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

Links 12/4/2018: Stable New Kernels, Neptune 5.1

Thursday 12th of April 2018 07:22:21 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Streaming the Norwegian ultimate championships

    As the Norwegian indoor frisbee season is coming to a close, the Norwegian ultimate nationals are coming up, too. Much like in Trøndisk 2017, we’ll be doing the stream this year, replacing a single-camera Windows/XSplit setup with a multi-camera free software stack based on Nageru.

  • Desktop
    • Want your sweet PS3 Linux settlement cash? Sunday’s your last day

      If you bought an original “fat” Sony PlayStation 3 game console, you’ll want to know this:

      Sony may owe you up to $65 — and you’ve only got until this Sunday, April 15, to postmark the form that’ll let you claim that cash.

      Yes, tax day.

      That’s because April 15 also happens to be the deadline for Sony’s “OtherOS” class-action settlement. Sony originally promised the PS3 could become a Linux computer, but removed that feature in 2010, and now it’s paying $3.75 million to resolve the lawsuits that followed.

      So: How do you qualify to get that money, how much money can you actually expect to get, and why is this only happening now?

  • Server
    • Spaces – uncomplicating your network

      For past 5-6 years I’ve been in business of deploying cloud solutions for our customers. Vast majority of that was some form of OpenStack, either a simple cloud or a complicated one. But when you think about it – what is a simple cloud? It’s easy to say that small amount of machines makes an easy, and large amount of machines makes a complicated cloud. But, that is not true. Complexity of a typical IaaS solution is pretty much determined by network complexity. Network, in all shapes and forms, from the underlay network to the customer’s overlay network requirements. I’ll try to explain how we deal with the underlay part in this blog.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.17 Will Allow Some Systems To Lower Their Idle Power Use Up To 10%+

      While last week was the main power management feature updates for the Linux 4.17 kernel merge window that included the new ACPI TAD driver, Rafael Wysocki today sent in a secondary set of feature updates and it includes a rather significant development for Linux power and performance.

      The kernel’s idle loop has been reworked to prevent processors from spending too much time in shallow idle states. Following this significant code rework, there is the potential for power-savings while the system is idling as well as in select workloads.

    • ​Linux is under your hood

      Much of that work is done via the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). This Linux Foundation-based organization is a who’s who of Linux-friendly car manufacturers. Its membership includes Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Mercedes, Suzuki, and the world’s largest automobile company: Toyota.

      “Automakers are becoming software companies, and just like in the tech industry, they are realizing that open source is the way forward,” said Dan Cauchy, AGL’s executive director, in a statement. Car companies know that while horsepower still sells, customers also want smart infotainment systems, automated safe drive features, and, eventually, self-driving cars.

      I have two young grandsons. I seriously wonder if they’ll learn to drive. Just like many people who no longer know how to drive a stick-shift, I can see people in the next 20 years never bothering with driving classes.

    • wait_var_event()

      One of the trickiest aspects to concurrency in the kernel is waiting for a specific event to take place. There is a wide variety of possible events, including a process exiting, the last reference to a data structure going away, a device completing an operation, or a timeout occurring. Waiting is surprisingly hard to get right — race conditions abound to trap the unwary — so the kernel has accumulated a large set of wait_event_*() macros to make the task easier. An attempt to add a new one, though, has led to the generalization of specific types of waits for 4.17.

    • An audit container ID proposal

      The kernel development community has consistently resisted adding any formal notion of what a “container” is to the kernel. While the needed building blocks (namespaces, control groups, etc.) are provided, it is up to user space to assemble the pieces into the sort of container implementation it needs. This approach maximizes flexibility and makes it possible to implement a number of different container abstractions, but it also can make it hard to associate events in the kernel with the container that caused them. Audit container IDs are an attempt to fix that problem for one specific use case; they have not been universally well received in the past, but work on this mechanism continues regardless.

      The audit container ID mechanism was first proposed (without an implementation) in late 2017; see this article for a summary of the discussion at that time. The idea was to attach a user-space-defined ID to all of the processes within a container; that ID would then appear in any events emitted by the audit subsystem. Thus, for example, if the auditing code logs an attempt to open a file, monitoring code in user space would be able to use the container ID in the audit event to find the container from which the attempt originated.

    • Kernel lockdown in 4.17? [Ed: Giving Microsoft the keys to Linux]

      The UEFI secure boot mechanism is intended to protect the system against persistent malware threats — unpleasant bits of software attached to the operating system or bootloader that will survive a reboot. While Linux has supported secure boot for some time, proponents have long said that this support is incomplete in that it is still possible for the root user to corrupt the system in a number of ways. Patches that attempt to close this hole have been circulating for years, but they have been controversial at best. This story may finally come to a close, though, if Linus Torvalds accepts the “kernel lockdown” patch series during the 4.17 merge window.

      In theory, the secure-boot chain of trust ensures that the system will never run untrusted code in kernel mode. On current Linux systems, though, the root user (or any other user with sufficient capabilities) can do exactly that. For anybody who wants to use secure boot to ensure the integrity of their systems (or, perhaps, to prevent their customers from truly owning the system), this hole defeats the purpose of the whole exercise. Various kernel lockdown patches have been proposed over the years (LWN first covered them in 2012), but these patches have run into two types of criticism: (1) restricting what root can do goes against the design of Unix-like systems, and (2) locking down the system in this way still does not solve the problem.

    • Linux 4.16.2
    • Linux 4.15.17
    • Linux 4.14.34
    • Linux Foundation
      • Changing Healthcare with Blockchain Technology

        He also emphasized that open source efforts, such as The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, are driving blockchain forward and are essential. He said that openness ensures scalability, accessibility, resiliency, and innovation. “Participating in The Hyperledger Project has made a lot of sense for us,” Symanski noted. “It protects protocol governance, node management, consensus mechanisms, and more and these are all very important in the healthcare industry.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMD Spins The Radeon RX 500X Series For Laptops/Desktops

        ollowing rumors the past few days, AMD officially confirmed the Radeon RX 500X series today for desktops and notebooks, but these effectively are just re-branded GPUs for OEM builders.

      • Wayland Gets A Meson Build System Port

        Following this week’s Wayland 1.15 launch, there are now patches on the floating list to add Meson build system support to Wayland-Protocols.

        For complementing Wayland’ Autotools build system, longtime GNOME developer Emmanuele Bassi is proposing Meson support for Wayland, beginning with Wayland-Protocols.

      • Khronos Officially Announces Its LLVM/SPIR-V Translator

        The Khronos Group has officially announced the long-awaited open-source availability of their SPIRV-LLVM-Translator that allows the bi-directional translation of SPIR-V and LLVM IR.

      • AMDVLK’s XGL Code Updated With Int16 & Shader Ballot Improvements

        AMD’s XGL Vulkan API layer for their “AMDVLK” driver has been updated this week with a number of enhancements.

        The latest code drop for this AMDVLK XGL code includes supporting 16-bit integers “int16″ within the AMD_shader_ballot and AMD_trinary_minmax extensions. There are also pipeline improvements, AMD_shader_ballot extension enhancements, a consistent dispatch table mechanism is now used throughout the driver, and a number of other code fixes.

      • There Are Now More Than 2,000 Projects Referencing Vulkan On GitHub

        As another milestone for the Vulkan API, as of today there are more than 2,000 projects referencing Vulkan on GitHub!

        It was nearly one year ago to the day (19 April) that Vulkan had 1,000 project mentions on GitHub while overnight that threshold crossed 2,000.

        Granted, the GitHub search isn’t looking at projects necessarily offering a full Vulkan code implementation, but could be a Vulkan mention within code documentation saying it’s coming soon, etc. But for comparison, “Direct3D 12″ has just 39 hits on GitHub (or 101 for D3D12), 207 for D3D11 / 99 for Direct 3D 11, or 33,741 for OpenGL. Overall, not bad for Vulkan’s continued rise and this graphics/compute API just over two years old.

      • Mesa 17.3.9 Is Coming With About Two Dozen Fixes To End Out Mesa 17.3

        Mesa 17.3.9 is expected to be released at the start of next week as the final point release for the Mesa 17.3 driver series that was introduced back in Q4’2017.

        With Mesa 18.0 now in good shape and being out for a few weeks, the Mesa 17.3 series is wrapping up. Juan Suarez Romero of Igalia who has been serving as the 17.3 series stable release manager today announced the 17.3.9 release candidate. There are currently 23 patches for this final point release, including fixes for the RADV Vulkan driver, GL/GLES version overriding fixes, GLSL patches, NIR fixes, and other minor work.

      • Libinput Getting Support For Custom Acceleration Profiles

        The latest libinput hackery being worked on by Linux input expert Peter Hutterer at Red Hat is custom profile support for pointer acceleration.

    • Benchmarks
      • NVIDIA 396.18 Linux Benchmarks, Testing Their New Vulkan SPIR-V Compiler

        Yesterday NVIDIA released their first 396 Linux driver beta in the form of the 396.18 release and its biggest addition is a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler to replace the compiler that’s been hobbled together since the Vulkan 1.0 debut. Here are some fresh NVIDIA Vulkan Linux benchmarks and more on this new SPIR-V compiler.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Falkon browser – Fly babe fly

        Falkon and QupZilla may be the same product, but just re-branding it has already improved the overall impression. Not by a huge margin, but enough to make it interesting. Once you start using it, you do realize that it’s a mix of good and odd, much like the predecessor, with some really brilliant and dubious choices packaged together. Adblocking, session manager versus fuzzy interface, missing spellcheck and database plaintext thingie. Then, the behavior is nowhere near as stellar, lithe or fast as it should be.

        Still, this has been my most successful QupZilla-ed experience so far. Falkon was stable, it did not crash, there were no errors, and overall, it worked well. But the sense of unease remains. I can’t put my finger to it, but there’s just something slightly out of place with it. Not sure what it is. But whatever it is, it’s probably the reason why there hasn’t been that much uptake with this native KDE Internet-giving program. Once that part is sorted out, Plasma may have a nice and friendly browser. Worth testing, and try not to be dissuaded by the oddness.

      • Krita 4.0.1 Released

        Today the Krita team releases Krita 4.0.1, a bug fix release of Krita 4.0.0. We fixed more than fifty bugs since the Krita 4.0.0 release! See below for the full list of fixed isses. Translations work again with the appimage and the macOS build.

      • Qt 5.9.5 Released

        Qt 5.9.5 is released today. As a patch release Qt 5.9.5 does not add any new functionality, but provides important bug fixes and other improvements.

        Compared to Qt 5.9.4, the new Qt 5.9.5 contains over 100 bug fixes. In total there are around 450 changes in Qt 5.9.5 compared to Qt 5.9.4. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.9.5.

      • Qt 5.9.5 Released With 100+ Bug Fixes, ~450 Changes
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Awesome GNOME extensions for developers

        Extensions add immense flexibility to the GNOME 3 desktop environment. They give users the advantage of customizing their desktop while adding ease and efficiency to their workflow. The Fedora Magazine has already covered some great desktop extensions such as EasyScreenCast, gTile, and OpenWeather. This article continues that coverage by focusing on extensions tailored for developers.

        If you need assistance installing GNOME extensions, refer to the article How to install a GNOME Shell extension.

      • Free software desktops to 2020 & beyond

        One of the amazing things about the GNOME project is how it brings people together, both by bringing new developers into free software for the first time, and by fostering cooperation and interoperability between different free software components. The “year of the free software desktop” may not be in the next twelve months, but for those that use GNOME, we can work together to ensure that software freedoms are accessible by all. This talk will have a look at some of the challenges that GNOME and free software desktops face at the moment, a brief look into a possible future if we aren’t vigilant, and how we can meet those challenges head-on and thrive.

      • System76 becomes GNOME Foundation Advisory Board member

        System76 has long been a huge champion of both Linux and open source. If you aren’t familiar, the company sells premium computers running the Ubuntu operating system. Recently, the company decided to create its own Ubuntu-based distro called “Pop!_OS” which uses the GNOME desktop environment.

        Today, the Denver, Colorado-based System76 takes its commitment to GNOME even further by becoming a Foundation Advisory Board member. It joins other respected companies on the board such as Google, Red Hat, and Canonical to name a few.

      • System76 Gets On The GNOME Advisory Board

        With Linux PC vendor System76 getting more involved in the open-source software game since they began developing their Ubuntu-derived Pop!_OS operating system last year, their latest step forward is joining the GNOME Advisory Board.

  • Distributions
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Best open source CRM software

    When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce.com has quickly grown into the dominant player with its software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. With this popularity comes cost, and alongside other proprietary big players like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Oracle CRM, prices can be anything between £20-£240 per user.

    For the more cost-conscious organisations there are open source solutions for storing that all important customer relationship data, and solutions that are far more configurable. The downside is proprietary software often comes with best-in-class features, including more and more machine learning capabilities, the upside is you can save some money and not be at the mercy of major vendors who hold your all-important data.

    So what are the open source CRM alternatives? Here are some of the best on the market.

  • Tap Systems Releases Open Source Software Development Kit

    Tap Systems, Inc., the company behind the Tap wearable keyboard and mouse, announced today they have released a developer SDK. The released software kit enables interested developers to design applications that incorporate and/or include the Tap wearable and its functionality. The Tap device is a comfortable wearable that sits at the base of your fingers and senses finger taps as input. Connecting to any Bluetooth enabled device, Tap users can currently compose text, play games, point, click and scroll using just about any available surface.

  • If You’re Interested In Open Source Development, Wingify’s Paras Chopra Is Ready To Fund Your Projects

    After leading Wingify to success, founder Paras Chopra has been constantly tweeting about his interest in open source and his willingness to support open source development in India.

  • GitLab now offers native integration into Google Kubernetes
  • Google, Netflix launch new IT risk analysis tool Kayenta
  • Kayenta: An Open Source Canary Analysis Tool from Netflix and Google
  • Google, Netflix Team Up To Launch New Open Source Canary Analysis Tool
  • 4 enterprise GitHub projects from Google

    Open source is everywhere, and is quickly becoming the new norm for how companies approach software development. Here, we take at a look at some of the open source projects on GitHub created by Google that can help make life easier for IT teams in organizations.

  • Events
    • Lessons from OpenStack Telemetry: Incubation

      The rigidity of the process discouraged anyone to start a new project for anything related to telemetry. Therefore, everyone went ahead and started dumping its idea in Ceilometer itself. With more than ten companies interested, the frictions were high, and the project was at some point pulled apart in all directions. This phenomenon was happening to every OpenStack projects anyway.

      On the one hand, many contributions brought marvelous pieces of technology to Ceilometer. We implemented several features you still don’t find any metering system. Dynamically sharded, automatic horizontally scalable polling? Ceilometer has that for years, whereas you can’t have it in, e.g., Prometheus.

      On the other hand, there were tons of crappy features. Half-baked code merged because somebody needed to ship something. As the project grew further, some of us developers started to feel that this was getting out of control and could be disastrous. The technical debt was growing as fast as the project was.

    • Bursary applications for DebConf18 are closing in 48 hours!

      If you intend to apply for a DebConf18 bursary and have not yet done so, please proceed as soon as possible!

    • Percona Live Open Source Database Conference 2018 Keynotes Tackle Open Source in the Enterprise, Future of Databases, Cloud Adoption and More

      Percona, the company that delivers enterprise-class MySQL®, MariaDB® and MongoDB® and other open source database solutions and services, today announced the keynote addresses for the seventh annual Percona Live Open Source Database Conference 2018, taking place April 23-25, 2018 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif. Limited sponsorship opportunities for the conference are still available.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 36
      • Data Collection at Mozilla: Browser Errors

        The first step was to find out how many errors we’d be collecting. One tool at our disposal at Mozilla is Shield, which lets us run small studies at targeted subsets of users. In this case, I wanted to collect data on how many errors were being logged on the Nightly channel.

      • Use Firefox Focus to keep Facebook contained on your mobile device

        Most of us signed up for Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. We didn’t sign up to share our personal information with mysterious third-party organizations. That’s why we created the Facebook Container, which lets you use Facebook on your desktop or laptop without sharing personal info with third parties outside of Facebook. Firefox Focus for iOS and Android can give you similar privacy protection when you’re using Facebook on the go. Here’s how it works.

      • Sneak Peek at WebAssembly Studio

        WebAssembly.Studio is an online IDE (integrated development environment) that helps you learn and teach others about WebAssembly. It’s also a Swiss Army knife that comes in handy whenever working with WebAssembly.

        

        We started working on WebAssembly Studio in late December 2017, in an attempt to merge two existing tools that we had developed: WasmExplorer and WasmFiddle. Since then, thanks to several contributors who jumped into the project early, we’ve made quite a bit of progress. We’ve merged those two tools and added several new features. Our beta (more like an alpha) release is now live at https://webassembly.studio and we are very interested in your feedback.

      • Latest Firefox for iOS Now Available with Tracking Protection by Default plus iPad Features

        Today, we’re rolling out Tracking Protection by default for Firefox for iPhone and iPad users. It’s been a little over six months since we added Tracking Protection as an option in regular browsing. With Tracking Protection now turned on by default in both regular and private browsing mode, you can easily control which sites you want to deploy Tracking Protection for — like retail sites — and which ones you don’t. It’s simple, just tap your menu button and you’ll see it listed there!

      • Protect Your Privacy With Firefox for iOS 11

        It’s pretty simple: Firefox for iOS Tracking Protection uses a list provided by Disconnect to identify and block trackers. The list includes third-party ad networks, malware sites, and more. If one of these sites tries to track your browsing history, Tracking Protection in Firefox blocks it.

      • Get the FTP outta here, says Firefox

        Mozilla developers have decided to block requests for File Transfer Protocol (FTP) subresources inside web pages.

        A bug report and Intent to implement notice suggest the change will land in Firefox 61. The browser’s currently at version 59, with 61 due in May 2018.

  • Databases
    • Idera Acquires Webyog to Enable the Open Source Relational Database Systems

      Idera, Inc. recently announced that it has acquired Webyog – a company that provides database management and administration tools for MySQL. It will be Idera’s second acquisition in under a year that will join the latter’s Database Management Tools business that currently includes AquaFold and IDERA.

      Webyog delivers MySQL management and monitoring offerings and serves customers in a wide range of industries. SQLyog, its flagship MySQL GUI and administration product, delivers migration tools, query profiling tools, backup, synchronization tools, scheduling and reporting tools, as well as several other power tools that enhance developer, data architect, and DBA productivity.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice certification for FSF members

      The FSF and The Document Foundation have worked together to offer LibreOffice Certification to FSF Members, for developers, migrators, and trainers. This session will provide all of the relevant information about LibreOffice Certification, in order to make it easier for FSF Members to apply and prepare for the certification review.

  • CMS
    • Promote Drupal Initiative Announced at DrupalCon

      Yesterday’s Keynote from Drupal project founder, Dries Buytaert, kicked off the annual North American gathering of Drupalists from around the world, and also kicked off a new Drupal community initiative aimed at promoting the Drupal platform through a coordinated marketing effort using funds raised within the community.

      The Drupal Association hopes to raise $100,000 to enable a global group of staff and volunteers to complete the first two phases of a four-phase plan to create consistent and reusable marketing materials to allow agencies and other Drupal promoters to communicate Drupal’s benefits to organizations and potential customers quickly and effectively.

  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Making institutional free software successful

      Many large institutions, especially government agencies, would like to distribute their software—including the software of the vendors with whom they contract—as free software. They have a variety of reasons, ranging from the hope that opening the code will boost its use, all the way to a mature understanding of the importance of community, transparency, and freedom. There are special steps institutions can take to help ensure success, some stemming from best practices performed by many free-software projects and others specific to large organizations. At the 2018 LibrePlanet conference, Cecilia Donnelly laid out nine principles for the successful creation and maintenance of a software project under these circumstances.

    • Benjamin Mako Hill: Free software and the shifting landscape of online cooperation
    • Free software forever

      As free software activists, do we focus on our own project-based communities or should we be looking outside? If free software is to succeed (forever!) I believe we need to do both. Maintaining our ideals as we take free software to new places, introduce it to new people, and bend it to new purposes depends on our willingness to grow both individually and collectively. Change is never simple so I hope that we will be gentle with each other as we try new things and work to build an even bigger movement.

    • Algorithmic bias: Where it comes from and what to do about it

      Slides from Andy Oram’s talk from LibrePlanet 2017: Algorithmic bias: Where it comes from and what to do about it.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Conservancy Welcomes the Common Workflow Language as a Member Project

      Software Freedom Conservancy welcomes the Common Workflow Language (CWL) as Conservancy’s newest member project. The CWL team develops and maintains a specification for describing data analysis workflows and tools in a way that makes them portable and scalable across a variety of software and hardware environments, as well as a supporting reference implementation.

      The Common Workflow Language project follows the OpenStand principles for collaborative open standards development to openly evolve the CWL specifications, which have already been implemented by a large number of independent vendors and open source projects. CWL has seen a large uptake by researchers, in particular in the bioinformatics community, with more than 700 public CWL workflows developed across academia and industry.

    • Xiaomi aims to release Kernel Source Code for new devices within 3 months after launch

      Xiaomi is a company that’s largely renowned for their devices that offer excellent specifications relative to price. Smartphones is just one of their many ventures, but it’s how the company has made its name known globally. The company’s rapid expansion in markets like India has brought millions of new users onto smartphones running Android, which has resulted in a wave of new users on our forums looking to customize their devices. Unfortunately, Xiaomi has a poor history of complying with open source licenses as they have shown time and time and time again that they are willing to violate the General Public License v2 (GPLv2) by failing to release kernel source code for their devices. The GPL is what makes the developer community on our forums possible, as all Android phones run on the Linux kernel and without access to the source code it would have been nearly impossible for custom AOSP-based ROMs to take off the way they’ve done on our forums.

    • Xiaomi to Release Kernel Sources ‘Within 3 Months’ Of Launching New Phones

      Xiaomi may have grown leaps and bounds as a tech company over the past decade, but it still receives a lot of flak for its failure to abide by the GNU General Public License v2 license, which governs open source software such as Android. The company has often either completely failed to release kernel sources for its smartphones and tablets, or released them long after the release of the device, both of which are an outright violation of the GNU GPL license, which mandates that all software licensed under its terms must have its source code available publicly.

    • Difference between various open-source software licenses

      An open-source license is a computer software license that allows the source code, blueprint or design to be used, modified and/or shared under defined terms and conditions. This license allows end users and commercial companies to review and modify the source code, blueprint or design for their own customization, curiosity or troubleshooting needs.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • MIT students create and circulate open source, covert RFID rings to subvert campus tracking system

      A reader writes, “A couple years ago MIT changed their dorm security/student tracking policy. They hired security contractors to work in dorms and required everyone to tap their RFID cards upon entry (no vouching for friends/guests). Most students complied. Some moved out. Some got in trouble ;)”

      “Fast forward to this week. There was a student-run ‘ring delivery’ event on campus where roughly 100 students received programmable RFID capable devices. Most of these were rings that could be mistaken for class rings. Students also received documentation on 125 kHz RFID systems, how to make inexpensive reader/writer devices, and how to produce more rings.

    • This open source viewer that runs on Raspberry Pi can share city’s geospatial data

      At GITA 2018 in Phoenix, Bob Basques, GIS Systems Developer at the City of St Paul, described a system called COMPASS he and his team have developed that provides a shared, easy to use tool that allows city employees and the public access to all of the city’s spatial and associated data including, for example, scans of surveyors’ notebooks, 2.2 million street level photos, and permitting and licensing information from 200 different applications. Based completely on open source components the system is compact and efficient enough to run on a Raspberry Pi.

      One of the problems that hampers efficient operations at municipalities is accessing geospatial data originating from multiple sources such as infrastructure maintenance, planning and zoning, property ownership, engineering, permitting, licensing and code enforcement. Spatial data is generated by CAD drafters, GIS users, surveyors and even users with smart phone apps. Imagery data can come from a variety of sources including earth observation satellites, aerial overflights, street photography, and drones. This data is constantly changing which means that any process that involves making copies such as converting it to a common format creates a bigger problem than it solves.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Using Open Source Designs to Create More Specialized Chips

        The open source movement changed how companies build software. Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo employees pitched in during the early days of the data-crunching software Hadoop. Even after the relationship between Apple and Google soured, the companies’ coders kept working together on an obscure but important piece of software called LLVM. Microsoft now uses and contributes to the Linux operating system, even though it competes with Windows.

        The embrace of open source isn’t about altruism. Facebook started using Hadoop because there was no commercial off-the-shelf software that met the company’s needs as it grew. Because Hadoop is open source, Facebook could customize and extend it to solve its specific problems; sharing its changes allowed others to innovate further, making the software better for Facebook and all other users. Collaborating on freely available code enables companies and programmers to pool resources to solve common problems and avoid reinventing the wheel. Companies build competing products and services from these open source foundations that they might never have been able to build otherwise.

  • Programming/Development
    • Anaconda, CPython, PyPy, and more: Know your Python distributions

      When you choose Python for software development, you choose a large language ecosystem with a wealth of packages covering all manner of programming needs. But in addition to libraries for everything from GUI development to machine learning, you can also choose from a number of Python runtimes—and some of these runtimes may be better suited to the use case you have at hand than others.

      Here is a brief tour of the most commonly used Python distributions, from the standard implementation (CPython) to versions optimized for speed (PyPy), for special use cases (Anaconda, ActivePython), or for runtimes originally designed for entirely different languages (Jython, IronPython).

    • Fedora and Python 2

      It has been known for quite some time that Python 2 will reach its end of life in 2020—after being extended by five years from its original 2015 expiry. After that, there will be no support, bug fixes, or security patches for Python 2, at least from the Python Software Foundation and the core developers. Some distributions will need to continue to support the final Python 2 release, however, since their support windows extend past that date; the enterprise and long-term support distributions will likely be supporting it well into the 2020s and possibly beyond. But even shorter-support-cycle distributions need to consider their plan for a sweeping change of this sort—in less than two years.

    • Better support for CUPS features in Qt 5.11

      During the last couple of months KDAB engineers have been working on improving CUPS printing support for Linux in Qt.

    • GitKraken – The Legendary Cross-Platform Git GUI Client

      GitKraken is a powerful GUI application that allows Git users to interact more efficiently with their repositories. It is arguably the best Git GUI Client in the world not just because of its beautiful and relaxing UI/UX but also its seamless integration with other platforms necessary for developers’ workflow.

    • Happy 10th birthday GitHub, it’s been eventful
Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Hope For Hepatitis C Patients In Poor Countries – New Affordable Combination With High Cure Rate

      A new affordable combination treatment for hepatitis C patients with a 97 percent cure rate was announced today.

      According to a Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) press release, the combination treatment including new drug candidate ravidasvir showed safe, and with “extremely high cure rates for patients, including hard-to-treat cases.”

    • Kentucky Abortion Ban, Here We Go Again

      For the third time in two years, the ACLU has sued Kentucky for blocking access to abortion. We’ve been here before. Once again, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill that limits abortion access and, once again, Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law.

      The new law, signed yesterday, makes it a crime for doctors at Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic to perform a safe and medically proven abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, or “D&E.” Leading medical experts such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this type of abortion restriction. Earlier this month, an evidence-based and non-partisan report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine described D&E as a “superior method” of abortion after 16 weeks, finding that it is extremely safe with minimal complications.

    • At Geneva Health Forum: Importance Of High Quality Of Health Systems, Beyond Access

      Achieving a high percentage of universal health coverage often does not translate into a high quality of health systems, according to speakers at the opening of the Geneva Health Forum. While in developed countries people are demanding better quality, the expectations of people living in low and middle-income countries need to be raised, they said. Another panel looked at the use of big data and mathematical modelling as ways to improve health systems, including Facebook monitoring.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • We All Need To Unite Against War In Syria, Regardless Of Ideology

      He told the truth about Syria. He told the truth about Yemen. He told the truth about the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma. He told the truth about the bipartisan war machine which drops all pretense of opposition the instant it’s time for bloodshed. He told the truth about what war is, what it costs, and what it does to our world.

      He stood in stark, unequivocal opposition to the trajectory the Trump administration appears to be moving along. And he did it on Fox News.

      [...]

      Whenever I bring this up I get lefty echo chamber cultists shrieking at me that people like Fairbanks are alt-right/Nazis (which is absurd and ridiculous) and saying that the left and right don’t need to work together on any issue at all; that the left can just do its own separate, fully segregated thing on its own side of the divide while any anti-war right wingers can do their thing far away somewhere else.

      [...]

      For that reason we also need to stop attacking each other. People keep telling me I need to denounce Glenn Greenwald for advancing the mainstream narrative about chemical weapons and Bashar al-Assad, despite the fact that he’s been consistently and aggressively opposed to western interventionism in Syria. We don’t have that kind of luxury, people. We don’t have the luxury of rejecting anyone who’s willing to stand against the war machine, let alone a fellow leftist with a large and influential voice. We need all the help we can get.

    • America’s ‘Unlimited Imperialists’

      Historically the latest eruption of American militarism in the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898.

      The then Republican administration of President William McKinley grabbed their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to genocidal conditions.

    • Yulia Skripal Is Plainly Under Duress

      Only the Russians have allowed us to hear the actual voice of Yulia Skripal, in that recorded conversation with her cousin. So the one thing we know for certain is that, at the very first opportunity she had, she called back to her cousin in Russia to let her know what is going on. If you can recall, until the Russians released that phone call, the British authorities were still telling lies that Sergei was in a coma and Yulia herself in a serious condition.

      We do not know how Yulia got to make the call. Having myself been admitted unconscious to hospital on several occasions, each time when I came to I found my mobile phone in my bedside cabinet. Yulia’s mobile phone plainly had been removed from her and not returned. Nor had she been given an official one – she specifically told her cousin that she could not call her back on that phone as she had it temporarily. The British government could have given her one to keep on which she could be called back, had they wished to help her.

      The most probable explanation is that Yulia persuaded somebody else in the hospital to lend her a phone, without British officials realising. That would explain why the first instinct of the British state and its lackey media was to doubt the authenticity of the call. It would explain why she was able to contradict the official narrative on their health, and why she couldn’t get a return call. It would, more importantly, explain why her family has not been able to hear her voice since. Nor has anybody else.

    • Trump’s Chief Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert Ousted

      President Trump’s chief homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, has been ousted, one day after John Bolton began serving as Trump’s new national security adviser. Bossert’s resignation Tuesday makes him the latest in a slew of top officials to resign or be forced out of the Trump administration.

    • International Lawyers: Strike Against Syria Would Be Illegal

      In this statement released Wednesday, a group of international law experts warn that a U.S. military strike on Syria would be illegal if not in self-defense or with U.N. Security Council authorization.

      We are practitioners and professors of international law. Under international law, military strikes by the United States of America and its allies against the Syrian Arab Republic, unless conducted in self-defense or with United Nations Security Council approval, are illegal and constitute acts of aggression.

      The unlawful killing of any human being without legal justification, under every legal system, is murder. And an act of violence committed by one government against another government, without lawful justification, amounts to the crime of aggression: the supreme international crime which carries with it the evil of every other international crime, as noted by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946.

    • As Nuclear Powers Trade Threats, Gorbachev Calls on US and Russia to ‘Return to Sanity’

      Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, seen here in 2013, said Tuesday that Russian and U.S. leaders must meet to diffuse tensions over Syria. (Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré via UN Geneva/flickr/cc)

      Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, seen here in 2013, said Tuesday that Russian and U.S. leaders must meet to diffuse tensions over Syria. (Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré via UN Geneva/flickr/cc)

      Amid escalating tensions between Russia and the U.S., former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev urged the two nations to “return to sanity” and said President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin should meet to engage in diplomacy rather than military confrontation over Syria.

      Speaking to Interfax news agency, Gorbachev said Tuesday, “I am very alarmed.”

      “The situation hasn’t been this bad in a long time, and I am very disappointed in how world leaders are behaving themselves. We see evidence of an inability to use diplomatic mechanisms. International politics has turned into exchanges of accusations, sanctions, and even military strikes,” he said.

      While he feels certain “no one wants a war,” he noted the current “febrile atmosphere” and said that “ordinary people are not yet aware of the threat hanging over them.”

    • The Bolton-Pompeo Package

      This week John Bolton assumes the job of national security advisor. Given that a key function of that position is to ensure that the bureaucracy provides the relevant options and most accurate information to the president before major national security decisions, it is hard to think of anyone more ill suited to that duty. Bolton’s method of policy formation has been to try to bully any part of the bureaucracy that does not subscribe to his personal agenda and bully away any part of the truth that does not serve his objectives. Bolton has never met a war or prospective war he didn’t like. He still avows that the Iraq War—with all the costs and chaos it caused, from thousands of American deaths to the birth of the group that we now know as the Islamic State—was a good idea. That someone with this perspective has been entrusted with the job Bolton now has is a glaring example of how there often is no accountability in Washington for gross policy malpractice.

    • Bombing Syria would be both dangerous and illegal

      Despite all the moral hand-wringing, international law forbids nations from attacking each other, outside of Security Council approval or in self-defence, and alleged use of chemical weapons is no exception. Western media and politicians are once again calling for our governments to commit what Nuremberg Judges labelled the “supreme international crime”. They risk further escalating the conflict despite a lack of independent verification as to what actually happened in Douma, eastern Ghouta.

    • Russia-US tensions — latest updates: Theresa May holds war cabinet meeting ahead of expected Trump attack on Syria

      Theresa May is to hold an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss joining the United States and France in possible military action against Syria.

      The prime minister summoned her senior ministers to No 10 after saying “all the indications” were the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians last weekend.

      Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria, declaring missiles “will be coming” and denouncing Moscow for standing by Syria’s president.

    • OPCW Salisbury Report Confirms Nothing But the Identity of the Chemical

      The word “Russia” does not occur in today’s OPCW report. The OPCW Report says nothing whatsoever about the origin of the chemical which poisoned the Skripals and certainly does not link it in any way to Russia.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • John Pilger and Julian Burnside denounce silencing of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

      Under pressure from the United States and its imperialist allies, which are preparing to launch a new war in Syria that could result in a direct conflict with nuclear-armed Russia, Ecuador cut Assange off from the Internet under the pretext that he was interfering in the politics of other countries. Silencing dissidents and those who question the official narrative has always been critical for the ruling elites in the lead-up to the launching of new wars.

      The censorship of Assange has been met with an approving silence from the mainstream media, the pseudo-left and many human rights organizations. Very few in these upper- and middle-class circles have found it necessary or beneficial to stand up for the rights of the publisher and journalist.

      Among those who have had the courage to speak out are documentary filmmaker and journalist John Pilger and barrister Julian Burnside, an Australian human rights and refugee advocate. They have written to the WSWS to denounce the silencing of Assange and demand the end to his persecution by the United States and its imperialist allies.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Investigators: We Can’t Tell if Interior Dept. Reassignments Were Legal Due to Lack of Records

      The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded an investigation into the reassignment of 27 top career employees last year without being able to determine the reasons behind the moves or their legality, because, it said, the agency failed to document its decision-making process, despite federal guidance.

      In a report issued Monday, the agency’s watchdog examined the reassignment of the employees between June 15, 2017, and October 29, 2017.

      Among those moved was Joel Clement, formerly the director of the Office of Policy Analysis. In a July 2017 op-ed, Clement accused the department under Secretary Ryan Zinke of transferring him to an obscure accounting post as retaliation for speaking out about the threats manmade climate change poses to Alaskan villages. Zinke has expanded greater fossil fuel development on federal lands and played down or erased consideration of climate impacts across the agency.

      Clement said last year that his reassignment was part of a pattern within Interior under the new administration. After he filed a federal whistleblower complaint against the agency, eight senators asked the Inspector General’s Office to undertake an inquiry.

  • Finance
    • 50 Years After the Fair Housing Act, Tenants Are Still Fending Off Landlords’ Sexual Demands

      It’s time to talk about sexual harassment in housing.

      Fifty years ago today, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which at long last protected Americans from discrimination when purchasing or renting a home.

      At least that was the plan. But for too many people, the fight for fair housing is not over.

      Ongoing bias against African-Americans at the hands of banks, landlords, and local governments is well-documented half a century later. Women, including women of color, also continue to grapple with unequal treatment. They are frequently subjected to sexual harassment while trying to keep a roof over their heads, a violation of the FHA that flies under the radar.

      Sexual harassment by landlords, superintendents, and other housing staff plays out in many ways in communities across the country. They have demanded sex in exchange for rent reductions or repairs, entered tenants’ homes without permission or notice, sexually groped them, and moved to evict tenants who rejected their sexual advances. Property managers have also refused to approve housing applicants unless they complied with sexual demands. Harassment in housing affects all types of people, but it disproportionately harms low-income women of color.

    • The Article 50 Challenge Responds

      A couple of days ago, I set out on here why I believed the “Article 50 challenge” had no merit.

      To their credit, the campaign responded politely and constructively, and they have now issued a statement.

      Read the statement carefully – as I do not want to misrepresent their position.

      I do not think the statement has much force.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • After FBI Raid, Concern Trump Will Fire Rosenstein or Mueller

      President Trump’s threats to carry out military action in Syria come as he is facing an escalating political crisis at home, after the FBI raided the offices of his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen early Monday morning. The New York Times reports the FBI agents were looking for records about payoffs to two women—Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford—who say they had affairs with Trump, before he was president. The Trump-appointed deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, personally signed off on the raid, which was carried out by the interim U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York, who was also appointed by President Trump. There’s now increasing speculation Trump may try to fire Rosenstein, or even special counsel Robert Mueller. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller.

    • Liars Lying About Nearly Everything

      At least since the time of Marcus Tullius Cicero in the late Roman Republic everyone has certainly understood that politicians lie all the time. To be sure, President Donald Trump has been exceptional in that he has followed through on some of the promises he made in his campaign, insisting periodically that he has to do what he said he would do.

      Unfortunately, those choices he has made to demonstrate his accountability to his supporters have been terrible, including moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, threatening to end the Iran nuclear agreement and building a wall along the Mexican border. Following through on some other pledges has been less consistent. He has increased U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan and turned the war over to the generals while also faltering in his promise to improve relations with Russia.

      The potential breakthrough offered by promising exchanges during phone calls to Vladimir Putin have been negated by subsequent threats, sanctions and expulsions to satisfy hysterical congressmen and the media.

    • Media’s Linguistic Gymnastics Mislead on Gaza Protests

      Another AP headline (4/7/18) said, “Gaza Buries Journalist Who Died After Covering Mass Protests,” a reference to Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, whom Israel shot while he filmed Friday’s march in Gaza. Readers could conclude from the headline that Murtaja covered the protests and then went home and died of natural causes. In reality, he died because an Israeli sniper shot him. Obfuscating that absolves Israel.

      There was also this cryptic news brief from the New York Times (4/6/18): “Sporadic rifle fire from the Israeli side of the Gaza border made clear that the Palestinian protests could elicit the sort of response that killed 20 people a week ago.” The paper uses 30 words and still fails to convey the critical information that can be communicated in seven words: Israel kills nine Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

      Not only does the headline seriously muddy what happened, it also primes readers to blame Palestinians for being massacred, by saying their protests “elicited” the massacre. Likewise, describing Israel’s massacre as a “response” is a way of justifying it.

    • Nationwide U.S. protests planned if Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein

      U.S. progressive groups are gearing up for nationwide protests if President Donald Trump fires the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, or replaces the Justice Department official overseeing the probe.

    • Disney must offer to buy all of Sky, Britain’s takeover regulator rules

      Britain’s takeover regulator said Walt Disney (DIS.N) must offer to buy all of Sky if it acquires Twenty-First Century Fox’s 39 percent stake and if Rupert Murdoch’s Fox is prevented from purchasing all of the European pay-TV company itself.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Canadian Government Leaning Towards A Right To Be Forgotten It Can Enforce Anywhere In The World

      It looks as though the “Right to Be Forgotten” will be crossing the Atlantic and setting up shop just north of the United States. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner has already stated existing Canadian privacy laws allow for this, but there’s been no statutory adoption of the Commissioner’s theory.

      The idea that Canadians should join their European counterparts in being able to selectively erase personal information continues to be pushed by the Privacy Commissioner. Speaking at a recent conference in Toronto, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien reiterated his belief Canadians should be offered this dubious “right.”

    • Despite What Zuckerberg’s Testimony May Imply, AI Cannot Save Us

      Yesterday and today, Mark Zuckerberg finally testified before the Senate and House, facing Congress for the first time to discuss data privacy in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. As we predicted, Congress didn’t stick to Cambridge Analytica. Congress also grilled Zuckerberg on content moderation—i.e., private censorship—and it’s clear from his answers that Facebook is putting all of its eggs in the “Artificial Intelligence” basket.

      But automated content filtering inevitably results in over-censorship. If we’re not careful, the recent outrage over Facebook could result in automated censors that make the Internet less free, not more.

    • You can’t use the Taiwan flag emoji on a Chinese iPhone
    • China’s Anti-Pornography Office Asks Video Platforms To Strengthen Censorship

      China’s anti-pornography office has summoned 18 online video streaming and related media companies, including Douyu, Qiqiyi, Huajiao and Toutiao, asking them to strengthen video censorship, according to the authority’s website.

      The news marks Chinese regulators’ latest move to clean up what it considers indecent content on the Internet.

      The anti-pornography office said companies that fail to filter and censor their content will be penalized. This week, China’s State Administration of Radio and Television shut down Toutiao’s joke app permanently for distributing what it deemed anti-social content. Earlier this month, the State Administration of Radio and Television singled out Toutiao and Tencent-backed live-video streaming start-up Kuaishou, for “disrupting online broadcasting order.”

    • Are we entering a new age of theatre censorship?

      It’s February 2009 and Richard Bean’s play England People Very Nice is knowingly parading a stream of cartoonish East End immigrants in front of National Theatre audiences. There are French Huguenots, Irish Catholics, Jewish anarchists, and Bangladeshis who straddle the divide between western liberalism and militant Islam. The play divides the critics, and some voices denounce Bean as racist. But it’s also a palpable talking point hit, enjoying 80 to 90 per cent houses.

    • California Bill Could Introduce A Constitutionally Questionable ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ In The US

      As we’ve pointed out concerning the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, the thinking behind the regulation is certainly well-meaning and important. Giving end users more control over their own data and increasing privacy controls is, generally speaking, a good idea. However, the problem is in the drafting of the GDPR, which is done in a manner that will lead to widespread censorship. A key part of the problem is that when you think solely in terms of “privacy” or “data protection” you sometimes forget about speech rights. I have no issue with giving more control over actually private information to the individuals whose information is at stake. But the GDPR and other such efforts take a much more expansive view of what information can be controlled, including public information about a person. That’s why we’ve been troubled by the GDPR codifying a “right to be forgotten.” We’ve already seen how the RTBF is leading to censorship, and doing more of that is not a good idea.

      But now the idea is spreading. Right here in California, Assemblymember Mark Levine has introduced a local version of the GDPR, called the California Data Protection Authority, which includes two key components: a form of a right to be forgotten and a plan for regulations “to prohibit edge provider Internet Web sites from conducting potentially harmful experiments on nonconsenting users.” If you’re just looking from the outside, both of these might sound good as a first pass. Giving end users more control over their data? Sounds good. Preventing evil websites from conducting “potentially harmful experiments”? Uh, yeah, sounds good.

    • In the Fight for Free Speech, Sex Workers Have Been Left Behind

      The U.S. government, along with various important online platforms, have decided that it’s dangerous to let sex workers speak or organize publicly. But the truth is, speaking isn’t dangerous for sex workers. Censorship is. When sex workers can’t use online resources to screen clients and share information, they are forced onto the street, where they are assaulted and murdered with terrifying frequency. A recent study found that overall homicide rates for women dropped by 17 percent when sex workers got access to online advertising like Craigslist erotic services. If SESTA succeeds in banning sex workers from the Internet, so many sex workers will be killed that we’ll probably see a significant rise in the overall female murder rate.

    • Trump Signs ‘FOSTA’ Into Law, Enabling Internet Censorship That Puts Sex Workers at Risk
    • Trump signs anti-trafficking law that weakens online free speech protections

      And FOSTA conflates stopping sex trafficking with stopping consensual sex work, making it difficult for sex workers to screen clients or build communities through online services.

    • Trump Signs FOSTA, Igniting Online Censorship Concerns

      President Trump has signed a controversial bill that’s intended to help stop online sex trafficking but has privacy advocates concerned that it will instead trigger internet censorship and put sex workers at risk.

      The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) opens the door for criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits against websites that facilitate sex trafficking and prostitution.

      Prior to FOSTA, also known as SESTA, internet platforms were granted some legal immunity for content posted by third parties, but no more. Even before Wednesday’s signing, sites that hosted user-generated classified posts removed them for fear of being prosecuted for their content. Craigslist, for example, removed all personal ads from the site last month, while Reddit banned paid transactions “involving physical sexual contact.”

    • Censorship Is a Bipartisan Pursuit in South Korea

      A controversy erupted earlier this week over the ostensibly liberal South Korean government’s decision to cut off funding for the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Critics, including the Institute’s chairman, former ambassador Robert Gallucci, have claimed that the decision stems from the Moon Jae-in administration’s desire to force out USKI Director Jae H. Ku over his perceived conservative leanings.

      This comes on the heels of a report which appeared last week in the Joongang Ilbo alleging that the administration had brought political pressure to bear on a number of academics at research think-tanks within South Korea for criticizing the government’s policy toward the North. That list included former State Department official David Straub, who recently left his post as a research fellow with the Sejong Institute in Seoul. The same article also stated that prominent North Korean defectors such as Thae Yong-ho have been sidelined from making public appearances in recent months as North and South Korean relations have entered a phase of reconciliation.

    • Overcoming Censorship, ‘Geoblocking,’ and Hubris While Doing Business Abroad
    • New Target for China’s Censors: Content Driven by Artificial Intelligence

      A new battle over censorship is playing out in China, one that underscores the differences in how the world’s two largest economies are dealing with advances in technology that are upending the news business and social media.

    • Conservatives push censorship narrative during Zuck hearings
    • Ted Cruz Grills Mark Zuckerberg Over Facebook’s Political Bias, Censorship
    • Mark Zuckerberg’s House testimony covered the opioid crisis, diversity, conservative censorship and Facemash
    • Blackburn Takes on Zuckerberg Over Alleged Censorship: Diamond & Silk Are ‘Not Terrorism’
    • Congress ‘offended’ by Facebook’s censorship of Diamond and Silk
    • Republican lawmakers keep grilling Mark Zuckerberg about ‘censoring’ two conservative vloggers
    • Zuckerberg Says So-Called Censorship Of Diamond And Silk An Error
    • Who Are Diamond and Silk, and Why Can’t Congress Stop Asking Mark Zuckerberg About them?
    • GOP Lawmakers Continue Grilling Zuckerberg About Diamond & Silk: They’re ‘Not Terrorism’
    • ‘Diamond and Silk Is Not Terrorism’: Marsha Blackburn Claps Back at Mark Zuckerberg’s Claim About Facebook’s Censorship
    • Diamond and Silk Hit Back at Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook ‘Censorship’: ‘We Are Not Terrorists’
    • Our new website will challenge the culture of censorship on campus

      This is a story about the dwindling health of free speech on university campuses and why we set up a website to challenge it.

      The idea came quite suddenly. One of our founders, Oliver Kraftman, had written a piece in support of an anti-abortion student society in a university magazine. He didn’t agree with them, as it happens, but he supported their right to exist.

    • Google removes ‘Russia won the White House for you, Donald Trump’ billboard in censorship row

      Borders” that put messages criticizing world leaders on billboards that appeared on Google Street View has had the images removed by the tech company.

      Earlier this week, people browsing Moscow’s Red Square via Street View on maps.google.se would have seen a huge black-and-white billboard right next to St Basil’s Cathedral stating: “Being gay is normal.”

      The quote is from an interview with a school teacher who stated “homosexuality is normal” in Russian newspaper Molodai Dalnevostochnik. Editor Alexander Suturin was fined by Russia’s Federal Mass Media Inspection Service for breaking a law that bans “gay propaganda” among minors.

    • Facing Censorship and Stigma, Asia’s #MeToo Movement Fights For Change

      When Luo Qianqian posted about how she was sexually assaulted by her PhD supervisor on Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo, she could have hardly imagined the response. She had suffered in silence for 15 years since the attack, finally coming forward in January this year. “[There’s] no longer any need to be afraid,” she wrote. “we need to stand up bravely and say ‘No!’” She ended with the hashtag # 我也是 (#WoYeShi or #MeToo). Within weeks, thousands had shared her post, other students had come forward to tell their own tales of abuse, and the professor responsible was allegedly dismissed.

      Sadly, stories like Luo Qianiqian’s have been the exception rather than the norm in China, and across Asia as a whole. #MeToo has—by and large—been a slow starter across the continent. From Beijing to Kuala Lumpur, women have faced many of the same hurdles—the social stigma that comes with sharing experiences of abuse, a lack of trust in authorities to take claims seriously, and male-dominated societies that reinforce a code of silence.

      [...]

      It is no wonder that what has been called Indonesia’s own “#MeToo moment” was sparked by police ignoring one victim’s story. In January this year, a 22-year-old woman was groped by a man on a motorcycle in broad daylight on a Jakarta street. She tracked down CCTV footage of the incident, but after police refused to listen she posted it online through a popular Instagram account. The footage promptly went viral, leading another police unit to take up the case and eventually track down the abuser. The story illustrates both the power of social media and the considerable obstacles Indonesian women face in reporting abuse, let alone obtaining justice.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Disconnecting from Facebook

      About 5 months ago I moved away from Whatsapp (owned by Facebook) to Signal and today I moved away from Facebook itself. It has been on my to do list for a while already. Watching Zondag met Lubach this week gave me the final push to put my Facebook account removal at the top of my to do list. Arjen Lubach even created a Facebook event (quite funny) called “Bye Bye Facebook”, which was scheduled for yesterday evening at 20.00. He stuck to his word and removed his own account. What made it funnier was that his event was not very easy to find using the search function, which usually works fine.

    • Classified hearing set for leak suspect Reality Winner

      A date for a classified hearing was set Tuesday for attorneys to present their sides concerning the request by leak suspect Reality Leigh Winner’s defense team to subpoena various agencies, including the CIA, Department of Defense and Office of the White House, in preparation for her trial on an Espionage Act violation.

      The hearing, which will be closed to the public, is set for April 23 in U.S. District Court in Augusta before Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps. The judge has been handling pretrial matters in the criminal case.

      Winner has pleaded not guilty to the accusation that she copied a classified document while working for National Security Agency contractor Pluribus International at Fort Gordon and gave it to an unauthorized entity. A classified document was sent anonymously to the online media outlet The Intercept, which used the document to publish an account of Russian efforts to hack into state election officials’ e-mail and websites.

    • Zuckerberg: Facebook Collects Your Data Even If You’re Not A Facebook User

      This makes a hard blow to the privacy claims made by Facebook. And the already undermined statement that users own and control their data sounds no more than a bad joke.

      Facebook does have a support page titled,”I don’t have a Facebook account and would like to request all personal data stored by Facebook.”

      After clicking the form link present on the page, the user is asked to visit Account Settings and download their data. Unfortunately, this is only possible if you have a Facebook account.

    • Cambridge Analytica’s acting CEO is stepping down

      Embattled tech firm Cambridge Analytica announced that its acting CEO, Alexander Tayler, is stepping down to resume his post as chief data officer. The company’s board suspended and began investigating its previous head exec Alexander Nix a month ago after he was caught boasting about using propaganda and blackmail on behalf of previous clients.

    • Zuckerberg’s Congress Testimony Inspires Hilarious Memes On Internet

      Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of the US Congress today, where he answered a series of questions regarding the massive data breach by Cambridge Analytica.

    • 11 Biggest Moments From Mark Zuckerberg’s Mega Roast By Congress

      Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg spent five hours testifying against the senate judiciary and commerce committee at the Capitol Hill. Each senator was on a five-minute clock limit in which they had to squeeze as many words out of the Facebook CEO.

      According to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, Zuckerberg took part in four mock hearings to prepare for his first testimony that happened on April 10. The Facebook CEO is due for another testimony before the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives.

    • Zuckerberg’s Personal Data Also Leaked In Cambridge Analytica Scandal

      Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, while testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has revealed that his personal data was also a part of the 87 million users’ data that was exposed to Cambridge Analytica.

      The tech billionaire was summoned to the Capitol Hill for the second round of questioning on Facebook’s failure to protect user data and prevention of data misuse by Cambridge Analytica that caused political interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

    • Facebook Confirms Cambridge Analytica Had Access To Private Messages Too

      Facebook has revealed another shocking fact that Cambridge Analytica, which usurped over 87 million users’ data, could have accessed the private Facebook messages of users who were affected.

    • Facebook, This Is Not What “Complete User Control” Looks Like

      If you watched even a bit of Mark Zuckerberg’s ten hours of congressional testimony over the past two days, then you probably heard him proudly explain how users have “complete control” via “inline” privacy controls over everything they share on the platform. Zuckerberg’s language here misses the critical distinction between the information a person actively shares, and the information that Facebook takes from users without their knowledge or consent.

      Zuckerberg’s insistence that users have “complete control” neatly overlooks all the ways that users unwittingly “share” information with Facebook.

      Of course, there are the things you actively choose to share, like photos or status updates, and those indeed come with settings to limit their audience. That is the kind of sharing that Zuckerberg seemed to be addressing in many of his answers to Congressmembers’ questions.

    • State of the Onion

      The Tor Project has been hard at work this year building free software to fight surveillance and censorship across the globe. Join a handful of Tor contributors at this panel, and learn all about the state of the onion. We’ll talk about how we’re adding new security features like browser sandboxing, improving support for mobile devices, deploying the next generation of onion services, making Tor more usable, lowering our network overhead, making our software more maintainable, and growing our community with new outreach initiatives. We’ll also share some of what you can expect from Tor in the coming year, and we’re eager to hear questions from our community, too.

    • Amazon files for Alexa patent to let listen to people all the time and work out what they want

      The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you at all times – and using that to build up a detailed picture of what you want to buy.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Is Halfway to Scot-Free

      Zuckerberg’s performance was not perfect. His stilted delivery played well in the theatrical proceedings, but he professed ignorance about the basic functioning of his own platform, a cornerstone piece of Internet legislation called the Communications Decency Act, and whether Facebook tracked browsing even when users were logged out (they can).

    • What You Don’t Know About How Facebook Uses Your Data

      “Facebook can learn almost anything about you by using artificial intelligence to analyze your behavior,” said Peter Eckersley, the chief computer scientist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit. “That knowledge turns out be perfect both for advertising and propaganda. Will Facebook ever prevent itself from learning people’s political views, or other sensitive facts about them?”

      [...]

      Facebook is quick to note that when users sign up for an account, they must agree to the company’s data policy. It plainly states that its data collection “includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our services on those websites and apps, your use of our services, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us.”

    • The Questions Zuckerberg Should Have Answered About Russia

      Here are the five of the biggest questions about Russia that Zuckerberg wasn’t asked or didn’t answer—and why it’s important for Facebook to provide clear information on these issues.

    • Facebook-backed lawmakers are pushing to gut privacy law

      As Zuckerberg prepares to testify before Congress, Facebook is quietly fighting a crucial privacy measure in the Illinois Statehouse. Starting tomorrow, state legislators will consider a new amendment to the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) that could neuter one of the strongest privacy laws in the US, giving Facebook free rein to run facial recognition scans without users’ consent.

    • Senator to Zuckerberg: ‘Your user agreement sucks’

      “Here’s what everyone’s been trying to tell you today — and I say it gently — your user agreement sucks,” Kennedy said. “The purpose of a user agreement is to cover Facebook’s rear end, not inform users of their rights.”

      Zuckerberg appeared momentarily amused, but the comment hits at an issue central to Facebook’s data scandal: transparency.

    • Shadow profiles are the biggest flaw in Facebook’s privacy defense

      The most powerful example came from Rep. Ben Luján (D-NM), who confronted Zuckerberg on the company’s use of shadow profiles — a term for non-user data collection that Zuckerberg was apparently unfamiliar with.

      “It’s been admitted that you do collect data points on non-Facebook users,” Luján asked. “So my question is, can someone who does not have a Facebook account opt out of Facebook’s involuntary data collection?”

    • EU threatens to crack down on Facebook over hate speech

      The EU’s executive arm is examining how to have hateful [sic] content removed swiftly by social media platforms, with tough legislation being one option that could replace the current system.

    • Zuckerberg says Facebook will extend European data protections worldwide — kind of

      The congresswoman interrupted him. “It sounds like it will not be exact.” She ran out of time before she could press him any further.

      In yesterday’s hearing before the Senate, Zuckerberg was similarly ambiguous about whether this would be the case, possibly because his crib sheet (photographed yesterday by the AP), says in bolded text, “GDPR (Don’t say we already do what the GDPR requires).”

      It’s not known whether Facebook is in GDPR compliance at the moment. The new rules go into effect on May 25th.

    • The Photojournalist Who Took a Picture of Mark Zuckerberg’s Notes Reveals Why He Did It
    • Mark Zuckerberg just finished nearly 10 hours of questions from almost 100 lawmakers

      Rep. Kathy Castor pressed Zuckerberg hard on whether and how Facebook tracks users after they are off the platform. Rep. Ben Luján got Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook goes so far as to collect data from some people who have not signed up for the social network “for security purposes.”

      [...]

      Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, recounted a long list of Zuckerberg’s apologies over the years before concluding: “This is proof to me that self-regulation does not work.”

    • We want to link Aadhaar not because we see people as criminals, but to protect them from crime: UIDAI

      This is how the UIDAI countered before a Supreme Court Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra the allegation raised by petitioners, and later taken up by the court, that insistence of Aadhaar for all stigmatises the entire population and creates a feeling among people that all are under the government’s scanner for financial frauds, terrorism and tax evasion.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Hells Angels around the world rally to downrank Manitoba businesses that don’t serve outlaw bikers

      An Ontario police officer who works for an outlaw motorcycle gang unit said that the activities might constitute criminal harassment, and suggested that the targeted businesses could seek civil remedies from the Hells Angels.

    • Manitoba Hells Angels target businesses by posting 1-star reviews

      On March 27, supporters took to social media to express their displeasure with the Marion Hotel. When the small Winnipeg business removed its Facebook page, the bikers and their friends turned their attention to the Marion Street Eatery, the restaurant in the hotel.

      Within 24 hours hundreds of people, most of them from outside Canada, posted one-star reviews on the restaurant’s Facebook page, reducing its 4.5-star reputation to three stars overnight.

    • Reminder: Removing “Void if Removed” Stickers Doesn’t Void Your Warranty

      Tech companies aren’t allowed to void your warranty just because you removed a sticker—regardless of what that sticker might say.

      That’s according to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who yesterday posted a press release warning car, phone, and video game console makers to stop using warranty terms that aren’t legally enforceable.

    • FTC Suddenly Remembers ‘Warranty Void If Removed’ Stickers Are Illegal, Sends Out Stern Letters To Manufacturers

      The law has been around for more than 40 years, but the FTC only seems interested in enforcing it every so often. The tags slapped on electronic devices warning you that removing them will void your warranty? Complete horseshit. And illegal horseshit on top of that.

      The 1975 Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act said manufacturers can’t automatically void warranties just because owners have opened up their devices, performed their own repairs, or taken them to third parties for service. Nonetheless, the practice of sticking these little lies on electronics continues because the US government has yet to show an ongoing interest in protecting consumers from companies preying on consumer ignorance.

      Matthew Gault at Motherboard notes the FTC has made its periodic appearance in defense of consumers, raising its head above the parapet to wordslap a few unnamed manufacturers for their continued violation of this classic mid-70s legislation.

    • FTC Says ‘Warranty Void If Removed’ Stickers Are Bullshit, Warns Manufacturers They’re Breaking the Law

      The Federal Trade Commission put six companies on notice today, telling them in a warning letter that their warranty practices violate federal law. If you buy a car with a warranty, take it a repair shop to fix it, then have to return the car to the manufacturer, the car company isn’t legally allowed to deny the return because you took your car to another shop. The same is true of any consumer device that costs more than $15, though many manufacturers want you to think otherwise.

    • Goodyear Asks Judge To Help It Bury Document Showing It Covered Up Tire Problems Related To 98 Injuries Or Deaths

      The Jalopnik expose on tire problems Goodyear buried for 20 years — resulting in nearly 100 injuries or deaths — has led to a really novel request from Goodyear’s counsel. In essence, Goodyear approached the court (via a late evening conference call) and asked it to sternly request Jalopnik not publish damning documents mistakenly unsealed by the court’s clerk.

    • Goodyear Asked A Judge To Call Jalopnik And Request We Not Publish Documents On Its Dangerous RV Tire

      Last week, I asked Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to comment on claims made in a lengthy letter that says the company knew for more than 20 years about failures on a tire linked to hundreds of crashes that have left at least 98 people either injured or killed. I obtained the letter, along with more than 200 pages of exhibits to the letter, from a court in Arizona following a judge’s earlier decision that led the court’s clerk to briefly unseal the records. Goodyear never responded to me. Instead, unbeknownst to us at Jalopnik, the company asked the Arizona judge to call me directly and intone that I should, in the words of Goodyear’s attorney, “do the right thing” and not publish those documents.

    • Restoring the Rule of Law

      The rule of law is in serious jeopardy in the United States.

      The executive branch is unconstrained, engaging in foreign wars without oversight even while it dismantles the regulatory and administrative state that protects citizens from abuses of power.

      The legislative branch has been hopelessly bought-and-sold by monied interests.

      And the judicial branch refuses to intervene, actively closing the doors to any accountability over other elected officials.

    • Automatic Voter Registration Is on the Rise

      Pushing back on Trump’s anti-voter agenda, states are making real progress.

      Last week, Maryland joined eleven other states and the District of Columbia in adopting automatic voter registration. Because of The Secure and Accessible Registration Act, eligible Maryland residents will be automatically registered to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or interact with other state agencies such as the state’s health insurance exchange.

      Automatic voter registration is not only critical step to reaching hundreds of thousands unregistered Marylanders, it’s a national trend: states advancing voting rights in the face of an administration hostile to the ballot box.

      Just two days before Maryland made its gains, Donald Trump took the stage in the neighboring state of West Virginia to repeat — without proof —false claims that millions of people vote illegally in California. These comments come on the tail of the ACLU’s voting rights trial in Kansas, where Kris Kobach, one of Trump’s top lieutenants in the fight to spread the voter fraud lie, was exposed in court for a total lack of evidence.

    • Anger as ‘Windrush generation’ face deportation threat

      Thousands of people who arrived in the UK as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration face being threatened with deportation.

      They have lived and worked in the UK for decades but many are now being told they are there illegally.

      A new petition on the government’s website calling on the Home Office to grant them an amnesty has attracted more than 23,000 signatures.

      The Home Office said it would handle applications to stay “sensitively”.

      The problem arises from the fact that under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain – but the right to free movement between Commonwealth nations was ended from that date onwards.

    • ‘Serious flaws’ in UK immigration system, Law Society warns

      Bad immigration decisions are having a “devastating” effect on families and businesses and undermining the rule of law, solicitors have warned.

      Nearly half of decisions that go to appeal in England and Wales are overturned, suggesting the system is “serious flawed”, the Law Society said.

      And, the group added, it needed to be fixed before Brexit kicks in.
      The Home Office says appeals are upheld for a variety of reasons, often because new evidence is presented.

      Anine Sutherland, who fought a three-year battle with the Home Office to assert her right to stay in the UK, said she was “treated like a criminal” by officials at her first tribunal hearing.

    • From Border-Crosser to Felon

      The Trump administration encouraged prosecutors to seek felony charges against those who re-enter the U.S. after being deported. In the case of this Bucks County gardener, government employees felt halfhearted about turning an immigrant into a criminal.

    • In Pennsylvania, It’s Open Season on Undocumented Immigrants

      ICE’s Philadelphia office is fanning out into communities across its three-state region and making more “at-large” arrests of immigrants without criminal convictions than anywhere else in America.

    • For Cops Who Want to Help ICE Crack Down on Illegal Immigration, Pennsylvania Is a Free-for-All

      Without guidelines or oversight, some officers are using traffic stops to question Hispanics and turn over undocumented immigrants to ICE.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The Video Game Industry Joins The Lawsuit To Save Net Neutrality

      The Electronic Software Association (ESA) has decided to take a break from making up piracy statistics to actually do something useful.

      The group, which represents video game publishers ranging from EA to Nintendo, has filed a motion to intervene (pdf) in the looming case against the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules at the behest of consumers. Numerous consumer advocacy firms, several companies including Vimeo and Mozilla, and 23 State attorneys general have filed suit against the FCC, arguing it ignored the public interest, experts, and objective data when it rushed to kill popular net neutrality rules at the telecom industry’s behest.

    • The FCC’s ‘Broadband Advisory Council’ Keeps Losing Members Due To Cronyism

      Last year, FCC boss Ajit Pai repeatedly hyped the creation of a new “Broadband Deployment Advisory Council” (BDAC) purportedly tasked with coming up with solutions to the nation’s broadband problem. Unfortunately, reports just as quickly began to circulate that this panel was little more than a who’s who of entrenched telecom operators with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. What’s more, the panel featured few representatives from the countless towns and cities that have been forced to build their own broadband networks in the wake of telecom sector dysfunction.

  • DRM
    • DRM, DRM, oh how I hate DRM…

      After waiting for a couple of weeks, it arrived in a nonexciting little envelope straight from Hong Kong. If you look closely, you can even appreciate there’s a line (just below the smaller barcode) that reads “Lenovo”). I soon found how to open this laptop (kudos to Lenovo for a very sensible and easy opening process, great documentation… So far, it’s the “openest” computer I have had!) and installed my new card!

    • Entries for the Catalog of Missing Devices, courtesy of EFF supporters like you

      The Catalog of Missing Devices is a tour through some of the legitimate, useful and missing gadgets, tools and services that don’t exist but should. They’re technologies whose chance to exist was snuffed out by Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which makes tampering with “Digital Rights Management” into a legal no-go zone, scaring off toolsmiths, entrepreneurs, and tinkerers.

      We’re still adding our own designs to the Catalog, but we’ve also been honored by EFF supporters who’ve come up with their own additions. One such supporter is Dustin Rodriguez, who sends us these five great ideas for future entries. If you have great ideas for additions, send them to me and maybe you’ll see them here on Deeplinks!

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • China Online Gaming: Trademark and Copyright and Patent Protections

      The big thing to know about China IP laws as they relate to online gaming is that there really are no IP laws specific to online gaming. China’s IP laws relevant to online gaming are the same trademark and copyright and patent and IP licensing and trade secret and unfair competition laws we constantly write about on here. But though the laws are the same, how best to apply them to the particular product/industry — online gaming — differs. Our China IP lawyers generally view the IP work we do for our gaming company clients as similar to what we do for our movie and music and software and publishing (especially comic books) and toy company (especially dolls and character figures) clients.

    • Copyrights
      • 10 Best Free Music Websites To Download Songs Legally In 2018

        The internet offers a lot of things and among them is free music. You can find plenty of websites that offer free downloadable music; however, not all of them are legal. So if you are looking for songs that can be availed safely and free of cost, we have handpicked the best music websites for you.

        One might argue also why download free music when you can just stream it. Well, streaming online music is cool but what do you do when your mobile network connection or Wi-Fi is down. That’s where you need offline music, and the best part is you can carry your favorite tracks wherever you go without spending a single penny.

      • Rich writer, poor writer

        Meanwhile, there seems to be a chain of contempt in the world of writing believing pure literature is superior to scriptwriting: In 2008, Mr. Wolfgang Kubin criticized such “trend of vocational switching” in China and emphasized that “A script is not literature, as it casts too much restrictions in the course of creating. A writer loses his/her basic dignity when starts to write a script.” He is certainly not alone on that point of view, e.g. Ms. Geling Yan, the well-known writer whose works often being adapted into movies/TV series, also shared her experience that “Engaged in long-term screenwriting is harmful to the novel writing. Because unlike in screenwriting where each part of the plot carries a specific purpose to promote the development of the story… the creation of a novel normally is slower-paced and full of tension” – this all makes sense, at least at some point.

        Besides, the “poor literary writer” phenomenon might in fact already be a common issue. According to the report published by the Arts of Council England, “Now, however, the lot of the literary writer is tending back towards its historical norm – they are becoming unable to support themselves through literary writing alone.”

        It may seem natural to throw a conclusion here calling for stronger protection towards the pure literary writers. Yet many screenwriters, if not the most, have their own trouble as well, e.g. the socially inferior status, the lack of bargaining position, and the arrears of pay. Worse still, they do not have a Guild as powerful as for instance Writers Guild of America that could represent them. Therefore, the reality is that under the circumstances of the low-cost rampant plagiarism, the disproportionate compensation and the lack of up-to-date regulations, any types of writers in China could be vulnerable by chance, and they all should receive the corresponding protection of the law.

      • Solutions for a Stalled NAFTA: Stop Pushing So Hard on IP, and Release the Text

        The deadline for concluding a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), originally scheduled for last year, has continued to slip. An eighth and final formal round of negotiations was cancelled last week, and despite earlier optimistic plans that the parties could announce an “agreement in principle” at the Summit of the Americas in Peru this Friday 13 April, these plans have since been abandoned.

        An over-optimistic negotiation schedule isn’t the only problem here. The other is that United States Trade Representative (USTR) is pushing a hard line on topics such as intellectual property that neither of the other negotiating parties find remotely palatable. As a result, although advances have been made in some other chapters, reports suggest that virtually the whole of the agreement’s IP chapter remains up in the air.

      • MPAA Report Shows How The Internet Is Saving The Film Industry, Not Destroying It

        The MPAA has long found itself in the odd position of cheerleading its own industry’s never-attained demise. One of the core functions of the organization has been to demonize the internet with incessent discussions about how piracy is “killing” the industry, a death that never seems to take. Others have posited that the movie industry needs the internet more than the other way around, which hasn’t prevented Hollywood from waging a clandestine war through pricing and burdensome licensing arrangements with service providers that actually stave off piracy, such as Netflix. Whether Hollywood knew it was waging this war is an open question, but the end result of its tactics were to tamp down the usefulness of Netflix.

        And, yet, Netflix grew and grew anyway.

        Which perhaps has brought us to something of a turning point. There is a major change in the MPAA’s latest annual report, one which serves to laud the internet for saving its industry, instead of killing it. The MPAA has decided to finally start including home-viewing numbers and revenue in the report, and the numbers make it quite clear where the industry’s revenue is coming from.

      • Malibu Media Picks Fight With Wrong Defendant, Now Facing Abuse Of Process Allegations

        Malibu Media continues to burn judicial bridges. This is due to its habit of juggling hundreds of lit torches at any given time. Sooner or later, a few are going to get dropped. The prolific copyright troll continues to issue speculative invoices at the rate of dozens a month. Federal judges all around the country are sitting on backlogs of Malibu Media filings. But one thing remains certain: pushback by defendants tends to result in judicial examination of MM’s courtroom tactics. And that’s the last thing this serial litigant wants.

        When cases are actually examined on their merits, judges have been less than impressed. Some have noticed Malibu Media has little interest in actually serving defendants. Some have refused to let the troll dismiss cases the instant it experiences a little judicial friction. And, in Northern California, a judge has all but banned Malibu Media cases from his courtroom.

      • The EU’s latest copyright proposal is so bad, it even outlaws Creative Commons licenses

        But the new, worse-than-ever Link Tax contains a new wrinkle: rightsholders will not be able to waive the right to be compensated under the Link Tax. That means that European creators — who’ve released hundreds of millions of works under Creative Commons licenses that allow for free sharing without fee or permission — will no longer be able to choose the terms of a Creative Commons license; the inalienable, unwaivable right to collect rent any time someone links to your creations will invalidate the core clause in these licenses.

      • MPAA Quietly Shut Down Its ‘Legal’ Movie Search Engine

        A few years ago the MPAA launched its movie search engine WhereToWatch, offering viewers a database of legal alternatives to piracy. While the site worked as advertised, the movie industry group decided to quietly shut it down, stating that there are plenty of other search options available today.

The USPTO Has a Nepotism and Lobbying Problem That Jeopardises the Rationality of US Patent Law

Thursday 12th of April 2018 02:08:44 PM

The Office is now being run, almost literally, by the patent microcosm (Andrei Iancu)

Summary: The influence games of Washington are spilling over to the US patent office and poisoning/harming its ability to conduct professional operations without corporate influence (from either side, both corporations and law firms)

THE USPTO has a big — and growing — problem in its hands. It’s nowhere as severe as EPO scandals, but it could potentially develop over time. There is almost one single issue we habitually criticise the USPTO for and it’s to do with former officials, several of whom seem to have become lobbyists, typically for the patent microcosm. Lobbying is quite an epidemic in Washington (DC); it’s renowned if not notorious for it. There are no effective restrictions on such behaviour/operations because it’s “big business” in DC.

“There are no effective restrictions on such behaviour/operations because it’s “big business” in DC.”Lobbyist David Kappos keeps meddling, this time in a largely Microsoft-sponsored (Kappos’ sponsor also) think tank, Fordham IP. Why does the USPTO not intervene? Do they even understand how terrible this looks? He came from IBM and now he lobbies again for IBM among others like Microsoft. He uses his connections (which he acquired during his time as USPTO Director) to steer agenda. Watch last night’s article (titled “US intellectual property in the age of Trump”) which says:

President Trump has already made his mark by appointing a USPTO director and taking a stand against China. Panellists [sic] at the Fordham IP Conference, including David Kappos and James Pooley, assessed the impact Trump could have on IP

Pooley isn’t too bad (we wrote about him in the past), but what on Earth does Kappos do there? Panelist?

“He might be ready to do some damage (to patent reform).”Thankfully, for a number of years Kappos was replaced by Michelle Lee, who helped clean up the mess. But she didn’t last long. Now there’s a new boss (after a temporary one, Matal) and the mask fell off some time earlier this week. He might be ready to do some damage (to patent reform).

Baker Donelson’s Micheline Kelly Johnson, in a sponsored self-promotional piece (published at IAM today), comments on an older talk by Iancu in which he mentioned Section 101. At the time he said nothing too threatening to patent reform. Earlier this week, however, his tune changed somewhat. He adapted to a rather extreme audience. Michael Loney, who is based in New York and edits a patent maximalists’ site, wrote this: “Andrei Iancu has declared “we must change the dialogue surrounding patents”, and revealed the USPTO is looking to simplify the eligibility determination for its examiners and assessing PTAB issues such as how proceedings are instituted [...] USPTO director Andrei Iancu yesterday gave a strident speech at the US Chamber of Commerce Patent Policy Conference, acknowledging criticism of the patent system and stressing the need to improve the accuracy of patent grants.”

“He came from a firm that had worked for Trump.”Dennis Crouch wrote about it some hours ago. “USPTO Director Andrei Iancu gave the keynote address at the April 11, 2018 Patent Policy Conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” he said. Well, that’s what happens when the Trump-appointed ‘head of patents’ takes guidance from lobbyists and extremists of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AIPLA. He came from a firm that had worked for Trump.

Watchtroll (Gene Quinn) wrote about this with excitement. The headline is preceded by “BREAKING:” (yes, all CAPS!). A USPTO Director went to think tanks’ events lately (U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AIPLA, soon IAM too), so Watchtroll is now quote-mining for him. He’s hoping this will help derail the patent reform. “We are at an inflection point with respect to the patent system itself. As a nation, we cannot continue down the same path if we want to maintain our global economic leadership. And we will not continue down the same path,” Iancu is quoted as saying. There’s a full transcript.

“The government-to-lobbying (or vice versa) pipeline is a highly disturbing one, but it’s not uniquely American.”It’s worth noting that Watchtroll has also just quoted the lobbyist-turned-official Makan Delrahim, trying to twist some words for the maximalists’ agenda. “While I believe in a very restrained approach to antitrust enforcement when it comes to the legitimate exploitation of valid IP rights, the Division will not hesitate to enforce against anticompetitive collusive conduct,” Delrahim is quoted as saying.

The government-to-lobbying (or vice versa) pipeline is a highly disturbing one, but it’s not uniquely American. The USPTO might want to do something about that, but currently its boss may be part of the problem; his firm had worked for Trump before Trump nominated him for this position.

Patent Trolls in the United States Show the Importance of Stopping Software Patents (Trolls’ Favourite) Worldwide

Thursday 12th of April 2018 01:15:26 PM

In Europe also…

Summary: The abundance of entities that exist for no purpose other than to initiate lawsuits is a contagious threat to real innovation (or science and technology being practiced); a new jury verdict (record-breaking $500,000,000) is a reminder of this

The patent troll VirnetX, wielding a patent granted by the USPTO, uses it to make money out of extortion-type activities. This has gone on for about a decade. Apple has just lost again [1, 2] (2 more links at the bottom) and financial media put it in perspective for the small firm (troll) and the far larger one:

The jury ruled that Apple’s FaceTime, VPN on Demand and iMessage features infringed four of VirnetX’s patents, according to a Bloomberg News report. Damages were based upon sales of more than 400 million Apple devices, according to Bloomberg. Apple shares were down 0.1% after hours.

If Apple must pay $500 million, that is still a lot of money (even by Apple’s standards). We’d like to repeat what we said last year about this case: Join us, Apple, in fighting against software patents. It’ll pay off. Stop pursuing software patents. It’s just bad policy and a ruinous practice. That helps patent trolls.

Speaking of patent trolls, France (home of Battistelli and birthplace of his successor, Campinos) seems to be in love with some. We have, over the years, named several. France Brevets is actually a patent troll (as hard as it may be to accept, especially because it’s government-supported) and IAM wrote about it yesterday (albeit behind paywall):

In February we broke the news that France Brevets had sold a package of patents to Chinese ride sharing business Didi Chuxing. In total the sovereign patent fund (SPF) disposed of around 140 worldwide assets in a deal that underlines the fund’s recent evolution. As one of the original SPFs, France Brevets blazed a trail as it looked to generate a healthy return from locally produced IP while being backed by the French government.

Yes, the French government, whose former top officials make headlines for corruption these days, actively supports patent trolls. France is also the foremost proponent of UPC (since the old days of Michel Barnier). It’s a dream scenario for trolls.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Apple Owes VirnetX $502M for Patent Infringements

    If this feels familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before, and Apple isn’t VirnetX’s only target. The company has been in litigation with both Microsoft and Cisco. Microsoft settled and paid the company a total of $223 million. It now looks as though Apple may end up paying more than double that for the legal action to end. However, there is one final ray of hope for Apple.

    While VirnetX won, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) may end up having the final say in this outcome. That’s because PTAB believes VirnetX’s patents are invalid even for cases currently in progress. No final decision has been made on this matter, though, and therefore the Federal Circuit refused to delay Apple’s case.

  2. Apple Must Pay $502.6 Million to VirnetX, Federal Jury Rules

    VirnetX Holding Corp. won $502.6 million against Apple Inc. after a federal jury in Texas said the maker of iPhones was infringing patents for secure communications, the latest twist in a dispute now in its eighth year.

    [...]

    For VirnetX, the jury verdict in its favor could be a short-lived victory. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has said the [software] patents are invalid, in cases that are currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

Links 11/4/2018: Linux 3.18.104, ReactOS 0.4.8 Release

Wednesday 11th of April 2018 04:22:59 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Why is Linux Trending?

    There have been a number of highly visible, fast-moving trends in industrial automation technology over the past few years. The most notable of these has been the Internet of Things and its related mobile and remote applications. Other high-profile trends include the rise of augmented and virtual reality and the proliferation of industrial cybersecurity companies.

    Somewhat under radar, another trend has been developing. That trend is the increasing use of Linux as a leading operating system (OS) for automation controllers.

  • Desktop
    • OpenSnitch Is a Host-Based Firewall for Linux Desktops

      Simone Margaritelli, the VP of Research at Zimperium, has created a Linux port of Little Snitch, a wildly popular macOS firewall application.

      Named OpenSnitch, the Linux port works on the same principles of the macOS version, being a host-based firewall that notifies users when local apps are attempting to initiate new outgoing network connections.

      Similar to Little Snitch’s normal modus operandi, when this happens, OpenSnitch will display a popup, asking the user for instructions on how to deal with this new process.

      All user decisions are saved as rules in local JSON files. Users can edit these rules later to fine-tune the firewall or import/export rules from/to other systems.

    • You Can Now Run Progressive Web Apps as Native Chrome OS Apps on Your Chromebook

      Google’s François Beaufort recently informed the Chrome OS community about the fact that it’s now possible to run progressive Web Apps like native apps in Chrome OS on their Chromebooks.

      Live in the Chrome Canary experimental channel for Chrome OS, the new feature promises to let you run progressive Web Apps just like you would run native Chrome OS apps on your Chromebook. The apps will work offline in their own custom window.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 3.18.104

      I’m announcing the release of the 3.18.104 kernel.

      Only users who had build errors in 3.18.103 need to upgrade, this is a
      single-bugfix-only release.

      The updated 3.18.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-3.18.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

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

    • Laptop Support Improvements Head Into Linux 4.17

      Andy Shevchenko has submitted the platform-drivers-x86 updates for the Linux 4.17 kernel merge window that largely benefit modern x86 laptops running Linux.

    • Linux 4.17 To Support Microsemi Ocelot MIPS SoCs

      There are old CPU architectures being dropped from the Linux 4.17 kernel while also some new CPU support added. The latest work added with the busy Linux 4.17 development cycle is support for the MIPS-based Microsemi Ocelot SoCs.

      The Ocelot SoCs are manufactured by Microsemi and used to power a range of Ethernet switches and other devices from security cameras to industrial controls. Ocelot has been around since 2016. The onboard MIPS processor appears to run around 500MHz.

    • ZEDEDA Hires Open-Source Pioneer Donald Becker

      Prior to joining ZEDEDA, Becker was an early primary contributor to the Linux kernel, focusing on high-performance networking and distributed computing. He founded and led the Beowulf Project at NASA, which directly led to Linux becoming the OS of choice for high performance distributed computing. Along with researchers at other centers, he received the Gordon Bell Prize in 1997 for his work using Beowulf clustering software on PCs to solve math problems previously run on purpose-built supercomputers.

    • Linux Foundation
      • NETSCOUT Joins Linux Foundation Networking

        LFN was formed on January 1, 2018 as a new entity within The Linux Foundation that increases collaboration and operational excellence across its networking projects. LFN integrates the governance of participating projects to improve operational excellence and simplify member engagement.

      • Automotive Grade Linux Continues Growth with Five New Members

        Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative cross-industry effort developing an open platform for the connected car, is announcing that five new members have joined the project including ARKAMYS, IVIS, Paragon Software, SiFive, and Trillium Software. The steady growth of AGL demonstrates continued momentum and community support for the project, which now has more than 120 members.

      • Open Container Initiative Announces Distribution Specification Project

        The Open Container Initiative (OCI), an open source community for creating open standards around containers, today announced the launch of the Distribution Specification project to standardize container image distribution based on the specification for the Docker Registry v2 protocol, which supports the pushing and pulling of container images.

      • ​Open Container Initiative nails down container image distribution standard

        The Open Container Initiative (OCI), the open-source community in charge of creating container standards, has announced the launch of the Distribution Specification project to standardize container image distribution. This new standard is based on the Docker Registry v2 protocol. It standardizes container image distribution, which supports the pushing and pulling of container images.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Finally A Discussion Is Back Concerning FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / VRR DRM Support

        While AMD has plumbed in FreeSync variable-rate refresh support with their AMDGPU DC display code stack, it’s not yet all happy on the open-source mainline kernel as the missing piece has been over having a unified API for the Direct Rendering Manager drivers that can be used for supporting Free-Sync or the VESA-approved AdaptiveSync or HDMI VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). The discussion over having this common API for DRM drivers is back to being discussed.

      • NVIDIA 396.18 Linux Driver Reaches Beta With New Vulkan SPIR-V Compiler

        NVIDIA has rolled out an exciting beta Linux driver today, the first in their upcoming 396 driver series.

        The NVIDIA 396.18 Linux beta driver is now available and it’s quite exciting. Exciting me the most with the NVIDIA 396 driver series is the introduction of a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler. The goal of this new compiler is to reduce shader compilation time and shader system memory consumption. This new SPIR-V compiler is enabled by default but for now the old compiler is still around and can be toggled with the __GL_NextGenCompiler= environment variable.

      • NVIDIA 396.18 beta driver is out with a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler to reduce shader compilation time

        The new NVIDIA 396.18 beta is officially out and it’s one of the more interesting driver releases from NVIDIA.

        The biggest thing included in the driver, is the brand new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler. NVIDIA say this will help to reduce shader compilation time and shader system memory consumption. Their older compiler will be removed in a future driver version, but if you have issues with the new one which is on by default, you can use the “__GL_NextGenCompiler=” (0 or 1) environment variable to disable it.

      • Igalia Preps 16-bit Integer Support For Intel’s Vulkan Driver

        Igalia developers have been working on shaderInt16 support Intel’s open-source “ANV” Vulkan driver to provide 16-bit integer support.

        The consulting firm Igalia has been tasked with getting the 16-bit integer support in Vulkan shaders ready for the Intel Vulkan Linux driver. This 16-bit int support is available for “Gen8″ Broadwell graphics hardware and newer.

      • [ANNOUNCE] xorg-server 1.19.99.904
      • X.Org Server 1.20 RC4 Released, EGLStreams For XWayland Might Still Land

        On Tuesday a new X.Org Server 1.20 release candidate was issued by Red Hat’s Adam Jackson for this prolonged development cycle now stretching well more than one and a half years.

        This latest X.Org Server 1.20 release candidate has around three dozen fixes, mostly involving Direct Rendering Infrastructure 3 (DRI3) and GLAMOR 2D acceleration.

      • AMD Posts KFD Support For GFX9/Vega

        With the in-development Linux 4.17 kernel there is the long-awaited discrete GPU support in good shape at least for hardware like Polaris and Fiji. While the latest and greatest AMD GPUs are the Vega family, more work has been needed for AMDKFD support. Unfortunately those Vega changes didn’t make it in for Linux 4.17, but those patches are now available.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • More GNOME Performance Improvements Are On The Way

        While it unfortunately didn’t happen in time for last month’s GNOME 3.28 release, there are more performance improvements en route.

        Several performance fixes are inbound on top of an important performance fix covered at the end of March where Clutter’s text rendering code was causing frequent spikes in GNOME Shell’s frame-time.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • A Look at Solus 3 Budgie, GNU/Linux Distribution

        The last time I tried Solus, it was still in its infancy stages, and it wasn’t to my tastes really. I had been thinking of which Linux distro to take a look at next, and I wanted to pick something that wasn’t based off Debian / Ubuntu / Arch / Gentoo / OpenSUSE or any of the majors, so I decided to give Solus 3 a try, being a completely independent distro – And it wasn’t bad.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat Confirms RHEL 8 Will Drop Python 2

        While it could have been pretty much assumed up until now that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 would ship without Python 2 considering that next enterprise Linux OS release isn’t even out yet, its long-term maintenance support, and Python 2 reaching EOL at the start of 2020, but now it’s been made official.

        As part of today’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 release, Red Hat issued their latest deprecation notices. Most notable this time around with RHEL 7.5 as a new deprecation notice is that of Python 2.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Officially Released, Enhances Hybrid Cloud Security

        Red Hat announced today the general availability of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 operating system with new features and security enhancements needed for hybrid cloud environments and the enterprise world.

        The fifth maintenance update of Red Hat’s enterprise-ready Linux-based operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 is here to add yet another layer of performance and security enhancements to existing installations, as well as a plethora of new features with new deployments, which would mostly benefit enterprise customers on the desktop, server, and cloud infrastructures.

      • RHEL 7.5, ​the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, arrives

        Red Hat has come a long way in 25 years. Now, the Linux company is continuing to drive forward both in the Linux server business and in the cloud with its latest distribution release: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.5.

        The Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat emphasized in this release not the newest RHEL’s Linux improvements, but rather, how RHEL can be used “as a consistent foundation for hybrid cloud environments … [and] further integration with Microsoft Windows infrastructure both on-premise and in Microsoft Azure.”

      • Red Hat boss urges automation for disruption

        Automating “as much as possible” can help telecoms operators and other enterprises move at a pace akin to the world’s technology giants, according to Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of open source solutions provider Red Hat (pictured).

        Whitehurst told Mobile World Live one of the biggest issues facing the telecoms industry and other enterprises was an inability to make their operations move faster, and implementing automation processes was essential to achieving business transformation.

        “It’s about creating a layered architecture, it’s thinking about business process systems and the culture around how to make sure people are doing things that people need to do and you can automate everything else around and make it as simple as possible,” he said.

      • Plymouth Adds Device Rotation Support

        Commits these days to Plymouth are fairly rare with this Red Hat developed project seeing its first commits of 2018 yesterday.

        Plymouth doesn’t seem commits too often since this Linux graphical boot system is largely in great shape, relies upon the stable DRM/KMS kennel APIs, and has largely hit feature completion for a simple graphical boot screen that is far better than the days of RHGB or alternatives. But a fair amount of new code did land yesterday in Plymouth for now supporting device rotation.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • DevConf’18 and CommOps FAD

          DevConf.cz 2018 is the 10th annual, free, Red Hat sponsored community conference for developers, admins, DevOps engineers, testers, documentation writers and other contributors to open source technologies such as Linux, Middleware, Virtualization, Storage, Cloud and mobile where FLOSS communities sync, share, and hack on upstream projects together in the beautiful city of Brno, Czech Republic.

        • Fedora Infrastructure Hackathon (day 0)
    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • OSI’s Simon Phipps on Open Source’s Past and Future

    It would be difficult for anyone who follows Linux and open source to have missed the 20th birthday of open source in early February. This was a dual celebration, actually, noting the passing of 20 years since the term “open source” was first coined and since the formation of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the organization that decides whether software licenses qualify to wear that label.

    The party came six months or so after Facebook was successfully convinced by the likes of the Apache Foundation; WordPress’s developer, Automatic; the Free Software Foundation (FSF); and OSI to change the licensing of its popular React project away from the BSD + Patents license, a license that had flown under the radar for a while.

  • Make your first contribution to an open source project

    It’s a common misconception that contributing to open source is difficult. You might think, “Sometimes I can’t even understand my own code; how am I supposed to understand someone else’s?”

    Relax. Until last year, I thought the same thing. Reading and understanding someone else’s code and writing your own on top of that can be a daunting task, but with the right resources, it isn’t as hard as you might think.

  • ReactOS 0.4.8 Released With Fix For 17 Year Old Bug, Various Driver/Kernel Improvements

    ReactOS 0.4.8 is now available as the project’s first update of 2018 that continues working on becoming an “open-source Windows” with binary drop-in compatibility support.

    First off, ReactOS 0.4.8 has fixed a seventeen year old bug pertaining to its Common Cache implementation. With this bug fix there should be less file corruption on different supported file-systems. There is also a bug fix pertaining to file writing too.

  • Google and Netflix team up on Kayenta, an open-source project for automated deployment monitoring
  • Google and Netflix introduce open-source automated canary analysis service
  • Netflix and Google launch Kayenta open source canary tool
  • ​Perfecting DevOps’ Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery with Kayenta

    One of DevOps’s greatest promises is speeding up software delivery with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). There’s just one little problem: To do it efficiently, you need to test the latest patches in production with canary testing. Everyone says they do this, but they mostly do a poor job of it. Now, Google and Netflix have partnered together to release Kayenta, which automates efficient canary testing.

    Andrew Phillips, a Google cloud product manager, explained in an interview that canary testing, like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, presents a small group of users with new code to see if something goes wrong in production. Typically, this has been done by hand. Developers then watch their dashboards to see if the canary dies (aka the code fails). This method, while popular, makes it far too easy to miss problems.

  • How Netflix Deploys Open Source AI to Reveal Your Favorites

    Netflix’s very own content delivery network (CDN) is powered by open source. They initially outsourced their streaming services to Akamai, Level3 and Limelight. But eventually, they had a change in plans.

  • Google and Netflix open-source Kayenta, a software release management tool

    These days companies often issue new releases and updates of their software several times a day to millions of users in the cloud, and no matter how much they try to make sure it will run flawlessly, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee it.

  • Luxoft releases PELUX 1.0 automotive software starter-kit on Open Source

    The automotive division of Luxoft has launched PELUX 1.0, a base development platform designed to provide the building blocks for automotive software development projects, which is now available on Open Source.

    PELUX 1.0 was developed from Luxoft’s PELUX software suite which, for over four years, has helped carmakers and tier one suppliers to develop converged automotive systems for infotainment, autonomous driving, body control and communication.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Introducing the Accessibility Inspector in the Firefox Developer Tools

        The built-in Firefox Developer Tools just received a new family member. The Accessibility Inspector allows you to inspect your website’s exposure to assistive technologies.

      • This Week in Rust 229

        Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn’t know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

      • Rust all-hands (dev-tools stuff)

        Last week (sigh, the week before last now) we held an ‘all-hands’ event in Berlin. It was a great event – fantastic to meet so many Rust people in real life and really energising to see how much is being planned and implemented. There is a blog post describing the whole event on the Rust blog.

        In this post I want to summarise some of the important dev-tools stuff that happened. Our planning and notes from some meetings is in the dev-tools team repo.

      • Notes v4 with multi-note support

        Multi-note support is now available in the new Test Pilot Notes v4 update. This was the most requested feature after going through all of the user research and feedback. You may also notice more UX changes to make Notes feel more like the rest of Firefox by following the Photon design system guidelines.

      • Mark Surman: A scandal, a napkinand the health of the internet

        Today marks the launch of Mozilla’s first full edition of the Internet Health Report, an open source effort to explore the state of human life on the internet.

        As we put our final touches on the report, the United States scrambled to prepare for testimony by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, following revelations about user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica. The conversation: what should the Senate and Congress ask him?

        The list of questions is long.What do we do about the data of up to 87 million people floating around, unrecoverable? Can artificial intelligence help address suspicious behaviour around elections? What are Facebook’s responsibilities to users and the public? Unsurprisingly, it was also quite scattered. We do not yet have a collective mental map of how issues like these connect.

      • The Internet has serious health problems, Mozilla Foundation report finds

        Of particular concern were three issues:

        • Consolidation of power over the Internet, particularly by Facebook, Google, Tencent, and Amazon.
        • The spread of “fake news,” which the report attributes in part to the “broken online advertising economy” that provides financial incentive for fraud, misinformation, and abuse.
        • The threat to privacy posed by the poor security of the Internet of Things.
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFly BSD 5.2 Released with Meltdown & Spectre Mitigations, Better Graphics

      The DragonFly BSD developers announced today the release and immediate availability for download of version 5.2 of their FreeBSD-based open source Unix-like operating system.

      Packed with mitigations for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities unearthed earlier this year and discovered to put billions of devices at risk of attacks, DragonFly BSD 5.2 is here to make sure you’re running a secure and safe Unix-like operating system on your personal computer or server.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GRUB Boot-Loader Picks Up Support For F2FS File-System

      The GRUB2 boot-loader now has support for the Flash-Friendly File-System so it can boot to systems formatted with F2FS as the root file-system.

      F2FS lead developer Jaegeuk Kim authored this file-system support addition for GRUB. Previously the work was carried by OpenMandriva among other distributions while now is upstream in GRUB Git for allowing /boot to be on a F2FS-formatted partition.

    • GIMP Punts Painting Off To Separate Thread

      As a long overdue move, the GIMP image manipulation program now has support for moving the painting process off to a separate CPU thread.

      The actual painting is now performed in a separate thread so that painting isn’t stalled when the display updates. With the painting otherwise being in the same thread as the UI, when updates occur there can be measurable synchronization overhead.

    • Blockchain in Space

      Blockstream is providing the blockchain data for free, but plans to charge for future add-ons. Connections require a small Ku-band satellite dish – size will depend on location – an LNB receiver, a USB software-defined radio interface, and free GNU Radio software for the receiver, with an estimated $100 or so for equipment. Free documentation is available at Github.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Exclusive Interview: UnionTech Discusses New 3D Printers, Open Source Philosophy

        UnionTech is a long-established company, having been founded in China in 2000 and then expanding to the United States in 2016. The company is a leader in stereolithography (SLA/SL) 3D printing, and part of what sets it apart from other SLA providers is its firm belief in open source technology. UnionTech is proof that patents aren’t necessary for a company to remain competitive, and that open source can, in fact, be an advantage for both the company and the overall market. UnionTech has been busy introducing new 3D printers lately, including the large-format RSPro 1400 and the PILOT Commercial series.

        We recently spoke with General Manager Jim Reitz about the new machines, the company’s open source philosophy, and the overall 3D printing industry, as well as UnionTech’s place in it.

Leftovers
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Taking the World to the Brink

      Western neoconservatives and hawks are driving the international situation to increasing tension and danger. Not content with the destruction of Iraq and Libya based on false claims, they are now pressing for a direct US attack on Syria.

      As a dangerous prelude, Israeli jets flying over Lebanese airspace fired missiles against the T4/Tiyas Airbase west of Palmyra following reports on Sunday of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, a suburb of Damascus under rebel contorl.

      As reported at Tass, the Chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, predicted the alleged use of chemicals almost a month ago. The report from March 13 says, “Russia has hard facts about preparations for staging the use of chemical weapons against civilians by the government forces. After the provocation, the US plans to accuse Syria’s government forces of using chemical weapons … furnish the so-called ‘evidence’ … and Washington plans to deliver a missile and bomb strike against Damascus’ government districts.”

      Gerasimov noted that Russian military advisors are staying in the Syrian Defense Ministry’s facilities in Damascus and “in the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”

    • Doomsday Machines

      At the conclusion of his 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick introduced the concept of a “Doomsday Machine”—designed by the Soviet Union to deter nuclear attack against the country by automating the destruction of all human life as a response to such an attack. The movie’s Russian leader had installed the system before revealing it to the world, however, and it was now being triggered by a single nuclear explosion from an American B-52 sent off by a rogue commander without presidential authorization.

      Kubrick had borrowed the name and the concept of the Doomsday machine from my former colleague Herman Kahn, a Rand physicist with whom he had discussed it. In his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War, Kahn wrote that he would be able to design such a device. It could be produced within ten years and would be relatively cheap—since it could be placed in one’s own country or in the ocean. It would not depend on sending warheads halfway around the world.

      But, he said, the machine was obviously undesirable. It would be too difficult to control— too inflexible and automatic—and its failure “kills too many people”—everyone, in fact, an outcome that the philosopher John Somerville later termed “omnicide.” Kahn was sure in 1961 that no such system had been built, nor would it be, by either the United States or the Soviet Union.

      The physicist Edward Teller, known as the “father of the H-bomb,” likewise denied that omnicide—a concept he derided—was remotely feasible.

      [...]

      The hidden reality I aim to expose is that for more than fifty years, all-out thermonuclear war—an irreversible, unprecedented, and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth—has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, and Fukushima Daiichi, and a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these. And that is still true today.

      Here is what we now know: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine. It is not the same system that Herman Kahn envisioned (or Stanley Kubrick portrayed), with warheads buried deep and programmed to explode in their own territories, producing deadly global fallout. But a counterpart nevertheless exists for both countries: a system of men, machines, electronics, communications, institutions, plans, training, discipline, practices, and doctrine—which, under conditions of electronic warning, external conflict, or expectations of attack, would with unknowable but possibly high probability bring about the global destruction of civilization. These two systems still risk doomsday: both are on hair-trigger alert that makes their joint existence unstable. This is true even though the Cold War that rationalized their existence ended thirty years ago.

    • ‘Horrifying’ Video Shows Israeli Soldiers Shouting With Joy After Sniping Unarmed Palestinian in Gaza

      Just days after a journalist and at least eight other Palestinians were gunned down by Israeli forces during anti-occupation demonstrations in Gaza, a recent video of an Israeli sniper shooting an unarmed Palestinian man emerged for the first time on social media Monday, providing further evidence that the deliberate killing of civilians “is routine for Israel.”

      “This video may be from months ago, Israel is claiming, which does not in any way make it less horrifying,” Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electric Intifada, wrote on Twitter Monday.

      Apparently filmed by an Israeli soldier, the undated video shows what appears to be an unarmed man standing near the fence that separates Israel and Gaza.

    • The Four Horsemen Gallop By

      The media onslaught has moved past the attack in Salisbury by a “weapon of mass destruction” (quoting Theresa May) which could only be Russian, except that was untrue, and was extremely deadly, except that was untrue too. It now focuses on an attack by chemical weapons in Douma which “could only be” by the Russian-backed Assad regime, except there is no evidence of that either, and indeed neutral verified evidence from Douma is non-existent. The combination of the two events is supposed to have the British population revved up by jingoism, and indeed does have Tony Blair and assorted Tories revved up, to attack Syria and potentially to enter conflict with Russia in Syria.

      The “Russian” attack in Salisbury is supposed to negate the “not our war” argument, particularly as a British policeman was unwell for a while. Precisely what is meant to negate the “why on earth are we entering armed confrontation with a nuclear power” argument, I do not know.

      Saudi Arabia has naturally offered facilities to support the UK, US and France in their attempt to turn the military tide in Syria in favour of the Saudi sponsored jihadists whom Assad had come close to defeating. That the Skripal and Douma incidents were preceded by extremely intense diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Washington, Paris and London this year, with multiple top level visits between capitals, is presumably supposed to be coincidence.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • ‘No WikiLeaks’: ABC defends cabinet leak

      The ABC has defended its reporting and actions around the leak of top-secret cabinet documents, saying it chose not to do a “WikiLeaks”.

      The public broadcaster broke a series of stories from documents found in a cabinet file at second-hand shop before it returned the files to the government earlier this year.

      ASIO took possession of the thousands of sensitive government files in February after the ABC and the department agreed on their return.

      “We knew the government would not surprisingly come calling for their documents once they were aware that we had them,” the ABC’s head of editorial policy Alan Sunderland told a Senate committee in Canberra on Wednesday.

    • Two weeks since WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange silenced by Ecuador

      Two weeks have passed since the Ecuadorian government cut off WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange from any communication with the outside world, placing a block on his access to the Internet, phone communications and visitors.

      Assange has been confined to Ecuador’s embassy in London for the last six years, where he had been granted political asylum as he has fought to avoid being extradited to Sweden for questioning on trumped-up sexual assault allegations. The United States has long sought to detain and prosecute Assange for publishing emails and diplomatic logs exposing American war crimes in the Middle East and the corruption of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

      Any accusations against Assange have long been dropped by Sweden, and the UN has declared his confinement to the embassy to be illegal. However, the British government continues to insist that they will arrest him if he leaves the building for any reason, including health problems, and presumably deliver him immediately into the clutches of the American government.

  • Finance
    • PayPal is dipping its toe in the water of becoming a ‘real bank’
    • UK’s Open University to be decimated, as more jobs are eliminated

      University workers will see no struggle waged by the University and College Union (UCU) or any of the education unions against any of the cuts and job losses being proposed. The union has not lifted a finger against the drive to privatize education in HE and FE over the last decade, and is currently attempting to sell out the struggle of its university members who are opposing huge attacks on the Universities Superannuation Scheme pension scheme.

    • Senators Question HUD’s “Rash” Decision to Close Two Housing Complexes in Southern Illinois

      U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are questioning whether the Department of Housing and Urban Development followed federal law in deciding to shutter two public housing complexes in the tiny village of Thebes in southern Illinois, forcing 85 residents to leave.

      In a letter sent last week to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, the Democratic senators called the forthcoming closure “an ill-advised and heedless decision” and requested copies of various documents, public notices and a written relocation plan for Thebes’ public housing residents. Durbin and Duckworth say these documents are required by law when housing authorities attempt to sell or demolish public housing complexes.

    • Trump’s Company Is Suing Towns Across the Country to Get Breaks on Taxes — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Yet quietly in another setting, the Trump Organization says the president’s holdings are worth far less than he has proclaimed. Across the country, the Trump Organization is suing local governments, claiming its owes much less in property taxes than government assessors say because its properties are worth much less than they’ve been valued at. In just one example, the company has asserted that its gleaming waterfront skyscraper in Chicago is worth less than than its assessed value, in part because its retail space is failing and worth less than nothing.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • During Facebook’s Senate Hearing, Reddit Reveals It Banned Almost 1,000 Russian Trolls [sic]
    • Who Will Take on the 21st Century Tech and Media Monopolies?

      After decades of regulatory neglect, Big Tech is finally coming under the microscope.

      Facebook is under fire for (among other things) its involvement with Cambridge Analytica, a British data analytics firm funded by hedge fund billionaire and major Republican party donor Robert Mercer and formerly led by President Trump’s ex–campaign manager and strategist Steve Bannon. Cambridge Analytica harvested data from over 87 million Facebook profiles (up from Facebook’s original count of 50 million) without the users’ consent, according to a report by the London Observer (3/17/18) sourced to a whistleblower who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014.

      The users’ personal data was gathered through a survey app created by a Cambridge Analytica–associated academic named Aleksandr Kogan, who used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk micro-work platform and Qualtrics survey platform to gather and pay over 240,000 survey-takers. The data collected was then used by Cambridge Analytica to comb through the political preferences of the survey takers and their Facebook friends, without their knowledge, to create individual “psychographic models” that would then allow for entities (like the Trump presidential campaign) to target them with personalized political advertisements and news.

      [...]

      Still, Facebook failed to report the breach to their users, and then threatened to sue the Guardian (owners of the Observer) upon publication of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower’s testimony.

    • The Crime-Fraud Exception in the Michael Cohen Case

      No one — not even the president — can be allowed to exploit the privilege to engage in crime.

      On Tuesday morning, President Trump reacted to the news that the FBI searched the office of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, by tweeting “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” On Monday night, he called the search “an attack on our country.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While all the facts are not yet known publicly, all indications thus far are that the search was conducted pursuant to the rule of law, and with sign-offs from Trump appointees.

      We don’t say this lightly. The ACLU is the nation’s premier defender of privacy, and we’ve long maintained that the right of every American to speak freely to his or her attorney is essential to the legal system. These rights are protected by the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, and we are second to none in defending them — often for people with whom we fundamentally disagree.

      But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no one – not even the president, let alone his lawyer – is above the law. And no one, not even the president, can exploit the attorney-client privilege to engage in crime or fraud.

      The attorney-client privilege has always included a “crime-fraud exception,” which provides that if you are using the attorney-client relationship to perpetrate a crime, there is no privilege. You have a right to talk in confidence with your attorney about criminal activity, but you can’t use your attorney to accomplish a crime. A mobster suspected of engaging in bribery can consult his attorney about the facts of his alleged bribery without fear that the attorney will disclose those communications. But he has no right to have the lawyer deliver the bribe for him.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • [Older] Safe spaces used to inhibit free speech on campuses, inquiry finds

      It said many of the incidents in which free speech was restricted revolved around discussion of a small number of key divisive issues, including abortion, transgender issues, Islamophobia and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    • FBI seized Backpage.com – and the new website is WEIRD
    • Federal Backpage Indictment Shows SESTA Unnecessary, Contains Zero Sex Trafficking Charges
    • London Book Fair 2018: IPA Puts Censorship in the Spotlight

      Mark Stephens, a well-known human rights lawyer, said that when it comes to censorship around the world, publishers and freedom of speech advocates “have a nest of trip wires we have to navigate.” He offered an overview of several trouble spots around the world, noting that that the big question is whether to “engage in dialog with a country that engages in censorship or to leave it alone.” This question is particularly relevant to the IPA, which is still criticized by many in publishing for elevating China, in particular, to full membership.

      Several seminar sessions referenced Turkey, where press freedom has been in significant decline since the political crackdown following the attempted coup in 2016.

      Maureen Freely, president of English PEN and translator of Orhan Pamuk, noted that a crackdown on intellectuals and the media has put a significant amount of people out of work. “The people who have been dismissed from their jobs had their passports confiscated and can no longer find work, include 116,250 people dismissed from public service; another 5,822 from 118 public universities; 2,500 media workers have been sacked; 140 media organizations have been shut down, as have 30 publishers and 18 magazines; there are 80 writers in prison, but only 3 are in prison for their books, while the others are there for alleged membership in terrorist organization,” Freely said.

    • The 19th-century censor who pushed Americans too far

      Few people are so influential that their last name inspires a word. But Anthony Comstock, a postal inspector who becomes America’s first professional censor, eagerly set himself apart.

      In the Victorian era, he pushed to ban any material that threatened to inflame passion, from photographs and books to birth control guides and classic works of art. But he went too far.

    • University Press Group Decries Censorship

      The Association of University Presses has issued a statement urging scholarly publishers to refuse requests from foreign governments to restrict digital access to content.

      The statement follows several high-profile cases in which scholarly publishers restricted access to certain content in China. Cambridge University Press briefly blocked access in China to more than 300 articles in the journal The China Quarterly before reversing course and restoring access to the articles, most of which were on subjects like the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet.

    • The argument for Canada’s controversial website-blocking proposal

      A coalition of Canadian companies has proposed a regime to block egregious copyright infringing websites. McCarthy Tétrault’s Barry Sookman voiced a wry defence of the proposal at the Fordham IP Conference while pointing to the recent experience in the UK and elsewhere

    • Legislators Call for Investigation Into Reported NPS Science Censorship

      A new report demonstrating censorship of climate change science follows U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s claim that “there was no incident—no incident, at all, that I know of, that we ever changed a comma on a document itself.”

      Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and four of her colleagues called on U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall to conduct an investigation into potential alterations to a scientific report titled “Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Projections for the National Park Service” by Department of the Interior employees that removed references to human-caused climate change.

    • Again, Algorithms Suck At Determining ‘Bad’ Content, Often To Hilarious Degrees

      A few weeks back, Mike wrote a post detailing how absolutely shitty algorithms can be at determining what is “bad” or “offensive” or otherwise “undesirable” content. While his post detailed failings in algorithms judging such weighty content as war-crime investigations versus terrorist propaganda, and Nazi hate-speech versus legitimate news reporting, the central thesis in all of this is that relying on platforms to host our speech and content when those platforms employ very, very imperfect algorithms as gatekeepers is a terrible idea. And it leads to undesirable outcomes at levels far below those of Nazis and terrorism.

      Take Supper Mario Broth, for instance. SMB is a site dedicated to fun and interesting information about Nintendo and its history. It’s a place that fans go to learn more weird and wonderful information about the gaming company they love. The site also has a Twitter account, which was recently flagged for posting the following tweet.

    • Court Shuts Down Yet Another Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies Over Terrorist Attacks

      Another Excolo Law/1-800-LAW-FIRM lawsuit against social media companies alleging terrorism support has been shown the door by a federal judge. The survivors of Pulse Nightclub shooting sued Twitter, Google, and Facebook for supposedly being at least somewhat responsible for the horrible act carried out by the shooter. The law firms attempted to dodge dismissal under Section 230 by fashioning this as a material support for terrorism complaint. Unsurprisingly, the judge — without ever having to address the dodged Section 230 issue — didn’t find any of the plaintiffs’ arguments persuasive.

    • Exile media fight for freedom of expression – Index on Censorship

      Eurasia has witnessed an unprecedented decline in freedom of expression since 2011, according to Denmark-based NGO International Media Support, a non-profit organisation that works to support local media in countries affected by armed conflict, authoritarian rule and political transition.

      Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s oldest and leading newspapers, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt outside a courtroom in May 2016 where he faced a possible five-year sentence on charges of leaking state secrets.

    • Ted Cruz Gets Section 230 All Wrong, While Zuck Claims He’s Not Familiar With It

      There’s plenty to say about Mark Zuckerberg’s first congressional hearing this week (like Senator Thune’s thinly-veiled threat of more SESTA-like laws, or Senator Cantwell’s strange, unfocused tangent about Palantir and WhatsApp) but one exchange stands out as so utterly ridiculous that it bears special note.

      Senator Cruz used his time in an attempt to shift the focus onto Republican fears that Facebook is a liberal propaganda machine, and specifically tried to box Zuckerberg into declaring whether Facebook was “a first amendment speaker expressing your views”, or a “neutral public forum” — and then explicitly claimed that being the latter is a prerequisite of CDA Section 230 protections.

    • Ted Cruz Presses Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Alleged Political Censorship
    • Cruz Grills Zuckerberg on Censorship, Conservative Viewpoints

      U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, peppered Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about the social network’s approach to political speech on its platform, asking specifically about concerns that pages associated with conservative viewpoints had been shut down.

    • Cruz presses Zuckerberg on alleged censorship of conservative speech

      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday over what the Republican senator described as broad concerns that the company has censored conservative accounts and content.

      Zuckerberg defended Facebook as a “platform for all ideas.” At the same time, he acknowledged that Facebook’s presence in liberal Silicon Valley could cause such concerns to arise.

    • Ted Cruz Grills Zuckerberg Over FB’s Censorship Of Conservatives
    • Zuckerberg sees more censorship in Facebook’s future
    • Diamond and Silk accuse Facebook of discrimination, censorship over ‘unsafe’ label
    • Woman With Her Own TV Show Rails Against Censorship
    • Conservative censorship is getting worse

      In recent months, Google/YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have been caught demoting, shadow banning, demonetizing and even terminating center-right users and creator profiles.

    • Crypto YouTubers Turn to Blockchain-Based Platforms As Censorship Rises
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • A New Welcome to Privacy Badger and How We Got Here

      The latest update to Privacy Badger brings a new onboarding process and other improvements. The new onboarding process will make Privacy Badger easier to use and understand. These latest changes are just some of the many improvements EFF has made to the project, with more to come!

    • Too Big to Let Others Fail Us: How Mark Zuckerberg Blamed Facebook’s Problems On Openness

      Facebook’s first reactions to the Cambridge Analytical headlines looked very different from the now contrite promises Mark Zuckerberg made to the U.S. Congress this week. Look closer, though, and you’ll see a theme running through it all. The message coming from Facebook’s leadership is not about how it has failed its users. Instead it’s about how users —and especially developers —have failed Facebook, and how Facebook needs to step in to take exclusive control over your data.

      You may remember Facebook’s initial response, which was to say that whatever Cambridge Analytica had gotten away with, the problem was already solved. As Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, wrote in that first statement, “In the past five years, we have made significant improvements in our ability to detect and prevent violations by app developers” Most significantly, he added, in 2014 Facebook “made an update to ensure that each person decides what information they want to share about themselves, including their friend list. This is just one of the many ways we give people the tools to control their experience. ”

      By the time Zuckerberg had reached Washington, D.C., however, the emphasis was less about users controlling their experience, and more about Facebook’s responsibility to make sure those outside Facebook—namely developers and users—were doing the right thing.

    • The U.S. CLOUD Act and the EU: A Privacy Protection Race to the Bottom

      U.S. President Donald Trump’s $1.3 trillion government spending bill, signed March 23rd, offered 2,323 pages of budgeting on issues ranging from domestic drug policy to defense. The last-minute rush to fund the U.S. government through this all-or-nothing “omnibus” presented legislators with a golden opportunity to insert policies that would escape deep public scrutiny. Case in point: the Clarifying Lawful Use of Overseas Data (CLOUD) Act, whose broad ramifications for undermining global privacy should not be underestimated, was snuck into the final pages of the bill before the vote.

      Between the U.S. CLOUD Act and new European Union (EU) efforts to dismantle international rules for cross-border law enforcement investigations, the United States and EU are racing against one another towards an unfortunate finish-line: weaker privacy protections around the globe.

      The U.S. CLOUD Act allows the U.S. President to enter into “executive agreements” with qualifying foreign governments in order to directly access data held by U.S. technology companies at a lower standard than required by the Constitution of the United States. To qualify, foreign governments would need to be certified by the U.S. Attorney General, and meet certain human rights standards set in the act. Those qualifying governments will have the ability to bypass the legal safeguards of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) regime.

    • New Attack on the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act

      A new Illinois bill would strip residents of critical protection of their biometric privacy, including their right to decide whether or not a business may harvest and monetize data about their faces and fingerprints. Given the growing public outrage over how Facebook and Cambridge Analytica handled sensitive user data, this is the wrong time to reduce privacy protections.

      Today, EFF sent Illinois legislators a letter opposing this bill. In February, EFF sent a letter opposing an earlier version of the bill.

    • Zuckerberg to Testify on Capitol Hill over Cambridge Analytica Scandal

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify today on Capitol Hill amid the burgeoning scandal about how the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, without their permission, in efforts to sway voters to support President Donald Trump. On Monday, Zuckerberg met with leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee to express his regrets about Facebook’s mishandling of user data. The company has also unveiled new privacy tools ahead of Zuckerberg’s testimony today. We’ll have more on Facebook later in the broadcast.

    • [Older] Palantir’s Connection With Cambridge Analytica

      The recent NYT report also said that Chmieliauskas, who has been working on business development for Palantir for the past five years, was the one to give Cambridge Analytica the idea that the company could harvest people’s friends data from Facebook through an app, such as the quiz app that Cambridge Analytica later ended up building.

    • [Older] Spy Contractor’s Idea Helped Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data

      The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook.

    • Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Faces Tough Questions From Senators During Congressional Testimony

      He quickly answered an initial round of questions but he seemed to slow, choosing his words more carefully, when Sen. Maria Cantrell (D-Wash.) asked about recent reports about Palantir and their links to Cambridge Analytica. “I’m not that familiar with what Palantir does,” he said.

      Zuckerberg was also asked by Senator Feinstein why Facebook didn’t ban Cambridge Analytica in 2015. His initial response suggested that the company wasn’t an advertiser at the time, but he later corrected himself to say that the company apparently did run ads on Facebook at the time, and that Facebook failed to stop that.

    • Zuckerberg claims no knowledge of Palantir’s involvement with the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica scandal

      It seems that Zuck should be made aware if a company founded by his board member was involved in the scandal that brought him to face the music in the Senate, and may lead to regulation of Facebook and the [I]nternet industry. But, for now, he says he isn’t.

    • As it happened: Zuckerberg takes blame

      Zuckerberg, 33, is worth about $64bn, and is one of the world’s youngest billionaires

    • 14 years of Mark Zuckerberg saying sorry, not sorry

      From the moment the Facebook founder entered the public eye in 2003 for creating a Harvard student hot-or-not rating site, he’s been apologizing. So we collected this abbreviated history of his public mea culpas.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Apology Tour

      Since its inception, Facebook has delivered two contradictory sales pitches. To the public, it insisted that it is not an editor or a gatekeeper but merely an open platform, neutrally reflecting the world. But no platform is neutral; its algorithms must, by definition, prioritize some things over others. Facebook was designed to maximize attention, so its algorithms prioritize the posts that spur the most comments, clicks, and controversy, creating a feedback loop in which buzzy topics generate yet more buzz. (A Time headline from June, 2015: “Donald Trump’s Presidential Announcement Sparks Huge Facebook Reaction.”) Meanwhile, Facebook’s pitch to advertisers sounded not unlike Cambridge Analytica’s: With our sophisticated tools, any advertiser can deliver any message to any microsegment of the market. Now that the market in question is the democratic marketplace of ideas, Facebook is again professing neutrality. But this time the public doesn’t seem to be buying it.

    • Facebook quietly admits they let Cambridge Analytica read your private messages

      Buried in Facebook’s latest message to 87,000,000 users who had their data stolen by Cambridge Analytica is this eye-popping nugget: “A small number of people who logged into ‘This Is Your Digital Life’ also shared their own News Feed, timeline, posts and messages which may have included posts and messages from you.”

    • Cambridge Analytica Could Also Access Private Facebook Messages

      A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the app, which was designed by Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan to collect data on Americans on behalf of Cambridge Analytica’s British counterpart SCL, requested access to user inboxes through the read_mailbox permission. Unlike the collection of specific user friend information, which Facebook says it phased out in April 2015 unless both people had downloaded the same app, the read_mailbox permission didn’t fully deprecate until that October.

    • If Congress Doesn’t Understand Facebook, What Hope Do Its Users Have?

      With that, Blumenthal made it clear that lawmakers didn’t want to hear Zuckerberg apologize. They just wanted to understand how this whole thing works—something Facebook’s users deserve to know as well.

    • The 5 biggest takeaways from Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the Senate

      Senators don’t understand how Facebook works. [...] At the same time, they frittered away hours of testimony by asking the CEO questions that can be answered by Googling. And they mostly failed to answer deeper questions about how Facebook uses the data it collects

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Day after new NSA boss takes over, homeland security aide is out

      President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser is resigning in the latest White House departure.

      White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday that Thomas Bossert would be leaving his post. She said Trump was “grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country.”

      Bossert was a point person in the White House on protecting the nation from terror and cyber threats. He also helped spearhead the administration’s response to last year’s hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    • Former CIA, NSA, FBI Chiefs Endorse Haspel as Agency Director

      The nominee to be the new head of the CIA, Gina Haspel, has received support from senior intel officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Her nomination is shrouded in controversy over her role in human rights abuses during the CIA’s torture program, and there are doubts whether the Senate will confirm the appointment.

    • More Drug Lab Misconduct Results In Massachusetts Court Tossing Nearly 12,000 Convictions

      If everything keeps falling apart in Massachusetts, there won’t be a drug conviction left in the state. The eventual fallout from the 2012 conviction of drug lab technician Annie Dookhan was the reversal of nearly 21,000 drug convictions. Dookhan was an efficient drug lab worker — so efficient she often never performed the tests she was required to. The state moved much slower, dragging its feet notifying those possibly affected by Dookhan’s lab misconduct until a judge told it to stop screwing around. There still could be more reversed convictions on the way as the state continues to make its way through a 40,000-case backlog.

      Those numbers alone are breathtaking. But there are even more conviction dismissals on the way. Another drug lab technician convicted for stealing samples to feed her own drug habit has tainted thousands of additional drug prosecutions. A judicial order related to her questionable drug tests is erasing a whole bunch of prosecutorial wins.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Press Hit: Should all internet data be treated the same?

      Is the internet about to change forever? Could removing net neutrality rules turn it into a place of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, where rich firms pay for their content to join fast lanes while the rest get left behind? Or will the consumer get more choice on a faster internet?

      Donald Trump and his team have recently overturned Obama-era rules on net neutrality, and that means internet providers can offer fast lanes where richer companies pay for the best connections to their consumers.The question is – does that mean rich firms have an advantage over new companies who can’t afford to overtake?

      At the Roundtable was Emily Taylor, Editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy; Mark Chapman, from the UK Pirate Party; Sam Dumitriu, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute; and Ian Walden, Head of the Institute of Computer and Communications Law at Queen Mary, University of London.

    • The Competition-Killing Sprint, T-Mobile Merger Nobody Asked For Is Back On The Menu

      T-Mobile and its more consumer friendly brand identity have widely been seen as a good thing for the industry (even though T-Mobile’s brand schtick doesn’t extend to things like net neutrality). The company’s “innovative” focus on actually listening to consumers once in a while has resulted in a lot of notable improvements in the industry as other carriers play copycat, including more reasonable roaming costs, the elimination of long-term contracts, and a modest reduction in the tendency to nickel and dime consumers to death with obnoxious hidden fees.

      Sprint, meanwhile, has languished in a sort of brand identity hell, with most of its efforts to counter T-Mobile and resonate with consumers going nowhere. While improving slowly, Sprint pretty consistently rates last in terms of overall network quality and performance among the big four carriers, and it seems like the company has been stuck for years promising the network everybody actually wants is just around the next corner. Meanwhile despite a wealthy sugar daddy in Softbank, Sprint’s debt load continues to hamstring the company’s efforts at improvement.

      The argument has long been that combining the two companies will create a more effective competitor for AT&T and Verizon. But that’s generally not how competition, or the telecom sector, works. Reducing the total number of competitors almost always results in less incentive to compete. Even with T-Mobile’s disruptive habits, the wireless sector already doesn’t really try too hard to seriously compete on price. And part of the reason Sprint and T-Mobile have struggled is AT&T and Verizon’s monopoly dominance of fiber-based cellular backhaul, something that won’t change just because of M&A mania.

    • European Commission raids Murdoch’s Fox offices in London over sports rights ‘cartel’
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Salute the achievements of the world’s great female inventors and ensure there are more of them in future

      World IP Day is a couple of weeks away. The theme this year is “Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity”. In celebration of this theme, this month’s guest blog from Clarivate Analytics – which has been put together by the firm’s Director of External Communications, Laura Wheeler – takes a look at the contribution of female inventors to innovation and creativity by reviewing some notable inventions from the past. In addition, it examines the proportion of female inventors, how this has changed over time and gives some possible reasons for the story behind the figures.

    • Statute v. Constitution as IP Limiting Doctrine

      In his forthcoming article, “Paths or Fences: Patents, Copyrights, and the Constitution,” Derek Bambauer (Arizona), notices (and provides some data to support) a discrepancy in how boundary and limiting issues are handled in patent and copyright. He notes that, for reasons he theorizes, big copyright issues are often “fenced in” by the Constitution – that is the constitution limits what can be protected. But patent issues are often resolved by statute, because the Constitution creates a “path” which Congress may follow. Thus, he notes, we have two types of IP emanating from the same source, but treated differently for unjustifiable reasons.

    • Taiwan IP Office Moves Beyond Politics To Forge Links With Other IP Offices, Enforce IP Rights

      The building is impressive. Taiwan’s intellectual property office, located in the Dan-an district of Taipei, deals with patents, trademarks, designs, and utility models. Not being a recognised member of the United Nations, Taiwan cannot access the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, in particular the Patent Cooperation Treaty. However, Taiwan is dedicated to enforcing IP rights, and entertains agreements with several IP offices in the world, including China, which is Taiwan’s major trading partner.

    • Copyrights
      • Latest EU Copyright Plan Would Ban Copyright Holders From Using Creative Commons

        We recently noted that the latest version of the EU’s copyright directive, being pushed by MEP Axel Voss (though the metadata showed that it actually came from the EU Commission), would bring back horrible censorial ideas like mandatory filtering. As we noted, such a plan would likely kill important sites like Github, which would have trouble functioning as a repository for sharing code if it had to block… sharing of code. But the plan keeps getting worse. As MEP Julia Reda recently explained, with each new version that Voss puts out, the end results are more and more ridiculous.

        [...]

        Once again this appears to be copyright policy driven solely by the interests of a single party: big publishers who are annoyed at Google for aggregating news and are demanding payment. It doesn’t take into account (1) whether or not this is necessary (2) whether or not this makes sense (3) what will be the impact on other aggregators (4) what will be the impact on tons of other publications and (5) what will be in the best interest of the public.

      • European Copyright Law Isn’t Great. It Could Soon Get a Lot Worse.

        EFF has been writing about the upcoming European Digital Single Market directive on copyright for a long time now. But it’s time to put away the keyboard, and pick up the phone, because the proposal just got worse—and it’s headed for a crucial vote on June 20-21.

        For those who need no further introduction to the directive, which would impose an upload filtering mandate on Internet platforms (Article 13) and a link tax in favor of news publishers (Article 11), you can skip to the bottom of this post, where we link to an action that European readers can take to make their voice heard. But if you’re new to this, here’s a short version of how we got here and why we’re worried.

      • Vimeo Copyright Infringement Case Still Going Nearly A Decade Later, With Another Partial Win For Vimeo

        I’ll admit that I’d forgotten this case was still going on, but after nearly a decade, there it is. The case involves record labels suing web hosting site Vimeo for copyright infringement. The case, which was first filed in 2009, initially focused on Vimeo’s promotion of so-called “lipdubs.” Vimeo is a much smaller competitor to YouTube for hosting videos, but in the 2007 to 2009 timeframe, got some attention for hosting these “lipdubs” of people singing along to famous songs. Perhaps the most famous was one done by the staff of Vimeo itself. The case has taken many, many, many twists and turns.

        Back in 2013, the record labels got a big win on two points. First, the court said that Vimeo may be liable for so-called “red flag” infringement (i.e., knowing that something was absolutely infringing and doing nothing about it) but also saying that the DMCA safe harbors did not apply to songs recorded prior to February 15th, 1972. If you don’t recall, pre-1972 sound recordings did not get copyright protection (their compositions did, but not their recordings). So that got appealed and in 2016, the 2nd Circuit said of course those works are covered by the DMCA’s safe harbors. The Supreme Court was petitioned, but declined to hear the case.

      • MPA Reveals Scale of Worldwide Pirate Site Blocking

        Motion Picture Association Canada has revealed the scale of pirate site-blocking around the world. In a submission to the CRTC, the Hollywood group states that at least 42 countries are now obligated to block infringing sites. In Europe alone, 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

      • Publisher Gets Carte Blanche to Seize New Sci-Hub Domains [iophk: “low-ball estimate of fans”

        While Sci-Hub is loved by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe if off the web.

USPTO Will Have a Crisis of Legitimacy If Its Officials Work as Lobbyists and Cooperate With Villainous Think Tanks

Wednesday 11th of April 2018 01:52:39 PM

“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”

–David Kappos, former Director of the USPTO

Summary: The latest examples of Andrei Iancu and David Kappos (current and former USPTO Directors, respectively) found ‘in bed’ with the patent microcosm (like the disgraced Judge Rader and unlike Michelle Lee, whom the patent microcosm constantly smeared to eventually oust)

THE EPO scandals are many. Too many to count. There’s danger, however, that similar scandals will spread to the US (we wrote about some appointments by nepotism recently, including the CIO and the new chief, whose firm used to work for Donald Trump).

Here’s the latest gossip from the Office. It’s less than a day old. It’s about Pam Isom, who is said to have hired her nephew by marriage:

Pam Isom, allegedly traveled on government funds to visit her daughter in Florida under the guise of training. One can see that John Owens and Tony Chiles influence still exists and will continue.

— USPTO CIO Watchdog (@CIO_Watchdog) April 10, 2018

Pam Isom's Directorate is allegedly conducting illegal hiring practices. The Trademark Div, seems to hire and promote one race over another. The org chart is evidence but others outside of AED has also commented. Maybe why TD cannot deliver products and Trademarks is unhappy.

— USPTO CIO Watchdog (@CIO_Watchdog) April 10, 2018

According to these “Highlights” (highlighted by Managing IP on Tuesday), the USPTO‘s Director spoke at a Microsoft-sponsored propaganda event/think tank, Fordham IP. He is in bed with bad people. He will soon speak at an event of IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby. A day earlier we saw him mentioned in this programme. It seems rather inappropriate for the USPTO to allow its Director to be lobbied quite so blatantly by AIPLA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce considering what both stand for. But here they go:

The program, which will focus on the impact of U.S. patent policy on the domestic innovation ecosystem, will include a keynote address by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu and a fireside chat with U.S. Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore.

Notice who’s attending.

Meanwhile, David Kappos rears his ugly head again, this time in his capacity as a rogue lobbyist with connections. How much are these former USPTO Directors paid to lobby for software patents? Do they charge per day/hour? Or do they just rally corporate sponsors to give them lots of money? Kappos has a front group with corporate sponsors now.

What about “Activist” Judge Michel? Is he not really retired? He keeps popping up everywhere, hypocritically accusing SCOTUS Justices (higher level than he ever was in his career) of being “activists”. As this new tweet quotes him (with a photo of him sitting next to Kappos): “Judge Michel: Activist Supreme Court judges are dictating national economic policy through their interpretation of the Patent Act. If I were Congress I wouldn’t put up with it!”

This comes from an event that Watchtroll too wrote about on Tuesday, under the headline “It is already too late, but we still have time” (time for what? Bashing judges?)

Paul Michel and David Kappos were there alongside the patent microcosm, which is pretty revealing. There was also someone there for “activist” politician Christopher Coons, who is trying to derail patent reform. To quote:

“It is surprising that we continue to make the same mistakes that we have made over the last several hundred years,” said Judge O’Malley as she opened the panel, which included Chief Judge Paul Michel (CAFC, ret.), David Kappos (former Director of the USPTO), venture capitalist Gary Lauder, Managing Director of Lauder Partners, and Jamie Simpson, USPTO Detailee to the Senate Judiciary Committee for Senate Christopher Coons.

Does the USPTO even care to realise how bad it looks when former officials join the lobbying industry and the current Director gives talks at events of think tanks? Even those that front for patent trolls? Michelle Lee almost never did such foolish things, yet the patent microcosm tried to frame her as the “scandalous” one.

More SCOTUS Patent Cases on Their Way, But Nothing That Will Change 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice

Wednesday 11th of April 2018 08:55:06 AM

Summary: In spite of the continued assessment of patent law at the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), things won’t change in favour of the software patents lobby any time soon (if ever)

THE (arguably) most anticipated patent decision from SCOTUS is (probably) Oil States. Just under a year ago we saw yet more favourable (to patent reform) decisions from SCOTUS. Expect more of the same later this month or next month.

Another possible case (to reach SCOTUS) is a high-profile case regarding patents, but it not about patent scope (Alice has already settled much of that) or litigation venue scope (TC Heartland dealt with it last summer/spring). Earlier this week Patently-O wrote about it:

Helsinn’s petition for certiorari received strong support this week from a bevy of ten briefs amici. The missing element now is a call from the Supreme Court for the views of the Solicitor General (CVSG) and a resulting brief from the U.S. Government supporting the petition.

The Patent Act bars the patenting of inventions that were “on sale” prior to to the invention’s filing date. The question on appeal here is whether the AIA limited “on sale” to only include publicly available information — or instead do secret and confidential business deals also count as invalidating prior art (if ever discovered).

This case isn’t of much interest to us, but still, it can help show where SCOTUS stands (or sits) on patents. Writing about this other case which isn't of much interest to us, SCOTUS Blog has just said:

On the first morning of the Supreme Court’s April session next week, the justices will return to problems of extraterritorial patent infringement, hearing argument in WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical Corp. For the third time in recent years, the court will consider Section 271 of the Patent Act. The statute was adopted in response to the court’s 1972 holding in Deepsouth Packing v Laitram Corp. that the Patent Act does not provide a remedy for overseas patent infringement. Deepsouth was an early example of a presumption against extraterritoriality, which has come to loom quite large in the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence. Traditionally, under that canon of construction, a statute applies only to conduct within the United States unless Congress explicitly indicates a contrary intent.

It doesn’t matter what the outcome may be, this won’t impact § 101/Alice in any way whatsoever. We hope nothing will change § 101 and as we’ll show in our next post, the software patents lobby now attacks SCOTUS itself. Bullies will be bullies…

Michael Cottler and David Zimmer (Goodwin Procter) are meanwhile leaning on Berkheimer v HP Inc. (CAFC decision) in hope of weakening § 101. Like the software patents lobbying blog, “Bilski Blog”, Watchtroll now latches onto two words, “well-known”, in order to try to weaken the potency of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and prop up software patents. From their post:

In Exergen Corporation v. Kaz USA, No. 16-2315 (March 8, 2018), the Federal Circuit, in a split non-precedential opinion, affirmed a holding that Exergen’s claims directed to methods and apparatuses for detecting core body temperature were directed to patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Federal Circuit’s decision, like many of its recent § 101 decisions, raises many interesting issues, and we briefly address two of them.

[...]

And what is the difference between a technique that is merely “known” (e.g., a technique disclosed in that German thesis) and a technique that is well-known and conventional?

Aside from the fact that it’s a non-precedential opinion, it barely affects anything at all when it comes to § 101 decisions. These people just scrape the bottom of the barrel, knowing that SCOTUS is fine with § 101 and is about to defend PTAB in Oil States.

Yesterday we saw Patently-O writing about another non-precedential opinion, this one regarding Funai. It’s a new CAFC case where the “plaintiff’s four asserted patents to be invalid for claiming ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.”

With more background:

In a sweeping judgment,the N.D. Ill. district court dismissed Maxon’s infringement case — finding the claims of the plaintiff’s four asserted patents to be invalid for claiming ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.

The patents here are all part of the same family — all directed to a seeming business method of providing an “electronic means of increasing user control over subscription entertainment content.” U.S. Patent Nos. 8,989,160; 7,489,671; 7,486,649; and 7,171,194. Although the bulk of the patents were issued pre-Alice (2014), the ‘160 was issued later in 2015. During prosecution, the examiner did reject the claims originally under Section 101 — that was overcome however by amending the specification to limit “computer-readable medium” to only non-transitory storage. Of course, that strict line-drawing does not work for the flexible eligibility analysis applied in court.

What is nice to see here is that despite the plaintiff’s effort to make up for lack of quality using quantity (several patents, not just one), 35 U.S.C. § 101 thwarted them all. Unlike, say, what happened at the start of this year with Finjan.

One Last Battistelli Heist: Millions of Euros for Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Wednesday 11th of April 2018 08:25:08 AM

By sheer ‘coincidence’ (another one of those!) all the EPO budget will flow into the town where Battistelli is a politician just 3 weeks before his departure

Summary: The tyrant who destroyed the EPO and built himself a palace using millions which were supposed to go to a contractor in another country is engaging in dubious financial affairs again (akin to his padrone, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been charged with corruption)

THE EPO lacks a sense of humility and shame. The management is so deeply corrupt that it’s attacking anyone who dares point it out.

“The finalists will be announced on 24 April,” the EPO wrote yesterday about the European Inventor Award 2018 (warning: epo.org link) and the location can be confirmed. It says very clearly: “The next edition of the European Inventor Award will be held on 7 June 2018 in Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.”

“SUEPO now points out that even his successor, whom he chose (another Frenchman with zero background in sciences), isn’t being trusted by stakeholders, based on a new JUVE poll. The culture of nepotism is almost assured to prevail.”That Battistelli takes EPO budget 'home' just 3 weeks before leaving isn’t new to us. We wrote about it before. That he’s leaving the EPO in ruins is also without doubt. SUEPO now points out that even his successor, whom he chose (another Frenchman with zero background in sciences), isn’t being trusted by stakeholders, based on a new JUVE poll. The culture of nepotism is almost assured to prevail.

Here’s the EPO (also yesterday) entertaining the lie that things are all fine and dandy at the Boards of Appeal, which Battistelli attacked repeatedly and viciously (even though he is not supposed to have any leverage over them). “Wrong issue. Wrong question,” I told them.

“The Boards of Appeal are under attack, primarily from Office tyrant Battistelli,” I continued. “Understaffed and lacking any independence at all…”

“The EPO remains a serial liar; but to make matters worse, watch how it’s misusing its budget. Will Battistelli be getting some ‘kickbacks’ for diverting EPO budget his town’s way?”The EPO just cannot stop lying about the Boards of Appeal almost every day if not every 2 days. They promote the concept that the European public is in control, but it’s really Battistelli who calls all the shots. Earlier this year, after he had driven the Boards to exile, he also kicked out one of the judges (Patrick Corcoran) out of the country with a demotion. He effectively spat at the face of ILO.

One last (re)tweet of interest from yesterday showed the Office aligned with Paul Ruebig, the liar who had pushed ACTA [1, 2] and is now assisting the EPO’s “we love SMEs” lie.

The EPO remains a serial liar; but to make matters worse, watch how it’s misusing its budget. Will Battistelli be getting some ‘kickbacks’ for diverting EPO budget his town’s way? We’re talking about a lot of money here; it’s almost 5 million euros in just one day — a massive ‘write-off’.

Links 10/4/2018: Slackware 13.x EOL, DragonFly BSD 5.2, Qt 5.11 Beta 3

Tuesday 10th of April 2018 03:54:00 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Linux computer maker to move manufacturing to the U.S.

      Linux computer manufacturer System76 made its mark in part because of its commitment to open source principles and doing what it believes is right. Last year it released its homegrown Linux, Pop!_OS. In early March, System76 founder Carl Richell tweeted about the company’s plans to locate its computer manufacturing factory in Denver, Colorado. By moving its manufacturing from China to the United States, System76 is offering more proof that it’s not afraid to buck prevailing tech norms to do things “the System76 way.”

    • Death of a Thinkpad x120e laptop

      My laptop named “angela” is (was?) a Thinkpad x120e (ThinkWiki). It’s a netbook model (although they branded it a Ultraportable), which meant back then that it was a small, wide, slim laptop with less power, but cheaper. It did its job: I carried it through meetings and conferences all over the world for 7 years now. I also used it as a workstation for a short time in 2016-2017 when marcos stopped being a workstation and turned solely into a home cinema.

    • HP Unveils the Chromebook x2 as World’s First Detachable Chromebook

      HP unveiled on Monday the HP Chromebook x2 as world’s first detachable Chromebook device, a 2-in-1 computer powered by Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS operating system.

      With the HP Chromebook x2, the company known for manufacturing business laptops and other computer-related devices attempts to expand its Chromebook portfolio to meet the growing demand for these versatile, powerful, and secure computers driven by Google’s Chrome OS and supporting Android apps.

      “The HP Chromebook x2 hits a trifecta for customers, combining the productivity of the Chrome OS and power of the world’s most-used app platform into a versatile form factor ideal for experiencing all the Google ecosystem has to offer,” said Kevin Frost, Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Personal Systems at HP.

  • Server
    • Microservices Explained

      Microservices is not a new term. Like containers, the concept been around for a while, but it’s become a buzzword recently as many companies embark on their cloud native journey. But, what exactly does the term microservices mean? Who should care about it? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the microservices architecture.

    • DevOps success: Why continuous is a key word

      Today’s consumers want bigger and better technologies, tools and features, and they want them now. For most dev teams, long gone are the days of having weeks – or even months – to develop, test and update their software and applications. Today, in the age of DevOps and faster release cycles, processes throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) must occur in tandem, with features continuously being revised and optimized –without compromising on quality or user experience.

  • Kernel Space
    • KVM Updates For Linux 4.17 Bring VirtIO GPU Prep For S390, AMD Improvements

      The latest feature pull request for the Linux 4.17 kernel are the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization updates.

      On the KVM x86 front for Linux 4.17 are some AMD improvements including pause loop exiting and AMD Core Perf Extensions support. Also in the x86 space is support for VMware magic I/O port and pseudo PMCs, synchronous register access, exposing nVMX capabilities to user-space, support for Hyper-V signaling via EventFD, and other optimizations and nested virtualization improvements.

    • x86 Chinese CPU Manufacturer Zhaoxin Has Been Working On Linux Support

      Today’s hardware monitoring subsystem updates sent into the Linux 4.17 kernel merge window were a bit peculiar with “new Centaur CPUs” now being supported for reading the CPU core temperatures.

      Centaur Technology is the company VIA acquired back in 1999 to get into the x86 CPU game and the subsequent Nano, C3, and C7 CPUs that followed. But we haven’t heard much of new VIA/Centaur x86 CPUs in years unless talking about the Zhaoxin company that was formed a few years ago between VIA and the Shanghai government for creating x86 CPUs for the Chinese market and as outlined in that article have been trying to become more competitive with their CPUs.

    • Linux 4.17 Change To Allow RTCs To Live Beyond Their Intended Life

      The “real-time clock” (RTC) changes usually aren’t too notable to the Linux kernel merge windows, but for the in-development Linux 4.17 kernel to prolong their life for decades to come, at least as far as the clock is concerned.

      There still is the Year 2038 problem being dealt with across different parts of the Linux kernel as the most pressing and time sensitive Linux “Y2K”-like problem currently being tackled, but real-time clocks are also going to rollover at some point, assuming the hardware lasts that long. Kernel developers auditing the RTC drivers discovered that one RTC expired already in 2017, seven more drivers will expire before Year 2038, another 23 drivers will expire before Year 2069, 72 RTC drivers will expire by Year 2100, and 104 drivers will expire by Year 2106.

    • ZFS on Linux data loss sparks small, swift upgrade

      Maintainers of ZFS on Linux have hustled out a new version after the previous release caused data loss.

      ZFS on Linux 0.7.7 only landed on March 21st, but as this GitHub thread titled “Unlistable and disappearing files”, users experienced “Data loss when copying a directory with large-ish number of files.”

      The bug meant that attempts copies produced errors that claimed the filesystem was full and resulted in files just not arriving at their intended destinations.

      Users verified the problem under a few Linuxes and quickly debated whether to roll back or wait for relief.

    • ZFS On Linux 0.7.8 Released To Deal With Possible Data Loss

      If you have been using ZOL 0.7.7 that was released last month, you will want to upgrade right away to ZFS On Linux 0.7.8.

      ZFS On Linux 0.7.8 is now available as an emergency release to deal with a possible data loss issue. The past few days there has been a busy bug report about unlistable and disappearing files.

    • Unlistable and disappearing files
    • Linux Foundation
      • This Week in Numbers: Chinese Adoption of Kubernetes

        Chinese developers are, in general, less far along in their production deployment of containers and Kubernetes, according to our reading of data from a Mandarin-translated version of a Cloud Native Computing Foundation survey.

        For example, 44 percent of the Mandarin respondents were using Kubernetes to manage containers while the figure jumped to 77 percent amongst the English sample. They are also much more likely to deploy containers to Alibaba Cloud and OpenStack cloud providers, compared to the English survey respondents. The Mandarin respondents were also twice as likely to cite reliability as a challenge. A full write-up of these findings can be found in the post “China vs. the World: A Kubernetes and Container Perspective.”

      • OpenContrail SDN Moves to Linux Foundation as Tungsten Fabric
    • Graphics Stack
      • Vulkan CTS 1.1.1 Adds 26,272 New Test Cases

        The Vulkan CTS as the conformance test suite for ensuring drivers are properly and fully implementing the Vulkan graphics and compute API continues getting even more in-depth and attempts to cover as many corner-cases as possible.

      • AMD Posts VP9 VA-API Video Acceleration For Gallium3D

        Hitting the Mesa mailing list today from AMD developers are a set of twenty-two patches providing VP9 video acceleration support via the Gallium3D VA-API state tracker.

        Before getting too excited though, this VP9 GPU-based video acceleration is just for “VCN” hardware. The only “Video Core Next” hardware out at the moment are the Raven Ridge APUs. With the next big Radeon discrete GPU launch though it should be safe to assume it will be VCN-based and thus with VP9 video support.

      • Wayland 1.15 & Weston 4.0 Officially Released

        Today marks the long-awaited debut of Wayland 1.15 and the Weston 4.0 reference compositor.

      • Mir Wayland Cut/Copy/Paste Support Being Worked On

        When it comes to Mir acting as a Wayland compositor, feature support continues to be extended for making this a more viable offering for those looking to have full Wayland support.

      • NVIDIA dropping support for 32bit Linux this month, also dropping Fermi series support

        If you’re an NVIDIA user still on 32bit, you might want to think about finally updating as this month NVIDIA will be moving to only providing critical security updates for 32bit systems.

      • NIR Compile Times Are Being Lowered Thanks To Latest Mesa Patches

        The latest driver optimization work by Timothy Arceri on Valve’s Linux GPU driver team has been working on function inlining within NIR rather than within the GLSL IR optimizations. The net result is faster NIR compile times that benefit the Intel OpenGL driver and also help with RadeonSI Gallium3D.

        Arceri has been working to improve the compile times for NIR since right now with RadeonSI the compile times are slower than using the TGSI code-path. This latest patch series is a step in the right direction and it also happens to help the i965 NIR performance too.

      • Broadcom VC5 Driver Making Good Progress With Using AMDGPU’s DRM Scheduler

        Last month I wrote about Broadcom’s Eric Anholt exploring the use of AMDGPU’s DRM scheduler within the in-development Video Core V (VC5) DRM driver. That work has panned out and looks like it will eventually work out for this open-source Broadcom graphics driver.

        Eric Anholt has spent the past two weeks wiring up the AMDGPU DRM scheduler now known as DRM_SCHED to the driver, similar to Etnaviv also now using this scheduler code that provides a serial run queue to each client and also easier support for some new features.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Offline Vaults for an extra layer of protection

        I’m slowly returning to KDE development after a few months of being mostly in bugfix mode due to my other-life obligations (more on that later), so I decided to implement a new feature for my youngest project – the Plasma Vault.

        One of the possible attack vectors to your Plasma Vaults is that people could potentially have access to your computer while the vault is open.

        This is not a problem if we consider direct access because it is something that is easily controlled – you see everyone who approaches your computer, but the problem can be remote access.

      • [AtCore] April progress update

        It has been over a month since my last progress update. Here is what I’ve done.

      • KDE Connect desktop 1.3 released
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • KDE Connect 1.3 Gets An Extension For GNOME’s Nautilus

        KDE Connect is the nifty KDE project providing allowing communication between your Linux desktop computer and your Android smartphone/tablet via a secure communication protocol. KDE Connect 1.3 is now the latest feature release.

        KDE Connect already allows functionality like viewing/replying to messages from your desktop, sending browser links to your phone, and other data synchronization abilities. With GNOME not having any compelling alternative to KDE Connect, today’s v1.3 release adds in a Nautilus extension that allows users to send files to their phone from the GNOME file manager’s context menu.

      • Proposal to add an Action-Info Bar to Nautilus

        We are looking into adding an action & info bar to Nautilus. The background about this proposal can be read on the task where we put the main goals, prior art, different proposals and mockups, etc.

        We are not sure whether this is the appropriate solution and whether the implementation we propose is ideal. In order to be more confident, we would like to gather early feedback on the current proposal. Also, we are looking for ideas on how to improve the overall approach.

        The current proposal is being worked in a branch and can be installed via Flatpak clicking here (Note: You might need to install it the the CLI by executing `flatpak install nautilus-dev.flatpak` due to a bug in Software).

  • Distributions
    • Best Linux Distributions: Find One That’s Right for You

      The landscape of Linux is vast and varied. And, if you’re considering migrating to the open source platform or just thinking about trying a new distribution, you’ll find a world of possibilities.

      Luckily, Jack Wallen has reviewed many different Linux distributions over the years in order to make your life easier. Recently, he has compiled several lists of distributions to consider based on your starting point. If you’re brand-new to Linux, for example, check out his list of distributions that work right out of the box — no muss, no fuss.

      Jack also has lists of the best distros for developers, distros that won’t break the back of your old hardware, specialized distros for scientific and medical fields, and more. Check out Jack’s picks and see if one of these distributions is right for you.

    • Reviews
      • Antergos 18.3 Gnome – Regression celebration

        Antergos 18.3 is everything that 17.9 is not – in a bad way. My previous encounter with this distro was fairly good. There were issues, but they were not cardinal. This time around, we do gain some on the touchpad front, but everything else is a loss. Network support is bad, Nvidia didn’t install outright, we have a font discrepancy between the live session and the installed system, no iPhone support, Steam crashes, and the list goes on. Virtually, everything is worse than it was.

        Another thing that pops to mind – Manjaro seems to be holding well. Antergos 18.3 feels like it’s been cobbled hastily, with no QA, and the end result is jarring, frustrating and saddening. I mean why? Just a few months ago, I selected this distro as the winner of my best-of-2017 Gnome list, and it really was unique, fun and colorful. The new edition retains the aesthetic spin, but it’s more than negatively offset by hardware and software bugs and regressions. Unfortunately this time, I cannot recommend Antergos. 2/10. Hopefully, this is a one-time fluke, and it will go back to being a solid, refreshing alternative in the world painted Ubuntu. To be continued.

    • New Releases
      • Linspire 7.0 Service Pack 1 released

        Today we are delivering Linspire 7 SP1 for general release. With this release we have several fixes and changes that we have made to Linspire. With this release we have resolved many of the issues that users had with our first release. Linspire 7 is the only desktop distribution that is supported for 10 years on the desktop. Linspire is deployed by many companies, government agencies and education facilities for their productivity, design and development workstations.

    • Slackware Family
      • Slackware 13.x EOL in July

        Patrick has been supporting older Slackware releases for more than 7 years and it’s getting harder to push updates for those releases as their base libraries are too ancient. It will also keep his load high as it might take more time to inspect whether an update affected older releases and trying to build or patch packages to fix those issues.

        Well, in the next few months (exactly one day after USA independency day), the support for all Slackware 13.x (13.0, 13.1, and 13.37) will expires and support will only be given to Slackware 14.x and future releases.

    • Red Hat Family
      • 5 steps to building a cloud that meets your users’ needs [Ed: The obligatory cloudwashing by Red Hat staff]

        Before you can start asking users questions, you first must identify who the users of your new cloud will be. They will likely include developers who build applications on the cloud; the operations team who will operate, maintain, and likely build the cloud; and the security team who protects your organization. For the first iteration, scope down your users to a smaller group so you’re less overwhelmed by feedback. Ask each of your identified user groups to appoint two liaisons (a primary and a secondary) who will represent their team on this journey. This will also keep your first delivery small in both size and time.

      • Red Hat Shares ― Special Red Hat and open source anniversary edition
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 Officially Launches

        After its public beta rounds the past few months, Red Hat today has announced Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 has reached general availability status.

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 integrates OpenSCAP with Red Hat Ansible Automation, ships with the Virtual Data Optimizer based upon their acquired Permabit technology, improves integration with Microsoft Windows based infrastructure, and also ships with full support for Buildah. Buildah is a way to build and deploy container images without having a full container run-time stack or daemon.

      • Red Hat Strengthens Hybrid Cloud’s Backbone with Latest Version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux
      • Indore: SVVV signs MoU with Red Hat Academy

        Red Hat is an open source, web deployed and managed education program that is designed to provide turnkey curriculum materials to academic institutions to start and sustain an open source and Linux curriculum program. SVVV is a state private university established with a vision to be a leader in shaping better future for mankind through quality education, training and research. Red Hat Academy turns academic institutions into centers for enterprise-ready talent by outfitting them with Red Hat training.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Interviews on the Fedora Infrastructure Hackathon 2018

          This week, the Fedora Infrastructure team is convening for a Hackathon from April 9-13 at Fredericksburg, VA. You can also attend/partake remotely in #fedora-admin from 09:30 UTC-5 daily. The hackathon is intended to help the team leap ahead for several critical Fedora and CentOS initiatives. We interviewed members of the Fedora Infrastructure team to ask what the goals for the hackathon are and why it is needed.

        • Fedora Scientific 28 Beta

          Fedora 28 beta was announced recently and I am happy to say Fedora Scientific is back.

        • phpMyAdmin version 4.8
        • Contribute at the Add-On Modularity and Kernel Test Days
        • PHPUnit 7.1
        • Top Badgers of 2017: Alberto Rodriguez Sanchez

          “Top Badgers” is a special series on the Community Blog. In this series, Luis Roca interviewed the top badge earners of 2017 in the Fedora Project. Not familiar with Fedora Badges? No worries, you can read more about them on the Badges website.

          This article features Alberto Rodriguez Sanchez (bt0dotninja), who clocked in at the #4 spot of badges earned in 2017, with 33 badges! As of the writing of this article, Alberto is the #117 all-time badge earner in Fedora.

    • Debian Family
      • A tale of three Debian build tools

        Many people have asked me about my Debian workflow. Which is funny, because it’s hard to believe that when you use three different build tools that you’re doing it right, but I have figured out a process that works for me. I use git-buildpackage (gbp), sbuild, and pbuilder, each for different purposes. Let me describe why and how I use each, and the possible downsides of each tool.

        Note: This blog post is aimed at people already familiar with Debian packaging, particularly using Vcs-Git. If you’d like to learn more about the basics of Debian packaging, I recommend you check out my Clojure Packaging Tutorial and my talk about packaging Leiningen.

      • My Free Software Activities in March 2018

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Migrating PET features to distro-tracker

        After joining the Debian Perl Team some time ago, PET has helped me a lot to find work to do in the team context, and also helped the whole team in our workflow. For those who do not know what PET is: “a collection of scripts that gather information about your (or your group’s) packages. It allows you to see in a bird’s eye view the health of hundreds of packages, instantly realizing where work is needed.”. PET became an important project since about 20 Debian teams were using it, including Perl and Ruby teams in which I am more active.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • A Short Review to Ubuntu 18.04 Beta 2

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” is planned to be released on this April 26, 2018. Here’s a short review to the beta 2 version (aka al beta): it has a new user interface compared to the previous 16.04 LTS, it needs ~1.2GiB of RAM at idle time, it brings latest LibreOffice and Firefox, and it still uses Ubiquity graphical installer. This review brings you the screenshots and information after I installed the daily ISO image on my Acer Aspire One laptop. It feels very smooth on 4GB of RAM and it’s very exciting for us to wait the final stable release!

          • Welcome To The (Ubuntu) Bionic Age: New WIP ubuntu theme as a snap

            Before the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, I wanted to write a few words to update you since our first call for a theme crafted by the community.

          • Should Ubuntu Linux Replace Alpha/Beta Release Model With “Testing Weeks”?

            One of the biggest advantages of open source technology projects is that everybody from the community is free to float an idea and if it gains community support, it could be turned into reality. Along the similar lines, well-known Ubuntu developer Simon Quigley has suggested an idea that might change the Ubuntu Linux development process.

          • Canonical and CPLANE partner to simplify cloud management

            Recently announced, Canonical and CPLANE will now offer a distributed cloud orchestration and software-defined networking solution to simplify the complexity of managing distributed clouds.

            Canonical will deliver high-performance distributed cloud orchestration to its customers with CPLANE’s Multi-Site Manager (MSM). MSM delivers clouds that scale from a single server for highly-distributed edge clouds to support IoT and edge computing applications, to large data centers with thousands of servers for shared cloud services. Canonical will also provide fully-integrated cloud networking with CPLANE’s Dynamic Virtual Networks – Data Center (DVNd) product. DVNd quickly connects virtual resources within and across multiple clouds to provide secure, end-to-end network connectivity with quality of service.

          • You Can Now Install Ubuntu’s New Community Theme on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as a Snap

            Ubuntu contributor Didier Roche announced today that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS early adopters can now install the Communitheme Ubuntu theme as a Snap package on their computers. You can install it right now by executing the “snap install communitheme” command in the Terminal app.

            The theme is available in multiple variants, for the GTK+ 2, GTK+ 3, and Qt frameworks, as well as for the GNOME Shell user interface in both the STABLE and EDGE Snap channels. While most users should install the Communitheme from the stable channel, bleeding-edgers can install it using the “snap install communitheme –edge” command.

          • LXD weekly status #42

            As this was the week following our major 3.0 release, we’ve been very actively working on early bug reports and sorting out packaging for this in the distros.

            This led to quite a number of bugfixes being done, issues investigated and a large number of updates to our snap and Debian packages for the various components.

            We expect to keep this focus on bugfixing for the next 2-3 weeks so that we can ensure we meet our usual quality expectations after a major release and offer a smooth upgrade to our users. We’re also doing some work refreshing our 2.0 stable branches in preparation for the last major bugfix release of the projects before they enter the much slower security-only phase of their support.

          • Design and Web team summary – 10 April 2018

            The MAAS squad have been hard at work fixing any teething problems, since the release of the latest Vanilla on MAAS. The main focus has been on the spacing and padding in tables, to stop columns from wrapping.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Are You Ready for Lubuntu Next 18.04?

              It’s still under development but it’s lightweight and looks promising. It has some problems but for those love testing, it’s very interesting new distro, a new Lubuntu derivative with new user interface and a unique set of applications. And finally, its memory usage is so low, almost similar to Lubuntu 18.04 beta 2 itself (which is only ~230MiB), so Lubuntu Next could be considered as a full-featured Lubuntu alternative within its lightweight league.

            • This Week in Lubuntu Development #2

              Here is the second issue of This Week in Lubuntu Development. You can read last week’s issue here.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Top 9 open source ERP systems to consider

    Businesses with more than a handful of employees have a lot to balance including pricing, product planning, accounting and finance, managing payroll, dealing with inventory, and more. Stitching together a set of disparate tools to handle those jobs is a quick, cheap, and dirty way to get things done.

    That approach isn’t scalable. It’s difficult to efficiently move data between the various pieces of such an ad-hoc system. As well, it can be difficult to maintain.

    Instead, most growing businesses turn to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

  • The growing appeal towards open source

    Whilst full automation is on the horizon, tools available in the open source world have the potential to provide real benefit to both the DBA on the ground and the business as a whole. With an increasing number of projects set to contain huge amounts of open source, the remaining C-Suite stuck in proprietary software should waste no time in making the transition to the open source world to realize true business benefits.

  • Events
    • CHAOSSCon + GrimoireCon Europe 2018

      This year together with other Fedora folks we attended CHAOSSCon and GrimoireCon to meet the CHAOSS and GrimoireLab community and the tools used by several open source projects, communities, engineering teams to track and analyze their development activities, communities health, diversity, etc – same thing we want to do in Fedora.

    • John Perry Barlow RIP

      Back in 1994, before the Web as we know it took off, he understood the fundamental conflict we face between intellectual property [sic] and free speech…

    • Remembering John Perry Barlow

      I met John Perry Barlow only once in my life, during his PyCon US 2014 keynote. I remember trying my best to stay calm as I walked towards him to start a conversation. After some time, he went up on the stage and started speaking. Even though I spoke with him very briefly, I still felt like I knew him for a long time.

      This Saturday, April 7th, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom of the Press Foundation organized the John Perry Barlow Symposium at the Internet Archive to celebrate the life and leadership of John Perry Barlow, or JPB as he was known to many of his friends and followers.

    • Software Security Is a Shared Responsibility

      Achieving effective security takes constant discipline and effort on everyone’s part – not just one team or group within a company. That was Mårten Mickos’s message in his keynote speech appropriately titled, “Security is Everyone’s Responsibility,” at The Linux Foundation’s recent Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS).

      Mickos, CEO of HackerOne, which he described as a “hacker-powered security company,” told the audience that $100 billion has been spent on cybersecurity, yet, “Half of the money is wasted. We’ve been buying hardware and software and machines and walls and all kinds of stuff thinking that that technology and [those] products will make us secure. But that’s not true.”

      Even if you ply your network with hardware to create a perimeter around it, it won’t make your organization any more secure, Mickos said. The answer is much simpler, he maintained, and the magic bullet is sharing.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Improving DevTools’ performance, one iteration at a time

        Firefox Quantum, released last November, was a very important milestone for Firefox. Huge performance gains were achieved by replacing parts of the engine with bits of Servo, written in Rust. But the technology shift did not stop at that: the developer tools –the inspector, the console, etc.– are being re-programmed using modern web technologies: JavaScript and React.

        However, when the new developers tools were released with Firefox Quantum, some of you noticed that they were being slower and not as good as the old ones performance-wise. This was somewhat expected, as they were initial versions – and they have been getting better in the months following Quantum’s release.

        The DevTools team has made performance a priority, they are working on it, and we –the web developers– can now start to reap some results.

      • The Design of Firefox Reality

        For web designers and developers, the arrival of a new platform and a new web browser can be fraught with excitement but also with anxiety. There are new technical constraints, new interaction techniques, and the visual patterns worn smooth by decades of print and web design must be revisited with new eyes. This post summarizes the excitement and anxiety that we face while bringing Firefox Reality to stand-alone augmented and virtual reality headsets.

      • Rep of the Month – March 2018

        Please join us in congratulating Md Shahbaz Alam, our Rep of the Month for March 2018!

      • A Scandal, a Napkin and the Health of the Internet

        Today marks the launch of Mozilla’s first full edition of the Internet Health Report, an open source effort to explore the state of human life on the internet.

        As we put our final touches on the report, the United States scrambled to prepare for testimony by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, following revelations about user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica. The conversation: what should the Senate and Congress ask him?

        The list of questions is long. What do we do about the data of up to 87 million people floating around, unrecoverable? Can artificial intelligence help address suspicious behaviour around elections? What are Facebook’s responsibilities to users and the public? Unsurprisingly, it was also quite scattered. We do not yet have a collective mental map of how issues like these connect.

      • CLDR as source of key internationalization data in Firefox: milestones achieved and next steps
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFly BSD 5.2

      DragonFly version 5.2 brings Meltdown/Spectre mitigation, significant improvements to HAMMER2, ipfw, and graphics acceleration.

      The details of all commits between the 5.0 and 5.2 branches are available in the associated commit messages for 5.2.0rc and 5.2.0.

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.2 Now Available With HAMMER2 Improvements & Spectre Mitigation

      DragonFlyBSD 5.2 is now available as the latest installment of this popular BSD operating system.

    • Transparent network audio with mpd & sndiod
    • Some FreeBSD 11.1, 12.0-CURRENT & TrueOS 18.03 Benchmarks

      In addition to the overhauled/rewritten Windows support, the upcoming Phoronix Test Suite 8.0-Aremark is also featuring much better support for the BSDs. As part of that testing, here are some fresh benchmarks of FreeBSD and TrueOS.

      While running some fresh benchmarks this week, here are some test results using FreeBSD 11.1-RELEASE as it debuted last year, FreeBSD 11.1-STABLE with all current updates including for Spectre/Meltdown mitigation, FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT as its current form of development and with Spectre/Meltdown mitigation and note that FreeBSD CURRENT ships with some debug bits enabled, and then the recently released TrueOS 18.03 that is derived from FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT and also mitigated against Spectre/Meltdown.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Qt 5.11 Beta3 released

      Qt 5.11 beta3 is released today. As usual you can get it via online installer. Delta to beta2 as an attachment.

    • Qt 5.11 Beta 3 Released, RC1 Due Out Soon

      The third beta of the upcoming Qt 5.11 tool-kit release is now available and it shouldn’t be much longer before the release candidate is christened.

      There may be a furth and final beta release next week, but they hope to be able to still issue a release candidate in May followed by the official Qt 5.11.0 release at the end of May. Today’s third beta release clears out many bugs while still there are about one dozen bugs preventing the RC1 release. Those remaining bugs range from a QML byte code interpreter crash to the mouse area getting stuck in a pressed state on iOS.

    • Release of python-zstandard 0.9
    • Programming as natural ability, and the bandaid of long work hours

      It’s the other way around: your manager has failed you, and is compounding the failure by conveying a destructive mindset, what’s known as a fixed mindset. To understand what I’m talking about, let’s take a quick detour into the psychology of education, and then return to those long hours you’ve been working.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • With ‘Merger From Hell’ Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

      Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States.

      The reported approval from the Justice Department came “after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets,” the Journal reported, and despite concerns raised by hundreds of food and farm groups. It also comes weeks after the European Commission gave its thumbs up.

      “The approval of the third supersized seed merger, after ChemChina-Syngenta and Dow-DuPont,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, “leaves farmers vulnerable to price gouging for seeds and other supplies and strengthens the hold a few dominant corporations have over the entire food system.”

    • Hospitals Are Leaving Rural America. Rural Americans Are Staying Put.

      Kendra Colburn spent a decade uninsured. During those years, she worked as a carpenter near her hometown in rural Vermont, earning just enough that she didn’t qualify for low-income health care, but not enough to afford health insurance on her own. While uninsured, she suffered two major work injuries that landed her in the emergency room—once, a nail shot through three of her fingers, and another time, a piece of wood kicked back on the table saw and sliced her arm. When she was unable to pay the emergency room costs, her credit took a hit for years.

      [...]

      This reality is echoed by rural journalist Sarah Smarsh. “In the past year, the Affordable Care Act, or ‘ObamaCare’, has changed many lives for the better—mine included,” she wrote in an essay for Aeon. “But its omission of dental coverage, a result of political compromise, is a dangerous, absurd compartmentalization of health care, as though teeth are apart from and less important than the rest of the body.”

    • Sacklers Who Disavow OxyContin May Have Benefited From It

      Much as the role of the addictive multibillion-dollar painkiller OxyContin in the opioid crisis has stirred controversy and rancor nationwide, so it has divided members of the wealthy and philanthropic Sackler family, some of whom own the company that makes the drug.

      In recent months, as protesters have begun pressuring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and other cultural institutions to spurn donations from the Sacklers, one branch of the family has moved aggressively to distance itself from OxyContin and its manufacturer, Purdue Pharma. The widow and one daughter of Arthur Sackler, who owned a related Purdue company with his two brothers, maintain that none of his heirs have profited from sales of the drug. The daughter, Elizabeth Sackler, told The New York Times in January that Purdue Pharma’s involvement in the opioid epidemic was “morally abhorrent to me.”

  • Security
    • Top 5 Most Useful Kali Linux Tools for Ethical Hackers

      Kali Linux is one of the most loved distros by the ethical hacking and security community because of its pen-testing and exploit tools. It is a free, and open-source Linux-based operating system designed for digital forensics, penetration testing, reversing, and security auditing. Kali allows you to download a range of security-related programs such as Metasploit, Nmap, Armitage, Burp, and much more that can be used to test your network for security loops. It can run natively when installing on a computer’s hard disk, can be booted from a live CD or live USB, or it can run on a virtual machine. Kali Linux has a lot of tools available to learn and practice.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Important critical Etherpad release – 1.6.4

      Today we released Etherpad 1.6.4.

    • Important Etherpad release

      Several security vulnerabilities were found in Etherpad and version 1.6.4 has been released with fixes.

    • Linux: Beep Command Can Be Used to Probe for the Presence of Sensitive Files

      A vulnerability in the “beep” package that comes pre-installed with Debian and Ubuntu distros allows an attacker to probe for the presence of files on a computer, even those owned by root users, which are supposed to be secret and inaccesible.

      The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-0492, has been fixed in recent versions of Debian and Ubuntu (Debian-based OS).

    • Rise of the Tomb Raider Coming to Linux This Month, phpMyAdmin New Release, Canonical’s Kernel Update for RPi 2 and More

      Canonical released a “major Linux kernel update for Raspberry Pi 2″ that addresses various security vulnerabilities. Among other things, 21 security vulnerabilities were fixed for linux-raspi2, “including a race condition that could lead to a use-after-free vulnerability in Linux kernel’s ALSA PCM subsystem, and a use-after-free vulnerability in the network namespaces implementation.” Update now if you haven’t already. (Source: Softpedia News.)

    • Exclusive: CA Technologies Is Buying a Startup to Bolster App Security [Ed: SourceClear is an anti-FOSS FUD front. Now CA owns it.
    • CA Technologies Acquires SourceClear, Advancing SCA Capabilities for a DevSecOps World
    • Obscure E-Mail Vulnerability

      I think the problem is more subtle. It’s an example of two systems without a security vulnerability coming together to create a security vulnerability. As we connect more systems directly to each other, we’re going to see a lot more of these. And like this Google/Netflix interaction, it’s going to be hard to figure out who to blame and who — if anyone — has the responsibility of fixing it.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #154
    • A Long-Awaited IoT Crisis Is Here, and Many Devices Aren’t Ready

      ou know by now that Internet of Things devices like your router are often vulnerable to attack, the industry-wide lack of investment in security leaving the door open to a host of abuses. Worse still, known weaknesses and flaws can hang around for years after their initial discovery. Even decades. And Monday, the content and web services firm Akamai published new findings that it has observed attackers actively exploiting a flaw in devices like routers and video game consoles that was originally exposed in 2006.

    • Feral Interactive Releases GameMode, YouTube Music Videos Hacked, Oregon Passes Net Neutrality Law and More

      YouTube was hacked this morning, and many popular music videos were defaced, including the video for the hit song Despacito, as well as videos by Shakira, Selena Gomez, Drake and Taylor Swift. According to the BBC story, “A Twitter account that apparently belongs to one of the hackers posted: ‘It’s just for fun, I just use [the] script ‘youtube-change-title-video’ and I write ‘hacked’.”

    • Despacito YouTube music video hacked plus other Vevo clips

      YouTube’s music video for the hit song Despacito, which has had over five billion views, has been hacked.

      More than a dozen other artists, including Shakira, Selena Gomez, Drake and Taylor Swift are also affected. The original clips had been posted by Vevo.

      [...]

      Cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward, from Surrey University, said it was unlikely that the hacker was able to gain access so easily.

    • YouTube Hacked? Most Watched Video “Despacito” And Other Clips Deleted (And Restored)

      Just five days ago, Luis Fonsi’s viral Despacito music video earned the title of world’s most watched video on YouTube with more than 5 billion views. Apparently, YouTube hackers managed to delete the video, along with other Vevo clips.

      However, as per the latest development, the deleted videos have been restored on the website. Earlier, after the hack, Despacito video showed a thumbnail with masked people holding guns. After clicking the video, it said: “This video is unavailable.”

    • Mythology about security…

      Government export controls crippled Internet security and the design of Internet protocols from the very beginning: we continue to pay the price to this day. Getting security right is really, really hard, and current efforts towards “back doors”, or other access is misguided. We haven’t even recovered from the previous rounds of government regulations, which has caused excessive complexity in an already difficult problem and many serious security problems. Let us not repeat this mistake…

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Snipers Shooting Unarmed People at 100 Meters Isn’t a ‘Clash’

      It’s predictable, then, that in coverage of Israel’s recent mass shootings in Gaza—which have killed over 30 Palestinians and injured more than 1,100—the word “clashes” is used to euphemize snipers in fortified positions firing on unarmed protesters 100 meters away…

    • The Rush to War

      I have never ruled out the possibility that Russia is responsible for the attack in Salisbury, amongst other possibilities. But I do rule out the possibility that Assad is dropping chemical weapons in Ghouta. In this extraordinary war, where Saudi-funded jihadist head choppers have Israeli air support and US and UK military “advisers”, every time the Syrian army is about to take complete control of a major jihadist enclave, at the last moment when victory is in their grasp, the Syrian Army allegedly attacks children with chemical weapons, for no military reason at all. We have been fed this narrative again and again and again.

      [...]

      I fear that the massive orchestration of Russophobia over the last two years is intended to prepare public opinion for a wider military conflict centred on the Middle East, but likely to spread, and that we are approaching that endgame. The dislocation of the political and media class from the general population is such, that the levers for people of goodwill to prevent this are, as with Iraq, extremely few as politicians quake in the face of media jingoism. These feel like extremely dangerous times.

    • On Bolton’s First Day on the Job, a Look Back at Some of His Angry Outbursts

      John Bolton has a glaring record of extreme and bombastic views and behavior. First-hand recollections of that record include, for example, former State Department officer Greg Thielmann’s description of Bolton’s performance as one of the most enthusiastic promoters of the Iraq War.

      The following passage from my 2011 book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy describes how, even compared to other proponents of that disastrous expedition, Bolton was exceptionally heavy-handed in trying to crush opposing viewpoints and distort intelligence. While reading it, think about how one of the most important functions of the job of national security adviser, to which Bolton has been appointed, is to ensure that the president receives all relevant options and insights and the best possible information before making policy decisions.

      The most egregious recent instances of arm twisting arose in George W. Bush’s administration but did not involve Iraq. The twister was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who pressured intelligence officers to endorse his views of other rogue states, especially Syria and Cuba.

    • Why Vietnam Still Matters: Saigon’s and Frank Snepp’s “Decent Interval”

      The night before leaving Saigon, I went out on the town. Well, not so much bar-hopping but on a night bicycle ride through the wild city streets, which even after midnight are a pulsing scrum of taxis, motorbikes, cars, and trucks

      Rather than ride on my own, however, I went with my bicycle-riding friend Mark Gibson. Together we hired a guide, who arrived from a local shop with the mandate to navigate us around the city. He gave his name only as the letter V and said that during the day he either worked in a bicycle shop or lead tourists on tours outside the city, often to the Cat Tien National Park, northeast of Saigon. He rode a mountain bike that was easy to track through the downtown, including some of the roundabouts that mix eight lanes of crazy traffic.

      By day, Saigon has the sooty feel of a new Asian city prone to gridlock; the weather is hot and humid, and the cars, not to mention the motorbikes on the sidewalks, make it hard to go anywhere, except maybe in a taxi. But at night Saigon turns on its neon lights, which converts the nervous energy of the streets into something more elegant. We cruised past some of the glittering five-star hotels and many cafés and restaurants, although always with both eyes fixed sharply on the traffic spinning through the next intersection.

      [...]

      That night back in my hotel room, having survived the Saigon traffic, I watched on YouTube a rebroadcast of William Buckley’s Firing Line(from 1981), in which his guests were the former CIA top official Cord Meyer Jr. and Snepp. Lurking in the wings of the program, as an “interrogator,” was the McCarthyite lawyer, Roy Cohn, who has since been remembered as a mentor and lawyer to the aspiring and on-the-make hotelier Donald Trump.

      Buckley, Meyer, and Cohn were on air as if CIA Vestal Virgins, there to remind viewers that Snepp had shamed himself and the agency, for failing to have his book vetted. (Snepp reminded ex-CIA man Buckley (aka Blackford Oakes) that he also should have had his books and articles vetted. Buckley’s response was a dismissive Latin citation, “de minimus.”I was a little surprised that he did not break into a Gregorian Chant.)

      By the 1980s, however, Cohn was spending less time chasing subversives out from under Washington beds and more billable hours for Donald Trump, drafting up things such a prenuptial agreements, which might have amounted to full-time work.

      On the TV program, Cohn went after the Senate investigations of the Church Committee, as if it had attacked all that was sacred about the CIA and the American way of life. In his raspy Bronx accent, one can hear the antecedents of Trump’s paranoid style of American politics.

      All three members of the panel seemed to take pleasure in what Buckley called Snepp’s “impoverishment” at the hands of the courts and the CIA. None was remotely interested in discussing the terms on which the U.S. departed from the rooftops of Saigon. At least for this episode of Firing Line, the American imperium had held off a challenger. Too bad it was not as lucky in Vietnam.

    • Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, A New Age of Sea Power?

      The rise and fall of empires has long been a story at the heart of history. Since the Europeans first burst out of their then-marginal region on wooden sailing ships mounted with cannons in the fifteenth century, the planet seldom has had a moment in which several imperial powers weren’t competing for supremacy. In 1945, that number was reduced to two and then, for what the Washington elite briefly imagined would be forever, to one. Now, as historian Alfred McCoy, author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, describes in his vivid way today, we seem to be returning to an updated imperial version of the naval contests that began modern history so many centuries ago. The Americans, the Chinese, and in a more modest way the Russians are all bolstering their forces on the high seas in increasingly challenging ways.

    • Chaos reigns: John Bolton is now at Trump’s right hand. What fresh hell awaits us?

      For those of us who have been closely following politics for the past couple of decades, the following words are undoubtedly ones we never expected to read: Today is John Bolton’s first day as national security adviser to the president of the United States. After observing his years of extremist rhetoric and his checkered career in government, it seemed unimaginable that Bolton would ever attain such an important job. But then, it was once unimaginable that a reality TV host and shill for cheap consumer goods could become president either. Perhaps it’s time to recognize that we are so far down the rabbit hole that comparing this administration to what we previously called reality isn’t particularly relevant.

    • Letter: War hawk took over NSA

      John Bolton will become the new head of the National Security Agency in April. He is a war hawk. I returned today from an “Everything You Treasure” exhibit at the Schaumburg Public Library and this is what I learned:

      The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs has a budget of $10 million. The nuclear weapons program budgets, core and total, for the following countries are: USA – $35 billion (core) and $70 billion (total), Russia – $8 billion (core) and $16 billion (total), and adding the rest of the countries’ budgets brings the totals to $68 billion (core) and $112 billion (total).

      The USA has 8,000 nuclear warheads, Russia has 10,000, China has 340, France has 300, the U.K. has 225, Israel has 80; India has between 80 and 100, Pakistan has between 90 and 110 and it is unknown how many nuclear warheads North Korea has.

    • Yulia Skripal to seek political asylum: RIA citing cousin

      Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned along with her father, ex-spy Sergei Skripal, in Britain, is to seek political asylum, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing a relative.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • On the Silencing of Julian Assange

      This latest attack on Assange, this shut down of crucial communication devices, obviously challenges Wikileaks publishing activities and undermines the crucial work of this incredibly important global news and publishing service.

      Meanwhile, the US and UK governments continue their drumbeat demonization of Assange, who has become part of their Russiagate frenzy towards a new Cold War and maybe World War III. Indeed, the US and UK continue to threaten him. In the US, some senators and the current CIA director [Mike Pompeo], about to become Secretary of State, want to see Assange tried for treason and put to a public death. They threaten to arrest Assange in violation of two UN rulings and their own laws, as soon as he walks out of the embassy.

      Change.org said in a statement they released, as a part of a petition in support of Assange, “It is with great concern that we learned that Julian Assange has lost access to the internet and the right to receive visitors at the Ecuadorian London Embassy. Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuador’s authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian. We demand that Julian Assange’s isolation ends NOW!”

    • Julian Assange and injustice

      In my estimation, this is an accurate, albeit succinct, statement of the differences between these two individuals. Assange, you may recall, provoked the ire of the governments of the most powerful countries in the world by revealing their behind-the-scenes shenanigans, which contradicted the information routinely made available to the public. And he did NOT SELL the information; he released it freely, as part of the ‘commons’ that we are entitled to when our governments take us for fools. And Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and one of the richest individuals in the world, SELLS Facebook users’ information (like product preferences) to corporations, and was recently unmasked as having been in cahoots with the firm, Cambridge Analytica, supplying approximately 87 million users’ data to the latter Trump-affiliated company, possibly with a view to influencing the American presidential election.

      [...]

      Such tactics are well-known, of course; together with a strategically orchestrated character assassination it is aimed at subverting Assange’s credibility to the point where, even if he should be apprehended by one of the governments that wants his blood, it would not even matter any longer because no one would believe him anyway. One can only hope that Ecuador – a small country which deserves credit for having offered him diplomatic protection in the first place six years ago – will find renewed resolve to protect Assange against the powers that want him annihilated. These same countries have the nerve to claim that Assange is a fugitive from justice, when in fact he has exposed their flagrant flouting of justice, with which they get away only because of the power they wield internationally.

      The worrying thing seems to be that most people fall for this classic shifting of blame by the true perpetrators of injustice to those who have the guts to expose their double-dealing, instead of giving him all the support he can get, as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has done (see https://www.rt.com/uk/422682-westwood-assange-hero-brilliant/ ). The main philosophical point I want to make here, however, concerns something raised by Žižek in the article referenced above.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Indonesia: 5 Dead After Massive Oil Spill Off Island of Borneo

      In Indonesia, the port city of Balikpapan has declared a state of emergency, after a massive oil spill spread along the coast of the island of Borneo, killing five people and contaminating an area larger than the city of Paris. The Indonesian oil and gas company Pertamina has admitted the oil spill began after one of its underseas pipes burst.

    • Plastic Waste Kills Six-Ton Whale

      In the annals of human history, modern day society is already setting records never before dreamed possible, as human-trashed plastic officially kills a six-ton six-year-old sperm whale. Yes, and it only took a total of 64 pounds of plastic to do the nasty deed.

      An autopsy of the dead whale found on a beach in southern Spain brought to light the cause of death, which according to experts at El Valle Wildlife Rescue Centre concluded the whale was unable to digest or excrete plastic it ingested. The official cause of death is termed peritonitis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the stomach.

      Additionally, according to Consuelo Rosauro, director-general for natural environment of the region, this is not a “one-off” situation. He informed The Telegraph (April 6, 2018) that many animals die from the horrid “Plastic Sudden-Death Epidemic.”

    • Auto Alliance Pushed Climate Denial to Get Trump Admin to Abandon Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

      The Trump administration officially announced Monday that it will scrap fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States and set new weaker standards, effectively undermining one of the federal government’s most effective policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

      As the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times anticipated late last week, the two agencies responsible for auto standards — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — both claimed that their internal reviews have found the Obama-era standards to be too strict, and that the agencies would go back to the drawing board to revise standards for model years 2022-2025.

      The weaker standards, expected to be revealed in coming months and reported to be well below the current targets of 54.5 miles per gallon (or roughly 35 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions), will be celebrated as a victory for the automakers, which have been lobbying the Trump administration since the day after the presidential election and which used a major trade group to peddle climate science denial in support of the rollback.

  • Finance
    • New York State’s Big Middle Finger to the Republican Tax Plan

      Last month New York State gave a big middle finger to Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. It included measures in its budget bill that will allow people in the state to get around the new tax law’s limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes. This could save the state’s ability to maintain and extend its level of public services.

      A provision in the Republican tax overhaul bill limits the amount of state and local taxes (SALT) that could be deducted from federal income tax to $10,000. In a relatively high-tax state like New York, many families have state and local taxes that far exceed this amount. The capping of the SALT deduction is a Republican effort at the federal level to deny states the revenue they would need to maintain and extend current levels of public services. This is why the workarounds designed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration are a big deal.

      While the people who will be affected by this cap are mostly higher-income families, its impact would be felt statewide. New York has a relatively progressive income tax, with the highest income families facing an 8.2 percent income tax rate.

    • What is the scope of the Brexit mandate? And when will it be discharged?

      There are many Remainers who dispute that there is any “mandate” for Brexit.

      The referendum was advisory, they contend, and in any case there was only a small majority. They will also point to (denied) allegations of serious irregularities about the Leave campaign. And, including the non-voters, the majority of the population did not vote for Brexit.

      They perhaps do have a point, but that is not the point of this post.

      This post accepts there was indeed a mandate.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Bots May Be Behind Two-Thirds of Links Shared on Twitter, a New Study Finds

      As many as two-thirds of the tweeted links to the Internet’s most popular websites were shared by bots, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. The study was limited to 1.2 million tweets from English language users sharing links to 2,315 websites.

    • Largest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was a scam: report

      The largest pro-Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was actually a scam tied to a white man in Australia, CNN reported on Monday.

      The page had accrued 700,000 Facebook followers — almost double the amount of the official Black Lives Matter Facebook page — and is linked to several online fundraisers which garnered $100,000 in donations, according to CNN. At least some of the money was reportedly transferred to Australian bank accounts.

    • The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake

      The discovery raises new questions about the integrity of Facebook’s platform and the content hosted there. In the run-up to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress this week, Facebook has announced plans to make the people running large pages verify their identity and location. But it’s not clear that the change would affect this page: Facebook has not said what information about page owners it will disclose to the public — and, presented with CNN’s findings, Facebook initially said the page didn’t violate its “Community Standards.”

    • Sessions Turned to Convicted Fundraiser for Advice on U.S. Attorneys

      In November 2016, just after the election, President-elect Donald Trump announced Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general. His confirmation was still a couple of months away, but the Republican senator from Alabama went quickly to work helping to shape the Justice Department he would soon inherit.

      One task was to line up U.S. attorney nominees to potentially replace Obama administration holdovers leading offices across the country. It is a common bit of work for a new administration, and recommendations for posts as federal prosecutors typically come from senators of every state, as well as former Department of Justice officials.

      In at least one instance, however, Sessions wound up turning to a more unorthodox source for recommendations — Elliott Broidy. Broidy, a longtime Republican donor, was not a lawyer, and thus had no experience as a prosecutor. Moreover, Broidy had been convicted in 2009 for his role in a major New York state public corruption and bribery case.

    • Acting on Referral from Mueller, FBI Raids Office and Home of Trump’s Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen

      Federal agents on Monday afternoon raided the offices of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen—raising suspicions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered information about Cohen’s legal dealings on behalf of the president, including a payment to an adult film actress.

      Cohen said in February that he personally paid Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, $130,000—just days before the election—in order to keep her silent about a sexual relationship she says she had with the president in 2006.

      Acting on a referral from Mueller, who has been investigating the Trump campaign with a focus on Russia’s meddling in the election, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant for Cohen’s office. The U.S. Attorney’s office then ordered the FBI to seize emails between Trump and Cohen, tax records, and other business documents, according to the New York Times.

      In addition to Cohen’s law offices, the agents also raided his residence at the Loews Regency hotel in New York, apparently spending several hours on the premises, according to Vanity Fair.

    • Betsy DeVos Wants to Roll Back Critical Guidance on School Discipline

      Once again, Betsy DeVos is attempting to rescind Obama-era guidance on education issues. This time, she’s proposing a rollback of guidelines developed to reduce racialized discipline disparities in schools.

      Black and brown children — especially if they are disabled — are disproportionately subjected to discipline in schools.

      And critics argue that this reality feeds the school-to-prison pipeline – sometimes very directly. Schools may refer students to law enforcement for discipline, and some may keep armed officers on campus as “security.” When kids are targeted for suspension and expulsion at higher rates, the disadvantage often spills over into adulthood.

    • Sinclair Broadcasting Airs Allied Progress Ad – Between Attacks on the Group

      Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to air a commercial from a progressive watchdog that’s critical of the broadcaster’s actions.

      But Allied Progress called foul Sunday.

      Sinclair began running the 30-second spot with a 15-second defense of Sinclair, followed by the Allied Progress 30-second ad, and then another 15-second of Sinclair’s voiceover: “The misleading ad you just saw focused on a brief promotional message that simply said we’re a source for truthful news. It ignored thousands of hours of local news we produce each year to keep you informed. The ad was purchased by a group known for its liberal bias, and we hope you won’t buy into the hysteria and hype.”

      The unusual move comes one week after Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest television owner, faced mounting scrutiny for its mandatory scripted segments echoing President Trump’s talking point sand pending mega-merger with Tribune Media.

    • The EU is tolerating—and enabling—authoritarian kleptocracy in Hungary

      How Viktor Orban campaigns against the EU from Monday to Friday, and collects its subsidies at weekends

    • Scandal clouds darken for Japan’s Abe ahead of Trump summit

      A cronyism scandal embroiling the Japanese prime minister deepened on Tuesday ahead of a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump with a memo media said suggested an ex-aide had helped win approval for a friend of the premier to set up a veterinary school.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Popular Torrent Site Loses Domain After Copyright Complaint

      The domain name of Yggtorrent, one of the largest French torrent communities, has been put on hold after a complaint sent on behalf of anti-piracy outfit SACEM. While this effectively took out the site and its tracker, Yggtorrent made a swift comeback on a new domain, which they registered with Peter Sunde’s Njalla.

    • Backpage founders charged with money laundering and aiding prostitution

      Law enforcement agencies seized Backpage’s servers last week, and co-founder Michael Lacey was charged in a sealed 93-count indictment, which has now been revealed. Lacey, as well as his co-founder James Larkin, were already charged with violating California money laundering laws, although a judge threw out state-level pimping charges.

    • Top officials at Backpage.com indicted after classifieds site taken offline

      Seven top officials of the website Backpage.com, long accused of facilitating child sex trafficking, have been arrested after a grand jury in Phoenix issued a 93-count indictment alleging conspiracy, facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

    • Backpage execs indicted on federal prostitution, money laundering charges
    • “Erotic Review” blocks US Internet users to prepare for government crackdown

      The Erotic Review explained in an FAQ why it blocked US-based users even before SESTA takes effect. (The bill is also known as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA.)

    • Amazon customers take to social media after mysterious account closures [Updated]

      Upon contacting Amazon, customers have been given different explanations as to why their accounts have been deactivated. Some claim customer service representatives couldn’t give them a clear answer, while others were told they had violated Amazon’s terms of service without being told exactly how they had done so.

    • China urged to free anti-censorship activist Zhen Jianghua

      The Chinese government should immediately and unconditionally release human rights activist Zhen Jianghua, who has been held incommunicado since September 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. On March 30, 2018, Chinese police formally arrested Zhen on charges of inciting subversion, but continue to deny Zhen access to legal counsel and family members, citing “national security” concerns.

      Zhen, 32, is the executive director of the Human Rights Campaign in China, or Quanli Yundong (权利运动), an online platform that publishes information related to detentions of activists, police abuses, and other human rights violations. Zhen is also the founder of ATGFW.org, a website that provides information and services to help people scale China’s Great Firewall to access the uncensored global internet.

    • Ingraham returns to work, complains about censorship

      Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham returned to work with defiance Monday, denouncing a “Stalinist” effort by liberals to stifle the free speech of conservatives and promising to make fighting it her new cause.

    • Court Says Kentucky Governor Free To Block Critics Using Official Social Media Accounts

      A federal judge in Kentucky has just handed down a disappointing decision granting the state’s governor the right to continue blocking as many constituents as he wants on Twitter and Facebook. The suit was brought by two blocked constituents who argued the governor’s blocking of their accounts amounted to a violation of their First Amendment rights. It goes without saying the blocked accounts were critical of Governor Matt Bevin. Rather than recognize the harm done by an official government account that only removes criticism, the court likens the blocks to throwing away hate mail or hanging up on aggrieved constituents.

    • The New York Times Tries Something Novel: Listening To And Interacting With Readers

      For years the whine-du-jour in online media circles has been about the poor old news comment section. Time and time again we’ve been told that in the modern era, the news comment section is an untamable and unredeemable beast: a troll-factory hellscape that is simply too hostile and dangerous to be manageable. So instead of trying to fix the problem, outlets have prevented users from commenting at all. Usually these announcements arrive with some disingenuous prattle about how the outlet in question really “values conversation” and was just trying to “build a stronger community” by muzzling on-site discourse.

      The real reason killing the news comment section is so popular is less glamorous. Most websites simply are too lazy or cheap to try and explore solutions, since “quality discourse” isn’t something site bean counters can clearly monetize. Many other editors simply don’t like having an area where plebeians can so clearly and obviously outline errors made during reporting. Many of these editors believe we can and should return the bi-directional internet back to the “letter to the editor era,” when publishers got to choose which member of the public was heard.

      So while “who cares about on site community” becomes the trend, the New York Times is trying something particularly blasphemous in 2018: actually interacting with their readership. Several columnists have taken to the website’s still-operating comment section as part of what columnist Frank Bruni says is part of a newfound effort at the paper to actually talk with readers from “time to time”:

    • Toutiao Removed From Chinese Smartphone App Stores Amid Tighter Media Censorship

      Four Chinese news apps, including personalized news recommendation app Toutiao and its rival Tiantian Kuaibao, owned by Tencent, have been removed from Chinese smartphone app stores, as China’s government strengthens online censorship.

      Regulator ordered the apps to be removed by 3p.m. Monday, and suspended Toutiao for three weeks, Phoenix News for two weeks, NetEase for one week, and Tiantian Kuaibao for three days, according to local media.

      The four apps cannot be found on app stores currently.

    • Why Is YouTube Censoring Content Critical of Israel?

      In 2017, the ADL announced that it had become a “Trusted Flagger” of “online hate” by YouTube. The same year, the group declared that same year that it had established “a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online.” According to the ADL’s press release, the seed funding for its war room was provided by Pierre Omidyar, the tech billionaire whose fortune also funds The Intercept and a variety of US soft power initiatives.

      The ADL has defined Palestine solidarity activism as a form of bigotry, or what it has branded, the “new anti-Semitism.” So it is fair to assume this organization is exploiting its unprecedented latitude to suppress social media content that challenges pro-Israel imperatives under cover of battling the threat of “hate online.”

    • Five Questions Congress Should Ask Mark Zuckerberg About Online Censorship

      With Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set to appear before House and Senate committees this week in the wake of intense congressional concerns over data privacy, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, is urging committee members to press Zuckerberg also on the growing problem of online censorship at Facebook and other Big Tech platforms.

      “I welcome these hearings and congratulate Mr. Zuckerberg for being willing to speak to representatives of the American people,” Johnson said. “I would respectfully suggest that, in the interest of protecting our republic’s foundational freedoms, Members of Congress should discuss with Mr. Zuckerberg instances of apparent targeted censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints on his ubiquitous platform and those of other tech giants.”

    • NRB Seeks Censorship Answers from Zuckerberg

      As the Hill prepares to grill Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a pair of hearings this week, the National Religious Broadcasters want them to press him on what NRB says is a growing problem on censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints by Big Tech, including Facebook.

    • Facebook reconsiders ‘unsafe for community’ tag on pro-Trump Diamond and Silk videos after Fox & Friends appearance
    • Diamond & Silk Face ‘Censorship & Discrimination’ by Facebook: Their Reply to Zuckerberg Is Perfect
    • Facebook Deplatforms Diamond and Silk Because They’re ‘Unsafe to the Community’
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Survey: 89% of Android users didn’t give Facebook consent

      In a survey of 1,300 Android users, 89% percent said that they did not give Facebook consent to scrape their call and text history. Facebook has been allegedly scraping phone records since 2015.

    • Did you give Facebook consent to collect your call and text history? 89% of Android users say ‘No.’

      We surveyed over 1,300 Android users, asking if they granted Facebook permission to collect their call and text history. Overall, 89% answered ‘NO’ and 11% answered ‘YES.’

    • How To Check If Your Facebook Data Was Leaked To Cambridge Analytica?

      Facebook has taken upon itself to notify all the 87 million victims of Cambridge Analytica Scandal, whose data may have been leaked by creating a link at the top of their News Feed.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s Wednesday congressional hearing testimony is now online
    • What We Want To Learn From Zuckerberg’s Congressional Testimonies This Week

      It’s past time for Facebook to come clean about how it is handling user data. After the latest Cambridge Analytica news broke the dam on over a decade of Facebook privacy concerns, Mark Zuckerberg is heading to to Washington, D.C. this week for two days of Congressional testimony. On Tuesday, he’ll appear before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees, and on Wednesday the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

      The last thing we need from Zuckerberg at these hearings is more apologies. What we want is information and accountability, and not just in connection with discrete scandals like Cambridge Analytica. Congress should be asking Facebook for a detailed account of what data Facebook has shared with third parties, what it has done to prevent misuse of that data, what it told users about how it would handle their information, and what steps it will take in the future to respect users’ privacy rights.

      And because this is about more than just Facebook, Congress should also be asking whether Facebook will serve as an industry leader by publicly embracing key privacy-protective principles.

      A company ethos of connection and growth at all costs cannot co-exist with users’ privacy rights.

      Beyond nailing down down the details of specific cases like the Cambridge Analytica mess and the revelation of paid Russian propaganda on the social media giant’s platform, we hope lawmakers will also keep in mind the larger tension at the core of each one of Facebook’s privacy missteps and scandals: A company ethos of connection and growth at all costs cannot co-exist with users’ privacy rights. Facebook operates by collecting, storing, and making it easy for third parties to use unprecedented amounts of user data. Until that changes, the privacy and integrity concerns that spurred these hearings are here to stay.

    • Facebook Derangement Syndrome: The Company Has Problems, But Must We Read The Worst Into Absolutely Everything?

      Since the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica thing broke, we’ve been pointing out that there are many, many valid concerns about things Facebook has done, but people seem to be freaking out about things it didn’t actually do and that’s bad, because freaking out about the wrong things will make things worse, not better. Indeed, that seems to be the direction things are heading in.

      One thing I’ve noticed in having this discussion a few times now both online and off is that there’s appears to be a bit of Facebook derangement syndrome going on. It seems to go something like this: Facebook did some bad things concerning our privacy, and therefore every single possible thing that Facebook does or Mark Zuckerberg says must have some evil intent. This is silly. Not only is it obviously wrong, but (more importantly) it makes it that much more difficult to have a serious discussion on the actual mistakes of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and to find ways to move forward productively.

      I’ll give one example of this in practice, because it’s been bugging me. Back in January, in the podcast we had with Nabiha Syed about free speech and the internet, where the question of platform moderation came up, I brought up an idea I’ve discussed a few times before. Noting that one of the real problems with platform moderation is the complete lack of transparency and/or due process, I wondered whether or not there could be an independent judicial-type system that could be set up to determine whether or not an account truly violated a site’s policies. As I noted in the podcast, there could clearly be some problems with this (our own judicial system is costly and inefficient), but I still think there may be something worth exploring there. After all, one reason why so many people get upset about internet companies making these kinds of decisions is that they don’t know why they’re being made, and there’s no real way to appeal. An open judicial system of sorts could solve at least some of those problems, bringing both transparency and due process to the issue.

    • Sandberg: Facebook ‘Proactively’ Censoring ‘Fake News’ – ‘We Should Have Done This Earlier’
    • Congress Should Grill Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Monopoly, Not Privacy

      But the real problem (well, another major problem) is that so much of what we do on the [I]nternet today revolves around Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and the services that rely on Facebook as a login mechanism. Simply put: Zuckerberg shouldn’t be put in the position of “taking responsibility” for widespread interference in America’s elections, because one single company shouldn’t be so damn powerful.

    • The Congressjerks who will grill Zuckerberg this week are a rogue’s gallery of Facebook donation recipients

      But who are these brave warriors for the truth? They are the massive beneficiaries of Facebook’s lobbying largesse, who owe their campaign funding to Mark Zuckerberg and his army of influence peddlers. As a body, nine members of the House Commerce committee have received more Facebook money than any other committee in Congress.

    • Congress finally gets Mark Zuckerberg at the witness table. Don’t spare him or Facebook.

      Congress does little enough legislatively that it should not be deficient in investigative vigor. The power to probe lies at the very heart of Congress’ responsibilities. The leaders of the committees have waited long enough for Mark Zuckerberg to consent to testify, and it would be a squandered opportunity if they did not pursue their inquest aggressively.

    • ‘Social media has poisoned us’: young Britons on why they are unhappy
    • Facebook Admits To Scanning & Censoring Contents Sent Through Messenger, Photos And Links

      At this point, it seems clear that Facebook has a pathological habit of violating its users’ privacy rights even in contexts when it clearly shouldn’t and has not been given permission to do so. In the latest addition to Facebook’s rising pile of fiascos, the social network recently admitted that it scans photos and links that are sent through its Messenger service. What’s more, it seems censorship is also involved.

    • Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Announces He’s Over Facebook
    • Tech giants Facebook and YouTube thwarted in bid to secure slice of TV ad market
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Losing humanities in education is propelling a deficit of empathy

      This move away from the humanities could not come at a worse time. In an America where understanding the point of view of others and learning from our historical successes — and failures — is at a low point, the world is desperately in need of need a more humane perspective.

    • The Supreme Court Gives Police a Green Light to ‘Shoot First and Think Later’

      The Supreme Court has turned qualified immunity for police into an absolute shield against accountability.

      The Supreme Court just ruled that a police officer could not be sued for gunning down Amy Hughes. This has vast implications for law enforcement accountability. The details of the case are as damning as the decision. Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was simply standing still, holding a kitchen knife at her side. The officer gave no warning that he was going to shoot her if she did not comply with his commands. Moments later, the officer shot her four times.

      “Shoot first and think later,” according to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is what the officer did.

      As Sotomayor argued in dissent, the court’s decision means that such “palpably unreason­able conduct will go unpunished.” According to seven of the nine Justices, Hughes’ Fourth Amendment right to not be shot four times in this situation is less protected than the officer’s interest in escaping accountability for his brazen abuse of authority. According to Justice Sotomayor, “If this account of [the officer’s] conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court [] insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.”

      Worse yet, this decision wasn’t a surprise. And it certainly isn’t an aberration.

    • FBI Is Using Classified Tools For Regular Investigations And That’s Going To End Up Hurting Everyone

      A recent Inspector General’s report laid bare the FBI’s real motivations in the San Bernardino shooting case. It didn’t want a technical solution. It wanted judicial precedent. While the DOJ presented its claims that no tech breakthrough was forthcoming, the FBI’s left and right hands were operating independently. Technically, this means Comey and the DOJ did not lie when they told a federal judge and Congress (respectively) that an All Writs Act order was the only solution.

      But dig deeper into the report, and you’ll find information much more damning than some truth-fudging. One division of the FBI, which had been explicitly asked to search for a way to hack into the locked iPhone, only made a half-assed effort to do so, in hopes of slow-walking the FBI into favorable precedent. The FBI’s cryptographic unit (CEAU) was supposed to keep looking for a solution, but it didn’t. It asked some cursory questions and then sat back to watch the courtroom drama.

      Another area of the agency — one supposedly limited to national security investigations — did manage to find a solution via a third party. The Remote Operations Unit had this vendor drop everything else and work on an iPhone crack to help the CEAU out. Unfortunately for the helpful ROU official, the CEAU head didn’t really want a solution and was irritated when one was found.

      The reason the CEAU and ROU weren’t speaking to each other directly was related to the ROU chief’s belief its tools were not meant to be used in standard criminal investigations. The CEAU, however, felt it could use national security tools possessed by the ROU whenever necessary, even when the investigations had nothing to do with the agency’s national security work.

    • TigerSwan Employee Applied for Security License in Louisiana Without Disclosing Ties — After Firm’s Attempt Was Denied

      The private security firm TigerSwan, known for its controversial military-style tactics against Dakota Access pipeline protesters, is appealing the decision to deny its application for a license to operate in the state of Louisiana, where Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge pipeline. In November, several environmental groups opposed to the Bayou Bridge pipeline attempted to intervene in this case, saying their members were particularly vulnerable to TigerSwan’s security and surveillance practices should it be allowed to operate in support of that oil pipeline, but today the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners denied this request.

      However, during this process, it came to light that the state board denied another security license application from a TigerSwan employee who failed to disclose her employment with the firm after TigerSwan’s application was rejected.

      The board’s deposition of this employee, obtained via a public records request, was included in the request to intervene in TigerSwan’s case by 350 New Orleans, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Gulf Restoration Network, L’eau Est la Vie (“Water Is Life”) Camp, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West.

    • From Stephon Clark to Voter Suppression, the Attack on Black America Intensifies

      President Trump has stripped Obama’s mild federal oversight of police and left Black people even more exposed to severe state violence. At the same time, Republicans have enacted voter ID laws, purged rolls and shut polling places. Renewed governmental enthusiasm for mass incarceration and voter suppression has created a vortex in which Black citizenship, already second tier, is further ground down.

    • The Washington Post’s ‘Breakthrough’ on the MLK Murder

      For the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder, The Washington Post last week overcame its tainted history of softball coverage and published a hard-hitting account quoting the King family’s disbelief in the guilt of convicted killer James Earl Ray.

      The bold, top-of-the-front-page treatment on April 2 of reporter Tom Jackman’s in-depth piece —“The Past Rediscovered: Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.?” — represents a major turning point in the treatment of the case for the past five decades by mainstream media. Print, broadcast and all too many film makers and academics have consistently soft-pedaled ballistic, eye-witness and other evidence that undermines the official story of King’s death.

      This time, the Post and Jackman, an experienced reporter, undertook bold but long overdue initiative. One can only hope that it leads to similar coverage — rigorous and fair — for other history-changing events, including current ones that are inherently secret.

    • Azerbaijan’s digital crackdown requires a political solution

      Framing Azerbaijan’s online campaign to harass journalists and activists as a “technical” problem only distracts from the politics behind it.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • CenturyLink Tries To Dodge Broadband Billing Lawsuit By Claiming It Technically Has No Subscribers

      Broadband ISP CenturyLink has been on the receiving end of an ocean of lawsuits accusing the company of billing fraud after a whistleblower (who says they were fire for bringing it up to management) revealed systemic efforts to routinely overbill users and sign them up for services they never asked for. And while CenturyLink tried to claim an investigation of itself found no wrongdoing (shocking!), State AGs like Minnesota’s Lori Swanson say in their complaints (pdf) that they’ve found plenty of evidence proving that billing fraud was a routine occurance at the broadband provider.

      Most of these lawsuits have since been combined into one class action suit. And CenturyLink has since developed a fairly creative attempt to dodge legal liability for its misdeeds: by claiming it doesn’t technically have any customers. Technically CenturyLink has 5.66 million broadband subscribers as of last year, but a new brief filed by the company tries to argue it’s not culpable because “CenturyLink” is technically just a holding company that manages 10 subsidiaries around the country…

    • Broadband Industry Aims To Use Facebook Fracas To Saddle Silicon Valley With Crappy New Laws

      For years now, the nation’s broadband industry has clung to one, consistent message: anti-competitive giants like Comcast are innocent, ultra-innovative daisies, and Silicon Valley companies are a terrible, terrible menace. From Ajit Pai’s bizarre attacks on Netflix to an endless wave of ISP-payrolled consultants falsely accusing Google of stealing bandwidth, major ISPs have long made it clear they see Silicon Valley not as a collaborator, but as a mortal enemy. Given ISPs routinely try to use their last-mile monopolies to harm disruptive new services with arbitrary barriers and higher, extortion-esque costs, the feeling is generally mutual.

      As companies like Comcast NBC Universal and AT&T (and soon Time Warner) grow and push into the internet ad industry, the ISP lobbying message has been consistent: more regulation for Silicon Valley, and virtually no regulation for the broadband industry. Given many of these ISPs are growing natural monopolies, the rules governing them have been (and should be) notably different, and sometimes stronger. After all, however bad Facebook is, you can choose not to use them, whereas if you’re like more than half of America, Comcast is your only option if you’re looking for real broadband.

      Needless to say, the entire (justified) Facebook and Cambridge Analytica fracas has give ISP lobbyists a wonderful new opportunity to push for bad legislation they’ll likely be writing. Former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Mike Powell has been beating the “regulate Silicon Valley” drumbeat for several weeks now, blaming rising social media “mindshare” for all manner of evils. And I’ve noticed the arrival of several new astroturf groups calling for regulation of Facebook and Google that are tied to co-opted “minority” organizations with a history of helping AT&T covertly lobby.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Beijing will scrutinise deals that transfer Chinese IP rights overseas on national security grounds

      China’s government will soon introduce a formal process for reviewing the transfer of domestically-developed IP rights overseas. Thus far, the regulations raise more questions than answers. While they may not threaten routine cross-border patent assignment deals, the trade tensions of which they are (intentionally or not) a part continue to affect tech deals in China.

    • What UK patent fee increases mean for filers

      The UKIPO made changes to its fee structure last week by increasing application, search, examination and life-end renewal fees and introducing an excess claims and page charge scheme.

    • Copyrights
      • RIAA Gets To Move Forward In Case That Tries To Force ISPs To Help Copyright Trolls

        Back in February, we wrote about the details of the appeals court ruling in BMG v. Cox, a case that looked at whether or not internet access providers are required to terminate users accused of repeat infringement. The case was really a proxy for copyright trolling operation Rightscorp, which floods ISPs with claims of infringement tied to “settlement” offers that it wants the ISPs to pass on to end users. As discovery during the Cox case revealed, Rightscorp engages in incredibly sketchy practices to pressure people into paying up (such as telling them that they need to take their computers to the local police station for a search to prove they’re not infringing).

        However, due to a bunch of weird details in that case — including a judge who made it clear he didn’t think the internet was such a big deal — Cox lost that case, and then again on appeal. The good thing in the appeal, however, was that the opinion mostly limited its decision to the specific facts in Cox’s case, which included the fact that it had a “repeat infringer policy” but it didn’t follow its own policy. That’s really what sunk Cox. The court noted that an ISP should have wide latitude in designing its own repeat infringer policy, it just had to then follow its own policy. And Cox didn’t.

        While that case was going on, a second similar case was filed, this time by Universal Music Group against Grande Communications. Back in February, the magistrate judge on that case made recommendations to allow the case to move forward, though throwing out some of the claims. As TorrentFreak recently pointed out, the Title III judge in the case has accepted the recommendations of the magistrate, which you can see here.

      • Roku Bans Popular Social IPTV Linking Service cCloud TV

        In what appears to be an ongoing purge, Roku has now banned the popular cCloud TV service from its platform. cCloud makes available many thousands of streaming IPTV links on a number of platforms, from web browsers to Kodi, from Xbox One to Apple TV. Until recently the service was also available on Roku but like USTVNow before it, cCloud TV is now unavailable on the device.

EPO in ‘Low Profile’ Mode, Only to be Mentioned in Relation to India’s Oil Drilling/Miners

Tuesday 10th of April 2018 10:33:27 AM

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) decides to grant a patent to Oil India Limited (OIL) and the Indian media goes insane

THE famous rejection of software patents in India is exactly the opposite of what has been happening at the EPO, more so under Battistelli. We quite like and very much appreciate India’s attitude towards patents; the country takes nothing for granted and actually assesses the impact of particular patent “families” on the general population. India is a software powerhouse and programmers reject software patents with almost no exception (none that we’re aware of).

Karry Lai, based in Hong Kong, said yesterday that “[a]fter the retirement of Hon’ble Justice K N Basha on May 13 2016, India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) was almost non-functional for 19 months.”

“India is a software powerhouse and programmers reject software patents with almost no exception (none that we’re aware of).”We covered this before. IPAB is only vaguely similar to PTAB in the US and BoA in Europe. It’s a similar acronym, but they aren’t quite the same.

What was most curious, however, was yesterday’s news in India. Even the English-speaking sites alone. Millions (or about a million per year) of patents get granted. Need there be a “news” article about each of these? Why did the Millennium Post decide to write a whole article about one? “Authorities at European Patent Office (EPO) have communicated their decision to grant patent to Oil India Limited (OIL) for an invention titled “A method for preventing wax deposition in oil wells with packers”,” it says. EnergyInfraPost said the same and so did mainstream business press in India. To quote:

Oil India has been granted patent by the European Patent Office for an invention titled ‘A method for preventing wax deposition in oil wells with packers.’

Securing this first-ever patent grant signifies a major milestone for OIL and especially its Research& Development (R&D) Unit, which actively develops innovative solutions to oilfield exploration and production problems and has filed few other patent applications in recent years.

Equity Bulls wrote about this too:

Authorities at European Patent Office (EPO) have communicated their decision to grant patent to Oil India Limited (OIL) for an invention titled “A method for preventing wax deposition in oil wells with packers”. Securing this first-ever patent grant signifies a major milestone for OIL and especially its Research& Development (R&D) Unit, which actively develops innovative solutions to oilfield exploration and production problems and has filed few other patent applications in recent years.

Why are there so many articles about one single patent? Why did mainstream media find that so newsworthy? Maybe a PR campaign?

This is not a software patent, but we find all this hype curious and noteworthy. This actually dominated EPO news this week; there’s not much else except this blog post from Miquel Montañá, who spoke of the “problem and solution approach” of the EPO:

In one of the saga of cases that involved Societé des Produits Nestlé and companies that are trying to market capsules compatible with Nescafé’s Dolce Gusto system, the defendant alleged, among other arguments, that some of the patents asserted were null due to a lack of inventive step. The case was handled by Commercial Court number 5 of Barcelona which, following a long-standing Spanish tradition, decided to examine inventive activity following the “problem and solution approach” traditionally applied by the European Patent Office (“EPO”). Although Spanish Courts have highlighted in several cases that following this method is of course not compulsory, they find some comfort relying on a conceptual framework that allows them to make a more principled assessment of the technical arguments asserted by the parties.

Patent courts in Barcelona, as we noted yesterday, have already embraced patent maximalism, just like the EPO under Battistelli.

Microsoft’s Extortion Racket Against GNU/Linux Carries on, Both Directly and Indirectly (via Patent Trolls)

Tuesday 10th of April 2018 09:31:46 AM

Summary: An outline of Microsoft’s patent activities and the activities of its satellites, which pass around patents and sue Microsoft’s rivals through obscure trolls (set up solely for the purpose of these lawsuits)

THE world’s biggest troll feeder is Microsoft, which not only feeds (in the investment sense) Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll that in turn feeds (with patents) Dominion Harbor. Dominion Harbor is suing a lot of companies through subsidiaries. Microsoft also fed (in the investment sense) Finjan, one of the most vocal patent trolls, which is also publicly traded (they had a meeting with shareholders a week ago, discussing their blackmail plans). This post will cover all these trolls and their feeders, assuring readers that Microsoft “loves Linux” as much as the Greek like Turks.

“When the thugs from Microsoft’s ‘IP’ subsidiary accuse an OEM of patent infringement they throw hundreds of patents at them in order to ensure they cannot challenge them all individually (or it would be vastly more expensive than just settling). This is racketeering.”Yesterday we saw this Apple patents propaganda site saying that “Microsoft Wins a Patent for a Possible Surface Branded Folding Smartphone with Sophisticated Camera System & more” (more gimmicks).

Putting aside the fact that there’s prior art all over this, what would be the purpose given that Microsoft barely sells anything in this space? When the thugs from Microsoft’s ‘IP’ subsidiary accuse an OEM of patent infringement they throw hundreds of patents at them in order to ensure they cannot challenge them all individually (or it would be vastly more expensive than just settling). This is racketeering. It’s also a deterrence against legal challenges to dubious patents.

Here’s what the latest patent is about:

Supply chain rumors had circulated back in December 2016 (one and two) that there were 3 to 5 tech companies working on smartphones that were foldable. The names of Apple, Google and Microsoft kept popping up. Samsung has the largest number of patents on foldable, bendable and scrollable smartphones on record to date with Apple having a number of foldable and bendable patents on record as well. One of Apple’s patent figures from a folding smartphone patent is presented below.

With patents like these, Microsoft can go after Apple, Google and Samsung (no cross-licensing) and demand a ‘share’ of revenue from GNU/Linux devices. Microsoft not only can do it; this is exactly what Microsoft already does. This is why Microsoft is stockpiling patents.

“Yes, Microsoft is still pursuing software patents.”“Microsoft beats [US]PTO rejections for their patent application,” one patent maximalist wrote yesterday, “but PTAB adds gratuitous invitation to Examiner to issue a NEW 101 rejection in footnote: “the Examiner may wish to review the claims for compliance under 35 U.S.C. § 101 in light of Alice”…”

Yes, Microsoft is still pursuing software patents. It also lobbies for them. Another new example says that “Thomson Reuters beats PTO on 6 different counts, but still cant get patent because of, course, bizarro application of eligibility of 101 rules…”

“Bear all this in mind whenever Microsoft claims that it has changed.”Nothing bizarre (or “bizarro”) about it. But the patent maximalist is connected to trolls and is looking for a quick buck. The main troll this “bizarro” patent maximalist is connected to is Dominion Harbor, which is connected to Microsoft through Intellectual Ventures. In fact, Intellectual Ventures recently passed yet another bundle of patents to Dominion Harbor.

Robert Jain from Unified Patents wrote just less than 24 hours ago about progress they make disarming this very malicious patent troll (hiding behind “Blue Sky Networks” as a proxy). To quote Jain:

On April 9, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 8,265,691 owned and asserted by Blue Sky Networks, LLC, a Dominion Harbor subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’691 patent, directed to enhanced wireless handsets operating in a direct handset-to-handset communication mode, was asserted in multiple litigations against such companies as Toyota, Best Buy, MediaTek, Lenovo, BLU, Huawei, and Roche Diabetes Care.

Also about 24 hours ago we saw Carbon Black, which has been subjected to lawsuits from another Microsoft troll, choosing to give up, based on a press release issued by the troll [1, 2]. Yes, Microsoft’s patent troll Finjan has just successfully blackmailed another competitor (to Microsoft) using shoddy software patents and endless bullying.

Bear all this in mind whenever Microsoft claims that it has changed.

IAM Churning Out Support for the Software Patents and HEVC Lobby

Tuesday 10th of April 2018 08:33:28 AM

Pushing software patents even in Korea

Summary: The proponents of software patents (for personal financial reasons) carry on promoting HEVC, which is neither necessary nor beneficial; in fact, patents that it is built upon are software patents, which are almost entirely invalid (upon legal challenge)

THERE’S an abundance of free codecs these days. Multimedia can be properly encoded and compressed using Free (as in freedom as well as price) software. Ogg, VP8/9 and various other options exist with similar ones for real-time streaming. But there are those who want to pocket billions of dollars by pushing to the public — typically through the World Wide Web — patent-encumbered and nonfree formats/standards. This isn’t a new problem, but it still needs tackling.

As we noted the other day, IAM’s latest issue (magazine) contained HEVC boosting. see HEVC articles in Techrights (old and more recent) for background on this; it’s pretty nasty a substitute if not sequel for the MPEG thicket (enforced by a patent troll). Richard Lloyd, the software patents pusher, was flagrantly pushing HEVC yesterday. To quote:

As IAM has covered over the last few years, patent pools appear to be gaining in popularity, in part because the tough licensing environment has encouraged patent owners in particular to seek out ways to make the dealmaking process much more efficient. In the last couple of years we have seen the emergence of two new platforms – Avanci and Velos Media – focused on mobile technology in auto and the Internet of Things and video compression respectively, while others such as Via Licensing have overhauled their approach to emerging markets such as China.

[...]

However in contrast to MPEG-2 where the MPEG-LA administered pool was the only show in town, HEVC is the focus of three competing pools — one from MPEG-LA, HEVC Advance and Velos. Like Avanci, Velos doesn’t pitch itself as a pool but it has many of the same characteristics.

The important thing to note here is that one does not need HEVC. There are arguably better alternatives that are also free. But given the sponsors of IAM and the general tone/agenda of the site, it’s not hard to see why it did another HEVC piece on the same day (yesterday). It’s about KAIST, which has become a patent parasite that leverages software patents (that Korea’s KIPO does not permit) to tax everyone. From the blog post in question:

A recent announcement by the HEVC Advance patent pool names the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) as one of a handful of new members from that country. The news comes just a few months after the top national polytechnic launched its most ambitious assertion effort to date against Apple.

KAIST’s move to a new pool appears to be part of the latest shift in the fraught ongoing effort to create a patent pool to license patents related to the H.265 video compression standard. Other Korean entities including the Korean Aerospace University, the Korean Broadcast System…

That is a very good reason to avoid both HEVC and KAIST (divestment). Meanwhile, yesterday as well, Robert Jain from Unified Patents wrote about a patent troll called Realtime Adaptive Streaming, which uses streaming/compression patents (i.e. software patents) to sue just about everyone. As it turns out, PTAB may soon invalidate the patent in question:

On April 7, 2018, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,934,535 owned and asserted by Realtime Adaptive Streaming, LLC, a Realtime Data affiliate and well-known NPE. The ’535 patent, directed to a selecting an asymmetric compressor algorithm for compressing data, storing the compressed data, and decompressing the data, has been asserted in multiple cases against such companies as Samsung, Adobe, Apple, Netflix, Sony, Polycom, Cisco, Hulu, Echostar, Amazon, Sling TV and others.

This is just one patent among many. There are many more that need to be voided to liberate multimedia. The same is true for other fields/domains. All software patents should, in general, be voided. That may take time however…

Yesterday we saw Abhishek Sharma (not a patent lawyer or anything like that, which is typically the case when someone writes about patents) writing a whole article about the “AI”-type patents, i.e. software patents that are forbidden and not patent-eligible, not even if one rides hype waves like “ML” (I did “ML” 15 years ago, it’s nothing new). From his article:

Machine Learning (ML) is one of the hot topics in the technological space and everyday there are better improvements that come up in this field. The number of algorithms and techniques in ML are progressively increasing with researchers and engineers working hard towards its implementation and benefits.

This leads to the question of patenting in ML. Be it a person, a team or an organisation who discover a process, the aspect of filing a patent is sometimes cumbersome and, on top of that encompasses legal and ethical perspectives as well. One wrong step in either of the two, and it may land up in trouble. Although, the number of patents in ML are observing a rise among technology companies, the challenges in filing patents cannot be overlooked. This calls for ML patents to be a topic of debate with critics arguing and providing varied reasons on both the good as well as bad sides of it.

[...]

Conclusion:

In light of the above instances, it can be seen that ML inventions and their patent-filing attract considerable attention from respective governments citing legal and ethical issues. Experts suggest that the inventions focus more on real value and address actual problems instead of just getting patents. Therefore, a lot of thought is to be put before anyone working on ML stumbles across a new idea or algorithm.

Well, algorithms need never be patented; it would be ridiculous to even attempt this in most places (except perhaps in China) and those who promote such patents should be questioned for their motivations; many of those are just patent lawyers or sites fronting for them, e.g. IAM.

Links 9/4/2018: Linux 4.16.1, phpMyAdmin 4.8.0, GNU Mcron 1.1.1

Monday 9th of April 2018 04:27:48 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • ​How many Linux users are there anyway?

    Perhaps the most unbiased numbers are from the federal government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP). DAP’s numbers come from the billion visits over the past 90 days to over 400 US executive branch government domains. That’s about 5,000 total websites. These visitors appear to be largely US citizens. You can see this from the most popular websites: The US Postal Service, the IRS, and Medline Plus.

    By DAP’s count, Linux is bundled in with 0.6 percent other. Chrome OS, according to DAP, has more users: 1.3 percent.

    Still, while desktop Linux is a minority desktop operating system, it still has millions of users, and that’s a lot more than a mere fraction of 1 percent.

    And, when it comes to overall end-user operating system, Linux-based Android has 70.96 percent of the mobile market by NetMarketShare’s count. By DAP’s reckoning, Android has 19.9 percent of all end-user systems, while StatCounter shows Android as even more popular than Windows by 39.49 percent to 36.62 percent.

  • Desktop
    • Linux all-in-one: Slimbook Curve comes with your distro of choice pre-installed

      Spanish computer maker Slimbook has unveiled the Slimbook Curve, an all-in-one with a 24-inch curved screen made for GNU/Linux.

    • Slimbook Curve All-In-One Linux PC

      Spanish hardware and PC manufacturer Slimbook has created a new all-in-one Linux PC in the form of the aptly named Slimbook Curve, that features a curved 24 inch IPS display offering users a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels as well as a matte, anti-glare finish. The Slimbook Curve can by installed with a wide variety of different Linux operating systems including No OS, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, Debian, Elementary OS, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, Antergos, Fedora and KDE Neon.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.16.1

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.16.1 kernel.

      All users of the 4.16 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Linux 4.16 Reaches Its First Point Release With Over 30 Fixes

      Greg Kroah-Hartman today released the first stable point update to the Linux 4.16 kernel that debuted one week ago.

      There are just under three dozen changes in Linux 4.16.1, including some crypto fixes seeming to represent a bulk of the work along with some USB, staging, serial, Bluetooth, and other updates. One hardware item sticking out is fixed TrackStick detection for Lenovo ThinkPad L570 and Dell Latitude 7370 notebooks.

    • The Big Changes Merged This Week For The Linux 4.17 Kernel

      We are now through the first week of the two week long Linux 4.17 kernel merge window process for introducing the new features/functionality to this next big kernel release.

    • Linux 4.16.1
    • Linux 4.14.33
    • Linux 4.9.93
    • Linux 4.4.127
    • Linux 3.18.103
    • Linux Foundation
      • Making cloud-native computing universal and sustainable

        I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to build an open source foundation from scratch the last couple of years by serving as the founding executive director of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Since late 2015, the foundation has grown to comprise more than 200 members worldwide and 18 innovative cloud-native projects. Also, for the first time, we recently published an annual report representing what our community accomplished in 2017.

        What has been interesting about this experience is that more people know about our projects, such as Kubernetes, Envoy, and Prometheus, than know about the open source foundation behind them. The goal of this article is to explain exactly what the purpose of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is and how we support our community of cloud-native open infrastructure projects.

    • Graphics Stack
      • VK_AMD_shader_core_properties Now Supported By RADV

        Thanks to Samuel Pitoiset of Valve’s Linux driver team, the RADV open-source Radeon Vulkan driver supports the new VK_AMD_shader_core_properties extension.

        A few days back Vulkan 1.1.72 was released and one of three new extensions was VK_AMD_shader_core_properties. This AMD shader core properties extension to Vulkan exposes physical device characteristics like the number of shader engines, SIMDs per compute unit, threads per wavefront, and other shader related hardware details.

      • Making Use Of Intel vGPU Support On Linux 4.16 & QEMU 2.12

        As of the Linux 4.16 kernel that was released one week ago, the kernel-side bits are in place for Intel Virtual GPU support and in user-space the upcoming QEMU 2.12 has the necessary code for the GTK and SPICE code-paths.

      • Libinput 1.10.4 Makes Touchpads A Bit Snappier

        Libinput 1.10.14 is now available and while it’s just a point release, there is at least one change sure to catch your attention.

      • Etnaviv Performance Counter Support Merged Into Mesa 18.1

        Landing in Linux 4.15 was performance counters support in the Etnaviv DRM driver as the low-level bits for exposing the hardware counters with this reverse-engineered, open-source Vivante graphics driver. The user-space/Mesa side code has now landed too.

        With Mesa 18.1 paired with Linux 4.15 or newer will now be support for exposing the hardware performance counters for seeing more characteristics about the GPU’s performance in working to optimize your game/application or the driver itself for efficient usage on Vivante GC hardware.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Nomad Desktop – An Open Source Desktop With a Fresh Experience

      If you’re a Linux fan with the desire to check it its vast customization options then you must have toyed diverse desktop environments and settings including Gnome, Xfce, Unity, Cinnamon, and Plasma, to mention a few.

      Today, we have yet another intriguing desktop that I think you will definitely enjoy and it goes by the name of Nomad Desktop.

      Nomad Desktop is the face of one of the latest distros on the block, Nitrux, and it aims to provide users with simplicity and the same experience Plasma offers without compromising its flexibility and power for professionals.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 13

        Another week in Usability & Productivity, another wish that I could make more announcements about all the cool stuff we have in progress! The wheels of software sometimes turn more slowly than we might wish, but in the end, the better result will be worth it. KDE’s patch review process is there to ensure that code quality is high as possible before making it in!

        Nevertheless, we landed some great improvements this week, including a few long-standing requests. Come and see:

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.28 uses clickfinger behaviour by default on touchpads

        To reduce the number of bugs filed against libinput consider this a PSA: as of GNOME 3.28, the default click method on touchpads is the ‘clickfinger’ method (see the libinput documentation, it even has pictures). In short, rather than having a separate left/right button area on the bottom edge of the touchpad, right or middle clicks are now triggered by clicking with 2 or 3 fingers on the touchpad. This is the method macOS has been using for a decade or so.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: Sortix 1.0

        Sortix is a relatively new project, less than a third the age of Linux, and appears to be mostly a one-person development project. To me, this makes the progress made so far amazing. The system has a working installer and partition manager, it works with multiple file systems, has a working collection of ported GNU tools and can run graphical games. It’s quite a feat of coding to get all of this working in so short a time. What really impressed me though was that the operating system’s documentation (exploring what it does, what it does not yet do and how the pieces work) is clear and up to date. In that regard a lot of other open source projects could follow Sortix’s example.

        Unfortunately, at this time, Sortix is not a practical operating system for most scenarios. We can test it, develop code on the platform and learn from its design, but Sortix lacks networking, multi-user security and a working desktop environment. This makes the project more of a developer playground than a system for end users to run. Still, in the realm of a personal hobby project, Sortix is one of the coolest creations I have seen in a while.

    • Gentoo Family
      • [Old] Distributions are becoming irrelevant: difference was our strength and our liability

        For someone that has spent the past thirteen years defining himself as a developer of a Linux distribution (whether I really am still a Gentoo Linux developer or not is up for debate I’m sure), having to write a title like this is obviously hard. But from the day I started working on open source software to now I have grown a lot, and I have realized I have been wrong about many things in the past.

        One thing that I realized recently is that nowadays, distributions lost the war. As the title of this post says, difference is our strength, but at the same time, it is also the seed of our ruin. Take distributions: Gentoo, Fedora, Debian, SuSE, Archlinux, Ubuntu. They all look and act differently, focusing on different target users, and because of this they differ significantly in which software they make available, which versions are made available, and how much effort is spent on testing, both the package itself and the system integration.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Fedora
        • Fedora Local Repo

          Let’s suppose that you want to test a package not yet landed in the Fedora repos, include it in the installation process or in a Live CD (more on a future post).

        • Rawhide notes from the trail: more rocky trail

          I am looking forward to next week when we hope to get things setup for some gating in rawhide. I know it couldn’t handle all these issues, but it’s a start and we can add things as we know how to detect them in advance.

        • Installing go1.10.1 (Fedora 27)
        • Justin W. Flory: Stepping out of Fedora: May to August 2018

          Similar to last year, I am putting forward a note of planned absence from the Fedora Project community from May to August 2018.

          Transparency is important to me. I wanted to make this announcement ahead of time to set clear expectations for the upcoming months. I am returning to Chicago, IL to work another internship at Jump Trading, LLC. From June to August, I am working at their Chicago office. I am excited to return and learn more from an amazing team of people.

          I am not blocked by company policy from contributing to open source, so I won’t disappear completely. However, while I am still able to contribute to Fedora, I do not expect to keep up the level of activity that I contribute at now during my internship.

        • A Cloud Lab Environment in a Backpack
        • Fedora 28 Add-on Modularity Test Day 2018-04-10
        • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs March 2018
    • Debian Family
      • Build system changes in debhelper

        Since debhelper/11.2.1[1], we now support using cmake for configure and ninja for build + test as an alternative to cmake for configure and make for build + test. This change was proposed by Kyle Edwards in Debian bug #895044. You can try this new combination by specifying “cmake+ninja” as build system.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Run Ubuntu 18.04 From USB Stick

            Ubuntu 18.04 is a great operating system. It is in beta at the time of this writing. Everyone is so excited and eagerly waiting for its release even as we speak. If you’re one of them, you may wish to carry your favorite Linux distribution with you all the time. Have you ever thought about running Ubuntu 18.04 from a USB stick? Well it is possible. You can run Ubuntu 18.04 from a USB stick. That way your workstation is with you wherever you go. You don’t have to use other people’s setup, you can use your own comfortable setup, also your favorite softwares.

          • Ubuntu Developer Floats The Idea Of “Test Weeks” To Replace Early Alpha/Beta Releases

            Prominent Ubuntu community developer Simon Quigley has sparked a discussion about Ubuntu’s release milestones and the possibility of moving away with their alpha and beta one milestones moving forward.

            Quigley’s proposal after consulting with the Xubuntu / Ubuntu MATE / Kubuntu / Ubuntu Budgie teams was using “testing weeks” to replace the previous formal alpha / beta releases. During testing weeks, users would be encouraged to use the latest daily ISOs rather than a blessed “alpha” or “beta” image.

          • Announcing the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Free Culture Showcase winners

            In just under 3 weeks, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS launches. This exciting new release is a new Long Term Support release and will introduce many Ubuntu users to GNOME Shell and a closer upstream experience. In addition, Ubuntu developers have been working long and hard to ensure that 18.04 is a big, brilliant release that builds a bridge from 16.04 LTS to a better, bigger platform that can be built upon, without becoming unnecessarily boisterous.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • From MPEG to open source: will telcos get the video codec they need?

    As the NAB broadcast show gets into full swing in Las Vegas, expect to hear plenty of news about the continued convergence of telecoms and broadcast (the longest engagement of all time, with still no marriage date set…) in terms of back-end IP production pipelines, online delivery and mobile consumption. One of the more interesting announcements pre-show concerned the development of online video players.

    For many years, we have been using the tried and tested MPEG standards for online video delivery. Yes, it works, but at a price. For a start, the codec is subject to IPR royalty payments, plus it has arguably not evolved rapidly enough to support the new needs of the telecoms industry – with video consumption showing no sign of slowing down, telcos need a far more efficient pipeline.

  • Top 5 open-source frameworks for AI development

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the two terms that are trending these days and sometimes even used interchangeably. However, both the terms are not the same. While AI involves machines that can perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence, ML enables modern computers to learn without being explicitly programmed. Basically, ML has evolved from AI via pattern recognition and computational learning theory.

  • Vendor Lock-in: Now in the Cloud!

    Vendor lock-in has moved from corporate infrastructure into the cloud, only this time many are all too happy to embrace it.

    I started my professional career as a general-purpose “computer guy” for a small office. I wore many hats in this job including desktop help desk, server administrator, webmaster, network administrator, security engineer, and in general, if it plugged in, I was probably responsible for it. This was back in the era where, although Linux was making some inroads in the web server market, Microsoft absolutely dominated both the desktop and the corporate server markets. It was expected back then that offices of any size from ten to a thousand people would not only be running Windows on the desktop, but also that the back office would be running Windows servers.

    Those Microsoft services weren’t necessarily better than the alternatives, but they won out anyway because of vendor lock-in. The domination of the desktop market meant that Microsoft could develop proprietary protocols like SMB (file sharing) and MAPI (email client syncing), and add them to Windows and Microsoft Office. Once SMB was baked in to Windows, it became easy for the boss of a small office to turn his or her desktop into the office file server without adding any extra software. As the company grew, that desktop was replaced by a standalone Windows server, and when you found out that your ISP (which you were using for corporate email up to this point) didn’t support the shared calendar feature you saw in Outlook, you found out that Exchange and its MAPI protocol did.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Verbosio is dead… but I have a new code name, Aluminium, with the same ambition

        All of the above means that Verbosio, as a Mozilla Firefox-based XML editor with specific XML languages as add-ons to the editor, is truly and finally dead, and there’s no point trying to believe otherwise. Similarly, the need for a XUL IDE is dead as well. (Daniel Glazman and I need to get together to cry over a beer sometime.)

      • Know your limits

        When building software systems, we usually deal with data from external sources. This can be user input, data coming from other systems, etc. My basic assumption on any external data is: don’t trust it!

  • Databases
    • phpMyAdmin 4.8.0 is released

      Welcome to phpMyAdmin version 4.8.0. We are excited to bring you this updated version with many new features and bug fixes. There are no changes to system requirements.

      A complete list of new features and bugs that have been fixed is available in the ChangeLog file or changelog.php included with this release.

    • phpMyAdmin 4.8 Brings Mobile Interface, 2FA & More

      Over the weekend marked the release of phpMyAdmin 4.8.0 as the latest major update to this widely-used MySQL web-based administration interface.

      The phpMyAdmin 4.8 release brings several security improvements, including support for Google Invisible Captcha, better reCAPTCHA handling, two factor authentication (2FA) and U2F support, removal of PHP eval() usage, and other changes in the name of better security.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • FreeCAD 0.17 Released With Various Workbench Improvements

      For fans of the FreeCAD open-source 3D CAD modeling software, a new major release is now available — the first update in almost two years.

      FreeCAD 0.17 is now available to succeed FreeCAD 0.16 from April of 2016. While it may not be nearly as well off as AutoCAD or other alternatives, FreeCAD does continue getting better while being free and open-source software.

    • [FreeCAD] Release notes 0.17
    • GNU Mcron 1.1.1 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNU Mcron 1.1.1,
      representing 48 commits, by 1 person over 3 weeks.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
Leftovers
  • Science
    • Manifesto on algorithmic humanitarianism

      The nature of machine learning operations mean they will actually deepen some humanitarian problematics and introduce new ones of their own. This banality of machine learning is also its power.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Fukushima Jitters

      Fukushima is full of nasty surprises, similar to John Carpenter’s classic film The Thing (1982), which held audiences to the edge of their seats in anticipation of creepy monsters leaping out from “somebody, anybody, nobody knows for sure,” but unlike Hollywood films, Fukushima’s consequences are real and dire and deathly. It’s an on-going horror show that just won’t quit.

      Only recently, a team of international researchers, including a group of scientists from the University of Manchester/UK and Kyushu University/Japan made a startling discovery. Within the nuclear exclusion zone in paddy soils and at an aquaculture center located several miles from the nuclear plant, the research team found cesium-rich micro-particles.

      Evidently, the radioactive debris was blown into the environment during the initial meltdowns and accompanying hydrogen blasts. Accordingly, the environmental impact of radiation fallout may last much longer than previously expected. (Source: New Evidence of Nuclear Fuel Releases Found at Fukushima, University of Manchester, Phys.org, Feb. 28, 2018)

      According to Dr. Gareth Law, senior lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester: “Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone. Whilst it is extremely difficult to get samples from such an inhospitable environment, further work will enhance our understanding….” Ibid.

      Their discovery dispels the long-held view that the initial explosion only emitted gaseous radionuclides. Now, it is clear that solid particles with very long-lived radionuclides were emitted. The research team did not discuss the likely impact, as more analysis is necessary before drawing conclusions.

      Decidedly, they’d best hurry up, as the Olympics are scheduled for 2020.

    • ICE Ends Policy Of Presuming Release For Pregnant Detainees

      The Trump administration has abandoned a policy of generally releasing pregnant women from immigrant detention, according to a directive publicly shared by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday.

      Under the new policy, pregnant women will be released from immigrant detention only on a case-by-case basis.

    • How the Wireless Industry Convinced the Public Cellphones Are Safe & Cherry-Picked Research on Risks

      Ninety-five out of every 100 American adults owns a cellphone today. And worldwide, three out of four adults now have cellphone access. The wireless industry is one of the fastest-growing on Earth, raking in annual sales of $440 billion in 2016.

      But are cellphones safe? Well, a new investigation by The Nation suggests that’s a question that cellphone giants prefer you don’t ask. The article, by journalists Mark Hertsgaard and Mark Dowie, is headlined “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe.”

      The article notes that cellphones were first marketed to U.S. consumers in the 1980s without any government safety testing. Then, a decade later, one of the industry’s own hand-picked researchers, George Carlo, reportedly told top company officials, including leaders of Apple, AT&T and Motorola, that some industry-commissioned studies raised serious questions about cellphone safety. On October 7th, 1999, Carlo sent letters to industry CEOs urging them to give consumers, quote, “the information they need to make an informed judgment about how much of this unknown risk they wish to assume.” Instead, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association reportedly tried to discredit Carlo’s findings, and had him physically removed from its premises during its annual conference in February 2000.

    • Special Feature: Blocking Taiwan From Joining WHO Affects Global Health Security, Officials Say

      Two years after the victory of Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan is feeling the effects of the DPP’s position against the “One China principle.” At the World Health Organization, China is allegedly successfully blocking Taiwan from participating in the annual World Health Assembly, and in a number of WHO technical meetings, officials say. Beyond the political dimension of the dissent between China and Taiwan, the situation may hurt the Taiwanese and global health security, Taiwanese officials said.

  • Security
    • Global cyberattack targets 200,000 network switches (updated)
    • ‘Don’t mess with our elections’: Hackers stuff US flag into Cisco security hole worldwide

      Unknown hackers have exploited a loophole in the Cisco protocol to strike internet service providers worldwide, in a coordinated attack against data centers, leaving a US flag and a message reading “Don’t mess with our elections.”

      Iranian data centers became some of the latest victims of the global bot attack late on Friday. Disabling router switches for internet service providers at data centers, the hackers, in a malign stunt, cut off web access for subscribers in their respective countries. “Don’t mess with our elections,” the message on the compromised systems read, next to US flag, Iran’s IT Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi revealed in a Twitter picture message.

    • 21 percent of Open Source Serverless Applications have Critical Vulnerabilities [Ed: They are reposting a press release which is a self-promotional FUD with a buzzword]

      The core concept of FaaS, or serverless functions, is to define an API for consumption

    • Linux Beep bug joke backfires as branded fix falls short

      Retro programmers may need to reconsider using the Linux beep command as an activity or progress alert.

      One of the silliest bugs on record emerged late last week, when Debian project leader Chris Lamb took to the distro’s security to post an advisory that the little utility had a local privilege escalation vulnerability.

    • Android April Security Bulletin Fixes Nine Critical Vulnerabilities
    • The dots do matter: how to scam a Gmail user

      And even in the rare case that a Gmail user is aware of their infinite set of addresses, and they’re aware of the phishing attacks that this can expose them to, this user is unlikely to pick up on it, because the user interfaces of Gmail and Inbox don’t hint anything about a possible scam. In fact it barely even acknowledges that the email was to a non-standard address. The only clue in the screenshot above is that the interface says “to james.hfisher”, instead of “to me”.

    • Episode 91 – Security lessons from a 7 year old

      Josh and Kurt talk to a 7 year old about security. We cover Minecraft security, passwords, hacking, and many many other nuggets of wisdom.

    • Update for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS patches security vulnerabilities

      Canonical has released a kernel update for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

      The “important update” patches 39 security vulnerabilities, according to a report by Softpedia.

      The update covers Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and its official derivatives, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu.

      Security fixes contained in the update cover a wide range of issues, such as vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel’s USB over IP implementation – which allowed remote attacks.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • ISIS, in eleven shades of black

      An Indonesian version is significant too, given Islamist affiliates in the country and security concerns in the Celebes and Sulu Seas between Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines.

    • Israeli Sniper Targets, Kills Journalist in “PRESS” Vest

      Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, was wearing a “PRESS” flak jacket as he was shot by an Israeli sniper Friday. He died of his injuries in a hospital on Saturday.

      The 30-year-old journalist was one of nine people killed and more than 1,000 injured by Israeli troops Friday on the Gaza border.

      Thousands of Palestinians continued “The Great March of Return,” the week-long protest on Friday, demanding the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families were driven out when Israel was created.

      UK’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned Israel’s killing of at least 27 Palestinians on the Gaza border as an “outrage” and attacked Western “silence” about the deaths.

    • How Do You Tell the Kids that Grandma is in Jail for Resisting Nuclear Weapons?

      “Our grandma is in jail,” Madeline tells a woman wrestling a shopping cart at Target.

      “She went over a war fence and tried to make peace,” Seamus adds helpfully. “They arrested her, and she is in jail now.”

      “Where?” the woman asks, looking from them to me in disbelief and maybe pity.

      “We don’t remember,” the kids say, suddenly done with their story and ready to make passionate pleas for the colorful items in the dollar section over the woman’s shoulder.

      “Georgia,” I say, but I don’t have a lot of energy to add detail to my kids’ story. They hit all the high points.

      “There’s a lot going on these days,” she says. I agree, and we move on into the store and our separate errands.

    • Shelter From the Storm: the Tunnels of Eastern Ghouta

      All battles and bombardments share their secrets one by one. Eastern Ghouta is no different. Why the sudden, savage bombardment of these Syrian towns and villages more than three weeks ago? Why the wasteland of homes and streets—and how did so many of the civilians survive along with hundreds of Islamist gunmen?

      You can do no better than start your enquiry in a front line dug-out near Arbeen, on the old and now war-smashed international highway between Damascus and Aleppo. It is protected by oil barrels of solid concrete, an iron roof, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a couple of rifles and a rusting motor-bike, presumably to carry messages when the lines are cut. “Twenty mortars a day,” one of the Syrian soldiers says, rolling his eyes.

      [...]

      These great stoneworks – for they were carved through the living rock, supposedly by Palestinians on loan from Hamas, men who had spent their years hacking tunnels between Gaza and the Egyptian desert to the south – have become a familiar part of the Syrian war. I have walked through them in Homs, where the makers carved their names on the walls like Victorian railway builders, and in eastern Aleppo. These tunnels somehow carry inside them the necrology of ideas, the ideological martyrs’ cemetery of their makers’minds. They are deep and dank and glisten with moisture. But they are safe.

    • The Coming Crisis with Iran

      With the appointments of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser, Donald Trump has signaled his preparedness by the May 12deadline to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and ramp up pressure on North Korea if it refuses to denuclearize. The two moves would have interactive consequences: casting aside the Iran nuclear deal is likely to be read in Pyongyang as indicating that the US cannot be trusted to keep its commitments. It might also be read as a signal that should nuclear talks with Trump fail, a US attack on North Korea’s missile and nuclear sites could be in the offing.

    • Could the Cold War Return With a Vengeance?

      This renewed emphasis on China and Russia in U.S. military planning reflects the way top military officials are now reassessing the global strategic equation, a process that began long before Donald Trump entered the White House. Although after 9/11, senior commanders fully embraced the “long war against terror” approach to the world, their enthusiasm for endless counterterror operations leading essentially nowhere in remote and sometimes strategically unimportant places began to wane in recent years as they watched China and Russia modernizing their military forces and using them to intimidate neighbors.

      While the long war against terror did fuel a vast, ongoing expansion of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) — now a secretive army of 70,000 nestled inside the larger military establishment — it provided surprisingly little purpose or real work for the military’s “heavy metal” units: the Army’s tank brigades, the Navy’s carrier battle groups, the Air Force’s bomber squadrons, and so forth. Yes, the Air Force in particular has played a major supporting role in recent operations in Iraq and Syria, but the regular military has largely been sidelined there and elsewhere by lightly equipped SOF forces and drones. Planning for a “real war” against a “peer competitor” (one with forces and weaponry resembling our own) was until recently given far lower priority than the country’s never-ending conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa. This alarmed and even angered those in the regular military whose moment, it seems, has now finally arrived.

    • In Display of ‘Actual Sociopathy,’ Trump Reportedly Asked CIA Why Drone Didn’t Also Kill Target’s Family

      Reacting to footage of a drone strike in Syria in which the CIA waited until the target was separated from his family before firing, Trump reportedly asked, “Why did you wait?”

      While Trump’s question was immediately denounced as a display of “actual sociopathy,” it was perfectly in line with his campaign rhetoric insisting that the best way to combat terrorism is to “take out” the alleged perpetrators’ families.

    • B’Tselem calls on Israeli soldiers to defy shooting orders, lest they commit war crimes

      B’Tselem, the respected Israeli human rights NGO, began a media campaign today urging Israel Defense Forces soldiers posted on the Gaza border to disobey “patently illegal” shoot-to-kill orders against unarmed protesters. Last week, the IDF gunned down 17 such protesters and wounded more than 700 of them. Another wounded protester later died of his wounds. Fresh protests are expected on Friday and the IDF already announced it will keep its Rules of Engagement (ROE) as they are.

      [...]

      B’Tselem has toughened its position towards the army and government in recent years. Two years ago, the NGO decided to stop cooperating with the IDF and its notoriously inept Military Police Criminal Investigation Division, citing the fact that the military justice system serves only “to cover up unlawful acts and protect perpetrators.” B’Tselem CEO Hagai El-Ad appeared in the UN Security Council in October 2016, calling upon the world to protect Palestinians from Israel.

      Those decisions caused controversy not just in the general Israeli public, but also within the Israeli human rights NGOs sphere: Most NGOs rejected B’Tselem’s position regarding non-cooperation with the IDF, arguing that by so doing they would lose whatever shred of ability to change the system they still had.

    • Sick Temper Tyrannis

      Tyranny… What is it? Does the word mean anything any more? Like so many terms it has been distorted to serve the ends of powerful interests until its meaning has been blurred. In its dictionary definitions the common element is the exercise of power without accountability to the ruled.

      High-powered academic research has established beyond debate that Americans have nothing to say about what is done in their name by the State. Their opus wasn’t needed. It’s painfully clear by now that we are ruled tyrannically and if you’re not flaming furious about that, you’re dead.

    • Mass Deception and the Prelude to World War

      In Syria, the US, Turkey, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been helping to arm militants. The Daily Telegraph’s March 2013 article “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’” reported that 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia had been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels. The New York Times March 2013 article “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With CIA Aid” stated that Arab governments and Turkey had sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters. This aid included more than 160 military cargo flights.

    • Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Cleaning House, Enabling War

      Lieutenant General McMaster was no prince either. He helped craft a National Defense Strategy that all but declared a new Cold War on Russia and China. He was also to the right of reasonable on Iran and North Korea. Nevertheless, he is an intelligent man with genuine academic bona fides. I’ve met the guy and, even though we disagree on almost everything, he’s certainly preferable to a zealot like Bolton. McMaster thinks critically and wasn’t always reflexively pro-war. However, Trump, a man who likes his information in tiny doses (and preferably on Fox News), reportedly found H.R.’s detailed briefings insufferable. And McMaster’s recent suggestion that Russia played an “incontrovertible” role in the 2016 U.S. election evidently didn’t help him one bit either.

    • Portonblimp Down Episode 2 – A Tale By Boris Johnson

      “Comrade Putin, we have successfully stockpiled novichoks in secret for ten years, and kept them hidden from the OPCW inspectors. We have also trained our agents in secret novichok assassination techniques. The programme has cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but now we are ready. Naturally, the first time we use it we will expose our secret and suffer massive international blowback. So who should be our first target? The head of a foreign intelligence agency? A leading jihadist rebel in Syria? A key nuclear scientist? Even a Head of State?”

      “No, Tovarich. There is this old retired guy I know living in Salisbury. We released him from jail years ago…”

      [...]

      That is, genuinely, in every detail the official British government version of what happened in Salisbury, including the ten year programme and the secret assassination manual.

      Despite this story being one of the most improbably wild conspiracy theories in human history, it is those who express any doubt at all as to its veracity who are smeared as “conspiracy theorists” or even “traitors”.

    • Conclusive evidence of the Russian state’s guilt in the Skripal case is lacking — and that’s important

      It is difficult to obtain 100% proof in cases such as the Sergey Skripal poisoning. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand as much evidence — from our politicians and law enforcement — as possible.

    • Where Every Bullet Landed

      Last weekend’s murder and mass wounding of scores of Palestinians – at least 17 dead, from 770 to 1,400 injured – as they marched, prayed and peacefully commemorated Land Day in the occupied Gaza Strip was abhorrent enough in and of itself. Now comes proof the carnage by what Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy calls Israeli “massacre forces” was premeditated. Israel had already announced plans to use “a lot of force,” including the deployment of 100 snipers, against thousands of unarmed Palestinians gathering for the annual event, which marks the start of a six-week-mobilization culminating in this year’s 70th anniversary of the disastrous Nakba. In the end, they opened fire with live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas; almost half of those killed or injured were kids or young people.

    • REVEALED: The bombshell Russian message intercepted on DAY of Skripal poisonings

      AN ELECTRONIC message to Moscow sent on the day former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury included the phrase “the package has been delivered”.

    • Government Propaganda Now Totally Bizarre

      The increasing desperation of government attempts to “prove” the Russians responsible for the Skripal attack has become increasingly bizarre. They now claim GCHQ picked up from Troodos a message from Syria to Moscow that “the package has been delivered”, and a further one that “two people have made their egress”.

      Because of course, if you were sending a cryptic message back from Salisbury to Moscow, you would naturally route it back via Syria, in the certain knowledge that all such calls from Syria are picked up from Troodos. I am sure the Russians already knew that, even before I published it in detail five years ago.

    • Saudi ‘Julian Assange’ Claims Crown Prince to Ascend to Throne by July

      Saudi whistleblower Mujtahid, who is so well-informed that some believe he’s a member of the royal family, has once again used Twitter to reveal another portion of secrets about the kingdom.

      Twitter has become a crucial platform for Mujtahid, dubbed the Saudi “Julian Assange,” who has over 2 million followers: the whistleblower has recently revealed, citing a source familiar with the matter, that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might be preparing to take over the throne within three months.

    • Azerbaijani mafia in the heart of Europe?

      The Azerbaijani mafia, little known in western Europe previously, arrived in France with a loud bang. Seven bangs, to be precise. The usual serenity of the picturesque town of Colomiers, a dozen kilometres outside of Toulouse, was disrupted by gunshots in the early morning of Friday 30 March. These were aimed at the car in which Rahim Namazov, an Azerbaijani national, was traveling together with his wife, Aida. She died in the attack, and Namazov’s condition is described as grave as he clings to life in a local hospital.

      [...]

      The problem is, no one in Azerbaijan has heard of a journalist by the name of Rahim Namazov. While Namazov arrived in France and was granted political asylum there in 2010, claiming persecution in his native Azerbaijan due to journalistic work, observers in his native country have been unsuccessfully searching for evidence supporting his connection with the profession.

    • The Dolls of Militarism: From War Hawks to Chickenhawks

      Donald Trump’s continual cabinet reshuffling — otherwise the stuff of reality-TV drama — has become genuinely frightening. Like so many Russian matryoshki or nesting dolls, the president has been removing one war hawk after another, only to reveal yet more extreme versions of the same creature. And rumor has it that such personnel moves have yet to reach their end point.

    • Nonviolence or Nonexistence? The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

      Despite the vastly more perilous state of our planet, many people and organizations around the world are following in the footsteps of Gandhi, King and other nonviolent luminaries like Silo, and are engaged in what is effectively a last ditch stand to end the violence and put humanity on a path to peace, justice and sustainability.

      Let me tell you about some of these people and organizations and invite you to join them.

      In Bolivia, Nora Cabero works with the Movimient Humanista. The Movement has many programs including the Convergence of Cultures which aims to facilitate and stimulate true dialogue – oriented towards the search for common points present in the hearts of different peoples and individuals – to promote the relationship between different cultures and to resist discrimination and violence. Another program, World Without Wars and Violence emerged in 1994 and was presented for the first time internationally in 1995 at the Open Meeting of Humanism held in Chile at the University of Santiago. It is active in about 40 countries. It carries out activities in the social base and also promotes international campaigns such as Education for Nonviolence and the World March for Peace and Nonviolence.

    • MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Applauded for Doing What Few Prominent US Journalists Do: Report Honestly About Israeli Massacre

      In addition to cozy and sycophantic relationship President Donald Trump has forged with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hayes also condemned the deafening silence of American lawmakers over the behavior of the Israeli military—which the U.S. government supplies with billions of dollars in annual aid—and argued that such silence on human rights abuses and violence is a permission slip for allies like Israel to do “whatever they want.” In turn, Israel is now running with that permission, said Hayes, “and that video—of teenagers being shot in an open field—that’s what it looks like when they do.”

    • The Courage to Uncover the Politics and Lies Behind the Carnage in Colombia

      Throughout the decade, the paramilitary groups had slowly been gaining in strength, but now they were engaged in a coordinated and terrifying campaign to seize control of key regions of the country. Moving beyond Antioquia and Córdoba, where Carlos Castaño’s ACCU had first started its expansion in the 1990s, they were now spreading out over most of the country’s northern states, and even venturing into the center and south of the country. The ACCU had also joined forces with other paramilitary groups, organized under a single umbrella as the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), which had multiple “blocks,” each under separate leadership.

      [...]

      Meanwhile, the FARC and the ELN, too, were engaging in ever more ruthless tactics. They had taken people hostage for ransom or political gain for years, but now kidnappings were a daily occurrence. Travel by road throughout Colombia had become so hazardous that many people gave it up entirely. The guerrillas took advantage of the absence of law enforcement on many lonely roads to conduct pescas milagrosas (miraculous fishing), where they stopped drivers and kidnapped those they thought might be worth something. The kidnappings affected Colombians of all stripes and backgrounds, wealthy and poor alike, and by paralyzing travel, damaged the economy and frustrated city residents, for whom going to the countryside was a common pastime. To secure their territory, the guerrillas had also deployed antipersonnel landmines, which maimed not only soldiers, but also peasants, children, and animals that walked in the wrong place.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Punishment of Julian Assange is political, not legal

      Recent reports that the Ecuadoran government has blocked internet / phone access and disallowed visitors to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange – who has been holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for five and a half years – point to the latest in a series of moves apparently generated by US pressure, in what seems to be a concerted attempt, along with its allies, to subject the controversial whistle-blower to punishment outside of any legal process. Assange has been confined to the embassy building since he was granted political asylum by Ecuador in 2012. His physical and mental health have reportedly suffered on account of his isolation, which has now been intensified by jamming his electronic communications.

      [...]

      In Ecuador’s 2017 presidential election in which current President Lenin Moreno took office, it was his conservative opponent who threatened to evict Assange, while Moreno had said he could stay, reports say. It was Moreno’s government that granted Assange Ecuadorean citizenship in December, to provide him with ‘another layer of protection,’ and sought to give him diplomatic immunity. All of this would suggest that there has been recent outside pressure on Ecuador on this issue.
      With Swedish prosecutors having last year formally dropped their investigation into rape allegations in Sweden, all that the UK authorities are left with to justify Assange’s arrest is the argument that he ‘skipped bail’ when he took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy. Now, recent revelations of email correspondence between Sweden’s prosecutors and Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have added credence to the view that Assange’s plight has more to do with mala fide intentions of those who wish to see him punished, than any pursuit of justice. It appears that the last four years of Assange’s imprisonment in the embassy have been entirely unnecessary. “In fact, they depended on a legal charade” wrote Jonathan Cook in Counterpunch in February.

      [...]

      “His only ‘crime’ is that of a true journalist — telling the world the truths that people have a right to know” said a group that included American linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, Australian journalist/ film-maker John Pilger, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek and many other high profile figures.In an open letter published online they called on president Moreno to end the isolation of Assange, saying Ecuador’s government was justifying the gagging of Wikileaks’ publisher “under extreme pressure from Washington and its collaborators.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • ‘Live Luxuriously for Cheap – Like Scott!’: Green Group Trolls EPA Chief Pruitt With Fake Rental Ads

      Though President Donald Trump on Friday declared that his EPA chief is “doing great job but is totally under siege,” Friends of the Earth was trolling the embattled EPA chief by posting signs around Washington, D.C. offering discounted rental deals like the one Pruitt received from a fossil fuel lobbyist.

      “LUXURY CONDO ON CAPITOL HILL: $50 A NIGHT!!!*” the signs, which popped up overnight, declare. “LIVE LUXURIOUSLY FOR CHEAP—JUST LIKE SCOTT!”

      The small print on the poster reads: “*Special rate void if not a Trump administration able to provide special favors. Property may be used to host GOP fundraisers.”

    • ‘Callously Indifferent’ BP Argued Oil Spills Would Provide ‘Welcome Boost’ to Coastal Economy

      When pitching a proposal to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight of the southern coast of Australia in 2016, according to newly revealed documents, oil giant BP attempted to allay regulators’ concerns by claiming that any future oil spill would actually be a ‘welcome boost’ to the local economy.

    • Documents shed light on BP’s failures in the Great Australian Bight

      A major oil spill in the region would have covered up to 750km of beaches and disrupted whale migration, reveal government documents BP tried to suppress

      [...]

      For the first time, Climate Home News can reveal why. Government documents have been released under freedom of information laws, nearly two years after they were requested. BP had tried to suppress the information.

      A major oil spill in the sensitive seascape would pollute up to 750km of beaches and shoreline, according to BP’s own modelling, and the company thought drilling may disrupt migration of the endangered southern right whale.

      Two letters from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (Nopsema) to BP in 2015 and 2016 show BP had failed to address the regulator’s concerns about managing these risks. The details suggest it will be costly for any oil company to drill the area in an environmentally responsible way.

      BP withdrew its plans to drill in October 2016, citing better options for investment. But the company said the Bight remained a prospect and still owns two of the four offshore leases that were subject to the original plans.

    • HOW THE TOKYO 2020 GAMES ARE KILLING RAINFORESTS IN MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA

      The Japanese have a word to convey a sense of regret concerning waste: mottainai. It can be used as an exclamation – as in “What a waste of food!” – or a slogan for local environmentalists to encourage environmental sustainability.

      So it came as no surprise that Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organisers and Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike made a commitment to making sustainability an integral part of the Games.

      But as construction begins on facilities to support the mammoth undertaking that comes with hosting the Olympics, environmental groups are already up in arms about its effect on mother nature, specifically rainforests in the region.

    • As Antarctic Melting Accelerates, Worst-Case Scenarios May Come True

      Some of the world’s most profound melting of glaciers is happening in the Antarctic; and is invisible from above.

      According to a study recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the underwater melting of Antarctic glaciers is now occurring at a rate that is doubling every 20 years. This means that melting in the ice continent of Antarctica could soon outpace that occurring across Greenland, which would make Antarctica the single largest source of sea level rise.

      The new study was the first complete underwater mapping of Antarctica, by far the world’s largest body of ice.

      The study shows that warming ocean waters have caused the base of the ice near the ocean floor around the south pole to shrink by 1,463 kilometers from 2010 to 2016. This development will likely force worst-case projections of sea level rise to be revised upwards.

  • Finance
    • Does the “Article 50 Challenge” have any merit?

      Some Remainers are hopeful. The hope – a high hope – is that this legal challenge could stop or substantially delay Brexit.

    • More Than One-Third of College Students Struggle with Food and Housing Insecurity, Study Finds

      While higher education has historically been promoted as a “great equalizer,” new research offers the latest evidence that poverty and economic inequality continue to inhibit the realization of that promise.

      A study by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and Temple University found that about 36 percent of students struggle with food insecurity, or inadequate access to nutritious food, while more than a third also face housing insecurity—defined as the inability to pay rent or utilities or the need to move frequently.

      The researchers documented the experiences of 43,000 college students at more than 60 public and private universities as well as community colleges—the largest-ever national survey assessing whether the basic needs of students are being met.

    • President Trump Keeps Attacking Amazon. See How His Tweets Have Hurt Other Companies
    • Is the U.S. at Full Employment? Should They Put the Brakes on Job Growth to Avoid Inflation Down the Road?

      In the late 60s and the 1970s, anti-inflation concerns often replaced anti-poverty and employment concerns. Reducing demand for goods and workers was used to limit wage and price increases.

    • ‘We are the 99%’: But Richest 1% Will Soon Own Two-Thirds Of World’s Wealth

      More than two-thirds of the world’s entire wealth will be owned by the richest 1% of people by 2030, new research warns.

      The shocking findings of the new report produced by the UK’s House of Commons Library claims that if trends which began after the 2008 financial crisis continue, the 1% will control 64% of world’s money in just 12 years’ time.

      The widening gap between the 1% and everyone else was first highlighted by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which started in 2011 and famously used the slogan: “We are the 99%.”

      The study claims that the wealth of the richest one percent grows at six percent annually, outstripping the three percent annual growth of everyone else, causing a continual movement of money to the top.

    • Outrage Follows Puerto Rico’s Announcement It’s Closing Nearly a Third of Its Public Schools

      Teachers unions and outraged citizens in Puerto Rico are vowing to fight the government’s newly-announced plan to close nearly a third of its public schools.

      Puerto Rico’s Education Department said Thursday that 283 schools would close by the start of the new school year, leaving open just 828.

      “I don’t even know where the schools they’re being located to are,” said Haydee Del Valle, a parent of a 12-year-old who attends one of the schools slated for closure. “I don’t know if they’re too far away from us or if the school bus they take now will be able to take them there,” she told NBC News. “This makes me sad because this is a great school.”

      “We know it’s a difficult and painful process,” said Education Secretary Julia Keleher, a charter school proponent. She added, “Our children deserve the best education that we are capable of giving them taking into account Puerto Rico’s fiscal reality.”

    • Arizona Teachers Strike Is the Answer to Years of Tax Cuts and Neglect of Education

      Arizona teachers are considering a strike, following the recent West Virginia and now Oklahoma and Kentucky examples, if they don’t receive their requested 20 percent pay raise.

      An official strike date hasn’t been set, but the teachers, following the playbooks from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, have staged multiple protests in individual districts and at the state capitol in Phoenix for the last five weeks, using the #RedforEd hashtag on Twitter to announce and document their protests. At the capitol this Wednesday, one group of teachers gave the legislature a progress report, and there are more “walk-ins,” with teachers marching into their school buildings to demand better pay.

      [...]

      “We have the worst pay in the nation for our teachers,” he continued, but pay is just the tip of the iceberg. Arizona teachers have been struggling with years of divestment from Republican governors who slashed education funding to pay for tax cuts.

      Thomas dates the worst of Arizona’s tax cuts back to the reaction to the 2008 Great Recession. “Before the recession, we were spending $1,000 more a student on supplies, teacher salaries and staff hirings and building repair, all of the money that goes into that.”

    • The Oklahoma Teachers’ Strike Is a Mutiny Against Austerity

      Oklahoma teachers proudly marked themselves absent from school since Monday, and they had an excellent excuse: They made themselves present in politics instead, with a historic march on the Capitol in hopes of finally capturing the legislature’s undivided attention

      Lawmakers thought they could eke through another austerity budget with the last-minute addition of a $6,100 wage hike. But an estimated 30,000 educators stopped work starting Monday to force some 200 schools to shutter, in order to send the message to elected representatives that their gesture is insufficient. The planned raise paled against teachers’ demands for a fully funded school budget, as part of a $3.3 billion package to restore massive cutbacks across state agencies, as well as the basic dignity of a living wage for all state workers.

    • ‘We’re Still Here’: Oklahoma Teachers Show No Sign of Ending Strike Without Sufficient Funding

      About 100 teachers from Tulsa also continued a 110-mile walk to the capitol on Thursday after beginning the trek the day before.

    • Amid Massive Teacher Revolt Over Starving Schools, Kentucky GOP Passes ‘Huge Tax Cut for the 1%’

      Although both bills still need a signature from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, he seemed to signal his support for the pension bill on Twitter, and while he has expressed concerns about the tax measure, the legislature could override a veto. If the tax plan takes effect, experts warn that the states’ poorest residents will be hardest hit.

      “The whole plan is a big tax shift from the wealthy and corporations to the middle class and poor,” Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (KCEP), told the Lexington Herald-Leader. Bailey highlighted analysis from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) that found those in the state’s top one percent will save, on average, more than $7,000.

    • Trump and His Tariffs

      A year into his presidency, there is little evidence of any improvement. Inequality continues to define the American economic landscape—CEOs, new government data show, can make up to a thousand times more in their salaries than their employees.

    • Uncertainty is the Root of the Current Market Craziness

      For months after his inauguration, US president Donald Trump bragged that he was single-handedly producing an economic boom, citing a rising stock market as evidence.

      Recently, however, he’s stopped that line of self-promotion. The market has seemingly gone nuts. Sudden one-day drops pare back weeks of gains, followed by a cautious recovery of the lost ground. There’s a strong correlation between those swings and Trump’s mouth, whether he’s making formal policy announcements or just tweetstorming his latest obsession.

      To understand the problem, let’s look to the seemingly unrelated fields of economics and physics.

    • [Older] Puerto Ricans and Ultrarich “Puertopians” Are Locked in a Pitched Struggle Over How to Remake the Island

      Just off the main square, a large, pink colonial-style house had light shining through every window. It glowed like a beacon in the terrifying darkness.

      The pink house was Casa Pueblo, a community and ecology center with deep roots in this part of the island. Twenty years ago, its founders, a family of scientists and engineers, installed solar panels on the center’s roof, a move that seemed rather hippy-dippy at the time. Somehow, those panels (upgraded over the years) managed to survive Maria’s hurricane-force winds and falling debris. Which meant that in a sea of post-storm darkness, Casa Pueblo had the only sustained power for miles around.

      And like moths to a flame, people from all over the hills of Adjuntas made their way to the warm and welcoming light.

      Already a community hub before the storm, the pink house rapidly transformed into a nerve center for self-organized relief efforts. It would be weeks before the Federal Emergency Management Agency or any other agency would arrive with significant aid, so people flocked to Casa Pueblo to collect food, water, tarps, and chainsaws — and draw on its priceless power supply to charge up their electronics. Most critically, Casa Pueblo became a kind of makeshift field hospital, its airy rooms crowded with elderly people who needed to plug in oxygen machines.

    • A Modest Neoliberal Proposal

      It’s often repeated old news that U.S. public education is being undermined by corporate interests and elitist ideologues. Yet, this sinister trend continues at a quickening pace. How else explain our billionaire U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, and her agenda? How else explain the school-to-prison pipeline and arming teachers? Who doesn’t know by now that we have a man-boy sociopath in the White House who doesn’t care about the millions of young people his politicking harms? Then you have those who spend countless hours digesting Fox News, Breitbart, or the Wall Street Journal, loving the direction the country has taken: why concern oneself with education? Be concerned: don’t be deceived by corporate-backed politicians and pundits who know little about the wholesome education of a young person; listen to verifiable educators in the field. Stay concerned.

      Please share the following, especially the shout-outs at the end for Teaching Agency for Equity: A Framework for Conscientious Engagement, released by Routledge. I am happy to report my poem, “North American Education” appears in the closing chapter. Also, if you haven’t taken a peek yet, please visit The Teacher’s Voice (2004-2014 archived online). It’s a poetry journal I founded for teachers to express themselves. I like thinking TTV did some good for its time.

    • Roger Lowenstein, F**k Your Stock Portfolio

      I realize it would be too much to ask that people who write on economics for major news outlets have any clue about how the economy works. I say that seriously; I have been commenting on economic reporting for more than two decades. Being a writer on economics is not like being a custodian or bus driver where you have to meet certain standards. The right family or friends can get you the job and there is virtually no risk of losing it as a result of inadequate performance.

      But Roger Lowenstein performs a valuable service for us in the Washington Post this morning when he unambiguously equates the value of the stock market with the country’s economic well-being. It seems that Mr. Lowenstein is unhappy that Donald Trump’s recent tariff proposals sent the market plummeting. The piece is titled, “when the president tanks your stock portfolio.” It holds up Trump’s tariff plans as a uniquely irresponsible act because of its impact on stock prices.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump is Still the Most Unpopular President Since Polls Have Been Kept; But It May Not Matter in 2018 or 2020

      Trump recently bragged that his approval ratings were higher than “Cheatin Obama” at this point in his Presidency. As it turns out, only Rasmussen – a right wing polling organization that has consistently put Trump’s approval ratings above those of other polling organizations – had Trump approaching a 50 percent approval. The rest put him somewhere well below that, with two placing his rating below 40 percent.

      But to anyone who navigates through the world using facts, reason, and critical thinking skills, the real questions have to be, 1) just who the hell are the 40 percent or so who do approve of this idiot? 2) how does a guy with just 40 percent approval win the Presidency?

    • Ex-ambassador to Vietnam says Trump wanted him to push for refugees to be taken back

      Former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said he resigned from his post last year after the Trump administration asked him to pressure the Vietnamese government to receive more than 8,000 Vietnamese refugees marked in the U.S. for deportation.

      The vast majority of the people targeted for deportation — sometimes for minor crimes — were war refugees who had established lives in the U.S. after fleeing the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago, Osius wrote in an essay this month for the American Foreign Service Association.

      “And they were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime with which they had never reconciled. I feared many would become human rights cases, and our government would be culpable,” he wrote.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Robert Mercer backed a secretive group that worked with Facebook, Google to target anti-Muslim ads at swing voters

      As the final weeks of the 2016 elections ticked down, voters in swing states like Nevada and North Carolina began seeing eerie promotional travel ads as they scrolled through their Facebook feeds or clicked through Google sites.

      In one, a woman with a French accent cheerfully welcomes visitors to the “Islamic State of France,” where “under Sharia law, you can enjoy everything the Islamic State of France has to offer, as long as you follow the rules.”

      The video has a Man in the High Tower feel. Iconic French tourist sites are both familiar and transformed — the Eiffel Tower is capped with a star and crescent and the spires of the Notre Dame are replaced with the domed qubba of a mosque.

      The Mona Lisa is shown looking, the ad says, “as a woman should,” covered in a burka.

    • Economics Lessons for Thomas Friedman: Putin Brought Russia Out of Poverty

      As a long-term columnist at the NYT, Thomas Friedman apparently never feels the need to know anything about the topics on which he writes. This explains his sarcastic speculation that Putin could be a CIA agent since he has done so much to hurt Russia.

      For all his authoritarian tendencies, it is likely that most Russians think primarily about Putin’s impact on the economy, just as is typically the case among voters in the United States. On that front, Putin has a very good record.

    • Degrading Newspapers’ Business Sections

      It’s alarming that there are far fewer media outlets for consumer protection news and features than there were thirty years ago. Recall the huge Phil Donahue Show, the regional radio show and TV news shows, the television networks and syndicated radio shows that would report and interview consumer advocates about the injustice, rip-offs, and harms done to the consumer by unscrupulous corporations. These shows are largely gone now. Shows marked by fluff, narcissism, trivia, and sensationalist, frenetic news bits are their replacements.

      What is disturbing is that the major newspapers – the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal—are cutting back reporting on the revelations and doings of active consumers, and consumer organizations. Sure, they do occasional features that may gain them big journalism prizes. But the regular coverage of very important consumer struggles with Congress, the White House, the courts, and the state legislatures has vastly shrunken. Moreover, the media, especially TV, is dittoheading itself with the daily “big story”, as with the Trumpian escapades.

    • Chris Hedges: “U.S. Citizens Are Living In An Inverted Totalitarian Country”

      The mainstream media deflects attention from where power resides: corporations, not with the leaders of the free world. The arguments posed by Chris Hedges, that the U.S. is neither a democracy nor a republic but a totalitarian state that can now assassinate its citizens at will, are pertinent ones. Scary ones. Especially as consecutive governments seem equally as impotent to invoke any real change for the States. If the media won’t stand up to the marionettes who pull the strings of the conglomerates causing deep, indelible polarisation in the world abound; then so we must act. Together.

      Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

      We were delighted to have Chris Hedges on an episode of the Newsvoice Think podcast as we seek to broadcast perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. Right, left, red, blue and purple.

      In our interview with Chris, we discussed a range of topics facing the U.S. today as the Trump administration looks back at a year in power, and forward to the November ’18 midterms where Democrats will be looking to make gains. Chris was scathing of that party describing them as a “creature of Wall Street, which is choreographed and ceased to be a proper party a long time ago.”

    • Right-Wing Feedback Loop: How Trump and the GOP Are Radicalizing Each Other

      On April 9, John Bolton will become Donald Trump’s new national security advisor, signaling the arrival of perhaps the most dangerous phase yet of the Trump administration. In Bolton, an unrepentant advocate for carrying out wars of aggression, Trump will have his Henry Kissinger, and the world will be less safe for it.

      Most importantly, Bolton’s appointment should put to rest any misguided hopes regarding the future of the Trump administration: It is sure to become more extreme, more chaotic, and more reflexively violent both domestically and abroad. In short, there is a very good chance that the first year of the Trump administration will be seen, in retrospect, as a relatively calm one, and that the worst is yet to come.

    • To Defend Policy of ‘Must-Run’ Commentaries, Sinclair Forces Stations to Use ‘Must-Run’ Commentary by Former Trump Aide

      acing a flood of external criticism and internal dissent over its efforts to force news anchors to recite scripts bashing the media, Sinclair Broadcast Group doubled down on Wednesday by feeding its news stations yet another must-run clip in which the company’s chief political analyst and former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn defends Sinclair’s attempts to inject right-wing commentary into local news segments.

      “In terms of my analysis playing during your local news, as you see, my segments are very clearly marked as commentary,” Epshteyn notes in a new segment that was internally titled “MEDIA BASHING OF THE SINCLAIR BROADCASTING GROUP.”

      “Here’s the bottom line: I am proud to be the chief political analyst at Sinclair,” Epshteyn adds. “My goal with every segment is to tell you facts which you may not already know, and then my take on those facts. I am thrilled to keep sharing the truth and my perspective with you, day in and day out.”

    • Trump fought legislation requiring sprinklers in NYC buildings

      President Trump has a complicated history with the life-saving sprinklers the Trump Tower residential quarters lacked during a deadly fire Saturday.

      Nearly two decades ago, Trump, then one of the Big Apple’s most prominent real estate moguls, lobbied against Mayor Rudy Giuliani-era legislation that considered whether sprinklers should be installed in all residential buildings after two fatal fires in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

      The 1998 fires, which sparked sweeping building code changes, killed three firefighters at the NYCHA-run housing for seniors and four more died of smoke inhalation at an Upper West Side high-rise where child actor Macaulay Culkin’s family lived.

    • “Neither Washington nor Moscow” – 5 reasons progressives must be wary of playing Putin’s game

      Imagine a far-right government came to power in the UK and immediately set upon arresting or killing anyone that opposed it. The UK immediately moves to bolster its ideological friends across the continent, ordering City banks to grant financing to people like the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen. As part of this nationalist fervour, the UK invades and annexes Britany “to liberate Bretons from the French yoke” and sends in troops to enforce the “peaceful reunification” of the British and Irish peoples. A bombing campaign is begun against Catalonia in support of a similar neo-Francoist government in Spain in which Barcelona is devastated. Domestically, the government reintroduces a stronger version of Section 21 banning ‘gay propaganda’ and concentrates wealth into the hands of kleptocratic elite.

      Outlandish? Yes. But events very similar to this have unfolded in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. So why do some of my friends in the social justice movement appear to accept Kremlin propaganda at face value, or are at least reluctant to criticise his regime – particularly since the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergey Skipral?

    • The truth about Corbyn supporters’ Facebook groups

      On April 1, The Sunday Times published its front page article with the headline ‘Exposed: Jeremy Corbyn’s hate factory’ and stated that ‘The most comprehensive investigation conducted into 20 of the biggest pro-Corbyn Facebook groups — numbering 400,000 members — found routine attacks on Jewish people, including Holocaust denial’.

      Included in that sentence is a link to another article published at the same time in the Times claiming that ‘Anti-semitic and Holocaust-denying posts are rife on Facebook groups cheerleading for Labour’s leader’. The article goes on to say that ‘The dossier was compiled over two months by whistleblowers working with The Sunday Times in the groups, who gained access to restricted membership groups. They uncovered more than 2,000 racist, antisemitic, misogynistic, violent and abusive messages.’

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Is Stormy Daniels being shadowbanned on Twitter?

      It’s true. If you search on her name, and hit the Latest tab, you see lots of Trump-linked tweets and tweets where Ms. Daniels is mentioned, but not a single one of the recent Tweets from Stormy Daniels herself. [Note: her posts don't appear when you click the "Latest" tab, but her posts do appear in the "Top" tab -- Mark]

    • China’s Website and VPN Blocking Hurts Business, US Says

      The US Government sees China’s “Great Firewall” and the associated VPN crackdown as a serious threat to American companies. The censorship efforts are affecting billions of dollars in business, the US Trade Representative writes in its latest Foreign Trade Barriers report. In addition, the new VPN ban causes privacy concerns.

    • Mothers condemn plan to set up ‘censorship zone’ around abortion clinic [Ed: I am not sure I would call that censorship any more than I'd call designating protests to particular places at stated times/programme "censorship". They are menacing and disrupting medical practices.]

      The report proposes the creation of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) setting up a “safe zone” outside the Marie Stopes clinic on Mattock Lane, Ealing to curtail pray vigils. It states that the Council “is satisfied on reasonable grounds” that certain activities in the area “have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”, and is now restricting these activities within the safe zone.

    • The Federal Attack on Sex Workers’ Rights Is a Threat to Everyone’s Free Speech

      On March 23, Craigslist decided to do away with personal ads. Last week, Microsoft announced plans to make it illegal to get naked on Skype. The company is also out to ban any “offensive language” from Xbox and Office. Reddit has changed its content policy as well: Now the site explicitly forbids users from advertising paid services including “physical sexual contact” on its platform. And it’s not just the big names that are making such urgent amendments. Pounced.org, a dating website for those into Furry Fandom, just shut down.

      While some companies acknowledge it and some don’t, this trend appears to be spreading in anticipation of a sweeping piece of federal legislation that could soon become law. Enter FOSTA, or the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. The bill intends to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which prevents online intermediaries from being held liable for their users’ actions. The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives in late February. By late March, the Senate had voted to advance the measure (SESTA). It just needs Trump’s signature to be passed. Needless to say, tech companies and Internet freedom activists aren’t pleased.

    • Censorship at Yale: my experience on campus

      “You will regret this in ways you do not understand … I’ve seen students burn for things like this.” In Biblical terms, Jonathan Holloway, then-Dean of Yale College, warned me against following through on a counter-protest. Our school motto is light and truth, but Holloway was preaching fire and brimstone.

      In April 2017, the Yale College Republicans and I organized a counter-protest against graduate students’ symbolic “hunger strike” for unionization. Our counter-protest was a barbecue right next to the grad students, but either a mistake was made or someone regretted sanctioning our event, because a few hours after the event was approved, I received an email from Holloway asking for me to call him. That is when he delivered his admonition to me.

      During the barbecue, participants were actively forbidden by Director of Administrative Affairs Pilar Montalvo from engaging with the graduate student union, lest we be shut down. Montalvo’s office had a view of the protests, and when we disobeyed, she stormed out onto the plaza wildly, reiterating her threats. I later learned that it was Montalvo, who works in the Office of the President, who contacted multiple deans at Yale to pressure me to cancel the barbecue.

    • Prodding private companies into censorship by proxy is a dangerous government tradition

      YouTube is worried you might believe too much of what you see on its website. Amid the clamor for someone, somewhere to do something about “fake news,” the company plans to attach “information cues” — excerpts from Wikipedia — to videos that touch on “a list of well-known internet conspiracies.”

      When YouTube, Facebook or Twitter cracks down on some form of expression — conspiracy theories, radical rants, terrorist propaganda — some of the targets inevitably complain that their freedom of speech is under attack. (This feeling of victimhood may be what sent Nasim Aghdam to YouTube headquarters, gun in hand.) There is a strong retort to this: These are private platforms with a right to decide what they publish. It is no more a violation of the 1st Amendment for YouTube to muzzle a channel it finds offensive than it is for this newspaper to refuse to run a column calling for Minnesota to invade Wisconsin.

      But what if a private platform suppresses speech because it’s afraid the government might otherwise step in?

    • What counts as censorship on officials’ social media? Maryland offers a lesson.

      Gov. Larry Hogan’s office, just one official — a 20-something junior staffer — is in charge of managing and monitoring the boss’s official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. That (presumably overworked) aide must also figure out when commenters are within their First Amendment rights to scold, blast or zing Mr. Hogan, a Republican, and when they cross the line into what another official called “nastiness” and may be censored or banned altogether.

      Where exactly is that line? “It’s like porn,” said Doug Mayer, the governor’s spokesman. “You know it when you see it.”

    • Censorship on Edinburgh Uni campus drives creation of new website

      A growing “crisis” over campus censorship at Edinburgh University is driving the success of a new free speech ­platform where nothing is off-limits, according to the two students who founded it.

      The Broad website has been launched to counter the emergence of “no platforming” and “safe space” initiatives which have hit university societies and speakers which are deemed unpalatable in controversial areas such as abortion or immigration.

    • Beware Censorship by Proxy

      YouTube is worried you might believe too much of what you see on its website. Amid the clamor for someone, somewhere to do something about “fake news,” the company plans to attach “information cues”—excerpts from Wikipedia—to videos that touch on “a list of well-known internet conspiracies.”

      When YouTube, Facebook or Twitter cracks down on some form of expression—conspiracy theories, radical rants, terrorist propaganda—some of the targets inevitably complain that their freedom of speech is under attack. (This feeling of victimhood may be what sent Nasim Aghdam to YouTube headquarters, gun in hand.) There is a strong retort to this: These are private platforms with a right to decide what they publish. It is no more a violation of the First Amendment for YouTube to muzzle a channel it finds offensive than it is for this newspaper to refuse to run a column calling for Minnesota to invade Wisconsin.

    • Museum censorship in light of the #MeToo movement

      In 1896, John William Waterhouse painted his Hylas and the Nymphs. Taking a story from classical mythology, Waterhouse here explored the classical moment in which the youth and Argonaut warrior Hylas was abducted by water nymphs. The painting is housed at Manchester Art Gallery, and provoked controversy last month when it was removed from the walls for a short period of time.

      Clare Gannaway, the curator of the museum, has claimed that this was not a form of censorship and was only ever intended to be a temporary measure. Its removal was designed to provoke debate with visitors being encouraged to place their opinions on post-it notes in the space previously occupied by the painting. Gannaway confirmed to the Guardian that the MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns influenced this decision.

    • Africa round-up: Internet censorship, Cambridge Analytica ripples and more

      It was an eventful month on the continent with the approval of an amendment in South Africa regulating online content and the consideration of a bill seeking to restrict freedom of expression and media freedom, a disturbing trend of attacks on journalists by political party loyalists, the deportation of a photojournalist from Mauritania, and the spreading tentacles of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in Africa.

      [...]

      The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) immediately condemned the Hawks search allegedly for “secret state security files as part of their investigation”, describing it as a threat to media freedom…

    • Turkey continues to lead in Twitter censorship – report

      Turkey is at the top of the list of third-party takedown requests to one of the world’s most popular social media platforms.

      According to a transparency report published by Twitter, 466 of the total 513 requests made to the online news and social networking site Twitter for content removal and takedowns between June-Dec. 2017, came from Turkey.

    • Turkey overwhelmingly leads world in Twitter censorship

      Turkish government continues its efforts to censor Twitter, according to the site’s new transparency report. The report has showed that 466 of the total 513 requests made to the online news and social networking site Twitter for content removal and takedowns between June-Dec. 2017, came from Turkey.

      Turkey clinched the same title in the previous year. Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has called Twitter, “the worst menace to society, Turkey has also formed more than half of court orders for takedown requests. Of the 6,138 non-court order based legal requests for content removal, 3,828 came from Turkey.

    • Motives of censorship can be reasonable, but often debatable

      Obscenity is paradoxical and morality is subjective, with a strong resemblance to entering a cold pool, over the years society has gone from dipping its toes to near submergence. As political and moral censorship change, culture faces the “inconvenient” side of censoring. Artists, liberal leaders and philosophers have experienced a lengthy history of presenting “untimely” or “inconvenient” work and facing extreme consequences. Socrates was executed for refusing censorship of his teachings and Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for not adhering to contemporary virtue in his writings. As a basic human right, freedom of speech is the “freedom to express opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction,” as outlined by John Stuart Mill, author of On Liberty.

    • The looming danger of social media censorship

      While the Easter weekend offered much-needed rest to many, the reality of April 1 is now upon us.

      We are not talking about April Fool jokes, but the increase of VAT that has kicked in and which will make residents of SA feel the burden of an increase in fuel prices and, for some, an increase in taxes.

      These are the economic times we are living in…. Did you know that Eskom is also asking for a further 30 per cent price increase? Yes, it is true – seriously.

      In the midst of all the ‘fun’ things happening around us, such as the Australians resorting to cheating to beat the Proteas in cricket, we can easily miss noting some of the critical developments that could soon affect all our lives.

      Take the National Assembly for example. Recently its members quietly approved the Film and Publications Amendment Bill. This means the regulation of the distribution of online content could become a reality next year.

    • Two Trump-Supporting Black Women Reportedly Deemed ‘Unsafe to Community’ by Facebook
    • Policy team determines Diamond and Silk’s content is ‘unsafe to the Facebook community’
    • Fox News regulars Diamond & Silk have Twitter meltdown after Facebook labels their videos ‘unsafe to the community’
    • ‘We want ANSWERS!’ Diamond and Silk drop the MIC on Facebook about censorship in must-read thread
    • Facebook Designates ‘Diamond And Silk’ Unsafe — Duo Claims Censorship
    • Facebook Wants A License To Censor
    • Facebook intensifies censorship ahead of congressional testimony by Zuckerberg

      Ahead of scheduled congressional testimony by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has announced a series of censorship measures that strike a blow against online anonymity and tighten the company’s grip on what users can say on its platform.

      Zuckerberg announced Friday that the company will “require people who manage large pages to be verified,” meaning they will have to provide the company, and by extension the US government, with their real names and locations.

      Zuckerberg declared that the measure “will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content.” In addition, the company will prohibit ad purchases by individuals whose identities have not been “verified.”

      The move is a major step toward the fulfillment of the demand by the US intelligence agencies that social media companies end online anonymity, making it easier not only to track, but to arrest people for expressing oppositional political opinions.

      Zuckerberg added that the move would involve the hiring of thousands of additional censors and “security” personnel. “In order to require verification for all of these pages and advertisers, we will hire thousands of more people,” he wrote.

    • Say no to Article 13′s censorship machine

      To fight copyright infringement, policymakers want to force internet companies to scan literally everything users attempt to post on their platforms. If Article 13 in the EU’s Copyright Directive passes into law, an algorithm will decide whether the content you upload is seen or blocked.

      Automated filters will struggle to identify the vital legal exceptions to copyright that enable research, commentary, creative works, parody and so much more. From academics and journalists to parents uploading videos of their children, Article 13′s upload filter would impact professional and ordinary content creators alike.

    • Politicians Who Said SESTA Was Needed To Takedown Backpage Claim Victory Over Backpage Takedown… Without SESTA

      Except not a single thing in SESTA holds online sex traffickers accountable. Indeed, it does the exact opposite of that, in that it makes it that much more difficult for law enforcement to track down actual sex traffickers. Prior to SESTA, websites (including Backpage) frequently worked with law enforcement to help them track down those using their platforms for illegal activity. Under SESTA, no site will be willing to assist law enforcement in such a manner, because doing so will provide evidence of “knowledge” and thus, potentially, criminal liability. This sweeps the problem of sex trafficking under the rug, which might make Senator Portman feel better, but does nothing to tackle the actual problem, and makes it that much more difficult to find and prosecute actual traffickers, let alone find and rescue victims held against their will.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Our MPs must account for Cambridge Analytica

      The timing couldn’t be more ironic. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is showing the world the importance of data protection rights just as the House of Commons is considering a new Data Protection Bill. Now is the perfect time to tell MPs our concerns.

    • Another Company Blows Off Breach Notification For Months, Lies About Affected Customers When It’s Exposed

      Another day, another security breach. Another day, another security breach handled badly by the company leaking data. Another day, another security researcher being treated like garbage for attempting to report it. Etc. Etc.

    • Microsoft and Facebook start intervening in private conversations. How long until they beep out unwanted parts in real time?

      The reasons it’s interesting from a legal perspective is because there’s this concept of Common Carrier in the United States, which has a European equivalent in the Mere Conduit principle. It’s a quid-pro-quo between legislators and telecoms companies: As long as, and only as long as the telco companies don’t interfere with the conversations on the line, then they are also completely shielded from any liability for the conversations on the line.

      The minute they start interfering, they are no longer shielded from liability. Therefore, you would think it would be in their interest to never, ever, interfere with the conversations held on the line.

    • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he’s leaving Facebook

      “I am in the process of leaving Facebook. It’s brought me more negatives than positives,” Wozniak wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Apple has more secure ways to share things about yourself. I can still deal with old school email and text messages.”

    • Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Quits Facebook Over Data Collection

      Before deactivating his account, he wanted to delete some ad-related stuff and was shocked by the extent of Facebook’s data collection. Wozniak said that he would consider paying for the service rather than giving away his information that fuels the company’s advertisement platform.

    • Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook

      So, here’s the thing. There is indeed a case of Stockholm syndrome here. There are very few other contexts in which a person would be be allowed to make a series of decisions that have obviously enriched them while eroding the privacy and well-being of billions of people; to make basically the same apology for those decisions countless times over the space of just 14 years; and then to profess innocence, idealism, and complete independence from the obvious structural incentives that have shaped the whole process. This should ordinarily cause all the other educated, literate, and smart people in the room to break into howls of protest or laughter. Or maybe tears.

    • Facebook Scandal a ‘Game Changer’ in Data Privacy Regulation

      The ICO has been reviewing the use of data analytics for political purposes since May 2017 and is now investigating 30 organizations, including Facebook, Denham said earlier this month.

    • DHS Seeking Contractors to Spy on Journalists; What Happened to a Free Press?

      As the surveillance state grows bolder in its endeavors, the Department of Homeland security (DHS) has its sights set on keeping track of journalists, bloggers and other “media influencers.” The plan — known as Media Monitoring Services — is designed to give a contractor company “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.”

      The insatiable desire of surveillance hawks to vacuum up more and more data about average citizens has — especially since the Snowden revelations — drawn the attention of many in the media. It is not surprising that Big Brother would want to more closely watch those who watch the watchers.

    • Police Scotland in secret phone hack operation

      SCOTTISH police have been secretly hacking phones and harvesting massive amounts of data from members of the public, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

      The hacking operation uses new technology to override passwords and encryption, and can download every piece of data held on a mobile phone without the owner’s knowledge. Calls have now gone out for any future harvesting of data to be obtained only under warrant.

      In a secretive pilot project, 18 officers were trained to use a device known as a ‘kiosk’ – which is similar in size to an iPad and can access text messages, encrypted conversations on apps, passwords, geo-locations, contacts, photos, web browsing history and call records in seconds. Deleted data can also be obtained using the technology. Crucially, data cannot be taken within a specific time frame – if police want to access messages or photographs from a particular date, they must access all photographs and messages.

    • Facebook and the Rise of Anti-Social Media

      It was a bit over four years ago that journalist Glenn Greenwald reportedthat British ‘intelligence,’ GCHQ, had developed a program to spread politically targeted disinformation over the internet. The revelation came from a presentation made to the ‘Five Eyesalliance,’ which includes the NSA and was released by Edward Snowden. In the context of Federal and commercialdata collection, revelations that Facebook data was used for ‘private’ political purposes is both more and less than meets the eye.

      As was widely reportedwith less manufactured outrage at the time, the Obama administration used Facebook data in Mr. Obama’s 2012 presidential bid in approximately the same manner that Cambridge Analytica is now accused of doing. Thanks to Edward Snowden, it has been known since 2013 that the NSA was using Facebook datafor political purposes. And prior still, in 2011 the CIA reportedthat it was ‘using’ social media, some of which it had funded, toward its own ends.

      There is good reason for political pushback here. A wide variety of corporate and state actors have instantiated the internet into the fabric contemporary economic and political life. With a history of bad faith and bad acts, the fantasy that the CIA, NSA and FBI serve national interests begs the question of whose nation? Past targets including the Black Panther Party, Occupy Wall Street and antiwar protestors were as (more) capable of defining American interests as government technocrats.

      The ‘innovation’ of Five Eyes, the consortium of Anglophone intelligence agencies, is to expand the realm of competitive Party politics to that of national agencies working toward their own ends in a hidden supranational realm. The alternative frame of competitive state actors is undermined by the decision of GCHQ to reveal its methods to its ‘external’ partners. Precisely how do national governments ‘manage’ the methods and agendas of supranational agencies when they can evade national restrictions through ‘external’ relationships?

    • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to testify before House and Senate panels that got Facebook money
    • Police to uphold identity protection

      Chinese police are planning to further strengthen internet security by punishing network services providers that steal or sell users’ information, even if a crime has not been committed.

      “Internet services providers could be fined up to 1 million yuan ($159,000) for stealing, illegally selling or providing users’ personal information, even if no crime occurred or illegal income gained,” read a draft released by the Ministry of Public Security on internet security monitoring, the Beijing Daily reported on Saturday.

      The ministry released the regulation for public opinion Wednesday.

    • Facebook is unfixable. We need a nonprofit, public-spirited replacement.

      The corruption and surveillance culture of Facebook is baked in deep and can never be removed; if you doubt it, just peruse a sampling of their patent filings, which are like Black Mirror fanfic written by lawyers.

      Tim Wu (previously) points out that sites on the scale of Facebook — like Wikipedia — deliver value to titanic, global audiences at a fraction of the cost of Facebook’s operating budget. When you take out the spying, the sleaze, the giant paydays for execs and investors, it’s a tractable proposition to run Facebook without Facebook, Inc.

    • Homeland Security database would track bloggers, social media

      The Department of Homeland Security has put out a call for companies that could create a database tracking over 290,000 “media influencers” around the world, including online news outlets, bloggers and prominent social network accounts. The system would identify contributor details (such as contact info and their employers), and would allow searching for individuals and outlets through categories like their locations, the focuses of their coverage and their sentiment.

    • Homeland Security Wants to Build an Online ‘Media Influence Database’ to Track Journalists

      Posted on April 3rd as a call for “Media Monitoring Services,” the database has a dual purpose: monitoring hundreds of thousands of news sources simultaneously worldwide as well as tracking and categorizing journalists and bloggers. The “Media Intelligence and Benchmarking Platform,” as the proposed database is called, would monitor more than 290,000 “online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry” news sources worldwide. DHS wants the database to rank and categorize news sources according to a variety of factors, including content and topics covered, reach, circulation and location, and sentiment.

      [...]

      No value for the bid has been disclosed. Responses are due April 13th.

    • Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers

      The DHS wants to track more than 290,000 global news sources, including online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio, as well as trade and industry publications, local, national and international outlets, and social media, according to the documents. It also wants the ability to track media coverage in more than 100 languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, with instant translation of articles into English.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Pro-Torture Super Hawk Mike Pompeo Becoming Secretary of State: No Way

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday made clear that her vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state will be a firm “no.”

      “The State Department needs a leader who will prioritize diplomacy,” she tweeted. “The current nominee, Mike Pompeo, has defended the use of torture, tried to undermine the Iran nuclear deal, and scapegoated Muslim Americans after the Boston Marathon bombing. I won’t vote to confirm him.”

    • Guatemala shows why the CIA must be held accountable for torture

      Gina Haspel’s nomination for CIA chief has reignited debate over accountability for torture. A bi-partisan group of Senators, including John McCain (R-Ariz.), is demanding greater transparency from the CIA on Haspel’s involvement in waterboarding and other acts of torture at the “black site” she ran in Thailand, as well as her role in destroying videotapes of torture sessions.

      As discussions around Haspel’s nomination heat up, other contentious legal proceedings — the current genocide trials in Guatemala — remind us that U.S. sanctioning of torture has a long, dark history with which we have yet to reckon.

      Guatemala shows us why amnesia is dangerous and why the Senate must reject Haspel’s nomination.

    • Revisiting the Prison Industrial Complex

      Authoritarian capitalism and the prison industrial complex is a two-tiered tyrannical system designed to enslave through mass incarceration.

    • The Shameful Exploitation of Martin Luther King Jr.

      This context is significant. King was motivated by the strong need for economic equality and social justice and his Poor Peoples Campaign was largely a reflection of his understanding of Jesus’s teachings. The workers suffered from systemic abuses, but were not responding to low wages in that instance, they were outraged about the lack of a response to the death of two workers crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. The poorly paid workers still needed to use food-stamps to feed their families.

      Fifty years later this reality remains unchanged. Pence serves an administration that wants people on welfare and food-stamps to get jobs, but the majority already work. Meanwhile congressional Republicans (like Loudermilk) want to cut benefits, efforts to kick 8 million people (20 percent of recipients) off of food stamps are underway, and there is speculation that increased spending and tax giveaways are a means to gutting welfare programs and the social safety net as a whole. These actions dishonor King’s legacy.

      Starving the beast—lower corporate taxes, increase Pentagon spending, swell the deficit—to justify cutting the benefit programs that millions require to survive. This is the thrust of the Republican White House and Congress.

      Agape—compassionate love for humankind—is what King promoted. When our leaders practice that, they deserve to publicly associate themselves with Dr. King.

    • Britain Trained a Bahraini Police Chief Who Presided Over Abuse of Political Dissidents

      The day after this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, a less glamorous event will take place on the tiny Gulf island. A female human rights activist is going on trial. Najah Ahmed Yousif faces 15 years imprisonment for campaigning on social media. The prosecution’s case includes evidence that allegedly links her to Facebook posts “promoting and encouraging people to overthrow the political and social systems”. Bahrain is run by King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa – whose reign has been in turmoil ever since Arab Spring protests were crushed in 2011, with help from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

      Supporters of Ms Yousif say that she is the real victim in this case, that the prosecutor’s case includes social media posts that were peaceful and merely critical of Formula 1, and that the Bahraini authorities themselves should face scrutiny over their treatment of Ms Yousif.

      In particular, they have serious concerns about a British-trained Bahraini police officer, Brigadier Fawaz Hassan Al Hassan. He is the most senior police officer in Muharraq, a city near the country’s only airport – where many F1 fans will pass through this weekend on their way to the Grand Prix circuit.

      Crucially, campaigners say Brigadier Al Hassan is ultimately responsible for the police station where Ms Yousif was taken after her arrest in April of 2017. Although there is no suggestion that the Brigadier was personally involved in abusing her, or sanctioned any such abuse, they claim that it was at this station where Ms Yousif was beaten and sexually assaulted by members of Bahrain’s National Security Agency. “They physically assaulted me, they tried to tear off my clothes, touched my sexual organs, threatened me with rape,” she later told her supporters in a phone call from prison.

    • Spending a Night in the Concord Jail When Martin Luther King, Jr. was Assassinated

      The topic I had chosen was tracing Martin Luther King’s political roots back through the thought and practice of Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and philosopher and anti-war protester Henry David Thoreau.

    • How Dr. King Lived is Why He Died

      He mobilized mass action to win a public accommodations bill and the right to vote. He led the Montgomery bus boycott and navigated police terror in Birmingham. He got us over the bloodstained bridge in Selma and survived the rocks and bottles and hatred in Chicago. He globalized our struggle to end the war in Vietnam.

    • Against False Conflation: JFK, MLK, and the Triple Evils

      There are good reasons to doubt the official stories and suspect “deep state” conspiracies in both cases. But don’t ask me for any definitive answers. I don’t have any and I doubt I ever will. (Don’t ask me about Bobby Kennedy either).

    • Rappler fights to survive amid rising threats to journalists in the Philippines

      On January 15, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that online news group Rappler had violated laws barring foreign ownership and control of local media, and moved to revoke its registration.

      The ruling was based on accusations that Rappler received funds from the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar to promote open societies.

      Maria Ressa, Rappler’s founder and editor, has challenged what she and others at Rappler see as a politicized decision aimed at stifling critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and policies, including a lethal “war on drugs” campaign that has resulted in thousands of deaths.

    • The Indigenous Collective Using Tattoos to Rise Above Colonialism

      Thunderbird Woman was the image that caught my eye at the Standing Rock water protector camps. As an Ojibwe woman, I immediately realized that the depiction was an example of my ancestors’ ancient spirit writings, or symbols, recorded on birch bark scrolls and on rock faces along the Great Lakes long before Europeans landed in America. Thunderbird Woman, with her winged arms outstretched, seemed to float on the canvases at Standing Rock, portraying a cosmology in which dynamic spiritual forces are depicted internally, as if through an X-ray. Water rained down from her wings and thunderbolts surrounded her head. Her shape was a simple outline, and her heart anchored her image.

      [...]

      The members of Onaman coordinate a host of Indigenous activities, including language immersion and traditional arts camps. They also coordinate art builds to address social inequality all over the U.S. and Canada. Recently, Collective members joined Greenpeace in protesting Wells Fargo Bank investment in pipelines by painting a giant image of the Thunderbird Woman at the company’s world headquarters in San Francisco.

    • Malaysia Shows How Trump Is Making Journalism a More Dangerous Profession Across the Globe

      When President Donald Trump turned the words “fake news” into an attack on the free press, authoritarians across the world were emboldened by his rejection of democratic norms. As a result, journalists around the world face real dangers from repressive regimes.

      The latest example comes from Malaysia, where the government is on the verge of enacting a law that supposedly criminalizes publication of “fake news,” which could land journalists in jail for up to six years and liable for fines up to $130,000. The Malaysian government will get to decide what is and isn’t “fake news” and who should go to jail for writing it.

    • Tennessee students continue their fight against a discriminatory voter ID law

      “Why is it that a handgun carry permit can be used when casting a ballot, but a student ID card cannot?”

      Tanya Torres, president of the student government at Fisk University, a historically black school in Nashville, Tennessee, asked that question last week in an impromptu press conference outside the office of state Rep. Tim Wirgau, the Republican chair of the Committee on Local Government.

    • U.S. Schools Disproportionately Punish Black Students, GAO Report Confirms

      Heavy-handed racialized punishment starts at an early age, the Government Accountability Office confirmed on Wednesday.

      The federal watchdog released a report finding that Black students are over-represented among severely reprimanded elementary, middle and high school students.

      While Black children and teenagers make up 15.5 percent of all public school students, they’re disproportionately represented among the number of students who have received out-of-school suspensions (38.7 percent), school-related arrests (34.9 percent), and expulsions (30.1 percent).

      And while boys are over-represented among students who receive major punishments, Black girls were reprimanded in US schools at almost twice the rate of White boys (10 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively).

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Ajit Pai’s FCC Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Secret Deliberations That Led to the Worst Video the Internet Has Ever Seen

      Apparently, the FCC doesn’t want the public to know anything about its secretive deliberations with the right-wing Daily Caller that brought this “comedy” sketch into existence.

      Faced with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the non-profit investigative group MuckRock—which asked for the communications between the Daily Caller and the FCC—the Republican-controlled agency this week invoked the so-called b5 exemption, which one analyst described as “an excuse used by government regulators to avoid releasing public documents.”

      “The very basic fact that they’re unwilling to even disclose whether anybody had objections to this internally, or if they were all aboard, is the larger problem,” said J. Pat Brown, the executive editor of Muckrock, which is appealing the FOIA denial and reportedly contemplating filing a lawsuit against the FCC. “You are entitled answers out of your government.”

    • RSS is undead

      Facebook’s scandal over Cambridge Analytica, there is a whole new wave of commentators calling for RSS to be resuscitated. Brian Barrett at Wired said a week ago that “… anyone weary of black-box algorithms controlling what you see online at least has a respite, one that’s been there all along but has often gone ignored. Tired of Twitter? Facebook fatigued? It’s time to head back to RSS.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

In Just a Few Years China Became the Eastern District of Texas

Monday 9th of April 2018 07:22:08 AM

That’s only acceptable for those who have very deep pockets and many patents (Foxconn has about 80,000)

Summary: The patent creep in China, or the emergence of patent maximalism in the wake of trade war fears, means that operating in China has become very hard both for domestic firms that aren’t already well-established giants (with connections to the Communist Party) and for foreign firms

According to Megan Rourke and Eric Podlogar, the biggest “patent portfolio stakes” in the US are no longer IBM’s but Samsung’s. We don’t know how they measured this (there’s a paywall), but we heard similar things elsewhere (earlier this year). The numbers shared by the USPTO do not agree. Samsung, as is widely known, is not aggressive with patents. It’s usually reactionary or defensive, i.e. if will sue back if sued by somebody else first. Several years ago Samsung was ‘top’ of EPO, but that is no longer the case (even LG, the other Korean giant, outpaces it in the latest annual report).

“Samsung, as is widely known, is not aggressive with patents. It’s usually reactionary or defensive, i.e. if will sue back if sued by somebody else first.”The other day we saw Docket Navigator bringing up Imperium IP Holdings (Cayman), Ltd. v Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al.

Patent trolls that are apparently based in the Cayman Islands go to the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) to blackmail companies using patents and guess what Texan judges are saying:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion for over $7 million in attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and rejected defendants’ argument that the fees should be reduced by 33% on the ground that one of the patents-in-suit was found to be invalid as obvious because the hours billed were inextricably intertwined.

So Samsung is now being ‘burned’ in the US in the same way that it already got ‘burned’ in China. IAM recalls: “Between May and October 2016, Huawei and Samsung filed a total of 42 patent infringement complaints against each other in China (each asserted patent gets its own separate case there). Another separate case deals with “rate-setting and royalty payment” issues. In all Huawei asserted 20 patents against Samsung – 13 standard-essential patents (SEPs) and seven non-SEPs. Samsung responded by asserting 22 patents against Huawei – 14 SEPs and eight non-SEPs.”

“Patent trolls that are apparently based in the Cayman Islands go to the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) to blackmail companies using patents…”In many ways, China has become the ‘new’ Eastern District of Texas. Patent trolls enjoy phenomenal growth in China and that’s an issue which bothers everyone, except the likes of IAM, which is a lobbyist for patent trolls. Here is what it wrote some days ago about the gigantic Hon Hai Group (1.3 million members of staff as of 2015, according to Wikipedia):

Last week, this blog reported that litigation activity is heating up in China’s hyper-competitive display industry. Among the signs: Foxconn panel unit Innolux filed 17 patent suits against mainland competitor HKC in February. A look at USPTO assignment records shows that HKC probably saw the writing on the wall, and is moving quickly to shore up a relatively light patent position. The Hon Hai Group, of which Innolux is a part, is one of the world’s biggest patent owners (PatSnap estimates its holdings at around 80,000 rights globally).

Mind these ridiculous numbers. 1.3 million members of staff notwithstanding, there’s a similar number of patent filings in China per year. The scale is insane.

“China’s attitude towards patents is problematic because it also harms small Chinese companies and drives away foreign investors.”China’s patent maximalism continues to fascinate if not excite IAM. Here’s another article IAM has just published about China (“How do foreign parties really fare in Chinese patent litigation?”), noting a few days ago that China also embraced SEP-based injunctions (embargoes against rivals that merely follow industry standards). To quote:

The Beijing Higher Court has handed down its long-awaited decision in what is thought to be China’s first-ever SEP injunction case. In IWNCOMM v Sony, the second instance tribunal rejected the Japanese company’s appeal against the decision of the Beijing IP Court back in March 2017, which saw the award of 9.2 million RMB ($1.3 million) in damages to the Chinese company, and the imposition of an injunction against Sony to halt manufacture and sale of 35 mobile devices.

So Sony (Japan) is another example of a foreign company being screwed by China’s patent maximalism. It’s not just Korean companies like Samsung and LG, which left the Chinese market due to all that litigation. China’s attitude towards patents is problematic because it also harms small Chinese companies and drives away foreign investors. Who benefits? Law firms and massive corporations that are connected to the government.

The ‘Sisvelisation’ of Europe, With or Without the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Monday 9th of April 2018 06:44:30 AM

Summary: Patent aggression and confiscation of products at expos (as happened two years ago in Las Vegas after Europe had become notorious for it a decade ago) still a troublesome aspect of the patent system, with firms such as Philips pulling the strings

SEVERAL months ago IAM noted that Philips’ so-called ‘IP’ division had become headless. Several months later (if not the following year) nothing has changed, as IAM wrote just before the weekend:

Very quietly, something of a revolution has taken place at Philips. For the first time this century, the company’s IP function – Philips IP & Standards – is headed up by someone who has no long-term IP background and who is not labelled its chief IP officer. Instead, Clement Revetti is titled “head” of IP&S with, I understand, a direct report into Philips chief legal officer, Marnix van Ginneken. It was van Ginneken who took temporary charge of Philips IP&S when Brian Hinman left the company last autumn.

So what is going on at Philips IP [sic] & Standards [sic]? Are they still going to sic the patent mafia (e.g. Sisvel) at competitors, raiding booths at expos and stealing stuff on behalf of Philips (citing EPO- and USPTO-granted patents)? We hope they have left that strategy behind, but we’re not so optimistic. As we showed some months ago, the UPC threatened to boost such theft/confiscation, putting it on 'steroids'. And as IAM showed yesterday, in Spain you can simply steal products using patent allegations and speedy trials. This is what IAM’s editor wrote:

Barcelona court reveals 40% rise in fact track protocol activity during this year’s Mobile World Congress

If you were to name Europe’s patent litigation hotspots, cities like Dusseldorf, Munich, Mannheim, London and The Hague would spring quickly to mind; perhaps followed by the likes of Paris and Milan. One thing is for sure, though: no Spanish city would make the list. But perhaps it should. Because for the period leading up to his year’s Mobile World Congress – which was held in Barcelona from 26th February to 1st March – there is a good case for saying that the Catalonian capital’s commercial court was among the busiest patent venues on the continent.

Spain has no interest in the UPC, but it already implements some of the most controversial provisions of UPC. What good is patent justice if it’s done hastily, with barely a chance/opportunity for appeal, and products get confiscated en masse before facts are even known?

PTAB and the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Still Rejecting and Removing Dubious Patents

Monday 9th of April 2018 06:16:31 AM

Any attempts to obstruct the process have thus far been a spectacular failure

Summary: US patents continue to lose their ‘teeth’ if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) deems/declares them invalid; a higher court continues to affirm PTAB’s decisions in the great majority of cases

THE Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the USPTO is scaring the patent microcosm, which is desperate to put an end to it. Several hours ago a site of the patent microcosm said that PTAB and then CAFC confirmed US “Patent No. 8,018,049 [to be] invalid as anticipated/obvious.”

Here’s the outline:

In a split decision, the Federal Circuit has affirmed a PTAB Inter Partes Reexamination decision against a patentee – finding the claims of Knowles Patent No. 8,018,049 invalid as anticipated/obvious.

The patent here covers a cool microphone on a chip with a special inlaid housing for shielding a transducer the transducer when in use in a hearing aid. The patent claims the microchip “package,” and the construction of that term forms the crux of the appeal. Note here that this is the same debate previously discussed in the Federal Circuit’s March 1 decision in Knowles Electronics v. Cirrus Logic (Fed. Cir. 2018) [Knowles Case]

Here, the PTAB construed “package” as “a structure consisting of a semiconductor device, a first-level interconnect system, a wiring structure, a second-level interconnection platform, and an enclosure that protects the system and provides the mechanical platform for the sublevel.”

CAFC was also mentioned a few days ago in relation to another case:

A jury verdict of nearly $1 million was vacated, creating new legal definitions around DVI’s patent infringement claims.

[...]

Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit threw out a 2016 federal district court jury verdict that had found grid technology provider Alstom guilty of infringing on DVI’s patented technology, on the grounds of an “absence of substantial evidence to support the jury verdict.”

If vacated, this patent infringement case will end up enriching nobody but lawyers. This has become very common.

Speaking of lawyers/attorneys, watch them using the word “kill” again (in relation to patents). “Fourteen Patent Infringement Cases Against FitBit, Nike, etc. Dismissed Because Patents Killed by Alice/101,” this one attorney says. Another attorney then said: “If you’re D Ct Judge, and you don’t like 9 infringement cases involving four patents, what do you do? VOILA, bogus-Alice logic to rescue! dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/1029000/102946… note sleight of hand p.16, where improvement in computer technology gets morphed into “improvement in manual process”…”

There’s also this PTAB rant: “IBM patent rejection again: PTAB thinks compacting data for more efficient storage is just an “abstract idea”…”

These attorneys are connected to (and write for) patent trolls.

Some hours ago Jim Lovsin, writing in a site of the patent microcosm, spoke about the first derivation trial at PTAB — a subject we covered about a week ago. Lovsin offers some background to it:

Derivation proceedings address originality of claimed subject matter — who invented it. The petitioner must have a pending patent application and file the petition within one year of the grant of the patent containing the challenged claim or one year of the publication of the earlier application containing that claim, whichever is earlier.

In the proceeding, the petitioner must show that (1) the respondent derived the invention from the petitioner, and (2) the respondent filed an application without authorization.

Derivation is not a new concept, but rather was an issue that could be raised in the Office’s oldest (and now defunct) contested proceeding, the interference. Interference proceedings addressed priority of claimed subject matter — who first invented it. While the AIA shift to a first-to-file regime did away with interference proceedings for patents with more recent effective filing dates, the Board explained in its first decision denying institution of a derivation trial that it will apply derivation case law as it developed in the interference context to derivation proceedings. Catapult Innovations Pty Ltd. v. adidas AG, DER2014-00002, Paper 19 (PTAB July 18, 2014).

Writing about post-grant procedures, Lionel M Lavenue, R Benjamin Cassady and Nicholas J Doyle say that “[a]n order from the Middle District of Florida may mean that petitioners have to foot the bill for America Invents Act proceedings, even if the prevailing party has a colourable argument for finding the case exceptional,” which basically means that lawyers still receive a lot of money and leave it for the accused and claimant to decide who foots the bill. What’s significant about it though is that, depending on who foots the bill, a lawsuit or a challenge might not be filed at all.

Lawyers ironically profit also from bad patents being challenged. IPRs at PTAB, for example, may mean that lawyers at both sides of a dispute step in for advice if not representation (the latter is more expensive).

Sometimes the IPRs tackle bad actors. Unified Patents, for example, is nowadays disarming a patent troll, Fall Line Patents, with help from PTAB IPRs. Here’s an update from four days ago:

On April 5, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 9,454,748 owned and asserted by Fall Line Patents, LLC, a well-known NPE.

“NPE” is just a euphemism for patent trolls. Many firms with “LLC” turn out to be trolls and here’s a new example, published on the same date (as the above) by TechDirt:

Patent Troll Sues Spotify, SoundCloud And Deezer Over Patent On A ‘Music Organizer And Entertainment Center’

Another day, another story of another patent troll. This one is about MOAEC Technologies LLC, a “patent licensing” company that exists solely around four related patents for a “music organizer and entertainment center.” Last month, MOAEC sued Spotify, SoundCloud and Deezer over these patents. It’s interesting that the lawsuit came just a few weeks before Spotify’s IPO, as we’ve seen a bunch of companies sued for patent infringement right before their IPOs — but it didn’t prevent Spotify’s IPO from happening.

Watchtroll has just released another attack on PTAB (with grammatical errors in the headline). Seems as though they just want to fling lots of crap at PTAB; quality does not matter.

Another new piece about CAFC and PTAB came from Mark St. Amour, who alluded to a case regarding fibre optics:

In affirming the PTAB decision, the Federal Circuit first looked at whether the initial disclosure of a “fibre optics bundle” provided disclosure of a broader “light guide.” The Federal Circuit noted that the parties did not dispute that a “fibre optic bundle” is a type of “light guide,” and that various types of light guides were well known in the art. Next, the Federal Circuit looked to whether a “first channel” was sufficiently disclosed, and found that a person of ordinary skill would understand the “light channel” or “viewing channel,” labeled as element 6 in the ‘184 PCT drawings, as providing such disclosure. Finally, the Federal Circuit looked to whether there was sufficient written description of a “light guide permanently affixed therein.” (emphasis added). To resolve this issue, the Federal Circuit looked to the ‘184 PCT which showed that “viewing channel 6 is bookended by lens 13 and viewing tube 7 is evidence that these components form a unitary part that is not removable.”

[...]

Hologic unsuccessfully argued that the PTAB improperly relied on the prior art to provide disclosure of claim elements. The Federal Circuit disagreed, stating that the PTAB simply considered what the specification reasonably conveys to the skilled artisan who has knowledge of the prior art. To put it another way, the prior art was used by the PTAB to aid in determining what a person of ordinal skill in the art would understand from the ‘184 PCT if that person also had knowledge of such prior art.

This is one among the many cases where CAFC agrees with PTAB and winds up invaliding challenged patents. Thankfully, however, over the past week the opposition to PTAB has been weak. We’re still waiting for Oil States to hopefully reaffirm the role of IPRs. As for the anti-PTAB legislation? The “STRONGER” nonsense? Not a word about it since well before Easter, so it’s probably dead again.

Hype Waves Exploited by the Software Patents Lobby: Blockchain, Autonomous Driving, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Wearables

Monday 9th of April 2018 05:34:17 AM

Summary: In an effort to tackle (or work around) 35 U.S.C. § 101 the patent microcosm embraces and overuses a bunch of popular, fashionable, sometimes-revived trends, which nonetheless represent software-implemented concepts and are often not novel at all (except the buzzwords)

THE MOMENT that a buzzword (or a hype wave) gets used to describe a patent (or an invention, whether real or perceived) you just know that someone is trying to bypass 35 U.S.C. § 101 (or a similar section) at the USPTO. It has become so common. Companies disguise software patents as all sorts of things, including “cloud”, “IoT”, and “AI”.

“Companies disguise software patents as all sorts of things, including “cloud”, “IoT”, and “AI”.”There’s an attempt to find new methods to patent software. Over the weekend when Patent Docs did its usual event/broadcast promotions (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]) it also revealed this upcoming ‘webinar’ set up by a villainous corporate front group, Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), funded by IBM and others like it in order to push software patents and try to change the law. This ‘webinar’ is lobbying on § 101 and it covers “patent eligibility grounds on the basis that there are factual disputes that underlie the determination of patent eligibility under § 101.”

“Over the past week we have seen quite a few buzzwords being used as surrogates for software patents.”These software patents are worthless. But if they’re not challenged at PTAB or in a court, then they might still be useful for coercion purposes.

Over the past week we have seen quite a few buzzwords being used as surrogates for software patents. Blockchain patents, for example, are software patents and are therefore worthless, but don’t think that patent lawyers will allow this hype wave to go to waste. Fritz Wetzel/Ratner Prestia wrote an article titled “Blockchain Technology—Patent Eligible Subject Matter or Just a Business Model?”

It’s introduced as a “software-based technology”:

Briefly, blockchain is a software-based technology that allows the transfer of data in certain divided blocks which are all encrypted. The blocks need to be confirmed from different participants in a network and will be stored decentralized. Hence, it is or should not be possible to manipulate the transferred and stored data because if only one block is manipulated, the system would immediately recognize this manipulation and can prevent any claim or request on this data. Not only can this technology be used to transfer funds between market participants, it can also perform the transfer of any kind of data such as music files, literature, smart license contracts and even sensitive confidential data from governments.

Another so-called ‘software-based technology’ is HEVC, which is full of patents that IAM is promoting this month, along with so-called “autonomous vehicles” patents. It has become another one of those hype waves — to the point where two days ago Watchtroll published “Ford Developing Autonomous Systems for Police Cars, Other Emergency Vehicle” (software again).

These patent maximalists/lawyers are, as usual, attempting to patent software under the guise of “Autonomous Driving”. Here’s the new article titled “The Driverless Race Is On: Patenting Autonomous Driving” (we already wrote some articles on this topic).

“This development is, for instance, focused on platforms, software, navigation and infrastructure,” says the article. It boils down to software which does things inside the car.

There are other renewed hype waves in the headline. Samuel Davis, for example, wrote for IAM about “AI” under the heading “Beyond the hype” (ironically), then alluding to “AI for intellectual property” (alluding to patent management, for example, using computer programs).

“There are other renewed hype waves in the headline.”The patent maximalists, i.e. people who profit from patents, are jumping on revived hype waves here. How about “House Bill Would Establish National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence”? Patent Docs published that a few days ago and as we noted here last month, Jones Day (Carl A. Kukkonen III, Douglas H. Pearson Ph.D. and Ognian V. Shentov) came up with a slant on “AI” and “BD” hype (they even gave an acronym to “Big Data”). They’re reposting it:

AI and BD inventions can be effectively and concurrently protected via patents, trade secrets, and copyrights, as well as by means of contractual arrangements. Notwithstanding such variety of protection mechanisms, patents remain an essential part of an overall IP strategy for innovation-oriented companies. Given uncertainties over patent eligibility and validity, careful attention must be heeded to optimally capture the value of AI and BD innovations for both defensive and offensive purposes.

“Wearable” is another one of those hype waves. Todd C. Basile and David J. Dykeman decided that a “Patent Strategy is Crucial for Wearable Innovations,” but all we have here is a couple of patent attorneys trying to sell patents on just about anything, this time in the form of a bogus article which is actually lobbying/marketing:

As wearable innovations continue to enhance and shape healthcare and the way we live, innovators must focus on protecting their inventions. By building a strategic patent portfolio that has worldwide patent protection, innovators can thrive in the growing wearables market.

As we recently saw in a district court in California, even patents on so-called ‘wearables’ are nowadays deemed abstract.

The Patent Litigation Lobby — by Cherry-Picking Court Decisions — Explores Ways to Work Around 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Patent Software

Sunday 8th of April 2018 05:58:52 AM


Reference: Cherry picking

Summary: Patent maximalists (mostly lawyers) continue to distort the public debate and interject false claims into news reports in order to maintain a demand for software patents, from which they profit

THE demise of software patents in the United States is very real and we increasingly see/hear of cases where USPTO examiners, not just patent judges, reject applications based on 35 U.S.C. § 101. The entire system has become resistant to — if not intolerant of — software patents. We need to keep it that way.

“The entire system has become resistant to — if not intolerant of — software patents. We need to keep it that way.”As one can expect, software patents proponents are nitpicking in an effort to bring software patents back. This post collates examples from the past week.

Bilski Blog, one of the loudest anti-Bilski and anti-Alice sites (the name of the blog is rather misleading), started toying around with a couple of words, cherry-picked from a recent decision. The term “well-understood” somehow became an entire long blog post and it said:

The Federal Circuit has now had enough opportunity to address Mayo’s “well-understood, routine, conventional” test that we should have a good understanding of it. We don’t (or at least I don’t).

To begin with, the Federal Circuit cases don’t seem to differentiate among these terms. The cases also universally connect the three terms with “and” rather than “or,” but curiously most of the cases don’t seem to actually require all three to be explicitly met for a determination of ineligibility. See, e.g., Content Extraction, where the Federal Circuit noted only that the patent owner had conceded one function as being “routine.” Finally, there seems to be real disagreement about the extent to which these terms address facts as opposed to legal standards. In this post, I’m not going to comprehensively analyze all these issues, but instead will focus primarily on what these common terms mean.

This is another one of many attempts to belittle CAFC judges. It wasn’t long ago that Patently-O mocked a judge and Watchtroll does this kind of thing almost every week. As Judge Lucy Koh continues to reject software patents (in a district court) we expect her too to be targeted. Patently-O resorted to implicit racial insults, so it probably won’t be long before we see sexist insults, too. Koh can be smeared using both the “race” and the “gender” card.

“It wasn’t long ago that Patently-O mocked a judge and Watchtroll does this kind of thing almost every week.”Charles Bieneman, a software patents proponent, mentioned Aatrix at the end of last month and then wrote about Koh’s decision as follows:

A district court has granted a Rule 12 motion for judgment on the pleadings, holding that claims of two patents directed to modifying toolbars of Internet applications are patent-ineligible under the Alice test and 35 USC § 101. MyMail, Ltd. v. ooVoo, LLC, Nos. 17-CV-04487-LHK and 17-CV-04488-LHK (N.D. Cal. March 16, 2018) (Judge Lucy Koh).

What we find interesting about this case isn’t just the judge, who became famous for her rulings in Apple’s cases against Samsung. What’s more interesting here is that we’re seeing district courts, this time in California, increasingly citing 35 USC § 101 when they reject dubious patents. Traditionally it was CAFC — not district courts — that was tough on software patents. The same goes for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which we’ll be covering separately.

“What’s more interesting here is that we’re seeing district courts, this time in California, increasingly citing 35 USC § 101 when they reject dubious patents.”Not too long ago CAFC dealt with a virtual advertisement patent. James Korenchan liked this case because it stood out from the rest. Cherry-picking this fairly old decision (from last month), the anti-PTAB brigade was attempting to give the impression that 35 U.S.C. § 101 is nothing for software patents proponents (trolls and lawyers) to worry about. To quote the background:

In a decision issued last month, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board reversed the final rejection of all the pending claims in U.S. Application No. 12/628,383. The claims at issue are directed to evaluating an effectiveness of an advertisement in a virtual reality universe of a multiplayer online game. In particular, the claimed invention involves evaluating whether a proximity and direction of a user’s avatar enables the avatar to effectively view a virtual advertisement and, based on this evaluation, providing a virtual barrier (e.g., a virtual landscape element) that induces the avatar to navigate towards viewing the advertisement. The claims had been rejected under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as reciting patent ineligible subject matter in the form of an abstract idea of organizing human activities.

CAFC typically agrees with PTAB on such matters, but the anti-PTAB brigade clings onto the rare cases where a decision gets overturned. Looking at underlying statistics, one must conclude that software patents remain unworthy of pursuing, both at the patent office and the courts. Not that law firms would want to allow clients to think of feel that way…

IAM Encourages Patent Aggression, CCIA Highlights Cost of Being Accused of Infringement, Professor Tun-Jen Chiang Explores Free Speech Aspects of Patents

Sunday 8th of April 2018 05:01:56 AM

The First Amendment in the United States is contradictory to the notion of code patents (decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, CAFC)

Summary: A few items of interest which pertain to patent litigation and shakedown, in effect highlighting lesser-explored aspects of legal landscapes wherein being accused alone can cost one dearly

THE patent litigation culture that had become so prevalent in the US before the courts (and to a lesser degree the USPTO) put the brakes on it cost the economy many billions of dollars. Lawyers, trolls and few failing companies had made a lot of money but produced nothing of value. We risk seeing the same thing happening in Europe if EPO management gets its way.

“Software developers do not need patents. It’s an improper and truly unnecessary instrument of law.”IAM spent well over a decade promoting a patent litigation culture everywhere in the world. This is IAM’s bread and butter. What IAM meant by “webinar” the other day is marketing/lobbying. The word “licensing” refers to blackmail, extortion, and coercion with patents (otherwise a lawsuit gets filed). By contrast, the CCIA (Josh Landau in this case) bemoaned the situation, insisting that “[i]n Defending Against Patent Litigation, Even A Win Is A Loss” (except for the lawyers).

To quote:

So what we have is a lawsuit where, based on the statements in the complaint, the patent may not be valid, and where public information strongly suggests that the patent isn’t infringed.

Nonetheless, the Big Ten Network will have to spend money defending themselves from the lawsuit. And baseless patent assertions don’t just hurt large tech companies—they hit everyone, from entertainment companies like the BTN or Disney, to retailers and restaurants like Walmart and White Castle.

These suits, even if the defendant is successful in defending themselves, cost money. According to AIPLA’s 2017 survey, the median cost just to start defending a case with less than $1,000,000 at stake is around $25,000, and the median cost to get through the motions stage is around $250,000. If there’s more at stake? A case with more than $25,000,000 at risk might cost you around $140,000 just to get started, with the cost through the motions stage on the order of $1,700,000. That’s not even to get to trial.

All to defend yourself against a lawsuit that never should have occurred, based on a patent that never should have issued.

Tun-Jen Chiang has just outed/promoted “Patents and Free Speech,” a paper which discusses how patents affect the First Amendment in the United States. It’s no secret that computer code (in the case of software patents) is akin to poetry or speech and thus invokes questions pertaining to the First Amendment. CAFC ruled so specifically (about 2 years ago) while rejecting Microsoft’s patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. From this new introduction to Professor Chiang’s paper:

Scholars have long argued that copyright and trademark law have the potential to violate the First Amendment right to free speech. But in Patents and Free Speech (forthcoming in the Georgetown Law Journal), Professor Tun-Jen Chiang explains that patents can similarly restrict free speech, and that they pose an even greater threat to speech than copyrights and trademarks because patent law lacks the doctrinal safeguards that have developed in that area.

Professor Chiang convincingly argues that patents frequently violate the First Amendment and provides numerous examples of patents that could restrict speech. For example, he uncovered one patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,311,211) claiming a “method of operating an advocacy network” by “sending an advocacy message” to various users. He argues that such “advocacy emails are core political speech that the First Amendment is supposed to protect. A statute or regulation that prohibited groups from sending advocacy emails would be a blatant First Amendment violation.”

Perhaps the strongest counterargument to the conclusion that patents often violate free speech is that private enforcement of property rights is generally not subject to First Amendment scrutiny, because the First Amendment only applies to acts of the government, not private individuals. Although Professor Chiang has previously concluded that this argument largely justifies copyright law’s exemption from the First Amendment, he does not come to the same conclusion for patent law for two reasons.

When it comes to copyright law, one’s ability to speak freely depends on one’s originality. But rephrasing things can help dodge plagiarism/infringement claims, whereas with patents that is not quite possible. This means that when it comes to patents the risk to one’s free speech, e.g. in the code sense, is seriously jeopardised. Code is already covered by copyright law, so for the most part plagiarism is a problem that’s sufficiently tackled without patents. Software developers do not need patents. It’s an improper and truly unnecessary instrument of law.

Links 8/4/2018: KDE Applications 18.04 Release Candidate, Features Approval For Fedora 29

Sunday 8th of April 2018 04:33:08 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Slimbook Curve: Enjoy Using Linux On This 24″ Curved Screen All-In-One Powerhouse

      Slimbook has added another machine to their PC lineup which lets people experience Linux on quality machines. Their latest offering is an All-In-One desktop computer called Slimbook Curve.

      As the name suggests, it lets you use your favorite Linux distro on a 24-inch FHD curved screen display that is enclosed in a beautiful aluminum body. Slimbook Curve comes with all the features and enough power a regular user would want from their PC.

  • Kernel Space
    • Submitting my first patch to the Linux kernel

      I started using Linux three years ago while attending university, and I was fascinated to discover a different desktop environment. My professor introduced me to the Ubuntu operating system, and I decided to dual-boot it along with Windows on my laptop the same day.

      Within three months, I had completely abandoned Windows and shifted to Fedora after hearing about the RPM Package Manager. I also tried running Debian for stability, but in early 2017 I realized Arch Linux suits all my needs for cutting-edge packages. Now I use it along with the KDE desktop and can customize it according to my needs.

    • PCI, Crypto & Other Updates Head Into Linux 4.17

      We are at the end of the first (and busiest) week of the two-week long Linux 4.17 kernel merge window. There have been many articles on Phoronix about the big highlights of this next kernel version while here are some of the smaller change-sets that came about this week.

    • Thunderbolt Updates Head Into Linux 4.17, Adds USB/SL4 Security Level

      Greg Kroah-Hartman’s char/misc pull this week included a fair amount of Thunderbolt support improvements for the forthcoming Linux 4.17 kernel.

      Thunderbolt changes queued for Linux 4.17 include support for the new Intel Titan Ridge controller, support for a USB-only SL4 security level, prevent crashes when the ICM firmware is not active, support for a pre-boot ACL, handling for rejected Thunderbolt devices, and other error handling improvements and Thunderbolt related fixes.

    • POWER Updates For Linux 4.17 Drop POWER4 CPU Support

      In addition to Linux 4.17 dropping eight obsolete CPU architectures, this next kernel release is also doing away with POWER4 CPU support.

      The IBM POWER4 architecture dates back to 2001 for RS/6000 and AS/400 computers with just above 1.0GHz clock frequencies, dual cores, and around a 115 Watt TDP. POWER4 was succeeded by POWER5 in 2004. While POWER4 and POWER4+ support is removed, PowerPC 970 and POWER5 and newer support remains.

      It turns out back in 2016, the POWER4 CPU support was accidentally broken and with no one noticing the past two years, developers have decided to just do away with this older PowerPC architecture. This frees up some maintenance burden and “blocked use of some modern instructions.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • “The Forge” Rendering Framework Adds Linux/Vulkan Support

        The Forge, a cross-platform rendering framework developed by Confetti, a graphics research think-tank and consulting company, has rolled out Linux and Vulkan support.

        The Forge rendering framework supports Windows 10 with DirectX 12 and Vulkan, as well as the new DirectX Ray-Tracing API. There is also Metal 2 support on iOS/macOS, preliminary Android Vulkan support, PS4 and Xbox One console support, and now PC Linux support in the form of Vulkan graphics officially supported on Ubuntu.

      • DXVK, the Vulkan compatibility layer for Direct3D 11 and Wine has a fresh release reducing CPU overhead

        Since there’s a lot of excitement around DXVK we’ve been following it closely and a fresh release made it out last night.

        For those who don’t remember it, DXVK is the compatibility layer for running Direct3D 11 games in Wine using Vulkan. It’s a very promising project, with a lot of people having fun with it already on Linux.

      • Vulkan 1.1.72 Released With Three New Extensions

        Vulkan 1.1.72 is now available, which for simple terms is really “Vulkan 1.1.2″ except for the patch number having not been reset when Vulkan 1.1 was launched last month.

        Vulkan 1.1.72 has several documentation fixes and other corrections/clarifications. But of course what has most of our interest are three new extensions. The new extensions are VK_AMD_shader_core_properties, VK_NV_shader_subgroup_partitioned, and VK_EXT_descriptor_indexing.

      • Sway 1.0 Reaches Alpha For This Popular Wayland Compositor

        The Sway Wayland Compositor that is known for its compatibility and inspiration from the i3 tiling window manager is nearly out with its version 1.0 release.

        Sway 1.0 Alpha was released this Saturday evening as the first step towards the big 1.0 milestone. This release is now based on the wlroots Wayland compositor library and the code-base itself to the compositor was completely overhauled. In the process, the NVIDIA proprietary driver support was also removed.

      • NVIDIA Preparing To Drop Fermi Support From Their Mainline Drivers

        NVIDIA is in the process of retiring GeForce 400/500 “Fermi” GPU support from their mainline graphics drivers on Windows and Linux/BSD/Solaris.

        Yesterday NVIDIA announced that critical security updates for Fermi series GPUs will continue through January 2019, but after that be cut off while for now they will still be issuing “Game Ready Driver” (Windows) drivers with Fermi support included.

      • VKVG: Vulkan Vector Graphics With A Cairo-Like API

        The latest nifty open-source Vulkan project we have come across worthy of a shout-out is VKVG. VKVG is short for Vulkan Vector Graphics and is a C library for drawing 2D vector graphics using the Vulkan graphics API.

    • Benchmarks
      • AMD Ryzen 7 Performance On Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Six Linux Distributions

        Our latest Windows vs. Linux benchmarking interest has been seeing how the AMD Ryzen 7 performance compares with the latest operating systems / Linux distributions. We have recently posted some Windows 10 vs. Windows WSL vs. Windows Linux benchmarks, relative Spectre/Meltdown mitigation impact tests on Windows vs. Linux, and other benchmarks but has mostly been done with Intel or server hardware. For those curious, today’s tests were done with an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 platform.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Ships Release Candidate of KDE Applications 18.04

        April 6, 2018. Today KDE released the release candidate of the new versions of KDE Applications. With dependency and feature freezes in place, the KDE team’s focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing.

        Check the community release notes for information on tarballs and known issues. A more complete announcement will be available for the final release

        The KDE Applications 18.04 releases need a thorough testing in order to maintain and improve the quality and user experience. Actual users are critical to maintaining high KDE quality, because developers simply cannot test every possible configuration. We’re counting on you to help find bugs early so they can be squashed before the final release. Please consider joining the team by installing the release candidate and reporting any bugs.

      • KDE Applications 18.04 Release Candidate Arrives
      • Community Data Analytics: Now in Technicolor!

        So let’s revisit our “whole year 2017 for all of KDEPIM” (that is the parts in KDE Applications, in Extragear and in Playground) with more colors!

        Firstly, this gives us the weekly activity using the “Magma” palette and a linear interpolation of the colors between the minimum and maximum commit counts…

        [...]

        This time we don’t even need to zoom in to spot the code KDEPIM contributors in 2017. With the color coding, we see right away again that Laurent Montel, Daniel Vratil and Volker Krause are the core contributors. It’s much less guess work than the last time, we’re backed by the color coded centrality metric now. We can also better see that Allen Winter, Sandro Knauß and David Faure are very central too, something that we missed the last time.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Canta Is An Amazing Material Design GTK Theme

        Canta is a complete Material Design theme. It uses pastel colors in a beautiful blend, with round buttons, tabs, and corners. Subtle, unobtrusive transparency is used sporadically, giving Canta a stylish look.

      • 12 Best GTK Themes for Ubuntu and other Linux Distributions

        For those of us that use Ubuntu proper, the move from Unity to Gnome as the default desktop environment has made theming and customizing easier than ever. Gnome has a fairly large tweaking community, and there is no shortage of fantastic GTK themes for users to choose from. With that in mind, I went ahead and found some of my favorite themes that I have come across in recent months. These are what I believe offer some of the best experiences that you can find.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • MX Linux: A Mid-Weight Distro Focused on Simplicity

        MX Linux makes transitioning from just about any desktop operating system simple. Although some might find the desktop interface to be a bit less-than-modern, the distribution’s primary focus isn’t on beauty, but simplicity. To that end, MX Linux succeeds in stellar fashion. This flavor of Linux can make anyone feel right at home on Linux. Spin up this mid-weight distribution and see if it can’t serve as your daily driver.

    • New Releases
      • What’s New in Enso OS 0.2.1

        Enso OS 0.2.1 is the latest release of Enso Linux Distribution 0.2 series. This release features Xfce 4.12 series as default desktop environment, include the Panther application launcher, which it can resizing itself on change of the screen resolution. Also Plank dock installed by default.

        Based on Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS and using Linux Kernel 4.4, which means that it offers support for the latest hardware components available on the market. Galal now includes a new windows switcher that lists the active windows in a much more easy to read manner that is more familiar to users than was previously implemented. Enso greeter now applies a nice blur effect onto the set background which was kindly taken from the Deepin project

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Red Hat Family
      • OpenShift Commons Briefing: Introduction to Quay with Joey Schorr (Red Hat)

        In this briefing, Red Hat’s Joey Schorr gave a in-depth introduction on and demonstration of Quay, CoreOs’ Application Registry for Kubernetes with OpenShift. Quay is an container registry for building, storing, and distributing your private containers to your servers.

      • Latest CRIU for CentOS COPR

        The version of CRIU which is included with CentOS is updated with every minor CentOS release (at least at the time of writing this) since 7.2, but once the minor CentOS release is available CRIU is not updated anymore until the next minor release. To make it easier to use the latest version of CRIU on CentOS I am now also rebuilding the latest version in COPR for CentOS: https://copr.fedorainfracloud.org/coprs/adrian/criu-el7/.

      • Kerberos Sidecar Container

        The challenge facing this team was how best to implement the Kerberos client for processes running in containers, and how to ensure that the authentication remained valid for long running processes.

        For those not familiar with Kerberos, it is essentially a protocol for authentication, commonly used to allow users or systems to connect to other systems. Tickets are used to authenticate, avoiding the storing, or sending, of passwords, and it is based on symmetric key cryptography.

      • Red Hat Summit 2018: Develop Secure Apps and Services

        Red Hat Summit 2018 will focus on modern application development. A critical part of modern application development is of course securing your applications and services. Things were challenging when you only needed to secure a single monolithic application. In a modern application landscape, you’re probably looking at building microservices and possibly exposing application services and APIs outside the boundaries of your enterprise. In order to deploy cloud-native applications and microservices you must be able to secure them. You might be faced with the challenge of securing both applications and back-end services accessed by mobile devices while using third party identity providers like social networks. Fortunately, Red Hat Summit 2018 has a number of developer-oriented sessions where you can learn how to secure your applications and services, integrate single-sign on, and manage your APIs. Session highlights include:

      • Red Hat scripting languages for beta: adds Ruby 2.5, Perl 5.26; updates PHP 7.1.8

        Twice a year, Red Hat distributes new versions of compiler toolsets, scripting languages, open source databases, and/or web tools, etc. so that application developers will have access to the latest, stable versions. These Red Hat supported offerings are packaged as Red Hat Software Collections (scripting languages, open source databases, web tools, etc.), Red Hat Developer Toolset (GCC), and the recently added compiler toolsets Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust. All are yum installable, and are included in most Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions and all Red Hat Enterprise Linux Developer Subscriptions. Most Red Hat Software Collections and Red Hat Developer Toolset components are also available as Linux container images for hybrid cloud development across Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, etc.

      • Red Hat adds/updates web tools for beta: HAProxy 1.8, Varnish 5.0, Apache httpd 2.4

        Twice a year, Red Hat distributes new versions of compiler toolsets, scripting languages, open source databases, and/or web tools, etc. so that application developers will have access to the latest, stable versions. These Red Hat supported offerings are packaged as Red Hat Software Collections (scripting languages, open source databases, web tools, etc.), Red Hat Developer Toolset (GCC), and the recently added compiler toolsets Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust. All are yum installable, and are included in most Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions and all Red Hat Enterprise Linux Developer Subscriptions. Most Red Hat Software Collections and Red Hat Developer Toolset components are also available as Linux container images for hybrid cloud development across Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, etc.

      • New Red Hat compilers toolsets in beta: Clang and LLVM, GCC, Go, Rust

        Twice a year, Red Hat distributes new versions of compiler toolsets, scripting languages, open source databases, and/or web tools, etc. so that application developers will have access to the latest, stable versions. These Red Hat supported offerings are packaged as Red Hat Software Collections (scripting languages, open source databases, web tools, etc.), Red Hat Developer Toolset (GCC), and the recently added compiler toolsets Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust. All are yum installable, and are included in most Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions and all Red Hat Enterprise Linux Developer Subscriptions. Most Red Hat Software Collections and Red Hat Developer Toolset components are also available as Linux container images for hybrid cloud development across Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, etc.

      • Red Hat open source databases in beta: Adds PostgreSQL 10, MongoDB 3.6; updates MySQL 5.7

        Twice a year, Red Hat distributes new versions of compiler toolsets, scripting languages, open source databases, and/or web tools, etc. so that application developers will have access to the latest, stable versions. These Red Hat supported offerings are packaged as Red Hat Software Collections (scripting languages, open source databases, web tools, etc.), Red Hat Developer Toolset (GCC), and the recently added compiler toolsets Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust. All are yum installable, and are included in most Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions and all Red Hat Enterprise Linux Developer Subscriptions. Most Red Hat Software Collections and Red Hat Developer Toolset components are also available as Linux container images for hybrid cloud development across Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, etc.

      • OpenShift Commons Briefing: CyberArk Conjur Secrets Management on OpenShift

        In this briefing, Naama Schwartzblat and Kumbirai Tanekha (CyberArk) discuss and demo how to securely inject secrets into your applications and manage machine identities with CyberArk Conjur. Kumbirai Tanekha and Naama Schwartzblat,the lead developers on Conjur both of whom worked directly on the Conjur-OpenShift integration. They demonstrated how secrets can be managed and delivered securely to applications running in OpenShift without developer impedance, and how OpenShift security policy for secrets and machine identity can be managed as code.

      • CentOS 7.4 upgrade – Still got it

        The upgrade of CentOS to 7.4 (1708) worked fine. I did hit a few snags, but they were entirely due to my own use of third party sources. Once I had that ironed out, the process was robust. Even my extra programs were correctly carried over, all except Skype. Not bad, given that I have a beautiful, slick, and fully functional desktop with ten years of stability and support.

        Now, not all is golden. The old kernel 3.X is not as fast as the new 4.X stuff, and you can feel it. CentOS is pretty nimble, but modern distros are nimbler. And Plasma 5 is superior to KDE 4. Which is in fact my next project. See if I can get a custom kernel running and perhaps even grab Plasma. I’m not in the mood for excessive manual labor and compilations, but this might be doable.

        All in all, for those comfortable with running a somewhat conservative server distro with top-notch stability and many years of updates, and who do not mind not having always the latest and greatest stuff, CentOS 7.4 makes for an almost ideal candidate. Actually, the ideal candidate would have kernel 4.15 and Plasma, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, 18 months of neglect have got nothing on CentOS. Linux on.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Early Features Begin Receiving Approval For Fedora 29

          Today was another weekly Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo). We had been looking forward to this meeting for a decision on the GNOME auto-suspend by default behavior but there wasn’t a quorum and that topic was then diverted until next week. But there were also early Fedora 29 features approved this week.

        • Improved Flathub Website Makes It Easier to Find Flatpak Apps

          It just got a whole heap easier to find and install Flatpak apps on Linux distros like Ubuntu.

          A new version of the Flathub website is now live on Flathub.org, albeit in beta.

          The improved front-end to what is the de facto Flatpak app store offers search, browsing and install options.

          It’s packed with app descriptions, screenshots, browsable categories, search, meta info, and a beautifully fluid design.

        • Fedora 28 : Golang by JetBrains .
    • Debian Family
      • Debian & Stuff — Montreal Debian Meeting

        Today we had a meeting of the local Montreal Debian group. The last meetings we had were centered on working on finishing the DebConf17 final report and some people told us they didn’t feel welcome because they weren’t part of the organisation of the conference.

        I thus decided to call today’s event “Debian & Stuff” and invite people to come hack with us on diverse Debian related projects. Most of the people who came were part of the DC17 local team, but a few other people came anyway and we all had a great time. Someone even came from Ottawa to learn how to compile the Linux kernel!

      • Derivatives
        • Debian GNU/Linux Operating System Is Now Supported on 64-bit RISC-V Hardware

          If you want to use the Debian GNU/Linux operating system on 64-bit RISC-V devices, you should know that there’s now an official port for the RISC-V 64-bit (riscv64) architecture in Debian infrastructure.

          The announcement comes from developer Manuel Fernandez Montecelo, who said that after a few weeks of hard work, he and his team managed to do an official 64-bit RISC-V bootstrap, which is now available in Debian Project’s debian-ports infrastructure for those who want to download packages on their RISC-V devices.

          “We’ve been working in the last few weeks to do a (second) bootstrap of Debian for RISC-V, and after a few weeks of hard work it is now bootstrapped and has been imported into the Debian infrastructure, in particular, debian-ports,” said Manuel Fernandez Montecelo in the announcement.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 18.04 Gives Nautilus a Striking New Look

            There’s a rather large visual change in Ubuntu 18.04 that I’ve only just noticed.

            It’s not because the change in question is subtle or easy to miss. It’s because I have only just booted up a copy of the Bionic Beaver thanks to the release of Ubuntu 18.04 beta 2.

          • Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS ‘Bionic Beaver’ Beta 2 now available

            Ubuntu Linux 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” is almost here — it is due on April 26. In the interim, today, the second — and final — beta becomes available. Bionic Beaver is very significant, as it is an LTS version, meaning “Long Term Support.” This is important to those that prefer stability to bleeding edge and don’t want to deal with the hassle of upgrades. In other words, you can install 18.04 and be confident that it will be supported for 5 years. In comparison, non-LTS Ubuntu versions get a mere 9 months.

            There is plenty to be excited about with Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS ‘Bionic Beaver’ Beta 2, including the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment — Beta 1 did not include GNOME at all. Of course, all the other DE flavors are available too, such as KDE and Xfce. The kernel is at 4.15, which while not the most current version, is still quite modern. Also included is LibreOffice 6.0 — an essential tool that rivals Microsoft Office. Wayland is available as a technical preview, although X remains the default display server — for now.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Final Beta Available to Download

            USB thumb drives at the ready as the Ubuntu 18.04 beta download is now available for testing.

            This release marks the first official testing snapshot of what will become Ubuntu 18.04 LTS later this month.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Final Beta Released
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Final Beta released

            The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the final beta release of the
            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop, Server, and Cloud products.

            Codenamed “Bionic Beaver”, 18.04 LTS continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition
            of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a
            high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard
            at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs.

            This beta release includes images from not only the Ubuntu Desktop,
            Server, and Cloud products, but also the Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu
            Budgie, UbuntuKylin, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio, and Xubuntu flavours.

            The beta images are known to be reasonably free of showstopper CD
            build or installer bugs, while representing a very recent snapshot of
            18.04 that should be representative of the features intended to ship
            with the final release expected on April 26th, 2018.

          • 10 Reasons To Use Ubuntu Linux

            Ubuntu Linux is the most popular open source operating system. There are many reasons to use Ubuntu Linux that make it a worthy Linux distro. Apart from being free and open source, it’s highly customizable and has a Software Center full of apps.

            There are numerous Linux distributions designed to serve different needs. Being an open source software, Linux allows the developers to pick its code and create something new and exciting.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver “Final Beta” Released: Download Now

            Almost two weeks are left for Ubuntu’s next long-term release Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver to arrive for Linux fans. Canonical has announced its Beta 2 release, a near-final build showcasing the changes that’ll arrive with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

          • Canonical Releases Major Linux Kernel Update for Ubuntu 17.10 for Raspberry Pi 2

            Canonical released a major Linux kernel update for Ubuntu 17.10 for Raspberry Pi 2, addressing various security vulnerabilities that were previously patched for 64-bit and 32-bit architectures earlier this week.

            The security advisory mentions a total of 21 security vulnerabilities fixed for linux-raspi2, the Linux kernel for Raspberry Pi 2 on Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating systems, including a race condition that could lead to a use-after-free vulnerability in Linux kernel’s ALSA PCM subsystem, and a use-after-free vulnerability in the network namespaces implementation.

            The update also addresses a race condition in Linux kernel’s OCFS2 filesystem and loop block device implementations, as well as a null pointer dereference in the RDS (Reliable Datagram Sockets) protocol implementation. Most of these flaws could allow a local attacker to crash the vulnerable system by causing a denial of service or possibly execute arbitrary code.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Xubuntu Zesty Aardvark upgrade

              The Xubuntu upgrade process worked rather well. First, I was able to work around the Zesty EOL quirks, and that’s an important one, but I expect Ubuntu (and friends) to offer a seamless GUI mechanism. Users should not have to wonder how to get an upgrade underway. Then, the actual upgrade was successful, especially considering I had an UKUU kernel, lots of third-party repos, and that all of this runs in a complex eight-boot UEFI configuration.

              Post boot, we had a single error, but nothing after that. Smooth sailing. Good performance, Meltdown and microcode stuff notwithstanding, good hardware support, lots of nice programs and sweet looks all over the place. Fewer niggles than with Kubuntu 17.10, meaning the dev teams had time to polish all those beta-quality rough edges that were unleashed onto unsuspecting users. This leaves my Xubuntu instance ready and waiting for the LTS in April. That will be an interesting experience, I’m sure. But if you’re wondering, you can safely attempt to update, and by now, Aardvark has reached a usable state, so you will have none of those tribulations like I did when I tested early on. Oh me, the sacrificial goat lover of the Linux world. Commence, brave people!

            • Ubuntu Studio 18.04 Bionic Beaver Beta is released!

              The beta of the upcoming release of Ubuntu Studio 18.04 is ready for testing.

              You may find the images at cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntustudio/releases/bionic/beta-2/. More information can be found in the Beta Release Notes.

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Beta 2

              We are preparing Ubuntu MATE 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) for distribution on April 26th, 2018 With this Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next (stable) version.

            • Kubuntu Bionic Beaver (18.04 LTS) Beta 2 Released!
            • A Preview to Kubuntu 18.04 from the Beta 2

              Kubuntu 18.04 Beta 2 is here! It arrived today at Friday, April 6, 2018 in an announcement from Steve Langasek on Ubuntu Announce mailing list. Here’s the summary after I installed it freshly on my laptop: the memory usage is only about 370MiB when idle, new dark themes, new wallpaper, new applications (Firefox 59, LibreOffice 6.0, KDE Applications 17.12.3), Muon is here again along with Plasma Discover (both are software center). This will be a good news for every Kubuntu user who is waiting for the latest LTS version of Kubuntu.

            • Getting Started with Linux Mint? Focus on These Three Tools

              About 18 months ago I switched to Linux Mint Cinnamon, and at this point, it’s hard for me to imagine using any other OS.

              I have already told you about things I like in Linux Mint. In this article, I hope to further explain why Linux Mint has become my go-to operating system.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Haiku monthly activity report – 03/2018

    Hrishi Hiraskar (one of our GSoC applicants) reworked the management of the shutdown phase. This revolves around both launch daemon and the BRoster, which collaborate together to coordinate system shutdown. Things must happen in a specific order to make sure all apps are properly terminated (leaving the user a chance to save his work if not done yet), and only then, system servers are stopped. There were some problemw with the existing implementation where it would be possible to start an application while another one was waiting for a save, and it could eventually lead to loss of work (a little unlikely, but still). We now have a better shutdown process which will make sure everything happens in the correct order.

  • BeOS-Inspired Haiku OS Continues Chugging Along With Driver Improvements, UI Changes

    The open-source Haiku operating system that is still striving for compatibility with BeOS had another busy month.

  • Substratum: An Open Source Network for Computing Power

    As centralized entities like Facebook and Google continue to be exposed for their improper handling of user data and questionable censorship, many are beginning to second guess their online habits. Add to that the exceedingly blatant government interference with actions like the repealing of Net Neutrality, and it becomes clear that new, decentralized alternatives need to be developed.

  • Goofy learns to fish: Why good documentation matters

    No matter what type of project you’re working on, you can’t expect users to fully understand it on their own. That’s where documentation comes in. Docs can be anything from simple procedures to thorough user stories. Sure, a web UI can sometimes speak for itself (and the best ones do), but I’m sure you’ve seen tales of readers questioning basic UI paths or squirming about doing anything on the command line.

  • Coreboot Lands Updated ME_Cleaner, Purism TPM & Other Updates

    A number of improvements to Coreboot were merged to Git master overnight.

    The latest improvements now in the Coreboot Git tree include:

    - ME_Cleaner v1.2 for aiming to strip out and disable the Intel Management Engine support. ME_Cleaner 1.2 adds support for the HAP/AltMeDisable bit, support for selective partition removal, wiping ME6 Ignition firmware images, adding a man page, a new Python setup script, and various other changes.

    - The Purism Librem Skylake laptop support now has TPM support following the company recently started shipping all their new laptops with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) present and enabled.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • The Rust Team All Hands in Berlin: a Recap

        Last week we held an “All Hands” event in Berlin, which drew more than 50 people involved in 15 different Rust Teams or Working Groups, with a majority being volunteer contributors. This was the first such event, and its location reflects the current concentration of team members in Europe. The week was a smashing success which we plan to repeat on at least an annual basis.

        The impetus for this get-together was, in part, our ambitious plans to ship Rust, 2018 edition later this year. A week of work-focused facetime was a great way to kick off these efforts!

        We’ve also asked attendees to blog and tweet about their experiences at the #RustAllHands hashtag; the Content Team will be gathering up and summarizing this content as well.

      • Proposal: Knowledge Base Spring Cleaning at SUMO – June 2018
      • Firefox Performance Update #5

        And here we are with another Firefox Performance Update!

        This performance update is brought to you by perf.html! perf.html is our web-based profile analysis tool. We use it to analyze profiles gathered with the Gecko Profiler Add-on which helps us figure out why Firefox is feeling slow or sluggish. It’s probably the most important performance tool in our toolbox.

      • MDN Changelog for March 2018
      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 1

        In the spirit of This week in Firefox/Rust/Servo, we’ve decided to start sharing weekly updates on the progress of the Mozilla Mixed Reality team. Late last year, we brought together all of the people working on Virtual and Augmented Reality at Mozilla to work in our new Mixed Reality program.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • ZeMarmot, main contributor of GIMP 2.10.0-RC1!

      Two weeks ago, we released GIMP 2.10.0-RC1! This is our first release candidate before the stable release GIMP 2.10.0. Yes, you heard it well, the release you have been waiting for, for 6 years, is just around the corner!

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Matthew Garrett Calls on Symantec to Share Its Code, EFF Questions Google’s Work on Project Maven and More

      Linux kernel developer, free software activist and Google engineer Matthew Garrett discovered that Symantec is using a Linux distro based on the QCA Software Development Kit (QSDK) project: “This is a GPLv2-licensed, open-source platform built around the Linux-based OpenWrt Wi-Fi router operating system” (if true, this means Symantic needs to share the Norton Core Router’s code). So, Garrett tweeted “Hi @NortonOnline the Norton Core is clearly running Linux and the license requires you to distribute the kernel source code so where can I get it?”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Mainstream academia embraces open source hardware

        Twenty years ago, even staunch proponents of free and open source software like Richard Stallman questioned the social imperative for free hardware designs. Academics had barely started to consider the concept; the number of papers coming out annually on the topic were less than could be counted on someone’s fingers.

  • Programming/Development
    • Best Programming Language

      Python wins Best Programming Language again this year in Linux Journal’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards. It’s easy to use, powerful and versatile with a really large and active community. Having that supportive community ensures that developers of all skill levels easily can find the support and documentation they require, which feeds Python’s popularity. It certainly helps that Python has something like a corporate sponsor. Python is recognized as an official language at Google, running on many of its internal systems and showing up in many Google APIs. In fact, Google’s developer website offers free Python classes, videos and exercises.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Efforts to standardize tracing through OpenTracing

      Industry efforts toward distributed tracing have been evolving for decades, and one of the latest initiatives in this arena is OpenTracing, an open distributed standard for apps and OSS packages. APMs like Lightstep and Datadog are eagerly pushing forward the emerging specification, as are customer organizations like HomeAway, PayPal and Pinterest, while some other industry leaders – including Dynatrace, NewRelic, and App Dynamics – are holding back from full support. Still, contributors to the open-source spec are forging ahead with more and more integrations, and considerable conference activities are in store for later this year.

Leftovers
  • Microsoft Might Start Showing Ads in Windows 10 Mail App

    The latest update for the Mail app in Windows 10 appears to include something that nobody expected: a small ad in the lower left corner that recommends users to “Get Office 365.”
    By the looks of things, only a small number of users get this new button in their Mail app, judging from this discussion on reddit. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to trigger the ad to show up, but the Get Office 365 banner is only displayed when the left pane isn’t collapsed.

    Mail doesn’t show any banner on Windows 10 for me, even after updating to the latest version of the app, which is 17.9126.21425.0 and was released today.

  • Office 365 Services Hit by Outage, Outlook, Skype, OneDrive Down – April 6, 2018

    Microsoft’s Office 365 is down once again, with users in Europe reporting issues connecting to their accounts. Services like Outlook, Skype, and OneDrive are currently not available.
    While Microsoft hasn’t released a statement to acknowledge the problems, DownDetector seems to point that several European countries are affected. Parts of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, and Latvia are most affected.

    Somewhat surprising is that Microsoft’s Office 365 service health page claims “everything is up and running” with all services that users indicate to be down, including Outlook, OneDrive, and Yammer said to be running properly.

    Some users reveal that Exchange clients work correctly, and only the web access appears to be impacted by the outage. Others point out they’re not able to login to Skype and their password is being refused. Several said that they can send emails but not receive anything.

  • Office 365 goes down across Europe, again

    Users attempting to access Office 365 email are reportedly being greeted with an ‘AADSTS90033′ error message, alongside the unhelpful warning: “Service is temporarily unavailable. Please retry later.”

    The AADSTS90033 error message is typically displayed under normal circumstances when a user cannot get a token from Azure for the services they need to access.

  • Security
    • Important Kernel Update for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Patches 39 Security Vulnerabilities

      After releasing a major kernel update for the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system series on both 64/32-bit and Raspberry Pi 2 devices, Canonical released an important kernel update for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) systems.

      The new kernel update published earlier this week addresses a total of 39 security vulnerabilities for the long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series and its official derivatives, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Kylin, and Ubuntu Studio.

    • Another day, another breach: At what point does storing passwords in plaintext become criminally negligent?

      News of the Finnish breach (Google Translate) arrived yesterday, and while there isn’t a lot of details, we learn two important things: the leak was relatively big (the third largest in Finland), and cleartext passwords with usernames leaked, because they had hundreds of thousands of passwords stored in cleartext.

      …and they had passwords stored in cleartext.

      This is so bad security, it should not exist anywhere, period. It should not even be taught in a coding class as an intermediate step on the way to how to do it the right way.

      You don’t store passwords in cleartext because of two reasons combined:

    • Storing passwords in cleartext: don’t ever

      This year I’ve implemented a rudimentary authentication server for work, called Qvisqve. I am in the process for also using it for my current hobby project, ick, which provides HTTP APIs and needs authentication. Qvisqve stores passwords using scrypt: source. It’s not been audited, and I’m not claiming it to be perfect, but it’s at least not storing passwords in cleartext. (If you find a problem, do email me and tell me: liw@liw.fi.)

      This week, two news stories have reached me about service providers storing passwords in cleartext. One is a Finnish system for people starting a new business. The password database has leaked, with about 130,000 cleartext passwords. The other is about T-mobile in Austria bragging on Twitter that they store customer passwords in cleartext, and some people not liking that.

      In both cases, representatives of the company claim it’s OK, because they have “good security”. I disagree. Storing passwords is itself shockingly bad security, regardless of how good your other security measures are, and whether your password database leaks or not. Claiming it’s ever OK to store user passwords in cleartext in a service is incompetence at best.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • One-Fifth of Open-Source Serverless Apps Have Critical Vulnerabilities [Ed: One-Fifth of [buzzword] Apps [sic] need to be updated. Problem solved. With proprietary software you have back doors that cannot be fixed]
  • Defence/Aggression
    • ‘The Business of War’: Google Employees Protest Work for the Pentagon

      Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes.

      The letter, which is circulating inside Google and has garnered more than 3,100 signatures, reflects a culture clash between Silicon Valley and the federal government that is likely to intensify as cutting-edge artificial intelligence is increasingly employed for military purposes.

    • Phyllis Bennis on Gaza Massacre, Pam Vogel on Sinclair Propaganda

      This week on CounterSpin: As we record, Ha’aretz is saying the death toll is now 19 Palestinians killed by Israeli military, with hundreds more injured, on March 30, during a protest near the fence along border between Israel and the occupied region of Gaza. Israeli media offer a more complicated understanding of events than US media, who seem to suggest that there’s an “Israeli” position and a “Palestinian” position, but no actual reality worth trying to discern. We’ll talk about the Gaza protests with Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of, among other titles, Understanding the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict.

    • An Extremely Boring Video. Do Not Watch It.

      I have managed to get hold of a copy, which you can see here, of my lengthy interview with Sky News about the Skripals yesterday, which Sky refused to put online because they allege I was boring. With the warning you might therefore be very bored, you may watch it if you wish.

      [...]

      My perspective on the interview itself was that the interviewer became aggressive and sarcastic, increasingly shrill as the apparent effort to discredit me was not going well, and resorting eventually to asking about any old extraneous matter but the Skripals. I strongly suspect it was not me being boring, but the strange performance by Kay Burley, which motivated Sky to bury the interview.

      But you must judge for yourself.

      It is my policy when invited by journalists, to give considered and courteous answers to the particular questions which they ask. This is as opposed to what politicians do, which is to spout pre-prepared soundbites irrespective of what they are asked.

    • US Isn’t Leaving Syria—but Media Lost It When Possibility Was Raised

      At a rally in Cleveland last week, President Donald Trump said that the US will get out of Syria “very soon.” It is now clear that the 4,000 US troops currently occupying Syria (Washington Post, 10/31/17) will in fact stay in Syria (Independent, 4/4/18), even though keeping troops in another country in defiance of that country’s government is a violation of international law. Yet the very possibility of US withdrawal from Syria rendered apoplectic journalists who are convinced of the legitimacy of Washington’s domination of the country—international law be damned.

      Some writers want America to occupy Syria to weaken Russia. In the Washington Post (3/30/18), Josh Rogin claimed that “there are a lot of good arguments for maintaining an American presence in Syria after the fall of the Islamic State,” but stressed that the “larger US mission in Syria” was necessary for “stopping Russia from exerting influence over the region.”

      Michael Gerson, writing in the same paper (4/2/18), was concerned that a US departure “would leave Russia as the undisputed power broker at the heart of the Middle East,” a dubious claim in a region that includes Saudi Arabia (whose military budget by some counts exceeds Russia’s) as well as nuclear-armed Israel, both close US allies.

      CNN ran two articles that made the same point about Russia, with Dan Merica and Jim Acosta (3/30/18) writing “Trump Promise to Get Out of Syria ‘Very Soon’ Could Be a Win for Russia,” and Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne (3/31/18) telling readers “that most foreign policy experts agree that” the void left by US forces in the event of a withdrawal “would likely be filled by Russia.” The Syrian government’s alliance with Russia supposedly justifies Washington’s occupying Syria, in defiance of international law. Partnership with Russia is unacceptable; only submission to the US is permissible.

    • UK’s Russia Narrative: A Verdict in Search of a Crime

      Two weeks ago, the Right Honourable Boris Johnson was asked by a German journalist how the UK government could be so very certain so very early on that the Kremlin was behind the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury.

      “When I look at the evidence, the people from Porton Down, the laboratory, they were absolutely categorical,” Johnson replied. “I asked the guy myself, I said: ‘Are you sure?’ And he said: ‘There’s no doubt.’ So we have very little alternative but to take the action that we have taken.”

      The “action that we have taken” include the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom, a cold war escalation in which they were joined by many allied governments around the world in the largest collective ejection of Russian diplomats in world history. It would also include Johnson’s personal campaign to unite the EU behind a more aggressive stance against Russia.

    • Why Saudi Arabia’s next leader is courting LA’s entertainment execs

      Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman held a summit in Beverly Hills to sell local entertainment executives on expanding into the long closed-off country.

    • FBI Lies and Cover-Up Derail Biggest Terrorism Case Since 9/11

      The FBI suffered another debacle last Friday when an Orlando jury returned a not guilty verdict for the widow of Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 in his attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June 2016. The biggest terrorism case of the year collapsed largely thanks to FBI misconduct and deceit.

      Noor Salman was charged with material support of a foreign terrorist organization and lying to the FBI about knowing about her husband’s pending attack on the nightclub. The FBI vigorously interrogated her for 18 hours, threatening her with the loss of custody of her infant son unless she signed a confession. Salman, who reportedly had an IQ of only 84, initially denied any knowledge but relented and signed a statement composed by an FBI agent.

    • Trump is right about Syria: It’s time to leave

      In fact, the war has failed to accomplish anything other than to destroy Syria, destabilize Europe, and bleed the United States. Around 500,000 are estimated to have died in the war, with 10 million displaced. Assad is still in power, and Iran and Russia are still his allies. America’s efforts, in short, have been a disaster.

    • Getting Ready for Nuclear War

      John Bolton is to assume the appointment as President Trump’s National Security Adviser on April 9. On February 28 he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “it is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first,” which would undoubtedly lead to explosion of at least one nuclear device by whoever might remain alive in the Pyongyang regime after the US attack. In a macabre echo of the alleged link between Iraq and Al Qaeda before the US invasion, Bolton said on March 23 that “Little is known, at least publicly, about longstanding Iranian-North Korean cooperation on nuclear and ballistic-missile technology. It is foolish to play down Tehran’s threat because of Pyongyang’s provocations.”

      Link and bomb, and get ready for yet more war.

      On August 9, 2017 President Trump tweeted “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • #ReconnectJulian: Fmr intelligence officers & whistleblowers urge Ecuador to end Assange isolation

      WikiLeaks supporters are calling on Ecuador’s government to restore Julian Assange’s communication privileges, arguing that jamming his phone and internet access violates his rights, a former CIA officer and whistleblower told RT.
      In late March the government of Ecuador decided to cut off Julian Assange from the outside world by blocking his phone and internet access, over the WikiLeaks editor’s tweets in support of Catalonian independence from Spain. The move sparked massive outrage from Assange supporters, who view the action as a violation of free speech. Earlier this week, a group of WikiLeaks activists delivered a letter to the Ecuadorian government, urging the country’s authorities to restore Assange’s access to the outside world.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Climate Truth: a Plan for Sustainability

      There is a practical path for tackling climate change, for organizing from your house to your neighborhood, city, state and beyond. It’s clear. It’s simple. It’s 3 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person per year as a goal and a measure for global sustainability.

      3 tons is the basis for personal and collective action and planning on all levels. It is, and must become, the acceptable local and global standard first measuring where we are, sustainable or endangered, and as a guide to reaching sustainability.

      3 tons per person per year of carbon dioxide emissions is a simple number. In the global aggregate, 21 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, more or less, is the sustainable global limit for natural cycles to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide levels level. A gigaton is a billion tons. This means that 21 gigatons is about 3 metric tons per person per year , or 6,612 pounds per year for all of us. 3 tons per person per year of carbon dioxide from primary energy consumption equal to 70 gigajoules or 19,443 kilowatt hours a year was set as a sustainable global target for all by the U.N. In 2011. Remember that 3 tons per person per year number. That’s the target we need to keep in mind if we are to stop and then reverse the steady march toward climate catastrophe.

    • How Standing Rock Is Leading by Example on Renewable Energy

      The Trump administration quickly overturned the December 2016 decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to halt the construction of the infamous Dakota Access Pipeline — almost as quickly as Trump took office. Subsequent challenges in court failed to prevent the pipeline from being completed and going into operation. Rather than concede defeat, Water Protectors have shifted their focus and efforts to battling the oil and coal industry on different fronts.

      On the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the Water Protector camps are no longer standing, but some organizers who lived and organized in those camps are now shaping the movement to shift the reservation away from its dependence on fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

    • Wipeout: Human role in climate change removed from science report

      National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.

    • Court Rules EPA Unlawfully Delayed Environmental Racism Investigations for Decades

      A federal court ruled this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Civil Rights Act by delaying investigations into environmental discrimination complaints for years, even decades. For plaintiff Phil Schmitter, a priest and social justice activist from Flint, Michigan, the ruling is a bittersweet victory that was a long time coming.

      Schmitter’s story begins in the early 1990s, long before drinking water contaminated with dangerous levels of lead would turn Flint into an international symbol of environmental racism. At the time, Schmitter and other advocates living in a predominantly Black neighborhood on the outskirts of Flint were fighting a proposal to build a scrap wood incinerator nearby.

  • Finance
    • Whats the Difference Between a Bitcoin Wallet and an Exchange?

      A Bitcoin wallet is basically a software program in which you store Bitcoin. An exchange lets you convert “real money” like US dollars to Bitcoin. Exchanges also provide a wallet—but you don’t necessarily have full control of that wallet.

      We’re not recommending you invest in Bitcoin. But, if you’re putting money into Bitcoin—or you’re just interested in how it works—you should know this stuff.

    • India Bans Entities From Dealing In Crytocurrencies Like Bitcoin; New Cryptocoin On The Way

      The arrival of cryptocurrencies allowed people to make money in new ways. Some became multi-billionaires, and some with an unfortunate fate lost Bitcoins worth $100 million in landfills.

      However, this atypical form of money has started to see a downfall after ballooning and shocking the world last year. The unstable nature and the fact that cryptocoins are unregulated have concerned companies and governments.

    • HUD Long Neglected These Residents. Now As They Move Out, Some Feel HUD Let Them Down Again.

      For years, residents of public housing complexes here were stuck living in aging and neglected buildings with inoperable heat, leaky ceilings, broken windows, mold, mice, roaches, and frequently clogged toilets and sinks.

      And for years, federal authorities failed to step in despite regular financial reviews and building inspections that should have flagged problems and prompted corrective action much sooner.

      But the solution once the Department of Housing and Urban Development finally faced the scope of the decay in Illinois’ most southern city has turned out to be every bit as thorny and painful.

      Last spring, HUD announced it would shutter two sprawling World War II-era family housing complexes in Cairo and help residents move out. Ten months later, HUD officials delivered similar news to residents of two more public housing complexes in the nearby village of Thebes.

      All told, nearly 500 people, half of them children, are being forced to find new homes.

    • In Small-Town America, the Public Housing Crisis Nobody’s Talking About

      It’s a Sunday morning in late February at the tiny Baptist church atop the hill in Thebes, a remote village of about 400 people in the southernmost part of Illinois. I’m here for a story assignment, but to know people is to worship with them. Faith is as much a part of these small communities as the rivers that run outside their doorsteps.

      My heart twists seeing the church’s sign out front that reads, “Pray for America.”

    • Puerto Rico to dismantle its statistics agency in the midst of radical shock doctrine project
    • Ecuadorean Villagers May Still Triumph Over Chevron

      Michael Krauss, a lawyer who teaches “ethics” at a law school named after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, recently posted a blog on the Forbes website entitled “The Ecuador Saga Continues: Steven Donziger now owes Chevron more than $800,000” (Forbes 3/14/2018). [1] Steven Donziger is one of the lawyers representing thousands of indigenous residents of Ecuador’s oil-rich Amazon whose battles with Texaco (which merged with Chevron in 2001) began over twenty-five years ago.

      Kraus says that Chevron has basically triumphed over evil: “appalling behavior” by Chevron’s enemies, he wrote, led to a “corrupt Ecuadorean court ruling” that ordered the company to pay $9 billion USD in damages for Texaco’s pollution of the Ecuadorian amazon from 1964 to 1990. “The war here is largely over.” declared Krauss. “Chevron has triumphed and what’s left is a kind of mopping up. A big part of that mopping up occurred on February 28, 2018, when United States District Court Judge Kaplan disposed of Chevron’s petition to be awarded court costs.” Krauss has written numerous blog posts on Forbes’ website cheering Chevron in this case. Here is one responseto him worth reading.

    • Quit Rates Jump to 17 Year High in March

      The percentage of unemployment due to people who voluntarily quit their jobs jumped to 13.1 percent in March, the highest level since May of 2001.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Those Who Die in Palestine: Those With Dead Souls Here

      I cannot imagine the cold viciousness it must take to work on the Guardian newspaper, where on the homepage the small headline of the latest six Palestinians to be shot dead, is way below the larger headline of the several hundredth article associating Jeremy Corbyn with anti-Semitism, on the basis of the quite deliberate conflation of anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel

    • Huge Surge in Political Activism, Engagement Has Direct Ties to Trump Presidency, Poll Finds

      The Trump administration has given way to an unusually engaged public, with one in five Americans reporting in a new survey that they’ve attended a protest or rally since 2016—and 70 percent of those who rallied said they disapproved of President Donald Trump and his policies.

      The poll, by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, showed that political activism is new for many. About 19 percent of those who have demonstrated in the past two years said they had never been to a protest before 2016.

    • Cut-throat competition distorts democracy in India

      Indian national congress and BJP supporters during campaign on bye-elections. Shaukat Ahmed/Press Association. All rights reserved.Commenting on democracy in Great Britain, a north European journalist attributed its ills to “too much competition”. His own country is accustomed to a much gentler version of the democratic order.

      If he were to come to New Delhi and read just a day’s newspapers, he would find that in the case of India, his diagnosis is confirmed. Cut-throat competition afflicts democracy in India. Global warming is tracked by instruments but there are no instruments to measure the rise in sectarian hatred recorded by newspaper headlines. One such front-page headline may be sampled here: “As communal heat rises, BJP allies in Bihar rally together”. The same daily carries as many as ten reports related to sectarian animosity and violence.

    • Trump sends National Guard to the border: All that to appease Ann Coulter?

      Everyone has noticed by now that Donald Trump is no longer even attempting to stick with the script, evidently feeling that he’s been ill-served by people who observe political norms and common definitions of what it is to be a president of the United States. He’s starting trade wars, declaring an abrupt withdrawal from Syria and attacking businessmen who also own newspapers he wants to quash. He’s been animated and energized by this newfound freedom to “tell it like it is” as he did on Thursday at a tax forum in West Virginia, where he claimed to be the first president in 40 years to deliver on taxes because only he had the guts to demand “tax cuts” instead of tax reform.

      As is now the required ritual at any meeting where Trump appears, other speakers at the forum dutifully flattered and praised him. One attendee was nearly crying as she thanked him for the tax cuts, saying, “Thank you for listening to us. Thank you for fighting for us.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Censorship machines are coming: It’s time for the free software community to discover its political clout

      The starting point for this legislation was a fight between big corporations, the music industry and YouTube, over money. The music industry complained that they receive less each time one of their music videos is played on a video platform like YouTube than they do when their tracks are listened to on subscription services like Spotify, calling the difference the “value gap”. They started a successful lobbying effort: The upload filter law is primarily intended to give them a bargaining chip to demand more money from Google in negotiations. Meanwhile, all other platforms are caught in the middle of that fight, including code sharing communities.

      The lobbying has engrained in many legislators’ minds the false idea that platforms which host uploads for profit are necessarily exploiting creators.

    • Indian Government Enacts, Abandons ‘Fake News’ Law In Less Than 24 Hours
    • Cali Lawmakers Pushing For 72-Hour Bot Removal Requirements For Social Media Companies

      Hertzberg’s bot must have been made to “misinform and exploit users,” at least according to its own Twitter bio. And yet, the account’s tweets appear to disseminate actual correct info, like subcommittee webcasts and community-oriented info. It’s good the bot is transparent. But it’s terrible because the transparency immediately follows a line claiming automated accounts are made apparently solely to misinform people.

      Plenty of automated accounts never misinform or exploit users. Techdirt’s account automatically tweets each newly-published post. So do countless other bots tied into content-management systems. But the bill — and bill creator’s own words — paint bots as evil, even while deploying a bot in an abortive attempt to make a point.

      Going on from there, the bill demands sites create a portal for bot reporting and starts the removal clock when a report is made. User reporting may function better than algorithms when detecting bots spreading misinformation (putting bots in charge of bot removal), but this still puts social media companies in the uncomfortable position of being arbiters of truth. And if they make the “wrong” decision and leave a bot up, the government is free to punish them for noncompliance.

    • Japanese Government Seeks To Circumvent Its Own Constitution To Censor ‘Pirate’ Sites

      With site-blocking regimes now fully in vogue, far too many governments are getting in on this censorious party. In the cases of most governments, there is leeway in the overall legal structure to do this sort of thing, even if it is wholly unadvised and typically comes with disastrous results. But when Japan announced recently that it is considering site-blocking of so-called “pirate sites” in order to help its anime and manga industries, many familiar with Japanese federal law raised an eyebrow.

    • Japan Seeks to Outmaneuver Constitution With Piracy Blocking Proposals

      There is no legal basis for site-blocking in Japan and the country’s constitution forbids censorship of any kind. Later this month, however, the government looks set to present proposals to local ISPs demanding that they start blocking pirate sites. According to local reports, Japan’s penal code allows for direct action when “averting present danger.”

    • Not All Canadian ISPs Are Pro Site Blocking

      Several of the largest Canadian telecommunications companies including Bell and Rogers are in favor of a national pirate site blocking scheme. However, not all ISPs are eager to implement such measures. Several smaller ISPs, including TekSavvy, warn that the proposal will be costly and ineffective while violating current legislation.

    • DOJ Seizes And Shuts Down Backpage.com (Before SESTA Has Even Been Signed)

      So here’s a Friday evening surprise: the DOJ has just seized Backpage.

      [...]

      It notes that additional information will be provided soon, and we’ll update this post when that occurs. But first, there are a few important things to note. Before and after SESTA was voted on by Congress, we noted that while supporters of SESTA kept pointing to Backpage as the reason we needed to change CDA 230, there were two reasons why we thought it was premature to make such a change. The first was that there was a court in Massachusetts considering whether or not Backpage had lost its CDA 230 immunity by being an active participant in creating trafficking ads. And the second, more important, one was that there were many reports claiming that a DOJ grand jury was investigating Backpage, and nothing in CDA 230 stopped that from happening (federal crimes are exempt from CDA 230).

      Last week the Massachusetts court ruled that Backpage had lost its CDA 230 immunity for at least one victim, and this week a court in Florida ruled the same thing (though for dubious reasons).

    • Two Cuban Actors Together in Life and Censorship

      Eduardo Martinez and Lola Amores play the leading roles in Cuba’s latest award-winning fiction feature movie. However, in spite of Santa y Andres’ (2016) international success (the first movie they shared scenes in), it hasn’t been shown at any Cuban movie theater or on national TV.

      The film didn’t go down well with the Ministry of Culture and Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), and maybe even higher up. It tells the story about the affectionate relationship Santa, a 30-year-old rural woman, had with Andres, the homosexual writer who needed to be monitored because he was accused of being counter-revolutionary and subversive. Stories like that are still taboo in Cuba’s public sphere.

    • Ethiopians worried about internet censorship

      Ethiopian officials have restricted internet access in major cities across the country.

      Millions of Ethiopians living outside the capital Addis Ababa have not had access to the Internet for nearly a year, and the government explanation for the prolonged cut is still awaited.

      The situation has brought negative consequences on the economy.

      “We lost our daily income. As you can see, there are no customers. When there was Internet connection, people came here and used the Internet, downloaded files, printed and copied documents. We stopped providing all these services,“cyber cafe owner, Kale Alemayehu said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • DHS defends media-monitoring database, calls critics “conspiracy theorists”

      Earlier this week, Bloomberg Law uncovered a Department of Homeland Security job listing for a “media monitoring services” request to keep tabs on over 290,000 “global news sources” and develop an extensive database for an unconfirmed number of “media influencers.” After news outlets reported about the amount of data sought by this job listing, DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton issued a response on Friday to verify its legitimacy and allege that the data project’s aims will be “standard practice.”

    • Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”

      It’s seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event, according to a request for information released April 3.

      The data to be collected includes a publication’s “sentiment” as well as geographical spread, top posters, languages, momentum, and circulation. No value for the contract was disclosed.

    • DC’s Stingray Mess Won’t Get Cleaned Up

      “This was very expensive, controlled technology a decade ago, but today a motivated hobbyist can pull it together using open source software and hardware with a few hundred dollars,” says Ang Cui, CEO of the internet of things security firm Red Balloon. “We can try to legislate the use of the technology, but criminals have access to it and they are going to use it. The real solution is to build technology that mitigates against IMSI catchers and stingrays.”

    • Facebook Is Tracking Me Even Though I’m Not on Facebook

      I don’t use Facebook. I’m not technophobic — I’m a geek. I’ve been using email since the early 1990s, I have accounts on hundreds of services around the net, and I do software development and internet protocol design both for work and for fun. I believe that a globe-spanning communications network like the internet can be a positive social force, and I publish much of my own work on the open web.

      But Facebook and other massive web companies represent a strong push toward unaccountable centralized social control, which I think makes our society more unequal and more unjust. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is one instance of this long-running problem with what I call the “surveillance economy.” I don’t want to submit to these power structures, and I don’t want my presence on such platforms to serve as bait that lures other people into the digital panopticon.

      But while I’ve never “opted in” to Facebook or any of the other big social networks, Facebook still has a detailed profile that can be used to target me. I’ve never consented to having Facebook collect my data, which can be used to draw very detailed inferences about my life, my habits, and my relationships. As we aim to take Facebook to task for its breach of user trust, we need to think about what its capabilities imply for society overall. After all, if you do #deleteFacebook, you’ll find yourself in my shoes: non-consenting, but still subject to Facebook’s globe-spanning surveillance and targeting network.

    • To #DeleteFacebook or Not to #DeleteFacebook? That Is Not the Question

      Since the Cambridge Analytica news hit headlines, calls for users to ditch the platform have picked up speed. Whether or not it has a critical impact on the company’s user base or bottom line, the message from #DeleteFacebook is clear: users are fed up.

      EFF is not here to tell you whether or not to delete Facebook or any other platform. We are here to hold Facebook accountable no matter who’s using it, and to push it and other tech companies to do better for users.

      Users should have better options when they decide where to spend their time and attention online.

      The problems that Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal highlight—sweeping data collection, indiscriminate sharing of that data, and manipulative advertising—are also problems with much of the surveillance-based, advertising-powered popular web. And there are no shortcuts to solving those problems.

      Users should have better options when they decide where to spend their time and attention online. So rather than asking if people should delete Facebook, we are asking: What privacy protections should users have a right to expect, whether they decide to leave or use a platform like Facebook?

      If it makes sense for you to delete Facebook or any other account, then you should have full control over deleting your data from the platform and bringing it with you to another. If you stay on Facebook, then you should be able to expect it to respect your privacy rights.

    • Zuckerberg Can Delete Messages From Recipient’s Inbox, You Cannot!

      A couple of days ago, it was revealed that Facebook scans all the messages and videos you send through messenger. As if this wasn’t enough to breach user’s trust, there is another report which confirms that Facebook deletes Mark Zuckerberg’s messages from inboxes of people while you cannot do the same to yours.

      TechCrunch has reviewed an email receipt from three sources which proves that the messages they received from Facebook’s CEO have been wiped out from their FB inboxes, while their sent texts still show up in the conversation thread.

    • Facebook sent a doctor on a secret mission to ask hospitals to share patient data

      However, the company proposed using a common cryptographic technique called hashing to match individuals who were in both data sets. That way, both parties would be able to tell when a specific set of Facebook data matched up with a specific set of patient data.

    • Facebook admits Zuckerberg wiped his old messages—which you can’t do

      While deleting the messages may not have been illegal, it is going to raise some eyebrows. For weeks, Facebook has faced criticism for appearing to put its own financial interests ahead of the privacy interests of users in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Now we’re learning that Facebook has essentially created a two-tier system of privacy for Messenger users: Zuckerberg and a handful of other Facebook executives enjoy a limited “retention period” of their messages, whereas the embarrassing messages of ordinary users live on as long as their recipients want to keep them.

    • News of Facebook’s secret tool to delete executive messages caps days of chaos

      TechCrunch reported late Thursday that Facebook has been using a secret tool to delete messages sent by its executives from the inboxes of their recipients, without disclosing the deletions to the recipients or even recording there was ever a message in the first place.

      Effectively, this means if you send Mark Zuckerberg a Facebook message, he has a copy for ever. But if he sends you one, he can reach into your inbox and pluck it out of existence.

    • Over 1.5 billion personal medical and financial records exposed online in ‘staggering’ leak

      These files were discovered over the first three months of 2018, with the firm finding over one and a one and a half billion (1,550,447,111, to be exact) files open across a number of misconfigured file-sharing services, dwarfing 2016′s Panama Papers leak.

      The worrying thing for those of us in the UK was that the security researchers said a whopping 36 per cent of those exposed files were located in the European Union.

    • Facebook: If you want to buy a political ad, you now have to be “authorized”

      Under what criteria Facebook would “authorize” ad buyers, the company did not say directly in the post. However, Beth Gauthier, a Facebook spokeswoman, told Ars by email that there will be a three-step process for authorization.

    • Facebook to verify major page owners

      The move is designed to prevent users who run pages using fake accounts from hiding their true identity.

    • Facebook Moves to Get Ahead of Congress With Issue-Ad Change

      Facebook will hire more people to enforce the new advertising policy before the 2018 midterm elections. The company also said it would require managers of popular Facebook pages to have their identity verified.

    • Here Are the Notable People Who Deleted Their Facebook Profiles

      The list of protesters continues to grow as Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify to U.S. lawmakers next week. The dissenters include Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, as well as red-carpet regulars Will Ferrell, Cher, Rosie O’Donnell, Jim Carrey and the band Massive Attack. The number of daily #DeleteFacebook mentions in mainstream newspapers topped out at 1,700 two weeks ago but remains above 300, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    • Facebook Officials Head to Europe to Respond to Data Scandal

      The company has been refining its response in the wake of revelations that data on as many as 87 million people, most of them in the U.S., may have been improperly shared with research firm Cambridge Analytica. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who will testify at U.S. congressional hearing next week, has changed tack by communicating directly with the press in interviews, and a group conference call late on Wednesday.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • ABORIGINAL PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTEST THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES AS STOLEN WEALTH

      Amy McQuire tears away the facade on the Commonwealth Games currently under way in Australia, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Australia has a long history of presenting a sunny, sporty picture of itself, complete with Indigenous icons and ‘celebrating’ native people. There is rarely a hint of the greatest theft of land in recorded history and the brutality that accompanied it, especially in Queensland, the bloodiest state, and which goes on today.

    • Teen Who Faced Deportation After He Informed on MS-13 Gets Temporary Reprieve

      What was on track to be a routine deportation hearing in a New York City immigration courtroom Thursday turned into an hours-long administrative battle and a detailed airing of a teenager’s reasons for informing on his gang, MS-13.

      Amid a flood of attention brought to the case by a ProPublica and New York magazine report published Monday, Judge Thomas Mulligan declined to issue a ruling. Instead, he gave the teen’s lawyer a list of evidence and testimony he wants to see before deciding the case in May. The judge seemed to be sketching a path to a successful asylum claim, and mentioned an alternative defense if asylum cannot be supported.

      Henry, who asked that his last name be withheld, helped police and the FBI arrest his fellow gang members on Long Island. He worked with law enforcement for about a year, until immigration authorities arrested him last August, using his own disclosures about gang membership to justify his deportation. As a known informant, deportation likely means death for Henry, whose cooperation with police is spelled out in an unsealed Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo. After eight months in detention with MS-13 members threatening his life, his case was looking so hopeless that he decided to go public ahead of his final hearing.

    • Supreme Court Says Shooting A Non-Threatening Person Without Warning Is Just Good Police Work

      The Ninth Circuit’s opinion stripped the officer of his immunity. This decision reestablishes it. And it reminds cops de-escalation rarely needs to be considered as a tactic because the courts will have their back in almost every case. While the presence of a knife suggests some sort of objective danger, the person experiencing the threat was Hughes’ roommate, not the cops on the other side of the fence. (And she testified she did not feel threatened.) It took only 60 seconds for one officer to resort to deadly force, based solely on the fact that Hughes refused to immediately drop the knife.

      The presence of a weapon changes the math a little, but it shouldn’t change it so much as to dismiss this appeal with an unsigned opinion and zero input from the engaged parties. The dissenting opinion [PDF], written by Justice Sotomayor (and joined by Justice Ginsburg) points out the “threatening” situation used to justify the shooting wasn’t all that threatening — not even for other officers on the scene.

    • In Moscow region, campaigners against a landfill site are being arrested

      Russian government media watchdog Roskomnadzor has brought a lawsuit against the messaging service Telegram, where our useful OVD-Info bot has its home. There will now follow a court case and an appeal, after which, if the court takes the side of the government agency, the Telegram messenger will be blocked. There is still time to hook up to a VPN, but you had better not wait too long. And, by the way, people are also being prosecuted for reposts on Telegram.

    • America’s Gun Problem is a Police Problem

      In the wake of a crisis, proposals for reform are often radical and ill-conceived. Seattle radio host John Carlson’s gun reform proposal, outlined in theWall Street Journal, boils America’s violent crime problem down to one issue; people who shouldn’t have guns do. But Carlson’s proposals ignore the role of police violence in criminals’ decisions to use guns.

      Carlson writes that only 11 percent of America’s gun crimes are committed with legal weapons. That means most of America’s gun crimes, including mass shootings, could be prevented simply by applying the existing laws designed to prevent dangerous and irresponsible people from obtaining guns. For instance, the Parkland, Florida shooting could have been prevented by simply following FBI protocol.

      But Carlson wants to take even stronger action to reduce the number of illegal firearms on the street. By imposing mandatory minimum four-year sentences for illegal possession of firearms, Carlson says criminals will avoid stealing guns or using them to commit crimes.

    • ‘The Tories cut, we bleed’: the story of Women’s Lives Matter in Doncaster

      Women’s Lives Matter protest. Photo: John Fuller. All rights reserved.“The Tories cut, we bleed,” said Joyce Sheppard, 68, an active member of the Women’s Lives Matter campaign in Doncaster, a former coal mining town in South Yorkshire, in the north of England.

      The Women’s Lives Matter campaign is a movement across South Yorkshire which originated in Doncaster in 2016, after the closure of the town’s Women’s Aid domestic violence service, one of many organisations that have been impacted by government funding cuts.

    • When we can’t agree to fight against neo-Nazis, we’ve reached a new low

      For anyone wondering about the state of American politics in 2018: A U.S. congressman was just publicly accused of spreading Russian propaganda and “holding Putin’s dirty laundry.” The congressman’s crime? Trying to prevent American weapons from going to neo-Nazis.

      Late last month, Congress authorized a massive aid package to Ukraine. The package contained a provision whose inclusion was supported by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). The provision bars U.S. aid from going to the 3,000-strong Azov Battalion, a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard with a heavy neo-Nazi contingent and a long record of horrific human rights abuses, according to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. In response, Hill contributor Kristofer Harrison published an essay denying the neo-Nazi elements of Azov and accusing Khanna of being a Russian stooge.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Congress’s Biggest Opponent of Net Neutrality Is Getting Destroyed in Midterm Election Polls

      Blackburn was at the forefront of the attack on popular net neutrality protections last December, blasting attempts to protect a healthy, open and competitive [I]nternet as “socialistic.” Blackburn also played a starring role in helping the GOP dismantle important broadband privacy protections at the FCC before they could even take effect last March.

    • Ex-Obama FTC Boss Now Lobbying For Comcast, Trying To Prevent States From Protecting Consumers

      While the Trump FCC has certainly taken protectionism, corruption and cronyism to an entirely new level, it’s important not to forget that Trump and Ajit Pai are just products of the country’s long established bipartisan dysfunction when it comes to revolving door regulators, and it’s going to take more than just ejecting Trump and Pai to repair the underlying rot that has allowed them to blossom.

      Case in point: former Obama FTC boss Jon Leibowitz, who has long professed himself to be a “privacy advocate,” has spent much of the last few years lobbying for Comcast while at Davis Polk. That has included making a myriad of false claims about ongoing, EFF-backed efforts to protect broadband consumer privacy in California.

      In an endless wave of op-eds (where his financial conflicts of interest are almost never disclosed to the reader), Leibowitz has been busy insisting that rampant ISP privacy abuses are a “nonexistent problem,” and that strong state and FCC oversight of ISPs are unnecessary because the FTC will somehow rush in to save the day in the wake of efforts to neuter the FCC, kill net neutrality, and embolden massive anti-competitive telecom duopolies.

    • Ajit Pai’s “Harlem Shake” video preparations must remain secret, FCC says
    • FCC Withholds Ajit Pai’s Emails Regarding The Infamous ‘Harlem Shake’ Video

      Last December, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai starred in a “PSA” produced by The Daily Caller. In the video, Pai addressed all the “trolls” in the net neutrality debate, reassuring the public that they will still be able to enjoy things on the internet after its repeal. To illustrate this, Pai does the absolute polar opposite of an enjoyable thing on the internet: the Harlem Shake.

    • Twitter changes may bring major issues for third-party apps (updated)

      If you use a third-party Twitter app like Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Talon or Tweetings, you might lose a couple of key features when Twitter replaces developer access to User and Site streams with a new Account Activity API this coming June. The folks who created the apps mentioned above have created a new website to explain that, as a result, push notifications will no longer work and timelines won’t refresh automatically.

      The third-party devs say that when their apps open a connection to Twitter, currently, they get a continuous stream of updates. Push notifications, they say, is done on their own servers, which generate the messages you see on your devices. Timeline updates use that stream directly on your mobile or desktop apps. The new Account Activity API is currently in beta, but developers haven’t been given access. Even if they had been, say the devs, push notifications are limited to 35 Twitter accounts at the standard level, and there’s no pricing given for Enterprise-level service. The developers say that they need to deliver notifications to “hundreds of thousands of customers.”

      [...]

      Update 4/6/18 4:00PM ET: This afternoon, Twitter announced it has delayed the scheduled June 19th date for switching to the new Account Activity API. “As always, we’re committed to providing ample time to migrate,” the company’s developer account explained in a series of tweets. “We will provide at least 90 days notice of deprecation date from when the Account Activity API becomes generally available to all developers. More specifics on timing to come.” Additionally, Twitter says it offers a guide for developers to migrate to the new API.

    • Twitter API overhaul threatens to seriously shaft apps… again

      Twitter’s planned discontinuation of its streaming APIs in June has third-party developers worried that a replacement service won’t be available in time to prevent their Twitter apps from breaking.

      The makers of Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, and Twitterrific have joined together to create a webpage expressing their concerns and to rally developers and customers to urge Twitter to respond.

      The Register asked Twitter for comment, but all we heard were crickets.

      Twitter, even more than Facebook, has a history of pulling the rug out from under developers’ feet. The company has repeatedly encouraged developers to build software clients on its platform, only to change its platform rules and capabilities as it tried to figure out a viable business plan.

    • API changes will break Tweetbot and Twitteriffic alerts and streaming, Twitter not yet sharing new solution ahead of June deadline [U]

      Hopefully the bump from today’s coverage pressures Twitter to stop sabotaging third-party apps and communicate with developers about how to move forward — even if subscriptions are required in the future to sustain apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific.

      Without a proper Twitter for Mac client, indie apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific with support for timeline streaming is essential for my workflow and TweetDeck simply isn’t a reliable alternative.

    • Twitter postpones platform change that would cut off third-party apps

      However, we don’t know exactly when this change will come. In response to the furor on Twitter, the company has announced it is “delaying the scheduled June 19th deprecation date.” In a thread, the developer relations account further said the company it “will provide at least 90 days notice from when the Account Activity API becomes generally available” and that “more specifics on timing [are] to come.”

    • Twitter says it won’t break third-party Twitter apps June 19

      In a reversal from a statement made in December 2017, Twitter said it will delay its plan to pull support for Twitter apps like Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings and Twitterrific. The microblogging service would stop these apps’ ability to push notifications and update post timelines starting on June 19, effectively crippling these non-Twitter apps.

      “Today’s update to last year’s announcement is focused on making sure developers have ample time to migrate to the new API,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

    • Twitter poised to kill all third-party apps like Plume and Talon

      What’s the point of using a third-party Twitter app if you can’t get notified when someone tweets at you and have to refresh your feed manually?

    • Twitter can’t decide if it wants to kill third-party apps

      Twitter’s complicated relationship with developers is about to get a whole lot worse.

      That’s because the company can’t seem to make up its mind on whether it wants to keep third-party Twitter clients around.

    • Future Twitter developer changes will impact notifications & streaming on third-party apps

      Third-party Twitter clients are often handicapped by the platform by a limit of 100,000 users for new developers and are not able to implement features found in the official client. The latest restriction threatens to impact fundamental features like push notifications and automatic timeline refresh.

    • It’s time to think about nationalising Twitter

      The first thing I did when I switched on my computer the other day – in fact, the first thing I’ve done every time I’ve switched on my computer in as long as I can remember – was boot up Twitter. Only this time, I couldn’t.

      I had locked myself out of my account. The phone number listed for the site’s two-factor authentication was no longer my number. Shit, I thought. Shit, shit shit shit. The near-panic I felt from losing that connection surprised me: it turned out I was a junkie, and I had robbed myself of my fix. I was adrift, disconnected, cut off from the body cultural.

    • How to Gopher

      When I think about the work that goes into putting a simple web page or text file on the [I]nternet, I realize how inaccessible the [I]nternet is for most people. As I write this, there is no commercial interest in Gopher. Many, myself included, hope it stays that way. This means that there’s no one trying to make all of this push-button-simple so that they can make a buck off of you on the back end. I think that if more regular folks feel like they own a piece of the [I]nternet, they will be more likely to resist policies and practices that aim to disenfranchise them.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Mobile Terminal: LG Patents Foldable Phone With Dual Screens, Headphone, & Batteries

      A new wave of ‘foldable smartphones’ has hit the tech industry with several tech companies like Apple, Samsung, Oppo and Huawei already working on it.

    • Copyrights
      • The EU copyright reform and the legacy of CJEU case law: lip service?

        I am attending what every year is a great conference in one of the greatest cities: the Fordham IP Conference in New York City. Now in its 26th edition, every year this event gathers IP enthusiasts from all over the world to “Learn. Debate. Have Fun.”

        Yesterday I was part of a panel moderated by Ted Shapiro (Wiggin) and composed of Shira Perlmutter (USPTO), Giuseppe Mazziotti (TCD), and Jerker Rydén (National Library of Sweden). The session was devoted to discussing the state of the EU copyright reform debate.

Patent Maximalists Against Patent Quality and Against the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Organisation (EPO)

Saturday 7th of April 2018 07:44:37 AM


Credit/source: JUVE’s latest edition

Summary: The EPO under Campinos and Battistelli (who chose Campinos to succeed him) lacks prospects of patent quality; these two Frenchmen lack scientific background and are notorious for their patent maximalism, which 4 years ago culminated in a war on patent judges that were 'too' judgmental of software patents (whether that was the real motivation or not)

THE management of the European Patent Office (EPO) is out of control, but that does not necessarily mean that patent law firms are suffering. In fact, these firms typically profit from chaos. Shiri Burema and Rene van Duijvenbode have just published another sponsored ‘article’ in IAM. As is widely known, patent lawyers look at patent oppositions merely as another ‘business’ opportunity, not an important battle over dodgy, questionable patents. So to them, the more bogus patents (and the more oppositions), the greater profit they’ll net (at the expense of companies that actually make stuff). Burema and her colleague said:

In 2016, oppositions continued to occur mostly at the EPO’s Munich branch, although The Hague’s EPO branch is growing more popular. The top 10 private patent firms involved in 2016 oppositions was dominated by German and UK firms. The first non-German, non-UK firm on the list for 2016 was Netherlands-based NLO, ranked 14th overall.

They use words like “more popular” (referring to correction of wrong grants) and they sort of count what they enumerate as a kind of ‘product’. That’s rather gross/crude an analogy, but when one works for the patent ‘industry’ and refers to patents as “assets” rather than monopolies, this might as well make perfect sense.

Looking at another patent law firm, Douglas Rankin from Marks & Clerk’s Aberdeen office has just published this self-promotional ‘article’ that says the “latest data released by the European Patent Office [...] Software patents, for instance, may be aimed at the sector, but not specifically categorised as such.”

They just use terms like “ICT”, “CII” and more recently “4IR”. Here’s the whole paragraph in question:

The latest data released by the European Patent Office reveals that patent application filings in the ‘Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy’ category grew to 10,402 in 2017, up from 10,002 in the previous year. On top of this data, there will be other oil and gas-related patents that are not formally categorised in the sector because of their digital nature. Software patents, for instance, may be aimed at the sector, but not specifically categorised as such.

Not too long ago Marks & Clerk said publicly that it’s now easier to pursue software patents at the EPO than at the USPTO. That’s how bad things have gotten. The US has become stricter on software patents than Europe!

It should also be noted, in light of news from yesterday, that in the United States the EPA has the same problem Europe has with EPO (also called “EPA” in some countries). The boss wastes a lot of money pretending he’s king, acts abusively, denies facts, then resorts to getting rid of anyone who questions him. It’s not just the same acronym, EPA, but also similar tactics. The acronym “EPO” is also associated with athletes who cheat, but that’s another matter altogether.

“The boss wastes a lot of money pretending he’s king, acts abusively, denies facts, then resorts to getting rid of anyone who questions him”Moving on to yet another patent law firm, while EPO management is attacking the Boards of Appeal to ensure patent quality/scrutiny is removed Shrey Pathak and Hazel Ford from Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP help perpetuate the false narrative that EPO cares about the Boards. The EPO posts this every couple of days (EPO’s tweets have become incredibly repetitive and barely original/informative lately) and now Finnegan joins in the ‘fun’:

As part of measures to improve efficiency and predictability of proceedings before the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO), the EPO has launched a consultation to revise the Boards’ Rules of Procedure.

There’s that sound bite again: “improve efficiency” (by which they typically mean making staff redundant).

“Mind the sorts of metrics they use; it’s grotesque. The patent maximalists are trying to take over everything.”The Boards of Appeal are still grossly understaffed. This means that the patent maximalism cult of Battistelli can carry on interrupted. Battistelli is pressuring EPO examiners/examining units to work faster even if that means sloppy prior art search and cutting corners. Anticipat has been naming individual examiners and ‘scoring’ them, too. Now, courtesy of Prof. Sean Tu (WVU) with Chris Holt (VP at LexisNexis IP), we see more of the same:

This study focuses on overall patent office trends as well as trends at the technology center and workgroup levels. PatentAdvisor’s “Examiner Time Allocation” metric can also be used to forecast the time and expense required to obtain a patent and is based on each specific examiner’s body of work.

Mind the sorts of metrics they use; it’s grotesque. The patent maximalists are trying to take over everything.

Over in Munich, where the EPO is based, IAM will soon have an event that promotes patent maximalism (taking place in Munich on the 18th of May) and yesterday it did this piece piece for Volvo’s Ray Millien, who is a speaker at this event (Auto IP Europe). To quote:

Of all the industries to have re-shaped the way they approach IP in recent years, arguably none has gone through as fundamental a change as the auto sector.

Many of the leading manufacturers, such as Ford and Toyota, have become far more sophisticated IP players, building portfolios to rival all but the largest tech giants in size terms. Others may be coming later to the party, but there are few car manufacturers that aren’t actively considering how the forces of convergence and profound technological change in areas like autonomous driving will impact them from an IP standpoint.

Like we said here many times before (and will show again later this weekend), “autonomous driving” typically boils down to software patents — something that IAM is an ardent supporter of.

More in Tux Machines

Collaboration Events: Pakistan Open Source Summit, GNOME+Rust Hackfest, DataworksSummit Berlin

  • Pakistan Open Source Summit 2018 concludes [Ed: Not about software]
    A large number of attendees from industry, academia, government, and students participated in the summit. Portuguese Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Joao Sabido Costa was the chief guest at the opening ceremony while former Naval Chief Admiral (r) Asif Sandila graced the occasion as the chief guest at the closing ceremony.
  • ‘Open Summit key to create industry-academy linkages’
    Ambassador of Portugal to Pakistan Dr Joao Sabido Costa has said that events such as the Open Source Summit are excellent for spreading awareness and for creating industry-academia linkages and enhancement of the information technology. He stated this while addressing a concluding ceremony of the two-day informative ‘Pakistan Open Source Summit 2018’ attended by large number of people from industry, academia, government and students. Former naval chief Admiral (R) Asif Sandila co-chaired the concluding session. Dr Joao Sabido Costa said that the organisations should utilise open source platforms to build their IT infrastructures in future. To build open source culture in Pakistan, he recommended roadmap with future activities and timelines for spreading open source.
  • Madrid GNOME+Rust Hackfest, part 2
    Yesterday we went to the Madrid Rust Meetup, a regular meeting of rustaceans here. Martin talked about WebRender; I talked about refactoring C to port it to Rust, and then Alex talked about Rust's plans for 2018. Fun times.
  • DataworksSummit Berlin - Wednesday morning
    Data strategy - cloud strategy - business strategy: Aligning the three was one of the main themes (initially put forward in his opening keynote by CTO of Hortonworks Scott Gnau) thoughout this weeks Dataworks Summit Berlin kindly organised and hosted by Hortonworks. The event was attended by over 1000 attendees joining from 51 countries. The inspiration hat was put forward in the first keynote by Scott was to take a closer look at the data lifecycle - including the fact that a lot of data is being created (and made available) outside the control of those using it: Smart farming users are using a combination of weather data, information on soil conditions gathered through sensors out in the field in order to inform daily decisions. Manufacturing is moving towards closer monitoring of production lines to spot inefficiencies. Cities are starting to deploy systems that allow for better integration of public services. UX is being optimized through extensive automation.

Today in Techrights

today's howtos

10 Great Linux GTK Themes For 2018

Customization is a big part of the Linux experience, and your desktop theme is no exception. The world of Linux desktop themes is an ever-evolving one, with new ones replacing old favorites all the time. Of course, the desktop environments and GTK itself are always changing, so that adds another dynamic element to consider. That said, some of the best desktop customization happens on the simplest desktop environments, like XFCE. As of now, in early 2018, there are some really excellent GTK themes available. These themes aren’t ranked in any particular order. That comes down to a matter or preference. Any one of them can add a whole new look to your GTK-based desktop. Read more