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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 55 min ago

Links 18/1/2017: Red Hat’s OpenShift 3.4, Mozilla’s New Logo/Branding

Thursday 19th of January 2017 12:56:50 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • Science
    • Tesla’s new VP of Autopilot Software explains why he made the move from Apple

      Earlier this month, Chris Lattner announced that he was leaving Apple to lead Tesla’s Autopilot software team after a decade at the Cupertino company where he led the development of the Swift programming language and developer tools.

      There have been rumors about why he was leaving Apple, but the software engineer has now broken the silence to kill the rumors and disclose why he joined Tesla.

      Some had speculated that Apple’s closed and secretive culture had driven out Lattner like it had with a few others in recent years. The constant patent battles are driving some of the employees mad and taking away the focus on products.

    • Can President Trump Uphold Scientific Integrity in Government Decisionmaking? New Report Tells What’s At Stake

      Last week, the US Department of Energy released a revised scientific integrity policy in what was likely the last move by the Obama administration to promote scientific integrity in federal decision-making. But we cannot forget the many steps that preceded it. Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists releases a report, Preserving Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking: Lessons from the Past Two Administrations and What’s at Stake under the Trump Administration. The report characterizes the progress, missteps and unfinished business of scientific integrity under the Obama administration and considers what’s at stake under the Trump administration.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Pharma Money Reaches Guideline Writers, Patient Groups, Even Doctors on Twitter

      The long arm of the pharmaceutical industry continues to pervade practically every area of medicine, reaching those who write guidelines that shape doctors’ practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even oncologists on Twitter, according to a series of papers on money and influence published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

      The findings of the papers provide further evidence showing how conflicts of interest help shape health care, a subject ProPublica has explored through its Dollars for Docs series since 2010. (Check whether your physician receives money from drug or device companies through our news tool.)

      “The very way we all think about disease — and the best ways to research, define, prevent, and treat it — is being subtly distorted because so many of the ostensibly independent players, including patient advocacy groups, are largely singing tunes acceptable to companies seeking to maximize markets for drugs and devices,” researchers Ray Moynihan and Lisa Bero wrote in an accompanying commentary.

    • Dysfunction Disorder

      The young mother was in danger of losing her child when she met with a psychologist in May of 2014. She had been living in a Manhattan shelter for victims of domestic violence, and New York City’s child welfare agency was considering taking the child from the woman, according to the woman’s lawyer. The psychologist was supposed to conduct an assessment and file a report, a finding that could end up before a Brooklyn Family Court judge who would decide the family’s fate.

    • The Number of US Households That Can’t Afford Water Could Triple in Five Years

      In the next five years, more households in the US risk being unable to pay for water. If rates keep rising as they’re expected to do, the number of households that can’t afford water might triple—reaching nearly 36 percent, according to Elizabeth Mack, geography professor at Michigan State University, whose findings are described in PLoS ONE.

      “I’m an economic geographer,” Mack told me. “The basic question I asked here was, can people afford their water bills?” It seems like a simple enough thing to ask—in North America, each of us uses an average of 100 gallons of water per person per day—yet the US remains understudied when it comes to water access, she told me. Her work, funded by the National Science Foundation, was one of the first nationwide studies of its kind.

    • Cher calls for firing squad for Snyder over Flint water crisis

      Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Genesee County.

      According to a press release from the governor’s office, the declaration is to address the ongoing health and safety issues caused by lead in Flint’s drinking water.

      The declaration makes all state resources available in cooperation with local repose and recovery operation. Read the full declaration here.

    • Iraq’s Marsh Arabs test the waters as wetlands ruined by Saddam are reborn

      The morning of 20 January 1992 began much like any other for the Mohammed family in the marshlands of southern Iraq. Rising at first light, they roused their herd of buffaloes and drove the beasts snorting and protesting into the surrounding wetlands to graze. After a quick breakfast of bread and yoghurt, washed down with sugary tea, they readied themselves for a long day out on the water.

    • Under Tom Price’s ACA-killing plan, 18M lose insurance and premiums rise

      Republican legislation that guts the Affordable Care Act would cause 18 million people to lose their insurance and would increase premiums of individual plans by about 20 to 25 percent, all within a year of being enacted, a report released today by the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

      The legislation would destabilize the individual health insurance market, the report cautions, so the effects will “worsen over time.” After roughly two years, the number of uninsured would jump by 27 million and premiums would increase by about 50 percent. If nothing else changes, in ten years, the uninsured would increase by 32 million and premiums would be about double.

    • EPA Under Scott Pruitt Could Cost the U.S. Billions in Additional Health Care Costs

      Supporters of Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency clearly believe the Oklahoma attorney general would be good for business. A climate denier and avowed foe of the agency he’s poised to head, Pruitt appeals to conservatives because he understands “that regulations affect our property rights, our ability to compete, and our livelihoods,” according Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, III, who joined Pruitt in suing the EPA over air pollution limits. Among the 23 ultra-right groups that signed a statement supporting Pruitt posted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute are the Exxon-funded Frontiers of Freedom and several groups tied to the Koch brothers, including the Independent Women’s Voice, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

    • The Murky Future for US Health Care

      All eyes are on the Republicans and Obamacare, as the dominant GOP now proceeds toward dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy plan, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. What they plan to replace it with is still anybody’s guess.

      I spoke recently to public health care expert and single-payer advocate Dr. Don McCain about the debate, the negatives and positives of Obamacare, and what kind of health care system we need in the U.S. to really attend to the medical needs of all people.

      McCain, a senior health policy fellow with the group Physicians for a National Health Program, said recently about the current debate, “President Obama meeting with the Congressional Democrats, and Vice President-elect Pence meeting with the Republicans are being touted as a strategy efforts on the two opposite sides of the health care reform debate. But are they really opposites?”

  • Security
    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • FOI: NHS Trusts are ransomware pin cushions [Ed: Windows]

      The FOI requests found that 87 per cent of attacks came via a networked NHS device and that 80 per cent were down to phished staffers. However, only a small proportion of the 100 or so Trusts responded to this part of the requests.

      “These results are far from surprising. Public sector organisations make a soft target for fraudsters because budget and resource shortages frequently leave hospitals short-changed when it comes to security basics like regular software patching,” said Tony Rowan, Chief Security Consultant at SentinelOne.

      “The results highlight the fact that old school AV technology is powerless to halt virulent, mutating forms of malware like ransomware and a new more dynamic approach to endpoint protection is needed.

    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • Secure your Elasticsearch cluster and avoid ransomware

      Last week, news came out that unprotected MongoDB databases are being actively compromised: content copied and replaced by a message asking for a ransom to get it back. As The Register reports: Elasticsearch is next.

      Protecting access to Elasticsearch by a firewall is not always possible. But even in environments where it is possible, many admins are not protecting their databases. Even if you cannot use a firewall, you can secure connection to Elasticsearch by using encryption. Elasticsearch by itself does not provide any authentication or encryption possibilities. Still, there are many third-party solutions available, each with its own drawbacks and advantages.

    • Resolve to Follow These 8 Steps for Better Data Security in 2017

      Getting physically fit is a typical New Year’s resolution. Given that most of us spend more time online than in a gym, the start of the new year also might be a great time to improve your security “fitness.” As with physical fitness challenges, the biggest issue with digital security is always stagnation. That is, if you don’t move and don’t change, atrophy sets in. In physical fitness, atrophy is a function of muscles not being exercised. In digital fitness, security risks increase when you fail to change passwords, update network systems and adopt improved security technology. Before long, your IT systems literally become a “sitting duck.” Given the volume of data breaches that occurred in 2016, it is highly likely that everyone reading this has had at least one breach of their accounts compromised in some way, such as their Yahoo data account. Hackers somewhere may have one of the passwords you’ve used at one point to access a particular site or service. If you’re still using that same password somewhere, in a way that can connect that account to you, that’s a non-trivial risk. Changing passwords is the first of eight security resolutions that can help to improve your online security fitness in 2017. Click through this eWEEK slide show to discover the rest.

    • Pwn2Own 2017 Takes Aim at Linux, Servers and Web Browsers

      10th anniversary edition of Pwn2Own hacking contest offers over $1M in prize money to security researchers across a long list of targets including Virtual Machines, servers, enterprise applications and web browsers.

      Over the last decade, the Zero Day Initiative’s (ZDI) annual Pwn2Own competition has emerged to become one of the premiere events on the information security calendar and the 2017 edition does not look to be any different. For the tenth anniversary of the Pwn2Own contest, ZDI, now owned and operated by Trend Micro, is going farther than ever before, with more targets and more prize money available for security researchers to claim by successfully executing zero-day exploits.

    • ‘Factorio’ is another game that was being hit by key scammers

      In another case of scammers trying to buy keys with often stolen credit cards to sell on websites like G2A, the developers of ‘Factorio’ have written about their experience with it (and other stuff too).

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the Shadows

      Erik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.

      On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.

    • The Issue Is Not Trump, It’s Us

      Under Obama, the U.S. extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 percent of the world’s population.

      On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation. “In order for us to heal and move forward,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

    • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About James Mattis

      1. James “Jim” N. Mattis was born on Sept. 8, 1950, to John and Lucille Mattis and grew up in Pullman, Washington.

      2. Mattis earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Central Washington State University and later graduated from Amphibious Warfare School, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as well as the National War College.

      3. Mattis served at numerous levels in the Marine Corps, beginning in 1991 as lieutenant colonel during the Persian Gulf War. When he retired in 2013, Mattis was Commander of U.S. Central Command.

      4. Mattis’ military nicknames are “Mad Dog” and “Warrior Monk” and went by the military call sign “Chaos.”

    • Homeland Security Pick Gen. John Kelly Fails to Disclose Ties to Defense Contractors

      The Intercept revealed last week that Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the the Department of Homeland Security, retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, did not disclose on his ethics form that he was listed as a vice chairman at the Spectrum Group, a defense contractor lobbying firm.

      Now, it appears that Kelly failed to list two other positions as well: board memberships with Michael Baker International and Sallyport Global, two defense contractors that do business with the U.S. government.

      Federal law requires Senate-confirmed nominees to list all positions at outside organizations on ethics forms that are vetted by the Office of Government Ethics and released to both the public and lawmakers. But the board memberships, like the Spectrum Group vice chairmanship, were not listed on Kelly’s federal ethics disclosure form nor his letter to the Homeland Security Department’s designated ethics official.

    • Drone Proliferation Ramps Up

      Over 75 states possess unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones. We know of fifteen states which possessed armed drones at the end of 2016. They are the US, UK, China, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, and Turkey.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Judge orders Justice Dept. to preserve official’s private-account emails

      A federal judge issued a rare order Tuesday requiring the Justice Department to secure emails that may be in the personal Gmail account of a top department official who’s about to depart his post with the change in administration.

      U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan instructed Justice to preserve any emails that Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter Kadzik has in private accounts that could be responsive to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch.

    • 13 Million Pages of Declassified CIA Documents Were Just Posted Online

      A nonprofit organization, a persistent rabble-rouser, and their pro-bono attorney have succeeded in getting the Central Intelligence Agency to post the full contents of its declassified records database online, meaning it’s now possible to access roughly 13 million pages of CIA documents dating back to the beginnings of the Cold War.

      Since 2000, the CIA has maintained the CIA Records Search Tool (CREST) at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. The CREST database—containing every “historically valuable” record that had been declassified, thanks to a 1995 executive order by Bill Clinton—was technically publicly accessible, but could only be used on four computers at the archives during very limited business hours.

    • WikiLeaks’ impact: an unfiltered look into the world’s elite and powerful

      The release of a quarter of a million US diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning, the US army whistleblower whose 35-year sentence was commuted by President Obama on Tuesday, had a powerful impact on the practice of diplomacy around the world.

    • Clemency for Chelsea Manning – but will Assange or Snowden also find the US merciful?

      US President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. A former army intelligence operative, Manning was sentenced by court martial in 2013 to 35 years’ imprisonment for espionage crimes relating to the mass leaking of military and diplomatic material.

      She will now be released in May 2017, having served seven years including her time in confinement before and during her trial.

      Manning’s lawyers argued she was motivated by a desire to expose the reality of war to the American people. She leaked more than 700,000 items of interest to whistleblower website WikiLeaks. It published many – including videos of airstrikes that killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • In latest move, China halts over 100 coal power projects

      China’s energy regulator has ordered 11 provinces to stop more than 100 coal-fired power projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts, its latest dramatic step to curb the use of fossil fuels in the world’s top energy market.

      In a document issued on Jan. 14, financial media group Caixin reported, the National Energy Administration (NEA) suspended the coal projects, some of which were already under construction.

      The projects worth some 430 billion yuan ($62 billion) were to have been spread across provinces and autonomous regions including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi and other northwestern areas.

    • China to plow $361 billion into renewable fuel by 2020

      China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency said on Thursday, as the world’s largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

      The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

      The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

      The agency did not disclose more details on where the funds, which equate to about $72 billion each year, would be spent.

    • Three More DAPL Protesters Arrested Monday

      Three more Dakota Access Pipeline protesters were arrested Monday after they tried to reach the horizontal drill pad.

      That pad is the launching point for the pipeline to go underneath Lake Oahe.

    • Water Protectors Arrested, Tear-Gassed for Peaceful Prayer Walk at DAPL Site

      Water protectors battling the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline once again faced down police in riot gear, tear gas, and arrests on Monday as Indigenous activists attempted to hold a peaceful prayer walk at the pipeline drilling site alongside the Missouri River near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

    • Company Building DAPL Aims To Block Environmental Study

      The company building the Dakota Access oil pipeline wants a federal judge to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from launching a full environmental study of the $3.8 billion pipeline’s disputed crossing of a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

      Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Tuesday to stop the Corps from publishing a notice in the Federal Register on Wednesday announcing the study. ETP wants any further study put on hold until Boasberg, in Washington, D.C., rules on whether ETP already has the necessary permission to lay pipe under Lake Oahe — the reservoir that’s the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

    • The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science

      It was a year into his life alone in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains when Billy Barr began his recordings. It started as a curiosity, a task to busy his mind during the winter. By no means, Barr told me, having skied down from his cabin to use the nearest phone, did he set out to make a vital database for climate change scientists. “Hell no!” he said. “I didn’t know anything about climate change at the time.”

      In 1973 Barr had dropped out of college and made his home an abandoned mining shack at the base of Gothic Mountain, a 12,600-foot stone buttress. The cold winds blew through the shack’s wood slat walls as if they didn’t exist; he shared the bare dirt floor with a skunk and pine marten, his only regular company for much of the year. Barr had moved from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains precisely because of the solitude, but he couldn’t escape boredom. Especially that first winter. So he measured snow levels, animal tracks, and in spring the first jubilant calls of birds returning. He filled a notebook with these observations; then another notebook. This has continued now for 44 years.

  • Finance
    • Millions Of Britons Benefit From Freedom Of Movement – It Must Be Protected

      How often must we hear the lie that immigration causes low pay to fall? Or that migrants are to blame for the monumental strain facing our public services? Today Theresa May stood in front of the cameras of the world and said that Brexit “must mean control of the number of people” coming to our country. She said: “When the numbers get too high, public support for the system falters.”

      But she is not talking about numbers on a spreadsheet – she is talking about people. People who come to Britain to make a home, to travel, study, work, love, or for a hundred other reasons – and people from the UK who move to other European countries for a hundred more. I am proud to be co-leader of the only party standing up for those people, but I am also saddened that today the Prime Minister was so determined to stand against us.

      Not only has Theresa May made those lives into mere “numbers” – she has in fact got her figures wrong. In her Brexit speech the Prime Minister said that immigration puts downward pressure on low pay. This is a myth that Labour appears to have rolled over and accepted too. Yet the Centre of Economic Performance tells us that there is in fact no evidence that EU migrants affect the performance of those who were born in the UK. Since 2004 the impact of migration on the semi/unskilled sector has been the equivalent of a loss in earning of about just one penny an hour.

    • Extreme Brexit: This was May’s last moment of control

      Theresa May should enjoy today. It is her final moment of control. Her speech confirmed that Britain was leaving the single market. There would be a free trade agreement with Europe, somehow miraculously agreed during Article 50, and then an “implementation period” to enact the changes after April 2019.

      For anyone who believes in staying in the EU, or the single market, or is merely concerned about the government’s grasp of the Brexit issue, today seems like a moment of total failure. The domestic political consensus for hard Brexit seems fixed. May has confirmed it. There is all the reason in the world for despair.

      They should resist that temptation. Brexit is a marathon, not a sprint. The key moment is not now, but months from now. Today May announced a plan that she will not be able to deliver.

    • Employment tribunal penalties falling short

      The government is recouping just a fraction of the extra money it expected to generate from rogue bosses hauled before employment tribunals, new figures have revealed.

      Business minister Margot James has admitted that just £17,704 has been paid in financial penalties since they were enabled in April 2014.

      Tribunals have levied 18 fines against employers for aggravated breach of employment law, of which 12 have been paid.

      Before the penalties were conceived, an impact assessment prepared by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills estimated that judges would impose sanctions in 25% of cases. This would leave employers paying £2.8m a year in extra penalties – money which would go straight to the Treasury.

    • Apple’s EU Bill Creeps Up as Analyst Sees $1.6 Billion Interest

      Apple Inc.’s bill for unpaid taxes in Ireland is creeping upwards, as authorities try to figure out exactly how much the world’s richest company owes.

      European Union competition watchdogs ordered Ireland to claw back a record 13 billion euros ($13.9 billion) plus interest in unpaid taxes from the iPhone maker last August, covering the years 2003 to 2014. Apple and Ireland have appealed the EU’s Aug. 30 decision.

    • Here Come The AIs To Make Office Workers Superfluous

      Stories about robots and their impressive capabilities are starting to crop up fairly often these days. It’s no secret that they will soon be capable of replacing humans for many manual jobs, as they already do in some manufacturing industries. But so far, artificial intelligence (AI) has been viewed as more of a blue-sky area — fascinating and exciting, but still the realm of research rather than the real world. Although AI certainly raises important questions for the future, not least philosophical and ethical ones, its impact on job security has not been at the forefront of concerns.

    • Despite Trump’s Pledge To Kill It, Some Still Hope TPP Will Live Again, As Rival RCEP Stumbles Too

      TPP foundered on the fact that it offered precious few benefits to the general public, and plenty of downsides. It looks like RCEP is hitting the same problems. The “other” Pacific deal’s difficulties may be a further sign that the era of massive global trade deals like TPP, TTIP and TISA, all negotiated in secret, and all now in doubt, may finally be over. We can probably expect smaller-scale, bilateral deals to become the norm instead.

    • These Are the World’s Most Innovative Economies

      There’s something about those Nordic countries.

      In the battle of ideas, Sweden climbed to No. 2 and Finland cracked into the top five of the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors including research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

      South Korea remained the big winner, topping the international charts in R&D intensity, value-added manufacturing and patent activity and with top-five rankings in high-tech density, higher education and researcher concentration. Scant progress in improving its productivity score — now No. 32 in the world — helps explain why South Korea’s lead narrowed in the past year.

    • Questions and conflicts: Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s secretary of education choice, is surrounded by controversies

      Preparing for a packed first week of confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s numerous controversial cabinet picks, Democratic politicians and advocacy groups had to decide which nominees they would focus their energy on opposing. With so many distasteful characters, several of whom have attacked the very agencies they’ve been nominated to lead, opposing all of them could spread resources too thin. Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Education, is clearly one of the worst.

    • Oxfam: World’s Richest Eight Men as Wealthy as 3.6 Billion Poorest

      Six of the world’s eight wealthiest billionaires are Americans. They are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg. Oxfam said it’s concerned that wealth inequality will continue to grow following the election of Donald Trump, whose Cabinet members have a combined wealth of nearly $11 billion.

    • Juncker says Brexit talks will be ‘very, very, very difficult’ as press turns hostile

      The president of the EU commission has said talks on Britain’s departure will be “very, very, very difficult” as Europe’s press turned hostile, attacking Theresa May’s Brexit plans as isolationist, unachievable, extremist – and disastrous for the UK.

      Speaking to journalists in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker played down suggestions that May’s speech on Tuesday was a threat to Europe, and emphasised a deal had to reflect the interests of Britain and the EU.

      He said he had spoken to the British prime minister on Tuesday evening and told her the commission was not in a hostile mood: “We want a fair deal with Britain and a fair deal for Britain, but a fair deal means a fair deal for the European Union.”

    • Why Would Trump Want a Weaker Dollar?

      On Wednesday morning, currencies in emerging markets across Asia started to rise: The Chinese yuan and the Thai bhat hit two-month highs, while Taiwan’s dollar reached a three-month peak, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the value of the U.S. dollar had dropped 1.3 percent on Tuesday, to its lowest point in a month.

      Those searching for an explanation didn’t have to look very hard. Over the weekend, President-elect Donald Trump delivered some remarks to The Wall Street Journal that took many by surprise. In response to a question about trade with China, Trump declared that the U.S. dollar is “too strong.” He added, “Our companies can’t compete with [China] now because our currency is too strong. And it’s killing us.”

    • Mick Mulvaney’s Unpaid Taxes

      President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be his White House budget chief has a tax problem.

      Representative Mick Mulvaney, the nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, told a Senate committee that he had failed to pay more than $15,000 in taxes for a household employee in the early 2000s. The voluntary disclosure came in response to a query that has become standard for presidential nominees seeking Senate confirmation: Have you ever failed to pay your taxes?

    • Watch Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren School Trump’s Education Secretary Pick (Video)

      While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders asked about Betsy DeVos’ stance on tuition-free colleges and her family’s donations to the Republican Party, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pointed out that the billionaire has absolutely no experience with public education and student loans. Both senators did an excellent job grilling DeVos, but the most illuminating rhetorical question came from Sanders, who asked point-blank, “Do you think if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made contributions of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican party, that you’d be sitting here today?”

    • Betsy DeVos, an Heiress, Bashes Tuition-Free College: ‘There’s Nothing in Life That’s Truly Free’

      Betsy DeVos, the right-wing activist who the Trump administration has nominated to lead the Department of Education, criticized Bernie Sanders’s plan to offer tuition-free education at public colleges and universities during her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

      “Senator I think that’s a really interesting idea,” she said when asked by Sanders about his plan. “And it’s really great to consider and think about, but I think we also have to consider the fact that there’s nothing in life that’s truly free, somebody’s going to pay for it.”

      The proverb about nothing in life being free is ironic coming from DeVos, whose wealth is built off of inheritance and marriage. She is the daughter of Edgar Prince, who founded the Michigan-based Prince Corporation, an auto parts business that sold for $1.35 billion in 1996; she also married into the massive Amway fortune by marrying Dick DeVos, whose father co-founded that company.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Wells Fargo to Pay Transportation Nominee Elaine Chao up to $5 Million Over Next Four Years

      Elaine Chao, Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Transportation, is in line to receive a “golden parachute” from Wells Fargo & Company worth between $1 million and $5 million dollars.

      Chao, who joined Wells Fargo as a board member in 2011, has collected deferred stock options — a compensation perk generally designed as a long-term retention strategy — that she would not be able to cash out if she left the firm to work for a competitor.

      Her financial disclosure notes that she will receive a “cash payout for my deferred stock compensation” upon confirmation as Secretary of Transportation. The document discloses that the payments will continue throughout her time in government, if she is confirmed. The payouts will begin in July 2017 and continue yearly through 2021.

    • ‘It’s Tough to Say How Much Leverage People Have on Him’ – CounterSpin interview with Russ Choma on Trump’s conflicts

      Donald Trump owns a lot of things, and his big announcement January 11 was that he intends to keep on owning them—despite this presidency business, or however anyone who isn’t Donald Trump has ever done it. Whether it’s the power of persuasion or the persuasiveness of power, it’s not an unfounded concern that some in public life, including in the media, might provide insufficient challenge to the idea that worries about conflicts of interest are really just sour grapes. Reporter Russ Choma has been tracking Trump’s conflicts for Mother Jones. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Russ Choma.

    • Rex Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil Frequently Sought State Department Assistance, New Documents Show

      Exxon Mobil under its CEO Rex Tillerson frequently pressed the U.S. State Department for help in negotiating complex business deals and overcoming foreign opposition to its drilling projects, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept.

      The requests for help — documented in diplomatic cables obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from DeSmogBlog as well as some previously released by Wikileaks — raise a whole new series of conflict-of-interest concerns about Tillerson, who retired as Exxon Mobil CEO soon after being nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state.

      Consider: Exxon Mobil sent State Department officials a request to help overcome local opposition to fracking in Germany; in Indonesia, the State Department acted as a advocate for Exxon Mobil during contentious negotiations between the firm and the Indonesian government over a major gas field in the South China Sea; and in Russia, Exxon Mobil asked the U.S. ambassador to press the Russians to approve a major drilling program, noting that a “warming of U.S.-Russian relations” overall would also help the company.

    • Manning Sentence Commuted–No Thanks to Corporate Media Opinion

      The editorial boards of the most influential newspapers in the United States—the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today—published nothing in support of Manning. When an outlet did register an opinion, as with the New York Post (1/13/17), it was to adamantly warn against commuting or pardoning her.

      The only sympathetic commentaries we found in major papers over the past year were in the LA Times (9/16/16)—an op-ed by N+1 associate editor Richard Beck that called, not for a pardon itself, exactly, but for “widespread, coordinated support for a full pardon” for Manning—and a piece by Michael Tracey (“Let Chelsea Manning Go Free”) that appeared in the New York Daily News (1/17/17) 45 minutes before the commutation was announced. (The paper’s editorial board retorted later that day with “Leniency for a Traitor: Obama Clemency for Criminal Leaker Manning Is Unjust.”)

      On the reporting side, it’s worth noting that the New York Times’ Charlie Savage has devoted a considerable amount of time over the past few months to documenting Manning’s difficulties as a trans woman in a men’s prison (1/13/17)—and reporting, for example, her placement in solitary confinement as punishment for a suicide attempt (9/23/16).

      But on the editorial side—the department charged with driving popular opinion—support for mercy for Manning was nonexistent. This is especially striking, given that her exposure of government secrets through WikiLeaks was the basis for countless media reports (FAIR.org, 12/4/12)—including revelations about a 2007 US military attack in Iraq that killed two Reuters journalists. Manning’s conviction under the Espionage Act—even though she had given secrets to media, not an enemy power—posed a chilling threat to all media sources who seek to expose government wrongdoing.

    • President Obama Commutes Prison Sentence For Chelsea Manning
    • EFF Celebrates Obama’s Decision: Chelsea Manning To Be Released This Year

      As one of his very last acts in office, President Obama has commuted the sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning by 28 years. EFF applauds Obama for using his last days as president to bring justice to Manning’s case. And we congratulate all those who supported, defended, and spoke out on behalf of Manning over the years and supported her clemency petition. Your efforts secured her freedom.

      Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the release of approximately 700,000 military and diplomatic records to WikiLeaks. Under this sentence—the longest punishment ever imposed on a whistleblower in United States history—Manning would have been released in 2045. Now, under the terms set by President Obama, Manning is to be released on May 17, 2017, after more than seven years behind bars.

    • The Trump presidency starts Friday. Here is the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s agenda.

      On Friday, President Elect Donald J. Trump will swear the oath of office, pledging to uphold the Constitution. But as EFF has learned in the course of defending our fundamental rights over four American presidencies, our civil liberties need an independent defense force. Free speech and the rights to privacy, transparency, and innovation won’t survive on their own—we’re here to ensure that government is held accountable and in check.

      Technological progress does not wait for politicians to catch up, and new tools can quickly be misused by aggressive governments. The next four years will be characterized by rapid developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, connected homes, and smart cities. We welcome innovation, but we also expect to see an explosion of surveillance technologies designed to take advantage of our connected world to spy on all of us and our devices, all the time. That data will be used not only to target individuals but to project and manipulate social behavior. What will our digital rights look like during these uncertain and evolving times? Will our current rights remain intact when the baton is passed on once again?

    • President Obama’s Commutation of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Most Likely Saved Her Life

      President Obama today commuted most of Chelsea Manning’s remaining sentence for disclosing classified information about the impact of America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on innocent civilians. This is an important development both for government transparency and for transgender rights.

      With today’s clemency order, she will be released in May 2017 after having served seven years in prison. This isn’t a pardon. Chelsea pled guilty and will face the consequences for many of the charges against her. But the military sentenced her to 35 years in prison, a longer sentence than anyone else in U.S. history has received for disclosing information to the news media.

    • Will Trump’s Inauguration Be the Day Clemency Died?

      As someone who was fortunate to have his sentence commuted by President Obama, I am frequently asked, “Do you think President Trump will carry on President Obama’s Clemency Initiative?” And I jokingly say, “If Trump had the authority, I have no doubt he would put me back in prison and everyone else President Obama granted clemency to.”

    • Chelsea Manning Adds a Glow to the Day

      I cannot tell you how delighted I am that Chelsea Manning is going to be released. Having done so much to reveal the truly sordid nature on the ground of the USA’s neo-Imperial aggression, Manning is a true hero. It is a shame that Obama is forcing her to undergo another five months of a truly hellish prison sentence, but still there is now an end in sight.

      All of which adds to the mystery of Obama. He launched the most vicious War on Whistleblowers ever in American history. Obama’s people even went for whistleblowers like Bill Binney and Tom Drake of the NSA, whose whistleblowing happened pre-Obama but who Bush had not sought to persecute. So freeing a whistleblower is the least likely act of clemency to be expected.

    • Would You Have Chelsea Manning’s Courage When Called?

      With more than a little irony, while I was in Iraq working for the State Department, Chelsea Manning’s office was across the hall from mine. While I was winning the war by writing emails to the embassy, Manning was across the hall capturing the texts of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, famously released by Wikileaks, showing that was could never be won.

      My war in Iraq ended in near-complete failure. What Manning did will have an impact far beyond that terrible struggle. In this video, I ask the question of why I didn’t do what Manning did, and challenge the audience: when faced with history, would you have the courage to do what Manning did?

    • Velcome, Comrade Trump

      It is impressively sad how quickly this all happened.

      Their shock that Hillary could lose to… him… needed some sort of explanation, as it could not have anything to do with Clinton’s shortcomings. It was cheating (we’ll have recounts), it was the Electoral College (faithless electors, unite!), it was Comey, or the media, or… when all else fails, you go with what you know: the Russians.

      Putin is just a wonderful supervillain, and Trump such a stupid foil, that it was an easy sell. Dust off some old propaganda (the RT.com Red Scare part of the IC report was four years old itself, the material in it about 50 years old) and you are set. The American people are the most frightened puppies on earth and with terrorism just not scary as it once was, a new villian that plays to old fears appeared at the right place at the right time.

      The Chinese might have been a good group to blame, but they don’t seem to take the bait and plus they make all our stuff. Never mind that long string of evil dictators who attack their own people across the MidEast the U.S. has used for the last 15 years to keep the war machine chugging, we’re back to the Eagle versus Bear. We’ll probably give Putin back the Fulda Gap just so we can fight over it.

    • Almost Every Word Of John McCain’s Response To Chelsea Manning’s Sentence Commutation Is Flat Out Wrong

      Manning has been in prison for seven years, with a significant portion of that being held in solitary confinement, sometimes being made to strip naked before being able to sleep. This was called “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture” by the United Nations. You would think, of all people, Senator John McCain, who similarly was held in solitary confinement and tortured for extended periods while being held captive for 5 and a half years in Vietnam, would recognize that “only” 7 years of such treatment wouldn’t exactly encourage more of Manning’s behavior.

      To put it more directly: who, in their right mind, is going to leak a bunch of documents thinking “oh, perhaps after going through literal torture, character assassination and basically hell on earth, it’ll be okay, because maybe some other President will commute my insane 35 year sentence to just 7 years? No one. The idea that this commutation is going to lead to further leaks is ridiculous. If anything will lead to further leaks it’s Manning’s courage in seeing something wrong in the system and actually doing something about it.

      In fact, it was things like Manning’s courage that helped inspire Ed Snowden and other whistleblowers to step up. They didn’t do it on the idea that they might “only” suffer 7 years of torture.

    • Obama’s parting words: ‘We’re going to be OK’

      Barack Obama used his departing words as President Wednesday to offer an assured — if not entirely optimistic — outlook for a country governed by Donald Trump.

      “At my core I think we’re going to be OK,” Obama said as he concluded his final news conference at the White House. “We just have to fight for it, work for it, and not take it for granted.”

      “I know that you will help us do that,” he told reporters assembled in the White House briefing room.

    • Obama defends Chelsea Manning commutation

      “The sentence that she received was very disproportional—disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received,” the president said. “It made sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentence. I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent that when it comes to our nationals security that whenever possible we need for people who may have legitimate concerns…that they try to work through the established channels.”

    • DeRay and Stay Woke Activists Launch Resistance Manual, an Open-Source Site Designed To Take on Trump

      Packnett added to that, saying, “The Resistance Manual is rooted in the basic principle that the power belongs to the people. We wanted to create a clear tool that people can use for targeted resistance for the next 4 years. Protecting progress and advancing justice for vulnerable communities is necessary. Therefore, so is resistance. This is one important tool to do it.”

    • Robert Crumb interviewed about Donald Trump

      It’s always interesting to hear what Robert Crumb has to say about notable people, alive and dead. In the latest installment of “Crumb on Others,” Alexander Wood asks Crumb about Castro, Lenin, and Trump.

    • Crumb On Others: Trump, Castro, & More
    • How Britain tried to influence the US election in 1940

      Plenty of Americans are concerned, to put it mildly, about the alleged Russian attempt to influence the presidential election here last year. But it might surprise many Americans to learn that this is not the first time a foreign power has tried to sway a US election. Apparently, the Brits and the Germans both tried to influence the campaign in 1940. The story was first flagged by Politico.

    • Presidents, Profits, and Princes

      Many of the Wikipedia-driven insta-experts on the Electoral College are now transforming into insta-experts on the Emoluments Clause, claiming it can be used to impeach President Trump. So what is the clause, and in practical terms, how might it affect Trump?

    • Will Judith Miller Ever Live It Down?

      Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, whose wretched journalism disgraced her newspaper and helped deceive the country into launching the disastrous Iraq War, offered some thoughts Tuesday via Twitter about President Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence.

    • Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies

      Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee, said it should be up to states whether guns are allowed in schools, citing grizzly bear protection as part of her answer.

      She also said she would support Trump if he moved to ban gun-free schools zones, a position he advocated on the campaign trail.
      Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who represents Sandy Hook, the site of the 2012 school shooting, asked DeVos if she believes guns have “any place in and around schools.”

      “I think that is best left to locales and states to decide,” she said.

      After Murphy pushed DeVos about why she can’t say definitively whether they belong, DeVos brought up a story Sen. Mike Enzi told earlier about a school in Wyoming that has fences around it to protect against grizzly bears.

      “I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he is talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in a school to protect from potential grizzlies,” she said.

    • [Older] Cracking Down On Dissent: The U.S. Government Has Essentially Created A Ministry of Truth

      Obama’s Recently-Signed National Defense Authorization Act Includes A ‘Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act’. The Intercept’s Alex Emmons Explains…

    • Trump inauguration’s ‘Cabinet dinner’ offers access for cash

      Donors who give $100,000 and $250,000 can dine with potential agency heads.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Suspension and Censorship Have Not Deterred Paylan

      The dust-up over the weekend in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, which resulted in the suspension of Garo Paylan from parliament is nothing short of censorship. Yet, despite these hurdles, Paylan continues to move forward undeterred from the infringements on his right to free speech and expression.

      On Saturday, during the Turkish legislature’s debate on a new constitution, Paylan, , an Armenian member of the Turkish legislature representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), spoke truths about the Armenian Genocide raising the ire of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) legislators who demanded that his comments about the Genocide be struck and voted to suspend the Armenian lawmaker for three consecutive parliamentary sessions.

    • Censorship on college campuses is wrong, even if it’s conservatives doing the censoring

      In order to maintain our moral high ground over terrorists, we banned the use of torture. But risk of redundancy hasn’t stopped two Arizona state legislators from taking a page out of the SJW handbook by introducing a bill that would strip state aid from schools with classes that teach progressive attitudes on race, class, and gender.

    • First Amendment Protections Don’t End For Anonymous Speakers Who Lose Lawsuits, EFF Tells Court

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal appeals court to uphold a judge’s ruling that the identity of an anonymous blogger found to have infringed copyright should remain secret, arguing that courts must balance litigants’ needs to unmask online speakers against the First Amendment protections afforded to those relying on anonymity.

      Maintaining one’s anonymity online may be warranted even in cases—like this one—where a court ruled that a blogger infringed a copyright, EFF said in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit. The balancing test required by the First Amendment to protect speakers who choose to mask their identity must be applied at every stage of a lawsuit, including after a court finds an anonymous speaker violated the law, EFF said.

      EFF believes Signature Management Team LLC v. John Doe marks the first case to consider whether speakers can remain anonymous even after a court rules that they broke the law.

    • Under threat: five countries in which civic space is rapidly closing

      President Rodrigo Duterte successfully courted controversy in 2016 but his flamboyant political style had very real consequences for the Filipino people. Thousands of citizens were killed in extrajudicial killings openly encouraged by Duterte as part of a so-called war on drugs. Activists and NGOs fear that the war is merely a thinly veiled excuse to permanently silence dissent against Duterte and his government. Mirroring many other similar political contexts, the assault on civilians comes hand in hand with direct attacks on the media, with President Duterte even endorsing the killing of “corrupt” journalists.

    • The internet can spread hate, but it can also help to tackle it

      In the weeks surrounding the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, anti-immigrant hate crime in the UK rose to worrying levels, culminating in the dramatic murders of the Polish national Arkadiusz Jóźwik and British MP Jo Cox.

      For some, it seems that the victory of the ‘leave’ campaign legitimised hostility towards immigrants and minorities. Brexit was fought on a narrative of division, tapping into deeply-felt tensions that were caused by poverty, growing levels of inequality and a crisis of faith in political representation and democracy. These tensions were then wrapped up in a simplistic package of blame against immigrants. The binary politics of the referendum—‘yes’ or ‘no’—reinforced the narratives of ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’, pushing people to pick sides crudely.

    • Facebook dismissive of censorship, abuse concerns, rights groups allege

      Nearly 80 rights groups on Wednesday accused Facebook (FB.O) of “racially biased censorship” and failing to be more transparent about its removal policies and cooperation with law enforcement, adding to criticism the company has faced in recent months over its management of content on its network of 1.8 billion users.

      The sharp rebuke, sent in response to a December letter from Senior Vice President Joel Kaplan, reflected increasing impatience among advocacy groups that say Facebook has inadequately addressed their concerns despite repeated promises of action from senior executives.

      Instead, the groups wrote, Kaplan’s response “merely explains current, publicly available Facebook policies and fails to address the modest solutions to racially biased censorship we presented in earlier letters and meetings.” SumOfUs, Center for Media Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union were among the signatories.

    • Kevin Tierney: Quebec’s culture of censorship, from comedy to journalism

      Watching Nathalie Portman’s shimmering portrait of the ice queen of Camelot, Jacqueline Kennedy, in the film, Jackie, I was reminded of a joke by the late Lenny Bruce, still pretty much the sitting monarch in the genius-comic shrine.

      Kennedy is the only woman who could hitchhike alone across America and not have anyone lay a hand on her, he said, before saying she was related to an Amana refrigerator. He would go on to say more. Holding up a picture of the assassination of John Kennedy, Bruce mocked Jacqueline Kennedy’s supposed heroics, saying she was “hauling ass to save ass”— trying to get out of the way.

      Outrageous then, and now, to be sure.

    • Daily Report: A New Form of Censorship in App Stores
    • Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Chinese Officials With Government Access To Every Kind Of Personal Data Are Selling It Online

      Back in 2015, Techdirt wrote about a government project in China that involves “citizen scores,” a rating system that will serve as a measure of a person’s political compliance. The authorities aim to do that by drawing on the huge range of personal data that we all generate in our daily use of the Internet. The data would be scooped up from various public and private services and fed into an algorithm to produce an overall citizen score that could be used to reward the obedient and punish the obstreperous. Naively, we might suppose that only authoritarian governments could ever obtain all that highly-revealing information, but an article from supchina.com reveals that is far from the case

    • EFF to BART: Adopt Spy Tech Control Law

      EFF urged the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board to adopt a new law that would ensure community control of whether to adopt new surveillance technologies.

      All too often, police executives unilaterally decide to adopt powerful new spying tools that invade our privacy, chill our free speech, and unfairly burden communities of color. These intrusive and proliferating tools of street-level surveillance include drones, cell site simulators, surveillance cameras, and automatic license plate readers.

    • NSA Allowed to Share More Intercepts ; Russia Extends Snowden Asylum ; Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition and Prison in Italy …and More Picks
    • Was Snowden a Russian Agent?

      One evening in the fall of 2015, the writer Edward Jay Epstein arranged to have dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side with the director Oliver Stone. At the time, Stone was completing Snowden, an admiring biopic about the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, who disclosed a vast trove of classified documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs to journalists in June 2013 and had since been living as a fugitive in Russia. Epstein was working on a book about the same topic, which has now been published under the title How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft. As the writer recounts in that book, their conversation took a testy turn:

    • Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia extended for three years

      Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia has been extended for three years, his lawyer has said, as a Russian official said the whistleblower would not be extradited to the US even if relations improved under the incoming president, Donald Trump.

    • Will Information Sharing Among Intelligence Agencies Risk Privacy?
    • Not too late to snoop! Obama takes one last shot at your civil liberties
    • 20 Former Gov’t Officials Ask Obama To Declassify Evidence On Russia Hacking Or Admit There Is None
    • Ex-US Intel Operatives Demand Evidence of ‘Russian Hacking’ – If It Exists
    • Microsoft Sort Of Addresses Windows 10 Privacy Complaints With New Privacy Dashboard

      For the last few years, Microsoft has been under fire because its Windows 10 operating system is unsurprisingly chatty when it comes to communicating with the Redmond mothership. Most of the complaints center around the fact that the OS communicates with Microsoft when core new search services like Cortana have been disabled, or the lack of complete, transparent user control over what the operating system is doing at any given time. Microsoft has since penned numerous blog posts that claim to address consumer concerns on this front — without actually addressing consumer concerns on this front.

      [...]

      We’ll have to wait until Spring to see if these changes address concerns of the EFF, which last August criticized Microsoft’s malware-esque forced upgrade tactics and its refusal to answer consumer privacy inquiries in a straightforward fashion. Microsoft’s also trying to appease French regulators, who last summer demanded that Microsoft “stop collecting excessive user data” and cease tracking the web browsing of Windows 10 users without their consent. Of course if having total, granular control over how chatty your OS is over the network is your priority, not using Windows whatsoever probably remains your best option.

    • Law Enforcement Has Been Using OnStar, SiriusXM, To Eavesdrop, Track Car Locations For More Than 15 Years

      Thomas Fox-Brewster of Forbes is taking a closer look at a decade-plus of in-car surveillance, courtesy of electronics and services manufacturers are installing in as many cars as possible.

      Following the news that cops are trying to sweat down an Amazon Echo in hopes of hearing murder-related conversations, it’s time to revisit the eavesdropping that’s gone on for years prior to today’s wealth of in-home recording devices.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence

      After nearly seven years in unjust and abusive confinement, heroic WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be free on 17 May 2017. President Obama has commuted Chelsea’s sentence, releasing her from prison in five months’ time but leaving her conviction intact.

      The humanitarian argument for Chelsea Manning’s release is compelling. Chelsea’s experience in detention has been one of flagrant disregard for her mental health and basic well-being, from the cage she was held in Camp Arifjan in Kuwait to the torturous solitary confinement she was forced to experience at the Quantico Marine brig, to the continuing refusal to provide adequate medical care for her gender dysphoria. Despite this wall of resistance, Chelsea has drawn global attention to the difficulties transgender people in the military experience.

      Chelsea’s treatment in the past year, three years after coming out as trans, has been especially deleterious. Chelsea attempted suicide twice over the course of 2016, and the military’s response epitomises what she has had to deal with throughout her imprisonment.

      Rather than provide psychological care, the Army responded to Chelsea’s attempt by punishing her with a week in solitary confinement. When this punishment was suddenly enforced before Chelsea had the chance to appeal it, Chelsea made the second attempt on her life.

    • Who Is Chelsea Manning?

      Chelsea Manning is a former private first class in the US Army and whistleblower who leaked 700,000 classified US State Department and military documents.

      At the time of the leaks and her military court martial in Ft. Meade, Maryland, Manning was known as Bradley Manning. Ft. Meade is a military installation and the home base of the National Security Agency (NSA).

    • Surprise: President Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      And yes, commuting the sentence (which shortens the sentence, but is not a full pardon…) is a form of clemency. So now there’s a separate question to ask: will Assange agree to be extradited to the US (or will he just come here voluntarily?). Perhaps after Trump takes over later this week, that won’t be such a huge concern, since Trump has magically morphed into a huge Wikileaks/Assange supporter.

    • It Just Got Real — Cops At DAPL Now Have Missile Launchers — Not Kidding

      Standing Rock, ND — Over the last several months, the world has watched the American police state in action as cops from more than a dozen states beat, gassed, pepper sprayed, tasered, shot, and severely injured water protectors and protesters in North Dakota. Using their militarized gear, police have blinded at least one person and blown up the arm of another. With all the heavily armed police and military in the area, one would think that having a missile launcher would be entirely unnecessary — however, one would be wrong.

    • President Obama Lets Alleged Source of Stuxnet Leak Walk Free

      President Obama pardoned retired General James Cartwright, who is believed to be the source who told a New York Times reporter that the United States and Israel were behind the famous “Stuxnet” cyberattack. The cyberattack made headlines around the world in 2010 and is widely considered to be among the first to target infrastructure and make real-world damage, as it sabotaged equipment in an Iranian nuclear facility.

    • Kerala Muslim Girl Who Married A Hindu Boy Alleges Threat To Her Life From Islamist Outfit

      In a complaint to the police, Jasmi has named four people, who will be responsible if something happens to her.

      Jasmi had married a Hindu boy last week has named activists of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) of intimidating her and her husband.

      “Why are you behind our lives? Do you want our lives. I too want to live on this earth. Please don’t come after me or the person I love”, she adds in a separate post.

    • Young blood bound to get excited if girls not properly dressed: Md N R Barkati, shahi imam

      This is the 21st century and every day women in India are not only terrorised by rape but are also blamed for it. On Tuesday Syed Mohammad Nurur R Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid in Kolkata says young blooded men are bound to get “excited” if girls are not properly dressed. In an interview on national TV he explains “exactly” how a girl should be dressed which has stirred anger amongst feminists and women empowerment civil society organisations. Being the imam of a major mosque in a metropolitan city, he owns no responsibility as to how he is shaping his audience’s intellect. Whereas news of rapes are shaking the nation, he blames young girls for being “inadequately” dressed.

    • Fear grows among Egypt’s Christians after a Coptic doctor was stabbed in the throat

      In the past two weeks, several Copts have been murdered in Egypt. Even before the dust settled over the murder of a Coptic merchant in Alexandria (220 km north of Cairo) on 3 January, Egyptian security forces found the body of a Coptic doctor killed last Friday at his home, stabbed in the throat.

      Dr Bassam Safouat Zaki was general surgeon in Asyut (370 km south of Cairo). Initial findings indicate that he was stabbed in the neck, chest and back and bled to death through his mouth, nose and ears.

      A few days earlier, on 5 January, security forces discovered the bodies of a Coptic couple, Gamal Sami Guirguis and Nadia Amin Guirguis, stabbed to death in their home as they slept, in Monufia Governorate, northern Egypt, about 85 km from the Egyptian capital.

    • Bangladesh’s plan to allow some child marriages is ‘step backwards’

      Bangladesh will be taking a step backwards in efforts to end child marriage if parliament approves changes to a law that would permit girls below 18 to be married in “special cases”, a global alliance of charities said last week.

      The nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a decades-old law that bans marriage for girls under 18 and men under 21.

    • White House concedes it won’t close Guantánamo after all

      The White House said Tuesday that the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba will still be open when President Barack Obama leaves office, conceding that a core campaign promise will go unfulfilled.

      Administration officials had long insisted that the president was continuing to work toward closing the facility even when it became obvious that it would no longer be possible for practical reasons before President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday.

      White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the administration determined it wouldn’t happen when they realized they did not have enough time left to comply with the 30-day deadline for notifying Congress in advance of a detainee transfer.

    • FBI Insists That When They Steal People’s Stuff, They’re Doing It for You

      The FBI does want you to understand that while, yes, they do seize and keep billions of dollars in assets from citizens through a system that doesn’t require them to prove a crime, they’re doing it for the financial benefit of communities.

      Nowhere in this new FBI “news story” titled “Forfeiture as an Effective Law Enforcement Tool” will you find the words “Fourth Amendment, “Due Process,” or “innocence.” Instead it uses a single example of using forfeiture to snag drug dens in Rutland, Vermont, and returning them to the community. By “community” they mean the organization with a $1.25 million redevelopment grant and not the family that was forced out of one of the buildings and ended up living in a trailer. That’s right—the FBI is using a case where families got bounced out of their homes as an example of the benefits of forfeiture. The FBI wants to convince us that this is what civil asset forfeiture looks like—that it is all for our benefit.

    • The Legal Netherworld Of Traffic Cam Tickets, Where Everything Is Both Civil And Criminal, While Also Being Mostly Neither

      Adam MacLeod, law professor at Faulkner University, was the recipient of a traffic cam speeding ticket. The problem was that he wasn’t driving the vehicle when the infraction occurred. So, it was his vehicle being ticketed, but he was being held responsible for someone else’s infraction.

      He decided to fight it, and that fight uncovered just how crooked the traffic cam system is. Not only are traffic camera manufacturers receiving a cut of every ticket issued, but tapping into this new revenue stream has prompted municipalities to undermine the judicial system.

    • That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century

      The traffic-camera ticket: like a parking ticket, it looks lawful enough. When they receive one, most people simply write the check. It seems like the sensible and law-abiding thing to do.

      But this is not a parking ticket. In legal terms, it is not a proceeding in rem—against your car. It is a legal action against you personally. And before you pay the fine, you might want to hear my story.

      My story is not legal advice. I offer it only to show how our ruling elites have corrupted the rule of law and to suggest why this matters for the American experiment in self-governance.

    • 99 former deputies issue statement against executive presidency

      Ninety-nine former deputies elected from various political parties in Turkey released a statement on Tuesday making a case against switching to an executive presidency and called for “normalization” as concerns over new constitutional amendments run high.

      Former deputies including ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) founder Abdullatif Şener and former deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) composer and author Zülfü Livaneli made a call to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well, stating that the right to declare a state of emergency should be vested in the parliament, not in the executive.

      The Turkish Parliament has approved an 18-article constitutional amendment package that will expand the powers of the president, allowing the head of state to even dissolve the parliament.

    • Obama commutes sentence for political prisoner Oscar López Rivera

      Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Oscar López Rivera, a victory for the Puerto Rican independence activist who is considered to be one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners.

      In his final days in office, Obama has issued a record number of pardons and commutations, including granting the release of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, the US army soldier who became one of the most famous whistleblowers in modern times.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Local Activism Is the Best Way to Preserve Net Neutrality

      Before President-elect Donald Trump takes office this week, take a moment to remember the height of the net neutrality battles of 2014 and 2015. Remember the letter writing campaigns, the comments filed to the Federal Communications Commission (some of them handwritten), remember John Oliver’s rant. Remember that the people fought, and the people won, and for a brief moment, big telecom monopolies had at least some limits placed on them by the federal government.

      Remember it now, because very likely, the anti-regulation commissioners of the FCC, reporting to an anti-regulation president, are about to undo the rules millions of Americans fought so hard for. Under Trump, big telecom and its sympathizers will call the shots.

      This means that net neutrality protections that prevent internet service providers from slowing down certain types of traffic will very likely go away. It means Netflix may once again have to pay Comcast to ensure its customers can watch shows without buffering (it also means, for example, that ISPs would be able to charge you extra to stream Netflix as opposed to content on an ISP-owned platform). And it means that the blatant net neutrality violations being perpetrated by wireless carriers—the “free data streaming” for certain types of data—will continue and will likely never be stopped by the FCC.

    • Dear Lawmakers: Five Years Ago The Internet Rose Up In Protest & We’re Still Watching

      As you may have heard, today is the five-year anniversary of the massive internet blackout that tons of internet users and sites participated in to protest a pair of awful copyright laws, SOPA & PIPA, which would have undermined some of the most basic principles of a free and open internet. In case you’ve somehow forgotten, go and take a look at the Archive Team’s world tour of sites that either went down completely or put up some sort of detailed splash page speaking out against the bills and in favor of internet rights and freedoms. Contrary to what some have tried to claim in rewriting history, that event was a true example of a grassroots uprising against legacy industries and government bureaucracies that wanted to shackle the internet and make it less open, less free and less powerful.

      Since that day, there have been multiple other fights around internet freedom, having to do with mass surveillance, encryption, privacy, net neutrality and more. And there will continue to be more fights — some of them repeats of fights we’ve already had, and some brand new ones. In particular, we see that Congress is already dipping its toes in the water about copyright reform, five years after SOPA. For years, we heard that, after SOPA, no one in Congress wanted to touch copyright law for fear of “being SOPA’d.” However, with some of the new plans coming out for copyright reform, it appears that some in Congress are hoping that the internet has forgotten or moved on.

    • Report: Verizon Considering Comcast Merger In Supernova Of Dysfunction

      Despite Trump’s criticism of the AT&T Time Warner merger (largely believed to be due to negative CNN coverage), most Wall Street and telecom sector analysts expect the next few years will see an explosion in previously-unthinkable mega-mergers. Sprint is expected to make another bid to acquire T-Mobile after the deal was blocked by regulators back in 2014. Comcast or Charter are expected to make their own bid for T-Mobile if Sprint can’t come up with the cash. Other rumored acquisition targets for giant telecom companies include Dish (and its hoarded spectrum) or any number of massive media empires.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • WEF Davos: Who Will Own The Knowledge Produced From “Our” Data By Machines?

      Artificial intelligence has succeeded the Internet of Things or the earlier cloud mania as buzzword number one at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum that started today (17 January) in Davos, Switzerland. While ethical questions surrounding the intelligent machines are discussed at length and the question for regulatory steps considered, answers of who will own the knowledge created by machines or intelligent bots vary.

    • At trial, Zuckerberg is “highly confident” Oculus built its own technology

      In what he said was his first time testifying in a courtroom, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was “highly confident that Oculus products are built on Oculus technology.”

    • Zuckerberg takes the stand in Oculus trade secrets trial

      Today, Mark Zuckerberg took the stand in Northern Texas District Court to defend Oculus against accusations of copyright violation and trade secret theft. The plaintiff is Zenimax Media, the parent company of id and Bethesda, which provided crucial support for many of Oculus’ first demos. Now, Zenimax claims that collaboration allowed Oculus to steal crucial intellectual property in the company’s formative early years.

    • Copyrights
      • One Weird Trick to Improve Copyright: Fix EULAs

        Congress has been spinning its wheels on comprehensive copyright reform, but it could do a lot of good with one simple fix: forbid manufacturers from using EULAs to force consumers to waive their fair use rights.

        Traditionally, once a person has purchased a product, she has been free to use it however she sees fit without oversight or control from the copyright owner. Purchasers have also been free to use competitors’ add-on software and hardware that interoperate with the goods they buy, because innovators have been able to develop and distribute such technologies.

      • UK ISPs to start sending Pirates letters

        A group of UK ISPs will soon send written warnings to account holders associated with IPs suspected of accessing illegally shared files. The only ISPs to have publicly agreed to the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme, the active portion of the Creative Content UK initiative from BPI, so far are the big four, namely Sky, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. It is unclear if their subsidiary companies (such as BT’s Plusnet) are included, and only Virgin Media has gone into any detail as to how the process will work. The announcement made regular mention that the emails were not threats or demands, but educational emails to push users towards legal content access methods (such as Netflix and Spotify), assuring that proposals for a scheme similar to the US’ six strike scheme to cut internet access to repeat offenders have been abandoned.

Union-Busting Action by Team Battistelli Takes Heavy Toll, Techrights Will Continue to Expose EPO Injustices to the World

Wednesday 18th of January 2017 09:25:35 PM

Summary: The Staff Union of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, which faced unprecedented and probably illegal (based on local laws) attacks, is being weakened by the worst President ever, whose own management team seems to be collapsing along with the institution he is destroying in just a few years

EARLIER TODAY SUEPO finally updated its Web site by posting this copy of an article [PDF] titled “Riche cuisine a l’Office européen des brevets” (for those who can comprehend French). But it’s not a signal of SUEPO accelerating again after weeks of inactivity (or very scare public activity).

“SUEPO has collapsed,” one person told us, perhaps overstating it a little bit. We heard similar things from other people. Here is an E-mail sent out earlier on:

Dear SUEPO members,
Dear colleagues,

2016 was a very difficult year for SUEPO. Mr Battistelli dismissed two members of the Munich SUEPO committee (Elizabeth Hardon and Ion Brumme) and downgraded a third (Malika Weaver) for the simple reason of defending staff rights. In The Hague one committee member was also dismissed (Laurent Prunier). Further investigations of other SUEPO committee members are pending.

Additionally Mr. Battistelli continued in 2016 with his abusive reforms, empty “consultations”, attacks on both ordinary staff and staff representatives as well as disregarding SUEPO as a social partner, making a mockery of his claims that he is seeking to establish a “social dialogue”. On top of this come cronyism, abuses of power and a total disrespect for the Rule of Law.

The Administrative Council seems unwilling or unable to react as recently shown again in its decision concerning ILO-AT Judgment 3785 regarding the illegal composition of the Internal Appeals Committee.

Despite the permanent implicit threat to all the committee members, last year the Munich SUEPO committee still managed to continue to defend staff rights. But the sheer madness of it all is having a serious negative impact on our health and on our families.

Towards the end of last year ██████ resigned. He has now been followed by ██████, ██████, ██████ and ██████. The reason for these resignations is that it is no longer possible for them to continue under the prevailing toxic conditions.

The resignations make a further full functioning of the Munich SUEPO committee near to impossible. The remaining committee members, ██████, ██████ and ██████, will continue to manage the ongoing affairs. All Munich SUEPO members will be invited to a General Assembly, the date and time of which is still to be decided and will be published soon.

Munich SUEPO Committee

We hope that people will step in to help. As we noted at the end of last year, SUEPO must consider going anonymous in order to avert persecution (we have redacted names above so as to not help Battistelli and his goons find new scapegoats). They would be absolutely justified in going anonymous given the way they and/or their colleagues have been (mis)treated.

Where are the human rights groups? Is Eponia insular enough to conveniently ignore?

Well, regardless, the fight for justice continues. Techrights, which is safer (from retribution etc.) will continue to combat abusive management at the EPO, in the interest of Europe in general, as well as EPO staff’s. We welcome submissions of material and information related to the EPO. We still have a lot of stuff that we are eager to publish this year, usually at the right opportunity based on relevance to current events.

A Lot More Fake News About the UPC, Trying to Convince People That the UK is Ratifying (It’s Not, It Cannot)

Wednesday 18th of January 2017 01:25:49 PM

Summary: Response to some of the latest misleading (self-serving) whispers about the fate of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is in a deadlock due to Brexit

Earlier this week somebody askedahead of a speech, “[Theresa] May to say that UK will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? Surely that means no UPC??” Based on yesterday’s [in]famous speech, it sure looks as though it’s trouble for the UPC.

Here is the full comment:

May to say that UK will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? Surely that means no UPC?? And does that mean no EU patent before reformation of the agreement? Germany may hold the key but others may challenge the location of courts, the fee structures etc. All in all, the fading away of DG3 may not be happening just yet. In which case, is Haar still a good idea…

The above comment was posted in a blog which became a part-time marketing rag of Bristows. Here is what another (next in line) new comment said:

IPKAT has kind lost its mojo with brexit… (and no I am not one of them just facing reality now).

Just saying but the EU/UK IP situation as it develops is the only real one for most UK readers.

The relevance of national decisions of courts of EU MS will decrease. I know there are other readers but still.

Now WTO blogs had better smarten up their act as that is where it will all be happening for UK readers in time. A lot of time.

Well, the whole UPC is now very much dependent on the UK and much of the fate of the patent system in EU is affected by that. Team UPC, as usual, relies on fake news and self-fulfilling prophecies (or attempts thereof). Christine Robben from Team UPC (Wolters Kluwer) now promotes her employer’s latest lobbying-in-the-form-of-interview piece, whose headline is a selective quote. It starts like this:

Since the UK announced it wants to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement despite the Brexit vote (last week the new IP minister of the UK, Jo Johnson, repeated the announcement of his predecessor Baroness Neville-Rolfe), preparations for the system have restarted in full, despite the fact that a British membership brings about uncertainty. Prof. Dr. Thomas Jaeger, European law expert of the University of Vienna, is very critical of the way the UP system has been pushed through over the last years, most recently after the Brexit vote. Kluwer IP Law interviewed Dr. Jaeger.

Does the headline really respresent his views? In our view, the headline is very misleading. Is UPC now an “emergency”? If so, to who? To self-serving patent law firms such as Wolters Kluwer? Blood-sucking leeches that hope to tax engineers and other scientists who actually create stuff?

The UPC is not at all desirable, yet the patent microcosm (firms like Bristows) keeps misleading and lobbying politicians, this time Jo Johnson. Here is yet another go at it (via). It says: “IPcopy picked up on an interesting (self-)correction in the language that Jo Johnson used at this juncture when discussing the UPC statement. At one point he said that the UK had decided to ratify the UPC Agreement before he immediately clarified himself to say that we’d taken the decision to proceed with preparations to ratify the UPCA.

“This choice of language might mean nothing but given one of our earlier articles it did make me wonder just how far the UK will push the ratification process before the Brexit negotiations begin to bite. As a reminder, our earlier post here highlights the remaining actions for the UK to take before it can ratify. As of today’s date the secondary legislation mentioned in that post has not been advertised on the UK parliament website.”

This is nonsense and some people close to the EPO got misled by articles like these. As a reminder, the UPC cannot start until the Brexit situation is settled, which may, based on May, take another couple of years. We kindly remind readers of the serious flaws in Lucy’s intention to ratify — whatever that actually meant. See the following series again:

Based on what a scholar told us yesterday, he too got misled and thought that the UK was already ratifying. That’s just the power of fake news (or propaganda), some of which was paid for by the EPO. Also found this morning via Twitter is this article from a site which, based on its past record (e.g. regarding SUEPO), gets the facts very wrong! Here is what it says:

Speaking before the UK science and technology committee on 11 January, Johnson, who was confirmed as the new IP minister earlier that day, said that the UK’s participation in the unitary patent system could be valuable to British business.

The UK can participate in the unitary patent system because the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will not be an institution of the EU.

He said: “We have taken a decision to proceed with preparations to ratify the UPC Agreement. We believe it is important that we participate in this framework. It has value to UK inventors and businesses and we want to be there at its creation.”

When pressed further on the potential consequences of Brexit on the UK’s future participation in the unitary patent project, he said: “These are questions that will form part of the greater discussion of the Brexit negotiations.”

So it’s still very much contingent upon Brexit and the headline of this article, “UK is committed to unitary patent”, is almost totally bogus (he did not say such a thing, maybe they conveniently paraphrase and attribute that to him).

As we said yesterday, watch out for fake news about the UPC. There is plenty of it out there right now because of people with financial agenda (Bristows, for instance, bet the whole farm on it).

Rumours Suggest That EPO Management is Aware of Decline in Patent Quality and is Thus Actively Lying About it to the Media/Public

Wednesday 18th of January 2017 12:43:03 PM

Pressure to grant rather than properly examine dooms the core function of the Office

Summary: Whenever Battistelli brags about patent quality he may be consciously and deliberately lying through his teeth if the latest rumours are correct

EARLIER this week we saw rumours about the EPO‘s battle at the top — something we had already become aware of last month. It’s hardly surprising; there is a somewhat of a blame game.

“Some say that the final straw was the most known symptom of the dropping patent quality, the famous patent on the ‘hairdressing container’.”
      –Anonymous“There are several rumours about the reasons for VP1′s resignation,” told us a source about Battistelli’s Vice-President Mini Minion (Minnoye), “but nothing is confirmed. One of the rumours says that VP1 Minnoye is the scapegoat for the low patent quality, which has even been criticised by some delegations. Some say that the final straw was the most known symptom of the dropping patent quality, the famous patent on the ‘hairdressing container’.” (mentioned here back in November)

Either way, this serves to reinforce our claims that EPO management is aware of the decline in quality and is thus repeatedly lying about it. “The departure of private Minnoye further weakens the president,” our source told us, “since the VPs are appointed by the Council. They can now choose a VP1 to obtain more control over the Office.”

Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

Wednesday 18th of January 2017 12:55:30 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • D-Wave Unveils Open-Source Software for Quantum Computing

    Canada-based D-Wave Systems has released an open-source software tool designed to help developers program quantum computers, Wired reported Wednesday.

  • D-Wave builds open quantum computing software development ecosystem

    D-Wave Systems has released an open source quantum computing chunk of software.

    Quantum computing, as we know, moves us on from the world of mere 1’s and 0’s in binary to the new level of ‘superposition’ qubits that can represent many more values and therefore more computing power — read this accessible piece for a simple explanation of quantum computing.

  • FOSS Compositing With Natron

    Anyone who likes to work with graphics will at one time or another find compositing software useful. Luckily, FOSS has several of the best in Blender and Natron.

  • Hadoop Creator Doug Cutting: 5 Ways to Be Successful with Open Source in 2017

    Because of my long-standing association with the Apache Software Foundation, I’m often asked the question, “What’s next for open source technology?” My typical response is variations of “I don’t know” to “the possibilities are endless.”

    Over the past year, we’ve seen open source technology make strong inroads into the mainstream of enterprise technology. Who would have thought that my work on Hadoop ten years ago would impact so many industries – from manufacturing to telecom to finance. They have all taken hold of the powers of the open source ecosystem not only to improve the customer experience, become more innovative and grow the bottom line, but also to support work toward the greater good of society through genomic research, precision medicine and programs to stop human trafficking, as just a few examples.

    Below I’ve listed five tips for folks who are curious about how to begin working with open source and what to expect from the ever-changing ecosystem.

  • Radio Free HPC Looks at New Open Source Software for Quantum Computing

    In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at D-Wave’s new open source software for quantum computing. The software is available on github along with a whitepaper written by Cray Research alums Mike Booth and Steve Reinhardt.

  • Open Source, Vendor Lock-In Are Top of Mind for Execs This Year

    The use of open source software has increased dramatically in the past decade, and this year could be the one in which we see real maturity in the market.

    Couchbase Chief Executive Officer Bob Wiederhold spoke with Information Management about what he sees for the market in 2017, as well as issues related to digital infrastructure and vendor lock-in.

  • Events
    • Why events matter and how to do them right

      Marina Paych was a newcomer to open source software when she left a non-governmental organization for a new start in the IT sector—on her birthday, no less. But the real surprise turned out to be open source. Fast forward two years and this head of organizational development runs an entire department, complete with a promotional staff that strategically markets her employer’s open source web development services on a worldwide scale.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Equal Rating Innovation Challenge: And the Semifinalists are…

        About three months ago we launched this global Equal Rating Innovation Challenge to help catalyze new thinking and innovation to provide access to the open Internet to those still living without. Clearly the idea resonated. Thanks to the help of numerous digital inclusion initiatives, think tanks, impact hubs and various local communities that supported us, our challenge has spurred global engagement. We received 98 submissions from 27 countries around the world. This demonstrates that there are entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators in myriad fields poised to tackle this huge challenge with creative products and services.

        [...]

        Following the mentorship period, on March 9, we will host a day-long event in New York City on the topic of affordable access and innovation. We will invite speakers and researchers from around the world to provide their valuable insights on the global debate, various initiatives, and the latest approaches to affordable access. The main feature of this event will be presentations by our semifinalists, with a thorough Q&A from our judges. We will then have a week of open public voting on EqualRating.com to help determine the winners of the Challenge. The winners will then be announced at RightsCon on March 29 in Brussels.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Exploring OpenStack’s Trove DBaaS Cloud Servic

      You can install databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or even MongoDB very quickly thanks to package management, but the installation is not even half the battle. A functioning database also needs user accounts and several configuration steps for better performance and security.

      This need for additional configuration poses challenges in cloud environments. You can always manually install a virtual machine in traditional settings, but cloud users want to generate an entire virtual environment from a template. Manual intervention is difficult or sometimes even impossible.

    • Mobile Edge Computing Creates ‘Tiny Data Centers’ at the Edge

      “Usually access networks include all kinds of encryption and tunneling protocols,” says Fite. “It’s not a standard, native-IP environment.” Saguna’s platform creates a bridge between the access network to a small OpenStack cloud, which works in a standard IP environment. It provides APIs about such things as location, registration for services, traffic direction, radio network services, and available bandwidth.

    • Serverless Computing: 10 Things You Need to Know

      In fact, Gartner referred to serverless computing in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017. The firm sees serverless as part of the trend toward mesh app and service architecture, and explains, “the mesh app and service architecture (MASA) is a multichannel solution architecture that leverages cloud and serverless computing, containers and microservices as well as APIs and events to deliver modular, flexible and dynamic solutions.” But the firm also cautions that this is a long-term trend that will require IT to adopt new tools and new ways of doing things.

    • Apache Beam Unifies Batch and Streaming Data Processing

      We’re only half way through January of 2017, and as we’ve steadily taken note of, the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating numerous promising open source projects to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent times. Just last week, Apache graduated its Eagle project to Top-Level status. Eagle is an open source monitoring and alerting solution for instantly identifying security and performance issues on Big Data platforms such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, and more.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Community-supported development of GEGL now live

      Almost every new major feature people have been asking us for, be it high bit depth support, or full CMYK support, or layer effects, would be impossible without having a robust, capable image processing core.

      Øyvind Kolås picked up GEGL in mid-2000s and has been working on it in his spare time ever since. He is the author of 42% of commits in GEGL and 50% of commits in babl (pixel data conversion library).

    • 2016 in review

      When we released GIMP 2.9.2 in late 2015 and stepped over into 2016, we already knew that we’d be doing mostly polishing. This turned out to be true to a larger extent, and most of the work we did was under-the-hood changes.

      But quite a few new features slipped in. So, what are the big user-visible changes for GIMP in 2016?

    • Meet Guix at FOSDEM

      FOSDEM takes place in Brussels, Belgium, on the 4th and 5th of February, with the Guile track all day long on Sunday 5th. Hope to see you there!

    • FSF announces a major overhaul of free software High Priority Projects List

      The HPP list highlights projects of great strategic importance to the goal of freedom for all computer users. A committee of free software activists, assembled in 2014, spent a year soliciting feedback from the free software community for the latest revision of the list.

      “As the technological landscape has shifted over the last decade since the first version of the list was published, threats to users’ freedom to use their computers on their own terms have changed enormously,” said Benjamin Mako Hill, who is part of the High Priority Projects committee and also a member of the FSF’s board of directors. “The updated High Priority Projects list is a description of the most important threats, and most critical opportunities, that free software faces in the modern computing landscape.”

      Launched in 2005, the first version of the HPP list contained only four projects, three of them related to Java. Eighteen months later, Sun began to free Java users.

    • FSF New “High Priority Projects” List: Phone OS, Security, Drivers, More Inclusivity

      The list hasn’t made much sense at times and projects on the list didn’t necessarily advance during their time on the list or receive financial/developer support from the FSF along with other controversies. In 2014 they began forming a committee to maintain this high priority project list while today they announced a brand new list.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • Happy birthday: Jimbo Wales’ sweet 16 Wikipedia fails

        Sixteen years ago, Larry Sanger had the idea for a wiki-based encyclopaedia anyone could edit: the “wiki-pedia”. On January 15, 2001, he and Jimmy Wales launched the site. Today, it’s everyone’s go-to place for quick factlets.

        Wikipedia’s convenience is undeniable. But its anonymously compiled content has flaws and quirks traditional encyclopaedias never had. Understanding these is vital for wiki-literacy.

        To illustrate the issues, here are sixteen of Wikipedia’s biggest cock-ups. Follow the hyperlinks to go down the Wikipedia wormhole…

  • Programming/Development
    • Dart-on-LLVM

      Dart already has an excellent virtual machine which uses just-in-time compilation to get excellent performance. Since Dart is dynamically typed (more precisely, it’s optionally typed), a JIT compiler is a natural fit — it can use the types available at runtime to perform optimizations that a static compiler can’t do.

    • Google Developers Experiment With Plumbing Dartlang Into LLVM

      It’s been a while since last hearing much excitement around Google’s Dart programming language that’s an alternative to JavaScript. This ECMA-approved language is now being used with IoT devices, can still be source-to-source compiled for JavaScript, and the latest is that the Google developers have been experimenting with wiring it into LLVM.

    • A behind the scenes look at Exercism for improving coding skills

      In our recent article, we talked about Exercism, an open source project to help people level up in their programming skills with exercises for dozens of different programming languages. Practitioners complete each exercise and then receive feedback on their response, enabling them to learn from their peer group’s experience.

      Katrina Owen is the founder of Exercism, and I interviewed her as research for the original article. There are some fantastic nuggets of information and insight in here that we wanted to share with anyone interested in learning to programming, teaching programming, and how a project like this takes contributions like this from others.

    • ‘You are Not Expected to Understand This’: An Explainer on Unix’s Most Notorious Code Comment

      The phrase “You are Not Expected to Understand This” is probably the most famous comment in the history of Unix.

      And last month, at the Systems We Love conference in San Francisco, systems researcher Arun Thomas explained to an audience exactly what it was that they weren’t supposed to understand.

Leftovers
  • Maybe it is time to tell new stories of Scotland

    Politics isn’t everything. Just as important is culture – a word used and over-used, seemingly about everything and everywhere, but difficult, and sometimes impossible to pin down and define.

    Culture when we forensically examine it can mean so many things. It can describe individual growth and enrichment. It can be about a group or community’s way of life. It expresses the activities of consuming culture. And finally, it is also used to define the way groups and organisations act and the codes and practices which shape them.

    The many facets of culture and the propensity not to define them can be seen in our nation. We have a politics which is meant to be all-encompassing, but often evades detail and substance. Reinforcing this is a widespread characteristic of not wanting to define Scottish culture – for fear of ghettoising and marginalising.

  • Science
    • The passing of Gene Cernan reminds us how far we haven’t come

      I was sitting with Apollo 7 veteran Walt Cunningham in his west Houston living room on Monday afternoon when his wife, Dot, stepped tentatively in. “I’m sorry for interrupting,” she said. “But Gene’s dead.”

      She meant Eugene Cernan, the US Navy Captain who commanded Apollo 17, and the last person to walk on the Moon. He was 82 and had been ill for about six months.

      We took a moment to process this. Six of NASA’s 12 Apollo Moonwalkers were now dead. The other six are in their 80s or older. And for Cunningham, this was personal. Cernan served as back-up to Cunningham as the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 7, the first flight of the Apollo capsule. Cunningham sighed. “I guess that’s the way it is,” he said. “I’ll be 85 in two months. I’m starting to face up to the fact that everybody I know is going to be gone soon, and probably me too.”

    • Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan has passed away

      Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, has died at the age of 82, according to NASA. He was a veteran of three spaceflights: as the pilot for Gemini 9A, the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 10, and as the commander of Apollo 17.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • I’m an Abortion Provider in a Red State, and I Expect the Attacks on Reproductive Freedom to Intensify in Trump’s America

      In 2013, I opened my own medical practice in Phoenix, Arizona: Desert Star Family Planning, LLC. I had already been providing women’s health care for years as a board-certified OB-GYN, but I wanted to pursue my vision of a private practice that fully integrates abortion care with general gynecological services.

      Desert Star is exactly what I’d dreamed it would be: a home base for women’s wellness; a safe space for LGBT people and teens; a warm, supportive environment where, on any given day, my staff and I may be called on to provide cancer screenings or abortion care or treatment for acute gynecological problems.

      But I have been under assault by the Arizona Legislature since the day I opened, and Donald Trump’s election means that things are only going to get worse. The truth is, I couldn’t even bear to stay up late watching the election returns. Once the tide began turning, I turned in.

      There are many ways a Trump administration can make life even harder and more dangerous for abortion providers like me. At the federal level, Congress could pass legislation with President Trump’s support that would prohibit clinics that provide abortion care from receiving Medicaid reimbursement for the many nonabortion services we provide. If that happens, many of my patients will no longer be able to afford to come to me for care.

    • If we sign up to the TTIP trade deal with Trump, the first thing to be sold off to US corporations will be the NHS

      With Theresa May indicating that Britain’s future lies outside the EU single market and Donald Trump signalling his desire for a quick US-UK trade deal, the likelihood of a future deal with America has shot up the agenda. But, in line with Barack Obama’s warning, the “back of the queue” may be the best place when it comes to a deal with Trump’s America.

      Let’s not forget the USA is the UK’s most important “single country” trading partner. In the absence of any deal, the US is already the UK’s largest export partner and second-largest import partner.

      But transform this into a “new generation” trade deal similar to the controversial TTIP and CETA pacts, and we risk losing the NHS, triggering another financial crisis, and replacing the European Court of Justice with a dystopian set of secretive, one-way “corporate courts” designed for big businesses to sue governments for lost profits. In one fell swoop, the ancient British principle of “equality before the law” will be destroyed.

    • Scientists to Government: Make It Easier to Study Marijuana

      Even as more and more states allow their residents to use marijuana, the federal government is continuing to obstruct scientists from studying whether the drug is good or bad for people’s health.

      A report published last week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine points out that scientists who want to study cannabis have to seek approvals from federal, state and local agencies and depend on just one lab, at the University of Mississippi, for samples. As a result, far too little is known about the health effects of a substance that 28 states have decided can be used as medicine and eight states and the District of Columbia have approved for recreational use.

      The situation is so absurd, the report says, that chemists and brain researchers are not allowed to study cannabis concentrates and edibles. Yet those forms of the drug are widely used. For example, in Colorado, where voters decided to create a regulated market for marijuana in 2012, sales of concentrates reached $60.5 million in just the first three months of last year.

    • 18 million would lose insurance in first year of Obamacare repeal without replacement, CBO report says

      At least 18 million people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan, estimates a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

      The number of people without insurance would grow to about 32 million within the first decade if congressional Republicans follow a 2015 plan to repeal the health-care law without an alternative, the new report says. It also estimates that health insurance premiums for people buying individual non-group coverage would double within a decade, further complicating GOP promises that people will not lose coverage under their plan.

  • Security
    • Truffle Hog Finds Security Keys Hidden in GitHub Code

      According to commentors on a Reddit thread about Truffle Hog, Amazon Web Services has already been using a similar tool for the same purpose. “I have accidentally committed my AWS secret keys before to a public repo,” user KingOtar wrote. “Amazon actually found them and shut down my account until I created new ones. Kinda neat Amazon.”

    • 5 Essential Tips for Securing Your WordPress Sites

      WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform today.

      Being as popular as it is, it comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. The very fact that almost everybody uses it, makes it more prone to vulnerabilities. WordPress developers are doing a great job of fixing and patching the framework as new flaws are discovered, but that doesn’t mean that you can simply install and forget your installation.

      In this post, we will provide some of the most common ways of securing and strengthening a WordPress site.

    • Google ventures into public key encryption

      Google announced an early prototype of Key Transparency, its latest open source effort to ensure simpler, safer, and secure communications for everyone. The project’s goal is to make it easier for applications services to share and discover public keys for users, but it will be a while before it’s ready for prime time.

      Secure communications should be de rigueur, but it remains frustratingly out of reach for most people, more than 20 years after the creation of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Existing methods where users need to manually find and verify the recipients’ keys are time-consuming and often complicated. Messaging apps and file sharing tools are limited in that users can communicate only within the service because there is no generic, secure method to look up public keys.

    • How to Keep Hackers out of Your Linux Machine Part 2: Three More Easy Security Tips

      In part 1 of this series, I shared two easy ways to prevent hackers from eating your Linux machine. Here are three more tips from my recent Linux Foundation webinar where I shared more tactics, tools and methods hackers use to invade your space. Watch the entire webinar on-demand for free.

    • 3 Lessons in Web Encryption from Let’s Encrypt

      As exciting as 2016 was for encryption on the Web, 2017 seems set to be an even more incredible year. Much of the infrastructure and many of the plans necessary for a 100 percent encrypted Web really solidified in 2016, and the Web will reap the rewards in 2017. Let’s Encrypt is proud to have been a key part of that.

      But before we start looking ahead, it’s helpful to look back and see what our project learned from our exciting first full year as a live certificate authority (CA). I’m incredibly proud of what our team and community accomplished during 2016. I’d like to share how we’ve changed, what we’ve accomplished, and what we’ve learned.

      At the start of 2016, Let’s Encrypt was supporting approximately 240,000 active (unexpired) certificates. That seemed like a lot at the time! Now we’re frequently issuing that many new certificates in a single day while supporting more than 22 million active certificates in total.

    • [Older] Kali Linux Cheat Sheet for Penetration Testers
    • Report: Attacks based on open source vulnerabilities will rise 20 percent this year [Ed: The Microsoft-connected Black Duck spreads FUD against FOSS again, together with IDG; Black Duck was created for the purpose of attacking the GPL, by its very own admission.]

      The number of commercial software projects that were composed of 50 percent or more of free, open source software went up from 3 percent in 2011 to 33 percent today, said Mike Pittenger, vice president of security strategy at Black Duck Software.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • UK cosying up to Trump over Middle East peace process, say EU ministers

      Britain has been accused of cowering in the face of Donald Trump after becoming involved in a second row in 24 hours with European leaders over the future of the Middle East peace process.

      The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, with support from Estonia and Hungary, blocked an EU foreign ministers’ statement on how the EU could support the process, it emerged on Monday.

    • The Drone Assassination Assault on Democracy

      What do Reyaad Khan, Ruhul Amin, Samir Khan, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Junaid Hussain and Micah Xavier Johnson have in common? All of these young, brown-skinned males were killed extrajudicially through the use of remote-control technology under authorization by their very own government.

      British nationals Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin had traveled to Syria to join up with ISIS (the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in response to Western military intervention in the Middle East. Both were killed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in August 2015 using lethal drones, even though the British parliament had voted down Cameron’s call for war in Syria. Ironically, in the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the prime minister chose to deploy missiles to destroy these compatriots without indicting or trying them for crimes. Following the precedent set by US President Barack Obama four years earlier, Cameron claimed to be acting in national self-defense. Obama had authorized the drone killing in Yemen of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, an outspoken opponent of US militarism and an advocate of jihad.

    • The Horror of the Iraq War, One Hundred Years From Now

      AFTER SADDAM HUSSEIN, after the U.S. invasion, after the Islamic State, what will Iraq ultimately look like? The future of Iraq, its borders, economy, religious and cultural identity, is a matter of constant speculation for foreign policy experts.

      Now there’s a literary response, in the form of a new collection of short fiction, Iraq +100: Stories from a Century After the Invasion. In the book, Iraqi writers who are inside the country and outside it imagine their homeland one hundred years from the fateful month of March 2003, when the U.S. invasion began. Iraq +100 is a fine example of critical dystopia, a genre that the writer Junot Diaz recently described as “not just something that is ‘the bad place.’ It is something that maps, warns, and hopes.”

      Iraq +100 was edited by Hassan Blasim, the author of a chilling, excellent book of stories called The Corpse Exhibition, which was published in 2014. Blasim is perhaps the best-known of the writers in Iraq +100. Almost all of the stories in The Corpse Exhibition include a fantastical element, but they are dark and grotesque, and the violence in them is surreal only until you think of what Iraqis have endured in recent decades. In the title story of The Corpse Exhibition, master assassins compete with one another to construct the most elaborate and impressive public displays of the bodies of their victims, describing maiming, splaying, and dismembering as an art form. Those and other stories made for grisly satire not far removed from real atrocities committed by U.S. troops and sectarian militias, and a queasy preview of the theatrical violence of executions carried out by the Islamic State, which swept through Iraq after Blasim’s book came out.

    • Jeremy Corbyn Accused of Being Russian “Collaborator” for Questioning NATO Troop Build-Up on Border

      The leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarisation of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the UK has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including states which border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.

      In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The CIA’s Secret History Is Now Online

      Decades ago, the CIA declassified a 26-page secret document cryptically titled “clarifying statement to Fidel Castro concerning assassination.”

      It was a step toward greater transparency for one of the most secretive of all federal agencies. But to find out what the document actually said, you had to trek to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and hope that one of only four computers designated by the CIA to access its archives would be available.

      But today the CIA posted the Castro record on its website along with more than 12 million pages of the agency’s other declassified documents that have eluded the public, journalists, and historians for nearly two decades. You can view the documents here.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Study says pesticide is a threat to survival of bats

      Imidacloprid — a neonicotinoid pesticide that the US Environmental Protection Agency says can be harmful to bees — is a threat to the survival of bats, a research team said.

      The team, headed by National Taiwan Normal University professor of life sciences Wu Chung-hsin (吳忠信) found that bats feeding on imidacloprid-tainted insects were unable to fly along learned paths and often got lost while hunting.

      With Formosan leafnosed bats as their experimental subject, the team found that animals treated with a low dose of imidacloprid developed neural apopotosis — a process of programmed cell death — in the brain, Wu said.

      “The sonogram of ultrasounds emitted by such bats becomes incomplete,” Wu said on Wednesday, discussing research published in April last year in Neuroreport, a peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience.

    • Saudi Plans for Early End to OPEC Pact May Leave Job Undone

      OPEC and Russia won’t need to prolong output cuts beyond June because the agreed reductions will have already ended the oversupply in world crude markets, Saudi Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Al-Falih said in Abu Dhabi on Monday. However, ending the deal by mid-year and restoring production would mean the surplus just starts building again, thwarting OPEC’s ambition of whittling down bloated oil inventories.

    • Global Sea Ice Hits Lowest Levels ‘Probably in Millenia’

      Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to new statistics from the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center.

      In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events that are likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability, the center said.

    • @Ivanka from Brighton sends climate change reply to Donald Trump

      Replying to Trump, she tweeted: “And you’re a man with great responsibilities. May I suggest more care on Twitter and more time learning about #climatechange.”

      She also tweeted data pointing out that 97.5% of publishing climatologists and about 90% of all publishing scientists supported the human-induced climate change theory.

  • Finance
    • Clintons Shutter Global Initiative as Donations Dry Up

      The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) filed a WARN — Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification — with New York State’s Department of Labor on Thursday, announcing that, effective April 15, 2017, it would be closing its doors and laying off 22 employees. The CGI’s stated reason: “Discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative.”

      Following the election, foreign governments that had been regular donors began cutting their contributions to the Clinton Foundation, some severely. For example, news.com.au noted that the Australian government “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway, which had been contributing as much as $20 million a year to the foundation, cut its contribution by nearly 90 percent.

    • Donald Trump’s businesses owe $1.8bn to more than 150 different institutions, new study suggests

      Donald Trump’s companies are almost $1.8 billion in debt to more than 150 institutions, a new report has suggested – raising fresh questions about potential conflicts of interests when the Republican takes office in January.

      The new evidence exposes the extent to which the businessman will soon be responsible for regulating many of the institutions he owes sizeable amounts of money to.

      Mr Trump has previously declared $315 million (£254 million) of debt owed to ten different lenders.

    • Moody’s to Pay $864 Million for its Role in Subprime Mortgage Crisis

      Moody’s Corporation will pay $864 million to settle federal and state claims that it gave misleading ratings to risky mortgage investments, leading to the subprime mortgage crisis in the US and to the Great Recession.

      In the deal, announced January 13, the ratings agency will give $437.5 million to the Justice Department and $426.3 million to be divided among the 21 involved states and the District of Columbia.

    • Taxi races show black cabs beat Uber on speed but not cost [iophk: “neglects to mention that the passenger costs are subsidized by venture capital”]

      London Bridge to Trafalgar Square. You take an Uber, I’ll take a black cab. Ready, set, go!

      A group of researchers led by Anastasios Noulas at Lancaster University, UK, recently raced to settle the debate over which taxi service is fastest. They ran a three-day experiment taking 29 journeys from different locations around London. One researcher hailed a taxi from the Uber app while another took a traditional black cab to the same destination, with the route left up to the driver.

      At the end of their trial, black cabs worked out faster, taking on average 88 per cent of the time an Uber did – although they were also around 35 per cent more expensive.

      “Uber drivers rely on navigation apps, but in dense parts of the city these can be slower than a black cab driver to react to traffic build up,” says Noulas.

      The researchers ran their experiment while developing a taxi price comparison app called OpenStreetCab, which is currently available in London and New York and aims to be like Skyscanner for taxis. Comparing prices for taxi services is more difficult than for flights, however, because Uber’s prices constantly change depending on demand. For both services, the final cost also depends on the route the driver takes.

    • Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May

      Theresa May has said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.

      But the prime minister promised to push for the “freest possible trade” with European countries and to sign new deals with others around the world.

    • Crippling costs for sheep sector in ‘hard’ Brexit, NSA warns
    • Prime minister vows to put final Brexit deal before parliament

      Theresa May has committed to putting the final Brexit deal to a vote in parliament in a speech on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, and insisted that if she failed to get what she wanted no deal would be better than a bad deal.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit focus should be on the least harmful way of leaving

      Theresa May, who makes a major speech on Tuesday, has reached a moment of truth on Brexit. No one can blame her for the result of the referendum – she was a remainer – but from now on she takes responsibility for the consequences. If Britain not only leaves the EU but also loses free access to its main export market in Europe, our economy will become smaller and poorer.

      Of course, she will argue that British exporters will not be barred from Europe’s vast marketplace, and technically that is true. But from now on we will be selling our goods and services on Europe’s terms; not as insiders but as competitors and rivals. Any deal that helps us will depend on Europe’s willingness to grant us preferential access.

      Without favoured treatment, many exports to the EU could face tariffs in some cases of 10% or a lot more. Robust customs barriers will add significant export costs and expensive delays, and many exports of services will be blocked once we abandon Europe’s single regulatory rulebook. This means not just a hard Brexit but a destructive and harmful rupture that will, over time, reduce trade, shrink manufacturing investment and destroy jobs.

    • See you in Davos (not)

      It’s hard to find examples of how the World Economic Forum lives up to its motto of ‘improving the state of the world.’

    • Netherlands will block post Brexit trade deal if UK doesn’t ‘firmly tackle’ tax avoidance, says deputy PM

      The deputy prime minister of the Netherlands has said his country will block any post-Brexit EU trade deal with the UK unless it can agree on “firmly tackling” tax avoidance.

      Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Dutch Labour party, fears a “race to the bottom” led by a British Conservative government, which would have negative ramifications across Europe.

      This is reminiscent of the fears of many Remain campaigners, who believe the government could try to entice businesses to the UK after EU withdrawal by cutting taxes and regulation.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit speech: ‘No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal’ – Politics live

      The Irish government has signalled its intent to exploit May’s plans to leave the single market and customs union with bids to woo EU agencies from London to Dublin.

      A spokesperson for the government in Dublin said there were now “economic opportunities that may arise for Ireland” following the UK’s decision.

      “Bids for the EU agencies currently located in London – the European Medicines Board and the European Banking Authority have already been announced and the state enterprise agencies are actively pursuing opportunities for increased investment, business and job creation in Ireland,” they said.

      “Economic opportunities for Ireland will be pursued vigorously”, the government spokesperson continued.

      The government in Dublin said it welcomed the prime minister’s commitment to maintaining the pre-EU common travel area between Britain and Ireland as well as her promise that there would be no “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

      May will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin later this month to discuss ares of common interest, the spokesperson said.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit plan is taking ‘extreme gamble’ with UK’s future, says Caroline Lucas

      Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, has responded to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit.

      Ms May laid out 12 objectives for negotiations to take Britain out of the European Union and said the UK will no longer be a part of the Single Market.

      Ms Lucas said it was an “extreme gamble”.

    • Inflation at 29-month high of 1.6% as food and air fares rise

      The headline rate of inflation has hit its highest level since the summer of 2014 as weaker sterling starts to affect the cost of many everyday prices.

      Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hit an annual rate of 1.6% in December – up from 1.2% the previous month.

      It meant the measure was at its highest level since July 2014 and came in above the expectations of economists who had pencilled in a rise to 1.4%.

    • Worried This Billionaire Will Destroy Public Education, Teachers Have Some #Questions4Betsy

      Defenders of public education have a few questions they want to ask Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial pick to lead the Department of Education, when she appears at her senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

      With a new campaign targeting members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as well as its members and supporters, are sharing questions they’d like to see answered by the billionaire Amway heiress and notorious critic of public schools.

      “DeVos has no relevant experience in public education, but as a billionaire with an agenda she’s promoted disastrous ideology and pushed destructive policies across her home state of Michigan—working to undermine, defund and privatize public schools, expand for-profit charters without accountability, and push unconstitutional private school vouchers,” Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, wrote in an email to supporters on Monday.

      “We need a secretary of education who would strengthen and improve public schools, not one who is out to destroy them,” Weingarten added. “We need our questions answered before she gets anywhere near our children’s futures.”

    • At the Birthplace of Auto Workers’ Sit-Down Strikes, Locked Out for Eight Months and Counting

      This month, auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting.

      Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out.

      Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care, frozen pensions, curtailed overtime pay, subcontracted work, and voided seniority rights.

    • Is MLK’s Legacy to the 99 Percent Being Reversed in the Age of Trumpian Reaction?

      Reaction has two main meanings in English. One is to respond to some new situation (not specifying the nature of the reaction). The other is to resist some innovation. In this second sense, a reactionary is one who wants to go back to a previously existing condition of society. A reactionary is worse than a conservative. A conservative resists progressive change that benefits large numbers of people but does not help the rich. A reactionary wants to undo a progressive change already long since effected, taking achievements away from the people for the sake of the 1%.

      We live in a reactionary age. Trump crony Newt Gingrich wants to undo the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt entirely, getting rid of social security and condemning large numbers of elderly Americans to penury. (In the 1930s the elderly were the poorest segment of society; that is no longer true today, and people can hope to retire and live with dignity, because of social security). We live in a moment where 8 billionaires are as rich as the poorer half of humankind and when the top 1% takes home 20% of the US national income (up from 10% only a few decades ago). Ironically, it is in this moment, when workers and the middle classes are prostrate and the lion’s share of resources is going to 1.2 million households out of 124 million American households– it is at this very moment that reactionaries are demanding that ordinary people surrender their pensions and social security and health care for the sake of a further fat tax cut for the super-rich. The average wage of the average worker has been flat since 1970 in the US, as any increases in productivity or real economic growth appears to have been taken right to the top and the 1% by the Republican tax-cut conveyor belt. A loss of entitlements would actually reduce their incomes substantially, sending them back to the 1950s.

    • Corona has a Trump-Mexico problem

      Just one day after Donald Trump was elected president, the U.S. company that distributes Corona took a 7% dive in the stock market — and it hasn’t recovered.

      Constellation Brands’ stock remains down 10% since the election, seriously missing out on Wall Street’s big Trump rally.

    • Trump would win trade war with China, says aide

      One of Donald Trump’s closest advisers has told the BBC that the US would win a trade war with China.

      Anthony Scaramucci warned that if China chose to retaliate when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imports, it would cost them “way more” than it would cost the US.

      He added the current trade relationship was “more favourable to China than us”.

    • Polls And Politics: There’s No Mandate For A Hard Brexit

      During the referendum campaign I argued strongly that the European Union has fostered and supported democracy in our continent. I must admit that at the time I had in mind the transition from communism in Eastern Europe and fascism in Mediterranean Europe. But the disturbing reality is that we are witnessing how our own democracy has been weakened by our vote to leave.

      Democracy relies on a shared vision of the future. Those who do not win an election still have a right to be respected and some of their wishes to be included in the political compromise. The Brexit chant: ‘We won; you lost: shut up!’ is not compatible with democracy.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Bush Counting Down Days Until He Is No Longer Worst President in History
    • America’s Self-Destructive Obsessions

      The U.S. population is led from one hysteria to the next, now transitioning from the Global War on Terror to the New Cold War with Russia, a fearful madness that is infecting the collective psyche, says Michael Brenner.

    • Democrats Lost in a Corporate Wilderness

      Over the past quarter century, the national Democratic Party merged with the Clinton pay-for-play money machine and lost touch with American populism. So, what must be done and what are the party’s prospects, asks Lawrence Davidson.

    • Playing Politics with Terrorism List

      Legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) is regrettable on multiple counts. It represents a perversion of the FTO list and reflects an attitude that is likely to increase rather than decrease Islamist terrorism.

      [...]

      The 1996 legislation established a procedure in which the various departments and agencies involved participate in a lengthy review process to examine which groups should be listed as FTOs. The law spells out the criteria to govern the review, which basically are that the group must be an identifiable organization that is foreign and has engaged in terrorism that somehow affects U.S. interests. The review process has been thorough and laborious, including the preparation of detailed “administrative records” assembling the available information about each group under examination. The Secretary of State makes the final determinations regarding listing or delisting.

      There has been some political manipulation of the list, though it has been to keep or move a group off the list rather than putting it on. The most salient case of this involved the Iranian cult and terrorist group known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delisted in 2012. The group, which has killed American citizens in terrorist attacks and clearly met the criteria for being on the FTO list, had not changed its stripes. Instead, the delisting was a response to the group’s long-running and well-financed lobbying campaign to win favor in Washington and especially among members of Congress.

    • Trump’s Remaking of US Foreign Policy

      Over the weekend, President-elect Trump received two journalists from mainstream European print media — The Times of London and the German magazine Bild — for a joint interview in New York City’s Trump Tower. The event was videotaped and we are seeing some remarkable sound bites, particularly those of interest to the British and German publics.

      [...]

      For the general public’s consumption, Donald Trump used the interview to explain his special affection for Britain, speaking about his Scottish mother’s delight in the Queen and her watching every royal event on television for its unequaled pageantry. But we may expect that Prime Minister May will find there is a bill to pay for the “special relationship” with the U.S. under President Trump.

      Rather than the British media’s early speculation that Prime Minister May would be the one to set the misguided Trump straight about the nefarious Vladimir Putin, she may now have to become a leading European advocate for détente with Russia at Trump’s behest. In this connection, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to Congress during his visit to Washington last week that Official Washington “stop demonizing Putin” may well have been a straw in the wind.

    • The Real Reason Any Russian Meddling Is an Emergency

      The bizarre saga of potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has created a genuine emergency in American politics. This isn’t necessarily because of Russia’s actual actions — unless the most peculiar allegations turn out to be accurate — but because of Donald Trump’s response, and what this indicates about how he’ll govern.

      Ignore the Trump “dossier” for the moment and forget the baseless conjecture about Russia hacking the U.S. voting process itself. All we need to know about Trump and the Republican Party can be found in their position on the simplest, most plausible part of the story: that Russia was behind the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and John Podesta.

      Is this in fact what happened? Certainly the Obama administration did itself no favors by failing to release any of the evidence underlying the strong conclusions in the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report. But Trump himself said at last week’s press conference, presumably based on a classified briefing, that “I think it was Russia.” Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, agreed during his confirmation hearings. There’s also the crucial dog that hasn’t barked: Unlike during the lead up to the Iraq War, no one from the intelligence agencies has been leaking doubts or claims that they’re being leaned on by the White House to provide the desired conclusion.

    • Could Trump Have Been Caught in a Classic “Honey Trap”?

      Finally, some fun. Finally, something to off set the angst, the fear, the crushing dread of a Trump presidency. Of course, nothing has been verified as yet (and very likely never will be), but given the Soviet Union’s history of espionage, and Trump’s notorious impetuosity, the first reports to leak out have proven to be tantalizingly believable.

      Basically, the story going around is that the Russians have compromised Donald Trump. They did it by tricking him into committing some fairly bizarre sexual indiscretions, recording them on film (their standard Cold War modus operandi), and filing them away for future use, which is to say, for blackmail purposes.

    • Actually Mr. Trump, Turns Out Americans ‘Care a Lot’ About Your Tax Returns

      President-elect Donald Trump has claimed that the American people “don’t care at all” about whether he releases his tax returns. Turns out, he was wrong.

      In fact, new ABC News/Washington Post polling data released on Monday shows that 74 percent of all Americans, including 49 percent of his own supporters, say he should release his tax returns.

      What’s more, the number of people curious about Trump’s finances has risen since he’s been elected. “In May, 64 percent said he should release the returns, and in September, 63 percent said he was not justified in withholding them,” ABC News reports.

      Last week, the incoming president held a news conference during which he announced that he would not divest his holdings in his business empire and stood by his refusal to release his tax documents.

    • Filmmaker Michael Moore Organizing Pre-Inauguration Rally
    • A Demand for Russian ‘Hacking’ Proof

      You, on the other hand, enjoy far more credibility – AND power – for the next few days. And we assume you would not wish to hobble your successor with charges that cannot withstand close scrutiny. We suggest you order the chiefs of the NSA, FBI and CIA to the White House and ask them to lay all their cards on the table. They need to show you why you should continue to place credence in what, a month ago, you described as “uniform intelligence assessments” about Russian hacking.

      At that point, if the intelligence heads have credible evidence, you have the option of ordering it released – even at the risk of damage to sources and methods. For what it may be worth, we will not be shocked if it turns out that they can do no better than the evidence-deprived assessments they have served up in recent weeks. In that case, we would urge you, in all fairness, to let the American people in on the dearth of convincing evidence before you leave office.

    • People Are RSVPing To Trump’s Inauguration In The Most Hilarious Wa

      On Saturday, Mike Pence shared a video of Trump “inviting” people to come to his inauguration. Almost immediately, the comments section went wild.

    • Brian Covert

      Peter and Mickey spend the hour with journalist and media scholar Brian Covert, discussing the too-close relationship between the CIA and U.S. media, as well as other issues, including the Obama Administration “pivot” toward Asia. Brian Covert is an independent journalist, and a lecturer at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. His chapter on the CIA and the media, “Played by the Mighty Wurlitzer,” appears in the Censored 2017 yearbook.

    • WaPo, Organ of Extreme Center, Calls MLK ‘True Conservative’

      Because words and history evidently have no meaning, the Washington Post (1/16/17) decided to honor civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. by painting him as a “true conservative.” In what one can only hope was a terribly botched attempt at high-wire satire, the Post’s editorial board attempted to use King’s frequent appeals to the “founding fathers” as evidence King should be lumped in the same ideological category as William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater.

    • CIA Director John Brennan Rejects Donald Trump’s Criticism

      Outgoing Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan on Monday rejected Donald Trump’s suggestions that he may have leaked an unsubstantiated dossier on the president-elect while defending the U.S. intelligence community more broadly from Mr. Trump’s recent attacks on its credibility and integrity.

    • Donald Trump tweets at wrong Ivanka during daughter’s CNN interview

      The President-elect mistook a woman in the United Kingdom for his 35-year-old daughter while proudly live-tweeting her interview airing on CNN Monday night.

    • Donald Trump will reportedly keep tweeting from his personal account

      The @realDonaldTrump handle is the most notorious account in Twitter’s brief history, and it appears as though its owner and author isn’t yet ready to let it go. NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell reports word directly from the transition team of US president-elect Donald Trump that he will continue to use his personal Twitter account. The widespread presumption, with any other president, might have been that he (or she) would pick up the @POTUS handle to conduct all his public-facing tweeting. Mr. Trump, however, has expressed a desire to keep growing his following, which at this point surpasses 20 million people on Twitter alone — and that’s just direct followers, many follow him indirectly through endless waves of reverberating reactions to his latest proclamations.

    • Politician Arrested for Pinching Woman’s Genitals ‘Said He No Longer Had to Be Politically Correct’

      Connecticut Republican politician Christopher von Keyserling was arrested and charged with sexual assault after he was caught on a security camera pinching the genitals of a woman with whom he got into a political disagreement.

      Von Keyserling, the 71-year-old chair of the Representative Town Meeting in Greenwich, encountered the unnamed woman in the hallway of an unnamed town facility on Dec. 8, according to the Westport Weston. She told him it was “a new world” politically, to which he allegedly replied, “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct,” according to the warrant.

      She told him that if he was “proud of that I can’t help you,” after which he called her a lazy, bloodsucking union employee, the warrant said. He allegedly followed her into her office, saying he wanted to talk to her co-worker. Her co-worker came into the office, refused to talk with him, and left.

      The first woman attempted to do the same, at which point von Keyserling “reached in from behind to place his hand between her legs and pinch her in the groin area,” according to the police arrest warrant. She threatened to hit him if he tried to pinch her again, and he replied, “It would be your word against mine and nobody will believe you,” according to the warrant.

    • Celebrating Two Centuries of Thoreau

      For someone generally associated with serenity, Henry David Thoreau can get people riled up. In a 2015 essay in The New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz wrote that the transcendentalist and his work had become “simplified and inspirational,” and that our beatific vision of him “cannot survive any serious reading of ‘Walden,’ ” which reveals a writer “in the fullest sense of the word, self-obsessed: narcissistic, fanatical about self-control, adamant that he required nothing beyond himself to understand and thrive in the world.” Donovan Hohn counterargued at length in The New Republic, saying that Schulz simply replaced “the distortions of hagiography with those of caricature, and the caricature has been drawn before.”

      Many political observers have recently noted the renewed relevance of the essay “Civil Disobedience” with Donald Trump moving into the White House, but that’s not the only reason the 19th-century thinker is on our minds. In 2017, if the air at Walden had been really, really health-giving, Thoreau would have turned 200. With the bicentennial arrive several books about the naturalist. (Kevin Dann’s “Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau” is reviewed on Page 13 this week by John Kaag.) This spring will see a focus on narrow slices of his work, like Richard Higgins’s “Thoreau and the Language of Trees,” and “Thoreau’s Animals,” edited by Geoff Wisner. Robert M. Thorson’s “The Boatman,” about Thoreau’s relationship to the Concord River and alterations made to it during his lifetime, promises what the publisher, Harvard University, calls, “the most complete account to date of this ‘flowage controversy.’ ”

      An ambitious new full biography by Laura Dassow Walls, an English professor at Notre Dame, will be published in July — the month when Thoreau officially turns the big 2-0-0.

    • Trump Team Considers Moving Press Corps, Alarming Reporters

      In the 1890s, journalists covering the president were forced to stand vigil outside the White House fence, querying visitors for scraps of information and appealing for audiences with presidential aides.

      Today’s reporters are concerned that President-elect Donald J. Trump could send them back into the past.

      The White House press corps was stunned on Sunday by reports of a proposal by the Trump administration to eject reporters from their home in the West Wing — a move that, if carried out, would uproot decades of established protocol whereby journalists are allowed to work in the White House close to senior officials.

    • Donald Trump blames dissolution of European Union on refugees — ‘all of these illegals’

      President-elect Donald Trump blamed Europe’s acceptance of Mideast refugees — as he put it, “all of these illegals” — for the decision by Britain to leave the European Union, and predicted the organization would disintegrate barring a reversal of immigration policies promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

      “People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” Trump told representatives of the Times of London and the German publication Bild about the June Brexit vote. “But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.”

      “I believe others will leave … I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together because people are angry about it.”

      Merkel, a longtime U.S. ally who is facing election this year, came in for tough treatment from Trump, who also criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has been the western bulwark against Russia on the European continent.

    • Britons’ trust in government, media and business falls sharply

      Levels of trust in the UK government, media and businesses have plummeted, according to a key survey.

      The annual trust barometer survey by PR firm Edelman has for the first time published a separate UK-specific supplement, which showed a sharp drop in levels of trust in the last 12 months.

      Trust in the British government, which was already low at 36% at the start of last year, fell to 26% by the start of 2017, the survey showed.

      In a separate question, the prime minister, Theresa May, was given a trust rating of 35% following the EU referendum but this compared favourably with 23% for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.

      The number of people in the UK saying they trusted the media fell from 36% in 2016 to 24%, while trust in businesses fell from 46% to 33% and charities from 50% to 32%.

    • Former Intelligence Official: Trump Conflict With Spy Agencies Creates ‘Dangerous Moment’

      I think it’s a dangerous moment. Because of how important it is for the political leadership of the country, up to and including the president, to have confidence in the information and analysis that we are getting from the intelligence community. And right now the intelligence community is being told that what they say doesn’t matter, or that it’s biased, or that it’s partisan, and those criticisms cut to the core of the whole reason for the existence of the intelligence community. That is, to be outside of the political process, to be expert, so your opinions do matter, and then to be able to inform political leaders in a way that gives leadership a decision advantage. That’s the mission of the intelligence community. And if the President-elect is saying that those things aren’t true, then there’s no reason for the intelligence community to exist. That’s why the most significant criticism that can be levelled at an intelligence professional is this idea that they’re biased.

      In the short term, if the president just ignores the intelligence community that’s obviously extremely dangerous, because the decisions won’t be made based on the facts. But in the long run, you can actually have an impact on the intelligence community itself. So that a young person coming out of a graduate program decides instead of going to the CIA, I’m going to instead go to Goldman Sachs, and make a lot more money anyway.

      For now, what I experienced at the National Counterterrorism Center, out of the thousand or so people there, across the board there were just incredibly talented, mostly young people, who could’ve gone to Wall Street or to Silicon Valley, but wanted to go fight al-Qaida. And it was enormously gratifying to walk into a briefing room and have these people who were just incredibly talented and dedicated. And I’m concerned that one of the impacts of the latest controversy over the Russian hacking starts to undermine the fact that the intelligence community can continue to recruit and retain the most talented thinkers in the country.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • President Duterte has banned porn in the Philippines; Filipinos now need to unblock porn websites

      Internet users in the Philippines are now being forced by their government to use technological means to unblock porn. The South East Asian country is the latest to ban the world’s biggest legal porn websites, following in the steps of the UAE and Russia. Major porn sites such as Pornhub and Xvideos have been blocked by the government as of Saturday. Those attempting to visit these websites from within the Philippines without a VPN or proxy end up seeing this message:

    • The Philippine government has reportedly shut down a range of adult sites

      THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN SWIFT action after it discovered that a lot, and we mean a lot, of its citizens are accessing adult sites and probably masturbating over them.

      People reckon that the cold shower of a block on pages is down to a recent report from at least one page that we have never heard of called PornHub. PornHub recently revealed that it gets a lot of visitors from the country and that they hang around on its pages.

      “The Philippines is holding onto its first place position here with an average visit length to Pornhub of 12:45, exactly the same as where they were at in 2015,” says Pornhub.

    • YouTube under siege as porn is hidden in its privates

      YOUTUBE IS under siege from drive-by smut-peddlers who are uploading dinkles and fou-fous to the video-sharing site using a loophole to pull it off.

      As long as the video isn’t posted publically, it doesn’t appear in YouTube listings and is served up from the old Google Videos site.

      TorrentFreak reports that the embed code for these private videos still works, meaning that any budding Paul Raymonds can start their own debauched domain of dinkles and use YouTube to host the video.

    • Record Labels Target ‘Singing’ President Obama with Takedown Notices

      President Obama has many talents, and with help from the people at “baracksdubs” he can sing virtually any song. Whether it’s Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ or Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas,’ Obama can do it. These parodies have also drawn the attention of some rightsholders who, perhaps unintentionally, are targeting them with takedown requests.

    • Women talk about self-censorship

      On Wednesday January 11, a salon-style discussion about women’s experiences with self-silencing was organized by Imago Theatre, in partnership with Béatrice Média, at Cafe Sfouf, an intimate venue welcoming approximately thirty people.

      Hosted by Rebecca Munroe, a radio host at CJLO – 1690AM, the talk featured three panelists: Dominique Pirolo, a Talent Acquisition Specialist for the German multinational software corporation SAP; Tracey Steer, a writer and blogger whose work has appeared in Today’s Parent and Reader’s Digest; and Christina Vroom, the Associate Director of University Advancement at McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry.

      The panel discussion accounted for the first part of the event, in which the panelists explored when and why they censored themselves. Following this, audience members were invited to share their own experiences of self-censorship. Eventually, the conversation progressed into a collective exchange of strategies to combat the entrenched structures that contribute to why women feel inclined to recede and self-silence.

    • Milo isn’t dangerous, but censorship is

      Thanks to its decision to publish a book by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, Simon & Schuster is the latest company threatened with a consumer boycott. ‘YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS’, comedian Sarah Silverman elegantly tweeted after news of his $250,000 advance. He may well earn more from royalties, especially if feminists and other progressives continue providing him with free publicity and an excuse to proclaim himself a victim of political correctness.

      But the prospect that Yiannopoulos stands to profit from a boycott should trouble his opponents less than the chilling effect of consumer book boycotts on speech. As the National Coalition Against Censorship points out, boycotts like this are increasingly familiar: ‘We are aware of at least seven other similar situations involving threats or fears of boycotts, four of which were successful in having books withdrawn, delayed, revised, or not reprinted.’ As boycotts become more common, corporate media may become less willing to publish controversial books, right and left. Simon & Schuster’s entire publishing enterprise, not just the Yiannopoulos screed or the imprint publishing it, is being targeted, which means that Yiannopoulos could prosper while the company and other authors suffer.

    • Robin Greenler: DNR censorship of science is shameful

      The DNR website now says that “the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change … are being debated and researched by academic entities …” The best scientists our country has ever produced have done the research and they are in consensus: Climate change is real and caused by human actions (see the National Academy of Sciences, Science Magazine, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports). That train has left the station.

    • From the Quad to the Kremlin: Exploring Russian Censorship

      On Wednesday, January 11, Choldin gave a talk at the Seminary Co-Op on her latest book, Garden of Broken Statues: Exploring Censorship in Russia. The memoir begins here in Chicago, with Choldin growing up in Hyde Park and listening to her grandmother’s stories of life as a young Jewish girl in Ukraine.

      Judith Stein, Choldin’s interlocutor and close friend since O-Week 1958, said Choldin has been an impressive force since her days at the College. (Other friends from the audience jumped in: “Since the College? No, since high school!” And another: “No, since elementary school!”) Insatiably curious, with a drive to match, she even translated a book from English to German in her spare time while she was a student.

      Indeed, Choldin described herself as a “conference kid,” going to academic talks and conferences from a young age with her father, an anthropology professor at UChicago. It was at one of these conferences that Choldin’s “love affair with Russian” began. She was 14, sitting on a bench outside the lecture hall, nose buried in an English translation of War and Peace. Two Soviet anthropologists—the first Soviets she met, as it was during the heart of the Cold War—noticed her book. They sternly told her that if she was to read War and Peace, she must read it in Russian.

      Later, as a first-year at UChicago, she drilled verb patterns in her Russian 101 class in preparation for a trip to Moscow that summer, benefiting from a slight thaw in the Cold War. For Choldin, the experience was like walking “onto another planet—not another world, another planet.” The people looked different, spoke differently, and lived by different rules and customs. Her curiosity was irreversibly piqued as she explored the city, pushing the bounds of her one-year knowledge of Russian. Choldin would eventually return to UChicago for her doctorate in the 1970s.

      A run-in with a Soviet customs officer, who confiscated books and magazines from passengers entering Russia by train, spurred Choldin’s obsession with censorship. Her responsibilities of organizing and managing the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign led her to stumble upon literary works that had been marked up and edited by Tsarist censors.

      According to Choldin, censorship in Imperial Russia was blatant. Books arriving from Western Europe would have lines blacked out with pen, pages cut out with razor blades, and passages taped over with scraps from other books.

    • Manchester City’s Bacary Sagna fined £40,000 by FA for social media post

      Bacary Sagna has been fined £40,000 for misconduct in relation to a comment on social media about the referee Lee Mason. The Manchester City defender has also been warned about his future conduct.

    • In Our Opinion: Apple caved in to censorship and tyranny

      We know it’s an outrageous concept, but there should be some things more important than profit.

      Things such as integrity and the courage to tell a major client that there are just some things his threats won’t make you do.

      Well, we did say it was an outrageous concept.

      We doubt very much whether the folks who own the majority shares in Apple — the multi-multibillion-dollar operation that sold you your iPhone — are hurting for money.

      We mean, how many billions of dollars are enough? As the old saying goes, how many horses can you ride when you only have one tushie?

    • Another brick in the Great Firewall: China begins censoring mobile apps
    • China Continues to Crack Down on App Stores – Tightens App Oversight
    • App stores must register with state: China
    • Enough with the self-censorship
    • Your Voice Deserves to be Heard
    • Syrian Migrant Says He’s Tired Of Being The Subject Of ‘Fake News,’ Sues Facebook For Posts Linking Him To Terrorism

      No sooner had Germany announced it was looking to start fining Facebook for the publication of “fake news” than we have a lawsuit being filed to take advantage of this brand new breed of criminal violation.

      Syrian migrant Anas Modamani has announced he will sue Facebook over posts by users depicting him as a supposed participant in multiple terrorist attacks.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Obama approves expansion of NSA’s power to share private data on US citizens

      In his final few days in office, President Barack Obama has overseen a measure that dramatically expands the power of the National Security Agency (NSA) to share intercepted data with other intelligence agencies.

      The new rules put into place by President Obama permit the sharing of data the NSA gathers on private citizens with a number of other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, all before applying the legally required privacy protections or obtaining a warrant. In order to be intercepted legally, communications such as phone calls and emails must cross network switches abroad, so any digital interactions you have with people outside of the United States, or even domestic communications that travel across international switches, are already susceptible to legal NSA surveillance, but now the data gathered can be shared more freely within the law enforcement community.

    • Now It’s Much Easier for Government Agencies to Get NSA Surveillance Data

      Just days before Donald Trump takes office, the director of national intelligence and attorney general have issued new procedures that undermine Americans’ right to privacy and Fourth Amendment constitutional protections. These procedures will allow the NSA to share with other intelligence agencies “raw intelligence” that it collects while conducting mass surveillance under Executive Order 12333, which has been in effect since 1981. Raw intelligence just what it sounds like—emails and phone calls and anything else that the NSA collects during its daily surveillance. These records aren’t minimized or redacted to mask identifying information.

    • Why Is Obama Expanding Surveillance Powers Right Before He Leaves Office?

      On Thursday, the Obama administration finalized new rules that allow the National Security Agency to share information it gleans from its vast international surveillance apparatus with the 16 other agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

      With the new changes, which were long in the works, those agencies can apply for access to various feeds of raw, undoctored NSA intelligence. Analysts will then be able to sift through the contents of those feeds as they see fit, before implementing required privacy protections. Previously, the NSA applied those privacy protections itself, before forwarding select pieces of information to agencies that might need to see them.

    • A Plea to President Obama: Pardon Edward Snowden

      The constitutional pardon power is best known for its association with historic events like Watergate, which is why it is generally discussed in terms of the worthiness of its beneficiaries, rather than the god-like authority it vests in the president alone. There are only theoretical restrictions on the scope of federal lawbreaking the president has the power to forgive. But precisely because the power is so broadly applicable, and so narrowly held, its potential for abuse is tightly circumscribed by politics. Presidents might be tempted to pardon many people, but few want to answer for why this or that high-profile felon or suspect deserves leniency when others don’t.

      There is a regular exception to this dynamic, though. The end of every presidency eases political constraints considerably, and makes the pardon power a potential source of incredible good or, as in Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, gross impropriety.

      President Barack Obama has been relatively stingy with the pardon power over the past eight years, but he has an important opportunity in this final week of his presidency to use the power in a way that pays lasting political dividends, and signals his belief that the Trump era will be a trying one for liberal democracy.

    • Google Launches Key Transparency While a Trade-Off in WhatsApp Is Called a Backdoor

      The issue at question is WhatsApp’s answer to the question of what applications should do when someone’s phone number changes (or they reinstall their app, or switch phones).

      Suppose Alice sends a message to Bob encrypted with Bob’s key K1. Alice’s message is stored encrypted at the server until Bob can connect and download it. This behavior is required for any app that allows asynchronous communications (meaning you can send a message to somebody while they are offline), which nearly all popular messaging apps support.

    • Let’s save ‘backdoor’ for the real thing

      The Guardian reported on Friday last week that WhatsApp – owned by Facebook – has a “backdoor” that “allows snooping on encrypted messages”. The report was based on research by Tobias Boelter, published in April 2016. The Guardian has since changed the word “backdoor” in its article to “vulnerability” or “security vulnerability”.

      A few days before the Guardian article was published, the journalist contacted ORG for a quote. She couldn’t discuss the details of the alleged security flaw so we gave a generic quote about the importance of transparency from companies that offer end-to-end encryption and the dangers to encryption within the Investigatory Powers Act.

    • Will Mark Zuckerberg run for political office?

      That’s the question percolating in tech and media circles in recent days.

      The Facebook (FB, Tech30) CEO announced this week he has hired David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, to head policy and advocacy efforts at his philanthropic effort.

      The high-profile politico’s appointment came just days after Zuckerberg unveiled his New Year’s resolution to meet with people from every state in the U.S.

      “After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post, sounding curiously like a politician.

    • What you eat, how you drive and even if you’ve brushed your teeth: What insurance companies want to know about you

      Twice a day, Scott Ozawa’s Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush tells his dental insurer if he brushed for a full two minutes.

      In return, the 41-year-old software engineer gets free brush heads and the employer which bought his insurance gets premium discounts.

      The scheme, devised by Beam Technologies Inc, is just one of the latest uses of technology by insurers hungry for more real-time information on their customers that they say lets them assess risk more accurately and set rates accordingly.

    • Over 1 million people signed a petition urging Obama to pardon Edward Snowden

      According to PardonSnowden.org, the Pardon Snowden campaign submitted a petition to President President Obama last Friday that it claims contained over 1 million signatures, urging the president to see to it that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is pardoned.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Smearing Snowden and WikiLeaks In The Name Of Anonymous

      The WikiLeaks and Snowden smears are getting more disingenuous by the day.

      In the latest attack on what is without doubt the most significant media organization in the world—WikiLeaks—a far less consequential publisher—The Daily Kos—has managed to squeeze an entire article out of one Twitter rant by what they describe as a “quasi-official Anonymous Twitter account” – @YourAnonCentral, also known as YAC.

      In doing so, The Daily Kos is the latest to demonstrate that there is nothing more intellectually insubstantial than the recent trend of quasi-journalists slapping together an entire quasi-article about someone having had a moan on Twitter.

    • More Swedish Women Haunted by Fears of Rape

      Sweden was once known as one of the world’s most secure countries, where violent crime was almost non-existent. Apparently, this is not the case any longer, as almost a third of Swedish women (31 percent) believe the streets are unsafe. Sexual assaults have more than doubled in the Nordic nation in the past three years.

    • Viral Washburn High School fight video was a hoax, district says

      A video posted Friday afternoon to Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook purportedly showing a Muslim student at Washburn High School using her fists to exact revenge on a boy who tugged her hijab is fake, a Minneapolis schools spokesman said Saturday.

      The video, titled “Welcome to Washburn,” has gone viral since it was posted to Facebook, with more than 6.5 million views, more than 161,000 shares and more than 29,000 comments — many supporting the girl, who appears to be defending herself.

      But Dirk Tedmon, a spokesman for the school district, said Saturday that school officials who talked to families of the students after viewing the video learned that it was a “play fight” and intended as a joke. School safety and security staff confirmed the alleged incident never happened. By the time it was discovered to be a hoax, the video had gone viral, Tedmon said.

    • Egypt Drops Case Against Mob That Attacked Christian Woman

      Egyptian prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a Muslim mob who stripped off her clothes and paraded her naked through the streets, her lawyer said Sunday.

      Last May’s assault in the central Minya province began after rumors spread that the son of the 70-year-old woman had an affair with a Muslim woman — a taboo in majority Muslim and conservative Egypt.

      Saturday’s decision by the prosecutors cited lack of sufficient evidence, according to the lawyer, Eihab Ramzy. Another case against the alleged perpetrators of the violence, which also targeted Christian homes, remains ongoing.

    • Martin Luther King Day: Lady Liberty is Black

      The United States will release a gold coin featuring Lady Liberty as a Black woman, the first time she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation’s currency.

      “Part of our intent was to honor our tradition and heritage,” stated a spokesperson from the Mint. “But we also think it’s always worthwhile to have a conversation about liberty, and we certainly have started that conversation.”

      Good for everyone. Only the most dark hearted could be upset that a fictional character is represented in any particular way. This can’t be bad.

    • US Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison in Italy

      Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy on Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush-era rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

      The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

      An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers.

    • As Obama’s Presidency Comes to an End, Take Some Time to Reflect but Never Forget to Keep Climbing

      When thinking of President Obama’s presidency, I invariably return to thoughts of the night in 2008 when he was elected. I spent the early part of the evening watching the returns with my now 97-year-old mother. My mother was born in Summerville, South Carolina, and came up to New York at age 9 in 1928 to rejoin her mother, who had moved north to work as a domestic for white families in Pennsylvania and New York. Like so many black families who were part of the great migration, they had moved north to escape discrimination and the lack of opportunity in the South only to face different manifestations of America’s original sin in the North.

    • Remember Dr. King—and What He Endured

      Annual celebrations of the life and work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often lionize the civil rights era, rightfully focusing on its achievements.

      But celebrations often overlook the federal government’s attempts to “neutralize” the movement. While we remember Dr. King’s many achievements today, we also must remember the documented and unfounded vilification by U.S. intelligence agencies that he, and others in the civil rights movement, endured.

      As our nation approaches a new administration, led by a president-elect whose rhetoric has shown little respect for constitutional limits on executive power and armed with an entrenched surveillance state, that experience offers a prescient warning.

    • EU: Orwellian counter-terrorism laws stripping rights under guise of defending them

      Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe reveals how a deluge of laws and amendments passed with break-neck speed, is undermining fundamental freedoms and dismantling hard-won human rights protections.

      “In the wake of a series of appalling attacks, from Paris to Berlin, governments have rushed through a raft of disproportionate and discriminatory laws,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.

      “Taken alone these individual counter-terrorism measures are worrying enough, but when seen together, a disturbing picture emerges in which unchecked powers are trampling freedoms that have long been taken for granted.”

      The report, based on more than two years’ research across 14 EU member states, as well as analysis of initiatives at international and European levels, reveals the extent to which new legislation and policies intended to address the threat of terrorism have steamrolled rights protections.

    • What the “Santa Clausification” of Martin Luther King Jr. Leaves Out

      The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated annually on a federal holiday on the third Monday of January. Politicians across the political spectrum put out statements praising his life’s work, and children in classrooms across America are told the tale of a man who stood up defiantly against racism and helped changed civil rights law.

      But what they don’t mention is that King was not just a fighter for racial justice, he also fought for economic justice and against war. And as a result, he spent the last years of his life, before being assassinated in 1968, clashing not just with reactionary Southern segregationists, but with the Democratic Party’s elite and other civil rights leaders, who viewed his turn against the Vietnam War and the American economic system as dangerous and radical.

    • Dr. King, Labor Leader

      The photograph is iconic. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only 39 years old but the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, lay fatally wounded on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. His lieutenants stood over his body, pointing frantically across the parking lot in the direction of the shooter.

      Dr. King was in Memphis to support the city’s sanitation workers — members of the union I’m proud to serve as president, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — who were striking in protest of poverty wages and dangerous, degrading working conditions. Their fight for dignity and respect was expressed with a simple, compelling slogan: “I Am a Man.”

    • Let’s not forget — Martin Luther King Jr. was preaching economic justice, too

      “Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service,” wrote King’s widow, Coretta Scott King.

      In Atlanta, where King pastored, volunteers will hand out energy-efficient light bulbs in low-income communities. In Chicago, where King lived briefly to draw attention to segregated housing, volunteers will package food for needy elderly residents and give coats to the homeless.

      In Memphis, Tennessee, where King was killed nearly 50 years ago, volunteers will pick up trash in more than a dozen neighborhoods.

    • Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

      The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

      Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045.

      The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

    • Chelsea Manning: majority of prison sentence commuted by Obama

      Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who became one of the most prominent whistleblowers in modern times when she exposed the nature of modern warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who then went on to pay the price with a 35-year military prison sentence, is to be freed in May as a gift of outgoing president Barack Obama.

      In the most audacious – and contentious – commutation decision to come from Obama yet, the sitting president used his constitutional power just three days before he leaves the White House to give Manning her freedom. She will walk from the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on 17 May, almost seven years to the day since she was arrested in a base outside Baghdad for offenses relating to the leaking of a vast trove of US state secrets.

    • DOJ, Obama Administration Fight Order Requiring The Full CIA Torture Report To Be Turned Over To The Court

      The Obama administration has responded to calls to declassify the full CIA Torture Report with a “will this do?” promise to lock up one copy in the presidential archives. While this ensures one copy of the full report will survive the next presidency, it doesn’t make it any more likely the public will ever see more than the Executive Summary released in 2014.

      Other copies may still be scattered around the federal government, many of them in an unread state. The Department of Defense can’t even say for sure whether its copy is intact. Meanwhile, an ongoing prosecution in which the defendant is alleging being waterboarded by the CIA has resulted in an order to turn over a copy of the full report to the court.

      This order would preserve a second full copy — with this copy being as close as we’ve gotten so far to seeing it become part of the public record. Of course, the DOJ is challenging this court order on behalf of the Obama administration, which certainly never intended to participate in this much transparency. Charlie Savage of the New York Times notes (on his personal blog) that a motion has been filed seeking to reverse the court’s preservation/deposit order.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC chairman warns next administration: Don’t go backward

      The outgoing chairman of the Federal Communications Commission issued an impassioned warning to the next administration: Don’t go backwards.

      “We are at a fork in the road. One path leads forward. The other leads back to re-litigating solutions that are demonstrably working,” Tom Wheeler said in his final public speech as head of the FCC on Friday, according to prepared remarks.

      “It is time to keep moving forward,” he added in the speech at the Aspen Institute. “This is not the time to retreat and take things away.”

      Wheeler focused much of his speech on upholding net neutrality regulations, which are intended to keep the Internet and open fair. The rules, approved in early 2015, require Internet service providers to treat traffic from all web services and apps equally.

    • Outgoing FCC Boss Warns New FCC About The Perils Of Killing Net Neutrality

      We’ve noted a few times how the incoming Trump-lead FCC has made it clear it not only wants to roll back net neutrality and new broadband privacy rules, but defund and defang the FCC entirely. The majority of Trump telecom advisors believe that the FCC serves absolutely no role as a consumer protection agency, and should be torn down to the studs — its only function being to help manage wireless spectrum. With the broadband market clearly broken and uncompetitive (exhibit A: Comcast and its hidden fees, usage caps, and historically awful customer service), eliminating most regulatory oversight of the sector would obviously compound most of the existing problems.

      In his last speech as acting agency head (pdf) ahead of his resignation this week, FCC boss Tom Wheeler warned the new, incoming FCC that rolling back net neutrality is going to not only drive massive consumer backlash against net neutrality opponents, but it’s going to be legally difficult after the FCC’s court victory last year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • UK Company Sues Disney Over Its Use Of The Same Public Domain Book Title

        Because the Disney corporation is so overprotective of its IP and generally willing to pull the trigger on legal threats/lawsuits, it’s always a bit entertaining to see lawsuits filed against it for alleged infringement. But the quality of lawsuits brought against the entertainment giant are very much hit-and-miss. And just because it’s the courtroom villain being sued, it doesn’t automatically make those bringing the suits the heroes.

        UK company Alice Looking Ltd. has registered trademarks on the phrase “Alice Through The Looking Glass” covering a wide variety of products, most of them being expensive shirts. What it doesn’t have is any claim to “Alice” the character, or anything from the Lewis Carroll original, or really anything else other than those words in that order. (h/t Courthouse News Service)

        Disney, on the other hand, recently released a film entitled “Alice Through The Looking Glass” — a live-action take on the Carroll original and yet another rerub of stuff taken from the public domain by a studio that has done its best for the last 70 years to ensure nothing it owns will ever end up in the public’s control. Alice Looking Ltd. feels the release of the Disney movie undercuts the US market for high-end goods with its trademarked phrase on them.

      • It’s Copyright Week: Join Us in the Fight For A Better Copyright Law

        Copyright law touches everyone. But despite its constitutional mandate to serve the public, policymakers have often treated it as the private preserve of major media and entertainment industries. Those industries built entire empires on copyrighted works, and they’ve shaped the law to reflect their interests and desires. But with copyrighted software and digital technologies now integral to our daily lives, copyright affects everyone – and the law should serve all of us.

        Today, copyright law not only impacts the music you hear or the movies you watch, it shapes your ability to communicate with others online, to create, post or share content to online platforms, to make art that talks back to popular culture, and to use, fix, and tinker with your own belongings. When copyright law is out of balance – when content holders are given too much power to control how new technologies and copyrighted works are used – it limits our basic freedoms to access information, to express ourselves, to control our own digital devices, and to innovate to create new tools and creative works.

      • Landmark Movie Streaming Trial Gets Underway in Sweden

        A landmark trial of two men accused of running a popular streaming site begins today. The operators of Swefilmer, whose case had been put on hold pending a copyright ruling from the European Court, face charges of copyright infringement and money laundering. The case is a first of its kind in Sweden.

Resumption of EPO Propaganda (‘Meet the President’) Officially Starts Tomorrow

Wednesday 18th of January 2017 12:09:40 AM

Pre-filtered questions to help construct the impression of an attentive king

Summary: Yet another one of these foolish ‘Meet the President’ stunts (not the first), scheduled to take place tomorrow morning

Caricature: Battistelli’s New Year’s Resolution (More EPO Lies)

Tuesday 17th of January 2017 11:58:24 PM

Summary: The latest cartoon being circulated within the European Patent Office (EPO)

Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

Tuesday 17th of January 2017 11:29:22 AM

Donald Trump's friend Bill Gates as President is likely good news for Bill’s close friend, Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Ventures

Summary: Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism

With President (starting Friday) Donald Trump rumoured to be putting a corrupt man in charge of the USPTO (a man who also promotes software patents and defends patent trolls) we have some legitimate reasons for concern. United for Patent Reform said: “The best thing the administration and Congress can do is to let USPTO continue on this course” (citing an article we mentioned here a few days ago). But the Director of the USPTO is said to be on her way out and Trump is likely to nominate/appoint some pro-business Conservatives to SCOTUS Justice positions. Not too promising…

As Patently-O has just put it in its SCOTUS 2017 patent review:

A new Supreme Court justice will likely be in place by the end of April, although the Trump edition is unlikely to substantially shake-up patent law doctrine in the short term.

Patent trolls are a symptom of the patent maximalism syndrome. When even basic algorithms are considered patentable a whole lot of companies become easy litigation targets and some opportunistic non-producing firms exploit that.

Pieter Hintjens died a few months ago and he knows the cost of being a target of patent trolls. “If you have not read it yet,” Benjamin Henrion told me, “there is a chapter in Confessions of a Necromancer [PDF] on AllisBlue patent troll” (mentioned here 7 years ago as it attacked many companies).

“When I started to work with him in late 2005, he was firing all the people that were working on the SMS@ gateway project. Search for SMS@ in the PDF, there are other mentions as well.”

Here is one of the relevant parts from the PDF:

Around the same time, I got involved in the FFII, fighting software patents in Europe. One of my motivations was that our SMS@ application had been attacked by a patent troll (AllIsBlue). I’d fought back by building an industry association, yet was the only firm willing to take a stance. In the end I shut the app and fired that team, too.

Fighting software patents was easy at that stage. The FFII was in chaos after a long and hard fight in the European Parliament to defeat a law that would have let firms patent software, along the American model. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me yet, I was elected president. Somewhat out of nowhere, I’d no such ambition.

Sadly, the US continues to have an epidemic of patent trolls, albeit the problem is getting smaller. It is always a very bad sign when company has nothing to show except patents. Here is an example from last night. This is all BOS Global has to show:

Then there is also Microsoft, which totally failed in the mobile market (barely any sales!) and increasingly relies on patent blackmail against Android, ChromeOS, and other operating systems with Linux in them. Last night we found at least a dozen articles in English about the latest Microsoft patent, e.g. [1, 2], including puff pieces from Microsoft boosters. How long before Microsoft uses this patent to extort if not embargo Linux-based products? In the same way it has done for almost a decade…

“If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.”Also based on news from last night, Cisco uses patents to embargo its competition yet again [1, 2, 3]. Background about Cisco’s strategy of using patents to virtually embargo Arista’s products can be found in [1, 2, 3].

It’s going to be interesting to see if later in the year patent aggression and trolling will see a resurgence. If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.

More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

Tuesday 17th of January 2017 10:39:54 AM

“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

Dr. Glyn Moody

Summary: Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it’s clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day

THE UPC Big Lie refuses to die. There is so much money at stake and those who hope to grab that money will just lie ad infinitum. Yesterday, Alan Johnson from Bristows (chronic liars [1, 2, 3]) wrote this blog post in the firm’s growingly-neglected site (as the UPC is clearly in a limbo).

“They have a TERRIBLE, truly appalling track record on facts.”Bristows has made false predictions so many times in the past that anyone with a braincell should learn to simply ignore them by now. But no; those who want to believe (like alien enthusiasts) just keep boosting all that nonsense. Whatever seems more optimistic is deemed better, but basing anything one publishes based on the liars from Bristows is not safe. They have a TERRIBLE, truly appalling track record on facts.

Here we have Alexander Esslinger (a.k.a. “Patently German”) propping up the latest nonsense from Bristows et al by saying “Provisional phase of #UPC to start in May 2017; fully operational in December 2017″ (he is actually citing Withers & Rogers, whose employee Dave Croston has just published fake news about the UPC).

“Many people have already explained why UPC is definitely inseparable from the EU.”“Unified Patent Court to be operational by December 2017 says the Preparatory Committee,” says this firm liking to this blurb from Team UPC. The Preparatory Committee is basically like a group of UPC boosters; they’re not independent actors. “Funfair fortunetellers predicting the future,” one person called it. If credibility depends on past predictions, Bristows and Team UPC should be regarded as chronic liars and repeating lies from Team UPC is hardly good journalism. They said 2015 about UPC ratifications, then 2016, now they say 2017. When will people learn to distrust people who continuously lie in an attempt to pressure/compel politicians to make an error, under the false impression of UPC inevitability?

Watch WIPR bragging about their “top story”, which is basically not fact-checked. The title is also misleading, as “can” (in the body) becomes “due to become” (in the headline). Never mind that Lucy Neville-Rolfe (whom they quote/cite) left or has been sacked after just months at her job.

“If the UPC became a reality, British businesses would be subjected to court rulings from places like Brussels.”According to this new tweet, Lucy’s successor “Jo Johnson who said ‘ #UPC isn’t an EU institution’ http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2015/intellectural-property-ev4-16-17/ … at 11:08″

Well, Jo Johnson (who is very young for a politician) is wrong. Maybe he is still clueless because he’s new at the job and has no prior experience in this area. Many people have already explained why UPC is definitely inseparable from the EU. See for example this older series:

Johnson clearly does not understand how the UPC works if he claims it not to be an EU institution, or at least something that is disconnected from the EU. If the UPC became a reality, British businesses would be subjected to court rulings from places like Brussels.

Going back to the aforementioned fake news, citing WIPR, Patent Attorneys like this one hope to convince us that the UPC is coming (never mind if the UPC Preparatory Committee has itself put the brakes on it). The Preparatory Committee is nothing but chronic liars and self-serving manipulators. Just look at their affiliations! And WIPR trusts them (along with Bristows) enough to say — in the headline even! — that “UPC due to become operational in December 2017″?

Sorry, but this is fake news. It’s lobbying by misinformation. Here is how the article starts:

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) preparatory committee has announced that the UPC can become operational in December this year.

Today, January 16, the committee announced that it is now “working under the assumption” that the provisional application phase will start at the end of spring 2017, “presumably in May”.

The committee said that the court can become operational in December 2017.

It confirmed that judicial interviews can begin and “appointments eventually confirmed”.

In October last year, WIPR reported that the UPC had postponed the recruitment of UPC judges in light of the Brexit vote.

“The current timetable is being revisited in light of the result of the referendum in the UK, which will to some extent delay the entry into operation of the UPC,” it said at the time.

In November last year, former UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, made the announcement that the UK will implement the unitary patent and UPC.

“With UK ratification expected in April,” Benjamin Henrion quoted from this. But he is quoting the group of liars, Bristows UPC, who have been repeatedly misleading the public about it and are now promoting their blog post along with their marketing hashtag. Perhaps they hope to attract attention to their business by making ludicrous claims. We don’t know for sure…

The bottom line is, a lot of what we’re seeing in the media, manipulated by Team UPC, is fake news. We must respond to that in order to avoid confusion. These people are playing dirty.

EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

Tuesday 17th of January 2017 10:00:50 AM


Photo credit (CC): Groupe LINAGORA

Summary: The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode

“Solidarity with the victims in Berlin” was the last time the EPO said anything publicly (other than banal tweets that say nothing new). In our entire history covering EPO affairs we never saw such long timespan of silence. We started asking about the silence from SUEPO and the EPO. “Cease-fire” one person suggested as a possibility for SUEPO saying virtually nothing, adding that: “It’s probably the well known silent before the storm situation. We both know too well that Battistelli & thugs can’t be trusted…”

We are pretty certain Battistelli intends to sack some more staff representatives, maybe the ones that he’s currently busting at The Hague.

Meanwhile, as revealed by this comment yesterday, the French “principal director in charge of IT is a personal friend of Battistelli,” continuing a tradition of nepotism and institutional corruption at the Office. At the end of last year we learned about possible tensions between two French ladies (Battistelli cronies), Elodie Bergot and Nadja Merdaci-Lefèvre, and now we have this:

more insight into VP1′s “resignation for personal reasons”: according to a very well informant within principal directors in The Hague (a young man who cannot hold his mouth and shares privileged info with some), here is how it would have actually happened:

during the Admin. Council, Battistelli called VP1 in his luxury suite overlooking Munich’s city on floor 10 of the Isar building, to tell him that he was very happy with the production figures and that VP1 did an excellent job before to eventually tender him a letter of resignation ready to sign on the spot.

Indeed the Admin. Council was heavily complaining (in confidential sessions) about the lack of progress of the IT roadmap for which TONS of applicants’money has so far been wasted for no tangible results. Enough! Someone’s head had to roll

Since the principal director in charge of IT is a personal friend of Battistelli (who recruited him at this position where money flows like the Seine in Neuilly) he had to protect him and instead to find another culprit. Battistelli considered that old VP1′s one would do the trick.

Since then old VP1 is down, deeply affected (we actually ignored he was such a delicate soul…) and finds he was brutally abused by the man he served so faithfully during all these years. Indeed to end ones long career like an old pair of knickers thrown in the bin must be hard.

If the following (slightly later) comment is correct, then it confirms rumours we heard about Team Battistelli being in a crisis which it hides from the media:

Indeed VP1 was always a relatively simple soul who didn’t get where he is other than by following the leader rather than having a particular affinity for his DG. His lack of any examination experience (he was working only as a search examiner) helped him drive for numbers without any understanding of the eventualities. So he’s been stabbed in the back? I suppose he thought that meeting the numbers was all that mattered for keeping him in his position. Brutal.
At least I’m happy to hear it isn’t a cover for a serious health issue.

If anyone could provide additional information about this (preferably with some evidence/proof for backing), we would greatly appreciate it. We can be contacted anonymously.

Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta

Tuesday 17th of January 2017 12:23:29 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Turn an old laptop into a Chromebook-Linux hybrid

    Common scenario: You buy a new laptop, thinking you’ll sell, donate or hand down the old one… but it never happens. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the hassles of Craigslist or Ebay, not to mention wiping all your data, reinstalling Windows and so on.

    Whatever the case, now it’s just taking up space. But it doesn’t have to: You can give that old laptop new life.

    With Linux, right? Wrong! I mean, yes, you could install Linux, which has always been the go-to option, but not everybody needs or wants the complexity of that operating system. For some, Chromium might be the better choice.

    Chromium is the OS that’s at the heart of Chromebooks — those fast-booting, cloud-powered devices that are so popular these days. Think about it: For whatever reason, no one buys Linux laptops. They buy Chromebooks.

    If you like the idea of giving your old system a Chromebook-like lease on life, good news: It’s fast, free and easy. And it’s not even permanent unless you want it to be.

  • When Peer Pressure Nukes Linux for Windows

    Several months ago, my 16-year-old grandson decided he wanted a powerful computer for gaming. I showed him Steam and some other stuff in Linux and he thought that looked good, so I started accumulating parts. If it was substantially more powerful than anything I have for myself, it was on the list. Sorry I don’t have the details list nearby, but it had a motherboard with a name I had heard, a fairly fast AMD processor with six cores, maxed out RAM, 1TB hard drive, video that took up two slots and had two fans, power supply you could use for welding, and a pair of 22″ monitors.

    I installed Mint 17.3 KDE in less than half an hour (the usual), including separate swap and home partitions (it’s a neurotic thing), setting wallpaper and the like, and doing whatever came to mind at the time. It ran flawlessly and I was happy, so I played with it a while. I really liked it. If I could think of a use, I’d build one for myself.

  • That Other Operating System Continues Its Decline

    The big winner is the Linux kernel. The vociferous opponents of GNU/Linux who haunt this blog can’t have it both ways. If GNU/Linux is not “GNU” and is Linux, then Android/Linux can’t be just Android. It’s Linux underneath.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • FLOSS Weekly 417: OpenHMD

      Fredrik Hultin is the Co-founder of the OpenHMD project (together with Jakob Bornecrantz). OpenHMD aims to provide a Free and Open Source API and drivers for immersive technology, such as head-mounted displays with built-in head tracking. The project’s aim is to implement support for as many devices as possible in a portable, cross-platform package.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.10-rc4

      Things are still looking fairly normal, and this is the usual weekly
      Sunday rc release. We’re up to rc4, and people are clearly starting to
      find the regressions. Good, good.

      it’s a slightly more random collection of fixes from last week: the
      bulk of it is still drivers (gpu, net, sound, usb stand out), and
      there’s the usual architecture work (but mostly just x86 this time
      around), but there’s a fair amount of fixes all over. Filesystems
      (xfs, btrfs, some core vfs), tooling (mostly perf), core mm,
      networking etc etc.

      This is also the point where I start hoping that the rc’s start
      shrinking. We’ll see how the tiny rc2 affects things – this may
      technically be rc4, but with that one almost dead week, it feels like
      rc3. But I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll have less next week.

      Regardless, go out and test. This was not a huge merge window, I think
      we’re in pretty good shape for people to dive in..

      Linus

    • Linux 4.10-rc4 Kernel Released

      The fourth weekly test release of the Linux 4.10 kernel is now available.

      For those not up to speed on Linux 4.10, see our Linux 4.10 feature overview. There is a lot of great work included like Nouveau atomic mode-setting, Nouveau boost support, AMD Zen/Ryzen work, new ARM board/platform support, EXT4/XFS DAX iomap support, ATA command priority support, Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0, and much more.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Fourth Linux 4.10 Kernel Release Candidate, Get It Now

      It’s Sunday evening, again, and Linus Torvalds just made his weekly announcement to inform the community about the immediate availability for download of a new Release Candidate of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel.

      One more week has passed in our lives, but the development of the Linux kernel never stops, and we’re now seeing the release of fourth RC (Release Candidate) build of Linux kernel 4.10, which appears to be fairly normal, yet again, bringing only a collection of assorted bug fixes and improvements from last week.

    • Linux 4.9.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.4 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.4.43
    • Linux Kernel 4.9.4 Released with Various ARM/ARM64 and Networking Improvements

      Only three days after announcing the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel series, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is now informing us about the availability of Linux kernel 4.9.4.

      If you were afraid that your patch did not land in Linux 4.9, which is currently the most advanced stable kernel branch available for GNU/Linux distributions, or if you thought that your device hasn’t yet received the right drivers, think again, because Linux kernel 4.9.4 is full of goodies. Yes, again, but this time the patch is a little smaller and fixes a total of 59 files, with 507 insertions and 205 deletions.

    • A Yet-To-Be-Merged Kernel Patch May Boost Kabylake Graphics In Some Cases
    • A Look At Where The P-State Linux Driver Does Bad Against CPUFreq, Clear Linux Tests

      I’m still running more benchmarks in investigating the Core i5 7600K Linux performance and with even its graphics performance being slower than Skylake. I fired up Clear Linux on this Kaby Lake system this weekend and it’s indeed faster than Ubuntu, though there still is some sort of fundamental issue at play with these new CPUs on Linux. But what is clear is that there are cases where the P-State CPU frequency scaling driver does perform very poorly over the mature, generic CPUFreq scaling driver.

    • The Linux Test Project has been released

      the Linux Test Project test suite stable release for *January 2017* has been released.

    • Graphics Stack
    • Benchmarks
      • A Look At The Huge Performance Boosts With Nouveau Mesa 17.0-devel On Maxwell

        Landing this week in Mesa 17.0-devel Git was OpenGL 4.3 for NVC0 Maxwell and a big performance boost as well for these GeForce GTX 750 / 900 series NVIDIA “Maxwell” graphics processors. Here are some before/after benchmarks of the performance improvements, which the patch cited as “1.5~3.5x better”, when testing a GeForce GTX 750 Ti and GTX 980.

      • Fresh Tests Of Intel Beignet OpenCL

        When firing up Intel’s Beignet OpenCL implementation on Clear Linux this weekend, I was surprised to see it was happily chugging along with many of our different CL benchmarks.

  • Applications
    • Top Software

      The number of open source applications and tools that are available on today’s popular operating systems is simply mind-blowing. They come in all forms. Small scripts and console tools that can be easily integrated into large projects, feature-rich applications that offer everything a complete solution, well designed tools, games that encourage real participation, and eye catching candy.

      Open source software holds many compelling advantages over proprietary software. Open source improves the quality of the code, keeps costs down, encourages innovation and collaboration, combined with superior security, freedom, flexibility, interoperability, business agility, and much more.

    • Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” Release Candidate 3 Updates Estuary Skin, Fixes More Bugs

      The wait is almost over, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy a much modern, improved, and full of new technologies Kodi media center on your PC or HTPC device, be it an Apple TV or Raspberry Pi.

      Martijn Kaijser announced the third Release Candidate (RC) development version for the Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” media center, and it looks to us like these pre-releases are getting smaller by the day, the RC3 build including only seven changes listed on the release notes attached to the official announcement.

    • Proprietary
    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
      • Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 Improves Compatibility For Origin, GOG Galaxy & More

        Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 was released on Sunday as the newest version of this experimental/testing Wine build. This time around there are some exciting new patches.

        On top of re-basing off Friday’s Wine 2.0-rc5 release and continuing to maintain quite a number of patches that haven’t yet made their way into mainline Wine, a few more patches were added. Upstream Wine is currently under a code freeze until the 2.0 release later this month but that doesn’t stop the Wine-Staging crew.

      • Release 2.0-rc5

        Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 improves the compatibility of various applications that require at least Windows Vista or Windows 7. This includes Origin, Uplay, GOG Galaxy and many more. Several bugs were fixed in the PE loader to support loading of packed executables with truncated headers and/or on-the-fly section decompression. If you are using the 64 bit version of Wine, you may also benefit from the memory manager improvements, which allow applications to reserve/allocate more than 32 GB of virtual memory. The memory allocations are now only constrained by resource limitations of the hardware / the operating system and no longer by an artificial design limit in Wine.

      • Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 released, better support for Origin, GOG Galaxy and more
    • Games
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Calligra 3.0 released

        A new wonderful era for the Calligra Suite has begun with the release of version 3.0.

        We have chosen to cut back on the number of applications. Krita has left us to be independent and although it was emotional it was also done with complete support from both sides. We are saying goodbye to Author, which never differentiated itself from Words. We also removed Brainstorm the purpose of which will be better fitted by a new application (nothing planned from our side). Flow and Stage has gone in this release but we intend to bring them back in the future.

      • Calligra 3.0 Officially Announced, Drops Some Apps, Ports To KF5/Qt5

        This six-year-old split from KOffice is finally living in the KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt5 world with the Calligra 3.0 release. Besides the porting to KF5/Qt5, Calligra 3.0 does away with Krita since it’s moved onto releasing as its own project, the Author e-book application was dropped since it never became much different from Words, and the Brainstorm note-taking app was droped. The Flow flowchart software and Stage presentation program were also dropped from Calligra 3.0 but they are expected to be brought back in the future, such as when fully-ported to KF5/Qt5.

      • Kirigami 2.0 Released, KDE’s Framework for Convergent Mobile and Desktop UIs

        After being in development for the past six months, KDE’s Kirigami 2.0 open-source UI (User Interface) framework has been officially released in its final, production-ready state.

        If memory recalls, the first public release of the Kirigami UI framework saw the light of day at the beginning of August last year, allowing early adopters to test drive KDE’s brand-new tool for creating beautiful, convergent user interfaces written in Qt for both mobile and desktop applications.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • My next EP will be released as a corrupted GPT image

        Endless OS is distributed as a compressed disk image, so you just write it to disk to install it. On first boot, it resizes itself to fill the whole disk. So, to “install” it to a file we decompress the image file, then extend it to the desired length. When booting, in principle we want to loopback-mount the image file and treat that as the root device. But there’s a problem: NTFS-3G, the most mature NTFS implementation for Linux, runs in userspace using FUSE. There are some practical problems arranging for the userspace processes to survive the transition out of the initramfs, but the bigger problem is that accessing a loopback-mounted image on an NTFS partition is slow, presumably because every disk access has an extra round-trip to userspace and back. Is there some way we can avoid this performance penalty?

      • This week in GTK+ – 31

        In this last week, the master branch of GTK+ has seen 52 commits, with 10254 lines added and 9466 lines removed.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • 4MParted 21 Disk Partitioning Live CD Gets Beta Release, Based on GParted 0.26.1

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki is informing Softpedia today about the Beta release of his upcoming 4MParted 21.0 distribution, a small Live CD that you can use to partition disk drives without having to install any software application or script.

      • Q4OS 1.8.2, Orion

        New version 1.8.2 is based on the the most recent release of stable Debian Jessie 8.7, important security patches have been applied and core system packages have been updated. Q4OS Update manager has been rewritten from scratch to provide a robust and reliable tool for safe system upgrades. Other Q4OS specific fixes and under the hood improvements are delivered as usual. All the updates are immediately available for existing Q4OS users from the regular Q4OS repositories.

        Most attention is now focused on the development of the testing Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ version 2.2, based on Debian 9 Stretch. Q4OS 2.2 Scorpion continues to be under development so far, and it will stay as long as Debian Stretch will be testing, the release date is preliminarily scheduled at about the turn of April and May 2017. Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ will be supported at least five years from the official release date.

      • NuTyX 8.2.93 released
      • Linux Top 3: Parted Magic, Quirky and Ultimate Edition

        Parted Magic is a very niche Linux distribution that many users first discover when they’re trying to either re-partition a drive or recover data from an older system. The new Parted Magic 2017_01_08 release is an incremental update that follows the very large 2016_10_18 update that provided 800 updates.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian from 10,000 feet

        Many of you are big fans of S.W.O.T analysis, I am sure of that! Technical competence is our strongest suit, but we have reached a size and sphere of influence which requires an increase in organisation.

        We all love our project and want to make sure Debian still shines in the next decades (and centuries!). One way to secure that goal is to identify elements/events/things which could put that goal at risk. To this end, we’ve organized a short S.W.O.T analysis session at DebConf16. Minutes of the meeting can be found here. I believe it is an interesting read and is useful for Debian old-timers as well as newcomers. It helps to convey a better understanding of the project’s status. For each item, we’ve tried to identify an action.

      • Debian Outs First Release Candidate of Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Installer

        Work on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system is ongoing, and Debian Project’s Cyril Brulebois announced today the availability of the first Release Candidate of the Debian Installer for Stretch.

        A lot of things have been implemented since the eight, and last Alpha development release of the Debian Stretch Installer, but the most important changes outlined in the announcement for the RC1 build are the revert of the switch to merged-/usr as default setting for debootstrap and disablement of Debian Pure Blends support.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 release

        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the first release candidate of the installer for Debian 9 “Stretch”.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 Arrives, The /usr Merge Has Been Postponed

        The Debian Installer is getting ready for the 9.0 “Stretch” release.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available for Download

        We reported the other day that the Debian Project released Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie,” which is the seventh maintenance update to the current Debian Stable series of Linux-based computer operating systems.

        As promised, we told you then that installation mediums aren’t yet available for download, nor Live ISO images, which help users install the latest, most up-to-date version of Debian Linux on their PCs or laptops without having download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories.

      • Debian Project launches updated Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 with bug fixes

        An updated version of Debian, a popular Linux distribution is now available for users to download and install. According to the post on the Debian website by Debian Project, the new version is 8.7. This is the seventh update to the Debian eight distribution, and the update primarily focuses on fixing bugs and security problems. This update also includes some adjustments to fix serious problems present in the previous version.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2016

        The number of sponsored hours did not increase but a new silver sponsor is in the process of joining. We are only missing another silver sponsor (or two to four bronze sponsors) to reach our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position.

      • APK, images and other stuff.

        Also, I was pleased to see F-droid Verification Server as a sign of F-droid progress on reproducible builds effort – I hope these changes to diffoscope will help them!

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 2.10 Will Upgrade to Linux Kernel 4.8 and Tor 0.2.9, Add exFAT Support

          A new stable release of Tails, the beloved anonymous Live CD that helps you stay hidden online when navigating various websites on the Internet, is being prepared.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • MATE 1.16 Desktop Now Available for Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Here’s How to Install It

            The wait is finally over, as the MATE 1.16 desktop environment is now available for those who use the Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system or later versions, such as 16.04.1.

            After thoroughly testing them, Martin Wimpress and his team updated the PPA (Personal Package Archive) containing the MATE desktop packages for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS, a long-term supported version of the officially recognized Ubuntu flavor built around the lightweight and customizable MATE desktop environment, to version 1.16.

            MATE 1.16.1 is, in fact, the current version of the desktop environment included in said PPA for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS users, which they can install as we speak by using the installation instructions provided in the next paragraphs, and it looks like it was derived from those prepared for the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” release.

          • Intel Haswell GPUs Now Support OpenGL 4.2 for Ubuntu Gamers in Padoka/Oibaf PPAs

            Ubuntu gamers relying upon their Intel Haswell graphics card series to play various games that support these GPUs will be happy to learn that the open-source Intel drivers now support OpenGL 4.2.

            Until today, the Intel i965 graphics drivers offered by the well-known Padoka and Oibaf PPAs for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating systems exposed only OpenGL 4.0 for Intel Haswell GPUs, thus support for some demanding games just wasn’t there.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Linux OS Is Out, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Kernel 4.4

              After announcing the release of Ultimate Edition 5.0 Gamers Edition, an Ubuntu-based operating system designed for Linux gamers, last week, TheeMahn is now releasing Ultimate Edition 5.1.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta is available for download now

              A Beta release for Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE is here. There are already versions available featuring other desktop environments, such as Cinnamon, Mate, and Xfce. You’d think that would be enough, but no! Apparently a fourth edition is needed. Some people feel that a KDE version is a waste of resources, but either way, here we are.

              So what is new? The KDE Plasma 5.8 desktop environment is the star of the show — after all, if you do not want KDE, you wouldn’t choose this version. The shipping Linux kernel is 4.4.0-53, which is surprisingly outdated. Ubuntu-based operating systems are never known for being bleeding-edge, however.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Gets a Beta Release, Ships with KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS

              After landing on the official download channels a few days ago, the Beta version of the upcoming Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Edition operating system got today, January 16, 2017, an official announcement.

              The KDE Edition is the last in the new Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” stable series to be published, and it was delayed a little bit because Clement Lefebvre and his team wanted it to ship with latest KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS desktop environment from the Kubuntu Backports PPA repository.

            • Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 — Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu In One ISO

              Linux AIO is a multiboot ISO carrying different flavors of a single Linux distribution and eases you from the pain of keeping different bootable USBs. The latest Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 is now available for download in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. It features various Ubuntu flavors including Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Google’s open-source Draco promises to squeeze richer 3D worlds into the web, gaming, and VR

    Google has published a set of open source libraries that should improve the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which could help deliver more detailed 3D apps.

  • Why every business should consider an open source point of sale system

    Point of sale (POS) systems have come a long way from the days of simple cash registers that rang up purchases. Today, POS systems can be all-in-one solutions that include payment processing, inventory management, marketing tools, and more. Retailers can receive daily reports on their cash flow and labor costs, often from a mobile device.

    The POS is the lifeblood of a business, and that means you need to choose one carefully. There are a ton of options out there, but if you want to save money, adapt to changing business needs, and keep up with technological advances, you would be wise to consider an open source system. An open source POS, where the source code is exposed for your use, offers significant advantages over a proprietary system that keeps its code rigidly under wraps.

  • Events
  • SaaS/Back End
    • Target CIO explains how DevOps took root inside the retail giant [Ed: Don’t ever make/give Target any payments, certainly not digitally. They use a lot of Microsoft Mindows i.e. back doors]

      When I arrived at Target in mid-2015, I was excited to find an active grassroots DevOps and agile movement in pockets of the technology team. We’d already seen some great results with our digital teams and our enterprise architecture group moving to agile and DevOps. And we had a lot of engineers and team members who were hungry to start working this way.

    • OpenStack Vendor Mirantis Offers Managed OpenContrail SDN Services

      The open-source OpenContrail Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology is one of the most widely used and deployed networking approaches in the OpenStack cloud market. That’s a fact that is not lost on OpenStack vendor Mirantis, which is why today Mirantis is announcing commercial support for OpenContrail.

    • Cloud Kindergarten preps students for OpenStack careers

      Cloud Kindergarten began this year to offer students a chance to learn about OpenStack and how to work with it. The students taking part in this program have access to Devstack so that they can learn about different commands and how to best utilize them in practice. Students are also able to create a tenant or network with routers and host an application like WordPress with databases and web servers.

    • OpenStack private cloud: benefits, challenges and what the future holds

      Many businesses in the UK have turned to private cloud to run mission-critical applications, with 80 percent of senior IT professionals having moved, or planning to move, to the OpenStack private cloud.

      The impact and adoption rates of this “cloud of choice” were explored in a recent study by SUSE, looking into the key benefits of private cloud and the effect its growth is having on UK businesses.

    • Navigating OpenStack: community, release cycles and events

      Hopefully last week we piqued your interest in a career path in OpenStack. Like any other open source project, if you’re going to use it—professionally or personally—it’s important to understand its community and design/release patterns.

    • Containers on the CERN cloud

      We have recently made the Container-Engine-as-a-Service (Magnum) available in production at CERN as part of the CERN IT department services for the LHC experiments and other CERN communities. This gives the OpenStack cloud users Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm on demand within the accounting, quota and project permissions structures already implemented for virtual machines.

    • Effective OpenStack contribution: Seven things to avoid at all cost

      There are numerous blogs and resources for the new and aspiring OpenStack contributor, providing tips, listing what to do. Here are seven things to avoid if you want to be an effective OpenStack contributor.

    • Tips for contributors, managing containers at CERN, and more OpenStack news

      Are you interested in keeping track of what is happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for news in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GIMP’s Progress In 2016, What’s Ahead For 2017

      GIMP contributor Alexandre Prokoudine published a lengthy blog post today looking back at what were the accomplishments for this open-source image manipulation program in 2016 and some of what’s ahead for the program this year.

      [...]

      Among the work still being done before GIMP 2.10 is released includes cleaning up libgimp, changing linear/gamma-corrected workflows, and 16/32-bit per color channel support, a new color management implementation, and more. GIMP 2.10 will hopefully ship later in 2017.

    • How To Install The Latest GIMP 2.9 Development Build on Ubuntu
    • What To Expect In GIMP 2.10

      The GIMP is our favorite image editing app for Linux, and this year it’s set to get even better. The development team behind the hugely popular open-source project this week shared word about ‘what’s next for GIMP‘ in 2017.

    • AMD HSA IL / BRIG Front-End Still Hoping To Get Into GCC 7

      For many months now there’s been work on an AMD HSA IL front-end for GCC with supporting the BRIG binary form of the Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language (HSA IL). It’s getting late into GCC 7 development and onwards to its final development stage while this new front-end has yet to be merged.

      Developer Pekka Jääskeläinen has been trying to get in the finishing reviews and changes for getting approval to land this BRIG front-end into the GNU Compiler Collection. It’s a big addition and with GCC 7 soon just focusing on wrong-code fixes, bug fixes, and documentation fixes starting on 19 January, there would be just a few days left to land this new front-end for GCC 7 to avoid having to wait until next year for it to debut in stable with GCC 8.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • Can academic faculty members teach with Wikipedia?

        Since 2010, 29,000 students have completed the Wiki Ed program. They have added 25 million words to Wikipedia, or the equivalent of 85,000 printed pages of content. This is 66% of the total words in the last print edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. When Wiki Ed students are most active, they are contributing 10% of all the content being added to underdeveloped, academic content areas on Wikipedia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Can RISC-V – Linux of Microprocessors – Start an Open Hardware Renaissance?

        I share the hope with many people that we will soon have access to modern, capable devices powered by both open hardware AND software. There have been advancements in recent years and more hardware is being opened up, but the microprocessors in our pc’s and other devices are stuck running one of the dominant, closed Instruction Set Architectures. RISC-V aims to fix this.

  • Programming/Development
    • Rcpp 0.12.9: Next round

      Yesterday afternoon, the nineth update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp made it to the CRAN network for GNU R. Windows binaries have by now been generated; and the package was updated in Debian too. This 0.12.9 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, and the 0.12.8 release in November — making it the thirteenth release at the steady bi-montly release frequency.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 906 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further. That is up by sixthythree packages over the two months since the last release — or about a package a day!

Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • MSI X99A RAIDER Plays Fine With Linux

      This shouldn’t be a big surprise though given the Intel X99 chipset is now rather mature and in the past I’ve successfully tested the MSI X99A WORKSTATION and X99S SLI PLUS motherboards on Linux. The X99A RAIDER is lower cost than these other MSI X99 motherboards I’ve tested, which led me in its direction, and then sticking with MSI due to the success with these other boards and MSI being a supporter of Phoronix and encouraging our Linux hardware testing compared to some other vendors.

    • First 3.5-inch Kaby Lake SBC reaches market

      Axiomtek’s 3.5-inch CAPA500 SBC taps LGA1151-ready CPUs from Intel’s 7th and 6th Generations, and offers PCIe, dual GbE, and optional “ZIO” expansion.

      Axiomtek’s CAPA500 is the first 3.5-inch form-factor SBC that we’ve seen that supports Intel’s latest 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” processors. Kaby Lake is similar enough to the 6th Gen “Skylake” family, sharing 14nm fabrication, Intel Gen 9 Graphics, and other features, to enable the CAPA500 to support both 7th and 6th Gen Core i7/i5/i3 CPUs as long as they use an LGA1151 socket. Advantech’s Kaby Lake based AIMB-205 Mini-ITX board supports the same socket. The CAPA500 ships with an Intel H110 chipset, and a Q170 is optional.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Veterans’ Corner: Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

      The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to expand disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune.

      Water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from 1953-1987 with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has proposed presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemicals.

      The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks. It has been determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

    • Medicare for All should replace Obamacare: Column

      Even before the election of Donald Trump, Obamacare was in trouble. Premiums on the government exchanges for individual policies are projected to increase an average of 11% next year, nearly four times the increase for employer-based family policies. And some large insurers are pulling out of that market altogether in parts of the country.

      Those who buy insurance on the exchanges often find that even with subsidies, they can’t afford to use the insurance because of mounting deductibles (about $6,000 for individual Bronze plans). It has become clear that health insurance is not the same as health care.

  • Security
    • Microsoft slates end to security bulletins in February [iophk: “further obscuring”; Ed: See this]

      Microsoft next month will stop issuing detailed security bulletins, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.

      One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”

    • Reflected XSS through AngularJS sandbox bypass causes password exposure of McDonald users

      By abusing an insecure cryptographic storage vulnerability (link) and a reflected server cross-site-scripting vulnerability (link) it is possible to steal and decrypt the password from a McDonald’s user. Besides that, other personal details like the user’s name, address & contact details can be stolen too.

    • DragonFlyBSD Installer Updated To Support UEFI System Setup

      DragonFlyBSD has been working on its (U)EFI support and with the latest Git code its installer now has basic UEFI support.

    • Monday’s security updates
    • What does security and USB-C have in common?

      I’ve decided to create yet another security analogy! You can’t tell, but I’m very excited to do this. One of my long standing complaints about security is there are basically no good analogies that make sense. We always try to talk about auto safety, or food safety, or maybe building security, how about pollution. There’s always some sort of existing real world scenario we try warp and twist in a way so we can tell a security story that makes sense. So far they’ve all failed. The analogy always starts out strong, then something happens that makes everything fall apart. I imagine a big part of this is because security is really new, but it’s also really hard to understand. It’s just not something humans are good at understanding.

      [...]

      The TL;DR is essentially the world of USB-C cables is sort of a modern day wild west. There’s no way to really tell which ones are good and which ones are bad, so there are some people who test the cables. It’s nothing official, they’re basically volunteers doing this in their free time. Their feedback is literally the only real way to decide which cables are good and which are bad. That’s sort of crazy if you think about it.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Taiwan’s President Takes a ‘Walk on the International Stage’ While Trump Baits Beijing

      The U.S. President-elect’s insistence that recognition of the “one China” policy is negotiable has infuriated China

      Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has risked Beijing’s wrath by remarking that her trip to Central America via the U.S. has allowed “Taiwan to walk on the international stage,” just a day after President-elect Donald Trump reiterated that American recognition of the “one China” principle was up for negotiation.

      China and Taiwan effectively split in 1949 following a civil war, though Beijing considers the self-governing island of 25 million a breakaway province with which it must one day be reunified — by force if necessary. Chinese officials are extremely wary of any statement — like Tsai’s — that might give the impression that Taiwan is an independent nation.

    • Donald Trump warned Beijing will ‘take off the gloves’ if he continues Taiwan agenda, says Chinese state media

      President-elect Donald Trump has been warned he is “playing with fire” and that Beijing will “take off the gloves” if he continues to provoke China’s government by suggesting the “One China” policy could change.

      Mr Trump once again suggested the “One China” principle, in which the US recognises the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of China, is up for negotiation in a recent interview.

      Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the President-elect said: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China”. China’s foreign ministry responded to the comments by stating that the “One China” principle is the foundation of US ties and is non-negotiable.

    • Yemen death toll has reached 10,000, UN says

      At least 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen, according to the United Nations, which is urging both sides to come together to end nearly two years of conflict.

      The UN’s humanitarian affairs office said the figure, which is a low estimate, was reached using data from health facilities that have kept track of the victims of the war, which has largely been ignored by the international community.

      The figure does not include those recorded by hospitals and health centres as having died, which is likely to be most of the combatants on both sides of the conflict.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange: Scapegoat or villain?

      One of the most banal tropes of Hollywood blockbuster trailers is about one man pitted against an all-powerful enemy, and ultimately prevailing. The figure of the lone ranger battling on with his back to the wall is a popular figure of American pop culture. How ironic, then, that this very figure seems to have become the bane of the country’s righteous political establishment.

      So one man, holed up in the embassy of a tiny Latin American nation, a man who hasn’t seen much sunlight in four years, who is under round-the-clock surveillance, and is subject to arbitrary denial of Internet access, has managed to swing the presidential election of the most powerful country in the world in a direction it ought not to have gone. Or so we are told by influential sections of the Western press.

    • Media beware, your credibility is all you have: Column

      BuzzFeed News drew a tongue-lashing from President-elect Donald Trump this week for publishing a 35-page bombshell document with inflammatory allegations about his ties to Russia.

      Disclosing the Trump dossier — with its errors and unproven claims — reflects BuzzFeed’s principles “to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” editor Ben Smith said in a memo to his staff. He said it also reflects “how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

      But many journalists and critics aren’t so sure. “It’s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo,” Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post. The Atlantic’s David Graham, meanwhile, worried about the ethics of publishing specific claims other reporters had tried to verify but could not.

      Once again, it comes down to credibility — the only real currency journalism has.

    • Social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news in the 18th century: Thomas Jefferson and the “Mazzei letter”

      In today’s public discourse, nothing is more super-charged than social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Japan criticised after whale slaughtered in Australian waters

      Australia’s federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, has criticised Japan following the release of photographs allegedly showing the slaughtering of protected whales inside Australia’s Antarctic whale sanctuary.

      Frydenberg’s statement came as conservationists called for tougher action from Australia.

      “The Australian government is deeply disappointed that Japan has decided to return to the Southern Ocean this summer to undertake so-called ‘scientific’ whaling,” Frydenberg said.

    • Green MEP calls on police chief to investigate ‘threats’ against anti-drilling campaigners

      Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has written to Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police urging the force to investigate ‘harassment’ claims made by various anti-drilling campaigners.

      In November, Keith visited constituents at the peaceful anti-drilling protection camp in Leith Hill, Dorking before meeting with the Keep Billingshurst Frack Free campaign group. During the meetings, and in subsequent correspondence, campaigners reported escalating levels of ‘stalking’ and ‘harassment’ by individuals they allege to be shareholders of the drilling company, UK Oil and Gas (UKOG).

  • Finance
    • A Republican Privatization of Social Security Is a Real Possibility

      Social Security was among the most important issues heading into the 2016 election. Yet, interestingly enough, it wasn’t paid very much attention during the debates, which is surprising when you consider that 61% of current retired beneficiaries count on Social Security to provide at least half of their monthly income.

      The reason Social Security is causing such concern among retirees and working Americans is an expected budgetary shortfall in the program that’s being caused by the retirement of baby boomers from the workforce and the relatively steady lengthening of life expectancies since the mid-1960s. According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Trust is slated to exhaust its more than $2.8 trillion in spare cash by 2034. Should Congress fail to find a way to generate more revenue, cut benefits, or enact some combination of the two, the Trustees report estimates that a 21% across-the-board benefit cut would be needed to sustain Social Security through the year 2090. For those aforementioned reliant seniors, a 21% cut in their benefits is a terrifying reality.

      During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump offered one simple solution to the American public: that he would leave Social Security alone. Trump opined that it was the duty of congressional leaders to fulfill their promise to retired workers of a steady monthly benefit check.

    • World’s eight richest men own as much as poorest 50%

      The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released on Monday.

      Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem.

      If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

    • The Coming Crusade Against Public Education

      Betsy DeVos, whose nomination for secretary of education will be reviewed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, has never taught in a classroom. She’s never worked in a school administration, nor in a state education system, nor has she studied pedagogy. She’s never been to public school, and neither have her children. She has no record on higher education, except as an investor in the student-loan industry, which the Department of Education oversees. As Massachusetts Senator (and HELP Committee member) Elizabeth Warren wrote recently, there is “no precedent” for an education secretary with DeVos’s lack of experience in public education.

    • Sterling Options Signal More Turmoil as May Speech, Ruling Loom

      A measure of anticipated swings for the pound climbed to the highest in three months before U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit plans Tuesday and a court ruling this month on whether the British leader or Parliament carries the power to invoke the exit.

    • World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

      The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

      In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

      The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

    • [Old] Gates Foundation accused of ‘dangerously skewing’ aid priorities by promoting ‘corporate globalisation’

      They are among the richest people on earth, have won plaudits for their fight to eradicate some of the world’s deadliest and prolific killers, and donated billions to better educate and feed the poorest on the planet.

      Despite this, Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation, according to a controversial new report.

      Far from a “neutral charitable strategy”, the Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to the report published by the campaign group Global Justice Now. Its influence is “dangerously skewing” aid priorities, the group says.

      [...]

      The report is critical of the close working relations between the Foundation and major international pharmaceutical corporations and points out many of the same firms have been criticised for their over-pricing of life-saving vaccines. It warns that philanthropic influence is skewing health priorities “towards the interests of wealthy donors (vaccines) rather than resilient health systems”.

      [...]

      It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. “Much of the Foundation’s work appears to bypass local knowledge,” the report claims.

      The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.”

      [...]

      It calls for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to carry out an inquiry into the foundation’s work on top of a British Parliamentary inquiry.

    • The Clinton Foundation Shuts Down Clinton Global Initiative

      The Clinton Foundation’s long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization’s charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency.

      But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

    • Looking forward to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit

      This week’s speech is expected to say that the United Kingdom is prepared to leave the single market. But, as I have set out on this blog and at the FT, the departure of the United Kingdom from the single market is the necessary implication of the positions which the prime minister has admitted to holding.

      Perhaps the speech will reveal something about how the United Kingdom is seeking to attain the objectives. Perhaps there will be some statements about still-unknown issues such as the United Kingdom’s position on a customs union.

      Or perhaps it will be a sequence of slogans and ambitions, without any substance on how they will be converted into reality.

      More important may be the interview from the chancellor of the exchequer Phillip Hammond with a German newspaper. He often seems to be the only grown-up in the cabinet.

    • Swedish minister ‘shocked’ by xenophobia towards Swedes in UK

      The Swedish government wants the issue of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British people settled elsewhere in Europe to be resolved urgently and removed from the Brexit negotiating table as quickly as possible.

      Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, said she was shocked by the uncertainty and xenophobia experienced by Swedes in the UK since the referendum.

      She said the future of an estimated 100,000 Swedish people in Britain and 30,000 British people in Sweden, had to be urgently dealt with. She said: “This is one of the very most important issues and we have to solve it in a very constructive way in the first part of the negotiations.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • French progressives dare to hope as maverick Macron surges in polls

      From the stage in a packed concert hall, France’s youngest presidential candidate looked up at the thousands of people who had come to witness his trademark thunderous speaking style.

      “Never accept those who promote exclusion, hatred or closing in on ourselves!” Emmanuel Macron urged the audience in Lille, a city surrounded by France’s leftwing northern heartlands that are increasingly turning to Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National. “When the Front National promises to restore security points at the border, they are lying,” he said.

    • Donald Trump v. the Spooks

      In that corner, we have a deal-making, billionaire “man of the people” who, to European sensibilities at least, reputedly espouses some of the madder domestic obsessions and yet has seemed to offer hope to many aggrieved Americans. But it is his professed position on building a rapprochement with Russia and cooperating with Moscow to sort out the Syrian mess that caught my attention and that of many other independent commentators internationally.

      In the opposite corner, Trump’s opponents have pushed the CIA into the ring to deliver the knock-out blow, but this has yet to land. Despite jab after jab, Trump keeps evading the blows and comes rattling back against all odds. One has to admire the guy’s footwork.

      So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS. However, since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, those villains no longer packed as scary a punch, so a more enduring villain, like Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984, was required. Russia was the obvious new choice, the old favorite from the Cold War playbook.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Calling Something Hate: The New Form Of Silencing

      See how easy it is to tar someone as an unacceptable person?

      They say something you don’t like.

      Or maybe they’re in your way for some reason — perhaps keeping you from having an entirely clear path to the top.

      “J’accuse!” time!

      I think this is becoming — and will continue to become — an extremely convenient way to go after people who’ve done nothing wrong…well, that is, in a society that values civil liberties, including free speech, enough to protect them.

    • ‘Telly viewers hate censorship more than swearing’, say academics

      Television viewers are less offended by swear words than censorship when it comes to regulators, academics have found.

      Researchers from Leicester and Birmingham City universities travelled the country – and Germany – to study people watching daytime TV.

      They watched programmes reported to be offensive or problematic and discussed these with the viewers.

      Dr Ranjana Das, from Leicester’s School of Media, Communication and Sociology, and Dr Anne Graefer, from the Birmingham School of Media, found swear words, bad language or flashy lighting were rarely considered worth complaints to regulators.

    • IMDb Draws Support In Fight Against California Censorship Law

      A California law requiring Amazon’s IMDb to scrub actors’ ages from its site could pave the way for other new measures aimed at squelching truthful information, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says in new court papers.

      “If it is constitutional for the government to suppress IMDb’s public site from reporting age information, there will be virtually no limit to the government’s ability to suppress the reporting of many other truthful facts by many other sources,” the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues in a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week. “In an age where the media is struggling to combat the pernicious effects of false news, the truth should not be suppressed.”

      The organization, along with a host of legal scholars, is backing IMDb’s effort to block enforcement of the new law, which was passed last year at the urging of the Screen Actors Guild and took effect on January 1.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Obama administration signs off on wider data-sharing for NSA

      The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) has signed off on new rules to let the National Security Agency (NSA) share globally intercepted personal information with the country’s other 16 intelligence agencies, before it applies privacy protection to or minimizes the raw data.

      Or, as Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), put it in an interview with the New York Times, 17 intelligence agencies are now going to be “rooting… through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant”.

      The new rules mean that the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, and intelligence agencies of the US military’s branches and more, will be able to search through raw signals intelligence (SIGINT): intercepted signals that include all manner of people’s communications, be it via satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, as well as messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

    • Obama Expands NSA Spying. Attack against Democratic Rights
    • Barack Obama Allowed NSA to Share Surveillance Data With All Government Intelligence Agencies

      Barack Obama, the outgoing US president, allowed the NSA (National Security Agency) to share surveillance data with all government security and intelligence agencies. The new rules were signed by Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, on January 3, 2017. There are 16 government security and intelligence agencies in total, some of them are the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

    • White House Approves New Rules for Sharing of Raw Intelligence Data

      President Obama last week approved a change in the way the National Security Agency shares raw signals intelligence data with the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, a shift that privacy experts worry will erode the civil liberties of Americans.

    • Pardon Snowden Campaign Delivers Over One Million Signatures to Obama

      With less than a week left of Obama’s presidency, a coalition of organizations has collected more than a million signatures on a petition urging Obama to issue a full pardon to Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who revealed the size and scope of the surveillance conducted by the NSA and other federal agencies. Snowden (shown) fled the country and has lived in exile in Russia since May of 2013. If pardoned, he could return to American soil a hero to many.

    • Records show timesheet falsifications at NSA

      The National Security Agency’s internal watchdog has found more than 100 cases in five years in which civilian employees and contractors falsely claimed to have been at work.

      Details about the cases were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun (http://bsun.md/2iuZO9g ). An NSA spokesman says the incidents cost the agency almost $3.5 million, though about 80 percent of the money lost to the fraud has been recovered.

    • Amazon snapped up an AI security startup for around $20 million

      Amazon has acquired a San Diego security startup called Harvest.ai for around $20 million (£17 million), TechCrunch reports.

      The acquisition was reportedly made through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud services group.

      Founded by two former NSA employees, Harvest.ai has developed technology that can help companies to find and stop targeted attacks on their data.

    • 3Apple, please help to save private e-mail encryption

      After the latest Mac OS upgrade (Sierra) – GPG encryption of mail doesn’t work. Apparently, the GPGTools-people need to do a lot of reverse engineering. And as they kindly offer the world encryption for free their resources are limited.

      This might lead to people turning away from e-mail encryption, at a point in time where more people ought to take it up. This should be an argument strong enough for Apple to give the GPG-team a helping hand.

    • When It Comes to Police Surveillance, Local Politics Matter

      On Friday, the Boston Police Department said that it would not go ahead with a controversial plan to spend $1.4 million dollars on software used to monitor social media activity.

      “After reviewing the submitted proposals I felt that the technology that was presented exceeds the needs of our department,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement.

      The announcement comes after a sustained campaign led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future, and other community organizers to defeat the proposal, which was first made public in late October.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Obama’s Legacy: A Historic War On Whistleblowers

      As President Barack Obama soared into office eight years ago, he promised, on his first day in the White House, to launch “a new era of open government.”

      “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in a Jan. 21, 2009 memorandum.

      Obama was urging the attorney general to issue new guidelines protecting The Freedom of Information Act. “In the face of doubt,” Obama proclaimed, “openness prevails.”

    • Sick Muslim migrant gang that broke girl’s jaw accused of REGULAR ‘Sharia patrol’ attacks

      The girl, named only as Leonie, heads up the gang of six migrants who are purported to have carried out several Sharia-inspired attacks across the European capital of Vienna.

      Leonie, 15, was among the six Muslim youths from Chechnya who allegedly beat up a teenage girl, named as Patricia, in the centre of the Austrian capital city.

      Patricia, a Polish schoolgirl, was falsely accused of pulling off a Muslim woman’s headscarf.

      The attack, which left her with a broken jaw in two places, shocked Austria when footage of the beating went viral.

    • Pastor vandalized for fourth time after anti-mosque remarks

      A pastor who has been outspoken about his opposition to construction of a mosque in Bayonne is the victim of vandalism for the fourth time.

      [...]

      Basile says he asked the men in charge if they believed in Sharia law and they refused to answer. Their lawyer wouldn’t let them answer.

    • Saudi Arabia cleric warns of ‘depravity’ of cinema, concerts

      Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric has warned of the “depravity” of cinemas and music concerts, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed in the ultra-conservative kingdom. “We know that singing concerts and cinemas are a depravity,” Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said in a television interview cited by Sabq news website late Friday. The head of the Saudi supreme council of clerics was responding to a question about the plans of the kingdom’s General Authority for Entertainment to licence concerts and study opening cinemas.

    • Saudi Arabia religious chief says legalising cinemas risks ‘mixing of sexes’ and ‘rotten’ influence

      Saudi Arabia’s religious authority has said the legalisation of cinemas and concerts could lead to the “mixing of sexes” and “atheistic or rotten” influences in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

      Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh made the statements on his weekly television programme as the Saudi government prepares to begin cultural and economic reforms known as Vision 2030.

      The head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani has raised the potential for opening cinemas and holding concerts as early as this year.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • In Final Speech, FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Warns GOP Not to Kill Net Neutrality

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered an impassioned defense of US net neutrality protections on Friday, one week before Republicans who have vowed to roll back the policy are set to take control of the agency.

      In his final public speech as the nation’s top telecom regulator, Wheeler warned that Republican efforts to weaken FCC rules ensuring that all internet content is treated equally will harm consumers, stifle online innovation, and threaten broadband industry competition.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Patents and know-how power new GE move into China battery market

      The fact that GE is willing to eventually part with the concerned patents altogether, if the price is right, is a good sign that this particular technology is a decent candidate for an external partnership in China. It signals that not having control of the relevant IP is an eventuality the business is prepared to face – to the extent that it has put an approximate dollar price on. GE does appear to know its way around China’s patent sales market – this blog reported last year on its transfer of 131 LED-related patents to Beijing-based display maker BOE Technology.

    • New Book Highlights IP Trade Law Flexibilities For Public Health

      “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for access to medicines” by Ellen ’t Hoen, an authoritative public health advocate who previously led the global Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, and the Medicines Patent Pool.

      Ellen ‘t Hoen is a member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management, and a researcher at the University Medical Centre at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

    • Copyrights
      • Don’t Go Back on the Deal – IFLA, EIFL and EBLIDA call on EU Member States to Deliver on Marrakesh Treaty Ratification

        As IFLA and partner organisations have underlined, this is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people with print disabilities – who cannot pick up and read a book in the same way as everyone else – both in Europe and beyond.

      • Understanding the fundamental, irreconcilable conflict between copyright enforcement and privacy of communication

        Enforcement of copyright is fundamentally, conceptually incompatible with privacy of correspondence. You can’t have the sealed and private letter in existence at the same time as you enforce copyright, once communications have gone digital. This is the reason you see VPN companies and other privacy advocates fight copyright enforcement and copyright law: because society has to choose between privacy and copyright, and basic civil liberties are considered more important than one particular entertainment business model.

        Why is a VPN company interested in copyright law? Why does a VPN company even question copyright law expansion and enforcement? Why do the most appreciated internet operators talk back a lot to the copyright industry – and are appreciated by their customers for that very reason? Why does the net generation generally say, as a blanket statement, that copyright law just has no place in an Internet world?

        Is it, as some would claim, because BitTorrent users make up a majority of the paying customers of a VPN company or an internet operator? That the net generation just wants everything for free? That the VPN company profits from protecting criminals? You know, there are people who would actually claim this with a straight face, apparently serious. The facts are clear on the matter, though: BitTorrent usage is neither a majority reason for using a VPN, nor are heavy-bandwidth users particularly profitable. And the net generation has no illusion about everything-for-free being sustainable or even desirable – but they do defend their liberty ferociously.

‘Financial Director’ Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Monday 16th of January 2017 01:10:29 PM

More of these foolish self-fulfilling prophecy attempts

Summary: Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm

TEAM UPC and the EPO‘s management keep lying to us all about the UPC. Sometimes the media outside the echo chamber-like circles of the patent microcosm starts to repeat the lies, whereupon we need to step in and issue corrections.

The above ‘article’ was promoted via the patent microcosm in Twitter and it says UPC “will also be more appealing to SMEs.”

“Sometimes the media outside the echo chamber-like circles of the patent microcosm starts to repeat the lies, whereupon we need to step in and issue corrections.”Josep Maria Pujals says “excepto en España. Aquí vamos sobrados…”

I told him that the UPC would be harmful to ALL SMEs, not just Spanish ones, citing some among plenty of evidence of it. It is a Big Lie (in the classic sense) that UPC is good for SMEs. Large corporations, their lobbyists, and the patent microcosm keep spreading these lies and occasionally we see politicians repeating that lie (probably due to gullibility).

“I’d better say [about] UPC,” Josep Maria Pujals told me, “Any company infringing other’s (also sme’s) patents can be accused before one Court of infringement & receive an injunction” (exactly!).

“First, it’s not happening (the UPC). Second, not good for SMEs.”The above article was composed by Dave Croston, who by his own description is a “partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers,” i.e. part of the patent microcosm. Are publications not fact-checking what they publish? Is Financial Director publishing fake news now, on behalf of people seeking to profit from Big Lies? The UPC isn’t even going to happen in 2017. It’s the same old broken record we have been hearing every year.

If Financial Director fails to do quality control when publishing items, then we’ll need to help them. First, it’s not happening (the UPC). Second, not good for SMEs. Don’t just become a platform for the patent microcosm if the goal is to properly inform Financial Directors.

Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

Monday 16th of January 2017 01:00:35 PM

Summary: Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them

TECHRIGHTS started in 2006 primarily as a campaigning site. Our first campaign was about patents and about Novell. We have since then never been funded or affiliated with anyone. We are not perfect, but nobody out there is able to claim that we’re compromised by some monetary interests. I actually left my job as a writer (for a large publisher) the following year, after I had experienced editorial censorship that impeded my freedom of expression and inevitably led to an unhealthy dose of self-censorship (could not quite criticise the advertisers/sponsors).

“We are not perfect, but nobody out there is able to claim that we’re compromised by some monetary interests.”It’s no secret that a lot of news sites are funded (salaried) by venture capitalists who want something in return (like selling of an agenda for some particular client/s, setup of ‘events’ for lobbying etc.) and sites of patent lawyers are all about shameless self-promotion (even IP Kat resorted to that). They’re not reader-funded and definitely not independent. In the case of sites like IP Watch, there seems to be relatively real independence; Patently-O, on the other hand, seems indebted or beholden to the funding sources of Crouch’s university and the drivers of his research. There is no true independence there. As for the UK-based IAM and MIP (Managing IP), just look where their subscribers and partners come from; they are both megaphones of the patent microcosm and occasionally the EPO‘s too. In Patent Docs, Donald Zuhn’s (Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP) choice of top patent stories for last year omits cases where software patents are rejected and instead focuses on the opposite, i.e. more of the usual. Also see MIP’s “Cases to look out for in 2017 – Japan and China” (it’s actually behind a paywall, so only the patent microcosm is likely to read it all). As we repeatedly said here before, a lot of the corporate media is still steered by the patent microcosm whenever it covers patent issues/news; it either quotes it extensively, consults it extensively (for supposed fact-checking), or simply hands over the platform to it (guest posts, occasional columns and so on).

Firmly established bias connected to the income sources (strings) cannot be dismissed, ignored or downplayed. It’s a crucial factor and it’s almost everywhere. Some sites, such as Wikileaks, rely on donations from the public ; media partners too provide a cushion. Here is how they present their list of media partners (past and present):

Not everyone out there likes Wikileaks. It is thoroughly demonised by corporate media which deems it “competition” and envies its breadth of sources, troves of material etc. In our view, in spite of the witch-hunt, Wikileaks has a lot of credibility because it provides original material with which to back its claims. We have operated similarly for over a decade, but never did we receive the same scale or magnitude of leaks.

Going back to patents, while we’re reading very closely a lot of sites that cover the topic, very few of them we can actually trust for objective assessment. Scepticism is sorely required. Whitewashing of software patents from The Economist came just days ago in an article about Blockchain. Reality evades the author [1, 2, 3], who appears to conflate patenting with “success” or good news. Also see today’s article from the Nigerian media, titled “Things Bitcoin Companies Try To Patent”. Here is how it starts (name-dropping big brands, which have had nothing to do with Bitcon’s inception or popularisation): “Amazon. AT&T. Bank of America. Goldman Sachs. IBM. JPMorgan. Mastercard. R3. Western Union. Verizon. These are just a few of the corporations which have filed blockchain-related patent applications worldwide. But, what about bitcoin-specific patent applications, not blockchain?”

“We previously highlighted the use of terms like “death squad” (PTAB), “kill” (invalidate), and “survive” (not invalidated) in relation to patents. These are the terms made up by the patent microcosm, which typically inverses the narrative of aggression.”All that they hope to accomplish here is protectionism and control over disruptive technology that they had nothing to do with in the first place. It’s like the strategy of buying one’s competitor, often idealogical competitor (like buying the “organic” or “generic” competitor so as to limit people’s ability to escape unethical monopolies).

The use of language sure can be misleading. We previously highlighted the use of terms like “death squad” (PTAB), “kill” (invalidate), and “survive” (not invalidated) in relation to patents. These are the terms made up by the patent microcosm, which typically inverses the narrative of aggression. The defendant magically becomes a “killer”, the aggressor becomes the victim, and scientists are basically a “death squad”. George Orwell would have loved it!

In IAM, in this recent self-promotion (we assumed it’s paid for), the word “damages” is chosen as a truth-inverting euphemism; when the party damaged is one that must pay a ‘fine’ (settlement) why must we accept the narrative when the plaintiff is the ‘poor baby’? Such is the inherent bias of IAM, where the “T” word (troll) is rarely used at all.

“Since virtually none of these agents and clients use encryption, and as mass surveillance has become so pervasive, privilege has become merely an illusion for them. It’s marketing.”Now, let’s turn our attention to some recent articles from Patently-O, which some people out there consider to be some sort of yardstick of objectivity because it’s supposedly “academic” or “scholarly” (not that it rules out financial strings or conditions for employment/grants). We wrote about this subject 6 years ago in “Subjective Subject Matter”. This one Patently-O post says that “the Federal Circuit has reversed — finding that the examiner did not have (or at least explain) a substantial ‘reason to believe’ that the prior art inherently taught the functional limitation of being configured to reach a bone.”

Prior art is key to rejection of patent applications (i.e. patent quality); the very fact that one would go as high as the Federal Circuit to dispute an examiner’s judgment is rather worrisome.

On another day, Patently-O called for help with a job. To quote: “I’m writing a paper on privilege (patent agent, and patent lawyers who are in-house but not licensed in the state they practice in). In the course of doing so , I’ve been reading these state statutes and also thinking about them. I compiled a list and thought I’d share it. The ABA’s first, since it compiles them, but many links are broken and so the correct ones follow. So, if you don’t see your state, go to the ABA site. If you see your state, use this link.”

Well, “privilege” alludes to privacy in this case. Since virtually none of these agents and clients use encryption, and as mass surveillance has become so pervasive, privilege has become merely an illusion for them. It’s marketing.

“Patent maximalism keeps them and their occupation relevant.”Patently-O also entertained the possibility of lack of loyalty, or a patent agent knowing something that constitutes a conflict of interest. To quote: “Suppose you’re representing a party to a lawsuit, and you have no conflicts, but you need to take discovery of a client, or a former client and the lawsuit is related to your work for your former client. While your representation of the party in the suit isn’t adverse, some courts hold that taking discovery is adverse, and so if it’s taken from a current client, that’s a conflict, and if taken from a former client, that’s adverse and can’t be done if the matter for the former client is “substantially related” to the discovery requests.”

It comes to show just how problematic this whole occupation might be. And let’s not forget that lawyers like to plagiarise legal documents or reuse their own, i.e. using the work done for a former client to make shortcuts in the next (templates, copy-paste and so on).

Last but not least, consider this PTAB article from Patently-O. “In this case,” it says, “the patentee ImmunoGen won its case before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) with a judgment that the challenged claims are not obvious. U.S. Patent No. 8,337,856 Phigenix appealed, but the court here has dismissed the case for lack of standing – holding that the challenger-appellant failed provide “sufficient proof establishing that it has suffered an injury in fact.””

We wrote about this on Sunday afternoon, noting that PTAB remains strong in enforcing patent quality — something which the patent microcosm sure likes to deny.

“The majority of sites provide some information or links to information, but their analysis tends to fall short because it’s basically marketing or lobbying wrapped up (or disguised) as “news”.”Today or last night, Patently-O highlighted a criticism of patent maximalism. It’s titled “Has the Academy Led Patent Law Astray?”

“In the article,” Patently-O says, “Barnett primarily focuses on the idea of a patent thicket and whether these patent thickets have inhibited downstream innovation. Barnett concludes: “Without a secure expectation of injunctive relief and compensatory damages, false prophecies of too many patents may result in too little innovation.” Of course this conclusion also rests upon weak empirical ground.””

We still get the impression that Patently-O opposes these views, based on what it has been writing over the past half a decade. It’s not hard to see the vested interests of the writers there. Patent maximalism keeps them and their occupation relevant.

One last example of bias comes from this new article, courtesy of a patent maximalism site, promoted by an advocate of software patents in Europe (he profits from it). It says that the “patent-eligibility jurisprudence under Section 101 and Alice is a model of inconsistency,” which is untrue. The author, Charles Bieneman (patent microcosm, obviously), is attempting to impose alternatives to Alice — those that would make software easier to patent. He basically does what David Kappos is now paid to do at the behest of companies like IBM and Microsoft.

We often sound negative and critical of many if not most things we cite. Well, when it comes to patents, it’s just so hard to find objective sources (there used to be Groklaw). The majority of sites provide some information or links to information, but their analysis tends to fall short because it’s basically marketing or lobbying wrapped up (or disguised) as “news”. Great caution is therefore imperative.

The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

Monday 16th of January 2017 11:43:09 AM

Related:

Summary: Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation

Published not too long ago was a sort of eulogy for patent trolls (“Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls”). They’re not doing too well. Some of the biggest ones even collapse or resort to massive layoffs. Not that these people ever produced anything anyway, other than threatening legal letters…

Today we deal with Technicolor (covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; it was close to Novell). Benjamin Henrion told me “lots of their boxes runs GPL code without publishing sources.” That’s a serious licence violation which highlights Technicolor’s hypocrisy.

Anyway, Europe’s lesser known patent troll (“licensing”) firm Technicolor is also dying or at least struggling, based on one of its fans, IAM ‘magazine’. To quote this Sunday’s report from IAM’s editor:

Technicolor CEO Frederic Rose has probably not had the best of weekends. On Thursday, the Paris-based entertainment technology company issued a warning that EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) for financial year 2016 is likely to come in at €565 million – significantly less than the €600 million to €635 million that had been anticipated at the end of the third quarter. The shortfall has been caused almost entirely by lower sales than expected of set top boxes in the company’s Connected Home division. On Friday the markets reacted with a sell-off: the company’s share price fell by close to 20%.

However, the news was not entirely bleak. While Technicolor as a whole has failed to deliver the results it was supposed to, its technology licensing operation had a spectacular year producing EBITDA of €190 million – a record amount and a truly noteworthy achievement given a slump in income from the MPEG LA patent pool. In Q4 alone, the patent licensing business – under the stewardship of chief IP officer Arvin Patel – generated revenues of more than $70 million, thanks in part to the conclusion of a series of new deals. That’s quite a performance, albeit one that was trailed at the end of Technicolor’s first half.

We recently saw claims that the EPO was operating loss of €145,000,000 — a claim we were never able to verify because we lack accounting expertise. But either way, if our interpretation of the above is correct, as “the company’s share price fell by close to 20%” we can expect a similar decline in employment (same in Intellectual Ventures, which fired 20% of its staff a couple of years ago). Technicolor is said to employ over 10,000 people (according to Wikipedia anyway), but having reinvented itself as somewhat of a troll, the company does not deserve to exist anymore. It’s a parasite and a burden on society, not just in Europe.

US Supreme Court Did Not End Apple’s Patent Disputes Over Android (Linux), More Cases Imminent

Monday 16th of January 2017 11:32:22 AM

Summary: An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility

SEVERAL days ago we became aware of “Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction against Samsung for infringing upon three software patents.”

This has been covered by quite a few Apple-leaning sites and mainstream news sites, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. This article by Dennis Crouch of Patently-O said:

In a one-paragraph order, the Federal Circuit has vacated its prior design patent damages determination in Samsung v. Apple following the Supreme Court’s 2016 reversal. The appeal is reinstated, and new briefs will now be filed. (Federal Circuit Docket No. 14-1335).

Apple’s design patents cover various ornamental designs applied to the iPhone and infringing Samsung Galaxy devices. Samsung was found to infringe because it “sells … [an] article of manufacture to which such design … has been applied.” 35 U.S.C. 289. The statute calls for for the infringer to be “liable to the owner [of the patent] to the extent of his total profits.” In its original decision, the Federal Circuit held that “total profits” referred to Samsung’s total profits on its infringing phones – i.e., total profits associated with the article of manufacture to which the design has been applied.

The US Supreme Court was recently mentioned in relation to other cases. It will take on patents of reasonably large companies. “Today,” Patently-O wrote last week, “the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two dueling petitions involving the Federal Circuit’s 2015 interpretation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009.”

This was also covered by Natalie Rahhal in New York. She said that the “dispute between Amgen and Sandoz over aspects of the so-called patent dance outlined in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act was granted cert by the US Supreme Court” (SCOTUS).

“If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?”Writing from New York, again in relation to a SCOTUS, “Natalie Rahhal analyses the arguments of the amicus briefs filed in Lee v Tam, ahead of oral arguments in the case involving disparaging trade marks at the US Supreme Court on January 18,” according to this from MIP. This is not about patents, but the oral argument is imminent (2 days from now).

Looking outside the US for high-profile cases, there is also this case of Fujifilm v AbbVie (UK), which several sites have covered this month [1, 2] because “[g]eneric companies can seek court declarations that their own products are old or obvious in patent law terms under certain circumstances, the England & Wales Court of Appeal has ruled,” to quote MIP.

In Canada, the Supreme Court might soon hear this case where AstraZeneca is attempting to block generics. To quote MIP again: “The court on November heard arguments in AstraZeneca Canada v Apotex. The case involves AstraZeneca Canada’s patent for Nexium (Esomeprazole), a pharmaceutical product used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. AstraZeneca attempted to block Apotex from bringing a generic drug to the market. The Federal Court found that the promised utility of Nexium had not been adequately proven at the time of filing. AstaZeneca appealed to the Supreme Court.”

“2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform.”Suffice to say, we support generic medicine. If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?

2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform. His policies and appointments tend to serve the richest people, not ill and poor people.

Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

Sunday 15th of January 2017 05:25:54 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • CC4 – Linux – A Brief Introduction

    Here I’ve given a speech concerning the topic of Linux, it’s benefits and where it stands today, with a little bit of history.

  • Some improbable 2017 predictions [Older, no longer behind paywall]

    Another important single point of failure is Android. It has brought a lot of freedom to the mobile device world, but it is still a company-controlled project that is not entirely free and, by some measures at least, is becoming less free over time. A shift of emphasis at Google could easily push Android more in the proprietary direction. Meanwhile, the end of CyanogenMod has, temporarily, brought about the loss of our most successful community-oriented Android derivative.

    The good news is that the efforts to bring vendor kernels closer to the mainline will bear some fruit this year, making it easier to run systems that, if not fully free, are more free than before. Lineage OS, rising from the ashes of CyanogenMod, should help to ensure the availability of alternative Android builds. But it seems likely that efforts to provide free software at the higher levels of the stack (microG, for example) will languish.

  • Desktop
    • Why I switched from OS X to GNU/Linux

      After I was done with my studies at the university I wanted to work for some company which worked with Open Source, I started at Pelagicore, where I still work. There we are creating custom Linux distributions for car manufacturers, we do UI work, we write Linux drivers, Linux middleware and so on. Because we work with Linux it is much more convinient to run Linux nativelly for developement too. At Pelagicore (almosc) all developers work on Linux desktops and laptops, I felt that I fit right in with my ThinkPad. And this was also why I used my iMac less and less, everybody around me was using Linux, it became cumbersome to do the overhead to get stuff running on the iMac which I already had running at work and on my laptop on Linux.

      I started with Ubuntu, but quite fast switched to Debian testing with Gnome 3 because I learned about how Canonical treats everyone, their users (the [Amazon problem (http://www.zdnet.com/article/shuttleworth-defends-ubuntu-linux-integrating-amazon/) with Unity Dash search results, problems with their Intellectual Property Policy, etc.) It also helped that there was Jeremiah, who evangalizes debian day in day out at work.

      In between I wanted to try out Arch Linux so I installed it on my ThinkPad, and man this was a performance boost, it felt like a new machine in comperison to Ubuntu. Nowadays I run Arch at work too. For stuff which doesn’t work, like some specific version of Yocto, I wrap it into a docker container with a Ubuntu image for compatibility.

    • Mintbox Mini Pro computer with Linux Mint now available for $395

      The Mintbox Mini Pro is a tiny desktop computer with a fanless design for silent operation, a low-power AMD processor, 8GB of RAM, 120GB of solid state storage, and Linux Mint 18 software pre-installed.

      It measures about 4.3″ x 3.3″ x 0,9″ and has a metal case made from zinc and aluminum.

      First introduced in September, the MintBox Mini Pro is now available for purchase for $395.

    • Librem 13 coreboot report – January 12, 2017

      Hello again Purists! I’ve made some progress on the coreboot port to the Librem 13 v1 hardware.

  • Server
    • Top 10 Linux Server Distributions of 2017

      You know that Linux is a hot data center server. You know it can save you money in licensing and maintenance costs. But that still leaves the question of what your best options are for Linux as a server operating system.

      We’ve researched, crunched the numbers and put dozens of Linux distros through their paces to compile our latest list of the top ten Linux server distributions (aka “Linux server distros”) — some of which you may not be aware.

      The following characteristics, in no particular order, qualified a Linux server distro for inclusion in this list: ease of installation and use, cost, available commercial support and data center reliability.

      Without further ado, here are the top 10 Linux server operating systems for 2017.

    • A Web Service Written in Pure Bash.

      The service itself is currently running on a Ubuntu 16.10 droplet on DigitalOcean. To expose my service I needed to open a connection with the outside world and initially played with netcat as it’s preinstalled on most *nix machines. This task wasn’t familiar to me at all, but I couldn’t read the incoming request and I couldn’t handle two users connecting at the same time. I explored inetd which lacked of documentation beyond the man page. Continuing with my research I found xinetd which is a more secure version of inetd. I also found a lot more sufficient documentation and user guides on creating a service. After installing xinetd I began building a primitive version of my pure bash service called beeroclock.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Deloitte Blockchain Lab Opens in NYC

      Here’s another sign that blockchain is becoming big business.

      Deloitte today announced the formation of a blockchain lab in the heart of New York City’s financial district in what the global audit and consultancy firm expects will be a “make or break” year the technology. The lab is home to more than 20 developers and designers and will work with Deloitte teams abroad as well as over a dozen of the company’s technology partners.

      Open now and dubbed the Americas Blockchain Lab at Deloitte, the new practice will help drive the development of blockchains solutions for financial services firms, from proofs of concepts to ready-to-integrate solutions, stated the company.

      “Financial institutions have the power and ability to move blockchain to the next level,” said Eric Piscini, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. “To get there, companies will need to move away from churning out proofs of concept and begin producing and implementing solutions.”

    • Graphics Stack
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Google Code-in draws to a close — students finish your final task by January 16, 2017 at 09:00 (PST)

        Mentors, you have until January 18, 2017 at 09:00 (PST) to evaluate your student’s work. Please get that done before the deadline, so that admins don’t have to judge the student work.

      • Mycroft Plasmoid for KDE Plasma 5
      • Plasma 5.9 Beta Kicks off 2017 in Style.

        Thursday, 12 January 2017. Today KDE releases the beta of this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we’ll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • The hype is great: WikiToLearn India Conf2017 is almost here!

        In less than two weeks WikiToLearn India Conf2017 is about to happen. We are extremely happy because this is the first big international event entirely dedicated to WikiToLearn. We have to thank the members of our community who are working hard to provide you this amazing event. For sure, the best thing about this conference is the great variety of speakers: Ruphy is flying from Italy to India to attend the conference and give a talk about WTL. For this event we have speakers lined up from Mediawiki, KDE and Mozilla Community. Several projects and ideas will meet at WTL India Conf2017 and this is simply amazing for us! The entire event will be recorded and videos will be uploaded online: you won’t miss any talk!

      • Fixing old stuff

        On FreeBSD, Qt4 is still a thing — for instance, for the KDE4 desktop that is still the latest full-KDE experience you can get from the official packages. And although that software is pretty old, the base system still evolves. FreeBSD 9 has been put to rest, and with it all the GCC-based FreeBSD systems. That frees us from having to deal with GCC and Clang at the same time, and we can generally patch things in just one way (usually towards more-modern C++). But the base system also evolves “out from under” older software. There’s an effort to update the base system compiler (for FreeBSD 12) to Clang 4.0 (sometime soon-ish), and that means that our older C++ code is being exposed to a newer, pickier, compiler.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Intro To Netrunner Desktop 17.01 GNU/Linux for Beginners

        This review of Netrunner Desktop 17.01 GNU/Linux is intended for end users and beginners. Netrunner is a desktop oriented operating system, ships with complete daily-usage desktop applications, and full multimedia codecs support. It means once the users install Netrunner they do not need to install anything anymore for all daily works. In this article you will find 12 points of review, download links, and some notes at the end. Enjoy it.

      • MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis – Winds of change

        MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis is a very decent distribution. It’s a small product, not very well known, and probably not your first home choice when it comes to Linux. But then, despite its humble upbringing, it does offer a powerful punch. You get all the goodies out of the box, and except for some Bluetooth issues and less-than-trivial customization, the slate is spotless. Music, phones, speed, battery life, fun, all there.

        Of course, the question is, can MX Linux sustain this record. If we look back, there were some rough patches, a bit of identity crisis, and the existential question of quality, the same journey that Xubuntu underwent. But then it kind of peaked and degraded some recently. Will MX Linux follow the same path? The last few years were good, with a steady, consistent improvement on all fronts. Then again, I thought Xubuntu was invincible, too.

        For the time being, predicting the future remains tricky. However, here and now, MX-16 is a great choice for a lightweight desktop. Xfce has come a long way, and you get all the essentials you expect from a home system. It’s all there, plus good looks, plus speed that rivals anything out there, among the best battery life numbers, great stability, and even some extra unique features like the live session save and MX Tools. A most worthy combo. All in all, 9.5/10. Warmly recommended for testing and sampling.

    • New Releases
      • Devil-Linux 1.8.0-rc2 released

        Devil-Linux 1.8.0-rc2 has been released! This is a major overhaul of Devil-Linux. Most programs and libraries have been updated and unmaintained ones have been removed. The main file system has been switched to squashfs, to further reduce the iso size. See the changelog for additional details.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Week 2017/02

        I hope you all ended up well fed and healthy in the new year. For the last few weeks we have seen quite a slow pace for Tumbleweed, just as pre-announced in my last review of the year 2016. We can surely expect an increased pace again as people from all around the world resume their regular life rhythms. For completeness sake I will cover in this weeks’ review not only this week, but also the few snapshots since my last review. That means, we cover 8 snapshots: from 2016: 1216, 1217, 1219, 1222 and 1226 and from 2017: 0104, 0109 and 0110. Sadly, 0111 and 0112 ran into some issues on openQA – but the issues are to most parts in the testing framework, not the product (from what we know). But not being able to fully confirm it, I did not feel comfortable releasing them into the wild onto you. After all, I know some of you are still having issues with the kernel 4.9 series (but good new on that part is on the horizon). 0112 might still cut it, if we solve the openQA issues in time.

      • Forget Ubuntu, now OpenSuse Linux comes to Windows 10

        If you have been following Techworm, you will know that you can run Ubuntu Apps on Windows using Bash. Microsoft brought the fun and power of Linux to Windows 10 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This allowed the Windows 10 users to run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows 10 and enjoy Ubuntu Apps without having to install the Ubuntu distro separately.

      • You can now install SUSE Linux distribution inside WSL on Windows 10
      • It’s Now Possible to Use openSUSE Inside Windows 10, Here’s How to Install It
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Updated Debian 8: 8.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 8 (codename “jessie”). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

        Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 8 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “jessie” CDs or DVDs but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated.

      • Debian 8.7 Jessie Released
      • Debian 8.7 released

        This update adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with adjustments for serious problems.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Released

        The Debian Project has released the seventh update of Debian 8 Jessie. This release ships with tons of security updates, bug fixes, and updated packages. The existing users of Debian 8 need to point the apt package tool to one of the updated Debian mirrors and get the update. The new installation media and ISO images are yet to be published.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Released With New Features and 85 Security Updates
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • TedPage: The Case for Ubuntu Phone

            What I find most interesting thing about this discussion is that it is the original reason that Google bought Android. They were concerned that with Apple controlling the smartphone market they’d be in a position to damage Google’s ability to compete in services. They were right. But instead of opening it up to competition (a competition that certainly at the time and even today they’re likely to win) they decided to lock down Android with their own services. So now we see in places like China where Google services are limited there is no way for Android to win, only forks that use a different set of integrations. One has to wonder if Ubuntu Phone existed earlier whether Google would have bought Android, while Ubuntu Phone competes with Android it doesn’t pose any threat to Google’s core businesses.

            It is always a failure to try and convince people to change their patterns and devices just for the sake of change. Early adopters are people who enjoy that, but not the majority of people. This means that we need to be an order of magnitude better, which is a pretty high bar to set, but one I enjoy working towards. I think that Ubuntu Phone has the fundamental DNA to win in this race.

          • new Ubuntu Terminal snap – tabs and tiled view on Ubuntu 16.04 Unity 8
          • The Case for Ubuntu Phone: Flexibility for Mobile Networks

            Canonical engineer Ted Gould has put the case for Ubuntu Phone, arguing that mobile carriers will appreciate the ‘flexibility’ to bundle apps and services.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Baidu released artificial intelligence operating system DuerOS

    At this year’s CES show, Baidu released its artificial intelligence operating system system DuerOS, also announced at home with small fish to reach cooperation, small fish at home is the first equipped with Baidu DuerOS artificial intelligence manufacturers. Baidu said that this is the first time the introduction of dialogue type artificial intelligence operating system, Baidu is an important strategic product of artificial intelligence. DuerOS emphasizes the interactive nature of voice conversations through natural language. At the same time with the cloud of the brain, can always learn evolution, become more intelligent.

  • Intel Open-Sources BigDL, Distributed Deep Learning Library for Apache Spark

    Intel open-sources BigDL, a distributed deep learning library that runs on Apache Spark. It leverages existing Spark clusters to run deep learning computations and simplifies the data loading from big datasets stored in Hadoop.

    Tests show a significant speedup performance running on Xeon servers compared to other open source frameworks Caffe, Torch or TensorFlow. The speed is comparable with a mainstream GPU and BigDL is able to scale to tens of Xeon servers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • New Port for RISC-V

      We’d like to submit for inclusion in GCC a port for the RISC-V architecture. The port suffices to build a substantial body of software (including Linux and some 2,000 Fedora packages) and passes most of the gcc and g++ test suites; so, while it is doubtlessly not complete, we think it is far enough along to start the upstreaming process. It is our understanding that it is OK to submit this port during stage 3 because it does not touch any shared code. Our binutils port has already been accepted for the 2.28 release, and we plan on submitting glibc and Linux patch sets soon.

    • [Older] Twenty-four new GNU releases in December
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Getting Election Data, and Why Open Data is Important

        Back in 2012, I got interested in fiddling around with election data as a way to learn about data analysis in Python. So I went searching for results data on the presidential election. And got a surprise: it wasn’t available anywhere in the US. After many hours of searching, the only source I ever found was at the UK newspaper, The Guardian.

        Surely in 2016, we’re better off, right? But when I went looking, I found otherwise. There’s still no official source for US election results data; there isn’t even a source as reliable as The Guardian this time.

        You might think Data.gov would be the place to go for official election results, but no: searching for 2016 election on Data.gov yields nothing remotely useful.

        The Federal Election Commission has an election results page, but it only goes up to 2014 and only includes the Senate and House, not presidential elections. Archives.gov has popular vote totals for the 2012 election but not the current one. Maybe in four years, they’ll have some data.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
Leftovers
  • New evidence: Was DB Cooper a Boeing employee?

    A band of amateur scientists selected by the Seattle FBI to look for clues in the world’s most infamous skyjacking may have found new evidence in the 45-year-old case.

    They’re asking for the public’s help because of new, potential leads that could link DB Cooper to the Puget Sound aerospace industry in the early 1970s.

    The scientific team has been analyzing particles removed from the clip-on tie left behind by Cooper after he hijacked a Northwest Orient passenger jet in November 1971.

    A powerful electron microscope located more than 100,000 particles on old the JCPenny tie. The team has identified particles like Cerium, Strontium Sulfide, and pure titanium.

  • If you don’t finish then you’re just busy, not productive

    I find this message extremely compelling, because I frequently find myself starting new programming projects in my spare time. In a lot of ways they are not a waste – I definitely learn a lot from these projects and gain a new skill.

  • Hardware
    • AMD Set to Launch Ryzen Before March 3rd, Meeting Q1 Target

      Then again, the launch could easily be anytime during February – this March 3rd date only really puts an end-point on the potential range. AMD has stated many times, as far back as August, that Q1 is the intended date for launch to consumers in volume. When we spoke with AMD at CES, nothing was set in stone so to speak, especially clock speeds and pricing, but we are expecting a full launch, not just something official on paper. Ryan will be at GDC to cover this exact talk, and I’ll be at MWC covering that event. Either way, we want to make sure that we are front of the queue when it comes time to disclosing as much information as we can get our hands on ahead of time.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Thirteen Dems Join GOP to Kill Sanders Resolution on Canadian Drug Imports

      Twelve Republicans and thirteen Democrats crossed party lines in a 52-46 vote against prodding Congress toward examining the allowance of pharmaceutical imports from Canada.

      The non-binding resolution failed last night amid a series of regular procedural considerations–a so-called “vote-a-rama.” Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sponsored the measure.

      The move was a blow for those seeking to ensure access to healthcare, as the Senate also approved of a resolution orienting Congress toward a repeal of Obamacare, in a 51-48 vote.

      Notable Democratic defections on the Canada vote included Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Senate health committee, and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a rumored 2020 presidential contender.

    • Dow Chemical Wants Farmers to Keep Using a Pesticide Linked to Autism and ADHD

      On Mondays, Magda and Amilcar Galindo take their daughter Eva to self-defense class. Eva is 12 but her trusting smile and arching pigtails make her look younger. Diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, Eva doesn’t learn or behave like the typical 12-year-old. She struggles to make change, and she needs help with reading and social situations. Eva’s classmates are sometimes unkind to her, and Magda worries for her daughter’s feelings and her safety. So once a week, after they drive her from her middle school in Modesto, California, to her tutor in nearby Riverbank, the Galindos rush off to the gym where they cheer Eva on as she wrestles with a heavy bag and punches the air with her skinny arms.

    • Even Without an Agriculture Secretary, Trump’s Cabinet Says Plenty about Food and Water Plans

      It’s official. This week’s Veterans Affairs nomination leaves the Trump administration’s Secretary of Agriculture position as the last cabinet slot to be filled. With his inauguration just 7 days away, the president-elect still hasn’t announced his pick for this vital position that touches every American’s life at least three times a day.

      But while we wait (and wait, and wait) to see who will run the department that shapes our nation’s food and farm system, it may be instructive to take a look at what some of his other personnel choices say about his intentions in this realm. And particularly, what the Trump team could mean for two of our most basic human needs—food and water.

      First, food. On the whole, today’s US agriculture system is skewed to production of commodity crops—chiefly corn and soybeans—the bulk of which become biofuel components, livestock feed, and processed food ingredients. That said, over the last 8 years we’ve seen increased emphasis, from the White House and the USDA, on healthy eating, local food systems, and the like.

    • Donald Trump’s Plan for Our Water is Just as Bad as You’d Imagine

      During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to use his first 100 days in office to implement plans to overhaul our nation’s aging roads, bridges, ports and yes—water systems.

      This sounds great on paper. Infrastructure systems form the backbone of our nation, and when they fall apart society follows. So, while modernizing these systems is laudable, the devil is in the details. In reality, Trump’s plan for repairing our nation’s water systems would be an absolute disaster for just about everyone—except of course, water corporations and Wall Street investors.

      In fact, some of the same players that brought down our nation’s housing market are poised to repeat the same mistakes—but this time, with our water.

    • GOP House Takes Next Step Toward Taking Healthcare Away From Millions

      With a vote largely along party lines, the U.S. House on Friday pushed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, one step closer to death.

      Ahead of the 227-198 vote (roll call here), GOP House leaders expressed confidence that their chamber would pass a budget resolution paving the way for ACA repeal, “despite lingering wariness from the rank-and-file about proceeding without a plan to replace the health law,” as Politico reported. The Senate passed its version of the resolution in the wee hours of Thursday.

    • Obamacare Repeal = $7 Million Tax Cut for Nation’s Richest 400 People

      Repealing Obamacare, which Republicans on Friday appear closer to doing, would deliver a sizeable tax cut for the rich, a new report shows.

      Released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the publication shows that the repeal would give to each of the top 400 highest-income taxpayers—who averaged incomes of roughly $318 million in 2014—a tax cut of about $7 million a year.

      That’s because getting rid of the healthcare law would mean getting rid of its two Medicare taxes, which are paid for by individuals with incomes above $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000. One is a 3.8 percent Medicare tax that hits their unearned income (like capital gains) above those thresholds, while the other is additional 0.9 percent tax on earned income above those thresholds.

  • Security
    • Microsoft Says Windows 7 Has Outdated Security, Wants You to Move to Windows 10 [Ed: all versions are insecure BY DESIGN]

      Windows 10 is now running on more than 20 percent of the world’s desktop computers, and yet, Microsoft’s bigger challenge isn’t necessarily to boost the market share of its latest operating system, but to convince those on Windows 7 to upgrade.

    • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Officially Released, Includes over 85 Security Updates

      If you’re using Debian Stable (a.k.a. Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie”), it’s time to update it now. Why? Because Debian Project launched a new release, Debian GNU/Linux 8.7, which includes over 170 bug fixes and security updates.

    • CVS: cvs.openbsd.org: src

      Disable and lock Silicon Debug feature on modern Intel CPUs

    • How we secure our infrastructure: a white paper

      Trust in the cloud is paramount to any business who is thinking about using it to power their critical applications, deliver new customer experiences and house their most sensitive data. Today, we’re issuing a white paper by our security team that details how security is designed into our infrastructure from the ground up.

      Google Cloud’s global infrastructure provides security through the entire information processing lifecycle.This infrastructure provides secure deployment of services, secure storage of data with end-user privacy safeguards, secure communications between services, secure and private communication with customers over the internet and safe operation by administrators.

    • Google Infrastructure Security Design Overview [Ed: Google banned Windows internally]

      The content contained herein is correct as of January 2017, and represents the status quo as of the time it was written. Google’s security policies and systems may change going forward, as we continually improve protection for our customers.

    • Security Through Transparency

      Encryption is a foundational technology for the web. We’ve spent a lot of time working through the intricacies of making encrypted apps easy to use and in the process, realized that a generic, secure way to discover a recipient’s public keys for addressing messages correctly is important. Not only would such a thing be beneficial across many applications, but nothing like this exists as a generic technology.

    • Patch your FreeBSD server for openssh vulnerabilities [11/Jan/2017]
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump must expose Obama-era power grabs: Column

      President-elect Donald Trump will face pervasive doubts about his legitimacy from the day he takes office. His opponents will likely portray him as governing in unprecedented and reckless ways. The best response to such charges is to open the books and expose how the Obama administration commandeered far more power than most Americans realized.

      Trump should follow the excellent precedent set by President Obama. In 2009, shortly after he took office, Obama released many of the secret Bush administration legal memos that explained why the president was supposedly entitled to order torture, deploy troops in American towns and cities, and ignore the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless, unreasonable searches. The disclosures signaled a new era in Washington and helped give Obama a reputation as a champion of civil liberties.

    • So How’s That Coalition Thing Working Out in Afghanistan?

      Short Answer: It’s been 15+ years of coalition and the Taliban are still there, the Afghan government in Kabul is even more corrupt, and most of Afghanistan is as economically decrepit as ever.

      A report, “Lessons From the Coalition,” emerged from a conference co-hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (yes, we have one, it is part of the State Department and doesn’t do much but organize events in Washington.) The conference brought together representatives from eleven major donor nations, the EU, UN, World Bank, and NATO to share common experiences and lessons from the Afghan reconstruction effort.

    • GOP introduces new gun silencer law

      Three GOP lawmakers introduced a new law that will make gun silencers easier to buy.

    • The Silence Of The Politicians

      I don’t doubt Trump would sign this into law. He likes breaking things and learning from the results. The first terrorist in a mass-shooting to use a silencer might change his mind but at what cost? How many more bodies do there have to be before USA brings in reasonable controls for access to firearms? It’s one thing to say good citizens have the right to firearms. It’s quite another to hold that murdering bad guys should have the same rights. Then there’s the problem of sorting out the good guys from the murdering bad guys. No, religion or skin-colour or address won’t do it…

    • A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states

      The British nuclear force is not one of the larger ones, certainly in comparison with the United States and Russia. However, it still has 100-200 thermonuclear warheads, with just one of its Trident submarines capable of launching sixteen missiles, each with three warheads. The actual numbers may be lower than this in routine deployments, but a submarine ordered to fire could certainly ripple-fire over thirty warheads to different targets within half an hour. Typical missile flight times of less than half an hour mean that the destruction could all be achieved in just double that period (see: “Britain’s nuclear-weapons future: no done deal,” 21 July 2016).

    • Who’s Afraid of a Naked Emperor?

      Today, we have Russophobia. Smart, respectable people make fun of Russian people as if it’s a duty, a slight bow to the establishment just to make sure that they belong and are being obedient. The President of the United States says upfront that Russia is weak, small and no one wants anything from them except for oil, gas and arms, and so on.

    • Chelsea Manning Should Not Die in Prison

      On Wednesday, NBC News reported that President Obama had placed Chelsea Manning on a “short list” of individuals to whom he is considering granting clemency.

      Sentenced to serve 35 years in prison for disclosing information to the news media in 2010, Chelsea has spent almost seven years in custody — a term of incarceration already longer than any individual has ever served for comparable charges in United States history. Now, without action by President Obama before he leaves office and with nearly three decades left on her sentence, Chelsea is unlikely to survive to see her freedom.

      In the past six months alone, Chelsea has twice attempted suicide. After she first tried to end her life in July of last year, the military responded by bringing administrative charges against her for attempting suicide and then unexpectedly throwing her into solitary confinement before she was able to appeal those charges. A particularly cruel response to her despair, the punishment destabilized her just as she was beginning to recover. In solitary, she attempted suicide a second time.

    • Chelsea Manning and the Arab Spring

      What we call the Arab Spring was the result of many seemingly small things, butterfly effects. One of them was a courageous woman named Chelsea Manning. If the U.S. will take 35 years from Chelsea Manning’s life, may it console her that she has given us, Arabs, the secret gift that helped expose and topple 50 years of dictatorships.

      For me, it all started in mid-October of 2010, with a direct message on Twitter from a good friend of mine. He belonged to a circle of digital activists with whom I worked closely with for years on many advocacy projects in the Arab World, from anti-censorship strategies and campaigns to building and training non-violent protests movements. In that DM he urgently asked me to speak over encryption with him. After one single OTR chat session, he sent me an encrypted zip file containing a trove of around 400 texts files organized in about 15 folders. All the folders were named after Arab countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain, etc. I didn’t know what was in them. He told me just before ending the chat session: do something with them, I trust you and trust your knowledge and judgment.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Why I Got Kicked Out of Whole Foods …. Again

      It may surprise consumers that each of these facts are true of chickens in cage free farms, despite aggressive marketing of their eggs as humane. Companies that sell cage free eggs are able to charge more, although these eggs are less costly to produce. It’s time to stop the fraudulent marketing and constant search for a right way to do the wrong thing. Chickens, fish, cows, and pigs are all sentient animals who exhibit signs of pain, joy, and complex social relationships. The humane alternative to conventional eggs isn’t cage free, pasture raised, or any new label for exploitation.

    • We can learn so much from nature

      A French company, Colas, is working with the French National Institute for Solar Energy to test its Wattway technology under various conditions, with a goal of covering 1,000 kilometres of existing highway with thin, durable, skid-resistant crystalline silicon solar panel surfacing over the next four years. They estimate that could provide electricity for five million people. Although critics have raised questions about cost and feasibility, it’s not pie-in-the-sky. The technology is being tested and employed throughout the world.

      Rooftops are another place to generate power using existing infrastructure. Elon Musk’s company Tesla is making shingles that double as solar panels. Although they cost more than conventional asphalt shingles, they’re comparable in price to higher-end roof tiles, and can save money when you factor in the power they generate.

    • EPA Pick Pruitt’s “Radical Record” and Abundant Conflicts Probed by Senate Dems

      As Common Dreams and others have reported, Pruitt spent his time as Oklahoma attorney general launching multiple legal attacks against the EPA and its efforts to protect the environment and public health. Now, the Democrats on the Environment and Public Works committee want to know how the EPA will ensure that Pruitt is recused from involvement in those cases.

    • EPA Acknowledges Neonics’ Harm to Bees, Then ‘Bows to Pesticide Industry’

      The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday published two bee-related announcements, but with both, say environmental groups, the agency has failed the pollinators.

      One was its “Policy to Mitigate the Acute Risk to Bees from Pesticide Products.” It states that the “policy is not a regulation or an order and, therefore, does not legally compel changes to pesticide product registrations.”

      The other release was a set of draft risk assessments for three neonicotinoids, or “neonics.” They are the most widely used class of insecticides, and they have been linked to bee harm. The new assessments were for clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, and an updated assessment on another, imidacloprid, was also included.

      Those assessments, according to Paul Towers, policy advocate and spokesperson for Pesticide Action Network, “are full of gaps and continue to ignore many of the most significant threats from neonicotinoids, particularly when they’re used as seed coatings on common crops,” their most frequent use.

  • Finance
    • Moody’s pays $864 million to U.S., states over pre-crisis ratings

      Moody’s Corp has agreed to pay nearly $864 million to settle with U.S. federal and state authorities over its ratings of risky mortgage securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday.

      The credit rating agency reached the deal with the Justice Department, 21 states and the District of Columbia, resolving allegations that the firm contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the department said in a statement.

      “Moody’s failed to adhere to its own credit-rating standards and fell short on its pledge of transparency in the run-up to the Great Recession,” Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer said in the statement.

    • Apple accused of App Store price-fixing in new lawsuit

      Apple is once again heading to court. However, the company won’t be arguing over patents for a change, instead Apple will need to fight off allegations of price-fixing in the iOS App Store as part of a new anti-trust lawsuit. This isn’t the first time Apple has been brought up on anti-trust charges either, the company was previously found to have been complicit in eBook price fixing, which ended with the company being fined £315 million.

    • Do You Make Less Than $47,500 a Year? Help Us Investigate Overtime Pay.
    • How Trump Could Kill a Plan to Get You Overtime Pay

      Donald Trump ran for president as the billionaire who would champion working people.

      As the president-elect put it in one of the major economic speeches of his campaign: “Too many of our leaders have forgotten that it’s their duty to protect the jobs, wages and well-being of American workers before any other consideration.”

      One of the first tests of Trump’s pledge to help workers will come in how his administration handles the complicated rules that govern who has the right to time-and-a-half overtime pay.

    • Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’?

      Education, which was hardly ever mentioned in the recent presidential election, has suddenly been thrust to the frontline in the increasingly heated conflict over President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposed cabinet appointees. The reason for that turn of events is his choice of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Her nomination risks “reigniting the education wars,” according to Randi Weingarten, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers union.

      Weingarten stated that warning in an address this week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and broadcast live on the AFT Facebook page.

      The union leader joins a chorus of education leaders and activists, as well as Democratic party government officials on Capitol Hill, in calls to delay the hearing for DeVos until after government ethics officials have finished their review of DeVos’ numerous ties to financial and charitable interests. After these calls for delay, the confirmation hearing was indeed postponed for a week.

      But what education wars?

    • There Are Moral Imperatives to Fighting Inequality: Correa

      In a wide-ranging interview with teleSUR, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa highlighted the historic achievements of his government.

      On the occasion of assuming the chairmanship of the G77 on Friday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa spoke with teleSUR’s Abby Martin about the disaster of neoliberal policies in Latin America and the historic achievements of his model of 21st-century socialism.

    • Does Betsy DeVos Understand the Impact of Poverty and Trauma on Children’s Learning?

      Educators who look at learning from a developmental perspective know that the trauma and toxic stress associated with poverty can seriously interfere with a child’s brain development and inhibit learning. Children who have been overwhelmed by stress or exposure to violence, and experience lack of security frequently have difficulty controlling impulsive behavior and focusing their attention on tasks at school. While these behaviors are disruptive in classrooms – they are devastating to the children themselves.

      We understand neurobiological changes that are created by childhood trauma and toxic stress – these are changes in the emotional brain circuits that enable us to respond to crises, fear and threats. Children’s brains can be hijacked by emotions and deeply fearful responses to perceived threats. This reaction gives them less access to brain areas that support memory, focused attention, organizing information, and building positive relationships. We call these executive functions – and they are essential for learning.

    • Who killed bourgeois democracy in Europe?

      When a system calls itself democracy, but forces increasing parts of the demos (people) to live under poverty, its own central concept gradually becomes hollow.

    • Hammond threatens EU with aggressive tax changes after Brexit

      The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has suggested Britain could transform its economic model into that of a corporate tax haven if the EU fails to provide it with an agreement on market access after Brexit.

      In an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Hammond said if Britain were left closed off from European markets after leaving the EU, it would consider abandoning a European-style social model, with “European-style taxation systems [and] European-style regulation systems”, and “become something different”.

    • Michael Hudson: Donald Trump Wants to Make the 1% Even Richer
    • Resisting the Trumpublican Shock Doctrine Blitzkrieg

      The Trumpublicans are intent on manipulating the shock of Donald Trump’s victory to roll back much of the New Deal and Great Society; ram through unvetted Cabinet appointments intent on undermining the legal mandate of the very Departments they are charged with leading; legitimize unprecedented conflicts of interest; and intimidate opponents, professional civil servants, and the press, in a rapid Blitzkrieg, before the opposition even knows what hit them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Yertle, the Commander-in-Chief

      Dr. Seuss taught me to read. My older brother brought Seuss books home to me from the local public library because I was too young to have a library card of my own.

      The Cat in the Hat, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Horton Hears a Who! — all, for better or worse, played a role in my early childhood development, a phase from which I have yet to emerge, but never mind. Yet as I watched Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday morning, a performance reminiscent of PT Barnum — if Barnum suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder, congenital petulance and anger management issues — I was reminded of a different Dr. Seuss masterwork…

      [...]

      Whatever the case, the point of Yertle and Mack’s tale is simple: Protest can topple a tyrant. Sometimes it has to be loud and rude. Next weekend, around the events of the inauguration, thousands and thousands will march and voices will be raised. Let these be just the beginning.

    • Outrage After Trump Insults Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

      On the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., President-elect Donald Trump trashed civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), after Lewis said he would not attend next week’s inauguration ceremony.

      The Georgia lawmaker—who has served in Congress since 1987; is the last living speaker of the 1963 March on Washington; and was severely beaten after leading civil rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965—told NBC News on Friday that he does not plan to attend Trump’s inauguration.

      “It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress,” Lewis said. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.” Lewis is one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers who have announced this week that they’ll be skipping the ceremony.

    • It Can Happen Here

      On November 8 the rise of a right-wing nationalist regime in the United States became a realistic possibility, if not now then in the coming years. Such regimes stress nationalist and patriotic themes, play upon and intensify fear of minority ethnicities and/or religions and/or other long-oppressed groups, promise to resolve festering economic problems of ordinary people, and direct the blame for such problems at a convenient scapegoat such as foreigners or immigrants rather than the real causes. Such regimes, if consolidated, invariably restrict long-established individual rights and introduce, or intensify, the use of extra-legal violent methods at home and abroad. This possibility has sent shock waves throughout U.S. society, including in the long-ruling establishment, creating a sense of chaos in which it seems anything can happen.

      The greatest danger is the political coalition that emerged on November 8. Such coalitions have underpinned right-wing nationalist regimes in the past. It is made up of traditional right-wing constituencies suddenly combined with significant parts of the working class. Such a political base, held together by the above themes and promises, can enable a right-wing nationalist regime to emerge in a democratic capitalist system even without the upstart demagogic leader winning an absolute majority.

    • GOP Leader Threatens to Subpoena Ethics Chief Who Called Out Trump Conflicts

      Instead of investigating concerns that President-elect Donald Trump will come to power with numerous conflicts of interest, the Republican head of the House Oversight Committee is now threatening the government ethics monitor who called them out.

      Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent a letter (pdf) to Walter Shaub, head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), admonishing him for “blurring the lines between public relations and official ethics guidance,” citing a series of OGE tweets encouraging President-elect to commit to “full divestiture” of his business holdings (which he has refused to do.)

      In the letter, Chaffetz warns Shaub that the OGE’s operations are being examined by the committee and then demands that he make himself available “for a transcribed interview with the Committee staff as soon as possible, but not later than January 31, 2017.”

    • Why Bernie Sanders Came Up Short—and How That Lesson Can Fuel Future Progressive Victories [Ed: Misses the point that -- as Podesta E-mails and DNC leaks made VERY clear -- Clinton and DNC sabotaged Sanders]

      Bernie began the race fairly late in the game, with 3 percent name recognition, no money, and all kinds of baggage that pundits believed would disqualify him out of hand. By the time the Iowa primary came, Bernie was surging in the national polls. He went on to win twenty-two states and received an astonishing 46 percent of the pledged delegates for the nomination.

    • Five Ways Trump’s “News Conference” Wasn’t a News Conference

      Tyrants don’t allow open questioning, and they hate the free press. They want total control. That’s why Trump’s so-called “news conference” on December 11 – the first he’s held in six months – wasn’t really a news conference at all.

    • Donald Trump’s Fake News Conference

      The media waited with bated breath for Donald Trump’s first news conference in 167 days. But I’m sure many journalists knew what was coming: a show, orchestrated by The Apprentice executive director so as to reveal precisely nothing but used instead to revile his critics. Vladimir Putin couldn’t have done better.

      Trump was true to form, and character: He spent very little time answering (actually avoiding) questions, he brought along a small crowd of flatterers to applaud his lines, he had three people (his communications spokesman, his vice president-elect, and his tax lawyer) stand in to defend him, and he bragged about how many jobs he will create and how he had turned down a $2 billion business opportunity with Dubai.

      [...]

      Trump also tried to preempt further discussion of his financial conflicts of interest by putting the Trump Organization in the hands of his two sons. As various ethics specialists in and out of government have pointed out, that decision is no solution. As one of them said, Trump will be in violation of the Constitution on the day he takes office. He actually had the audacity to say that he has every right to run both his organization and the presidency—implying that we should be grateful for his choice not to do so, as though we don’t already know that he has every intention to remain in charge of his empire. He again refused to release his tax returns, saying that only the press wants him to do so. Trump’s attitude is clear: I’m the president and I’ll do what I want; try to stop me.

    • Meet Mike Pompeo, the Far-Right Christian Zealot Who Will Lead Trump’s CIA

      Pompeo is a deeply conservative evangelical Christian who has said, “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” He believes politics is “a never-ending struggle . . . until the rapture.”

      He does not sound like the type of person one normally associates with the intelligence community. But this is Trump’s administration, and Trump has promised to shake things up. An apocalyptic Islamophobic fanatic at the head of CIA will no doubt bring change to the agency.

      [...]

      Trump has also declared that his presidential orders to torture suspected terrorists would not be refused by those under him. When told that torture is illegal, he simply said he would change the law because we “have to get tougher.”

      Pompeo surprised the committee when he said he would not comply with an order to torture and that he couldn’t imagine that Trump would ask him to do it. He insisted he would always comply with the law. Of course, he also has said the Bush administration’s torture regime was legal, so that’s not entirely reassuring. Still, Pompeo’s testimony was widely interpreted as distancing him from Trump’s stated position.

    • Trump and the Dangers of Secret Law

      President-elect Trump has disdained the rule of law when it comes to national security, vowing to reinstitute torture and suggesting that the military should target terrorists’ families. In response, President Obama recently released a report describing the legal and policy framework for United States military operations. The idea is simple: If the rules are made public, it will be easier to hold the Trump administration accountable for violations—or to spot when the rules have changed.

      Obama is undoubtedly correct in calculating that legal transparency will help safeguard the rule of law. But his initiative begs the question: why stop at military operations?

      Since the attacks of 9/11, every area of national security policy has increasingly been regulated by secret law. For instance, much of the authority to conduct mass surveillance, and the limits that apply, are set forth in classified orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or “FISA Court”). In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that this court had secretly interpreted the Patriot Act to allow the collection of nearly every American’s phone records.

    • Obama’s Farewell

      OK. See you at the country club, buddy, after your lunch with Penny Pritzger, the Chicago Hilton Hotels billionairess, who put you in office back when in 2008.

      And now America changes one real estate wheeler-dealer for another, this time one who takes the direct reins of government. And he’s Obama’s legacy as well….

    • Bringing Trump Nation Down to Size

      Exit polls show that 25 percent of Trump voters expressed the view that their candidate was not fit to be president, which lowers Trump’s unqualified support to 20 percent of the electorate. Which is on the high side, when you consider those who think he’s disgusting or dishonest or both but voted for him anyway.

    • Unicorns, Gnomes, and Plea to the Press on Covering Trump

      The story of the appalling press conference of January 11 needs to be the story of the lies that were told, the status of the very real and legitimate questions that the reporters asked but which were not answered, and the insistence on the importance of getting answers to those real questions.

      We need to stay grounded in our shared and dangerous reality, and not get sucked into an analysis of the illusions created by a master illusionist.

    • Bracing for Trump, Protests Commence in Nation’s Capital and Beyond

      “The Trump team has already announced that some of their first acts of brutality will be to lash out against immigrants and Muslims,” organizers wrote in a call to action. “Their aim is to deport millions of immigrants, rip millions of families apart, and drive tens of millions of immigrants, refugees, and their families and friends into silence out of fear.”

      “We are committed to standing up for an America which values all people,” they continued. “Just one week before Donald Trump’s inauguration we will stand up to say yes to community, love for one another, shared strength, and human dignity. It is time for us to link arms and stand as a line of defense against Donald Trump’s promised reign of terror.”

    • Who’s the Real Manipulator of Elections?

      In berating Russia for alleged interference in the recent U.S. election, the U.S. intelligence community ignores the extensive U.S. role in manipulating political movements around the globe, observes Jonathan Marshall.

    • The Scheme to Take Down Trump

      Is a military coup in the works? Or are U.S. intelligence agencies laying the political groundwork for forcing Donald Trump from the presidency because they can’t abide his rejection of a new cold war with Russia? Not long ago, even asking such questions would have marked one as the sort of paranoid nut who believes that lizard people run the government. But no longer.

    • What’s Propaganda Got To Do With It?

      Amid the “fake news” controversies in the aftermath of the 2016 United States Presidential election, the notion of propaganda surged back into popular consciousness. Across the political spectrum, online conversations about propaganda bloomed like a thousand flowers of media anxiety.

      For example, shortly after the election, futurist Alex Steffen garnered thousands of retweets and likes with a tweet that declared, “Fake news is propaganda. The powerful demanding apologies from artists is censorship. Business dealings while in office are corruption.” To underscore the anti-authoritarian thrust of the message, a follow-up Medium post featured an image of 1984 author (and dedicated democratic socialist) George Orwell, invoking the thought-limiting qualities of that novel’s Newspeak. Although Steffen did not name the President-Elect in his short text, the post is tagged, “Donald Trump.”

    • Trump, Russia, and the Return of Scapegoating, a Timeless American Tradition

      Now that the intelligence chiefs’ report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is available in expurgated form—and we have no reason to assume the classified version is any more substantial than the rubbish made public last Friday—it is time to do that most difficult thing: step back and take a cold, hard look at ourselves. What we find, to put my conclusion first, is that most of us will do more or less anything just now to avoid taking a cold, hard look at ourselves and what it is we are up to.

      This is commonly done by way of scapegoating. The Russian case is extreme, but it must not be seen in isolation.

      It is true that Americans today are a divided people in many respects. But let’s not make too much of this, for we display a striking unity in our tendency to blame others for our difficulties, shortcomings, and failures, of which there are unusually many at this moment—every one our own doing. It is tempting to anatomize our current outburst of scapegoating according to political persuasion—which party abuses whom—but this does not do because almost everyone gives in to flinching from failures that are all our own.

    • Images That Refute Trump’s Attack on Hero John Lewis
    • Rep. John Lewis: ‘I Don’t See Trump as a Legitimate President’

      In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said he does not believe Donald Trump is a “legitimate president,” citing Russian interference in last year’s election.

      Asked whether he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect, Lewis said that he believes in forgiveness, but added, “it’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

      When pressed to explain why, he cited allegations of Russian hacks during the campaign that led to the release of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign co-chairman, John Podesta.

    • Trump team discussing border wall with Army Corps, Interior Department

      President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is engaged in active discussions with the US Army Corps of Engineers and Interior Department to begin planning a wall along the Mexican border, including how specific environmental laws could get in the way, CNN has learned.

      A US official with knowledge of a visit last last month to the Interior Department — which oversees most federal lands and major environmental laws — said the transition team was particularly interested in finding out “how long it would take” to build the wall given potential legal obstacles.

    • The Great Wall Of China Didn’t Have Trump’s Problems

      Really, Trump caught onto this panacea during his campaign that can’t really work as intended/proclaimed and will cost a bundle and will do a lot of damage. Waiving legalities doesn’t really change that. As Trump is fond of saying, “It’s not going to happen!”.

    • Six Reasons Why Trump’s Wall is Even Dumber Than Most of Trump’s Other Ideas

      At his turbulent his news event last Wednesday (I won’t dignify it by calling it a news conference), Trump reiterated that he will build a wall along the Mexican border. “It’s not a fence. It’s a wall,” he said, and“Mexico will pay for the wall.”

      Here are 6 reasons why Trump’s wall is an even dumber idea than most of his others.

    • Dem boycotts of inauguration grow

      In a sharp break with tradition, a growing number of Democrats are announcing they will boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

      Ten House Democrats so far have issued public statements saying they won’t attend the Jan. 20 ceremony following an extraordinarily divisive election. Still others say they’re torn about going.

      It’s a departure from lawmakers of both parties putting aside their personal feelings to watch the new president take the oath of office. While the majority of Democrats still plan to go, the fact that even a handful are making a point of boycotting shows the depth of antipathy toward Trump.

    • Human Rights Watch lists Trump as threat to human rights

      Human Rights Watch is listing President-elect Donald Trump as a threat to human rights, calling his campaign a “vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance.”

      “Donald Trump’s election as US president after a campaign fomenting hatred and intolerance, and the rising influence of political parties in Europe that reject universal rights, have put the postwar human rights system at risk,” the group said in a Friday statement announcing a new report.

      The 687-page World Report analyzes Trump’s campaign, pointing to his rhetoric as a cause for worry over human rights violations.

      “(Trump’s) campaign floated proposals that would harm millions of people, including plans to engage in massive deportations of immigrants, to curtail women’s rights and media freedoms, and to use torture,” the report says, quoting Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

    • James O’Keefe caught trying to bribe protesters to riot at Trump inauguration

      James O’Keefe is the Breitbart-affiliated fraudster and fake news pioneer who staged the hoax videos about Acorn and Planned Parenthood that disrupted the last two election cycles; his MO is to dress up in disguises and then attempt to trick progressives into saying damning things on camera (he’s not very good at it, having been rumbled by both CNN and Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky).

    • Dossier’s Russia Charges Should Be Treated Skeptically–but Taken Seriously

      It’s not an intelligence report, or a government report of any kind. No official agency had a hand in creating it; indications are it was leaked to media by the same private group that commissioned it. Putting it in the “intelligence” category makes it harder to think about how media outlets should deal with it, bringing in questions of journalism’s relationship to the state. Really, despite its anonymous author reportedly having a background in British intelligence, it’s closer to being itself a strange sort of journalism: It’s an investigator’s account of what information they say they learned by talking to people—not unlike a news article.

    • Mainstream Media’s Russian Bogeymen

      In the middle of a major domestic crisis over the U.S. charge that Russia had interfered with the U.S. election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) triggered a brief national media hysteria by creating and spreading a bogus story of Russian hacking into U.S. power infrastructure.

    • NYT: If Only We Knew What We Already Know About Jeff Sessions

      Jefferson Beauregard Sessions seems to be on his way to becoming attorney general. Many people are angry and frightened, that the person in charge of the Justice Department could be a man whose public record demonstrates hostility to the idea of equal rights under the law. In particular, Sessions brought vote fraud charges, threatening decades of prison time, against voting rights activists who had worked with Martin Luther King; he has referred to the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive,” and supported voter suppression.

      That’s part of why there have been sit-ins and phone banks and multi-group public statements, reflecting the large number and wide range of people familiar with Sessions who state that his record, not his accent or personal demeanor, make him unfit for office.

      In this light, the January 8 New York Times editorial struck me as highlighting, painfully, the limits of elite media.

    • WATCH: In His Former Life as Alabama’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions Abused His Power and Was Read the Riot Act Over It

      It is now well-known that Jeff Sessions’ record as a senator shows blindness or hostility to the rights of those the attorney general is responsible for protecting — people of color, women, LGBT people, religious minorities, and immigrants. Less well known, but equally disturbing, is his record as a prosecutor. When he last exercised the power of a prosecutor, as attorney general for Alabama in the 1990s, he abused that power.

      The biggest case his office handled was thrown out in what the judge called the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he had ever seen. In a remarkable opinion, the Alabama state trial judge hearing the case concluded that “the misconduct of the Attorney General in this case far surpasses in both extensiveness and measure the totality of any prosecutorial misconduct ever previously presented to or witnessed by the Court.”

    • Fox News Going All-In on Trump in the New Era

      January 19, 2009—the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as president—Fox News aired the first episode of Glenn Beck. Obama was a polished representative of the multicultural values that the conservative movement had fought to defeat for decades, and Beck was the perfect expression of right-wing rage and frustration with him: The eponymous host alternated between anger, conspiracy theories and sobbing.

      Beck’s tenure at the channel didn’t last long; Fox News chair and CEO Roger Ailes declined to renew his contract in early 2011. But by that point, the GOP had won back the House of Representatives in the 2010 Tea Party wave, a right-wing backlash movement that owed at least some of its success to Beck’s overly earnest mugging.

      Beck’s hire signaled to the network’s base and the country at large the direction Fox would take as a reaction to Obama’s election: The network was prepared to spend the next four to eight years in constant opposition to the newly elected president, with no angle of attack too extreme.

    • America in Need of ‘Democracy Promotion’

      Both the ruling party and the principal opposition party extensively manipulate the boundaries of legislative districts to benefit their own party and to entrench incumbents, but this practice has disproportionately benefited the ruling party because of its control over most state legislatures, where the manipulative line-drawing occurs.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Christian Censorship: I Talked About Race And Was Silenced

      A few days ago, I posted this piece, called An Apology To Black Women. Per my usual modus operundi, I posted it in various Christian Facebook groups. Within a few hours, I received a message from an admin of one of the groups. It said, essentially “We, the admins of ____ removed your post because even our one black admin found it offensive.”

    • Why the Senate’s Attack on Backpage Will Backfire

      The businessmen who run the classifieds website Backpage.com received a serious verbal lashing from a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. They were accused of committing a crime that every member of the committee eagerly denounced — profiting from the sexual exploitation of children. Backpage had already shut down its popular adult services section the day before, citing ongoing acts of “government censorship.”

      It may be easy for lawmakers of both parties to agree that child sex trafficking should be condemned, but the hearing and the 20-month probe behind it drew plenty of controversy outside the Senate chamber. For a company accused of facilitating the exploitation of kids, Backpage saw a good number of organizations rush to its defense, including internet freedom groups, free speech advocates and libertarian think tanks.

    • Government Pressure Shutters Backpage’s Adult Services Section

      The announcement came on the eve of a hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). The hearing was the backdrop for the release of a committee report [PDF] alleging [PDF] that Backpage knew that its website was being used to post ads for illegal prostitution and child sex trafficking, and directly edited such ads to make their illegality less conspicuous or flagged for the posters how to do so themselves.

      While acknowledging the horrific nature of sex trafficking, EFF has participated in several cases to remind courts about the importance of preserving strong legal protection under the First Amendment and Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230) for Internet intermediaries.

    • EFF is Proud to Stand Beside Techdirt in its “First Amendment Fight for its Life.”

      The First Amendment provides vitally important protections for publishers – the Supreme Court ruled that public figure plaintiffs in defamation lawsuits must prove that offending statements about them are in fact false, and that the speaker actually knew they were false or seriously doubted them when they were published. That rule protects speakers, bloggers, and reporters against lawsuits designed merely to squelch critical speech about public figures. Nonetheless, defending against such suits can be very costly.

      [...]

      Techdirt is a vital resource – it provides a wide audience with independent journalism addressing some of the biggest technology issues of our time. The Internet community wouldn’t be the same without it. But of course this case is not just about Techdirt. It’s about freedom of the press generally.

      We commend Techdirt for taking on this fight for freedom of expression. And we urge everyone who cares about a free and independent press to support Techdirt in “its First Amendment fight for its life.”

    • Arizona Bill Would Ban Discussion of Social Justice, Solidarity in Schools

      Arizona state representative Bob Thorpe, a Republican, has just proposed a bill that would ban any school courses or extracurricular activities that “promote” any kind of “social justice” or “solidarity” based on race, class, gender, politics, or religion.

      The legislation, House Bill 2120, also appears to connect classes on social justice and solidarity with “promotion of the overthrow of the United States government,” which it also explicitly outlaws.

      Tucson.com reports that “Thorpe said Thursday his bill is aimed specifically at things like a ‘privilege walk’ exercise (pdf) sponsored by the University of Arizona and a course entitled ‘Whiteness and Race Theory’ at Arizona State University.”

      The law is sweeping yet fails to define many of its tenets—for example, it allows the teaching of “accurate” history of an ethnic group, but doesn’t define who or what would determine what is accurate. And Arizonans fear that not only does it threaten students’ and teachers’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly, but that it would go so far as to outlaw all charity efforts and most student groups at schools around the state.

    • KING: Arizona lawmaker proposes new bill banning classes or events discussing social justice on college campuses

      A conservative Arizona lawmaker, Rep. Bob Thorpe, is proposing a far-reaching law in Arizona, House Bill 2120, banning virtually every college event, activity or course which discusses social justice, skin privilege, or racial equality. Violating the law would allow the state of Arizona to levy multimillion-dollar fines and penalties against universities — removing at least 10% of their state aid.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • End of the line: surveillance, precarity and resistance in the call centre

      I spent six months undercover in call centres, researching how workers are subject to constant watch, psychological pressure, and what they do to resist. This is what I discovered.

    • Germany’s biggest Turkish Islamic network admits some imams spied for Ankara

      A Turkish Islamic group operating in Germany acknowledged that some of its imams complied with Turkish government instructions to give Ankara tips on suspected adherents of exiled US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

      Ditib, which stands for Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, is believed to have strong ties to Diyanet (Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs), a Turkish state-run religious affairs watchdog. Ditib previously denied its members were handing over information on Gulen supporters in Germany to the Turkish government.

      In a comment to Rheinische Post on Thursday, however, the secretary-general of Ditib, Bekir Alboga, appeared to have changed his tune, admitting that although “the written instructions of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs were not addressed to Ditib… some Ditib imams wrongly followed them.”

    • Poll: Will Digital Privacy Become a Luxury?

      Technology is a tool that also risks becoming a threat to privacy

      Cell phones now regularly track their users’ locations, monitor their health habits and keep tabs on their schedules and preferences—a series of tools that could also become a threat to privacy.

      An increasing reliance on technology and mobile devices has raised more questions about data privacy and whether it risks becoming a luxury.

    • NSA records allege dozens of cases of workers ripping agency off

      A group of five National Security Agency contractors falsified their time sheets to claim they had worked almost 200 days that agency investigators concluded they in fact had not, according to the agency’s inspector general.

      The incident was one of more than 100 in which the NSA’s internal watchdog found that civilian employees and contractors claimed falsely that they’d been at work — incidents that a spokesman said cost the surveillance outfit based at Fort Meade almost $3.5 million.

      The NSA disclosed the cases in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun. The records cover five years ending in 2014, when The Sun request was originally filed.

    • What’s Up with WhatsApp?

      Despite my jaded feelings about corporate Internet services in general, I was suprised to learn that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption was a lie. In short, it is possible to send an encrypted message to a user that is intercepted and effectively de-crypted without the sender’s knowledge.

      However, I was even more surprised to read Open Whisper Systems critique of the original story, claiming that it is not a backdoor because the WhatsApp sender’s client is always notified when a message is de-crypted.

      The Open Whisper Systems post acknowledges that the WhatsApp sender can choose to disable these notifications, but claims that is not such a big deal because the WhatsApp server has no way to know which clients have this feature enabled and which do not, so intercepting a message is risky because it could result in the sender realizing it.

      However, there is a fairly important piece of information missing, namely: as far as I can tell, the setting to notify users about key changes is disabled by default.

      So, using the default installation, your end-to-end encrypted message could be intercepted and decrypted without you or the party you are communicating with knowing it. How is this not a back door? And yes, if the interceptor can’t tell whether or not the sender has these notifications turned on, the interceptor runs the risk of someone knowing they have intercepted the message. Great. That’s better than nothing. Except that there is strong evidence that many powerful governments on this planet routinely risk exposure in their pursuit of compromising our ability to communicate securely. And… not to mention non-governmental (or governmental) adversaries for whom exposure is not a big deal.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Down to the Wire: Obama’s DOJ Issues Scathing Report on Systemic Abuse Within Chicago Police

      The Justice Department released a blistering report on Friday concluding what many in Chicago have been saying for years: that the city’s police officers routinely use excessive and deadly force, particularly against black and Latino residents; that they systematically violate civil rights; and that the department consistently fails to hold officers accountable for abuse and misconduct.

      With one week to go before the beginning of the Trump administration — which is widely expected to take a considerably less aggressive approach toward police abuse — federal officials this week tied up the loose ends on some of the department’s most high profile investigations of police departments.

      On Thursday, Justice Department officials signed a consent decree with the city of Baltimore, outlining reforms the city will be required to undertake after a scathing report published last August found a pattern of stops, searches, arrests and use of force that violated the First and Fourth Amendments as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.

    • Shots In The Back, Children Tasered: DOJ Details Excessive Force By Chicago Police

      In “numerous incidents,” Chicago officers chased and shot fleeing people who posed no threat to officers or the public, the DOJ says. In some cases, there was no basis even to suspect the person of committing a serious crime.

      “The act of fleeing alone was sufficient to trigger a pursuit ending in gunfire, sometimes fatal,” the DOJ writes.

      In one case, the report says, police officers fired 45 rounds at a man who was running away, killing him. They claimed he had fired a gun at them while they were chasing him — even though they noted there was no gun found on the man.

    • Free Chelsea Manning Now

      Freedom is suddenly in sight for Chelsea Manning. There is a real chance the Iraq War veteran and Wikileaks whistleblower could be home by Groundhog’s Day.

      Even a year ago it was unthinkable; now, it could be a partial redemption of the Obama administration’s shoddy record of persecuting leaks and whistleblowers.

    • Justice Department balks at securing CIA ‘Torture Report’ at federal court

      The Obama administration is resisting a federal judge’s order for a rare copy of the so-called Torture Report, saying the damning Senate study of the CIA’s secret post- 9/11 prison network is not the government’s to give the court.

      Judge Royce Lamberth on Dec. 28 ordered the Justice Department to deliver a copy of the report to his court for safekeeping. He said it would be preserved at a top-secret storage facility maintained by the U.S. District Court at 333 Constitution Ave. in Washington, D.C.

      But Justice Department attorneys wrote in a 16-page filing on Friday that delivery of a government copy of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence document would “unduly interfere … with the larger oversight relationship between the Senate Committee and the CIA.”

    • Polish couple ‘forced to work for £4 a day’ in Nelson

      A Polish couple were forced to work for £4 per day and treated with less respect than dogs, a court has heard.

      Mohammed Riaz, 62, and his son Khuram, deny forcing or compelling Margorsha Bienick and Michal Czesniawski into labour in Nelson, Lancashire.

      The father and son, 27, told Burnley Crown Court the couple were alcoholics who would have been on the streets.

      The jury was shown a video of Ms Bienick describing working long hours and being shouted at.

    • Kolkata’s Imam sparks row again: ‘Women should always be in veil’

      At an event organized at the Tipu Sultan Mosque on Friday, Barkati said, “Women are more respectful if they hide themselves from the eyes of men. If they are ‘sexy “, then they will attract more eyes and will fall victim to men’s “hawaz”. Like Rajasthani women use veil, Bengali women wear saris and Muslim women wear burqas, veils will make them respectful.”

      When asked what he meant by ‘sexy’, Barkati said he meant ‘attractive’ by the word ‘sexy’. Explaining his stand, Imam Barkati said, “Young women are innocent. Even without their knowledge, they become the object of men’s lust. So by wearing veil, she will follow the Hindustani culture and will be able to protect herself properly.”

    • CMS: Police found no evidence that teacher assaulted a Muslim kindergartener

      Police found no evidence to confirm a November report that a teacher bullied and assaulted a Muslim kindergartener at David Cox Road Elementary, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported Friday.

      Principal Celeste Spears-Ellis notified parents that the accused teacher has returned to the classroom after the District Attorney’s Office found “no evidence of an assault other than the complainant’s report” and no grounds for criminal charges.

    • Donald Trump accuses civil rights icon John Lewis of ‘all talk and no results’

      Donald Trump has ignited fresh controversy — on the eve of Martin Luther King Day — by accusing one of the civil rights leaders who marched and struggled with him of “talk and no action”.

      In a pair of tweets on Saturday morning, he said Congressman John Lewis should not have “falsely” complained about the election result.

      “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart,” said Mr Trump.

    • It’s begun: Internet providers are pushing to repeal Obama-era privacy rules

      Some of the nation’s biggest Internet providers are asking the government to roll back a landmark set of privacy regulations it approved last fall — kicking off an effort by the industry and its allies to dismantle key Internet policies of the Obama years.

      In a petition filed to federal regulators Monday, a top Washington trade group whose members include Comcast, Charter and Cox argued that the rules should be thrown out.

      “They are unnecessary, unjustified, unmoored from a cost-benefit assessment, and unlikely to advance the Commission’s stated goal of enhancing consumer privacy,” wrote the Internet & Television Association, known as NCTA.

    • The Breakthrough: Meet the Reporter Who Went Undercover in the Hermit Kingdom

      But some journalists have been able to evade the censorship. Suki Kim, an American novelist and investigative journalist, spent months undercover inside the country, working as an English teacher at a boarding school for North Korea’s young elites. Her reportage captured an unprecedented portrait of the country, showing the hopes, dreams and lies of North Korean youth.

      This week on the Breakthrough, Suki Kim takes us behind the closed borders of the Hermit Kingdom and reveals how she became one of the first reporters to go undercover in North Korea.

    • Turkey’s Relentless Attack on the Press

      It should come as no surprise that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey would praise Donald Trump for refusing to talk to a CNN reporter at a news conference.

      For years, Mr. Erdogan has been crushing independent voices as part of a broader effort to assert authoritarian control. Earlier this month, the Turkish police arrested the top legal adviser and a former chief executive of Dogan Holding, a conglomerate that owns the newspaper Hurriyet and CNN Turk. This followed the detention in mid-December of another company executive, Barbaros Muratoglu, reportedly accused of “aiding a terror group,” namely the organization of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. The company has denied links to Mr. Gulen.

    • Complaints Describe Border Agents Interrogating Muslim Americans, Asking for Social Media Accounts

      Customs and Border Protection agents have been invasively questioning Muslim-Americans at U.S. border crossings about their political and religious beliefs, asking for their social media information, and demanding passwords to open mobile phones, according to a set of complaints filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

      In one case, a 23-year old American citizen alleges that he was choked by a CBP agent after declining to hand over his phone for inspection while crossing the border back from Canada.

      The complaints deal with the cases of nine people who have been stopped at various U.S. border crossings, eight of whom are American citizens, and one Canadian. They were filed to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice.

    • Prisoners With Physical Disabilities Are Forgotten And Neglected in America

      Dean Westwood arrived at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon in a wheelchair. Prison officials required him to surrender his property, submit to a search, and agree to administrative procedures like finger printing. This is standard practice. But unlike other detainees, Dean is paralyzed below the waist and has limited use of his arms and hands.

      Staff at the Oregon jail didn’t know how to handle someone with his disability. They rough-handled his limbs and pulled his fingers apart to get his fingerprints. They stripped him down for a search, rough-handling his genitals. They forced his body into a set of jail clothing that was a couple of sizes too small, which caused Dean severe irritation below the waist.

    • How to Talk to Congress

      As this year begins with a new president and new Congress taking power, more people than ever want to know how to make their voices heard in Congress. As the Legislative Counsel at EFF, my job is to help the organization and our supporters reach out to Congress more effectively. We’ve put together this guide in order to share some of our findings about how best to impact decisions in government. This represents years of trial and error at EFF as well as my own experience working in Congress and Washington, D.C. for a number of years before joining the organization.

    • Fury at Azaria Verdict is Israel’s Trump Moment

      The United Kingdom has Brexit. The United States, an incoming president Trump. And Israel now has Elor Azaria. It may not have the same ring, but ultimately the turning point could prove as decisive.

      Two fallacious narratives have greeted the army medic’s manslaughter conviction last week, after he was filmed firing a bullet into the head of a wounded and helpless Palestinian, 21-year-old Abdel Fattah Al Sharif.

      The first says Azaria is a rotten apple, a soldier who lost his moral bearings last March under the pressure of serving in Hebron. The second – popular among liberals in Israel – claims the conviction proves the strength of Israel’s rule of law. Even a transgressing soldier will be held accountable by the world’s “most moral army”.

      In truth, however, the popular reaction to the military court’s decision was far more telling than the decision itself.

      Only massed ranks of riot police saved the three judges from a lynching by crowds outside. The army top brass have been issued bodyguards. Demands to overrule the court and pardon Azaria are thunderous – and they are being led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    • Chicago Police Routinely, ‘Systemically’ Abused Civil Rights: DOJ

      Chicago police systematically violated people’s civil rights by routinely using excessive force, particularly against African-Americans and Latinos, according to a bombshell report (pdf) from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released Friday.

      The report is the conclusion of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), launched after the October 2014 police killing of 17-year-old black Chicago resident Laquan McDonald, whose fatal shooting was captured by the patrol car’s dashboard camera.

      According to the inquiry, police routinely violated the Fourth Amendment by using “unnecessary and avoidable” force, including deadly force, which investigators attributed to poor training and accountability systems.

    • Smooth-Talking Jeff Sessions Can’t Hide Disturbing Record

      Although Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general of the United States by the GOP-controlled Senate is a foregone conclusion, it is still important to analyze his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Thus far, the hearing has shed a troubling light on his positions.

      In his responses to the senators’ questions, Sessions loudly protested the idea that he has ever embraced racism, homophobia or sexism. Calling allegations of racism “incredibly painful,” Sessions assured the senators, “I abhor the Klan and all it represents.” However, that has not always been the case. He once joked that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out that they smoked pot.”

    • How ride-hailing apps like Uber continue cab industry’s history of racial discrimination

      Our new paper, “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies,” found patterns of discrimination in how some drivers using ride-hailing platforms, such as Uber and Lyft, treat African-American passengers and women. Our results are based on extensive field studies in Seattle and Boston, both considered liberal-minded cities, and provide stark evidence of discrimination.

    • Benny King and the Criminalization of Addiction in America

      You see, just like hundreds of thousands of poor, disproportionately black and brown Americans sidelined from American life – stuffed out of sight in state and federal penal institutions across the U.S. – King is serving time for one, and only one, unconscionable reason: he suffers from a substance abuse problem. He drinks.

    • Allegations of Russian Hacking Cover Up Larger Issue: Attacks on Independent Journalism

      Washington, D.C., and the mainstream media have spent much of the last week zeroing in on allegations that Russia interfered in the United States presidential election. Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges argues that such intense coverage is merely a way for establishment elites to criticize independent journalism.

      In an interview with RT America’s Simone Del Rosario, Hedges cites the McCarthyist attacks on independent outlets—including Truthdig—last year and says that the recent wave of reporting on Russia continues the alarmist narrative.

      Specifically, he labels a report recently released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence an “utter embarrassment.” He notes that U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper possessed “a deep rage” toward independent news outlets during his testimony before Congress last week.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • EFF to Court: Don’t Let California Gag IMDb

        California is trying to gag websites from sharing true, publicly available information about actors in the name of age discrimination. But one online service, IMDb, is fighting back. EFF and four other public interest organizations have filed in a friend of the court brief in the case, urging the court not to allow celebrities to wipe truthful information about them from the Internet.

Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

Sunday 15th of January 2017 04:29:36 PM

The legal paper ‘industry’ is walking away, gradually

Summary: Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform

IN ORDER to understand what goes on in the mysterious (or cryptic) world of patent trolls we often turn to IAM ‘magazine’, which is paid by some trolls to embellish or soften their image. We read IAM ‘magazine’ very critically and try to extract from it some morsels of information. The other day we saw IAM ‘magazine’ conflating patents with “markets” again, as if patents are products up on the shelf or something (to trolls they are). It was also writing about this patent troll which got fed by Stanford University, whose patents were derived from publicly-funded research. To quote some background to this:

WiLAN has stepped up its campaign against the growing personal digital assistant market filing six lawsuits before and after Christmas against a series of big tech companies including Amazon and HTC over patents that underpin Siri, the popular electronic assistant on Apple devices. The most recent case was filed on Tuesday against ZTE in district court in Delaware, bringing the total number of suits that the NPE’s subsidiary IPA Technologies has filed in this campaign to 11.

WiLAN acquired the patents in question in two tranches, including a package of nine grants in May 2016, from SRI International, a non-profit research institute which spun out of Stanford University more than 40 years ago. SRI began developing the technology for a voice-controlled electronic assistant following a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), eventually setting up Siri Inc which was spun out as an independent entity in 2007 and was then bought by Apple in 2010.

We wrote about WiLAN many times before (6 years ago we named the person behind it, Jim Skippen). It’s regarded or understood to have become a pain in the bottom to a lot of Linux/Android OEMs, not just to companies like Apple. It’s a destructive entity which Canada should take shame — not pride — in.

The other day IAM also mentioned RPX, which is a massive troll that Microsoft joined 7 years ago. IAM wrote about it in the context of litigation decline — a subject which we covered here many times in the latter half of 2016. America Invents Act and PTAB had a lot to do with this decline, as IAM admits:

The headline numbers for the 2016 litigation year in the US were out last week and showed a big drop in the total number of new patent infringement cases. According to Unified Patents there were 4,382 new cases, a drop of almost 25% on the 2015 figure. That is the lowest level since 2011 when the America Invents Act (AIA) came into force and new joinder rules had a significant inflationary effect on litigation volume.

RPX also released some stats and included a numbers of interesting data points. Among them was a big fall in the number of NPE campaigns against companies with revenues of $50 billion or more. Those companies are, of course, typically among the most popular targets for licensing efforts but they’re also the ones most likely to fight back in long, drawn-out lawsuits.

RPX basically speaks of itself, as it tends to engulf and attack large entities. After Alice and some of the aforementioned reforms we don’t expect RPX to find quite the same level of ‘success’ (shakedown). In fact, like many other trolls we hope it will cease operations. We know for a fact that Intellectual Ventures is suffering and even laying off a lot of staff.

The patent microcosm, growingly irritated by the sharp drop in litigation, is already sucking up to Donald Trump, hoping that he will put someone corrupt like Randall R. Rader in charge, assuring regressions in law. On the other hand, Matt Levy, who opposes patent maximalism and calls for further patent reforms, has just published these suggestions to the Trump Administration, focusing in particular on patent trolls (a side effect or symptom of low patent quality):

What the new administration should be doing with patents

[...]

Continue to Fight Patent Trolls

It is true that patent troll litigation dropped in 2016, but according to a recent RPX report, nearly all of that drop is due to fewer lawsuits against very large, well-funded companies. Patent trolls seem to be shifting their focus to smaller businesses that can’t afford to defend themselves effectively. Trolls’ venue of choice continues to be the Eastern District of Texas, as I’ve written about a number of times.

A new paper by Brian Love and James Yoon confirms why this is true: patent trolls use the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) because its procedures increase costs for defendants quickly. In fact, 90 percent of cases there are filed by patent assertion entities. The paper also shows that only 18 percent of EDTX cases have any local link to the original inventor, original patent owner, or the first named defendant. By comparison, nearly 88 percent of the cases filed in the Northern District of California (which includes Silicon Valley) have such a link to the district.

The reality is that we need venue reform. Congress needs to fix the patent venue statute so that patent owners can’t sue a company virtually anywhere. The evidence is simply undeniable that patent trolls are taking advantage of a court with overly friendly rules in order to extort money, and there’s no reason to allow this to continue any longer.

Do No Harm on Patentable Subject Matter

With recent Supreme Court decisions, there has been a lot of handwringing about the patentability of software, diagnostic methods, and certain biotech inventions. There have even been proposals to do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether.

Congress needs to let the law develop slowly. The courts are gradually coming to some reasonable interpretations based on previous case law, and that’s as it should be. There are a lot of stakeholders with competing interests, and the best way to develop this law is a bit at a time. Yes, it’s painfully slow, but it’s the way our legal system works.

These calls to “do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether,” (or at least weaken them) as Levy puts it, were often funded by companies like IBM and Microsoft, which paid a former USPTO Director (David Kappos) to become their lobbyist and undermine Alice, bringing back software patents in a crooked fashion that’s akin to bribery of officials.

America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

Sunday 15th of January 2017 03:54:25 PM

Rumours suggest that Donald Trump will add Randall R. Rader to his swamp


Photo from Reuters

Summary: The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos

The USPTO has been gradually improving under Michelle Lee, who sought positive reform and is said to be on her way out after Trump’s inauguration. The former Director, David Kappos, is now lobbying (in exchange for money!) to make things worse again. It looks as though Trump is about to blow away any progress with Rader as Director (or similar position). Rader is not only corrupt but is also a software patents proponent.

The following new post by Jason Rantanen links to this new report from the USPTO:

USPTO Releases its 2016 Performance and Accountability Report

I’m pleased to announce that the USPTO has published its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The PAR serves as the USPTO’s annual report, similar to what private sector companies prepare for their shareholders. Each year the USPTO publishes this report to update the public on our performance and financial health.

[...]

We will continue efforts in the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, which is a multifaceted initiative that builds on past efforts and includes future programs aimed at improving the accuracy, clarity, and consistency of patents; continue implementation of the patent dispute resolution portions of the AIA; meet the wave of legal challenges to the USPTO’s interpretation of the AIA and its regulations implementing the statute; develop outreach at both headquarters and regional offices; expand on dissemination of data; attain and maintain full sustainable funding; and provide IT support for a nationwide workforce with a “24/7/365” operational capability.

Watchtroll, in the mean time, being the software patents proponent that the site always is, suggests changes that would inherit bad elements of the EPO, where software patents are habitually being granted in defiance of the rules (more so under Battistelli than before, to the point where legal firms say it’s easier to get software patents at the EPO than at the USPTO). To quote from the summary:

In summary, there is a plausible case that the US law on obviousness is indeed compatible with the above-explained EPO problem-and-solution approach. It could even be said that the steps of the problem-and-solution approach appear to have been inspired by US law and practice!

Under present working styles, USPTO examiners concentrate on the claims and spend little or no time reading the description. If they are to initiate obviousness rejections using the problem-and-solution format they would have to change habits and consult the description to locate any effects related to the distinguishing features.

I remark that the problem-and-solution approach is not a new statement of the law of obviousness: it is a statement of practical steps to be taken by a practitioner in order to come to an objective assessment of obviousness/non-obviousness compatible with the Statute Law and Case Law. It is an approach designed for large organizations like the USPTO who need to maintain uniformity.

[...]

The US Law on obviousness is indeed compatible with the EPO problem-and-solution approach. The USPTO, unlike the EPO, may be bound by the ratio decidenti of superior court decisions, but this should not impede completing the MPEP with instructions like the problem-and-solution approach. All that is needed is to arouse interest in potential long-term advantages for the USPTO notably the perspective of increased quality. Application of the approach does not imply any change in the Statute or Case Law, simply a determination to complement the current piecemeal guidelines by a coherent methodology.

It follows that the USPTO not only could adopt an approach for assessing obviousness like the EPO problem-and-solution approach, but in my view the quest for quality is a good reason why it should do so.

A guest post at Patently-O, composed by Professors Arti Rai (Duke) and Colleen Chien (Santa Clara), is titled “Patent Quality: Where We Are” and it names the legacy of Kappos, which is similar to that of Battistelli (compromising patent quality to artificially make ruinous ‘gains’):

When former USPTO Director David Kappos took the helm in 2009, budgetary strains and application backlog demanded immediate attention. Even so, then-Director Kappos pushed through redesign of the agency’s IT system, gave an across-the-board increase in time to examiners, adjusted count allocation so as to reduce incentives for rework, and emphasized quality improvements through international worksharing, industry training, and the creation of the Common Patent Classification system. Then, with the passage of the American [sic] Invents Act of 2011, the agency’s budgetary position stabilized and the stage was set for further focus on quality. The backlog subsided, with the queue of patents reduced by 30% over the last eight years, according to statistics released by the USPTO.

It was only after the America Invents Act (AIA), which then created PTAB, that patent quality started to make more sense. We hope that even in the era of a Trump Administration the same kind of trend will persist, though we are not particularly optimistic about it.

PTAB — Not Deterred by Courts — Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

Sunday 15th of January 2017 03:14:29 PM

Don’t believe the legal paper ‘industry’ (or the patent microcosm)

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice

THE patent microcosm wants us to believe that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has devalued or stopped what PTAB was doing. They want us to think there’s some kind of feud or conflict — one that they themselves inflame.

Let’s wait and see how many law firms will bother covering the frequent outcomes from cases where CAFC sides with PTAB on issues pertaining to invalidation of patents. Here is one such new case. To quote MIP:

The Federal Circuit has dismissed an appeal of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) final written decision in an inter partes review (IPR), arguing that because “Phigenix has not offered sufficient proof establishing that it has suffered an injury in fact, it lacks standing to bring suit in federal court”.

Here is a direct link to the decision [PDF]

PTAB is breaking some records again (based on some criteria), as shown by these latest figures. For the uninitiated, PTAB is slaughtering/squashing software patents more frequently than anything else, including courts. Petitions to PTAB, or IPRs as they are commonly called once processed, are also more reachable/accessible to small businesses that hope to undermine patents which large companies should never have been granted in the first place.

MIP’s PTAB round-up says:

December Patent Trial and Appeal Board petition filing was the fourth-highest of 2016, the Federal Circuit recently heard en banc arguments in one PTAB appeal and granted en banc rehearing in another, the appeals court remanded the Board in In re NuVasive, and the District of Delaware interpreted the scope of estoppel narrowly in Intellectual Ventures v Toshiba

When patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures go after large companies such as Toshiba they expect to get a lot of money. Intellectual Ventures was recently defeated in an epic cases where quite a few of its patents — software patents to be exact — got rejected by a prominent CAFC judge.

There is no compelling evidence to suggest that things are changing in favour of the patent microcosm, at least not in PTAB. No doubt, however, they will continue to lie to everyone — their clients included — in order to improve their bottom line. The term “fake news” seems applicable here.

EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

Sunday 15th of January 2017 10:20:12 AM

Latest among many countries to express concern


Source: Wikipedia

Summary: Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO’s serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians

THE EPO is very quiet this month. No “news” or “blog” items have been published since before Christmas.

Around Christmas time the media in Luxembourg published this article, which we mentioned here before. There is not much new information in there (not of great significance anyway) except parts which pertain to political interventions in Luxembourg. Notably, Claudia Dall’Agnol (pictured above) raises concerns and Etienne Schneider acts like a Battistelli mouthpiece, which makes Schneider look rather foolish and gullible. Does anyone out there still believe any word that comes out of Battistelli’s mouth? He’s a chronic, shameless liar. He’s a manipulative politician disguised as a manager.

Here is the English translation from SUEPO [PDF], which we reproduced below in HTML form:

“We’ve got our eye on it”

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE

Behind the façade of the European Patent Office (38 countries belong to it, Luxembourg among them) a massive social conflict has broken out.

The battle between the President and the staff union Suepo, which represents the majority of the 7,000 strong workforce, has been raging for more than five years. Minister Etienne Schneider is now providing a reply to the question raised in Parliament on this issue by LSAP deputy Claudia Dall’Agnol.

The management style adopted by President Benoît Battistelli, who took this office in 2010, appears to have led from escalation to escalation. Only recently, staff members took to the streets in their thousands in Munich to march to the consulates. If we are to believe what the union members are saying, Battistelli has been tightening the screws for a long time, to such an extent that the environment at work can sink no lower. In the course of the year, three senior Suepo members have been summarily kicked out. Our information is that the President has produced very flimsy excuses for doing this – some would say totally far-fetched.

Another senior Suepo figure was dismissed without notice at the beginning of November at the branch of the Office at The Hague, and a further member is said to have been subjected to extreme pressure. How, why, when, and who is concerned is not clear from the accusations. Two weeks ago, EPO officials at The Hague were called upon to carry out a protest demonstration at the Dutch branch office. A majority of the 2,800 or so personnel working there took part, and really made their voices heard (► Link).

“Focus of attention”

The Minister responsible, Etienne Schneider, in his reply to the question raised in Parliament by Deputy Claudia Dall’Agnol simply repeated the official version put about by the EPO President. There have allegedly been cases of bullying, but those responsible have been identified and punished. The staff member who was ejected in November at The Hague is said to have been the main person responsible.

But we have received entirely different information, too, which points to the President unleashing a systematic campaign of harassment against many of his staff, but in particular against the personnel representatives who are members of Suepo.. Schneider appears to be equally at ease in his reply,since he goes on to write: “I can give assurance that the Luxembourg delegation continues to pay close attention to the development of the social dialogue at the EPO, and to provide its support to any initiative in that context.”

According to Etienne Schneider, the agenda at the next meeting of the Advisory Board is scheduled to include the results of an internal survey on the issue of social dialogue and working conditions at the branches of the European Patent Office.

As can be seen from the above (last three paragraphs), Battistelli’s apologists seem to be relying on paid-for propaganda from PwC. We previously we wrote about it in the following articles:

SUEPO is very quiet these days, but the same goes for the EPO in general, including the management. This gives us more time to unearth and publish older material whose analysis is well overdue. Expect much more to come out in the coming days.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

GNU/Linux and Servers

Kernel Space: Linux, Graphics

Leftovers: Software and Games

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  • SoftMaker Office 2016 – Your alternative to LibreOffice?
    Depending on how you look at it, the world of office suites for Linux is either very rich or very poor. As the rather obscure idiom says: the tailor (hence the cliche suit reference) always goes naked. But in essence, you’re either using LibreOffice – used to be OpenOffice – or maybe something else. Probably nothing. However, there are quite a few office products for Linux: Kingsoft Office, SoftMaker Office, Calligra, standalone Abiword, some others, each offering a slightly different aesthetic and functional approach. We talked about this in the office suite competition article back in 2013, and a lot has changed since. LibreOffice finally became suitable for use side by side with Microsoft Office, as far as decent document conversion and fidelity go, and every one of these products has seen a large number of major and minor number increments. In the original piece, SoftMaker Office was kind of a dud, and it’s time to give it a full review. Let us.
  • Reports: PS4 is selling twice as well as Xbox One, overall [Ed: Xbox continues to be a loser]
    Microsoft stopped providing concrete sales data for its Xbox line years ago, making it hard to get a read on just how well the Xbox One is doing in the market compared to Sony's PlayStation 4. Recent numbers released by analysts this week, though, suggest that Sony continues to dominate this generation of the console wars, with the PS4 now selling twice as many units worldwide as the Xbox One since both systems launched in late 2013. The first set of numbers comes from a new SuperData report on the Nintendo Switch, which offhandedly mentions an installed base of 26 million Xbox One units and 55 million PS4 units. That report is backed up by Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, who recently tweeted a chart putting estimated Xbox One sales somewhere near the middle of the 25 million to 30 million range.
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