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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 30 min ago

Links 19/2/2018: Linux 4.16 RC2, Nintendo Switch Now Full-fledged GNU/Linux

5 hours 31 min ago

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

7 hours 28 min ago

…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.

Software Patents Trickle in After § 101/Alice, But Courts Would Not Honour Them Anyway

Sunday 18th of February 2018 05:01:56 PM

Buzzwords are used to disguise patents on algorithms, but in-depth analysis would expose them for what they really are


Pendulum does not swing back; buzzwords just move back and forth

Summary: The dawn of § 101/Alice, which in principle eliminates almost every software patent, means that applicants find themselves having to utilise loopholes to fool examiners, but that’s unlikely to impress judges (if they ever come to assessing these patents)

THE USPTO will continue to grant software patents in the foreseeable future, but that does not mean that these patents will be able to cause much damage. Why not? As we shall show later today and tomorrow, PTAB smacks down many of these patents. It’s an invaluable mechanism of quality control, akin to oppositions and appeals at the EPO.

One might ask, “why are software patents granted after Alice?”

The answer is simple. There are tricks. The EPO and other patent offices too have tricks. Those are usually designed to bypass examiners’ guidelines — the sorts of guidelines that matter a lot less to courts which assess past court cases and underlying evidence, such as prior art and expert testimonies. Knowing that the courts are hostile towards software patents, many potential plaintiffs (patent holders) will not even bother suing. And that’s a good thing.

This post concerns few of the aforementioned tricks, which exploit loopholes. Many of them are nowadays buzzwords, which help dodge § 101/Alice (at least at a superficial level). At the EPO they like to use terms like “technical effect” or “device”, but in the USPTO it looks like “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) is currently one of the favourites because the corporate media resurrected that hype. Almost any algorithm can be framed as “AI” as it’s a rather nebulous concept. We previously wrote many articles about other buzzwords, such as “cloud”, not to mention the old “over the Internet”, “on a computer” and so on.

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, a very large law firm, is still all about buzzwords in patents. Without even delving into the underlying granularities, the headline alone is rather telling: blah blah blah Artificial Intelligence blah blah.

Wow. Must be innovative because “AI” is supposedly “hot”! Granted! Yesterday Watchtroll wrote about passage of some patents in the “self-driving space,” arguing that it “delivers on Didi’s commitment to invest in artificial intelligence capacity.”

Whatever!

I already wrote some algorithms related to this (self-driving tools) and the only “AI” in it tends to be some classifier trained on an image set to help segment an unseen image (or long sequence thereof). That’s hardly innovative. It could be made to work several decades agp and in fact there were working implementations a long time ago; they just lacked sufficient computing power.

Here’s what Finnegan says in relation to “AI” and § 101:

In addition to § 101 concerns, AI in medicine raises questions of inventorship and ownership in patent law. The US patent system only recognizes individuals as inventors,38 not companies39 or machines.40 But with AI, it may be the machine that is taking the inventive leap, not the human programmer. Recently, both Google and Facebook have seen AI develop its own language to perform the assigned tasks, eschewing known languages in favor of a more efficient means of communication.41 As the use of AI grows in medicine and the life sciences, it is more and more likely that the AI will be the entity taking the inventive step, drawing new conclusions between the observed and the unknown. Indeed, current AI systems develop their own code as a result of the system’s training.42 If that is the case, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the courts will have to decide whether the current Patent Act encompasses computer-based inventors, and if not, who among the humans responsible for the AI should be considered an inventor.43 The list of possible human inventors includes the AI software and hardware developers, the medical professionals or experts who provided the data set with known values or otherwise provided input into the development of the AI, and/or those who reviewed the AI results and recognized that an invention had been made.

Examiners ought to be reminded that “AI” just means algorithms and patents on algorithms are annulled by § 101. Here’s an example of computer vision patents that have just been granted by the USPTO. This article says: “The last patent includes foreground motion detection in compressed video data with software that can tell the difference between background and foreground features in compressed video streams.”

That’s pure software. Surely they know these are worthless after Alice? Or maybe they delude themselves into thinking otherwise? In relation to an Olympian called Vincent Zhou there was coverage some days ago that said: “One is a 28-year-old from a blue-collar home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The other is a 17-year-old son of Chinese immigrants, two computer scientists, who hails from California.”

“She owns numerous software patents,” it said further down. Well, too bad they’re worthless now, eh? Here’s another new example of patents on software, this time from LINE. Again, these patents are worthless after Alice. Why are they being granted? As we shall show in a separate article, few grants are even being challenged; those that do typically perish (PTAB overturning examiners’ determinations).

Here’s another software patent. “GBOX develops all software both inhouse and with international subsidiaries,” says the release, “and has been awarded 5 provisional patents for its technology.”

How many of them (if any) are even worth anything?

“With Valentine’s Day upon us, one would rightly suspect that there is already an abundance of patents and patent applications related to online dating software,” lawyers’ media said some days ago. But software patents are worthless now. They themselves call it “software”. Do they conveniently overlook the issue? Don’t they try to disguise it by calling it something like “technology”?

“Blockchain” is another term that we often see used in relation to software patents. That’s just a tired new loophole that software patents proponents love to exploit. It’s an algorithm. And watch the China envy:

China is leading the world in blockchain patents: incoPat published the 2017 Global Blockchain Patent Ranking (top 100) applications for invention-, utility- and design-patents. See: http://www.iprdaily.cn/news_18252.html pic.twitter.com/DZLTnkuXdw

Well, China — unlike the US — actually permits software patents, so there might be nothing wrong about this. There’s something wrong with the policy, sure, but not with the application thereof.

For the record, we’re not against patents that aren’t on algorithms. We’re very picky in selecting what to criticse. Here, for instance, is a press release about a new patent settlement over bar code readers (not software, no problem). It says:

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today announced that it has reached a settlement with Code Corp., a company that manufactures bar code readers, to settle Honeywell’s claims that Code infringed certain Honeywell patents related to bar code scanning technology.

The scanning techniques tend to involve sensory aspects that are hardware-side, not software-side heuristics. The projection and reflection of infrared lights for instance.

Thankfully, as time goes by we see fewer software patents slipping through the sieve. Does that mean that the USPTO will stop granting software patents altogether one day? We doubt it. But the number of lawsuits over algorithms will decline sharply unless something radical happens (like PTAB getting squashed).

In Aatrix v Green Shades the Court is Not Tolerating Software Patents But Merely Inquires/Wonders Whether the Patents at Hand Are Abstract

Sunday 18th of February 2018 03:19:15 PM

Some bits of sensationalism, motivated by patent maximalism, leave Aatrix v Green Shades somewhat misrepresented (just like Berkheimer v HP Inc.)


Green Shades has not necessarily lost (decision vacated)

Summary: Aatrix alleges patent infringement by Green Shades, but whether the patents at hand are abstract or not remains to be seen; this is not what patent maximalists claim it to be (“A Valentine for Software Patent Owners” or “valentine for patentee”)

SEVERAL DAYS AGO, on Valentine’s Day to be precise, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled in a case [PDF] that law firms rushed to cover (Knobbe Martens). Adam Powell and Diana E. Wade from Knobbe Martens wrote the following with some background:

Aatrix sued Green Shades for infringement of two patents directed to systems and methods for designing, creating, and importing data into a viewable form on a computer. Green Shades moved to dismiss under § 101. The district court granted the motion and denied leave to file a proposed amended complaint. Aatrix appealed to the Federal Circuit.

The main question is, are these really software patents? Not every time Alice gets invoked will it work; it’s not a magic wand.

‘Early birds’ wrote about it in relation to 101/Alice, calling it “PRECEDENTIAL” and dubbing it “A Valentine for Software Patent Owners”.

Another one said: “Aatrix SW FedCir 2/14/18 valentine for patentee: Circuit vacates DCt’s R12b6 dismissal for no 101 eligible s/m; tangible computer system for creating forms; can dismiss on pleadings only if no factual allegn’s prevent resolving eligibility as legal q. No DCt claim constrn either. [] Reyna, J. dissent: disagrees with the majority’s broad statements on the role of factual evidence in § 101 inquiry. “Our precedent is clear that the § 101 inquiry is a legal question.” Majority tries to shoehorn significant fact component into Alice analysis. [Battle is joined!] [] I’m cautiously liking the Moore, J. approach on this. 101 eligibility must logically sometimes raise fact q’s, just like claim construction. If we’re stuck with a ridiculous test like Alice’s step 2 “transformative inventive concept,” at least we should look at underlying facts.”

“Question for en banc review of Aatrix,” added the former person. “Is a consideration whether various claim elements simply recite ‘well-understood, routine, conventionalactivit[ies] a question of Law or Fact?”

In recent days we saw some press coverage about it:

The Federal Circuit faulted a lower court Wednesday for invalidating data manipulation patents as abstract ideas on a motion to dismiss, the second time in days the court has held that a judge too quickly found that patents failed the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice test.

This is alluding to Berkheimer v HP Inc., which we covered thrice already [1, 2, 3]. One has to be careful not to take the patent microcosm at face value. They’re desperate for CAFC cases in favour of software patents; since they can barely find any they try to make some up.

An Indoctrinated Minority is Maintaining the Illusion That Patent Policy is to Blame for All or Most Problems of the United States

Sunday 18th of February 2018 01:03:24 PM

“China” is to the US patent ‘industry’ what “Russia” is to the US defense ‘industry’


Imagine if every nation blamed another for its own errors/shortcomings/failings/bad decisions

Summary: The zealots who want to patent everything under the Sun and sue everyone under the Sun blame nations in the east (where the Sun rises) for all their misfortunes; this has reached somewhat ludicrous levels

THE patent policy of a country (or continent in the case of the EPO) matters. But it doesn’t matter so profoundly that slight changes in patent policies will make or break countries. That’s just common sense as there’s so much more in this world than patents. The economy too is more than just patents.

“That’s just common sense as there’s so much more in this world than patents.”The USPTO loosened a little on litigation and tightened patent scope, following decisions that had been made by the US Supreme Court (for the most part). This is a good thing as it enables US science and technology firms to operate in the lab rather than the courtroom. This, once again, is common sense.

The “patents4life” blog (advocates just what it says in the name and by “life” it does not mean patent duration) seems to be upset again. Days ago it bemoaned “Weaknesses in IP Protection” (fancy words for “it’s harder to sue with patents”). So a strength in mental faculties and common sense is being framed as “weakness”? The article is actually a rant about Canada, India and Ecuador, three countries where public interest (the big majority) was put ahead of Big Pharma. Watch who the blog is citing; IPO is just a front group of patent extremists looking to patent everything on Earth. Who else can they rely on? The malicious lobby known as “Chamber of Commerce”, which is constantly attacking India* and is engaged in revisionism right now, calling “Father of American Innovation” a person who was not? He did not even innovate slave ownership (he ‘owned’ plenty of slaves).

“This is a good thing as it enables US science and technology firms to operate in the lab rather than the courtroom.”Quite frankly, we often conclude that these people are just delusional. How about this guy called Moskowitz? We mentioned him before. He claims that Big Tech’s or China’s rise is “Enabled by a weakened patent system.” (in the US)

I said he was “[s]till perpetuating the myth that the “patent system” is responsible for everything because this is what they do for a living” and his only response to me was something along the lines of me being an agent for China or whatever (even though I berate China for its own patent policies too — policies that mostly enrich oligarchs). Other people are attempting/pulling the “China” smears against me as well (as recently as last night; several times even).

Notice the theme here; just like the United States often blames Russia for just about anything the patent microcosm blames China for just about anything. Watch another emerging theme, which is shaming of technology firms. The patent microcosm is growingly vocal in its smearing of technology firms. It’s partly ironic because those are the firms that often bring money to lawyers.

“Notice the theme here; just like the United States often blames Russia for just about anything the patent microcosm blames China for just about anything.”The above claim (saying that “patent trolls” as a concept was made up by technology firms) is patently false. They used to be called “sharks” and other words. The graph that the person shows does not support what he says about it. It’s about one particular label, which is predated by other labels (for the same thing). But they carry on with this fiction, ignoring the growing concentration of patent trolls in the United States until some years ago (when the problem was belatedly being put under control).

Citing this new article about China (from The Economist, which blogged a chart), here we have another ‘genius’ who — seeing how the US continues its relative demise (e.g. compared to China) — blames it all on patents (not enough lawsuits?). China was actually making things while other nations got busy litigating and marketing. It spent decades regenerating itself for manufacturing. That’s why China is prospering now (in terms of measures that aren’t per capita).

“Look at this from the viewpoint of when patent reform (the PTAB specifically) really took hold,” the ‘genius’ said. “Correlation is not causation but the timing is hard to ignore.”

“China was actually making things while other nations got busy litigating and marketing.”No, he is just trying to superimpose what he does for a living over a chart that has virtually nothing to do with it. Another person might look at this same chart and blame “Obama” or “liberals” or “piracy” or “hacking”. Here is another slightly older tweet from the same ‘genius’. It links to an article, then ranting about patents and Google. But the article in question has nothing to do with patents, it has nothing to do with Google, and this obsession with patents and Google simply clouds the person’s judgment. These people blame everything (in their own trade, which revolves around lawsuits) on technology firms and they are constantly using China as a scapegoat. It’s just so easy when you cannot make an economic argument/excuse for your own failures. Russia is typically used as a scapegoat for military aspects, on- and off-line. Externalising blame. China is for economic aspects. The name of the ‘genius’ by the way is Gatlin McArthur and based on the Twitter activity it’s some sort of a patent lawyer or troll (it does not say).
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* The Chamber of Commerce viciously attacked India’s reputation last year and IAM helped the Chamber of Commerce do this. A few days ago IAM again found a way to attack the credibility of the Indian patent office. IAM actually attacked that office about a dozen times last year alone and it’s not hard to see why. India repels software patents and law firms based in India still obsess over this matter “This case is a classic example where the Patent Office has interpreted the words “computer program per se” to include software programs,” said one firm in a days-old article which digs the archive and says:

This article focuses on the involvement of Section 3(k) in the process of patent application of Apple titled ‘a method for browsing data items with respect to a display screen associated with a computing device and an electronic device’. For reference to those unaware of this section, S 3 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970 bars patent eligibility of some inventions.

Berkheimer Decision is Still Being Spun by the Anti-Section 101/Alice Lobby

Sunday 18th of February 2018 11:23:20 AM

Spinning and twisting; herein lies their specialty

Summary: 12 days after Berkheimer v HP Inc. the patent maximalists continue to paint this decision as a game changer with regards to patent scope; the reality, however, is that this decision will soon be forgotten about and will have no substantial effect on either PTAB or Alice (because it’s about neither of these)

TECHRIGHTS has repeatedly written about Berkheimer, foreseeing a distortion and then rebutting it. Berkheimer does not change anything at the USPTO and it’s unlikely to change anything at the courts either (contrary to what patent maximalists are saying). The patent maximalists just cherry-pick sentences to bolster their bogus narrative that PTAB disregards facts or isn’t pursuing any facts.

“The patent maximalists just cherry-pick sentences to bolster their bogus narrative that PTAB disregards facts or isn’t pursuing any facts.”Finnegan, a very large lawyers’ firm, now joins the Berkheimer spin wave. Days ago it wrote:

In Berkheimer v. HP Inc. (Fed. Cir. Feb. 6, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that certain claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,447,713—directed to digital processing and archiving in a digital asset management system—were indefinite, and affirmed-in-part and vacated-in-part the grant of summary judgment that other claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

It wasn’t a victory, it was not about Section 101, and it’s not the Supreme Court. It’s just one among thousands of decisions about patents at this level. So a lot of the headlines we’ve seen so far are extremely and perhaps intentionally misleading. “Berkheimer is waaaaaaay overhyped by the patent ‘industry’,” I told this Federal Circuit watcher after she had written: “Automated Tracking FedCir 2/16/18 NON-precedential; affirms DCt’s dismissal of case on pleadings bcz no eligible s/m; cites new Berkheimer decision but nothing here supports patentee’s contention of fact dispute re whether claims recite routine and conventional RFID components.”

“It wasn’t a victory, it was not about Section 101, and it’s not the Supreme Court.”So Berkheimer made no substantial difference here, just as we expected.

What also ought to be expected, at least for days if not weeks to come, is a misstatement about what Berkheimer really was about. Earlier today we found a couple more examples of patent maximalists misrepresenting this decision. Friends of a disgraced Federal Circuit judge said this:

The phrase “minimal redundancy” in a patent claim was indefinite under 35 USC § 112 where the patent specification inconsistently described levels of redundancy achieved by its system. Berkheimer v. HP, Inc., No. 2017-1437 (Fed. Cir. Feb 8, 2017) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges Taranto and Stoll). Accordingly, the court affirmed a district court’s summary judgment that claim 10 of US Patent No. 7,447,713 was indefinite. The court also addressed the patent-eligibility of other claims of the ’713 patent; the patent-eligibility issues are dealt with in another post.

And later came this generalisation which made it seem like Berkheimer was a push against Alice itself. This refers to two decisions:

In a pair of interesting software-related cases, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit appears to push back on one of the supposed goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank International decision. In Alice, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified and restated the Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus decision’s test concerning patent eligible subject matter. In doing so, the Supreme Court started a new era of U.S. patent law which made patent eligible subject matter a very important inquiry with respect to the patentability of inventions, particulary those in the software space—although Alice’s impact is felt in other technological areas. Since Alice issued, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has clarified the Alice test and notably provided guidance to patent lawyers on how to “avoid” or “comply” with Alice.

Importantly, one of the purported benefits of Alice was to allow for the early dismissal of claims based on patent eligible subject matter. An alleged infringer could conceivably quickly raise patent eligible subject matter and get a claim dismissed on either a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim or a motion for summary judgment. In additional push-back to Alice, the Federal Circuit in Berkheimer v. HP (February 8, 2018) has recently held that even after claim construction a motion for summary judgment on patent eligible subject matter may be improper because of genuine issues of material fact.

Berkheimer v HP was not about Alice. So why even lump that in? And back we go to Finnegan, an integral part of the patent microcosm, which in this particular case scrapes deep down the barrel in an effort to bypass Alice and ‘sell’ software patents (services) to gullible clients. To quote:

Since the Supreme Court decided Alice v. CLS Bank in June 2014, the USPTO regularly issues new memoranda explaining its implementation of the § 101 framework. This includes some of the more notable memos for prosecutors: the memo on Enfish v. Microsoft from May 2016, the memo on McRO and BASCOM from November 2016, and dozens of eligibility examples. The USPTO also maintains a quick reference sheet on decisions holding claims eligible and identifying abstract ideas, and a chart of subject matter eligibility court decisions.

Pretty much all of these memos are from 2 years ago. Like we’ve said many times, in 2017 the Federal Circuit was quite unambiguous in its acceptance of Alice and lack of support for software patents. To suggest something has changed for the ‘better’ (of the microcosm) when the Supreme Court refuses to revisit the matter is misleading, but we know what they’re trying to sell and how they sell it.

Academic Patent Immunity is Laughable and Academics Are Influenced by Corporate Money (for Steering Patent Agenda)

Sunday 18th of February 2018 10:37:27 AM

Even some US colleges are funded by patent lobbies

Summary: Universities appear to have become battlegrounds in the war between practicing entities and a bunch of parasites who make a living out of litigation and patent bubbles

THE US has a problem of corporate influence in universities. Not only the US has this problem. As a former academic myself (I worked a few years as a postdoc), I’ve seen it from the inside and I still hear about it from friends or former colleagues. Corporations funnel money in exchange for things; even the EPO now pays scholars in the UK and in the US (in exchange for papers that help promote the UPC). Certainly the policy of the USPTO is impacted by this; a lot of academic papers should state openly which corporations fund the authors’ (or investigators’) department/s. There’s danger, however, that by insinuating such corruption of academia one leaves room for patent extremists to attack academics they dislike. So let’s just say that scholars are, in general, more credible than think tanks and front groups (like IPO); but they’re not impenetrable to outside influence or even soft bribes.

Why are we saying all this? Well, Scott McKeown, writing at Ropes & Gray’s site, has just written about an old subject which we covered here before, noting that a federal court will soon wrestle with the questions about “sovereign immunity” for academic institutions, specifically in relation to PTAB.

Why should universities that hold questionable patents be immune from the law and from scrutiny? That seems to make no sense at all, but never underestimate the power of lobbying. And what makes them a separate sovereignty to begin with? (sovereignty as in “sovereign immunity”)

State-affiliated entities enjoy immunity from suit in federal courts under the 11th amendment. To date, a handful of such entities have successfully leveraged the same immunity theory to avoid review of their patents before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). While still other Patent Owners have aligned themselves with Native American Tribes in an effort to benefit from their sovereign status in the hopes of avoiding PTAB review.

More recently, in Ericsson v. Regents of the University of Minnesota the PTAB has determined that sovereign immunity is waived where the sovereign entity files an infringement suit.

Another law firm wrote about this the other day, noting that the State, as per an infamous old law, enabled universities to abuse taxpayers’ money to collect patents and then give these to trolls (who soon attack these very same taxpayers). Why should they — the universities that nowadays incubate startups and privatise publicly-funded research — at the same time they pursue these patents also be immune from scrutiny?

Here’s more on the University of Minnesota:

The PTAB’s decision also did not state whether UMinn had any input in Toyota’s strategy to request adverse judgment. Thus, from the record, it is not clear whether Toyota adequately represented the interests of UMinn in this case.

Right now, owing to the above cases, Big Pharma is attempting to shelter its controversial patents using tribes (for tribal immunity). The situation has become quite unreal.

Meanwhile, judging by this new paper from Saurabh Vishnubhakat, he continues to feed the anti-PTAB (often pro-trolls) lobby. From his abstract: “The rise of administrative patent validity review since the America Invents Act has rested on an enormous expansion of Patent Office authority. A relatively little-known aspect of that authority is the agency’s statutory ability to intervene in Federal Circuit appeals from adversarial proceedings in its own Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The Patent Office has exercised this intervenor authority frequently and with specific apparent policy objectives, including where one of the adverse parties did not participate in the appeal. Moreover, until recently, there has been no constitutional inquiry into the Article III standing that the Patent Office must establish in order to intervene in this way.”

Patently-O (i.e. Crouch) continues to feed that same lobby too by publishing this guest post by Matthew J. Dowd and Jonathan Stroud, citing Vishnubhakat’s work. From their long post:

Professor Saurabh Vishnubhakat’s recent well-reasoned post and longer article add much to the discussion about standing to appeal from the PTAB. Standing has recently garnered significant interest from the Federal Circuit. Building on existing scholarship, we have written a concise synopsis of standing law as applied to PTAB appeals, forthcoming in Catholic University of America Law Review.

[...]

In our view, as a matter of standing alone, the PTO can participate as an intervenor in virtually all AIA appeals from the PTAB—and many reasons are consonant with the principles on which Professor Vishnubhakat bases his reasoning. We make no judgment here on the merits of the positions the PTO solicitor has or will adopt, or the frequency of intervention. While there is a valid debate about the policy choices and the frequency with which the PTO has intervened, that debate is distinct from the legal question of whether the PTO has, or must have, standing as an intervenor beyond their express statutory grant. Professor Vishnubhakat reasons correctly; he just goes a bridge too far.

We already know what they’re trying to accomplish because it’s well documented (for years). They hope to weaken if not abolish PTAB by comparing patents to “property” (a lie) or “rights”, then alluding to terms like “property rights” (which meant an entirely different thing when the term was conceived).

Last but not least, there’s this new paper from Jason Reinecke. It makes one wonder if Stanford University is now lobbying against software patents and — if so — who’s paying their School of Law for it (patent extremists will no doubt blame Google, for it’s closely connected to Stanford). Even though the title of the paper is a loaded question (“Is the Supreme Court’s Patentable Subject Matter Test Overly Ambiguous?), the conclusion seems to be an effort to debunk a myth promoted by patent extremists.

From the abstract (about abstract patents):

In four cases handed down between 2010 and 2014, the Supreme Court articulated a new two-step patent eligibility test that drastically reduced the scope of patent protection for software inventions. Scholars have described the test as “impossible to administer in a coherent, consistent way,” “a foggy standard,” “too philosophical and policy based to be administrable,” a “crisis of confusion,” “rife with indeterminacy,” and one that “forces lower courts to engage in mental gymnastics.”

This Article provides the first empirical test of these assertions. In particular, 231 patent attorneys predicted how courts would rule on the subject matter eligibility of litigated software patent claims, and the results were compared with the actual district court rulings. Among other findings, the results suggest that while the test is certainly not a beacon of absolute clarity, it is also not as amorphous as many commentators have suggested.

When lobbyists such as David Kappos say there’s lack of “clarity” regarding Alice they contribute to these myths. As we’ll show in our next post, the latest myth is that PTAB relies not on facts.

UPC Optimism Languishes Even Among Paid UPC Propagandists Such as IAM

Sunday 18th of February 2018 09:17:03 AM

The lie told by Bristows last week

Summary: Even voices which are attempting to give UPC momentum that it clearly lacks admit that things aren’t looking well; the UK is not ratifying and Germany make take years to look into constitutional barriers

JUST before the weekend we noted that the EPO had virtually stopped talking about the UPC. The acronym or the words “unified” and “unitary” recently escaped the EPO’s lexicon. It wasn’t always like that.

Even “UPCtracker”, a Twitter account dedicated to UPC jingoism, has just said that “if UPC complaint not on list this could simply mean that a) Chamber has not made up its mind as to whth case should be admitted or b) the Senate thinks the case will not be decided within the next year (but possibly later). Refusal to admit wd become known v quickly.”

“They’re also totally silent regarding the inaction some days ago in the British political scene (Bristows too chose to remain silent about it).”We mentioned the context to this before; “Indications so far mostly point to admissibility,” I told him, “including next week's debate in Bavaria” (it’s only a couple of days away).

What we found fascinating, however, was this new self-promotional piece from Joff Wild (IAM). A year ago IAM was pushing fake news about the UPC [1, 2, 3] (after the EPO’s PR firm had paid IAM). Now? Not so much optimism. They’re also totally silent regarding the inaction some days ago in the British political scene (Bristows too chose to remain silent about it).

To quote the portion about UPC:

Brexit and the UPC: Of course, no patent-related event in Europe these days is going to escape discussion of either Brexit or the potential impact of the Unified Patent Court – should it ever get up and running.

On the former, there was wide agreement that as things stand, no-one has much idea what is going to happen. Patents and patent owners are not directly affected by Brexit because there is no unitary patent system in Europe, but it was noted that over recent years there has been a trend for European patent judges to spend more time talking to each other, with courts in one country now prepared to give much more weight to judgments handed down in others when hearing similar cases. As England and Wales is perhaps Europe’s most important life sciences venue, there is no doubt that decisions reached by judges in the jurisdiction are currently looked at very closely by their peers elsewhere. Whether this will continue post-Brexit remains to be seen.

As for the UPC, there was widespread scepticism about it seeing the light of day pre-Brexit and around the UK’s participation in the system at any time. However, some at least are continuing to make preparations on the off chance that the UK does ratify the UPC Agreement and the case currently before the German constitutional court on the legality of Germany’s ratification goes nowhere quickly. One interesting point raised was whether the opting in and opting out regime might give rise to generic companies making accusations of patent owners gaming the system, with all the consequences that might have as they seek to enforce their rights. Like the UPC itself, it was an issue left hanging in the air. Perhaps one day, though, we might find out whether it has some legs.

Several days ago IAM responded to misinformation from Bristows, correctly noting (in a blog comment) that the most important item is in Germany, not the UK. Joff Wild left that comment.

We remain rather overwhelmed by the silence about what happened (or did not happen) in the UK some days ago, but this is what we predicted (in advance) would happen.

Bejin Bieneman Props Up the Disgraced Randall Rader for Litigation Agenda

Sunday 18th of February 2018 08:36:40 AM

Summary: Randall Rader keeps hanging out with the litigation ‘industry’ — the very same ‘industry’ which he served in a closeted fashion when he was Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit (and vocal proponent of software patents, patent trolls and so on)

ABOUT a month ago we wrote about Bejin Bieneman planning to give a platform to the man who is responsible — via the courts system — for a lot of patent trolls and out-of-control patent scope at the USPTO. He was pretty much forced to quit after he had been caught making a mockery of the court he headed (as Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit).

“He was pretty much forced to quit after he had been caught making a mockery of the court he headed (as Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit).”The patent trolls’ lobby loves him, no matter the scandals, and this propped-up-by-IAM person is still out there, lobbying and seeking more power in institutions including the USPTO. He’s getting all cozy with patent maximalists, as always, and days ago, as expected, they tweeted about it: “For those of you who missed yesterday’s webinar, Settlement Strategies, featuring Judge Randall R. Rader, Joseph Dunn, and Thomas Bejin, here is the YouTube recording…”

“Sadly, as we noted some days ago, the “revolving doors” culture is alive and well at the USPTO and US patent courts.”So Mr. Rader is not so ‘retired’ after all, he’s just ‘hibernating’ whilst lobbying. He’s looking for ways to get back into the system, even as Director of the USPTO.

Sadly, as we noted some days ago, the “revolving doors” culture is alive and well at the USPTO and US patent courts. We already mentioned David Kappos and Paul Michel four days ago.

There are other such ‘webinars’ which push an agenda and front groups. How about this upcoming one (2 days from now): “Attend our webinar on patent portfolio monetization on Feb 20, hosted by the Knowledge Group @Know_Group, with speakers from TechInsights, @KnobbeMartens and @Oblon_IP”

“All these echo chamber-type ‘webinars’ are nothing but marketing; for Rader to participate in these says a lot about Rader.”Those are prominent elements of patent maximalism. Don’t say patent trolls however; It’s nice(r) to say “patent portfolio monetization” (like giving patent for trolls to bully one’s competitors). How about terms such as “Asserting Patent Rights” from Watchtroll (the headline from Meredith Addy 3 days ago)? They keep coming up with all sorts of terms like “efficient infringers” and “death squads” (this one is Rader’s). Addy said: “While my patent litigation practice represents both patentees and defendants, I remain concerned about developments in our patent laws that undercut protections for innovators. I continue to believe that the playing field is unfairly tipped to accused infringers.”

Why does she care? Because she profits from litigation. The more litigation, the more money she makes (no matter if she represents a plaintiff or a defendant). All these echo chamber-type ‘webinars’ are nothing but marketing; for Rader to participate in these says a lot about Rader. This is why he’s kept away from his old job. He can go hang out with patent trolls all he wants, but not while he holds a key position in a high court.

With Stambler v Mastercard, Patent Maximalists Are Hoping to Prop Up Software Patents and Damage PTAB

Saturday 17th of February 2018 05:25:25 PM

“…patents for some technical sectors have been somewhat deprecatorily called by Mark Lemley and Carl Shapiro, a “lottery ticket”,” Neil Wilkof wrote before the weekend.


Summary: The patent ‘industry’ is hoping to persuade the highest US court to weaken the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for PTAB is making patent lawsuits a lot harder and raises the threshold for patent eligibility

THE patent maximalists in the United States want us to believe that the more patents are granted and the more lawsuits are filed, the greater the “innovation” will be (they just can’t help misusing such buzzwords*). The USPTO uses similar claims to justify never-ending expansion (e.g. number of granted patents). Suffice to say, that’s just a bubble.

Found via several patent maximalists such as this one was this new post in which Dennis Crouch (part of the patent microcosm) said: “The case relates to Stambler’s U.S. Patent No. 5,793,302 (authentication system and method). The patent has been asserted in dozens of cases and upheld in several court decisions prior to the PTAB finding it invalid.”

Oil States is an anti-PTAB case which we expect to see ruled in favour of PTAB some time later this year.”This is about Stambler v Mastercard, a case which the patent maximalists will be trying to bring to the Justices. Why? Because it’s a potentially anti-PTAB case. Groups such as the EFF will hopefully submit oppositions if possible. From the petition: “The first question is substantially similar to that presented in Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., LLC, No. 16-712 (June 12, 2017), which has been argued and is awaiting decision by the Court. The second question is identical to that presented by the Petition for writ of certiorari in Celgard, LLC v. Matal (No. 16-1526) (question #2, petition pending).”

Oil States is an anti-PTAB case which we expect to see ruled in favour of PTAB some time later this year. We’ll say a lot more about PTAB tomorrow and on Monday. Oppositions to PTAB continue to slow down (losing momentum); the patent microcosm may have given up trying.

“…the barrier for (court) entry has been raised, which is probably bad news for lawyers but good news for everybody else.”The gold rush for low-quality patents was a bubble in the making. IAM has just published a puff piece/ad for its partner Clarivate, which measures companies in terms of patents, but what sorts of patents? Nowadays we see a lot of these patents imploding; PTAB and the courts do this. Unified Patents said in its Web site yesterday that it wants to educate law students on PTAB practice. Unified Patents itself extensively utilises PTAB to eliminate software patents. As they put it yesterday:

Unified Patents recently launched its 2nd public law school project to curb patent abuse against SMEs. In conjunction with University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Brooks Kushman, Unified is working to help educate students on PTAB practice.

PTAB is, in our view, like a cleanup mechanism within the USPTO itself. “IP Edge managing director Gautham Bodepudi,” as IAM described him yesterday, suggests that “plaintiffs in US patent cases who understand the odds of victory are almost always best off settling” (not direct quote). IAM even used the word “trolls” (in relation to patent trolls):

The vast majority of patent disputes in the US settle before they end up in court. One reason for this, it is claimed, is because scared defendants are worried into making suits go away by aggressive plaintiffs (trolls) who give them a choice of settlement at one price or fighting a suit at a higher price. And, undoubtedly, there is an element of that involved.

However, there is a lot more on top. For example, looking from the plaintiff’s perspective there are also significant disincentives to take a fight all the way – especially against deep pocket corporate opponents.

According to some recent figures, about two-thirds of patent aggression bouts go unnoticed because they never reach the courts and the public might therefore not find out about them (unless a press release is issued). One way to look at it is, the aggressors are scared of the courts (or PTAB); another is, the accused/defendant is scared of litigation. Either way, the barrier for (court) entry has been raised, which is probably bad news for lawyers but good news for everybody else.
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* The embrace of buzzwords can also be seen here. “AI” is an old hype wave resurrected (we presume by corporate marketing people along with gullible ‘journalists’ looking for popular key terms). It’s also propped up by the patent ‘industry’ in order to paint software patents as ‘novel’ (when they’re not).

Apple Discovers That Its Patent Disputes Are a Losing Battle Which Only Lawyers Win (Profit From)

Saturday 17th of February 2018 04:40:33 PM

Related: In Apple/Samsung Patent Lawsuits Over Android/Linux, Only Patent Lawyers Are Winning (Again)

Summary: By pouring a lot of money and energy into the ‘litigation card’ Apple lost focus and it’s also losing some key cases, as its patents are simply not strong enough

THE USPTO can grant however many patents it wants, but judges are under no obligation to honour these patents. As scholars recently noted, many patents are granted erroneously in order to inflate patent numbers (this became a problem at the EPO as well in recent years).

Yesterday we stumbled upon this new report from a reliable news site which said:

A federal judge handed a minor but significant legal defeat to Apple in its long-simmering patent dispute with Samsung on Thursday evening.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh agreed with Samsung that the South Korea smartphone manufacturer owes Apple about $6.4 million, but not the ongoing royalties to which Apple claimed it was entitled.

The order only settles a sliver of the overall patent fight, parts of which have climbed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is about software patents and the award is without a shadow of a doubt exceeded by the legal bills; things become a lot more expensive when these cases reach the US Supreme Court — something which may happen for design patents [1, 2]. As explained here yesterday, “patent experts [are] concerned about legal uncertainty surrounding design patent damages” in Apple v Samsung. Matt Levy, who used to write for CCIA, shows up again:

An Apple v. Samsung–far from the first, to put it that way–will be held in three months. The Engine panel discussion was not exactly a trial preview. The perspective was very high-level, including an outlook (by Matt Levy) as to what might happen after the trial. Mr. Levy believes the Federal Circuit will again take an exceedingly patentee-friendly position, and the Supreme Court will have to correct it again.

Nobody on the panel appeared to believe that the 19th-century unapportioned-disgorgement rule in 35 U.S.C. § 289 is appropriate with respect to today’s multifaceted technology products. However, the focus of the panel wasn’t on advocating new legislation, though the subject did come up. It was more about the high degree of uncertainty surrounding not just the Apple v. Samsung re-retrial but presenting an issue to the industry at large.

[...]

Mr. Duan explained that design patent litigation isn’t nearly as widespread as software patent litigation, but depending on what happens in Apple v. Samsung and other design patent damages cases, design patents could give rise to many lawsuits by patent trolls in the not too distant future.

Without a doubt, industry groups are concerned about the lack of legal certainty. One of the questions from the audience (toward the end of the YouTube video) came from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

As we pointed out earlier this month, SIIA supports PTAB. The above people are interested in improved patent quality.

The Patent Microcosm Takes Berkheimer v HP Out of Context to Pretend PTAB Disregards Fact-Finding Process

Saturday 17th of February 2018 03:54:30 PM


The original decision

Summary: In view or in light of a recent decision (excerpt above), patent maximalists who are afraid of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) try to paint it as inherently unjust and uncaring for facts

EARLIER this month we wrote about Berkheimer, a decision that had been distorted somewhat by the patent microcosm (as usual).

This distortion continues unfortunately (but expectedly), with sites such as Watchtroll writing about it yesterday. Dennis Crouch too panders to patent extremists with their false allegations that PTAB ignores/overlooks facts. Here is what he wrote:

Following upon its February 8 decision in Berkheimer, the Federal Circuit has again sided with the Patentee on eligibility grounds – holding here that the lower court’s judgment on the pleadings failed to consider disputed issues of material fact. Prior to this pair of cases, it was unclear whether eligibility analysis involved factual questions. Although pair of cases indicate a precedential sea-change, both opinions were written by Judge Moore and joined by Judge Taranto (Berkheimer was also joined by Judge Stoll).

Like we said before, this isn’t necessarily about Section 101 and it does not imply what many patent extremists are trying to insinuate. Managing IP framed it as a Section 101 ‘thing’ and also called it a “blockbuster” (in the headline even). It’s only a blockbuster for those who want it to be. There was nothing fascinating about it. To quote the outline:

“Whether something is well-understood, routine, and conventional to a skilled artisan at the time of the patent is a factual determination,” writes Judge Moore. Observers have taken this as a sign of the pendulum swinging back towards patent owners on Section 101

“Observers”?

They mean the patent microcosm. Then again, consider whose megaphone sites like Watchtroll, Patently-O and Managing IP really are. We might need to do some more debunkings in the future when Berkheimer is brought up. We’ll give some examples of that tomorrow and on Monday as it has become somewhat of a theme/pattern.

Microsoft Has Left RPX, But RPX Now Pays a Microsoft Patent Troll, Intellectual Ventures

Saturday 17th of February 2018 02:48:54 PM

Summary: The patent/litigation arms race keeps getting a little more complicated, as the ‘arms’ are being passed around to new and old entities that do nothing but shake-downs

LAST month we wrote about RPX, which might soon be bought by trolls, paying extraordinary amounts of money to patent trolls, such as Acacia (Microsoft-connected troll).

“It bought a lot of patents from Intellectual Ventures, which is more or less a Microsoft proxy.”As it turns out, based on this blog post from yesterday, RPX also buys USPTO patents from Microsoft patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures. To quote:

RPX has acquired a tranche of patent assets from the Intellectual Ventures Invention Science Fund in what is the first such deal between the firms. So far two sets of rights have shown up on the USPTO assignment database — one for 35 granted patents and applications and another for 22 — and a spokesperson for RPX confirmed that 66 assets had changed hands in total.

[...]

RPX has done plenty of deals with NPEs such as Acacia and WiLAN in the past, but hasn’t bought any assets from IV. The pair did work together on the $525 million acquisition of the Kodak portfolio in 2012 which saw IV and a group of 12 licensees including Apple, Google and Samsung stump up much of the cash for the deal. Most of those patents are now held by Dominion Harbor and as more former IV assets end up in the courts we may see more acquisitions by RPX as it looks to mitigate patent risk for its clients.

Dominion Harbor is another troll to keep an eye on. It bought a lot of patents from Intellectual Ventures, which is more or less a Microsoft proxy. It’s like an arms trade.

UPC Has Done Nothing for Europe Except Destruction of the EPO and Imminent Layoffs Due to Lack of Applications and Lowered Value of European Patents

Saturday 17th of February 2018 02:14:40 PM

Lots of fake news lately from those who stand to benefit from UPC (at the expense of everybody else)

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is merely a distant dream or a fantasy for litigators; to everyone else the UPC lobby has done nothing but damage, including potentially irreparable damage to the European Patent Office, which is declining very sharply

THE UPC is not going anywhere; except away. Maybe. The EPO barely mentions it any longer and Team UPC seems to have been reduced to just Bristows (almost nobody else mentions it anymore). Just before the weekend Mathieu Klos from JUVE wrote: “UPC challenge Germany I: According to constitutional court spokesman: as yet no date for oral hearing or judgement. If there were an oral hearing, press release to be published in advance. Next Wednesday (21.02.) the Court publishes list of cases it intends to decide in 2018.”

“No word about the UPC from Team UPC for at least two days now, so we can safely assume that the UK has — once again — said no to “unitary” nonsense (patent maximalism disguised as “unity”, “EU”, “harmony”, “community” and so on).”And later on this: “UPC challenge Germany II: According to constitutional court spokesman: Court received all amicus briefs, no further institution got deadline extension. All paperwork is done, now judges can read and decide.”

No word about the UPC from Team UPC for at least two days now, so we can safely assume that the UK has — once again — said no to “unitary” nonsense (patent maximalism disguised as “unity”, “EU”, “harmony”, “community” and so on). Waste of effort is all it boils down to; they should improve actual patent quality, but there’s no money in it for lawyers. In fact, it would render many of them redundant.

“Was the gamble on UPC (massive headache for European companies but boon to litigators worldwide) worth it?”And speaking of redundancies, it’s regretful and uncomfortable to say, but a lot of EPO workers can already envision themselves losing their jobs. See some of the latest comments here.

One reader of ours told us that the “EPO plans addition of Art 53(1)(f) in Service regulations: staff can be dismissed if the exigencies of the service require an abolition of a post or a reduction of staff. To be debated during next session of AC.”

Yes, well, that’s hardly a surprise. A Portuguese friend explained to me earlier today all sorts of things about the former employer (bank) of the upcoming President of the EPO. It seems as though we’ll have lots to say in July when layoffs become a big item on the agenda. Here’s one new comment that stands out (it’s about how backlog runs out, rendering many examiners redundant and many dubious applications enshrined as patents):

The reduction in training time has become a usual fashion since the full deployment of BEST around 2005, as BEST was allegedly increasing productivity/production by 30%, the training time for search and examination was reduced by 50%.

15% time gain for search and 15% time gain for examination makes 30% time gain in total! Yes this is the level at which such a decision was taken. The real gain in production given by BEST was much lower, but in order for the pill to pass the AC, the figure had to be enlightened. But still the training time was reduced by 50%.

It is not a joke. And this was long before the Office had to endure the present tenant of the 10th floor! He simply aggravated the situation, but was helped in this endeavour by the former VP1 Minnoye.

New examiners receive an initial training as how to churn out as many communications as possible in the first year. When the replies arrive, training has already been reduced drastically, and they are left on their own…

Training time is time in which neither the trainee nor the trainer produce. Training people is considered as an extra task not belonging to the core tasks. Core tasks have absolute priority. Language training might be given, but outside the working time, whether such training is considered necessary or not.

Training, especially when it comes for highly educated people like examiners, needs to be carefully conceived. While in the past it was within DG1/DG2 i.e. in direct contact with the people at the “coal front”, it is nowadays under HR, with the famous E.B! It is thus not at all surprising that training has developed in the way shown above.

Furthermore, in order to increase the output, not all examiners will deal with oppositions. On the face of it, it might look positive and more efficient. But not only does it create two classes of examiners, whereby those not dealing with oppositions will not have a chance to go to DG3 should they wish to do so, but it takes away from the “basic” examiner that what he is dealing with is not a mere piece of paper for which he gets points, but represents an asset which has either to be defended or pushed out of the way.

It is by dealing with oppositions that examiners realise that their work is not just playing with words (original Minnoye), but represents an economic value. To me, dealing with oppositions is part of the necessary general culture needed by an examiner in order to fully comprehend his job, and not just an adjustable variable useful in getting more production out.

That some directors instruct their people not to adapt the description is not a surprise. Just a waste of time. That afterwards in litigation before a national court, the proprietor can then try to pull wool over the eyes of a judge is a nice side effect. But one day those people will also sit on the other side.

Some directors go even as far as to say that it is not even necessary to read the description, just look at the claims and at the drawings if any. Even a long time ago, oral instructions were given that if the first examiner decides to grant, the two other members of the division had to shut up.

And with all those measures examiners are meant to be respected and feel happy at work. It makes me want to puke.

See some later comments in there about the USPTO compared to the EPO. The EPO is losing its advantage and it’s the USPTO that now enjoys a rise in applications (they’re on the decline in the EPO). The emerging theme right now is how easily the EPO will soon fire employees (traditionally it was very difficult, which meant work security). What will the ‘Campinos era’ bring? Based on what we’re told, he’s hardly any better than Battistelli; some people are a lot more negative about him than we are.

What will the ‘Campinos era’ mean for patent quality? More lies about quality? Watermark’s Christian Schieber has just written about ‘anti-PACE’ — basically a belated response to rushed examination that many applicats did not want at all. As Schieber put it:

The European Patent Office (EPO), following public consultation, intends introducing a new procedural option enabling applicants of European Patent (EP) applications to request postponement of the start of substantive examination, by up to 3 years.

Currently, applicants can speed up the grant procedure of an EP application, using the Programme for Accelerated Examination of European patent applications (PACE) or other mechanisms. However, no mechanism is currently available to defer commencement of examination. For EP applications filed directly with the EPO, examination has to be requested no later than 6 months from publication of the European search report. For EP applications originating in International (PCT) applications, examination is requested at the time of regional phase entry, ie latest by 31 months from the priority date of the PCT application.

So they can delay it by “up to 3 years” (i.e. until 2021). Will there even be an EPO as we know it in 3 years? SUEPO believes that mass layoffs can begin as early as this year.

The Lawyer’s Daily, a site whose name is self-explanatory, says that CIPO (Canada) assumes EPO will last another 3 years, never mind if there are many layoffs coming soon. To quote yesterday’s article:

As of January, the Patent Prosecution Highway pilot agreement between the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) has been extended for another three years.

According to a statement from CIPO, the Patent Prosecution Highway allows applicants at the CIPO and EPO to obtain corresponding patents quickly and efficiently. It also enables the two patent offices to benefit from work previously done by each other, which reduces examination workload and improves patent quality.

The above is not actually news. Not really (we mentioned it before). What’s news is all sorts of worthless deals Battistelli signs in countries like Cambodia (with zero European Patents) or distant nations like Argentina with only dozens of European Patents.

We worry that Europe is losing its competitiveness in terms of patents (which we’re not inherently against). How could anyone envision/consider the attacks on the EPC and the EPO as a good thing? Was the gamble on UPC (massive headache for European companies but boon to litigators worldwide) worth it?

Links 17/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.4, Wine 3.2, Go 1.10

Saturday 17th of February 2018 08:34:59 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Better Know a Blogger: SJVN on Linux, Microsoft, space roadsters, and more

    I have known Steven for more than a decade. Not only is he a top technology journalist and a consummate professional, he is a role model of mine.

    Steven, well known by his initials SJVN, stands out — not just because he’s a good journalist. He stands out because he’s a great explainer. When I want to understand a networking, operating systems, or Linux-related topic, I often turn to Steven or his articles.

  • Desktop
    • Samsung Launch ‘Linux on Galaxy’ Survey

      Samsung has launched a survey to find out what users want and expect from the Linux on Galaxy idea.

      The ‘Linux on Galaxy’ project allows a regular desktop Linux distro to run on select Samsung smartphones by sharing the same Linux kernel used in Android.

      Users can then connect their smartphone to a Samsung DeX dock to convert their Samsung smartphone in to a normal desktop PC with an external monitor, bluetooth keyboard, mouse and so on.

    • Open Source Blockchain Computer Theano

      TigoCTM CEO Cindy Zimmerman says “we are excited to begin manufacturing our secure, private and open source desktops at our factory in the Panama Pacifico special economic zone. This is the first step towards a full line of secure, blockchain-powered hardware including desktops, servers, laptops, tablets, teller machines, and smartphones.”

      [...]

      Every component of each TigoCTM device is exhaustively researched and selected for its security profile based especially on open source hardware, firmware, and software. In addition, devices will run the GuldOS operating system, and open source applications like the Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dash blockchains. This fully auditable stack is ideal for use in enterprise signing environments such as banks and investment funds.

  • Server
    • Enterprises identify 10 essential tools for DevOps [Ed: "Source code repository" and other old things co-opted to promote the stupid buzzword "devops"]

      Products branded with DevOps are everywhere, and the list of options grows every day, but the best DevOps tools are already well-known among enterprise IT pros.

    • The 4 Major Tenets of Kubernetes Security

      We look at security from the perspective of containers, Kubernetes deployment itself and network security. Such a holistic approach is needed to ensure that containers are deployed securely and that the attack surface is minimized. The best practices that arise from each of the above tenets apply to any Kubernetes deployment, whether you’re self-hosting a cluster or employing a managed service.

      We should note that there are related security controls outside of Kubernetes, such as the Secure Software Development Life Cycle (S-SDLC) or security monitoring, that can help reduce the likelihood of attacks and increase the defense posture. We strongly urge you to consider security across the entire application lifecycle rather than take a narrow focus on the deployment of containers with Kubernetes. However, for the sake of brevity, in this series, we will only cover security controls within the immediate Kubernetes environment.

    • GPUs on Google’s Kubernetes Engine are now available in open beta

      The Google Kubernetes Engine (previously known as the Google Container Engine and GKE) now allows all developers to attach Nvidia GPUs to their containers.

      GPUs on GKE (an acronym Google used to be quite fond of, but seems to be deemphasizing now) have been available in closed alpha for more than half a year. Now, however, this service is in beta and open to all developers who want to run machine learning applications or other workloads that could benefit from a GPU. As Google notes, the service offers access to both the Tesla P100 and K80 GPUs that are currently available on the Google Cloud Platform.

  • Kernel Space
    • The knitting printer and more art with open source

      For several years, linux.conf.au, a week-long conference (held this year from January 22-26), has held “miniconfs” offering space for tech community niche groups to share their inventions and ideas. In 2018, 12 miniconfs were held on the first two days of the conference, and the Art + Tech miniconf took the concept to the next level with an entire day of 11 talks about making art with tech, as well as an art exhibition head during the conference. This miniconf was organized by blue ribbon award-winning knitter Kris Howard.

      Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article contain mature content. As Kathy Reid, Linux Australia president, said: “Significant art is often contentious, because it challenges who we are and the notions we hold of ourselves. Our job here is to allow that art to be shown, while creating a safe environment for those who do—and do not—wish to view it.”

    • Linux Weather Forecast

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

    • diff -u: Automated Bug Reporting

      A variety of automated bug-hunters are roaming around reporting bugs. One of them is Syzbot, an open-source tool specifically designed to find bugs in Linux and report them. Dmitry Vyukov recently sent in a hand-crafted email asking for help from the community to make Syzbot even more effective.

      The main problems were how to track bugs after Syzbot had reported them and how to tell when a patch went into the kernel to address a given bug.

      It turned out that Andrey Ryabinin and Linus Torvalds got together to collaborate on an easy solution for Dmitry’s problem: Syzbot should include a unique identifier in its own email address. The idea is that anything after a “+” in an email address is completely ignored. So zbrown@gmail.com is exactly the same as zbrown+stoptrump@gmail.com. Andrey and Linus suggested that Syzbot use this technique to include a hash value associated with each bug report. Then, Linux developers would include that email address in the “Reported-By” portion of their patch submissions as part of the normal developer process.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Xen Project Contributor Spotlight: Kevin Tian

        The Xen Project is comprised of a diverse set of member companies and contributors that are committed to the growth and success of the Xen Project Hypervisor. The Xen Project Hypervisor is a staple technology for server and cloud vendors, and is gaining traction in the embedded, security and automotive space. This blog series highlights the companies contributing to the changes and growth being made to the Xen Project and how the Xen Project technology bolsters their business.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mir 0.30 Released With Improved Wayland Support

        Canonical’s Mir team has released Mir v0.30 as the latest version of this display server that for the past year has been retooling itself with Wayland protocol support.

        With today’s Mir 0.30 release, they have continued on their Wayland conquest and are offering better support for Wayland protocols. Some of the Wayland changes in Mir 0.30 include a client connection change to allow Wayland clients to work on Unity 8, a keyboard state change to fix switching between clients, multiple crash fixes, and experimental support for the XDG-Shell v6 protocol.

      • NVIDIA Preparing Upstream Linux Kernel Support For The Tegra Xavier SoC

        NVIDIA has begun work on sending out patches for upstreaming Tegra194 “Xavier” SoC support within the Linux kernel.

        Xavier is NVIDIA’s successor to the Tegra P1 and will begin sampling this quarter. Xavier makes use of a custom ARMv8 eight-core CPU, Volta-based graphics with 512 CUDA cores, integration of the DLA tensor processing unit, and is manufactured on a 12nm FinFET process. Xavier should be a mighty powerful SoC for their self-driving car systems and other “edge computing” use-cases.

      • AMD May Have Accidentally Outed Vulkan 1.1

        AMD on Wednesday released the Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition 18.Q1 for Linux driver. It really isn’t noticeable for its official changes, but does claim to advertise Vulkan 1.1 support.

      • mesa 17.3.4

        Mesa 17.3.4 is now available.

      • Mesa 17.3.4 Released With 90+ Changes

        While Mesa 18.0 should be released in the days ahead as the latest feature release to Mesa 3D, backporting of fixes/improvements to Mesa 17.3 isn’t letting up. For those using this stable series from last quarter, Mesa 17.3.4 is out today with nearly 100 changes.

      • Khronos Adds Draco Geometry Compression To glTF 2.0

        Khronos’ glTF transmission format for 3D scenes and models continues getting better. This 3D format has seen adoption by countless applications and engines and even usage within Microsoft products. Khronos’ latest advancement to glTF 2.0 is a compression extension.

      • Intel Open-Sources LLVM Graphics Compiler, Compute Runtime With OpenCL 2.1+

        Now it’s clear why Intel hasn’t been working on the Beignet code-base in months as they have been quietly working on a new and better OpenCL stack and run-time! On open-source Intel OpenCL you can now have OpenCL 2.1 while OpenCL 2.2 support is on the way.

        Intel by way of their Open-Source Technology Center quietly open-sourced a new compute runtime as well as an LLVM-based graphics compiler. Thanks to a sharp-eyed Phoronix reader for spotting and pointing out to us this new Intel OpenCL stack that hasn’t really received any attention at all yet.

      • DRI3 v1.1 Updated by Collabora For Modifiers & Multi-Plane Support

        As a sign that DRI3 v1.1 is hopefully ready to go, Louis-Francis Ratté-Boulianne of Collabora on Friday sent out his latest set of patches adding modifiers and multi-plane support to the Direct Rendering Infrastructure.

        DRI3 v1.1 has been a long, ongoing project for this first major addition to the DRI3 infrastructure. Namely there is support for explicit format modifiers and pixmaps backed by multi-planar buffers. Collabora has also already been working on some experimental DRI3 v1.2 patches for DMA fences, which originally was part of the v1.1 patches, but then pushed back to their own series.

      • Initial Intel Icelake Support Lands In Mesa OpenGL Driver, Vulkan Support Started

        A few days back I reported on Intel Icelake patches for the i965 Mesa driver in bringing up the OpenGL support now that several kernel patch series have been published for enabling these “Gen 11″ graphics within the Direct Rendering Manager driver. This Icelake support has been quick to materialize even with Cannonlake hardware not yet being available.

      • LunarG’s Vulkan Layer Factory Aims To Make Writing Vulkan Layers Easier

        Introduced as part of LunarG’s recent Vulkan SDK update is the VLF, the Vulkan Layer Factory.

        The Vulkan Layer Factory aims to creating Vulkan layers easier by taking care of a lot of the boilerplate code for dealing with the initialization, etc. This framework also provides for “interceptor objects” for overriding functions pre/post API calls for Vulkan entry points of interest.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Raven Ridge Graphics On Linux vs. Lower-End NVIDIA / AMD GPUs

        This week we have delivered the first Linux benchmarks of the OpenGL/Vulkan graphics capabilities of AMD’s new Raven Ridge desktop APUs with the Vega 8 on the Ryzen 3 2200G an the Vega 11 on Ryzen 5 2400G. Those tests have included comparisons to the integrated graphics capabilities of Intel processors as well as older AMD Kaveri APUs. For those interested in seeing how the Raven Ridge Vega graphics compare to lower-end Radeon and GeForce discrete graphics cards, here are those first Linux benchmarks.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma and Solus 4 Updates | The Roundup #4

        Welcome to The Roundup #4, your bytes of Solus news. In this roundup, we’re talking updates to Kernels, Plasma, various items for Solus 4, and more!

      • Solus 4 To Offer Experimental GNOME Wayland Session, MATE UI Refresh

        The Solus Linux distribution has offered up some new details this week on their upcoming Solus 4 release.

        First up, their integration of Snap package management (snapd) has been deferred so it’s no longer a release blocker. They will land the Snap support though still in the future when it’s ready.

      • KDE Amarok Music Player Receives Revived Port To Qt5 / KF5

        While Amarok was once KDE’s dominant music player, it hasn’t seen a new release now in about five years and has yet to see a release based on Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5. But there’s hope that might still happen.

        In the absence of a modern Amarok release there have been plenty of other KDE media players coming about like Elisa and Babe, but coming out today is an updated patch for bringing Amarok to a Qt5/KF5 world.

      • Plasma – The road to perfection is paved with bugs

        There you go. Now, before you say “But Windows or Gnome also …” Wait. Stop. The purpose of this list is not to seek solace in failures or incomplete/imperfect implementations of desktop environment solutions that may exist out there. The purpose is to express my view, as an individual user, of the big and little things that do not seem to work well in Plasma. After all, the desktop is there to allow people to enjoy themselves, to have fun, to be productive, and whatnot. And every little papercut or inconsistency is detrimental to the experience.

        It would be a nice exercise to actually do the same thing with … other desktop environments. I believe that Plasma probably has the fewest issues, as odd as it may sound after you’ve just consumed this long j’accuse list. But it is still not perfect, it’s still not good enough to everyday use, and there are many things that need to be improved. Then again, no one said creating a splendid desktop environment was going to be easy or boring, right. Take care, and perhaps in your comments, you will come up with a few more niggles that I missed. Let’s hear your thoughts. Spill them out.

      • Plasma 5 perfection: call for development

        Igor Ljubuncic of Dedoimedo is at it again, and has just published a list of high-profile KDE Plasma bugs and papercuts. As a Plasma fan, his intention is to call attention rather than criticize, and I’ve put together a response for every issue he raised. For the full list, scroll down.

      • SFXR Qt noise buffer

        I was working on adding sounds to Pixel Wheels rescue helicopter, so I started SFXR Qt and after a few experiments I came up with a decent sound. Unfortunately it did not sound that good in the game. It was much more dull than in the app. Listening again to the sound in SFXR Qt I realized there were subtle variations between each plays, which made the sound more interesting.

      • Qt in Visual Studio: Improving Performance

        In the last post, we discussed a new approach to design time and build time integration of external tools in Visual Studio using MSBuild rules and targets. This will be included in the upcoming release of version 2.2 of the Qt VS Tools. In this post, we will discuss the performance improvements that are also included in this new version.

      • Cutelyst on TechEmpower benchmarks round 15

        Since this round took a long time and was scheduled to be release many times last year I decided not to update Cutelyst to avoid not having the chance to fix any issues and have broken results. Cutelyst 1.9.0 and Qt 5.9 were used, both had some performance improvements compared to round 14, and thus you can see better results on this round compared to 14, most notably the JSON tests went from 480K request/second to 611K req/s, also due this old Cutelyst release jemalloc was again not used due a bug we had in CMake files that didn’t link against it.

      • Usability & Productivity highlight: Spectacle

        Over the past few weeks, we’ve done a lot of Usability & Productivity work for Spectacle, KDE’s screenshot tool. I’d like to share the progress! But first, a screenshot. Here’s how spectacle looks now:

      • This week in Discover (and Kirigami!), part 6

        This is going to be a double-header: today we’re discussing Discover as well as Kirigami–KDE’s UI framework that facilitates writing convergent apps that look and feel good on both the desktop and a mobile device.

        …At least that’s the idea. The truth is, KDE users have voiced a lot of criticism for how well this works out in practice. An especially common complaint is that the desktop user experience gets short shrift, and Kirigami apps feel like big phone apps.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Weekend Website Experiment

        As you may know if you read this blog via Planet GNOME, the GNOME project is busy switching to GitLab for its code hosting and bug tracking. I like GitLab! It’s a large step up from Bugzilla, which was what GNOME used for the last 20 years. Compared to GitHub, GitLab is about equal, with a few nicer things and a few less nice things.

        The one thing that I miss from Bugzilla is a dashboard showing the overall status of the bugs for your project. I thought it would not be too hard to use the GitLab API to do some simple queries and plop them on a web page. So, last weekend I gave it a try. The final result is here. Click the button to log into GitLab, and you’ll be redirected back to the page where you’ll get the results of the queries.

      • LVFS will block old versions of fwupd for some firmware

        Although fwupd 0.8.0 was released over a year ago it seems people are still downloading firmware with older fwupd versions. 98% of the downloads from the LVFS are initiated from gnome-software, and 2% of people using the fwupdmgr command line or downloading the .cab file from the LVFS using a browser manually.

      • SRT in GStreamer

        Transmitting low delay, high quality video over the Internet is hard. The trade-off is normally between video quality and transmission delay (or latency). Internet video has up to now been segregated into two segments: video streaming and video calls. On the first side, streaming video has taken over the world of the video distribution using segmented streaming technologies such as HLS and DASH, allowing services like Netflix to flourish. On the second side, you have VoIP systems, which are generally targeted a relatively low bitrate using low latency technologies such as RTP and WebRTC, and they don’t result in a broadcast grade result. SRT bridges that gap by allowing the transfer of broadcast grade video at low latencies.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • MX Linux Review of MX-17 – For The Record

        MX Linux Review of MX-17. MX-17 is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. It’s XFCE based, lightning fast, comes with both 32 and 64-bit CPU support…and the tools. Oh man, the tools available in this distro are both reminders of Mepis past and current tech found in modern distros.

    • New Releases
      • Q4OS Makes Linux Easy for Everyone

        Modern Linux distributions tend to target a variety of users. Some claim to offer a flavor of the open source platform that anyone can use. And, I’ve seen some such claims succeed with aplomb, while others fall flat. Q4OS is one of those odd distributions that doesn’t bother to make such a claim but pulls off the feat anyway.

        So, who is the primary market for Q4OS? According to its website, the distribution is a:

        “fast and powerful operating system based on the latest technologies while offering highly productive desktop environment. We focus on security, reliability, long-term stability and conservative integration of verified new features. System is distinguished by speed and very low hardware requirements, runs great on brand new machines as well as legacy computers. It is also very applicable for virtualization and cloud computing.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu wants to slurp PCs’ vital statistics – even location – with new desktop installs

            “We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,” explained Will Cooke, the director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

            To gather that information Cooke proposed adding a checkbox to the Ubuntu installer that says something like “Send diagnostics information to help improve Ubuntu”. “This would be checked by default” Cooke wrote.

          • Ubuntu Gets in the User Data Collection Business

            Canonical announced plans to roll out a user data and diagnostics collection system with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). This new system will collect data on the user’s OS details, hardware setup, apps and OS settings.

            “We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,” said Will Cooke, Director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

          • Ubuntu Adds New “Minimal Installation” Option For Fewer Preinstalled Packages

            The development of the next Ubuntu LTS release, i.e., Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver, is going on in full swing. The desktop development team has decided to add a new option in the installation process that allows you to perform a lean installation of Ubuntu.

          • Unity 7.4.5 Released for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            The Unity 7.4.5 update isn’t big on new features but it is big on bug fixes and general all-round improvements.

          • Snapcraft through the eyes of it’s biggest community contributor

            If you’ve spent any time in the Snapcraft forum, it’s quite likely you’ve come across Dan Llewellyn – a keen community advocate or self-proclaimed Snapcrafter. Dan has always had a passion for computing and is completely self-taught. Outside of the community, Dan is a freelance WordPress developer. After getting into the open source world around 1998, he has switched between various Linux distros including Suse, RedHat, Gentoo before settling on Ubuntu from the 5.04 release onwards. A longtime participant in the UK Ubuntu chatroom – where he met Canonical’s Alan Pope – Dan admits he was never that active before Snapcraft came along.

            It was spending time in the UK chatroom around 2016 that he discovered snaps which piqued his interest. “I saw the movement of changing Clicks to snaps and thought it was an interesting idea. It’s more widely focused than a mobile app delivery system and I’ve always liked things that also worked on the server, IoT and elsewhere” Dan comments. With a previous desire to get into mobile app development and seeing the move away from Ubuntu Touch, Dan was eager to see Snapcraft succeed and felt like it was something he could contribute to.

          • Canonical wants Ubuntu to collect your personal data

            This has gone down like a bucket of cold sick with Linux users. After all, this is the sort of thing that Microsoft does and is precisely the sort of thing that they hate about Windows 10.

          • 10 Amazing Years of Ubuntu and Canonical

            10 years ago today, I joined Canonical, on the very earliest version of the Ubuntu Server Team!

            And in the decade since, I’ve had the tremendous privilege to work with so many amazing people, and the opportunity to contribute so much open source software to the Ubuntu ecosystem.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 5 Open Source Technology Trends for 2018

    Technology is evolving faster than the speed of light. Well, not quite, but you get the picture. Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, OpenStack, progressive web apps – they are all set to make an impact this year. You might be accustomed to navigating your forex trading platform or building a website in WordPress, but how familiar are you with the following?

  • Logstash 6.2.0 Release Improves Open Source Data Processing Pipeline

    The “L” in the ELK stack gets updated with new features including advanced security capabilities.

    Many modern enterprises have adopted the ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) stack to collect, process, search and visualize data.

    At the core of the ELK stack is the open-source Logstash project which defines itself as a server-side data processing pipeline – basically it helps to collect logs and then send them to a users’ “stash” for searching, which in many cases is Elasticsearch.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
      • The False Teeth of Chrome’s Ad Filter.

        Today Google launched a new version of its Chrome browser with what they call an “ad filter”—which means that it sometimes blocks ads but is not an “ad blocker.” EFF welcomes the elimination of the worst ad formats. But Google’s approach here is a band-aid response to the crisis of trust in advertising that leaves massive user privacy issues unaddressed.

        Last year, a new industry organization, the Coalition for Better Ads, published user research investigating ad formats responsible for “bad ad experiences.” The Coalition examined 55 ad formats, of which 12 were deemed unacceptable. These included various full page takeovers (prestitial, postitial, rollover), autoplay videos with sound, pop-ups of all types, and ad density of more than 35% on mobile. Google is supposed to check sites for the forbidden formats and give offenders 30 days to reform or have all their ads blocked in Chrome. Censured sites can purge the offending ads and request reexamination.

        [...]

        Some commentators have interpreted ad blocking as the “biggest boycott in history” against the abusive and intrusive nature of online advertising. Now the Coalition aims to slow the adoption of blockers by enacting minimal reforms. Pagefair, an adtech company that monitors adblocker use, estimates 600 million active users of blockers. Some see no ads at all, but most users of the two largest blockers, AdBlock and Adblock Plus, see ads “whitelisted” under the Acceptable Ads program. These companies leverage their position as gatekeepers to the user’s eyeballs, obliging Google to buy back access to the “blocked” part of their user base through payments under Acceptable Ads. This is expensive (a German newspaper claims a figure as high as 25 million euros) and is viewed with disapproval by many advertisers and publishers.

    • Mozilla
      • Going Home
      • David Humphrey: Edge Cases
      • Experiments in productivity: the shared bug queue

        Over the next six months, Mozilla is planning to switch code review tools from mozreview/splinter to phabricator. Phabricator has more modern built-in tools like Herald that would have made setting up this shared queue a little easier, and that’s why I paused…briefly

      • Improving the web with small, composable tools

        Firefox Screenshots is the first Test Pilot experiment to graduate into Firefox, and it’s been surprisingly successful. You won’t see many people talking about it: it does what you expect, and it doesn’t cover new ground. Mozilla should do more of this.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0.1 Available To Install In Ubuntu/Linux Mint

      LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer: the word processor, Calc: the spreadsheet application, Impress: the presentation engine, Draw: our drawing and flowcharting application, Base: our database and database frontend, and Math: for editing mathematics.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 scored close to 1 million downloads in just 14 days

      The LibreOffice 6.0 release at the end of January was met by enthusiasm from tech bloggers and open-source enthusiasts alike.

      And that enthusiasm translated into some very healthy download numbers.

    • HiFive, LibreOffice, Meltdown and Spectre and more

      We would like to congratulate the hard working folks behind the LibreOffice 6.0 application suite. Officially released on January 31, the site has counted almost 1 million downloads. An amazing accomplishment.

  • CMS
    • Alfresco Software acquired by Private Equity Firm

      Enterprise apps company taken private in a deal that won’t see a change in corporate direction.

      Alfresco has been developing its suite of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) technology since the company was founded back in June of 2005.

      On Feb. 8, Alfresco announced that it was being acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL). Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • Defense Department (Re)Launches Open Source Software Portal

      The Defense Department launched the Code.mil website on Tuesday, a new, streamlined portal for its similarly named Code.mil initiative, a collaborative approach to meeting the government’s open source policy.

      The new website was designed to give a more straightforward user experience. The site features a suite of new tools, including checklists that links to offer guidance, and represents “an evolution of the Code.mil project,” according to Ari Chivukula, policy wrangler for the Defense Digital Service.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • How to make sense of the Apache 2 patent license

      In essence, when a software developer contributes code to a project (i.e., the Work under the license), he or she becomes a Contributor. Under the above term, Contributors are granting permission to use any of their patents that may read on their contribution. This provides peace of mind to users since the Contributor would likely be prevented from pursuing patent royalties from any users of the software covering that contribution to the project.

      Complexities arise when the software developer contributes code that is not claimed by any of the Contributor’s patents by itself, but only when combined with the Apache 2.0 licensed open source program to which the contribution was made (i.e., the Work under the license). Thus, the Contributor owning such a patent could pursue patent royalties against a user of that revised Work. The authors of the Apache 2.0 license were forward thinking and account for this scenario. Section 3 states that the license applies to “patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed… by a combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contributions was submitted.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Go 1.10 is released

      Happy Friday, happy weekend! Today the Go team is happy to announce the release of Go 1.10. You can get it from the download page.

      See the Go 1.10 release notes for all the details.

    • Golang 1.10 Offers Many Smaller Changes, Restores NetBSD Support

      Not only is there a new Rust release this week but the Google developers have put out the Go 1.10 update.

      Go 1.10 ships with many minor feature additions and improvements with no big overhauls. Among the changes with Go 1.10 are automatic caching of build and test results, many other go tooling improvements, minor enhancements to the Gofmt formatting utility, and compiler toolchain updates.

    • PHP version 7.1.15RC1 and 7.2.3RC1
  • Standards/Consortia
    • Waddawewant? Free video codecs! When do we… oh, look, the last MPEG-2 patent expired!

      It’s almost of historical interest only, but everywhere except the Philippines and Malaysia, the last MPEG-2 video encoder/decoder patents have expired.

      As *nixcraft noted, what it means is that there will never again be the risk of an MPEG-2 decoder being bombed in the libre operating system world.

      The company that had the patents wrapped up for licensing, MPEG LA, told the world the last US patent expired on 13 February here .

    • Race on to bring AV1 open source codec to market, as code freezes

      The long-heralded open source AV1 codec is now set for development of commercial product, with the code complete and ready to be frozen over the next few weeks. This has been confirmed by contributors to the standard such as Austrian transcoding software developer Bitmovin, which hopes to be among the first to bring out a product. That will happen once members of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) that developed the codec sign off its performance.

Leftovers
  • How A Single Character “Text Bomb” Can Crash Your iPhone And Mac

    The most recent bug in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra allows one to send a specific character to crash the devices. Spotted by Italian publication Mobile World, this bug can crash iPhones and block your access to popular applications like WhatsApp, Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, etc.

  • Kudos To The Crock-Pot People For Handling The Online Fallout From ‘This Is Us’ So Well

    Corporate Twitter accounts typically range from the blandly uninspired to exhibiting unfortunate behavior. While you can occasionally get some good content out of these handles, they are far too often just…meh.

    And, yet, let’s see how the Crock-Pot brand of slow-cookers responded to a genuine freak-out on the internet that occurred after a recent episode of This Is Us. For those of you who watch the show, here’s your insipid little spoiler alert. A main character on the show died in a recent episode when a slow cooker malfunctioned and burned the house down. Cool. Well, apparently that’s when many viewers took to Twitter to announce that they were going to get these death machines out of their houses ASAP, with many mentioning Crock-Pots by name, even though there was no branding on the murderous slow-cooker in the show.

  • Apple’s Excellence in Design Leads to Employees Smacking Into Glass Walls

    And according to a new report from Bloomberg, the glass is so flawless and unobtrusive that employees keep walking into it.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Gilead Wins Sovaldi Domain Dispute Over Buyers’ Club Generic Sellers

      Pharmaceutical company Gilead has made headlines in recent years for offering an effective hepatitis C drug that has helped many patients. And for the fact that it came with an eye-popping price tag. Perhaps in a sign of the times, Gilead this month won an open-and-shut case against a squatter on the domain name “sovaldi.eu,” that was offering lower-priced generic versions of Sovaldi, including through links to “buyers’ clubs” organised to obtain medicines more affordably. The website was called, “SOVALDI. The life-saving cure for Hepatitis C which nobody can afford.” Was it a little act of rebellion, or just another internet opportunist?

    • WHO Finalises High-Profile Commission On Non-Communicable Diseases

      The World Health Organization today announced a new high-level commission of heads of state, ministers and other leaders in health and development to come up with “bold and innovative solutions” against non-communicable diseases such as heart and respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes. The chairs of the commission include the presidents of Uruguay, Sri Lanka, and Finland, the Russian health minister, and a former minister of Pakistan who was a candidate for director general of the WHO. They are joined by nearly two dozen others, including corporate public figures Michael Bloomberg and Jack Ma.

    • We’re Challenging Ohio Lawmakers’ Thinly Veiled Attempt to Push Abortion Out of Reach

      The Ohio law pretends to protect people with disabilities, but it’s really an attack on a woman’s reproductive rights.

      Ohio politicians have launched yet another attack on women’s health and reproductive rights, and to make matters worse, they are mounting their attack in the guise of a concern for individuals with disabilities.

      Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Preterm Cleveland and a number of other abortion care providers to challenge an unconstitutional abortion ban. The law, signed by Gov. John Kasich, would prevent a woman from ending a pregnancy because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. It does so by criminalizing any doctor who knowingly performs an abortion sought on that basis. The law, unless it is stopped by a court, would go into effect next month.

    • Indian Pharma Industry Disputes US Industry IP Index

      The United States Chamber of Commerce industry group recently issued its annual global IP index, analysing intellectual property protection in 50 countries, as a prelude to the annual US government list of countries seen as not adequately protection US companies’ IP rights. Now an Indian industry group has issued a counter-statement to the Chamber index, calling it a “tirade” and “self-serving”.

  • Security
    • Cryptocurrency Mining Company Coinhive Shocked To Learn Its Product Is Being Abused

      So if you haven’t noticed, the entire cryptocurrency mining thing has become a bit of an absurd stage play over the last few months. From gamers being unable to buy graphics cards thanks to miners hoping to cash in on soaring valuations, to hackers using malware to covertly infect websites with cryptocurrency miners that use visitors’ CPU cycles without their knowledge or consent. As an additional layer of intrigue, some websites have also begun using such miners as an alternative to traditional advertising, though several have already done so without apparently deeming it necessary to inform visitors.

      At the heart of a lot of this drama is crypotcurreny mining software company Coinhive, whose software is popping up in both malware-based and above board efforts to cash in on the cryptocurrency mining craze. Coinhive specifically focuses on using site visitor CPU cycles to help mine Monero. The company’s website insists that their product can help websites craft “an ad-free experience, in-game currency or whatever incentives you can come up with.” The company says its project has already resulted in the mining of several million dollars worth of Monero (depending on what Monero’s worth any given day).

    • Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

      The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled out to current HPC platforms, it might be helpful to explore how future HPC systems could be better insulated from CPU or operating system security flaws that could cause massive disruptions. Surprisingly, most of the core concepts to build supercomputers that are resistant to a wide range of threats have already been invented and deployed in HPC systems over the past 20 years. Combining these technologies, concepts, and approaches not only would improve cybersecurity but also would have broader benefits for improving HPC performance, developing scientific software, adopting advanced hardware such as neuromorphic chips, and building easy-to-deploy data and analysis services. This new form of “Fluid HPC” would do more than solve current vulnerabilities. As an enabling technology, Fluid HPC would be transformative, dramatically improving extreme-scale code development in the same way that virtual machine and container technologies made cloud computing possible and built a new industry.

    • Raw sockets backdoor gives attackers complete control of some Linux servers [Ed: Here goes Dan Goodin again (sued for sensationalism), using the term "back door" in relation to Linux when actually referring to already-infected (compromised) machines]

      Once installed, Chaos allows malware operators anywhere in the world to gain complete control over the server via a reverse shell.

    • Meltdown-Spectre flaws: We’ve found new attack variants, say researchers

      Researchers have developed a tool to uncover new ways of attacking the Meltdown and Spectre CPU side-channel flaws, which may force chipmakers like Intel to re-examine already difficult hardware mitigations.

      The tool allowed the researchers to synthesize a software-attack based on a description of a CPU’s microarchitecture and an execution pattern that could be attacked.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • How ZeroFox Protects Enterprise Social Media From Cyber-Attackers

      Social media is widely used by individuals and enterprises today and is often also unfortunately widely used by cyber-attackers. How can organizations protect their social media assets? That’s a challenge that multiple vendors are now tackling, including ZeroFox.

    • Container security fundamentals: 5 things to know
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Christine Hong on North Korean Peace Threat, Lee Fang on Opioid Lobby

      This week on CounterSpin: What do you do with a press corps that pauses from raising alarms about North Korea’s warmongering to raise alarms about North Korea’s peacemongering? Signs of rapprochement between North and South Korea at the Pyongyang Olympics have led to media accounts warning Americans not to fall for peace-offensive “propaganda.” But: we are in favor of lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula, right? Right? We’ll talk about the prospects for war, and for peace, with North Korea with Christine Hong, associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

    • Russians Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy

      New U.S. policy on nuclear retaliatory strikes for cyber-attacks is raising concerns, with Russia claiming that it’s already been blamed for a false-flag cyber-attack – namely the election hacking allegations of 2016, explain Ray McGovern and William Binney.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Borneo orangutans dying off as forests are lost: study

      The population of orangutans in Borneo has plummeted by more than half since 1999 — nearly 150,000 of the apes — largely due to chopping down forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining, researchers said Thursday.

      Illegal hunting of the critically endangered apes is also a leading factor in their disappearance, said the study published in the journal Current Biology.

  • Finance
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Congressman Calls For Investigation Of Conservative Think Tank

      U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether a series of financial deals improperly benefited the leaders of the Illinois Policy Institute — the latest call for authorities to examine the influential conservative think tank.

      In an open letter to the head of the IRS, Lipinski — a Democrat who represents parts of Chicago and the western suburbs — wrote that institute chairman and CEO John Tillman may have violated federal tax laws by channeling money from his nonprofits to for-profit companies Tillman owned or co-owned.

    • NYT’s ‘Really Weird’ Russiagate Story

      That’s the takeaway from a strange front-page article that ran in last weekend’s New York Times, “U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Trump Secrets.” That’s not all the article said, but the rest was so convoluted and implausible that it can be safely discounted.

      Even Matthew Rosenberg, the Times reporter who wrote the story, described it as “a really weird one” in an interview with Slate. More than merely weird, however, the piece offers valuable insight into the parallel universe that is Russiagate, one in which logic is absent, neo-McCarthyism is rampant, and evidence means whatever the corporate press wants it to mean.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Is centralised education a stealthy censorship tool?

      In centralised education systems around the world, students are examined on fact memorisation and regurgitation in exams. Textbooks provide a one-way ticket to exam success, but critical thinking and creativity are left firmly at the station.

      First, in extreme cases, textbooks are criticised for omitting topics to propagate political or religious ideologies, as was the case in Turkey last year. Even in more liberal education systems, such as the United Kingdom, textbooks are written by an elite group who do not represent the experiences of the majority. At the very least, this will produce students with little to contribute to society.

    • Foreign Film Friday: The ‘Padmaavat’ Controversy Represents a Larger Censorship Pattern in Bollywood

      Padmaavat (2018), the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed Bollywood epic, has recently been at the heart of an enormous controversy. Based on the story of the Rajput queen Padmaavati, the film attracted the attention of several right-wing extremist groups…

    • Brown Stares Down the Censors

      Before conservative Guy Benson spoke at Brown University Tuesday night, there were the usual hallmarks of a free-speech fiasco. Posters advertising the event were defaced, and students signed a public statement asserting that they wouldn’t tolerate a speech that was “explicitly dangerous to the well-being and continued thriving of people of color and other marginalized people.”

    • Brown students thought censoring Guy Benson would protect free speech

      Conservative commentator Guy Benson faced backlash ahead of his speech at Brown University this week, puzzling observers who wondered how someone as reasonable as Benson could possibly be deemed a threat worthy of censorship.

      The backlash ultimately fizzled, amounting to just a small walkout protest that Benson didn’t even notice during his remarks.

    • Censorship Act review a priority

      One of the key priorities for the National Censorship Office this year is to ensure the review of the Classification of Publication Act 1989 is completed.

      While most of the work on the Review has been furnished, the Act needs final touches in terms of specifying the legal implementation role.

      Deputy Chief Censor, Jim Abani, says the Act is out dated in the sense that it is not up to date with the current trend.

    • Russia Threatens to Block YouTube and Instagram, After Complaints From an Oligarch

      Russia has threatened to block YouTube and Instagram if they do not take down videos and photos relating to Oleg V. Deripaska, an oligarch who was once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

      A billionaire aluminum and mining magnate, Mr. Deripaska was the subject of an investigation published last Thursday on YouTube by the anticorruption activist and opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny.

    • Russia blocks Navalny’s website, after his inquiry into an oligarch

      The Russian authorities blocked the website of a prominent opposition leader Thursday after he refused a court order to remove a posted video accusing a high-ranking official of accepting a bribe from a rich businessman.

      The order against the opposition leader, Alexei A. Navalny, extended to US service providers Instagram and YouTube, with Instagram coming under criticism from Navalny after the posted video was deleted from its accounts.

    • Instagram criticised as it gives in to Russian censorship demands

      Instagram has been criticised by a Russian opposition leader for giving in to pressure to block posts relating to corruption claims in the country.

    • Alexei Navalny attacks Instagram for complying with Russian censors
    • Instagram yields to Russian censorship demands
    • ‘Reclassification of ‘Inxeba’ an act of homophobic censorship’
    • Inxeba reclassification angers Right2Know
    • Analysis: The Wounded push back against the movie Inxeba
    • Students, free speech advocates outraged over WCSD policy that would censor yearbooks

      A proposed Washoe County School District regulation that would censor what students can publish in yearbooks likely violates a recently passed Nevada law that protects students’ First Amendment rights, says Washoe County student journalists and student free speech experts.

      The new regulation, which is wrapped in a larger policy regarding club sports in the district, would bar student-run yearbooks from publishing the photos of club athletes — students who might be involved in a high school lacrosse team that isn’t sanctioned by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, for example.

      [...]

      Ranson advocated for the passage of a law last legislative session, commonly referred to as the New Voices legislation, that explicitly prohibits school district “restrictions on the publication of any content in a pupil publication.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Samsung patents a new way for smartwatches to measure blood pressure

      Once upon a time, we were fascinated by the fact that our new smartwatch could measure our heart rate. Over time more and more tech devices have this capability and the novelty is wearing off. Now, Samsung has filed a patent for a watch that can actually measure your blood pressure!

    • The FBI, CIA and NSA say American citizens shouldn’t use these phones
    • FBI, CIA, NSA bosses warn: don’t use Huawei, ZTE smartphones
    • Here’s The Chinese Phone The FBI, CIA, and NSA Don’t Want You to Use
    • EFF and MuckRock Are Filing a Thousand Public Records Requests About ALPR Data Sharing

      EFF and MuckRock have a launched a new public records campaign to reveal how much data law enforcement agencies have collected using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) and are sharing with each other.

      Over the next few weeks, the two organizations are filing approximately 1,000 public records requests with agencies that have deals with Vigilant Solutions, one of the nation’s largest vendors of ALPR surveillance technology and software services. We’re seeking documentation showing who’s sharing ALPR data with whom. We are also requesting information on how many plates each agency scanned in 2016 and 2017 and how many of those plates were on predetermined “hot lists” of vehicles suspected of being connected to crimes.

      You can see the full list of agencies and track the progress of each request through the Street-Level Surveillance: ALPR Campaign page on MuckRock.

    • Mozilla’s Open Letter To Expert Committee Drafting India’s First Data Protection Law Slams Aadhaar Biometric Identity System

      Techdirt has been covering India’s monster biometric database, Aadhaar, since 2015. Media in India, naturally, have been on the story longer, and continue to provide detailed coverage of its roll-out and application. But wider knowledge of the trailblazing identity project remains limited. One international organization that has been working to raise awareness is Mozilla, home of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client.

      Last May, an opinion piece entitled “Aadhaar isn’t progress — it’s dystopian and dangerous”, by Mozilla Executive Chairwoman and Lizard Wrangler Mitchell Baker and Mozilla community member Ankit Gadgil, appeared in India’s Business Standard newspaper. In July 2017, Mozilla released a statement on the Indian Supreme Court hearings on Aadhaar. A blog post in November pointed out that the Aadhaar system is increasingly being used by private companies for their services, something Techdirt covered earlier. Similarly, after it was revealed that anybody’s Aadhaar details could be bought for around $8 each, Mozilla issued a statement saying “this latest, egregious breach should be a giant red flag to all companies as well as to the UIDAI [Unique Identification Authority of India] and the [Indian] Government.”

    • Customs and Border Protection’s Biometric Data Snooping Goes Too Far

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Privacy Office, and Office of Field Operations recently invited privacy stakeholders—including EFF and the ACLU of Northern California—to participate in a briefing and update on how the CBP is implementing its Biometric Entry/Exit Program.

      As we’ve written before, biometrics systems are designed to identify or verify the identity of people by using their intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics. Because biometric identifiers are by definition unique to an individual person, government collection and storage of this data poses unique threats to privacy and security of individual travelers.

    • The Revolution and Slack

      Two things that EFF tends to recommend for digital organizing are 1) using encryption as extensively as possible, and 2) self-hosting, so that a governmental authority has to get a warrant for your premises in order to access your information. The central thing to understand about Slack (and many other online services) is that it fulfills neither of these things. This means that if you use Slack as a central organizing tool, Slack stores and is able to read all of your communications, as well as identifying information for everyone in your workspace.

    • FBI Director Still Won’t Say Which Encryption Experts Are Advising Him On His Bizarre Approach To Encryption

      For the past few months, we’ve talked about how FBI Director Chris Wray has more or less picked up where his predecessor, James Comey, left off when it came to the question of encryption and backdoors. Using a contextless, meaningless count of encrypted seized phones, Wray insists that not being able to get into any phone the FBI wants to get into is an “urgent public safety issue.”

      Of course, as basically every security expert has noted, the reverse is true. Weakening encryption in the manner that Wray is suggesting would create a much, much, much bigger safety issue in making us all less safe. Hell, even the FBI used to recommend strong encryption as a method to protect public safety.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Poles abroad told to flag anti-Polish comments: report

      Poles living abroad have been instructed to report comments made by compatriots that could be “harmful” to Poland’s reputation, according to a report by German public broadcaster NDR.

      The report, released Wednesday night, cites a letter by Polish Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski, asking Poles to “document all anti-Polish comments, representations and opinions that could hurt [the country]” and report “any defamation” that could harm Poland’s reputation to embassies or consulates.

    • Take it from an exoneree, the Dallas County DA election is a big deal

      A county election might seem unimportant compared to the daily drama of national politics, but I know better than most the awesome power district attorneys wield. I also know how much damage they can do when they exercise that power corruptly or irresponsibly. Or when they measure their success not by their commitment to truth, justice and community, but by the number of convictions they secure.

      Because of one such district attorney, I spent 18-and-a-half years behind bars, with 16 of those years in solitary confinement and 12 on death row, all for a crime that I did not commit.

    • US ‘Stumbled Into Torture,’ Says NYT Reporter

      Two clauses stand out for their confident attribution of benevolent motives to US foreign policy. First, there’s the idea that “America stumbled into torture,” rather than planned, plotted and spent over 15 years carrying out a policy of torture. This pretends that the US’s massive global torture regime—which involved drownings, beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, among other techniques, along with “extraordinary rendition” to allied countries for less refined torture methods–was something other than a deliberate policy initiative.

      As FAIR (6/22/17) noted last year, corporate media routinely assert that the US “stumbles,” “slips” or is “dragged into” war and other forms of organized violence, rather than planning deliberate acts of aggression. For reporters in foreign policy circles, the US only does immoral things on accident—unlike Official Bad Countries, which do them for calculated gain when they aren’t motivated by sheer malice.

    • Appeals Court Declares Third Muslim Ban Unconstitutional

      Trump’s ban, says court, “strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on religious animosity.”

      Once again, an appeals court ruled that President Trump’s Muslim ban — now in its third iteration — violates the Constitution’s most basic guarantee of religious freedom.

      Earlier today, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated that the ban’s purpose has always been and remains to “exclude Muslims from the United States.” The ruling comes at a crucial time, because the Supreme Court will issue its own decision on the ban this summer.

      Today’s decision confirms what has been clear since Trump first took office. Throughout his presidential campaign, he consistently promised to block Muslim immigration and even announced a specific plan for achieving that goal: a nationality-based travel ban against people from predominantly Muslim countries. As promised, one week into his presidency, without consulting any federal agencies, he issued an unprecedented ban against people from seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries.

    • Top ICE Lawyer Accused Of Identity Fraud Against Detained Immigrants

      For many, many years we’ve questioned the bizarre lawless nature of ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — going back to the days when it was illegally seizing blogs, based on false claims of copyright infringement. We questioned what ICE had to do with censoring blogs in the first place. Of course, in the last year, ICE has been getting a lot more negative attention for something that is clearly under its purview: enforcement of immigration laws. Specifically, ICE has been almost gleefully demonstrating how they are thuggish bullies who are eager to deport as many people as possible. It’s disgusting and inhumane — and if you’re going to be one of those people who pop up in our comments to say something ignorant about how if someone is here illegally they have no rights and should be booted as quickly as possible, go somewhere else to spout your nonsense. Also, seriously: take stock of your own priorities and look deeply at why you are so focused on destroying the lives of people who are almost certainly less well off and less privileged than you are, and who are seeking a better way of life.

    • County Gov’t Tries To Dodge Liability In Jailhouse Deaths By Intimidating The Journalist Who Exposed Them

      To keep itself from being held liable for inmate deaths, San Diego County (CA) has decided to target the journalist who exposed them. Kelly Davis, along with the EFF’s Dave Maass, used public records requests and investigative journalism to detail 60 deaths in the county’s five jails, which occurred over the course of five years. The death rate in San Diego jails was consistently higher than those of comparably-sized systems. In fact, the death rate was higher than that of the 10 largest jail systems in the country. Documents showed almost a third of those were preventable.

      But when a lawsuit was filed by the wife of an inmate who died in a San Diego County jail, the county argued there was no negligence. The presiding judge disagreed, citing Davis and Maass’ journalism.

    • Where Does #MeToo Start?

      How sex stereotypes in schools perpetuate sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond.

      Reckoning with the prevalence of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the wake of #MeToo has prompted many to reexamine the conditions that have allowed harassment and violence to flourish. One place to start is our public schools, where young people develop critical understandings about gender starting at an early age.

      For over a decade, the ACLU has been raising alarms about teaching methods widely in use in public schools across the United States premised on the notion that there are fundamental, sex-based differences that determine how students learn and develop. Proponents of these methods frequently cast boys as active or dominant, and girls as passive or submissive — stereotypes that normalize the power dynamics that lead to abuse and harassment.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Boss Being Investigated By His Own Agency For Being Too Cozy With The Industry He Regulates

      If you watched FCC boss Ajit Pai’s rushed repeal of net neutrality there really shouldn’t be any question about where Pai’s loyalties lie, and it certainly isn’t with smaller companies, healthy competition, transparency, openness, innovation, or American consumers. The agency head repeatedly lied about the justifications for the repeal, casually using fabricated data to justify what may just be the least popular policy decision in this history of modern technology. Pai’s fealty to giant monopolies runs so deep, his agency now just directs reporters to lobbying talking points when they question the flimsy logic propping up the repeal.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Arrest of senior Indian patent office officials on bribery rap raises serious questions about system’s integrity

      The top official in the Indian Patent Office’s Chennai branch was detained along with one colleague earlier this month on charges of graft. While digital technologies and transparency initiatives have generally made India’s IP granting authorities more accountable in recent years, the arrests suggest that corruption has not been fully stamped out of the patent office.

      The main official implicated was S P Subramaniyan, a deputy controller of patents and designs in the patent office at Chennai. The corruption branch of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also booked T V Madhusudhan, another deputy controller, in connection with the case. Chennai is the site of the second largest patent office branch after Delhi by headcount: 115 examiners of patents and designs work there under 34 assistant controllers and seven deputy controllers. So the arrested pair are both quite senior. In addition, this page on the website of India’s Controller General of Patents Designs & Trademarks seems to indicate that Subramaniyan was the top man in Chennai.

    • Argentina’s rule changes for patents, trade marks and designs explained

      A decree has changed the rules for intellectual property in Argentina, quite drastically in some instances. Iris V Quadrio, Martín Bensadon and Iván A Poli analyse the most important modifications

    • Scholastic Wants To Help Young Creators Showcase Their Works By Stripping Them Of Their IP Rights

      Scholastic’s participation terms aren’t unusual. But that doesn’t make them right. There’s nothing about this sort of contest that demands full control of submitted works. A limited non-exclusive license would allow Scholastic to display creations and use them in promotional material without fear of a participant lawsuit. Or, for that matter, a Creatve Commons license could be applied with the terms set by particpants rather than Scholastic. But Scholastic obviously feels it’s the creators who should give up their rights. The whole thing is ridiculous — especially since it’s standard operating procedure for entities seeking submissions from creators. It only serves to show creators copyright is a handy tool for bigger, more powerful entities but of little use to the creators themselves.

    • Copyrights
      • Terrible Copyright Ruling Over An Embedded Tweet Undermines Key Concept Of How The Internet Works

        Just earlier this week we noted that a judge easily laughed Playboy’s silly lawsuit out of court because merely linking to infringing content is not infringing itself. But a judge in New York, Judge Katherine Forrest, has ruled on a different case in a manner that is quite concerning, which goes against many other court rulings, and basically puts some fundamental concepts of how the internet works at risk. It’s pretty bad. In short, she has ruled that merely embedding content from another site can be deemed infringing even if the new site is not hosting the content at all. This is wrong legally and technically, and hopefully this ruling will get overturned on appeal. But let’s dig into the details.

        The case involved a photographer, Justin Goldman, who took a photograph of quarterback Tom Brady on Snapchat. Somehow that image made its way from Snapchat to Reddit to Twitter. The photo went a bit viral, and a bunch of news organizations used Twitter’s embed feature to show the tweet and the image. Goldman sued basically all the news publications that embedded the tweet — including Breitbart, Vox, Yahoo, Gannett, the Boston Globe, Time and more. Now, multiple different courts around the country have said why this should not be seen as infringing by these publications. It’s generally referred to as “the server test” — in which to be direct infringement, you have to host the image yourself. This makes sense at both a technical and legal level because “embedding” an image is no different technically than linking to an image. It is literally the same thing — you put in a piece of code that points the end user’s computer to an image. The server at no point hosts or displays the image — it is only the end user’s computer. In the 9th Circuit, the various Perfect 10 cases have established the server test, and other courts have adopted it or similar concepts. In the 7th Circuit there was the famous Flavaworks case, where Judge Posner seemed almost annoyed that anyone could think that merely embedding infringing content could be deemed infringing.

      • Linking under US copyright law: green light to its inclusion in the scope of public display right comes from New York
      • Copyright For Libraries Around The World In 2018

        Copyright laws around the world are constantly changing in an attempt to adapt – or react – to the digital world. These changes can have a major impact on how libraries function and on the public service they provide. While some reforms offer new possibilities and legal certainty, others look backwards and seek to use the law to restrict the ability of libraries to guarantee meaningful information access to their users.

        IFLA therefore follows the evolution of copyright reforms around the world, as well as bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that impact copyright regimes.

      • Federal Judge Says Embedding a Tweet Can Be Copyright Infringement

        Rejecting years of settled precedent, a federal court in New York has ruled [PDF] that you could infringe copyright simply by embedding a tweet in a web page. Even worse, the logic of the ruling applies to all in-line linking, not just embedding tweets. If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.

        This case began when Justin Goldman accused online publications, including Breitbart, Time, Yahoo, Vox Media, and the Boston Globe, of copyright infringement for publishing articles that linked to a photo of NFL star Tom Brady. Goldman took the photo, someone else tweeted it, and the news organizations embedded a link to the tweet in their coverage (the photo was newsworthy because it showed Brady in the Hamptons while the Celtics were trying to recruit Kevin Durant). Goldman said those stories infringe his copyright.

        Courts have long held that copyright liability rests with the entity that hosts the infringing content—not someone who simply links to it. The linker generally has no idea that it’s infringing, and isn’t ultimately in control of what content the server will provide when a browser contacts it. This “server test,” originally from a 2007 Ninth Circuit case called Perfect 10 v. Amazon, provides a clear and easy-to-administer rule. It has been a foundation of the modern Internet.

      • US Piracy Lawsuits Shoot Out Of The 2018 Gates As The Malibu Media ‘Coaching Tree’ Spreads Its Seeds

        For those of you not interested in professional sports, allow me to educate you on the concept of the “coaching tree.” This concept comes from the common decisions by losing teams to hire junior coaches out from under the head coaches of successful teams, hoping to siphon off some of the genius of more successful organizations. In football, for instance, you will often hear about the “Andy Reid coaching tree” as his assistants get head coaching jobs across the league after serving underneath him.

        Sadly, a much more sinister version of this appears to be occurring in the copyright trolling space, with Malibu Media serving as a launching point for legal minds joining other organizations and replicating what they’ve learned from their former employer. The result has been an explosion in copyright lawsuits for the early part of 2018, with most of them coming from the porn-trolling industry.

      • Court Shakes Off Dumb Copyright Lawsuit Against Taylor Swift

        For an industry that talks up how important copyright law is, it’s fairly astounding how frequently there are really dumb lawsuits filed between musicians. Lately, because of the ridiculous “Blurred Lines” verdict, there have been tons of lawsuits filed over “sounds like” songs, or even “inspired by” songs, as lawyers (and some musicians) see a chance to cash in on the actual success of others. But we’ve also seen a bunch of really dumb lawsuits filed over the use of similar phrases. A few years ago there was the case where Rick Ross sued LMFAO because they had the line “Everyday I’m shufflin’” in a song that he claimed was infringing his “Everyday I’m hustlin’.” The court was not impressed.

Patent Trolls Are Thwarted by Judges, But Patent Lawyers View Them as a ‘Business’ Opportunity

Friday 16th of February 2018 09:29:38 AM

Law firms in various states hope that the demise of the Eastern District of Texas will mean more lawsuits where they are

Summary: Patent lawyers are salivating over the idea that trolls may be coming to their state/s; owing to courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) other trolls’ software patents get invalidated

AS NOTED in the last post, patents granted by the USPTO are often passed to trolls sooner or later. The trolls would like to think of themselves as “monetisers”, but all they really do is tax the economy. That does not help innovation or creativity; it merely crushes both. TC Heartland, a Supreme Court decision from about 9 months ago, continues to worry firms that profit from patent trolls and aggressors. One of them, writing in lawyers’ media, expressed a common lawyers’ concern that patent litigation is declining (true story), then expressing optimism about trolls coming ‘home’ to Georgia:

Is patent litigation coming home to Georgia? Last year the U.S. Supreme Court holding in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands significantly affected the law of venue jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) for patent infringement cases. One result was to shift new patent complaint filings away from federal district courts that had been perceived to be plaintiff-friendly, such as the Eastern District of Texas, as I recently wrote in the Daily Report. TC Heartland only clarified one of the tests for patent venue in § 1400(b), holding that the provision “where the defendant resides” is limited to only the district where the defendant is incorporated.

[...]

The year 2018 will likely bring resolution to some of these issues – and more patent litigation to Georgia. I believe we can expect at least one, but perhaps two precedential Federal Circuit decisions further clarifying “where” a defendant committed an act of infringement, with one or both relating to software method and pharmaceutical patent infringement.

Watch their glee. They want lots and lots of lawsuits. That’s business to them. Never mind if the Eastern District of Texas was a cautionary tale and the Eastern District of Texas became synonymous with trolls, discouraging technical investment in the area (companies might think twice before opening a branch near there).

Georgia has some decent academic institutions (one very famous university, especially for its technical achievements), so we hope that Georgians will confront these legal opportunists.

Not too long ago in California Cloudflare spent a lot of time and money battling a patent troll. It took almost a year to win the case. SoylentNews mentioned that, as did TechDirt, writing about it with some background:

Last year, we wrote about how a relatively new patent trolling operation had pretty clearly picked the wrong target in suing internet infrastructure provider Cloudflare with a sketchy patent (US Patent 6,453,335 on “providing an internet third party data channel.”) Cloudflare decided not only to fight the case, but to fight all of Blackbird’s patents, crowdsourcing and funding searches into prior art on any patent held by Blackbird Technologies, and arguing that the company was engaging in questionable legal practices — acting both as a patent holding company and a law firm, while sometimes pretending not to be a law firm (despite employing mostly lawyers) to avoid some serious ethics questions.

We certainly hope that § 101 will carry on finishing off patent trolls. This was one such case. Ars Technica, which now lacks its main patent trolls expert (he moved to the EFF this month) wrote about it also. To quote:

A federal judge in San Francisco has unequivocally ruled against a non-practicing entity that had sued Cloudflare for patent infringement. The judicial order effectively ends the case that Blackbird—which Cloudflare had dubbed a “patent troll”—had brought against the well-known security firm and content delivery network.

“Abstract ideas are not patentable,” US District Judge Vincent Chhabria wrote in a Monday order.

Abstract ideas are a subject we’ll revisit this weekend.

Another patent troll which got mentioned the other day is Motivational Health Messaging. Unified Patents wrote about the status of the patent in question. The EFF’s role has been mentioned too:

Unified is pleased to announce the PATROLL crowdsourcing contest winners, Rohit Sood and Devarajan Govindaswamy, who split a cash prize of $2000 for their prior art submissions for U.S. Patent 9,069,648. The EFF previously named the ’648 patent as a ‘Stupid Patent of the Month’ noting that numerous small companies have been threatened with infringement allegations by Motivational Health Messaging, LLC (an NPE). To help the industry fight stupid patents, we have published the winning prior art below.

Another troll, Wordlogic, was mentioned by Unified Patents on the same day (lovers’ day). To quote:

On February 14, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 7,681,124 owned and asserted by Wordlogic Corporation, an NPE. The ’124 patent, directed to a user interface for predicting and presenting text completion candidates in response to a user’s partial text entry, has been asserted in multiple district court cases against such companies as Fleksy, Touchtype, Chicago Logic.

PTAB is great and we have plenty to write about it this weekend.

Microsoft’s Patent Moves: Dominion Harbor, Intellectual Ventures, Intellectual Discovery, NEC and Uber

Friday 16th of February 2018 08:55:51 AM

Summary: A look at some of the latest moves and twists, as patents change hands and there are still signs of Microsoft’s ‘hidden hand’

THE theme of “patent trolls” — entities that do nothing but lawsuits and threats of lawsuits — is still a ‘thing’. Yes, the USPTO is aware of the problem and even the US Supreme Court uses the term “trolls”. Here in Europe the press rarely mentions the problem, which is being exacerbated by the EPO. Patent trolls are on the rise in Germany and London too has become a “hot destination” for trolls. Most vulnerable to these are SMEs, which are less capable of affording justice (legal process) and have less money to shell out for ‘protection’.

“Patent trolls are on the rise in Germany and London too has become a “hot destination” for trolls.”Thankfully, some of the trolling ‘sector’ is drifting eastwards to China. It’s not a good thing for China, but it seems to be a side effect of a misguided patent policy which attracted low-quality patents in large numbers. When one has low-quality patents in large numbers one can simply use the sheer amount of them — irrespective of underlying quality — to threaten ruinous litigation and thus extort money for settlements. This seems to be the business model of Dominion Harbor, which is a malicious patent troll that strongly dislikes me, worships other trolls, and associates with rather unpleasant people. IAM wrote the other day that “[a]fter purchase of 4,000 former Kodak patents from IV last year, Dominion is building quite a portfolio.”

IV is Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll, which came from Microsoft. “Proud to announce our latest acquisition,” the troll said. “Dominion Harbor Acquires Leading NEC LCD Portfolio with more than 1,200 assets…”

“Patent ‘aggregators’ such as these are of no worth unless they become trolls or pass their so-called ‘assets’ to trolls. That’s how Intellectual Ventures came into existence (buying lots of patents from universities and failed companies).”One can expect them to shake down companies using these patents. They’re just a patent troll, like Intellectual Ventures that they’re connected to. One can guess where they are based. Intellectual Discovery (ID) in the meantime — not to be mistaken for IV — has been a miserable failure so far. It’s a total waste of South Korea’s money and although it is not a troll itself, industry insiders worry that it may feed patent trolls sooner or later, causing damage to the South Korean economy. According to IAM, ID is in somewhat of a disarray (symptoms include leadership shuffles like in RPX, which might be sold to a troll). There are analogous entities and worries in India right now. Patent ‘aggregators’ such as these are of no worth unless they become trolls or pass their so-called ‘assets’ to trolls. That’s how Intellectual Ventures came into existence (buying lots of patents from universities and failed companies).

Speaking of NEC patents (which the above troll just bought), a former IAM writer said: “There may be a Foxconn link to this. NEC transferred a whole bunch of mostly display-related patents to Gold Charm in 2012… [] Foxconn subsidiary Gold Charm bought the patents for $122m. Later asserted some against Funai, Mitsubishi, & Toshiba. Not heard much about them since…”

“Historically, many entities Microsoft passes patents to turn out to be attacking GNU/Linux.”As a bonus, mind this new report from the Microsoft-connected patent troll Acacia. It’s now resorting to buybacks, which is never a good sign. Are shareholders walking away? IV too has suffered a lot (lost many software patents, lawsuits and managers, not to mention the massive rounds of layoffs). Based on yesterday’s blog post from IAM, Microsoft now passes patents to Uber (just like it passes them to patent trolls quite a lot), which is itself suffering record losses. To quote the relevant paragraphs:

According to the USPTO assignment database, Uber has most recently picked up a package of 17 assets from Microsoft. That follows a 2015 deal between the two companies which saw Uber pick up some IP as part of a broader business agreement.

The acquisition from Microsoft followed another deal between Uber and AT&T for 13 assets – the third significant acquisition that the ride-sharing giant has made from the telecoms giant with the company picking up well over 100 assets.

Although as the 2015 Microsoft deal shows that Uber’s IP head John Mulgrew has been focused on bolstering the company’s patent position for a while, the focus on building up its portfolio in the secondary market has intensified since the hire of former Google and Motorola IP executive Kurt Brasch in September 2016. Mulgrew is understood to have led on the most recent deal with Microsoft along with Uber IP lawyer Rakesh Michael.

We are going to keep an eye on what happens next. Historically, many entities Microsoft passes patents to turn out to be attacking GNU/Linux. It’s shallow enough for us to notice, yet the corporate media altogether ignores this and carries on with PR (like “Microsoft loves Linux”).

More in Tux Machines

today's lefftovers

OSS Leftovers

  • 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.
  • Open FinTech Forum – Event preview, October 10-11, New York City.
  • 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.
  • The major milestones of the Government Digital Service (GDS)
  • 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.
  • 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.

Security: France, Munich, 'Smart' Meters, MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime

  • 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."

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. Read more