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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 31 min ago

Links 13/11/2018: HPC Domination (Top 500 All GNU/Linux) and OpenStack News

Tuesday 13th of November 2018 08:29:25 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • An illustrated tour of Unix history

    Unix pioneer Rob Pike was there from the start, physically transporting key elements of the “Toronto distribution” of Unix to Berkeley when he started grad school, and then to Bell Labs, working alongside Dennis Ritchie and other key Unix programmers to develop and refine everything from modern editors to compilers to windowing systems.

    His hour-long “illustrated memoir” of the deep history of Unix is delightful, touching on the people and institutional forces that shaped the operating environment that has come to dominate modern computing (he even gives a mention to Cardiac, the cardboard computer that shaped my own computing life).

  • All Servers Are Now On Linux!

    The next step for these servers is to massage them into actual Linux Daemons, which shouldn’t be HUGE, but it will take a minor rewrite of some bits of code. Not a huge issue until I have a real server though. So, really the next step is to get the base functionality built out in the next 3 Servers(Mob, Narrative, & Social)

  • The Linux desktop: With great success comes great failure

    And what do roughly 95.6% of all websites run on? With the exception of Microsoft sites, the answer is Linux. Facebook? Linux. Google? Linux. Yahoo? Linux. Netflix? Linux. I can go on and on. You may use Windows on your desktop, but it’s effectively just a front end to Linux-based services and data. You might as well be using a Chromebook (running on Linux-based Chrome OS, by the way).

    But as a matter of fact, Windows is no longer the top end-user operating system. Oh yes, it does still dominate the desktop, but the desktop hasn’t been king of the end-user hill for some time. By StatCounter’s reckoning, the most popular end-user operating system as of September 2018, with 40.85% market share, was — drum roll, please — Android. Which — guess what — is based on Linux.

    So, in several senses, Linux has been the top end-user operating system for some time.

    But not on the desktop, where Windows still reigns.

    Why? There are many reasons.

    Back when desktop Linux got its start, Microsoft kept it a niche operating system by using strong-arm tactics with PC vendors. For instance, when Linux-powered netbooks gave Microsoft serious competition on low-end laptops in the late ’00s, Microsoft dug XP Home up from the graveyard to stop it in its tracks.

    But Microsoft’s avid competitiveness is only part of the story. In fact, Microsoft has gotten quite chummy with Linux lately. It’s fair to say that it’s no longer trying to stop the Linux desktop from gaining ground.

  • Palliative care for Windows 10 Mobile like a Crimean field hospital, but with even less effort

    Last Monday, a Microsoft update gave users a buggy Outlook mobile email client. The update was rapidly withdrawn, but that left owners with no working email client at all.

    “They’ve barely responded at all,” one owner told us on Friday. “A couple of tech supports on the web forums have suggested it’s a memory problem, while another claims that they’re aware and are looking into it. An obvious strategy would have been to update with the old app last night – but they didn’t.”

    Microsoft finally acknowledged the issue in build 16006.11001.20083.0 later on Friday, and rolled out an update at the weekend that finally fixed the problem.

  • Desktop
    • Samsung brings Linux desktop to its mobile devices with DeX beta

      SAMSUNG HAS RELEASED its Linux on DeX solution to the quandary of how to best use phones as desktop machines more convincingly.

      For all its wonderful qualities, Android has never been aimed at keyboard and mouse users, and whilst five years ago everyone assumed that was fine because we’d all be using tablets anyway, it’s 2018 and most people have stuck to what they know.

      But with our devices becoming ever more powerful, sometimes as powerful as our PCs, there needs to be a way to harness them. Huawei has its Desktop Mode, but other solutions like Remix OS and Google’s own Pixel C, have fallen by the wayside. For Google – Android apps in the more sympathetic Chrome OS have been the solution.

    • Samsung’s Linux on DeX turns your phone into a Linux computer [APK Download]

      Samsung debuted DeX last year to make your phone behave a bit more like a computer when plugged into a monitor. This year, DeX functionality has improved so you don’t need to expensive custom dock, just a video cable. At Samsung’s developer conference last week, it announced DeX would also get full Linux support. It’s only officially available to those in the beta program, but we’ve got the APK.

      To use Linux on DeX, you’ll need an updated Samsung device that supports DeX. Currently, only the Note 9 and Tab S4 work with the beta. Install the Linux on DeX app to get started. This is just a few megabytes because it’s not a full Linux distro (you’ll download that later).

    • Review: the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Laptop

      Canonical recently made an official announcement on its company blog stating that the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop (that is, Project Sputnik) now ships with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) pre-installed. Upon reading this, I quickly reached out to Dell asking to review the laptop. I’m a Linux developer, and when a developer edition laptop is marketed with Linux pre-installed, I need to experience it for myself. The laptop eventually arrived, and like a child on Christmas morning, I excitedly pulled the device out of the box and powered it up for the first time.

      This is a pretty rock-solid notebook. The device is very light and easy to carry—meaning, it’s mobile (which is very important in my book), thin and sleek. Not only does the device look good, but it also performs very well.

      [...]

      Overall, I had a very positive experience with the 7th generation Dell XPS 13. It’s a powerful machine and fully capable of handling all sorts of developer workloads. And if used in a professional environment, it’s very mobile as well. You can carry it from conference room to conference room and resume your work with little to no disruption. Ubuntu is well integrated with the machine, and it shows. You can’t ask for more in a developer’s laptop. I definitely consider this device to be well worth the investment.

    • What does your Linux setup look like?

      Jim Hall: I run Fedora Workstation on a Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop, with an ASUS 24″ external display. That gives me a dual-display configuration that lets me work in one window on the larger display while having a separate space to run my music player or other apps. I love my Perixx ergonomic keyboard and my Microsoft Classic Intellimouse. When I’m feeling nostalgic, I swap out the ergo keyboard with my replica IBM Model M keyboard by Unicomp; the buckling spring keys are really easy to type with. My printer is an HP color LaserJet, which works seamlessly with Linux.

  • Server
    • Systems Engineer Salary Rises Even Higher with Linux Experience

      Some companies treat “systems engineer” and “systems administrator” almost interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the two positions. In broadest terms, systems engineers must design and implement a company’s system (comprising the network, servers, devices, etc.), whereas systems administrators are largely charged with keeping everything running.

      To frame it another way, system administration is a very reactive role, with sysadmins constantly monitoring networks for issues. Systems engineers, on the other hand, can build a system that anticipates users’ needs (and potential problems). In certain cases, they must integrate existing technology stacks (e.g., following the merger of two companies), and prototype different aspects of the network before it goes “live.”

    • OpenStack vs. Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes: What Fits Where?

      Open-source cloud application infrastructure can be a confusing landscape to navigate with multiple projects, including OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes. While there are some points of overlap, each technology has its own merits and use-cases.

      Among the vendors that uses and contributes to OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes is SUSE, which also has commercial products for all three technologies as well. In a video interview with eWEEK, Thomas Di Giacomo, CTO at SUSE explains how the three open-source technologies intersect at his company.

      “We see that our customers don’t use a single open-source project, most of the time they to use different ones, with different lifecycles and sometimes they overlap,” Di Giacomo said.

    • Moving house and moving applications are not the same. Or are they?

      As a Solution Architect I see my job as many things, from supporting customers in adopting Red Hat technology, educating organisations about using open source technologies and the benefits it brings, to thinking of ways to solve business challenges using technology and culture change. However, these are all generally in the space of “green field” app development. But what about all the systems keeping the business going today?

      The challenges businesses face in dealing with these “legacy” systems are complex, multi-faceted, involve many teams, and often businesses face knowledge gaps in how everything works together.

      In the public sector, where I work, this problem of legacy systems is arguably larger and more challenging, with the need for organisations to share information, outlined by things like Digital Service Standard. But, it’s worked that way for years, so why change it?

    • Red Hat at Supercomputing 2018: Bringing open source innovation from high performance computing to the enterprise

      All supercomputers on the coveted Top500 list run on Linux, a scalable operating system that has matured over the years to run some of the most critical workloads and in many cases has displaced proprietary operating systems in the process. For the past two decades, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has served as the foundation for building software stacks for many supercomputers. We are looking to continue this trend with the next generation of systems that seek to break the exascale threshold.

      SC18, a leading supercomputing conference, begins today. Red Hat hopes to hold conversations and share our insights on new supercomputers, including Summit and Sierra, nascent architectures, like Arm, and building more open computing environments that can further negate the need for proprietary and monolithic implementations. The updated Top500 list is an excellent example of how open technologies continue to proliferate in high performance computing (HPC) and highlights how the ongoing software optimization work performed on these systems can benefit their performance.

    • New TOP500 List Lead by DOE Supercomputers

      The latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers is out, a remarkable ranking that shows five Department of Energy supercomputers in the top 10, with the first two captured by Summit at Oak Ridge and Sierra at Livermore. With the number one and number two systems on the planet, the “Rebel Alliance” vendors of IBM, Mellanox, and NVIDIA stand far and tall above the others.

    • How IBM and Red Hat Will Impact Your Cloud Strategy

      Barring a heavy-handed approach to the recent acquisition, IBM and Red Hat can do some amazing things in the market.
      IBM is a long way from making physical machines. That part of the business went with Lenovo several years ago. So, what has been their focus ever since? Software and services. And, among those software pieces and services has been the cloud.

      Until today, you may have heard little about IBM’s cloud presence. Although I can assure you it’s there, it was really struggling to compete with the likes of AWS, Azure, and even GCP. Now, with predictions like those from Gartner stating that by 2020, 90% of organizations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities and that the market in general could be worth $240 billion or more – this was as good a time as any to really take a dive into the cloud management and delivery ecosystem.

    • Integrating Vault with Legacy Applications

      This is the third post of our blog series on HashiCorp Vault. In the first post, we proposed a custom orchestration to more securely retrieve secrets stored in the Vault from a pod running in Red Hat OpenShift.

      In the second post, we improved upon that approach by using the native Kubernetes Auth Method that Vault provides.

      Both of the previous approaches assumed that the application knew how to handle the renewals of vault tokens and how to retrieve secrets from Vault. In all of our examples we used Spring Boot, which, we believe, has a sophisticated and out-of-the box Vault integration.

      In this post, we are going to add further improvements with the purpose of enabling applications that cannot integrate directly with Vault.it. We will assume that these applications (henceforth referred to as legacy applications) can read a file to retrieve their secrets.

    • Kaloom Collaborates with Red Hat to Deliver a Virtual Central Office Solution for Multivendor NFV Deployments

      Kaloom, an emerging leader in the fully automated data center networking software market, today announced collaboration with Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, around the launch of the Red Hat virtual central office solution, a Virtual Central Office (VCO) solution for multivendor NFV deployments at the edge. The solution is designed to speed and simplify the deployment of value-added residential, enterprise and mobile services by telcos and enterprises.

    • ​Red Hat blends Kubernetes into Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14

      Red Hat’s new OpenStack is built on top of the OpenStack “Rocky” community release. This version is noted for its significant bare-metal improvements in Ironic, its bare metal provisioning module, as well as in Nova, its compute instances provisioning program. Red Hat makes use of both improvements by automated provisioning of bare metal and virtual infrastructure resources in its OpenShift Container Platform.

      To manage those containers, no matter if they’re on bare metal or in a Virtual Machine (VM), the new OpenStack Platform 14 is more tightly integrated than ever with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Together, OpenStack Platform 14 aims to deliver a single infrastructure offering for traditional, virtualized, and cloud-native workloads.

    • Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 coming soon with tighter Kubernetes integration

      Today, Red Hat has announced Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, saying it will become available in the coming weeks. The firm says that the latest version, which is built on the OpenStack “Rocky” community release, more tightly integrates with the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform which gives admins full control over their Kubernetes environments.

    • Red Hat Releases Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 and a New Virtual Office Solution, ownCloud Enterprise Integrates with SUSE Ceph/S3 Storage, Run a Linux Shell on iOS with iSH and Firefox Launches Two New Test Pilot Features

      Red Hat this morning released Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, delivering “enhanced Kubernetes integration, bare metal management and additional automation”. According to the press release, it will be available in the coming weeks via the Red Hat Customer Portal and as a component of both Red Hat Cloud Infrastructure and Red Hat Cloud Suite.

    • Red Hat tightens container integration with latest OpenShift release

      Red Hat Inc. is upping its Kubernetes game with release of Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14, the latest version of its infrastructure-as-a-service product.

      The new version announced early today, which is based upon the OpenStack “Rocky” community version, improves integration with OpenShift, Red Hat’s own version of Kubernetes, and features better support for bare-metal deployments and improved automation.

      OpenStack is Red Hat’s platform for organizations and service providers that want to run a hybrid cloud infrastructure consisting of common elements that run both on-premises and in public clouds. Improved OpenShift integration is a nod to the surging popularity of Kubernetes, which enables applications to be encapsulated and moved across platforms.

    • Red Hat Drives Unified Foundation for Kubernetes and Virtual Machines with Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14

      Built on the backbone of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat OpenStack Platform enables enterprises to transform their IT infrastructure into a more agile, efficient and innovative environment. Modular by design, it helps to optimize IT operations for existing traditional applications while serving as the foundation for cloud-native application development and deployment.

    • Announcing Red Hat AMQ Streams: Apache Kafka on Red Hat OpenShift

      Today we are taking an important step toward helping customers build event-driven applications with the introduction of Red Hat AMQ Streams, a high-performance data streaming capability based on the Apache Kafka open source project.

      Integration plays a vital role in the development of modern container- and microservices-based applications. These architectures are inherently more modular and require robust, distributed messaging capabilities that can meet the demands for scale and performance. Kafka was born out of the need to enable microservices and other application components to exchange large volumes of data as quickly as possible for real-time event processing. The technology has excelled at this, and is used today by organizations of all sizes to power mission-critical business applications.

    • Red Hat Adds Kafka Streaming to OpenShift

      Red Hat is adding data streaming capability to its OpenShift container platform with the addition of a distribution based on Apache Kafka.

      AMQ Streams is described as a high-end data streaming tool built on Kafka stream processing. Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) said Monday (Nov. 12) it is integrating the streaming capability with its flagship OpenShift platform based on its enterprise version of the Kubernetes cluster orchestrator. The combination is designed to provide messaging services in the cloud to connect legacy and cloud-native applications.

      “As more of the software world has converged on Kubernetes as the standard platform for building cloud-native applications, it is increasingly important to be able to run the communication infrastructure on the same platform,” Red Hat noted in a blog post. The result, the company added, is integration of event-driven microservices with Kafka’s ability to quickly exchange large data volumes for real-time event processing.

    • The mainframe returns – as a platform for large-scale Linux

      There are several ways to build large scale Linux server environments, with x86 and public cloud being obvious ones. But there’s another option too, as I reminded myself when I caught up with Adam Jollans, program director for LinuxOne product marketing at IBM. LinuxOne is a solution built by IBM using the mainframe platform as its base, but it’s solely focused on running Linux workloads.

      We discussed the way some organisations are using LinuxOne to keep mission-critical open source solutions running without service interruption and, just as importantly, to keep them secure. Typical workloads his customers run include core banking services – where resilience is essential, not just desirable – and similar solutions for Telcos and SPs. These are services that must scale to hundreds or even thousands of virtual machines, doing so both cost-effectively and without risk.

      The characteristics of such mission-critical workloads clearly resonate with the traits of the venerable mainframe. After all, the mainframe is regarded by many, even those who have never seen one, as the gold standard for IT resilience and availability. Unfortunately for IBM, and arguably for the wider world, the mainframe is also widely thought of as being out-dated, expensive, and difficult to manage – even though this hasn’t been true for a long time, and is certainly not the case with LinuxOne.

    • Will throwing a Red Hat into a Big Blue ring mean a purple patch for both companies?

      The global comms industry and those who analyse and report upon it have grown more or less inured to hearing yet another announcement about yet another gigantic merger, acquisition or “strategic partnership” (which a year-or-so down the line turns out to be an acquisition that was initially disguised as a marriage of equals). Consolidation exercises and the inflated prices being paid when one comms company buys another are now so commonplace that, more often than not, the news of the latest spending splurge is greeted by the media with “Oh, another one. Big deal. Ho-hum”.

    • Retired U.S. Army General H. Hugh Shelton, on what makes a leader he’d follow to Hades

      General Shelton was chairman of Red Hat’s board of directors for seven years and, before that, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997‒2001. During his time at Red Hat, General Shelton helped guide both me and our organization through some truly great times. When he announced his retirement from Red Hat’s board last year, I jumped at the chance to sit down with him one more time and do what he taught me: listen.

    • OpenStack expands focus beyond the IaaS cloud

      In Berlin, at OpenStack Summit, Jonathan Bryce, OpenStack’s Executive Director, announced that this would be the last OpenStack Summit and it would be replaced next year by Open Infrastructure Summit. This is more than just a name change. It represents that OpenStack is evolving beyond its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud offerings to offering a full range of cloud services.

      This isn’t a sudden change. OpenStack has been expanding its offerings for some time. As Thierry Carrez, the OpenStack Foundation’s VP of engineering wrote, in 2017 OpenStack started “shifting our focus from being solely about the production of the OpenStack software, to more broadly helping organizations embrace open infrastructure: using and combining open source solutions to fill their needs in terms of IT infrastructure.”

    • Stay classy: Amazon’s Jassy gets sassy with Larry

      Amazon’s consumer business has switched off its Oracle data warehouse and will be almost Big Red-free by Christmas – at least according to AWS boss Andy Jassy.

      The claims – made over Twitter, so it must be true – were then doubled down on by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, who said that the database was one of the largest in the world, adding “RIP”.

      It’s the latest in a long-running war of words between the rival tech giants that normally sees Oracle CTO Larry Ellison smack-talking the online marketplace-cum-cloud vendor.

    • U.S Supercomputers Lead Top500 Performance Ranking

      The IBM POWER9 based Summit system has retained its crown that it first achieved in the June 2018 ranking. Summit is installed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and now has performance of 143.5 petaflops per second, up from the 122.3 petaflops the system had when it first came online.

      [...]

      Though China doesn’t hold the top spot on the list, it now has more supercomputers than any other other nation with 227. In contrast, there are now only 109 systems on the Top500 list that are located in the U.S., which is an all-time low.

      That said, thanks to the enormous power of Summit and Sierra at the top, the U.S. is home to 38 percent of the total aggregate supercomputing power on the top500 list, while China’s systems account for 31 percent.

    • Introducing Red Hat virtual central office solution: An open pathway to modern telecommunications services

      Digital transformation and technology modernization aren’t trends that are limited just to the enterprise world. Behind the walls of proprietary stacks, many telecommunications service providers also want to use open innovation to evolve their infrastructure and services in an agile, flexible fashion. But these closed stacks are a problem and one that extends from the core datacenter all the way to the central offices.

      Central offices are the local “hubs” of many telecommunications networks, often handling “last-mile” operations like telephone switching, copper, and optical terminations. These operations lean on purpose-built equipment that can be rigid and complex. Coupled with a lack of open standards, these devices can struggle to interact with each other, making the life of operations teams in central offices harder, especially in the face of demand for modern services expected from 5G. These differentiated services increasingly require virtualized environments and computing power at the network edge, leading to substantial demand for resources, flexibility and operational simplicity.

    • What does IBM’s Red Hat purchase mean for the data center?

      RedHat was one of the first big open source businesses. It’s grown over the years to encompass more than Linux, building out a complete developer stack that stretches from IoT to hyperscale clouds. It’s a reach that goes well beyond IBM’s, but at a very different, much smaller scale. Where IBM has been a one-stop shop for all your data center needs, RedHat has been a company that’s relied on partnerships and on industry collaboration.

    • Could Red Hat deal be a ‘distraction’ for IBM? Unisys CEO hopes so
    • Red Hat Accelerates Back Office Processes and Unifies Global Workforce with FinancialForce

      FinancialForce, a leading customer-centric ERP and Professional Services Automation (PSA) cloud solution native to the Salesforce Platform, announced that Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, is successfully unifying its global workforce and accelerating back-office processes with FinancialForce PSA.

    • DLT Awarded Coveted 2018 Red Hat Public Sector Partner of the Year Award
    • IBM’s Bob Lord: Red Hat Acquisition Makes IBM the Top Hybrid Cloud Provider

      “We are going to be the company that is providing enterprise-ready hybrid cloud solutions and actually create the foundation of the infrastructure of the future,” IBM’s ($IBM) chief digital officer Bob Lord told Cheddar on Tuesday.

      IBM’s Red Hat ($RHT) acquisition will be a game-changer for the information technology giant ー and it better be, at a $34 billion price tag. The deal, which is IBM’s largest ever and the third biggest deal in tech, is expected to close at the end of 2019. It’s been less than one month since IBM announced the acquisition, but executives like Lord are already suggesting it will be revolutionary.

      “With Red Hat, we now become the number one largest provider of hybrid cloud solutions in the world,” Lord said, “which is really important for all our enterprise clients.” He said the deal also means that IBM is doubling down on open source and “committing to the developer community that these tools are something that they are going to be able to use and have impact on the world.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • Episode 43 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux we cover a big batch of releases from distros, apps, hardware and more. System76 launches the option to order their new Open Source Certified Desktop, Thelio. We got a big update from the Solus team about the future of the project. openSUSE announces the launch of their Legal Review System, Cavil. Fedora 29 has been released along with other releases like KDE Connect, Sailfish, i3 Window Manager, GIMP, VirtualBox and the Game Manager, Lutris. We’ll also take a look at some upcoming projects like Ubuntu 19.04, Cinnamon 4.0 and the Samsung DeX running Ubuntu. All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space
    • Kernel Developers Debate Having An Official Linux System Wrapper Library

      As new system calls get added to the Linux kernel, these syscalls generally get added to Glibc (and other libc libraries) for developers to make easy use of them from their applications. But as Glibc doesn’t provide 1:1 coverage of system calls, sometimes is delayed in their support for new calls, and other factors, there is a discussion about providing an official Linux system wrapper library that could potentially live as part of the kernel source tree.

      This weekend was the initial proposal for having an official Linux system wrapper library. Though that initial proposal is a bit flawed in saying that “glibc is basically not adding new system call wrappers”, as they are, just sometimes it takes a while among other factors. But it is accurate in reflecting a problem with the status quo.

    • Linux Getting Two-Line Patch To Finally Deal With The Quirky Microsoft OEM Mouse

      While Microsoft is self-proclaimed to love Linux, their common and very basic Microsoft OEM Mouse has not loved the Linux kernel or vice-versa… The Linux kernel HID code is finally getting a quirk fix to deal with the Microsoft OEM mouse as it would disconnect every minute when running at run-levels one or three.

      The basic Microsoft OEM Mouse that’s been available for years (appearing as a PixArt vendor and USB ID 0x00cb) would disconnect every 60~62 seconds on Linux systems when connected out-of-the-box. This isn’t some high-end gaming mouse but Microsoft’s dead basic OEM optical mouse.

    • Linux Poised To Remove Decade-Old EXOFS File-System

      The Linux kernel will likely be doing away with EXOFS, a file-system that had been around since the Linux 2.6.30 days.

      EXOFS is a file-system originally derived from EXT2 file-system code for basing it on an external object store. This object-based file-system was originally developed by IBM.

      Veteran kernel developer Christoph Hellwig is now seeking to remove the EXOFS object-based file-system on the basis of it being “just a simple example without real life users.”

    • Linux Foundation
      • Cloud companies form Ceph Foundation to advance object storage tech

        The Linux Foundation Monday announced the formation of a new “Ceph Foundation” backed by more than 30 major technology firms hoping to support and manage the popular open-source storage technology.

        Ceph is a unified and distributed storage system used by some of the world’s largest cloud service providers, including Rackspace Inc. as well as major organizations such as Bloomberg L.P. and Fidelity Investments Inc. It provides object, block and file system storage and can also be used as a software-defined storage system for commodity hardware.

      • Ceph backers apply Foundation in storage makeover

        Ceph, the open source storage software platform, has gotten its very own foundation. Just like Linux.

        The Ceph Foundation is organised as a directed fund under the Linux Foundation. It “will organise and distribute financial contributions in a coordinated, vendor-neutral fashion for immediate community benefit. This will help galvanise rapid adoption, training and in-person collaboration across the Ceph ecosystem.”

        The foundation is the successor to the Ceph Advisory Board, which was formed in 2015 by Canonical, CERN, Cisco, Fujitsu, Intel, Red Hat, SanDisk, and SUSE.

      • ​Ceph open-source storage takes an organizational step forward

        In Berlin, The Linux Foundation, announced over 30 global technology leaders have formed a new foundation to support the Ceph open-source, unified distributed storage system project community: The Ceph Foundation.

        Ceph is a unified distributed storage system. It provides applications with object, block, and file system interfaces. Ceph is also a software-defined storage (SDS) program. It’s designed to run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.

        Behind the scenes, Ceph uses an Object Store to store data. Within it, each piece of data is stored in a flat, non-hierarchical namespace and identified by an arbitrary, unique identifier. Each item’s metadata are stored along with the data itself.

      • The Ceph storage project gets a dedicated open-source foundation

        Ceph is an open source technology for distributed storage that gets very little public attention but that provides the underlying storage services for many of the world’s largest container and OpenStack deployments. It’s used by financial institutions like Bloomberg and Fidelity, cloud service providers like Rackspace and Linode, telcos like Deutsche Telekom, car manufacturers like BMW and software firms like SAP and Salesforce.

        These days, you can’t have a successful open source project without setting up a foundation that manages the many diverging interests of the community and so it’s maybe no surprise that Ceph is now getting its own foundation. Like so many other projects, the Ceph Foundation will be hosted by the Linux Foundation.

      • The Linux Foundation Launches Ceph Foundation To Advance Open Source Storage

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announces over 30 global technology leaders are forming a new foundation to support the Ceph open source project community. The Ceph project develops a unified distributed storage system providing applications with object, block, and file system interfaces.

      • Linux Foundation launches Ceph Foundation to advance open source storage

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organisation enabling mass innovation through open source, has announced that over 30 global technology leaders are forming a new foundation to support the Ceph open source project community. The Ceph project develops a unified distributed storage system providing applications with object, block and file system interfaces.

        Founding Premier members of Ceph Foundation include Amihan, Canonical, China Mobile, DigitalOcean, Intel, OVH, ProphetStor Data Services, Red Hat, SoftIron, SUSE, Western Digital, XSKY Data Technology, and ZTE. The Ceph Foundation will organise and distribute financial contributions in a coordinated, vendor-neutral fashion for immediate community benefit. This will help galvanise rapid adoption, training and in-person collaboration across the Ceph ecosystem.

      • Linux Foundation forms Ceph Foundation for open-source storage

        Driven in part by the increased use of containers, AI and ML, the Linux Foundation announced the formation of the Ceph Foundation for open-source storage.

        Ceph is being used by cloud providers and enterprises to lower the cost of storing information in private clouds while helping them better organize and access their information. The Ceph Foundation is developing a unified distributed storage system that will provide applications with high availability to object, block and file system interfaces.

        According to the Linux Foundation press release, unstructured data accounts for more than 80% of enterprise data, which is growing at rate of 55% to 65% a year. Block and file storage systems play a key role in keeping data organized and are crucial components of infrastructure platforms such as Kubernetes and OpenStack. According to an OpenStack survey, roughly two-thirds of OpenStack clouds use Ceph block storage.

      • A Free Guide for Setting Your Open Source Strategy

        The majority of companies using open source understand its business value, but they may lack the tools to strategically implement an open source program and reap the full rewards. According to a recent survey from The New Stack, “the top three benefits of open source programs are 1) increased awareness of open source, 2) more speed and agility in the development cycle, and 3) better license compliance.”

        Running an open source program office involves creating a strategy to help you define and implement your approach as well as measure your progress. The Open Source Guides to the Enterprise, developed by The Linux Foundation in partnership with the TODO Group, offer open source expertise based on years of experience and practice.

        The most recent guide, Setting an Open Source Strategy, details the essential steps in creating a strategy and setting you on the path to success. According to the guide, “your open source strategy connects the plans for managing, participating in, and creating open source software with the business objectives that the plans serve. This can open up many opportunities and catalyze innovation.” The guide covers the following topics:

    • Graphics Stack
      • Vulkan 1.1.92 Released, Finally Allows For Chunked HTML Documentation

        Vulkan 1.1.92 is out today to mark the newest specification update to this high-performance graphics/compute API.

        With it just being one week since Vulkan 1.1.91 that brought some new/improved extensions, there isn’t any new extensions to find with Vulkan 1.1.92. But there are a number of documentation/specification corrections and clarifications.

      • Wayland Protocols 1.17 Brings Explicit Synchronization & Primary Selection

        Jonas Ådahl of Red Hat today released a new version of Wayland-Protocols, the collection of stable and unstable protocols for extending Wayland functionality.

        With the Wayland-Protocols 1.17 release the big new feature is the initial (unstable) version of linux-explicit-synchronization. The Wayland explicit synchronization protocol provides a means of explicit per-surface buffer synchronization. This synchronization protocol is based on Google Chromium’s extension (zcr_linux_explicit_synchronization_v1) and lets clients request this explicit synchronization on a per-surface basis. Google, Intel, and Collabora were involved in the formation of this extension.

      • The Radeon GCN Backend Is Still Being Worked On For GCC, GCC 9 Deadline Looms

        Back in September Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics posted their new Radeon GCN port for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). Two months later this port is still being worked on but not yet ready for mainline.

        This Radeon GCN back-end for GCC is being done with a focus on GPU computing with eventually a goal of allowing OpenMP / OpenACC offloading to newer AMD GPUs. At this current stage, single-threaded C and Fortran programs can be built for Radeon GPUs with this compiler but the multi-threading API offloading bits are still coming about. This back-end has been focused on Fiji/Tonga support and newer.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Sees Its First Tagged Release

        In the nearly one year that the AMDVLK official Vulkan driver has been open-source there hasn’t been any “releases” but rather new code drops on a weekly basis that is pushed out of their internal development repositories. But surprisingly this morning is now a v2018.4.1 release tag for this open-source AMD Vulkan Linux driver.

        The AMDVLK public source repositories have just been perpetual Git while AMD pulls from their internal repositories when building out their official closed-source Windows/Linux Radeon Software driver releases (that also use their closed-source shader compiler currently rather than the open-source AMDGPU LLVM back-end, as used by the public AMDVLK sources). Waking up this morning there is now the first release tag in AMDVLK as v2018.4.1.

      • Mesa Drops Support For AMD Zen L3 Thread Pinning, Will Develop New Approach

        It was just a few months back that the Mesa/RadeonSI open-source AMD Linux driver stack received Zen tuning for that CPU microarchitecture’s characteristics. But now AMD’s Marek Olšák is going back to the drawing board to work on a new approach for Zen tuning.

        Just a few days ago I wrote about another developer wanting to toggle the support around L3 thread pinning as it was found to hurt the RadeonSI Gallium3D performance in at least some Linux games. At that point the goal was to allow making it a DriConf tunable that could then be adjusted a per-game/app basis, but it turns out the gains aren’t there to keep it around.

      • Mesa Gets Testing Patches For New Zen Optimization Around Thread Pinning

        It was just yesterday that the AMD Zen L3 thread pinning was dropped from Mesa due to that optimization not panning out as intended for benefiting the new AMD processors with the open-source Linux graphics driver stack. Lead Mesa hacker Marek Olšák is already out with a new Zen tuning implementation that may deliver on the original optimization goal.

        The first patch posted by Marek as part of his new tuning effort is to regularly re-pin the driver threads to the core complex (CCX) where the application thread is. Basically, when Mesa is being used without the glthread (OpenGL threading) behavior, keep chasing the application/game thread on the processor so it will be part of the same CCX and share a cache. This chasing is done rather than explicitly pinning the application thread.

      • The Shiny New Features Of Mesa 18.3 For Open-Source Intel / Radeon Graphics Drivers

        Being well into the Mesa 18.3 feature freeze and that quarterly update to these open-source OpenGL/Vulkan drivers due out in about two weeks, here is a look at all of the new features and changes you can expect to find with this big update.

      • NVIDIA released a new 415.13 beta driver recently for Linux

        One I completely forgot to post about here, NVIDIA recently released the 415.13 beta driver for Linux.

        Released on the 8th of November, it includes a number of interesting fixes, including an issue fixed with WINE where it might crash on recent distribution releases. Nice to see WINE get some focus, since things like this can affect Valve’s Steam Play.

    • Benchmarks
      • 16-Way AMD EPYC Cloud Benchmark Comparison: Amazon EC2 vs. SkySilk vs. Packet

        With last week Amazon Web Services rolling out AMD EPYC cloud instances to EC2, I figured it would be an interesting time for a fresh benchmark look at how the AMD Linux cloud performance compares from some of the popular cloud providers. For this article are sixteen different instances benchmarked while looking at the raw performance as well as the value on each instance type relative to the benchmark performance and time consumed for the on-demand spot instancing. EPYC instances were tested from Amazon EC2, Packet.com, and SkySilk.

      • A Look At The GCC 9 Performance On Intel Skylake Against GCC 8, LLVM Clang 7/8

        With GCC 9 embarking upon its third stage of development where the focus ships to working on bug/regression fixes in preparation for releasing the GCC 9.1 stable compiler likely around the end of Q1’2019, here is a fresh look at the GCC 9 performance with its latest development code as of this week compared to GCC 8.2.0 stable while using an Intel Core i9 7980XE test system running Ubuntu Linux. For good measure are also fresh results from LLVM Clang 7.0 stable as well as LLVM Clang 8.0 SVN for the latest development state of that competing C/C++ open-source compiler.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Xfce Support For “Primary Display” Output Handling Finally Being Squared Away

      The latest feature on deck for the long overdue Xfce 4.14 desktop update is support for the RandR primary display/output functionality.

      The X11 Resize and Rotate (RandR) protocol has long had baked into it the concept of a primary output/display, which is intended to be where the desktop panel(s), icons, notifications and other central functionality of the desktop would reside. Basically, of a multi-monitor configuration, the display head that is most important for your workflow.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • [Krita] Second Edition of “Dessin et peinture numérique avec Krita” published!

        The first edition was written forfor Krita 2.9.11, almost three years ago. A lot of things have changed since then! So Timothée has completely updated this new edition for Krita version 4.1. There are also a number of notes about the new features in Krita 4.

        And more-over, D-Booker worked again on updating and improving the French translation of Krita! Thanks again to D-Booker edition for their contribution.

      • [Krita] Interview with HoldXtoRevive

        About 4 years ago I downloaded GIMP as I wanted to get back into art after not drawing for about 15 years. I got a simple drawing tablet soon after and things just progressed from there.

      • Elisa in FreeBSD

        Elisa (product page, release announcements blog) is a music player designer for excellent integration into the KDE Plasma desktop (but of course it runs everywhere, including some non-Free platforms). I had used it a few times, but had not gotten around to packaging it. So today I threw together a FreeBSD port of Elisa, and you’ll be able to install it from official packages whenever the package cluster gets around to it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Richard Hughes: More fun with libxmlb

        A few days ago I cut the 0.1.4 release of libxmlb, which is significant because it includes the last three features I needed in gnome-software to achieve the same search results as appstream-glib.

      • Usability Testing in Open Source Software (SeaGL)

        I’ve been involved in Free/open source software since 1993, but recently I developed an interest in usability testing in open source software. During a usability testing class in my Master’s program in Scientific and Technical Communication (MS) I studied the usability of GNOME and Firefox. Later, I did a deeper examination of the usability of open source software, focusing on GNOME, as part of my Master’s capstone. (“Usability Themes in Open Source Software,” 2014.)

        Since then, I’ve joined the GNOME Design Team where I help with usability testing.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • [Spanish GNU/Linux Distribution Void Linux] New images now available!

        Void also comes in musl C flavors, which use the musl C library, a lightweight alternative to the popular glibc library.

        Did you know you can run Void in the cloud? We provide ready to upload images for Google Cloud Platform that are compatible with the always free tier! You can also easily build images for other cloud providers from our ready to run x64 tarballs.

        Our rootfs tarballs can also be used anywhere you want a Void Linux chroot and are available for all architectures we currently compile for.

        You can find all images and rootfs tarballs at https://alpha.de.repo.voidlinux.org/live/current, or in the /live/current directory on any mirror near you.

      • Systemd-Free, XBPS-Powered Void Linux Releases New Images

        If you are looking for a new Linux distribution to experiment with, Void Linux is one of the interesting ones that is an original creation and community driven that often doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Void Linux is built off its BSD-licensed XBPS packaging system, is a rolling-release platform, uses runit as the init system instead of systemd, opts for LibreSSL in place of OpenSSL, optional musl libc usage, and has a wealth of other changes.

        Void Linux has put out new images for getting started with the Linux distribution and appears to be their first ISO re-spins since October of 2017. Granted, it’s a rolling-release, but new install media is always helpful particularly with newer hardware.

    • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Project releases Debian 9.6

        The Debian Project announced the release of Debian 9.6 on November 10, 2018; it is the sixth release of Debian 9 which was released in 2017.

        Debian, one of the oldest GNU/Linux distributions that is still in active development, is the basis for other GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Kali Linux, or Tails.

        The new version of Debian 9.6 is available as a standalone ISO image download and the included update manager that administrators may use to upgrade to the new version.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.6 “Stretch” Released with Hundreds of Updates, Download Now

        The Debian Project announced the general availability of the sixth point release to the latest stable Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.6 “Stretch” is here about four months after the 9.5 point release to offer users up-to-date installation and live mediums if they want to deploy the Linux-based operating system on new computers or want to reinstall without having to download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories. This release includes more than 270 updated packages.

        “This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems,” Laura Arjona Reina wrote in the mailing list announcement. “Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “stretch” media.”

      • Chris Lamb: Review: The “Trojan Room” coffee

        I was recently invited to give a seminar at the Cambridge University’s Department of Computer Science and Technology on the topic of Reproducible Builds.

      • Results produced while at “X2Go – The Gathering 2018″ in Stuttgart

        Over the last weekend, I have attended the FLOSS meeting “X2Go – The Gathering 2018″ [1]. The event took place at the shackspace make spacer in Ulmerstraße near S-Bahn station S-Untertürckheim. Thanks to the people from shackspace for hosting us there, I highly enjoyed your location’s environment. Thanks to everyone who joined us at the meeting. Thanks to all event sponsors (food + accomodation for me). Thanks to Stefan Baur for being our glorious and meticulous organizer!!!

        Thanks to my family for letting me go for that weekend.

        Especially, a big thanks to everyone, that I was allowed to bring our family dog “Capichera” with me to the event. While Capichera adapted quite ok to this special environment on sunny Friday and sunny Saturday, he was not really feeling well on rainy Sunday (aching joints, unwilling to move, walk interact).

      • Derivatives
        • Our achievements in 2018

          On October 12, we started our yearly donation campaign. Today, we summarize what we achieved with your help in 2018 and renew our call for donations.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • 8 Reasons Why You Should Stick With Ubuntu Linux

            Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system remains the most popular version of desktop Linux. But once the company stopped developing its own Unity interface, its focus moved elsewhere. Canonical’s eyes are now set more on the cloud than the device you’re reading this on.

            If Canonical no longer seems to care all that much about the Ubuntu desktop, why should you? Turns out there are plenty of reasons to stick with this particular version of Linux.

          • Using Juju to manage evolving complex software

            With developers increasingly moving towards microservices – and with the growing prevalence of the cloud as the default platform – software has become more complex than ever.

            While installing all of the interconnected applications that make up a modern software stack is becoming easier, the real sting in the tail comes on day two and beyond – when it is time to maintain, upgrade, and scale the deployment.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 553
          • Samsung Linux on DeX beta hands-on: do almost everything on your phone

            Among the various Linux on Android implementations, Samsung’s Linux on DeX definitely looks the most polished ready to use solution, even if it’s still in beta form. Although it uses a two-year-old version of Ubuntu, there is already a lot that can be done from that. Plus, just like Android users, Linux users can be pretty creative and only time will tell if they’ll be able to use Linux on DeX to make almost any Linux distro work.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Google open-sources AI that can distinguish between voices with 92 percent accuracy

    Diarization — the process of partitioning out a speech sample into distinctive, homogeneous segments according to who said what — doesn’t come as easy to machines as it does to humans, and training a machine learning algorithm to perform it is tougher than it sounds. A robust diarization system must be able to associate new individuals with speech segments that it hasn’t previously encountered.

  • Google Chrome Labs releases open source, browser-based image optimization tool, Squoosh

    Demonstrated briefly at the Chrome Dev Summit, Squoosh’s top priority is speed, and is primarily just a demo of new capabilities that recent improvements to Chrome already bring to the table. For example, by using WebAssembly, Squoosh is able to use image codecs that are not typically available in the browser.

  • OpenStack Foundation Board Expands Mission to Host New Open Source Projects as Part of Open Infrastructure Transformation
  • Wind River and CENGN Assist Open Source Developers in Accelerating StarlingX Adoption for Edge Computing Applications
  • Slidecast: BigDL Open Source Machine Learning Framework for Apache Spark

    In this video, Beenish Zia from Intel presents: BigDL Open Source Machine Learning Framework for Apache Spark.

  • Man embraces open source in push to lure tech talent

    The chief risk officer at one of the world’s largest hedge funds is competing with Google for technologists. And the applicants are asking to keep their open-source allegiance.

    The Man Group’s Darrel Yawitch said new hires are looking for assurances from the hedge fund that they will be permitted to contribute to the open-source coding communities that have underpinned some of the biggest advances in technology’s brief history, from the World Wide Web to the Android operating system.

  • Have you seen these personalities in open source?

    When I worked with the Mozilla Foundation, long before the organization boasted more than a hundred and fifty staff members, we conducted a foundation-wide Myers-Briggs indicator. The Myers-Briggs is a popular personality assessment, one used widely in career planning and the business world. Created in the early twentieth century, it’s the product of two women: Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, who built the tool on Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types (which was itself based on clinical observations, as opposed to “controlled” scientific studies). Each of my co-workers (53 at the time) answered the questions. We were curious about what kind of insights we would gain into our individual personalities, and, by extension, about how we’d best work together.

  • Twistlock Improves Cloud-Native Security With Discovery Tool

    There is a simple truism in much of IT, and that is that organizations can’t manage what they’re not aware of. As organizations increasingly make use of distributed teams that use cloud-native services, there is a nontrivial risk of application sprawl.

    On Nov. 13, container security vendor Twistlock announced its new open-source cloud-native discovery tool, in an effort to help identify and locate applications running on different public cloud services. The Cloud Discovery tool’s initial release supports scanning on the three major public cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

    “Most customers tend to have a multicloud cloud strategy and then you combine that with the fact that everybody has got multiple accounts for different projects or business units, and so forth,” John Morello, chief technology officer at Twistlock, told eWEEK. “You get this big equation where organizations try to figure out all the possible things that could be out there deployed and running.

  • Twistlock Releases Cloud Discovery Open Source Tool for Cloud Native Services
  • Events
    • Why the Linux console has sixteen colors (SeaGL)

      At the 2018 Seattle GNU/Linux Conference after-party, I gave a lightning talk about why the Linux console has only sixteen colors. Lightning talks are short, fun topics. I enjoyed giving the lightning talk, and the audience seemed into it, too. So I thought I’d share my lightning talk here.

    • Jesień Linuksowa 2018

      Last weekend I participated in the conference Jesień Linuksowa 2018 in Krakow, Poland. It was my first time in a country with so much tragic historical experiences.

      On the hand, I was impressed by the community members and the organization of the event. We celebrated another edition of Linux Autumn in the hotel Gwarek and my post-event wrap up will take into consideration seven basic points:

      Organizers

      This time I was accompanied by my friend Ana Garcia, who is a student at the University of Edinburgh and the members of the organization were supportive and kind all the time with us. We felt a warm environment since we arrive at night in the middle of the fog at midnight. They helped us with our talks and workshops we offer related to parallelization.

      We meet new friends! Thanks to Dominik, Rafal, Filip, Linter and Matej from Red Hat.

    • Sustain OSS 2018: quick rewind

      This year, I attended the second edition of the Sustain Open Source Summit (a.k.a. Sustain OSS) on October 25th, 2018 in London. Sustain OSS is a one-day discussion on various topics about sustainability in open source ecosystems. It’s also a collection of diverse roles across the world of open source. From small project maintainers to open source program managers at the largest tech companies in the world, designers to government employees, there is a mix of backgrounds in the room. Yet there is a shared context around the most systemic problems faced by open source projects, communities, and people around the world.

      The shared context is the most valuable piece of the conference. As a first-time attendee, I was blown away by the depth and range of topics covered by attendees. This blog post covers a narrow perspective of Sustain OSS through the sessions I participated and co-facilitated in.

    • A Review of Hacktoberfest Year 5!
    • Hacktoberfest Celebrates 5th Anniversary

      Five years ago the community team at DigitalOcean wanted to create a program to inspire open source contributions. That first year, in 2014, the first Hacktoberfest participants were asked for 50 commits, and those who completed the challenge received a reward of swag. 676 people signed up and 505 forged ahead to the finish line, earning stickers and a custom limited-edition T-shirt.

      This year that number is an astounding 46,088 completions out of 106,582 sign-ups. We’ve seen it become an entry point to developers contributing to open source projects: much more than a program, it’s clear that Hacktoberfest has become a global community movement with a shared set of values and passion for giving back.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Ups the Ante with Latest Test Pilot Experiment: Price Wise and Email Tabs

        Over the last few years, the Test Pilot team has developed innovative features for Firefox desktop and mobile, collaborating directly with Firefox users to improve the browser – from reminders to return to a tab on your desktop to a simple and secure way to keep track of your passwords.

        Today, just in time for the holiday shopping season, the Firefox Test Pilot team is introducing Price Wise and Email Tabs — the latest experimental features designed to give users more choice and transparency when shopping online. These game-changing desktop tools are sure to make shopping a breeze with more options to save, share, track and shop. We’ve also made a few updates to the Test Pilot program itself to make it even easier to become a part of the growing Firefox users testing new features.

      • Let Price Wise track prices for you this holiday shopping season

        The online shopping experience is really geared towards purchases that are made immediately. Countless hours have been spent to get you checked out as soon as possible. If you know what you want, and you’re happy with the price, this is great. On the other hand, sometimes you want to take your time, and wait for a deal. For those times, we have our new Test Pilot experiment, Price Wise.

      • Track Prices and Send One-Step Email Links With Firefox’s New Test Pilot Experiments

        Firefox Test Pilot is Mozilla’s way to test out interesting new features. Some of these features see the light of the day, and others just vanish into thin air. However, that doesn’t stop the Firefox Pilot team from experimenting with browser.

        Today, Firefox announced two new such experiments — namely Price Wise and Email Tabs. Both are ridiculously useful for a user who would like to crack tedious work in mere seconds.

      • Shop intelligently with Price Wise

        Tell Price Wise to keep an eye on a product, and it’s added to your watch list.
        Price Wise will automatically monitor the prices of products on your watch list. When they drop, we’ll let you know:

        When the price drops, Price Wise alerts you with a colorful heads-up.
        Price checks are done locally, so your shopping data never leaves Firefox. We’re particularly excited about that; Price Wise is the first Firefox feature designed around Fathom, a toolkit for understanding the content of webpages you browse.
        Existing software like this works by tracking you across the web, and it’s often run by advertisers and social networks seeking to learn more about you. Your browser can do these checks for you, while making sure the gathered information never leaves your computer. We know it’s possible to deliver great utility while protecting your privacy, and want you to get a great deal without getting a raw deal.

      • Mozilla Reps Community: New Council Members – Fall 2018 Elections

        We are very happy to announce that our 2 new Council members Monica Bonilla and Yofie Setiawan are fully on-boarded and already working moving the Mozilla Reps program forward. A warm welcome from all of us. We we are very excited to have you and can’t wait to build the program together.

      • Sharing links via email just got easier thanks to Email Tabs

        If your family is anything like ours, the moment the calendar flips to October, you’re getting texts and emails asking for holiday wish lists. Email remains one of the top ways people save and share online, so you likely do what we do: help make everyone’s life easier by diligently copy and pasting the URLs, titles and descriptions into a list. What if Firefox could make that process easier? Thanks to our new Test Pilot experiment Email Tabs, it can.

      • Mozilla Reps Community: Rep of the Month – October 2018

        Please join us in congratulating Tim Maks van den Broek, our Rep of the Month for October 2018!

        Tim is one of our most active members in the Dutch community. During his 15+ years as a Mozilla Volunteer he has touched many parts of the Project. More recently his focus is on user support and he is active in our Reps Onboarding team.

      • As far as I’m concerned, email signing/encryption is dead

        A while back, I used to communicate a lot with users of my popular open source project. So it made sense to sign emails and let people verify — it’s really me writing. It also gave people a way to encrypt their communication with me.

        The decision in favor of S/MIME rather than PGP wasn’t because of any technical advantage. The support for S/MIME is simply built into many email clients by default, so the chances that the other side would be able to recognize the signature were higher.

      • Firefox 64 Beta 8 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday November 09th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 64 Beta 8.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Gabriela, gaby2300.

        From Bangladesh team: Maruf Rahman, Tanvir Rahman, Md. Raihan Ali, Sajedul Islam, Rizbanul Hasan, Mehedi Hasan, Md. Rahimul Islam, Shah Yashfique Bhuian.

  • Databases
    • Michael Howard: Embrace of open source is destroying ‘artificial definitions’ of legacy vendors

      Michael Howard, Berkley grad and alumnus of Oracle and EMC, took the helm at open-source biz MariaDB almost three years ago. Reflecting on how things have changed, he reckons the biggest shift is in how both investors and enterprise have embrace open-source. Now, he has an IPO on his mind.

      In an interview with El Reg, Howard – who, as noted at the time of his appointment, has worked for a number of companies who were slurped up by bigger businesses – said the end of 2018 will see the end of the first year of a three-year plan he devised for the firm.

      Broadly, Howard sets out an overall roadmap of three pieces for the firm. Unsurprisingly, cloud native technology is first up. The other two are adaptive scalability, with the aim of supporting “mom and pop shops all the way to planet-scale processing for the largest social platforms”, and boosting the quality of service by professionalising people and technology, for instance through machine learning.

      But in addition to these technical goals, there’s the business side of things, and the boss said the plan “is being able to go public; to be able to get the company buttoned up at the right revenue level to go public”.

      “We have a voracious appetite for getting to our strategic goals, and part of that is revenue and going public.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Capsicum

      I spent a couple of years evangelizing about Capsicum. I wrote many articles about it. So, it is very natural that I would also like to update you on this blog about the progress of the Capsicum project in FreeBSD, because this is what I’m doing in my free time. That said I feel that this blog wouldn’t be completed without some introduction to what Capsicum is. This post should fill this gap. Over the next weeks and months we will extend this topic and discuss different parts of Capsicum. Without further introduction let’s jump into the topic

  • Licensing/Legal
    • FSF Update Rules Commons Clause Non-Free

      The Free Software Foundation has added the Commons Clause to its list of non-free licenses among a number of recent updates to its licensing materials. Other changes clarify the GNU GPL position on translating code into another language and how to handle projects that combine code under multiple licenses.

    • More companies want fairness to open source license enforcement

      The 16 new companies in this announcement are a diverse set of technology firms whose participation makes evident the worldwide reach of the GPL Cooperation Commitment. They comprise globally-operating companies based on four continents and mark a significant expansion of the initiative into the Asia-Pacific region. They represent various industries and areas of commercial focus, including IT services, software development tools and platforms, social networking, fintech, semiconductors, e-commerce, multimedia software and more.

      The GPL Cooperation Commitment is a means for companies, individual developers and open source projects to provide opportunities for licensees to correct errors in compliance with software licensed under the GPLv2 family of licenses before taking action to terminate the licenses. Version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2), version 2 of the GNU Library General Public License (LGPLv2), and version 2.1 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv2.1) do not contain express “cure” periods to fix noncompliance prior to license termination. Version 3 of the GNU GPL (GPLv3) addressed this by adding an opportunity to correct mistakes in compliance. Those who adopt the GPL Cooperation Commitment extend the cure provisions of GPLv3 to their existing and future GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x-licensed code.

    • What you need to know about the GPL Cooperation Commitment

      Imagine what the world would look like if growth, innovation, and development were free from fear. Innovation without fear is fostered by consistent, predictable, and fair license enforcement. That is what the GPL Cooperation Commitment aims to accomplish.

      Last year, I wrote an article about licensing effects on downstream users of open source software. As I was conducting research for that article, it became apparent that license enforcement is infrequent and often unpredictable. In that article, I offered potential solutions to the need to make open source license enforcement consistent and predictable. However, I only considered “traditional” methods (e.g., through the court system or some form of legislative action) that a law student might consider.

    • Introducing Jake Glass, FSF campaigns and licensing intern

      Hello software freedom supporters! I am Jake Glass, and I will be interning for both the campaigns and the licensing teams this fall/winter. I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where I earned an engineering degree in computer science, and I am currently in the process of applying to law school.

      During my summers as an undergraduate, I worked in software development, where I began to consider the ethical ramifications of computing. I realized that my peers and I were often unintentionally building tools to exert social and political control. As the Snowden leaks were emerging around this time, it became clear to me that the pervasiveness of these tools is an imminent threat to freedom worldwide. This was my original motivation in supporting the free software movement: how can we be sure the programs running on our own machines are not spying on us without having access to the source, as required by the Four Freedoms? My interest in these issues concerning copyrights, patents, and civil rights on the Internet has convinced me to attend law school, where I can engage in formal study of these topics.

    • Free Software Foundation updates their licensing materials, adds Commons Clause and Fraunhofer FDK AAC license

      Commons Clause is added to their list of non-free licenses. This license is added to an existing free license to prevent using the work commercially, rendering the work nonfree. By making commons clause as non-free, FSF recommends users to fork software using it. So, if a previously existing project that was under a free license adds the Commons Clause, users should work to fork that program and continue using it under the free license. If it isn’t worth forking, users should simply avoid the package.

      This move by FSF sparked a controversy that the Commons Clause piggybacks on top of existing free software licenses and thus could mislead users to think that software using it is free software when it’s, in fact, proprietary by their definitions.

      However, others found the combination of a free software license + Commons Clause to be very compelling.

      A hacker news user pointed out, “I’m willing to grant to the user every right offered by free software licenses with the exception of rights to commercial use. If that means my software has to be labeled as proprietary by the FSF, so be it, but at the same time I’d prefer not to mislead users into thinking my software is being offered under a vanilla free software license.”

      Another said, “I don’t know there is any controversy as such. The FSF is doing its job and reminding everyone that freedom includes the freedom to make money.

      If your software is licensed under something that includes the Commons Clause then it isn’t free software, because users are not free to do what they want with it.”

  • Programming/Development
    • C language update puts backward compatibility first

      A working draft of the standard for the next revision of the C programming language, referred to for now as “C2x,” is now available for review.

      Most of the changes thus far approved for C2x don’t involve adding new features, but instead clarify and refine how C should behave in different implementations and with regard to its bigger brother C++. The emphasis on refinement is in line with how previous revisions to C—C11 and most recently C17—have unfolded.

    • 4 tips for learning Golang

      My university’s freshman programming class was taught using VAX assembler. In data structures class, we used Pascal—loaded via diskette on tired, old PCs in the library’s computer center. In one upper-level course, I had a professor that loved to show all examples in ADA. I learned a bit of C via playing with various Unix utilities’ source code on our Sun workstations. At IBM we used C—and some x86 assembler—for the OS/2 source code, and we heavily used C++’s object-oriented features for a joint project with Apple. I learned shell scripting soon after, starting with csh, but moving to Bash after finding Linux in the mid-’90s. I was thrust into learning m4 (arguably more of a macro-processor than a programming language) while working on the just-in-time (JIT) compiler in IBM’s custom JVM code when porting it to Linux in the late ’90s.

    • ARMv8.5 Support Lands In GCC Compiler With Latest Spectre Protection

      Landing just in time with the GCC 9 branching being imminent is ARMv8.5-A support in the GNU Compiler Collection’s ARM64/AArch64 back-end.

      This ARMv8.5-A support is an incremental upgrade over the existing ARMv8 support. The ARMv8.5 additions are similar to what we already saw land for LLVM / Clang.

    • Comparing The Quality Of Debug Information Produced By Clang And Gcc

      I’ve had an intuition that clang produces generally worse debuginfo than gcc for optimized C++ code. It seems that clang builds have more variables “optimized out” — i.e. when stopped inside a function where a variable is in scope, the compiler’s generated debuginfo does not describe the value of the variable. This makes debuggers less effective, so I’ve attempted some qualitative analysis of the issue.

      I chose to measure, for each parameter and local variable, the range of instruction bytes within its function over which the debuginfo can produce a value for this variable, and also the range of instruction bytes over which the debuginfo says the variable is in scope (i.e. the number of instruction bytes in the enclosing lexical block or function). I add those up over all variables, and compute the ratio of variable-defined-bytes to variable-in-scope-bytes. The higher this “definition coverage” ratio, the better.

    • Quo vadis, Perl?

      By losing the sight of the strategies in play, I feel the discussion degenerated very early in personal accusations that certainly leave scars while not resulting in even a hint of progress. We are not unique in this situation, see the recent example of the toll it took on Guido van Rossum. I can only sympathize with Larry is feeling these days.

Leftovers
  • All of the Stan Lee cameos from Marvel movies, and why we love them

    Stan Lee is the godfather of modern comics, and his death at age 95, although extremely sad, is a chance to celebrate exactly how much he gave to the world of pop culture. Today, the internet has been flooded with eulogies of his work, life, and his immense impact on comics and film. Many fans fondly recalled the cameos that Lee regularly made in Marvel films over the years, including the pre-Disney Marvel movies, the new Sony Spider-Man Universe, and, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Science
    • Imperial College’s quantum compass cools atoms to navigate without GPS

      Imperial College estimates that just a day without satellite access would cost the UK £1bn, which wouldn’t exactly be ideal. Fortunately, the university has ideas for a backup just in case all the satellites go caput. Though, as you can see from the picture above, it’s probably not quite ready to be built into a running watch, unless the athlete in question also does some serious lifting.

    • Behind-the-scenes audio from Apollo 11 mission made public for first time

      The main air-to-ground recordings and on-board recordings from the historic mission have been publicly available online for decades. But that was just a fraction of the recorded communications for the mission. Thousands of hours of supplementary conversations (“backroom loops”) between flight controllers and other support teams languished in storage at the National Archives and Records Administration building in Maryland—until now.

      Thanks to a year-long project to locate, digitize, and process all that extra audio (completed in July), diehard space fans can now access a fresh treasure trove of minutiae from the Apollo 11 mission. And those records are now preserved for future generations.

  • Hardware
    • Confirmed: Apple’s New T2 Chip In MacBooks Blocks Third-Party Repair

      The Cupertino giant has confirmed to The Verge that its new security-focused T2 chip will require the software check to be performed after components like logic board and Touch ID sensor are repaired. Apple has not mentioned all the components would require the software check to run in order to complete the repair.

      The new T2 security chip brings many security-related features for Mac users. One of the most interesting features is “hardware disconnect” that disconnects any audio device connected to a MacBook as soon as its lid is closed. This feature is touted to bring protection against surveillance and from getting eavesdropped by hackers.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Child care available for only 23 percent of Mississippi’s infants and toddlers, report finds

      Editor’s note: This story led off this week’s Mississippi Learning newsletter, which is delivered free to subscribers’ inboxes with trends and top stories about education in Mississippi. Subscribe today!
      Mississippi’s child care desert is especially evident for infants and toddlers: There are currently only enough spots at licensed child care centers for about 23 percent of the state’s youngest children.
      That’s one of the findings of a new report by the Center for American Progress, which analyzed census data and state child care licensing data to determine the extent to which infant and toddler care is available in nine states, including Mississippi, North Carolina and West Virginia, and in the District of Columbia. The report takes an in-depth look at data revealed last year in another Center for American Progress report that found 42 percent of children under the age of 5 live in a child care desert, defined as areas in which there are either no child care centers or so few centers that at least three children need care for every spot available.

    • What Can Be Learned From Democrat And Republican Delusions On Obamacare

      After a decade of intense political fighting and two of the largest wave elections in history, the United States finally has a quasi-stable political equilibrium on the Affordable Care Act.

      We have Obamacare, just minus the deeply unpopular stuff—i.e., the individual mandate and the Cadillac tax on employer-provided insurance. This fills me with both personal vindication, since this what I advocated Democrats pass in 2010, and deep concern because it shows neither major political party has any idea how to make laws popular.

      When it comes to big pieces of legislation, they are only as popular as the least popular major provision. Most voters don’t evaluate legislation with a complex utilitarian calculation weighing the net value of every provision. Most judge legislation the way they would a pizza. You could have five amazing toppings on that pizza, but if the sixth topping is rotten fish, no one will want to eat your pizza.

      If you understand this axiom and realize none of the so-called political gurus leading either major party in our country do, something becomes clear. The last decade of political fighting over the ACA has been less of a titanic struggle between genius ideological leaders and more of a farcical dark comedy performed by fools.

    • Why drug policy is a feminist issue

      People who use drugs face widespread stigma and criminalisation. This is well-known. But drug policy discussions often centre on men. The experiences of women, trans and gender non-conforming people who use drugs are ignored and silenced – though they face particular challenges accessing care and the gendered stigma of being perceived as unfit parents and ‘fallen’ women.

      In May, I participated in a meeting that AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) co-organised in Berlin with feminists and women who use drugs from across eastern Europe and Central Asia. We carried very different experiences and backgrounds, but had a common purpose: to learn from one another and connect the dots between drug policy and feminism in the region.

      Women shared their experiences with using drugs including shaming and violence from doctors, sexual violence, criminalisation and stigma within their communities. We looked at how feminism could help push for responses centred on their unique experiences. Three days and many conversations later, I was convinced that drug policy was a feminist issue.

    • On Veterans Day, Advocates Warn Against Pence & Trump-Led Attacks on VA Healthcare

      On the federal observance of Veterans Day, we take a closer look at the issue of veterans’ healthcare. On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an article for Fox News touting Trump’s record on veterans’ health and the passage of a policy known as “Veterans Choice,” which is seen by veterans’ advocates as an attempt to drain the Veterans Health Administration of needed resources and eventually force privatization of the system. We’re joined by award-winning journalist and author Suzanne Gordon. Her new book is “Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veterans.” She recently wrote an article for The New York Times titled “By Protecting Veterans’ Health, You May Protect Your Own.”

    • WTO TRIPS Council Debates Competition Law, Plain Packaging’s Spread To Other Products

      The World Trade Organization intellectual property committee met last week with lively discussions on the benefit of IP rights protection for new businesses, and on the role of competition law to prevent abuses of those rights and in particular ensure greater access to medicines. Also, considering the recent WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruling on the tobacco plain packaging, some countries warned against this decision becoming a precedent and spreading to other goods, and undermining trademark protection.

    • Key Hepatitis C Drug Licensed To Medicines Patent Pool, Access Expanded For LMICs

      A key drug to treat hepatitis C has been licensed to the Medicines Patent Pool, enabling generic production and expanding affordable access to the drug in low and middle-income countries, excluding the very largest. The agreement between the Pool and AbbVie had been over a year in the making, MPP Executive Director Charles Gore told Intellectual Property Watch.

  • Security
    • Buttercup – A Free, Secure And Cross-platform Password Manager

      In this modern Internet era, you will surely have multiple accounts on lot of websites. It could be a personal or official mail account, social or professional network account, GitHub account, and ecommerce account etc. So you should have several different passwords for different accounts. I am sure that you are already aware that setting up same password to multiple accounts is crazy and dangerous practice. If an attacker managed to breach one of your accounts, it’s highly likely he/she will try to access other accounts you have with the same password. So, it is highly recommended to set different passwords to different accounts.

    • Container Labeling

      Container policy is defined in the container-selinux package. By default containers run with the SELinux type “container_t” whether this is a container launched by just about any container engine like: podman, cri-o, docker, buildah, moby. And most people who use SELinux with containers from container runtimes like runc, systemd-nspawn use it also.

      By default container_t is allowed to read/execute labels under /usr, read generically labeled content in the hosts /etc directory (etc_t).

      The default label for content in /var/lib/docker and /var/lib/containers is container_var_lib_t, This is not accessible by containers, container_t, whether they are running under podman, cri-o, docker, buildah … We specifically do not want containers to be able to read this content, because content that uses block devices like devicemapper and btrfs(I believe) is labeled container_var_lib_t, when the containers are not running.

      For overlay content we need to allow containers to read/execute the content, we use the type container_share_t, for this content. So container_t is allowed to read/execute container_share_t files, but not write/modify them.

    • How my personal Bug Bounty Program turned into a Free Security Audit for the Serendipity Blog

      This blog and two other sites in scope use Serendipity (also called S9Y), a blog software written in PHP. Through the bug bounty program I got reports for an Open Redirect, an XSS in the start page, an XSS in the back end, an SQL injection in the back end and another SQL injection in the freetag plugin. All of those were legitimate vulnerabilities in Serendipity and some of them quite severe. I forwarded the reports to the Serendipity developers.

      Fixes are available by now, the first round of fixes were released with Serendipity 2.1.3 and another issue got fixed in 2.1.4. The freetag plugin was updated to version 2.69. If you use Serendipity please make sure you run the latest versions.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • IoT security and Linux: Why IncludeOS thinks it has the edge [Ed: Promoting IncludeOS by bashing Linux even though security of IncludeOS is yet unproven; Linux devices' Achilles heel: weak/consistent passwords, open ports]

      Per Buer, CEO and co-founder of Norwegian software company IncludeOS, thinks the growing use of Linux as an embedded operating system is giving it a role for which it is far from perfect.

      “Linux has impressive hardware and software support. It supports just about any protocol and any peripheral. It is all dynamic so anything at any time can connect to a Linux system,” he wrote recently.

      “The result is a massive amount of code and following this a considerable number of potential bugs that could lead to compromise.”

      He thinks his company’s OS offers a better solution. It has created an open-source OS that links into the application at compile time, resulting in one software image where the OS functionality is inside the application and running directly on top of the hardware.

      IncludeOS links only the OS functionality that the application needs into the binary software image, thus reducing both its size and possible attack surfaces. This approach is normally termed a ‘library OS’.

      IncludeOS runs in a single address space, so there are neither interprocess communications nor concepts like user space and kernel space.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #185
    • D-Link’s Central Wifi-Manager Seems To Be Vulnerable To Privilege Escalation Attacks Through Trojan File

      D-Link’s Central Wifi-Manager is quite a nifty tool. It’s a web-based wireless Access Point management tool, enabling you to create and manage multi-site, multi-tenancy wireless networks. Whether deployed on local computer or hosted in the cloud. But it seems there might have been a security issue with the software.

    • Kaspersky starts processing threat data in Europe as part of trust reboot
    • New Linux-Targeting Crypto-Mining Malware Combines Hiding and Upgrading Capabilities [Ed: When your system gets cracked anything can happen afterwards; does not matter whether there's an upgrade or not? No.]

      Japanese multinational cybersecurity firm Trend Micro has detected a new strain of crypto-mining malware that targets PCs running Linux, according to a report published Nov. 8.
      The new strain is reportedly able to hide the malicious process of unauthorized cryptocurrency-mining through users’ CPU by implementing a rootkit component. The malware itself, detected by Trend Micro as Coinminer.Linux.KORKERDS.AB, is also reportedly capable of updating itself.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • One-Hundred Years Later, It’s Time to Disarm Armistice Day

      The sulphurous smoke of cannon fusillades drifted over the field in hazy clouds as an Army chaplain declared in a voice booming with hooah how inspiring he found its scent, how much he loved the smell of the battlefield.

      An Army general then spoke. Those of us gathered there that day were “true patriots,” he said. We could find more “true patriots” like us in Texas and Oklahoma and throughout the Southern US states. We were in Kansas, but he didn’t explain why we could only find them in those states and here, or what especially made us (and them) “true patriots.”

      This was Memorial Day seven years ago at the National Cemetery where just a few months earlier my wife and I had buried our son, Francis. A veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan during some of the worst fighting in the early years of those conflicts, he died at home, like too many other young veterans, a casualty in the aftermath of these wars.

      The blustering and factionalism of that spectacle is strongly etched in our memories. It left us feeling empty, even sickened, not just for ourselves, but for our son, too. It was perhaps an extreme example of how both Memorial Day and Veterans Day have been wrung out of shape since their origins, yet it was also emblematic of the contrasting ways we collectively and individually experience them.

    • Veterans Resist: Deploying Art to Oppose Militarism

      It took me a long time to find words to describe the US-orchestrated injustices that I witnessed and participated in while in Iraq. I’ve now been out of the Army for over a decade, and for nearly half of that time I told few people I had even been in the military.

      Like many veterans, I didn’t know how to talk about war when I came home. People wanted to thank me for my service but they didn’t want to hear how disillusioned I had become with my country. Returning to college, I found that many students weren’t paying attention to the wars. Perhaps most frustrating, I found the frame of reference provided by Hollywood to be a grave distortion of what I had seen and done. I, like most veterans, hadn’t been a sniper, I didn’t defuse bombs, nor had I been in Special Forces. Major films like American Sniper and Zero Dark Thirty only served to confuse the conversation about why the US was occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and what the day-to-day deployment routine really looked like. Ultimately, I repressed my guilt and stayed quiet.

      It wasn’t until I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (now called About Face: Veterans Against the War) that I learned about the history of the veterans’ anti-war movement, simultaneously gaining a vocabulary that corresponded to what I had experienced. Now I had a frame of reference that made sense. I could see how my own war experience fit into the systemic corruption of the military-industrial complex. Finally, I began speaking out against US militarism.

    • Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?

      It’s been another fortnight of mass murder inside Fortress America. Carnage reigns from Coast to Coast, from a progressive synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, to a line-dancing bar in Thousand Oaks, CA. The high-profile shooters? Both white American men: One a 46-year-old die-hard white supremacist, publicly declaring his hatred for Jews and for immigrant “invaders,” opening fire on a morning Shabbat ceremony. The other, a 28-year-old, US Marine veteran, experienced with machine guns from tours in Afghanistan, targeting “College Night,” at the Border Line Bar and Grill, a country music establishment he reportedly frequented. Both commando-style killers wielded legally purchased Glock handguns (and one of them an AR-15 assault rifle), as they each slaughtered nearly a dozen people, just eleven days apart.

      [...]

      Looking back across the sixteen years since the film collected the Oscar for Best Documentary, Bowling for Columbine seems prescient, just as the shooting at Columbine High School that prompted Moore’s film looks more and more like part of a trend that is here to stay. From the 2006 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead, to the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that killed 27, to the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre that same year, to the nightmare in Las Vegas last year that killed 58, to the Parkland, Florida shooting in February that triggered the massive “March for Our Lives,” the shameful ‘records’ set by the Columbine killers have been broken, time and again.

      According to recent reports, the shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA was the 307thmass shooting in 2018 alone. A subset of an American gun violence epidemic that altogether steals tens of thousands of lives per year,‘mass shootings’ in the United States now occur approximately once per day.[iii]

      Compared to other ‘Western powers,’ all these numbers are essentially off the charts. How to explain this ugly American exception?

    • CIA Whistleblower: Brennan and Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution

      Recently declassified documents show that the former CIA director and former director of national intelligence approved illegal spying on Congress and then classified their crime. They need to face punishment, writes John Kiriakou.

      [...]

      Brennan and Clapper, in 2014, ostensibly notified congressional overseers about this, but in a way that either tied senators’ hands or kept them in the dark. They classified the notifications.

      As a result, Grassley knew of the hacking but couldn’t say anything while senators on neither the Intelligence or Judiciary Committees didn’t know.

      It’s a felony to classify a crime. It’s also a felony to classify something solely for the purpose of preventing embarrassment to the CIA.

      For all of this—for the hacking in the first place, and then the classification of that criminal deed—both men belong in prison.

      This kind of over-classification is illegal, but few Americans know that because this law is not enforced. The Justice Department has never brought over-classification charges against a U.S. spying authority.

      But this would be a good place to start.

    • Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary

      When it comes to the ruling elite’s corporate plunder and crimes against humanity, the U.S. national memory’s short and no one, not even its political henchmen, assume blame or suffer real consequences: take Halliburton and former chief executive and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for example. Not only did Cheney plan and justify the invasion, occupation and pilferage of Iraq’s oil, gold bars and national museum treasures under treasonous false pretenses, but its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR Inc.), overcharged the U.S. taxpayer to a tune of more than $2 billion due to collusion engendered by sole source contracting methods and shoddy accounting procedures. It’s even forgotten that Cheney received a $34 million payout from Halliburton when he joined the Vice President ticket in 2000, in advance of his unscrupulous maneuvers, according to news commentator, Chris Matthews; because on November 5th 2018, in celebration of its 100-year anniversary, its chief executives rang the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) opening bell.

      Sadly, as a nation, the U.S. doesn’t recall Cheney’s lies, or his role in planning the contemptible “Shock and Awe” saturation bombing campaign that destroyed a sovereign nation, which posed no threat to the United States, and left the world’s cradle of civilization in ruins. Conveniently, it doesn’t recall the over 500,000 deaths from war related causes, as reported by the Huffington Post in its 2017 updated article; nor does it recall that obliterating Iraq’s government created a sociopolitical vacuum that enabled the exponential growth of the CIA’s unique brand of Islamofascism and its resulting terrorism, which has culminated in war-torn Syria and Yemen.

      Iraq’s only “crime” against the United States, if you want to call it that, was being hogtied by Washington’s sanctions and embargo against it – in what can only be called a Catch 22 situation. Iraq couldn’t do business with U.S. corporations not because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to, but because the U.S. government effectively barred Iraq from doing so. This Catch 22 situation is presently being repeated in Venezuela and Iran in advance of its planned invasion and occupation.

    • Could integration help Ukraine’s Roma?

      Since the beginning of 2018, there have been five attacks on temporary Roma settlements in Ukraine. After people arrived in Kyiv, Ternopil and Lviv areas for seasonal work from other areas of the country, mostly Zakarpattya in the southwest, nationalist extremist groups evicted Roma from their camps, setting fire to tents and household goods. These far-right groups were angered by the fact that Roma set up camp in parks and wooded areas, while the police “did nothing about it”.

      In most cases, the attackers were charged merely with “hooliganism”, although the additional charge of “infringement of the equal rights of citizens in connection with their racial or ethnic origin or religious identity” was added in relation to attacks in Kyiv and Lviv after pressure from activists. In the most recent attack, in the Lviv area, a 24-year-old man, David Pap, was murdered, and four more were injured.

      Civil society remained unsatisfied with Ukrainian law enforcement’s reaction on the attacks against Roma settlements. Attacks on Roma aren’t only offences under the criminal charges of hooliganism, murder and infringement of equality. This kind of persecution contravenes Article 24 of Ukraine’s Constitution, which states that “there can be no privileges or restrictions on grounds of race, colour of skin, political, religious or other principles, gender, ethnic or social background, material position, place of residence, language or any other factor”.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Killing the Messenger: Truth in a Time of Universal Deceit

      When telling the truth is a revolutionary act, journalists and whistleblowers are targets. When politicians attack freedom of speech, media becomes weaponized.

      And here we are.

      How ironic that the government of Turkish President Erdoğan is postured as truth-leaker in the apparent gruesome murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey is the leading per-capita jailer of journalists, whose “crime” often consists of speaking out against the repressive regime.

      CIA Director Gina Haspel’s recent meeting with Erdoğan about the Khashoggi case raises questions. Declassified cables reveal that when Haspel led a “black site” CIA prison in Thailand, prisoners were subjected to “extended sessions of physical violence, wall slamming, box confinement, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, shackling, stress positions, and waterboarding.” She later admitted to “being an advocate” of destroying evidence.

    • Crucifying Julian Assange

      The Democratic Party—seeking to blame its election defeat on Russian “interference” rather than the grotesque income inequality, the betrayal of the working class, the loss of civil liberties, the deindustrialization and the corporate coup d’état that the party helped orchestrate—attacks Assange as a traitor, although he is not a U.S. citizen. Nor is he a spy. He is not bound by any law I am aware of to keep U.S. government secrets. He has not committed a crime. Now, stories in newspapers that once published material from WikiLeaks focus on his allegedly slovenly behavior—not evident during my visits with him—and how he is, in the words of The Guardian, “an unwelcome guest” in the embassy. The vital issue of the rights of a publisher and a free press is ignored in favor of snarky character assassination.

    • Crucifying Julian Assange

      JULIAN Assange’s sanctuary in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has been transformed into a little shop of horrors. He has been largely cut off from communicating with the outside world for the last seven months. His Ecuadorian citizenship, granted to him as an asylum seeker, is in the process of being revoked. His health is failing. He is being denied medical care. His efforts for legal redress have been crippled by the gag rules, including Ecuadorian orders that he cannot make public his conditions inside the embassy in fighting revocation of his Ecuadorian citizenship.
      Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has refused to intercede on behalf of Assange, an Australian citizen, even though the new government in Ecuador, led by Lenín Moreno — who calls Assange an ‘inherited problem’ and an impediment to better relations with Washington —is making the WikiLeaks founder’s life in the embassy unbearable. Almost daily, the embassy is imposing harsher conditions for Assange, including making him pay his medical bills, imposing arcane rules about how he must care for his cat and demanding that he perform a variety of demeaning housekeeping chores.
      The Ecuadorians, reluctant to expel Assange after granting him political asylum and granting him citizenship, intend to make his existence so unpleasant he will agree to leave the embassy to be arrested by the British and extradited to the United States. The former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, whose government granted the publisher political asylum, describes Assange’s current living conditions as ‘torture.’

      His mother, Christine Assange, said in a recent video appeal, ‘Despite Julian being a multi-award-winning journalist, much loved and respected for courageously exposing serious, high-level crimes and corruption in the public interest, he is right now alone, sick, in pain — silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact and being tortured in the heart of London. The modern-day cage of political prisoners is no longer the Tower of London. It’s the Ecuadorian Embassy.’
      ‘Here are the facts,’ she went on. ‘Julian has been detained nearly eight years without charge. That’s right. Without charge. For the past six years, the UK government has refused his request for access to basic health needs, fresh air, exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and access to proper dental and medical care. As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. His examining doctors warned his detention conditions are life-threatening. A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes in the embassy in London.’

    • Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador

      Lenin Moreno won Ecuador’s presidency in 2017 by campaigning to continue the economic policies of Rafael Correa (a leftist who was in office from 2007 until 2017) but upon taking office immediately shifted dramatically to the right. Andres Arauz, a former member of Correa’s economic team whom I interviewed for Counterpunch in May, provides an update on Moreno’s remarkably cynical Neoliberal Restoration. In addition to the troubling state of Ecuador’s economy under Moreno despite increased oil prices that help Ecuador, Aruaz discusses major assaults on the rule of law, looming corporate capture of Ecuador’s highest courts (including the role played by some environmentalists in helping it happen) and the fact that candidates in upcoming elections are forced keep alliances with Correa secret to avoid disqualification.

      [...]

      Additionally, Moreno’s accused Correa’s government of having exceeded a legal public debt limit, but then his brilliant solution to this alleged problem wasn’t to reduce the debt, like Correa famously did in 2008-9, but to remove the legal limit. A law was approved to remove it entirely for the next 4 years. That generates concern, because now this government has no limit.

      The government also now requires that any surplus revenue from high oil prices has to go into a fund. The budget was based on a price of $45 per barrel, but prices this year have averaged around $70. In spite of the fact that the law is in force, the fund hasn’t been created. Not one dollar has been deposited in any such fund, so they disregard their own self-imposed “austerity”. Why? The reason is that the government also issued two decrees.

      One decree eliminated the Law of Energy Sovereignty that established that windfall oil revenues were to be shared 50/50 with the Ecuadorian government. So that law no longer exists. A second decree did the same in the mining sector. The windfall revenues are no longer available to the government because they have given them away to transnational corporations. It shows the implications of Moreno’s political about face.

      Another thing is the so called “Trole” law that was approved a few months ago. It changed a bunch of regulations and was aimed at blocking the state’s ability to finance itself internally, to get loans from within the country. That was clearly done to be in tune with transnational capital markets. The best example of this is that instead of getting $500 million internally – something that would have been very easy for the Central Bank or the Social Security institute to provide – the government had to go to Goldman Sachs and guarantee the loan with $1.2 billion in bonds. So the sustainability of our public finances is now a concern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA

      On Thursday, November 8, a federal court in Montana ordered a pause in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Sounds like cause for celebration, doesn’t it? It’s not. Nothing can stop Keystone XL, and the reason is NAFTA.

      The order from Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court for the District of Montana came in a lawsuit brought by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), North Coast Rivers Alliance, and other environmental and Native American groups. Defendants are the US State Department, which approves trans-border oil pipelines, and TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based corporation which is constructing KXL, a 1,179-mile long oil pipeline which will run from oil fields in Alberta, Canada to Nebraska, USA and from there via an already-existing pipeline to refineries in Texas.

      In his 54-page order, Judge Morris held that the State Department had failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of approving TransCanada’s permit application, particularly the impact the KXL pipeline would have on global climate change. KXL will transport Canadian tar sands oil, crude with a high carbon content. Judge Morris ordered that work on the pipeline be suspended until the State Department could conduct further environmental studies. Judge Morris’ serious treatment of global climate change places him in sharp contrast with President Donald Trump who dismisses climate change as a Chinese hoax.

    • Crazy Footage Shows Dog Playing With Wild Bears [Video]

      You might have also seen that recent drone video of the baby bear fighting its way through the snow to its mother. Cute, sure, but also another reminder of how drone operators are harassing animals to get the perfect shot.

    • Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity

      Let me tell you about why I woke up crying today. It has to do with just how close we are to full-blown climate disaster. I was thinking about children who are already experiencing the horrible consequences of global warming, and I was thinking about particular children I love and what’s in store for them. Most of all, I was thinking about the unthinkable: that we are on the verge of ensuring that most, if not all, life on Earth will be snuffed out.

      Everyone should be tossing and turning in their beds unable to sleep, experiencing the raw emotions that led me to tears this morning.

      This is not a joke, or a drill. This is it. Decision-point for humankind. The UN says we have to turn things around within 12 years to avoid catastrophe. Others give us even less time.

      We need to act. And we need to act quickly. But we need to act rationally as well. It won’t help to run out and just “do something, anything” to fight for our future. We need to look honestly at whether the things we’ve been doing so far are effective. They aren’t.

    • Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg

      The World Social Forum’s ‘Thematic Forum on Mining and Extractivism’ convenes from November 12-15 here in Johannesburg, just after the Southern Africa People’s Tribunal on Transnational Corporations. In between, at the notorious 2012 massacre site on the platinum belt to the west, there’s a launch of a new book – Business as Usual after Marikana– critical not only of the mining house Lonmin but of its international financiers and buyers.

      This is the moment for a profoundly critical standpoint to take root, unhindered by ineffectual reformism associated with Corporate Social Responsibility gimmicks and the mining sector’s civilised-society watchdogging at the mainly uncritical Alternative Mining Indaba. That NGO-dominated event occurs annually in Cape Town every February, at the same time and place where the extractive mega-corporations gather.

      The Thematic Forum firmly opposes ‘extractivism.’ Unlike the Indaba, it aims to connect the dots between oppressions, defining its target as extraction of “so-called natural resources” in a way that is “devastating and degrading,” since mining exacerbates “conditions of global warming and climate injustice. It subjects local economies to a logic of accumulation that privately benefits corporations,” and represses “traditional, indigenous and peasant communities by violations of human rights, affecting in particular the lives of women and children.”

      The last point is not incidental, as two of the main organisers are the Southern Africa Rural Women’s Assembly and the WoMin network: “African Women Unite Against Destructive Resource Extraction.” Inspired by Amadiba Crisis Committee activists in the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, they’ve campaigned hard for the #Right2SayNo.

    • West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry Keeps Pushing to Whittle Away Payments to Residents

      For decades, Arnold and Mary Richards collected monthly royalty checks — most recently from $1,000 to $1,500 — for the natural gas sucked up from beneath their West Virginia farm by small, old wells.

      So in 2016, when EQT Corp. drilled six new gas wells, the Ritchie County couple expected to see their royalty payments skyrocket. The much-larger wells would collect far more natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, which is fueling the boom in the state’s gas industry.

      The Richards’ checks did grow considerably. But the couple also saw something they didn’t expect: EQT was cutting the size of those new checks.

    • In an Age of Climate Change, Even “Titanic II” Is Not Safe From Icebergs

      Titanic II is set to sail in 2022. It’s a $500 million replica of the doomed Titanic that hit a North Atlantic iceberg in 1912. A local news report about the new ship postulated this logical but not valid prevailing attitude regarding climate change today: “The Titanic II will undoubtedly have less trouble with icebergs because of global warming.”

      This statement could not be further from reality. If we as a culture could just remember that climate change is almost always not as it seems, it might be possible that we could survive as a species. On a warmer planet, cold extremes can become more common, drought can increase with more rainfall and icebergs can become more numerous.

    • “An Incredible Victory”: Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline Praise Judicial Order Blocking Construction

      On Thursday, a federal judge in Montana temporarily halted the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands region in Alberta to refineries as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. The court’s decision will require the Trump administration to review more thoroughly the potential negative impacts of the pipeline on the surrounding environment and climate change. President Obama halted the construction of the pipeline, which is being built by TransCanada, in 2015 following mass public protests, but Trump reversed the order shortly after he came into office. Environmental and indigenous groups hailed the decision Thursday. Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes said in a statement, “The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities.” We speak with May Boeve, executive director of 350 Action, the political arm of the climate organization 350.org.

    • Demands for ‘Real Climate Action’ as Death Toll From California Wildfires Hits Grim Record

      The statewide death toll from the wildfires blazing in northern and southern California hit 31 as firefighters on Monday continued to battle the flames that have already destroyed thousands of structures and displaced thousands of humans and animals alike. The increased death toll comes as scientists rip President Donald Trump’s recent tweet about the fires avoiding any climate crisis connection to the destruction.

      With the Camp Fire raging in nothern California now having claimed the lives of 29 people, it ties the record (pdf) set back in 1933 for the deadliest single wildfire in the state. Having destroyed more than 6,000 structures, it also tops the record for most destructive fire.

      It’s only 25 percent contained, and is one of several wildfires ravaging the state, as firefighters are also battling the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the Hill Fire in Ventura County, and the Nurse Fire in Solano County. And, with over 225 people are still unaccounted for, the death toll may rise.

    • Welcome to the Ultimate Escape Room

      You’ve done enough escape rooms to know the drill by now. You are escorted into what seems like an ordinary room. There’s a table and a chair. On the table is a book. As soon as you step across the threshold, the door closes behind you. You hear the lock click into place.

      You are now trapped in a room with four strangers. Three of them look as concerned as you are. The fourth is nonchalant.

      The instructions this time are a little different. As with other escape rooms, you have a certain amount of time to figure out how to get out. Also, you know that clues to the puzzle are hidden somewhere in the room. Figure them out and you’ll be able to unlock the door.

      But here’s the difference: the temperature in this room will go up a degree with every minute that passes. If you and those four strangers can’t figure out how to stop it from rising, you’ll succumb to heat stroke. In other words, if you don’t escape in the allotted time period, you’ll die.

      You immediately set to work looking for the clues. Maybe one or two are in the book on the table or maybe a code is carved on the underside of the table. Maybe you need to use the chair to climb up close enough to scrutinize the crown molding near the ceiling. Three of the strangers are doing what you’re doing: trying to uncover clues.

      The fourth is leaning against the wall, looking relaxed. “It’s just a joke,” he says to no one in particular.

      “I already feel it getting warmer in here,” you respond.

      “It’s just your imagination,” he replies. “Power of suggestion. Fake news.”

      The clock is already ticking. It can’t be your imagination. It’s definitely hotter in the room than when you first entered. You’re sweating. Everyone’s sweating, even the leaning man. “Temperatures naturally fluctuate,” he comments. “It might be going up now, but it will go down again. Count on it.”

  • Finance
    • VA’s software so SNAFU’d that vets were made homeless waiting for benefits

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged that the failure of a new IT system for processing claims for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits has been holding up payments for months and causing financial hardship for thousands of veterans. “Many of our Post-9/11 GI Bill students are experiencing longer than typical wait times to receive monthly housing payments,” the VA said in a statement, with processing times averaging “a little over 35 days” for first-time veteran applicants. More than 82,000 veterans were still waiting for housing payments for the fall semester as of November 8, with some having lost housing as the result of non-payment.

    • RBI refuses to state how much destruction of banned notes cost: RTI

      The RBI had informed in August this year that as much as 99.3 per cent of the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes returned to the banking system.

    • SAP agrees to buy Qualtrics for $8B in cash, just before the survey software company’s IPO

      Enterprise software giant SAP announced today that it has agreed to acquire Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash, just before the survey and research software company was set to go public. The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. Qualtrics last round of venture capital funding in 2016 raised $180 million at a $2.5 billion valuation.

      This is the second-largest ever acquisition of a SaaS company, after Oracle’s purchase of Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016.

    • Jack Ma Heads Toward Retirement With Singles’ Day Record

      In its 10th iteration, the annual Singles’ Day event on Nov. 11 notched 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) in merchandise sales, an increase of 27 percent, according to a tally posted at the event’s media center in Shanghai. The final number compares with 39 percent growth last year.

      Ma will hand the chairman’s role to Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang next year, passing along one of China’s highest profile corporate roles at a time when the country is embroiled in a trade spat with the U.S. Concerns about the impact of those tensions on a slowing economy have contributed to a 16 percent slump in Alibaba’s share price this year.

    • Kyrgyzstan survives on money made by migrant workers, but it doesn’t know how to spend it

      Altynai, 24, doesn’t know what she will do if her parents stop sending money from Russia. She’ll be in a hopeless situation without those 20,000 soms (£220) a month — this money is her only way of surviving. For the past three years, Altynai (name changed) has been living with her grandmother, whose pension isn’t enough to buy anything.

      She says that residents of her village in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan frequently leave to work abroad. There’s never enough jobs here in Leylek district, which is bordered by Tajikistan on three sides. There are no new enterprises being opened. Most people work for low wages in state institutions.

      Indeed, over the past decade, more and more people have been leaving Kyrgyzstan to work abroad. In Russia alone, there are more than 800,000 Kyrgyz citizens on the migration register. Most of them come to work. In 2017, they made money transfers to Kyrgyzstan totalling $2.5 billion — which was more than the total state annual expenditure.

    • What Wells Fargo’s $40.6 Billion in Stock Buybacks Could Have Meant for Its Employees and Customers

      The 2016 corruption scandal at Wells Fargo, in which executives pressured employees to meet “wildly unrealistic sales targets,” created a work environment described as “relentless pressure.” Once revealed, the massive fraud committed against millions of consumers led to congressional hearings, substantial fines by state and federal regulators, and a series of announced changes by Wells in which they committed to “building a better bank.”

      You might think that this renewed commitment by Wells Fargo would start with targeted attention to its workforce. Instead, Wells Fargo has announced that it is laying off workers, while lining the pockets of share traders.

      [...]

      Even worse, Wells Fargo has laid off an additional 26,500 employees since the Trump tax bill. If the company chose to save just one-tenth of the $40.6 billion it has authorized for spending on stock buybacks, all 26,500 of those jobs could have been saved, assuming each employee takes home $100,000 annually.

      Wells Fargo chose to enrich its shareholders at the expense of its workers, and, ultimately, the security of its customers. To build better banks, a better financial sector, and a better economy, we need better rules that encourage productive — not extractive — corporate behavior and foster the shared prosperity US companies can clearly afford to provide.

    • Learning From 3.7 Percent Unemployment: It’s More Than Just a Number

      This is a problem, and not just because it allows economists to avoid being held accountable for their errors. It is also a problem because the denial and obfuscation prevent us from learning from the mistakes and therefore make it more likely they will be repeated.

      The country saw a great example of this sort of obfuscation around the 10th anniversary of the crash of Wall Street’s Lehman Brothers, which is generally regarded as the peak of the financial crisis. The 10th anniversary stories were all about the financial crisis and how it was caused by complex financial instruments that regulators were not able to monitor. In short, history is being written to show that the crisis was a system failure, not the fault of the people guiding economic policy.

      In reality, the main factor causing the Great Recession (and the financial crisis) was the collapse of a massive housing bubble that had been driving the economy. Recognizing the bubble and its impact on the economy didn’t require great insight, it just required paying attention to widely available government data on house prices, construction and consumption that were released monthly. The problem of the housing bubble is basically that the people at the Federal Reserve Board and other economic policy makers were not doing their jobs.

    • Diversion Programs Say They Offer a Path Away From Court, but Critics Say the Tolls Are Hefty

      After he was charged in January with burglary, D’Angelo Springer had a decision to make.

      Springer, 24, had been pulled over after running a stop sign in Kankakee County. He was giving a ride to an acquaintance, who had an arrest warrant in a neighboring county. When officers searched the car, according to police reports, they found a checkbook behind the passenger seat that had been taken in a car break-in. Springer denied he was involved, but he was charged with felony burglary, which could have sent him to prison.

      Before trial, the Kankakee County prosecutors gave Springer another option: He could enroll in a new diversion program the county was offering. If he completed the program and performed community service, his charges would be dropped.

    • Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank

      In November 2016, two of Russia’s largest banks MDM and B&N completed a merger. This new entity now ranked (by size of assets) in the top 10 of all Russian banks and the top 5 for private lenders. Following the merger CEO Mikail Shishkhanov declared, ‘We have laid the foundation for the creation of an international-class bank’.[1] Yet a mere 10 months later it required a bailout in what could be one of the mostly costly rescues in Russian banking history. [2] Mr Shiskhanov blamed these difficulties largely on MDM, whose losses ‘turned out to be much more serious than assumed in the conditions of a falling market’. [3]

      How had those tasked with assessing MDM’s health prior to the merger failed to recognise such problems? Part of the answer lies 6000 kilometres away in the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC), via Ireland’s large shadow banking sector. Irish registered special purpose vehicles (SPVs), or shell companies in common parlance, have become widely used by Russian MNEs for off balance sheet financing and wider tax/regulatory avoidance. Between the years 2005-2016 around €110 billion was raised by Russian connected vehicles in the IFSC, [4] with Russian banks also using it as a location to hide losses. [5]

      Concerned with the latter usage, this article examines MDM’s use of several IFSC based vehicles as part of a scheme that helped to create fictitious assets on its balance sheet, whilst simultaneously hiding losses. By providing loans to these off-balance sheet vehicles the bank was able to increase the size of its assets. These shell companies then used the proceeds to purchase some of the bank’s stock of non-performing loans (NPLs), thereby hiding some of its losses. An examination of the data contained in financial statements of MDM and its associated shell companies allows us to explore this insider dealing scheme, the techniques used to conceal what was happening and its effects on the bank’s balance sheet.

    • UK media say Brexit is becoming a catastrophe

      “Deadlocked,” “Titanic,” “Failing,” and “Life support.” If you believe the British media, the United Kingdom is heading for a Brexit catastrophe.

      Rising political tensions around what seems like the impossible task of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union were displayed in dramatic fashion in the British media over the weekend and on Monday.

      Prime Minister Theresa May has been scrambling to clinch a deal by the end of this month. But she’s facing fierce political headwinds at home and in the European Union.

    • Brexit (and Boris) torpedoed

      When the Argentinian dictatorship of General Galtieri seized the Falkland Islands, known to them as the Malvinas, in 1982, Parliament echoed with the rage of wounded, Anglo-British patriotism. It endorsed the dispatch of a “task force” to ensure Britain’s claim. As the ships sailed across the equator the balance of public opinion opposed the use of force. Then, Thatcher ordered HMS Conqueror to torpedo the antiquated Argentinian battleship Belgrano. The nuclear-powered submarine sunk its target. Over 300 of its crew drowned in the South Atlantic. The ruthless display ensured war would follow. Opinion swung decisively behind the Prime Minister. While some of his soldiers and pilots fought hard, Galtieri’s bravado display of puffed up aggrandisement collapsed, humiliated by an utter lack of preparedness for a real battle.

      Today, it is the Generalissimo of Brexitannia, Boris Johnson, who has been torpedoed. After two long years of preparation the battle of Brexit has finally been joined by a well-aimed, perfectly executed strike which has holed the Leave campaign that he led below the water line. The torpedo was the stunning resignation statement of his younger brother Jo Johnson MP. Johnson junior was Theresa May’s loyal Minister of Transport. Now, he has pulled out of the government denouncing its negotiations with the EU as a catastrophe of statecraft while clinically skewering his brother’s braggadocio. He has pledged to vote against the prime minister’s deal with the EU should it reach the House of Commons, where its defeat is now likely. He has called for a People’s Vote instead, to endorse remaining in the European Union.

      Johnson junior was a Remainer, like all ‘sensible’ ruling class conservatives including the prime minister, and he backed her attempt to deliver a Brexit that ‘works’. But the prime minister could not escape its contradictions. As I have shown the EU is above all a union of regulation. This is its central achievement: a customs union and single market, accomplished with the British, who played a central role in its creation over the course of 40 years. Regulation is not the same as sharing traditional sovereignty and for EU members like the UK who are outside of the Eurozone the classic pillars of sovereignty remain overwhelmingly national. Such is its strength, whatever happens to the common currency, Europe’s regulatory union will continue. Its advantages explain the commitment to continued membership of countries strongly opposed to many of the EU policies. It offers over 500 million people a growing cosmos of opportunity across all their nations with shared human rights and high environmental, safety and employment standards as well as an exceptional open market for capital and business – both manufacturing and services.

    • When Media Say ‘Working Class,’ They Don’t Necessarily Mean Workers—but They Do Mean White

      “Working-class voters tried to send a message in 2016, and they are still trying to send it,” writes columnist David Brooks (New York Times, 11/8/18). By “working class,” he means “white working class,” since people making less than $100,000 voted decisively for Democrats in 2018.

      Since the 2016 elections, corporate media narratives about US politics have fixated on the “white working class” as a pivotal demographic, presented as a hardscrabble assortment of disaffected outsiders. Piece after piece has been published in establishment outlets attempting to decipher the motivations of this racialized socio-economic group, depicted as fighting from the Heartland against “cultural elites” on both coasts.

      [...]

      This misrepresentation of working-class whiteness extends to discussion of the voting habits of organized labor, as in a Washington Post piece (10/10/18) speculating that Sen. Sherrod Brown’s pro-union rhetoric in Ohio might help Democrats “reverse the flight of the white working class to President Trump.” Though the typical union worker is often depicted as a gruff white man nearing his 50s, union membership is more common among African-American workers than whites, at 13.0 percent vs. 10.5 percent.

      Despite the significant number of people of color in the working class, non-white members of this class are rarely talked about as such. While use of the phrase “white working class” has been ubiquitous in political journalism in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, the “black working class” is discussed much less often. While the New York Times will occasionally put out a piece with explicit analysis of working people of color—including one op-ed by Tamara Winfrey-Harris (6/16/18) and another by Alexis Okeowo (6/2/18)—they are few and far between compared to the multitude of pieces published on their white counterparts.

      This promotes a homogenous image of the working class as sweaty, middle-aged white men in hard hats, with MAGA bumper stickers on their pick-up trucks and a fear of social change in their hearts. This depiction erases the multitude of working people who do not meet this stereotype, and ignores the fact that the working class has far more people of color and more women than the professional and ownership classes.

    • The Narrowness of Mainstream Economics Is About to Unravel

      Recent extreme volatility and sharp drops in US stock markets underscore the instability of capitalism yet again. As many commentators now note, another economic downturn looms. We know that all the reforms and regulations imposed in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s failed to prevent both smaller downturns between 1941 and 2008 and then another big crash in 2008. Capitalism’s instability has, for centuries, resisted all efforts to overcome it with or without government interventions. Yet mainstream economics mostly evades an honest confrontation with the social costs of such economic instability. Worse, it evades a direct debate with the Marxian critique that links those costs to an argument that system change would be the best and most “efficient” solution.

    • In Iowa, Pioneering Undergrad Workers Union Keeps Growing

      At a small liberal arts college in rural Iowa, students who work in the libraries, mailroom, and other campus workplaces have undertaken an ambitious organizing drive.

      Two years ago, 350 dining-hall workers at Grinnell College made history when they formed the first union of undergraduate workers at a private college. Now hundreds of other student workers on campus are campaigning to join then.

      Without lawyers or an international union behind them, these young workers represented themselves at the National Labor Relations Board, up against high-powered “union avoidance” lawyers and university administrators—and won. They’re set for a November 27 election.

      Grinnell, founded by abolitionists and once a stop on the underground railroad, has a reputation for its commitment to social justice. Yet this October, Grinnell’s lawyers outrageously claimed that a union would “erode the egalitarian nature” of the college, creating a “caste system” and turning student workers into “an underclass of serfs.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Electoral College Dilemma

      Calling the Electoral College one of the “least understood disasters at the core of our Constitution,” Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig (above) launched a Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy discussion convened to explore the pros and cons of the body that gets the last word on presidential elections.

    • [Old] The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire

      Sinclair is the largest owner of television stations in the United States, with a hundred and ninety-two stations in eighty-nine markets. It reaches thirty-nine per cent of American viewers. The company’s executive chairman, David D. Smith, is a conservative whose views combine a suspicion of government, an aversion to political correctness, and strong libertarian leanings. Smith, who is sixty-eight, has a thick neck, deep under-eye bags, and a head of silvery hair. He is an enthusiast of fine food and has owned farm-to-table restaurants in Harbor East, an upscale neighborhood in Baltimore. An ardent supporter of Donald Trump, he has not been shy about using his stations to advance his political ideology. Sinclair employees say that the company orders them to air biased political segments produced by the corporate news division, including editorials by the conservative commentator Mark Hyman, and that it feeds interviewers questions intended to favor Republicans.

      In some cases, anchors have been compelled to read from scripts prepared by Sinclair. [...]

    • Democrats had a great week. Here’s what we do now.

      Meanwhile, emerging threats to election security remain largely unaddressed under the Trump administration, leaving the integrity of our democracy in question.

      That’s why we need to look ahead now. There are no permanent victories — or losses — in politics. If we want to turn our midterm victories into long-term results, we need to address the problems that got us here in the first place.

    • Facebook’s Secret Weapon for Fighting Election Interference: The Government

      Now, communication lines have started to open between Facebook and federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the company. Facebook also established relationships with state election boards, so it could be alerted to problems as they occurred. Those connections are likely to strengthen ahead of the 2020 presidential election, when foreign interest in election manipulation may be higher. Twitter Inc., too, has strengthened its relationship with federal law enforcement agencies, seeking to protect against foreign influence.

    • Social media companies grapple with new forms of political misinformation

      Jonathan Albright, a researcher at the Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, said that false and misleading information is still running rampant on platforms like Facebook.

      “Many of the dangers that were pointed out years ago have seemed to grow exponentially on Facebook, not unlike the other large social media ‘platforms,’ ” he wrote earlier this month.

      Albright analyzed 250,000 Facebook posts, 5,000 political ads and historic engagement metrics for hundreds of pages and groups on the social media platform.

      [...]

      “People who don’t have the access or ability to verify information, it just gets spread too fast for it to be contained,” Rosenblatt said. “I think it often spreads so fast that by the time fact-checking gets underway, people have already settled into their conclusions.”

    • Burned to death because of a rumour on WhatsApp

      Rumours of child abductors spread through WhatsApp in a small town in Mexico. The rumours were fake, but a mob burned two men to death before anyone checked.

    • Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections

      Since Donald Trump’s selection as president two years ago, a growing movement of citizens has been fighting back at what it sees as a dangerous march toward fascism US style. And, despite the election of some progressive candidates in the midterm elections, it would be a mistake to count on them alone to interrupt the erosion of an already tattered democracy in a largely corporate controlled society.

      Still, the diverse community of activists, old and young—a veritable rainbow coalition—is already a force, both as potential allies to the newly elected progressives and as a check on them to follow through on their campaign promises.

      Like many born after World War II and before the moon landing in 1969, my activism began in the 1960s, volunteering for Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign and as an anti-Vietnam war protestor. Ever since, I have been a part of a range of campaigns and causes, in recent years focusing on challenging men’s violence against women and working to transform masculinity. Today’s activists, from Black Lives Matter to 350.org, for example, count at their core women—many active well before the Women’s March—who have long been leading the way in a feminist wave revitalizing activism today.

      In campaigning in the midterms, activists saw a simultaneous truth: in addition to the energy and enthusiasm many felt in working to help the Democrats take back the House of Representatives, they also recognized that electoral politics alone cannot fix a broken system. Those outraged by the white supremacist misogynist temporarily residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue felt that working to flip the house was a struggle worth engaging in.

    • Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take

      President Donald J. Trump has a special, strained take on the world. Defeat is simply victory viewed in slanted terms. Victory for the other side is defeat elaborately clothed.

    • Why Jeff Sessions’ Final Act Could Have More Impact Than Expected

      Jeff Sessions hides emotion poorly — his face is reflexively expressive — and last Wednesday night, it betrayed a mixed set of sentiments as he stepped out of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in downtown Washington. He had the stunned appearance of a hostage emerging out of an underground prison for the first time in months. But for a moment, in the news-camera glare, another look flashed across his face: the impish grin of a man who knows he’d managed to leave a little surprise behind.

      Earlier that day, Sessions had resigned as the head of the Justice Department at the request of President Donald Trump. But before he left the job, the soon-to-be former attorney general had some last-minute business to attend to. With a black-ink pen, he initialed, in an illegible scrawl, a document formalizing the terms of what will be one of his abiding legacies: a Justice Department disengaged from its role in investigating and reforming police departments that repeatedly violate the civil rights of the people they’re sworn to protect. Police reform had been a DOJ priority during the Obama administration, and that work played a significant role in the federal response to the deaths of black men at the hands of police in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri.

    • “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,” Coming Soon From ProPublica and Frontline

      In the wake of the deadly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, ProPublica and Frontline present a new investigation into white supremacist groups in America — in particular, a neo-Nazi group, Atomwaffen Division, that has actively recruited inside the U.S. military.

    • Germany on a Political Seesaw

      Two weeks later came the next blow. The wealthy state of Hesse, with its center in Frankfurt/Main, was a stronghold of the Social Democrats (SPD) for decades. Then they were pushed out by the Christian Democrats, often using racist stereotyping propaganda. The state elections on October 28th shocked them both. The SPD was reduced to a pitiful relic, under 20 %, while the CDU got its worst result in 50 years.

      These state-level shocks were no less staggering at the federal level. Merkel, seeing her personal aura dwindle like a fading rainbow, took a step fully unthinkable just a few years ago. She has always been both chancellor and head of the CDU, an indispensable tie she always claimed. But at its congress next month she will step down as party leader. She can remain “queen mother” of the national government until 2021, if it stays in power, but the odds against it and her are grating downward. With its current rating of 27 % the CDU-CSU is still the strongest but not by much.

      Three main rivals are pushing to succeed her as party leader – and maybe even more? Jens Spahn, 38, currently Minister of Health, has always been a major right-wing opponent of Merkel. Never popular despite all his efforts, the public has spurned him in the polls.

    • Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time

      The Republicans, worried that the party may lose two Senate seats, a Governor’s mansion, and probably a bunch more close races for the House over the counting of disputed mail-in ballots and provisional ballots, are drumming up conspiracy theories now. I just drove through Trump Country last night and listened to Fox Radio as the host (I think it was Laura Ingraham) and her call-ins denounced the recount battles as Democratic corruption.

      The biggest laugh was when Ingraham noted that Floridians had passed a law that will (finally!) permit non-violent felons who have served their time to vote. She snarkily said, “We’ll see how that works out!” This, of course, after Republican voters in Southern California elected to the House two convicted felons.

      At any rate, it needs to be pointed out to these people, who are either simply incapable of logic or just grabbing at straws to attack a legitimate need for a careful count of all ballots, that there are good reasons why signatures when a person votes, and when they originally registered to vote, can be different looking. My father-in-law is 91, and has palsied hands. When we tried to get him a mail ballot so he could vote at the nursing home he lives in, he enthusiastically signed the ballot application as best as he could. It was rejected by New Jersey authorities (NJ is a heavily Democratic state by the way and he happens to be a Democrat) because they said his signature didn’t match the one he signed five years ago when he and my mother-in-law moved to New Jersey from Florida and registered to vote when they got their state ID cards at the state Motor Vehicle Dept.

    • Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power

      Soft power was always a term best suited for eunuchs. It relies on persuasion, counsel and an air of seduction. It does not imply actual force as such (often, that side of the bargain is hidden). At its core are the presumed virtues of the product being sold, the society being advertised to others who are supposedly in the business of being convinced. Joseph Nye came up with it in the groves of academe as the Cold War was coming to an end, and every policy maker supposedly worth his or her brief insists upon it. (Since 1990, Nye has done another shuffle, attempting to market another variant of power: from soft, power has become erroneously sentient – or “smart”.)

      Nye himself already leaves room for the critics to point out how the concept is, essentially, part of an advertising executive’s armoury, the sort an Edward Bernays of foreign affairs might embrace. It co-opts; it suggests indirectness; it is “getting others to want what you want” by shaping “the preferences of others”; it employs popular culture and concepts of political stability. In a vulgar sense, it inspires envy and the need to emulate, stressing desire over substance.

      [...]

      Most recently, Australia’s tetchy Prime Minister Scott Morrison (daggy cap and all), has been busy pushing Australian credentials in the immediate region, throwing $2 billion at a new Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. Another billion is also sought for Australia’s export financing agency.

      What is striking in this endeavour is the language of ownership, part proprietary and part imperial. “This is our patch,” Morrison explained to those at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville on Thursday. “This is where we have special responsibilities. We always have, we always will. We have their back, and they have ours.” These are the vagaries of power. “Australia has an abiding interest in a Southwest Pacific that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically.” Diplomatic posts will be established in Palau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and the Cook Islands, all newly modelled sets of eyes.

    • Donald Trump Is Attacking the Florida Recounts Because He Hates Democracy

      The president is lying about “election theft” in Florida as part of a calculated strategy to shut down an essential part of the election process.

    • Dems to probe whether Trump retaliated against CNN, Washington Post

      Adam Schiff, a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, told Axios that Democrats would try to find out whether Trump used “the instruments of state power to punish the press.”

    • Scoop: Democrats to probe Trump for targeting CNN, Washington Post

      Why it matters: Until now, all Trump critics could do is complain about his escalating attacks on the media. With subpoena power and public hearings, the incoming House Democratic majority can demand emails and testimony to see if Trump used “the instruments of state power to punish the press,” Schiff said.

    • Henry Giroux Discusses His Latest Book — American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism

      We spoke with Henry Giroux about his capstone work American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism, what the increase in dehumanization and militarization in our society means for democracy, and the importance of historical consciousness under the Trump administration.

    • This 2019 Peace Calendar Reminds Us That We Are Not Alone

      When finding peace seems fruitless, or it seems that power will never bend its ear to listen to our voices, we must remember that we are not alone. Collectively, our voices are heard and amplified by one another. We need only to look at a calendar and remind ourselves, with each passing day, that we are in this struggle together.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • French investigators to work directly with Facebook to monitor hate speech

      In a French-language speech before the Internet Governance Forum held in Paris on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the two sides would work together for six months starting in early 2019 to come up with “joint, precise, and concrete” proposals that both Menlo Park and Paris could agree with.

    • Censors angry about erotic literature in China’s favorite news app

      Outside of China, things are good for ByteDance. Its viral short video app Tik Tok landed 30 million new users in three months, thanks to a merger with Musical.ly. But in China, the giant startup is once again running into trouble with its news aggregator, Toutiao.

      This time, the target is Toutiao’s story section. That’s where users — whether professional organizations or individual people — publish works of fiction. But now regulators have ordered a one-month suspension of the section, accusing it of publishing pornographic content, Beijing Daily reports.

      The offending articles are said to contain titles like, “After a night of debauchery, the man turned out to be her new boss” and “To make money to treat my ailing mother, I started working at a club. To my surprise, my first customer was my teacher.”

    • The campus-censorship hypocrites

      Campus censorship, a certain type of radical academic rushes to tell us, simply does not happen. Apparently, free speech is alive and well at a university near you and to suggest otherwise is ‘hysteria’ that fuels a moral panic ‘whipped up’ by a politically motivated minority intent on besmirching students and sullying hallowed institutions. Except, of course, when it’s not.

      It emerged this week that a book listed as ‘essential’ for third-year politics students at the University of Reading came with a warning telling them ‘to take care’. Norman Geras’s ‘Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution’ was flagged up as potentially falling foul of the government’s Prevent Duty. Students were told not to access it on personal devices, to read it only in a secure setting, and not to leave it lying around where it might be spotted ‘inadvertently or otherwise, by those who are not prepared to view it’. Rarely has an examination of the ethics of socialist revolution sounded more exciting!

      Geras argues that violence can be justified in cases of grave social injustice. This was more than enough for one member of staff to tip off university officials, who in turn agreed it was ‘sensitive’ and issued the stark warning. This lot could clearly have taught the Stasi a thing or two about surveillance and reporting.

    • The censorship of Norman Geras

      To anyone who knew the late and much-missed Norman Geras, the idea that the state could consider his work an incitement to terrorism would have been incomprehensible. Geras was an inspirational politics professor at Manchester University, and a polemicist and moral philosopher of exceptional insight. He devoted much of his energy to opposing the murder of civilians, and lost many friends on the left in the process.

      You could level all kinds of charges against him, we would have conceded. But incitement to terrorism? The charge would be insane.

      We should have known better. We should have realised that academic bureaucrats could find reasons to label any and every work ‘threatening’ or ‘triggering’ if the mood so took them. All they would require is the necessary levels of ignorance, condescension and paranoia censors have displayed throughout the ages.

      As my colleague Eleni Courea reports in the Observer, Reading University has found one such buffoon. He – or maybe it is a she, for priggishness and anti-intellectualism are by no means exclusively male preserves – has warned students to handle Geras’s Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution as if it were an unexploded bomb.

    • UN Guterres Paris Internet Speech Mentions Censorship and DESA Even As He Bans Press and Ignores Cameroon Corruption

      Before UN Secretary Guterres took off for Paris (coverage by Inner City Press here), his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on November 9 declined to provide information about who Guterres would meet with but said “one of our colleagues, Vannina [Maestracci] will be travelling with the Secretary-General and we’ll try to provide details once we have the schedule firmed up.” Well, two days later, absolutely nothing from the UN, even as Turkish state media reports Guterres met for 45 minutes with Erdogan. What did they talk about, how to ban journalists? Later, still with no Erdogan or any other read out, Guterres pedantic Paris Internet Governance Speech said, among other things, “We see the Internet being used as a platform for hate speech, for repression, censorship” – this from a man who has banned and censored Inner City Press for 131 days and counting, and whose spokesman Stephane Dujarric blocks Inner City Press on Twitter. Guterres intoned, “Non-traditional, multilateral and multi-stakeholder cooperation will be crucial, including governments, private sector, research centres and civil society” – while Guterres maintains a non-public “banned from the UN” list which according to his own guards includes political activists he doesn’t like. Guterres said, “You have support from UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)” – a department taking payments from UN bribery imprisonee Patrick Ho. This is Guterres and his UN. The day before in his ParisPeace Forum speech Guterres said, among other things, “We must never accept the plight of the victims of violence and terrorist acts in Syria, Yemen, Mali or Myanmar” – but covering up the slaugher of Anglophones by Cameroon’s Paul Biya is fine with him, either for a golden statue or bureaucratic favors from Biya’s Ambassador as chair of the UN Budget Committee. Guterres said, “Alongside Jürgen Habermas, we must recognize that the oxygen of a modern democracy is a continuous flow of communication between civil society and the political authorities” – this as Guterres has Inner City Press banned for the 130th day after having it roughed up on June 22 and July 3; his spokesman Stephane Dujarric blocks Inner City Press on Twitter. Some continuous flow of information. Guterres said, “horror must never prevail over hope. The hope with which I receive my guests in the meeting room on the 38th floor of the Secretariat Building at United Nations Headquarters, adorned by the Matisse tapestry Polynésie, le Ciel, with its deep, peaceful shades of blue.” It was from even photo ops on the UN’s 38th floor that Dujarric unilaterally banned Inner City Press, just before having it assaulted by UN Security Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins on June 22 and July 3 and now contacting and dissembling to those who question that online, at least if they are from Europe. As Inner City Press moved forward with its inquiry into UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ personal use of public funds, silence on slaughter in Cameroon and elsewhere and failure to disclose family members’ financial interests in Angola and elsewhere, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric on 20 June 2018 said that “things will soon be getting worse” for Inner City Press’ reporter. Inner City Press has now been banned from the UN for 127 days and Dujarric is providing his and his boss’ pretext, as purported background, to some of those asking questions, at least if they come from Europe, see below. The pretexts are lies – now that they are becoming public, the ban is more disgusting and should be UNtenable.

    • IGF Needs Bold Reform, Internet Needs More Regulation, Says President Macron

      French President Emmanuel Macron today opened the 13th Internet Governance Forum (November 12-14) in Paris with a firework of requests to the IGF community and some bold ideas. The IGF after a decade should take on much more responsibility in the development of internet regulation, Macron demanded, and said he together with last year’s and next year’s hosts of the UN forum is collaborating on pushing for more formal results, The IGF according to Macron should become a part of the UN Secretary General‘s Office, Macron proposed, to illustrate the importance. His call for regulation was echoed at the event by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

    • Film Censorship Board can come under Communications Ministry, says Gobind

      The Communications and Multimedia Ministry has no qualms about having the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF) come under its jurisdiction.

      Its minister Gobind Singh Deo said he is prepared to speak to Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin about it.

      “I have been asked this question before (and) I have no problems with it as it is relevant to my Ministry because we deal with the National Film Development of Malaysia (Finas),” he said at a press conference after officiating at the Digital Transformation Forum here on Tuesday (Nov 13).

      He said he knew of reasons why LPF would be parked under the Home Ministry but did not want to elaborate.

    • It’s nonsense to suggest that Gab has been unfairly targeted for hate speech

      Immediately after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October, all eyes were on Gab, the Twitter-esque platform celebrated by self-proclaimed alt-right celebrities such as Richard Spencer and Alex Jones for its permissive attitude toward all speech, including speech considered hateful in civil society. In the weeks leading up to the attack, the alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, had reportedly used the platform to espouse anti-Semitic views and conspiracies from what is believed to be his verified account on the site, which bore a bio that plainly stated “jews are the children of Satan.”

      From the start, Gab has positioned itself as an echo chamber that would allow people to find a community of like-minded bigots. Even if they weren’t actively engaging in hate speech at any given time, they were offered, by Gab, a platform on which hate was normalized — possibly was even the norm. While more-familiar social media sites may also feature their share of repugnant content, Gab’s free-speech absolutism provides those who engage in such discourse with the tacit, and often explicit, endorsement of their fellow users.

      [...]

      The central premise of Torba’s disingenuous defense seems to be that although social media — and the Internet as a whole — begets toxicity, his platform is being unfairly singled out. He cited the case of Cesar Sayoc, who had used both Twitter and Facebook to reportedly spout conspiracies before being caught for allegedly mailing pipe bombs to Democratic-aligned pundits and Democratic politicians. (Twitter, for its part, has acknowledged its shortcomings and is taking steps to squash hateful content as it emerges.)

      Why should these sites have the privilege of retaining their spot on the Internet, argued Torba, when they also struggle with hate?

      It’s a question that blatantly ignores the gaps in the way that we classify hate speech. According to the “massive academic study” that Torba cited, the estimated 6 percent of the site dedicated to hate speech is possibly a gross underestimate. Looking at the research more closely, that was merely the percentage of posts that contained overt slurs — a narrow slice of what hate speech encompasses.

      [...]

      When Torba founded Gab in August of 2016, “it was in response to these accounts getting banned from Twitter and Facebook during the 2016 election,” said Michael Edison Hayden, an open-source intelligence analyst at Storyful who has monitored the online behavior of extremists at length.

      The accounts that ended up being the bedrock of Gab’s user base turned out to be created by people who were banned from the more popular platforms, either for violating the rules surrounding hate speech, being involved in targeted harassment or sending violent threats. Some members, such as early Gab user Milo Yiannopoulos, were guilty of all three.

      “When the impetus for your company is to find a place for these people who have already demonstrated themselves to be bad actors on other platforms,” Hayden said, referring to Gab’s initial user base, “it’s almost as if you decided to start a village entirely with people that had been convicted of crimes.”

    • Gab to Rein In Calls for Violence While Allowing Hate Speech

      The social-media site where the alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter broadcast his intentions is pledging to curb threats of violence, while it said it plans to remain a platform where hate speech and other forms of extreme content are permitted.

      Gab.com, which resumed service this week after a stretch in digital exile, will proactively police the site rather than wait for users to report troubling posts, founder Andrew Torba said in an interview, vowing to bolster efforts to expunge threats of physical harm.

    • Pennsylvania Attorney General subpoenas Epik over Gab.com domain name

      Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has asked domain name registrar Epik to send it information about its interactions with Gab, the social network that came under fire after one of its users shot people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

      Gab.com was registered at GoDaddy before moving to Uniregistry, and then to Epik. Epik founder Rob Monster got in touch and invited Gab to move the domain to its service, but he said he didn’t take the decision lightly.

    • Gab Server Subpoenaed By Pennsylvania Attorney General
    • Bohemian Rhapsody faces censorship in Malaysia due to anti-homosexuality laws
    • Censorship Board Cuts Homosexual Scenes From Bohemian Rhapsody
    • Malaysia’s Leading Cinema Exhibitor Denies Major Cuts To QUEEN Biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
    • ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ can’t break free from Malaysian censors
    • Top Philippines news site and company chief face tax evasion charges

      A move by the Philippines Justice Department to charge investigative news site Rappler with tax evasion is being seen as a thinly disguised attempt to stifle press freedom in the Southeast Asian country.

      On Friday, the Justice Department said it had “found probable cause” to indict Rappler and its CEO and executive editor, former CNN bureau chief Maria Ressa, on charges of tax evasion.
      “We are not at all surprised by the decision, considering how the Duterte administration has been treating Rappler for its independent and fearless reporting,” Rappler said in statement.

    • Philippines Continues To Spit On Free Speech; Plans To Charge Key Media Critic With Bogus Claims Of Tax Evasion

      At the beginning of this year, we had a fairly long post about a dangerous situation brewing in the Philippines, where President Duterte was clearly trying to retaliate against one of his chief media critics, The Rappler, run by Maria Ressa. As I mentioned, I got to see Ressa speak at a conference last year, and the former CNN bureau chief is a force of nature who seems completely devoted to accurately reporting on President Duterte, no matter how much he dislikes it.

      When we wrote about Ressa and Rappler in January, it was over some trumped up charges concerning claims of “foreign ownership.” That story is a bit complex, but in order to get a grant from the philanthropic Omidyar Network, Rappler sold what are known as Philippine Depository Receipts (or PDRs). PDRs do have value, which are tied to the value of shares in the company, but which don’t grant any of the related ownership rights. And yet, Duterte and the Filipino SEC have been arguing that Rappler committed tax evasion by somehow “not reporting” the PDR’s.

      [...]

      Here is a case where it seems quite clear that the charges are being trumped up based on Rappler’s reporting, rather than based on anything even remotely legitimate. And whether or not Ressa and Rappler continue is beyond the point. The message to anyone else who wants to follow in their shoes is “don’t bother, we’ll make your life a living hell.” Obviously that won’t (and shouldn’t) stop many reporters, but it can have an enormous chilling effect on many, many people.

    • EFF, Human Rights Watch, and Over 70 Civil Society Groups Ask Mark Zuckerberg to Provide All Users with Mechanism to Appeal Content Censorship on Facebook

      San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and more than 70 human and digital rights groups called on Mark Zuckerberg today to add real transparency and accountability to Facebook’s content removal process. Specifically, the groups demand that Facebook clearly explain how much content it removes, both rightly and wrongly, and provide all users with a fair and timely method to appeal removals and get their content back up.

      While Facebook is under enormous—and still mounting—pressure to remove material that is truly threatening, without transparency, fairness, and processes to identify and correct mistakes, Facebook’s content takedown policies too often backfire and silence the very people that should have their voices heard on the platform.

      Politicians, museums, celebrities, and other high profile groups and individuals whose improperly removed content can garner media attention seem to have little trouble reaching Facebook to have content restored—they sometimes even receive an apology. But the average user? Not so much. Facebook only allows people to appeal content decisions in a limited set of circumstances, and in many cases, users have absolutely no option to appeal. Onlinecensorship.org, an EFF project for users to report takedown notices, has collected reports of hundreds of unjustified takedown incidents where appeals were unavailable. For most users, content Facebook removes is rarely restored, and some are banned from the platform for no good reason.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Federal Researchers Complete Second Round of Problematic Tattoo Recognition Experiments

      Despite igniting controversy over ethical lapses and the threat to civil liberties posed by its tattoo recognition experiments the first time around, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently completed its second major project evaluating software designed to reveal who we are and potentially what we believe based on our body art.

      Unsurprisingly, these experiments continue to be problematic.

      The latest experiment was called Tatt-E, which is short for “Tattoo Recognition Technology Evaluation.” Using tattoo images collected by state and local law enforcement from incarcerated people, NIST tested algorithms created by state-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences and MorphoTrak, a subsidiary of the French corporation Idemia.

      According to the Tatt-E results, which were published in October, the best-performing tattoo recognition algorithm by MorphoTrak had 67.9% accuracy in matching separate images of tattoo to each other on the first try.

    • Shady Data Brokers Are Selling Online Dating Profiles by the Millions

      If I’m signing up for a dating website, I usually just smash the “I agree” button on the site’s terms of service and jump right into uploading some of the most sensitive, private information about myself to the company’s servers: my location, appearance, occupation, hobbies, interests, sexual preferences, and photos. Tons more data is collected when I start filling out quizzes and surveys intended to find my match.

      Because I agreed to the legal jargon that gets me into the website, all of that data is up for sale—potentially through a sort of gray market for dating profiles.

      These sales aren’t happening on the deep web, but right out in the open. Anyone can purchase a batch of profiles from a data broker and immediately have access to the names, contact information, identifying traits, and photos of millions of real individuals.

      Berlin-based NGO Tactical Tech collaborated with artist and researcher Joana Moll to uncover these practices in the online dating world. In a recent project titled “The Dating Brokers: An autopsy of online love,” the team set up an online “auction” to visualize how our lives are auctioned away by shady brokers.

    • User Profiles On Dating Apps Like Tinder Are Being Auctioned For Millions

      Creating a dating profile is pretty easy. You head over to the profile section of an app and start filling every single detail about yourself. That includes usernames, e-mail addresses, sexual orientation, interests, professions, thorough physical characteristics, personality traits and much more. For the sake of looking genuine, you even post up some of your “good” pictures.

      While you blindly fill in all the gaps, one thing you fail to notice is the “Terms and Conditions,” which often include companies’ “escape routes” to misuse the information uploaded to their servers.

      Shockingly, the personal information that you once entrusted to a certain dating app is already being withheld by data brokers. As it turns out, data profiles get sold to data brokers for millions of dollars, through online auctions.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Refuses To Appear Before ‘International Grand Committee’

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has declined to appear before the International Grand Committee which comprises at least five governments including the UK, Argentina, Australia, Ireland, and Canada.

      The investigation by the committee, which is scheduled for November 27 in London, will take place in regards to the data privacy issues.

      Facebook’s head of UK public policy- Rebecca Stimson and head of Canada Public Policy- Kevin Chan responded to the invite by Damian Collins, a member of the British Parliament, and Bob Zimmer, a Canadian lawmaker via a letter.

    • EFF to U.S. Department of Commerce: Protect Consumer Data Privacy

      But, to be clear, any new federal data privacy regulation or statute must not preempt stronger state data privacy rules. For example, on June 28, California enacted the Consumer Privacy Act (S.B. 375) (“CCPA”). Though there are other examples, the CCPA is the most comprehensive state-based data privacy law, and while it could be improved, its swift passage highlights how state legislators are often in the best position to respond to the needs of their constituents. While baseline federal privacy legislation would benefit consumers across the country, any federal privacy regulation or legislation that preempts and supplants state action would actually hurt consumers and prevent states from protecting the needs of their constituents.

      It is also important that any new regulations must be judicious and narrowly tailored, avoiding tech mandates and expensive burdens that would undermine competition—already a problem in some tech spaces–or infringe on First Amendment rights. To accomplish that, policymakers must start by consulting with technologists as well as lawyers. Also, one size does not fit all: smaller entities should be exempted from some data privacy rules.

    • How The Justice Department Uses ‘Law Enforcement Tools’ Against Journalists

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions authorized the Justice Department’s attorneys to apply for a warrant in 2017 to search freelance journalist Aaron Cantú’s phone.

      Investigators at the Justice Department believed Cantú “incited” violence and acted in “concert” with protesters accused of “destroying property and menacing bystanders” in Washington, D.C., on January 20, when President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

      “Law enforcement authorities intervened and arrested the freelance journalist, among others, and seized his smartphone, which investigators believed contained evidence of the freelance journalist’s coordination with other protesters,” a 2017 annual report from the Justice Department briefly describes. Investigators decided he likely committed crimes while engaged in newsgathering.

      Charges against Cantú and others were dismissed, as the #J20 cases collapsed and it became clear that prosecutors withheld evidence.

      This is one of several examples of the Trump administration questioning, arresting, or charging journalists in its first year in office. It also is one example of the administration seizing the records of members of the news media.

    • Facebook Is the Least Trusted Major Tech Company When it Comes to Safeguarding Personal Data
    • Facebook Is The Least Trusted Major Tech Company, Poll Suggests

      It seems like Facebook has a long way to go when it comes to gaining back the trust of its users. The social networking site is voted the least trustworthy tech company, according to a recent poll conducted by Fortune.

      The poll, in collaboration with Harris Poll organization, was conducted in October on behalf of around 2,000 US adults.

    • Alarm over talks to implant UK employees with microchips

      Britain’s biggest employer organisation and main trade union body have sounded the alarm over the prospect of British companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security.

    • Britons! Tell the UK government that the compulsory porn-viewing logs need compulsory privacy standards

      While this logging is compulsory, compliance with privacy protections is optional.

    • Your Private Data Is Quietly Leaking Online, Thanks to a Basic Web Security Error

      The personal information of American charity donors, political party supporters, and online shoppers, has continued to quietly leak onto the [I]nternet as a result of poor website security practices, new research shows. As many as one in five e-commerce sites in the U.S. are still leaving their customers exposed, Philadelphia-based search marketing company Seer Interactive said Monday.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • I’m a Saudi activist. Twitter put my life in danger.

      In May 2011, the secret police took me from my home in Saudi Arabia in the middle of the night, while my 5-year-old son was sleeping. I might have disappeared without a trace — if it wasn’t for one brave witness, Omar Aljohani, who took the risk of live-tweeting the details of the incident.

      Twitter, the platform that once saved my life, is now putting it in danger. The events in the weeks following Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul showed that the lives of other journalists and activists are also at risk. Seven years after Twitter saved me, I recently made the choice to delete my Twitter account live on stage in front of an audience of 1,000 people. I had more than 295,000 followers, and I am disconnecting from them for good.

    • The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways

      In 1898 the state of Louisiana held a constitutional convention with the declared aim of disenfranchising black people and perpetuating white rule. “Our mission was, in the first place, to establish the supremacy of the white race in this state to the extent to which it could be legally and constitutionally done,” reads the official journal of the convention. Legal means were found to scrub 130,000 registered black voters from the rolls and allow juries to come to non-unanimous verdicts in felony trials, including those involving the death penalty.

      This measure might sound technical, or even be presented as a bid to make the court system more efficient, but its real purpose was thoroughly racist. It effectively side-stepped the constitutional requirement that black people should serve on juries, which gave them some leverage in resisting legal discrimination against the black population.

      Since there were usually only one or two black jurors on a jury, they only had influence so long as verdicts were unanimous. Once a split verdict was allowed, then all-white juries could effectively decide the fate of defendants by a 10 to 2 verdict. This entrenched the legal bias against black people for over a century.

      It was only last Tuesday that voters in Louisiana approved an amendment that abolished this toxic Jim Crow law that had survived the civil rights movement because it was not demonstrably racist written down, despite its obvious racist intent. Oregon is now the only state that does not require juries to reach unanimous verdicts.

    • Should Your Birthday Determine Whether You Are Sentenced to Die in Prison?

      Tuesday, October 23, might have been a routine day in prison for Avis Lee. “I got up at 5 am, took a shower, drank decaf coffee, prayed, ate breakfast and went to work at 8 am,” she recalled. Lee, who has been incarcerated for over 30 years, works as a peer assistant at the inpatient drug and alcohol therapeutic community at SCI Cambridge Springs, the Pennsylvania women’s prison. The routine was normal, but the day was not. In Philadelphia, nearly 350 miles away, the state’s superior court was hearing oral arguments about her prison sentence. “This hearing may very well determine what’s going to happen to me for the rest of my life,” Lee recalled thinking.

      In 1979, Lee’s older brother and his friend committed a robbery. Lee, then age 18, was the lookout. During the robbery, her brother fatally shot the man they were robbing. The two men fled; Lee flagged down a bus driver and attempted to get help. All three were later arrested; lacking an attorney, Lee and her brother were convicted of murder, which in Pennsylvania mandates a sentence of life without parole (or LWOP). Lee, now age 57, is among over 2,700 people sentenced to life for crimes committed between the ages of 18 and 25.

      In 2012, in Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole for juveniles constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Four years later, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Court ruled that its earlier decision was retroactive, giving the nation’s 2,300 juvenile lifers a chance at resentencing.

      [...]

      Neuroscience backs her claim — studies have shown that brain areas involved in reasoning and impulse control are not fully developed until the mid-twenties. That Tuesday in October, a nine–judge panel heard oral arguments. If the majority agree with Lee’s argument, they can remand the case for an evidentiary hearing as to whether her life without parole sentence is unconstitutional. Lee’s attorney, Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, explained Lee and her legal team would use that hearing to present testimony not only from Lee and those who know her, but also expert testimony about adolescent development to show that, at 18, Lee had the same developmental elements of youth that the Supreme Court noted in Miller v. Alabama.

    • The War Inside 7-Eleven

      All’s fair in the bitter, protracted war between 7-Eleven and its franchisees. The tensions have built steadily in the years since DePinto, a West Point-educated veteran, took charge and began demanding more of franchisees—more inventory, more money, more adherence in matters large and small. Some franchisees have responded by organizing and complaining and sometimes suing.

      As detailed in a series of lawsuits and court cases, the company has plotted for much of DePinto’s tenure to purge certain underperformers and troublemakers. It’s targeted store owners and spent millions on an investigative force to go after them. The corporate investigators have used tactics including tailing franchisees in unmarked vehicles, planting hidden cameras and listening devices, and deploying a surveillance van disguised as a plumber’s truck. The company has also given the names of franchisees to the government, which in some cases has led immigration authorities to inspect their stores, according to three officials with Homeland Security Investigations, which like ICE is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.

    • 7-Eleven accused of weaponizing ICE raids to shed troublesome franchisees

      The current CEO of 7-Eleven is Joe DePinto, a West Point grad who got the job in 2005 and has spent his tenure slowly tightening the screw on franchisees, demanding business practices that return more profit to corporate HQ at the expense of the independent operators. As the franchisees have felt the sting, they’ve fought back, suing the company over DePinto’s policies.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Google goes down after major BGP mishap routes traffic through China

      Google lost control of several million of its IP addresses for more than an hour on Monday in an event that intermittently made its search and other services unavailable to many users and also caused problems for Spotify and other Google cloud customers. While Google said it had no reason to believe the mishap was a malicious hijacking attempt, the leak appeared suspicious to many, in part because it misdirected traffic to China Telecom, the Chinese government-owned provider that was recently caught improperly routing traffic belonging to a raft of Western carriers though mainland China.

    • Next Version Of HTTP Will Replace TCP With Google’s QUIC

      Officials at Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) have said that the HTTP-over QUIC protocol will be renamed to HTTP version 3 and will serve as the official version of the HTTP protocol. QUIC stands for Quick UDP Internet Connections, and the experimental protocol uses UDP (User Datagram Protocol) instead of TCP.

    • The next version of HTTP won’t be using TCP
    • NextDC, Superloop say cable to offer ‘fastest route’ between Australia, Singapore

      Data centre operator NextDC has sealed a deal for APAC network provider Superloop to connect the new Indigo subsea cable system to its data centres in Perth and Sydney.

    • Rural Kids Face an Internet ‘Homework Gap.’ The FCC Could Help

      Like much of rural America, Garfield County is on the wrong side of the “homework gap”—a stubborn disparity in at-home broadband that hinders millions of students’ access to the array of online learning, collaboration, and research tools enjoyed by their better-connected peers. Many of Garfield’s students trek to [I]nternet oases such as Caine’s classroom or one of the local businesses willing to host a district Wi-Fi router. Going without isn’t an option. “All their work is on that computer,” Caine says, “and they need that access.”

    • Oh Look, Wireless Sector Investment Is Declining Despite Tax Cuts, Repeal Of Net Neutrality

      You’ll recall that one of the top reasons for killing popular net neutrality rules was that it had somehow killed broadband industry investment. Of course, a wide array of publicly-available data easily disproves this claim, but that didn’t stop FCC boss Ajit Pai and ISPs from repeating it (and in some cases lying before Congress about it) anyway. We were told, more times that we could count, that with net neutrality dead, sector investment would spike.

      You’ll be shocked to learn this purported boon in investment isn’t happening.

      A few weeks ago, Verizon made it clear its CAPEX would be declining, and the company’s deployment would see no impact despite billions in tax cuts and regulatory favors by the Trump FCC. Trump’s “tax reform” alone netted Verizon an estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion. A recent FCC policy order, purporting to speed up 5G wireless deployment (in part by eliminating local authority over negotiations with carriers), netted Verizon another estimated $2 billion. And that’s before you even get to the potential revenue boost thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and elimination of broadband privacy rules.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Court of Appeal of Barcelona revisits to what extent validity may be analysed in preliminary injunction proceedings

      Over the last decade, one of the topics typically discussed in patent proceedings in Spain has been to what extent the validity of the patent may be analysed in preliminary injunction proceedings. In the mid-2000s, the Judges in charge of the Commercial Courts at the time, with jurisdiction to deal with patent cases in Barcelona, used to take the view that in preliminary injunctions life is too short to examine validity in depth. Therefore, they considered that only indicia should be examined. They added that in the case of examined patents, validity should be presumed unless the party alleging the nullity of the patent should file very robust indicia supporting the invalidity grounds. The Court of Appeal of Barcelona confirmed this line of analysis in a saga of decisions handed down from 4 January 2006 onwards.

      More recently, some first instance Commercial Courts had become increasingly open to holding profound validity discussions in the context of preliminary injunction proceedings. Experts were examined and cross-examined and, as a result, not much was left for the hearing of the main proceedings, which was basically a reiteration in the form of a déjà vu of the hearing of the preliminary injunction proceedings. However, a recent judgment from the Court of Appeal of Barcelona dated 16 October 2018, which confirmed a preliminary injunction ordered by Commercial Court number 1 of Barcelona on 28 July 2017, has established that the depth of the analysis carried out by the Court of First Instance went beyond what the Court of Appeal considers reasonable.

    • Germany: Kundendatenbank, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 41/16, 19 June 2018

      This decision by the FCJ confirms that when both parties declare the lawsuit resolved, only the allocation of costs has to be decided upon by the court. This must be done according to the court’s equitable discretion, giving consideration to the parties’ previous arguments.

    • USPTO Establishes Interim Procedure for Reconsideration of PTA Determinations Based on Submission of IDS Safe Harbor Statements

      In a Notification published in the Federal Register earlier this month (83 Fed. Reg. 55102), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the implementation of an interim procedure for patentees to request recalculation of Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) determinations for alleged errors due to the Office’s failure to recognize that an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) was accompanied by a safe harbor statement. The Office also announced the provision of a new form for applicants to use when making a safe harbor statement.

      The interim procedure and new form address an issue with the computer program that the Office uses to make initial PTA determinations, which currently does not recognize when an applicant has filed an IDS concurrently with a safe harbor statement. According to the Notification, the interim procedure will remain in effect until the Office can update the PTA computer program and provide notice to the public that the computer program has been updated.

      Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 1.704(d), an IDS that is not accompanied by a safe harbor statement will result in a reduction of PTA if the IDS is filed after a Notice of Allowance or after an initial reply by the applicant, is filed as a preliminary paper or paper after a decision by the Board or Federal court that requires the USPTO to issue a supplemental Office action, or constitutes the sole submission for a Request for Continued Examination after a Notice of Allowance has been mailed.

    • Copyrights
      • RIAA Court Filing In Stairway To Heaven Case Warns Against *OVERPROTECTION* By Copyright

        Here’s one you don’t see everyday. The RIAA is telling a court that it needs to be careful about too much copyright protection. Really. This is in the lawsuit over “Stairway to Heaven” that we’ve been covering for a while now. As we noted, the 9th Circuit brought the case back to life after what had appeared to be a good result, saying that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway” did not infringe on the copyright in the Spirit song “Taurus.” While we were a bit nervous about the case being reopened after a good result, as copyright lawyer Rick Sanders explained in a pair of excellent guest posts, there were good reasons to revisit the case — in part to fix the 9th Circuit’s weird framework for determining if a song has infringed, and in part to fix some bad jury instructions.

        As with the Blurred Lines case, I’ve been curious how the RIAA and various musicians would come down on these cases. After all, I can imagine how they could easily end up on either side of such a case. Lots of musicians take inspiration from other musicians (it’s actually kind of an important way for most musicians to develop), and if that’s seen as infringing, that seems like it should be a huge problem. But, of course, to make that argument would require the RIAA to actually admit that copyright can go too far.

        And… that’s actually what it’s done. The RIAA and the NMPA (National Music Publisher’s Association, which historically is just as bad as the RIAA on many of these issues) actually had famed law professor Eugene Volokh write an interesting amicus curiae brief in support of the 9th Circuit rehearing the case en banc (with a full panel of 11 judges, rather than just the usual 3). Hat tip to Law360′s Bill Donahue, who first spotted this.

      • The Levola Hengelo CJEU decision: ambiguities, uncertainties … and more questions

        As announced earlier today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has finally issued its (short) judgment in Levola Hengelo, C-310/17, holding that copyright cannot vest in the taste of a food product (a spreadable cheese in the background Dutch proceedings).

        The case is important for a number of reasons, and especially because it is probably the first time that the CJEU has been given directly the chance to tackle the notion of ‘work’ under the InfoSoc Directive (but, I would say, the overall EU copyright acquis).

      • CJEU: Taste of food cannot have copyright protection

        The EU’s highest court ruled today that the taste of a Dutch cheese called Heks’nkaas cannot be considered a copyrightable ‘work’ because it is subjective

        The taste of a food product is not eligible for copyright protection, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled today.

      • BREAKING: CJEU says NO to copyright in the taste of a cheese

        As readers know, this was a referral for a preliminary ruling from The Netherlands, asking whether copyright could vest in the taste of a spreadable cheese.

        In an authoritative poll conducted on Twitter, 81% voted against sensory copyright (226 votes in total).

      • Pro-Copyright Bias is Alive, Well, and Still Hiding the Full Story

        In 2007 and as recently as January 2018, the director of the movie The Man From Earth was championing the promotional effects of piracy. Last week, out of nowhere, he appeared to do a complete turnaround, branding the phenomenon as a threat to all creators. Something didn’t feel right about this apparent change of heart. Diving into the details, a bigger picture begins to emerge.

      • MPAA: Switzerland Remains “Extremely Attractive” For Pirate Sites

        In a recent submission to the US Trade Representative, the MPAA again states that Switzerland’s copyright law is wholly inadequate, making it extremely attractive to host illegal sites there. The European country has plans to update its laws, but the proposed changes are no significant improvement, Hollywood’s trade group notes.

      • Corel Wrongly Accuses Licensed User of Piracy, Disables Software Remotely

        Earlier this year, Corel obtained a patent which enables the company to offer software pirates an amnesty deal via a messaging system. While this can be a smart approach, it is not without its flaws. This week, the company remotely disabled the software of a fully-licensed user of Paintshop Pro and left his medical-related business unable to meet customer needs.

      • Youtube CEO: it will be impossible to comply with the EU’s new Copyright Directive (adios, Despacito!)

        In a new blog post, Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki continues her series of posts about the impossibility of complying with this rule.

      • “EU Copyright Regulation Will Impact Livelihoods Of Hundreds Of Thousands” — YouTube CEO

        Following GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the European Union is not going soft with the big tech companies. After Facebook, Google, and Twitter, now EU is looking forward to shackling YouTube. However, its CEO Susan Wojcicki seems to be strictly against it.

        In a second blog post voicing against Article 13, Susan said that it is simply impossible for YouTube to comply with the law. The massive financial loss will not be limited to YouTube, but to the creators too.

      • The Potential Unintended Consequences of Article 13

        Creativity has long been a guiding force in my life, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to be YouTube’s chief executive nearly five years ago.

        Creators have used YouTube to share their voices, inspire their fans, and build their livelihoods. Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell recently became the number one channel in Germany by creating videos that help others fall in love with science. Artists like Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran reached fans on YouTube long before they were discovered by a label. And acclaimed musicians like Elton John have used our site to breathe new life into iconic songs.

        [...]

        We have already taken steps to address copyright infringement by developing technology, like our Content ID programme, to help rights holders manage their copyrights and earn money automatically. More than 98 per cent of copyright management on YouTube takes place through Content ID. To date, we have used the system to pay rights holders more than €2.5bn for third party use of their content. We believe Content ID provides the best solution for managing rights on a global scale.
        The consequences of article 13 go beyond financial losses. EU residents are at risk of being cut off from videos that, in just the last month, they viewed more than 90bn times. Those videos come from around the world, including more than 35m EU channels, and they include language classes and science tutorials as well as music videos.

The USPTO and EPO Pretend to Care About Patent Quality by Mingling With the Terms “Patent” and “Quality”

Tuesday 13th of November 2018 02:29:54 PM

A working coup: The EPO’s Working Party on Quality is Battistelli’s Own Ministry of Truth

Short: EPO’s “Working Party for Quality” is to Quality What the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” is to Democracy


Reference: Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Summary: The whole “patent quality” propaganda from EPO and USPTO management continues unabated; they strive to maintain the fiction that quality rather than money is their prime motivator

AS we noted in our previous post, the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps promoting software patents in Europe (even in those words, not “CII”); the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is meanwhile moving in the exact opposite direction (in practice at least). It has gotten a lot harder to receive US software patents and then successfully enforce these.

“It has gotten a lot harder to receive US software patents and then successfully enforce these.”Janal Kalis wrote: “The USPTO Reported 28 New PTAB Decisions Regarding 101 Eligibility. All of the Decisions Affirmed the Examiners’ Rejections.”

Kalis alludes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and to 35 U.S.C. § 101, which helps eliminate most if not all software patents in the US. Programmers in the US are happy and programmers in Europe should be paying closer attention to what the EPO is up to; “Ideas are cheap,” as one European opponent of software patents put it yesterday, “execution difficult” (patents don’t cover execution/implementation but mere concepts, unlike copyrights).

“Kalis alludes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and to 35 U.S.C. § 101, which helps eliminate most if not all software patents in the US.”Kevin Noonan (Patent Docs) has just taken note of the Arista Networks, Inc. v Cisco Systems, Inc. inter partes review (IPR), which was escalated upon appeal to the Federal Circuit while the ITC totally ignored — quite infamously in fact — PTAB’s ruling. The case has since then been settled at huge expense to Arista Networks and here’s what the highest court bar SCOTUS (this might reach SCOTUS next) had to say last week:

On Friday, the Federal Circuit handed down its decision in Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc., deciding that the Board had erred in certain of its determinations regarding Arista’s inter partes review challenge to certain claims of Cisco’s U.S. Patent No. 7,340,597 (for reasons discussed briefly below). More importantly, the Court affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision that the doctrine of assignor estoppel does not preclude institution of any of the various post-grant challenges to granted patents contained in the patent law revisions enacted under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (35 U.S.C. §§ 311-319, §§ 321-329, and 125 Stat. 329-31 (2011)).

[...]

While this interpretation of the statute is consistent with (and supported by ample citation to) Supreme Court precedent and proclivities, the Court’s penchant for weighing in on statutory interpretation questions involving the AIA make it certainly possible that this decision might also come under Supreme Court review. It is less likely that the Court would disagree with the Federal Circuit’s decision here but may be tempted to put its imprimatur on this aspect of the proper statutory interpretation of the AIA.

This isn’t quite over yet; what’s at stake here are IPRs. Some time tomorrow, according to Patent Docs, there will be a so-called AIA Trials Seminar (stacked by the patent maximalists, as usual). To quote: “The Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) AIA Trials Committee and John Marshall Law School will be offering an “AIA Trials Seminar” on November 14, 2018 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm (CT) at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, IL.”

Another event for lawyers, by lawyers?

Patent Docs keeps advertising all these conferences/webinars/seminars of the patent microcosm, including this one which takes place later today. To quote: “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will be offering the next webinar in its Patent Quality Chat webinar series from 12:00 to 1:00 pm (ET) on November 13, 2018″ (that’s a few hours from now).

“Thankfully, EPO insiders openly talk about the quality issues, which António Campinos persistently denies along with his ‘boss’ (Ernst) who will soon become his ‘assistant’.”They call it “USPTO Patent Quality Chat Webinar Series” because the USPTO — like the corrupt EPO — only needs to pretend to care about patent quality by spamming/googlebombing these words (“Patent Quality”). It’s not difficult to see that all they really care about is money, i.e. patent maximalism. Quality is an obstacle to them.

Thankfully, EPO insiders openly talk about the quality issues, which António Campinos persistently denies along with his ‘boss’ (Ernst) who will soon become his 'assistant'. If Campinos so stubbornly denies that there’s no issue, then why does he, according to this morning’s article, meet those who express such concerns? It’s an anonymous article, whose latter part (towards the end of the article) deals with attacks on judges and staff representatives, i.e. those who are concerned (internally) about patent quality among other things. Sooner or later, perhaps inevitably, both insiders and outsiders, or workers and stakeholders, will learn that Campinos is just a pretender, a banker. He promises the moon, but he gives Hell. He sends misleading messages to staff whom he gags (as usual) and here’s the latest ‘smooth’ move from Campinos the pretender:

The European Patent Office and representatives of 14 German law firms who had expressed concerns about EPO patent quality earlier this year in a letter, have started a “constructive dialogue”.

The representatives had a meeting with the new President of the European Patent Office, António Campinos, and other EPO officials, on 16 October 2018 in Munich. According to a press release issued last week by the law firms, “the officials of the European Patent Office listened to the experiences, opinions and fears of patent attorneys and lawyers and expressed their willingness to talk. There is agreement that the EPO has delivered very high quality internationally in the past and that it is up to all stakeholders to preserve it. At the end of the meeting, the European Patent Office promised to continue the constructive dialogue that has now begun. It will be about the definition of quality criteria, as well as the possibilities to investigate criticism and to remove causes of criticism.”

[...]

I [sic] an email last month to EPO staff, Campions wrote he told the ILO that the EPO’s internal procedures for conflict resolution have since been improved: “I have recently signed and implemented a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chair of the Appeals Committee. That is partly a result of your direct input in recent one-to-one meetings with staff. Many of you spoke positively in our meetings about the increased independence and impartiality of the Appeals Committee, and, as a result, greater faith in the system. This MoU has therefore now formally safeguarded that independence and impartiality. Importantly, it also recognises the need to allocate adequate resources to ensure proper functioning of the Appeals Committee and its Secretariat. The second point that I discussed with ILO leaders is the recent increased effort in social dialogue and I hope many of you will agree this is developing positively (…).” In his mail, Campinos encourages EPO staff members with pending cases before the ILOAT “to consider reaching an amicable settlement with the Office”.

In the meantime, there has been some action in the case of Patrick Corcoran, according to various sources. The Irish judge was thrown out of the EPO building in Munich late 2014 on suspicion of having distributed defamatory material about the EPO upper management. After various illegal and fruitless attempts of former president Battistelli to have him fired, he was acquitted last year by the ILOAT and the Landgericht München, but was subsequently told that his future at the EPO would no longer be in Munich as an appeal board member, but in The Hague as an examiner (see also this blogpost). Apparently, the prospect of a forced transfer was the last straw after years of hardship: Corcoran fell gravely ill. The sources told Kluwer IP Law that his transfer has now been reversed or put on hold.

It remains to be seen if an “amicable settlement” is possible for some former SUEPO leaders. The case of Laurent Prunier, for instance, has been brought to Campinos’ attention several times, but is still pending before the ILOAT. Another former SUEPO leader, Elizabeth Hardon, has been waiting for months now for an EPO reaction in her unfinished ILOAT case.

The above speaks of “quality criteria” for patents; it does not, however, specify what will be done about many thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of low-quality patents that should never have become European Patents.

“Now that the EPO is run by a former banker, don’t expect anything to change.”The above also notes a “constructive dialogue” as if dialogue is what’s needed to solve a long-term problem. In the meantime staff continues to grant low-quality patents just to survive at this employer.

Neither office (neither US nor Europe) cares about quality; as a year-old paper explains, it's all about money. Now that the EPO is run by a former banker, don’t expect anything to change. He is just trying to maintain the illusion/impression that he cares about quality, just as he met staff representatives merely to spread lies about truce and reconciliation.

Yannis Skulikaris Promotes Software Patents at EPOPIC, Defending the Questionable Practice Under António Campinos

Tuesday 13th of November 2018 01:14:40 PM

Summary: The reckless advocacy for abstract patents on mere algorithms from a new and less familiar face; the EPO is definitely eager to grant software patents and it explains to stakeholders how to do it

THERE’s no excuse for what António Campinos does at the European Patent Office (EPO). It’s not good at all, but media turns a blind eye to it, as we shall explain in our next post. Nothing has changed for the better and quite a few things actually got worse.

“Nothing has changed for the better and quite a few things actually got worse.”EPOPIC started yesterday. It was opened/commenced by Campinos. He did not say anything important, at least based on the corresponding EPO tweets (e.g. [1, 2, 3]). He’s the quiet president, an EPO President who tries not to rattle any golden cages. So we shall focus on more vocal people — those who shamelessly promote software patents in Europe.

Corrupt EPO officials have long been promoting software patents like never before; it’s not entirely new a thing, but before Battistelli it was somewhat contained. Under Battistelli it became very much evident and under Campinos this promotion of software patents is done about three times a day; they’ve become a rogue institution begging to be reprimanded. But who can ever reprimand them? They’re positioned above the law, unlike the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which habitually gets sued.

“Corrupt EPO officials have long been promoting software patents like never before; it’s not entirely new a thing, but before Battistelli it was somewhat contained.”“WTF,” Benjamin Henrion wrote yesterday, quoting the EPO: “2018 may well be the turning point for the EPO and patent information, with the disruptive emergence of AI, Blockchain, machine learning, IoT, IoS, IoE and I4.0″ (this abstract can be found in https://www.epo.org/learning-events/events/conferences/pi-conference/programme/Abstracts.html#clarke)

Henrion continued: “The EPO technical bullshit excuse to grant software patents once again, time for a new directive, now field again extended to “IOT”, “Cloud”, “AI”: hhttp://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponot.nsf/0/AEED0CD590113AB3C12583390053E87B/$File/MON_1211_slot0900-1030_Yannis_Skulikaris_en.pdf …” [PDF]

Buzzwords for software patents at the EPO aren’t a new thing; back in the old days they said “CII” and “ICT”; Battistelli added a few more like “4IR” and patents on algorithms can nowadays be easily granted if one says “AI”, “blockchain” or something "on a car". There are several more examples we wrote about.

The above presentation comes from Mr. Yannis Skulikaris. IP World Summit describes him as “Director Operations | Sector Information & Communications Technology EPO.”

“Buzzwords for software patents at the EPO aren’t a new thing; back in the old days they said “CII” and “ICT”; Battistelli added a few more like “4IR” and patents on algorithms can nowadays be easily granted if one says “AI”, “blockchain” or something “on a car”.”Well, oddly enough he’s listed as a speaker in a page called “Mr Francesco Zacca” (did he quit? Did he cancel his talk? The bottom of the page still says “Check out the incredible speaker line-up to see who will be joining Francesco.”)

Francesco Zaccà was mentioned in our leaked publications and was the subject of past articles of ours.

Let’s just assume that Zaccà was either replaced by Skulikaris or Skulikaris simply decided to speak instead of Zaccà. If EPO insiders could share with us the employment status of Zaccà, that would be awesome. Given all the awful things he has done, it would not surprise us if he recently got promoted (aggressive and dishonest behaviour is what EPO management rewards nowadays, based on the past few years’ pattern).

Zaccà’s talk (delivered by Skulikaris instead) seems similar to what he presented at EPOPIC yesterday; there too he had promoted software patents about a month ago.

“Let’s just assume that Zaccà was either replaced by Skulikaris or Skulikaris simply decided to speak instead of Zaccà.”Watch the slides. “Software-related patents” is what he calls software patents because the EPO no longer pretends to obey the EPC and terms like “CII” aren’t seen as necessary. What we deal with here is a rogue institution that laughs at the law and spits in judges’ faces.

As per the EPO’s own words: “Yannis Skulikaris, EPO expert, will explain the problem-solution approach to be applied in mixed-type claims that contain both technical & non-technical features. #EPOPIC pic.twitter.com/vDpL54Mfd7″ (the picture shows slides).

As Henrion explains, “that’s EPO fraudulent interpretation of the EPC. French courts have been rejecting their interpretation, but the EPO keeps going.”

“What we deal with here is a rogue institution that laughs at the law and spits in judges’ faces.”See “The Paris High Court Reaffirms the Ban on Software Patents” (2015).

The EPO has operated outside the rule of law for years,” I responded to Henrion. “In many ways.”

Going back to the EPO’s own words: “Yannis Skulikaris talks about the examiner practice when it comes to mixed-type claims. The approach includes two stages: (1) does the claim contain non-patentable subject-matter acc. to Art 52 EPC? (2) Is the subject-matter inventive? #EPOPIC pic.twitter.com/uVYrGxmAin [] Yannis Skulikaris reveals some essential aspects that will support you in the interaction with the Office. #EPOPIC These are crucial questions that an examiner will ask you:pic.twitter.com/ctm3DgSapo [] Yannis Skulikaris shares some guidelines on how to approach the biggest challenges for applications to the EPO: the inventive step & the technical character. #EPOPIC pic.twitter.com/BKQzBREjki”

“So the EPO is advising to people (even in this event) to pursue software patents in the ‘right’ ways…”There are some photos there too. So the EPO is advising to people (even in this event) to pursue software patents in the ‘right’ ways…

The EPO has totally quit pretending on software patents. “It’s operating outside the law,” I said in response Catarina Maia, who describes herself as “European IPR Helpdesk Ambassador”. We spotted Catarina Maia on Twitter after she was retweeted by the EPO as saying: “Software can be protected by patents in Europe, as long as it solves a technical problem. Technical problem: recognizing handwritten text. Non-technical: software for learning a foreign language. #softwarepatents https://twitter.com/epoorg/status/1061895682464890880 …”

I debated this with her and then she just suddenly blocked me. She blocked right after losing an argument (she was unable to answer a very simply and polite question). “European IPR Helpdesk Ambassador” must mean not Ambassador because Ambassadors don’t just stonewall constituents. If they do, they must be exceptionally incompetent.

“The EPO has totally quit pretending on software patents.”What Maia cannot recognise is the simple fact that all software is algorithms and algorithms are software. She promotes the concept of “algorithm per se” (whatever that even means).

Software that’s not “algorithm per se” is like a meal that’s not “food per se”; it’s just an old lawyers’ trick. People who never coded anything and don’t understand how computers work…

These software patents boosters can’t win debates; they just block people; how very typical of them. Some block me without ever speaking to me (ever!), revealing the fact that they’re just afraid is being talked to, mentioned etc. Very thin-skinned people, incapable of coping with opposing views. They surround themselves with people who make them intolerant of other perspectives, scientists’ for instance.

“These software patents boosters can’t win debates; they just block people; how very typical of them.”Not good. These are decision-making personalities!

“I guess you saw the EPO software patents slides of today,” one reader told us. People are certainly noticing. We sure noticed and waited until we could gather enough information for a response/rebuttal.

Managing IP was there as well. All it could say was: “Lots of exhibitors and participants @EPOorg #EPOPIC in Brussels. Insightful table discussion sessions!”

The EPO retweeted this.

Readers can imagine who was (and wasn’t) at these table discussions.

“Readers can imagine who was (and wasn’t) at these table discussions.”“EPO expert Yannis Skulikaris,” according to the EPO, said: “In both columns, software plays the decisive role. In one case it contributes to solving a technical problem, in the other one it doesn’t.“ #EPOPIC pic.twitter.com/tOj6vXWmMd

That’s just meaningless mumbo-jumbo. Ask programmers what that actually means. We don’t suppose Skulikaris is a programmer.

Henrion quoted from the slides and added: “EPO: Software patents are everywhere, especially at the EPO http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponot.nsf/0/AEED0CD590113AB3C12583390053E87B/$File/MON_1211_slot0900-1030_Yannis_Skulikaris_en.pdf …” [PDF]

“As of years ago,” I told him, “the EPO quit pretending that it is even TRYING to obey the law. They are the shame of Europe now [and] even the staff hates the management…”

“It wasn’t so long ago (earlier this month) that Team UPC cited a stacked parliamentary session about the UPC.”Henrion noted that “EPO swpat [software patents] conference running at the moment in Brussels, as usual they forgot to invite “critics”. Next EUPACO conference, we won’t invite the “proponents” of the UPC https://www.epo.org/learning-events/events/conferences/pi-conference.html … #upc #epomustgo #epo software patents”

“Vendor capture where the ‘vendor’ is the litigation ‘industry’ that makes nothing (except lawsuits, damage)” was my response to him.

“Team UPC hopes that the UPC (a ‘unified’ court) will replace all these ‘naughty’ national courts that keep rejecting software patents.”It wasn’t so long ago (earlier this month) that Team UPC cited a stacked parliamentary session about the UPC. We already wrote about it thrice this month. Team UPC hopes that the UPC (a ‘unified’ court) will replace all these ‘naughty’ national courts that keep rejecting software patents.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is Working for Patent Trolls and Patent Maximalists

Tuesday 13th of November 2018 11:58:59 AM

Summary: The patent trolls’ propagandists are joining forces and pushing for a patent system that is hostile to science, technology, and innovation in general (so as to enable a bunch of aggressive law firms to tax everybody)

TECHRIGHTS has habitually noted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce meddles in the affairs of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well as other patent offices’ affairs. It is an international harasser like USTR. Among the recent articles we wrote on the subject (in no particular order):

Thanks to Patent Docs, we now see that the villainous Chamber of Commerce (CoC) is working closely with the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM. IAM staff has long cited CoC’s propaganda and and here they are together at last: (maybe in the past too)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), together with IAM….

This is scheduled for later today. CoC typically resorted to scare-mongering over China earlier this year. CoC was rather xenophobic and this racist kind of rhetoric could be seen spreading online, often citing CoC. The US patent office has some China expansion ambitions, as this new ad from Patent Docs (“Webinar on Navigating the Chinese Patent System”) affirms. There’s also a whole long session about it (promoted in length by the EPO yesterday) at EPOPIC, which takes place this week. We’ll write about EPOPIC shortly (the event is still ongoing). It’s all connected.

“IAM itself is funded by a lot of patent trolls.”Very late yesterday (around midnight) we noted that Team UPC had been lobbying for patent trolls from the US. We took note of two new articles from Bird & Bird, part of Team UPC. Both mentioned the UPC, as does this new piece from Bird & Bird’s David Gent. It’s no coincidence that a lot of UPC propaganda came from IAM, which is closely connected to Battistelli and actually set up pro-UPC events in the US (on the EPO’s payroll and with the EPO’s explicit support). Notice how many of these things are connected and it’s easy to see whose interests are served. IAM itself is funded by a lot of patent trolls.

Team UPC, Fronting for Patent Trolls From the US, is Calling Facts “Resistance”

Tuesday 13th of November 2018 12:30:16 AM


Image source

Summary: The tactics of Team UPC have gotten so tastelessly bad and its motivation so shallow (extortion in Europe) that one begins to wonder why these people are willing to tarnish everything that’s left of their reputation

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is granting patents of laughable quality; in order for these patents to be worth a euro (or a cent) it will need equally laughable courts, headed by someone corrupt like Battistelli. Will that ever materialise? No. It’s unlikely. But Team UPC never gives up.

Team UPC/Bird & Bird’s Sally Shorthose has just published two articles [1, 2] about Brexit. Both mention the UPC, as one might expect (the usual spiel). Honest? No. Polite? Yes.

More radical or outspoken elements of Team UPC have been smearing people who speak for Europe’s interests rather than the lawyers’ interests. Team UPC nowadays attacks the Max Planck Institute anonymously and also attacks the complainant anonymously. Team UPC then wonders why the complaint was filed anonymously? The study from the Max Planck Institute did not resort to name-calling, but Team UPC’s language upsets even a pro-UPC person, who wrote: “Prof. Tilmann has published a rebuttal to Lamping/Ullrich (“The Impact of Brexit on Unitary Patent Protection and its Court”), see GRUR Int. 2018, 1094. Irrespective of merits, not sure whether labelling their criticism as “resistance” (p. 1094) is helping the discourse. (/2) [] Prof. Tilmann mentions in Fn. 6a he was not aware of anonymous comment by one Atticus Finch on same subject on @KluwerBlogger, which I understand to saythat the authors do not happen to be identical. (/3) [] In spite of difference in opinion, Prof. Tilmann acknowledges that academic studies “have their own right” (IV. Final remark). Having said that, he claims that Lamping/Ulrich “enter the battlefileld of political discussion” & ends his appraisal with some humor of his own: (/3) [] Namely, that Lamping/Ullrich were “risking, after this publication, to be called, by some humorous persons, German UPC-Brexiteers”. (END)”

Well, the mask falls off and Tilmann is again ridiculing people. Will he compare Lamping/Ulrich to AfD?

Tilmann works for Microsoft’s patent troll (and the world’s biggest and most notorious troll) Intellectual Ventures. To put it in simple terms, he’s aiding patent blackmail in Europe and wants the UPC to amplify the reach and magnitude of this blackmail. JUVE then rewards these people.

The Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA) Will Spread the Berkheimer Lie While Legal Certainty Associated With Patents Remains Low and Few Lawsuits Filed

Monday 12th of November 2018 11:47:38 PM

Recent: Number of US Patent Lawsuits Was More Than 50% Higher Half a Decade Ago

Summary: New figures regarding patent litigation in the United States (number of lawsuits) show a decrease by about a tenth in just one year; there’s still no sign of software patents making any kind of return/rebound in the United States, contrary to lies told by the litigation ‘industry’ (those who profit from frivolous lawsuits/threats)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can grant all the patents it wants; that still does not mean that such patents are necessarily enforceable.

Meanwhile, the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps promoting software patents in Europe — a matter that escalated under António Campinos and a subject we shall cover tomorrow.

“Things will only exacerbate if Iancu (of the litigation ‘industry’) further reduces the standards of examination and squashes Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) little by little.”The more these patent offices diverge/deviate from courts, the worse the presumption of validity will get. They voluntarily reduce the legal certainty associated with their patents (US patents and European Patents).

Earlier today Patent Docs published this ad for FCBA (intentionally misleading name), which is pushing the Berkheimer lie. This was then boosted by Janal Kalis and said:

The Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA) Patent Litigation Committee will be offering a webcast entitled “Litigating § 101 Issues After Berkheimer” on November 14, 2018 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm (EST). Irene Yang of Sidley Austin LLP will moderate a panel consisting of Peter Menell, Koret Professor of Law, The University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and Jared Bobrow of Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. The panel will discuss the legal underpinnings of Berkheimer, the implications of Berkheimer for resolving § 101 issues before trial, and practices for litigating and trying § 101 issues in district court.

So a panel moderated by the litigation ‘industry’ will consist of a law professor and the litigation ‘industry’. Where are the people who actually deal with technology? Conveniently omitted/excluded as usual? Of course.

In talking about “§ 101 issues in district court[s]” they will just prop up the lie that Berkheimer was something revolutionary — a claim that we’ve debunked about half a dozen times before, citing relevant data.

Regardless of what they say about district courts or even the Federal Circuit (which they are not associated with, regardless of their dishonest name), the numbers continue to speak for themselves.

Sanjana Kapila, a Managing IP writer from London, is citing Docket Navigator (whose docket reports suddenly stopped at the end of summer). According to this, patent litigation data/figures in the US show a “8% decrease from the third quarter of 2017,” continuing a trend that has lasted about half a decade, not only because of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Alice/SCOTUS (2014). To quote Kapila:

Data: US patent case filing in the third quarter continued the 2018 trend of lower levels of litigation. Managing IP reveals the rankings for the first nine months of 2018

Data pulled from Docket Navigator on November 7 shows that 1,035 district court patent litigation cases were filed in the third quarter of the year. This is an 8% decrease from the third quarter of 2017 when 1,123 cases were filed.

The certainty associated with bogus software patents is so low that few even bother filing lawsuits. Things will only exacerbate if Iancu (of the litigation ‘industry’) further reduces the standards of examination and squashes Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) little by little.

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

Monday 12th of November 2018 11:00:50 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Behind the scenes with Linux containers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Linux 4.20-rc2

      Fairly normal week, aside from me traveling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • POWER9
      • The Performance Impact Of Spectre Mitigation On POWER9

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

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

      • ICYMI: what’s new on Talospace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Akademy 2018 Vienna

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

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

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

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

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

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

        [...]

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

  • Distributions
    • Fedora
      • Review: Fedora 29 Workstation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

  • CMS
    • Migrating my website from Drupal 7 to Hugo

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

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

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

  • BSD
    • Showing a Gigabit OpenBSD Firewall Some Monitoring Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Future Developments in clang-query

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Intelligence: Spy For The CIA And Die

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

    • The Fate of Yemen’s Baha’is

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

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

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

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

    • These pilots fly 100-year-old airplanes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon

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

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

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

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

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

    • The terror wreaked by the ‘war on terror’

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

    • Permanent war

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

    • Was President Kennedy Going To Destroy the CIA?

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

    • Poppy Fascism and the English Education System

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

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

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

    • Physicians Work to Bring Back the Anti-Nuclear Movement

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

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

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

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

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

    • A Note on the Paris Peace Forum

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

    • Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

    • An Honest Look at Poverty in the Heartland

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • A World Off Balance

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

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

    • Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [..]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Getting Past Gingrich

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

    • Donald Trump and the politics of emotion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Aussie Amarok ad mocks censorship, gets banned

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

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

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

      Mai Khoi never intended on becoming an activist.

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

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

    • Hypocrisy and censorship: China’s human rights model

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

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

    • How censorship became deadly during the First World War

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Former Post-Gazette cartoonist discusses censorship

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

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

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

    • Censorship And The Future Of Media!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Facebook and Twitter intensify censorship in 2018 elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • FCC warns of fears and self-censorship

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

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

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

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

    • Fake court papers trick Google into censorship

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

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

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

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

    • National Coalition Against Censorship Celebrates Free Expression on Stage

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

    • Twitter Censorship Strikes Again

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • White Rabbit Red Rabbit denounces censorship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      California is on fire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • In remembrance of Kristallnacht

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

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

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

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • HTTP/3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Spotify to Musicians: Let Us Be Your Label

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IPPro Patents’ coverage said this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest Post: EPO Spins Censorship of Staff Representation

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

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

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

The situation prior to Battistelli

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

There was no problem.

The situation under Battistelli

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

The situation under Campinos

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

Interesting aspects of his communiqué:

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Communication means for Staff Representation

05.11.2018

Certain mass emails permitted

Dear Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

António Campinos
President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To quote:

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

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

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

[...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EPO ‘Outsourcing’ Rumours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • How Microsoft Ignores Millions of Windows 10 Version 1809 Users

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

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

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

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

    • Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment have officially joined Microsoft

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • A Slow Motion Strategic Train Wreck With The Color Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Automatic C++ comparison operators

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

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Purism Fractal sponsorship

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

      • Developer Center Initiative – Meeting Summary 10th November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • Ubuntu Core and Kura: A framework for IoT gateways

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • GCC 9 Lands Initial Support For The OpenRISC Architecture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Programming/Development
    • py3status v3.14

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

    • Holger Levsen: 20181110-lts-201810

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

    • RcppArmadillo 0.9.200.4.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Samantha Zyontz on CRISPR Adoption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • The US Military Just Publicly Dumped Russian Government Malware Online

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

    • Supply-chain attack on cryptocurrency exchange gate.io

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Drone, terror attacks killed thousands since 2004

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

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

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

      On the other hand, at least 19,17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • How Veterans Changed the Military and Rebuilt the Middle Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Manfred Weber is nominated to be European Commission president

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • At Long Last, Donald Trump Knows True Fear

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

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

      [...]

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

      [...]

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

    • Millions in masked money funneled into 2018 elections

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

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

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

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

    • How Labor Helped Bring Down Scott Walker and Bruce Rauner

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

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

      [...]

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

    • Not Much of a Wave

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

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

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

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

    • Europe’s Copyright Rules Will Stifle Free Expression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Interesting petition

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

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

    • Google Should Rethink Censorship Policies, EFF Says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Flyers should worry about “customer lifetime value” scores

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

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

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

    • New Google Harassment Policy Falls Short of Worker Demands

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

    • Google says no forced arbitration for sexual harassment

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

    • China Infiltrates American Campuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      It could be part of a larger Trump administration agenda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Religion, Reformation, and Modernity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

    • Conflicts of Interest in Patent Practice

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

    • Interpreting Claims — Claiming Elements from the Background Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • CCIA Files Additional Comments In Qualcomm ITC Case

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

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

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

    • Enforcing FRAND Commitments

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

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

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

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

      [...]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • LG Patents Smartphones With Oval-Shaped Display Camera Holes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But those are software patents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EPO is riding (or driving) hype waves again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary: It took 4 years for many thousands of people to have just one patent of Monsanto/Bayer revoked; what does that say about the impact of erroneous patent awards?

THE QUALITY of patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) may have slipped to the same level as the USPTO if not lower. According to one major law firm, it’s now easier to get software patents in Europe than in the US. Thanks, António Campinos and Battistelli!

“So it took this many years and many other patents remain to be dealt with; notice how much public effort/energy is required to squash just one single patent.”The foremost patent families we oppose are software patents and patents on life/nature; there’s no evidence that these contribute to innovation and there’s ample evidence that these discourage development and cause deaths, respectively. So why are such European Patents being awarded (and sometimes rewarded for)? As we noted a few days ago, citing coverage from various sources except the EPO itself (the EPO’s management prefers to dodge any admission of errors), patents on life/nature are being eliminated only after massive backlash and parliamentary intervention. It shouldn’t be the case; the threshold of opposition should never be this high. Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, a propaganda site for patents on life, belatedly (towards the end of the week) ended up saying something about rejection of Monsanto patents (only after many protests). “EPO revokes Bayer broccoli patent,” said the headline, alluding to patents originally granted to Monsanto (before the takeover). To quote:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a Bayer-owned patent which covers a type of broccoli adapted to make their harvesting easier.

In late October, the office revoked European patent number 1,597,965. Originally granted in 2013 to agrochemical company Monsanto (which has since been acquired by Bayer), the patent covers broccoli plants that have an “exerted head”, making them easier to harvest.

The revocation follows an opposition filed in 2014 by a coalition of organisations.

So it took this many years and many other patents remain to be dealt with; notice how much public effort/energy is required to squash just one single patent.

Links 10/11/2018: Mesa 18.3 RC2, ‘Linux on DeX’ Beta and Windows Breaking Itself Again

Saturday 10th of November 2018 10:24:17 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 7 reasons I love open source

    Here’s why I spend so much of my time—including evenings and weekends—on GitHub, as an active member of the open source community.

    I’ve worked on everything from solo projects to small collaborative group efforts to projects with hundreds of contributors. With each project, I’ve learned something new.

  • Tractor Drives Itself, Thanks to ESP32 and Open Source

    Modern agricultural equipment has come a long way, embracing all kinds of smart features and electronic controls. While some manufacturers would prefer to be the sole gatekeepers of the access to these advanced features, that hasn’t stopped curious and enterprising folks from working on DIY solutions. One such example is this self-steering tractor demo by [Coffeetrac], which demonstrates having a computer plot and guide a tractor through an optimal coverage pattern.

    A few different pieces needed to come together to make this all work. At the heart of it all is [Coffeetrac]’s ESP32-based Autosteer controller, which is the hardware that interfaces to the tractor and allows for steering and reading sensors electronically. AgOpenGPS is the software that reads GPS data, interfaces to the Autosteer controller, and tells equipment what to do; it can be thought of as a mission planner.

  • Web Browsers
  • Databases
    • ScyllaDB Releases Scylla Open Source 3.0

      ScyllaDB, the real-time big data database company, is releasing Scylla Open Source 3.0, introducing new production-ready capabilities.

      The company also previewed Scylla support for concurrent OLTP and OLAP, an industry first that enables simultaneous transactional and analytical processing.

      Scylla Open Source 3.0 features a close-to-the-hardware design that makes optimal use of modern servers. Written from the ground-up in C++ to provide significant improvements to throughput, latency and administration, Scylla delivers scale-up performance of more than 1,000,000 IOPS per node, scales out to hundreds of nodes, and consistently achieves a 99% tail latency of less than 1 millisecond.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Import your files from closed or obsolete applications

      One of the biggest risks with using proprietary applications is losing access to your digital content if the software disappears or ends support for old file formats. Moving your content to an open format is the best way to protect yourself from being locked out due to vendor lock-in and for that, the Document Liberation Project (DLP) has your back.

      According to the DLP’s homepage, “The Document Liberation Project was created to empower individuals, organizations, and governments to recover their data from proprietary formats and provide a mechanism to transition that data into open and standardized file formats, returning effective control over the content from computer companies to the actual authors.”

    • Changelog for VirtualBox 5.2
    • VirtualBox 5.2.22 Released, Disables 3D For Wayland & Brings Linux 4.19 Fixes

      While VirtualBox 6.0 is in beta, VirtualBox 5.2.22 was released today as the latest stable release for this Oracle virtualization software.

      Announced earlier this week was a VirtualBox zero-day vulnerability that went public with the researcher being upset over current bug disclosure processes… That 0-day vulnerability in VirtualBox touches its PRO/1000 network adapter code and allows the guest to escape to the host’s ring three and from there paired with other exploits potentially hitting the host’s ring zero. Details on that zero-day via virtualbox_e1000_0day. Surprisingly though there is no word in today’s VirtualBox 5.2.22 release information whether this vulnerability is addressed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Apollo GraphQL Platform [Ed: That is fostering Microsoft tools like a VS Code plugin which helps Microsoft sell proprietary software.]

      Also available to open-core users is the VS Code plugin, which DeBergalis explained “puts valuable information about your schema — like the average latency of a specific field — right at your fingertips at development time.”

    • Facebook’s GraphQL moved to a new GraphQL Foundation, backed by The Linux Foundation

      The foundation will provide a neutral home for the community to collaborate and encourage more participation and contribution. The community will be able to spread responsibilities and costs for infrastructure which will help in increasing the overall investment. This neutral governance will also ensure equal treatment in the community.

      [...]

      In the next few months, The Linux Foundation with Facebook and the GraphQL community will be finalizing the founding members of the GraphQL Foundation.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GIMP 2.10.8 Released

      Though the updated GIMP release policy allows cool new features in micro releases, we also take pride on the stability of our software (so that you can edit images feeling that your work is safe).

      In this spirit, GIMP 2.10.8 is mostly the result of dozens of bug fixes and optimizations.

    • GIMP 2.10.8 Gets Better Performance Boost On Lower-End Hardware

      It doesn’t look like GIMP 3.0 will be under the tree this Christmas, but at least GIMP 2.10 continues progressing with new stable releases to provide new optimizations and enhancements.

      GIMP 2.10.8 should perform better on lower-end systems now with its chunk size being determined dynamically based on processing speed. This should make this imaging program more responsive. There is also the groundwork in this release towards delivering more performance optimizations moving forward.

    • GRUB Bootloader Picks Up A Verifier Framework For Secure Boot, TPM, PGP Verification

      Landing in the GRUB boot-loader minutes ago is a new “verifiers” framework providing core verification functionality for the likes of UEFI Secure Boot, Trusted Platform Modules, and PGP.

      The GRUB verifiers framework can be used by modules whereby the boot-loader needs to handle some verification steps at boot-time. The obvious focus on this verification framework is for security mechanisms like Secure Boot or TPM support.

    • GCC 9 Lands Support For Intel PTWRITE

      There has been a flurry of activity recently for the GCC 9 compiler due to feature development ending soon. The latest work hitting their mainline tree this morning is support for the Intel PTWRITE instruction.

      PTWRITE is a new instruction for Intel CPUs that allows writing values into the processor trace (PT) log. The intention of this is for allowing lightweight instrumentation/tracing of programs. The PTWRITE instruction is initially supported by Intel Geminilake / Goldmont Plus hardware.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Open source licensing: Is your vendor a troll?

      This shouldn’t be an issue, of course. Open source is supposed to be about collaboration and community. When Red Hat, Facebook, Google, and IBM initially proposed the GCC in November 2017, therefore, it was a bit of a surprise. By July 2018, 20 more companies had joined, including Toyota, Intel, and Royal Philips. More head scratching. This week 16 more companies joined the GCC, including my employer, Adobe, and I finally asked the question, “Is this really a problem? Are individuals or companies really weaponizing GPL licensing against (likely) innocent wrongdoers?”

      The answer is “Yes.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • The Evolution Of Open

      I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s a mistake to think of federation as a feature of distributed systems, rather than as consequence of computational scarcity. But more importantly, I believe that federated infrastructure – that is, a focus on distributed and resilient services – is a poor substitute for an accountable infrastructure that prioritizes a distributed and healthy community. The reason Twitter is a sewer isn’t that Twitter is centralized, it’s that Jack Dorsey doesn’t give a damn about policing his platform and Twitter’s board of directors doesn’t give a damn about changing his mind. Likewise, a big reason Mastodon is popular with the worst dregs of the otaku crowd is that if they’re on the right instance they’re free to recirculate shit that’s so reprehensible even Twitter’s boneless, soporific safety team can’t bring themselves to let it slide.

      That’s the other part of federated systems we don’t talk about much – how much the burden of safety shifts to the individual. The cost of evolving federated systems that require consensus to interoperate is so high that structural flaws are likely to be there for a long time, maybe forever, and the burden of working around them falls on every endpoint to manage for themselves. IRC’s (Remember IRC?) ongoing borderline-unusability is a direct product of a notion of openness that leaves admins few better tools than endless spammer whack-a-mole. Email is (sort of…) decentralized, but can you imagine using it with your junkmail filters off?

    • How to make an open-source, computerized map of the brain

      This post was contributed by Mason Muerhoff, who is the Associate University Relations Specialist for the Waisman Center.

      In search of a way to improve how scientists analyze brain images, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Waisman Center decided to build a brain.

      Or at least, a brain model.

      Waisman Center senior scientist Alexander Converse and colleagues from several international universities recently published a rhesus macaque brain atlas aligned to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) template. The result is a three-dimensional, computerized map of the rhesus brain.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Why you should care about RISC-V

        If you haven’t heard about the RISC-V (pronounced “risk five”) processor, it’s an open-source (open-hardware, open-design) processor core created by the University of Berkeley. It exists in 32-bit, 64-bit, and 128-bit variants, although only 32- and 64-bit designs exist in practice. The news is full of stories about major hardware manufacturers (Western Digital, NVidia) looking at or choosing RISC-V cores for their product.

        But why should you care? You can’t just go to the local electronics boutique and buy a RISC-V laptop or blade server. RISC-V commodity hardware is either scarce or expensive. It’s all still early in its lifespan and development, not yet ready for enterprise tasks. Yet it’s still something that the average professional should be aware of, for a number of reasons.

        By now everyone has heard about the Meltdown and Spectre issues, and related “bugs” users have been finding in Intel and AMD processors. This blog is not about how hard CPU design is – it’s hard. Even harder than you realize. The fear created by these bugs was not that there was a problem in the design, but that users of these chips had no insight into how these “black boxes” worked, no way to review code that was outside their control, and no way to audit these processors for other security issues. We’re at the mercy of the manufacturer to assure us there are no more bugs left (ha!).

  • Programming/Development
    • Developers are the new kingdom builders

      These are today’s geniuses and visionaries of the blockchain world—the Linus Torvalds of blockchain. But there are many following them, using the platforms created by these geniuses to create new business models and experiment with their own kingdoms. Some will fail, and some will succeed. But clearly, there is a new path for developers to conquer the world—and now it’s for real.

Leftovers
  • Robert Jackson Bennett Uses Magic To Make Sense Of How Technology Shapes Our Lives

    In Robert Jackson Bennett’s critically-acclaimed new novel, Foundryside, a scrappy thief-cum-spy explores a world where items can be “scrived” to think for themselves and bend natural laws. The role scriving plays in this alternate reality is powerfully analogous to how software defines so many aspects of our own lives, and the four merchant houses that dominate Bennett’s fictional society map closely to the tech monopolies that are accruing more and more power every day in the real world. In the following interview, we discuss the political consequences of technology and the power of imagination.

    [...]

    Revolution is examined much more closely in the sequel, but I would say that it’s important to realize that a revolution is not a singular event, but a violent series of tug-of-war that has actions and reactions. One can argue, for example, that the French Revolution lasted nearly a century, if not more, as various kinds of liberals seized power, only for various kinds of conservatives to pop up and take it back, practically right up until the First World War.

    I think we should view revolutions in terms of survival. You should ask: Which groups are the most threatened? Which threatened group has the most power to organize and respond? You fight a lot more when your future’s on the line, and your fight makes a difference when you have the actual power to see it through. You can think of this in terms of the Clayton Christensen model of disruption, where disruptors are put into positions where they must disrupt in order to survive, or you can look at the Founding Fathers, who were almost exclusively upper class landholders and merchants — a critical reason why the American Revolution succeeded.

  • Hardware
    • Why I use a 20-year-old IBM Model M keyboard

      The Model M is more pleasant and accurate to type on than any other keyboard I’ve used. So behind my desk at home, where size, weight, and noise don’t enter into the equation, the Model M is front and center.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Why politicians need to ‘take responsibility’ for children’s health too

      Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health rightly points out that preventing ill health is crucially important in tackling the soaring costs of health care. This week he exhorts people to “take responsibility” for their health.

      But he omits to say that much adult ill health has its roots in childhood. And current government policy is not only failing to give children to the best start in life, but creating an economic environment driven by austerity where parents and families are unable to take control of their children’s health.

      This government is betraying children on a grand scale, and making positive ‘choices’ impossible.

    • The White House Unleashes More Attacks on Reproductive Health Care

      The White House released rules this week attacking insurance coverage for abortion and birth control.
      On Tuesday, voters turned out in record numbers for the midterm elections — and there is good evidence that health care motivated many of them to head to the polls. They voted to expand Medicaid in several states and elected more women than ever before to represent them in Congress.

      But less than 24 hours after ballots were cast, the Trump administration moved to undermine access to women’s health care, releasing a series of rules, one proposed and two final, attacking insurance coverage for both abortion and contraception.

      On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a proposed rule that would create burdensome and unnecessary regulations designed to cause insurance companies in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace to stop covering abortion care. The proposed rule could push abortion care out of reach for many of the 1.3 million people who purchase plans through the government marketplaces, and possibly more if insurers opt to drop coverage in additional plans.

  • Security
    • Chinese drones could be [cracked] to access videos and credit card details

      China’s DJI accounts for approximately 70pc of the global commercial and consumer drone industry.

      User accounts for the DJI website and app, used to control and manage drones, were vulnerable to cyber-attacks, giving [crackers] access to live aerial drone footage, location of drone pilots and personal details of owners.

    • [Cracker] who launched DDoS attacks against EA, Sony and Steam pleads guilty

      Charged with causing Damage to a Protected Computing, Austin Thompson targeted Valve Software’s Steam, the most popular PC gaming portal, as well as Electronic Arts’ Origin service and the Sony PlayStation network.

    • Britain flashes amber light at Huawei with review of telecoms supply chains

      The British government has launched a probe into the security of supply chains in its fast-evolving telecommunications industry, in a move that will kick-start debate over the key role of Chinese telco giant Huawei in the country’s telecoms infrastructure.

      Britain’s review comes just months after Australia and the US effectively blocked Huawei and fellow Chinese equipment maker ZTE as suppliers to the rollout of 5G mobile telecoms infrastructure – so it will likely be welcomed by Britain’s key intelligence partners.

    • Red Hat’s Operating System Gets NIST Data Security Recertification; Paul Smith Quoted

      Red Hat has received Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 recertification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for its Enterprise Linux 7.5 operating system.

      Paul Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s public sector in North America, said in a statement published Thursday the FIPS 140-2 recertification seeks to show the capability of the company’s software to deliver “secure computing at both the operating system and layered infrastructure levels.”

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 renewed FIPS 140-2 security certifications from National Institute of Standards and Technology
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Linux CryptoMiners Are Now Using Rootkits to Stay Hidden [Ed: This impacts already-cracked machines; unlike Windows, where rootkits come though official channels like CD-ROM (Sony)]

      As the popularity of cryptocurrency rises, so does the amount of cryptominer Tojans that are being created and distributed to unsuspecting victims. One problem for cryptominers, though, is that the offending process is easily detectable due to their heavy CPU utilization.

      To make it harder to spot a cryptominer process that is utilizing all of the CPU, a new variant has been discovered for Linux that attempts to hide its presence by utilizing a rootkit.

      According to a new report by TrendMicro, this new cryptominer+rootkit combo will still cause performance issues due to the high CPU utilization, but administrators will not be able to detect what process is causing it.

      “We recently encountered a cryptocurrency-mining malware (detected by Trend Micro as Coinminer.Linux.KORKERDS.AB) affecting Linux systems,” stated a report by TrendMicro. “It is notable for being bundled with a rootkit component (Rootkit.Linux.KORKERDS.AA) that hides the malicious process’ presence from monitoring tools. This makes it difficult to detect, as infected systems will only indicate performance issues. The malware is also capable of updating and upgrading itself and its configuration file.”

    • Linux cryptocurrency miners are installing rootkits to hide themselves [Ed: By hiring Catalin Cimpanu CBS ZDNet basically imported the same misleading headlines and style as the sensationalist Bleeping Computer (above, where he came from). Because all CBS judges "success" by is clicks and ad impressions.]
    • The Morris Worm Turns 30
    • DJI Fixes Massive Vulnerability In User Accounts That Could’ve Allowed Hackers To Take Control Of Your Drone And Steal Personal Information

      DJI drones are the hot trend of 21st century. However, as functional and well built they are, some vulnerabilities in them could pose serious threat to your security. As these drones rely on a DJI account to be functional, you can land in serious trouble if a hacker gains access to your account. The hacker may access your drone and fly or crash it into a sensitive more or no fly zone. Not only that, personal information can also be accessed through the exploit and that may put you in more danger.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Ukraine shows downed Russian drone to Austrian delegation in Donbas

      Ukrainian Joint Forces Commander Serhiy Nayev has briefed an Austrian delegation headed by Ambassador to Ukraine Hermine Poppeller on the security and operational situation in Donbas, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has reported.

      “The number of civilians killed or injured in the blasting of explosive devices in the territory beyond Ukraine’s control has increased in the past month. This is a result of the neglect by the Russian aggressor of any mine safety standards. Five civilians, three of them children, were killed when they hit enemy mines, and one more boy was seriously wounded,” Nayev said, speaking with the Austrian delegation.

      He also said that the enemy continues shelling settlements, including with the use of heavy weapons. Five civilians have been killed and ten more wounded in 58 shelling attacks on settlements and one attack on an area since the beginning of the Joint Forces Operation (April 30, 2018), he said.

    • The True Cost of Punishing Iran With Snapback Sanctions

      According to official figures , U.S. government drone strikes killed 2,436 people in 473 counterterrorism strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya under the Obama administration, representing an exponential increase from the prior eight years. Experts have called the Obama administration’s intensive and unrelenting use of drones as a key feature of his foreign-policy legacy. Drone strikes represented an effective means of targeting terrorists and were broadly popular among Americans as they carried little cost in money, American lives and geopolitical consequences.

    • Drone warfare: the autonomous debate

      This September, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) announced plans to launch covert drone strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIL) militants from a base in north-eastern Niger. President Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had sought to put drone operations under military control. However, under Trump’s rule, there has been a move to give the CIA an expanded role in drone strikes. Can society trust those in power to ensure these powerful weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands, or is the ever-growing development in autonomous technology a factor we need to be concerned about?

    • Britain Our 51st State? Better That It Become–Gasp–a U.S. Territory

      One recent and much-reprinted column bemoaned the setting sun of Empire that once ruled over 24% of Earth and 23% of its population. The writer chronicled events, artfully omitting the American Revolution in setting off the unraveling of its other defiant colonies up to the 1997 peaceful hand off of Hong Kong to China. Readers could easily conclude that after Britain leaves the EU in March, it will become a bankrupt, drifting lonely orphan in desperate need, as the writer said, of “a new way to rise ethically, morally, economically, politically and diplomatically.” Without that, the “current trajectory is to be the 51stState of America.”

      [...]

      Despite yesteryear’s contemptuous jest, today’s perilous times for both countries do suggest that the UK’s departure from the EU consider some kind of official union rather than continue our historic loose-knit alliance. After all, the EU is determined to become a major financial and trading rival of both the U.S. and U.K. Shades of 1939! The economic organization conceived for post-WWII peace now plans to establish its own army. Naturally, the Germans are in the forefront to field 200,000 troops by 2024. A navy and air force will follow.

      Statehood, of course, is an unlikely route for the UK. It took Hawaii 60 years to become our 50th. It was one of the U.S. major territories: Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, Swains Island and 11 other South Pacific islands and atolls. Puerto Rico has held five referendums since 1967 for statehood. It was finally successful last June only to be blocked by Hurricane Maria and president Trump’s imperious remark: “Puerto Rico should not be thinking about statehood right now.” That’s blatant avoidance of Hurricane Maria’s recovery bills and fears that voters among its 3.5 million residents might favor the Democratic party.

    • Drone Pictures Reveal Landscapes Still Scarred By First World War

      Aerial photographs reveal First World War mass graves, trenches and bomb craters that have been covered over by grass.

      The images from 125ft up show the scale of the destruction – with ranks of white grave marking the Belgian countryside.

      Lochnagar Crater marks the site of an explosion from a British mine beneath the German lines signalling the start of the Battle of the Somme.

    • CIA agents in Bolivia: From Miami to Vallegrande

      Fifty-one years after Che’s death, today it is known that Gustavo Villoldo Sampera, Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutía, and Julio Gabriel García García, who received military training at U.S. bases, were responsible for his assassination

    • Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib & Peace Activist Kathy Kelly Condemn Saudi Cruelty in Yemen

      We turn now to the crisis in Yemen, where the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has drastically escalated its assault on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. The Guardian reports there have been at least 200 airstrikes in the past week, killing at least 150 people. One Saudi airstrike destroyed a home in Hodeidah, killing a father and his five children. The increased fighting comes as calls grow for a ceasefire to the 3-year war, which has devastated Yemen. On Thursday, a group of Yemeni and international organizations called for “immediate cessation of hostilities” in Yemen, warning that 14 million people were now “on the brink of famine.” UNICEF has warned that the Saudi assault and blockade on Hodeidah is increasing shortages of food, drinking water and medicine. The group says a Yemeni child now dies from a preventable disease every 10 minutes. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have both called for a ceasefire in Yemen. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is considering designating the Houthis a “terrorist organization.” We speak to newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare. She took part in Thursday’s protest.

    • How Britain is a bad influence on the Gulf states – an interview with David Wearing

      Britain imported a lot of oil from the Middle East during the post-war years, but this tailed off significantly from the 1970s as North Sea oil came on stream. At this point, we import a little more than we export, and only about 3% of our imports come from Saudi Arabia, less from the other Gulf states. However, gas is an important part of the UK’s energy mix, and imports from Qatar comprise about 13% of our gas consumption.

      Gulf oil does matter to the UK, but in different ways. First there’s the structural power in the world system that major states gain from control over hydrocarbons – the lifeblood of the industrialised world economy. Those sorts of geopolitical questions are slightly above the pay-grade of post-imperial Britain, but are of real relevance for the global hegemon, the United States, and the UK of course supports and complements US power in the Gulf. A reasonably stable flow of oil out of the Gulf is also important to the world economy (and thus to British capitalism, with its extensive global connections) since price shocks can be hugely disruptive. And Gulf oil remains a major commercial prize for two of the UK’s leading firms, BP and Shell.

      What the UK is interested in above all is the wealth that Gulf oil sales generate, and how it can use the connections developed with the Gulf Arab monarchies during the imperial era to attract those “petrodollars” into the British economy and arms industry.

    • When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House

      The fascist Donald Trump reached a new low when he called on immigrants who throw rocks to be shot by the border police. CNN, the Trump-obsessed liberal wing of the corporate fascist state, was surprisingly helpful in pointing to a statistic that stated that zero border patrollers have died as a result of rock throwing. Donald Trump said that if immigrants have rocks, the border patrol should treat the rocks as rifles. It fits well with his stance of believing that armed white gunman shooting up schools, synagogues, and the like, should be treated as if they were merely holding rocks.

      Donald Trump, a force of ignorance, greed and stupidity—a one man wrecking ball that has taken down so much in so little time—is worth condemnation. But how on earth does one stop a truck barreling at full speed? Will it really be through polite conversations about fascism, its historical significance, and what it means to be white? It’s hard to find a liberal these days who is not quite busy running for cover by helping to explain how guilty they are as a ‘privileged’ ‘white’ person.

      While liberals may seem heroic for turning themselves in for the crime of whiteness, let’s charge the liberal class with a far more specific (and consequential) crime: the support of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The appeal of the liberal confession under Trump is the same appeal as most liberal sadomasochism. When it comes to Trump guilt, liberals must remain in control of their own crimes. They want to be punished for being so “privileged” and “safe” in the age of Trump! Punished for being privileged and safe? Isn’t that what we all want to be in the age of Trump? It’s as if by proclaiming how privileged one is, it’s a backhanded way of saying “I’m still more rich than you” with a dose of “feel sorry for me” put on top!

    • Russia’s Mediterranean call: from Kerch to Palmyra, but without Constantinople?

      In August 2018, Russia’s fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean conducted major naval exercises, confirming the Sea’s newfound – or renewed – importance to Russian strategy and power projection. The 2014 military doctrine and the new National Security Doctrine, as well as the 2015 Maritime Doctrine, mention the Eastern Mediterranean as a region of influence, setting a goal of a permanent Mediterranean presence that would include one or two multi-purpose vessels and 10 to 15 surface ships. This presence is part of Russia’s broader plan to transform from a “green water” navy into a “blue water” one, capable of operating in open waters.

      Of course, this renewed presence in the Mediterranean is directly linked to Russia’s military operations in Syria. The civil war has offered a unique launchpad for Russia to test its capacities in a “real war” context outside the post-Soviet space and reassert itself in a region it largely abandoned with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The day may come when Moscow leaves the Syrian theatre, but it will nevertheless maintain a foothold in the region through its military bases at Tartus and perhaps Khmeimim.

      Beyond Russia’s military return to the Eastern Mediterranean lies a more profound and long-term trend: Russia’s efforts to oversee the Black Sea and turn it into a mare nostrum. This strategy, given an additional impulse by the annexation of Crimea and important port of Sevastopol, has been a concern of Moscow’s since the 2000s, as evidenced by the August 2008 war with Georgia, with Abkhazia a central piece in this Black Sea puzzle. After years of being forgotten, the Black Sea Fleet is now being revitalised and modernised, and should, Admiral A.V. Vitko explained, also be able to provide a presence in the Mediterranean. Russia’s perception of a weakened southwestern flank is no phantom of the mind: the routine nature of NATO’s naval presence in the Black Sea is interpreted as a threat to Russia’s traditional domination of the region, further challenged in recent years by the war with Ukraine and the two countries’ competition to navigate the sea.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Wildlife researchers horrified by ‘cute’ drone video of bear cub
    • Upsetting truth behind viral video of baby bear climbing snowy mountain
    • Viral bear video shows dark side of filming animals with drones
    • Wildlife experts condemn viral drone footage of bear cub climbing a snowy mountain – declaring it ‘harassment’
    • Don’t Harass Wildlife With Drones
    • Troubling truth behind viral video of a plucky baby bear climbing a mountain side
    • Why Experts Are Troubled by a Viral Video of a Baby Bear’s Mountain Climb

      Over the past few days, you may have seen a viral video of a little brown bear and its mother traversing an impossibly steep, snowy cliff side. The mother makes it to the top, but her cub struggles, sliding down the cliff several times until, after nearly three nail-biting minutes, it succeeds in reuniting with its mom. To many viewers, the video was an inspiration, a reminder to be like that fluffy little creature who does not give up in the face of adversity. But to wildlife experts, the clip was a worrying example of how drone users harass animals for the sake of getting a perfect shot.

      The video was taken by one Dmitry Kedrov while flying his drone on the coast of Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk this summer, reports Jason Bittel of National Geographic. And from the start, something is off about the clip. Why was the mother bear trying to cross such perilous terrain with a small and vulnerable cub? It is very possible, experts say, that she was frightened into unusual behavior by the drone hovering overhead.

      “The bears would not have felt the need to take these risks were they not disturbed by the drone,” Dani Rabaioitti, a PhD student with the Zoological Society of London, wrote on Twitter. “The drone operator could have killed the cub.”

    • Researcher slams viral video of bear cub: ‘The drone definitely put these animals at risk’

      Almost everyone loves a dramatic wildlife video, but are photographers doing enough to ensure their subjects are safe in the process?

      One bear researcher says some photographers are putting wildlife at risk as they chase social media hits over safety.

      Over the weekend, a harrowing and initially heartwarming video surfaced on Twitter giving the world a bird’s-eye view of a mother bear and her cub scaling a treacherous slope.

      Although it was shared by multiple accounts, a version on one user’s feed has pulled north of 17 million views, and climbing, capturing the cub repeatedly clambering up and sliding down a steep incline — and, at one point, nearly slipping off a cliff.

      [...]

      Usually a female grizzly wouldn’t dare take a cub that young and small on such a steep slope, he said, questioning what (including the documenting drone) may have driven the animals to traverse the snow-covered slope.

      [...]

      Usually a female grizzly wouldn’t dare take a cub that young and small on such a steep slope, he said, questioning what (including the documenting drone) may have driven the animals to traverse the snow-covered slope.

      [...]

      Still, he’s encouraged the public is taking an interest in wildlife, and hopefully, wildlife conservation, as well. But he hopes this lesson will serve as a reminder to operators who see themselves as wildlife documentarians.

      “There’s a lot of positive ways to use drones to protect wildlife,” Lamb said, “but I don’t think this is one of them.”

    • After Man-Eating Tiger Is Killed in India, a Backlash Against the Hunters

      Days after a man-eating tiger was shot dead in central India, a backlash is underway, with politicians and animal rights advocates denouncing the killing and a senior government minister threatening legal action against people involved in the hunt.

      The female tiger, called T-1 by forest rangers, was believed to have killed at least 13 villagers over the last two years, and to have partially eaten several. A military-style operation aimed at tranquilizing and capturing the animal, which had two cubs, ended instead with the tiger’s death on Friday night.

    • Fracking in the UK

      Burning fossil fuels is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), and, greenhouse gas emissions (water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O)) are the principle cause of man-made climate change. Given this fact, governments throughout the world should be moving away from fossil fuels and investing in, and designing policies that encourage development of, renewable sources of energy. But the British Conservative government, despite public opinion to the contrary, has all but banned the construction of onshore wind turbines and is encouraging fracking in England. The Tories are the only UK political party to offer support for this regressive form of energy production, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens having all promised fracking bans should they gain political office at the next general election.

      Hydraulic fracking is the process of releasing gas and oil from shale rock: huge quantities of water, proppant (usually sand) and chemicals are injected at high-pressure into hydrocarbon-bearing rocks, rocks that can be up to a mile down and were once thought to be impermeable. This process of fracturing (or cracking) forces the rocks to crack open, and gas held inside is released and allowed to flow to the surface.

      Shale gas is a fossil fuel, and when combusted produces GGE, albeit at around 50% less than coal or oil, but GGE nevertheless. The leading fracking company in Britain is the energy firm Cuadrilla. An organization that according to its website, aims “to be a model company for exploring and developing shale gas in the UK,” they state that they are “acutely aware of the responsibilities this brings, particularly with regard to safety, environmental protection and working with local communities.” Really?

    • Saying Approval by Trump Ignored Obvious Facts and Threats, Federal Judge Halts Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline

      In a major victory for the planet and blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to ramp up fossil fuel extraction and production in the face of grave climate consequences, a federal judge on Thursday halted all construction of TransCanada’s 1,200-mile long Keystone XL pipeline and tossed out the White House’s fact-free approval of the project.

      Issued by Judge Brian Morris of the District of Montana, the ruling ripped President Donald Trump’s State Department for blithely tossing out “prior factual findings related to climate change” to rush through the Keystone pipeline and using “outdated information” on the severe threat the tar sands project poses to endangered species, tribal lands, and the water supply.

  • Finance
    • Change incentives, change the outcomes: three ideas to stop the global race to the bottom

      When I co-founded the fair labour company FSI Worldwide in 2006, my colleagues and I thought that we were in the vanguard of an ethical business revolution. The illegal and unethical practices of recruiters were well known by then, and we sensed that the tide was turning on the issue of workers’ rights in global supply chains. It seemed there was a growing willingness and ability on the part of governments, businesses, and consumers to properly invest in better protections for vulnerable workers.

      We were wrong.

      Global corporate demand for our services, which seek to provide migrant workers to employers willing to offer safe and protected employment, remains a tiny fraction of the overall market. Only a handful of multinational companies have been prepared to elevate ethical practice over rhetoric and invest in the services provided by companies like ours.

    • How Aristocracies are Born

      This year’s stock market saw high returns for month after month, as retirees and stock runners alike saw their portfolios rise. Then one day this fall, the market took a turn, and all of the increases of the past several months vanished.

      That’s how it goes for the market. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down.

      For the three wealthiest families in the country, however, the market only ever shoots skyward. The Waltons of Wal-Mart, the Kochs of Koch Industries, and the Mars of Mars chocolate own a combined $348.7 billion. Since 1982, their wealth has skyrocketed nearly 6,000 percent.

      None of the living members of these families founded the companies from which their fortunes come — all were started by earlier generations.

      In fact, more than a third of the Forbes 400 inherited the businesses that generated their wealth. These modern wealth dynasties exercise significant economic power in our current gilded age of extreme inequality.

    • The Election Was Step One. Now It’s Time to Take On the Capitalist Class.

      Neoliberal House Democrats will collaborate with Trump unless grassroots pressure prevents them. Now that the midterm election is over, what can we do to preempt that collaboration? We need to shift from a short-term electoral to a long-term community and union focus, and shift from preaching to the choir to expanding our base. To build the multiracial working class coalition it will take to win in the face of climate crisis and neofascism, we must make a real commitment to solidarity and lift up a vision of a transformed society with democracy and dignity for all. Only we ourselves can save us.

      On election night Nancy Pelosi said, “We will strive for bipartisanship with fairness for all sides.” This signals a dangerous rhetorical capitulation to the politics peddled by President Trump, one that could easily continue the rightward slide of the country. Rather than reinforcing the idea that the far right is a reasonable balance to moderate Democrats, House Democrats must refuse to collaborate. Strategically, this means building a disciplined bloc capable of passing dramatic reforms like a federal living wage, free college for all, and a Green New Deal, which would materially improve the lives of poor and working-class people, and sending them along to be voted on by the Republican Senate. Newly-elected democratic socialist Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib could be the warriors leading the charge rhetorically, as Sen. Bernie Sanders does in the other chamber, rallying the grassroots and bringing an ideological challenge to the very idea that for some to do well, the majority must suffer in the wealthiest country in the history of the world.

    • Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth

      Several people on my Twitter feed touted the drop in the stock market last month as evidence of the failure of Donald Trump’s economic policy. I responded by pointing out that he was reducing wealth inequality. I was being only half facetious.

      I have always been less concerned about wealth than income both because I think wealth is less well-defined and because income is the more important determinant of living standards. In the case of the stock market plunge, the vast majority of the losses go to the richest 10 percent of the population and close to half go to the richest 1 percent, for the simple reason that this is distribution of stock ownership.

      When people decry the rise in inequality in wealth over the last decade, they are basically complaining about the run-up in the stock market. The real value of the stock market has roughly tripled from its recession lows. With the richest one percent holding close to 40 percent of stock wealth and the richest 10 percent holding more than 80 percent, a tripling in the value of the stock market pretty much guarantees a big increase in wealth inequality. If we think this increase is bad, then why would we not think a drop in the stock market is good?

      There is a correlation between the stock market and economic growth. The market generally rises when the economy is strong and falls in recessions, but this link is weak. Remember the recession of 1988?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Georgia’s secretary of state Brian Kemp doxes thousands of absentee voters

      Georgia’s secretary of state and candidate for state governor in the midterm election, Brian Kemp, has taken the unusual, if not unprecedented step of posting the personal details of 291,164 absentee voters online for anyone to download.

      Kemp’s office posted an Excel file on its website within hours of the results of the general election, exposing the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot — including their reason why, such as if a person is “disabled” or “elderly.”

    • Georgia’s Brian Kemp Decides To Dox Absentee Voters, Revealing Why They All Voted Absentee

      Kind of a key part of the American election setup is the concept of a secret ballot for hopefully obvious reasons. We haven’t gone quite so far as eliminating that, but down in Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp (who was running for governor at the same time as he was overseeing the integrity of the election and also putting in place a bunch of attempts at voter suppression) has doxxed hundreds of thousands (291,164 to be exact) of absentee voters by posting an Excel file on the state’s website listing out the names, addresses and reasons why they voted absentee.

      [...]

      More concerning, of course, is the idea that this could scare off future voters as well who don’t want such info being released in such a manner.

      Either way, the idea that the Secretary of State, who kept insisting how wonderful his electronic voting systems were, would then release a giant Excel spreadsheet should again raise questions about the technological skills of whoever set up the system, let alone Kemp for overseeing such a system.

    • Georgia Voter Purge Victim: “This Was a Strategy From Kemp”

      Atlanta — “I was blocked from voting for Stacey Abrams.” Yasmin Bakhtiari is upset, horrified and determined. Her family had fled Iran for American democracy. But New York-born Yasmin found democracy disappeared now that she’s located down in Brian Kemp’s Dixie.

      Kemp, until Thursday, was Georgia’s secretary of state in charge of voting – and in charge of “maintaining” the voter rolls to make them more accurate. But he used that power to cancel more than half a million Georgian voter registrations without notice.

      Bakhtiari, who planned to vote for Kemp’s Democratic opponent Abrams, said poll workers told her, “Your name has been purged [from voter rolls] because you haven’t voted in two election cycles.”

      Yet, according to rights attorney Jeanne Mirer of Mirer, Mazzocchi and Julien, New York, “The National Voter Registration Act is crystal clear that you cannot lose your vote for not voting.”

    • 700 Wrapped Voting Machines Found In A Georgia Warehouse

      According to Stacey Abrams camp, Fulton County did not have the adequate amount of machines for voters. They discovered 700 wrapped machines in a warehouse. This evidence is more proof of widespread voter suppression throughout the state.

    • The Strange Case of American Diplomats in Cuba: As the Mystery Deepens, So Do Divisions in Washington

      There’s a lot to think about in terms of who “won” in the 2018 midterms, but there’s also a lot to think about in terms of how we locate electoral politics in our efforts to change the world. As Phyllis Bennis and Rev. William Barber wrote: “Elections are not how we change history. But they are a big part of how we — social movements, poor and disenfranchised and marginalized people, communities of color—engage with power.” So Tuesdays in November and what happens every other day of the year is our topic.

      First we’ll hear from Negin Owliaei, inequality editor and researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, about choices voters made about a range of ballot initiatives that can have major impact in their communities.

      We also talk with civil rights attorney Liz OuYang, of the New York Immigration Coalition, about the fight over the 2020 Census. If you don’t know just how that relates to elections, you certainly should.

    • Impeach!

      The midterm elections have concluded. The Democrats have regained the majority in the House of Representatives. One can be fairly certain that a number of those Democrats will begin to backpedal on their more progressive campaign statements in the coming weeks. After all, like their GOP counterparts, those backpedalers are primarily interested in their own future, not the future of those who voted for them, especially the voters with little or no money. Consequently, it is up to the voters who put these Democrats in power to turn up the pressure on these politicians and keep it up.

      There is no better way to do so than to demand that an impeachment investigation begin against Donald Trump. His administration’s abuse of power is at the least on par with that of the Nixon White House. Indeed, his Wednesday afternoon firing of Attorney General Sessions (who deserved to go for completely different reasons) and replacement with the Trump sycophant and scam artist Matt Whitaker is a page straight out of Nixon’s script in 1973. Congress would be failing in its duty to the US Constitution and the American people if it does not begin the process. Ideally, the Special Prosecutor’s office will provide any investigative committee with the evidence it has accumulated on the various criminal actions of Trump and his people. This evidence has already led to the convictions of numerous government and Trump campaign officials. One assumes it will lead to more. Trump’s continuous attempts to intrude and block the investigation are just one example of his ongoing attempts to obstruct the course of justice. One can safely assume that his actions known and unknown in this growing scandal are enough to make him a co-conspirator. Whether or not he is indicted for being so does not remove the fact of his participation. In a historical sidenote, it seems important to recall that Congress did not want to begin impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon in 1973 but did so after overwhelming political pressure from their constituents.

    • Election 2018: The More Things Don’t Change, the More They Stay the Same

      In 1992, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton ran on a platform of “change.” He used the word a lot. His first campaign slogan was “for people for change.” “Change” here, “change” there, “change” everywhere and all the time.

      I found the “change” theme kind of odd coming from Clinton. At the time he ran, his party had controlled both houses of Congress for nearly 30 years straight. It had controlled the White House for 22 of the previous 50 years. And when his party hadn’t been in control, only one other party ever had been. For 132 years.

      How would electing yet another Democratic president — and one who held himself out as a “moderate,” not too terribly unlike his Republican opponent, to boot — constitute “change?” Independent candidate Ross Perot or Libertarian candidate Andre Marrou, maybe. Bill Clinton? No.

      But he won. And, hopefully surprising no one, eight more years — wait, make that 26 more years — of business as usual followed.

      This year, a lot of Americans seemed to agree that, again, “change” was needed.

    • The Senate Is an Institutional Barrier to Democracy

      The 2018 midterms offer more proof that the US Senate must — someway, somehow — be democratically reformed or abolished. Unless projected outcomes in Arizona or Florida change, the Democratic Party stands to lose a net two Senate seats despite its senatorial candidates racking up, as counted so far, 46.7 million votes versus Republicans’ 33.8 million. Even entirely excluding the more than 6.4 million votes cast in California, where no Republican senatorial candidate appeared on the general ballot, Democrats still secured 6.4 million more votes nationally, an 8-percentage point lead.

      Yes, the 2018 Senate map was historically bad for Democrats — but the map is always bad for Democrats. The 2020 map is no exception. While Republicans will be defending 21 seats to the Democrats’ 12, as the Cook Political Report notes, “The GOP has just three of their 21 seats that are up in states that Trump either lost or won by 5 points or less.” In order to take back the Senate, Democrats will have to: hold all of their seats, including Alabama; win both Maine and Colorado; and flip several seats in red states, an exceedingly unlikely outcome.

    • What Now?

      The good news is that Democrats will take over the House of Representatives and hold onto or take back governorships in the upper Midwest and elsewhere. That less odious duopoly party also did well in statewide elections all over the country, and about as well as could be expected in gerrymandered state legislatures.

      Had this not happened, Donald Trump would now be feeling empowered to be even more mean spirited and wicked than he usually is, and more careless of democratic norms and the rule of law. Worse still, the benighted folk in the cult that has grown up around him would be even more prone to believe the nonsense they get from rightwing media and more likely to act out in violent and destructive ways.

      The bad news is that the more odious duopoly party still controls the Senate, and is therefore still able to pack the judiciary with troglodytes, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh types and worse.

      Were the Senate under Democratic control too, Trump would now be facing investigations from both chambers of Congress, and the possibility of removal from office in the constitutionally prescribed way.

    • Many states pass campaign finance reform measures during midterms

      During Tuesday’s midterm elections, a number of reform measures aimed at money-in-politics and ethics were on many states’ ballots. Here are the highlights from the ones that were passed or defeated.

      Massachusetts

      A Massachusetts measure will create a citizens commission made up of 15 Massachusetts citizens. This commission will create a report to promote amendments to the U.S. Constitution to improve campaign finance.

      [...]

      Missouri

      In Missouri, voters passed Amendment 1 — also known as Clean Missouri — which will create stricter campaign finance laws for state lawmakers. This measure received more than 60 percent of the vote.

      This measure most notably will change the redistricting process in the state. It will also lower the campaign contribution limits to state legislature candidates and will ban lobbyist gifts worth more than $5. Politicians will also have to wait two years after leaving office before taking a job as a lobbyist.

    • Revealed: Arron Banks’s staff crunched millions of voters’ data after Brexit vote

      Senior staff at Arron Banks’s insurance company had access to the personal information of millions of British voters months after the Brexit vote, according to a new whistleblower from inside Banks’s Brexit campaign.
      Under UK electoral law, this data should have been securely destroyed after the referendum – and Banks has previously claimed to MPs that there was no data sharing between his insurance business and his Leave.EU campaign.

      openDemocracy has already revealed that Banks misled Parliament about how his Brexit campaign was run, and the role played by staff at his Eldon insurance business. He also failed to declare the part played by Eldon staff to the Electoral Commission, as is required by law.

      Now further emails seen by openDemocracy reveal for the first time the scale of the data warchest that Banks, Brexit’s largest donor, has built. He has since pledged to use his Leave.EU campaign to unseat anti-Brexit Tories and encourage his supporters to take over the Conservative party.

      Damian Collins, chair of the parliamentary inquiry into fake news, said that openDemocracy’s latest revelations about Leave.EU and Eldon “suggest that they were potentially holding data that they knew they shouldn’t have, which would be a clear breach of the law, as well as contradicting, once again, what Arron Banks said to Parliament”.

    • The Left Has Better Things to Do Than Watch Liberals Scratch Their Heads

      But as I paint, the news is (still) all about him. And Bolsonaro, and Brexit, and half the leaders of Europe. Modi, in India, just built the world’s tallest homage to self-rule by way of forced relocation. Here, somehow praying for a ‘blue wave’ didn’t exactly fix things. In all, Liberals are scratching their heads over why democracy has turned against itself.

      They shouldn’t be. After all, liberal-democracy -according to their own matrix, rests on capitalism, and capitalism is a particularly-modular system. Over which democracy is the thinnest of veneers. And of which, like my house, time paints in so many different colors that you probably can’t say which it really is, nor trust its variations. (I mean, from slavery on through the current fire sale we’ve been a ‘democracy’.) In other words, it’s not simply vulnerable to the creative/destructive process, but–like all capitalist production–relies on it, if it’s to remain at all part of capitalism. Of course, it has a life-force outside of capitalism. But that’s not what they’re mourning.

      The ‘democracy’ liberals pine for is a Baudrillardian strain; a near-seamless image, but with an exchange-value quite void of the labor-value of democracy. No wonder, panicking about it hasn’t exactly rattled Trump’s walls. On the contrary, it’s made room for Trump and his like to call their own equally-vacuous signage, ‘democracy’. Of course, both are in a race to funnel power to the very top, the liberals to get a corporate pat on the head, and Trump, I assume, just to be a dick.

    • Election Day Was Filled With Frustrations, Claims of Mischief and Glimmers of Hope

      Election Day in America brought its familiar mix of misery and allegations of mischief: Aging voting machines crashed; rain-soaked citizens stood in endless lines; laws that many regarded as attempts to suppress turnout among people of color led to both confusion at the polls and angry calls for recounts and investigations.

      The root causes have been at play for years. The neglect of America’s elections infrastructure, after all, has persisted, and all levels of government are responsible. And since the Supreme Court in 2013 voided a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, local governments have been emboldened in crafting hotly debated requirements for people to cast their ballots.

    • ‘Moderation’ and the Midterms

      Rubin didn’t mention any of these three senators, presumably because they greatly undercut the point she wants to make. Instead, she called attention to the defeat of Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, whom she described as “a progressive darling” and “a ‘tax and spend’ progressive” that “moderates in the suburbs might shy away” from. (When Rubin warned Democrats against the “Sanders type,” Cordray was the example she offered.)

      In fact, Cordray campaigned in 1992 for Ohio’s 15th congressional district on a platform of fiscal conservatism. As Ohio attorney general, Cordray was a fierce proponent of the death penalty, complaining that “Ohio’s appeal process for inmates sentenced to death is still too long and sometimes defeats the possibility of justice being served” (AP, 4/1/09). In this governor’s race, the headline of his economic platform was “Support for Small Businesses to Grow and Spread Economic Opportunity”—not exactly a line stolen from Eugene V. Debs.

      There was another Democrat on Ohio ballots this election—Sen. Sherrod Brown—who’s more aptly described as a “progressive darling.” Brown’s reputation as a progressive maverick may be overstated—during the current administration, he’s voted on Trump’s side 28 percent of the time, which is about half as often as Heitkamp, but three times as often as New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand—but it’s unclear why Rubin saddled progressives with Cordray’s 4-point loss but didn’t give them credit for Brown’s 6-point victory.

    • Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing?

      Ever since the Democratic Party abandoned its New Deal legacy and adopted the neoliberal centrism associated with the Carter presidency and then cast in stone by the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985, each election loss has generated a chorus of remonstrations in the left-liberal press about the need to run “progressive” candidates if the party wants to win. The latest instance of this was a post to the Jacobin FB page that stated: “By running to the right, Democrats insist on losing twice: at the polls and in constructing an inspiring agenda. Bold left-wing politics are our only hope for long-term, substantive victory.”

      The question of why Democrats are so okay with losing has to be examined closely. In some countries, elections have huge consequences, especially in Latin America where a job as an elected official might be not only a source of income for a socialist parliamentarian but a trigger for a civil war or coup as occurred in Costa Rica in 1948 and in Chile in 1973 respectively.

      In the 2010 midterm elections, there was a massive loss of seats in the House of Representatives for the Democrats. In this month’s midterm elections, the Democrats hoped that a “Blue Wave” would do for them what the 2010 midterms did for the Republicans—put them in the driver’s seat. It turned out to be more of a “Blue Spray”, not to speak of the toothless response of House leader Nancy Pelosi who spoke immediately about how the Democrats can reach across the aisle to the knuckle-dragging racists of the Republican Party.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Google in China: When ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Met the Great Firewall

      Interviews with more than 18 current and former employees suggest the company’s predicament resulted in part from failing to learn from mistakes that played out a decade earlier, when it first confronted the realities of China’s economic and political might. This history is known to many at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., but mostly unknown outside of it. In an interview in September, Downey, 42, elaborates. “There’s this Utopian idea: Technology will come in, and people will take these tools, change their government, and get their freedom,” he says. “We tried that experiment, and it didn’t work.”

    • Gab cries foul as Pennsylvania attorney general subpoenas DNS provider

      Shapiro’s subpoena asked that the letter be kept confidential, but Gab defied that request, posting screenshots of the subpoena on the Gab Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. Gab removed the screenshots from its Twitter account a few hours later.

    • White House suspension of CNN reporter ‘unacceptable’: Journalist group

      “The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship,” the group said in a statement. “We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”

    • How an InfoWars Video Became a White House Tweet

      However, the main issue with the White House video is its editing. While the video itself is 15 seconds long, the only footage in the clip is the three-second GIF shared by ForAmerica and The Daily Wire. The GIF is shown in its entirety at the beginning of the video posted by Sanders; it’s the wide shot that includes the C-Span logo. This GIF is shown six times over the course of the 15-second video, with a variety of edits and zooms that serve to make the relatively inconsequential moment seem more dramatic.

      “At issue here is how video speed and frame rate affects the human ability to perceive force,” said Britt Paris, a researcher with Data & Society studying audio-visual manipulation. “Context matters, and time and duration is an oft-overlooked part of context that helps us interpret the content of a video.”

      Let’s break this down.

    • No Evidence the White House Video of Jim Acosta Was Doctored, Forensic Expert Says

      It’s important to recognize that Trump is not like a typical politician when it comes to press briefings. Lots of politicians dodge questions and obfuscate, but Trump also interrupts and berates reporters, calling them liars, fake news, and “the enemy of the people.” In doing so, he’s been able to keep the narrative focused on the media and has been able to get people to argue about minute details like the Acosta video, instead of the issues that actually affect people, like banning Acosta.

      [...]

      As much as we like to believe video is conclusive, we know that isn’t always the case (ahem, DeepFakes). People on both sides are going to see what they want in this video. But the bigger issue is the Trump administration’s attempts to silence, discredit, and block the free press from holding this president to account. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, having journalists barred from asking the president questions should send a chill down your spine.

    • Why Sarah Huckabee Sanders Can’t Be Sued for Her Acosta Lie

      Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a whopper about CNN correspondent Jim Acosta on Wednesday, accusing him of “placing his hands on” a White House intern during a press conference.

      That didn’t happen. The video of the incident shows it was the intern who tried to grab the microphone from Acosta’s hands while he was asking the President a question. Nevertheless, Acosta’s press pass was revoked, underscoring the false implication that Acosta had assaulted a defenseless staffer.

    • Censorship Will Not Stem Violence

      Four weeks ago, I wrote a piece criticizing the idea that unfettered expression would lead to violence. Since then, some very high-profile incidents of murder and attempted murder have occurred. Although I share in the outrage that political and religious divides are the source of so much hate, I also couldn’t help from cringing at the thought that these tragedies would be used to further the blame game. Unfortunately, inexplicably, and yet somehow predictably, that blame game was taken up by none other than the President of the United States.

      In a dark week, however, there was some encouraging news: a majority of Americans are not as predictably absurd as this president. A recent poll demonstrated that most Americans do not hold the president directly responsible for the mail bombers actions. This is encouraging because it reflects an important awareness of how incredibly difficult it is to gauge the impact of rhetoric on action. Sane Americans have always been able to absorb pugnacious, even belligerent rhetoric regarding politics without resorting to acts of violence. Obsessive and violent individuals such as the mail bomber or the anti-Semite who attacked a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh are motivated by delusions drawn from unhinged mental states. A “normal” person simply does not shoot those they have never met nor interacted with, and it is vitally important that we not limit our freedom of speech based on how these disturbed people might react.

    • Justice Minister becomes ‘Minister of Censorship’

      A large poster reading ‘Minister of Censorship’ and sporting a photo of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has been stuck to new hoarding surrounding the whole of Great Siege Square.

      The square was sealed off on Wednesday, ostensibly for further restoration works but effectively added another barrier to activists using the foot of the Great Siege Monument as a makeshift memorial to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

    • Photos: Culture Minister called out as ‘Minister of Censorship’

      #Reżistenza activists have placed a banner reading “Minister of Censorship” accompanied by a photo of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici over the newly laid out second hoarding. On Wednesday, a second barrier was set up which effectively blocking activists from using the area around the Great Siege Monument as a makeshift memorial to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

      In a statement, the activist group said that Bonnici was ‘clearly abusing’ the power entrusted to him by the people when insisting to suppress genuine calls for justice. They also described his “obsession to suppress legitimate calls” as having given rise to the Minotaur’s labyrinth. #Reżistenza noted in their statement that despite the Minister frequently pronounced himself against censorship, in their understanding he did not hesitate to place a second hoarding allowing free protest.

    • Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor

      Facebook and other social media companies give governments free reign to censor political dissent on their websites – and that is not “fake news.” Facebook’s unholy alliance with government actors includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. These partnerships have led to arrests and killings both in the US and abroad.

      Glenn Greenwald reported last year on Facebooks’ admission that it unashamedly deletes accounts at the behest of the US and Israeli governments. An example he gives is the deletion of the Facebook and Instagram (Facebook owns Instagram) accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Facebook’s reasoning was not that he had been accused of human rights violations or due to the content of his page, but simply because he had been added to a United States sanctions list. This came after reports that a Facebook delegation had met with Israeli officials to improve “cooperation against incitement” –which led to the deletion of pro-Palestinian accounts and news agencies. Hundreds of cases in which Palestinians were arrested for their Facebook postssubsequently took place also.

      US support of Israel has a lot to do with maintaining hegemony in the Middle East. One of the reasons Saudi Arabia is such an important partner to the United States government is because of its role of backing US and Israeli policies and influence in the Arab world. An example is Saudi Arabia’s support of US and Israeli efforts to undermine the governments of Iran and Syria.

      US social media companies work with the Saudi Arabian government to censor dissent and to cover up wrongdoing. In August, when news broke out that Saudi Arabia was planning on beheading Esra al-Ghamgam for peacefully protesting (which they did) Facebook and Twitter deleted hundreds of anti-Saudi accounts. The social media companies cited FireEye, the private intelligence firm, for their discovery. FireEye in turn accused the account of being Iranian propaganda. Facebook also deleted posts from users who shared an article on the Saudi Arabian warin Yemen, claiming that the photographs of starving Yemeni children went against their community standards.

      All of this is compounded in the context of Saudi Arabian laws that jail people if they post satireon social media. It should also be kept in mind that the Deputy Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salam has met with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Microsoft CEO Satya Narayana Nadellato work on business deals and cooperation.

    • Sony Censorship Row Returns as Mature Rated Switch Title Is E for Everyone on PS4

      The title features nudity along with some sexually-charged scenes and dialogue, as well as a ‘breast jiggle’ slider that lets you choose how bouncy you want your catgirls to be. Because of all this, the game’s rated M, or Mature on Switch. However, on PS4, it’s sat there with an E for Everyone. That’s quite the change.
      That’s because on Sony’s system, there’s less nudity thanks various visual effects, and the breast jiggle slider has been removed entirely.

    • Sudan’s Journalists Face Continued Extortion and Censorship by National Security Agency

      The day before Amnesty International released a statement calling on the government of Sudan to end harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists following the arrests of at least 15 journalists since the beginning of the year, the head of the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) Salah Goush accused Sudanese journalists, who recently met with western diplomats, of being spies.

      Goush made the statement before parliament where he signed the code of conduct for journalists.

    • A Tale of Two Massacres

      His social life may have been largely restricted to social media, and there he freely expressed himself. He found his comfort zone on a rightwing websight entitled Gab. Gab promotes a concept of unfettered free speech. In theory this might sound like an admirable aim, but in practice it can just turn into an arena to vent hatred, conspiracy theories and incitement of oneself and/or others to violence. Apparently, that was the environment that attracted Robert Bowers.

      Bowers used Gab to express classic anti-Semitic views. He wrote that “jews [sic] are the children of satan [sic],” and asserted that President Trump’s mantra of “making America great again” was impossible to realize as long as there is “a kike infestation.” Bowers hated Jews first and foremost because they were Jews. But he also hated them for what they were allegedly doing to “his people”—driving “white Americans,” and by extension “Western Civilization,” to extinction.

    • Washington, DC artists recall 1980s culture wars as grant-making commission issues morality clause

      The Washington-based DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) flirted with censorship this week, adding a restrictive amendment onto a contract for grantees and then withdrawing it three days later.

      In early October, the commission, which annually awards millions of dollars to individual artists and arts organisations across disciplines, announced the recipients of its grants for fiscal year 2019. Several weeks later, the agency sent out a new contract with minor revisions. On 5 November, it sent out yet another update, this one with a passage requiring grantees to agree that any work made with the funding would not be “lewd, lascivious, vulgar, overtly political, excessively violent, constitutes sexual harassment, or is, in any other way, illegal.” The amendment went on to give the DCCAH “sole discretion” to determine what qualified as such and accordingly terminate the contract.

      The language immediately alarmed people in the Washington, DC, arts scene, with some saying it recalled the culture wars of the late 1980s, when the National Endowment for the Arts introduced an “anti-obscenity” clause into its rules for grantees. Artists quickly organised an online petition, while trying to figure out whether they could afford to forego the funds they’d been promised. “These grants are very, very important to those of us that get them,” said the artist Amy Hughes Braden, who was due to receive $5,000 from the DCCAH this year.

    • Mayor Bowser To Withdraw Censorship Amendment from D.C. Arts Grants
    • Online Censorship
    • The Danger in Censorship

      When granting power to the government, like the ability to dictate with legal authority what individual persons may think and express, it is much easier to conceive when politicians you like are in the government. Instead of imagining Democrats or Republicans in Washington, imagine Klansmen or Stalinists in Washington. There’s a good chance they also find hateful speech to be repulsive and consequently desire to censor it, but their definitions of hateful are obviously not the same definitions most fellow students and Americans have. Would you want them to wield the ability to dictate what you can and cannot say or express without the fear of legal punishment? If these ideologues theoretically made up a majority, does that by extension now grant them inherent moral superiority? According to the logic of censorship advocates, it fundamentally must. We don’t live in a Utopia where the best candidates are our options, either, as we’ve learned well from the 2016 election. Any democracy will be perpetually threatened by those with a lust for power and oppression so long as it is a democracy. Giving the government the tool to draw lines for speech while expecting the threat of abuse to never manifest whatsoever is both unrealistic and dangerously naïve.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Manhattan DA Cy Vance Says The Only Solution To Device Encryption Is Federally-Mandated Backdoors

      Because no one has passed legislation (federal or state) mandating encryption backdoors, Manhattan DA Cy Vance has to publish another anti-encryption report. An annual tradition dating back to 2014 — the year Apple announced default encryption for devices — the DA’s “Smartphone Encryption and Public Safety” report [PDF] is full of the same old arguments about “lawful access” and evidence-free assertions about criminals winning the tech arms race. (h/t Riana Pfefferkorn)

      You’d think there would be some scaling back on the alarmism, what with the FBI finally admitting its locked device count had been the victim of software-based hyperinflation. (Five months later, we’re still waiting for the FBI to update its number of locked devices.) But there isn’t. Vance still presents encryption as an insurmountable problem, using mainly Apple’s multiple patches of security holes cops also found useful as the leading indicator.

      The report is a little shorter this year but it does contain just enough stuff to be persuasive to those easily-persuaded by emotional appeals. Vance runs through a short list of awful crime solved by device access (child porn, assault) and another list of crimes unsolved (molestation, murder) designed to make people’s hearts do all their thinking. While it’s certainly true some horrible criminal acts will directly implicate device encryption, the fact of the matter is a majority of the locked phone-centric criminal acts are the type that won’t make headlines or motivate lawmakers.

    • Privacy International lodges complaints against seven firms for breaching data protection

      Privacy international ain’t happy with seven major companies and has filed complaints against them for “wide-scale and systemic infringements of data protection law”.

      Acxion, Oracle, Criteo, Quantcast, Tapad, Equifax and Experian are all in Privacy International’s sights, with the organisation filing complaints in the UK, Ireland and France, urging data protection authorities to look into what it alleges is the “mass exploitation” of individuals’ data.

    • Mark Zuckerberg won’t attend the UK’s ‘international grand committee’

      Then again we rather suspect he won’t really care; when you’re a billionaire with a platform with more than 1.5 billion users, you might not worry what politicians on a small island might think of you.

    • Zuckerberg rebuffs request to appear before UK parliament

      He says “five parliaments are now calling on you to do the right thing by the 170 million users in the countries they represent.”

    • Researchers expose ‘critical vulnerabilities’ in SSD encryption

      After considering a handful of possible flaws in hardware-based full-disk encryption, or self-encrypting drives (SEDs), the pair reverse-engineered the firmware of a sample of SSDs and tried to expose these vulnerabilities.

      They learned that hackers can launch a range of attacks, from seizing full control of the CPU to corrupting memory – outlining their findings in a paper titled ‘self-encrypting deception: weakness in the encryption of solid state drives (SSDs)’.

      There are a host of exploits that can be used, such as cracking master passwords, set by the manufacturer as a factory default. These are routinely found in many SSDs, and if obtained by an attacker could allow them to bypass any custom password set by a user.

    • Crucial and Samsung SSDs’ Encryption Is Easily Bypassed

      Researchers from Radboud University in The Netherlands reported today their discovery that hackers could easily bypass the encryption on Crucial and Samsung SSDs without the user’s passwords. The researchers also pointed at Microsoft for defaulting to using these broken encryption schemes on modern drives.

      The Dutch researchers reverse-engineered the firmware of multiple drives and found a “pattern of critical issues.” In one case, the drive’s master password used to decrypt data was just an empty string, which means someone would have been able to decrypt it by just pressing the Enter key on their keyboard. In another case, the researchers said the drive could be unlocked with “any password” because the drive’s password validation checks didn’t work.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • In online ruse, fake journalists tried to [crack] Saudi critic

      AlAhmed was right. The BBC said it wasn’t aware of anyone called “Tanya Stalin” working for the broadcaster and that the title she claimed to hold did not formally exist. An Associated Press analysis of her messages suggests the interview request was a sloppily executed trap, an attempt to get AlAhmed to click a malicious link and break into his inbox.

    • Trump’s acting attorney general was part of firm US accused of vast scam

      Donald Trump’s new acting attorney general was part of a company accused by the US government of running a multimillion-dollar scam.

      Matthew Whitaker was paid to sit on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing, which was ordered in May this year to pay a $26m settlement following legal action by federal authorities, which said it tricked aspiring inventors.

      Whitaker was appointed acting attorney general on Wednesday afternoon after the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was fired by Trump.

    • Jeff Sessions Was the Worst Attorney General in Modern American History

      On Wednesday, the Trump administration bid farewell to one of its most infamous members: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In his brief tenure, Sessions managed to dismantle and rescind an astounding range of efforts by prior administrations to protect civil rights and civil liberties and introduced new policies that endanger some of the most vulnerable citizens in the U.S.

      From his draconian approach to immigration policy to his efforts to erase protections for transgender people to his many moves to dismantle his predecessors’ attempts to decrease the federal prison population, the list of Sessions’ offenses is long. We’ve rounded up some of the former attorney general’s most egregious actions below to showcase Sessions’ contempt for civil rights and liberties.

    • Labour history shows us where workers “took back control” without building walls

      Labour history should be a field in demand. Jeremy Corbyn appears as a possible British Prime Minister, and a growing number of Americans see their salvation in strikes and socialism. Journalists write endlessly about the “white working class,” a force with the power to elect Trump, vote for Brexit, and support a slew of rightist demagogues across Europe. Shelves of books anticipate full automation and the end of work, or the casualisation of work, or the rise of a post capitalist order from within the existing system. These events and trends all have a past, and they can and must be found in the history of work, workers, and their movements.

      Yet labour history is the subject that dare not speak its name. Unions no longer promote their own history with the old enthusiasm.

      The men behind New Labour forgot their Party’s past as much as humanly possible, and blundered, as amnesiacs often do, from Iraq to Northern Rock. Marginalised in the academy, senior labour historians anxious to help junior ones advise them to rebrand as a social historian, political historian, economic historian – anything but a labour historian – if they want that elusive permanent job.

      This abdication leaves the survival of labour history in fewer hands. Small academic societies, such as the Society for the Study of Labour History, hold the fort in the universities. Institutions such as the People’s History Museum still put labour history before the public. Musicians keep the old songs of protest alive, and write new ones. Trade unionists with great passion, few resources, and disparagingly referred to by some academics as amateurs, do the bulk of the work. They have kept the labour movement in touch with its past.

    • Google Changes Sexual Harassment Policies After Massive Global Protests

      After the massive Google Walkout where over 20,000 protestors led an agitation against the sexual harassment cases at Google, the company has now come up with new sexual harassment and sexual assault policies.

      Along with publicly posting CEO Sundar Pichai’s e-mail to the employees, the company has released a long PDF file named ” Our commitments and actions.” The three-page file talks about the new steps taken by Google to add “more transparency on how we (Google) handle concerns.”

    • Liberal Backlash To Protest At Tucker Carlson’s Home Reinforces Crackdown On Dissent

      An anti-fascist group of around twenty or so people gathered at the two-story Colonial home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson to protest how he spreads fear and racism on television.

      Reports on the protest and misinformation spread by right-wing media outlets fueled a backlash to the demonstration. Twitter even suspended the account of Smash Racism D.C., the group that organized the protest, without providing any notice.

      Police in Washington, D.C., told the press they were investigating the protest as a “suspected hate crime” and that the motivation for the “incident” was “anti-political.” Officers went to the home of Dylan Petrohilos, who was part of the protest and a former #J20 defendant (one of several people who faced charges after protesting on President Donald Trump’s inauguration day).

      The language used by figures in media yielded to right-wing attacks on dissent and reinforced how law enforcement criminalizes protest.

      Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show” on CBS, declared, “Fighting Tucker Carlson’s ideas is an American right. Targeting his home and terrorizing his family is an act of monstrous cowardice. Obviously don’t do this, but also, take no pleasure in its happening. Feeding monsters just makes more monsters.”

    • Jeff Sessions Leaves a Dark Mark on the Justice Department

      Under almost any other circumstances, the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be a moment for dancing in the streets. Sessions oversaw a Justice Department that systematically undermined civil liberties and civil rights.

      But his departure portends no improvement on these fronts. And the fact that President Trump fired him, notwithstanding his faithful advancement of the president’s agenda, should raise alarm bells.

      Sessions leaves the Justice Department far less committed to justice than he found it. Under President Barack Obama, the department expanded the rights of LGBTQ individuals, responded aggressively to police abuse, directed federal prosecutors to use their charging discretion wisely to reduce mass incarceration, promoted voting rights, reduced reliance on private prisons and commuted lengthy sentences imposed on nonviolent drug offenders. Sessions could not reincarcerate the men and women whose sentences Obama commuted, but he reversed virtually everything else.

    • China’s growing influence swallows global criticism on human rights
    • Tackling the kilil system: a critical response to ‘Ethiopia: Climbing Mount Uncertainty’

      In terms of 1980s prices, for example, real income per capita has declined in Ethiopia by more than six-fold. Consequently, living standards have been going downhill for quite some time in the country. There is no economy in Ethiopia that one can call an “unquestionable success”. In fact, Ethiopia’s age-old, hand-to-mouth economy has long failed to generate wealth to cope with a population explosion unprecendented the country has ever seen in its history.

      Lefort blames Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad for “overhastiness”, like, according to him, allowing “the return of formerly outlawed OLF and A-G7” and the “normalization with Eritrea.” Here, Lefort overlooks the fruits borne by the Prime Minister’s astute actions. For instance, normalization with Eritrea has made the port of Assab available to Ethiopia. It has also helped deny a haven to anti-government rebels, who used to operate from Eritrea.

      I find the following assertion by Lefort particularly concerning. He writes, “For the founders of National Movement for the Amhara (NAMA), the Amhara nation is to be defined according to the territorial criterion, not based on ethnic features. Now this territorial criterion is expansionist.” Here, Lefort blames the victim. In fact, it is the TPLF that is expansionist because it has annexed forcibly territories from the Amhara regions of Gondar and Wello.

      [...]

      There are three areas where a permanent consensus may be worked out between these two camps: First is the reorganization of the society on other than ethnic or so-called linguistic basis. Second is an all-inclusive national unity based on equal citizenship, and equality of all languages, religions and cultures. Third is private ownership of land and a free market economy.

      Rene Lefort’s biggest worry is “a race against time between escalating ethnic conflicts and the emergence of a powerful leadership.” But, emphasizing the need for a powerful leadership, Lefort fails to see the connection between ethnic conflicts and the kilil system. A powerful leadership cannot resolve the endless ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia and save the country. Only a genuine transition to a democracy can.

    • The Weaponization of Social Media

      The use of ‘bots’ present modern society with a significant dilemma; The technologies and social media platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook) that once promised to enhance democracy are now increasingly being used to undermine it. Writers Peter W Singer and Emerson Brooking believe ‘the rise of social media and the Internet has become a modern-day battlefield where information itself is weaponised’. To them ‘the online world is now just as indispensable to governments, militaries, activists, and spies at it is to advertisers and shoppers’. They argue this is a new form of warfare which they call ‘LikeWar’. The terrain of LikeWar is social media; ‘it’s platforms are not designed to reward morality or veracity but virality.’ The ‘system rewards clicks, interactions, engagement and immersion time…figure out how to make something go viral, and you can overwhelm even the truth itself.’

      In its most simple form the word ‘bot’ is short for ‘robot’; beyond that, there is significant complexity. There are different types of bots. For example, there are ‘chatbots’ such as Siri and Amazon’s Alexa; they recognise human voice and speech and help us with our daily tasks and requests for information. There are search engine style ‘web bots’ and ‘spambots’. There are also ‘sockpuppets’ or ‘trolls’; these are often fake identities used to interact with ordinary users on social networks. There are ‘social bots’; these can assume a fabricated identity and can spread malicious links or advertisements. There are also ‘hybrid bots’ that combine automation with human input and are often referred to as ‘cyborgs’. Some bots are harmless; some more malicious, some can be both.

      The country that is perhaps most advanced in this new form of warfare and political influence is Russia. According to Peter Singer and Emerson Brooking ‘Russian bots more than simply meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election…they used a mix of old-school information operations and new digital marketing techniques to spark real-world protests, steer multiple U.S. news cycles, and influence voters in one of the closest elections in modern history. Using solely online means, they infiltrated U.S. political communities so completely that flesh-and-blood American voters soon began to repeat scripts written in St. Petersburg and still think them their own’. Internationally, these ‘Russian information offensives have stirred anti-NATO sentiments in Germany by inventing atrocities out of thin air; laid the pretext for potential invasions of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by fuelling the political antipathy of ethnic Russian minorities; and done the same for the very real invasion of Ukraine. And these are just the operations we know about.’

    • Governor Of Tanzania’s Capital Announces Plan To Round Up Everyone Who Was Too Gay On Social Media

      There has been an unfortunate trend in far too many African nations in which governments there look at the internet as either a source of evil in their countries or purely as a source for tax revenue, or both. The end result in many cases is a speech tax of sorts being placed on citizens in these countries, with traffic being taxed, bloggers being forced to register with the federal government, and populations that could otherwise benefit from a free and open internet being essentially priced out of the benefit altogether.

      But things have taken a different and far worse turn in Tanzania, where the governor of the country’s capital city, Dodoma, has announced his plan to round up anyone who is perceived as being gay on the internet and chucking them in prison.

      [...]

      If this indeed goes forward, the international moral outrage had better be swift and massive, or we’ll have confirmation that the world has lost its way.

    • Before Resigning, Jeff Sessions Handcuffed the Justice Department’s Ability to Police the Police

      The former attorney general’s last action all but eliminates federal oversight of abusive law enforcement agencies.
      In his final move as attorney general, Jeff Sessions on Wednesday issued a new policy that all but eliminates federal oversight of state and local law enforcement agencies that engage in unconstitutional and unlawful policing. While Sessions — a white man with money and political connections — will likely never be personally affected by this policy change, his decision to sabotage the legal instruments of federal civil rights enforcement is going to harm people and communities of color for years to come.

      The new policy sets unprecedented barriers for Justice Department attorneys to negotiate consent decrees, which are court orders jointly agreed on by the federal government and a state or local law enforcement agency accused of serious rights violations. They usually require new training and policies to resolve these violations at a systemic level, with implementation overseen by a court-appointed monitor until the agency has successfully carried out the required reforms. Such decrees have covered everything from use of force to racial bias and officer hiring and oversight to basic recordkeeping.

      Ever since Sessions took office, he was openly hostile to consent decrees as a “harmful federal intrusion” on state and local law enforcement authority. And his final decision as attorney general codified his contempt.

    • President Trump’s Proclamation Suspending Asylum Rights Is Illegal, So We’re Suing

      Refugees fleeing violence have a right to declare asylum regardless of how and where they enter the country.
      Claiming that the illegal entry of immigrants across the southern border of the United States is a national crisis, President Trump on Friday issued a proclamation purporting to bar the entry of all persons entering the United States at any place other than an official port of entry.

      The Trump administration’s action is contrary to the founding values of the country — welcoming homeless refugees to our shores. It also violates U.S. law, so we, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed suit against the administration on behalf of several nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. The plaintiffs include the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab, and the Central American Resource Center.

      Federal law specifically guarantees that “[a]ny alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States,” at a designated port of entry or not, is entitled to apply for asylum. In writing that law, Congress was specific and clear that immigrants who fear persecution in their home countries are entitled to seek asylum regardless of how they entered the United States.

      This right is particularly important because U.S. government officials are routinely denying entry to asylum seekers at official ports of entry. We and our partners have documented numerous instances of Border Patrol agents arbitrarily and unreasonably delaying access to the asylum process by threatening, intimidating, providing misinformation, and using physical force to turn away people seeking asylum.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The Fight for Net Neutrality Heats Up as Democrats Take the House

      The fight to restore net neutrality is heating up in the wake of the midterm elections.

      Every Democrat in the House of Representatives who supports reversing the Trump administration’s decision to repeal popular net neutrality rules has held on to their seat. House Democrats also secured a majority in the lower chamber, setting the stage for a potential showdown between Congress, the White House and the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over how the government should regulate powerful internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Cox and Comcast.

      Democratic state attorneys general, who have been united in challenging the Trump administration’s effort to end net neutrality in federal court, now hold a majority of state seats nationwide. Democrats flipped four attorney general seats in the midterms, including in Colorado, where longtime net neutrality proponent Phil Weiser defeated Republican George Brauchler after campaigning on the issue. Weiser said Colorado would join 22 other states in a lawsuit filed against the FCC earlier this year to block the net neutrality repeal. Oral arguments will be heard in February.

    • The Internet Is Splitting in Two Amid U.S. Dispute With China

      Critics of the model say players like Alibaba and Tencent thrive because Beijing dampens competition by making it nigh-impossible for global players such as Facebook to operate. They say the government’s heavy hand and unpredictability is counter-productive. Exhibit A: a months-long crackdown on gaming that helped wipe out more than $200 billion of Tencent’s market value this year. That cultivates a pervasive climate of fear, said Gary Rieschel, founding partner at Qiming Venture Partners.

    • Sprint Is Throttling Microsoft’s Skype Service, Study Finds

      Sprint Corp. has been slowing traffic to Microsoft Corp.’s internet-based video chat service Skype, according to new findings from an ongoing study by Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts.

      [...]

      Among leading U.S. carriers, Sprint was the only one to throttle Skype, the study found. The throttling was detected in 34 percent of 1,968 full tests — defined as those in which a user ran two tests in a row — conducted between Jan. 18 and Oct. 15. It happened regularly, and was spread geographically across the U.S. Android phone users were more affected than owners of Apple Inc.’s iPhones.

    • Cory Doctorow: What the Internet Is For

      The internet is not a revolutionary technology, but it makes revolution more possible than ever before. That’s why it’s so important to defend it, to keep it free and fair and open. A corrupted, surveillant, controlled internet is a place where our lives are torn open by the powerful, logged, and distorted. A free, fair, and open internet is how we fight back.

    • tell your kids about css overflow-wrap
  • DRM
    • Denuvo: Every Download Is A Lost Sale For This Anonymous AAA Title We’re Referencing, So Buy Moar Dunuvo!

      The saga of antipiracy DRM company Denuvo is a long and tortured one, but the short version of it is that Denuvo was once a DRM thought to be unbeatable but which has since devolved into a DRM that cracking groups often beat on timelines measured in days if not hours. Denuvo pivoted at that point, moving on from boasting at the longevity of its protection to remarking that even this brief protection offered in the release windows of games made it worthwhile. Around the same time, security company Irdeto bought Denuvo and rolled its services into its offering.

      And Irdeto apparently wants to keep pushing the line about early release windows, but has managed to do so by simply citing some unnamed AAA sports game that it claims lost millions by being downloaded instead of using Denuvo to protect it for an unspecified amount of time.

    • Denuvo Research Claims Unnamed “major sports title” Lost $21m in Revenue Because of Piracy [Ed: Amplifying the lies of disgraced DRM firm Denuvo]

      Denuvo, the infamous video game anti-piracy software provider, was acquired by Irdeto earlier this year in January. In a statement posted on Irdeto’s website, the software company shared research results which claim game piracy caused a potential loss of $21 million for an unnamed AAA sports title in the two weeks following its release.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Qualcomm’s Patent Nuclear War Turning Into Nuclear Winter

      We haven’t written much about Qualcomm and Apple’s all out nuclear war over patents, but a few recent developments suggest it’s worth digging in and discussing. In some ways it sweeps in other companies (mainly Intel) and also involves the FTC and the ITC. I won’t go through the entire history here because I’d still be writing this post into next year. Qualcomm is a pretty massive company and while it does produce some actual stuff, it has long acted quite similar to a patent troll. It has also vigorously opposed basically all patent reform efforts, while at the same time quietly funding a bunch of “think tanks” that go after anyone advocating for patent reform (I expect some fun comments to show up below).

      The reason Qualcomm acts this way is that it has long abused the patent system to jack up prices to ridiculous rates. And it’s finally facing something of a reckoning on that. In early 2017, the FTC went after Qualcomm for abusing its patents — notably: “using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones and other consumer products.” Specifically, the FTC alleged that Qualcomm, despite promises to the contrary to get its patents into important standards, was not following the FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) licensing of its patents, as required to have its inventions be a part of the standard. Just days later, Apple sued Qualcomm, also regarding Qualcomm’s patent shakedown, claiming that Qualcomm had been massively overcharging Apple for the use of its patents, rather than licensing them on a FRAND basi

    • Paediatric extensions – Switzerland to follow suit as of January 2019

      In order to provide adequate incentives for the research and development of high-quality medicinal products adapted for paediatric needs, special rewards, such as a 6-month paediatric extension of the term of a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) have been made available in the EU since 2007.

      Switzerland, which participates in the EU’s single market and traditionally has adapted its IP provisions to those of the EU, will now follow suit.

      In line with this, the Swiss Patent Act and Patent Ordinance have been amended so as to provide for an additional 6-month paediatric extension of proprietary protections, by either extending the term of a pending or granted SPC or by way of a new paediatric certificate, which is linked directly to the term of the basic patent.

    • Apple not in settlement talks ‘at any level’ with Qualcomm: source

      In the past, Apple used Qualcomm’s modem chips in its flagship iPhone models to help them connect to wireless data networks. But early last year, Apple sued Qualcomm in federal court in San Diego, alleging that the chip company’s practice of taking a cut of the selling price of phones as a patent license fee was illegal.

      Qualcomm denied the claims and has alleged that Apple owes it USD 7 billion in unpaid royalties.

    • Copyrights
      • The Satanic Temple Apparently Believes In Copyright And Is Suing Netflix For $50 Million It Will Not Get

        So… the Satanic Temple is suing Netflix for $50 million for copyright infringement. Please insert your own joke here.

        To be honest, you would kind of hope that the Satanic Temple would, you know, maybe have a bit more excitement when filing federal cases, but this case is just… dumb. I’m almost wondering if it’s just a sort of publicity stunt for both the Satanic Temple and the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The crux of the complaint is that the show features a Baphomet statue that they feel is too similar to their own Baphomet statue (which the Temple tries to get erected in front of courthouses who want to post the 10 Commandments). If you’re thinking but isn’t Baphomet “a historical deity which has a complex history, having been associated with accusations of devil worship against the Knight Templar,” I’d agree with you and perhaps copy and paste that statement straight from the Satanic Temple’s complaint. But… wouldn’t that also likely mean that it had been around in a design form for many, many years, meaning most depictions are probably public domain? Yes, again.

      • AT&T Ignores Numerous Pitfalls, Begins Kicking Pirates Off Of The Internet

        We’ve noted for years how kicking users offline for copyright infringement is a terrible idea for a myriad of reasons. Severing access to what many deem an essential utility is not only an over-reaction to copyright infringement, but a potential violation of free speech. As France quickly learned it’s also a technical nightmare to implement. Most pirates hide their traffic behind proxies and VPNs, and even if you kick repeat offenders offline, you then need systems to somehow track them between ISPs. There’s also the fact that entertainment industry accusations of guilt are often based on flimsy to nonexistent evidence.

        None of this is stopping AT&T, which this week quietly indicated they were going to start kicking some users off the internet for copyright infringement for the first time in the company’s history.

        Axios was the first to break the story with a comically one-sided report that fails to raise a single concern about the practice of booting users offline for copyright infringement, nor cites any of the countless examples where such efforts haven’t worked or have gone poorly. I talked a little to AT&T about its new plan, who confirmed to me that while they’d still been sending “graduated warnings” to users after the collapse of the “six strikes” initiative, this policy of actively kicking users offline is new, and comes on the heels of the company’s $89 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

        Though this doesn’t make the idea any better, it’s arguably difficult to get on AT&T’s bad side under this new program. According to the company, users will need to ignore nine different warnings about copyright infringement before they lose access. AT&T repeatedly tried to make it clear that the actual users getting kicked offline (around a dozen to start) will be relatively minor.

      • EU’s proposed link tax would [still] harm Creative Commons licensors

        In September the European Parliament voted to approve drastic changes to copyright law that would negatively affect creativity, freedom of expression, research, and sharing across the EU. Now the Parliament and Council (representing the Member State governments) are engaged in closed-door negotiations, and their task over the coming months is to come up with a reconciled version of the directive text, which will again be voted on in the European Parliament next year.

      • Dutch Govt Agency Warns Against Fake ‘Piracy’ Fines

        The Dutch Government’s Telecom Agency is alerting the public that its name is being abused by scammers to demand piracy fines. In a warning issued today, it recommends recipients not to respond to these emails. It appears that scammers are capitalizing on the news that rightsholders may soon start sending ‘fines’ to alleged pirates.

Unified Patents Takes Aim at Velos Media SEPs, Passed From Patent Aggressor Qualcomm

Friday 9th of November 2018 11:14:58 AM

Summary: The latest endeavour from Unified Patents takes aim at notorious standard-essential patents (SEPs), which are not compatible with Free/Open Source software and are typically invalid as per 35 U.S.C. § 101 as well

IN THE previous post we noted that PTAB, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, could invalidate a lot of patents only to be reaffirmed (the invalidation) by the Federal Circuit because these patents had been granted in error (citing Alice/SCOTUS). We also noted that there had been attempts to disenfranchise Unified Patents (and RPX), denying them access to IPRs. We’ll say more about that in the weekend (other patterns try to deal with whether a government is a person and whether patents can enjoy sovereign immunity). Put simply, when Unified Patents serves some common or communal interest (collective action) there are those trying to assert that it isn’t legally entitled or eligible to do so. They’re afraid of Unified Patents.

The subject of standard-essential patents (SEPs) has meanwhile surfaced again; now that the MPEG cartel is trying to assemble a pool of patents on life we’re seeing Unified Patents’ ongoing effort to eliminate underlying patents in the HEVC / H.265 standard. As they put it yesterday:

On November 7, 2018, Unified filed a petition (with Wilmer Hale serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 9,338,449, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos) as part of Unified’s ongoing effort to eliminate unsubstantiated assertions of allegedly standard-essential patents (www.unifiedpatents.com/sep).

The ‘449 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the third-largest known to be owned by Velos and represents approximately 5.9% of Velos’s total known assets. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard. The ’449 patent, originally assigned to Qualcomm, was transferred to Velos Media in 2017. After conducting an independent analysis, Unified has determined that the ‘449 patent is likely unpatentable.

We previously wrote about HEVC patents [1, 2] and Qualcomm in relation to its dispute with Apple. The latter is covered more typically in our daily links (Qualcomm’s affairs were also covered here in past posts). The USPTO-granted patents of MPEG-LA are a ‘case study’ regarding what’s wrong with SEPs. If Unified Patents can shatter these, then we wholeheartedly support Unified Patents.

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