gay men off buildings bribed his way out of prison in ‘minutes’

      Human rights watch group the Clarion Project described the escape as a “remarkable failure of the Iraqi justice system – [an] Isis religious leader was arrested and released just minutes later after paying a $7,500 [£5,500] bribe.”

    • Finland: Police investigate gay politician once again for posting about Islam…….

      The trial of Finns party chairman, Jussi Halla-aho, cemented the fact that in Finland, truth is not a defense, that in Finland, we have lost the fundamental right to not only defend ourselves, but to speak our minds.

    • Investigation claims terror suspect visited Glasgow to ‘call for jihadis’

      The Times say a BBC documentary may have uncovered proof that Hafiz Saeed visited Scotland in the years before 9/11 and ‘called for jihad’ while speaking at a mosque in Glasgow.

    • Yazidi Children Rescued From IS Getting Psychological Help

      At Qadiya refugee camp near the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s northern city of Duhok, more than 100 Yazidi boys and girls aged between 4 and 13, who were kidnapped by IS in August 2014, are getting assistance to recover from the psychological harm they sustained under IS control.

    • In North Korea Talks, Tillerson Needs Women at the Negotiating Table

      Secretary Rex Tillerson will be sitting at a table with 20 foreign ministersTuesday discussing how to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. These ministers were chosen due to their nations involvement in the Korean War, not their expertise in North Korea. In fact, many of them have never even stepped foot in North Korea.

      Across the street, at the same time, I, along with an international delegation of 16 women representing feminist peace movements from Asia, Europe, and North America, will convene to share their experience, knowledge, and wisdom garnered by working towards achieving peace and genuine security on the Korean Peninsula.

      Drawing upon their collective expertise on militarism, nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions, and the human, social, and ecological costs of the unresolved 65-year Korean War, the delegation will recommend steps that can ensure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. And yet, we can be sure no one at the official table will ever hear what we have to say.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Assange standoff

      The ongoing standoff with the UK has revealed as much. There is no other wanted individual – who lives within plain sight – on whom over $11 million dollars spent in constant police presence in case he tries to escape. When the rape investigation was shut in May 2017 by Swedish investigations, there was hope that Assange could finally leave the UK. That hope was dissipated with the UK government insisting that he was still a wanted man for evading bail conditions. For the last six months, the UK government has kept the same position, despite Ecuador offering a way out by offering Assange diplomatic status as an Ecuadorian citizen. On its part, Ecuador itself has found itself frustrated with the standoff, with the new Ecuadorian leadership less enamoured with the WikiLeaks head, who has continued to make headlines with new leaks. With WikiLeaks now declared an official media organisation within the UK, the UK government has enough space for being able to back out of the desire to arrest Assange. It must be noted that the UN has declared this to be involuntary detention. Why the UK government is insisting that Assange must face arrest for violating bail conditions is seen by many activists as a disturbing sign. There are fears are that the US has issued a secret extradition order which the UK government wishes to comply with. Holed up in the Ecuador embassy, Assange is a VIP guest who deserves to have his freedom returned and to be able to continue his work.

    • Assange’s New Citizenship ‘Bad Remedy Which Can Prove Worse Than Illness’– Prof.

      Ecuador has recently granted citizenship to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange – a move which is sure to trigger legal political repercussions in the country, argues Andres Mejia Acosta, a professor of international politics at King’s College London, in an interview to Sputnik.

    • Did FPF Board Members Sell Out to Money and Power?

      When the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) was established at the end of 2012, Wikileaks had already faced a barrage of attacks from both the U.S. and Swedish governments, media outlets and movie studios, former Wikileaks volunteers, and banking and financial services institutions like PayPal, Visa and MasterCard who initiated a financial blockade against Wikileaks in December, 2010. When Julian Assange and John Perry Barlow decided to create the FPF it was in direct response to the blockade which was illegal and eating up most of Wikileaks’ revenue. Surprisingly, after its creation three FPF board members were offered cushy journalism and tech jobs courtesy of Pierre Omidyar whose company, PayPal, was directly involved in the financial blockade. Shockingly, they accepted.

    • Why truth has nothing to do with the WikiLeaks upload of Fire and Fury [Ed: Aussie MSM maintains that idea that Wikileaks -- by promoting an anti-Trump book -- is actually helping Trump. How laughable.]

      If ever evidence was needed that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have lost their bearings, it was their recent action in releasing a free download of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury that should have made their state plain to everyone. There was nothing noble or principled about this action: it was petty and vindictive, done to reduce paid sales of the book, and therefore to deny the author and his publisher some income from it.

      It spoke of Assange’s continuing alignment with Donald Trump and his administration, and of his hostility to the Democrats. It may even have been an attempt to curry further favour with Trump, given that Assange is still desperately trying to avoid the risk of being shipped by a third country to America, where he faces serious legal proceedings.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Warming ocean water is turning 99 percent of these sea turtles female

      The sex ratio in the overall population is “nothing out of the ordinary,” with roughly one juvenile male for every four juvenile females, says study coauthor Michael Jensen, a marine biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in La Jolla, Calif. But breaking the data down by the turtles’ region of origin revealed worrisome results. In the cooler southern Great Barrier Reef, 67 percent of hatched juveniles were female. But more than 99 percent of young turtles hatched in sand soaked by warmer waters in the northern Great Barrier Reef were female — with one male for every 116 females. That imbalance has increased over time: 86 percent of the adults born in the area more than 20 years ago were female.

    • Elephants are irreplaceable seed dispersers

      Wild animals play specific roles in the ecosystem, but what happens when they disappear? Using a combination of field data and theoretical modelling, scientists find that no herbivore can replace Indian elephants as the optimal seed dispersers of three large forest trees in West Bengal.

    • When wildlife conservation meets war

      The researchers from 2016 concluded that we need better, more fine-grained data on the impacts of conflict, and a new paper in this week’s Nature drills into historical data to provide just that. Authors Joshua H. Daskin and Robert M. Pringle report that “even low-grade, infrequent conflict is sufficient” to cause harm to wildlife. But they also conclude that the mere presence of conflict doesn’t mean that the wildlife in that region should be written off.

    • In early push into Papua, palm oil firms set stage for massive forest plunder

      All of this has been allowed to happen with the blessing of the government, which is already resented by much of the Papuan population following decades of exploitation of the region’s riches with little of that wealth being invested back into the community. Papua and West Papua today have the highest levels of poverty in Indonesia and score lowest on human development parameters such as education, literacy, and maternal and infant mortality.

    • Cargill takes rare step of cutting business with Guatemalan palm oil supplier

      In late November, Cargill suspended business with Reforestadora de Palmas del Petén S.A. (REPSA), saying it would not enter any new purchase contracts until the Guatemalan company can meet the “requirements of our sustainable palm oil policy,” said a Cargill review laying out the decision.

    • Coral reefs head for ‘knock-out punch’

      A study of 100 reefs, published in Science Magazine, shows the interval between bleaching events in recent decades has shortened dramatically.

      It has gone from once every 25-30 years in the early 1980s to an average of just once every six years today.

      Bleaching is caused by anomalously warm water, which prompts coral polyps to eject their symbiotic algae.

    • Study: Honeybees’ Attraction to Fungicide ‘Unsettling’ for Food Output

      Tests carried out by a team from the University of Illinois showed bees preferred to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone.

    • Quarter of British honey contaminated with bee-harming pesticides, research reveals

      Although the contamination rate has fallen from a half since a partial EU ban the insecticides remain in the farmed environment posing a serious risk to bees

    • Accidental Discovery Could Save Bees From Their Greatest Threat

      German scientists primarily based out of the University of Hoffenheim have stumbled upon a simple solution that could deal a blow to honeybees’ greatest threat. They’ve found that a tiny dose of the compound lithium chloride kills Varroa destructor mites without harming bees.

      The scientists detailed their incredible findings in the January 12th publication of Scientific Reports.

    • The Buzz Fades

      Under-resourced in an overworked agricultural system, honeybee colonies are gradually failing in most temperate regions.

    • California’s Owls Being Exposed to Rat Poison

      Researchers suspect the source of the toxins may be some of the state’s 50,000 or so marijuana farms.

    • Trump’s offshore oil drilling plans ignore the lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon

      Our panel concluded that the immediate cause of the blowout was a series of identifiable mistakes by BP, the company drilling the well; Halliburton, which cemented the well; and Transocean, the drill ship operator. We wrote that these mistakes revealed “such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.” The root causes for these mistakes included regulatory failures.

    • On its 100th birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming

      And so, at its hundredth birthday party, American oil was warned of its civilization-destroying potential.

    • World could run out of chocolate by 2050 but there might be a way to save it

      The cacao plant responsible for producing these seeds is having trouble surviving and is likely to become extinct in the next 40 years, according to a report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

      These plants grow in very specific conditions and areas – within 10 degrees north and south of the equator – featuring nitrogen-rich soil, lots of humidity and abundant rainfall. Typically, more than half of the world’s chocolate comes from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.

    • Five demands for climate change justice

      Two years on from the Paris Agreement, what should governments be doing to take climate change seriously?

      In the run-up to the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement and in parallel to the UN Climate Convention in Bonn, climate justice campaigners and lawyers from six continents met to co-ordinate five clear legal demands for local, regional and national governments.

    • Expect EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s reckless spending to continue in 2018

      Regarding EPA, and according to this White House, fossil fuel energy lobbyists are in, and federal scientists and engineers are out.

    • The terrible power of plastic is that it quickly becomes useless but never goes away

      It isn’t just plastic, of course. Broken glass and rusted metal are also common landscape pollution, but plastic is the ugliest; the terrible power of plastic is that it quickly becomes useless but never goes away.

    • Iceland supermarket chain aims to be plastic free by 2023

      Supermarket chain Iceland has said it will eliminate or drastically reduce plastic packaging of all its own-label products by the end of 2023.

      Iceland says the move will affect more than a thousand own-label products.

      New ranges will be packaged using a paper-based tray, rather than plastic.

      It follows recent outcries over the packaging of cauliflower “steaks” and coconuts, and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programme, which showed vivid images of plastic pollution.

    • Wild Whale Rushes To Save Diver From Giant Shark

      Back in October, Hauser was diving off near the Cook Islands, in the South Pacific, with a camera crew who wanted to film her in the water alongside humpback whales. In an unusually persistent manner, one whale swam right up and began nudging her with his mouth and chin, seemingly trying to tuck her underneath his pectoral fin.

  • Finance
    • Bid to block cryptocurrency regulation in South Korea

      The South Korean Government’s attempts to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies has led to mounting support for a petition seeking to stop the efforts at curbing use of such currencies.

    • The success or failure of Brexit hinges on the next two and a half months

      In terms of Brexit, 2018 starts with a sense of cautious optimism. The confidence and bluster that prevailed in early 2017 was gradually replaced with a conciliatory approach from the UK and the ruling out of a no-deal scenario. But it’s difficult to shake the sense that we’re experiencing the calm before the storm.

      Considering that the next phase of negotiations will not formally begin until late March – when new guidelines will have been discussed by member states and adopted by the European Commission – the actual trade talks will last no longer than six months. The time from autumn 2018 to March 2019 will be put aside for the ratification of the deal by the European parliament, the European Council, and, potentially, member states’ national parliaments.

      This means that, in practice, this next phase of talks will not contain a great level of detail but will cover the ‘framework for the future relationship’ between the UK and the EU, and will therefore be critical.

    • Facebook Execs Sold $4bn in Stock Last Year

      Facebook’s top executives sold company shares worth more than $4bn in 2017, over double the amount of other execs at some of the largest technology firms in the US.

    • Kentucky the first state to fulfill Trump’s vision of a nation of uninsured poor people

      Remember when Kentucky was the big success story, along with Arkansas, in healthcare? When it was leading the nation in reducing the number of uninsured people? Well, thanks to the Republican takeover of the governorship there and the White House, that’s all over now. So’s the $820 million the state was expected to save by 2021 in reducing the number of uninsured and making full use of the Medicaid expansion funds available to it.

      On Friday, Kentucky’s Republican governor Matt Bevin was granted a waiver by Trump’s Department Health and Human Services, allowing him to impose new work requirements on people receiving or applying for Medicaid in his state.

    • The three-stage plan to stop Brexit

      In early June 2016, a few weeks before the EU referendum, the board members of the Stronger In campaign sat around a table to discuss how the campaign was going. As usual we were presented with evidence from polling and focus groups showing that ‘swing voters’ would respond to warnings about the financial impact of Brexit on their lives. On polling day, people wouldn’t vote against their own self-interest, we were assured.

      But they did.

      As the post-referendum months roll by, and the stark reality of what Brexit means becomes increasingly clear, we’re given almost daily reminders of the profound failure of the Remain campaign to tell a story convincing enough to persuade people to vote against economic disaster. The Brexit vote has already cost the UK economy £300m a week. Food prices are growing at their fastest rate in four years. Inflation is over three per cent for the first time in nearly six years. Applications from EU nurses to work in the UK have fallen by 89% since the referendum.

    • What next for Labour’s factions?

      As expected, the Momentum slate swept the board again at Labour’s NEC elections. This means they now hold all nine constituency positions as well as controlling other internal bodies such as the Conference Arrangements Committee. It all sounds incredibly boring, largely because, for the most part, it is.

      You have to be a truly dedicated political activist to care much about internal elections. Even party members don’t very much, which is why turnout (other than for leadership contests) is always so low. You will probably hear a lot from the losing factions about turnout numbers, but then you always do. Whoever happens to be the losing faction at that time will always make that argument. When they start winning again they’ll do naff-all to change it.

      [...]

      I suspect deselections will turn out to be a damp squib with a few symbolic victories but not enough to truly alter the overall shape of the Parliamentary party or more than a handful of councils. But opening up policy-making to the membership may well come back to haunt a leadership that finds itself at odds with their most enthusiastic supporters over Brexit.

    • Britain can still stop Brexit and change its mind, EU Council President Donald Tusk declares

      Donald Tusk made the startling comments just days after a shock poll found Remain would win by 10 points in a re-run of the EU referendum .

      He told MEPs in Strasbourg: “If the UK Government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality – with all its negative consequences – in March next year unless there is a change of heart among our British friends.

      “Wasn’t it David Davis himself who said ‘if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’?”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • A brief history of how the rich world brutalized and looted Haiti, a country the US owes its very existence to

      Haiti (then called Saint-Domingue) was France’s most brutal, most profitable colony, a tiny island that supplied 75% of the world’s sugar, sending more wealth to France than the all 13 of the original US colonies combined.

    • Without Haiti, the United States Would, in Fact, Be a Shithole
    • Sweden to create new authority tasked with countering disinformation

      The new “psychological defence” (psykologiskt försvar) authority was announced by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during his speech at the annual ‘Folk och försvar’ security conference in Sälen. It is based on a proposal by the cross-party parliamentary Defence Commission (Försvarsberedningen).

    • Reps. Maxine Waters and John Lewis Are Boycotting Trump’s State of the Union Speech

      President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address is scheduled to take place on January 30, 2018, but several notable politicians will not be in attendance. As noted by The Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (D), Rep. John Lewis (D), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D) have all vowed to boycott Trump’s speech — and there are likely to be more names to follow.

      On Friday, January 12, Waters appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, where she explained her decision to stay home from the event. “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?” she said, referring to the many statements Trump has said that are proven to be false. “Someone who lies in the face of facts, someone who can change their tune day in and day out. What does he have to say that I would be interested in?” Waters added that she doesn’t trust or appreciate Trump, adding that he “does not deserve my attention.”

    • Facebook’s Adam Mosseri on Why You’ll See Less Video, More From Friends

      Facebook on Thursday announced sweeping changes to the way it plans to manage the newsfeed, the front door to the service for its 2 billion monthly users. Under the new regime, Facebook says users will see more content from friends and family, and less from brands and publishers. The new algorithm also will favor content that draws a lot of comments over posts that are popular, but don’t elicit comments.

    • I was Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor. Today I would tell him: your users are in peril

      Users can have significant influence on internet companies, but only if they stop using the platform. More than 2 billion people worldwide use social media; two-thirds of them use Facebook every day. A scary percentage of smartphone owners exhibit signs of addiction. They can’t quit.

    • Democrats and the End(s) of Politics

      The Democrats’ failure of political understanding regarding Mr. Trump isn’t that voters are crass (deplorable?) but rather that conflating technocracy with intelligence and sophistication confuses style with substance. Donald Trump is the prototypical, iconic if you will, beneficiary of the national Democrats’ policies. As was said of George W. Bush, Mr. Trump was born on third base but believes he hit a home run. But if he is undeserving of the Democrats’ largesse, who precisely, are the deserving kleptocrats?

    • South Africa to formally protest Trump’s ‘s—hole’ comment

      South Africa is planning to formally protest President Trump’s reported remarks referring to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries.”

      South Africa’s government on Monday is expected to issue a diplomatic protest to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, CNN reported.

      “The Department will provide an opportunity to the Charges de Affaires to explain the statement that African countries, alongside Haiti and El Salvador, constitute ‘shitholes’ from where migrants into the United States are undesirable,” the South African Department of International Relations said in a statement.

    • Warren-Sanders Democrats vs Oprah: “One billionaire president in a decade is going to be plenty for us”
    • Norwegians suffer from desperate shortage of parking, will come to America in droves

      The President of the United States, discussing immigration, recently said “We should have more people from Norway.” This is a wonderful gesture; he must have been spending his executive time watching the shocking Streetfilms documentary Oslo: The Journey to Car-free and learned about the tragic destruction of parking spaces there.

    • Intel underfoot: Floor sensors rise as retail data source

      In this photo taken Dec. 5, 2017, Scanalytics co-founder and CEO Joe Scanlin holds a smart floor sensor his company creates that track people’s movements in Milwaukee. The sensors are among the tools retailers are using to gain insights on consumer habits.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Hardline Muslims Rally Outside Facebook’s Indonesian HQ
    • Narayanganj man held for posting images defaming Quran on Facebook
    • Facebook: Championing Blasphemy Laws
    • Activist detained in Lahore to prevent her from commemorating Salman Taseer

      The agents prevented her from organising a prayer vigil to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Salman Taseer, a Punjab governor killed by his bodyguard in 2011 for defending Asia Bibi and challenging the “black law” on blasphemy.

    • Maldives activist ‘fears for life’ amid blasphemy investigation

      Shahindha Ismail, executive director of Maldives Democracy Network (MDN), told Al Jazeera that anonymous accounts on Twitter and Facebook have been calling for her death, after a newspaper article and religious scholars accused her of advocating for secularism in the Sunni Muslim state.

    • Publisher Defied Trump to ‘Defend the Principles of the First Amendment’

      “Though your letter provides a basic summary of New York libel law, tellingly, it stops short of identifying a single statement in the book that is factually false or defamatory,” an outside lawyer for Henry Holt wrote. “Instead, the letter appears to be designed to silence legitimate criticism. This is the antithesis of an actionable libel claim.”

    • Facebook announces major plan to censor news content

      Facebook is currently a major source of news for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. The number of global Facebook users has increased from 100 million in 2008 to more than 2 billion. According to a Pew Research poll last November, 45 percent of Americans use Facebook for news content, more than any other social media platform. It has become a significant mechanism for the organization of protests and the spread of information outside of the control of the major media conglomerates. It is this that Facebook, working closely with the major capitalist states, wants to end.

    • Facebook’s new policy on posts may make ads more expensive

      Facebook’s decision to prioritise posts made by users and their friends over those from publishers and brands is likely to make it more expensive for marketing agencies to push their clients’ products.

    • Palace: No media censorship on Rappler

      THE decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the license to operate of online news organization Rappler because it allegedly violated the Constitution on ownership is not media censorship, Malacanang said on Tuesday.

      Palace spokesman Harry Roque was referring to the SEC ruling that found Rappler in violation of the provision requiring 100 percent Filipino ownership of a mass media entity.

    • SEC revokes Rappler’s registration

      In a blow to press freedom in the Philippines, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the registration of news organization Rappler allegedly for violating the Constitution and the Anti-Dummy Law.

      SEC accused Rappler of violating constitutional restrictions on ownership and control of mass media entities because of funds coming Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar. (READ Rappler’s statement: Stand with Rappler, defend press freedom)

      “The En Banc finds Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation, a Mass Media Entity and its alter ego, liable for violating the constitutional and statutory Foreign Equity Restriction in Mass Media, enforceable through laws and rules within the mandate of the commission,” the SEC en banc said in its decision dated January 11 but published on its website Monday, January 15.

    • Facebook blocks sharing of WSWS anti-censorship video

      Facebook has blocked users from sharing a social media video promoting the January 16 online meeting “Organizing resistance to Internet censorship,” featuring World Socialist Web Site International Editorial Board Chairman David North and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. The initial post of the video, uploaded Friday, cannot be shared by any user. Those who attempt to do so receive an error message that seems to imply a technical failure.

    • ‘Fake news’ law raises censorship concerns in France

      Can a democratic country outlaw fake news?
      France is about to find out, after President Emmanuel Macron ordered a law to quash false information disseminated around electoral campaigns.

      Criticism is pouring in from media advocates, tech experts — and Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT. They say the law smacks of authoritarianism, would be impossible to enforce and is sure to backfire.

    • Commentary: From Fake News to Censorship

      Fake news may be a new term in the realm of politics, but radical animal activists have been using it for years. They sneak onto livestock farms, take undercover video, and then edit it together to tell a story of animal abuse that is not true. With this, they have destroyed the good reputation of many livestock farms, caused serious financial harm, and impacted consumer perception of livestock production. When farmers have tried to get laws passed to stop this tactic, these groups cry censorship and hide behind the first amendment. Yet, now these groups are using censorship as a new weapon against the animal industry.

      The web site TripAdvisor provides ratings and reviews of hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruises, and entertainment destinations. You can even book reservations and tickets to many of these destinations. Starting in 2017 TripAdvisor entered into an alliance with PETA. TripAdvisor is no longer selling tickets for certain attractions that involve animals, such as elephant rides or swimming with dolphins. This obvious move toward censorship comes despite very high ratings for many of these venues. Many animal attractions are rated highly on TripAdvisor, with travelers reporting the conditions firsthand. In fact, TripAdvisor itself awards a number of venues that have elephants rides or swim-with-dolphins activity a “Certificate of Excellence,” which is awarded to attractions that “consistently earn great reviews from travelers.”

    • MOPPAN, censorship board differ on Rahama Sadau ban

      The leadership of Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) Kano state chapter has disagreed with the decision of state censorship board over the fate of the Kannywood actress, Rahama Sadau back into the indigenous Hausa movie industry.

      The board, through its executive director Isma’ila Na’abba Afakalla had last week declared willingness to censor Rahama Sadau’s films in what many perceived as a move towards recalling the ace actress into the industry after her ban about two years ago by MOPPAN.

    • ‘One Piece’ Fans Are Confused About Its Latest Censorship

      Censorship and anime have a complicated history. Over the years, dozens of shows have been altered to suit broadcasting regulations in Japan and abroad, but One Piece fans are a bit puzzled about its latest censorship.

    • Play tells ‘Story’ of censorship, segregation

      The real-life incident Jones based his play on is the stuff of drama. When an Alabama senator demanded that “The Rabbit’s Wedding” by Garth Williams be pulled from all libraries in the state on the grounds that it promoted racial integration—one rabbit is black, the other white—Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Services Division, refused. Instead, she had libraries place the book, intended for children ages 3-7, on their reserve shelves.

      “Alabama Story,” which opens Jan. 18 at San Jose’s City Lights Theater Company, follows the confrontation between Reed and the senator (E.O. Eddins in real life, E.W. Higgins in the play) at subsequent library budget hearings. But Jones also created a parallel fictional story line about Joshua and Lily, a black man and a white woman who were childhood friends and are reunited as adults in 1959, when the Civil Rights Movement was just catching fire in the South.

    • Censorship and Appointment Cause Turmoil in Film and Theatre Communities

      A recent attempt to ban a Croatian film from the national public broadcaster and an appointment in the national theatre have brought numerous reactions.

      Reactions keep coming to an attempt by war veterans’ associations to ban the film “The Ministry of Love” (Ministarstvo Ljubavi) from Croatian Radio Television (HRT), as well as to recent statements given by former Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović, who once again called the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), which partly financed the film, a clientelist association financed by the citizens who have the right to know which movies are being funded, reports N1 on January 15, 2018.

    • Chinese institute at UMass Boston is accused of promoting censorship

      A group of students, professors, and alumni at UMass Boston has accused a campus academic center with ties to the Chinese government of promoting censorship abroad and undermining human rights and academic freedom.

      The organizer of the objectors said she hopes to convince the university to shut down the campus Confucius Institute altogether.

      “Though marketed as benign language and culture schools, Confucius Institutes use their foothold in prominent academic institutions to influence and steer academic discourse and ultimately take aim to shape public opinion on key political and human rights issues,” the group said in a recent letter to interim Chancellor Barry Mills, asking for a meeting to discuss their concerns.

    • Sir Richard Branson tells Virgin Trains to re-stock Daily Mail after decision criticised as ‘censorship’
    • Richard Branson orders Virgin Trains to restock Daily Mail amid ‘censorship’ accusation
    • Sir Richard Branson tells Virgin Trains to re-stock Daily Mail following ‘censorship’ row
    • PR pros react to Virgin Trains’ reinstatement of Mail: ‘Mature and wise’ – but who really made the decision?
    • Daily Mail to return to Virgin trains after Branson intervenes
    • Sir Richard Branson instructs Virgin Trains to re-stock the Daily Mail after its decision to stop selling the newspaper was blasted as ‘censorship’
    • Virgin Trains will stock Daily Mail newspapers, says Richard Branson in U-turn decision
    • Branson orders UK’s Virgin Trains to re-stock Daily Mail after censorship spat
    • ‘Seen as censorship’: Richard Branson lifts Virgin Trains’ ban on Daily Mail
    • Daily Mail newspaper returns to Virgin Trains after censorship outcry
    • Microsoft and Amazon Enable Censorship Circumvention Tools in Iran. Why Doesn’t Google? [Ed: Stop portraying Microsoft as against censorship. Unlike Google, it appeased China by censoring search!]
    • Statement by Julian Assange opposing Internet censorship will be read at WSWS “Organizing Resistance” Webinar

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sent the World Socialist Web Site an important statement warning of government and corporate efforts to curtail the democratic exchange of information. He has requested that it be read during the WSWS Webinar, “Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship.”

    • 6 Tales of Censorship in the Golden Age of Free Speech

      An African American writer calls out racist hate speech—and gets suspended from Facebook. A young adult author watches her unpublished novel ignite a firestorm on Twitter before anyone has even read it. A Muslim civil rights attorney self-censors, and then finds herself hoping that a white man will say what she was thinking. A well-known conservative firebrand suddenly becomes one of the biggest targets of far-right trolls. A Google engineer writes a controversial memo, and instantly becomes a villain to one army of online readers and a hero to another.

    • China disrupts global companies’s web access as censorship bites
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Teacher’s arrest in Louisiana: Another day, another outrage

      The statement by the middle school teacher that “We are doing the work” and “You are making our jobs more difficult” resonates with the daily experiences of working class people in the US and around the world.

      What gives school board officials the right to siphon off resources and shut down protests? Their petty larceny is inspired by far greater larceny, their authoritarian disposition gains sustenance from a broader social environment.

    • Trump’s first year has been the private prison industry’s best

      Here is how the private prison industry fared during Trump’s first year. Today, 65 percent of detainees held by the Department of Homeland Security are housed in privately run facilities. With the administration’s plans to increase the capacity to hold undocumented immigrants behind bars, the private prison industry’s revenues will surely follow suit. And in an unprecedented move, in late 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked for information from contractors who can provide additional immigration detention space in the interior of the nation, in major cities such as Salt Lake City, Chicago, Detroit and St. Paul, along with an expected request for information on contractors who can provide additional capacity along the southern U.S. border in Texas.

    • In America, prisoners with money can pay their way to a nicer stay

      A collaborative investigation by the Los Angeles Times and the Marshall Project found that for $100 a night, inmates in Seal Beach’s pay-for-stay program had access to “amenities that included flat-screen TVs, a computer room and new beds.” The cost also affords inmates “semi-private rooms, single showers and the ability to… make phone calls whenever they want.” In addition to creature comforts, the program lets those with resources buy their way out of serving time in the Los Angeles and Orange County jails, where overcrowding, violence and inhumane conditions are often baked into every jail sentence.

    • Paying a little extra upfront is better than tipping

      In Australia we don’t tip. And if we do, it’s for excellent service only. And the reason we don’t tip is because we respect hospitality workers and believe they should be paid accordingly. Explaining this concept recently to an American friend, I was met with incredulity. But I’m adamant: a culture of expected tips means you’re hurting the very people you’re intending to help.

    • Justice Is “Justice” When It’s Something Wealthy And Connected People Can Buy

      This leads to unequal justice — to people pleading out just to get out of jail when they can’t pay, even when they aren’t guilty:

    • Official Turkish body said it was OK for girls to marry at 9, claims it was only following Islam

      In an online religious glossary intended for the public released earlier this week, Diyanet, as the body is known, stated that these are the earliest ages for children to reach adolescence, and once the threshold of emotional and physical maturity is crossed, they must be allowed to marry “to save themselves from adultery.”

    • UP: Muslim woman given triple talaq over dowry demand
    • Kerala govt orders closure of Kochi school for promoting, teaching communal content
    • Has rape become a weapon to silence atheists in Bangladesh?

      Nirala rejected both Islamism and Hindutva. She co-administered a secular community blog site which she said was shut down by the Bangladeshi government in 2013 following an irrational demand by Islamist groups for the state to execute all atheist bloggers.

    • HASSAN: Iranian protesters are shunning the hijab – let’s join them

      It is only women who have lived under an oppressive Islamic government who know that true progressives should shun the hijab.

      Islamists and their naive supporters have worked hard to portray the hijab as an Islamic symbol and imposed it on Muslim women wherever there is strict sharia law. Yet it is not a symbol of Islam but of Islamism.

    • Greece is limiting the power of sharia law

      Sharia law has applied to Thrace, a poor northern region home to most of Greek’s Muslim minority, for close to a century. This is down to the 1920 treaty of Sevres, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, sparking population movements between Greece and Turkey; and the 1923 treaty of Lausanne, which recognized the boundary of modern Turkey. The treaties required that Islamic customs and Islamic religious law apply to thousands of Muslims who remained in Greece and suddenly became Greek citizens.

    • French Secularism Is in Crisis. What Does That Mean for Muslim Youth?

      Three years after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, students in the banlieues debate secularism and the state.

    • Free-range kids are the norm in Germany — are American parents over-protective?
    • Where Is West Papua’s Struggle for Independence From Indonesia Headed?
    • Morning Star badge embroils West Papuan activist
    • Saudi Arabia’s Chance to Create a Liberal Kingdom

      On June 17, 2012, Raif was detained on charges that included apostasy, cybercrime and disobeying his father. According to Saudi law, children can be separated from their parents if they are accused of apostasy. I feared that Raif’s father or my family might deprive me the custody of my children. Raif and I decided that I should leave the country to ensure that our children stay with me. Along with my children, I sought asylum in Canada.

      In May 2014, Raif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, and fined a million Saudi Arabian riyal for creating an online forum for public debate and “insulting” Islam. On Jan. 9, 2015, Raif was struck with 50 lashes in a public square in Jeddah, but the lashing was stopped on medical advice. He remains in prison. Only a pardon from King Salman can get him released.

    • Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group

      Similarly, international fashion brand Zara and medical equipment maker Medtronic were ordered by Shanghai’s internet regulator to update their websites after they too were found to have to referred to Taiwan as a country.

    • Tibetan language campaigner Tashi Wangchuk faces up to 15 years in jail for ‘inciting separatism’

      Tashi Wangchuk, 32, has been detained for nearly two years after being taken away from his home in January 2016, two months after the campaigner spoke to foreign media about his advocacy of Tibetan language education.

    • Nigerian Slaves Beaten, Tied Up With Barbed Wire and Forced to Drink From Toilet in Libya

      The Nigerians, who spent years in Libya trying to buy their way to freedom and across the Mediterranean to Europe, told the BBC how they were raped, starved, beaten and sold as slaves in the war-ravaged country.

    • From former Muslims who became Catholics, and their friends, to His Holiness Pope Francis, about his attitude towards Islam

      Many of us have tried to contact you, on many occasions and for several years, and we have never received the slightest acknowledgement of our letters or requests for meetings. You do not like to beat around the bush, and neither do we, so allow us to say frankly that we do not understand your teaching about Islam [...]

    • Iran Protester Arrested for Taking Off Hijab

      Hailed as sign of liberation amidst silence from feminists on the Left

    • 2 friends who helped Muslim man ‘forcibly convert’ Kerala woman held

      The woman had alleged that Riyaz pretended to be in love with her when she was studying in Bengaluru in 2014 and forced her to convert to Islam and married her.

    • Religious teacher suspended by mosque after arrest on suspicion of inciting child to engage in sexual activity
    • Muslim trainee lawyer beat up girlfriend over fear pregnancy would be revealed

      She added that Mr Imran’s parents, who live in Dubai, told him he had “brought shame to his family and had disowned him” over his relationship with the woman, from Stockton.

    • Ending Mass Incarceration Is a Winner for Politicians

      For decades, politicians competed to see who could push the most draconian criminal justice policies. Jeff Sessions’s announcement this month that he would authorize federal prosecutors to go after pot even in states where it is legal seems ripped straight from that playbook. But the “tough on crime” attorney general may be in for a surprise. In 2018, it turns out, demagoguery about crime no longer packs a political punch. In fact, support for reform may prove to be a sleeper issue in 2018 and 2020.

      This would be a big change. Candidates most prominently began to compete on crime in the tumultuous 1960s. Richard Nixon won with ads showing burning cities and scowling young men, ads crafted by an unknown aide named Roger Ailes. Ronald Reagan launched a “war on drugs.” George H.W. Bush won in 1988 with notorious ads telling the story of Willie Horton, who was allowed out of prison under a weekend furlough program. Bill Clinton in 1992 bragged of his support for the death penalty. These chest-thumping themes were echoed in hundreds of campaigns down the ballot each year.

      Politics driven by fear of crime had direct, destructive social costs. Today, with just under five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. Black communities bear the brunt, with one in four Black men serving time during their lifetimes.

    • Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

      I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

      The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

    • Animal Cruelty Is a Clear Predictor of Future Violence, So Why Are Perpetrators Merely Slapped on the Wrist?

      But on Nov. 28, 2017, Gallagher received a distressingly light sentence, amounting to a mere slap on the wrist. After pleading guilty to felony animal cruelty charges, Gallagher was sentenced to just four months in county jail, plus five years probation and a ban on owning animals for two decades.

      As District Attorney Singas said in response: “These types of inhumane actions against animals are heinous and unjustifiable, and should serve as a rallying cry for the state to finally enhance penalties for those convicted of felony animal abuse.”

      We at the Animal Legal Defense Fund could not agree more. Animal cruelty must be taken more seriously and the penalties should reflect that seriousness. This is both for the sakes of the animal victims and for the safety of our communities more broadly.

    • ‘Ignorant infidels‘ in U.S. could should be ‘pressured‘ to just accept Islam

      The only reason the public knows what was said inside the Nov. 18 conference at a Holiday Inn in Springfield, Virginia, is because the gathering was infiltrated by Ehsan Rehan, the brave Pakistani-born journalist and editor of who went undercover and captured video and audio.

    • Turkey: 1,000 could be falsely accused of links to cleric

      Turkey has arrested some 50,000 people since the coup and purged 110,000 others from government jobs.

    • “Swatting” didn’t kill a man, police did

      As much as “swatting” is a waste of public resources and an atrocious prank that deserves attention, it’s irresponsible and disingenuous to leave police accountability out of the conversation about the case in Kansas.

    • Mother of “swatting” victim wants cop criminally charged for shooting

      The letter says police have yet to return the family’s front door as well as a computer, two cell phones, and other items that were taken in the wake of last week’s shooting.

    • Attorney: Family of ‘swatting’ victim wants officer charged

      “Justice for the Finch family constitutes criminal charges against the shooting officer and any other liable officers as well as damages against the city of Wichita for the policies and practices of its Police Department,” Stroth said.

    • Enraged off-duty NYPD cop pistol-whips, beats driver in Brooklyn

      Sources said Baror, 24, jumped out of the SUV waving and pointing a gun and shouted, “Don’t you know who the f— I am? I’m NYPD! You don’t f— with the NYPD.”

      Baror then allegedly punched Nacimas and his girlfriend Jaclyn Araiza, 27.

    • Now even refugees are afraid in Sweden: Want to leave Malmö in droves

      Another resident of Malmö sees a connection between violence against women and the image of women in Islam. She is a teacher and says Islamisation is indeed taking place: More girls wear a hijab and more students prefer [assimilate into]the Islamic culture.

    • Mohammed most popular name for newborn boys in the Netherlands for second year in a row

      The name Noah was putatively considered the most popular boy’s name for 2017, having been given to 635 new-born boys in the Netherlands. A journalist from broadcaster Powned did some research into the database, however, and noticed that another name, a non-traditional Dutch name, was slightly more prevalent.

    • FUREY: Hijab hoax girl, family owe Canadians an apology

      On Monday, Toronto Police issued the following brief statement. “After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described did not happen,” it read. “Our investigation is concluded and we don’t expect anything further.”

    • Toronto police say hijab-cutting incident didn’t happen

      The story made international headlines and drew public condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    • Washington State AG Sues Motel 6 For Handing Over Guest Registry Info To ICE

      At some point in the recent past, Motel 6 owners decided they were deputized law enforcement personnel. So what if people paid for a night’s worth of uninterrupted sleep and expected that visits from federal and local officials would be kept to a minimum. These owners — which the Motel 6 corporation takes great pain to point out are “independent” owner/operators — have decided to ingratiate themselves with untrustworthy organizations like ICE… or the local PD.

      Some Motel 6s decided to fax guest lists to police departments every night. Others decided they’d turn over every name that looked slightly non-Caucasian to ICE. In both cases, Motel 6 (the corporation) brought the hammer down, swearing it had never given franchisees the permission to turn guest lists into tip sheets for law enforcement. The post-facto corporate rollback wasn’t enough for Washington’s Attorney General. The state looked into local policies after hearing about rogue ICE relationships in Arizona. It found more of the same occurring in Washington, resulting in a state lawsuit against company for turning guests list into ICE fodder.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Tickbox Clearly Promotes and Facilitates Piracy, Hollywood Tells Court

        The owner of TickBox TV, a Kodi-powered streaming device, is being sued for copyright infringement by a group of major Hollywood studios plus Amazon and Netflix. The box seller previously argued that it’s operating legally but in a scathing reply the movie companies counter this assertion.

      • US Govt Brands Torrent, Streaming & Cyberlocker Sites As Notorious Markets

        Keeping its annual tradition, the office of the United States Trade Representative has targeted some of the world’s most famous ‘pirate’ sites in its latest report on copyright infringing venues. In addition to torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, RARBG, and RuTracker, hosting sites 4Shared and Openload come in for criticism. Again this year, a list of sites hosted in Switzerland are under attack.

      • Copyright Week 2018: Join Us in Fighting for Better Copyright Law and Policy

        Copyright law shapes the world we live in. It is supposed to encourage progress and creativity, enriching our culture and contributing to the growth of knowledge. However, the law is often used as a blunt instrument by a few prominent actors to preserve their cultural dominance. Less obviously, governments and other large industries have taken to using the law to hide information they don’t want us to see and use or to limit functionality and ownership of software and devices we buy and use. The law shouldn’t work this way. It should serve us all.

        It doesn’t matter if you are a creator or simply someone who enjoys media; an inventor or someone who just wants to use, fix, or tinker with your devices; a researcher or someone who wants to look up information—copyright law impacts all of these things. And, right now, the law is out of whack. It’s balanced in favor of people who want to control things, instead of people who want to share things.

      • EIFL – Libraries: A Trio Of European Court Rulings

        In recent years, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Europe’s highest court, has made three important rulings concerning digital library activities in Europe, write Vincent Bonnet and Barbara Stratton.

      • Movie Coalition Ramps Up Fight Against TV Streaming Devices

        The movie studios brought similar claims against the maker of the TickBox in October. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment said it was planning more such actions. The TickBox and the Dragon Box are devices known as Kodi boxes, named after the open source software used by many of the systems.

      • Is Copyright Term Extension Finally Done?

        Today’s topic for Copyright Week is Public Domain and Creativity: Copyright policy should encourage creativity, not hamper it. Excessive copyright terms inhibit our ability to comment, criticize, and reworkour common culture.

        Copyright always builds upon the past. The public domain is our shared cultural commons, a near limitless trove of creativity that’s been reused, remixed, and reimagined over centuries to create new works of art and science. The value of the public domain is impossible to overestimate. Contemporary copyright policy should strive to promote, and not diminish, a robust, accessible public domain.

      • Don’t Let Upload Filters Undermine the Public Domain

        We now call that conceptual and legal space the public domain, since works hitherto locked down by private copyright monopolies become freely available to everyone, to enjoy and to re-use as they wish. In doing so, the Statute of Anne fashioned an immensely rich artistic resource that could be drawn upon by later creators. Since all art builds to a lesser or greater degree on the ideas and achievements of those who have come before – nothing emerges in a vacuum – the steady accretion of works in the public domain has formed an ever-larger reservoir from which creators could draw as they wished, with resultant benefits for both them and their audiences.

        Despite the evident power of adding works to this universal resource, the public domain has been under repeated attack. The most direct assault has come from the extension of copyright’s term. All around the world, the length of government protection has moved in one direction only: upwards. From the basic 14 years provided by the Statute of Anne, the copyright ratchet has now brought about a widespread 70 years over and above for the whole lifetime of the creator.

      • The Public Domain Starts Growing Again Next Year, and It’s About Time

        Have you ever wondered how it’s possible for there to be two Jungle Book movies to be in development at the same time? Why everything seems to be based on a work by Shakespeare? Or why it always seems like someone is telling a version of The Wizard of Oz? The answer is that these works are in the public domain, meaning that copyright law no longer prevents other artists from adapting them to create new works.

        One major rationale for copyright is supposedly that, by giving an exclusive set of rights to artists for their work, we incentivize creativity by making it possible for artists to benefit from releasing works to the public. But copyright protection is supposed to be limited, and once it expires, a work enters the public domain, where anyone can use it.

        In the United States, the length of the copyright term has been steadily extended so that published works are effectively copyrighted for 95 years (for corporate works) or until 70 years after an author’s death (for individual works). This has resulted in a public domain that saw increasingly less materials being added to it, limiting the ability of artists to build on works that came before them. The last time Congress changed the law in the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, it was applied retroactively. Effectively, it meant that nothing has entered the public domain in the United States for years. January 1, 2019 will mark the end of this dry spell as works first published in 1923 will finally enter the public domain. That mean works like Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments and Universal’s silent version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, two movies released in 1923, will be eligible to join the public domain.

2018 Will be an Even Worse Year for Software Patents Because the US Supreme Court Shields Alice

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 02:15:21 PM

Positive vision for the year ahead (if you develop software)

Summary: The latest picks (reviewed cases) of the Supreme Court of the United States signal another year with little or no hope for the software patents lobby; PTAB too is expected to endure after a record-breaking year, in which it invalidated a lot of software patents that had been erroneously granted

THE first year of Donald Trump (anniversary 4 days from now), surprisingly enough, did not have much impact on the patent world or the patent landscape in the United States*. Congress barely did anything. One thing Trump did was, he appointed a new Justice.

Prof. Timothy Holbrook of Emory Law wrote about the US Supreme Court‘s decision to look into WesternGeco. From his introduction:

Patent law remains hot at the Supreme Court. The Court on January 14, 2018, agreed to review WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. WesternGeco joins two other patent cases at the Supreme Court (so far) for its October 2017 term.

We wrote about this very briefly towards the end of the weekend. The good news is, no case regarding software patents or anything remotely like it will be looked at. There won’t even be another Mayo. It means that we can expect no imminent changes/alterations in Section 101 and the USPTO, for the time being, has only an interim Director. He is actually the recipient of a lawsuit, Bosch v Matal, on which Kluwer remarked yesterday by saying: “The Board [PTAB] erred, however, in denying the patent owner’s request to substitute 16 amended claims for the original claims. The Board impermissibly assigned the burden of proof on patentability of the proposed amended claims to the patent owner.”

This is a CAFC case regarding PTAB. CAFC cases may have some significance, but they hardly set the law at the USPTO. However this ends, it won’t have any impact on PTAB. What can have impact is Oil States at the US Supreme Court (oral hearings already started). It looks, based on the proceedings so far, like all/most Justices will side with PTAB, which is widely supported (also in briefs from industry). Watchtroll’s daily PTAB bashing carries on unabated (not a day without it, even on Sundays, even yesterday on MLK day). They are propping up patent trolls’ agenda like a lobbying group, knowing quite well that Oil States is likely a losing game for them.

PTAB is important because — with or without a trial — it can invalidate any US patent at any time (if petitioned to do so). It has been a serial enforcer of the Alice test and this is why PTAB has been so scary to proponents of software patents. We still see some of these patents in the news**, but they pose a far lesser threat as long as Section 101 remains in tact and PTAB has the capacity to deal with thousands of petitions per year. Sometimes one can find another basis for thwarting litigation. In this new case, for instance, there was “future promise to assign patent rights” (“I hereby do assign” versus “I will assign”) and this meant that the whole lawsuit was baseless if not an act of misconduct (asserting or leveraging patents that aren’t even one’s own). Newman is standing out from the crowd and dissenting as usual. “Judge Newman dissented,” it says, “believing that the employment agreement was sufficient to transfer ownership of the invention to Ms. Hsiun’s employer.”

The bottom line is, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will look only at WesternGeco and will thus not challenge Alice any time soon. We can therefore expect software patents to erode further and further, more so after TC Heartland (keeping litigation away from district courts that are software patents-friendly).
________
* According to IAM, Trump’s regressive tax policy, or tax ‘cuts’ (to billionaires), will help people who price medicine out of patients’ reach. “Analysts at Goldman Sachs predict a $160 billion windfall for the pharmaceuticals industry, with Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen and Merck & Co named among those with most to gain,” it said.

** More software patents, which would be deemed invalid under Alice/Section 101, still make it into the news. This one is the “over the Internet” type:

Packets are the carriers of data on the internet; they consist of user data (a payload), and also of control information about where the data should go (a header). A packet identifies its sender and addressee by their IP addresses but (currently) does not include any information about the sender’s or addressee’s physical location (geolocation); while IP addresses may indicate, generally, a geographical location, they are not an exact and perfectly reliable determinant of the location – for reasons that include, among other things, the possibility of spoofing IP addresses.

Patent Trolls (Euphemised as “Public IP Companies”) Are Dying in the United States, But the Trouble Isn’t Over

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 12:50:02 PM

Summary: The demise of various types of patent trolls, including publicly-traded trolls, is good news; but we take stock of the latest developments in order to better assess the remaining threat

“Intellectual property [sic] is often the most valuable asset of a startup business,” says a site of lawyers. On Friday they actually published an article titled “What Startups With Lean Budgets Can Do to Protect Their IP”. They don’t quite specify if by “IP” they mean brands, copyrights (e.g. of code), or patents. There’s a paywall. Maybe patents of patent trolls is what they had in mind because virtually no startup actually relies on patents. Startups create compelling services and products.

It is a big problem when startups, even ones which used to have real products, turn into something like PersonalWeb (borderline patent troll, a pseudo-practising entity). PersonalWeb, which we wrote about 6 years ago, is at it again; it’s just suing everyone and Law 360 had a repord about the latest lawsuit a few days ago. To quote:

FanDuel Inc. on Thursday became the latest company hit with a cloud computing patent suit by software developer PersonalWeb Technologies LLC, which in recent days has sued dozens of others, including Airbnb Inc., Blue Apron Inc., Venmo and Reddit.

The developer’s New York federal lawsuit alleges that the way the fantasy sports giant populates its website in real time infringes five different PersonalWeb patents related to cloud computing. Its patented technology, PersonalWeb alleges, allows internet users to have the most up-to-date data at their fingertips.

Sadly, there’s a growing ‘industry’ of litigation; it creates nothing but pain. Those who dare speak about it are immediately attacked by people like Nick Gross, who is groomed by the patent troll Dominion Harbor. On the same day we wrote about him he also joined these trolls on a show [1, 2] (they are habitually defaming me on their show). It certainly seem like they have nothing left but hate mail and defamation. They’re accustomed to bullying.

The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) now complains that it’s getting harder to be a troll in the US. Dominion Harbor agrees.

“In what remains a tough market for PIPCOs,” IAM said, “Inventergy is well and truly back in the assertion game as it launches a new #patent infringement suit in California”

IAM also said that “Inventergy has just agreed a debt refinancing structured with interest rates of between 8% & 17%, plus profit share. Ouch. Says a lot about PIPCO market these days.”

Let’s hope that patent trolls will all go extinct rather soon. Their “business model” needs to be crushed. Here is what IAM wrote in its blog the other day:

It looks like the public IP company (PIPCO) Inventergy, which went through a recent major restructuring that saw it hand control of a huge portfolio to debt provider Fortress, has reappeared on the assertion scene, filing a suit in the Central District of California against a company called GPS Monitoring Solutions. The patent at the centre of the case was part of a June 2016 deal which saw Inventergy obtain the exclusive rights to license or sell three assets owned by a company called GTX Corp. The PIPCO, headed by former senior HP IP executive Joe Beyers, announced a year ago that it had launched a licensing campaign for the patents, which relate to GPS tracking.

They will attempt to lobby the government. They can afford lobbying. McKool Smith, which represents patent trolls, has just hired (i.e. will pay a salary to) the former ITC Commissioner. Revolving doors much?

Meanwhile, CNBC is writing puff pieces for a notorious patent troll (several of these lately). This week it does one for Amazon. The patent troll in question is stockpiling blockchain patents (and sending me death wishes). IAM says that “Bank of America and IBM lead on blockchain patents” (remember that IBM is a patent bully and trolls harvest these patents). To quote a portion:

As the fluctuating bitcoin market has everyone talking, new research has thrown light on which companies are the leading filers of patents related to blockchain, the technology which underpins the world’s best known cryptocurrency, but whose application could extend to multiple different sectors. Among the leaders are the giant financial institutions Bank of America (which takes the top spot with 43 patents) and Fidelity (which boasts 14 grants), payments leader Mastercard (joint second with 27) and, by far the leading tech player, IBM (another sharing second with 27 patents).

It’s perhaps not surprising that the biggest financial institutions dominate the list of largest blockchain patent owners, but according to the research by Envision IP it is start-ups and other companies focused on developing applications for the technology that have the edge on Wall Street and the largest tech players. Envision claims that these specialists own 59% of the US patents and published applications in the sector, comfortably ahead of financial institutions which have 20% of grants and filings and up on the traditional technology sector which owns around 13%. The digital currency exchange Coinbase leads the way among the specialists with 13 patents followed by the likes of Monegraph, Digital Asset Holdings and SKUChain Inc.

More and more of these patents will likely have no ‘muscle’; They would be deemed invalid under Alice/Section 101 if tested in courts. If used in bulk, however, invaliding all of them would prove more costly than settling.

EPO Management and Team UPC Carry on Lying About Unified Patent Court, Sinking to New Lows in the Process

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 12:13:45 PM

It can never sink low enough

Summary: At a loss for words over the loss of the Unitary Patent, Team UPC and Team Battistelli now blatantly lie and even get together with professional liars such as Watchtroll

THE EPO races to the bottom. The management quit giving a damn about the EPO’s reputation and it is now lying so routinely that staff is left embarrassed (or staff’s intelligence insulted). There are many sectors where lying to staff is easy and management can get away with it. But not patent examiners (scientists). They are hard to mislead and they don’t like being managed by people far less intelligent than them — people who get their job owing to nepotism and submissiveness to authority. Intelligence is no longer being rewarded at the EPO; instead, it’s blind loyalty and lack of scrutiny of patent applications (for the sake of ‘production’). It’s alarming because it means that the EPO won’t be able to attract — and at the same time lose — its most valuable asset, which is smart people. This is how organisations prosper and perish; it’s all about who they’re able to recruit.

We were a little shocked (but not entirely surprised) yesterday when the EPO’s official account wound up retweeting Watchtroll. How low will they stoop to promote the UPC lunacy? Watchtroll is notorious among the online communities that care about science and facts. Here is what the tweet said:

Join me on Thursday 1/18 at 12pm ET for a free webinar on the #UnitaryPatent. Will have a guest from @EPOorg and a European Patent Attorney. Register at http://bit.ly/2CWKtwr . Sponsored by @MorningsideIP pic.twitter.com/VYnpTLHPiY

Incredible. So the EPO is now getting together with these dishonest bullies who promote patent trolls. What next? EPO on Breitbart? Oh wait, that already happened; they look to recruit Breitbart readers.

Either way, what we are gradually witnessing more and more of is departure from science and truth at the EPO. When the EPO gets together with academics it actually pays them to disseminate lies about the UPC [1, 2]. There are always some dishonest academics (lacking integrity) looking to make a quick buck.

Watch what the EPO tweeted yesterday. Again, it’s embarrassing. This is a bunch of lies. The EPO is structuring itself to make accountability weaker, operations worse, and even a study warned them against it. But this helps promote Battistelli’s buddies in DG1, so what’s not to like? These misleading tweets about misleading old ‘news’ from Team Battistelli will not fool EPO employees. They’re too smart for Team UPC’s lies as well.

What now? Well, they’re spreading lies again and it’s working; it enters the media.

“DAV is not the official German Bar Association but nothing more than a private association with voluntary Membership,” one EPO insider wrote. But of course the media doesn’t care about such ‘pesky’ facts, which came directly from Team UPC (later, upon challenge, admitting that it lied).

Some media (all the media that we’ve seen so far!) repeated these claims from Team UPC, calling a submission to the court a significant step towards dismissal of the complaint and attributing it to “German Bar Association”. The headlines spreak for themselves (there have been only two): 1) “German Bar Association says Nein to patent court block effort”; 2) “UPC complaint “inadmissible” says German Bar Association” (both sites are British).

As one can immediately see, these headlines can mislead (most people read just the headlines). This is why Team UPC was spreading the lie that DAV is ‘the’ “German Bar Association” (that isn’t what it really is). The latter keeps citing groups like litigators, so it’s obviously interested only in the views of hardcore litigation lobbies. To quote the exception (IP2Innovate, which we wrote about before [1, 2]):

Advocacy coalition, IP2Innovate, whose members include Google, Spotify and Intel, claimed that trolls already make up a “staggering 20 percent of all patent lawsuits in Germany”.

Patrick Oliver, executive director of IP2Innovate, said that the UPC was a cause for concern and could prove an “attractive venue for patent abuses”.

A spokesperson for the coalition added that “the threat of an EU-wide injunction is a powerful weapon, and the UPC hands PAEs exactly such a weapon.”

Some of the more interesting stuff is happening in the comments at The Register

For starters, Team UPC’s Alex Robinson admits that he lied about DAV being what he claimed it to be (comment #4). To quote:

It’s been drawn to my attention (via comments on Kluwer and correspondence on Twitter) that the DAV is not the official German Bar Association, but instead is a voluntary association. The German Federal Bar Association (of which membership is compulsory) is the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer (BRAK). This, too, was invited to file observations, but as yet they have not been made public, if such observations were indeed submitted.

An important thing to bear in mind here is that the decision on admissibility ultimately falls to the German Federal Constitutional Court. Thus, while the DAV opinion certainly provides one set of arguments in favour of inadmissibility, this is not a foregone conclusion. Many other organisations have also been invited to comment, but most German practitioners I’ve spoken to expect those organisations to take more or less the same line as the DAV.

My understanding is that the Federal Constitutional Court now has a range of options ranging from a straightforward written finding of inadmissibility at one end, all the way through to – at the other end of the scale – an oral hearing at which both the admissibility and the substance of the complaint are argued in detail. We will probably not know which option the Court will go for until it makes an announcement informing us. This could depend on how persuasive the judges find the arguments for admissibility/inadmissibility from either side.

The lack of transparency in this procedure overall is really quite striking. (If anyone can confirm that this is a general feature of German legal proceedings, do let me know!) The DAV is, in my opinion, to be commended for publicising its position even though many readers of this blog and others may well be in disagreement with the idea of the UPC.

Well, maybe the headline needs to be corrected; Robinson’s headline, The Register‘s headline and the rest. But don’t expect them to do it. To Robinson, such lies are “valuable” or “useful”, so why bother correcting the error?

Check out the next comment about DAV (Tilmann et al):

The DAV’s comments should not be taken at face value. The most recent comments on another Kluwer post illustrate why the DAV’s submissions “amount to nothing more that smoke and mirrors, together with desperate attempts to gloss over gaping holes in the legal arguments”:

http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/12/12/prof-tilmann-fcc-several-reasons-reject-inadmissible-complaint-upca/

Whilst the EPO might be an international organisation that is afforded various privileges and immunities, this does not mean that it can operate without any thought to the constraints imposed by EU law. For example, the EPO’s assessment of patentability must respect the provisions of the Biotech Directive. If this does not happen, then there could be serious consequences for the EU Member States. The failure of the DAV’s submissions to acknowledge such complexities therefore provides yet another reason to take their views with a pinch of salt.

As we put it yesterday, UPC is built on political mischief and misconduct, it’s basically just a lie, and Team UPC are greedy liars. Just like the EPO management right now… they belong together. Team UPC and Team Battistelli (EPO management) tell us whatever lies promote the illusion that the UPC is desirable (they like talking about “SMEs”). They want us to think that they ‘unify’ Europe (hence an acronym with “unified” or “unitary”, after the latest rename of “EU” and “community”). It’s all about profits of litigating entities and it harms SMEs the most (they rarely even operate outside their home country).

Finally, just to show the sheer dishonesty of Team UPC, check out what Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s Rachel Montagnon published yesterday. This is the headline: “The Unified Patent Court (UPC) – Open for Business in 2018?”

Pushing lies with a question mark at the end still makes these lies. They’re clearly getting desperate and they ignore every fact which does not suit them, pretending all barriers are gone, including some of the biggest ones, for example:

German ratification is dependent on the outcome of the challenge being mounted in the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) regarding the constitutionality of the law passed by German Parliament on the UPC’s implementation. The German court has asked for observations on the case and had previously set a deadline for any comment by end of October 2017 – though it has been reported that this has now been extended to the end of the year. The FCC will then determine whether or not to dismiss the complaint, a process which is expected to take until at least April 2018. If the complaint is dismissed, Germany will be able to ratify the UPCA soon after. There has, however, been talk of the possibility of the case being referred to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), which would cause substantial delay to the case being decided and ultimately to Germany’s ratification.

See? Not a problem! The complaint in Germany? It’s gone. Poof!

Just because they want barriers to vanish doesn’t mean they will. The author feels comfortable leaning on Jo Johnson, at no point bothering to point out that both he and his predecessors are gone!

China Tightens Its Knot of Restrictive Rules and Patents

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 06:22:26 AM

Recent: China’s Self-Destructive Patent Policy Will Replace Assembly Lines of Products With Assembly Lines of Low-Quality Patents and Lawsuits


Almost everything is “made in China”, but usually not by Chinese brands

Summary: Overzealous patent aggressors and patent trolls in China, in addition to an explosion in low-quality patents, may simply discourage companies from doing production/manufacturing there

THE world is changing as economic shifts become irreversible. Karry Lai, writing from Hong Kong this week, says that “China’s anti-unfair competition law amendments became effective January 1″ (2 weeks ago).

“It is becoming increasingly dangerous to operate in China because the risk of lawsuits grows exponentially (with the pace of patenting at truly astronomical levels that defeat the purpose of patent systems).”In addition, China now engages in mass patenting of just about anything, with nearly 1.5 million patent applications per year. “It’s a sign of the times,” IAM said in relation to the latest legal actions (covered in yesterday morning's roundup) and IAM wrote this article about it (as did Lisa Wang in Taiwan, among others). China has become somewhat of a ‘darling’ to IAM because IAM promotes litigation and aggression, which is something that’s soaring in China these days (IAM has just published this self-promotional piece for the patent ‘industry’ in China).

It is becoming increasingly dangerous to operate in China because the risk of lawsuits grows exponentially (with the pace of patenting at truly astronomical levels that defeat the purpose of patent systems). “A month after finding itself on the receiving end of a trade secret lawsuit from Micron,” IAM wrote, “Taiwan’s UMC has asserted patents in China against the US chip major. This latest litigation means another US semiconductor company finds itself staring down the barrel of a patent lawsuit in Fujian, a hub of China’s domestic memory sector.”

China seems so tactlessly eager to drive out companies that manufacture in China. Even companies from Korea, Japan, and maybe Taiwan or Hong Kong (which China attempts to assert complete sovereignty over). This new article by Jean-Pierre Chigne is one among many — most of them published last week — about the Chinese state-connected giant bulldozing Samsung (of South Korea) in a Chinese court. To quote:

As a result of the ruling, Samsung will also have to pay a small court fee. The court also dismissed Huawei’s other claims, and Samsung will be able to appeal the decision.

Both companies have been filing lawsuits against each other in both the United States and China. Huawei also filed a lawsuit against Samsung in the United States for violating patents on cellular technology and software.

It’s no secret that a lot of the world’s manufacturing is done in China, but it’s often done at the behest of (with orders/invoices) corporations from the US, Europe, Japan, Korea and so on. By becoming so legally aggressive China now puts that at danger. These companies could, instead, set up plants in places like Thailand or Cambodia (some already do just that), where the perceived risk of litigation seems lower.

Microsoft’s Patent Racket Has Just Been Broadened to Threaten GNU/Linux Users Who Don’t Pay Microsoft ‘Rents’

Tuesday 16th of January 2018 05:51:14 AM

“We’ll defend you from the very same patent trolls whom we feed”

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”…”

Matt Asay

Summary: Microsoft revisits its aggressive patent strategy which it failed to properly implement 12 years ago with Novell; it wants to ‘collect’ a patent tax on GNU/Linux and it uses patent trolls to make that easier

THE CONNECTION of Microsoft to patent trolls is very obvious. The world’s largest troll (Intellectual Ventures) came from Microsoft, Acacia (patent troll which habitually sues GNU/Linux vendors) has former Microsoft staff, MOSAID (another patent troll) received Nokia’s patents at Microsoft’s instructions, Microsoft’s co-founder has a patent troll (Interval Research Corporation) and Bill Gates himself is directly connected to several patent trolls (some of which he funds).

“What Microsoft’s patent strategists are doing these days is incredibly similar to what they did with Novell in 2006 and similarly called “Advantage”…”About a year ago Microsoft came up with a new plan [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. We wrote many articles about it (nearly 20 in total) and we last wrote about it a month ago in relation to the Provenance Asset Group [1, 2]. What Microsoft’s patent strategists are doing these days is incredibly similar to what they did with Novell in 2006 and similarly called “Advantage” (as in buy SUSE, pay Microsoft, and lower risk of lawsuits from Microsoft and/or its proxies at the time).

Do not be misled by patent propaganda from Microsoft in tweets and in article form (examples from this week alone). Also do not be misled by shallow, poor coverage like this from a few hours ago. The headline euphemistically states “Microsoft extends patent protection shield on-premises,” but what really happens here is a lot simpler: Microsoft extends patent ‘protection’ racket, sends patents to patent trolls and then says, “come to us, we’re safe!”

From the article:

The company hoped that those efforts would let developers do what they do best in Azure, without having to worry about patent trolls popping up from under a bridge. Redmond didn’t offer the service as a perfect shield, but claimed the service was at least better than similar programs from other clouds.

In the pages of The Register lawyer Barry Sookman’s analysis of the program suggested the program’s real purpose may have been to make it hard for patent trolls to open up a new front against Microsoft by suing its customers for patent infringement. Sookman also said the protections offered aren’t super-useful to end-users.

And yet the author missed the whole point! He clearly did not seek to explore the commonly-understood interpretation of Microsoft’s strategy (already covered in various Web sites). So let’s look at the comments, shall we?

“So other people too are ‘getting’ it; they ‘get’ Microsoft’s thinking, unlike some journalists who overlook the real plot and portray this as some sort of goodwill gesture from Microsoft (which claims that it ‘hates’ trolls while actually passing loads of patents to them).”“Protection shield or racket,” says the sole comment on this article. “”It’d be really bad if something bad happened to you so consider joining our platform” says MS.”

So other people too are ‘getting’ it; they ‘get’ Microsoft’s thinking, unlike some journalists who overlook the real plot and portray this as some sort of goodwill gesture from Microsoft (which claims that it ‘hates’ trolls while actually passing loads of patents to them).

EPO Scandals Played a Considerable Role in Sinking the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Monday 15th of January 2018 10:14:10 AM

Inability to maintain the reputation and perception of justice at the EPO is proving fatal


“Dialogue” like telling the Appeal Boards to sack their colleague, a judge called Patrick Corcoran?
Original: Presidential candidates set out their vision for the EPO | full article (copy)

Summary: Today’s press coverage about the UPC reinforces the idea that the EPO saga, culminating in despicable attacks on Patrick Corcoran (a judge), may doom the UPC once and for all (unless one believes Team UPC)

THE UPC isn’t going ahead, no matter what media may be trying to tell us. Some of that media is literally paid for UPC advocacy. It has been promising or heralding the UPC for a number of years, but it was wrong every time. They are trying to sell outcomes, not information.

To get an idea of what patent professionals think, look at comments. Right now, for example, virtually all the comments about it in Kluwer Patent Blog are negative (13 comments so far, with the author trying to contain the damage after his late Friday 'Molotov'). That speaks for itself really. So do the comments (so far) in this morning’s coverage from The Register. “Good news for UPC advocates, bad news for EPO staff,” says the summary. Well, “UPC advocates” being Team UPC and “good news” being an odd term because the views of Tilmann at el were so predictable that it’s not even news (he already expressed these same views in Kluwer Patent Blog, only to be promptly slammed in the comments). The article is noteworthy for the parts which cover EPO scandals and their relevance to the perception of justice. Quoting the author who is very much familiar with these matters:

To date, it appears that there are three main issues: that it was not properly voted on; that Brexit changes things; and that “reforms” at the European Patent Office (EPO) have undermined the independence of the system.

[...]

That will be a bitter pill for many critics of the EPO who have been outraged in recent weeks that one of those independent judges – Patrick Corcoran – was not reappointed to the EPO’s Boards of Appeal even after he successful won his case against EPO management.

[...]

The bad news is that there appears to be no larger constraint on the EPO’s appalling behavior towards its employees. In fact, the decision may even embolden EPO management to continue its campaign of harassment against staff knowing that there is no organ that can hold it to account, or even punish it for its actions.

The ethical abyss at the EPO has cost UPC its viability. What kind of court, seeing what goes on at the EPO, would give the EPO ‘unitary’ scope (or effect)? That would be irresponsible and reckless. There are ethical issues at play, not just legal or technical.

Over at Patently-O, which has a section on ethics (run by David Hricik*), a new blog post has been published about patent scams. As Hricik put it some days ago:

I love this case because it has lessons for ethics, drafting, and civil procedure.

The holding is pretty simple: an inventor who signs an employment agreement that provides (a) she “will assign” rights to inventions doesn’t then assign them; (b) that she “holds in trust” those rights doesn’t mean she assigns them; and (c) that she “quit claims” those rights doesn’t mean she assigns them. Two judges so held (O’Malley and Reyna), and Judge Newman dissented relying on the “intent” of the contract. The case is Advanced Video Tech. LLC v. HTC Corp. (Fed. Cir. Jan. 11, 2018), here.

We have covered several examples of this over the years. It’s misconduct, yet it’s rarely punishable. There are variants to this kind of misconduct and it always serves to discredit the USPTO. When patent offices fail to maintain their reputation and adjunct courts tolerate it (or cannot challenge the offices), there’s a high cost. The UPC is Europe’s example of it.
______
* Hricik’s blog posts, unlike Crouch’s, are typically OK. He now has this new paper (PDF; via) about the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) — a paper in which he asserts that “patent rights have been weakened through changes in the law [which] effectively eliminates the presumption of validity. Other changes including heightened pleading requirements and state statutes also reduce the coercive benefit that patents confer.”

J Nicholas Gross Thinks Professors Stop Being Professors If They’re Not Patent Extremists Like Him

Monday 15th of January 2018 09:18:15 AM

Summary: The below-the-belt tactics of patent trolls and their allies show no signs of abatement and their tone reveals growing irritation and frustration (inability to sue and extort companies as easily as they used to)

THE INTERNET is not a pleasant place when it comes to discussions about patents. We may seem confrontational/abrasive at times, but nowhere near as much as trolls and their defenders. They describe people who invalidate patents as “killers” or “death squads”. Watchtroll even called them a “cartel” earlier this month.

This theme of death or “kills” isn’t too uncommon. Here is one patent maximalist stating: “In a Rule 36, Fed. Cir. Affirmed 101/Alice Kill of ZKey Patent Asserted against Facebook” (he always, without exception, uses the word “kill” in such scenarios, otherwise “survives” i.e. the language of militarism).

These people are habitually attacking CAFC judges, not just PTAB panels and SCOTUS Justices (as well as the EFF, as J Nicholas Gross repeatedly did when he wrote for the Web site of a patent troll last year). According to him, based on this tweet, professors stop being professors when he doesn’t agree with them on patents. These are his words: “Anti-patent troll “Professor” (RIGHT!) Lemley reversed today: cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/… CAFC says his serial infringer client loses on 101 bc SOFTWARE-BASED ‘innovations can make “non-abstract improvements to computer technology”’ here security profile enabled bette [sic] virus filtering…”

J Nicholas Gross must be suffering from inferiority complex; he’s not a professor like Lemley (heck, he is not even a doctor), so he’s attacking Lemley’s credentials. Some patent trolls did this to me as well, defaming me as having fabricated my Ph.D. and even resorting to literally below-the-belt insults (like speaking about my genitals in their public podcasts). He appeared to have developed quite a reputation for these things and he is connected online (maybe professionally) to these trolls, too. Here he is, only days ago, attacking PTAB’s decision: “Another typical day at PTAB: Facebook inventor has novel, non-obvious invention that distinguishes over prior art, so Examiner overruled; but random application of 101 results in no patent: e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrieveP…”

And on he goes:

Today’s CAFC decision proves categorically that their 101 jurisprudence is disastrously panel-specific, and your only hope as patent owner is that you are fortunated to get udges who actually understand how software works: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2520.Opinion.1-8-2018.1.PDF …

From what I can gather, virtually none of these proponents of software patent (and vocal PTAB bashers) even wrote a computer program. Ever. The above rant comes from a person (attorney) whose online profile suggests to be “[c]urrently marketing and soliciting offers for license or purchase of certain key patent assets in the area of e-commerce…”

Sounds like the patent ‘assertion’ types (borderline trolling). That explains it then.

The US Supreme Court Has Just Denied Another Chance to Deal With a Case Similar to Alice (Potentially Impacting § 101)

Monday 15th of January 2018 08:40:03 AM

§ 101 will carry on invaliding abstract patents

Summary: There is no sign that software patents will be rendered worthwhile any time in the near future, but proponents of software patents don’t give up

THE departure from software patenting (more so post-Alice) isn’t to be taken for granted. It needs to be guarded. There are many attempts to undermine Alice, e.g. overriding the decision with another (more recent one), changing Section 101 (§ 101), and passing new laws in Congress. The USPTO probably couldn’t care any less because it profits from patents (academics say it explains low patent quality), but at the same time it needs to respect the law, especially the Supreme Court.

Do not expect the Supreme Court to override (or ‘overturn’ so to speak) Alice any time soon. As a matter of fact, a case which a patent maximalist claims to an “Alice 101 case” will remain buried as far as the Justices are concerned.

“As a matter of fact, a case which a patent maximalist claims to an “Alice 101 case” will remain buried as far as the Justices are concerned.”“Yesterday,” the maximalist wrote, “the Supreme Court Denied Cert. in RecogniCorp v Nintendo—an Alice 101 case.” He also said that “the Supreme Court Denied Cert. in the UMass Gene Case—an Eleventh Amendment State Immunity Case.” He then added that “the Supreme Court Denied Cert in the Smartflash v Apple case, where &533M verdict was reversed.” And finally: “The S.Ct. granted cert. today in Western Ge. co LLC v. Ion Geophysical Corp., case number 16-1011. This is a damages case.” Patently-O cared enough about that last one to write a blog post about it. “The Supreme Court has granted writ of certiorari in the international-patent-damages case WesternGeco LLC (Schlumberger) v. ION Geophysical Corp., Docket No. 16-1011,” it said. This has zero relevance to Alice. It’s here to stay and that’s just fine.

This very long new article from Josh Landau explains that it’s not the ‘disaster’ or the ‘avalanche’ the patent microcosm tries to call it. Here are some numbers to put things in perspective:

This search shows that, from Bilski’s opinion through mid-July 2017, there have been a total of 22,047 patent applications which have ultimately been abandoned after receiving a § 101 rejection under any of Bilski, Alice, Mayo, or Myriad. (For comparison, the USPTO issues approximately 300,000 patents every year.)

This doesn’t mean that these applications were abandoned because of the § 101 rejection—for example, a number were abandoned even though they were allowed because the applicant failed to pay the issue fee. It doesn’t even mean that the § 101 rejection wasn’t overcome—in some cases, the § 101 rejection is overcome and rejections over prior art lead to abandonment. All it means is that at some point a § 101 rejection was received, and the application was ultimately abandoned.

Still, this is the highest possible number of applications that could even arguably be considered to be abandoned for a reason that is in some way related to a § 101 rejection.

Let’s take a look at the opposite question—how many patent applicants overcome a § 101 rejection?

In an effort to ‘scandalise’ § 101 the lobbying ‘media’ keeps on going. The patent microcosm, as one ought to expect, is all over this. It refuses to let go and this article from 3 days ago said: “Patents protect inventions that are new, useful and nonobvious. The three main categories of patents are utility patents, design patents, and business method/software patents.”

“In an effort to ‘scandalise’ § 101 the lobbying ‘media’ keeps on going.”But what kind of law firm would honestly promote business method/software patents in 2018?

Here’s another new example, this one titled “Patent Eligibility and Obviousness in a Covered Business Method Patent Review” (also from the patent microcosm). “The limits of patent eligibility continue to be a major hurtle,” it says, but for who? For those who pursue litigation, not creation. But that’s not how the law firm puts it. To quote:

The limits of patent eligibility continue to be a major hurtle for patent owners whose patents are subject to Covered Business Method Patent Review (CBM) at the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In IBG LLC v. Trading Tech. Int. Inc., Case CMB2016-00090 (PTAB December 7, 2017) the PTAB issued a Final Written Decision holding that US Patent 7,725,382 was not directed to patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101. In addition to the §101 holding, the PTAB held that the Petitioner failed to meet their burden to show that the ‘382 Patent was obvious over certain prior art under 35 U.S.C. §103.

These are the usual rants about § 101, PTAB and so on. It has gotten rather tiring. The same site is absolutely paranoid over Alice/Mayo (§ 101). See the last paragraph here:

The answer to the question posed by the title is no, the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Inventor Holdings, LLC v. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., No. 2016-2442 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 8 2017) notwithstanding (reported on by this blog in “Attorney Fees Awarded for Post-Alice Patent Litigation”). Two recent district court patent cases in which the validity under 35 USC §101 of the asserted patents was in question yielded different results on the award of attorney fees under 35 USC § 285 (Opal Run LLC, Plaintiff v. C & A Marketing, Inc., Defendant, No. 2:16-CV-00024-JRG-RSP (Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division) (November 29, 2017) (“Opal Run v. C&A”) and Product Association Technologies v. Clique Media Group, No. CV 17-5463-GW (PJWx), (Central District of California) (November 30, 2017) (“PAT v. Clique Media”)). Both cases slightly predate the Federal Circuit’s Inventor Holdings decision.

[...]

Lessons for Practice

Think twice before asserting claims that may be vulnerable to a §101 challenge.

Prior to asserting a claim that may be vulnerable to a §101 challenge, decide if saving the claim from a §101 review is worth the risk of paying attorney fees.

When seeking attorney’s fees for a defendant, dig as deep as possible to find evidence of the plaintiff’s motives in asserting the infringement claims.

They just try hard to bypass § 101 in order to dodge challenges, seeing perhaps press releases like this new one which speaks of “patents [on] understanding personality” (using algorithms).

“…not every time § 101 gets brought up it’s instantaneously applicable.”These are clearly software patents. They just avoid this term.

The same site posted another such rant a few some days ago (regarding Alice) and this time it was looking to exploit Finjan (a troll case which we covered the other day and Watchtroll belatedly mentioned on Sunday). They’re latching onto this case for Alice-bashing purposes, even though there’s no basis for it, as we explained some days ago. To quote:

Broad patent claims directed to computer virus screening have survived an Alice/35 U.S.C. § 101 patent-eligibility challenge at the Federal Circuit. Finjan, Inc., v. Blue Coat Systems Inc., No. 2016-2520 (January 10, 2018) (precedential). As reported here, the District Court had denied a post-trial motion seeking to set aside a finding of infringement on the grounds that claims of the ’844 patent were patent-ineligible. Addressing patent-eligibility along with other issues (not addressed in this post) related to several patents in suit, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,154,844, entitled “System and method for attaching a downloadable security profile to a downloadable,” are not directed to a patent-ineligible abstract idea.

As we said before, not every time § 101 gets brought up it’s instantaneously applicable. The very fact that it’s not a catch-all defense actually lends legitimacy to § 101. But don’t expect sites like Watchtroll to acknowledge that. They’re lobbying and selling their services, that’s all. A couple of days ago the founder posted his marketing spam (selling the ‘industry’ which rips inventors off). In his own words: “For competent, thorough US patent searches alone you would pay at least $400 for something that is relatively simple and up to $800 to $1,000 for a search alone on something complex, or deals with software. This cost is for the professional patent search alone, and does not include the cost of an attorney to review the search and offer an opinion about patentability.”

The bottom like is, who pays? The other day fee deference was brought up after the “the district court dismissed the case on summary judgment after finding the claims barred under 35 U.S.C. § 102.”

“Watchtroll also runs sponsored press releases.”Whoever pays does not matter much to the law firms; it’s always them who eventually net that money.

Watchtroll also runs sponsored press releases. Truth does not seem to matter to these people and authors in TechDirt generally regard that site to be lacking integrity (they told me so). Watchtroll now boils down to § 101 lobbying, PTAB bashing and sometimes even CAFC bashing (Robert Schaffer and Joseph Robinson wrote two articles to that effect on Friday [1, 2]). From the latest PTAB rant of theirs: “The Federal Circuit affirmed the rejection of several claims in a patent owned by Monsanto. The patent is directed to a two-step process for crossing two parent soybean lines to produce soybean seeds with a modified fatty acid profile. The Board affirmed the examiner’s rejection, during inter partes reexamination, that the claims are anticipated by, or obvious over, a prior art patent to Booth.”

Monsanto has long used patents to bully just about everyone. Its patents are, unsurprisingly, some of the most notorious out there as they claim ‘ownership’ of particular bits of nature. These are ethical issues. Bilski, Alice, Mayo, and Myriad are very much necessary.

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    With the Linux 4.16 kernel cycle that is expected to begin immediately following the Linux 4.15 kernel debut on Sunday, AMD's Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) technology supported by their new EPYC processors will be mainline. Going back to the end of 2016 have been Linux patches for Secure Encrypted Virtualization while with Linux 4.16 it will finally be part of the mainline kernel and supported with KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) virtualization.
  • Deadline scheduler part 2 — details and usage
    Linux’s deadline scheduler is a global early deadline first scheduler for sporadic tasks with constrained deadlines. These terms were defined in the first part of this series. In this installment, the details of the Linux deadline scheduler and how it can be used will be examined. The deadline scheduler prioritizes the tasks according to the task’s job deadline: the earliest absolute deadline first. For a system with M processors, the M earliest deadline jobs will be selected to run on the M processors. The Linux deadline scheduler also implements the constant bandwidth server (CBS) algorithm, which is a resource-reservation protocol. CBS is used to guarantee that each task will receive its full run time during every period. At every activation of a task, the CBS replenishes the task’s run time. As the job runs, it consumes that time; if the task runs out, it will be throttled and descheduled. In this case, the task will be able to run only after the next replenishment at the beginning of the next period. Therefore, CBS is used to both guarantee each task’s CPU time based on its timing requirements and to prevent a misbehaving task from running for more than its run time and causing problems to other jobs.

Graphics: Mesa and AMDGPU

  • Mesa 17.3.3 Released With RADV & ANV Vulkan Driver Fixes
    Mesa 17.3.3 is now available as the latest point release for the Mesa 17.3 stable series. This bi-weekly point release to Mesa presents several RADV Vega/GFX9 fixes, various Intel ANV Vulkan driver fixes, a DRI3 fix, and random fixes to the OpenGL drivers like RadeonSI, Etnaviv, and even Swrast.
  • R600g "Soft" FP64 Shows Signs Of Life, Enabling Older GPUs To Have OpenGL 4 In 2018
    Most pre-GCN AMD graphics cards are still limited to OpenGL 3.3 support at this time due to not supporting FP64. Only the HD 5800/6900 series on R600g currently have real double-precision floating-point support working right now so at present they are on OpenGL 4.3 rather than 3.3, but those other generations may be catching up soon thanks to the "soft" FP64 code.
  • AMDGPU DC Gets More Raven Ridge Improvements, Audio Fixes
    Harry Wentland of AMD has sent out the latest batch of patches for the AMDGPU DC display code stack. Fortunately it lightens up the DRM driver by about six thousand lines thanks to removing some unused code. Besides gutting out a chunk of unused code, the DC code has a few audio fixes (no word yet on supporting newer audio formats with DC), fixes on driver unload, a "bunch" of continued Raven Ridge display updates, and various other code clean-ups.
  • AMDGPU Firmware Blobs Updated For Video Encode/Decode
    There are updated AMDGPU microcode/firmware files now available for recent Radeon GPUs. The updated firmware files now available via the main linux-firmware.git repository are centered around the video blocks: UVD video decoding, VCE video encode, and the new VCN video encode/decode block with Raven Ridge.