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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

Links 22/2/2018: Qt Roadmap for 2018, Calculate Linux 17.12.2

9 hours 44 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Why open source could be IBM’s key to future success in the cloud

    Do those same developers need IBM? Developers certainly benefit from IBM’s investments in open source, but it’s not as clear that those same developers have much to gain from IBM’s cloud. Google, for example, has done a stellar job open sourcing code like TensorFlow and Kubernetes that feeds naturally into running related workloads on Google Cloud Platform. Aside from touting its Java bonafides, however, IBM has yet to demonstrate that developers get significant benefits for modern workloads on its cloud.

    That’s IBM’s big challenge: Translating its open source expertise into real, differentiated value for developers on its cloud.

  • We sent a vulture to IBM’s new developer conference to find an answer to the burning question: Why Big Blue?

    At the first IBM Index developer conference in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, I spent the morning at a Kubernetes workshop learning that when apps on the IBM Cloud Container Service fail to deploy, the reason may not be obvious.

    The presenter, IBM cloud program manager Chris Rosen, framed the event as an opportunity to attempt to answer another question that isn’t evident to everyone: Why IBM?

  • Splunk competitor Logz.io open sources two log analytics tools

    Splunk startup competitor Logz.io has been rolling out new tools and new projects on the back of its seemingly healthy venture funding injections, which came in last year.

  • Logz.io Launches Two Open Source Projects, Empowering Businesses to Build Scalable Infrastructure
  • Why Pay For Something When It’s Free?
  • Elon Musk leaves Open AI’s board due to potential conflict with Tesla’s own AI effort
  • Musk stepping down from OpenAI board to avoid conflict
  • Elon Musk Steps Down From Open Source AI Group

    Elon Musk will be stepping down from his role as chair of the board for OpenAI, a nonprofit organization he co-founded with Y-Combinator CEO Sam Altman in late 2015.

    Musk’s departure was announced late Monday evening in an OpenAI blog post about new donors for the organization.

  • Elon Musk, who has sounded the alarm on AI, leaves the organization he co-founded to make it safer

    Researchers affiliated with the organization regularly publish AI research papers and release source code for other people to use. Unlike Tesla — and companies like Facebook and Google that conduct extensive AI research — OpenAI doesn’t sell any products.

  • Comment: Many happy returns to open source

    Twenty years ago the phrase “open source” was first used and the development of software – and hardware – was changed forever.

    Very few designers today will not use some element of open source software in their development projects.

  • Events
    • Authentication and authorization in Samba 4

      Volker Lendecke is one of the first contributors to Samba, having submitted his first patches in 1994. In addition to developing other important file-sharing tools, he’s heavily involved in development of the winbind service, which is implemented in winbindd. Although the core Active Directory (AD) domain controller (DC) code was written by his colleague Stefan Metzmacher, winbind is a crucial component of Samba’s AD functionality. In his information-packed talk at FOSDEM 2018, Lendecke said he aimed to give a high-level overview of what AD and Samba authentication is, and in particular the communication pathways and trust relationships between the parts of Samba that authenticate a Samba user in an AD environment.

    • Two FOSDEM talks on Samba 4

      Much as some of us would love never to have to deal with Windows, it exists. It wants to authenticate its users and share resources like files and printers over the network. Although many enterprises use Microsoft tools to do this, there is a free alternative, in the form of Samba. While Samba 3 has been happily providing authentication along with file and print sharing to Windows clients for many years, the Microsoft world has been slowly moving toward Active Directory (AD). Meanwhile, Samba 4, which adds a free reimplementation of AD on Linux, has been increasingly ready for deployment. Three short talks at FOSDEM 2018 provided three different views of Samba 4, also known as Samba-AD, and left behind a pretty clear picture that Samba 4 is truly ready for use. I will cover the first two talks in this article, and the third in a later one.

    • A report from the Enigma conference

      The 2018 USENIX Enigma conference was held for the third time in January. Among many interesting talks, three presentations dealing with human security behaviors stood out. This article covers the key messages of these talks, namely the finding that humans are social in their security behaviors: their decision to adopt a good security practice is hardly ever an isolated decision.

      Security conferences tend to be dominated by security researchers demonstrating their latest exploits. The talks are attack-oriented, they keep a narrow focus, and usually they close with a dark outlook. The security industry has been doing security conferences like this for twenty years and seems to prefer this format. Yet, if you are tired of this style, the annual USENIX Enigma conference is a welcome change of pace. Most of the talks are defense-oriented, they have a horizon going far beyond technology alone, and they are generally focused on successful solutions.

    • DIY biology

      A scientist with a rather unusual name, Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow, gave a talk at linux.conf.au 2018 about the current trends in “do it yourself” (DIY) biology or “biohacking”. He is perhaps most famous for being prosecuted for implanting an Opal card RFID chip into his hand; the Opal card is used for public transportation fares in Sydney. He gave more details about his implant as well as describing some other biohacking projects in an engaging presentation.

      Meow-Meow is a politician with the Australian Science Party, he said by way of introduction; he has run in the last two elections. He founded BioFoundry, which is “Australia’s first open-access molecular biology lab”; there are now two such labs in the country. He is also speaks frequently as “an emerging technology evangelist” for biology as well as other topics.

    • Notes from FAST18

      I attended the technical sessions of Usenix’s File And Storage Technology conference this week. Below the fold, notes on the papers that caught my attention.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Removing Support for Unpacked Extensions

        With the release of Firefox 62 (currently scheduled for August 21, 2018) Mozilla will discontinue support for unpacked sideloaded extensions. You will no longer be able to load an extension via the Windows registry by creating an entry with an extension’s directory (i.e. unpacked) after Firefox 61. Starting with Firefox 62, extensions sideloaded via the Windows registry must be complete XPI files (i.e. packed).

      • Making a Clap-Sensing Web Thing

        The Project Things Gateway exists as a platform to bring all of your IoT devices together under a unified umbrella, using a standardized HTTP-based API. We recently announced the Things Gateway and we’ve started a series of hands-on project posts for people who want to set up a Gateway and start playing around with the Web of Things. Earlier this month we began with a high-level overview of how to build a Gateway add-on.

      • Trying Mozilla’s Things Gateway

        I have an old Raspberry Pi 1 Model B with a RaZberry Z-Wave Daughterboard which I had soldered a larger external antenna on to last year. I used to run OpenHAB on it to control some z-wave devices before I moved last year and since then it’s just been in a box. Let’s fire it up!

        This original Raspberry Pi is a single core 700mhz CPU, so I’m planning on running it headless and doing everything remotely over SSH to save on GUI resources.

      • Lando Demo

        Lando is so close now that I can practically smell the tibanna. Israel put together a quick demo of Phabricator/BMO/Lando/hg running on his local system, which is only a few patches away from being a deployed reality.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Worth seeing in Barcelona: Open source for white box vRAN solutions

      News this week from cloud and carrier infrastructure platform company Kontron builds on our earlier coverage of the emerging virtual radio access network (vRAN); a promising technology that could help the evolution to 5G by maximising available bandwidth while lowering costs. The market for open vRAN solutions is gaining wider acceptance as operators seek more cost-effective approaches to network architectures and deployment. According to analyst firm Research and Markets, the growth of the vRAN market is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 125 per cent during the next three years.

  • Databases
  • BSD
    • OpenBSD Gets Mitigated For Meltdown CPU Vulnerability

      A few days back FreeBSD 11 stable was mitigated for Meltdown (and Spectre vulnerabilities), which came more than one month after these nasty CPU vulnerabilities were disclosed while DragonFlyBSD was quickly mitigated and the first of the BSDs to do so. While OpenBSD is known for its security features and focus, only today did it land its initial Meltdown mitigation.

    • Meltdown fix committed by guenther@

      Meltdown mitigation is coming to OpenBSD. Philip Guenther (guenther@) has just committed a diff that implements a new mitigation technique to OpenBSD: Separation of page tables for kernel and userland. This fixes the Meltdown problems that affect most CPUs from Intel. Both Philip and Mike Larkin (mlarkin@) spent a lot of time implementing this solution, talking to various people from other projects on best approaches.

      In the commit message, Philip briefly describes the implementation [...]

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Earlham Institute releases open source software to help identify gene families

      Researchers at Earlham Institute (EI) have released ‘GeneSeqToFamily’, an open-source Galaxy workflow that helps scientists to find gene families based on the ‘EnsemblCompara GeneTrees’ pipeline.

      Published in Gigascience, the open source Galaxy workflow aims to make researchers job of finding find gene families much easier.

    • 3 reasons to say ‘no’ in DevOps

      DevOps, it has often been pointed out, is a culture that emphasizes mutual respect, cooperation, continual improvement, and aligning responsibility with authority.

      Instead of saying no, it may be helpful to take a hint from improv comedy and say, “Yes, and…” or “Yes, but…”. This opens the request from the binary nature of “yes” and “no” toward having a nuanced discussion around priority, capacity, and responsibility.

    • 5 rules for having genuine community relationships

      As I wrote in the first article of this three-part series on the power and importance of communities, building a community of passionate and committed members is difficult. When we launched the NethServer community, we realized early that to play the open source game, we needed to follow the open source rules. No shortcuts. We realized we had to convert the company in an open organization and start to work out in the open.

  • Programming/Development
    • Snips Uses Rust to Build an Embedded Voice Assistant

      The team at Paris-based Snips has created a voice assistant that can be embedded in a single device or used in a home network to control lights, thermostat, music, and more. You can build a home hub on a Raspberry Pi and ask it for a weather report, to play your favorite song, or to brew up a double espresso. Manufacturers like Keecker are adding Snips’ technology to products like multimedia home robots. And Snips works closely with leaders across the value chain, like NVIDIA, EBV, and Analog Devices, in order to voice-enable an increasingly wider range of device types, from speakers to home automation systems to cars.

    • Rust Typestates

      A long time ago, the Rust language was a language with typestate. Officially, typestates were dropped long before Rust 1.0. In this entry, I’ll get you in on the worst kept secret of the Rust community: Rust still has typestates.

    • It’s Time To Do CMake Right

      Not so long ago I got the task of rethinking our build system. The idea was to evaluate existing components, dependencies, but most importantly, to establish a superior design by making use of modern CMake features and paradigms. Most people I know would have avoided such enterprise at all costs, but there is something about writing find modules that makes my brain release endorphins. I thought I was up for an amusing ride. Boy was I wrong.

Leftovers
  • Nobody Wants to Let Google Win the War for Maps All Over Again

    Self-driving cars need painfully detailed data on every inch of street. Can automakers solve the problem without the reigning superpower of maps?

  • How hard can typing æ, ø and å be?

    Last week, I was trying to type an email, on a tablet, in Dutch. The tablet was running something close to Android and I was using a Bluetooth keyboard, which seemed to be configured correctly for my location in England.

  • Science
    • Some black holes erase your past

      In the real world, your past uniquely determines your future. If a physicist knows how the universe starts out, she can calculate its future for all time and all space.

      But a UC Berkeley mathematician has found some types of black holes in which this law breaks down. If someone were to venture into one of these relatively benign black holes, they could survive, but their past would be obliterated and they could have an infinite number of possible futures.

    • Genetic study suggests humans may be evolving in a way that prevents alcoholism

      A pair of researchers with the University of Pennsylvania has found evidence suggesting humans may be evolving in a way that will prevent alcoholism in the future. In their paper published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, Kelsey Elizabeth Johnson and Benjamin Voight describe their study which involved analyzing data from the 1000 Genomes Project looking for emerging gene variants and what they found.

  • Hardware
    • Hitachi chip unit embarks on first patent battle as buyout firm prepares to take the reins

      On 1st December last year, Hitachi Kokusai initiated its first patent litigation going back at least to 2009, when it became a subsidiary of the Hitachi Group. Hitachi Kokusai accused Dutch competitor ASM International of infringing seven US patents related to semiconductor manufacturing. On the same day, ASM’s IP holding subsidiary asserted three of its own patents against the Japanese company. Both cases were filed in the Northern District of California, and while it is unclear which party played the role of aggressor, the fact that the suits were filed one after another suggests the two parties were well prepared for conflict.

      [...]

      It is worth noting that other businesses have become more active in IP transactions and assertions after leaving the Hitachi stable. Maxell is the prime example. Formerly known as ‘Hitachi Maxell’, the company is asserting patents against seven major corporate defendants in the US, and has dealt patents to Fujifilm and NPE Microconnect in the past several months.

    • Qualcomm Raises Bid for NXP to $44 Billion

      Qualcomm Inc. pumped new life into its bid for NXP Semiconductors NV, raising its offer to $44 billion and locking up support from key stakeholders—a move Broadcom Ltd. had warned could prompt it to end its $121 billion pursuit of Qualcomm.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Plundering the Planet: Coca-Cola And Nestlé To Privatize The Largest Reserve Of Water In South America

      Private companies such as Coca-Cola and Nestlé are allegedly in the process of privatizing the largest reserve of water, known as the Guarani Aquifer, in South America. The aquifer is located beneath the surface of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay and is the second largest-known aquifer system in the world.

      Reported by Correiodo Brasil the major transnational conglomerates are “striding forward” with their negotiations to privatize the aquifer system. Meetings have already been reserved with authorities of the current government, such as Michel Temer, to outline procedures required for private companies to exploit the water sources. The concession contracts will last more than 100 years.

    • A Larger Role for Midwives Could Improve Deficient U.S. Care for Mothers and Babies

      In Great Britain, midwives deliver half of all babies, including Kate Middleton’s first two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. In Sweden, Norway and France, midwives oversee most expectant and new mothers, enabling obstetricians to concentrate on high-risk births. In Canada and New Zealand, midwives are so highly valued that they’re brought in to manage complex cases that need special attention.

      All of those countries have much lower rates of maternal and infant mortality than the U.S. Here, severe maternal complications have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Shortages of maternity care have reached critical levels: Nearly half of U.S. counties don’t have a single practicing obstetrician-gynecologist, and in rural areas, the number of hospitals offering obstetric services has fallen more than 16 percent since 2004. Nevertheless, thanks in part to opposition from doctors and hospitals, midwives are far less prevalent in the U.S. than in other affluent countries, attending around 10 percent of births, and the extent to which they can legally participate in patient care varies widely from one state to the next.

    • “We Count On The US To Maintain Its Commitment” – Global Fund On US Budget Cut

      The Trump administration proposal would dramatically reduce funding to these programs, some by more than 20 percent, while boosting areas like military spending, while pushing other governments to step up their funding commitments. The proposed reduction for Gavi from last year’s request is from $290 million to $250 million.

  • Security
    • Google drops new Edge zero-day as Microsoft misses 90-day deadline

      Google originally shared details of the flaw with Microsoft on 17 November 2017, but Microsoft wasn’t able to come up with a patch within Google’s non-negotiable “you have 90 days to do this” period.

    • Google Goes Public with Another Major Windows 10 Bug

      After revealing an Edge browser vulnerability that Microsoft failed to fix, Google is now back with another disclosure, this time aimed at Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709), but potentially affecting other Windows versions as well.

      James Forshaw, a security researcher that’s part of Google’s Project Zero program, says the elevation of privilege vulnerability can be exploited because of the way the operating system handles calls to Advanced Local Procedure Call (ALPC).

      This means a standard user could obtain administrator privileges on a Windows 10 computer, which in the case of an attack, could eventually lead to full control over the impacted system.

      But as Neowin noted, this is the second bug discovered in the same function, and both of them, labeled as 1427 and 1428, were reported to Microsoft on November 10, 2017. Microsoft said it fixed them with the release of the February 2018 Patch Tuesday updates, yet as it turns out, only issue 1427 was addressed.

    • uTorrent bugs let websites control your computer and steal your downloads

      The vulnerabilities, according to Project Zero, make it possible for any website a user visits to control key functions in both the uTorrent desktop app for Windows and in uTorrent Web, an alternative to desktop BitTorrent apps that uses a web interface and is controlled by a browser. The biggest threat is posed by malicious sites that could exploit the flaw to download malicious code into the Windows startup folder, where it will be automatically run the next time the computer boots up. Any site a user visits can also access downloaded files and browse download histories.

    • BitTorrent Client uTorrent Suffers Security Vulnerability (Updated)

      BitTorrent client uTorrent is suffering from an as yet undisclosed vulnerability. The security flaw was discovered by Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy, who previously said he would reveal a series of “remote code execution flaws” in torrent clients. BitTorrent Inc. has rolled out a ‘patch’ in the latest Beta release and hopes to fix the stable uTorrent client later this week.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Hackers now exploiting Word documents to display ‘innocent’ videos that secretly mine cryptocurrency

      Hackers have been found exploiting Microsoft Word documents to deliver cryptojacking scripts to hijack victims’ computers and secretly mine cryptocurrency. Security researchers at Israel-based Votiro said the attack abuses Microsoft Word’s Online Video feature that allows users to insert remote videos directly into documents without having to embed them or provide a link to a third-party service.

      Due to insufficient sanitisation, threat actors have been using this new feature to insert cryptojacking scripts that silently exhaust a victim’s CPU and mine Monero coins in the background while the video plays.

    • Lawsuits threaten infosec research — just when we need it most
    • Security and Vulnerability Scanning of Container Images
    • The TLS apocalypse reaches Power Macs and TenFourFox FPR6b1 available (plus: let’s block nuisance JavaScript)
    • France Proposes Software Security Liability For Manufacturers, Open Source As Support Ends

      It sometimes seems as though barely a week can go by without yet another major software-related hardware vulnerability story. As manufacturers grapple with the demands of no longer building simple appliances but instead supplying them containing software that may expose itself to the world over the Internet, we see devices shipped with insecure firmware and little care for its support or updating after the sale.

      The French government have a proposal to address this problem that may be of interest to our community, to make manufacturers liable for the security of a product while it is on the market, and with the possibility of requiring its software to be made open-source at end-of-life. In the first instance it can only be a good thing for device security to be put at the top of a manufacturer’s agenda, and in the second the ready availability of source code would present reverse engineers with a bonanza.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • ‘Abhorrent’ Hoax Facebook Posts Are Claiming the Florida School Shooting Survivors Are ‘Crisis Actors’

      Facebook said Wednesday that it will remove posts circulating on the social network wrongly claiming that survivors of last week’s deadly Florida school shooting are “crisis actors” working on behalf of a liberal agenda.

      “Hoax images that attack the victims of last week’s tragedy in Florida are abhorrent,” Tessa Lyons, a product manager at Facebook, said in a statement reported by CNET. “We are removing this content from Facebook.

    • Time to Admit the Afghan War is ‘Nonsense’

      Officially, the U.S. military objective in Afghanistan is to force the Taliban to the negotiating table, but just last month President Trump said that talks with the Taliban are off the table, indicating an incoherent policy, as Jonathan Marshall notes.

    • Next on NPR: Some Think You Should Put Out Fire With Gasoline

      If a measles epidemic were sweeping the nation, with a mounting death toll of children, it’s unlikely that NPR News would respond by bringing on Jenny McCarthy to explain why vaccination wouldn’t save lives. And if they did feature her or other anti-vaccination voices, you can be fairly sure that NPR would follow up with experts expressing the scientific consensus that vaccines do in fact limit the spread of infectious diseases.

      But when it came to reporting on the epidemic of mass shootings, All Things Considered (2/19/18) gave a platform to the gun debate’s equivalents of anti-vaxxers, in a segment that gave no scrutiny to their claim that more guns are the solution to gun violence.

      NPR quoted Rush Limbaugh on Fox News Sunday (2/18/18): “The solution, to me and I know this is going to cause all kinds of angst, the solution is we need concealed carry in these schools.” And Fox‘s Tucker Carlson (2/15/18): “Tragedies like this happen for a reason, and it probably doesn’t have a lot to do with guns.”

    • Painting an Israeli Attack on Syria as Israeli ‘Retaliation’

      Israel claimed that it intercepted an Iranian drone in Israeli airspace on Saturday, February 10; Iran denied that it had a drone there. Israel then bombed a Syrian airbase, saying it was the command-and-control center from which Iran had launched the drone. The Syrian government shot down an Israeli jet that had bombed the base, and Israel subsequently launched more airstrikes against Syria.

      Reuters (2/13/18) described the latter airstrikes as Israel having “retaliated” for the downing of its aircraft. Vice (2/13/18) too characterized them as “retaliatory”; the Los Angeles Times (2/11/18) did the same three times. These word choices wrongly imply that Israel was acting defensively, when it was Israel who fired the first shots in the weekend’s exchanges: These outlets were saying that Israel was “retaliating” against Syria for defending itself against an ongoing Israeli attack.

    • Video games, not guns, to blame for school shooting, says Kentucky gov.

      In the wake of a shooting that left at least 17 dead on Wednesday in a high school outside Boca Raton, Florida, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) focused on violent video games as part of a “culture of death that is being celebrated” and leading to these kinds of incidents.

      “There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them,” Bevin said in an interview on WHAS’ Leland Conway show Thursday morning. “They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life.”

    • Right On Time: Kentucky Governor Lays The Blame For Florida School Shooting At The Feet Of Video Games

      In the wake of the school shooting tragedy in Florida that saw 17 people slain and more injured, the following days have played out in a depressingly familiar fashion. It’s somewhat stunning to see such bloodshed result in the predictable retreat by most people to the defensive or offensive ground of their cause du jour. What should be immediately obvious to anyone seriously examining something like the mass murder of school children and teachers is that the reality that surrounds such an event is messy, complicated, and influenced by detail. Yet, as is our wont, entirely too many people decide that the solution to the mass shooting puzzle is made up of one or two pieces, rather than hundreds and thousands. It’s guns. It’s specific types of guns. It’s mental health. It’s rap music, or the waltz, or comic books. It’s one of these things that deserve our ire, or maybe two if we’re feeling generous.

    • My First Day as CIA Director

      Binney and other highly experienced NSA alumni, as well as other members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), drawing on their intimate familiarity with how the technical systems and hacking work, have been saying for a year and a half that this CIA/FBI/NSA conclusion is a red herring, so to speak. Last summer, the results of forensic investigation enabled VIPS to apply the principles of physics and the known capacity of the internet to confirm that conclusion.

      Oddly, the FBI chose not to do forensics on the so-called “Russian hack” of the Democratic National Committee computers and, by all appearances, neither did the drafters of the ICA.

      Again, Binney says that the main conclusions he and his VIPS colleagues reached are based largely on principles of physics – simple ones like fluid dynamics. I want to hear what that’s all about, how that applies to the “Russian hack,” and hear what my own CIA analysts have to say about that.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Debt for dolphins: Seychelles creates huge marine parks in world-first finance scheme

      The tropical island nation of Seychelles is to create two huge new marine parks in return for a large amount of its national debt being written off, in the first scheme of its kind in the world.

      The novel financial engineering, effectively swapping debt for dolphins and other marine life, aims to throw a lifeline to corals, tuna and turtles being caught in a storm of overfishing and climate change. If it works, it will also secure the economic future of the nation, which depends entirely on tourism and fishing. With other ocean states lining up to follow, the approach could transform large swaths of the planet’s troubled seas.

      The challenge for the Seychelles is clear on the coral reef fringing Curieuse Island, once a leper colony and now a national park. The mass bleaching caused by warming waters in 2016 has left the white limbs of branching corals lying like bones in a ploughed graveyard, with rare flashes of the cobalt-blue coral survivors.

      “The biggest changes are climate change,” says David Rowat, a marine scientist and diving school owner for 30 years, who says storms and bleaching events are becoming more frequent. Some clownfish have never returned since the major bleaching in 1998, he says: “The ‘nemos’ all went.” As the reef recovered, the 2016 bleaching was a “kick in the teeth”, Rowat says.

    • New rebellion against wind energy stalls or stops projects

      Much of the opposition is centered in the Midwest, which has the nation’s greatest concentration of turbines. Opponents have banded together to block wind projects in at least half a dozen states, including Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana and Michigan. Disputes are still being waged in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland. Intense opposition also exists in parts of the Northeast, including Maine, New York and Vermont.

      For many critics, their opposition starts with a simple disdain for the metal towers that support blades half the length of a football field. They want the views from their kitchen window or deck to be of farmland or hills, not giant wind-harnessing machinery.

      [...]

      Some wind supporters believe that fossil-fuel industries help fund organizations that oppose wind developments. Studies and claims by those groups then can motivate grassroots groups, said David Anderson, a policy manager with the New Hampshire-based Energy and Policy Institute, which supports renewable energy options.

  • Finance
    • Special Investigation: The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett’s Billions

      Buffett makes no secret of his fondness for monopoly. He repeatedly highlights the key to his personal fortune: finding businesses surrounded by a monopoly moat, keeping competitors at bay. “[W]e think in terms of that moat and the ability to keep its width and its impossibility of being crossed,” Buffett told the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting in 2000. “We tell our managers we want the moat widened every year.”

    • CBA avoids talk of customers leaving bank due to Apple Pay

      The Commonwealth Bank appears to be unwilling to in any way talk about the possibility that the lack of Apple Pay on its platforms may lead to customers deserting the bank in favour of one that does offer the payment option.

    • Yale student who secretly lived in ventilation shaft
    • Stormzy to Theresa May: Where’s the money for Grenfell?

      A British artist has taken Prime Minister Theresa May to task, rapping about the government’s failure to provide support to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

      After Stormzy’s 40-second verse on stage at the 2018 Brit music awards on Wednesday evening won him praise, Number 10 defended its record over the deadly London blaze in June, 2017, in which at least 71 people died.

      In his lyric, Stormzy said: “Yo, Theresa May where’s the money for Grenfell? What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell? You criminals, and you got the cheek to call us savages? You should do some jail time, you should pay some damages. You should burn your house down and see if you can manage this.”

    • Bitcoins for free? Japanese cryptocurrency exchange lands in hot water again

      A blunder at a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange let investors briefly buy bitcoins for free – though none were able to profit from the mistake.

      Zaif, a government-registered exchange run by Osaka-based Tech Bureau Corp, said on Tuesday that a system glitch had let seven customers buy bitcoin with no yen value during a 20-minute window last week.

    • Policy Choices, Not ‘the Market,’ Produce a ‘Small Number of Very Wealthy People’

      It is amazing how frequently we hear people asserting that the massive inequality we are now seeing in the United States is the result of an unfettered market. I realize that this is a convenient view for those who are on the upside of things, but it also happens to be nonsense.

      The latest nonsense-pusher is Amy Chua, who warns in a New York Times column (2/20/18) about the destructive path the United States is now on, where a disaffected white population takes out its wrath on economic elites and racial minorities. The key part missing from the story is that the disaffected masses really do have a legitimate gripe.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Russian man arrested after speaking about work at ‘[astroturfer] farm’

      A Russian man said Tuesday he was arrested shortly after he spoke to U.S. media outlets about his time working at a “[astroturfer] factory.”

      Marat Mindiyarov told The Moscow Times he was detained by police Sunday night for allegedly making a false phone call about a bomb in a nearby village. He was released after questioning, and denies all charges against him, he told the newspaper.

      Mindiyarov spoke to The Washington Post and The Associated Press after the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for allegedly attempting to interfere in the 2016 election.

    • Former ‘Kremlin [Astroturfer]‘ Arrested After Speaking to Western Journalists

      Before his arrest, Mindiyarov had given several interviews to U.S. outlets about his role as an employee at the Internet Research Agency, a company allegedly financed by Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was named in Mueller’s indictment on Friday.

    • Kushner resisting giving up top access amid scrutiny over security clearances: report
    • How Much Did Russian Interference Affect The 2016 Election?
    • Pennsylvania’s New Map Helps Democrats. But It’s Not A Democratic Gerrymander.

      Earlier this year, FiveThirtyEight presented seven alternatives to the current congressional maps of Pennsylvania and every other state, each using a different set of criteria. (One prioritized creating competitive districts, for example; another tried to maximize the number of majority-minority districts.) In addition to estimating the electoral implications of each map, we used other measurements to compare them. The goal was to show how different priorities in drawing district lines are sometimes in tension, and you can see that in the new Pennsylvania map.

    • Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map

      The state Supreme Court struck down the current lines in January, arguing that they’re an unconstitutional creation of partisan gerrymandering. Under the current map, Democrats hold just five of the 18 congressional seats, even though Democrats regularly perform well in statewide elections.

    • The Geeks Who Put a Stop to Pennsylvania’s Partisan Gerrymandering

      Districts like Pennsylvania’s seventh don’t get drawn that way by accident. They’re designed by dint of the centuries-old practice of gerrymandering, in which the party in power carves up the electoral map to their favor. The playbook is simple: Concentrate as many of your opponents’ votes into a handful of districts as you can, a tactic known as “packing.” Then spread the remainder of those votes thinly across a whole lot of districts, known as “cracking.” If it works as intended, the opposition will win a few districts by a landslide, but never have enough votes in the rest to win the majority of seats. The age of computer-generated data splicing has made this strategy easier than ever.

    • Indonesian President Jokowi puts off signing law protecting Parliament
    • Philippines concerned as US intelligence tags Duterte a threat to democracy
    • A So-Called Expert’s Uneasy Dive Into the Trump-Russia Frenzy

      Whenever the Internet Research Agency is in the news, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. I was one of the first U.S. journalists to report extensively on the St. Petersburg-based “troll farm,” which was named in the indictment that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, issued last Friday. As a result, I am often portrayed as an expert on the Internet Research Agency and Russian online propaganda. In this, I am not alone. The endless unfurling of the Trump-Russia story has occasioned an explosion in the number of experts in “information warfare,” “online influence operations,” “disinformation,” and the like. One reason for this is that the Russians’ efforts tend to be framed as a kind of giant machine, in which talking points generated by the Kremlin are “amplified” through a network of bots, fake Facebook pages, and sympathetic human influencers. The machine, we are told, is so sophisticated that only an expert, well-versed in terms such as “exposure,” “feedback loops,” and “active measures,” can peer into the black box and explain to the layperson how it works.

      The thing is, I don’t really want to be an expert on the Internet Research Agency and Russian online propaganda. I agree with my colleague Masha Gessen that the whole issue has been blown out of proportion. In the Times Magazine article that supposedly made me an authority, I detailed some of the Agency’s disturbing activities, including its attempts to spread false reports of a terrorist attack in Louisiana and to smear me as a neo-Nazi sympathizer. But, if I could do it all over again, I would have highlighted just how inept and haphazard those attempts were. That the Agency is now widely seen as a savvy, efficient manipulator of American public opinion is, in no small part, the fault of experts. They may derive their authority from perceived neutrality, but in reality they—we—have interests, just like everyone else. And, when it comes to the Trump-Russia story, those interests are often best served by fuelling the fear of Kremlin meddling. Information-security consultants might see a business opportunity in drawing attention to a problem to which they (for a fee) can offer a solution. Think-tank fellows may seek to burnish their credentials by appearing in news articles—articles written by journalists who, we all know, face many different kinds of pressures to promote sensational claims. (How viral is the headline “Russian Internet Propaganda Not That Big a Deal”?) Even academic researchers, to secure funding, must sometimes chase the latest trends.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Man removes feds’ spy cam, they demand it back, he refuses and sues

      Last November, a 74-year-old rancher and attorney was walking around his ranch just south of Encinal, Texas, when he happened upon a small portable camera strapped approximately eight feet high onto a mesquite tree near his son’s home. The camera was encased in green plastic and had a transmitting antenna.

      Not knowing what it was or how it got there, Ricardo Palacios removed it.

      Soon after, Palacios received phone calls from Customs and Border Protection officials and the Texas Rangers. Each agency claimed the camera as its own and demanded that it be returned. Palacios refused, and they threatened him with arrest.

    • A smarter smart city

      An ambitious project by Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs could reshape how we live, work, and play in urban neighborhoods.

    • Facebook has been sharing our data for months to help study income inequality

      It is not clear exactly what data Facebook has made available to Chetty and his researchers or how personal and private information would be protected. The study has apparently been already underway for at least six months, however.

    • This heated jacket uses AI, Alexa, and other buzzwords to keep you perfectly snug

      If you consider the wintertime need to wear a heavy jacket into a warm subway car a “major wardrobe problem,” Ministry of Supply has a solution for you.

      The Boston-based clothing company, known for experimenting with technology, has just launched a Kickstarter for its newest creation, the Mercury smart thermal jacket. It’s an internet-of-things-enabled, heated jacket that’s controlled by an app, syncs with Alexa, and customizes its temperature using machine learning.

      That’s an awful lot of buzzwords. But underneath it all is a genuinely intriguing product.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Polish justice ministry refuses to show code for assigning judges

      Poland’s Ministry of Justice is refusing to make public the computer algorithms that are used to randomly assign judges to cases. The ePaństwo Foundation, an NGO promoting open government, in December asked the Warswaw Regional Administrative Court to intervene.

    • Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg’s family denied appeal to open his files

      They specifically want to know if Wallenberg was “Prisoner number 7” who according to records was interrogated on July 23rd, 1947 – six days after Wallenberg’s alleged death.

    • How Mediocrity Can Quietly Destroy Us All

      How much money would it take to convince you to become evil? A thousand dollars? Two thousand?

      Surprise! It’s a trick question. In reality, nobody is going to even make you the offer. The evil in the world doesn’t need you to join its side at all — it needs only for you to succumb to a warm, dense fog that will descend upon you at some point in adulthood.

      That fog is called Mediocrity

    • Inspector General For Intelligence Community Buried Report Showing Whistleblower Retaliation

      A report by Kevin Poulsen for The Daily Beast shows, once again, that those suggesting Ed Snowden should have used the proper channels to voice his concerns about domestic surveillance are either ignorant or deliberately obtuse.

      Just prior to the Snowden leaks, President Obama enacted Presidential Policy Directive 19, which was supposed to prevent retaliation for whistleblowing. It was issued in 2012 and went into force just months before Snowden left the NSA with a trove of documents. However, it did not protect contractors like Snowden. Those protections were added by Congress years later. Not that it really matters. It has been well established those protections are mostly worthless.

      Over the past year, there’s been a concerted effort to oust Dan Meyer — the person Intelligence Community whistleblowers are supposed to take their complaints to. Meyer filed his own whistleblowing complaint against the Defense Department, claiming IC officials retaliated against him for exposing waste and misuse of funds. Those gunning for top-level positions in Trump’s Intelligence Community have histories of retaliatory behavior against whistleblowers, which would further cement the reputation of the “official channels” as a good way to jettison your career.

    • Research Paper Links Police Unions To Increased Officer Misconduct

      Some research [PDF] has emerged indicating handing officers extra rights results in more citizen complaints. This may seem to be of the “water is wet” research variety, but there’s no reason to shrug this off. While most of us can infer that shielding officers from the consequences of their actions would naturally result in increased misconduct, almost all evidence to date has been anecdotal. (h/t Marginal Revolution)

      University of Chicago researchers were given the perfect chance to weigh the addition of a collective bargaining agreement against year-to-year complaint totals. Thanks to a 2003 Florida state supreme court decision, Florida sheriff’s deputies were allowed to unionize, finally joining their police department counterparts. This gave the researchers a dividing line for a before and after comparison. The results were unsurprising.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Mozilla v FCC: Mozilla Re-files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

      This morning, the Federal Communications Commission officially published its order overturning net neutrality rules in the Federal Register. We had originally filed suit early while simultaneously urging the court that the correct date was after this publication. We did this in an abundance of caution because we’re not taking any chances with an issue of this importance. That is why today, immediately after the order was published, Mozilla re-filed our suit challenging the FCC net neutrality order. We won’t waste a minute in our fight to protect net neutrality because it’s our mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. An internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.

    • The Death Of Net Neutrality Will Be Official In April (Cue The Lawsuits)

      Of course that’s really just the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the fight to prevent broadband monopolies from abusing a lack of competition in the broadband space (remember: net neutrality violations are just a symptom of a lack of competition, a problem nobody wants to seriously address for fear of upsetting campaign contributors).

      The publication in the Federal Register opens the door to the myriad lawsuits that will be filed against the agency. Those lawsuits range from suits by Mozilla and consumer groups, to the 22 state attorneys general who say they’re also suing the agency for ignoring the public interest. These lawsuits must be filed within the next 60 days. Expect the court battle to quickly begin heating up in March.

    • Ajit Pai’s Plan Will Take Broadband Away From Poor People

      It gets worse. Pai proposes to make the Lifeline subsidy available only to those companies that own their facilities, like the wires, towers, and other infrastructure that make up networks. The problem here? Seventy-five percent of Lifeline customers get their service from businesses that resell the capacity of companies like Sprint and T-Mobile. When the FCC opened the Lifeline subsidy to mobile phones back in 2008, these resellers came roaring into the market, increasing competition and reducing prices so that many subscribers pay little or nothing for service. Eliminating the carriers favored by three-quarters of the market will ensure that Lifeline prices will increase and quality of service will decrease.

      If resellers are forced out of the Lifeline program, some low-income Americans may find themselves unable to use their Lifeline subsidy at all. This result could have dire consequences—some Lifeline customers may find themselves without access to critical services like 911.

    • The FCC’s net neutrality rules will officially expire in late April

      The FCC voted to repeal the rules on December 14, but the repeal takes effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register publication is scheduled to happen on Thursday this week.

      That means the repeal will take place on or about April 23. But the lawsuits to overturn the repeal can get started this month or in early March.

    • FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday

      The official publication of the measure, which was first reported by Reuters, in the Federal Register will start the clock on the 60-day window that Congress has to pass a resolution reversing the FCC’s order to get rid of net neutrality rules.

  • DRM
    • Since 1998, using your own property has required regulatory permission and the ability to make your own jailbreaking tools from scratch

      In Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? — a new post on EFF’s Deeplinks blog — I describe the bizarre, unfair and increasingly salient US Copyright Office DMCA exemptions process, which is underway right now.

      This process takes place every 3 years, and it allows Americans to beg the Librarian of Congress for permission to disable the DRM on their own property in order to do legal things (like install apps of their own choosing, effect their own repairs, or just use third-party ink in their printers). After a long and tortured process, the Librarian may grant you permission — but not permission to buy or collaborate on the tools necessary to make that use.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Disney’s Stupid Lawsuit Against Redbox Results In Judge Saying Disney Is Engaged In Copyright Misuse

        Well, well. For the past few months I’ve been meaning to write about Disney’s silly lawsuit against Redbox, but other stuff kept coming up, and now a judge has ruled against Disney and said that Disney appears to be engaged in copyright misuse. This is in a case that Disney brought — and it appears to be backfiring badly. Redbox, as you probably know, has kiosks where you can rent DVDs relatively cheaply. It’s managed to stay alive despite the traditional DVD rental business disappearing most everywhere else. About a decade ago, Hollywood fought vigorously against Redbox, but the company survived (though being taken over by a private equity firm in 2016), relying heavily on first sale rights, enabling it to legally purchase DVDs and then rent them out.

        Back in December, however, Disney sued Redbox over taking its business to the next level and including download codes that could be purchased at a Redbox kiosk. Though it took them basically forever, Hollywood studios have finally realized that offering online access with the purchase of movies is a good idea, but they only want the end consumer who is buying a DVD to get access to them. So, Redbox would buy the Disney “Combo Packs” that offered the DVD and a download code, and the would offer the paper codes in kiosks to let renters watch the movie online. They weren’t just copying the code and letting anyone use it — it was still a one-to-one limitation with the purchase in that they would buy the DVD with a paper code on it, and then stuff that paper code into their kiosk delivery pods. Disney argued that this was contributory copyright infringement, even though the code pointed to a legitimate/authorized version of the movie and was legitimately purchased.

        Redbox hit back by arguing that the First Sale doctrine protected it (as it did with the physical rentals) and that it is free to use the codes in this manner as the legal purchaser. Disney’s response to that was that First Sale does not apply to the download code because it’s not the copyright-covered work.

      • The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 8: The Ineffectiveness of Website Blocking

        The Bell website blocking coalition unsurprisingly argues that blocking “regimes have been widely adopted internationally because they have been proven to work.” The submission cites data from several countries including the UK, Portugal, and South Korea. As demonstrated last week, the Bell coalition proposal has not been widely adopted internationally. In fact, the overwhelming majority of countries have rejected approaches that do not include court orders. Moreover, a closer look at the data reveals that website blocking is far less effective than its proponents claim.

      • Court Realizes It Totally Screwed Up An Injunction Against Zazzle For Copyright Infringement

        Last year we wrote about a bizarre and troubling DMCA case involving the print-on-demand company Zazzle, in which the judge in the district court bizarrely and wrongly claimed that Zazzle lost its DMCA safe harbors because the allegedly infringing works were printed on a t-shirt, rather than remaining digitally (even though it was the end user using the infringing work, and Zazzle’s system just processed it automatically). To add insult to injury, in November, the judge then issued a permanent injunction against Zazzle for this infringement.

      • EU Publishers Acknowledge Snippet Tax Concerns, But Say: ‘It’s OK, You Can Trust Us’

        Techdirt has been following the ridiculous proposal to extend EU copyright even further to include tiny snippets from articles for years now. The idea has already been tried twice in the European Union, and failed dismally on both occasions. In Spain, a study showed the move there caused serious economic damage, especially to smaller companies; German publishers tacitly admitted the law was pointless when they granted Google a free license to use snippets from their titles. More recently, the European Commission’s own research confirmed that far from harming publishers, news aggregators have a positive impact on the industry’s advertising revenue.

      • Australian Pirate Site Blocks Actually Block Pirate Sites

        New research, promoted by copyright holders, concludes that Australia’s pirate site-blocking efforts are paying off. The court-ordered blockades have effectively limited the number of direct visits to blocked sites. Whether the effect is as pronounced as claimed is unclear though, in part because VPN usage is not accounted for.

      • Sci-Hub Loses Domains and Access to Some Web Services

        Although some users have reported issues with Sci-Hub’s currently available domains on social media, a number of them are still active and accessible. “Sci-Hubs’ popularity has been steadily growing. And this is not only despite these lawsuits but also because of them,” Tzovaras writes. “I think if the publishers want to fight back against Sci-Hub they will have to do so outside the courtroom.”

      • Copyright Trolls Target Up to 22,000 Norwegians for Movie Piracy

        The Oslo District Court has effectively given a Danish law firm the go-ahead to target up to 21,804 potential pirates with cash settlement demands. Njord Law ran into trouble at the Supreme Court last year when it was found that its evidence against alleged pirates failed to show serious levels of infringement. This time around it has clearly learned from its earlier experiences.

        [...]

        Reports emerged of letters being sent out to local Internet users by Danish law firm Njord Law, each demanding a cash payment of 2,700 NOK (around US$345). Failure to comply, the company claimed, could result in a court case and damages of around $12,000.

As Expected, Bristows and Others Already Lying About UPC Status in Germany, But Doing This Anonymously (to Dodge Accountability for Lies)

19 hours 14 min ago

Expect more of that in weeks/months to come

Summary: In their characteristic fashion, firms that created the UPC for their self-enrichment purposes, along with publishers/writers who deem it their role to promote the UPC and set up lobbying events for the UPC, look for ways to downplay if not intentionally distort what happened in Germany yesterday

THIS was predictable. Judging by how much lying we have seen so far — coming from Team UPC and EPO management — it would be shocking if they didn’t lie about it. So okay, bring it on. Let’s compare fiction to reality before the next wave of spin gets crafted.

As we noted yesterday morning, this whole ‘gamble’ on UPC may be costing a lot of jobs. UPC would not only threaten many productive jobs (e.g. cost of fighting trolls in courts or paying them ‘protection’ money, draining SME budgets); it actually threatens the jobs of examiners. This too was predictable and even though the UPC will never materialise (it’s very unlikely), it does a lot of damage to examiners. Regardless. What a blunder. Another casualty is patent quality, as we shall explain in a moment (judges are wrongly assumed to be substitutes for examiners).

“Be ready for lots of spin from Bristows and other Team UPC members,” I wrote last night. “They hate reality and they hate facts.”

It didn’t take long for the spin to come. Minutes maybe!

“Kluwer Patent blogger” (i.e. Bristows) is already spinning this latest news from Germany; it’s possible that this account gets shuffled among UPC proponents, but based on the style, context and wording one can make a pretty safe guess. It’s almost certainly Bristows. The firm does not want to be held accountable for lying, having written very briefly about this development in its private blog shortly after the news came out (we mentioned their short blog post on Wednesday night).

Here they are downplaying what happened, for example:

According to a spokesman of the FCC, cases on the list haven’t necessarily been admitted for decision. An exact date of decision cannot be derived from the list either. Actually, the complaints concerning the EPO were on last year’s list as well.

So they’re denying the facts. They did this after the complaint had been submitted and, as usual, were soon proven wrong. Is it like a job requirement at Bristows? To be a liar? Maybe anonymously?

They never ever apologise for lying, let along for being wrong. Is that too a job requirement?

Managing IP, another UPC pusher, did not cover the actual news but instead (re)used Team UPC’s spin right there in the headline: “German Constitutional Court plans to decide UPC case in 2018″

But the body does not even agree with the headline as it says right there in the summary that “it is not certain a decision will come in 2018 and, even if it does, the timing will be vital in determining whether the UPC is in effect before Brexit…”

It can take several years. Like we said yesterday, there’s no hard deadline.

For actually mature and responsible coverage see this morning’s article from Kieren McCarthy (writing about the German Constitutional Court from somewhere in San Francisco). To quote:

The German Constitutional Court has agreed to hear a case about the legitimacy of the European Unified Patent Court (UPC), raising doubts over the future of a single patent court for Europe.

Among the 36 cases that the Bundesverfassungsgericht has said it will decide on this year is a constitutional complaint – BvR 739/17 – against the UPC that argues it breaks German law.

The actual complaint remains unpublished but it has been possible to piece together the main arguments leveled against the UPC: that the vote to approve it in the German Parliament was not proper; that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) breaks the agreement; and that recent reforms at the European Patent Office (EPO) have undermined its independence and hence the legitimacy of the UPC.

It wasn’t clear if the court would hear the complaint, and based on filings from organizations asked to provide their expert view it remains highly possible that the case will still fail. But the decision to hear it will push the creation of the UPC far past its planned launch this year (which was delayed from last December) and possibly into 2019 or even 2020.

That may complicate matters even further as the UK is still on track to leave the European Union in March 2019. The UK, Germany and France all have to ratify the UPC for it to come into force. So far only France has done so; it’s unclear whether the UK can or will ratify the agreement while Brexit hangs in the balance; and the German Constitutional Court has the authority to effectively tear the agreement up.

[...]

But the fact that it has even reached this point should serve as a wake-up call to the lawmakers and the patent industry that something has to change if confidence in Europe’s patent system is to be retained.

Check out the first few comments. One person said:

it is not clear whether the German Constitutional Court is in a position to rule against either the EPO or the UPC.
Sure it is. The primary argument revolves around the article of the German Constitution which states that only a German court’s decisions have validity over German subjects. This has been interpreted as “court with German representation”. ECJ, ECHR, etc are OK as they all have German representation.
UPC fails that tests – its panels can be convened in a way where a country has no representation. That is pretty much end of story – the convention in its current form is a classic case of some IPR lobbies thinking that they are above all law and can invalidate criminal, civil legal code and even constitutions with impunity.
The “Professional Jobsworth” product of Ecole d’Administration is just an icing on the cake.
By the way, I suspect Germany is not the only country in Europe with a constitution clause like this. I am pretty sure that some digging will turn up at least one or more countries to raise a similar court case.

The next (second) comment spoke about patent quality: “That would require that there was some minimal quality requirements in the past. As the EPO receives over 400 patent applications per day, the considerable backlog can be dealt with by replacing all the patent examiners with a monkey with two rubber stamps. This should have no impact on patent quality while at the same time releasing a large number of highly qualified professionals to do something constructive instead.”

Bingo!

What is the point of patent examination if it’s not done properly? Companies that are counting too much on EPs being valid see their shares collapse (example from 3 weeks ago). How about the bubble of CRISPR patents? Here’s a press release from yesterday:

As mentioned above, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals is having an overwhelmingly strong start in the pre-market hours this morning, and for good reason. The company announced that it has been granted a new patent. In a press release issued early this morning, the company announced that it has received notice from the European Patent Office, or EPO.

But what would happen if the patent was later deemed invalid? That happens. Of course the shares would collapse in a major way.

How about all those software patents that are granted by the EPO in defiance of the rules?

Even attorneys who promote software patents in Europe admit limitations. Yesterday one of them wrote a blog post about it to say:

Software patent news from the EPO: Programming language constructs cannot be patented – not the commands, not their syntax and not their operational semantics, according to this recent examination appeal decision.

The patent application related to MATLAB‘s SPMD command. In case you don’t know, according to Wikipedia SPMD (single program, multiple data) is a technique employed to achieve parallelism, where tasks are split up and run simultaneously on multiple processors with different input in order to obtain results faster. SPMD is the most common style of parallel programming.

So they lost the patent. On appeal. Spotting the trend yet? Imagine how much it would cost if it went to court (such as UPC). Patents are risky in litigation (both plaintiff and defendant pay a lot of money), which Battistelli and UPC are facilitating along with other nations (making it easier to sue Europeans from abroad, even distant continents). The terrible assumption is that judges and courts can make up for low-quality patent examination.

Fasken’s Armand M. Benitah and Mark Vanderveken have just published this article about “Patent Prosecution” (“Domestic and Global Trends”; it’s about how companies can press ahead/push forward with patent applications and lawsuits far away, speeding up the examination process with PPH. To quote:

The PPH program continues to expand at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”). The PPH allows an applicant to fast-track the examination of an application by submitting a request to have positive work product from a PPH partner considered during examination, at no cost. CIPO entered PPH agreements with Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, and Poland in 2017, and with the Visegrad Patent Institute on January 6, 2018 under global or bilateral pilot agreements. This brings the total number of Canada’s PPH partnerships to 28. In addition, CIPO and the European Patent Office have recently decided to extend their pilot PPH agreement for an additional three years. Notably, the most recent additions to the PPH program point to expansions in South America and eastern Europe, whereas key industrialized countries were originally emphasized.

There are quite a few famous patent trolls in Canada. We wrote about them many times. When CIPO and the European Patent Office get together to work on PPH and UPC what they are basically setting up is a cross-Atlantic ‘fast lane’ for trolls that want to prey on European firms, most likely SMEs that lack budget for legal defense (and would thus rather settle without any challenge). That would be blackmail.

Nobody who actually understands what the UPC is (and let’s face it, almost no politician who signs in favour even brothers reading any of it!) would support it; unless of course one stands to profit from the litigious calamity UPC would cause…

Further Attacks on EPO Staff and the Appeal Boards; Former EPO Boards of Appeal Member Speaks About EPO Scandals

20 hours 23 min ago

It’s easy for her to speak out about these scandals now that she’s retired (just like Siegfried Broß)


Image credit: Sheikh it Sheikh it‏

Summary: In the process of devaluing EPO workers and perhaps preparing them for a large round of layoffs information is also revealed about further repressions against the independence of the Boards of Appeal

THE EPO is rumoured to be heading towards layoffs (700-1000 in number, i.e. 10-15% of staff), as we noted yesterday morning and CA/3/18 seems to be stripped apart by Battistelli, as we noted last night. “New Art. 53(1)(f) must be suppressed in the proposal CA/3/18,” another source told us overnight. “That was decided in the Board 28 meeting on Wednesday. So, the status of “permanent staff” is maintained. But the other foreseen changes probably stay in CA/3/18 (still to be confirmed).”

“We certainly hope that the German Constitutional Court is paying attention to this.”We are hearing these things (about layoffs and “permanent staff” status) from multiple independent sources, so it’s likely to be true. As time goes by rumours become concrete and eventually the press too reports these as facts (albeit belatedly, sometimes as much as a month late).

Here’s another new comment related to this (not many people will have noticed it):

Another curious detail is that in order to designate his deputy the President of the Boards of Appeal needs to have the approval of the President of the Office (CA/D 4/17).

https://www.epo.org/modules/epoweb/acdocument/epoweb2/257/en/CA-D_4-17_en.pdf

The background to this arrangement can be found in CA/53/17.

https://www.epo.org/modules/epoweb/acdocument/epoweb2/258/en/CA-53-17_en.pdf

We certainly hope that the German Constitutional Court is paying attention to this. Our next post will be about the German Constitutional Court.

In the meantime, however, mind the following new comment from Catarina Holtz, [1, 2], who describes herself as “former legally qualified member of the EPO Boards of Appeal, former Appellate Court Judge Stockholm” when she says: (probably in a rush due to a few trivial typos)

I am very impressed, Herr Bausch, with your astute observations. But, there is a problem for every international organisation, which tells us why we cannot succeed going national with our complaints. Why? Because all of them work in a deficient legal environment. There is no other constitution than the convention under which it works, there is no Parliament or Government, with their respective functions, governed by the people who voted them into office. one to adopt laws, the other to excute them. And above all, there is no access to any court to deal with complaints, be they staff grudges against treatment of them, or parties to cases who feel discriminated. ILO is the single way out and as some have already observed, the EPO might just disregard them. And mark this, this is the situation for each and every international organisation from the UN down (remember the Kompass case?). Study the case law of the ECHR on cases where staff of such isntitutions have tried to be heard, eg. Waite and Kennedy v. Germany or Heinz v. the conctracting states to the EPO. These are examples of why there is no access to the ECtHR, the states and the organisation are immune. So the effort of the EU to become a member of the ECHR is commendable, that would give staff and others a venue to be heard. The rest is not silence, but a continuous effort is required to make the powers of the EPO to see reason. What is happening there is disgraceful.

A lot of this can (and probably should) result in sanctions against Battistelli and the UPC. In a society which is based on law and order such behaviour cannot be tolerated. We don’t expect ILO to intervene in any way because it’s part of the problem and labour complaints/appeals arising from ILO end up in its very own Administrative Tribunal, as ridiculous as that ultimately sounds (no independence). If the EPO Boards of Appeal is controlled (indirectly) by Battistelli, who sort of appeal (against the Office) mechanism is it really? Imagine a UPC headed by Battistelli…

End of the UPC Lobby and Withdrawal of UPCA May Seem Imminent

Thursday 22nd of February 2018 12:31:13 AM

Retired Judge Siegfried Broß has long spoken out against the Unified Patent Court (UPC); and for good reasons


Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: The Unitary Patent fantasy (of mass litigation firms) is coming to an end; in fact, the German government and courts (Bundesverfassungsgericht to be specific) now deem the complaint to be admissible and thus likely legitimate in spite of many attempts to shoot it down

The European Patent Office (EPO) barely says anything about the UPC. It used to. A lot. But it rarely mentions it anymore. The closest thing to a mention was today’s tweet that said: “Read more about the impact of #patent protection on trade & FDI in innovative industries in this study…”

It’s like a ‘template’ tweet that they cyclically shuffle/revolve in order for the propaganda to broaden its reach. Propaganda? Yes, propaganda. What they don’t say is that they funded it. In the process, the EPO entered controversial territories; it really corrupted academia (we explained this before). This is a serious matter. The EPO not only corrupts the media but also academia; and guess who’s paying for all this…

“The EPO not only corrupts the media but also academia; and guess who’s paying for all this…”EPO staff is said to be prepared for ‘chopping’ while the management corrupts the press and universities. It’s not cheap. It also pays something like 5 million euros for events that last just one afternoon (that alone is a year’s salary of about 50 examiners). As the EPO implicitly acknowledges (by mention of two Twitter accounts), it paid money to LSE (UK) and the University of Colorado Boulder (US) for UPC propaganda. Sadly for them, however, the Unitary Patent is dead regardless. How dead? Check out what happened today (it’s in German by the way). The ‘unitary’ patent regime is over. It is dead. Team UPC will not admit this, obviously.

We have spent a lot of energy and almost 10 years to help end it, so this is a relief. We expect press coverage in German and then in English quite soon. Will the press be heavily influenced by the spin of Team UPC, as usual?

“We expect press coverage in German and then in English quite soon.”“UPCtracker” (a UPC booster, as even his username serves to suggest) wrote: “BREAKING: The complaint against the German UPC ratification law made it on the list of cases to be decided by the BVerfG. No details available yet (see linked list, Justice Prof Huber, # 11).”

Richard Pinckney from Bristows stopped short of sober analysis of it. No analysis at all. Here’s what he wrote: “The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG) has today published here a list of cases which it intends to decide in 2018. The complaint against the legislation enabling Germany to ratify the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC), case reference 2 BvR 739/17, is included in cases to be decided by the Second Senate, with Justice Huber as rapporteur.”

Fair enough. Not much spin there for a change.

“Previously JUVE said it would likely take years, not even a single year, to decide on. There’s no deadline.”Christopher Weber (Team UPC) said that the “German Constitutional Court plans to decide within 2018 on #UPC and EPC complaints…”

IAM responded: “But when in 2018? If it is relatively early in the year and the complaint is rejected, there is an outside chance of German and UK UPC ratification before Brexit. Later on in the year and whatever the decision the UPC is dead in the water.”

Weber said: “Your guess is as good as mine. It’s No. 11 on a list of 26 for the 2nd Senate and No. 7 of 9 for reporting Judge Prof. Dr. Huber.”

“The very fact that IAM is pessimistic says a lot because IAM was actually paid to promote the UPC.”Previously JUVE said it would likely take years, not even a single year, to decide on. There’s no deadline.

I told IAM that UPC “has been dead in the water since a year ago, except for those who were asleep…”

The very fact that IAM is pessimistic says a lot because IAM was actually paid to promote the UPC. It’s like a lobbying group disguised as a publisher. Earlier today IAM published a self-promotional piece (that’s their business model) for Carpmaels & Ransford LLP in which the firm spoke of “Patent Box”. This sponsored ‘article’ actually trotted out an instrument of corporate tax evasion. To quote: “A wider awareness of the benefits of the Patent Box (a reduction in corporation tax available on the profits from patented inventions in the UK) may help to boost the number of patent applications filed.”

UPC is a scam. Patent Box is a scam. Earlier today we received new material about the EPO and INPI; that scam too will soon be covered here.

EPO’s Board 28 Spikes Article 53 in CA/3/18, Apparently After Battistelli Withdrew It

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 11:26:21 PM

“The draft “reform” proposal CA/3/18 will, if it is allowed to enter into force, put an end to permanent employment at the EPO.” –EPO insiders


Reference: Most of the world’s workers have insecure jobs, ILO report reveals

Summary: The latest plot twist, as odd as that may seem, is that the attack on the rights of thousands of workers (many of whom are rumoured to be on their way out) is curtailed somewhat, at least for the time being

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) demise is worrying. It’s inevitable, but it’s still worrying (layoffs are probably coming very soon, based on insiders). CA/3/18 was covered here yesterday, based on the words of insiders.

World Intellectual Property Review has just written about this: [via SUEPO]

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) supervisory body, the Administrative Council (AC), will deliberate an employment proposal put forward by EPO president Benoît Battistelli to recruit staff on renewable contracts of five years in March.

Battistelli and Elodie Bergot, principal director of human resources, added the motion to discuss permanent employment at the EPO during a budget and finance committee meeting in October last year.

At the time, a spokesperson for the EPO said that the office is in a “unique situation” with 97% of its staff hired on a permanent basis.

A first discussion of the proposal, which is called the “Modernisation of the employment framework of the EPO”, took place during the AC’s meeting in December.

The proposal has since been amended.

The latest on this suggests further amendments. An EPO insider wrote:

Breaking news: during Board 28 today the proposed Article 53 in CA/3/18 is dropped (withdrawn) – a revised version of CA/3/18 (without Article 53) will be published at the latest tomorrow. Rumor has it that the King himself withdraw the document. Yes, you read that correctly!

What is going on? Are rumours and panic influencing the plan? Will the management potentially rethink its utterly destructive actions?

“I was reading an article about the corruption ranking by Transparency International when I came across this short video,” one reader told us. “This reminds me of something, a kind of deja vu at the EPO…”

Transparency International’s connections to the EPO scandals [1, 2] are noteworthy. It’s like there’s nobody left to properly investigate and then press for actual enforcement against the EPO. Certainly not ILO (UN), the EU/EC, the German authorities, or even the Dutch government.

Links 21/2/2018: Apper 1.0, New Fedora ISOs

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 10:30:58 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • What Happens when you Contribute, revisited

    I sat down to write a post about my students’ experiences this term contributing to open source, and apparently I’ve written this before (and almost exactly a year ago to the day!) The thing about teaching is that it’s cyclic, so you’ll have to forgive me as I give a similar lecture here today.

    I’m teaching two classes on open source development right now, two sections in an introductory course, and another two in a follow-up intermediate course. The students are just starting to get some releases submitted, and I’ve been going through their blogs, pull requests, videos (apparently this generation likes making videos, which is something new for me), tweets, and the like. I learn a lot from my students, and I wanted to share some of what I’m seeing.

  • Events
    • OpenStack Summit Vancouver ’18: Vote for Speakers

      The next OpenStack Summit takes place again in Vancouver (BC, Canada), May 21-25, 2018. The “Vote for Presentations” period started. All proposals are up for community votes. The deadline for your vote is will end February 25 at 11:59pm PST (February 26th at 8:59am CET)

    • IBM Index: A Community Event for Open Source Developers

      The first-ever INDEX community event, happening now in San Francisco, is an open developer conference featuring sessions on topics including artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, cloud native, containers, APIs, languages, and more.

    • Eclipse CheConf 2018 – Join the live stream February 21st at 10 am EST

      2017 was a fantastic year for the Che project, with more contributors, more commits, and more usage – this solidified Che’s position as the leading developer workspace server and browser IDE. Eclipse Che users logged over 7 million hours of public Che usage (plus more in private installs). We’ll discuss the growing cloud development market, Che’s position in it, and the exciting changes we’re planning for 2018.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Best Web Browser

        When the Firefox team released Quantum in November 2017, they boasted it was “over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago”, and Linux Journal readers generally agreed, going as far as to name it their favorite web browser. A direct response to Google Chrome, Firefox Quantum also boasts decreased RAM usage and a more streamlined user interface.

      • Share Exactly What You See On-Screen With Firefox Screenshots

        A “screenshot” is created when you capture what’s on your computer screen, so you can save it as a reference, put it in a document, or send it as an image file for others to see exactly what you see.

      • QMO: Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday – February 16nd – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 59 Beta 10.

        Thank you Mohammed Adam, Abhishek Haridass, Fahima Zulfath A. and Surentharan.R.A. from India QA Community team for helping us make Mozilla a better place.

      • Bugzilla Triage Helper

        There are an awful lot of bugs filed against Firefox and all it’s components in the course of a release. Keeping on top of that is hard and some teams have adopted some policies to help with that (for example see: design-decision-needed).

        Having a consistent approach to bugs across the organisation makes it a little easier for everyone to get a feel for what’s going.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.1 Arrives in August with Revamped Online Experience, New Features

      Last week, we talked with The Document Foundation’s marketing assistant Mike Saunders about the 1 million downloads milestone reached by the major LibreOffice 6.0 release in only two weeks after its launch, who told us that the team is already working on the next version, LibreOffice 6.1, due for release in August.

      LibreOffice 6.1 will be the first major update to the 6.x series of the office suite and will add yet another layer of new features and improvements to the open-source and cross-platform office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide, and we’d like you to be the first to know about them.

  • CMS
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • EOH and LSD Information Technology partner to lead open source in Africa

      By identifying global trends and local needs, EOH is able to proactively source and secure capabilities that will assist with the adoption of the digital revolution. LSD’s offerings across Linux, automation, devops and containers is a great technology fit for EOH to lead open source in the market.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Choosing a tool to track and mitigate open source security vulnerabilities

      Continuously tracking your application’s dependencies for vulnerabilities and efficiently addressing them is no simple feat. In addition, this is a problem shared by all, and is not an area most companies would consider their core competency. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for the right set of tools to help tackle this concern.

    • Open source software: to be celebrated or cursed?

      The use of Open Source Software (OSS) has become widespread. The latest statistics show that 78% of companies run OSS, and a number of mainstream software and hardware products are based on the OSS model – for example Android, Skype [sic], Firefox, Amazon Kindle, Tivo and BT Home Hub.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Marshall Students Use Open Source Data to Help Stop Sex Trafficking Cases

        The work involved sex trafficking cases in Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Select students in Marshall’s Open Source Intelligence Exchange program worked to provide open source intelligence collection and analysis for law enforcement and other clients. Open source refers to data collection from publicly available sources.

    • Open Access/Content
      • Stanford scholar celebrates Western culture’s open-access tradition

        The move toward “open access” to research and scholarship, far from being a modern digital-age creation, has roots in the West that date back to medieval times, writes a Stanford education scholar. John Willinsky’s new book explains how learning has long benefited from efforts to increase its circulation.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Open source RISC-V architecture is changing the game for IoT processors

        Over the past decade, open source software has been one of the biggest catalysts in the tech world. Today, the power of open source, the freedom it enables, and the communities that it generates are gaining traction in the hardware world too. For these reasons, RISC-V is gaining huge popularity. Here is an introduction to RISC-V and the opportunities it opens.

  • Programming/Development
    • Pyenv – Python Version Management Made Easier

      You’re a programmer who wants to test your python code on multiple different Python environments. What would you do? Install a specific python version and test your code and then uninstall that version and again install another different version and test code? No, wait! It is completely unnecessary. Say hello to Pyenv , an useful utility to manage multiple Python versions, simultaneously. It made the python version management easier than ever. It is used to install, uninstall and switch to multiple different versions of Python.

    • GitHub Predicts Hottest 2018 Open Source Trends

      As the world’s largest repository of open source projects, GitHub is in a unique position to witness what developers are up to. GitHub staff recently sifted through the site’s 2017’s data in order to identify top open source trends they predict will thrive in 2018.

    • What is LLVM? The power behind Swift, Rust, Clang, and more

      New languages, and improvements on existing ones, are mushrooming throughout the develoment landscape. Mozilla’s Rust, Apple’s Swift, Jetbrains’s Kotlin, and many other languages provide developers with a new range of choices for speed, safety, convenience, portability, and power.

      Why now? One big reason is new tools for building languages—specifically, compilers. And chief among them is LLVM (Low-Level Virtual Machine), an open source project originally developed by Swift language creator Chris Lattner as a research project at the University of Illinois.

    • Oxidizing Fedora: Try Rust and its applications today

      In recent years, it has become increasingly important to develop software that minimizes security vulnerabilities. Memory management bugs are a common cause of these vulnerabilities. To that end, the Mozilla community has spent the last several years building the Rust language and ecosystem which focuses primarily on eliminating those bugs. And Rust is available in Fedora today, along with a few applications in Fedora 27 and higher, as seen below.

    • This Week in Rust 222

      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.

    • Google Summer Of Code 2018 Larger Than Ever

      Google Summer of Code gives students an opportunity to make a substantive contribution to Open Source projects with the motto “Flip bits not burgers” has recruited more mentoring organizations than ever for its 13th year.

    • The Beauty of the COBOL Programming Language

      The first thing I needed in my journey to learn COBOL was an IDE. I am a big supporter of coding in an integrated development environment (IDE). I like being able to write, test and run code all in one place. Also, I find the support features that an IDE provides, such as visual code structure analysis, code completion and inline syntax checking, allow me to program and debug efficiently.

    • Clear Linux Is The Latest Distribution Figuring Out What To Do With Python 2

      While Python 3 has been around now for a decade, most Linux distributions are still working towards moving away from Python 2 and that includes Intel’s Clear Linux distribution.

      Like with Ubuntu, Fedora, and others moving away their base packages from any Python 2 dependencies and moving them to Python 3, Clear Linux developers are working on the same. Arjan van de Ven of Intel provided an update on their Python 3 transitioning. By the end of 2018, but hopefully within the next six months, they hope to be at a point where their performance-oriented Linux distribution is “fully and only Python 3.”

Leftovers
  • KFC restaurants across Britain are forced to close

    KFC said it first became aware of a problem in the software around a new computer ordering and delivery system on Friday.

    [...]

    The new regime is built around software developed by QSL, which is meant to ensure efficient delivery.

  • KFC chicken shortage closes outlets

    Last week, KFC switched its delivery contract to DHL, which blamed “operational issues” for the supply disruption.

    [...]

    The distribution network uses software developed by the firm Quick Service Logistics (QSL).

  • Science
    • Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

      Lead magnesium niobate (PMN) is a prototypical “relaxor” material, used in a wide variety of applications, from ultrasound to sonar. Researchers have now used state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to see exactly how atoms are arranged in PMN – and it’s not what anyone expected.

      “This work gives us information we can use to better understand how and why PMN behaves the way it does – and possibly other relaxor materials as well,” says James LeBeau, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of a paper on the work.

    • The “Black Mirror” scenarios that are leading some experts to call for more secrecy on AI

      AI could reboot industries and make the economy more productive; it’s already infusing many of the products we use daily. But a new report by more than 20 researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, OpenAI, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that the same technology creates new opportunities for criminals, political operatives, and oppressive governments—so much so that some AI research may need to be kept secret.

    • Tech wishes for 2018
    • 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018

      Every year since 2001 we’ve picked what we call the 10 Breakthrough Technologies. People often ask, what exactly do you mean by “breakthrough”? It’s a reasonable question—some of our picks haven’t yet reached widespread use, while others may be on the cusp of becoming commercially available. What we’re really looking for is a technology, or perhaps even a collection of technologies, that will have a profound effect on our lives.

  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Daniel Ellsberg: Preventing Extermination Of Humanity By Nukes

      But he was asked to work in the plants that give materials for H-bombs, and as he said to his deputy when he decided not to do that, he said they have A-bombs. Now they’re building H-bombs, which he knew as he told me would be a thousand times more powerful than the A-bombs that triggered it. He said they’ll go right through the alphabet til they have Z-bombs they said.

    • U.S. Empire Still Incoherent After All These Years

      In the intervening 15 years, U.S. policy failures have resulted in ever-spreading violence and chaos that affect hundreds of millions of people in at least a dozen countries. The U.S. has utterly failed to bring any of its neo-imperial wars to a stable or peaceful end. And yet the U.S. imperial project sails on, seemingly blind to its consistently catastrophic results.

      Instead, U.S. civilian and military leaders shamelessly blame their victims for the violence and chaos they have unleashed on them, and endlessly repackage the same old war propaganda to justify record military budgets and threaten new wars.

      But they never hold themselves or each other accountable for their catastrophic failures or the carnage and human misery they inflict. So they have made no genuine effort to remedy any of the systemic problems, weaknesses and contradictions of U.S. imperialism that Michael Mann identified in 2003 or that other critical analysts like Noam Chomsky, Gabriel Kolko, William Blum and Richard Barnet have described for decades.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • A Defender of Assange Says She’s Fighting for All

      More than five years ago, on two different continents and only days apart, an Australian woman and an Australian man entered indefinite detention.

      For the woman, a defense lawyer at the International Criminal Court, being arrested was a relatively brief but harrowing affair, punctuated by armed men, dark rooms and aggressive interrogation. For the man, a co-founder of WikiLeaks, detention continues, though some might say voluntarily.

      The lawyer, Melinda Taylor, would go on to represent the man, Julian Assange.

      Ms. Taylor, now 42, has earned a reputation for defending the rights of individuals condemned by the court of public opinion before they have set foot inside an actual courtroom. Her clients have included Mr. Assange and Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the deposed Libyan strongman.

    • Under Attack Part Six: The Stratfor and Syria Files I

      In what has to be one of the more spectacularly craptastic court decisions in recent history, last week the UK’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court upheld an outstanding warrant for Julian Assange which stemmed from a 2010 Swedish investigation that has since been closed. Despite public outcry, two UN rulings in favor of Assange’s freedom, and the fact that it recently came to light that the UK encouraged Sweden to keep the investigation open despite the Swedish prosecutor’s desire to close it in 2012, it appears that the UK is still taking its marching orders from Washington regardless of the implications. Of course there’s no evidence (yet) showing that the US directly interfered in the court case and I could be astrosurfing better than an Intercept journalist high on a government prescription of shill-lax. But unlike Micah Lee, this story has some worthwhile evidence to back up its claim including the fact that the magistrate who denied Julian Assange his freedom and the ability to receive adequate health care last week is none other than Baroness Emma Arbuthnot, wife of Lord James Arbuthnot— the former chairman of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee.

      Journalist Randy Credico also pointed out that James Arbuthnot and his cronies acquired a massive defense contract with the UK government through a little known group called SC Strategy which is headed up by none other than the former Chief of M16, Sir John McLeod Scarlett, and the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Alexander Carlile. In 2015, The Guardian reported that the elusive firm’s only known client at the time was Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund which perhaps isn’t all that surprising since that the Financial Times reported last year that Qatar, via the wealth fund, bought up a piece of Heathrow airport, the Shard skyscraper, a “portion” of the Canary Wharf financial district, and Harrods department stores. Apparently Qatar also bailed out Barclays bank because the only thing more comforting than one of the largest terrorist hotspots in the world investing about forty billion euros in your country is knowing that your country’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is in bed with them.

    • What? NYT’s Haberman Compares Wikileaks Harm of Hillary Campaign to 9-11 Attacks

      Tuesday’s New York Times featured a humdrum personal profile of its own reporter, Maggie Haberman, whose only point of interest was an offensive comparison the White House reporter made between Michael Bloomberg’s 2001 run for mayor of New York City and Donald Trump’s run for president in 2016. In both cases, “an unprecedented form of terror in an election” resulted in an unlikely result. One was an Islamist terrorist attack that murdered over 3000 people; the other, some embarrassing campaign emails that may have damaged Clinton’s prospects over Trump. Same thing, really, right?

    • Congressman Says He Was Blocked From Briefing Trump on WikiLeaks

      A recent report in The Intercept says that California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher claimed to have told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about a meeting he had last August with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In the meeting, Rohrabacher told The Intercept, Assange provided definitive proof—to him and his traveling companion, Charles Johnson—that Russia was not the source of Democratic Party communications leaked during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Record high temperatures possible Tuesday, Wednesday

      High temperature records for Roanoke from the 1930s are very much in danger of being challenged or even toppled the next couple of days.

    • If climate change wrecks your city, can it sue Exxon?

      Last summer, Ryan Coonerty, a county supervisor in Santa Cruz, got word that the neighboring county of San Mateo was about to take a bold step in adapting to climate change. Rising seas are already eroding San Mateo’s coast, and the county will need to spend billions of dollars on new sea walls and other infrastructure to protect itself in the years to come. So in July, San Mateo, along with Marin County and the city of Imperial Beach, sued 37 fossil fuel companies, arguing that they should help pay for the damage their products cause.

  • Finance
    • Rookie’s Guide to Ethereum and Blockchain

      Blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger that records all transactions. (See the “Blockchain Simplified” video for more information.) Every time someone buys digital coins on a decentralized exchange, sells coins, transfers coins, or buys a good or service with virtual coins, a ledger records that transaction, often in an encrypted fashion, to protect it from cybercriminals. These transactions are also recorded and processed without a third-party provider, which is usually a bank.

    • Aviation cliff-edge: How Brexit is sabotaging a British success story

      The usual civil service metaphor for Brexit is of a series of rocks. Each time you pick one up, all these horrible slimy things crawl out from under it – things you’d never have thought were remotely connected to Brexit. This is an article about the horrible slimy things under the rock named ‘aviation’.

      European aviation is fundamentally a British success story. It’s one of the best pieces of evidence for how Britain made the single market work for its services economy and helped make life better for passengers all over the continent in the process. But that success is now a hostage of Brexit. If the hard Brexiters in Cabinet get their way, Britain will turn back the clock on the last 30 years of development.

      This is how the system works. Aviation is governed by a series of treaties. The foundation text is the 1944 Chicago convention, which gave nation states sovereignty over their airspace. You can only fly to another country once you’ve signed an agreement with them. There’s no WTO option or fallback system. You either sign a treaty or you’re out in the cold.

    • Oxfam Releases Internal Report into Its Sex Scandal & Cover-Up in Haiti

      The British charity Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations involving a slew of countries, in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. On Monday, Oxfam released its own internal report into the sex scandal, in which Oxfam senior aid workers, including the country director, hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties and then tried to cover it up. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Oxfam’s internal report also includes claims that three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the charity’s internal investigation. Haiti has threatened to expel Oxfam from the country. This is Haiti’s external cooperation minister, Aviol Fleurant.

    • ‘The Trump slump’: Remington files for bankruptcy as gun sales tumble

      For 200 years, Remington has been one of the most famous names in guns, supplying arms to soldiers in the civil war, both world wars and to generations of gun enthusiasts. Now it has met its match: the gun-friendly presidency of Donald Trump.

      After a golden era of sales under Barack Obama, America’s gun manufacturers are in trouble. Sales have tumbled, leaving the companies with too much stock on their hands and falling revenues. The crunch claimed its biggest victim this week when Remington filed for bankruptcy.

    • H&M and Others Tied to Chinese Prison Labor, But What About the U.S.?

      Peter Humphrey was jailed in Qingpu Prison just outside of Shanghai for two and a half years before he was deported from China. While he was incarcerated, the British fraud investigator – who (along with his wife, a fellow instigator) was convicted by a Shanghai court for “illegally acquiring personal information” on Chinese nationals – worked. He and his fellow prisoners were paid meager wages to make packaging parts for companies that you have heard of: H&M, international fashion chain, C&A and consumer products company, 3M.

    • Debt Collection Companies Have Hijacked the Justice System

      People who can’t afford to pay bills face arrest and jailing because of powerful money-hungry debt collectors.

      Denise Zencka, a mother of three in Indiana, had to file for bankruptcy because she couldn’t afford to repay her bills for treatment for thyroid cancer. And because she was unable to work, she had to stay with her parents in Florida while she recovered. She didn’t know that during that time, at the request of a debt collector seeking to collect outstanding medical bills, a small claims court judge had issued three warrants for her arrest. When she returned to Indiana, she was arrested by local sheriff’s deputies for the private debt she owed. Once at the jail, and being too sick to climb the stairs to the women’s section, she was held in a men’s mental health unit. Its glass walls allowed the male prisoners to watch everything she did, including using the toilet.

      As in Zencka’s case, and in thousands of other similar cases around the country, courts are issuing arrest warrants and serving as taxpayer-funded tools of the multi-billion-dollar debt collection industry.

      Debtors’ prisons were abolished by Congress in 1833. They are often thought to be a relic of the Dickensian past. In reality, private debt collectors are using the courts to get debtors arrested and to terrorize them into paying, even when a debt is in dispute or when the debtor has no ability to pay.

      Tens of thousands of arrest warrants are issued annually for people who fail to appear in court to deal with unpaid civil debt judgments. In investigating this issue for the new ACLU report, “A Pound of Flesh,” we examined more than 1,000 cases in 26 states, in which civil court judges issued arrest warrants for debtors. The debtors were often unaware that they had been sued. In many cases, they had not received notice to show up in court.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Man who says he was a Russian ‘troll’ arrested after going public

      Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, hours after he gave interviews to foreign journalists and lifted the lid on a secretive organization the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused of trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

    • How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All

      Stephen Spielberg’s film The Post is still running in theaters, lauding the Washington Post, Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee as fearless exposers of official secrets about government wrongdoing. But previously overlooked evidence now reveals for the first time how the Washington Post missed the most serious leak in newspaper history, and as a result history itself took a serious wrong turn. Consequently, this is a story that was also missed by Spielberg, and missed by Alan Pakula in his 1976 film about The Washington Post’s role in Watergate, All The President’s Men.

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: Russia, Trump and ‘Alternative Financing’

      After special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for an intensive, elaborate effort to interfere with the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump reacted as he has before — with bluster and bellicosity, at everyone but Russia.

      This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re exploring the president’s, well, persistent weirdness around Russia: Why has Trump been so quiet about Russia and its interference?

    • Billy Graham: An Old Soldier Fades Away

      Billy Graham was a preacher man equally intent on saving souls and soliciting financial support for his ministry. His success at the former is not subject to proof and his success at the latter is unrivaled. He preached to millions on every ice-free continent and led many to his chosen messiah.

      When Graham succumbed to various ailments this week at the age of 99 he left behind an organization that is said to have touched more people than any other Christian ministry in history, with property, assets and a name-brand worth hundreds of millions. The address lists of contributors alone comprise a mother lode for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, now headed by his son and namesake, William Franklin Graham, III.

      Graham also left behind a United States government in which religion plays a far greater role than before he intruded into politics in the 1950s. The shift from secular governance to “In God We Trust” can be laid squarely at this minister’s feet.

    • Even If The Russian Troll Factory Abused Our Openness Against Us, That Doesn’t Mean We Should Close Up

      Last week, we wrote about the Mueller indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for fraud in trying to sow discord among Americans and potentially influence the election by trolling them on social media. If you haven’t read the indictment yet, I recommend doing so — or at least reading Garrett Graff’s impressive attempt at basically turning the indictment into one hell of a narrative story. The key point I raised in that article was that the efforts the Russians undertook to appear to be American shows how difficult-to-impossible it would be to demand that the various internet platforms magically block such trolling attempts in the future.

      But, there’s a larger issue here that seems worth exploring as well. Among the various attacks aimed at social media companies (mainly Facebook) it feels that many are using this as yet another excuse to demand more regulation of these platforms or to poke more holes in Section 230 of the CDA.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Vietnam’s Internet is in trouble

      The development of Vietnam’s Internet infrastructure has outpaced the government’s ability to regulate and control it. The best it can do is restrict access to certain sites. It has also deployed an army of people to closely monitor public sentiment on social media. In December, Vietnam unveiled a new, 10,000-strong military cyber unit to combat “wrong” views online, a move that was apparently modeled on the Chinese route of controlling the Internet.

    • Wired’s Big Cover Story On Facebook Gets Key Legal Point Totally Backwards, Demonstrating Why CDA 230 Is Actually Important

      That’s a pretty amazing story, which certainly could be true. After all, just a few years later there was the famous NY Times article about how companies were courting state Attorneys General to attack their competitors (which later came up again, when the MPAA — after reading that NY Times article — decided to use that strategy to go after Google). And Blumenthal had a long history as Attorney General of grandstanding about tech companies.

      But, for all the fascinating reporting in the piece, what’s troubling is that Thompson and Vogelstein get some very basic facts wrong — and, unfortunately, one of those basic facts is a core peg used to hold up the story. Specifically, the article incorrectly points to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as being a major hindrance to Facebook improving its platform. Here’s how the law incorrectly described in a longer paragraph explaining why Facebook “ignored” the “problem” of “fake news”…

    • Chinese Censorship Moves Into the American Workplace

      There is evidence to support a claim that the mission to censor criticism of China is moving into the American workplace. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have been students in the United States, and many move into jobs for American companies after graduation. But as China acquires American companies, existing and newly hired Chinese employees may feel both emboldened and pressured to incorporate a culture of censorship into the new entity.

      Last year I gave a publicly listed American company a series of seminars on Chinese business, social, legal, and cultural norms and expectations. The audiences were primarily American-born employees, although many Chinese employees attended the sessions, as well. Some were relatively new hires; a few had been in the United States for years. The reason for the seminars? The company is being acquired by a Chinese company in an acquisition that requires CFIUS approval. (For legal reasons, the company names will be withheld here.)

    • Historians fear ‘censorship’ under Poland’s Holocaust law

      A new law in Poland that threatens those who say that Poles played any part in the Holocaust with up to three years in prison will create an atmosphere of “inner censorship” for the country’s historians, reminiscent of its communist past, critics have warned.

      Poland has been internationally condemned over the law, which some historians say attempts to whitewash broad swathes of Polish history.

    • Federal Judge Bars California’s Actor-Age Censorship Law

      A federal court judge has barred California’s legislation requiring that subscription entertainment database sites remove an actor’s age, if requested by the actor.

      U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria issued the ruling on Tuesday. IMDb filed a lawsuit in November of 2016, attempting to invalidate AB 1687. IMDb — a subsidiary of Amazon — had contended in its suit that the law, which applies only to subscription sites such as IMDb Pro, was unconstitutional.

      The defendants are Secretary of State Xavier Becerra and SAG-AFTRA, which joined the suit as a defendant after campaigning vigorously for the law in 2016.

    • California’s IMDb Age Censorship Law Declared Unconstitutional
    • IMDb age censorship law declared unconstitutional – L.A. Biz
    • IMDb Can Still List Actors’ Ages After Court Rules California Censorship Law Unconstitutional
    • The new censorship: Flooding us with ‘phony phacts’

      Everyone knows about censorship that has been perpetuated throughout history: the USSR, the Nazis, South African Apartheid, Chairman Mao’s China, the Kim Jung family in North Korea, etc. The United States is certainly not innocent in this regard either — the early 1900s race riots, Civil Rights-era violence, the systematic extermination of native populations, and much, much more has been downplayed and sometimes completely omitted from American history.

    • Hate Speech or Censorship? Civil servants redeployed over social media comments

      The decision of one of government parastatals, to start monitoring the activities of its employees on the social media is spreading fears of censorship of the media and its practitioners.

    • Twitter Censorship Should TERRIFY Everyone
    • Tech giants should resist Russia’s iron grip of censorship
    • Germany’s Speech Laws Continue To Be A Raging Dumpster Fire Of Censorial Stupidity

      Germany’s new law, targeting hate speech and other unpleasantness online, is off to a roaring start. Instead of cleaning up the internet for German consumption, the law has been instrumental in targeting innocuous posts by politicians and taking down satirical content. The law is a bludgeon with hefty fines attached. This has forced American tech companies to be proactive, targeting innocuous content and satire before the German government comes around with its hand out.

      It took only 72 hours for the new law (Netzwerkdurchsezungsgesetz, or NetzDG) to start censoring content that didn’t violate the law. Some German officials have expressed concern, but the government as a whole seems content to let more censorship of lawful content occur before the law is given a second look. The things critics of the law said would happen have happened. And yet the law remains in full effect.

    • Sanford: Is the removal of murals sensible or censorship?

      From the 1920s through the early ’50s, most entertainment in Memphis was at the mercy of a guy named Lloyd T. Binford, the chairman of the city’s Board of Censors. Binford banned scores of movies from being shown in Memphis simply because he personally found them distasteful and even refused to allow the staging of plays featuring a racially diverse cast.

      In the 1970s, an over-jealous federal prosecutor pressed obscenity charges against the makers of X-rated films. Roughly a decade later, city leaders tried to shut down topless nightclubs with an anti-nudity ordinance that was later ruled unconstitutional.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Trump, Nunes Accidentally Undo DOJ’s Efforts To Keep Surveillance Docs Under Wraps

      The government’s antipathy towards FOIA requesters is well-documented. Our last president declared his White House to be the Openest Place on Earth. This was followed by a clampdown on FOIA responses, huge increases in withheld documents, and a war on whistleblowers. The Trump Administration has made no such promises. Good thing, too, as the uncontrollable mouth running the country would make these promises impossible to keep. We’re living in a halcyon era of unprecedented, if inadvertent, government transparency. Whatever multitudinous leakers won’t provide, the president will hand over himself via Twitter or televised interviews.

      Late last year, Trump handed plaintiffs in two FOIA lawsuits a gift when he undercut an FBI Glomar response (“neither confirm nor deny”) by confirming FBI investigations (and FISA court involvement) in domestic surveillance. Trump has done it again, thanks to approving the release of the Nunes memo. Again, FOIA requesters seeking information about FBI domestic surveillance have been handed a gift by the Commander in Chief, as Politico reports.

    • The Car of the Future Will Sell Your Data

      Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.

      Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded? Telenav Inc., a company developing in-car advertising software, is betting you won’t mind much. Car companies—looking to earn some extra money—hope so, too.

    • German Court Says Facebook’s Real Names Policy Violates Users’ Privacy

      With more and more people attacking online trolls, one common refrain is that we should do away with anonymity online. There’s this false belief that forcing everyone to use their “real name” online will somehow stop trolling and create better behavior. Of course, at the very same time, lots of people seem to be blaming online social media platforms for nefarious activity and trollish activity including “fake news.” And Facebook is a prime target — which is a bit ironic, given that Facebook already has a “real names” policy. On Facebook you’re not allowed to use a pseudonym, but are expected to use your real name. And yet, trolling still takes place. Indeed, as we’ve written for the better part of a decade, the focus on attacking anonymity online is misplaced. We think that platforms like Facebook and Google that use a real names policy are making a mistake, because enabling anonymous or pseudononymous speech is quite important in enabling people to speak freely on a variety of subjects. Separately, as studies have shown, forcing people to use real names doesn’t stop anti-social behavior.

      All that is background for an interesting, and possibly surprising, ruling in a local German court, finding that Facebook’s real names policy violates local data protection rules. I can’t read the original ruling since my understanding of German is quite limited — but it appears to have found that requiring real names is “a covert way” of obtaining someone’s name which raises questions for privacy and data protection. The case was brought by VZBZ, which is the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. Facebook says it will appeal the ruling, so it’s hardly final.

    • Also, Android P Won’t Let Malicious Apps Secretly Record Audio On Your Phone

      Just yesterday we heard about an Android 9.0 feature that would prevent idle background apps from accessing the camera. The move could prevent unauthorized use of the device’s camera to record video clips of the user’s environment.

    • Ubisoft Perma-Bans Creator Of Cool, Non-Cheating Tool For ‘The Division’ Because It Was Made With Cheating Software

      There are lots of ways companies can deal with those who cheat in online video games. We have seen developers and publishers sue those who cheat, we have seen national governments criminalize this kind of cheating, and we even got to see Rockstar’s attempt to force cheaters to only play with other cheaters. While these sorts of efforts vary wildly, the common response from game publishers is to be entirely too ham-fisted in keeping cheaters out of online games. This results in all sorts of problems, ranging from punishing players who weren’t actually cheating to creating all kinds of collateral damage.

    • Facebook ‘Security’: A New VPN That’s Spyware And Two-Factor Authentication That Spams You

      Facebook’s definition of protection isn’t quite up to snuff. Last week, some Facebook users began seeing a new option in their settings simply labeled “Protect.” Clicking on that link in the company’s navigation bar will redirect Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” app’s listing on the App Store. There, they’re informed that “Onavo Protect helps keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web.” You’re also informed that the “app helps keep your details secure when you login to websites or enter personal information such as bank accounts and credit card numbers.”
      [source: imgur.com]

    • Nunes Demands Copies Of FISA Docs About Steele Dossier Warrants; Court Suggests Taking It Up With The FBI

      Having already released the memo purportedly showing surveillance abuses committed by the FBI, the legislators behind the release are now getting around to asking for documents to back up the memo’s assertions. Bob Goodlatte and Devin Nunes have both asked the FISA court for the paperwork they probably should have looked at before writing and releasing the memo.

      Nunes has asked for “transcripts of relevant FISC hearings” related to the FISA warrants predicated largely on assertions made in Steele dossier. Goodlatte has asked applications and orders for the same warrants. The FISA court has replied with two letters stating basically the same thing: thanks for the weird (and inappropriate) question, but maybe take this up the FBI.

    • Lawyers for accused NSA leaker asking for some evidence to be thrown out

      One of Winner’s lawyers tells NewsChannel 6 there will be a hearing on February 27th.

      During that hearing, her lawyers are expected to question one of the FBI investigators who worked the case when Winner was arrested.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation

      In the coming decades, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are going to transform many aspects of our world. Much of this change will be positive; the potential for benefits in areas as diverse as health, transportation and urban planning, art, science, and cross-cultural understanding are enormous. We’ve already seen things go horribly wrong with simple machine learning systems; but increasingly sophisticated AI will usher in a world that is strange and different from the one we’re used to, and there are serious risks if this technology is used for the wrong ends.

      Today EFF is co-releasing a report with a number of academic and civil society organizations1 on the risks from malicious uses of AI and the steps that should be taken to mitigate them in advance.

    • Video: This Obscure Plea Deal Offers Freedom to the Wrongfully Convicted at a Huge Cost

      In 1987, police detectives — who’d later be made famous by David Simon, creator of “The Wire” — used flimsy evidence to pin a burglary, rape and murder case on James Thompson and James Owens. They were both sentenced to life in prison. Then, 20 years later, DNA evidence cleared them of the rape and unraveled the state’s theory of the crime. But instead of exonerating the two men, prosecutors pushed them to plead guilty to the crime in exchange for immediate freedom.

    • Court Sends Cop Back To Prison For Bogus ‘Contempt Of Cop’ Arrest

      It shouldn’t take an appeals court to reach this conclusion, but that’s the route taken most frequently by people challenging their convictions. Former sheriff’s deputy Matthew Corder doesn’t want to serve time after being convicted of depriving Derek Baize of his constitutional rights, and so we’ve ended up at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. (h/t Sixth Circuit Blog)

      This all stems from a “contempt of cop” incident. Baize returned home one night to find Deputy Corder parked in his parking spot in front of his home. Baize asked what was going on, only to be told to “mind his own business.” Baize then asked the deputy to move his car so Baize could park in front of his house. The deputy said he’d move his car “when he was ready.”

      Nonplussed by the behavior of this supposed public servant, Baize told the deputy to “fuck off.” Deputy Corder asked for clarification. Baize responded: “I did not stutter. I said ‘fuck off.’” Baize then walked into his house. Corder claimed he yelled for Baize to stop. Baize said he didn’t hear this. It really doesn’t matter. Citizens are under no legal obligation to engage in conversations with law enforcement officers. The deputy’s testimony indicates Baize wasn’t committing any crime nor was he wanted for a suspected criminal act when he walked away from the yelling deputy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Why Decentralization Matters

      The good news is that billions of people got access to amazing technologies, many of which were free to use. The bad news is that it became much harder for startups, creators, and other groups to grow their internet presence without worrying about centralized platforms changing the rules on them, taking away their audiences and profits. This in turn stifled innovation, making the internet less interesting and dynamic. Centralization has also created broader societal tensions, which we see in the debates over subjects like fake news, state sponsored bots, “no platforming” of users, EU privacy laws, and algorithmic biases. These debates will only intensify in the coming years.

      [...]

      We saw the value of decentralized systems in the first era of the internet. Hopefully we’ll get to see it again in the next.

    • The Great Puri.sm Outage of 2018

      We contacted the specialist first thing in the morning, and he had no idea why the domain was suspended; he said he would contact the .sm registry but with one complication: the San Marino .sm registry office was now closed so it might take until the next day for them to respond to the email! Because their office was closed, he said all he could do is put the ticket in the queue of the team on the next support shift—that’s right, the same team out of Ireland we originally contacted. Because their office hours mirrored the San Marino office hours, he assured us they would get to it first thing in the morning their time.

    • FCC reversal of net neutrality rules expected to be published Thursday: sources

      The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish on Thursday its December order overturning the landmark Obama-era net neutrality rules, two sources briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

      The formal publication in the Federal Register, a government website, means state attorneys general and advocacy groups will be able to sue in a bid to block the order from taking effect.

      The Republican-led FCC in December voted 3-2 to overturn rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The White House Office of Management and Budget still must sign off on some aspects of the FCC reversal before it takes legal effect.

    • More Than Half Of U.S. States Now Pushing Their Own Net Neutrality Rules

      Large ISP lobbyists, the FCC and agency head Ajit Pai are going to be rather busy for the foreseeable future. In the wake of the agency’s extremely unpopular net neutrality repeal, consumer groups note that 26 states (27 including a new effort in Kansas) have now taken action to protect net neutrality themselves — with more efforts on the way. The efforts range from attempts to pass state-level net neutrality rules banning anti-competitive behavior, to executive orders modifying state procurement rules to prohibit ISPs that violate net neutrality from getting state money or securing state contracts.

  • DRM
    • When the Copyright Office Meets, the Future Needs a Seat at the Table

      Every three years, EFF’s lawyers spend weeks huddling in their offices, composing carefully worded pleas we hope will persuade the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress to grant Americans a modest, temporary permission to use our own property in ways that are already legal.

      Yeah, we think that’s weird, too. But it’s been than way ever since 1998, when Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, whose Section 1201 established a ban on tampering with “access controls for copyrighted works” (also known as “Digital Rights Management” or “DRM”). It doesn’t matter if you want to do something absolutely legitimate, something that there is no law against — if you have to bypass DRM to do it, it’s not allowed.

      What’s more, if someone wants to provide you with a tool to get around the DRM, they could face up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine, for a first offense, even if the tool is only ever used to accomplish legal, legitimate ends.

    • Pirates Crack the First Windows 10 UWP Game

      One of the reasons Microsoft is pushing so aggressively for developers to bring their apps and games to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 is that with the UWP approach, they can target more than one platform at the same time, including PCs, mobile phones, tablets, Xbox, and HoloLens.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Data on the first year of the Defend Trade Secrets Act

      In preparing for the Evil Twin Debate on the DTSA, David Levine (Elon) and Chris Seaman (Washington & Lee) were kind enough to share a draft of their empirical study of cases arising under the first year of the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Now that the article is forthcoming in Wake Forest Law Review and on SSRN, it only makes sense to share their latest draft.

    • Copyrights
      • Crazy new Swedish bill makes sharing music and TV as bad a “crime” as manslaughter (yes, really)

        A new bill has been tabled in Sweden that triples the maximum prison sentence for infringement of the copyright monopoly, such as using ordinary BitTorrent, to a maximum of six years in prison.

        Typical imprisonment time for crimes varies across the world, so talking in terms of prison years becomes apples and oranges. In order to understand the perceived severity of a crime, and the harm this bill does to society, we need to compare it to another crime in the same jurisdiction.

        And in this particular jurisdiction, the maximum penalty for copyright infringement becomes as harsh as the maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter, if this new crazy bill passes — which it very well might. (The maximum sentence in question is six years in prison, which is a light sentence by US standards, but among the harshest in Europe and the Nordics.)

      • Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools?

        In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and profoundly changed the relationship of Americans to their property.

        Section 1201 of the DMCA bans the bypassing of “access controls” for copyrighted works. Originally, this meant that even though you owned your DVD player, and even though it was legal to bring DVDs home with you from your European holidays, you weren’t allowed to change your DVD player so that it would play those out-of-region DVDs. DVDs were copyrighted works, the region-checking code was an access control, and so even though you owned the DVD, and you owned the DVD player, and even though you were allowed to watch the disc, you weren’t allowed to modify your DVD player to play your DVD (which you were allowed to watch).

        Experts were really worried about this: law professors, technologists and security experts saw that soon we’d have software—that is, copyrighted works—in all kinds of devices, from cars to printer cartridges to voting machines to medical implants to thermostats. If Congress banned tinkering with the software in the things you owned, it would tempt companies to use that software to create “private laws” that took away your rights to use your property in the way you saw fit. For example, it’s legal to use third party ink in your HP printer, but once HP changed its printers to reject third-party ink, they could argue that anything you did to change them back was a violation of the DMCA.

Rumour: European Patent Office to Lay Off a Significant Proportion of Its Workforce

Wednesday 21st of February 2018 10:51:02 AM

While Team Battistelli gives itself major bonuses


Just don’t mention anything about luxury cars of top-level management or bars built secretly at the 10th floor (among other ludicrous spendings on media influence, Eurovision-type festivals, plenty of personal bodyguards and so on)

Summary: While the Administrative Council of the EPO praises Battistelli for his financial accomplishments (as laughable as it may seem) a lot of families stuck in a foreign country may soon see their breadwinner unemployed, according to rumours

THE EPO is in trouble/peril; insiders started to insinuate that something wrong and very major was brewing at the Office yesterday. We’ve waited long enough and we now hear it from multiple sources. So here it goes.

“According to rumours heard at the EPO’s canteen,” one source told us, “the EPO seems to be planning dismissals of 700 to 1000 employees.”

“If they have as much money as they claim, why would the Office shrink this much?”This does not surprise us. We wrote about layoffs just earlier this week and many imminent changes seem to be hinting at that. Battistelli is just planting the seeds of catastrophe, which no doubt already causes super-hard-working examiners to panic.

Now that we hear these things we can’t help but recall some recent comments. One such comment said that “the only bells to which the Administrative Council of the EPO usually reacts to are the cash register bells operated by Mr. Battistelli.”

What cash register?

If they have as much money as they claim, why would the Office shrink this much? This is unprecedented; the Office grew over time rather than shrink.

Here is another interesting new comment:

” If the Freie Wähler stand up and file a pretty sensible and non-ideological resolution like this one, then I would not be surprised if it will actually be passed by the state parliament on 20/2/2018.”

Dear Dr. Bausch, far be it from me to question your optimism about Bavarian democracy.
But I wouldn’t count on the motion passing if the CSU gets its way.

But I suggest that you take a look at the contribution from Mr. Taubeneder (CSU) during the last debate on EPO affairs back in March 2017:

https://www1.bayern.landtag.de/www/player/index.html?playlist=https://www1.bayern.landtag.de/lisp/res/metafiles/wp17/17_346/meta_vod_24176.json&startId=

Maybe it is just me, but he gives the impression of singing off the same hymn sheet as the EPO management.
It would not surprise me if the EPO PR department wrote the speech for him.

We wrote about that at the time. People said the same thing to us (that the EPO seems to be ‘operating’ some politicians behind the scenes).

Thorsten Bausch responded by noting that he “heard that today’s [yesterday's] session was postponed to March due to sickness of Ms. Schmidt.”

Schmidt is a key figure in all this. Fantastic politician.

“As to your comments about Mr. Taubeneder,” Bausch continued, “you may indeed be right. Some of the language he used was clearly not his own (but the same is true for Ms. Schmidt, to be fair). Mr. Taubeneder’s main argument in 2017 was that the Bavarian Parliament is not competent to judge about such matters, which are in the very capable hands of the Administrative Council (sarcasm added by me, but not much). If I were Mr. Taubeneder or any of his CSU fellows, I would rather argue that it is the failure of the SPD-led Federal Ministry of Justice to apply more pressure on the Administrative Council to change things at the EPO to the better.”

Where is the German state when all these abuses are happening, culminating in the likely dismissal of many public servants living and working abroad with their families? Can the sessions wait another month?

Here is another new comment from another thread. This one too is about the supine Administrative Council:

Introducing the provision to “terminate the service of an employee if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction in staff” looks like a classic (“dead cat”) strategy from the EPO management.

Getting feedback that nobody likes the proposal to change to 5 year contracts? Starting to worry that the proposal might not be passed? No problem, we have the answer for you: just introduce a proposal that is far more outrageous an objectionable and then everyone will expend their energy and time fighting that instead.

So here’s my prediction: unless the AC has become completely supine, the “dead cat” proposal will draw objections, at which point the EPO management (with a theatrical show of exasperation and reluctance) will agree to withdraw it, but only if the AC agrees to rubber-stamp all of the other proposals (including the expansion of 5-year contracts).

It will be interesting to see how accurate this prediction turns out to be.

If the rumours are true, it all makes sense now. And as a followup comment put it: “Our salaries at the USPTO are even more competitive than the EPO’s [...] Conclusion: the overall better employment conditions at the USPTO allows USPTO examiners to provide much higher quality than that provided by the EPO. Hence, applicants would be better advised to file first in the US to get value for money…”

It’s hardly surprising that under Battistelli, e.g. last year, the number of patent applications (for EPs) actually fell slightly. Battistelli doomed the Office. Whether it was intentional or not (UPC in mind) we’ll let readers decide.

The demise of the EPO threatens Europe’s competitiveness. One might say, “so they’ll turn to NPOs…”

Well, not necessarily. Some people now go abroad for their patents.

As a side note, earlier this month EPLAW wrote about the ‘Drum Unit’ case that relates to the NPO:

With its milestone ‘Drum Unit’ decision, the German Federal Supreme Court revisits its case law on the exhaustion of patent rights, and in particular, on the delimitation of ‘permissible use’ on the one hand and the ‘unlawful (re-)making’ of a patented product on the other.

What would exhaustion of a patent office itself mean to stakeholders? Has it ever happened?

We have, on numerous occasions, been told that an EPO career should be lifelong because finding a job after the EPO is hard (there are several different reasons for this). It pains us to think that many EPO workers, some of whom were supportive of us over the years, are not in a state of shock if not additional stress (as it things weren’t already stressful enough).

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby, Bristows and IAM Among Others, Downplays Darts-IP/IP2Innovate Report About Rising If Not Soaring Troll Activity in Europe

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 09:21:10 PM

…Because they’re not interested in facts; they actively promote the UPC and patent trolls, which they’re even paid to promote

Summary: Exactly like last year, as soon as IP2Innovate opens its mouth Bristows and IAM go into “attack dog” mode and promote the UPC, deny the existence or seriousness of patent trolls, and promote their nefarious, trolls-funded agenda

Déjà vu today. We saw that last year in spring. Lobbyists of patent trolls come out of the woodwork and relentlessly attack those who dare point out that today’s EPO gives rise to patent trolls and UPC would further exacerbate this problem. But let’s structure what happened yesterday and today chronologically, having researched this the entire day. We’ll leave this for readers to decide on, e.g. who is right and who is wrong.

It has long been known that low-quality patents granted by the USPTO were partly responsible for a trolls epidemic in the United States. Almost nobody would deny this, not even patent extremists; they just use different words for patent trolls. The same thing is happening in China right now because patent scope is broadened and examination weakened. It’s an avalanche of low-quality patents.

“The same thing is happening in China right now because patent scope is broadened and examination weakened. It’s an avalanche of low-quality patents.”This brings us to the EPO. We last wrote about decline of patent quality just earlier today, based on a two-page report/bulletin from EPO insiders. Anyone still in denial about the decline of European Patents’ (EPs) quality is either deluded or called Benoît Battistelli (he probably lies to himself about it, maybe he actually believes his own lies).

We’ve long warned (long before we covered EPO scandals) about low-quality EPs ushering in patent trolls, more so if the UPC ever becomes a reality. We weren’t alone. Others were saying the exact same thing. It’s so evident that in order to deny this one has to be both greedy and financially-motivated (Bristows comes to mind).

Patent trolls are already soaring in Germany. This was measured last year. Patent trolls’ representatives make a load of money out of it and they want to make it worse with ‘unitary’ effect (more defendants, higher damages and so on). The UPC is a disaster in the making, but thankfully it has been stopped. IP2Innovate already spoke out against it, echoing many of the same arguments we had made for years.

“Patent trolls are already soaring in Germany. This was measured last year. Patent trolls’ representatives make a load of money out of it and they want to make it worse with ‘unitary’ effect (more defendants, higher damages and so on).”Remember that IP2Innovate isn’t some ‘commie’ thing or some ‘radical’ group; it’s an actual representative of many companies, both large and small. It’s akin to CCIA and HTIA in terms of the pattern of membership. Many are technology firms. They actually create and innovate things. They’re not litigators.

This brings us to the study, which was carried out by another firm, probably at the behest of IP2Innovate. The study speaks of PAE [sic] activity in Europe. This is a form of troll (the other form typically being NPE or something the trolls’ lobby calls PIPCO if large enough to have gone public).

“The study speaks of PAE [sic] activity in Europe. This is a form of troll (the other form typically being NPE or something the trolls’ lobby calls PIPCO if large enough to have gone public).”“The reports shows there is growing activity of patent trolls in Europe,” told us a source associated with the study, “with a 20% year-on-year jump over the last ten years. US-based patent trolls initiated 60% of all lawsuits targeting European companies. 25% of victims are European SMEs. Furthermore, here is the link to our latest press release.”

I was about to cover this irrespective of their reach-out. From the press release:

European innovation is increasingly under attack from patent assertion entities (PAEs) and particularly from US-based PAEs who now file the majority of PAE suits in Europe. This is the conclusion evident from the information presented by the world’s leading authority in intellectual property case law data, DARTS-IP, to Europe’s lawmakers, regulators and business leaders this evening.

PAEs do not innovate and do not create and sell new products. Instead, they buy up patents and profit from asserting these patents against operating companies. In pursuing this model, PAEs can exploit certain aspects of Europe’s patent legal system to the detriment of Europe’s innovators and the European public.

DARTS-IP’s comprehensive study of the past ten years of available patent litigation data in Europe reveals increasing activity by PAEs, also commonly known as “non- practising entities” (NPEs) or “patent trolls.” There has been a 20% year-on-year jump in PAE litigation. US-based PAEs initiated most of those suits (60%) and targeted applications of information and communication technologies (ICT) (75%). As application of ICT is central to innovation and growth across many industries, the consequences of these attacks will be far-reaching. Most importantly, data shows that it is not just large companies who are affected — almost a quarter of the unique defendants are European SMEs. Germany is the preferred venue, with 20% of all German patent litigation having been brought by PAEs.

“Patent abuse is damaging digital innovation in Europe,” the headline from IP2Innovate said. Dull enough as it is, right? Because it’s nothing but a press release. The response to it was a lot more fascinating than the study because it revealed allegiances and biases. Here is the only press report we’ve seen so far. To quote:

Non-practicing entity (NPE) litigation and enforcement in Europe has increased by an average almost 20 percent year-on-year since 2007, according to a new report from Darts-IP.

The report, NPE Litigation In The EU, which was released yesterday (19 February), claims to provide a “factual overview of NPE related litigation and patent enforcement activities across the EU”.

In 2017, 173 NPE-related actions were recorded by the report, compared to 56 in 2007.

The report noted a spike in the number of cases in 2014, with 146 NPE-related actions that year compared to 90 in the previous year.

So now comes the ugly part. Richard Lloyd, probably the worst of the entire IAM bunch (he’s pro-trolls, the most vocal proponent of software patents etc.) worked an ‘article’ about this, calling it “spin” right there in the headline (wow, spot the hypocrisy) and then distorting the overall message of the study. Typical IAM. Lobbying disguised as ‘journalism’ from trolls denialists who are literally funded by patent trolls. This lobby group now uses articles to smear a study showing trolls’ rise in Europe. This is the kind of headline that will show up in aggregators like Google News (which deems this lobby group to be a news site): “Despite the spin, new report shows NPEs are responsible for a fraction of European patent litigation”

Got that? This is what people will read, based on a trolls-funded lobby group masquerading as IAM Media [sic].

“The response to it was a lot more fascinating than the study because it revealed allegiances and biases.”If that’s not bad enough, watch their tweets (based on the Google TLD, someone who works for IAM from Belgium tweeted these): “IP2Innovate press release here: ip2innovate.eu/wp-content/upl… @IPKat report here: ipkitten.blogspot.be/2018/02/has-eu… Judge for yourselves whether IP2Innovate is painting an entirely accurate picture here. @DartsIp [] The last US IP import Europe needs is the distorted debate about patent litigation that deep pocket corporations with a vested interest in infringement have successfully created. https://twitter.com/iam_magazine/status/965643285816664069 … [] If there are around 1,000 patent cases filed in Germany each year, 20% would be 200. The @DartsIp NPE report says there were 173 suits filed by NPEs in the whole of Europe last year. So how can the #IP2Innovate claim that NPEs file 20% of all cases in Germany be correct? https://twitter.com/BenGrzimek/status/965868605652000768 …”

“It’s called extrapolation,” I told them, “but carry on bashing people who speak out against patent trolls (sponsors of IAM).”

Remember that the IAM company (they call themselves IAM Media) was paid by the EPO’s PR firm and by patent trolls to promote UPC and to muzzle the voice of real SMEs. IAM is basically funded to undermine news, not to spread news. This is why Battistelli loves them so much (he recently wrote an article for them and will soon be their keynote speaker).

Disturbing? To us it is.

“This lobby group now uses articles to smear a study showing trolls’ rise in Europe.”Here is what Benjamin Henrion wrote: “European innovation is increasingly under attack from patent assertion entities (PAEs) and particularly from US-based PAEs who now file the majority of PAE suits in Europe http://www.ip2innovate.eu/patent-abuse-damaging-digital-innovation-europe/ …”

Here is what they themselves wrote in Twitter: “We are pleased to be part of the launch of @DartsIp report today. Hope the new #data will demonstrate the need for greater #transparency and improvements to make Europe’s #patent legal system robust, balanced and flexible.” [] There is an average 20% annual increase in Non-practicing entity #litigation in Europe – David Marques, @DartsIp #patents #BalancedPatents [] US-based #NPEs account for 60% of NPE-related #litigation in the #EU – David Marques of @DartsIp. #patents #BalancedPatents [] Patrick Schmitz sharing @Telekom_group experience with abusive #patent practices by patent assertion entities. #BalancedPatents [] Our Chairman Kevin Prey of @SAP concluding the event: hopefully it’s just the beginning of the discussion about how Europe can promote #innovation by making its #patent legal system fit for our modern era. #BalancedPatents [] We hope that all the stakeholders represented at our event today – #EC, Member States authorities, industry, legal profession and judicial authorities will work together to implement safeguards against abusive #patent practices. #BalancedPatents”

“Remember that the IAM company (they call themselves IAM Media) was paid by the EPO’s PR firm and by patent trolls to promote UPC and to muzzle the voice of real SMEs.”But wait, there’s more.

Lawyers of patent trolls saw it as their duty to confront this study in public (but without disclosure). We’re talking about Bristows, who love posting anonymously these days (because they lack ethics and when they consciously lie they don’t want to be held accountable for these lies).

Watch Bristows’ own site. It’s a shipwreck. Nobody reads it. It is run by incompetent people who hours ago posted a blank test page and neglected to remove it for several hours (in the process revealing weaknesses; it’s like a toy site with physical path being publicly exposed as "D:\inetpub\sites\upcblue\latest-news\test\").

“Lawyers of patent trolls saw it as their duty to confront this study in public (but without disclosure).”This Windows site of Bristows, with its truly bizarre (infinite) RSS feeds, does not want to be seen as attacking IP2Innovate, so obviously, as usual, they’ll just ‘borrow’ some other blogs (with an actual audience) like IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog.

For those in doubt about Bristows’ motivations, the firm is working for trolls. It knows that. For those who wonder why Bristows staff spends endless efforts and money promoting UPC, check out its list of services. It’s all about money and greed. Earlier today Bristows’ Sophie Lawrance, Francion Brooks and Jonathan Ross did a puff piece for the notorious patent troll MPEG-LA. “The creation of the CRISPR patent pool was announced last spring by MPEG LA,” they wrote. It now uses CRISPR patents (which are mostly invalid) to bully everyone who ‘dares’ study genetics. In their own words (just hours ago):

The creation of the CRISPR patent pool was announced last spring by MPEG LA, an organisation well-known for creating patent pools for consumer electronics. Thus far, only the Broad Institute has publically revealed that it has submitted patents for evaluation.

We wrote about this scam of a ‘pool’ several months ago. They’re relying on dodgy patents here, just as they relied on dodgy software patents beforehand. It’s a classic protection racket. The cost of challenging them in a court is just too high.

“And the last time the same sort of study/press release came out (from IP2Innovate) IAM also came out with an attack.”Going back to Bristows, watch what IP Kat posted in Twitter and in its blog. IP Kat did not disclosure that the writer is from Bristows. She’s always promoting software patents, pushing the pro-UPC card, as she/IP Kat did last year (almost exactly the same, in response to IP2Innovate).

And the last time the same sort of study/press release came out (from IP2Innovate) IAM also came out with an attack. Yes, IAM did the same thing back then. At least they’re consistent. Reading between the lines, Bristows — like IAM — alleges that the data is wrong:

However, the data is imperfect. This is only data held by Darts-IP and in many countries information about issued cases which settle early is impossible to maintain. Data and scrutiny of data is important. The lack of fulsome data from EU Member States’ courts is important not just for this study but for analysis of all substantive and procedural IP subsistence, validity, protection and enforcement. As it is in the business of sharing IP decisions from across the world, the IPKat has been banging this drum for near 15 years now – the EU must make it a priority to ensure that all Member States court information and decisions relating to IP are made easily accessible by the public (subject to confidentiality restrictions of course). It is noted that this issue was/is being looked at by the Commission as part of their IP Enforcement consultation.

That’s UPC propaganda right there from Bristows. The author continues to nitpick and downplay the study, doing little but pretending it boils down to drama and false claims (that’s quite hysterical coming from Bristows, best known for its UPC lies that even comments in Kluwer Patent Blog keep debunking — at least the comments which survive their censorship).

“Reading between the lines, Bristows — like IAM — alleges that the data is wrong…”Check out the comments, which are generally better than the posts (shameless lobbing and marketing) at IP Kat, especially after the founder of the blog left. “All of these factors point to the UPC becoming a paradise for NPE litigants,” the following comment said. “Is this really what we want for Europe?”

To quote the whole comment:

This certainly lends weight to the concerns voiced (repeatedly) about possible, negative impacts of the UPC.

It is no surprise that bifurcation in Germany attracts NPE litigants, and that the costs of litigation in the UK (as well as the absence of bifurcation) is off-putting for all but the most confident / determined of NPEs. However, the confirmation that these factors do indeed influence the behaviours of litigants ought to prompt some serious consideration of what behaviours we can expect the UPC to induce in NPE litigants.

My own view is that there are a number of important factors that will almost certainly influence behaviour. These include: the (relatively) low cost of bringing infringement cases at the UPC; the absurdly high cost of raising a defence of invalidity at the UPC; the opportunities for “forum-shopping”, particularly the selection of fora that are inconvenient for defendants; and the opportunities for “gaming” the system with regard to withdrawal of opt-outs (and consequent changes to the law(s) of infringement that will be applied by the court).

All of these factors point to the UPC becoming a paradise for NPE litigants. Is this really what we want for Europe?

Someone then said: “I am sceptical about considering the background of a patentee. To use an analogy from real estate: should it really matter who the owner of a piece of land is when he decides to take action against someone constructing buildings without a permit on his land? A title to a piece of land is a title to a piece of land whether you like it or not.”

“The author continues to nitpick and downplay the study, doing little but pretending it boils down to drama and false claims…”And the response: “Sure, but consider this. If someone is living on that land, and then someone moves in next door and plays loud music every evening (and thereby disrupting the landowner’s quiet enjoyment of the property next door), then the damage being caused is much greater here than the alternative where no one is living on the land.”

The following comment notes the correlation with the EPO’s actions. “With the EPO seemingly granting more and more (clearly) invalid patents,” it said, “and with the current UPC set-up being such a favourable forum for NPE litigants…”

Here is the full comment:

Drawing an analogy with land ownership is not appropriate.

New plots of land cannot be created “at will” by those seeking land. And they most certainly not be created within an existing plot that has a different owner.

Another point is that, for land, there is no official authority that decides whether or not title to the land will be granted, and how big the plot will be.

The latter topic reminds me that there is yet another factor that could drive “antisocial” behaviour in Europe from NPE litigants. That is, if the granting authority does not do its job properly (ie grant new titles inappropriately) then this will encourage abusive litigation based upon invalid rights.

Such abusive litigation has many characteristics in common with protection rackets run by gangsters: “That’s a nice market for your product that you’ve got going there. It would be a real shame if something nasty happened to it, like a court injunction.”

With high costs for launching a defence and no absolute guarantee of a high-quality (ie correct) court decision, how many of those threatened with such abusive litigation do you think would be inclined to pay the litigants to make the issue go away?

It is at least a little reassuring to see that “big” companies have so far been the main targets of NPE litigation in Europe, as they should at least have the option of fighting back (hard) against any “gangsters”. However, if pan-European litigation is made that much cheaper, and the costs for raising an invalidity defence are made that much more expensive, then it is a no-brainer that NPE litigants will inevitably turn their attention to less lucrative but far “softer” targets … such as SMEs.

With the EPO seemingly granting more and more (clearly) invalid patents, and with the current UPC set-up being such a favourable forum for NPE litigants, it is clear what will be in store for us if and when the UPC as currently envisaged ever sees the light of day. I repeat: is this really what we want for Europe?

“That Google News syndicates IAM as though it’s a source of news says a lot about Google itself.”We think it’s important to remind our readers what Bristows and IAM stand for. They’re the worst in Europe when it comes to coverage regarding patent matters because they’re deeply corrupted by money. They pretend to be telling news, but they knowingly spread falsehoods, such as patently 'fake news' about the UPC. That Google News syndicates IAM as though it’s a source of news says a lot about Google itself.

Links 20/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.5, Qt 5.11 Alpha, Absolute 15.0 Beta 4, Sailfish OS 2.1.4 E.A., SuiteCRM 7.10

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 06:48:12 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source intelligent solutions to transform work, businesses

    New trends are opening up new opportunities and new ways to deal with IT, according to Thomas di Giacomo, SUSE CTO, speaking at the SUSE executive roundtable, which the open source company hosted in partnership with ITWeb last week.

    There are many new and innovative technologies that can help IT leaders meet these new demands, he added. Open source based technologies have become the driving force behind most of the technologically disruptive innovations, said Di Giacomo.

    “It is pretty clear that all the new innovation is coming from open source.

    “For example, open source progress with Linux and virtualisation a couple of decades ago, cloud in the last 10 years, and more recently, containers for applications, software-defined infrastructure, and platform-as-a-service, empowering DevOps principles.”

    However, these trends also present some new challenges, said Di Giacomo. Compared to a couple of decades ago, the number of open source projects today has skyrocketed – from hundreds in the different foundations like the Linux Foundation, Apache, Eclipse and others, to millions of projects on Github.

  • Choosing project names: 4 key considerations

    Working on a new open source project, you’re focused on the code—getting that great new idea released so you can share it with the world. And you’ll want to attract new contributors, so you need a terrific name for your project.

    We’ve all read guides for creating names, but how do you go about choosing the right one? Keeping that cool science fiction reference you’re using internally might feel fun, but it won’t mean much to new users you’re trying to attract. A better approach is to choose a name that’s memorable to new users and developers searching for your project.

    Names set expectations. Your project’s name should showcase its functionality in the ecosystem and explain to users what your story is. In the crowded open source software world, it’s important not to get entangled with other projects out there. Taking a little extra time now, before sending out that big announcement, will pay off later.

  • Events
    • FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom Recap: Simon Phipps & Rich Sands

      It’s been a few weeks now since FOSDEM and if you didn’t have a chance to attend or watch the livestream of the FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom, Leslie my co-chair, and I are doing a round up summary on posts on each of the talks to bring you the video and the highlights of each presentation. You can read the preview post of Rich Sands and Simon Phipps pre FOSDEM blog post here.

    • Scheduling Voxxed Days Zurich 2018 with OptaPlanner

      My name is Mario Fusco and I’m honored to be the Program Committee Lead of Voxxed Days Zurich for the third year in a row. Reading, evaluating, discussing, and selecting from the 200+ proposals that arrive every year is a long and challenging process. I must admit, I largely underestimated the task the first year I started doing it. It’s necessary to evaluate not only the quality of every submission, but also how they fit together. In the end, the worst part is having to reject so many incredible proposals because there are a limited number of slots.

      However, once all the talks have been selected and all the approval and rejection emails have been sent, the process is still not complete. Now it is time to take all the accepted talks and schedule the actual program. Even for a moderate sized event like Voxxed Days Zurich (the conference lasts only one day and we have four parallel tracks), this is not a trivial task. There are many constraints and nice-to-haves that you may need to consider. For example, some speakers will arrive late in the morning or will have to leave early in the afternoon. Some talks require different room capacities. Two talks belonging to the same track must not be scheduled at the same time. There are many more variables to this process.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected

        Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S.

        Today, we’re announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between.

        What do all these projects have in common? They’re affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.

  • Databases
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CRM
    • How startups and SME’s can leverage open source CRM to increase business

      Prominent Open Source CRM in India:

      – SugarCRM
      Founded in 2004, Sugar CRM has over 7,000 customers and more than half a million users worldwide. Easily one of the largest open sources CRM in the world, SugarCRM offers versatile functionalities including sales-force automation, marketing campaigns, customer support, collaboration, Mobile CRM, Social CRM and reporting. While SugarCRM has released no open source editions since early 2014, its earlier community versions continued to inspire other open source software, namely Suite CRM, Vtiger CRM and SarvCRM.

      – SuiteCRM
      Suite CRM is a popular fork of SugarCRM and was launched as the latest version of the SugarCRM in October 2013. In a short period of its existence, it has won several awards and has been adopted by reputed clientele, including the Govt. of UK’s National Health Scheme (NHS) program. Suite CRM is an enterprise-class open source alternative to proprietary alternatives and offers a series of extension for both free and paid-for enhancements. Prominent additional modules available with SuiteCRM include Teams security, Google Maps, Outlook Plugin, Products, Contracts, Invoices, PDF Templates, workflow, reporting and Responsive Theme.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 released

      SalesAgility, the creators and maintainers of SuiteCRM, are excited to announce a new major release of the world’s most popular open source CRM – SuiteCRM 7.10, including highly anticipated new features and many enhancements.

      SuiteCRM is a fully featured, highly flexible, open source CRM, which can be installed on-premise or in the cloud, and allows companies and organisations to have full control over their own customer data. It delivers actionable insights into customers, boosts conversions, helps increase sales, bolsters customer care and streamlines business operations. The CRM is as powerful as Salesforce and Dynamics, but with the unique benefit of being completely open source.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 released

      SuiteCRM is a fork of the formerly open-source SugarCRM customer relationship management system.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 Released For Open-Source Customer Relationship Management

      SuiteCRM 7.10 is now available as the latest major feature release to this customer relationship management (CRM) software forked from SugarCRM’s last open-source release.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Licensing/Legal
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • A new Maryland bill would allow students to buy textbooks tax-free twice a year [Ed: This is a reaction to open-source (Open Access) books and maybe an attempt to extinguish such state-level initiatives]

        University of Maryland student Kayla Little has wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 years old — but a nationwide rise in textbook prices has proved to be an obstacle to her success.

        “I’ve wanted to go into medicine for the longest [time], and I really don’t want to give that up for books,” said Little, who hopes to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional sports team.

      • How the Grateful Dead were a precursor to Creative Commons licensing

        From its founding in 1965, the Grateful Dead was always an unusual band. Rising amidst the counterculture movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grateful Dead’s music had roots in multiple styles and genres but did not lend itself to easy categorization. Was it psychedelic? Folk? Blues? Country? Yes, it was all of these and more. The band frequently performed well-known public domain songs, but they made the songs their own.

        Members of the band could effortlessly play across traditional and diverse styles. At concerts, they often performed songs that sounded familiar at first but grew and evolved across styles and genres. Songs often turned into lengthy jam sessions in which musicians played off one another, discovering new musical motifs and expanding them together.

  • Programming/Development
    • Rust things I miss in C

      Librsvg feels like it is reaching a tipping point, where suddenly it seems like it would be easier to just port some major parts from C to Rust than to just add accessors for them. Also, more and more of the meat of the library is in Rust now.

      I’m switching back and forth a lot between C and Rust these days, and C feels very, very primitive these days.

    • Learning to program is getting harder

      I have written several books that use Python to explain topics like Bayesian Statistics and Digital Signal Processing. Along with the books, I provide code that readers can download from GitHub. In order to work with this code, readers have to know some Python, but that’s not enough. They also need a computer with Python and its supporting libraries, they have to know how to download code from GitHub, and then they have to know how to run the code they downloaded.

      And that’s where a lot of readers get into trouble.

Leftovers
  • “Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

    Del Harvey, Twitter’s resident troll hunter, has a fitting, if unusual, backstory for somebody in charge of policing one of the Internet’s most ungovernable platforms. As a teenager, she spent a summer as a lifeguard at a state mental institution; at 21, she began volunteering for Perverted Justice, a vigilante group that lures pedophiles into online chat rooms and exposes their identities. When the group partnered with NBC in 2004 to launch To Catch a Predator, Harvey posed as a child to help put pedophiles in jail. In 2008, she joined Twitter, then a small status-updating service whose 140-character quirk was based on the amount of alphanumerics that could be contained on a flip-phone screen. She was employee No. 25, and her job was to combat spam accounts.

  • Science
    • Why even a moth’s brain is smarter than an AI

      These differences probably account for why machine-learning systems lag so far behind natural ones in some aspects of performance. Insects, for example, can recognize odors after just a handful of exposures. Machines, on the other hand, need huge training data sets to learn. Computer scientists hope that understanding more about natural forms of learning will help them close the gap.

      Enter Charles Delahunt and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle, who have created an artificial neural network that mimics the structure and behavior of the olfactory learning system in Manduca sexta moths. They say their system provides some important insights into the way natural networks learn, with potential implications for machines.

    • Can’t get new lungs? Try refurbished ones instead.

      Harald Ott, a surgeon at Harvard Medical School, thinks that his lab’s unusual methods might someday solve the organ- transplant crisis. On average, 20 people in the United States die every day awaiting donor organs for transplant, according to the American Transplant Foundation. If Ott’s idea works, it could one day eliminate the need for an organ waiting list.

    • Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality

      A team led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has used data mining and computational tools to discover a new phosphor material for white LEDs that is inexpensive and easy to make. Researchers built prototype white LED light bulbs using the new phosphor. The prototypes exhibited better color quality than many commercial LEDs currently on the market.

    • Pattern formation—the paradoxical role of turbulence

      The formation of self-organizing molecular patterns in cells is a critical component of many biological processes. Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have proposed a new theory to explain how such patterns emerge in complex natural systems.

      Many biological processes are crucially dependent on the formation of ordered distributions of specific molecules within cells. These patterns are self-organizing structures that evolve in a predictable fashion in time and space. Perhaps the best known example of intracellular protein patterning is the molecular machinery that orchestrates the regular segregation of complete chromosome sets to the two daughter cells during cell division.

    • Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’

      Oceanographers have put a stethoscope on the coursing circulatory system of the Atlantic Ocean, and they have found a skittish pulse that’s surprisingly strong in the waters east of Greenland—data that should improve climate models.

      The powerful currents in the Atlantic, formally known as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), are a major engine in Earth’s climate. The AMOC’s shallower limbs—which include the Gulf Stream—transport warm water from the tropics northward, warming Western Europe. In the north, the waters cool and sink, forming deeper limbs that transport the cold water back south—and sequester anthropogenic carbon in the process. This overturning is why the AMOC is sometimes called the Atlantic conveyor belt.

  • Hardware
    • Qualcomm raises bid for NXP to about $43.22B

      Qualcomm is raising its takeover bid for NXP Semiconductors by nearly 16 percent to about $43.22 billion, citing in part NXP’s strong results since the companies first announced their merger in October 2016.

      The move announced Tuesday comes as Qualcomm itself is in the crosshairs of Broadcom Ltd., which earlier this month raised its own cash and stock bid for Qualcomm to $121 billion.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Woman billed $17,850 for dodgy pee test. Alarmed experts say she’s not alone

      In 2015, a college student in Texas named Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery to correct a painful spinal abnormality. The procedure was a success, and her surgeon followed it with just a short-term prescription for the opioid painkiller hydrocodone to ease a speedy recovery. Then came a “routine” urine drug test, ostensibly to ensure she didn’t abuse the powerful drug.

      A year later, she got the bill for that test. It was $17,850.

    • Breakthrough as scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells

      Growing human organs inside other animals has taken another step away from science-fiction, with researchers announcing they have grown sheep embryos containing human cells.

      Scientists say growing human organs inside animals could not only increase supply, but also offer the possibility of genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, by using the patient’s own cells in the procedure, removing the possibility of rejection.

  • Security
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Warning after Assange fans targeted MP for retweets by Wikileaks

      POLITICIANS have been urged to show more caution on social media after evidence emerged that Wikileaks supporters were encouraged to use an SNP MP to spread their message on Twitter.

      Followers of Julian Assange were told to try and persuade Paul Monaghan to retweet content as part of a wider campaign to use parliamentarians to amplify their views.

    • Denis’s Dreaming: Julian Assange And His Doppelganger

      The ubiquitous US empire, I realized, had become an omnipresent force capable of vacuuming up and silencing all who dared question the activities of a system promulgating political chicanery… and it doesn’t approve of unauthorized disclosure, as the Julian Assange case demonstrates. Particularly as the covert activities of the ever-expanding American Empire – criminal by any measure – have become ever more rabid and rancid in its’ quest for full spectrum dominance.

      Fat chance that the masters of the universe would give a fig about the UN vote – pigs might fly I thought – recalling that the UN findings reflected the injustice of a system that hounded a man whose only crime was speaking truth to power. As I exited Hans Crescent, I felt queasy upon realising that it’s the ‘poodles’ – in this case the British variety – who sustain the status quo. When I arrived at my office I felt somewhat dejected, and closing the door on the outside world, sat myself down at my desk and said aloud to nobody in particular, “compliance is the flip side of expediency”.

      As morning turned to afternoon, I continued to reflect on the life of Julian Assange. Here was a man who was in possession of 250,000 diplomatic cables which shone an uncomfortable spotlight on US foreign policy. He published material documenting extrajudicial killings in Kenya, a report on toxic waste dumping on the Ivory Coast and Guantanamo Bay detention camp procedures and material involving large banks such as Kaupthing and Julies Baer. He also revealed the ugly truth of crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and the West’s role in the destabilization of Ukraine in 2014 plus the destruction of Libya, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    • Alleged Trump-Assange Backchannel: ‘There Was No Backchannel’

      One of the most curious episodes of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is also one of its most intriguing: Did Roger Stone—the eccentric informal Trump adviser—have backchannel communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange?

    • How Trump took advantage of Russian interference: Amplifying Wikileaks
    • Razer: journalism is not a crime! Except, you know, when WikiLeaks does it.

      I know you guys remember the detention of journalist Peter Greste, held with Al Jazeera colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahm in Cairo from December 2013. I remember, but perhaps not as well as you. I didn’t know the guy’s name before he was arrested charges of spreading “false news”. This was my fault, and not that of the Australian who had offered the Anglophone world an understanding of a coup that powers in the West would not call a coup. I was dumped that year, so any affairs more foreign than the one the ex was enjoying in Balwyn North were of limited concern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Alaska’s Bering Sea Lost a Third of Its Ice in Just 8 Days

      In just eight days in mid-February, nearly a third of the sea ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s west coast disappeared. That kind of ice loss and the changing climate as the planet warms is affecting the lives of the people who live along the coast.

      At a time when the sea ice should be growing toward its maximum extent for the year, it’s shrinking instead—the area of the Bering Sea covered by ice is now 60 percent below its average from 1981-2010.

      “[Bering sea ice] is in a league by itself at this point,” said Richard Thoman, the climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service Alaska region. “And looking at the weather over the next week, this value isn’t going to go up significantly. It’s going to go down.”

    • China’s polar ambitions cause anxiety

      Chinese tourists going abroad must be used to it by now – the lists of dos and don’ts to prevent them from tarnishing their country’s image.

      “Do not spit phlegm or gum” and “don’t take a long time using public toilets” are just two of the exhortations in a 2013 pamphlet from the National Tourism Administration.

    • The carbon-capture era may finally be starting

      The budget bill that President Donald Trump signed into law earlier this month provides a huge incentive for capturing and storing carbon emissions.

      Energy researchers who have crunched the numbers in the days since have concluded that on many projects the boosted tax credit could finally tip the scales for a technology that’s long proved far too expensive.

  • Finance
    • Working remotely, 4 years in

      It worked out. It obviously hasn’t always been 100% perfect in every way, but working remotely has been a great career move for me. I’ve learned a ton from my coworkers and have been able to do some really cool projects that I’m proud of. So here are some thoughts about what I think has made it work for me.

    • “Blockchain” Stocks Completely Disintegrate

      I’ve never seen a sector skyrocket and totally collapse this fast – in four months – as these newfangled “blockchain stocks.” Now they’re surrounded by debris and revelations of scams. These fly-by-night or near-failure outfits used the hype of “blockchain” and the whole media razzmatazz about cryptocurrencies to manipulate up their stocks, sometimes by several thousand percent in a matter of days.

    • Sears brand name deteriorates in value as sales suffer

      If Sears fails to execute a turnaround and ends up in bankruptcy, the company’s storied brand name could yet live on.

      But as the company slowly descends deeper and deeper into red ink, the value of the company’s brand is also suffering.

      [...]

      The nearly half-a-billion-dollar writedown underscores the severity of the company’s financial crisis. Although President Trump’s tax cut likely carried the Sears to a fourth-quarter profit, that was a one-time benefit that won’t solve the company’s ongoing issues.

    • Trump administration recommends steep tariffs on steel and aluminum

      The Commerce Department is recommending steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

      The suggested tariffs, offered by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in the name of national security, are the latest indication that President Trump’s trade talk is turning from bark to bite. They also raise the risk of a trade war with China and other nations.

      Ross suggested three options for Trump — impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum, target select countries with even higher tariffs, or limit the total steel and aluminum coming into the United States.

    • Trump Contemplates Sanctions Against USA

      Think of it. If you slap on a tariff and importation instantly slows, it may take years to build new factories to take up the slack. Essentially, USA will be sanctioning itself. The tariffs won’t hurt China in the least. The world is hungry for its products and if USA ships fewer products made of aluminium and steel, China’s markets increase. So be it. USA, you reap what you sow. Trump adds this to the long list of stupid/crazy things he says and does.

    • Sorry, Brendan O’Neill, but we won’t be no-platformed on Brexit

      If you read Brendan O’Neill’s Coffee House article on Our Future, Our Choice! OFOC! – the campaign group of which I am co-president – you are left with the impression that we are a bunch of young fascists seeking a teenocracy. Brendan seems to believe that Britain’s youth see themselves as Nietzsche’s young warriors, and want to push out the ‘old men’. The ‘cult of youth’ wants to round up the walking-stick brigade, the village church congregations, the ageing Brexiteer army and send them where they belong: ‘peaceful’ correction camps.

      This is ludicrous. I wholeheartedly believe in ‘one person, one vote’. It goes without saying that we at OFOC! do not want to ‘dehumanise the old’. The concerns of the young should not override the concerns of the old. We all have an equal say. Brendan mistakenly assumes that we are making some grand philosophical point; that we are busy devising a voting system which would give a full vote to a healthy eighteen-year-old, and 0.4 of a vote to an 88-year-old on their deathbed. We are not. We are making a pragmatic argument rather than a philosophical one. Brexit is a national project which will take at least over half a decade to complete. In that time, according to demographic shifts alone, it will have lost its mandate. The British people will then clearly be inheriting a national project a majority didn’t ask for, and would rather not have.

    • Alibaba, Tencent rally troops amid $10 billion retail battle

      China’s tech giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), worth a combined $1 trillion, are on a retail investment binge, forcing merchants to choose sides amid a battle for shoppers’ digital wallets.

      Since the start of last year, the two companies have between them spent more than $10 billion on retail-focused deals, boosting their reach online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

    • Mutually Assured Contempt at 2018 Munich Security Conference

      Last year the biggest name in Munich was Chinese President Xi, who did not disappoint and stole the show by his robust defense of free trade, global cooperation to combat climate change and other leading issues of the day from which Donald Trump’s America seemed to be retreating. This year there was no one leader who commanded the attention of the audience and media. What special meaning the gathering had could be found in the Report of the organizers, which highlights the issues and guided the discussion in the various sessions over three days.

    • Irish Border issue is a legitimate threat to the Brexit talks

      One senior EU official is very pessimistic. The impasse over legally copperfastening the UK’s no-hard-Border commitment could shortly, single-handedly, bring the Brexit talks process to a crashing halt, the source warns.
      Could the Border issue be the rock on which the negotiations founder, propelling the UK into a no-deal departure?
      It’s an apocalyptic view not universally shared in Brussels but, as my colleague Pat Leahy reported recently, Dublin is also increasingly gloomy. “The Government fears that patience with the UK is running out in EU capitals.”
      It expects difficulties translating December’s guarantees on the Border into a legally binding agreement.

    • The bitcoin patent – only a matter of time?

      Given that no person (or group) has credibly claimed authorship of the 2008 Nakamoto paper or the bitcoin transaction method it describes, not surprisingly, no patent based on that original work has appeared.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Donald Trump and Facebook executive Rob Goldman’s tweets mislead about Russia’s election interference
    • Trump cites Facebook exec’s comments downplaying Russian ad influence on election

      Trump was citing Goldman’s own Twitter dump over the past week, responding to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russian citizens charged with interfering in the presidential election.

    • Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

      Our democracy is in serious danger.

      President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

      That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

    • San Juan Mayor Calls for End to Puerto Rico’s Colonial Status Amid Slow Hurricane Maria Recovery

      Five months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, swaths of the island still have no electricity, while food and water supplies have been slow to arrive. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, has been hit by a series of scandals, after it was revealed that only a fraction of the 30 million meals slated to be sent to the island after Hurricane Maria was actually delivered. FEMA approved a $156 million contract for a one-woman company to deliver the 30 million meals. But in the end, FEMA canceled the contract after she delivered only 50,000 meals, in what FEMA called a logistical nightmare. This came after FEMA gave more than $30 million in contracts to a newly created Florida company which failed to deliver a single tarp to Puerto Rico. For more, we speak with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

    • Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial

      Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”

      [...]

      This was not supposed to happen. Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? Back when the FISA surveillance warrant of Page was obtained, just weeks before the November 2016 election, there seemed to be no need to hide tracks, because, even if these extracurricular activities were discovered, the perps would have looked forward to award certificates rather than legal problems under a Trump presidency.

      Thus, the knives will be coming out. Mostly because the mainstream media will make a major effort – together with Schiff-mates in the Democratic Party – to marginalize Nunes, those who find themselves in jeopardy can be expected to push back strongly.

    • Ignorance and Prejudice in Laura Ingraham’s Tiff With LeBron James

      Next came a clip with James saying: “The number one job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a f*** about the people.” James then continued his criticism of Trump in a discussion that aired on The Uninterrupted (a media platform founded by James).

      Ingraham clearly didn’t like James’ comments. First, she said: “Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately a lot of kids, and some adults, take these ignorant comments seriously.”

      She then went on to say that getting paid millions to play basketball doesn’t mean you can talk politics, and closed with a zinger inviting James and fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, also present in the video, to stick to what they do best – basketball – rather than attempt to provide political commentary: “As someone once said: shut up and dribble.”

    • Trump ‘Blatantly Backs Gerrymandering’ in Call for GOP to Fight New Pennsylvania Maps

      Shortly after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday issued a new congressional map that eliminates the state GOP’s partisan gerrymander, President Donald Trump implored Republicans to challenge the new district lines, arguing that the original map—which the state’s highest court said “clearly” violates the constitution—”was correct.”

    • Mueller Probe Heats Up: 13 Russians Indicted, Ex-Trump Aide to Plead Guilty, Focus on Kushner Grows

      There have been a number of significant developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration. CNN is reporting Mueller is now investigating Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his attempts to secure financing for his family’s business while working on the president’s transition team. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times is reporting former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty and testify against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Under the deal, Gates will plead guilty to money laundering and illegal foreign lobbying. These developments come just days after the Justice Department indicted 13 Russians and three companies in connection with efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election by orchestrating an online propaganda effort to undermine the U.S. election system. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • China Uses The Same Excuse As This CNN Analyst To Censor Social Media

      With fears of Russia soaring to new heights, a CNN national security analyst is employing a classic argument used by the Chinese government to support censorship, arguing that social media sites should be held accountable for the content their users…

    • The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 6: Over-Blocking of Legitimate Websites

      As the public concern over the Bell coalition website blocking plan continues to grow (both the Canadian Press and CBC this weekend covered the thousands of interventions at the CRTC), the case against the plan resumes with a review of why it is likely that it will lead to over-blocking of legitimate websites. Last week’s post highlighted the probable expansion of the scope of piracy for blocking purposes, a theme that continues today with a look at the many incidents over-blocking of legitimate sites sparked by website blocking (other posts in the series include the state of Canadian copyright, weak evidence on the state of Canadian piracy, the limited impact of piracy, and why the absence of a court order would place Canada at odds with virtually all its allies).

    • Closing windows.. censorship of the internet in Egypt

      Egypt was not familiar with the practice of blocking websites in the past, and therefore the skill of bypassing censorship was not one of the basic skills acquired by Egyptian users during their normal use of the Internet; in contrast, in some Arab countries which have a history of blocking practices, this has resulted in their citizens acquiring skills of how to deal with internet censorship. With the increase in the number of blocked websites in Egypt, social networks were flooded with advice on how one can bypass a block and links to free services that enable users to access blocked websites such as Tor browser, VPN services, and proxy servers. Some blocked websites began to direct their audience through social networks to rely on proxy servers as a free and easy-to-use way to access the content of blocked websites, while many activists who are interested in countering internet censorship have written about how to rely on Tor browser and VPNs to bypass blocking. On the other hand, blocked websites have tried to find easy mechanisms to reach their audiences, such as relying on alternative platforms to publish their material, or relying on services such as AMP [Accelerated Mobiles Pages], one of the most important services provided by Google on which millions of websites depend.

    • Censorship is a slippery slope

      The issue at question is censorship of a book, “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone, currently in the high school library.

    • Andy Serkis says sex scene rules would be ‘censorship’

      Andy Serkis has said new rules being proposed this week for the filming of sex scenes could stifle creativity and amount to “censorship”.

      Actors’ union Equity is set to discuss new guidance for intimate scenes on film, TV and stage following the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.

      In the wake of the accusations against the disgraced producer, many actresses have since come forward to detail uncomfortable or unscripted sex scenes they had felt pressured into doing.

    • Sex scene rules would be ‘censorship’ star says

      Hollywood star Andy Serkis says new rules surrounding the filming of sex scenes could amount to “censorship” and stifle creativity.

      Actors’ union Equity is considering bringing in guidance for intimate scenes on stage and screen in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

      The proposals, being discussed this week, could ban actors kissing with tongues and nudity in auditions.

      [...]

      But speaking on the Bafta awards red carpet on Sunday night, Serkis said of the proposals: “I think that kind of censorship is censorship of creativity.

      “It should be arrived at by the director and the actors involved. They have to find a comfortable way of doing it that will tell the story, because that’s what we are all there to do.

      “It would be a shame if actors become so self-conscious about relating to people. You’re there to use your imagination, to create a role. I don’t think that you should be stopped from telling the story.”

    • The government is fighting ISIS online – but could it censor journalists?

      The government has developed new technology which can “automatically detect terrorist content” online. Propaganda by Daesh (also known as ISIS) could apparently be blocked as soon as it is uploaded.

      The software was created by private company ASI Data Science, with £600,000 of government money.

    • Instagram gives in to Russian censors

      Instagram has removed a video posted by Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny following pressure from the country’s communications regulator.

      The video shows deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko meeting with wealthy Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska on a yacht populated with models and escorts.

    • Shut out: outcry over censorship of Inxeba

      The unthinkable has happened. The Film and Publication Board has banned the multiaward winning film Inxeba: The Wound from being screened in mainstream cinema outlets, restricting its distribution to “designated adult premises”.

      This reclassification of Inxeba by the board’s appeal tribunal in essence means that the film can only be seen at venues where pornographic films are also screened. Therefore, the banning has reduced Inxeba to a pornographic movie. When it opened it had an age restriction of 16 years.

    • Academics Protest China’s Censorship Requests

      James Millward, a historian at Georgetown University and supporter of the petition, also sees withholding peer review as a particularly fitting way to respond to censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Letter to EU Commissioners: Concern over United Kingdom’s proposed ‘immigration exemptions’ from Data Protection Bill

      We, the undersigned, write to express our concern regarding the UK Government’s incorporation of the General Data Protection Regulation into domestic law. Setting aside other areas of concern, the UK’s Data Protection Bill proposes an exemption that would remove individuals’ fundamental right to data protection if it is likely to prejudice “effective immigration control”.

      This proposed exemption (‘the immigration exemptions’) will remove the right of individuals to receive information from a subject access request: a core mechanism in any immigration dispute. Further restrictions would remove the government’s responsibility to process an individual’s data in accordance with the principles of data protection including lawful, fair and transparent processing. The exemption would allow data to be shared across UK government institutions without accountability or opportunity for recourse.

    • Why the Internet of Things is designed for corporations, not consumers

      Let me drive this home: The way that consumer goods are evolving, any implement that can be connected back to the Net will be. Think of a world where the physical location of every single item is logged and known at every single moment. Imagine what that would look like on a three-dimensional grid; it would bring an engineer to religion. A wise man once said that not a sparrow falls without God knowing it. However, in a world where the Net keeps simultaneous watch on a thousand million spinning plates, the Lord will have a peer.

    • Epic Games Uses Private Investigators to Locate Cheaters

      After hiring the services of a private investigations firm, Epic Games discovered they’d sued another minor for alleged cheating. The gaming company asked the court to keep the personal information of the kid under seal. A private investigator was also used to locate another minor defendant in a separate case, who is now risking a default judgment.

    • Google on Collision Course With Movie Biz Over Piracy & Safe Harbor

      Google and one of Australia’s leading movie companies are on a collision course over piracy. Village Roadshow’s outspoken co-chief Graham Burke has twice this month accused Google of facilitating crime and is now inviting the company to sue him. Meanwhile, Google is fighting for new safe harbor protections that Village Roadshow insists should be denied.

    • Facebook ordered to stop tracking web users in Belgium [iophk: "chump change"]

      Last week, a Belgian court ruled that it must stop tracking web users who have not given their consent for this behaviour or face fines of up to €250,000 per day for non-compliance.

    • Facebook will mail out postcards to verify US election advertisers

      This new verification system will be required for all advertising that mentions a specific candidate running for a federal office — such as the presidency. It will be implemented in time for the mid-term elections this coming November.

    • Facebook plans to use U.S. mail to verify IDs of election ad buyers

      Facebook Inc will start using postcards sent by U.S. mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site, a senior company executive said on Saturday.

    • Swedish Public Healthcare Portal is sending your symptoms to Google

      We can see in the screenshot above that somebody has searched for “embarrassing symptoms”. With the Ghostery plug-in turned off, a call is made to Google Analytics (the ga.js script), to the host ssl.google-analytics.com highlighted in the screenshot above, which sends the data embarrassing symptoms in cleartext (the third highlight) as part of the Referer field.

      This happens even when you’re browsing over HTTPS/SSL, because of how bad this design is.

    • China’s mobile payment volume surges in 2017 to S$16.7 trillion by October

      Mobile payments in China totalled 81 trillion yuan (S$16.7 trillion) for the first 10 months of 2017, nearly 40 per cent more than the whole of the previous year as cashless transactions become increasingly popular in the country, official data showed.

      The 10-month figure represented a 37.8 per cent leap over the 58.8 trillion yuan recorded in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology cited by Xinhua news agency on Monday.

      China is one of the world’s leading players in mobile or e-payment, which has made it possible for Chinese to buy a pancake at roadside breakfast stalls, order food online, pay credit card bills, and manage stock accounts with just a smartphone.

    • Google files patent for robot that writes your Facebook posts, emails and tweets – but will need FULL access to scan your accounts
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Control your phone. Don’t let it control you

      Here are some simple tips — recommended by Harris — to work around the tricks phone designers use to keep us hooked

    • Passenger in NSA incident questions police use of force

      A 24-year-old Southeast DC man who says he was the passenger in that SUV that crashed at an NSA gate last Wednesday, is questioning police use of force.

      [...]

      “They was meant to kill us,” said Brown, “You know what I’m saying? This was fatal shots they were shooting. They could’ve killed him. They hit him in his head. If I didn’t grab him and throw him under the wheel, little man would’ve got killed.”

      The “him” is a 17-year-old, reportedly unlicensed driver, Brown says he put behind the wheel because he and another passenger were too tired to drive. After shots were fired, Brown says the teen was grazed in the head with what was believed to be a piece of shrapnel.

    • For Taiwanese, tests of loyalty to China bring trouble in Australian workplaces

      China’s assertiveness has set off alarms in Australia, with officials warning that Beijing has been meddling in Australian politics more than the public realises. But the experiences of Yang and Tuan – along with many others – reveal how Chinese nationalism is also affecting private enterprise and, in some cases, leading to accusations of discrimination.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Broadband Availability Data Derided As Inaccurate, ‘Shameful’

      We’ve long-noted how the government doesn’t do a very good job tracking broadband availability and pricing, in large part because incumbent ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T don’t want them to. ISPs (and the lawmakers paid to love them) whined incessantly about the last FCC’s efforts to raise the standard definition of broadband, given it only highlighted the fact that two-thirds of Americans can’t get “broadband” (25 Mbps) from more than one ISP. ISPs also fight revealing pricing data, which is why our $300 million broadband availability map doesn’t contain any price data whatsoever.

      ISPs have also routinely lobbied against efforts to improve broadband availability mapping, since more clearly highlighting competition and deployment shortcomings might result in somebody actually doing something about it. As a result, government reports on the health of the clearly-dysfunctional U.S. broadband market tend to have a decidedly unrealistic and rosy timbre, which is often worse if the regulators in question are of the revolving door variety (as we’re currently seeing under current agency boss Ajit Pai).

      And while Pai is busy insisting that he’s all about transparency, hard economics, and “closing the digital divide,” his policies repeatedly and consistently undermine those claims.

    • The Fight to Save Net Neutrality Is Heating Up

      The many bids to try to stop the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules are gathering momentum.

    • “What’s happening in US on net neutrality and internet freedom?”

      149 Members of the European Parliament signed a letter to the US Congress in disapproval of an action taken by independent telecom regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter was organized by Mariete Schaake (D66/ALDE).

    • Wikipedia discontinues its “zero-rating,” will focus on research-driven outreach

      Wikimedia has since seen its zero-rated use dropping off a cliff, which has conclusively settled the argument. Wikimedia has a laudable goal: to incorporate input from all over the world, from all walks of life, into the canonical encyclopedia we all rely upon. But zero rating wasn’t doing that, so, to their eternal credit, Wikimedia is trying something different.

    • Building for the future of Wikimedia with a new approach to partnerships [iophk: "zero-rating"]

      After careful evaluation, the Wikimedia Foundation has decided to discontinue one of its partnership approaches, the Wikipedia Zero program. Wikipedia Zero was created in 2012 to address one barrier to participating in Wikipedia globally: high mobile data costs. Through the program, we partnered with mobile operators to waive mobile data fees for their customers to freely access Wikipedia on mobile devices. Over the course of this year, no additional Wikipedia Zero partnerships will be formed, and the remaining partnerships with mobile operators will expire.

      In the program’s six year tenure, we have partnered with 97 mobile carriers in 72 countries to provide access to Wikipedia to more than 800 million people free of mobile data charges. Since 2016, we have seen a significant drop off in adoption and interest in the program. This may be due, in part, to the rapidly shifting mobile industry, as well as changes in mobile data costs. At this same time, we conducted extensive research [1][2] to better understand the full spectrum of barriers to accessing and participating in Wikipedia.

    • Free ‘Wikipedia Zero’ Is Shutting Down After Serving 800 Million Users

      The non-profit organization Wikimedia Foundation has been running their project called Wikipedia Zero. Started in 2012, it aims to provide free Wikipedia access to users mostly living in developing countries by partnering with carriers in those regions.

      Wikipedia Zero was inspired by Facebook Zero project which also allowed people to access a stripped down version of Facebook for free. Such services are given a zero-rating by the carriers and using them doesn’t count on users’ data bills. The service providers already pay the operation charges.

  • DRM
    • Flight Sim Company Embeds Malware to Steal Pirates’ Passwords

      Flight sim company FlightSimLabs has found itself in trouble after installing malware onto users’ machines as an anti-piracy measure. Code embedded in its A320-X module contained a mechanism for detecting ‘pirate’ serial numbers distributed on The Pirate Bay, which then triggered a process through which the company stole usernames and passwords from users’ web browsers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • UKIPO launches trade secrets consultation

      The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) yesterday launched a technical consultation on the EU trade secrets directive and the draft regulations that will implement the directive into UK law.

      The directive obliges EU member states to ensure that victims of trade secret misuse are able to defend their rights in court and seek compensation. Provisions on ensuring trade secrets are kept confidential during legal proceedings are also covered.

    • Sharp and Hisense bury the patent hatchet as they move toward resolving acrimonious brand and commercial dispute

      A conflict over use of the Sharp brand name in the US market for televisions has pitted the Foxconn-owned display maker against Chinese licencee Hisense in IP and commercial lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions since last June. Now, disclosures made by Sharp in the process of withdrawing a patent infringement lawsuit and an ITC investigation suggest that the two parties have agreed to a patent truce as they move towards a broad resolution.

    • French Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge to Image Right in National Monuments

      France’s Constitutional Court has just ruled that a provision in the Code du patrimoine (Heritage Code) involving the use of images of buildings protected as national domains passes constitutional muster.

    • Trademarks
    • Copyrights
      • Decision Over Tom Brady Tweet “Threatens Millions of Ordinary Internet Users”

        A new decision from a New York federal judge could have a chilling effect on how we use the internet. This past week, Judge Katherine Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that Vox, Time, Yahoo, and Breitbart, among other publications, infringed another’s copyright-protected image of football star Tom Brady simply by embedding another person’s tweet that contained the image on their websites.

        According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, “if adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.”

      • Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns

        A group of prominent Canadian ISPs and movie industry companies are determined to bring pirate site blocking efforts to North America. This plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition, including cautioning analyses from law professor Michael Geist, who warns of potential overblocking and fears that VPN services could become the next target.

      • Sweden Considers Six Years in Jail For Online Pirates

        Sweden’s Minister for Justice has received recommendations as to how the country should punish online pirates. Heléne Fritzon received a proposal which would create crimes of gross infringement under both copyright and trademark law, leading to sentences of up to six years in prison. The changes would also ensure that non-physical property, such as domain names, can be seized.

Replacing Patent Sharks/Trolls and the Patent Mafia With ‘Icons’ Like Thomas Edison

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 10:52:43 AM

Dolphins and “innovation” not quite what the optimistic vision of patent systems led to

Summary: The popular perceptions of patents and the sobering reality of what patents (more so nowadays) mean to actual inventors who aren’t associated with global behemoths such as IBM or Siemens

WHEN I was a lot younger I was told that patents were supposed to make life better. When I won some competitions which the media covered it oddly enough chose to frame that as “our youth is getting us lots of patents” (I still have that newspaper headline preserved). But we hadn’t applied for any patents. We had no interest in patents. I was in charge of finances for that particular project, which flew us to Denmark to represent the country. That was a long time ago, almost exactly 20 years ago. Back then I (aged 15-16) knew next to nothing about patents, except by name. I had only done programming for a year or two. I could do electronics (relatively simple circuitry, which our next project revolved around — a gadget to be attached to doors).

“Back then I (aged 15-16) knew next to nothing about patents, except by name.”Anyway, this post isn’t about my school days; the point is, a lot of people know next to nothing about patents. My mother still knows next to nothing about them (she thinks they’re synonymous with “things” that do clever things), so I’ve quit trying to explain that to her. It would probably be interesting to give people a 10-question survey in order to understand just what proportion of the population really understands what patents are and how they work.

Yesterday (February 19th) this press release said that Siemens had joined an LTE patent pool. Good for Siemens. They can afford it. They have the money and the patents. But what about those who aren’t a multi-billion, multi-national, multi-faceted corporation like Siemens? What about that legendary (or mythical) ‘lone wolf’, ‘small guy’, ‘independent’ inventor? That sort of inventor just looks at these ‘pools’ as a rich people’s club, intended for the most part to guard them from competition. It’s like a cartel, to put it quite bluntly…

We’ll never forget how Siemens lobbied for software patents in Europe (something which the EPO practices now). We wrote a lot of articles about that at the time…

“It would probably be interesting to give people a 10-question survey in order to understand just what proportion of the population really understands what patents are and how they work.”Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gathered some other stories about patents. Yesterday, for example, someone glorified Edison again. He said: “February 19, 1878 – Thomas Edison received a US patent (No. 200521) for the phonograph. Edison created many inventions, but his favorite was the phonograph. While working on improvements to telegraph and telephone, Edison found a way to record sound on tinfoil-coated cylinders.”

“It’s wrong to say “created many inventions”,” I told him. “You mean he saw what poor inventors did, then applied for patents on these, eventually suing people like a patent troll over things he did not even invent?”

That negative legacy of Edison is rarely spoken about in the mainstream. They want to keep the legend alive. Victors write history.

Days prior to this someone wrote about “When Patent Royalties Are Not Capital Gains” — a concept that was explained as follows: “A key factor in the Court’s analysis was that Cooper retained the right to terminate the transfer at will. Cooper exercised this right for some of the transferred patents. TLC had returned certain patents to Cooper for no consideration, even though the patents had commercial value. The Court therefore affirmed the Tax Court’s determination that the patent royalties were not entitled to capital gains treatment.”

“That negative legacy of Edison is rarely spoken about in the mainstream. They want to keep the legend alive.”We often see misleading claims about “R&D” and other things that tend to be associated with patents. In reality, so-called ‘royalties’ tend to flow into shareholders’ pockets, not invested in “R&D” (in any shape or form). Spot the overuse of their gross euphemisms (especially in the above article from McDermott Will & Emery’s Blake Wong). They speak of royalties…

To conflate patents with value of an industry is also quite common a thing; it’s pure mythology. Sometimes branding (or brand recognition), too. Sure, it helps to have protectionism and access to market, but that alone does not determine one’s value. Here’s yet another site of lawyers choosing to prop up the nonsense from the Chamber of Commerce. To quote:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center released its 5th annual study that ranks intellectual property systems worldwide. In the Chamber of Commerce’s latest study, the U.S. patent system has dropped to 13th in the world, well behind such diverse countries as Singapore, France, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Italy. See “U.S. Chamber International IP Index” (“2018 Report”) at p. 35 (Category 1: Patents, Related Rights, and Limitations). The U.S. Chamber International IP Index uses 40 discrete indicators covering policy, law, regulation, and enforcement. The Chamber’s stated goal: to determine whether “a given economy’s intellectual property system provide[s] a reliable basis for investment in the innovation and creativity lifecycle.” 2018 Report at p. 1.

What makes this nonsensical is the assumption that the more patents (or patent lawsuits) a nation has, the more investment it will attract. In reality, lawsuits rather than innovation thrive in such nations and this can actively discourage investment, development etc. How many companies would wish to base a new office in the Eastern District of Texas for instance? Unless they’re patent trolls or law firms… to merely have operations in there means to be subjected to ruinous lawsuits, even after TC Heartland.

And on we move to a docket report from CACD, dated a week ago. To quote the outline:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion for monetary sanctions against defendant and its counsel following plaintiff’s successful motion to compel further contention interrogatory responses because defendant’s behavior was not substantially justified.

Oh, good, “monetary sanctions”… and how exactly does that help anyone?

Here’s another very recent docket report. This one is about ‘royalties’ (euphemism with the Crown connotation):

The court granted defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of plaintiff’s damages expert regarding reasonable royalties for three patents because his application of the Rubinstein bargaining model was unreliable.

They’re debating how much money will be passed from one company to another. Spot the overuse of their gross euphemisms again. It’s as if the whole thing is justified using some royal decrees and laws of the land.

Here’s one more docket report. “The court denied plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 for defendant’s unsuccessful motion for summary judgment under the on-sale bar,” it said. When the patent aggressor not only taunts a potentially innocent party but also demands lawyers’ fees be paid (for the aggressor). What has this system turned into?

“It’s as if the whole thing is justified using some royal decrees and laws of the land.”We don’t know the pertinent details of § 285 (created in part by lobbyists), but here’s something about § 257. It says that “a patent owner may file a request for supplemental examination asking the USPTO to consider, reconsider, or correct information…”

As if patents aren’t even an immutable thing. We wrote about this before. Are patents like a wiki now (something you can just edit as you go along)? To quote the whole paragraph:

According to 35 U.S.C. § 257, a patent owner may file a request for supplemental examination asking the USPTO to consider, reconsider, or correct information in a patent or its file history. Within three months, the director will determine whether the information presented in the request raises a substantial new question of patentability. If so, the examiner will order ex parte re-examination in view of the submitted evidence, during which the patent owner can argue for patentability of the claimed invention and/or amend the issued claims. Importantly, anything considered by the USPTO in the request for supplemental examination or the ensuing ex parte re-examination is, by statute, barred as the basis for a later finding of inequitable conduct.

“Today, most patents are awarded some patent term adjustment, but the numbers continue to drop,” Patently-O wrote some days ago.

“Remember what EPO actually came from. It was a repository of information rather than a proper patent office.”Yes, well, maybe all these “adjustments” sort of defeat the purpose of a patent system as we know it. Some EPO insiders have long told us that. They too recognise that a sort of wiki of information might be of better service in the days/era of the Internet. Remember what EPO actually came from. It was a repository of information rather than a proper patent office.

The Patent Trolls’ Lobby is Distorting the Record of CAFC on PTAB

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 09:39:12 AM

Distortion has become an art form

Summary: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which deals with appeals from PTAB, has been issuing many decisions in favour of § 101, but those aren’t being talked about or emphasised by the patent ‘industry’

THE last post from yesterday, which was about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), showed an increase in activity and likely growing pressure for USPTO examiners to reject software patents (PTAB watches what they do). Clearly, based on recent studies, not enough software patents are being rejected (not yet anyway) as many are pure rubbish and it's still profitable to the Office (the financial incentive perturbs the process).

According to these two examples from yesterday [1, 2], not only PTAB rejects software patents; examiners do too (“PTAB Affirmed Examiner’s [Section] 101 Rejection of Software Claims in a patent application” and “PTAB Affirmed Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Philips Patent Application Claims for Shape Sensing with optical fiber”).

This is generally very encouraging. It’s just a shame that examiners do let software patents slip in sometimes.

Eventually, however, it’s the courts (not PTAB or examiners) that get to decide on things unless there’s an out-of-court settlement. Affirmations of PTAB decisions by CAFC are as recent as days ago, citing Alice/Section 101. This has become the new normal. There are other grounds for dismissal, but this scenario is most common. At lower courts the situation is a tad different, for instance:

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground that plaintiff’s synthetic gem investment product patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter because there were genuine disputes of fact whether an individual defendant was estopped from challenging the patent’s validity.

Putting aside the legalese, what we see here is a case going forward, but it’s not CAFC. CAFC typically (about 80% of the time) accepts PTAB’s veto of a patent (or patents) and closes the case. Sites of patent lawyers still obsess over the exceptions, i.e. the situations in which CAFC expresses a disagreement. For example:

In practice however, it is a rare reference that includes a technical explanation that is so strongly worded to satisfy the teaching away standard. Yet, as the Federal Circuit made clear this week, less pronounced evidence of divergent technical teachings cannot be disregarded by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB).

Like we said yesterday, patent maximalists now piggyback a decision or two to ‘scandalise’ PTAB. We saw new examples of that less than 24 hours ago. Yesterday afternoon IAM’s Richard Lloyd spread the Berkheimer falsehoods [1, 2, 3, 4] again. He did this in order to promote software patents, calling it “blockbuster” even though it’s not (Managing IP had labeled it the same thing). Here is what he wrote with the words “big boost” in the headline. What a liar. “Blockbuster” is a word that was also repeated by others, along with “boost”. What a pathetic echo chamber. They’re now trying to influence the USPTO’s subject matter eligibility guidance, citing Berkheimer. To quote:

If you want to submit comments on how you think the subject matter eligibility guidance should be revised — particularly in response to the recent Berkheimer v. HP precedential opinion — you can still do so.

But it had no substantial impact and wasn’t really about Section 101 (§ 101), just as Aatrix Software, Inc. v Green Shades wasn’t. We wrote about that too. So did Michael Borella, who said: “Aatrix brought an infringement action against Green Shades in the Middle District of Florida, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,171,615 and 8,984,393. Green Shades filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss on the grounds that all asserted claims were not eligible for patent under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

As expected, § 101 does not always work. It’s not applicable to everything. But Aatrix (the above case) isn’t quite what the patent ‘industry’ tries to make of it. They’re just desperate for ‘ammo’.

There has long been an attempt to create a rift between CAFC and PTAB, but it never quite worked. Sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O has been attempting that for years. Here’s Watchtroll writing about a decision that we wrote about last weekend. The patent maximalists attempted to frame it as US government hypocrisy — an allegation we debunked last week.

Here’s Watchtroll’s post about Nordt’s CAFC case and almost pure spam/ad about another CAFC case (it’s all just marketing, but in the form of ‘articles’).

Dennis Crouch wrote about this case as well as another (Xitronix Corp. v KLA-Tencor Corp) — a case which was mentioned a lot only because the decision is precedential [1, 2]. Other CAFC cases that got covered [1, 2] as recently as yesterday [1, 2] were mostly disregarded. They ignore cases or rulings unless they deal with § 101. It’s really the bottom of the barrel. This particular one showed the patent microcosm moaning about the “two-part test from Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank [...] albeit in a nonprecedential case.” To quote the relevant part:

One of the more frustrating aspects of the current judicial patent eligibility framework is the propensity for courts, even the Federal Circuit, to carry out the two-part test from Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l in a conclusory fashion. When this occurs, the claims under review are most likely going to be found non-statutory and invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In this case, the Federal Circuit actually provides ample reasoning for finding that claims fail the test, albeit in a nonprecedential case.

Watchtroll did the cherry-picking of CAFC cases yesterday, finding — at best — one single case resulting not in overturning of a PTAB decision (it vacated). To recapitulate some old statistics:

  • Only about 2% of patents (granted by examiners) are independently examined
  • CAFC agrees with PTAB about 80% of the time
  • The vast majority of the industry is supportive of PTAB

Don’t let lobbying sites such as IAM change perception. They cannot change the underlying facts, so they are attempting to change politicians’ understanding of the patent system.

Japan Demonstrates Sanity on SEP Policy While US Patent Policy is Influenced by Lobbyists

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 08:44:33 AM

Last year: Delrahim to head Justice Department antitrust unit


Reference: Revolving Door: Makan Delrahim Employment Summary

Summary: Japan’s commendable response to a classic pattern of patent misuse; US patent policy is still being subjected to never-ending intervention and there is now a lobbyist in charge of antitrust matters and a lawyer in charge of the US patent office (both Trump appointees)

PATENTS are about markets and competition. They’re about publishing of ideas without risk to one’s business. The Japan Patent Office (JPO) seems to understand that patents which cannot be worked around, e.g. because they’re essential for standards compliance, are a barrier to markets and competition. These patents can actively damage progress in science and technology — something which the USPTO proclaims to be promoting.

“The Japan Patent Office (JPO) seems to understand that patents which cannot be worked around, e.g. because they’re essential for standards compliance, are a barrier to markets and competition.”As we’ve been noting repeatedly in recent years, Japan’s courts got tougher on software patents. It wasn’t always the case. Japan’s government also gets it better than the Trump administration, where lobbyist Delrahim is now in charge of antitrust matters. The US, which fails to understand the concept of antitrust, would do its industry irreparable damage for the sake of few large corporations (like Qualcomm); Japan is at least recognising the issue with SEP. It is taking action. We last wrote about that a couple of days ago, citing Japenese bloggers.

“Patent owners have little to worry about in JPO plans for SEP reviews,” IAM stated yesterday, having published this damage-controlling piece for the patent aggressors/trolls it stands for. To quote:

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) last week unveiled a new service that will see it weigh in on the standing of Japanese patents declared standards essential. When it was first announced last November, this system was perceived as offering a defensive tool to implementers. But the draft guidelines for the scheme, helpfully translated in part here by Satoshi Watanabe of Watanabe Research and Consulting, have foreclosed that possibility.

The essentiality checks fall under an existing programme called Hantei, in which the JPO provides non-binding advisory opinions on whether a particular patent covers a particular product. The service costs just around $400 and issued 97 decisions in 2016. Currently, this review can be requested by either a product manufacturer or a patent owner.

IAM’s hostility towards Japan can only grow if Japan embraces policy that impedes patent trolls. Last year, for example, IAM repeatedly attacked India. Why? Because its patent policy is quite rational and software patents are in principle not permitted.

As always, there’s that irksome lobby of the patent trolls. It wants to undermine patent policy or tilt things in its favour.

“As we’ve been noting repeatedly in recent years, Japan’s courts got tougher on software patents.”Aaric Eisenstein, writing for Watchtroll yesterday, is now publicly sucking up to Iancu, lobbying him to abolish PTAB (as usual from Watchtroll) among other things. Those are some of the same interests as IAM’s. Follow the money.

Then there’s the Koch-funded think tank for patent trolls (and against PTAB). It now says you “MUST READ” its letter which it describes with: “No empirical study has demonstrated that a patent-owner’s request for injunctive relief after . . . infringement of its property rights has ever resulted either in consumer harm or in slowing down the pace of technological innovation.”

“As always, there’s that irksome lobby of the patent trolls. It wants to undermine patent policy or tilt things in its favour.”Who wrote this? See the list. It’s just the patent maximalists’ lobby (some funded by the biggest patent bullies, e.g. David Kappos). To quote: “Signatories to the letter include Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit, former Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit, former FTC Commissioner Joshua D. Wright, and former Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office David Kappos, among others.”

IAM promoted this letter some days ago. It’s signed by the usual suspects. We know what they want and why they want it. We also know who funds some of them. That’s pretty revealing.

The Patent Microcosm’s Embrace of Buzzwords and False Marketing Strives to Make Patent Examiners Redundant and Patent Quality Extremely Low

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 07:54:30 AM

Patent maximalism defeats the very purpose of patent systems

Summary: Patent maximalists, who are profiting from abundance of low-quality patents (and frivolous lawsuits/legal threats these can entail), are riding the hype wave and participating in the rush to put patent systems at the hands of machines

THE USPTO keeps tightening patent scope (more on that later today), whereas the EPO goes in the opposite direction and broadens the scope of patents. This is a recipe for disaster and it puts at greater threat plenty of European businesses. Not law firms, but actual European businesses.

“This is a recipe for disaster and it puts at greater threat plenty of European businesses.”Sadly, a lot of policy decisions are steered by lawyers, not scientists, and law firms rather than actual European businesses (which make things) have leverage over law. That’s how UPCA managed to get as far as it has.

Yesterday we saw another dumb idea resurrected, owing to a lot of hype. “We are going to continue hearing for some time about #blockchain methods being applied to #patent transactions and procedures,” said a patents person from the US. We were recently told similar things about “AI”. The craze over these things (especially in the media) is troubling; not only is “AI” not a new thing but it’s also not so Earth-shattering. Something as simple as patent searches (based on text and word density, textual patterns etc.) can already be framed as “AI”. The more one knows about the origins of the term, the more easily one accepts that almost any algorithm can be painted “AI” (given the will/motivation). As for blockchain, it’s not a buzzword but an actual implementation or set of implementations (based on the concept of blockchains), yet there’s plenty of hype around it.

“The craze over these things (especially in the media) is troubling; not only is “AI” not a new thing but it’s also not so Earth-shattering.”Alexander Esslinger responded to a commenter (context being the above) by stating: “Blockchain could provide a global, distributed, immutable, time-stamped invention disclosure register independent of patent offices, fees, and formality requirements…”

Algorithms, however, cannot quite correlate patents based on words and images. SUEPO already explained, repeatedly in fact, why this would never work. Marketing hype seems to have charmed non-techies and now they believe that some algorithms make examiners obsolete. Maybe they can, to a degree, do as well as low-trained, no-experience examiners, but they cannot replace domain experts like professors in their respective field.

“Algorithms, however, cannot quite correlate patents based on words and images. SUEPO already explained, repeatedly in fact, why this would never work.”Then came the “AI” hype (again). Esslinger wrote: “A blockchain-based time-stamped invention disclosure register together with AI-enabled prior art search could in the future significantly change the way patent offices work – after over a century of basically unchanged procedures…”

“You overestimate “AI” based on the latest hype wave,” I told him. “Battistelli did the same thing, thinking he can replace domain experts with lousy algorithms [that are a] self-deluding trap. Quality slips, people use different wording to dodge prior art matches…”

Examiners at the EPO and elsewhere ought to watch out. Patent attorneys, to whom patent quality does not seem to matter (they profit from abundance of low-quality patents), are all fine and dandy replacing examiners with algorithms. Having programmed for more than two decades, I can tell for a fact that many of these capabilities are grossly overstated for marketing purposes. Whether Battistelli falls for the marketing because he’s dumb or greedy (i.e. for purely economic reasons) is not a judgment for us to make.

“Some people conveniently forgot what patent systems are about or were made for. To them, the more patents get granted, the better.”Languages are many; thousands! Among those, maybe a dozen are commonly used in patents (over 90% of all patents). To believe that correlation of text, where terminology can vary across languages and even within one single language (e.g. “car”, “vehicle”, “transportation”, “auto”), would somehow capture underlying ideas is absurd. Some have gone as far (off the deep end) as to suggest that we should also allow machines to actually generate (using so-called ‘AI’) patents, rendering the whole patent pool so polluted that it would be meaningless and inaccessible for human ‘consumption’.

‘Patentism’ is like a religion. Some people conveniently forgot what patent systems are about or were made for. To them, the more patents get granted, the better. As the old saying goes, “Too Much of Anything Is Bad For You” (even patents).

Today, at 12:30 CET, Bavarian State Parliament Will Speak About EPO Abuses (Updated)

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 07:05:21 AM

Team UPC does not want such abuses to be debated as that can kill the UPC for good

Summary: The politicians of Bavaria are prepared to wrestle with some serious questions about the illegality of the EPO’s actions and what that may mean to constitutional aspects of German law

SEVERAL days ago, in English even (we received a full translation), we wrote about the imminent debate at the Bavarian State Parliament. It’s an important day ahead of us as EPO abuses will be discussed by the host country (which is quite rare; it typically just looks the other way in order to shield the cash cow).

“ow that the EPO habitually breaks the law of the land it’s just too hard to ignore the impact this may have on a Germany-centric UPC.”Last night, readers told us about this new blog post titled “Constitutional Law Alert for the EPO” — a post which we are guessing SUEPO will soon notice and add to its list of recommended articles. Now that the EPO habitually breaks the law of the land it’s just too hard to ignore the impact this may have on a Germany-centric UPC. As the author put it:

What can people, in particular citizens of Munich and Bavaria, do if they feel that elementary constitutional rights are infringed, not somewhere abroad and far away, but literally next door, at the Isar river banks or in the Pschorrhöfe building?

Unfortunately, this is no rhetorical question. If such things happen in the jurisdiction of German courts and under German government, German citizens can discuss them with the relevant office or authority, seek redress to court, or they can choose the political pathway and vote for a party that at least promises to deal with the violation by changing the law, if others choose to ignore it.

Do not expect Team UPC to have any sympathy for EPO staff or have any respect for the law; in my experience, all that these people care about is money. Money, money, money. They even insinuate that the UPC complaint must have been motivated by money and is secretly subsidised by someone. It’s just utterly ridiculous. Here we have Andrea Hughes of Dehns (Team UPC, with people who call UPC resistance "idiots" and "trolls") participating in ‘globalisation’ of patents. It’s a recipe for patent trolls in Europe, as we have been warning for at least 7 years.

“Do not expect Team UPC to have any sympathy for EPO staff or have any respect for the law; in my experience, all that these people care about is money.”Also, mind yesterday’s article from Kluwer Patent Blog. It speaks about the UPC towards the end. The last paragraph shows that the UPC is an extremist legislation which, if politicians put their signature on it, would likely promote Stasi-type culture of raids and theft. We want to quote this entire paragraph for people who lack time to read the whole ‘book’ which is UPCA: “Finally, the Unified Patent Court (UPC)[4] provides for interim measures to preserve evidence and to inspect premises, which may be accompanied by sample collection or seizures of material[5]. This measure may be authorized without hearing the defendant under certain circumstances. As a result, saisie-contrefaçons are open for a significant extension within the frame of the UPC.”

Got that?

Pardon the French. Here’s what saisie-contrefaçons is about: “Saisie-contrefaçons are a particularly powerful tool in patent cases where evidence of infringement may be difficult to collect without entering the premises of the infringer.”

“It’s a recipe for patent trolls in Europe, as we have been warning for at least 7 years.”“Those rules of procedure come from Mars,” the FFII’s President told me about this. “They have no space in a democracy. But that’s a gift from UPC boosters that might make the whole project fail.”

I replied: “So some patent troll from another country and continent, which does not even have an office, can merely accuse me of some #patent infringement (which I’m innocent of) and then literally send people to raid my house and steal my belongings. From another continent!”

I’m at a loss for words; what is happening to European law? This is worse than TPP and ACTA. It’s borderline Orwellian.

“Team UPC is a bunch of crazy people who not only disregard truth itself — as we habitually show — but also disregard the law itself. Will Bavarian politicians be able to see that?”The UPC lobby often seems like a murder (or at least theft) of democracy with no consequences for the murder; massive documents are sent to politicians for signing and they don’t even bother reading what they’re giving a go-ahead to. The ‘unitary’ patent is crazy and has nothing to do with unifying anything. It’s just an unprecedented power grab by the litigation ‘industry’ and now they strive to expand Battistelli-type powers (like raiding offices and stealing personal properly of a judges) to the whole of Europe. Team UPC is a bunch of crazy people who not only disregard truth itself — as we habitually show — but also disregard the law itself. Will Bavarian politicians be able to see that?

Update: SUEPO has just published what looks like an official translation of what we published some days ago.

Another Loud Warning From EPO Workers About the Decline of Patent Quality

Tuesday 20th of February 2018 06:27:57 AM

“Patent examiners must be able to examine patent applications thoroughly and to deliver valid monopoly rights.”

Summary: Yet more patent quality warnings are being issued by EPO insiders (examiners) who are seeing their senior colleagues vanishing and wonder what will be left of their employer

TECHRIGHTS was never a foe of the EPO. It was actually a lot more supportive of the EPO than of the USPTO and I’ve personally sent letters to the EPO for over a decade with constructive suggestions (mostly regarding software patents). The reason Techrights is now blocked by the EPO is that Team Battistelli cannot stand any constructive suggestions and it cannot tolerate criticism. EPO insiders know the feeling as some of them too got fired for that. If the EPO was a scientific institution, it would sack people with differing/dissenting points of view, like Galileo and his ‘crazy’ theory about the Solar System.

“If the EPO was a scientific institution, it would sack people with differing/dissenting points of view, like Galileo and his ‘crazy’ theory about the Solar System.”Either way, our history speaks for itself. I’ve long loved the EPO personally and none of us who are connected to this site (mostly Europeans) have anything to gain from EPO weaknesses/detriments. Quite the contrary.

Yesterday, once again, the EPO gave the false impression of caring for outside input. “Battistelli will make all decisions on his own regardless,” I told them, “just like in the Disciplinary Committee. This is just EPO giving the illusion of public participation…”

“I’ve long loved the EPO personally and none of us who are connected to this site (mostly Europeans) have anything to gain from EPO weaknesses/detriments. Quite the contrary.”“The Boards of Appeal invite users to participate in this online consultation on proposed amendments to their rules of procedure,” they said, but I very much doubt Battistelli will care what the ‘users’ have to say. He repeatedly ignores, overrides and sometimes derives suggestions given to him. It’s like a mental illness. It’s megalomania.

Right now, as before, the EPO’s management or the Administrative Council (which is in theory supposed to govern Battistelli) is being warned about imminent damage to patent quality (which already suffers). We have been given explicit permission to repost the following new text:

The final straw for patent quality 2.0

Highly qualified and motivated permanent employees have been ensuring the quality of the EPO’s services for more than 40 years.

The draft “reform” proposal CA/3/18 will, if it is allowed to enter into force, put an end to permanent employment at the EPO1. The proposed new Article 53(1)(f) Service Regulations will give the appointing authority the power to terminate the service of an employee at any time “if the exigencies of the service require abolition of their post or a reduction in staff”2, without the usual compensation and without a social security system to fall back on. The Article will apply to all – current and future – staff. We fear that the first victims will be the DG1 directors who have been made redundant and put on specially created posts.

Article 33 EPC3 makes a clear distinction between the “Service Regulations for permanent employees” and the “conditions of employment for other employees”. The proposal violates Article 33 EPC by removing this distinction. It is incompatible with the acquired rights and legitimate expectations of the current permanent staff4. It is also incompatible with the Office’s dual role – arising out of its status as an international organisation – as an employer and as a state. Its role as a state means that the Office’s duty of care is put at a much higher level than for a regular employer. If it over-recruits5,6 in a specific technical field, for example, it is not free simply to fire staff that are surplus to requirements, but must care for them in the way that a state would, or better.

The Office’s attractiveness as an employer has already suffered through recent “reforms”7,8. If this draft proposal gets approved by the Administrative Council, it will scare off even more of the best job candidates. Future recruits will not feel welcome with such rules in place. Under such conditions, highly qualified candidates are unlikely to accept an employment, move to another country with their family, and take the risk of investing in an expensive new home.

Permanent employment is a prerequisite for the independence of examining divisions, which have already suffered many “reforms” since 20139. Patent examiners must be able to examine patent applications thoroughly and to deliver valid monopoly rights. The head of the German Patent Office recently explained why patent offices need examiners on permanent posts:

“… I could just go ahead and say that you should do it that way. We could then recruit many examiners who will not come to you. On behalf of the German Delegation, I cannot agree. Examining patents requires highly qualified experts. … The special significance of patent examiners for the society justifies a special employment relationship. …”7

Users of the European patent system have already noticed a significant drop of the quality of the EPO’s services10,11.

Mr Battistelli’s successive “reforms” have not only been detrimental for staff, they may spell the end of the European patent system as we know it. If that has not already happened then the latest proposal could represent the point of no return.

_________
1 In addition to «minor» inconveniences like the suppression of home leave for new recruits and the suppression of any form of regulated recruitment procedure.
2 Latest EPO employment proposals under fire (http://www.ippropatents.com/ippropatentsnews/article.php?article_id=5704
3 Article 33 EPC (http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar33.html)
4 Open letter Abolishing permanent employment for current and future EPO staff, Central Staff Committee, 09.02.2018
5 Patent rain, brain drain and quality bust at the EPO – Overcapacity and insecurity as an HR tool, Central Staff Committee, 23.06.2016
6 Open letter Running out of Search-Files …, Central Staff Committee, 08.11.2017
7 Feedback from the 128th Meeting of the BFC and of the 154th meeting of Administrative Council in Munich, SUEPO Local section The Hague, 20.12.2017
8 The EPO’s Vision (II) – “expert, well supported and motivated staff”, Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) (http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2018/02/14/epos-vision-ii-expert-well-supported-motivated-staff/) Mr Bausch considers the combination of “a permanent position with high job security and a good salary” as the factors which “enabled the EPO to recruit very good scientists and engineers and to train them on the job to become expert examiners.” He writes that the EPO management would in his view “be well advised to maintain these conditions.”
9 EPO-FLIER No. 33 The final straw for patent quality? (www.epostaff4rights.org)
10 2016 Patent Survey, conducted by the well-respected German legal magazine JUVE, English translation (https://suepo.org/public/ex17003cpe.pdf)
11 EPO – All Problems Solved? (http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/10/16/epo-all-problems-solved/)

Over the years we have been given examples, including of particular European Patents, from EPO insiders. We cannot name these examples publicly as those may give away the identity of examiners who dealt with them. We know for a verifiable fact that patents are being granted which otherwise (without Battistelli’s ‘reforms’) would not be granted. We are being told so. People are pressured to grant invalid monopolies because they might otherwise lose their job and need to move their entire family — children included — to another country.

Later today there’s an important political debate in Germany; we shall cover that in our next post.

Links 19/2/2018: Linux 4.16 RC2, Nintendo Switch Now Full-fledged GNU/Linux

Monday 19th of February 2018 10:57:20 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • How Linux became my job

    I’ve been using open source since what seems like prehistoric times. Back then, there was nothing called social media. There was no Firefox, no Google Chrome (not even a Google), no Amazon, barely an internet. In fact, the hot topic of the day was the new Linux 2.0 kernel. The big technical challenges in those days? Well, the ELF format was replacing the old a.out format in binary Linux distributions, and the upgrade could be tricky on some installs of Linux.

  • Desktop
    • Google’s Octopus Is A Gemini Lake Chromebook

      While we’re still waiting on an AMD-powered Chromebook as well as for Cannonlake to materialize, it appears Google is prepping support for a Geminilake Chromebook as well.

      Gemini Lake was launched back in December and makes use of Goldmont Plus CPU cores with Gen9 (Kabylake) class graphics. The current Gemini Lake mobile parts are the Celeron N4000/N4100 and Pentium Silver N5000. The Celeron models are dual core while the Pentium Silver N5000 is quad-core, all of them have a 6 Watt TDP, 1.1GHz base frequency, and turbo frequency in the 2.4~2.7GHz range while the graphics clock up only to 650~750MHz.

    • Windows 10 Update KB4058043 Causing BSODs, Some PCs Unable to Boot

      Botched updates keep making the rounds these days, and here’s a new one that was actually released in December, but whose effects haven’t been spotted until this month.

      Windows 10 update KB4058043, which is released to systems running the Fall Creators Update, brings reliability improvements to the Microsoft Store and fixes an issue which Microsoft says could cause app update failures and unnecessary network requests.

      But as it turns out, it also brings new problems to a number of systems installing it. A post on Microsoft’s Community forums, which got pinned earlier this week – meaning that it’s really an issue that all users should be aware of, reveals that Windows 10 update KB4058043 caused BSODs on a system before eventually pushing it to an unbootable state.

    • fail0verflow turns a Nintendo Switch into a full-fledged Linux PC

      Less than two weeks after demonstrating an exploit that allows Linux to be loaded unto a Nintendo Switch game console, fail0verflow is back with a new video showing what appears to be a full-fledged GNU/Linux-based operating system running on Nintendo’s tablet.

      The video shows a Switch running the KDE Plasma desktop environment, complete with support for touchscreen input, internet connectivity, and 3D graphics.

    • Nintendo Switch now runs a Linux graphical desktop

      The Nintendo Switch has easily become the darling of gamers and, unsurprisingly, a few modders seeking to push the handheld gaming console to the limits. And, no, were not just talking about homebrew game development. A little over a week ago, hacker fail0verflow demonstrated booting up Linux on the Switch, albeit with just an image of a bootup screen. Now to address doubts and maybe even stir up more speculation, fail0verflow releases a short video clip of the Switch running a more conventional and fully graphical Linux desktop setup.

  • Server
    • Amazon Linux 2 – Who nicked my cheese?

      So far, it’s a relatively benign, easy introduction to a new operating system that blends the familiar and new in a timid package. Perhaps that’s the goal, because a radical offering would right away scare everyone. Amazon Linux 2 is an appealing concept, as it gives users what Red Hat never quite did (yet) – A Fedora-like bleeding-edge tech with the stability and long-term support of the mainstay enterprise offering. But then, it also pulls a Debian/Ubuntu stunt by breaking ABI, so it will be cubicle to those who enjoying living la vida loco (in their cubicle or open-space prison).

      Having lived and breathed the large-scale HPC world for many years, I am quite piqued to see how this will evolve. Performance, stability and ease of use will be my primary concerns. Then, is it possible to hook up a remote virtual machine into the EC2 hive? That’s another experiment, and I’d like to see if scaling and deployment works well over distributed networks. Either way, even if nothing comes out of it, Amazon Linux 2 is a nice start to a possibly great adventure. Or yet another offspring in the fragmented family we call Linux. Time will tell. Off you go. Cloud away.

    • A Life Lesson in Mishandling SMTP Sender Verification

      Whenever I encounter incredibly stupid and functionally destructive configuration errors like this I tend to believe they’re down to simple incompetence and not malice.

      But this one has me wondering. If you essentially require incoming mail to include the contents of spf.outlook.com (currently no less than 81 subnets) as valid senders for the domain, you are essentially saying that only outlook.com customers are allowed to communicate.

      If that restriction is a result of a deliberate choice rather than a simple configuration error, the problem moves out of the technical sphere and could conceivably become a legal matter, depending on what outlook.com have specified in their contracts that they are selling to their customers.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux: To recurse or not

      Linux and recursion are on very good speaking terms. In fact, a number of Linux command recurse without ever being asked while others have to be coaxed with just the right option. When is recursion most helpful and how can you use it to make your tasks easier? Let’s run through some useful examples and see.

    • Linux 4.15.4
    • Linux 4.14.20
    • Linux 4.9.82
    • Linux 4.4.116
    • Linux 3.18.95
    • VGA_Switcheroo Is Getting Modernized With Device Link Support

      GA_Switcheroo is the Linux kernel component for dealing with MUX’ed and MUX-less hybrid graphics laptops/systems for switching between GPUs. A new patch series is working to modernize and improve VGA Switcheroo.

    • linux-4.15-ck1, MuQSS version 0.170 for linux-4.15

      Announcing a new -ck release, 4.15-ck1 with the latest version of the Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, version 0.170. These are patches designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity with specific emphasis on the desktop, but configurable for any workload.

    • Linux 4.15-ck1 Released With MuQSS 0.170

      Con Kolivas announced the release today of his patched Linux 4.15 kernel that includes the MuQSS scheduler, his successor to the BFS scheduler.

    • Linux 4.14 & 4.15 Get KPTI Protection For 64-bit ARM

      Greg Kroah-Hartman released a slew of stable point releases today to supported Linux kernel series. For the 4.14 and 4.15 branches

    • Linux 4.16-rc2

      It’s been a quiet week, and rc2 is out.

      I take the fairly quiet rc be a good sign for 4.16, but honestly, rc2
      is often fairly calm. That’s probably because people are taking a
      breather after the merge window, but also simply because it might take
      a while to find any issues.

      But let’s be optimistic, and just assume – at least for now – that
      it’s because all is well.

      The diffstat is fairly odd, but that often happens with small rc’s
      just because then just a couple of pulls will skew things easily in
      one or two directions. This time the patch is about one third
      architecture updates (arm64, x86, powerpc), one third tooling (mostly
      ‘perf’) and one third “rest”. And yes, the bulk of that rest is
      drivers (gpu, nvme, sound, misc), but those drivers are still
      distinctly *not* the bulk of the whole patch.

      Go out and test, it all looks fine.

    • Linux 4.16-rc2 Kernel Released
    • Graphics Stack
      • Nouveau Gets ARB_bindless_texture Support For Maxwell & Newer

        Back for Mesa 18.0 there was OpenGL bindless textures for Kepler GPUs on the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver while now for Mesa 18.1 that support is in place for Maxwell GPUs and newer.

        Bindless texture support is important for “AZDO” purposes for approaching zero driver overhead with OpenGL. ARB_bindless_texture reduces the API/GL driver overhead of resource bindings and allows accessing textures without needing to first bind/re-bind them.

      • Marek Working Towards Even Lower SGPR Register Usage

        Yesterday well known open-source AMD developer Marek Olšák landed his RadeonSI 32-bit pointers support for freeing up some scalar general purpose registers (SGPRs) and he’s continued with a new patch series to alleviate register usage even more.

      • Libdrm 2.4.90 Released With Meson Build System, AMDGPU & Intel Improvements

        Marek Olšák on Saturday released the big libdrm 2.4.90 DRM library update that sits between Mesa and other GPU user-space components and the kernel’s Direct Rendering Manager code.

      • Mesa Git Lands RadeonSI 32-bit Pointers Support

        At the start of the new year Marek Olšák of AMD posted a set of patches for 32-bit GPU pointers in RadeonSI. That work has now landed in mainline Mesa Git.

      • xf86-video-vesa 2.4.0

        Nothing terribly exciting, but enough bug fixes to justify a release.

      • VESA X.Org Driver Sees First Update In Three Years

        Should you find yourself using the xf86-video-vesa DDX for one reason or another, a new release is now available and it’s the first in three years.

        The xf86-video-vesa 2.4.0 X.Org driver was released this week with the handful of commits that came in since v2.3.4 was tagged three years ago, it’s been eight years already since xf86-video-vesa 2.3.0. For most users, xf86-video-vesa is just used in select fallback instances when your main DDX driver fails but even still these days KMS is pretty solid with xf86-video-modesetting, fbdev and other DDX drivers working well, etc.

  • Applications
    • Five free photo and video editing tools that could save burning a hole in your pocket and take your creativity to the next level

      GIMP stands for the Gnu Image Manipulation Program and is the first word that people usually think about when it comes to free image editors. It’s a raster graphics editor, available on multiple platforms on PC. It has a similar interface to Photoshop: you have your tools on one side, there’s an option for your tool window and then you have your layers window on another side. Perhaps one of the most useful features of GIMP is the option of plugins. There is a wide database for them and there’s a plugin for almost any task you might need to carry out.

      GIMP is extremely extensive, and it’s the choice of the FOSS community, thanks to the fact that it’s also open source. However, there are also some disadvantages. For example, GIMP has no direct RAW support yet (you have to install a plugin to enable it, which means a split workflow). It also has quite a bit of a learning curve as compared to Photoshop or Lightroom.

    • Introducing Spyder, the Scientific PYthon Development EnviRonment

      If you want to use Anaconda for science projects, one of the first things to consider is the spyder package, which is included in the basic Anaconda installation. Spyder is short for Scientific PYthon Development EnviRonment. Think of it as an IDE for scientific programming within Python.

    • SMPlayer 18.2.2 Released, Install In Ubuntu/Linux Mint Via PPA

      SMPlayer is a free media player created for Linux and Windows, it was released under GNU General Public License. Unlike other players it doesn’t require you to install codecs to play something because it carries its own all required codecs with itself. This is the first release which now support MPV and some other features such as MPRIS v2 Support, new theme, 3D stereo filter and more. It uses the award-winning MPlayer as playback engine which is capable of playing almost all known video and audio formats (avi, mkv, wmv, mp4, mpeg… see list).

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
      • Future of Wine Staging

        Some of you may have already wondered why there were no Wine Staging releases lately and whether anything has changed. There are indeed some major changes, which we want to explain in this post. Before doing so, let us take a quick look at the history of this project.

        Wine Staging originated from Pipelight, a software to use Windows browser plugins in Linux/FreeBSD web browsers. In order to support Silverlight and its DRM system PlayReady, we had to create our own Wine version as the development code did not support storing Access Control Lists (ACLs) for files. It turned out that getting the support into the development version was quite difficult and Erich E. Hoover tried this since 2012. We figured out that there must be more patches that are considered as too experimental for the development branch and started with Wine Staging in 2014. While the project got larger and larger in roughly 120 releases, the maintenance effort also increased, especially since we follow the 2 week release cycle of the development branch.

      • Wine Staging is no longer putting out new releases

        There have been many people asking questions about the future of Wine Staging, turns out it’s no longer going to have any new releases.

        I won’t quote the entire post titled “Future of Wine Staging”, but the gist of it is that they just don’t have the spare time to put into it now. They have full time jobs, so naturally that doesn’t leave much for something like this. I fully understand their situation and wish them all the best, I’ve seen so many people appreciate the work they did to bring so many different patches together for testing.

        The good news, is that there’s already a fork available. On top of that, Wine developer Alexandre Julliard posted on the Wine mailing list about keeping it going in some form, so there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

      • Wine-Staging Will No Longer Be Putting Out New Releases

        Wine-Staging as many of you have known it for the past four years is unfortunately no more. We’ll see if other reliable folks step up to maintain this experimental version of Wine but the original developers have sadly stepped away.

    • Games
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 6
      • AtCore takes to the pi

        The Raspberry Pi3 is a small single board computer that costs around $35 (USD). It comes with a network port, wifi , bt , 4 usb ports , gpio pins , camera port , a display out, hdmi, a TRRS for analog A/V out. 1GB of ran and 4 ~1GHz armv8 cores Inside small SOC. Its storage is a microSd card they are a low cost and low power device. The Touchscreen kit is an 800×480 display that hooks to the Gpio for touch and dsi port for video. To hold our hardware is the standard touch screen enclosure that often comes with the screen if you buy it in a kit.

      • Look, new presets! Another Krita 4 development build!

        We’ve been focusing like crazy on the Krita 4 release. We managed to close some 150 bugs in the past month, and Krita 4 is getting stable enough for many people to use day in, day out. There’s still more to be done, of course! So we’ll continue fixing issues and applying polish for at least another four weeks.

        One of the things we’re doing as well is redesigning the set of default brush presets and brush tips that come with Krita. Brush tips are the little images one can paint with, and brush presets are the brushes you can select in the brush palette or brush popup. The combination of a tip, some settings and a smart bit of coding!

        Our old set was fine, but it was based on David Revoy‘s earliest Krita brush bundles, and for Krita 4 we are revamping the entire set. We’ve added many new options to the brushes since then! So, many artists are working together to create a good-looking, useful and interesting brushes for Krita 4.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • On Compiling WebKit (now twice as fast!)

        Are you tired of waiting for ages to build large C++ projects like WebKit? Slow headers are generally the problem. Your C++ source code file #includes a few headers, all those headers #include more, and those headers #include more, and more, and more, and since it’s C++ a bunch of these headers contain lots of complex templates to slow down things even more. Not fun.

      • Fleet Commander is looking for a GSoC student to help us take over the world

        Fleet Commander has seen quite a lot of progress recently, of which I should blog about soon. For those unaware, Fleet Commander is an effort to make GNOME great for IT administrators in large deployments, allowing them to deploy desktop and application configuration profiles across hundreds of machines with ease through a web administration UI based on Cockpit. It is mostly implemented in Python.

      • Introducing deviced

        Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been heads down working on a new tool along with Patrick Griffis. The purpose of this tool is to make it easier to integrate IDEs and other tooling with GNU-based gadgets like phones, tablets, infotainment, and IoT devices.

        Years ago I was working on a GNOME-based home router with davidz which sadly we never finished. One thing that was obvious to me in that moment of time was that I’m not doing another large scale project until I had better tooling. That is Builder’s genesis, and device integration is what will make it truly useful to myself and others who love playing with GNU-friendly gadgets.

  • Distributions
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Running for the board of the Open Source Initiative – a few words

    Today I would like to explain my reasons for my candidacy at the board of the Open Source Initiative. I can think of two kinds of reason for my decision: one is personal, and the other one is directly related to current state of Open Source and software freedom. Let’s start with the first one: I’m currently helping the Open Information Security Foundation and the Suricata project in my capacity at ANSSI, while contributing in a minor way to the LibreOffice project and the Document Foundation.

  • Tutanota: Encrypted Open Source Email Service for Privacy Minded People

    Since then, I have heard of another email provider that you may be interested in. It’s a little different, but it touts some of the same features ProtonMail does: privacy, security, open-source code, etc. It’s called Tutanota, and like ProtonMail, I am a very big fan.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • The tracker will always get through

        A big objection to tracking protection is the idea that the tracker will always get through. Some people suggest that as browsers give users more ability to control how their personal information gets leaked across sites, things won’t get better for users, because third-party tracking will just keep up. On this view, today’s easy-to-block third-party cookies will be replaced by techniques such as passive fingerprinting where it’s hard to tell if the browser is succeeding at protecting the user or not, and users will be stuck in the same place they are now, or worse.

        I doubt this is the case because we’re playing a more complex game than just trackers vs. users. The game has at least five sides, and some of the fastest-moving players with the best understanding of the game are the adfraud hackers. Right now adfraud is losing in some areas where they had been winning, and the resulting shift in adfraud is likely to shift the risks and rewards of tracking techniques.

      • MozMEAO SRE Status Report – February 16, 2018

        Here’s what happened on the MozMEAO SRE team from January 23 – February 16.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Migration to GCC 6.4 as userland compiler

      Modulo some minor details, the transition of our userland to GCC 6 is complete.

    • OpenIndiana Has Upgraded To The GCC 6 Compiler

      The OpenSolaris/Illumos-based OpenIndiana operating system has finally moved past GCC 4.9 as its base user-land compiler and is now using GCC 6.4.

      This comes while GCC 8.1 should be officially released in the next few weeks and they are already targeting GCC 7.3.0 as their next illumos-gate compiler.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Open-Source Office Suite Passes 1 Million Downloads Mark

      The Document Foundation announced recently that its LibreOffice 6.0 open-source and cross-platform office suite reached almost 1 million downloads since its release last month on January 31, 2018.

      That’s terrific news for the Open Source and Free Software community and a major milestone for the acclaimed LibreOffice office suite, which tries to be a free alternative to proprietary solutions like Microsoft Office.

      The 1 million downloads mark was reached just two weeks after the release of LibreOffice 6.0, which is the biggest update ever of the open-source office suite adding numerous new features and enhancements over previous versions.

  • Funding
    • How Will a $100 Mln Grant Help Ethereum Scale?

      On Feb. 16, six large-scale Blockchain projects OmiseGo, Cosmos, Golem, Maker and Raiden, that have completed successful multi-million dollar initial coin offerings (ICOs) last year, along with Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain have created the Ethereum Community Fund (ECF), to fund projects and businesses within the Ethereum ecosystem.

    • Outreachy Is Now Accepting Applications For Their Summer 2018 Internships

      This week Google announced the participating organizations for GSoC 2018 for students wishing to get involved with open-source/Linux development. Also happening this week is the application period opened for those wishing to participate in the summer 2018 paid internship program.

  • BSD
    • FreeBSD Finally Gets Mitigated For Spectre & Meltdown

      Landing in FreeBSD today was the mitigation work for the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities.

      It’s taken a few more weeks longer than most of the Linux distributions to be re-worked for Spectre/Meltdown mitigation as well as DragonFlyBSD, but with FreeBSD Revision 329462 it appears their initial fixes are in place.

      There is Meltdown mitigation for Intel CPUs via a KPTI implementation similar to Linux, the Kernel Page Table Isolation. There is also a PCID (Process Context Identifier) optimization for Intel Westmere CPUs and newer, just as was also done on Linux.

    • FreeBSD outlaws virtual hugs
    • AsiaBSDCon 2018 Conference Programme
    • Linux KPI-Based DRM Modules Now Working On FreeBSD 11

      Thanks to work done by Hans Petter Selasky and others, this drm-next-kmod port is working on FreeBSD 11 stable. What’s different with this package from the ports collection versus the ported-from-Linux Direct Rendering Modules found within the FreeBSD 11 kernel is that these DRM modules are using the linuxkpi interface.

  • Public Services/Government
  • Licensing/Legal
    • PyTorch Should Be Copyleft

      Most people have heard of Google’s Tensorflow which was released at the end of 2015, but there’s an active codebase called PyTorch which is easier to understand, less of a black box, and more dynamic. Tensorflow does have solutions for some of those limitations (such as Tensorflow-fold, and Tensorflow-Eager) but these new capabilities remove the need for other features and complexity of Tensorflow. Google built a great system for doing static computation graphs before realizing that most people want dynamic graphs. Doh!

      [...]

      I wish PyTorch used the AGPL license. Most neural networks are run on servers today, it is hardly used on the Linux desktop. Data is central to AI and that can stay owned by FB and the users of course. The ImageNet dataset created a revolution in computer vision, so let’s never forget that open data sets can be useful.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Linux on Nintendo Switch, a new Kubernetes ML platform, and more news

      In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the Mozilla’s IoT gateway, a new machine learning platform, Code.mil’s revamp, and more.

    • Open Data
      • OSM in IkiWiki

        Since about 15 years ago, I have been thinking of creating a geo-referenced wiki of pubs, with loads of structured data to help searching. I don’t know if that would be useful for anybody else, but I know I would use it!

        Sadly, the many times I started coding something towards that goal, I ended blocked by something, and I keep postponing my dream project.

      • Why OpenStreetMap is in Serious Trouble

        That said, while I still believe in the goals of OpenStreetMap, I feel the OpenStreetMap project is currently unable to fulfill that mission due to poor technical decisions, poor political decisions, and a general malaise in the project. I’m going to outline in this article what I think OpenStreetMap has gotten wrong. It’s entirely possible that OSM will reform and address the impediments to its success- and I hope it does. We need a Free as in Freedom geographic dataset.

Leftovers
  • It’s Time to Banish Your Screens From the Bedroom

    If this is you, there’s a solution: stop bringing your phone to bed. Your tablet too. Glowing screens in the bedroom are destroying your sleep, and the only solution is to stop using them.

  • When animals ape humans: The wildlife caught posing for the camera just like you might
  • The World’s Largest Migration Is About To Begin

    This Friday, China is going to celebrate its new year, kicking off one of the planet’s great migrations.

    Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that this the event sees hundreds of millions of people leave their cities in order to visit their families in more rural parts of the country. In fact, practically all of China takes holiday at once, making the new year the biggest human event on earth.

  • Science
    • The Hurt Feelz Approach To Science: NLRB On Damore’s Google Memo

      He didn’t realize how strongly ideology tops science in one of the top tech companies in the world.

      Let’s play a little game along the NLRB’s decisional lines:

      Here’s a generalization: Men are vastly more likely to get prostate cancer than women.

      Here’s another: Women are vastly more likely to have ovaries.

      Discriminatory! Constitutes sexual harassment! “Nothwithstanding” my effort to cloak my comments in “basic physiology.”

      Are we seeing how wildly ridiculous this is?

    • Elon Musk is Not the Future

      But the reality is that Musk’s ideas around transportation are at best “half-baked” or at worst designed to delay the construction of transportation infrastructure that could pull the United States into the twenty-first century.

    • I thought VR would make watching Olympic snowboarding awesome.

      Like a lot of people, I was glued to a live broadcast from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics the other night, watching American snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim kick competitors’ butts in the women’s half-pipe finals. Unlike most other spectators, though, I saw powder fly with a virtual-reality headset strapped to my face.

    • Graphene Nanoribbons Reach Out to the Molecular World

      Spintronics involves manipulating the spin of electrons and in this way differs from conventional electronics that manipulates their movement. It is this spin that is responsible for magnetism: When a majority of electrons in a material have their spins pointing in the same direction, the material is magnetized. If you can move all the spins up or down and can read that direction, you can create the foundation of the “0” and “1” of digital logic.

      Spintronic devices based on the porphyrin molecule exploit the magnetic atom—typically iron, which has spin-polarized states—that is in the middle of each molecule. There are a number of ways of exploiting the spin of these magnetic atoms to polarize the transported current. If magnetic molecules with a larger spin are used—the so-called a single-molecule magnet—a “1” or “0” state could be stabilized by a magnetic field and read by currents.

    • Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

      Researchers at the Center for Quantum Nanoscience within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) have made a major breakthrough in controlling the quantum properties of single atoms. In an international collaboration with IBM Research in San Jose, California, using advanced techniques, the scientists identified which mechanisms destroy the quantum properties of individual atoms by manipulating the magnetic state of a single iron atom on a thin insulator. Using a scanning tunneling microscope with an atomically sharp metal tip, they were able to image individual iron atoms and measure and control the time that they maintain their quantum behavior.

    • Researchers demonstrate promising method for improving quantum information processing

      A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has demonstrated a new method for splitting light beams into their frequency modes.

  • Hardware
    • China’s massive investment in artificial intelligence has an insidious downside

      In a gleaming high-rise here in northern Beijing’s Haidian district, two hardware jocks in their 20s are testing new computer chips that might someday make smartphones, robots, and autonomous vehicles truly intelligent. A wiry young man in an untucked plaid flannel shirt watches appraisingly. The onlooker, Chen Yunji, a 34-year-old computer scientist and founding technical adviser of Cambricon Technologies here, explains that traditional processors, designed decades before the recent tsunami of artificial intelligence (AI) research, “are slow and energy inefficient” at processing the reams of data required for AI. “Even if you have a very good algorithm or application,” he says, its usefulness in everyday life is limited if you can’t run it on your phone, car, or appliance. “Our goal is to change all lives.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • We just witnessed one of the biggest indictments you’ll ever see of a country’s health care system

      As well as socializing the risk (and thereby helping to contain health care costs), health economist Robert H. Frank notes that Medicare’s administrative costs are substantially lower than a private health insurer, averaging only about 2 percent of total expenses, which is less than one-sixth the corresponding percentage for many private insurers. Frank explains that this occurs in large part because Medicare does not pre-screen anybody, and because the program:

    • Free public transport for elderly linked to 12% decline in depression symptoms

      Researchers found that increased eligibility for a free bus pass led to an 8 percent increase in the use of public transportation among older people, and a 12 percent decline in depression symptoms among those who started taking the bus when they became eligible for the program.

    • North Texas teacher dies after getting the flu

      Heather Holland, a second-grade teacher at Ikard Elementary School with the Weatherford Independent School District died over the weekend, the Weatherford Democrat reports. Holland got sick about a week ago and took medication, but delayed picking up the prescription due to the $116 copay, according to the newspaper.

    • Air pollution may lead to unethical behaviour: Study

      Together, the archival and experimental findings suggest that exposure to air pollution, whether physical or mental, is linked with transgressive behaviour through increased levels of anxiety, researchers said.

    • Humans are overloading the world’s freshwater bodies with phosphorus

      Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research.

    • How Toxic is the World’s Most Popular Herbicide Roundup?

      A problem for scientists investigating the physiological activities of pesticides is that herbicide-producing giants including Monsanto, Roundup’s developer, or Syngenta, which produces the glyphosate-containing herbicide Touchdown, aren’t required to make their full ingredients lists public.u

    • London protesters speak out in defence of the National Health Service

      “I think we need to stop private companies from being able to make a profit from public services. The collapse of Carillion demonstrates that it is completely immoral to allow a private company to make a profit from a service without taking on any of the associated risk because you can’t be allowed to fail. You can’t stop cleaning hospitals! You can’t stop providing school meals and when the company goes bust the public has to take on the debt.

      “Every penny of profit that a private company makes should be a penny that’s invested in an NHS service.”

    • Indiana wins federal permission to adopt Medicaid work requirements
    • Privatisation is poisoning the very air we breathe

      The second month of the year begins with London having already reached its legal air pollution limit for the whole of 2018. The city’s limit of 18 breaches of air quality regulations was used up in January.

    • Mexico protesters fear US-owned brewery will drain their land dry

      Carmelo Gallegos used to sow wheat in the cool winters and cotton in scorching-hot summers of the Mexicali valley. These days, water is so scarce he can only plant one crop a year.

    • Why Cape Town’s water could run out in April

      Officials warn of the likelihood of a Day Zero, when the level at the dams will drop below 13.5% and the city’s water supply will have to be turned off. (The 13.5% level is set by the city, which notes that it may be hard to extract any water at all if it falls below 10%.) Unless things change, Day Zero is due to fall on April 16th, though earlier estimations suggested both April 12th and April 21st. It will make Cape Town the world’s first big city to run dry.

    • The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town

      According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.

    • Millions of Americans drink potentially unsafe tap water. How does your county stack up?

      Tainted tap water isn’t just a problem in Flint, Michigan. In any given year from 1982 to 2015, somewhere between 9 million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that was in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a new study. Most at risk: people who live in rural, low-income areas.

    • Lethal Pneumonia Outbreak Caused By Low Chlorine In Flint Water

      “It’s a pneumonia, but what’s different about it is, we don’t share it like we do the flu or common cold,” explains Michele Swanson of the University of Michigan, who has been studying Legionnaires’ for 25 years. “It’s caused by a bacterium, Legionella pneumophila, that grows in water.”

    • Sh-h-h. Snyder state update left out 75% drop in reading proficiency in Flint

      Read it again: That’s nearly a three-quarters drop in third-grade reading proficiency among children whose lives were affected by lead poisoned water during the Flint water crisis.

    • India’s farmed chickens dosed with world’s strongest antibiotics, study finds

      Warning over wider global health impacts after findings reveal hundreds of tonnes of colistin – the ‘antibiotic of last resort’ – are being shipped to India’s farms

    • Corn Syrup Lobbyist Is Helping Set USDA Dietary Guidelines

      In late August of 2017, White House counsel Donald McGahn issued a waiver for a new member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), previously a lobbyist for the corn syrup industry, to advise the department on dietary guidelines:

    • Yes, Female Genital Mutilation happens in India; here’s everything you need to know

      Female genital mutilation (FGM)–also known as khatna or khafz in the Muslim Bohra community, where it is practised in India–does not have any laws in India banning it. The United Nations has declared female genital mutilation a human rights violation, and yet, the act is not banned in India.

    • UN chief says 68 million girls may face genital cuts by 2030

      His statement Tuesday says over 200 million women and girls in 30 countries across three continents have experienced genital mutilation.

      The UN Population Fund projects that the estimated 3.9 million girls subjected to genital cutting every year will rise to 4.6 million by 2030 due to expected population growth unless urgent action is taken.

    • Arkansas banned a weedkiller. Now, Monsanto is suing.

      When Monsanto introduced a new kind of seed that wouldn’t die when exposed to the herbicide dicamba, it triggered a crisis in the southeastern United States. Farmers planted the seed and started spraying dicamba, and it worked great! Except that it drifted onto other farmers’ fields and killed their crops.

      And the dramatic plot twists keep coming. One farmer gunned down another in a confrontation over his withered crops. Then, states began to restrict the use of dicamba, with Arkansas completely banning it last summer.

    • Cyber Intrusion Creates More Havoc for Washington State’s New Marijuana Tracking System

      Licensed marijuana product growers and retailers have been very unhappy with Washington State’s new “seed-to-sale” marijuana tracking system that went live on 1 February.

      Buggy software has kept many suppliers from shipping their products because of manifest errors and, equally, retailers from accepting their orders. While Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board officials have insisted that the myriad software problems are being fixed or work arounds exist for most of them, it also has disclosed that the tracking system experienced a cyber intrusion.

    • Gilead wins reversal of $2.54 billion hepatitis C drug patent verdict

      A federal judge in Delaware has overturned a jury’s verdict requiring Gilead Sciences Inc to pay a record $2.54 billion because its hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed a patent held by rival Merck & Co Inc.

      The verdict had been the largest ever in a U.S. patent case but U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday ruled Merck’s patent was invalid. He said it did not meet a requirement that it disclose how to make the treatment it covered without undue experimentation.

  • Security
    • Thousands of FedEx customers’ private info exposed in legacy server data breach

      Uncovered by Kromtech Security Center, the parent company of MacKeeper Security, the breach exposed data such as passport information, driver’s licenses and other high profile security IDs, all of which were hosted on a password-less Amazon S3 storage server.

    • Correlated Cryptojacking

      they include The City University of New York (cuny.edu), Uncle Sam’s court information portal (uscourts.gov), Lund University (lu.se), the UK’s Student Loans Company (slc.co.uk), privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office (ico.org.uk) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (financial-ombudsman.org.uk), plus a shedload of other .gov.uk and .gov.au sites, UK NHS services, and other organizations across the globe.

      Manchester.gov.uk, NHSinform.scot, agriculture.gov.ie, Croydon.gov.uk, ouh.nhs.uk, legislation.qld.gov.au, the list goes on.

    • Facebook using 2FA cell numbers for spam, replies get posted to the platform

      Replies ending up as comments appears to be a bizarre bug, but the spamming seems intentional.

    • Swedish Police website hacked [sic] to mine cryptocurrency

      Remember now, it is a Police Force that allowed their website to be hijacked by this simple attack vector. The authority assigned to serve and protect. More specifically, the authority that argues that wiretapping is totally safe because the Police is competent in IT security matters, so there’s no risk whatsoever your data will leak or be mishandled.

      This is one of the websites that were trivially hacked [sic].

      It gives pause for thought.

      It also tells you what you already knew: authorities can’t even keep their own dirtiest laundry under wraps, so the notion that they’re capable or even willing to protect your sensitive data is hogwash of the highest order.

    • New EU Privacy Law May Weaken Security

      In a bid to help domain registrars comply with the GDPR regulations, ICANN has floated several proposals, all of which would redact some of the registrant data from WHOIS records. Its mildest proposal would remove the registrant’s name, email, and phone number, while allowing self-certified 3rd parties to request access to said data at the approval of a higher authority — such as the registrar used to register the domain name.

      The most restrictive proposal would remove all registrant data from public WHOIS records, and would require legal due process (such as a subpoena or court order) to reveal any information supplied by the domain registrant.

    • Intel hit with 32 lawsuits over security flaws

      Intel Corp said on Friday shareholders and customers had filed 32 class action lawsuits against the company in connection with recently-disclosed security flaws in its microchips.

    • The Risks of “Responsible Encryption”

      Federal law enforcement officials in the United States have recently renewed their periodic demands for legislation to regulate encryption. While they offer few technical specifics, their general proposal—that vendors must retain the ability to decrypt for law enforcement the devices they manufacture or communications their services transmit—presents intractable problems that would-be regulators must not ignore.

    • Reviewing SSH Mastery 2nd Ed

      It’s finally out ! Michael W Lucas is one of the best authors of technical books out there. I was curious about this new edition. It is not a reference book, but covers the practical aspects of SSH that I wish everybody knew. Rather than aggregating different articles/blogs on SSH, this book covers 90% of the common use cases for SSH that you will ever encounter.

    • Highlights of the French cybersecurity strategy

      First, the document describes that in France cyberdefence and cyberoffence are separated. This is directly opposed to the models employed in Anglo-Saxon countries. But it’s shown as an asset. Key argument: it respects freedoms and civil liberties.

      The document then lists the six general objectives of cyberdefence, namely: prevention, anticipation, protection, detection, attribution, reaction (remediation). The strategy itself is complete, it focuses on civil, military, domestic, external, and international levels. Let’s say it’s a rarity in the business in strategic cybersecurity documents.

      [...]

      The strategy then mentions that one of the solutions could be to release source code and documentation after an end of support date.

    • The Munich Security Conference 2018

      Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

    • Smart meters could leave British homes vulnerable to cyber attacks, experts have warned

      New smart energy meters that the Government wants to be installed in millions of homes will leave householders vulnerable to cyber attacks, ministers have been warned.

    • MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime: Researchers nail exploits

      “The flaws—dubbed Meltdown and Spectre—are in chips made by Intel and other major suppliers. They can allow hackers to steal data from the memory of running apps, including password managers, browsers and emails.”

      The authors of the paper on arXiv, Caroline Trippel, Daniel Lustig, and Margaret Martonosi, discuss a tool they developed for “automatically synthesizing microarchitecture-specific programs capable of producing any user-specified hardware execution pattern of interest.”

      They said they show “how this tool can be used for generating small microarchitecture-specific programs which represent exploits in their most abstracted form—security litmus tests.”

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Daniel Ellsberg Thinks We’re in Denial About Nuclear War
    • BBC journalists thrown out of West Papua for “upsetting Indonesian soldiers feelings”

      Rebecca Henchke, who has been reporting in Indonesia for 12 years was uploading photos on Twitter showing the lack of adequate treatment of the health crisis by the Indonesian military

    • Pacific News Minute: Indonesia Expels BBC Journalists from West Papua

      Military Intelligence pulled Henschke in for five hours of questions; she was then held by Immigration, and, after another 24 hours, she and her crew were escorted onto a plane back to Jakarta.

    • Tuvalu and Nauru back Indonesia in Papua

      Jakarta says a number of Pacific countries have expressed appreciation for Indonesia’s new initiatives to develop the Papua region.

    • Is Pakistan using US weapons meant to fight Taliban against India? Army thinks so

      India has given proof to United States that weapon systems like the US TOW-2A anti-tank guided missiles given to Pakistan for use against Taliban are now being used against Indian Army.

    • Why US Marines are deployed to Australia’s far north
    • The Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was up

      The story of this hateful barrier’s fall and the ensuing 28 years, two months and 27 days of German history is one of expanded individual horizons: it has meant previously unimaginable travel, enterprise, friendships and relationships (the proportion of German couples with one “Ossi” and one “Wessi” partner passed the 10% mark in around 2008). Among the touching reflections on the anniversary today have been social media posts to that effect by Germans speculating on how much poorer their lives would have been #ohneMauerfall (without the fall of the wall).

    • Renewed push for Australia to build nuclear weapons

      None of these steps has anything to do with “defence” or preserving peace. Rather in a world where geo-political tensions are accelerating, Australia is seeking the military means to pursue its own imperialist interests, either in league with the US, as it has done since World War II, or independently if need be. The military and political establishment is coming to the conclusion that in order to do this it needs the ultimate in “high-end weapons”—a nuclear arsenal.

    • Salah Abdeslam: Paris attacks suspect to go on trial in Belgium

      Up to 200 police will be guarding the courthouse for the trial.

    • Funding al-Shabaab: How aid money ends up in terror group’s hands

      Speaking at a secret location on the outskirts of Baidoa, a former zaqat (tax) collector for al-Shabaab, who was captured in a recent raid by agents from Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency, confirmed that the extraction of tolls at roadblocks was one of the biggest sources of money for al-Shabaab.

    • Indonesian police kill woman during a clash in restive Papua region

      Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished region, which Indonesia annexed more than half a century ago.

    • Teachers Are Being Trained to Shoot Their Students

      One example of the trend is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s funding of so-called “Faster” programs, three-day training sessions for teachers from around the country. In addition to target practice, one day of the training is devoted to “mindset development,” or bolstering teachers’ preparedness to shoot after split-second assessments. Trainees are asked “to close their eyes and imagine the student entering the classroom with a gun” and then are taught how to command the grit necessary to kill that student.

    • Death of Europeans: Police waits on ISO for preliminary report

      Four people have been arrested as investigations widen into last week’s mystery death of two European men at two top Kampala hotels.

      Police sources say the suspects were arrested by Internal Security Organisation agents and have been detained at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

      “Among the suspects, there are three security operatives and Faridah Nakaye who was identified as one of the deceased’s (Tuomas Juha) girlfriend. They are being interrogated by ISO operatives and their case is also connected to dealing in narcotics,” a source said.

    • Anti-Trumpists Use Mueller Indictments to Escalate Tensions With Nuclear-Armed Russia

      U.S. empire loyalists are so close to telling the truth when they babble about “Russian propaganda.” They are openly admitting that it is wrong to use media to manipulate the ways that Americans think and vote. Now all we need is for them to admit that they themselves do this constantly, and we’ll be on the right track.

      [...]

      The focus instead is on people disguising their identities to troll Americans on social media, which we have now learned constitutes a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” As Disobedient Media’s Elizabeth Lea Vos rightly points out, it is also behavior that the Hillary Clinton campaign is known to have funded and engaged in extensively.

    • The map of the world according to who every country thinks is most dangerous

      Feeling apocalyptic right now? You’re probably not the only one.

      But of course, who you think the bad guys are depends a lot on where you live. Which is what makes this map really interesting.

    • CAIR silent on U.S. imams’ call to kill Jews

      After three different imams in the U.S. declared in December that Muslims will one day eliminate the Jews, citing sacred Islamic text, a Washington-based Islamic group known for its concern about “hate speech” was noticeably silent.

    • Tracing the arms trail into Indonesia

      The ongoing trial of veteran terrorist Suryadi Mas’ud has revealed how Indonesian militants linked up with fellow networks in Marawi, southern Philippines, to procure M-16 assault rifles and handguns.

    • NBI: Turku stabbing suspect radicalised three months before attack, inspired by ISIS propaganda

      In the wake of the stabbings police discovered a manifesto heavily influenced by Islamist and ISIS ideas, posted by the suspect on various social media channels, which included numerous disparaging references to western religions. The attack, which took place on 18 August 2017 and started in Turku’s Market Square.

    • How Political Pessimism Helps Doom Tougher Gun Laws

      It’s predictable after every new mass-shooting horror: The political right’s reflexive call for “thoughts and prayers,” which is then mocked by people who favor more gun restrictions for lacking any accompanying ideas for preventing future killings.

      But there’s an equally predictable refrain on the center-left and in the media, too: “Once again, nothing will be done.”

      Barely had the death toll of 17 been announced last week after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida than The Washington Post declared, “The gun debate is going nowhere quickly after Parkland.” CNN offered: “Amid continued string of mass shootings, gun control going nowhere in Congress.” After 59 concert-goers were mowed down in October, former Democratic congressman Steve Israel put to rest any hope for reform in a New York Times op-ed column titled “Nothing Will Change After the Las Vegas Shooting.”

    • Three Shot Dead In Kohistan

      Honour killing took three lives in Kohistan as son shot dead mother, brother’s wife, and her paramour in the name of honour on Saturday in district Kolai Palas of Kohistan

    • Swedish PM does not rule out use of army to end gang violence

      But Swedish TV reported there were over 300 shootings, mostly in turf battles between gangs over drugs, protection rackets and prostitution.

    • Stacey Dooley: Face To Face With ISIS

      Stacey comes face to face with ISIS as she revisits Iraq to unearth the harrowing story of Yazidi women kept as ISIS sex slaves.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Round up: Assange’s arrest warrant, victims of human traffickers, and a Convention Right victory for salmon fisherman

      The warrant was upheld, and whether section 6 proceedings are initiated under the Bail Act 1976 will depend on Assange’s circumstances when he is finally produced to the court.

    • Mountain out of Molehill: Assange Sees No Tangible Russian Meddling in US Vote

      The alleged influence of Russian Internet Research Agency LLC, indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for its alleged interference in the US 2016 election, was “insignificant” regardless of what kind of activities the company was engaged in, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said.

    • [Older] Julian Assange Saga: Judge Ruling on Arrest Warrant [Ed: Via The Guardian. Notice how corporate media, without exception, ignores the obvious conflict of interest (the judge)]

      It is nearly six years since Julian Assange disguised himself as a motorcycle courier and entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London to seek political asylum. His subsequent legal battle, so vast and protracted a CPS lawyer once deemed it “like an industry” in itself, comes to a pivotal moment on Tuesday, when a judge will rule on whether the warrant for his arrest has become disproportionate.

    • According To Leaked Chats, WikiLeaks And Julian Assange Wanted Trump To Win And Hillary To Lose

      It’s no secret that Julian Assange used WikiLeaks to support the Donald Trump campaign in 2016. In September of 2016, a WikiLeaks account sent a series of private messages to Donald Trump Jr. over Twitter detailing attack points against Hillary Clinton and attempting to form a sort of partnership between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. Now, new private chats have surfaced which further show WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange professing a preference for the Republican Party in the 2015 general election, The Intercept reports.

    • Assange Denies That WikiLeaks Backed the GOP in 2016

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rejected contentions by The Intercept that he supported the Republican party during the 2016 presidential election in a series of tweets.

      The report from The Intercept is based on 11,000 messages in a private Twitter chat group of WikiLeaks’ loyal supporters that were turned over by a longtime supporter of Assange known only as Hazelpress. The messages were sent to The Intercept after the WikiLeaks Twitter account, believed to be run by Assange, made what Hazelpress considered anti-Semetic remarks about an Associated Press reporter. Also included were messages about why WikiLeaks allegedly wanted the Republican Party to win the 2016 presidential election.

    • Julian Assange’s ordeal

      Last Tuesday, senior British district judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected Julian Assange’s appeal for freedom. Meaning that Assange will continue to face arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy and will be confined to the meagre room available to him in the embassy building, where he has managed to survive for almost six years.

      In 2012 Julian Assange had taken refuge in this embassy to avoid extradition at the hands of British imperialists to Sweden or the U.S. over allegations of sexual assault, and subversive activities against the US imperialist state. Though Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation against him, he still faces arrest if he leaves the building. Ecuador recently granted him citizenship and asylum. It had tried unsuccessfully to persuade British officials to give Assange diplomatic status, which might have made it possible for him to leave Britain even if US officials sought him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Audit reveals Office of Fossil Energy approved millions for lobbying, spas

      All in all, the report identified $38 million in reimbursement payments that the Office of Fossil Energy made to Summit without proper and thorough documentation. But before the partnership between Fossil Energy and Summit ended, a third-party auditor had signed off on most of those payments, so the OIG said it wouldn’t tread that ground again, despite its reservations. However, at least $2.5 million in expenses that were paid out during the lifetime of the project potentially broke the rules about what federal government funds can and can’t reimburse.

    • Over 90 per cent of Australian shellfish reefs have disappeared

      Virtually all of Australia’s shellfish reefs have disappeared, making them the country’s most threatened ocean ecosystem, scientists said on Thursday (Feb 15), calling for more investment to rescue the important marine habitats.

    • International Year of the Reef

      Hidden beneath the ocean waters, coral reefs teem with life. Coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment and rival rainforests in their biodiversity. Countless numbers of creatures rely on coral reefs for their survival. These important habitats are threatened by a range of human activities. Many of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed or severely damaged by an increasing array of threats, including pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and global climate change. However, we can still protect and preserve our remaining reefs if we act now. NOAA is leading U.S. efforts to study and conserve these precious resources for future generations.

    • Even as China says no to shark fin soup, dish gaining popularity elsewhere in Asia

      Consumption of shark fin soup in China has fallen by around 80 per cent since 2011, government figures and private surveys show, after a celebrity-driven public awareness campaign and a government crackdown on extravagant banquets.

      But the good news is offset by an alarming rise in the consumption of this prestige dish in places like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Macao, according to a new report by WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that campaigns to curb demand for wildlife products.

    • Team from India to help Myanmar conserve dwindling tiger species

      The team from India is presently collecting primary data to draw up a conservation plan with the eventual aim of creating a “protected area network.” Spread across 20,000 sqkm, Myanmar has the largest tiger landscape in the world but its dwindling tiger population has been a concern.

    • Iranian-Canadian environmental activist dies in prison, his son says

      An Iranian-Canadian dual citizen and environmental activist imprisoned by Iranian authorities last month has died in prison, his son wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Kavous Seyed-Emami was managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect Iran’s rare animals, and a U.S.-trained scholar in sociology.

      [...]

      Iran faces a number of serious environmental crises, including water scarcity, air pollution and wildlife poaching. Human rights groups say activists in Iran face the risk of arbitrary arrest and harassment by authorities.

    • No More Tuna for Japan’s Sushi?

      “Nearly all tuna today are caught before they are five years old, because of overfishing, which means they only spawn once or twice in their lifetimes. If we’re going to protect this resource, it’s very important that we allow the fish to spawn.” The Iki fishermen have asked for studies to determine the effects of their moratorium. The Fisheries Agency has refused, claiming it has no budget for such work.

    • Saudi will soon drastically change course to avert post-oil misery

      By the end of the year, Saudi Arabia aims to invest up to $7 billion to develop seven new solar plants and a big wind farm. The country hopes that renewables, which now represent a negligible amount of the energy it uses, will be able to provide as much as 10 percent of its power generation by the end of 2023.

    • Esmond Bradley Martin: Ivory investigator killed in Kenya

      One of the world’s leading investigators of the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn has been killed in Kenya.

    • Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

      Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in Nairobi

    • Former national monuments shrunk by Trump to be opened for mining claims

      Hundreds of thousands of acres of land that were part of two US national monuments shrunk by Donald Trump are being opened on Friday to mining claims for uranium and other minerals.

    • Global use of mosquito nets for fishing ‘endangering humans and wildlife’

      The researchers found mosquito net fishing is seen across the globe. East Africa had the greatest concentration, but the practice was also seen from Bangladesh to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. It was reported in both freshwater, as seen in Africa’s great lakes and in Nepal, and in the sea, in west Africa.

    • Met Office warns of global temperature rise exceeding 1.5C limit

      In next five years greenhouse gases may push global warming past threshold set by Paris deal

    • Keeping the world below 2°C of warming needs tech we don’t have

      But there’s something about those two-degrees scenarios you may not know, which climate scientists have been talking a lot about recently. Those scenarios involved a substantial deployment of technologies to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Without those technologies, we’re even further from sufficient emissions cuts.

    • An Enduring Partnership

      Humanity would be nothing without plants. It’s high time we recognize their crucial role in sustaining life on Earth.

    • Thailand bans smoking, littering at popular tourist beaches

      Environmental rights groups have urged successive governments to protect Thailand’s palm-fringed beaches, which are frequently voted among the world’s most beautiful, from unregulated development and littering, among other things.

    • Hanergy announces Fraunhofer lab rating for solar production module with record conversion efficiency

      In solar industry news, there have been a number of conversations surrounding the Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) thin film solar panels from Hanergy Thin Film Power Group’s US subsidiary Alta Devices, based in Sunnyvale California.

    • ‘Not Halal Enough’: Finland’s Strict Slaughter Rules Roasted by Local Muslims
    • Debates on Islamism: Halal Meat
  • Finance
    • Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand
    • Resist a US trade deal. Your life may depend on it

      So what hope is there of defending ourselves against US farming practices and their many impacts on human health, including the zombie resurgence of defeated bacteria? Well, as always, hope lies with us. Through massive resistance, led by campaigners in Britain, the people of Europe managed to defeat the noxious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), despite the vast resources of the US, the European commission and the UK government.

    • Puerto Rico’s blackout, the largest in American history, explained

      Some 1.36 million Americans are without power right now, and it isn’t coming back any time soon. This is a national embarrassment.

      We’re talking about Puerto Rico, in the throes of the longest and largest blackout in US history following Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds and 36 inches of rainfall that toppled 80 percent of the island’s power lines and flooded its generators last September.

    • Trump’s Labor Board Is Making it Even More Difficult to Unionize Fast-Food Workers

      The McDonald’s case, dating back to 2012, aims to undo a precedent that held that fast-food mega-chains like McDonald’s aren’t technically “bosses” of workers at their chain restaurants, and instead just license franchise owners to manage their workforces and labor conditions. Holding McDonald’s responsible as a joint employer might pave the way for collective-bargaining rights, and hence unionization, under a broad contract for McDonald’s employees nationwide. (McDonald’s restaurants in other countries in fact allow unionization and, surprise, workers can earn living wages and have real power to advocate for their rights.)

    • Trump Is Making Life Even Harder for Working-Class Women

      Trump not only broke his promise to preserve Elliott’s job; he and his fellow Republicans are working overtime to make life harder—much harder—for her in her likely future. For instance, let’s say Elliott, who will receive a one-time payment, severance pay, and six months of health insurance from Carrier, goes on unemployment, something she is proud to say she’s never done. Uh-oh. The Labor Department has indicated it wants to give states greater leeway to drug-test unemployment recipients, which is pretty humiliating.

    • American student told to leave Sweden over money error: ‘I feel very frustrated’

      But a greater worry is that it might close off her plans to work in Sweden after graduation.

    • Woman Dragged Out of West Virginia House Hearing For Listing Oil and Gas Contributions to Members

      “As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas said. “Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”

    • The biggest privatisation you’ve never heard of: land

      Since Margaret Thatcher came to power, 10% of the area of Britain has left public ownership. No wonder there’s a housing crisis

    • San Jose: Homeless advocates protest sweep of ‘Googleville’ encampment

      Monday’s eviction was the largest in a string of recent homeless encampment sweeps in the capital of Silicon Valley. Caltrans, which owns the acreage at the massive interchange of Highway 101 and Interstates, 280 and 680 near Story Road in San Jose, oversaw the operation. About a dozen homeless advocates showed up and, in a jab at tech companies whose success has helped spawn a crippling housing crisis, called the encampment “Googleville.”

      “This is an international disgrace,” said protest organizer Sandy Perry, president of the nonprofit Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County. “As tech companies get richer, richer and richer, the people here are getting poorer, poorer and poorer.”

    • 6 Ways to Rein In Today’s Toxic Monopolies

      After nearly four decades of lax antitrust policy, during which a handful of corporations have been allowed to gobble up market share like a horde of deranged amoebas, the consequences of unfettered monopoly have become painfully apparent. Competition has fizzled, replaced by pockets of extreme concentration. The number of new businesses has plunged. Wages have stagnated. Inequality has spiked. And extreme wealth—alongside its evil twin, extreme power—has pooled in fewer and fewer hands.

    • If we gave everyone a decent standard of living, could we sustain it?

      It should be possible to meet the basic physical needs of everyone on the planet without using up physical resources too quickly. But it wouldn’t be possible to extend a first-world standard of living to everyone without needing “a level of resource use that is two-six times the sustainable level,” researcher Daniel O’Neill and his colleagues report. Only a drastic improvement in efficiency would allow the planet to manage this higher standard of living.

    • The EU is the enemy of the working classes

      There are two European Unions, it seems. There is the EU that stands up for the citizen, for his or her rights; the EU that can face down the behemoths of global capitalism and rein in their avarice and callousness; the EU that has legally enshrined workers’ freedoms, and which exists as a bulwark against untrammelled neoliberalism. And then there is the real EU.

    • Millennials Are Keeping Unions Alive

      Jobs are precarious, health-care costs are skyrocketing, and wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living—no wonder young people are organizing.

    • Oregon woman evicted from senior housing for $328 in late rent freezes to death in parking garage

      Karen Batts, 52, died from hypothermia Saturday in the Smart Park parking garage in Portland, Oregon, homeless over $338 in delinquent rent. Batts is the second person to freeze to death, alone, on Portland’s streets in 2017.

    • Labor Dept. Ditches Data Showing Bosses Could Skim Waiters’ Tips

      Labor Department leadership scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that showed employees could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities, four current and former DOL sources tell Bloomberg Law.

    • Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market

      By the fall of 2016, the share of online shoppers bypassing search engines and heading straight to Amazon had grown to 55 percent.

    • A bad EU motion coming up for vote, 2017/2772(RSP): Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains: building trust with disintermediation
    • Cutting men’s wages is a scandal

      Cutting men’s wages is a terrible idea. It does nothing for women, it does nothing for equality, but it does make life easier for bosses, who are always keen to find ways to trim the workforce’s pay. It doesn’t matter that this is the state-funded BBC we’re talking about here, or that these men earn more money than most of us would know what to do with — on principle, cutting someone’s wage when they are still doing the same job is a bad idea, and a bad precedent.

    • How UPS delivers faster using $8 headphones and code that decides when dirty trucks get cleaned

      Avoiding those mistakes, and doing so efficiently, is key to the company’s survival. The boom in e-commerce means UPS now delivers as many as 31 million packages a day. Keeping track of all that is an immensely difficult problem. It’s made worse because fulfilling online orders often requires driving to far-flung residences. That is more expensive for UPS than delivering to businesses, where drivers typically can leave and pick up multiple packages at each stop.

    • Amid denialism on company tax cuts, the ABC lets us all down

      At a time when commercial media outlets like the Financial Review are misleading Australians about company tax cuts, the ABC’s censorship of Emma Alberici further undermines trust in our media.

    • What Could the United States Have Done – If Anything – To Prevent China’s Rise?

      Much has been written about the key questions of the 21st century; first, can the liberal international order survive the rise of China, and second, how will the rise of China revise the extant international order? This is the first of a multi-part series designed to establish a frame for how to think about these questions; how we got here, and how to proceed in light of undeniable structural realities.

      To begin, it’s worth considering why the United States was slow to note the rise of Chinese power. U.S. policymakers worried a great deal about the expansion of Chinese economic and military power in the 1950s and 1960s, but less so in the 1970s and 1980s. The best answers to why the United States stepped back from steps intended to check China’s rise run as follows. First, the rise of China was advantageous in geopolitical competition against the Soviet Union. Second, the development of the Chinese economy worked to the advantage of both U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers, although not to all labor sectors. Third, U.S. policymakers were optimistic that China would reform politically as it reformed economically, thus removing it as an international threat. Of these, the first was true, but became irrelevant in 1991; the second largely remains true, as the U.S.-China trade axis has underwritten global economic growth since the 1980s; the third has not been realized in any meaningful way.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Bears Ears is Sacred to Native Tribes, but Trump Just Put it at Major Risk

      In this op-ed, writer Kelly Hayes explains why President Donald Trump’s decision to revoked the protected status of Bears Ears National Monument must be fought, for the sake of the Earth as we know it.

    • The president of the Maldives has lost all legitimacy but kept his job

      Mr Yameen may have become a full-blown dictator, but he seems to see himself as the victim of a monstrous injustice. The court, he claims, was paving the way for a coup by nefarious forces. How else to explain its actions on February 1st, when it ordered the release of political prisoners and the reinstatement of MPs who had crossed over to the opposition? The chief justice must have been bribed, he says. To make matters worse, two police chiefs had to be fired before a third could be found who would ignore the court’s orders. (He is said to be so unpopular that underlings shout at him in the canteen.)

    • Maldives crises: Military throws MPs out of Parliament

      “Security Forces literally throws an MP out of the Majlis premises! The Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was telling the truth when he said he was forcefully dragged on the floor from his chambers,” tweeted MDP Secretary General Anas Abdul Sattar.

    • Military bar opposition lawmakers from entering parliament house

      Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) on Tuesday barred a group of opposition lawmakers from entering the parliament house.

    • ‘Liar in chief’: Trump trolled over old tweet vowing he would never make cuts to Medicaid, Medicare

      US President Donald Trump’s old tweets have once again come back to haunt him after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi resurfaced a 2015 post about Medicaid and Medicare cuts. On Monday (12 February), the Trump administration unveiled a $4.4 trillion budget plan that proposed massive and historical cuts to several programmes, executive departments and agencies.

    • Kushner requests more intel info than almost all White House staff: report

      He is one of reportedly dozens of White House officials who have been operating with temporary clearances during Trump’s first year in office, and his clearance could be in jeopardy following chief of staff John Kelly’s changes to the clearance process, the Post said

    • Trump uses Facebook exec comments on Russia meddling to criticize ‘Fake News Media’

      Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president of ads, posted a series of tweets reiterating what the social media giant had discovered in recent months about Russian efforts to interfere with the election using the platform.

    • Facebook ‘grateful’ for Mueller indictments ‘against those who abused our service’

      Facebook disclosed in September that it had sold $100,000 worth of advertisements to the Internet Research Agency, which was named in Friday’s indictment.

    • Facebook, Twitter Ill-Equipped to Stop Repeat of 2016 Meddling
    • Twitter pledges to continue working with Mueller after indictments
    • Robert Mueller charges Russian ‘troll [sic] farm’ with election interference

      Ten of the defendants were allegedly employed by the Internet Research Agency, a “troll [sic] farm” funded by the Russian government for disinformation efforts. “Defendants, posing as US persons and creating false US personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract US audiences,” the indictment reads. “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

    • Russia’s troll [sic] identities were more sophisticated than anyone thought

      One of the most surprising lessons of the indictment is just how seriously the Russians took their fake identities. We might associate troll [sic] accounts with spam or weird visuals, but at least some of the accounts described by Mueller were backed up by full-scale identity theft. According to the indictment, defendants used stolen Social Security numbers to build entire false personas, complete with fraudulent photo IDs and PayPal accounts. Crucially, the stolen Social Security numbers meant all of it was happening in a real US citizen’s name. If anyone looked into the person behind the account, they’d see a long paper trail and plenty of government-issued verification to settle their suspicions.

    • Mueller flips American who unwittingly sold bank info to Russian trolls [sic]

      On Friday, shortly after Department of Justice officials announced the indictment of 13 Russians accused of being involved in a multi-year effort to spread false information online surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign, the DOJ also announced the guilty plea of a California man, Richard “Ricky” Pinedo.

    • Media Embrace New ‘Reform’ Group as Bulwark Against Guaranteed Healthcare

      In recent years, there has been rapid growth in support for Medicare for All, a single-payer healthcare system that would guarantee the universal medical coverage that the Affordable Care Act failed to achieve with its passage in 2010. Sixty-four percent of Democrats support single-payer healthcare, while over half of Americans believe that the government should be responsible for ensuring coverage, according to surveys by Pew Research Center.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act (SR 1804) has been cosponsored by 16 senators, while former Rep. John Conyers’ Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676) has received endorsements from the majority of the Democratic caucus, amounting to 120 cosponsors. Numerous advocacy groups have been campaigning to make Medicare for All a signature part of the upcoming Democratic Party election campaigns in 2018 and 2020.

    • The Trump Administration Goes to War — With Itself — Over the VA

      David Shulkin, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, showed up to what he thought would be a routine Senate oversight hearing in January, only to discover it was an ambush.

      Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was the sole holdout among members of the veterans affairs committee on a bill that would shape the future of the agency. The bipartisan bill had the support of 26 service groups representing millions of veterans. But Moran was pushing a rival piece of legislation, and it had the support of a White House aide who wields significant clout on veterans policy. Neither proposal could advance as long as there was any doubt about which President Donald Trump wanted to sign.

    • DOJ Russia Indictment Again Highlights Why Internet Companies Can’t Just Wave A Magic Wand To Make Bad Stuff Go Away

      As you’ve certainly heard by now, earlier today the Justice Department announced that it had indicted thirteen Russian individuals and three Russian organizations for various crimes related to trying to influence the US election. You should read the full indictment if you haven’t already. Not surprisingly it focuses on the infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA), which was the giant Russian online trolling operation that we’ve discussed going back to 2015.

      While many are trying to position the indictment as a “significant” bit of news, I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed. It really does not reveal much that wasn’t already widely known. It’s been widely reported that the Russians had interest in disrupting our democracy and sowing discord, including setting up and pushing competing rallies from different political sides, and generally stoking fires of distrust and anger in America. And… the indictment seems to repeat much of that which has already been reported. Furthermore, this indictment actually reminds me quite a bit of a similar indictment four years ago aginst various Chinese officials for “hacking” crimes against the US. As we noted then, indicting the Chinese — who the US would never be able to arrest anyway — just seemed to be a publicity stunt, that had the potential to come back to haunt the US. It kinda feels the same here.

    • Donald Trump’s 6 Very Real, Very Insane Tips For A Good Life

      Media organizations he doesn’t like suddenly find themselves blacklisted from campaign rallies and press briefings. One failed business deal in Mexico, and later he’s ranting about how most Mexicans are “rapists” who “bring in drug and crime.” When he won the Republican presidential primary in 2016, he took almost no steps toward reconciliation with his former foes, instead dishing out insults left and right to people he no longer needed to attack. And when Puerto Rico was stricken by a hurricane this summer, Trump dedicated a lot more effort than “none at all, are you crazy?” to a running feud with the mayor of San Juan.

    • Over 130 White House officials don’t have permanent security clearance: report
    • NRA, Russia and Trump: How ‘dark money’ is poisoning American democracy

      As American communities continue to be victimized by gun violence — including the mass shooting yesterday, in Parkland, Florida — the National Rifle Association continues to wield immense influence over American legislators, primarily through enormous campaign contributions.

      But when it comes to funding, the NRA may have finally gone too far: the FBI recently launched an investigation to determine whether a Russian central banker, and Putin ally, illegally funneled money through the organization to help the Trump campaign.

    • John Goerzen: The downfall of… Trump or Democracy?

      The future of the United States as a democracy is at risk. That’s plenty scary. More scary is that many Americans know this, but don’t care. And even more astonishing is that this same thing happened 45 years ago.

      I remember it clearly. January 30, just a couple weeks ago. On that day, we had the news that FBI deputy director McCabe — a frequent target of apparently-baseless Trump criticism — had been pushed out. The Trump administration refused to enforce the bipartisan set of additional sanctions on Russia. And the House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to release what we all knew then, and since have seen confirmed, was a memo filled with errors designed to smear people investigating the president, but which nonetheless contained enough classified material to cause an almighty kerfuffle in Washington.

      I told my wife that evening, “I think today will be remembered as a turning point. Either to the downfall of Trump, or the downfall of our democracy, but I don’t know which.”

      I have not written much about this scandal, because so many quality words have already been written. But it is time to add something.

      [...]

      One comfort from all of this is the knowledge that we had been there before. We had lived through an era of great progress in civil rights, and right after that elected a dictatorial crook president. We survived the president’s fervent supporters refusing to believe overwhelming evidence of his crookedness. We survived.

      And yet, that is no guarantee. After all, as John Dean put it, Nixon “might have survived if there’d been a Fox News.”

    • How Russia turned the internet against America

      The indictment released Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller makes plain how prosecutors believe Russia pursued its multiyear scheme to undermine the 2016 presidential election — by wielding the social media-driven internet that the United States itself did so much to create.

      They had help, digital experts say, from decades of accepted U.S. policy about how to help the internet thrive: The U.S. government has taken a largely hands-off approach, while the anonymity that protects people’s privacy and liberty online also allowed Russian trolls to deceive overly trusting Americans. And the same freedom to innovate that has made Silicon Valley wealthy and powerful meant that there were few eyes on the ball as Russian actors began figuring out how to manipulate the internet’s few dominant platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Google-owned YouTube.

    • How Much Did Russian Interference Affect The 2016 Election?

      One of my least favorite questions is: “Did Russian interference cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election?” The question is newly relevant because of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians on Friday on charges that they used a variety of shady techniques to discourage people from voting for Clinton and encourage them to vote for Donald Trump. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to answer, however. But here are my high-level thoughts in light of the indictment. (For more detail on these, listen to our emergency politics podcast.)

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Turkey jails 6 Turkish journalists for life, releases German reporter

      “This is a dark day for press freedom and for justice in Turkey and sets a chilling precedent for scores of other journalists facing trials on similar trumped-up terrorism charges,” said Gauri van Gulik, Europe director for Amnesty International, of the sentencing.

    • Subnautica Dev Fired Over Controversial Twitter Comments
    • Year of the Dog images REMOVED in Malaysia as it’s deemed too offensive to Muslims

      But some shopping malls have decided not to have images of dogs, sparking an online backlash, CNN reported.

    • Michigan school adopts ‘no-bag policy’ in wake of Florida shooting

      The policy, also announced in a Facebook post, will go into effect next week — rather than immediately — so that students can have a full week to get used to the change.

    • One Down: Instagram Caves To Russian Censorship As All Eyes Turn To YouTube

      We had just been talking about Instagram and YouTube facing site blocks in Russia all because a billionaire didn’t like his dirty laundry exposed online. For brief background, a noted Russian dissident, Alexy Navalny, had published photos of billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko relaxing on a yacht with a young woman variously described as a model and escort fawning over them. Importantly, the salacious nature of the photos and videos is only half of the reason Navalny is drawing attention to them. The other reason is his accusations of corruption in government, as a massively wealthy oligarch consorts in this fashion with a high-ranking member of the federal government. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, Russian courts had handed Deripaska a legal victory and ordered sites hosting the images, including Instagram and YouTube, to take them down. Russia’s notoriously corrupt site-blocking agency, Rozcomnadzor, issued an edict that the images be removed or the sites would face a potential full block in Russia.

    • Body positive art exhibit censored for female nudity

      She had pitched the show a year ago to Artspace Jackson Flats, the live/work art building where she lives. But when a fellow resident took issue with the nudity in the show, Artspace, the nonprofit that owns the building, asked Harsma to alter her show.

      Harsma says that’s censorship. In light of a complaint, two of the pieces depicting nude women are still hanging in public view, though with body parts obscured by a paper marked “Censored.”

    • A new scale of censorship

      Two weeks ago, the Turkish government proposed a bill to allow the Turkish media authority the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to regulate all content posted online to prevent broadcasts that “jeopardize national security” and “destroy moral values.”

      Meaning: The scale of censorship will broaden to include online platforms such as YouTube and Netflix in the very near future. The RTÜK already monitors Turkish media. Couples making love or kissing are considered obscene and “against moral values” so even Oscar-winning movies are “simplified” and scenes cut. All kinds of alcohol and smoking scenes are blurred. (I remember watching a documentary about Einstein a couple of years ago and even his pipe was blurred. Yes, his pipe.)

    • The “No Platform” Brigade

      I am among those who have been “de-platformed” for speaking critically about the political and ideological aspects of Islam that are not compatible with American values and human rights. The usual justification for disinviting us is that speaking critically of Islam is “hate speech” that is “hurtful” to Muslims.

    • Ich Bin Ein Tweeter

      Germany passed laws prohibiting Volksverhetzung—“incitement to hatred”—in 1960, [...]

    • University of Chicago Professor explores censorship and information control

      As part of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences lecture series, Purdue Northwest welcomes University of Chicago professor Ada Palmer who will discuss, “Censorship and Information Control from the Inquisition to the Present.”

    • Manga fantasy Goblin Slayer gets an anime series but fans are already worried the censors will ruin it

      The original novels (by Kumo Kagyu and Noboru Kannatsuki) and the manga (Kōsuke Kurose) focus on the adventures of the two characters and their newly formed adventuring party, with the tale centering around Goblin Slayer’s quest to kill as many of the creatures as possible; things usually get pretty gory as the adventurers carve their way through hordes of the things.

    • Fire at sacred Tibetan Buddhist temple sparks suspicion about censorship

      A fire broke out at one of the most sacred temples in Tibetan Buddhism, prompting concern and suspicion that information on the incident is being controlled by authorities.

      Chinese State media said the fire at “part of” Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the capital of the south-western Chinese region of Tibet, “was soon put out” after it began at 6.40pm on Saturday.

      Images posted online showed flames billowing from a pagoda at the sacred building, which was built in the seventh century.

    • What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn

      Porn Literacy, which began in 2016 and is the focus of a pilot study, was created in part by Emily Rothman, an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health who has conducted several studies on dating violence, as well as on porn use by adolescents. She told me that the curriculum isn’t designed to scare kids into believing porn is addictive, or that it will ruin their lives and relationships and warp their libidos. Instead it is grounded in the reality that most adolescents do see porn and takes the approach that teaching them to analyze its messages is far more effective than simply wishing our children could live in a porn-free world.

    • Turkey Censorship and self-censorship report published

      Susma (Don’t Be Silenced) Platform, part of the initiative to support and promote editorial independence in the Turkish press, P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, published its first censorship report covering the period from September 2016 to December 2017.

      The report, published in Turkish and according to the platform’s website soon to be published in English as well, documents the violations of freedom of speech and art in Turkey since the July 15th coup attempt.

      Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was granted wide-ranging state of emergency powers by Turkish Parliament in the wake of the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. The state of emergency rules (OHAL) allowed Erdoğan and his party, Justice and Development Party (AKP) to rule the country by decree, sidelining the democratic political process, and enabling him to implement sweeping changes to the Turkish state, constitution, and economy.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Germany edges toward Chinese-style rating of citizens

      China is experimenting with a dystopian “social credit system” which grades every citizen based on their behavior. The head of an expert panel argues that Germany is sleepwalking in the same direction.

    • A Crisis in Intelligence: Unthinkable Consequences of Outsourcing U.S. Intel (Part 3)

      Decades ago, philosopher Marshall McLuhan predicted a future world war fought using information. While World War I and World War II were waged using armies and mobilized economies, “World War III [will be] a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation,” McLuhan said, a prophecy included in his 1970 book of reflections, Culture Is Our Business.

      We are now seeing this information war play out in real time. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictment on Friday of 13 Russian nationals who allegedly attempted to “sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election” can be seen as the culmination of the intelligence community’s efforts to ferret out trolls engaging in “Information Operations” against the United States. But in some cases, this may be the product of the West’s own Information Operations – often utilizing private “intelligence” companies, or “spies for hire.”

      In parts one and two of this series, we looked at the private companies serving the deep state. We have seen how the top levels of the deep state interact with smaller companies and individual actors.

    • We spy trouble: Experts who fear a Trojan horse-style cyber attack say even GCHQ is concerned about smart meters

      Computers experts are warning that the Government’s roll-out of a new type of smart energy meter will leave households vulnerable to cyber attack. The consequences, they say, could be dire with homes potentially losing their power supply and hackers selling stolen details to criminals.

      Fraud is also a worry if hackers are able to inflate meter readings and intercept payments.

    • How UK Spies Hacked a European Ally and Got Away With It

      For a moment, it seemed the hackers had slipped up and exposed their identities. It was the summer of 2013, and European investigators were looking into an unprecedented breach of Belgium’s telecommunications infrastructure. They believed they were on the trail of the people responsible. But it would soon become clear that they were chasing ghosts – fake names that had been invented by British spies.

      The hack had targeted Belgacom, Belgium’s largest telecommunications provider, which serves millions of people across Europe. The company’s employees had noticed their email accounts were not receiving messages. On closer inspection, they made a startling discovery: Belgacom’s internal computer systems had been infected with one of the most advanced pieces of malware security experts had ever seen.

    • HomePods are staining wooden tables with a white ring

      According to the support page, the marks are apparently caused by “oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface.” In addition to the previously stated advice about hoping the marks go away or cleaning the surface, Apple also said for customers who are concerned about the issue, “We recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.”

    • Nokia may dump its health tech business

      Has Nokia had enough of the health tech world? Just two years after entering the industry with its $190 million purchase of French company Withings, the company has announced it’s launching a “strategic review of its digital health business.” A terse blog post said the firm was considering its “strategic options” with regards to health care, and that this “may or may not result in any transaction or other changes.”

    • The U.S. Intel Community’s Demonization of Huawei Remains Highly Hypocritical

      We’ve noted for some time how Chinese hardware vendor Huawei has been consistently accused of spying on American citizens without any substantive, public evidence. You might recall that these accusations flared up several years ago, resulting in numerous investigations that culminated in no hard evidence whatsoever to support the allegations. We’re not talking about superficial inquiries, we’re talking about eighteen months, in-depth reviews by people with every interest in exposing them.

    • New National Academy of Sciences Report on Encryption Asks the Wrong Questions

      The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a much-anticipated report yesterday that attempts to influence the encryption debate by proposing a “framework for decisionmakers.” At best, the report is unhelpful. At worst, its framing makes the task of defending encryption harder.

      The report collapses the question of whether the government should mandate “exceptional access” to the contents of encrypted communications with how the government could accomplish this mandate. We wish the report gave as much weight to the benefits of encryption and risks that exceptional access poses to everyone’s civil liberties as it does to the needs—real and professed—of law enforcement and the intelligence community.

    • Canada Bill C-59 Claims to Correct Privacy Abuses — It Actually Makes Them Much Worse

      Specifically, the provisions in C-59 would allow the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to launch cyber attacks against foreign governments and engage in covert operations that such as impersonating reporters, programming computer malware, and spreading misinformation abroad to influence foreign elections.

    • Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users, court rules

      Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users’ surfing outside the social network and delete data it’s already gathered, or it will face fines of 250,000 ($312,000) euros a day, a Belgian court ruled.

      Facebook “doesn’t sufficiently inform” clients about the data it gathers on their broader web use, nor does it explain what it does with the information or say how long it stores it, the Brussels Court of First Instance said in a statement.

    • Don’t Trust the VPN Facebook Wants You to Use

      Onavo, on the other hand, expressly combs through, analyzes, and tracks user data over time, feeding it directly to Facebook. The service also states that it may retain users’ data for as long as they have an account and beyond. And Facebook does leverage that data for its own purposes; the Wall Street Journal reported in August that the company used data from Onavo to track the popularity of competitive startups and other user preferences, and to inform acquisition decisions.

    • Facebook may guess millions of people’s sexuality to sell ads
    • Copycat: How Facebook Tried to Squash Snapchat
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Forensic Science Put Jimmy Genrich in Prison for 24 Years. What if It Wasn’t Science?
    • Americans Want Prison Reform. But Does Trump?

      The survey released by the MacArthur Foundation, a private organization that supports grants in a variety of policy areas, was developed to measure knowledge of local criminal justice systems and perceptions of fairness in them. Respondents were found to mostly support rehabilitation efforts for people in early phases in the justice system, particularly for those with mental illnesses, and backed treatment over prosecution in response to the opioid crisis:

    • The $40 billion program arming small town cops with combat gear and military tanks

      Struck by these new developments, Craig set out to understand what had changed. His subsequent film “Do Not Resist,” premiering Feb. 12 on PBS’s POV, reveals some startling trends. From police conventions to equipment expos to officer training sessions, Craig’s footage gives the best on-the-ground look at the rapid militarization of municipal police forces.

    • Why New Zealand has so many gang members

      For a quiet country, New Zealand has a peculiar problem with gangs. It is reckoned to have one of the highest membership rates in the world. In a population of 4.7m, police count over 5,300 mobsters or “prospects” who are angling to join. Cumulatively, that makes the groups larger than the army. Bikers like the Hells Angels and posses from Australia are among its 25 recognised groups, but two Maori crews dominate: Black Power and the Mongrel Mob. They are remarkable for their subcultures as much as for their size. Members signal their allegiance by sewing patches onto leather jackets or branding themselves with dense tattoos. A closed fist marks Black Power, which took its name from the American civil-rights movement, and a British bulldog signals the Mongrels. In all, Maori people make up three-quarters of the country’s gangsters.

    • California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue ‘anti-racist’ activists, documents show

      The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.

    • ‘Are you a citizen?’ To U.S. Border Patrol, the Canadian border is 100 miles wide

      Because “boundaries” include coasts, the “100-mile zone” includes entire states — all or almost all of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont, the American Civil Liberties Union notes.

      The zone also includes Houston and Los Angeles. All in all, well over half of Americans, more than 175 million people, live in a place where the Border Patrol believes it has the right to question people, search their vehicles and detain people it believes are unlawfully present.

      The bus and train checks are not new. But they appear to be happening more often near the Canadian border than they did in the five years prior to Trump’s tenure. And they have attracted renewed scrutiny around the country as Trump touts his crackdown on illegal immigration and gives the Border Patrol more money and leeway.

      Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney at Michigan’s ACLU, said Border Patrol checks far from the border are a violation of Americans’ constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

    • The next time ICE rounds up workers, remember that we didn’t do the same with Nazi-era war criminals

      ICE now houses the evidence of the INS’ failures, and it too isn’t cooperative on the subject of war criminals. It has been extremely reluctant to release its files through the Freedom of Information Act, and when it does, it routinely applies unwarranted redactions to their contents, demonstrating a higher concern for the privacy of deceased accused war criminals than for transparency about the agency’s history.

    • Judge blocks deportation of Indonesian Christians

      U.S. District Judge Esther Salas ruled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can’t deport the Indonesians while their cases are pending. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal class-action lawsuit that requested a stay for the migrants so they have more time to challenge their deportations.

      “This case involves life-and-death stakes, and we are simply asking that these longtime residents be given opportunity to show that they are entitled to remain here,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, said in a statement. “As in other cases … involving mass deportations, we are asking the court to make clear that the fundamental protections of due process apply to noncitizens.”

    • Paige Spiranac on a mission to change the face of golf – one hater at a time

      Her experience playing in Dubai proved a sign of more ominous things to come as public profile and personal life overlapped and she was targeted on the very social media platforms that had given her celebrity. “I was harassed, my family was harassed,” Spiranac adds. “I was receiving death threats, people were invading my privacy, I was being blackmailed. This was going on whilst I was trying to play.”

    • Syria war: Outcry over ‘mutilated’ female Kurdish fighter

      Kurdish officials accused fighters allied with Turkey of “playing with her corpse” and mutilating it.

    • The Guardian view on sharia councils: shedding some light

      But to recognise the reality of sharia councils operating here is the first step towards limiting any harm that they can do. That should start with more funding for legal aid for those who want to access justice and a closer look at how legally compliant these bodies are in matters of arbitration. Awareness campaigns to ensure people know their rights would help too. Small steps, perhaps, but ones away from the idea that discrimination could be entrenched on the basis of religious identity.

    • That One Time California Highway Patrol Conspired with Neo-Nazis to Reject My Public Records Request

      Midway through the piece, reporter Sam Levin describes an audio recording of a phone call between CHP detective D. Ayres and the TWP organizer, Doug McCormack. The conversation centers around a public records request filed by an unnamed member of the public. The officer had taken it upon himself to alert McCormack that his name might be released as a result.

      Reading it, I immediately recognized that it was me who filed the request. A year and a half ago, I had asked for the event permit application, the final permit, communications with protesters and counter-protesters, relevant departmental policies, the estimated cost of overtime for security at the protest, and other assorted records.

    • Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests

      i“This is a battle for a narrative,” said Standing Rock Sioux member and attorney Chase Iron Eyes, when I asked how he felt about activists’ being referred to as terrorists or “jihadists.” Iron Eyes was arrested during a police raid on another protest camp a few weeks before the eviction of Oceti Sakowin, and charged with a felony for “inciting a riot” as well as criminal trespass. He’s facing five years in prison. Daniel Sheehan, who serves as chief counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Office and is defending Iron Eyes, believes that Iron Eyes was surveilled and selectively prosecuted with felony charges because he was particularly outspoken in his opposition to the pipeline. His name appeared on several intelligence documents prepared by TigerSwan, including one labeling him as one of the “most radical” members of the protest movement.

    • Etukuri’s abduction: What could have sparked it off

      New Vision senior reporter, attached to the weekend, Charles Etukuri has been abducted by armed men in military uniform. He was picked near New Vision offices on Tuesday afternoon, around 2:00pm.

    • “FREE from Chains!”: Eskinder Nega is Released from Jail

      Eskinder has been detained in Ethiopian jails since September 2011. He was accused and convicted of violating the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, primarily by virtue of his warnings in online articles that if Ethiopia’s government continued on its authoritarian path, it might face an Arab Spring-like revolt.

      Ethiopia’s leaders refused to listen to Eskinder’s message. Instead they decided the solution was to silence its messenger. Now, within the last few months, that refusal to engage with the challenges of democracy has led to the inevitable result. For two years, protests against the government have risen in frequency and size. A new Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, sought to reduce tensions by introducing reforms and releasing political prisoners like Eskinder. Despite thousands of prisoner releases, and the closure of one of the country’s more notorious detention facilities, the protests continue. A day after Eskinder’s release, Desalegn was forced to resign from his position. A day later, and the government has declared a new state of emergency.

    • India links women’s safety and economic growth

      In its latest economic report, the government stated that India’s future development hinges on how women and girls are treated in society. The “intrinsic values” of gender equality are incontestable, it states. And the economy will keep growing only “if women acquire greater personal agency, assume political power and attain public status, and participate equally in the labor force.”

    • Muslim woman deletes Facebook account after rape threats by Islamists, Communist says not as bad as Khap threatening women
    • Appeals Court: Handcuffing A Compliant Ten-Year-Old Is Unreasonable But Deputy Had No Way Of Knowing That

      Time and time again, courts remind officers of the law don’t actually have to know the law to enforce the law. Yes, that’s how it all works out for citizens, who are just as frequently reminded ignorance of the law is no excuse. This has lead to the prevalence of pretextual stops where minor traffic violations (that may not even be violations) are used to initiate long conversations with law enforcement officers with the end goal of obtaining consent for a search or to bring a drug dog onto the scene.

      Qualified immunity, along with the good faith exception, have allowed an untold amount of law enforcement abuse. This has completely skewed judicial perception, turning law enforcement into noble fools and raising expectations of citizens’ legal knowledge to that of seasoned criminal defense lawyers.

    • Eric Lundgren, ‘e-waste’ recycling innovator, faces prison for trying to extend life span of PCs

      Lundgren wanted to provide buyers of used computers a restore disc of Windows, so they wouldn’t throw their computers away. Microsoft, and the government, objected.

    • One day without us: mining Twitter, framing solidarity

      Expressions of migrant solidarity through the #1DayWithoutUs campaign sought to counterbalance xenophobic sentiments, offering a multiplicity of migrant voices and experiences in the UK today.

    • Chinese police snatch a Swedish publisher and parade him on TV
    • James Damore’s labor complaint against Google was completely shut down

      Google didn’t violate labor laws by firing engineer James Damore for a memo criticizing the company’s diversity program, according to a recently disclosed letter from the US National Labor Relations Board. The lightly redacted statement is written by Jayme Sophir, associate general counsel of the NLRB’s division of advice; it dates to January, but was released yesterday, according to Law.com. Sophir concludes that while some parts of Damore’s memo were legally protected by workplace regulations, “the statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected.”

    • UK Rejects Recognizing Sharia Marriages Under Law

      The British government rejected the recommendation of a governmental review board to formally regulate sharia councils, saying to do so would recognize the legitimacy of sharia law in Britain.

    • Foreign Office employees invited to wear headscarves to work to mark World Hijab day

      The Government department, headed up by Boris Johnson, offered all employees the chance to wear a hijab for part of their day to mark the worldwide event on February 1.

      [...]

      Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

    • Seminary teacher, three associates convicted in rape-murder case of girl
    • Man who raped teenage girl held sharp piece of wood to her throat and said: ‘You cannot be a virgin because you are white’
    • Uganda: Refusal to convert to Islam ends in family tragedy

      A Christian woman has been brutally attacked with a machete by her Muslim husband for refusing to convert to his religion, sources told World Watch Monitor. The attack led to the death of the woman’s one-week-old twins.

    • Brutal beating video highlights violence against women in Afghanistan

      According to the men who beat her, they discovered her with a man at her home while her husband was away in Iran, and so they decided to punish her in the main village square.

    • Hyderabad: Forced to convert to Islam, assaulted, alleges woman

      In an alleged case of ‘love jihad’ in the city, a 25-year-old techie from the city was forced to convert, sexually assaulted, and then dumped for allegedly failing to follow religious customs. Though she was being confined in Dubai by her fiancé, the girl managed to escape, return home and lodged a complaint with the Malkajgiri Police.

    • Council leader denies authority members will not meet with Muslims as he defends ‘widespread’ call for Mayor’s resignation

      Others have questioned whether it is right that a post on what is deemed to be a private Facebook page and not shared publicly could be called into question in this way.

    • We Fought for Our Democracy. Now Turkey Wants to Destroy It.

      I and my fellow members of the Kurdish Women’s and People’s Protection Units, often known as the Y.P.J. and Y.P.G., have fought hard for years to keep the Islamic State out of this autonomous region of Syria known as Rojava. We endured Turkey’s barrages and avoided returning fire, even after civilian casualties, so as not to provide a pretext for this invasion.

      [...]

      One would imagine the international community and especially the United States, which has been more than happy to partner with us in the fight against the Islamic State, would firmly oppose such an unprovoked attack executed in the name of racial hatred — Mr. Erdogan has stated his intention to commit ethnic cleansing of Afrin’s Kurdish population, or, as he says, to give the region to its “real owners” — but instead, it has been greeted largely with silence, and therefore tacitly condoned.

    • Egypt’s Christians Suffering from “Very High Persecution”

      Three segments of society are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for the persecution of Copts: (1) “non-Christian religious leaders”—meaning Muslim clerics, sheikhs, imams, and ulema— “at any level from local to national”; (2) “violent religious groups,” meaning violent Islamic groups, the Islamic State being only the most notorious;” and (3) “Normal citizens (people from the general public), including mobs.”

      In other words, Muslims from every rung of society—from highly educated Muslim clerics, to members of Islamic organizations, to the passionate and volatile masses, “whose views are shaped by intolerant and radical imams”—are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for and “significant drivers of persecution.”

    • How Police apprehended couple operating baby factory in Lagos

      According to Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Imohimi Egdal, the suspects, Adeola Adebayo; 50 and Rita Adebayo; 40 were arrested for harboring pregnant women and selling their babies without their consent.

    • Police uncover alleged baby factory in Lagos, arrest couple
    • Teens repeatedly rape woman at gunpoint in own home and behind mosque in horrific attack
    • Anti-Christian crime causes increasing concern in Germany

      Germany’s federal police recorded almost 100 attacks on Christians or Christian institutions in Germany in 2017. Most violent incidents occurred among asylum seekers living together in refugee homes.

    • Muslim parents, clerics raise concerns about children’s books from Saudi Arabia sold in Singapore

      One of the books titled Men In Captivity is the tale of a 13-year-old boy who convinces his mother to allow him to perform a “jihad” or holy war against Christians.

    • Somalia: Justice Eludes Rape Victims in Puntland – Campaigners

      The suspects were arrested but later set free after swearing on the Quran to deny the charges, while the victim was told she needed four witnesses in order to press charges, GECPD said.

    • Pakistan: Murderer Sentenced to Death After Killing ‘Anti-Islamic’ Student in Blasphemy Row

      A Pakistani court issued the death sentence to a man involved in the lynching of a university student falsely accused of blasphemy.

    • Aasia Bibi family appeals for early hearing of her case

      Aasia Bibi, 51, has been on the death row since November 2010 after being convicted of committing blasphemy. In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld her death sentence.

    • Female Pakistani Activist Pushes Back Against Blasphemy Charges

      Gulalai’s Aware Girls organization, which is based in Peshawar, has been working for gender equality, education and female empowerment in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her work as an activist has brought other cases of harassment as well.

    • Senior Ofsted official backs headteacher over hijab ban for under eights

      Amanda Spielman says religion [sic] is being used to ‘actively pervert’ education and school leaders should not fear causing offence when setting policies

    • Religious extremists use schools to ‘isolate and segregate’ children and brainwash minds, Ofsted chief warns

      Inspectors are increasingly coming across those who want to “actively pervert” the purpose of education, according to Amanda Spielman.

    • Rihanna not welcome in Senegal, religious group says

      But an association of about 30 Islamic associations called No to Freemasonry and Homosexuality have asked the government to cancel her visit.

    • Paris Muslim accused of killing Jewish woman no longer charged with hate crime

      The charge of murder aggravated by racial hatred was excluded from what is now the indictment against Traore by the examining magistrate — a function designed to oversee prosecutors and intercept flawed indictments before they form the basis of an active trial.

    • Minn. Reps. Cindy Pugh, Kathy Lohmer, local GOP official warn of Muslims ‘infiltrating’ precinct caucuses

      Sina did not respond to a Facebook message and could not otherwise be reached for comment. The Fourth Congressional District includes nearly all of Ramsey County, including St. Paul.

    • Germany Alarmed by ‘Kindergarten Jihadists’

      The threat posed by the radicalization of minors has become a major political issue in Germany. Three out of five radical Islamist attacks in the country in 2016 were carried out by minors.

    • In British schools, the wearing of the hijab by young girls is an explosive issue

      In some cases, the schools laid down that girls should cover not only their heads but their entire bodies (in other words, wear a jilbab) or their faces. At the somewhat more liberal end, the study found 18 schools which said the hijab was optional.

    • Islamic radicals against parish charity work in Yogyakarta

      Last Sunday, Muslim extremists organised protests in Banguntapan (picture 1) to exclude Catholics from the locations where the latter had planned to carry out their initiatives. Ominous gatherings were also held in Jaranan, where other beneficial projects had been planned.

    • Muslim inmate sues state over failure to provide halal meals
    • British government rejects calls to legitimise up to 85 Sharia courts

      ‘Sharia law has no jurisdiction in the UK and we would not facilitate or endorse regulation, which could present councils as an alternative to UK laws,’ read a Home Office statement.

      [...]

      Although it recognised Sharia councils existed, the government said there was no point in banning them as they would end up going underground.

    • Shooting At NSA Triggered By Unlicensed Teen Driver Making Wrong Turn And Panicking, Passenger Says

      The driver of an SUV that was shot at by police outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade after ramming a security barrier is reportedly an unlicensed teen who was following GPS directions when he made a wrong turn, panicked and hit the gas.

      Passenger Javonte Brown told the Washington Post that the 17-year-old driver was following GPS directions while heading to a friend’s house on Wednesday when he turned onto a restricted-access road. The SUV that the teen was driving then rammed into a security barrier.

    • WSJ’s Epic Distortion of Colombian and Venezuelan Refugees

      A Wall Street Journal article by Juan Forero (2/13/18) ran with the headline “Venezuela’s Misery Fuels Migration on Epic Scale.” The subhead stated, “Residents Flee Crumbling Economy in Numbers That Echo Syrians to Europe, Rohingya to Bangladesh.”

      Forero’s article quoted a UN official: “By world standards, Colombia is receiving migrants at a pace that now rivals what we saw in the Balkans, in Greece, in Italy in 2015, at the peak of [Europe’s] migrant emergency.” Further on, Forero says, “The influx prompted Colombian officials to travel to Turkey last year to study how authorities were dealing with Syrian war refugees.”

    • Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan is denied bail after rape charges

      The two women went public with the allegations late last year when women began sharing accounts of sexual harassment and assault as part of the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (“squeal on your pig”) campaign triggered by the revelations against the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

    • 8 men allegedly impregnate 13-year-old school pupil in Kaduna

      She was alleged to have been raped by the eight men, including her neighbour, an elderly Imam of a mosque who molested her severely.

      Maryam said, “They usually call me and give me N500 naira when l am coming back from school and when I went out hawking, they usually forced me into it, and they have been warning me not to tell my parents, they vowed to kill me if I dared tell my parents.

    • Canadian PM: Sharia law is compatible with democracy

      In his book, Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions, Abdul-Rahman al-Sheha writes that “the non-Muslim residents of an Islamic state are required to pay a minimal tax called ‘Jizyah.’”

    • Muslim spokesman criticised for saying it’s acceptable for girls to undergo FGM

      Since then, Selim’s comments have come under sharp criticism from various quarters, with healthcare professionals, family organisations, and activists campaigning against the FGM culture refuting his claims.

    • Female genital mutilation is a crime in the US — so why is it rarely prosecuted?

      According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million females alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). Aliens from the 30 countries where this practice is concentrated are immigrating to the United States, and a serious effort is not being made to prevent them from practicing FGM here.

    • FGM case reported in England every 109 minutes, as WHO says worldwide cases rise above 200million

      A case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is reported in England every 109 minutes new figures show – however experts warn this could be the “tip of the iceburg”.

      The latest six months figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that 2,421 cases of FGM were reported between April and September 2015.

    • New Study Reveals Two In Three Bohra Muslim Girls Undergo Genital Mutilation

      The survey on the prevalence of FGM or “khafd” among the Bohras in the country also highlighted that in the urban areas increasingly doctors in medical facilities also performed FGM in addition to traditional cutters.

      The report titled “The Clitoral Hood a Contested Site: Khafd or Female Genital Mutilation in India” was released by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at an event here.

    • Swede Fined for Saying Muslims Are ‘Behind Many Rapes’ – Reports

      In stark contrast to the “world’s first” feminist government’s ambition to create a truly gender-equal society, Sweden has seen a dramatic upsurge in rapes and sexual assault, with the spike reaching a mind-boggling 400 percent in parts of the country, compared with the pre-2000s.

    • ‘Interfaith work is haram’ mufti will not speak at mosque again

      In the short video he says that interfaith work is haram and encourages onlookers not to take part in visits to other religious places of worship.

    • The Islamic State’s toxic farewell: Environmental sabotage and chronic disease

      The Islamic State footprint on Iraq’s environment may be unprecedented and permanent, with a toxic legacy that includes wide-scale cattle deaths, fields that no longer yield edible crops and chronic breathing complications in children and the elderly, doctors and experts said.

      Up to 2 million barrels of oil were lost — either burned or spilled — between June 2016 and March 2017, when firefighters put out the final blaze, according to a U.N. report citing Iraq’s Oil Ministry. Environmental experts worry that much of the oil has seeped into the groundwater and the nearby ­Tigris River — a lifeline for millions of Iraqis stretching more than 1,000 miles to Baghdad and beyond.

    • This department store giant will launch its first modest collection

      Macy’s has announced a new collaboration with a modestwear brand to stock Islam-friendly fashion for both Muslim and non-Muslim women.

    • Malaysia’s Islamist party PAS says only Muslims will make policy should it come to power

      Muslims in his Cabinet would set policy direction in Malaysia while the non-Muslim ministers would only be tasked with carrying out what had been decided, said Abdul Hadi Awang, president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

    • Disabled prisoner put in solitary confinement for 19 years: Report

      The 93-page report, I Needed Help, Instead I was Punished: Abuse and Neglect of Prisoners with Disabilities in Australia, examined how prisoners with disabilities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, were at serious risk of bullying, harassment, violence and abuse from fellow prisoners and staff.

    • Judge shuts door on attempt to get a new trial for Ross Ulbricht

      The federal judge overseeing the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of creating the underground Silk Road drug website, has denied the Ulbricht legal team’s attempt to extend the normal three-year window for “post-conviction relief.” In essence, the move stifles Ulbricht’s new attorney’s extraordinary effort to re-open the case with new exculpatory evidence, on the off-chance that it exists.

    • Only demons eat left-handed, says Turkish Muslim authority

      It is not Diyanet’s first eyebrow-raising ruling in recent months. In January, it appeared to have endorsed the marriages of boys and girls at the age of 12 and 9 respectively. The statement, that appeared in an online religious glossary on its website, immediately caused an uproar, with opposition parties demanding a parliamentary investigation into the authority. Diyanet subsequently took down the entry, denying it was ever in favor of child marriages which is outlawed in Turkey, and said it was merely interpreting Islamic law.

    • MALCOLM: Forget peoplekind, Trudeau’s ISIS comments are the real problem

      It’s clear the man is asking about ISIS terrorists and not regular immigrants or refugees. He wants to know why Trudeau isn’t taking a tougher stance against those who travelled to Syria and Iraq to wage a war in the name of an evil ideology.

    • Soldier charged with murder of nine-year-old daughter

      The child was made to undergo these “punishments” because Nur Aina did not recite prayers before bedtime, made mistakes while reciting the Quran, or did not obey the man’s instructions, reports said.

    • Man allegedly kills 4 family members for deciding daughter’s marriage proposal against his will

      Asif had threatened to kill his family if they raised the matter of the girl’s marriage with the suitor again, the FIR said.

      When the man saw his family members agree that Komal would marry her suitor against his wishes, he shot his wife and three children dead. Following the incident, Asif Shah fled the crime scene, DPO Nisar said.

    • Indonesian democracy in retreat: The Jakarta Post

      In its latest report, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) found the global trend of what it calls “a democratic recession” has persisted and that democracy continues to experience setbacks in places where it has long been considered safe.

      In the so-called democracy index, comprising 60 indicators across five broad categories – electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties – the survey concluded that less than 5 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in a “full democracy.”

    • Number of torture deaths following Iran protests rises to 11

      Iranian parliament member Ali Reza Rahimi had said that the authorities arrested about 5,000 people during the recent protests which took place in more than 100 cities in different parts of the country.

    • Europe: Making Islam Great Again [Ed: If the right is so concerned about these migrants, then maybe it can secularise them?]

      According to the study, two-thirds of the asylum seekers are men, mostly under 30 years old. They are all in favor of preserving their traditional, conservative, Islamic values. The migrants are extremely religious; 70% go to the mosque every Friday for prayers.

      The women are just as religious, if not more: 62.6% pray five times a day, notably more than the men (39.7%). In addition, 66.3% of the women wear a headscarf in public, and 44.3% refuse to shake hands with a man.

    • Bengal Nursing Student Commits Suicide After Sexual Blackmail by Muslim Youth

      Mousmi’s parents lodged a police complaint against Md. Sreyash Raj, a youth from Raiganj and a medical student who also stays in Karnataka, alleging that he used to blackmail their daughter by showing a video clip of hers.

    • NIA books 9 over converting, trying to sell woman to IS

      The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has started a probe into alleged conversion of a Gujarat-based girl after registering a case against nine people hailing from Kerala and Bengaluru. They were allegedly involved in forcibly converting a Hindu woman to Islam and then trying to sell her to Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Saudi Arabia.

    • Swedish government gives Iraqi child rapist custody of children

      The year was about 2006 when the real nightmare started. Alicia’s family brought her from her home in Gothenburg on a trip down to Iraq to be married away. She still remembers the night clearly of her wedding. She had to stand on a stool during the ceremony. He was about 25-years-old.

    • ISIS Sex Slaves Slit Own Wrists, Tried To End Life: Yazidi Girl Who Arrived In India Recounts Horror

      The Islamic State in 2014 had undertaken systematic killing of Yazidis, a community of about 50,000 members and whom the terrorist group refers to as “devil worshippers”. One can only be born a Yazidi and believe in sun worshipping. The United Nations has termed it as an attempted genocide. There are about 2,000 Yazidi women in the captivity of the Islamic State and the fleeing population is forced to live in camps in the Kurdistan region.

    • I didn’t want to wear my hijab, and don’t believe very young girls should wear them today

      Spielman’s use of the term “British values” in her speech to a Church of England schools conference is likely to put people’s backs up further. This isn’t a term that I would associate with someone who cares about cohesion. Her comments about Muslims using “education institutions, legal and illegal, to narrow young people’s horizons, to isolate and segregate, and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology” seem more likely to divide people than bring them together. But it would be dangerous to respond to Spielman’s provocation by defending the idea that children should be allowed to wear headscarves. I feel uncomfortable every time I see well-meaning people defending parents’ right to send young girls to school wearing the hijab.

    • Iranian Women Are Reportedly Being Arrested for Protesting the Country’s Hijab Law

      The arrests, which were made in Iran’s capital Tehran, came after demonstrators took to the streets, waving their hijabs as a symbol of their resistance against the country-wide dress code. According to CNN, police believed that the protests were motivated by foreigners; however, activist Masih Alinejad told the outlet that this was not the case at all. “The movement started inside Iran. It has nothing to do with forces outside of Iran,” Alinejad, who also started the “White Wednesday” social media campaign, explained. Photos of the protests made the rounds on social media, showing women standing atop utility boxes, hijabs dangling from sticks.

    • Iranian police arrest 29 for involvement in hijab protests

      Tehran police suggested that their actions were incited by foreigners, saying those arrested were “deceived” into removing their hijabs, Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reported. The 29 protesters have been transferred to judicial authorities, the report said.

    • Iran Arrests 29 Women As Headscarf Protests Intensify

      Women have increasingly flouted the Islamic republic’s clothing rules in recent years and often let their headscarves fall around their necks.

    • China’s jihadist crisis reaches a critical juncture

      At the heart of Beijing’s main concerns about China’s jihadist crisis is the reality that terror and unrest in the northwest significantly threatens the country’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative that aims to establish China as the center of global trade in the 21st century. As OBOR relies on Xinjiang as a corridor linking eastern China to Central Asia and, by extension, Europe, China has sought to protect its Eurasian frontier from terror threats with a security-centered strategy.

    • Dangers of China building the Belt and Road into South Asia: David Brewster for Inside Policy

      Second, New Delhi is now looking with increasing alarm at Chinese plans to build connections to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan. The CPEC has only magnified fears that China is consolidating Pakistan’s hold on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir; that China will economically build up Pakistan to become a greater threat to India; and the potential for a direct Chinese military presence in Pakistan. As a result, Indian government is now looking for levers to disrupt the CPEC (or at least threaten to do so), including in Balochistan and other frontier provinces. India’s decision to boycott China’s 2017 BRI Summit is a statement that India does not want to be seen as playing to Beijing’s regional tune.

    • Mosque turned away 25 families after joining BJP in Tripura village, now they pray in makeshift mosque

      Around 25 families living in a small village in South Tripura were turned away by a mosque for joining Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) two years ago. They are now forced to worship in a temporary mosque.

    • Muslim Security Officers Radicalization Becomes European Authorities’ Great Fear

      Many Muslims have recently joined the armed forces and law enforcement in other EU countries with large Muslim populations as well, such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

      The situation has resulted in a looming danger that more people can be radicalized and use their knowledge, access to security data, and training to help Islamists by procuring weapons for them, training them, or simply informing them about ongoing surveillance or other security activities.

    • Indonesia may ban all sex outside marriage
    • Indonesian police kill woman during a clash in restive Papua region

      Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished region, which Indonesia annexed more than half a century ago.

    • In Libya, ISIS Is Using Human Trafficking to Finance Its Activities

      For several years, these smugglers have worked with complete impunity as they transferred thousands of people across the Mediterranean. Many of the people who undertook these dangerous journeys died as they attempted to made the perilous journey towards Europe.

    • Human smugglers in Libya have links to security services: U.N. report

      “Armed groups, which were party to larger political-military coalitions, have specialized in illegal smuggling activities, notably human smuggling and trafficking,” experts reported to the 15-member Security Council committee. They said most of these armed groups “were nominally affiliated to official security institutions.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Boss Ajit Pai’s Own Agency Is Investigating Him For Potential Corruption

      FCC boss Ajit Pai is being investigated by his own agency over potential corruption allegations.

      The already-unpopular agency boss has been on a tear in recent months gutting decades old media-consolidation rules designed to protect consumers and the nation’s media markets from any one broadcaster becoming too powerful.

      Pai’s efforts arrived, not coincidentally, at the same time Sinclair Broadcasting Group is attempting to acquire Tribune Media as part of a $3.9 billion dollar megamerger. It’s a deal a bipartisan chorus of critics say would demolish media diversity, resulting in Sinclair owning more than 230 local stations across 72 percent of the United States.

    • To kill net neutrality, FCC might have to fight more than half of US states

      The 27 states with pending legislation are Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Free Press has links to the pending bills or articles about the pending bills in nearly all of these states. (Free Press listed 26 states with legislation but we found out after this article published that Kansas also has pending net neutrality legislation, bringing the total to 27.)

    • No one’s coming – it’s up to us: it’s past time for technologists to be responsible to society

      I think we — collectively, and definitely not just technologists on their own — need to figure out the societies we want first. The future we want. Have the hard conversations, better understand the compromises, be forced to make clearer priorities and decisions. Then we can figure out the technology, the tools, that can help get us there.

      But what can technologists – and everyone else – do now?

      As technologists, we must question our gods: the laws, thinking and habits that we assume true and guide our work.

    • FCC opens corruption investigation into Ajit Pai, who likes to joke about being a corporate puppet

      That, apparently, was a step too far for the FCC’s Inspector General, the watchdog that is charged with rooting out corruption in the FCC’s ranks. A year ago, the IG opened a corruption investigation into Pai himself, on the basis of irregularities in his handling of the Sinclair affair.

      Pai hasn’t helped his case by repeatedly, publicly making jokes about how he is a corporate shill.

    • Pure CSS Slide-Down Animation

      I’ve spend days trying to figure this out in the past. There just had to be a way! But aside from using JavaScript, which is also pretty complicated, I just couldn’t figure it out for the longest time. Now that I have it figured out, I hope it can help you as well. God bless and happy coding!

    • How 3 Digital Activists Remember John Perry Barlow

      At a time when net neutrality seems to be coming to an end, one of its biggest proponents, John Perry Barlow, has died on Feb. 7 at 70. Here, those who knew his work best reflect on how the Grateful Dead lyricist and digital-rights activist who co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, helped shape the way the Internet works today.

  • DRM
    • Pirates Crack Microsoft’s UWP Protection, Five Layers of DRM Defeated

      Video games pirates have reason to celebrate today after scene cracking group CODEX defeated Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform system on Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection. While the game it was protecting isn’t exactly a fan favorite, it was reportedly protected by five layers of DRM within the UWP package, including the Denuvo-like Arxan anti-tamper technology.

    • Tractor-Hacking Farmers Are Leading a Revolt Against Big Tech’s Repair Monopolies

      John Deere, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, AT&T, Tesla, and the vast majority of big tech firms have spent the last decade monopolizing repair: “Authorized service providers” who pay money to these companies and the companies themselves are the only ones who have access to replacement parts, tools, and service manuals to fix broken machines; they are also the only ones who have software that can circumvent encryption locks that artificially prevent people like Schwarting from working on equipment. So people like Schwarting find enterprising ways around these locks by finding unauthorized versions of software or by hacking through firmware altogether.

      But what started as hacking out of necessity has quickly transformed into a bonafide political movement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • America’s always had black inventors — even when the patent system explicitly excluded them

      America has long been the land of innovation. More than 13,000 years ago, the Clovis people created what many call the “first American invention” — a stone tool used primarily to hunt large game. This spirit of American creativity has persisted through the millennia, through the first American patent granted in 1641 and on to today.

      One group of prolific innovators, however, has been largely ignored by history: black inventors born or forced into American slavery. Though U.S. patent law was created with color-blind language to foster innovation, the patent system consistently excluded these inventors from recognition.

    • Patents and Antitrust: Trump DOJ Sees Little Connection

      In a recent speech, Delrahim explained his general position – that patent holders rarely create antitrust concerns. Rather, it is equally likely that the problem lies with companies implementing new technologies without first obtaining a license from the relevant patent holders. He explained that the DOJ’s historic approach has been a “one-sided focus on the hold-up issue” in ways that create a “serious threat to the innovative process.”

      In response to Delrahim’s approach, a group of technology implementer companies (also known as downstream innovators) and law professors wrote to Delrahim arguing that “patent hold-up is real, well documented, and harming US industry and consumers” — especially in the area of Standards Essential Patents (SEP) — and in ways that the antitrust laws should help fix.

    • Patently lucrative: the intellectual property that makes big money for the U [Ed: They just mean giving patents to trolls who attack the taxpayers]

      It’s only in the last 40-or-so years, since 1980, that U.S. universities have made sizable chunks of change from intellectual property. That’s when Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act.

    • Uber Is Paying About $245 Million to Settle a Major Lawsuit With Google

      Uber is settling a lawsuit filed by Google’s autonomous car unit alleging that the ride-hailing service ripped off self-driving car technology.

    • Copyrights
      • Court Dismisses Playboy’s Copyright Claims Against Boing Boing

        A California district court has dismissed Playboy’s copyright infringement complaint against Boing Boing. Playboy’s allegations that the popular blog induced or contributed to copyright infringement by publishing hyperlinks are not strong enough, Judge Olguin writes. The complaint is dismissed with leave, allowing the magazine publisher to file an improved version within two weeks.

      • Playboy says linking to Playmate archive violates copyright; judge says no way

        “The court is skeptical that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged facts to support either its inducement or material contribution theories of copyright infringement,” he wrote.

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Boing Boing in the case, said in a blog post that it was “puzzled” as to why Playboy brought the case in the first place.

      • ‘Made me sick’: Twitter outraged after ‘tasteless’ Dodge Super Bowl ad uses MLK speech to sell trucks
      • Blockchain my IP

        Blockchain need not be limited to patents; it might also be used in the field of copyright-protected works. Publishing a song, text or other work, under a blockchain database may provide a solid proof of authorship or date of publication that can be used in court proceedings. Furthermore, blockchain could provide a platform for the registration of copyright transfers (not otherwise registered) facilitating parties interested in entering into a licensing agreement, thereby significantly reducing transaction costs.

        Based on the foregoing, a strong argument can be made that blockchain technology will be able to facilitate the management of IPRs; as well, publications under a blockchain environment might be used as evidence in IP-related law proceedings. What more can it do for IP? Let’s wait and (presumably) see.

      • Internet rages after Google removes “view image” button, bowing to Getty

        Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, announced the change on Twitter yesterday, saying it would “help connect users and useful websites.” Later Sullivan admitted that “these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week” and that “they are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.”

      • Game Companies Oppose DMCA Exemption for ‘Abandoned’ Online Games

        Electonic Arts, Nintendo, Ubisoft and other major game publishers have asked the US Copyright Office not to make an exemption to preserve abandoned online games for future generations. The companies argue that libraries, museums, and their affiliates might exploit such a right for commercial purposes, competing with other games.

      • Major US Sports Leagues Report Top Piracy Nations to Government

        The Sports Coalition, which includes prominent leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB, has shared its concerns over sports piracy with the US Trade Representative. The coalition urges the US Government to place the Netherlands and Switzerland on the Priority Watch List, as many pirated games are broadcast from these European countries.

      • Court Orders Spanish ISPs to Block Pirate Sites For Hollywood

        Following complaints from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, a court in Spain has ordered several ISPs to begin blocking a pair of pirate sites. Describing the action as “necessary”, the MPA says that the blocks will assist with the “sustainability of the creative community.”

      • Embedding a Tweet Can be Copyright Infringement, Court Rules

        A New York federal court has ruled that people can be held liable for copyright infringement if they embed a tweet posted by a third party. The case was filed by Justin Goldman, whose photo of Tom Brady went viral and eventually ended up at several news sites, which embedded these ‘infringing’ tweets.

      • US judge rules embedding tweet can violate copyright

        A judge in a New York district court has ruled that embedding a tweet on a web page could be a violation of copyright, overlooking years of precedent that say otherwise.

      • A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing

        This week, Judge Forrest sided with Goldman and argued that the publications violated his “exclusive display right,” despite the fact that they didn’t host the photo on their servers (more on that in a second). By simply embedding a tweet—a function which Twitter makes simple—Forrest says the publications engaged in a “technical process.” She readily admits that none of them downloaded the photo and then uploaded it to their own sites, but, she argues, it doesn’t matter that the publications weren’t hosting the photos themselves.

        [...]

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s senior staff attorney Daniel Nazer believes Forrest’s interpretation of the Perfect 10 case is new, and not what the original ruling argued. “This is a distinction that’s being drawn really for the first time in this case,” he says.

PTAB Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents and to Stop Patent Examiners From Issuing Them

Monday 19th of February 2018 09:00:46 AM

…when petitioned to do so anyway

Summary: Erasure of software patents by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) carries on unabated in spite of attempts to cause controversy and disdain towards PTAB

THE progress made by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is commendable. The number of petitions keeps climbing and the number of patent invalidations proportionally rises.

It’s not hard to imagine who this would infuriate. Two PTAB-bashing pieces have just been published (twice on a Sunday!) by Watchtroll [1, 2] and it’s that same old attempt to make up scandals. Earlier this month they even exploited “the children!”

Watchtroll’s Gene Quinn will soon be in this ‘webinar’ about how to avoid patent rejections and on February 22nd (three days from now) IPO will also do a ‘webinar’ to a similar effect (trying to overcome PTAB rejections). Suffice to say, these so-called ‘webinars’ are more like lobbying. Here’s another new one intended to cover “Roadblock PTAB: Litigation Strategies & IPR Antidotes.”

Roadblock? Seriously?

Above The Law says that “over 85% of IPR filings concern patents that have been litigated in District Court.”

This is hardly surprising. PTAB helps resolve patent disputes outside the court. It deals with legitimacy of granted patents rather than matters like venues, damages and so on. It typically deals with matters of obviousness — a subject recently covered by M. David Weingarten and Kevin D. Rodkey. If a company wishes to bring legal action against another, why shouldn’t the validity of the patent/s at hand be ascertained first? We already know that examiners don't always make the right decisions. PTAB just sort of ‘double-checks’ them.

Several days ago, in relation to Polaris, one pundit/educator wrote: “Polaris v Arctic Cat FedCir 2/9/18: 2 IPRs on same Polaris patent; aff’d PTAB in one IPR sustaining cls; vacated part of other rejecting cls–Bd erred inter alia by applying an ill-defined “subjective preferences” analysis to reject Polaris’s teaching away argument re Denney ref. [] “We find Polaris’s argument that there is no evidence why one of skill in the art looking to create a four-wheel drive ATV would be motivated to start with Denney’s dune buggy unavailing.” NB ~30 words in “that” clause before “unavailing.” Tiresome for reader! Place after verb.”

Long story short, the high court agreed with PTAB. As usual (it agrees about 80% of the time — that is upon examining PTAB decisions). It is very reassuring that PTAB does not take granted patents for granted. No patents should be blindly assumed to be valid. Because many are not! We only find that out in the rare circumstances/cases of them being challenged in a lawsuit or by PTAB. It means that less than 1% are really looked at properly.

It is quite revealing that PTAB is effective and is a positive thing. Friends of patent trolls refer to it by words like “ridiculous”, “certainly NOT there”, and “bad”. There are many exclamation points in relation to § 101 (it’s about a general-purpose computer). The general theme is, they really hate § 101 because PTAB uses it to eliminate a lot of software patents. One blog they link to mentions this rant:

Somebody commented on the Patently-O blog the other day that a claim that is patent eligible under §101 can become patent ineligible simply by narrowing the claim to recite a specific function that is a purported abstract idea.

They still try to figure out some magic wordings or a loophole. Sometimes they just use buzzwords. We wrote about these over the weekend. A week ago Anticipat instructed/advised readers/clients how to protect bogus patents from PTAB:

In filing a patent application at the USPTO, an applicant cannot choose its Examiner. Nor can it typically switch to a different Examiner once assigned. And since not all Examiners are equally agreeable or reasonable, being stuck with an Examiner sometimes puts the applicant at a serious disadvantage.

Two different appeal conferences provide applications with another set of examiner eyes. Here, we show that these fresh sets of eyes can have meaningful impacts on prosecution despite any built-in biases. This can happen even before the appeal reaches the PTAB judges’ desk.

Citing a case involving not software patents (but a court reversal nonetheless), Patently-O wrote about reversing versus vacating PTAB decisions. To quote:

In a split opinion, the Federal Circuit has rejected the PTAB’s anticipation and obviousness decisions – finding that the Board erred in holding that the key prior art reference inherently disclosed the an “inlet seat” defined by a “valve body” of the claimed drain assembly.

Last week Donald Zuhn wrote a blog post which “addresses the Board’s reversal of the § 101 rejection.”

These are rare. We’ve already mentioned how the patent microcosm resorts to cherry-picking cases that help support low-quality patents in the US. Here’s what Zuhn says:

In an interesting decision issued last year, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board reversed the final rejection of claims 1-5 and 9 in U.S. Application No. 12/959,017. The claims at issue had been rejected under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as reciting patent ineligible subject matter in the form of an abstract idea, and under 35 U.S.C. § 103(a) as being unpatentable over U.S. Patent No. 6,454,707 and U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. US 2006/0226079 A1 and US 2009/0082684 A1. This post addresses the Board’s reversal of the § 101 rejection.

A PTAB reversal of § 101 rejection/s must always be a reversal of an examiner’s decision, i.e. they deal with a mere application rather than a patent (or just tentative grant). For them to reverse a rejection is pretty rare a thing although we have not seen statistics about this for a while. It might be interesting. “Currently, about 1-2% of applications go up for appeal,” Anticipat wrote 3 days ago, but that speaks of applications alone, not patents.

A patent maximalist said: “Considering that they get to pick and choose what to challenge, and the PTAB heavily favors challengers, it’s surprising that they don’t win every challenge. Their motions success/denial ration is not very good.”

“Maybe you don’t understand this (or choose to ignore it),” I told him, “but IPRs target the likely invalid patents…”

It has always been like that. They don’t just pick applications/patents at random; they target those which are more questionable and have more at stake in the outcome (enough to merit a payment for a petition).

The other day in relation to Smith & Nephew, Covidien v. Hologic got brought up again. And also in relation to Smith & Nephew, PTAB was mentioned by Kevin E. Noonan, noting Judge Newman's typical dissent in Arthrex (another Federal Circuit case).

Here are some of the details:

Although having built up a track record for several years and several thousand petitions and “trials,” inter partes review proceedings under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act are still relatively new. As a statute administered by an administrative agency having the power (and duty) to promulgate rules effecting implementation of that statute, IPRs, like many administrative proceedings, have in due course generated controversies on how the statute has been implemented.

[...]

The Federal Circuit affirmed, in an opinion by Judge Dyk joined by Judge O’Malley (who filed a concurring opinion) over a dissent by Judge Newman. The panel first held that the Board’s decision was appealable, not falling within the proscriptions of 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) regarding institution decisions. The panel majority started from the presumption that PTAB decisions were appealable as for any other final administrative agency action. 5 U.S.C. §§ 701,704. The panel also found support in 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(4)(A), which provides for judicial review of final agency action absent statutory provisions precluding review. The Board did not find the Court’s decision in St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Division, Inc. v. Volcano Corp., 749 F.3d 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2014), to be to the contrary, based on the different procedural posture in that case (which considered whether § 1295(a)(4)(A) permitted appeal of the PTAB’s decision not to institute, which is precluded by § 314(d)).

[...]

Judge Newman’s dissent is based on her opinion that Arthrex had disclaimed all claims challenged in the petition prior to the Board’s decision whether to institute an IPR, and accordingly under 37 C.F.R. § 42.107(e) there were no claims against which an adverse judgment could be entered. For Judge Newman, the relevant language of 37 C.F.R. § 42.73(b) in subparagraph (2) is that “[c]ancellation or disclaimer of a claim such that the party has no remaining claim in the trial” (emphasis in opinion), because under the factual circumstances at bar there was no trial and thus entering an adverse judgment was contrary to the express language of the rule. Judge Newman believes that the PTAB has exceeded its statutory authority, and it is “[t]he judicial obligation is to assure agency compliance with its legislated authority,” citing Nat’l Broad. Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190, 224 (1943). For Judge Newman, “[s]ubsection (b)(2) on its face is directed to disclaimer or cancellation ‘in the trial.’ It is not disputed that ‘in the trial’ can occur only after institution.” Thus, because claims 1-9 were disclaimed before the IPR was instituted, it is a misapplication of the rule for the Board to have entered an adverse judgment. Any other interpretation is for Judge Newman an explicit change in the rule, which requires rulemaking procedures specified under the APA (35 U.S.C. § 2(b)(2)(B)).

In short, it’s yet another affirmation, which means patent maximalists will try to forget it and move on. One of them rejoiced the reversal of an examiner’s decision to reject and on that same one decision he further expanded and commented. But that’s just a drop in the ocean. That same person wrote about at least nine [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] other outcomes which went in the exact opposite direction. So what we’re seeing here is a bunch of software patents rotting away, with maybe 1 in 10 going the other way (from ‘dead’ to ‘live’). There have been many affirmations of rejections of patent applications lately (mostly based on Section 101) and that seems to suggest that examiners too are getting tougher on such patents. Here are a couple of Section 101/Alice-based rejections (affirmations of rejections) [1, 2] and two more from recent days [1, 2]. In this particular case “PTAB Denied Reconsideration of 101 Rejection Because Patent Application Spec Did Not Describe Signal as “Non-Transitory” Signal…”

PTAB isn’t exactly easy a barrier to leap past. It’s not always about § 101; here’s an example of PTAB being affirmed on a § 121 rejection: “The Federal Circuit recently clarified the limits of the safe harbor provision of 35 USC §121. In In re: Janssen Biotech, Inc., New York University, No. 2017-1257 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 23, 2018), the Federal Circuit upheld a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision affirming invalidity of claims of US Patent 6,284,471 under the doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting.”

Here’s an attempt to apply Section 101 to something which is not software but a doorbell. Wrong test to apply. As we wrote several times last year, this particular lawsuit was not about software patents, so the following outcome is not surprising.

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground that plaintiff’s audio-video doorbell patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter because the asserted claims were not directed toward an abstract idea.

They ought to go for something like prior art. This new analysis by Mark Kachner and Ashley C. Morales speaks of a PTAB affirmation based on similarity. Here’s the outline:

The PTAB’s finding that an element in a prior art reference is “similar to” a claim limitation, without further explanation, is insufficient to support a finding of anticipation.

[...]

The Examiner also construed the claimed term “signal,” and determined this term was disclosed by Reference B. The PTAB affirmed.

The Federal Circuit reversed the Board’s anticipation rulings, and vacated the Board’s obviousness ruling. The Federal Circuit determined that the only correct interpretation of Reference A is that the inlet seat in the unlabeled valve is external to the outer casing of the drain valve.

The bottom line is:

  1. PTAB overturns decisions to grant far more often than the opposite
  2. CAFC (the Federal Circuit) remains largely supportive of PTAB
  3. Section 101 is often used to invalidate patents, but other sections and methods are being used to persuade PTAB/judges

Expect many more rants about PTAB and be sure to check where they come from. Watchtroll published two yesterday (on a Sunday) and we pretty much know what Watchtroll stands for. It’s well documented that they’re to patent news what Breitbart is to political news.

The Patent ‘Industry’ Likes to Mention Berkheimer and Aatrix to Give the Mere Impression of Section 101/Alice Weakness

Monday 19th of February 2018 06:59:09 AM

Summary: Contrary to what patent maximalists keep saying about Berkheimer and Aatrix (two decisions of the Federal Circuit from earlier this month, both dealing with Alice-type challenges), neither actually changed anything in any substantial way

ALL SORTS of USPTO-granted software patents are facing extinction. We’ll soon write about PTAB, giving some examples of invalidations, but one need not look as far as PTAB.

Michael Stein, an IP Counsel from Seattle (makes one wonder if a former Microsoft executive or something else; his page does not disclose clients or past employers), isn’t too happy about the status quo. Days ago he wrote: “It’s a logic flaw in assessing patent eligibility. Take a computer readable medium, such as a hard disk. Claim the CRM and it would rightly be rejected for lack of novelty but not under 101. Add instructions for a SW process, it becomes ineligible under 101. Doesn’t make sense.”

“The reason we wrote about these 4 times already is that falsehoods are being propagated and these need to be rebutted.”The computer is irrelevant to it. Algorithms are algorithms and they’re abstract. The above clearly misframes what Section 101/Alice is about (by lumping that together with hardware). In the meantime, there’s also similar spin from other law firms. As we last noted yesterday, they habitually distort and misframe Berkheimer, making it about Section 101/Alice even though that’s now quite the case. Yesterday we also wrote about Aatrix, a newer case which is already being distorted similarly. The reason we wrote about these 4 times already is that falsehoods are being propagated and these need to be rebutted.

A few days ago Bejin Bieneman wrote:

Considering the patent-eligibility of claims directed to archiving digital assets, the Federal Circuit has affirmed a district court decision invalidating an independent claim under 35 USC § 101 and Alice, while vacating and remanding a judgment that certain dependent claims were patent-ineligible. Berkheimer v. HP, Inc., No. 2017-1437 (Fed. Cir. Feb 8, 2017) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges Taranto and Stoll). Along the way, the court chastised the District Court for using independent claim 1 of US Patent No. 7,447,713 as representative, while ignoring the patent owner’s separate arguments concerning dependent claims 4-7.

They are partly correct in pointing out what many patent zealots intentionally omit; the Federal Circuit did not repudiate Section 101/Alice at all; au contraire. But some quote miners cherry-picked quotes from that long (almost 20 pages) decision to suit the bogus narrative of PTAB disregarding facts.

“How long before quote miners take out of context yet another decision from the Federal Circuit in an effort to collect legal “ammo”?”Berkheimer was also mentioned yesterday by Watchtroll. The title was “Is there a Light at the End of the Alice Tunnel?” as if it’s darkness to have Alice. It’s another one of those Watchtroll rants about Alice (second from this author in the past week alone) and it starts by stating: “The Federal Circuit explains in Berkheimer and Aatrix that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to patent eligibility.”

Obviously. But what does not follow is the remainder of this dross about Alice being controversial, unclear, or whatever.

As we said yesterday, it’s reasonable to predict that in weeks if not months to come lawyers will just name-drop Berkheimer and Aatrix in an effort to vacate perfectly legitimate decisions. What both cases showed wasn’t an issue with Alice, which they didn’t even challenge or refute. How long before quote miners take out of context yet another decision from the Federal Circuit in an effort to collect legal “ammo”?

Makan Delrahim is Wrong; Patents Are a Major Antitrust Problem, Sometimes Disguised Using Trolls Somewhere Like the Eastern District of Texas

Monday 19th of February 2018 06:03:07 AM

Lobbyists are becoming officials under the Trump administration


Reference: Wikipedia

Summary: Debates and open disagreements over the stance of the lobbyist who is the current United States Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division

ON SUNDAY, a day throughout which some patent blogs are still active (more on that later), Patently-O spoke again about the Department of Justice. “Delrahim explained his general position,” he recalled, “that patent holders rarely create antitrust concerns.”

This is a lie. It’s so much of a lie that even Patently-O disagrees. These remarks from Delrahim aren’t new and IAM already commented on these from a trolls’ perspective.

“This is a lie. It’s so much of a lie that even Patently-O disagrees.”It’s worth noting that Patently-O then alludes to right wingers (so-called ‘Conservatives’ or ‘Libertarians’) and lobbyists associated with the Kochs, as promoted recently by IAM (we wrote about this letter some days ago). To quote: “Sweeping in now to buffer Delrahim’s position are a group of libertarian scholars and others (including David Kappos and Judge Michel) who have offered their competing letter.”

To suggest that these patents don’t (or rarely) pose antitrust-type threats is ludicrous. Look how Microsoft blackmails the competition using patents. Cisco, which is a patent bully, is doing the same to a small rival nowadays. The financial press has just noted the devastating effect of these actions.

“So how can one be so blind to antitrust aspects? How can one overlook the fact that some large companies also use trolls to ‘punish’ their competition? It’s not too hard to see.”Japan/JPO, which we recently wrote about in relation to patents in standards, also seems to understand that patents are a barrier to fair competition in many cases. See this new blog post from Japan IP.

So how can one be so blind to antitrust aspects? How can one overlook the fact that some large companies also use trolls to ‘punish’ their competition? It’s not too hard to see. Some of them retreat to the Eastern District of Texas*. The trolls’ favourite courts facilitate that (“Flexuspine had sued Globus for infringing patents covering spinal implants in the Eastern District of Texas,” Finnegan noted the other day).
___________
* It rapidly changed after TC Heartland however; this upcoming webcast will speak about “[l]itigation Strategies against NPEs” (trolls) and “[v]enue after TC Heartland”. There’s also this new court decision regarding venue challenge (when an accuser drags you to a state you have nothing to do with because of mere allegation of patent infringement). To quote:

The court denied intervenors’ motions to sever and transfer plaintiff’s actions against them for improper venue because intervenors waived venue through their intervention.

Patent Trolls Watch: Microsoft-Connected Intellectual Ventures, Finjan, and Rumour of Technicolor-InterDigital Buyout

Monday 19th of February 2018 05:22:17 AM

Related (last year):

Summary: Connections between various patent trolls and some patent troll statistics which have been circulated lately

THE patent trolls epidemic is no longer just a US-centric epidemic; China is feeling it too, having tactlessly embraced patent maximalism (in itself an epidemic of the mind) like the USPTO did.

It’s not hard to tell what a patent troll is; it’s usually obvious if some entity has some services/products. Entities that are practicing have things to show. They advertise these as they attempt to make sales, transactions etc.

Well, days (or even less than days) after this promotional piece of his, Dr. Mark Summerfield softened the image of patent trolls by citing and quoting the world’s largest troll, Intellectual Ventures. It’s pretty obvious that Intellectual Ventures never had any products; it was never the intention. It’s not even a broker as its main activity is suing, usually via plenty of proxies. Intellectual Ventures is as evil as can be. But Summerfield’s piece isn’t whitewashing the troll; instead, it sheds lights on some statistics from Lex Machina:

Lex Machina’s analysis shows that since the commencement of the US patent law reforms introduced by the America Invents Act (AIA), rates of patent litigation have been in steady decline in real terms. Furthermore, while the list of top plaintiffs remains dominated by non-practising entities (NPEs), in 2017 two pharmaceutical companies entered the top ten, with two more filling out the top 15. And while headlines tend to be captured by a small number of very high awards of damages against big infringers, the reality for most plaintiffs is sobering. Just 11% of all cases terminated since 2000 reached a final judgment, with around three-quarters settling. While patentees are victorious slightly more often than defendants (around 60/40), compensatory damages are awarded in less than half of the cases won by plaintiffs, and for those cases in which ‘reasonable royalty’ damages were awarded during the three years up until the end of 2017, the median amount was just US$4.4 million – perhaps barely enough to justify litigation in a jurisdiction where the usual rule is that each party must bear its own costs of the proceedings.

We have been writing about trolls and documenting their actions for a very long time. For over a decade we’ve been pointing out that Intellectual Ventures works for Microsoft and Finjan, another troll, is backed by Microsoft. It’s even publicly-traded, albeit its stock tanked over the years (yesterday, however, financial media took interest in the stock [1, 2, 3). According to IAM, another publicly-traded troll may soon purchase another. As IAM has just put it: “InterDigital due to release its FY17 results on 22nd February. Will it also announce Technicolor purchase? https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/01/30/1314295/0/en/InterDigital-Announces-Date-for-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2017-Financial-Results.html [] Technicolor announced in December that it was in advanced stage of talks about a sale with an unnamed entity.”

We wrote a lot about both of these. Technicolor, unlike InterDigital, used to be an actual company rather than a troll. But now it seems like both of them are just trolls and one may soon collapse onto the other.