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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 34 min ago

IAM Celebrates (With the Patent Cartel) a System of Unjust Monopolisation of Industry Standards Through Unethical Patent Thickets

Thursday 30th of November 2017 12:55:43 AM

Many of these are software patents

Summary: Once again, quite frankly as usual, lobbying by large corporations pays off and companies that are not multi-billion dollar entities will suffer for they cannot participate in the market (anticompetitive patent thickets)

THE policy regarding patents in China has made Asia increasingly friendly to patent trolls. Korean and Japanese companies, for example, are being dragged into Chinese courts (much of their production was outsourced to factories in mainland China).

Days ago we saw IAM saying that “NPEs [patent trolls] armed with former [Chinese] Huawei and [European patent troll] Sisvel patents attack [Korean] Samsung in China, in possible privateering campaigns”. Well, “privateering” is putting it far too politely. The word they’re looking for is trolling. The patent arsenal from Europe now travels to China, the most fertile ground for patent trolls, in order to attack Samsung, one of the world’s biggest technology companies. “An article published in China,” IAM writes, “has turned up two previously unreported patent infringement suits against Samsung in the country’s courts, both filed this year. In one case, an apparent Chinese NPE is asserting a patent formerly owned by Huawei against the South Korean company. In the other, a Texas NPE is suing Samsung with a former Sisvel patent. Taken together, the cases indicate that there may be much more NPE activity – foreign and domestic – than meets the eye in China.”

Further down SIPO is mentioned. To quote: “Li further reports that Samsung challenged both patents before SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board (PRB), which evidently upheld the Dunjun patent, while invalidating the Dual Sim patent. Both decisions can, of course, be appealed.”

What we are seeing here is actualisation of our predictions. Does China want to be known for patent trolls or for manufacturing (or both)?

Meanwhile, the Japanese government, according to this IAM blog post, recognises the problem with SEPs (standard-essential patents), not just with trolls. One should refrain from using the terms FRAND or SEP. They basically masquerade or conceal an anticompetitive injustice that’s hinged on patents. Here is what IAM wrote:

The ADR scheme was also described by the government as a “licensing award system for SEPs”. In short, it proposed that when two parties could not agree on an SEP licence agreement, the prospective licensee would be able to request mediation by the JPO, which would determine a FRAND royalty rate in a mandatory process, “with due care of not unfairly haring the interests of the patent holders”. Major global rights owners raised numerous objections, branding it as a form of compulsory licensing.

This has become a hot topic because companies like Qualcomm, which IAM again glorified a few days ago, want to create industry standards everyone must pay Qualcomm to merely implement. There are many software patents in the mix, even though such patents are no longer potent anywhere but China.

As Benjamin Henrion stated earlier today: “After the glyphosate, another vistory of (patent) lobbyists is to remove the “licence for all” from the Commission FRAND paper, and to insult Open Source licensing…”

The context to all this was a stream of IAM tweets that said: “Commission Communication on SEP licensing has now been published. On a first, skim, read it looks like SEP owners have got most of what they could have reasonably hoped for [] There doesn’t seem to be any prescriptions about what kind of licensing approach should be followed – ie no mention of the “license for all” regime that implementers were calling for. This is crucial. Looks like SEP owners have got their way. [] If detailed reading of the SEP licensing Communication confirms the initial impression, there has bene a big turnaround in the Commisison [sic] over th elast two weeks. SEP owners will be celebrating.”

IAM’s chief, Joff Wild, later wrote this blog post about it (updated throughout the evening). It is very disappointing that the European Commission seems to be in bed with the patent cartel/thickets, basically the likes of Qualcomm which it’s supposed to investigate. To quote Wild:

The European Commission’s long-awaited Communication on the licensing of standards essential patents was finally published this morning and, on an initial read, it looks like SEP owners have a fair amount to be pleased about – especially given how things were looking a couple of weeks back, when it seemed as if extensive lobbying from the implementer side was about to bear fruit. A subsequent delay in agreeing the final text of the Communication provided a hint that implementers might not get all they were after and today’s publication seemingly confirms that.

[...]

My guess is that SEP owners are going to be feeling a great deal of relief today. The Commission has acknowledged that while the rapid and efficient diffusion of technology at the lowest cost possible is vital, those who do the innovating need to be incentivised to carry on – and that means they have to feel they will receive adequate reward for the investments they make.

Is this any worse than the Commission turning a blind eye to EPO abuses?

Writing behind a paywall IP Watch has covered this as well (under the headline “European Commission Announces Guidance On Copyright Enforcement, SEP Licensing”).

To quote:

The European Commission today announced plans to ratchet up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and to introduce more clarity in licensing standard-essential patents (SEPs). The first involves guidance on the 2004 EU directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED); the second recommendations for making the relationship between patent owners and technology users more “balanced and efficient.”

The likes of Qualcomm certainly got their way here; interesting timing given the immense scrutiny this company comes under. Earlier today we learned that Apple has just countersued Qualcomm for patent infringement [1, 2, 3], further escalating a long battle against the SEP cartel set up by Qualcomn. It is very disappointing to see that in addition to the constant deception from sites like IAM we have public officials who play along with patent cartels and protectionism. They really ought to know better. Corporate lobbyists got their way again. IAM gave them a platform (we covered that).

PTAB Will Survive the Supreme Court, Admit Even Foes of PTAB Based on This Week’s Hearings

Thursday 30th of November 2017 12:21:07 AM

The “swamp” is sinking again

Summary: Having found themselves in quicksand, the few people who care enough to try to undermine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), refuse to let go and are going under

THE Supreme Court case which we have dealt with the most recently is Oil States. We write about it, on average, about once a day. It’s an important case.

As one PTAB foe put it today (with direct link to the original PDF), the annual report says PTAB should “remain vigilant in ensuring fair and transparent processes and proceedings in order to render wellgrounded decisions.”

So they expect it to remain.

Here is the part that touches on software patents (or abstract patents more generally):

Regarding Section 101: the USPTO should (a) continue to update the stakeholder community and examiner corps on recent jurisprudence and where appropriate, continue to issue memoranda that describes the relevant court decision; (b) finalize the MPEP updates in Section 2106 directed to “Patent Eligible Subject Matter,” so the stakeholder community has one central repository on the USPTO’s website to receive the latest updates; and (c) should continue stakeholder outreach programs and workshops on Section 101 developments due to the critical nature of this area.

The subject of software patents and the USPTO will be covered separately later this week. As things stand, patent quality in the USPTO is rising and lawsuits over software patents aren’t being filed every single day like they used to. “Thanks to PTAB,” says this new tweet, “companies no longer have to pay ransom to make lawsuits based on questionable patent claims go away.” This links to an article from the New York Times. It’s a week old.

At the start of the week we observed the views of the new Justice, Mr. Gorsuch (Trump nominee and appointee). As Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer‏ put it a short time ago: “Are we surprised that the new judge takes a Pro-patent position?”

Not surprising to us. At all. But it could be worse. We thought he could be a lot more blatant about it; he had been more or less a blank slate in the domain/area of patents.

Tim B. Lee, who has covered software patents for many years, reports from a position closer to the action. He wrote that the “Supreme Court seems reluctant to blow up a key weapon against patent trolls” and here are his opening words:

In Supreme Court oral arguments on Monday, justices seemed skeptical of arguments that a patent office process for challenging patents runs afoul of the Constitution.

The issue matters because the challenged process—which was created by the 2011 America Invents Act—has emerged as a key weapon against patent trolls wielding low-quality patents. Overall, defending a patent lawsuit can easily cost millions of dollars. By contrast, the new process, known as inter partes review, allows a patent to be invalidated for a sum in the low six figures.

Lee later added: “I will be very surprised if the Supreme Court pulls the trigger here, because ruling for Oil States would have sweeping consequences. [] If they say “court-like” administrative procedures are unconstitutional, they’re going to face an avalanche of litigation arguing that procedures in other areas of law are too court-like. [] If they straight up say that patents are private property, it could substantially strengthen patent rights across the board, the opposite of the recent trend by the Supreme Court.”

Patents are certainly not property; it’s an old lie that’s being pasted into the media by the patent microcosm.

Based on the above, PTAB will be fine. Moreover, based on PTAB bashers, the Supreme Court has just rejected cases with a potential to broaden patent scope. To quote:

The Supreme Court has denied Openet’s petition for writ of certiorari in Openet v. Amdocs. The petition asked “whether the Federal Circuit erred by looking beyond the claims to the patent specification to assess patent eligibility?” The court also denied certiorari in the pro se case of Poniatowski v. Matal.

Better this way.

Want to see something funny? Watch IAM’s one-sided coverage of the case.

Some father and his kids, who barely know what patents are, are not really staging a ‘protest’ but engaging in a publicity stunt. There are a few tweets about it (with photos). Basically, daddy has a bunk patent which PTAB is probably going to invalidate, so the kids will hold a sign daddy made with a MAGA-inspired slogan. Marvelous! Parents who exploit their kids for patent propaganda might seem about as ‘professional’ as “US Inventor” — basically a cowboy hat-wearing, MAGA-inspired lunatic from Watchtroll, whom the media mistakes for a group. His infamous, long-planned ‘protest’ attracted less than a dozen people.

The above was barely a protest, except in IAM’s mind. Here is how IAM put it:

Even though patent cases have become a regular feature of the Supreme Court’s docket in recent years, for the IP community there was an extra buzz about the place yesterday as the justices heard two disputes concerning inter partes review (IPR).

For starters, around 20 protesters from the small inventor community, who remain bitterly opposed to IPRs, were gathered on the courthouse steps brandishing signs such as “the PTAB killed my start-up”. The protest may have been relatively small and well behaved, but its impact could be heard inside the court’s press room where seasoned Supreme Court reporters got perhaps their first glimpse at just how deep feelings run on this issue. “Protesters? For a patent case!” one of them muttered.

Then inside the courtroom there was a smattering of the great and the good from the IP stakeholder community, including USPTO acting head Joe Matal, Chief Judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) David Ruschke and his number two Scott Boalick, several aides who helped author the America Invents Act (AIA), leaders from the various IP law associations and numerous members of the patent bar from private practice.

“Around 20 protesters,” says IAM. That’s generous. Based on the photos, it’s not even that. At the end, however, IAM cares enough to admit that this case is dead in the water. PTAB will endure and IPRs shall overcome!

EPO Spreads Two Lies Today, One About Patent ‘Production’ and Another About ‘Quality’

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 11:42:04 PM

Measuring what’s not immeasurable using false yardsticks

Summary: Today’s face-saving lies from the EPO focus on the very serious scandals that worry stakeholders while at the same time distracting from ongoing attacks on EPO staff and basic rights

THE EPO tries hard to distract from the latest scandals. Today it was recycling an old EU-IPO ‘study’, then returned to its daily repetition of the pro-UPC nonsensical ‘study’ and daily repetition of the “SME” thing. None of this is new. It’s weeks old.

Also today, the EPO issued two “news” items, which is unusual (sometimes it goes on for a month with not even one). Both regurgitate familiar propaganda. The first notes that the EPO has been granting lots of crappy patents (too fast, too leniently, which necessarily means decline in patent quality). The global patent bubble grows bigger, but the EPO is a large contributor to this bubble, having experienced ‘growth’ four times higher than the IP5 average (top five patent offices). When it comes to patents, quality should matter, not quantity, but watch what the EPO wrote: (warning: epo.org link)

To cope with increasing demand, the EPO has put in place a series of quality [sic] and efficiency measures, which in 2016 led to an 8.5% rise in products (completed searches, substantive examinations and oppositions), and 40% more patents granted.

Terrible. Nothing to be proud of. Never mind the fact that they’re rapidly running out of ‘stock’. They have been granting, among other things, patents on algorithms and patents on life (these later turned out to be null and void). This leads us to the second “news” item, which is more of the old CPVO spin (CPVO is not what many people assume it to be). Read the “quality” nonsense further down (including the heading which precedes it). To quote the “news”: (warning: epo.org link)

Martin Ekvad, CPVO President, emphasised the importance of formalising cooperation in an agreement concluded last year between the EPO and CPVO…

[...]

At the EPO less than one in three patent applications in biotechnology becomes a European patent, while the overall grant rate in all fields of technology is around 48%.

That says almost nothing and fails to account for what happened earlier this year. Many patents on life/organisms were instantaneously invalidated. How about that? Why were these granted in the first place? The sentence above, along with that paragraph, is constructed to help Battistelli lie about patent quality. Who does he need to lie to? Gullible people like Dr. Ernst, who continues to publicly deny the issue (even when directly challenged by concerned users of the patent system).

Ernst has done far too little to earn trust from SUEPO (judging by the tone of the site) and every comment about him in Kluwer Patent Blog has been negative. Here are the latest two. They’re about the expectation that he will go along with Battistelli and again punish all the workers:

dear you two again : the document is NOT OFF THE TABLE at all.

DG 4 submits it for information in December with changes : from 100% contracts to (only) 40 % (which will put the entire structure under even more production pressure than it is now) and, cherry on the cake, now they introduce the option to transform the contract into a permanent one after FIFTEEN YEARS (…or not).

This document will be submitted for decision in March 2018.

so please stop doing as if it was off the table since this new proposal is equally bad as the previous one, totally non adapted to a stable international organisation like the EPO, the aim of which being to serve the PUBLIC on the long run and certainly not to produce cash surplus for its Member States (surplus which nowadays fall in their (deficit) national budgets) this at the expenses of the health of staff hundreds of employees who go burned-out, in-treatments, in depressions, or even commit suicide when they cannot cope any more (6 non-investigated suicides over the past 5 years, a 7th miraculously avoided for 3 months).

I want to make one thing clear: the documents on 5 years contracts for EPO staff should end up in the bin. I have never had a different opinion on it.

The new proposal is even more ludicrous. Even if after 15 years there is a possibility to get a permanent job, which person sound in its mind would leave its national security and social protections systems to hire at the EPO? Such a stupid idea can only germ in the minds of people who are playing manager, but do not really know what it means to manage in the interest of the body they rule. It makes me sad to see that a reputable office like the EPO is run by such people.

The net result will be more younger people at the EPO, as I do not know anybody having a stable job for a few years leaving this in order to hire at the EPO. There will be also more Germans in Munich and more Dutch in The Hague, trends which are already existing today.

Here Mr Ernst has to resist the fools running the office by not putting such a proposal on the agenda of the AC.

If a measure with such a long term effect is decided three months before a new president comes, then it shows the esteem shown to his successor by the present holder of the function. As another commenter said it makes you want to puke.

Several days ago a reader told us that the EPO had adopted a notorious French model which makes workers very stressed (sometimes/often suicidal) and as of today there’s this ruling from the French Supreme Court about public mockery of patent infringers. It’s not very new, but this was covered some hours ago by IP Kat, which said:

The French Supreme Court last month affirmed that a patentee is free to publish a decision of patent infringement on their website. In doing so, the patentee neither tarnishes the name of the defendant nor breaches any other principle of tortious liability towards the defendant.

This is a matter of free speech; we recently covered the matter in relation to the EFF getting sued repeatedly for mocking patents. At the EPO workers get in a lot of trouble if they say that patent quality is declining. We covered examples of such incidents earlier this year.

Links 29/11/2017: Lakka 2.1, Huge Apple Flaw

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 01:29:24 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 10 open source technology trends for 2018

    Technology is always evolving. New developments, such as OpenStack, Progressive Web Apps, Rust, R, the cognitive cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, and more are putting our usual paradigms on the back burner. Here is a rundown of the top open source trends expected to soar in popularity in 2018.

  • Open Source Software Developers Find A Home At Gitcoin

    Open source software is often the ugly stepchild of technology development. Because developers are largely donating their time and efforts, progress lags on building better versions of apps, blockchains and other software. That stifles progress, and leaves advancement in the hands of for-profit ventures, many of them without the public’s best interests at heart.

  • Open source grows up, needs to learn to play with others

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are expanding their presence within service provider environments, emerging as a critical solutions set for operators looking to drive agility and cost efficiency in their infrastructure through automation and digitalisation. That role will only increase with technologies like containers, MEC and 5G come online to drive up demands on the network and deliver new service architectures and capabilities. But even as OpenStack matures inside service provider environments, it must now learn to play with others that form the greater service provider ecosystem, including other open source communities like ONAP and ETSI NFVI, says Ericsson’s Susan James.

  • Will Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?

    To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of yesteryear, which attempted to gain dominion over the emerging online world by pushing exclusive use of its Windows OS and for-pay Internet Explorer browser.

    “Microsoft was wrong for a long time,” says Ault, who is Senior Research Engineer for the Open Ag Technology and Systems (OATS) Group at Purdue University. “They wanted to own the internet. Now they’re a huge open-source shop” — joining what Ault calls the “business model of success” found today at Android, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

    Agricultural technology needs a similar open-source awakening, Ault says. The current state of ag data, he says frankly, “stinks.” Most farmers don’t share their data, and often justify their stance by noting there’s not much data out there anyway so what does it matter. And because the little data that is out there isn’t used much, a perception lingers that it doesn’t have to be particularly good data.

  • Inocybe aims to take complexity out of open source

    Anyone who’s trying to navigate the telecom waters that are open source these days may appreciate that there are entities out there that want to help.

    Montreal, Canada-based Inocybe is targeting Tier 2 and 3 wired/wireless service providers globally and enterprises to talk open source. The company has been involved with OpenDaylight since the beginning and is one of its top five contributors, and it wants to help entities that don’t have the type of resources the bigger Tier 1 operators have to devote to open-source projects, of which there are many.

  • Events
    • From 0 to Kubernetes

      Although you hear a lot about containers and Kubernetes these days, there’s a lot of mystery around them. In her Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, “From 0 to Kubernetes,” Amy Chen clears up the confusion.

      Amy, a software engineer at Rancher Labs, describes containers as baby computers living inside another computer that are suffering an “existential crisis” as they try to figure out their place in the world. Kubernetes is the way all those baby computers are organized.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s WebRender Making Good Progress, Can Be Tested On Firefox Nightly

        Mozilla engineers aren’t letting up after their Quantum work in Firefox 57 that made the browser much faster. Next they have been improving WebRender and can be tested easily with Firefox Nightly.

        WebRender as a reminder is Mozilla’s GPU-based renderer used currently within the Servo engine and has also been fitted into Firefox with Gecko. Those unfamiliar with WebRender can learn more about its architecture on their GitHub Wiki and this Mozilla Hacks blog post from last month.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice Is Now Available on Flathub, the Flatpak App Store

      Its arrival allows anyone running a modern Linux distribution to install the latest stable release of LibreOffice in a click or two, without having to hunt down a PPA, tussle with tarballs or wait for a distro provider to package it up.

      A LibreOffice Flatpak has been available for users to download and install since August of last year and the LibreOffice 5.2 release.

      What’s “new” here is the distribution method. Rather than release updates through their own dedicated server The Document Foundation has opted to use Flathub.

    • Dialog Tunnelling

      I’m simply going to talk about what I’ve been currently working on in Collabora Online or LibreOffice Online, as part of my job at Collabora.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Western Digital To Begin Shipping Devices Using RISC-V

        RISC-V has a big new hardware backer… Western Digital.

        Western Digital just announced at the RISC-V Workshop conference that they will be getting behind RISC-V for the next generation of big data and fast data. They plan to switch over “one billion cores per year to RISC-V.” By the time their transition is complete, they anticipate to be shipping two billion RISC-V cores per year.

      • SiFive and Microsemi Expand Relationship with Strategic Roadmap Alignment and a Linux-Capable, RISC-V Development Board

        SiFive, the first fabless provider of customized, open-source-enabled semiconductors, and Microsemi Corporation (Nasdaq: MSCC), a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, at the 7th RISC-V Workshop today announced the companies have formed a strategic relationship to meet the growing interest and demand in the RISC-V instruction set architecture. The companies have previously collaborated to provide RISC-V soft CPU cores for Microsemi’s PolarFire® FPGAs, IGLOO™2 FPGAs, SmartFusion™2 system-on-chip (SoC) FPGAs and RTG4™ FPGAs, currently available as part of the Microsemi Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem.

  • Programming/Development
    • 5 best practices for getting started with DevOps

      DevOps often stymies early adopters with its ambiguity, not to mention its depth and breadth. By the time someone buys into the idea of DevOps, their first questions usually are: “How do I get started?” and “How do I measure success?” These five best practices are a great road map to starting your DevOps journey.

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Judge rules against 84-year-old doctor who can’t use a computer

    A New Hampshire state judge has dismissed a case brought by an elderly doctor who recently gave up her medical license following a handful of allegations against her.

    Among other accusations, Dr. Anna Konopka, 84, has refused to use a computer and participate in the state’s new law for an online opioid monitoring program.

    “The Court has admiration for Dr. Konopka’s devotion to her patients,” Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger wrote in his Monday order to dismiss the case, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Seven Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves From Outrageous Medical Bills

      A doctor offers a surgical add-on that leads to a $1,877 bill for a young girl’s ear piercing. A patient protests unnecessary scans to identify and treat her breast cysts. A study shows intensive-care-level treatment is overused.

      ProPublica has been documenting the myriad ways the health system wastes money on unnecessary services, often shifting the costs to consumers. But there are ways patients can protect themselves.

      We consulted the bill-wrangling professionals at Medliminal, one of a number of companies that negotiate to reduce their clients’ charges for a share of the savings. After years of jousting with hospitals, medical providers and insurers, their key advice for patients and their families is to be assertive and proactive.

    • A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears. This Is Why Health Care Costs So Much.

      Her daughter emerged from surgery with her tongue newly freed and a pair of small gold stars in her ears.

      Only months later did O’Neill discover her cost for this extracurricular work: $1,877.86 for “operating room services” related to the ear piercing — a fee her insurer was unwilling to pay.

      At first, O’Neill assumed the bill was a mistake. Her daughter hadn’t needed her ears pierced, and O’Neill would never have agreed to it if she’d known the cost. She complained in phone calls and in writing.

    • How Patents Have Contributed To The Opioid Crisis

      Over at Quartz, there’s a very interesting article about how patents may have contributed to the opioid crisis in the US. It’s based on a recent paper, May Your Drug Price Be Ever Green, by law professor Robin Feldman (who has done lots of great work about problems in our patent system) and law student Connie Wang.

      For many years, we’ve written about how the pharmaceutical industry has become so overly reliant on patents for their business model, that’s it’s become destructive. We’ve argued that the misaligned incentives of the patent system, especially in pharmaceuticals has so distorted incentives that the big drug companies basically have become focused solely on keeping exclusivity that it has lead to a lot of tragic game playing, where the cost has literally been people’s lives. This went into overdrive a decade or so ago when big pharma realized that many of their biggest sellers had patents expiring, and their pipeline had failed to come up with new drugs to replace the monopoly rents of the old. This resulted in all sorts of gamesmanship designed to allow big pharma to retain monopoly rights even after a drug should have gone off patent. This included pay for delay schemes, whereby big pharma effectively paid off generic makers to keep them out of the market for longer.

    • Expert panel recommends that the WHO move forward on transparency and delinkage

      On Monday, 27 November 2017, the WHO published the recommendations of the overall programme review of the global strategy and plan of action on public, health innovation and intellectual property (EB142/14). The full report of the overall programme review (OPR) will be published on Tuesday, 28 November 2017. The mandate for this work is provided resolution WHA68.18 (2015) which requested the Director-General to establish a “panel of 18 experts” to conduct an OPR of the global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property. (Source: EB142/14). The composition of this expert panel can be found here: http://www.who.int/medicines/innovation/gspa-review/members-list/en/

      The expert panel provided 33 recommendations which included 17 forward looking”high-priority actions” including on transparency and delinkage.

    • TWN – Proposed WHO Criteria On Medicines In Transit Open Door For Seizures
    • WHO Issues Two Reports Detailing Global Problem Of Substandard And Falsified Medicines

      WHO launched its Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medicines, vaccines and in-vitro diagnostic tests in July 2013. This first report is based on data collected during the first 4 years of operation up to 30 June 2017.

      The second report is a study on the public health and socioeconomic impact of substandard or falsified medical products conducted by WHO and the Member State Mechanism

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • British support of Saudi Arabian military should shame us all, says SNP MP

      BRITISH support of the Saudi Arabian military “should appal us all”, according to the SNP’s spokesman for international affairs, amid claims that Scottish regiment has been training a Saudi unit in Yemen.

      The role of the UK armed forces in the conflict has come under scrutiny after a picture was posted on a Scottish battalion Facebook page which appeared to members of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) helping to train Saudi troops.

      The battalion are said to be teaching Irregular Warfare (IW) techniques to officers from the Royal Saudi Land Forces Infantry Institute.

    • US gun violence spawns a new epidemic: conspiracy theorists harassing victims

      Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friend’s chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.

      Cronk’s story of surviving the worst mass shooting in modern US history went viral, but many people online weren’t calling him a hero. On YouTube, dozens of videos, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, claimed Cronk was an actor hired to play the part of a victim in the Las Vegas mass shooting on 1 October.

    • The Latest: Pentagon believes NK launched ballistic missile

      The Pentagon says it detected and tracked a single North Korean missile launch and believes it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

      Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Tuesday that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

      Manning says the Pentagon’s information is based on an initial assessment of the launch. He says a more detailed assessment was in the works.

    • Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya

      Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

      The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are being sold in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

      In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Moammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the Qadhafi government’s ability to resist rebel forces. American and European leaders initially claimed the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons, but political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy, 3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

    • Saudi Arabia’s Mysterious Upheaval

      Change is clearly afoot in Saudi Arabia — with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) engineering the dubious resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister and arresting some of the kingdom’s richest businessmen and rivals within the royal family on charges of corruption — but exactly what it foretells is hard to read.

      The Saudis also are reeling from the apparent defeat of Saudi-backed Sunni jihadists in Syria, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. So what are the consequences for Saudi Arabia and its regional allies?

      On Nov. 20, after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri left Saudi Arabia and resurfaced in France, I spoke with Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. (Hariri has since returned to Lebanon where he remains prime minister at least for the time being.)

    • After two months of quiet, North Korea launches another ballistic missile [Updated]

      In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan [Province], to the east direction. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the US side.”

      The US Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have made an initial assessment that the missile was an ICBM, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesperson Col. Robert Manning. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers, flew over Japan, and landed in the sea east of Japan within its exclusive economic zone.

      The launch comes as South Korea is preparing for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. South Korean officials had hoped that North Korea would forego any further provocations in hopes of an “Olympics of Peace.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • CIA and NSA codes are on the web, and the leakers could be in the agencies

      WikiLeaks published new information thought to be from the CIA in mid-November, releasing source code from a tool known as “Hive,” which allows operators to control malware. The dump, dubbed Vault 8, marked the first time WikiLeaks has released source code for a CIA spying tool.

      In a post on its website, WikiLeaks said: “This publication will enable investigative journalists, forensic experts and the general public to better identify and understand covert CIA infrastructure components. Source code published in this series contains software designed to run on servers controlled by the CIA. Like WikiLeaks’ earlier Vault 7 series, the material published by WikiLeaks does not contain 0-days or similar security vulnerabilities which could be repurposed by others.”

      Over the past several months, WikiLeaks has released information detailing the extent and sophistication of the CIA’s offensive cyberspace efforts. Despite countless hours searching, investigators still don’t know who is behind the CIA leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Radioactive land around Chernobyl to sprout solar investments

      A mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the damaged reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a one-megawatt, $1.2 million solar panel installation will likely be commissioned next month, according to Bloomberg. Back in summer 2016, the Ukrainian government said it was eager to get solar projects on the 1,000 square miles of radioactive land, and Ukrainian engineering firm Rodina Energy Group appears set to be an early arrival on the scene.

    • Jonathan Bartley: HS2 is an environmental disaster – we have to stop it in its tracks

      As the co-leader of the Green Party, I’ve seen some pointless environmental destruction in my time. But I’m starting to think that HS2 might be this government’s most outrageous attack on our natural world yet.

      A high speed rail link might sound like a sensible enough idea – or a benign extravagance at worst. But the truth is that it’s environmental vandalism of the highest order, and it has to be stopped.

  • Finance
    • The early history of the 58 Brexit sector analyses

      This post tells the early story, based on public domain sources, of the UK government’s 58 analyses of sectors which will be affected by Brexit.

      There has now been a binding vote by the House of Commons for the government to provide these panalyses to Parliament.

    • What the Tax Bill Would Look Like for 25,000 Middle-Class Families

      The tax bill being debated in the Senate this week would affect nearly every American. Numerous analyses have estimated the average impact of the bill on household finances, and advocates on both sides have produced examples of “typical” families that would win or lose under the plan.

      Such analyses, however, tend to gloss over the remarkable diversity of Americans’ financial situations. In truth, there is no “typical” American household. Even families that look similar on the surface can differ in ways that radically alter their situation come tax season.

      The 25,000 dots on the chart above each represent an American household in the broadly defined middle class. The vertical axis represents income; the horizontal axis represents how big a tax cut (or tax increase) each household would get under the bill in 2018, according to a New York Times analysis using the open-source tax-modeling program TaxBrain. (For details on how we did this analysis, including how we defined the middle class, see the note at the end of this article.)

    • The Hidden Hazards of GOP’s Tax-Cut Plan

      The Democrats and the entire progressive community are up in arms about the Republican tax-cut plans, which budget experts say will shower the wealthy with tax breaks while raising taxes on some middle- and working-class families. The plans also could flood the federal debt with another $1.5 trillion in red ink over the next decade.

    • How bitcoins became worth $10,000

      On Tuesday evening, the value of one bitcoin shot above $10,000. It has been a remarkable run for a currency that was only worth about $12 five years ago.

      The run has been particularly remarkable because it’s still not clear what Bitcoin is useful for. During its early years, the cryptocurrency garnered a lot of optimistic talk about how it would disrupt conventional payment networks like MasterCard or Western Union. But almost nine years after Bitcoin was created, there’s little sign of it becoming a mainstream technology. Few people own any bitcoins at all. Even fewer use it as a daily payment technology.

      Yet that hasn’t prevented the cryptocurrency’s value from zooming upward. One factor driving Bitcoin’s growth has been the emergence of a broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. Bitcoin serves as the reserve currency for the Bitcoin economy in much the same way that the dollar serves as the main anchor currency for international trade.

    • CFPB’s ‘NSA-like’ surveillance in limbo with leadership tussle

      The ongoing fight for control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have significant effects on the bureau’s mass acquisition of private financial records, according to privacy advocates.

      The CFPB pools vast quantities of data for research purposes, including millions of Americans’ credit card records, which it says are anonymized, commercially available and tracked to help consumers, not to spy on them.

      Critics doubt the adequacy of safeguards, however, and liken the credit data-collection to the National Security Agency’s monitoring of internet and phone records under laws that allow tracking of spies and terrorists.

    • Strip away the layers and Brexit becomes ever more murky

      I clearly remember pondering, on 24 June 2016, why there was not more public and political outrage at the idea of a British government putting itself above the law, and using the royal prerogative to execute the referendum result. I find myself in exactly the same mindset in terms of the potential undermining of our democracy, government and sovereignty by a hostile foreign power – Russia – in what appears to be a secretive coup.

      As a transparency campaigner and a passionate believer in our British values, as well as political and democratic systems, I am worried. People were told that walking out of the EU would liberate us from the clutches of unaccountable bureaucrats and would allow us to “take back control”. Auberon Waugh’s “junta of Belgian ticket inspectors” would be sent packing, the British people would reclaim sovereignty and British courts would decide British law for British people. The fog of bureaucracy would be blown away by the accountability and transparency that we supposedly enjoyed in the days before 1973.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Democrats Rely on Blame-Shifting

      Victories in state-level elections in New Jersey and Virginia on Nov. 7 have buoyed Democratic hopes for an anti-Trump wave among the population that will lead to a big victory in next year’s mid-term elections, and permanently damage President Trump heading towards 2020. Yet there is significant risk in hoping that anti-Trump sentiment will be enough for the Democrats to return to power.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • To Protect our Democracy, We Need to Protect Anonymous Low-Cost Online Political Speech

      As Congress and the Federal Elections Commission explore ways to counter foreign influence in U.S. elections through greater campaign finance disclosures, EFF has filed comments reminding policy makers of the danger of going too far. While the FEC’s goals are understandable, it must take care not to undermine the right of ordinary Americans to speak anonymously about political issues. What we need is transparency from Internet companies about their advertising practices across the board—not laws that strip ordinary people of their constitutional rights and undermine our democratic values.

      For everyday Americans, the Internet offers one the most effective and inexpensive ways to make their voices heard in our nation’s political debate. It’s also a way to do so without fear of retaliation if your voice offers an unpopular view. An LGBTQ individual who is not “out” to their family or employer may fear ostracism, harassment, or threats of violence if they openly purchase a small ad on a social media platform advocating for a candidate who supports federal legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And a conservative person living in a small liberal community may fear social or professional harm if they openly spent a small sum to amplify on social media their support for a conservative local political candidate. But today both people can avoid that retaliation by purchasing these small ads anonymously.1

      The FEC should not prevent that choice. Anonymous speech is a critical component of our online political debate. Not only do we need to protect it, we need to be doing more as a society to bolster the power of those who lack access to resources to make their voices heard.

      What we really need is for Internet companies to provide more transparency regarding the mechanics of how and why all manner of advertisements are targeting them, and to give users greater control over the data collected about them and how it is used.

    • Proposed “Right to Know Act” Would Empower Users of Digital Devices to Decline NYPD Searches

      New York City is considering a range of legislative measures to increase civilian control over the New York Police Department (NYPD). Earlier this year, EFF endorsed the proposed Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act to increase transparency into the NYPD’s acquisition of surveillance technology, such as license plate readers and cell site simulators. Now EFF also supports the proposed Right to Know Act to guard the digital rights of New Yorkers and visitors impacted by so-called “consent” searches of their digital devices during stop and frisks.

      The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department, with global operations and an unfortunately long history of acting outside its authority. Given its size and presence among domestic law enforcement agencies, NYPD policies can set national norms, which are why its abuses—and policies enacted to curtail them—are important not only to New Yorkers but all Americans.

      In New York, the frequency of racially disparate detentions and searches of innocent New Yorkers exploded under an era of “broken windows policing” championed by former police commissioner Bill Bratton. (Bratton also worked in similar capacities in Boston and in Los Angeles, where his record prompted sustained criticism from local residents and communities.) “Broken windows policing” encourages police to aggressively pursue low-level crimes, driving NYPD officers to issue 1.8 million summonses between 2010 and 2015 for quality-of-life misdemeanors and infractions such as public drinking.

    • Twitter’s fight to kill Uncle Sam’s censorship of spying numbers edges closer to victory

      In October 2014, the microblogging and incitement platform filed a lawsuit against the Feds for permission to publish, as part of its government surveillance transparency report, the number of secret court orders it received seeking twits’ data.

      In the US, authorities can slap companies with National Security Letters (NSLs) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders for information that prohibit recipients from telling anyone about the demand, based on the claim disclosure would harm national security.

    • “Upload A Selfie” — Facebook May Soon Ask For Your Picture To Confirm You’re Not A Robot

      The social networking giant Facebook is testing a new type of captcha to verify your identity. According to a report, the company may soon ask you to upload your picture to prove you’re not a robot.

      As per a screenshot shared on Twitter, this new selfie upload prompt says — “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face.” The prompt also promises to check the picture and permanently erase it from the servers. In a somewhat similar story, Facebook had already suggested asked users to upload their nude photos to fight revenge porn.

    • The Struggles of ‘A Good American’

      A new documentary tells the story of ex-NSA official William Binney and his fight to get the federal bureaucracy to accept an inexpensive system for detecting terrorists while respecting the U.S. Constitution, writes James DiEugenio.

    • Treasury Department Report Shows ComputerCOP Used Bogus Endorsement Letter To Get Police To Distribute Keylogger

      There are enough problems with police these days and how they interact with the public. They shouldn’t be contributing to making computer security worse by handing out dangerous software.

    • Yet Another Legal Action By Dogged Privacy Activist Brings Good News And Bad News For Facebook In EU’s Highest Court

      The Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has appeared a few times on Techdirt, as he conducts his long-running campaign to find out what Facebook is doing with his personal data, and to take back control of it. In 2011, he obtained a CD-ROM (remember those?) containing all the information that Facebook held about him at that time. More dramatically, in 2015 Schrems persuaded the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that the Safe Harbor framework for transferring personal data from the EU to the US was illegal under EU laws because of the NSA’s spying, as revealed by Edward Snowden. As Schrem’s detailed commentary (pdf) on that CJEU judgment explains, the case was specifically about Facebook, although it applied much more generally. Last month, we wrote about another case, currently being referred to the CJEU, concerning Facebook’s use of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) (pdf), also known as “model clauses”. It’s an alternative legal approach for transferring data across the Atlantic, and if the CJEU rules against Facebook again, it could make things rather difficult for the big US Internet companies (but ordinary businesses won’t be affected much.)

    • Navy Officer Tried To Use The NSA To Tap Her Boyfriend’s Son’s Phone

      A curious Navy officer on deployment in Iraq in 2011 got in hot water with the National Security Agency when she used a top-secret NSA signals intelligence database to snoop on the prepaid-phone habits of boyfriend’s son, according to a just-released, heavily redacted NSA inspector general’s report.

    • NSA Caught Navy Officer Illegally Trying To Pry Into American’s Phone

      A Navy officer stationed in Iraq “deliberately and without authorization” used an NSA database to try to pry into the mobile phone of her boyfriend’s son, according to a top secret NSA inspector general report obtained by BuzzFeed News.

      The 2014 report — one of dozens the NSA just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how the spy agency responded to an instance of illegal surveillance on an American citizen.

      The Navy officer did not access the information on the phone — she was halted by a warning signal. But the inspector general’s report says the officer, whose name was redacted, violated federal regulations and a presidential executive order designed to protect Americans from being spied on by intelligence agencies without a warrant.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Good Technology Collective

      The Good Technology Collective (GTC), a new European think-tank addressing ethical issues in technology, will officially open its doors in Berlin on December 15th. The grand opening will kick off at 7:30PM (CET) at Soho House Berlin and I shall be one of the guest speakers.

    • Court Says Cop’s Theft Of Evidence Shouldn’t Have Any Effect On Man’s 15-Year Drug Sentence

      How do we get to 26 kilos from less than a gram of actual cocaine? It happens like this…

      Martin Pena needed money for rent. He agreed to meet some other men at a taqueria to run some sort of an errand for $500. One of the men took Pena’s car and returned with it a short while later. When he returned, there was a black ice chest in Pena’s car. Pena was instructed to drive it to another location and park his vehicle, leaving the keys inside.

      Pena was pulled over by Houston police officers who arrested him for an outstanding warrant. The vehicle was impounded and an inventory search performed. The 26 kilos of “cocaine” in the ice chest were discovered and Pena was convicted of transporting 400 grams of cocaine — enough to trigger a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.

    • Uber Waymo Trial Delayed After Justice Department Jumps In, Unprompted, To Tell Judge That Uber Was Withholding Evidence

      So lots of people were gearing up for the Waymo/Uber trial starting next week over Uber’s alleged efforts to get Waymo’s (Google’s self-driving car project) trade secrets. There are a whole bunch of issues around this case that are interesting — from questions involving what really is a trade secret to where the line is between controlling former employees and allowing people to switch jobs within an industry. But… all of that has been completely tossed out the window as more and more evidence piles up that beyond those key legal issues, Uber sure did some shady, shady stuff. This morning, the latest bombshell (in a long line of bombshells) is that the judge has delayed the trial after the Justice Department got involved, totally unprompted. No, really.

    • Oklahoma Looks To Clamp Down On Uninsured Driving With Traffic Cams And Perverse Incentives

      Oklahoma is home to a large percentage of uninsured drivers. Nearly a quarter of the state’s drivers get behind the wheel as latent threats to insured drivers’ insurance rates. The state thinks it’s found a solution to this problem — one that will net a private company and the state’s district attorney offices lots of money.

    • Judge delays trial after ex-Uber employee describes rogue behavior

      US District Judge William Alsup has delayed an upcoming trial, Waymo v. Uber, in which Alphabet’s self-driving car division has accused Uber of massive data theft.

      The postponement came as a former Uber security employee, Richard Jacobs, made startling accusations in court Tuesday about his former colleagues’ tactics of what he dubbed “overly aggressive and invasive” actions, including seeking code accidentally made available on GitHub and internal use of “ephemeral and encrypted” communications including through Wickr and “non-attributable machines.”

    • ‘We, Too, Are Survivors.’ 223 Women in National Security Sign Open Letter on Sexual Harassment
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal

      For years, Comcast has been promising that it won’t violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn’t block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn’t create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network.

      This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn’t necessary because ISPs won’t violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 145: Tom Wheeler Reacts To Trump’s FCC

      If you’re a Techdirt reader or just a general regular on the ol’ internet, our topic this week — the current situation with net neutrality and the FCC — needs little introduction. And we’ve got two very special guests joining us to discuss it: former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler (author of the rules that Ajit Pai is currently undoing) and his former advisor Gigi Sohn (who joined us on the podcast in February to predict pretty much exactly what is now happening). There are few people as qualified to talk about these issues, so enjoy this week’s episode looking at Trump’s FCC and the future of the internet as we know it.

    • Ajit Pai blames Cher and Hulk actor for ginning up net neutrality support

      Internet users have made it clear to US telecom regulator Ajit Pai that his proposal to scrap net neutrality rules is unpopular with the masses. But with two weeks left before the Federal Communications Commission votes to eliminate net neutrality rules, Pai today blamed actress/singer Cher and other celebrities for boosting opposition to his plan.

    • Judge Backs AT&T, Comcast Nuisance Suit Against Google Fiber In Nashville

      There’s numerous methods incumbent ISPs use to keep broadband competition at bay, from buying protectionist state laws to a steady supply of revolving door regulators and lobbyists with a vested interest in protecting the status quo. This regulatory capture goes a long way toward explaining why Americans pay more money for slower broadband than most developed nations. Keeping this dysfunction intact despite a growing resentment from America’s under-served and over-charged broadband consumers isn’t easy, and has required decades of yeoman’s work on the part of entrenched duopolies and their lobbyists.

      Case in point: Google Fiber recently tried to build new fiber networks in a large number of cities like Nashville and Louisville, but ran face first into an antiquated utility pole attachment process. As it stands, when a new competitor tries to enter a market, it needs to contact each individual ISP to have them move their own utility pole gear. This convoluted and bureaucratic process can take months, and incumbent ISPs (which often own the poles in question) often slow things down even further by intentionally dragging their feet.

    • Comcast throttling BitTorrent was no big deal, FCC says

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has consistently argued that FCC regulation of net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem.”

      Pai’s claim is frequently countered with the actual history of Internet service providers blocking or throttling Internet traffic or applications. The most prominent example is Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing. Pai thus had to contend with these real-world examples in his new proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules.

    • Looking Towards A Retrospective Future

      The Internet hasn’t been healthy for a while. Even with net neutrality rules in the United States, I have my Internet Service Provider neutrally blocking all IPv6 traffic and throttling me. As you can imagine, that now makes an apt update quite a pain. When I have asked my provider, they have said they have no plans to offer this on residential service. When I have raised the point that my employer wants me to verify the ability to potentially work from home in crisis situations, they said I would need to subscribe to “business class” service and said they would happily terminate my residential service for me if I tried to use a Virtual Private Network.

EPO Budget (Users’ Money) Has Been Corrupting Media and Academia

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 12:57:07 AM

Money down the drain, draining everyone’s reputation

Summary: EPO stakeholders (mostly users who apply for European Patents and their renewal) have inadvertently contributed to quite a disease which not only jeopardises the integrity of the Office but also the worth of patents, the integrity of media, and integrity of academia

THE EPO certainly knows how to control the media. The secret? Throw money at the media. Failing that, threaten the media.

The EPO has, for at least a decade, notoriously used IAM for all sorts of propaganda (UPC, patent ‘quality’ etc.) — to the point where IAM now seems to shy away from even covering EPO matters. It’s a sensitive relationship. Well, reposted from IAM earlier today was this article regarding “Deferral Of Examination” at the EPO — a subject previously covered here (when it was posted in IAM’s Web site and the firm’s own). There’s not much to see there because it was composed by UPC and software patents proponents. It’s one big club and litigation is its currency. And speaking of UPC (litigation), recently the EPO had two universities (academia) paid in order to promote the UPC. This means that the EPO moved on from corrupting media to corrupting academia. Some allege that this was done very specifically in order help influence the German courts system regarding the UPC (i.e. against Europe’s interests). “Read more about the impact of #patent protection on trade & FDI in innovative industries in this study,” the EPO wrote today, not quite noting who was behind this so-called ‘study’.

The EPO’s corruption of the media/public outlets, including stacking of panels and manipulation of public debates, is truly troubling. It’s like we’re dealing here with Monsanto/Bayer (a big scandal in Germany about this today), not a public institution.

And speaking of media, watch today’s terrible puff piece from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR). It’s about the interview we’ve mentioned 3 times already (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). They found a way to spin it and this spin was poorly-received (by EPO staff [1, 2]). Regarding the spin on this, one insider said: “Let me guess who’s next in-line publishing a preposterous article about the disturbed situation at the EPO? Perhaps IAM? It would add insult to injury…”

It’s a lot of gross revisionism by those willing to put their name behind their words, i.e. those who suck up to the EPO rather than risk alienation. It’s a salad of supportive words for Battistelli basically; “A spokesperson for the EPO said the office was pleased with the interview,” said the author, “which reflected the “overall support of the Council to the reforms and the acknowledgement of their very positive results, in particular in terms of quality of products and services delivered by the EPO”.”

Incredible! What a bunch of liars. Here is how it started:

Benoît Battistelli’s tenure at the European Patent Office (EPO) has been “undoubtedly positive” but there has been a “heavy-handed approach”, the chairman of the Administrative Council has said.

Christoph Ernst was interviewed in November by legal news website JUVE, which asked him the following question: “The EPO is constantly dogged by infighting between the Council’s management and its staff; the launch of the Unified Patent Court is clouded with uncertainty. The outlook is rather dismal, isn’t it?”

His response was that the situation was “certainly not as bad as that”.

Then starts a series of (almost) compliments to Battistelli. Shame on WIPR for quoting the firm the EPO sent to bully me several times. Here it is:

Joshua Marshall, associate at Fieldfisher, said: “Battistelli’s tenure has not been without its challenges. Many of the issues have been internal in terms of the EPO’s procedures and the staff which it employs.”

They are belittling the issues after Battistelli paid them to literally threaten me and try to silence Techrights (several times in fact, through several members of staff).

The EPO is a sick, sick place. Seeing it from the outside is enough to sicken. One can only imagine how dark and sickening (depressing if not leading to literal illness) it is from the inside. The sickness is infectious and now we have media and academia falling ill, too. The ‘virus’ propagates using stakeholders’ (users’) money and spreads in a fashion that severely undermines Europe’s reputation and European democracy.

Wilbur Ross, Connected to Putin’s Direct Family, Puts Iancu (Patent Microcosm) in Charge of the USPTO

Wednesday 29th of November 2017 12:17:34 AM

Previously: Putting Radicals and Foes of Technology in Charge of Patents

Summary: A government which is run by billionaires, some of whom work directly with Putin’s family (Wilbur Ross for example), is choosing for the USPTO to be run by the very industry it’s supported to govern (just like the FCC, EPA, and soon HHS, to name a few)

“President Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is doing business with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, a bombshell new report revealed Tuesday.” That’s today. The report was published just a short while ago and confirmed what was alleged before, based on leaks.

“Classic “revolving doors” example.”That’s the man who, just earlier today, put Iancu (the name is apparently Romanian, not Russian) from the patent ‘industry’ in charge of the USPTO. Classic “revolving doors” example. The new USPTO Director is Iancu, as noted 10 or so hours ago here (see direct link to the source; it’s not textual).

Who needs to “drain the swamp”? Whoever comes after Trump (and his cabal of oligarchs), who nominated Iancu after Wilbur Ross had conducted interviews. This is a Director whose view on patents we covered here before [1, 2, 3]. Truly disturbing.

Buzzwords/Terms Like “Industry 4.0” or ICT as Cover for CII (Software Patents) at the EPO

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 11:58:50 PM


Photo source

Summary: The EPO went to the “Science Days” event in Munich, wherein a proponent of software patents delivered a presentation that seems to allude to software patents (but not directly because these are not allowed)

EARLIER today the EPO linked to its site, which said (warning: epo.org link) about Munich “Science Days”: “The EPO also contributed to the event with a lecture by Director for ICT Georg Weber on “Industry 4.0 – the technology landscape of tomorrow”. Attended by some 200 people, the presentation shed light on the information side of patents and its benefits for the public, and generated numerous comments and questions from the audience.”

“Industry 4.0″ is the sort of buzzword/term that Grant Philpott, his colleague, often appears to be using when he pushes software patents. We covered some examples before.

“This is hogwash as he promotes software patents in Europe and these are notorious when it comes to crushing startups.”Earlier this year Georg Weber also openly advocated software patents in Europe (not legal as it stands, but the EPO does not obey rules anyway). EPO managers try to emulate China (SIPO), where anything goes, including any software patent.

The event’s organiser quoted George [sic] Weber as saying that the “EPO is committed to supporting #startups & #MSMEs to reducing Patent pendency, complexity & cost~”

This is hogwash as he promotes software patents in Europe and these are notorious when it comes to crushing startups.

Links 28/11/2017: Linux 4.15 RC1, Fedora 25 End Of Life, Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Officially Released

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 04:30:54 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 3 open source alternatives to Microsoft Publisher

    The paperless utopia I imagined I would be living in by now remains a work in progress. As I’ve thought more about why, I’ve decided it’s the long tail of paper that’s holding me back. Sure, almost all of my communications are electronic these days, and my scanner makes quick work of almost everything that comes to me in a dead tree format.

    But as I look around my home office and wonder why there are still stacks of paper here and there, I realize there are some things that just make more sense in physical form, at least for part of their existence. I see calendars and brochures and instruction guides. I see posters from events, and even a piece of origami. While you could argue that some of these items could be made obsolete by their digital equivalents, they haven’t been, and digitizing them myself is more work than the payoff would justify.

  • AT&T champions white box routers for open operating system

    AT&T gave a glimpse into its vision of a Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) in a recent white paper titled “Toward an Open, Disaggregated Networking Operating System” with a push toward software-defined networking (SDN) and white box hardware.

    As part of its vision, AT&T coined the term dNOS to refer to the beginning of “an industry discussion on technical feasibility, build interest in participating in the formulation of technical detail, and determine suitable vehicles (standards bodies, open source efforts, consortia, etc.) for common specification and architectural realization.”

  • Hack4Climate – Saving Climate while Sailing on the Rhine

    Everledger’s CEO, Leanne talked about women in technology and swiftly made us realize how we need equal representation of all genders to tackle the global problem. I talked about Outreachy with other female participants and amidst such a diverse set of participants, I felt really connected with a few people I met who were open source contributors. Open source community has always been very warm and fun to interact with. We exchanged what conferences we attend like Fosdem, DebConf and what projects we worked on. Outreachy current round 15 is ongoing however, the applications for the next round 16 of Outreachy internships will open in February 2018 for the May to August 2018 internship round. You can check this link here for more information on projects under Debian and Outreachy. Good luck!

  • The new workspace currency is open source

    Open source can be more than just a technology: it can be a hand up. The transparency and the community all come together to create a unique software experience. In this article, Tracy Miranda explains how she got her start in open source and how these skills have proved to be irreplaceable in her career.

  • Events
    • Death of a closed-source enterprise software salesman

      In a humorous All Things Open 2017 Lightning Talk, “Death of an Enterprise Software Salesman,” Corey Quinn calls out the slick, but not substantive, methods used to market closed-source enterprise software.

      In just under five minutes, the author of Amazon Web Services news roundup site Last Week in AWS tears apart closed-source enterprise software marketing by pretending to be a salesman. His mock presentation is filled with nonsensical business jargon and meaningless charts, but Corey’s undertone of bitng sarcasm makes his message clear: Closed-source enterprise software is successful because of its glossy image and fearmongering sales tactics, even though open source software is superior.

    • #PeruRumboGSoC2018 – Session 3

      Thanks to the Student President of the School of Electric Engineering, Yelstin Soltelo, we were able to celebrated our third session as it was planned in the Wiki.

      This time we have started with the online support of Carlos Soriano with his newcomer talk to clone a GNOME project using Builder. First we needed to the check the version of Flatpak (>9.25) followed by downloading the Builder software. After that, we did clone GNOME To Do, and we were waiting for the installation of Sdk. It was taking so long because we had a bandwith speed of the 80’s. Meanwhile, Carlos was explaining the tools GNOME offer in the developed center Website, and the initiatives and to do list the some GNOME applications have in GitLab. Thanks so much Carlos Soriano!

    • Linux Foundation 2018 events list

      The Linux Foundation has released its entire 2018 events schedule.

      The nonprofit organisation insists that it maintains a mission focused on the ‘creators, maintainers and practitioners’ of open source projects.

      Looking back at the current year, the Foundation says that this years’ events attracted over 25,000 developers, sysadmins, architects, community thought leaders, business executives and other industry professionals from more than 5,000 organisations across 85 countries.

    • KDE Around the World: FOSSCOMM 2017, Greece

      On the 4th and the 5th of November, the FOSSCOMM 2017 conference took place at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. The KDE Community had a presence at the conference. Our Greek troops gave a talk on Sunday about the past, present and future of KDE, focusing on the vision of the community.

  • Web Browsers
    • Firefox Quantum Vs Chrome – Who’s The New Boss?

      Mozilla has worked for years to give back the stardom their open source web browser lost with the release of Google Chrome. Firefox’s revival journey started with the addition of multiprocess earlier this year, followed by the head-to-toe overhaul of Firefox which now uses Project Neon as its new face.

      Firefox 57 is hailed as a strong competitor to Google Chrome. Now, whether we like it or not, comparisons of the two browsers will be made. So, going along similar lines, this Firefox Quantum vs Chrome post tries to put the two web browsers in front of each other.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Is Available to Download, Final Release Coming January 2018

      That’s right, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is now available to download, and while it’s been released mostly for those involved in the bug hunting sessions arranged by The Document Foundation to triagge and resolve as many issues as possible before the final release, it can also be installed by early adopters.

      A second Beta release could arrive early next month if there’s still some critical bugs present, but the development cycle will continue in the second half of December with the first Release Candidate (RC) milestone, followed by the second and third RCs in January 2018. The final LibreOffice 6.0 release is expected at the end of January 2018.

    • Second Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0

      After the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 6.0, which was held on October 20th 2017, we’re glad to announce the Second Bug Hunting Session on November 27th – this time being held on a Monday, for the first time!

      LibreOffice 6.0 will be announced at the end of January 2018, and so far, almost 800 bugs have been fixed in this version, with more than 700 people reporting, triaging or fixing those bugs. More info can be found here. Besides that, a large number of new features, which are summarized in the release notes, have been added.

  • CMS
    • Choosing a system for the blog

      Let me start by saying that I’m biased towards systems that use flat files for blogs instead of the ones that require a database. It is so much easier to make the posts available through other means (such as having them backed up in a Git repository) that assure their content will live on even if the site is taken down or dies. It is also so much better to download the content this way, instead of pulling down a huge database file, which may cost a significant amount of money to transfer that amount of data. Having flat files with your content with a format that is shared among many systems (such as Markdown) might also assure a smooth transition to a new system, should the change become a necessity at some point.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Bye Bye Cilk Plus: GCC Lightened By 82k L.O.C.

      Earlier this month I reported on Intel’s plans for removing Cilk Plus from GCC 8 since this parallel programming effort of theirs was depreciated in GCC 7 and hadn’t seen much adoption. It’s now official with the code being stripped out of the GCC 8 code-base.

      As of this morning, it’s official and Cilk Plus was removed. This marks an end to Cilk Plus in GCC that had only been in GCC since 5.0 and this multi-threaded parallel computing extension for C/C++ that was originally devised at MIT in the late 90′s.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM have announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the most widely-used open source software licenses, covering, among other software, critical parts of the Linux ecosystem. When GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it introduced an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a more reasonable approach to errors and mistakes, which are often inadvertent. This approach allows for enforcement of license compliance that is consistent with community norms,

      To provide greater predictability to users of open source software, Red Hat, Facebook, Google and IBM today each committed to extending the GPLv3 approach for license compliance errors to the software code that each licenses under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Tech leaders join forces to increase predictability in Open Source licensing
    • ‘Big four’ Linux companies shift open-source licensing policies

      The GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2) is arguably the most important open-source license for one reason: It’s the license Linux uses. On November 27, three Linux-using technology powers, Facebook, Google, and IBM, and the major Linux distributor Red Hat announced they would extend additional rights to help companies who’ve made GPLv2 open-source license compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GPLv2 and its close relative, GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are widely-used open source software licenses. When the GPL version 3 (GPLv3) was released, it came with an express termination approach that offered users opportunities to cure errors in license compliance. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a way for companies to repair licensing errors and mistakes. This approach allows license compliance enforcement that is consistent with community norms.

    • Tech leaders team up to improve predictability in open source licencing

      Red Hat, Inc., Facebook, Inc., Google, and IBM Corp. are joining forces to help alleviate open source licence issues, including compliance errors and mistakes.

      The GNU General Public Licence (GPL) and GNU General Public Licence (LGPL) are two of the most common open source software licences, covering almost all software, including parts of the Linux system. The third version of GPL (GPLv3) includes an express termination approach that gives users the opportunities to fix errors in licence compliance in a faster and more efficient manner than before.

      Now, the trio has committed to extending the express termination feature to the previous two versions of GPL to provide better predictability to users of open source software.

    • Four companies extend terms of open source licensing

      Google, Facebook, IBM and Red Hat have taken steps to increase the predictability of open-source licensing, extending additional rights to fix open source licence compliance errors and mistakes.

      The move follows a recent announcement by many kernel developers about licence enforcement.

      The Linux kernel, which is used widely by the four companies named, is released under the GNU General Public Licence version 2.0. A later version of this licence includes an approach that offers users an opportunity to comply with the licence.

    • Adopting a Community-Oriented Approach to Open Source License Compliance

      Today Google joins Red Hat, Facebook, and IBM alongside the Linux Kernel Community in increasing the predictability of open source license compliance and enforcement.

      We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM and Red Hat team up on open-source license compliance

      “We are taking an approach to compliance enforcement that is consistent with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement. We hope that this will encourage greater collaboration on open source projects, and foster discussion on how we can all continue to work closely together,” Chris DiBona, director of open source for Google, wrote in a blog post.

    • Technology Industry Leaders Join Forces to Increase Predictability in Open Source Licensing

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced efforts to promote additional predictability in open source licensing, by committing to extend additional rights to cure open source license compliance errors and mistakes.

    • Copyleft Licensing: Applying GPLv3 Termination to GPLv2-licensed Works

      Today a coalition of major companies—led by Red Hat and including Google, IBM and Facebook—who create, modify and distribute FOSS under copyleft licenses have committed to the use of GPLv3’s approach to license termination for all their works published under the terms of GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1. Following last month’s statement to similar effect by the developers of the Linux kernel, the world’s most widely-used GPLv2 program, today’s announcement establishes a broad consensus in favor of the “notice and cure period” approach to first-time infringement issues that Richard Stallman and I adopted in GPLv3 more than a decade ago. This adoption of GPLv3’s approach for GPLv2 programs is an enormously important step in securing the long-term viability of copyleft licensing. All computer users who wish to see their rights respected by the technology they use are better off.

      GPLv2, which was written by Richard Stallman and Jerry Cohen, is a masterpiece of legal innovation and durability. First released in mid-1991, GPLv2 transformed thinking around the world about the viability of copyright commons, and gave birth to a range of “share alike” licensing institutions, not only for software but for all forms of digital culture. It is still in unmodified use after more than a quarter-century, attaining a degree of institutional stability more often associated with statutes and constitutions than with transactional documents like copyright licenses.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat give GPL code scofflaws 60 days to behave – or else

      The tech giants, which release a fair amount of GNU-GPL-licensed source code, have committed to extend the GPLv3′s 60-day “cure period” to license compliance errors under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

    • Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat Strengthen Open Source License Protection

      Facebook, Google, IBM, and Red Hat today announced they’re going to provide greater legal protection for some of the open source code they license. The companies committed to extend more rights to cure open source license compliance errors.

      Their announcement relates to two widely used open source software licenses: The GNU General Public License (GPL) and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). The GPL version 3 (GPLv3) introduced an express termination approach that offered users an opportunity to cure errors in license compliance, especially mistakes that are inadvertent.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • 4 ways to engage your organization’s various stakeholders

      I’ve spent most of my professional life helping organizations be more open to their stakeholders. I’m a partner in a consulting company in Chile, whose typical customer is a for-profit organization wishing to develop some kind of public works project (for example, an electricity generation station, a transmission line, a mine, a road, an airport, or something similar). Projects like these typically aim to fill a social need—but they’re often intended for locations where development and operation can have negative impacts (or, in economic terms, “externalities”).

    • What ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ taught me about open scientific research

      I haven’t taken a biology class in years, but the TV show Grey’s Anatomy keeps me acquainted with some aspects of the scientific world. I never expected that an episode of the medical drama series would inspire me to explore open source principles in scientific research.

      Maybe you’ve seen the episode: the characters Derek and Callie, surgeons in neuroscience and orthopedics, are doing a research study using brain sensors to control the movement of prosthetics. When the White House recruits Derek for a brain-mapping initiative, officials mention that the sensors necessary for the work will become proprietary, available only to Derek’s project. The proprietary policy leads to an argument about ownership of the sensor technology and whose research is of greater importance.

  • Programming/Development
    • GCC Lands Cannonlake, Skylake Costs; LLVM/Clang Gets Intel CET

      In addition to the GCC plugin support on Windows/MinGW, there are more compiler happenings this weekend.

      Hitting mainline GCC since that earlier post about the MinGW plugin support is this commit landing the -march=cannonlake target for these next-gen Intel CPUs. It’s among the many GCC 8 features and previously covered the Cannonlake enablement while now it’s been merged to mainline.

    • LLVM Picks Up 3DNow! Improvements In 2017

      As a flashback to the past, hitting the LLVM Git/SVN code today were improvements for those still running with processors supporting AMD’s 3DNow! extensions.

    • Why Python and Pygame are a great pair for beginning programmers

      Last month, Scott Nesbitt wrote about Mozilla awarding $500K to support open source projects. Phaser, a HTML/JavaScript game platform, was awarded $50,000. I’ve been teaching Phaser to my pre-teen daughter for a year, and it’s one of the best and easiest HTML game development platforms to learn. Pygame, however, may be a better choice for beginners. Here’s why.

    • Update to Linux perf report

      Linux perf is an immensely useful and powerful tool suite for profiling of C/C++ applications.
      I have used it extensively and successfully on various customer projects, both for desktop applications as well as automotive or industrial projects targeting low-end embedded Linux targets running on ARM hardware.

    • The big break in computer languages

      My last post (The long goodbye to C) elicited a comment from a C++ expert I was friends with long ago, recommending C++ as the language to replace C. Which ain’t gonna happen; if that were a viable future, Go and Rust would never have been conceived.

      But my readers deserve more than a bald assertion. So here, for the record, is the story of why I don’t touch C++ any more. This is a launch point for a disquisition on the economics of computer-language design, why some truly unfortunate choices got made and baked into our infrastructure, and how we’re probably going to fix them.

      Along the way I will draw aside the veil from a rather basic mistake that people trying to see into the future of programming languages (including me) have been making since the 1980s. Only very recently do we have the field evidence to notice where we went wrong.

      I think I first picked up C++ because I needed GNU eqn to be able to output MathXML, and eqn was written in C++. That project succeeded. Then I was a senior dev on Battle For Wesnoth for a number of years in the 2000s and got comfortable with the language.

    • GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.9

      About 3 months, a GStreamer Conference and two bug-fix releases have passed now since the GStreamer Rust bindings release 0.8.0. Today version 0.9.0 (and 0.9.1 with a small bugfix to export some forgotten types) with a couple of API improvements and lots of additions and cleanups was released. This new version depends on the new set of releases of the gtk-rs crates (glib/etc).

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Vulkan 1.0.66 Introduces Three New Extensions

      Vulkan 1.0.66 was released this morning as the newest version of the Vulkan 1.0 graphics and compute specification.

      Vulkan 1.0.66 has a number of fixes pertaining to the documentation as well as some clarifications. There are also three new extensions.

Leftovers
  • In pursuit of Otama’s tone

    It would be fun to use the Otamatone in a musical piece. But for someone used to keyboard instruments it’s not so easy to play cleanly. It has a touch-sensitive (resistive) slider that spans roughly two octaves in just 14 centimeters, which makes it very sensitive to finger placement. And in any case, I’d just like to have a programmable virtual instrument that sounds like the Otamatone.

  • Science
    • Actress Hedy Lamarr laid the groundwork for some of today’s wireless tech

      Throughout Bombshell, animated sketches illustrate Lamarr’s inventions, but the film doesn’t dig deep into the science. The primary focus is the tension between Lamarr’s love of invention and her Hollywood image. With commentary from family and historians, as well as old interviews with Lamarr, Bombshell paints a sympathetic portrait of a woman troubled by her superficial reputation and yearning for recognition of her scientific intellect.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Medicines Excitement In The Netherlands – New Health Minister Announces Firm Action On “Absurd” Medicines Pricing And Gets The European Medicines Agency

      He specifically told the Dutch parliament that he plans to “extensively explore” the use of compulsory licensing of patents of medicines that are too expensive. (See here for media coverage in Dutch). Compulsory licensing lifts the monopoly effect of a patent by allowing others to produce generic versions. The Dutch patent law provides for compulsory licensing, including for reasons of public interest, which presumably covers addressing “absurd pricing” of needed medicines. EU medicines regulations may stand in the way of the Minister’s plans when data exclusivity rules prevent the registration of the generic. For a detailed discussion of the need to ensure coherence in EU law on this matter see our paper here. He will also explore if he can authorise pharmacists to prepare medicines al lower cost for individual patients.

      The Minister follows the recommendations of the Netherlands Council for Public Health and Society, an official government advisory body, which published its report on eight November. The Council’s report – Development of new medicines: Better, faster, cheaper – outlines a number of actions the Dutch government can take to immediately address high drug pricing, including the use of compulsory licensing to strengthen the government’s position in price negotiations.

    • Access To Affordable Healthcare: A Global Wake-Up Call Fosters Coalition Of The Like-Minded

      Few topics in the global health agenda are as contentious as access to affordable medicines and medical care, and expectedly, divergent views permeated the discussions at a high-level conference in New Delhi, India last week. But if there is one thing that the three-day meet made amply clear, it was this: access to affordable healthcare has emerged as a global problem, and an emerging coalition of the like-minded, cutting across the developed and developing countries, is determined to have their voices heard in international policy circles on the issue.

      The 1st World Conference on Access to Medical Products and International Laws for Trade and Health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was held in New Delhi from 21-23 November.

    • Creeping quackery: “Integrative” cancer care spreading in NIH-supported centers

      For instance, the number of centers providing patients with information on “healing touch”—a type of “energy medicine”—increased nearly 30 percent between 2009 and 2016. Cancer patients at 26 of the 45 government-designated comprehensive centers around the country can now learn about that hocus-pocus along with actual cancer therapies. Likewise, inclusion of Ayurveda—a pseudoscience involving herbal, mineral, and metal treatments—increased by 10 percent in the same timeframe. Now, 18 of 45 cancer centers supported by the National Cancer Institute provide patients with information on that sorcery.

      While the data may alarm evidence-based physicians and health experts, an accompanying article on the semantics of “integrative medicine” may be of more concern. In it, advocates of “integrative medicine” try to define what “integrative medicine” is, exactly. But rather than a clear definition, they create a vague and broad one that includes “mind and body practices.” It involves everything from the “medicalized” components of a healthy lifestyle (such as simple exercise) to what can charitably be described as magic.

  • Security
    • Open source nameserver used by millions needs patching

      Open source DNS software vendor PowerDNS has advised users to patch its “Authoritative” and “Recursor” products, to squish five bugs disclosed today.

      None of the bugs pose a risk that PowerDNS might itself be compromised, but this is the DNS: what an attacker can do is fool around with DNS records in various ways.

      That can be catastrophic if done right: for example, if a network is tricked into advertising itself as the whole of the Internet, it can be hosed, or if the wrong network promises it’s the best way to reach YouTube, then YouTube is blackholed.

    • Looking for scrubs? Nah, NHS wants white hats – the infosec techie kind

      The UK’s National Health Service will pay white hat hackers up to £20m to protect its IT systems, it announced today.

      NHS Digital is looking to make a deal with consultants to create a security operations centre, which it says will ensure the safety of staff and patient data nationwide.

      Speaking to The Telegraph, NHS Digital said the contract “will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team to proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities.”

      This comes against the backdrop of the Wannacry ransomware attack in May this year, which demonstrated the NHS’ lack of preparedness for dealing with a large attack across several locations at once.

    • Hackers [sic] stole information from 1.7 million Imgur accounts in 2014
    • Pentagon’s move toward open source software isn’t going to enhance security [Ed: Guy Podjarny is the CEO of Snyk who is now attacking FOSS in articles and press releases like Microsoft-connected firms do.]
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Potential impact of the Intel ME vulnerability

      Intel’s Management Engine (ME) is a small coprocessor built into the majority of Intel CPU chipsets[0]. Older versions were based on the ARC architecture[1] running an embedded realtime operating system, but from version 11 onwards they’ve been small x86 cores running Minix. The precise capabilities of the ME have not been publicly disclosed, but it is at minimum capable of interacting with the network[2], display[3], USB, input devices and system flash. In other words, software running on the ME is capable of doing a lot, without requiring any OS permission in the process.

      Back in May, Intel announced a vulnerability in the Advanced Management Technology (AMT) that runs on the ME. AMT offers functionality like providing a remote console to the system (so IT support can connect to your system and interact with it as if they were physically present), remote disk support (so IT support can reinstall your machine over the network) and various other bits of system management. The vulnerability meant that it was possible to log into systems with enabled AMT with an empty authentication token, making it possible to log in without knowing the configured password.

      This vulnerability was less serious than it could have been for a couple of reasons – the first is that “consumer”[4] systems don’t ship with AMT, and the second is that AMT is almost always disabled (Shodan found only a few thousand systems on the public internet with AMT enabled, out of many millions of laptops). I wrote more about it here at the time.

    • Chinese nationals indicted on federal computer hacking [sic] charges

      Beginning in at least 2013, the defendants “and others known and unknown to the grand jury” used spearphishing emails containing malicious attachments or customized malware to hack into networks used by U.S. and foreign businesses, according to the indictment.

    • Security firm was front for advanced Chinese hacking operation, Feds say

      Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei face federal charges that they conspired to steal hundreds of gigabytes of data belonging to Siemens AG, Moody’s Analytics, and the GPS technology company Trimble. The indictment, which was filed in September and unsealed on Monday, said the trio used spear phishing e-mails with malicious attachments or links to infect targeted end users. The defendants used customized tools collectively known as the UPS Backdoor Malware to gain and maintain unauthorized access to the targeted companies’ networks.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • What if This Had Happened on the Day After 9/11?
    • Pentagon likely to acknowledge 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria: U.S. officials

      The U.S. military had earlier publicly said it had around 500 troops in Syria, mostly supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces group of Kurdish and Arab militias fighting Islamic State in the north of the country.

      Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon could, as early as Monday, publicly announce that there are slightly more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria. They said there was always a possibility that last minute changes in schedules could delay an announcement.

      That is not an increase in troop numbers, just a more accurate count, as the numbers often fluctuate.

    • Syria: Dozens of Civilians Killed in Last 24 Hours

      In Syria, dozens of civilians have been killed in the last 24 hours by shelling and airstrikes reportedly carried out by the Syrian regime and Russia. The attacks occurred in the ISIS-controlled eastern province of Deir Az Zor and the rebel-controlled district of Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital Damascus.

    • New Drone Strikes Underscore, Again, How Much Power We Give Trump

      Residents later reported that the region spent much of the day under attack from Saudi jets and American drones, which hovered overhead and intermittently fired missiles from above.

      The attacks were described as a success in most Western newspapers. The Daily Mail in London highlighted the fact that “10 Al-Qaeda Suspects” were killed in the attacks, as confirmed by government officials.

    • The colonial roots of Trump’s discourse on Iran

      Donald Trump is unpredictable and erratic, yet the ulterior motive for a lot of his decisions seems fairly unsophisticated: as Ta Nahisi Coates points out in his brilliant piece, Trump’s ultimate motive is to obliterate the legacy of Barack Obama. The more Obama prided himself on an achievement, the more adamant Trump becomes on destroying it. The Iran deal was a policy Obama advocated passionately. No wonder Trump stubbornly pursues its destruction.

      Trump has given a few speeches about the Iran deal. He is yet to come up with any substantial argument against it. He throws in talking points and threadbare clichés about Iran, without saying anything new. Most likely without realizing it, Trump is in fact yet another figure in the long line of imperial leaders who have tapped into a certain image of Iran, without caring whether it bears any resemblance to its reality.

    • Guatemala is the Future: Neoliberal Democracy and Authoritarian Populism

      For decades the United States held itself up as Latin America’s ideal future even as it crushed post WWII nationalist projects for economic independence and social democracy. After decades of brutal counterinsurgency, the US promoted neoliberal democracy—free elections and free markets—as the path to peace and prosperity in Guatemala. Twenty years after historic peace accords, Guatemala’s democratic transition is a failure by every standard metric. Modest reforms were gutted while poverty and inequality grew worse, perpetuating the exploitation of working people and the indigenous underclass—the root causes of the armed conflict. Crime has skyrocketed. Dozens are murdered weekly in the capitol, and brutal killings of hundreds of women go uninvestigated. Gangs rule giant swaths of territory by terror. Narco-violence has killed thousands. Millions flee to the US for work and safety. Institutionalized corruption drains public coffers while infrastructure and state services decay. Food insecurity and malnutrition are epidemic. These appalling conditions are the predictable result of the violent imperialist imposition of free market reforms on a poor, unequal, and war torn country. Guatemalan society convulses in a permanent state of collapse, at war with itself, riddled with expanding zones of environmental sacrifice and social abandonment and lives in a constant state of risk and precarity, not unlike a prison or labor camp. This year, when forty-three girls died in a fire in an overcrowded and understaffed state run “safe home” for victims of violence, abuse, and abandonment, it became for many Guatemalans a perfect symbolic condensation of patriarchy, economic violence, and official negligence.

    • As Aid Groups Warn of Yemen ‘On the Brink,’ Iran Says US Just Admitted Its Complicity in ‘Atrocities’

      As the United Nations children’s fund warned Sunday that nearly every Yemeni boy and girl—that’s more than 11 million children—is in acute need of humanitarian assistance, Iran said the United States admitted its own complicity “in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia” in the warn-ravaged country.

      The comments by Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghassemi, follow a statement released Friday by the White House, which said that the U.S. remains “committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression and blatant violations of international law.” The statement also praised Saudi Arabia for opening the port in Hodeidah and airport in Sanaa “to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.”

      Aid groups, however, said the partial opening of the nearly three-week long blockade is “a minor and insufficient concession” that “still leave[s] the population of Yemen in a worse situation than they were two weeks ago before the blockade started” and the country still “on the brink.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Fears for world’s rarest penguin as population plummets

      Almost half the breeding population of the world’s most endangered penguin species, the yellow-eyed penguin, has disappeared in one part of New Zealand and conservation groups believe commercial fishing is to blame.

      The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand’s South Island and sub-Antarctic islands, where there are just 1,600 to 1,800 left in the wild, down from nearly 7,000 in 2000.

    • Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity a year than Ireland

      According to Digiconomist the estimated power use of the bitcoin network, which is responsible for verifying transactions made with the cryptocurrency, is 30.14TWh a year, which exceeds that of 19 other European countries. At a continual power drain of 3.4GW, it means the network consumes five times more electricity than is produced by the largest wind farm in Europe, the London Array in the outer Thames Estuary, at 630MW.

    • ‘We Do Not Want That to Be Our Legacy’

      This week on CounterSpin: As Americans celebrate a fairly tale about the relationship between Native Americans and settlers, Native Americans are mourning the pollution of more of their land, and lives, by fossil fuels. The November 16 spill of more than 200,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone pipeline occurred adjacent to the South Dakota reservation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

    • Earthquake Risk Keeps Heat on Vulnerable Nuclear Reactors

      A proposal by a California administrative law judge has given safe energy advocates new hope that two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors will be shut before an earthquake on the San Andreas fault turns them to rubble, potentially threatening millions of people.

      The huge reactors—California’s last—sit on a bluff above the Pacific, west of San Luis Obispo, among a dozen earthquake faults. They operate just 45 miles from the San Andreas. That’s half the distance from the fault that destroyed four reactors in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Diablo’s wind-blown emissions could irradiate the Los Angeles megalopolis in less than six hours if an earthquake destroyed the plant.

  • Finance
    • Amazon Merchants Continue to Find Ways to Cheat

      He visited the product page on Amazon.com and suspected he was the victim of “sniping,” when one merchant sabotages another by hiring people to leave critical reviews of their goods and then voting those reviews as being helpful, making them the most prominent feedback seen by shoppers. Freelancers in China and Bangladesh willing to do this for $10 an hour are easily found online. Even though the toy has a 4.8 star rating out of 5 based on more than 1,100 reviews, shoppers first see a string of critical one-star reviews and many may get scared away.

    • A false hope for Remainers

      26th November 2017

      Since the referendum result there has been a lack of realism about Brexit by the UK government and many Leavers.

      The current difficulties about the Irish border are one of many examples.

      But lack of realism is not a monopoly of those wanting the UK to depart the EU.

      There is wishful thinking – indeed, magical thinking – by those who want the UK to remain in the EU, or at least by those who want to have a Brexit significantly “softer” than which is currently likely to happen.

      The (grim or glorious) truth is that the UK will be leaving the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019, unless something exceptional happens to change that legal position.

    • Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds

      The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    • Bitcoin cracks $9,600 just hours after breaking $9,000 level

      The largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., Coinbase, added about 100,000 accounts between Wednesday and Friday — just around Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday — to a total of 13.1 million. That’s according to public data available on Coinbase’s website and historical records compiled by Alistair Milne, co-founder and chief investment officer of Altana Digital Currency Fund. Coinbase had about 4.9 million users last November, Milne’s data showed.

    • Bitcoin Price Crosses $9,000

      While you might be still struggling to recover from all the goodies you gulped over the Thanksgiving dinner, Bitcoin has continued hustling to make its way towards the magical mark of $10,000.

    • City of London voices in unison on Brexit threat to investment

      Next week, the City of London Choir begins its Christmas season with a charity concert at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. Were it in need of an extra bass or alto, it need not look far. Because the number of City voices expressing deep concern over UK finances is fast becoming a chorus.

      In space of two days, a series of City figures have lined up to intone publicly on the impact of Brexit on inward investment. But not all expect an audience as appreciative as the choir’s.

    • Bernie Sanders hits the trail again, this time to fight GOP tax bill

      Sen. Bernie Sanders is traveling to Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania this weekend to rally against the Republican tax bill, his office told NBC News, keeping up a brisk pace of political activity since leaving the presidential race last year and ahead of a potential second one in 2020.

      Sanders, who held a similar series of rallies across the country this year to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, is using his “Protecting Working Families Tour” to pressure on-the-fence GOP senators before a vote on the tax bill, President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

    • Theresa May ‘Rigging Parliament’ With New Emergency Move To Curb Changes To Budget 2017

      Theresa May is facing fresh accusations of “rigging Parliament” with an unprecedented move to prevent MPs from changing legislation on the Budget.

      Labour attacked May’s latest “power grab” after it emerged that the Government will deploy a little-used procedural device to effectively eliminate any attempts to amend the Finance Bill.

      The tactic will severely restrict MPs’ ability to secure alternative tax measures, such as a DUP-backed plan to abolish VAT on all domestic fuel after Brexit.

      It also ensures that no backbench rebels can join Labour or other parties in ambushing the Government on particular plans – as they have in recent years on issues like the ‘tampon tax’ or taxes on solar panels.

    • Brexit and tribalism

      But Leave do not have a monopoly in their lack of realism.

      Some Remainers seem to think that the Article 50 process, once triggered, can be ended lightly.

      Just a matter of politics; just a quick fix; just some tinkering; it will all be alright in the end.

      And there is some force to this: if the politics of Brexit change, then the legal process can be ended (or paused).

      If a lever is pulled then the conveyor belt to the big industrial jagged saw will jolt and then halt.

    • British government accused of being soft on tax avoidance

      The British government has been accused of being weak on tax avoidance after failing to block the EU from taking the first step in naming and shaming its overseas territories in a tax haven blacklist.

      Ministers in recent weeks fought to prevent Brussels from sending of letters informing 12 countries that they would be listed unless they promised to change their tax rules. The final EU blacklist is due to be published on 5 December.

      The correspondence was eventually sent to the British overseas territories, but only following a ruling by members states’ experts sitting on a European council code of conduct group, which trumped the initial British protests.

    • International Court Of Justice Judges Getting Pulled Into Investor-State Cases

      According to a study by a watchdog group released this week, numerous judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have worked or are working on at least 90 investor-state dispute settlement cases, despite a prohibition on them doing work outside their ICJ duties. Fees paid to the judges ranged above USD 1 million among three judges in a number of cases.

    • British meat exports to EU set to fall by 90% in ‘hard Brexit’ scenario, report warns

      ‘Crisis – The EU Meat Industry in a Hard Brexit Scenario’ report, commissioned by Europe’s meat industry body UECBV, analyses the potential impact of a hard Brexit on the European and UK meat industry.

      It found that a ‘no-deal’ outcome would lead to a collapse in trade, with a 90% drop in beef exports and 53% drop in lamb exports from the UK to the EU.

      In this scenario, meat products would face greater burdens than almost any other sector.

      According to the report, the industry would face higher WTO tariffs than any other sector, and face additional costs of veterinary checks, in addition to the customs checks faced by all goods.

    • The EU could blacklist Britain as a tax haven after Brexit

      On Dec. 5 the EU will publish a blacklist of countries that have “harmful tax practices.” By its own criteria, that should include six EU member states, according to a report by the Tax Justice Network, an NGO.
      Those countries are Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, and the UK. The first five don’t have to worry since the EU says it won’t blacklist its own members, but when Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 it could find itself named and shamed.
      The EU has three criteria it uses to assess whether a country is a tax haven. These countries fail on “fair taxation,” which is pretty vague. The Tax Justice Network’s report is based on a (seemingly slightly playful) “best guess at what their criteria mean,” according to Alex Cobham, director of the group and co-author of the report. Britain falls short because it acts as a “tax conduit,” the report says, with low taxes on moving capital that allow multinationals to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions while paying little or nothing where it was earned.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban for Staff

      The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven’t yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president.

    • White House reportedly considering banning staff from using personal phones at work
    • Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world?

      For the time being, though, Zuckerberg’s possible political ambitions are not really the issue. Far more important is what we know already: that his power is titanic, and Facebook is shaping millions of people’s understanding of who they are and their place in the world, often in grim ways.

    • Trump’s Sinister Attacks on CNN
    • [Older] Russia used Twitter bots and trolls ‘to disrupt’ Brexit vote
    • [Older] Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows
    • [Older] Facebook Has Finally Opened The Door To Admitting Russia Meddled In Brexit
    • [Older] Here’s the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit
    • [Older] Researcher finds just 400 tweets from Russia aimed at Brexit vote

      The claims around alleged Russian meddling in British politics has been stirred by allegations that fake Twitter accounts attempted to influence the Brexit vote. But while the mere suggestion was enough to make mainstream headlines, little was said about the “infinitesimal” quantity of tweets involved.

    • No Moore Pretense

      On one side are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. They have disowned Roy Moore, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, over allegations that he targeted, and in some cases molested, minors and other teen girls. On the other side are social conservatives, including Alabama’s state auditor, who argue that courtship between an older man and a teenage girl is consensual, biblical, good for the girl, and grounded in the natural attraction of a godly man to the “purity of a young woman.” Alongside the purity camp is the tolerance camp, led by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. These Republicans don’t deny the allegations or endorse Moore’s conduct, but they support him anyway, reasoning that other issues are more important.

      Many Republicans are afraid to take sides in this debate. They want to stick with the GOP nominee, or at least avoid antagonizing voters who support him. But they don’t want to defend the sexual exploitation of minors. So they’ve staked out a neutral position: Moore is innocent until proven guilty. President Trump adopted this position on Tuesday, urging voters not to elect Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. A reporter asked Trump: “Is Roy Moore, a child molester, better than a Democrat?” The president replied: “Well, he denies it. … He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”

    • Meet the Socialist Marine & Anti-Police Brutality Protester Who Won Democratic Seats in November

      Can the emergence of non-traditional candidates help revive a faltering Democratic Party that is facing its lowest approval rating in nearly a quarter century? We speak with two Democrats who won key races with support from grassroots sources outside of the Democratic Party. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Braxton Winston is a former middle school football coach who took to the streets in 2015 along with hundreds of people to protest the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. We also speak with Lee Carter, a Democratic Socialist and former Marine who unseated the Republican majority whip of Virginia’s House of Delegates.

    • While honoring Native American veterans, Trump lobs his favorite Native American insult

      The “code talkers” were Native American soldiers who were deployed during the world wars to send messages between units using a nearly uncrackable code: their native languages. During World War II, Navajo men were recruited by the Marines and served in the Pacific theater, aiding in the defeat of the Japanese army. Their story has become well known, including being featured in a 2002 film.

    • The Right Returns to the Religion Well

      What has many observers far more concerned are connections among the new attraction’s principal funders and the right wing. Here its mission becomes suspect, more political than religious, although with the right wing, it is always difficult to separate the two, each possessing a will to dominate.

      [...]

      In the words of historian of religion Randall Ballmer, “You have a movement that has so totally embraced a particular political party that it’s willing to go along with any outrage as long as it’s within the tent of party.”

      Fortunately, there are Christians who say no. In Alabama itself, dozens of pastors signed a letter condemning Moore. It reads, in part:

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?
    • Google’s de-ranking of RT in search results is a form of censorship and blatant propaganda

      Who is the true propagandist? The man who offers you information which you can freely choose to believe or disregard — or the man who tries to control what you see, for fear you might start using your own brain to distinguish truth from lies?

      That is essentially what Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is doing when it comes to news articles from this website, RT. Schmidt was closely involved in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and in a recent interview he admitted that Google is creating special algorithms to filter RT’s news and make it appear less prominently in Google’s search results. In his own words, Google is trying to “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible.

    • A Workshop On Cartoons And Censorship In The Heart Of Westminster

      Yesterday, on a trip into London to see the Christmas lights of Regent Street and Carnaby Street, and a subsequent walk across the Thames saw me stop by the Westminster Reference Library with my two kids for a cartoon workshop as part of their Gagged exhibition on censorship, with the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation raising awareness of – and money for – cartoonists who have been fired, imprisoned or even killed for their work. It’s a subject I’d been discussing with my kids of late anyway, and it seemed a way to bring some of the realities of creativity into sharp relief.

      [...]

      A news team from Al Jazeera also popped by, so be warned, you may see our ugly mugs on a screen near you sometime. Here’s how the whole thing looked, including from my kids, Eve and Alice, who decided that their rebellion against authority – would be against me, in their collaborative alter ego, The Savage Kid.

    • The Dark Inevitability of Zionism

      Among the growing assaults on freedom of speech is an Israeli-driven campaign to criminalize a campaign to boycott Israel over its racist persecution of Palestinians, writes Lawrence Davidson.

    • Art Censorship at Guantánamo Bay

      Moath al-Alwi’s prayer rug is stained with paint. Every day, he wakes before dawn and works for hours on an elaborate model ship made from scavenged materials — one of dozens of sculptures he has created since he was first detained at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in 2002. Mr. al-Alwi is considered a low value detainee, but is being held indefinitely. His art is his refuge.

      The sails of Mr. al-Alwi’s ships are made from scraps of old T-shirts. A bottle-cap wheel steers a rudder made with pieces of a shampoo bottle, turned with delicate cables of dental floss. The only tool Mr. al-Alwi uses to make these intricate vessels is a pair of tiny, snub-nosed scissors, the kind a preschooler might use. It is all he is allowed in his cell.

      Three of Mr. al-Alwi’s model ships are currently on view in an exhibit at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, along with 32 other paintings and sculptures from other prisoners or former detainees. My colleagues and I curated this exhibit after learning that many lawyers who have worked with detainees have file cabinets stuffed full of prisoners’ art. In the atmosphere of surveillance and control that is Guantánamo, these artworks are among the only ways detainees have to communicate with the outside world.

    • We’re Being Pushed Towards Silence, Self-Censorship: Anand Gandhi

      National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi says he feels “restless” and “anxious” when he sees fundamental rights of the artistes being attacked in the country today.

      The 37-year-old director says the kind of threats, both commercial and indie projects are facing from different sections of the society, the creative freedom is at stake.

    • Johar takes middle path on censorship

      Panaji: Speaking about censorship, film producer Karan Johar said filmmakers like himself aspire for certification according to age brackets and not censorship. This, he says, will tremendously enhance the possibilities of content.

    • Adoor Gopalakrishnan against censorship of films
    • ‘Coco’ Got All Of Its Ghosts Past China’s Superstition-Hating Censors

      China’s film censorship bureau surprised practically everyone recently when it authorized Pixar’s newest animated feature, Coco, to release in Chinese theaters.

    • Author of fires report slams data protection commission ‘censorship’

      Xavier Viegas, the University of Coimbra academic who coordinated and wrote the report, said in a column published on Tuesday that “nothing justifies the decision to censor” one of its chapters and pledged to do all he could to ensure that the stories of the victims of the fires in Pedrógão Grande and Góis, in central Portugal, are known.

      The fires in Pedrógão and neighbouring municipalities that started on 17 June and burned for several days claimed 64 lives, and left 200 people injured, some seriously.

      In the opinion column in Publico newspaper, Viegas condemned the CNPD’s decision to bar the publication of parts of chapter 6 of the report, saying that in order to protect the constitutional rights to privacy and personal data of the families of the victims, only the families should see it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Age verification legislation will lead to porn habit database

      The UK powers that be consider online porn to be akin to cyber matches: you just can’t let kids play with that stuff, lest they set their eyeballs on fire.

      It’s a well-established, thoroughly legislated angst, with the most current relevant legislation tucked into the Digital Economy Act. The problem – well, one of many – is that this angst seems poised to set the adult population of the country up for Ashley Madison-esque breaches.

      The country is eager to protect children from porn. It’s a worthy goal, mind you, given that research shows that exposing kids to porn can be damaging. Unfortunately, it’s a quixotic goal, given that porn is impossible to block. Nevertheless, the UK is now on the brink of creating a database of the country’s porn habits.

      It also seems poised to hand the age verification piece of that puzzle over to an outfit that Vice refers to as “the shady company that controls the majority of free porn tube sites.”

    • Vulnerability Equities Process Gets A Facelift From The New Administration

      The Trump Administration has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process — one nominally slanted towards greater transparency and outside participation. The previous process was broken in multiple ways, not the least of which was intelligence oversight’s general belief everything was fine even though the NSA didn’t follow the previous rules, despite statements to the contrary.

      It’s unclear why this new VEP is appearing now. The new administration doesn’t seem particularly concerned about surveillance overreach or the legality of tactics deployed by the Intelligence Community. On the other hand, the up-cycling of undisclosed NSA exploits by malicious hackers has probably forced the government’s hand. It’s impossible to get ahead of criticism, especially when so many of the exploited exploits dated back several years. But perhaps it’s possible to head off future criticism with a diplomatic gesture, which is what this appears to be.

    • Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there’s still time to unplug it

      On a walk across the show floor at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed.

      As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

      But I did. I could feel it in my gut and heard it from everyone else who’d spent a career working in technology. It isn’t just that a few megacorporations nearing trillion-dollar valuations have sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, it’s that they’ve become so big they’ve started to warp the fabric of reality.

      Facebook got caught out in May using real-time emotional profiling to target vulnerable teenagers with commercial offers.

      Google was caught out last week tracking Android users even when they’re not supposed to.

    • CBP Reveals How Agents Implement New Policy Not to Access Cloud Content

      President Trump’s nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Kevin McAleenan, revealed during his confirmation process how the agency implements its new policy not to access cloud content during border searches of digital devices.

      In response to written questions for the record submitted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. McAleenan explained that in accordance with CBP’s new policy to access only information that is “physically resident” on a device, border agents must “ensure that network connectivity is disabled to limit access to remote systems” (page 92).

      While Mr. McAleenan did not provide details, disabling network connectivity can mean a few things, such as putting a phone or other device into “airplane mode,” or individually toggling off cellular data and Wi-Fi. It could also mean making sure a laptop is not connected to an Ethernet cable, or bringing a device into a SCIF-type room that blocks electromagnetic signals.

    • Facebook rolls out AI to detect suicidal posts before they’re reported

      This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.

      Facebook previously tested using AI to detect troubling posts and more prominently surface suicide reporting options to friends in the U.S. Now Facebook is will scour all types of content around the world with this AI, except in the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation privacy laws on profiling users based on sensitive information complicate the use of this tech.

    • Ex-Facebook Engineer Creates Wikipedia Dark Web Version

      Wikipedia, the internet’s free encyclopedia is accessible on the dark web. But, it isn’t track-proof as the traffic has to go outside the boundaries of the Tor network.

      Now, we have an unofficial dark web version that can help netizens use Wikipedia without someone spying on them–thanks to the ex-Facebook engineer Alec Muffet who has worked on a personal project and is the first to create the specially crafted onion website.

    • Judge Tosses Long-Running Section 215 Surveillance Lawsuit

      A federal judge has issued the final word in one long-running dragnet surveillance suit. The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman immediately after the first Snowden leak, alleged the Section 215 phone records program — targeting Verizon Business customers according to the leaked document — was unconstitutional. DC district court judge Richard Leon agreed, issuing an injunction in December 2013 demanding a cessation of the Section 215 dragnet.

      This order was immediately stayed to allow the government to appeal (and to continue harvesting domestic phone records in bulk). The Appeals Court disagreed with Leon, sending the case back for another ruling. It didn’t change anything at the lower level. Judge Leon still found the program unconstitutional and ordered the NSA to stop collecting the phone records of the two named plaintiffs.

    • FBI Leaves It To Journalists To Notify US Government Targets Of Russian Hacking

      The last year-and-a-half has provided plenty of evidence that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, most of the evidence confirming this has been delivered by entities outside the US government. The government has released reports but has omitted plenty of key details.

      This hasn’t done much for those affected by Russia’s efforts. In almost every case, individuals targeted by Russian government-directed hacking entity Fancy Bear were made aware of this by journalists, not the FBI, despite the fact both had access to the same evidence.

    • Who Was the NSA Contractor Arrested for Leaking the ‘Shadow Brokers’ Hacking Tools?

      In August 2016, a mysterious entity calling itself “The Shadow Brokers” began releasing the first of several troves of classified documents and hacking tools purportedly stolen from “The Equation Group,” a highly advanced threat actor that is suspected of having ties to the U.S. National Security Agency. According to media reports, at least some of the information was stolen from the computer of an unidentified software developer and NSA contractor who was arrested in 2015 after taking the hacking tools home. In this post, we’ll examine clues left behind in the leaked Equation Group documents that may point to the identity of the mysterious software developer.

    • Is There a Mole at the NSA, or Is It Russian Disinformation?

      Back in March, we speculated that the point behind the Russian hacks and Wikileaks document dumps during the 2016 election was to create a mole hunt in our intelligence agencies. There now are indications that our speculation was spot on.

      The New York Times recently reported that, largely as a result of Wikileaks and the publication of other documents, the National Security Agency (NSA) is in the midst of a mole hunt.That report also tends to confirm speculation which we have privately heard from people in the intelligence community: that Russia may have multiple sources within the NSA that are supplying it with some of our most closely guarded secrets.

    • Aadhaar now mandatory for Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana

      [...] Aadhaar has been made mandatory for getting benefits under the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) pension scheme, according to a notification by the finance ministry on November 20.

    • Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers

      Congress will return from its weeklong Thanksgiving break facing a rapidly-shrinking timeline to reform and renew an authority the intelligence community says is critical to identifying and disrupting terrorist plots.

      The key piece of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as Section 702 and passed in 2008, is set to expire at the end of the year. It allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect the texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant — even when the subjects communicate with Americans in the U.S.

      Throughout the fall, privacy advocates on Capitol Hill pushed for changes to the law to curtail what critics say is a violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections — a push that seemed to gain some momentum despite the objections of the Trump administration.

    • Why Tencent Could Become an Advertising Powerhouse Like Facebook

      Tencent is counting on its user data — from the music people play, the news they read and the places they go — to deliver targeted commercials and capture a bigger share of China’s 350 billion yuan ($53 billion) online advertising market. Success in games and social media has meant the company hasn’t had to rely on ads, a business that generates just 17 percent of its revenue compared with 97 percent for Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Police tell one story of what happened in Barangay 19. Security cameras tell another.

      The police report was clear. Anti-drug officers shot and injured three men in this poor district of the Philippine capital, then “rushed” them to hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival.

      But security camera footage obtained by Reuters tells a different story of what happened just after midday on October 11 in Barangay (district) 19. It shows that police took at least 25 minutes to haul away the men they had shot. The victims show no signs of life; police are seen carrying them by their arms and legs and loading their limp bodies onto pedicabs to take them to hospital.

      The footage casts new doubts on the official accounts of police killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s 17-month war on drugs.

    • Why We Had to Buy Racist, Sexist, Xenophobic, Ableist, and Otherwise Awful Facebook Ads

      Were these actual ads? No. And as someone who’s spent the past month on a New York City apartment hunt, I’m pretty confident that no one would mistake our “real estate company” for an actual brokerage.

      But here’s the question: could they have been real? Yes — and our ability to limit the audience by race, religion, and gender — among other legally protected attributes — points to the same problem my colleagues Terry Parris Jr. and Julia Angwin reported out a year ago, exciting much outrage from people who care about fixing discriminatory housing practices.

    • Libya “Chose” Freedom, Now It Has Slavery

      NATO’s military intervention in Libya in 2011 has justifiably earned its place in history as an indictment of Western foreign policy and a military alliance which since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been deployed as the sword of this foreign policy. The destruction of Libya will forever be an indelible stain on the reputations of those countries and leaders responsible.

      But now, with the revelation that people are being sold as slaves in Libya (yes, you read that right. In 2017 the slave trade is alive and kicking Libya), the cataclysmic disaster to befall the country has been compounded to the point where it is hard to conceive of it ever being able to recover – and certainly not anywhere near its former status as a high development country, as the UN labelled Libya 2010 a year prior to the ‘revolution’.

      Back in 2011 it was simply inconceivable that the UK, the US and France would ignore the lessons of Iraq, just nine years previously in 2003. Yet ignore them they did, highlighting their rapacious obsession with maintaining hegemony over a region that sits atop an ocean of oil, despite the human cost and legacy of disaster and chaos which this particular obsession has wrought.

    • House Intel Committee to Subpoena Leftist Comedian and Civil Rights Activist Randy Credico in Russia Investigation

      The House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation has taken an unexpected turn, with investigators homing in on a New York City-based comedian and veteran civil rights activist named Randy Credico. Credico received a letter this month from Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Michael Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation. The lawmakers requested that Credico “participate in a voluntary, transcribed interview at the Committee’s offices” during the first half of December.

      Credico informed the House committee through his legal counsel that he would not submit to the voluntary interview. Soon after, his lawyer informed him that the committee planned to issue a subpoena to compel his presence.

      Credico is among the unlikeliest characters to have surfaced as a player in the ongoing Russiagate drama. For over two decades, he split time as a comedy professional while waging a tireless crusade against the war on drugs. The former host of a radio show on the Pacifica affiliate WBAI, Credico’s activism eventually brought him into the company of a who’s who of political dissidents. The most prominent among them was Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder accused by CIA Director Mike Pompeo of overseeing a “hostile intelligence service” and by Hillary Clinton of having collaborated with the Russian government to subvert the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

    • Support Lauri Love, Computer Expert and Activist, Who Faces Extradition to the US in a Life-Threatening Betrayal of Justice

      This Wednesday and Thursday, November 29 and 30, a hearing is taking place at the High Court in London to assess whether Lauri Love, a computer expert with Asperger’s Syndrome, should be extradited to the US for acts of online activism — allegedly targeting US government websites in the wake of the suicide of computer expert and activist Aaron Swartz in January 2013, along with many other online activists.

      There is no evidence that any harm was caused in the US, Lauri has never set foot in the US, the British government has brought no case against him in the UK, and yet, under the terms of the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty, the US is able to demand that he be sent to the US to be imprisoned (in isolation in a maximum-security prison) and subsequently tried (in a broken, punitive system in which huge pressure is exerted to accept a plea deal and a 10-20 year sentence rather than fight and lose and be imprisoned for life). Worryingly, Lauri Love has been openly stating that he could not bear punitive isolation in the US, and would kill himself rather than be extradited, and those closest to him do not dispute this intent.

      I have some experience of the chronic unfairness of the US-UK Extradition Treaty, because, back in 2012, I worked to oppose the injustice of the treaty with reference to the cases of Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad, who ended up being extradited in relation to a UK website encouraging Muslim resistance to oppression, which was run from the UK, but had, at one point, involved a server in Connecticut — enough, apparently, for extradition to take place.

      Both men had been imprisoned for six and eight years respectively in the UK, without charge or trial, while they resisted extradition, and in neither case was there any sign that they would or could have been successfully prosecuted in the UK, but in October 2012 home secretary Theresa May allowed their extradition to take place, and then boasted about it to the Conservative Party Conference.

    • My partner Lauri Love could be saving the world from cyber attacks but instead he faces a 99-year prison sentence

      Lauri Love is an activist, a physicist, a computer scientist, an angel and the person I want to spend my life with. He is stubborn and smart, near to the point of arrogance, and he fights every battle he can against injustice. Next week Lauri will be in court appealing against extradition to the United States where he faces a 99-year prison sentence on allegations British authorities investigated and decided not to charge him for.

      Lauri is a much nicer person than I am and he is a much more positive and hopeful person. Where I see climate destruction and oppressive regimes, he sees opportunities to overcome. His hacker mind is hard-wired to solve problems and this world has many.

    • Sheriff Says He Won’t Deploy Body Cameras Because He Doesn’t Want His Deputies Criticized

      Something’s very wrong with Albuquerque-area law enforcement. The Albuquerque Police Department has been described as a “criminal enterprise.” These words didn’t come from an activist group or an enraged op-ed in the local paper, but rather from a departing District Attorney in a letter to the DOJ.

      The DOJ is at least partially aware of the Albuquerque PD’s criminal activities. Its 2014 investigation concluded APD officers routinely engaged in indiscriminate force deployment. Worse, those above the officers did almost nothing to curb misconduct and brutality. Beyond shooting citizens at an alarming rate, APD officers were found to be tampering with camera footage — an accusation brought by a private employee of the department in an affidavit presented to a judge.

      It seems the APD isn’t the only law enforcement agency in the Albuquerque area prone to unchecked acts of violence. Nor is it the only one actively disinterested in any form of accountability. In the last four months, the Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department deputies have shot nine people. One deputy — Charles Coggins — shot two people in 22 days, killing one of them.

    • A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

      The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

      But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

    • Trump and Sessions Keep Trying to Institute Anti-Immigrant Policies

      Since taking office, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been trying illegally to strong-arm law enforcement agencies across the country into colluding with the Department of Homeland Security’s mass deportation agenda. But the courts have blocked them every step of the way.

      President Trump took his first shot across the bow just a few days after inauguration. A single provision buried in Executive Order 13768 threatened to cut off all federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities. The provision was broad and undefined. It appeared to target jurisdictions that have adopted a range of lawful and sensible law-enforcement policies.

      A federal court in California quickly put the executive order’s provision on hold. And last Monday, after months of hearings, the court permanently blocked the unconstitutional provision, ruling that it violated separation of powers, the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and the Tenth Amendment. The court also ruled that the provision was unconstitutionally vague. The judge in the case wrote that “[f]ederal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.” The government has appealed this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but for the time being, the president cannot carry out his threat.

    • EFF at Cyberspace Events in Delhi: Protecting the Public Core of the Internet

      Last week EFF attended the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) in New Delhi, India, as one of a small handful of nonprofit organizations invited to participate. This was the fifth in a series of conferences sometimes called the London Process, after the first event that was held in London in 2011. Focusing on international cybersecurity issues, it is a counterpart to other regular government-organized Internet conferences, such as the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) conference which focuses on Internet freedom and human rights, China’s World Internet Conference which focuses on the digital economy, and the International Telecommunications Union’s WSIS Forum which tracks Internet for development goals.

    • Tech Ageism and the Myth of the ‘Digital Native’

      When we think of the term ageism in the IT sector, we generally think of how employers and project managers will systematically or casually discriminate against individuals simply on the basis of their age.

    • Without Public Editor, NYT Ducks and Dismisses Criticism of Its Sympathetic Nazi Profile

      This past June, when the New York Times unceremoniously killed off its public editor position, publisher Arthur Sulzberger tried mightily to characterize the move as addition by subtraction. In a newsroom memo, he promised that a newly created “Reader Center” would make the paper’s reporting “more transparent” and its journalists “more responsive.” As FAIR (6/1/17) noted at the time, these excuses were disingenuous “rationalizations, not legitimate rationales,” and were more likely to make the paper less accountable and transparent in the long run. And this past weekend proved these fears were well-justified.

      It started on Saturday, when the Times (11/25/17) ran a naive, normalizing profile of a Nazi sympathizer from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. Almost immediately, the paper (rightly) faced outraged comments online, as serious critiques of the piece’s flawed framing rolled in. As @magi_jay wrote in a detailed Twitter thread: “The Times failed in many respects, but, above all, they failed by enthusiastically allowing [Tony] Horvater to drive the narrative of his own white supremacy.”

    • Woman reports rape to police – and is arrested on immigration charges

      A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.

      The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police.

      The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Why we should be wary of ending net neutrality

      Buried in the same news dump ahead of the national holiday were further liberalisation rules for media ownership including a limit on how many homes in the US a single broadcaster can reach. At the moment the cap is set at 39%, but the FCC has indicated it might revise or scrap that limitation entirely. A second measure would also allow TV stations to use different frequency channels that count less against this overall cap on broadcasting reach.

    • Portugal’s Internet shows us a world without net neutrality, and it’s ugly

      After paying a fee for basic service, subscribers can add any of five further options for about $6 per month, allowing an additional 10GB data allotment for the apps within the options: a “messaging” tier, which covers such services as instant messaging, Apple FaceTime, and Skype; “social,” with liberal access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and so on; “video” (youTube, Netflix, etc.); “email and cloud” (Gmail, Apple’s iCloud); or “music” (Spotify, Pandora).

      Portugal isn’t the only country allowing tiering of internet services. In Britain, the internet service provider Vodaphone charges about $33 a month for basic service but offers several “passes” allowing unlimited video or music streaming, social media usage, or chat, at additional tariffs of up to $9.30 per month.

      Although both countries are part of the European Union, which has an explicit commitment to network neutrality, these arrangements are allowed under provisions giving national regulators some flexibility. These regulators can open loopholes permitting “zero-rating,” through which ISPs can exclude certain services from data caps. That’s what the Portuguese and British ISPs essentially are doing.

    • Net neutrality’s opponents are speaking up — especially tech giants

      The letter added, “An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.”

    • Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality

      But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire [I]nternet ecosystem.

    • Arrogant overreach: Ajit Pai’s plan to totally destroy net neutrality may doom him in court

      If Trump FCC chairman Ajit Pai had confined his attack on Net Neutrality to merely rolling back the 2015 Title II rules, he might have gotten away with it; but like the Republic plan to kill Obamacare, the Republican plan to rob the middle class to enrich billionaires, and, well, every other Republican plan in this administration, Pai’s plan is so grotesque, so overreaching, so nakedly corrupt that it is likely to collapse under its own weight.

      That’s because the Supreme Court has held that a federal agency contemplating a significant change in policy must “examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action.” But there are no new facts in evidence since the first Net Neutrality rules were enacted in 2004 to justify a change. We don’t know what evidence Pai will bring to court when it comes time to fight his plans, but the cards he’s played so far are hilariously weak: for example, he claims that the 2015 Title II rule led to a decrease in infrastructure investment by telcos. In fact, the telcos’ own filings and investor calls reveal that the reverse is true (Pai is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own fact).

    • Fake Americans Dominated the Net-Neutrality Debate

      Americans do not want internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon controlling what websites they can see, or how quickly they can load them. When pollsters ask U.S. voters whether they support net neutrality — regulations that require ISPs to treat all web traffic equally — a large bipartisan majority answers in the affirmative.

      Among Americans who care deeply about the issue, support for net neutrality is even more overwhelming. When the Federal Communications Commission considered unwinding those regulations in 2015, so many Americans posted pro-net-neutrality messages to the FCC’s webpage for public comments, the site crashed.

      The ISPs, however, are quite keen on accruing more power to curate your internet experience (a.k.a. extort content creators into paying for competitive broadband speeds). And the Trump administration’s regulatory philosophy is, ostensibly, that powerful corporations should be able to do whatever unpopular thing they want (so long as they purchase an indulgence from a Republican campaign committee).

    • Net Neutrality is necessary regulation as a short-term emergency fix to previous bad regulation

      Net Neutrality is a huge topic, again. But it’s important to realize that Net Neutrality is mostly being discussed in the United States — not because it is ahead, but because it is behind. In countries where fiber is the norm to households and they typically have 15-20 ISPs to choose from, Net Neutrality is so taken for granted, it is not a discussion at all.

    • Ajit Pai’s Big Lie

      You might think that the “Big Lie” is the idea that the 2015 rules killed investment. And that is a lie. Actual evidence from financial reports has proven that completely false repeatedly. But, that’s a smaller lie here. Ajit Pai’s Big Lie is the idea that gutting all net neutrality protections is somehow returning FCC policy to the way things were two years ago, and that “for decades” the FCC kept out of this debate. All of that is wrong. And, unlike the other lie concerning investment — where Pai and others can fiddle with numbers to make his claims look right — Ajit Pai knows that the Big Lie is false.

      Pai likes to point back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as his starting point in claiming that the internet is free from regulations, and suggests that things just changed with the 2015 FCC order. But he literally knows this is wrong. First of all, for all his talk of using 1996 as the starting date to show “decades” of supposedly unchanged FCC positions on this, he conveniently leaves out that the FCC didn’t actually classify cable broadband as an information service… until 2002. That’s from the FCC’s own announcement about it. And this was fought out in court, eventually leading to the Brand X Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that said the FCC had the right to determine if broadband was an information service or a telco service (which is why the 2015 order has been upheld).

    • NY Attorney General Investigating Why Dead People Supported The FCC’s Attack On Net Neutrality

      So as we’ve been noting for a while, the FCC’s policy order taking aim at net neutrality has been rife with all kinds of bizarre and fraudulent behavior, from the agency’s made up DDOS attack (apparently a ham-fisted PR attempt to downplay the “John Oliver effect”) to the numerous fake or otherwise dead people that have oddly supported the agency’s unpopular plan in the FCC’s comment proceeding. It’s clear the FCC’s plan is extremely unpopular, and it’s also clear the agency, ISPs and some policy groups have engaged in some extremely dodgy behavior to try and downplay that fact.

      The GAO is already investigating the FCC’s bogus DDOS claims, and the FCC is already being sued for turning a blind eye to the problem and ignoring FOIA requests. The fraudulent comments by fake or otherwise non-breathing individuals will surely play a starring role in the inevitable lawsuits against the agency. If evidence is found that the FCC violated procedural norms (or hey, the law), it could help to reverse the agency’s myopic and unpopular hand out to the nation’s telecom duopolies.

    • Breitbart, Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange, and Trump’s Right-Wing Base Reject Plan to Axe Net Neutrality
    • The FCC is about to repeal net neutrality. Here’s why Congress should stop them.

      On Wednesday November 22, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai published his draft order outlining his plan to undo the net neutrality protections that have been in place in the U.S. since the beginning of the Internet. His proposal would leave both the FCC and the states powerless to protect consumers and businesses against net neutrality violations by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon that connect us to the Internet.
      His plan discards decades of careful work by FCC chairs of both political parties, who recognized and acted against the danger ISPs posed to the free markets that rose out of and depend on the Internet. If his plan takes effect, ISPs would be free to disrupt how the Internet has worked for 30 years.

    • A Lump of Coal in the Internet’s Stocking: FCC Poised to Gut Net Neutrality Rules

      In a new proposal issued last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set out a plan to eliminate net neutrality protections, ignoring the voices of millions of Internet users who weighed in to support those protections. The new rule would reclassify high-speed broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service” (remember, the FCC is forbidden from imposing neutrality obligations on information services). It would then eliminate the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and pay-to-play (as well as the more nebulous general conduct standard) in favor of a simplistic transparency requirement. In other words, your ISP would be free to set itself up as an Internet gatekeeper, as long as it is honest about it.

    • Comcast Spent Millions Repealing Net Neutrality, Now Wants You To Believe It Won’t Take Full, Brutal Advantage

      Despite the nation’s biggest ISP and cable company having spent millions of dollars and lobbying man hours on repealing broadband privacy rules and soon net neutrality protections, executives at the least-liked company in America hope you’re dumb enough to believe they won’t be taking full advantage.

      Comcast has spent months now falsely claiming that it will still adhere to “net neutrality” once the FCC’s rules are gutted by Ajit Pai. But the company’s pet definition of net neutrality is so narrow as to be effectively meaningless. For example, last week as the FCC was trying to hide its obvious handout to telecom duopolies behind the cranberry and stuffing, Comcast issued a tweet again insisting that you can trust them to be on their best behavior despite the fact there will soon be no meaningful rules holding their feet to the fire

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA Opposes Trademark Application For Dog-Walking Company Called Woof-Tang Clan

        The last time we mentioned the Wu-Tang Clan here at Techdirt, we were discussing the group’s bizarre yet inventive attempt to curtail digital music’s infinite goods problem by releasing a single copy of an entire album for $1 million. It was a creative approach, though one that likely isn’t a model that transfers well to the music industry as a whole. But it seems that the copyright arena isn’t the only intellectual property venue in which Wu-Tang wants to play, as RZA, a member of the group, has filed a trademark opposition to a dog-walking company calling itself Woof-Tang Clan.

        [...]

        All that’s left of Wu-Tang Clan is the name https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20171122/10384838670/wu-tang-clans-rza-opposes-trademark-application-dog-walking-company-called-woof-tang-clan.shtml they had some good tracks (in the 90s)

    • Copyrights
      • Out of Office #15 ‘EU copyright reform: where are we now?’

        We are happy to invite you to the 15th edition of Out of Office on 8 December 2017 from 17:00 to 19:00 at Spring House. During this Out of Office we will reflect with Ms Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament, on the recent developments concerning the ongoing copyright reform in Europe. Come and join us in search of new insights, encounters and inspiration, while enjoying music, drinks and snacks!

        Julia Reda is Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group and a co-founder for the Parliament’s current Digital Agenda intergroup. She is an advocate for a free Europe with open borders, open communication structures and the relaxation and harmonisation of copyright laws. Reda will share her thoughts on the ongoing copyright reform and whether progress has been made since the DSM Directive (more info below) was proposed by the European Commission.

      • Rightscorp: Revenue From Piracy Settlements Down 48% in 2017

        Anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has filed its latest set of financial results and they reveal yet more misery for the company. Its traditional revenue stream, comprised of cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates, is down 48% on the same period last year. This contributes to the company turning in net losses of $1.45 million for the first nine months of the year. But could value lie elsewhere?

      • Dropbox collaboration: ‘World-first’ as University of Sydney goes all in for all

        The first university in the world to deploy Dropbox wall-to-wall in what is a multi-million dollar, 67,000-user agreement and deal “to power greater collaboration” is the University of Sydney.

      • Court: Accused Pirate Doesn’t Have to ‘Spy’ on Family Members

        A German court has ruled that a man, whose Internet connection was used to share pirated films, cannot be required to ‘spy’ on his family members. The law firm representing the Internet subscriber stresses that these kinds of investigations violate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which protects respect for private and family life.

With Oil States Case Heard in the US Supreme Court, a New Justice’s (Neil Gorsuch) Positions on Patents Expressed

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 10:32:05 AM

Related: National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform


Reference: Neil Gorsuch

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is being decided on at the highest level (US Supreme Court) and the new arrival at the court weighs in on the subject, based on reporting and transcript from inside the court (the case officially began yesterday)

TODAY’S US Supreme Court is pro-patent reform. We have seen many decisions to that effect, especially in recent years, and with Scalia’s death we have a Trump nominee/appointee added to the mix. Not much is known about him as far as patents go, so people are left to mostly speculate/interpolate based on past judgments.

Oil States (a PTAB case dealing with the abilities, such as inter partes reviews, to thwart or ‘steal’ so-called ‘property’ like patents) officially began yesterday as far as hearings go. There’s no set deadline for this case’s decision, but it is not imminent.

The corporate media (even in London) took note of it yesterday and so did Wall Street media. The coverage, however, isn’t exactly great. It’s not too accurate and may sometimes seem one-sided. Susan Decker’s premise, for example (one she put right in her headline), is an old and famous lie. It says that PTAB controversy is about “tech versus pharma” rather patent trolls/lawyers (with low-quality patents) versus the rest of us. We recently saw this same falsehood disseminated by the corporate media of London [1, 2], which the EPO had incidentally paid. To quote Decker:

Tech companies like Google and Apple Inc. cheered in 2011 when Congress created a review system for deciding whether the federal agency that issues patents is getting it wrong.

Thousands of invalidated patents later, the Supreme Court is considering whether Congress got it wrong.

The high court hears arguments Monday on whether to put a halt to a system that lets companies go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to challenge patents rather than relying only on courts. It’s designed to be a low-cost alternative to lawsuits, and the review system is popular with tech companies and retailers that get sued often by patent owners.

Critics call the review board a “death squad” because it uses a different legal standard than courts and is more likely to cancel a patent. Drugmakers such as AbbVie Inc., which rely on patents to fend off competitors, say the system violates their constitutional right to a jury trial.

The misleading and offensive term “death squad” (comparing judges on patent matters to executioners) is believed to have come from a disgraced/corrupt judge, Mr. Rader. Why does the media keep repeating this term? Decker even put it right inside her headline (“Patent ‘Death Squad’ Pitting Tech and Pharma Heads to Supreme Court”).

Do we want a serious debate about this? One in which patents don’t get “killed” or “survive”? One in which patents are not being called “property” which is “owned” or whatever? The article was composed using the terminology of the patent ‘industry’. It impacts the readers’ (mis)understanding of the subject at hand.

Looking directly at blogs of the patent ‘industry’, we are starting to see clues about where the hearings are going. The patent ‘industry’ will attempt “trial by media”, so we need to watch and counter any falsehoods. According to Patently-O, finally we can see where Gorsuch stands on patents (he is relatively young and has no prior experience in this area). He said: “[W]e have a number of cases that have arguably addressed this issue already, like McCormick, for example, in which this Court said the only authority competent to set a patent aside or to annul it or to correct it for any reason whatever is vested in the courts of the United States.”

Well, PTAB is a bit like a court, in a similar sense that BoA at the EPO has the authority to deliver enforceable decisions. PTAB has a chief judge, just like BoA has various technical judges. So what’s the issue? Gorsuch should know that the issue at stake here is whether the government can, in general, regard patents to be “property” and then assert that it can violate so-called ‘property’ ‘rights’ (patents are neither, contrary to how Patently-O tries to spin it).

Patently-O has also just published this reasonably long article from Dmitry Karshtedt, who concluded as follows (with highlight on Gorsuch):

Returning to the public-private rights debate, Chief Justice Roberts discussed the Schor test and whether the multi-factor analysis of Schor is conducive to investment backed-expectations. Mr. Stewart contended that, whatever the test, PTAB adjudicates private rights because liability for past money damages are not involved. The question then came up whether the PTAB can adjudicate infringement, to which Mr. Stewart responded that probably not because money damages are involved. Justice Gorsuch then asked whether the PTAB can perhaps declare non-infringement, to which Mr. Stewart responded that there is no tradition of the PTO’s making that determination. Justice Gorsuch asked about the PTO’s tradition of cancelling patents, and Mr. Stewart’s response was that the issue is really about deciding patentability, which the PTO has been doing since 1836.

In rebuttal, Ms. Ho reiterated her point that Congress cannot condition a grant of a patent on taking away litigants’ structural rights and reinforced the point that appeals are not a sufficient form of Article III supervision. She ended with the point that, again, IPRs resolve disputes between two private parties.

There’s so much spin there and the problem is often ill-defined. They try to assert that patents are a “property” (they are not) and that determining patentability is equivalent to verifying one’s guilt in a scene of a crime. That’s nonsense!

In the USPTO, based on another new article, PTAB says it “will not place the burden of persuasion on a patent owner [sic] with respect to the patentability” and instead leave petitioners/challengers to do so. To quote what is outside the paywall:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board confirms that In light of the Aqua Products decision it will not place the burden of persuasion on a patent owner with respect to the patentability of substitute claims presented in a motion to amend

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has released guidance in light of the Federal Circuit’s en banc Aqua Products opinion.

The very concept of amending patents that have already been granted seems odd to us. Once a patent has been granted, it is what it is. It can then either be defended or invalidated, not edited. In any event, PTAB bashers will throw at PTAB anything they can in an attempt to discredit it and thus influence the judges, especially Justices.

Pressure is Growing for Christoph Ernst to Stop Destruction of Career System Ahead of Arrival of Campinos as EPO President

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 08:58:51 AM

Campinos is coming within 7 months, but will much talent be left to welcome him?

Summary: As one last ‘gift’ from Battistelli, EPO examiners are put closer to the door (exit) and in order for Campinos to have any prospects of saving the EPO the Council led by Christoph Ernst must stop it

A COUPLE of news sites have already written about the new “career system” (which is anything but, for it actively eliminates careers). Yesterday afternoon Dugie Standeford from IP Watch wrote about it as well. He later changed his headline (“More Patent Grants” became “More Productivity” later in the day) and here are some excepts:

Fear is a “real factor,” as numerous staff members are being investigated and disciplined, he said.

Another problem is that training for new examiners has decreased in quality compared with 10 years ago, the source said. The past system was based on seeking to recruit the very best applicants with the highest skills for this specific job, who speak several languages and have a desire to serve the public, he said. New recruits are placed on time-limited contracts that require them to learn their jobs in one year, and are given production targets that are far too high for newcomers so soon after recruitment, he said. Examiners who aren’t fully trained in the need for thorough prior art searches can’t do them properly, he said, adding that makes patent quality the “elephant in the room.”

The chronic state of pressure means staff members feel unwell; and staff surveys organised by the employee representatives and a consultant in the field of psycho-social risks at work show significant deterioration in morale and health, said the source.

[...]

Campinos is still many months from taking office. In a 23 October letter to Campinos (available here), USF said it and its affiliated SUEPO branches are “looking forward to substantial improvements especially on social dialogue, rule-of-law and employment stability issues during your mandate.”

In a 3 November response (also available on Kluwer Patent Blog), Campinos wrote: “In the different managerial positions on my career path, and especially in my current tenure as Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, I have always prioritised human resources matters and have developed an open and fruitful relationship with the representatives of the staff and their associations. In this sense, I look forward to continuing the cooperation between the EPO and the Union Syndicale Fédérale once I take up my duties as president of the European Patent Office next year.”

EPSU’s Goudriaan said he read Campinos’ statement “as a start of a more constructive dialogue in which the issues that have been raised by the staff and their union can be addressed and dealt with. There are quite a few and you have inherited a rather unfortunate situation which included a hostile approach towards the union and its delegates.”

The way things are currently going, we are growingly pessimistic about any prospects of a turnaround under Campinos. There will be nothing left for him to save if this brain drain continues and quality of EPs declines this low, populating the pool of EPs with so many dubious patents. The system is being flooded with patents that are granted too quickly by people who are decreasingly experienced. This is a recipe for disaster.

What makes us ever more concerned about brain drain is the plan of making staff more sackable, or simply out of work by virtue of a contract expiring. Sent 5 days ago was this letter [PDF] that SUEPO describes as a “[l]etter from the European Public Service Union to Mr. Christoph Ernst, Chair of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office.”

Here is the full text:

Ref : JWG/cb
Brussels, 23 November 2017
Chair person of the Administrative Council of the
European Patent Office

Mr. Christoph ERNST
ernst-ch@bmjv.bund.de
council_secretary@epo.org
Subject: Employment Framework at EPO

Dear Mr. Ernst,

We have been informed by our colleagues of USF, our affiliate in the European institutions, agencies andinternational organisations, that the current management of EPO has proposed the introduction of a new Employment Framework. This framework would recruit EPO staff on the basis of fixed-term contracts. This is again a proposal that is not discussed and negotiated with the unions. It increases precariousness, insecurity and has negative consequences for the well-being of workers. Employers and unions as well as the European Commission and Member States have committed to fight against precariousness and have high standards regarding health and safety of workers. This was recently confirmed again by the EU social summit in Gothenburg and the EU pillar of social rights signed there.

A new employment framework that takes into account the needs of workers, their rights and improves health and safety and well-being, and at the same time seeks to strengthen the work of EPO might well be worthwhile. This is best done through social dialogue and negotiations rather than impose precariousness.

As a Federation with affiliates across Europe and including in public administrations and agencies (8 million members in 260 affiliated unions) we find the proposed model of putting workers on fixed term contracts dubious. It increases the risks of corruption, of revolving doors and of mixed interests. This undermines EPO as part of the European public service in which people in Europe can have confidence for its expertise, high standards and independence. It might make it even more difficult to ensure a geographically well-balanced organization.

We ask you and the EPO Council therefore not to adopt this framework.

On a more personal note: introducing such a comprehensive reform just before the new Director Mr. Campinos takes office smells of bad administration, and frankly of cynicism. It makes the work of Mr. Campinos more difficult to have a proper social dialogue almost setting him up for failure. We look forward to your answer. As previous correspondence has not always been answered, I would appreciate if you can inform us of the standards for response to letters. Those of the European Commission (response within 20 days) seem reasonable as the European Ombudsman has indicated.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Willem Goudriaan
EPSU General Secretary

cc. Commissioner Thyssen cab-thyssen@ec.europa.eu; Agnes Jongerius (MEP) agnes.jongerius@europarl.europa.eu ,
Mr. Battistelli council@epo.org , USF usf@unionsyndicale.eu Bernd.Loescher@consilium.europa.eu

So they too have noticed the changes or spoke to SUEPO about these. It’s not hard to see the writings on the wall. Will Dr. Ernst see these too? Certainly he’s smart enough to know what is happening, so the question is, will he care? There are many comments being posted about him right now. It’s based on a JUVE interview. We wrote about this interview twice before (on Saturday and on Sunday). The comments were recommended by SUEPO, which said: “We strongly suggest you to read also the comment section!”

If SUEPO recommends these, then they must be good. People rightly point out Ernst’s hypocrisy or opportunism:

Well, for years Christoph Ernst was head of the German delegation to the Administrative Council of the EPO. Did he there oppose any of the controversial measures pushed through by Battistelli, including various attacks against union members, or any of the series of AC decisions which stroke a – probably – fatal blow to the independence of the Boards of Appeal?

The Boards of Appeal are grossly understaffed and have already lost a judge whom Battistelli illegally attacked, then defamed.

As we noted earlier this morning, Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić continue to bully this judge. If Christoph Ernst wanted to put an end to all this, he probably could, but he uses evasive language in his JUVE interview. He is just slightly better than Jesper Kongstad in that regard, but both are complicit by inaction (Kongstad previously became complicit in this case by taking action against the judge, requesting his removal).

See why the EPO is in such a sordid mess? Everyone’s hands (at the top) are dirty and people just use one dirty hand to wipe another, then save face (otherwise they would actually touch their face and the dirt become frontally visible).

The second comment is very long and informative:

It is a bit easy to complain about the present president a few months before he leaves.

For a start I doubt very much that the present tenant of the 10th floor has strengthened the position of the EPO. I even have strong doubts. Future will tell if the patents granted in last five years will have the same resiliency as those before he started his crusade against staff. That things could and even should change at the EPO is not part of the debate. What is however tragic and should not have happened is the way things have been made to change. It boils down to consider that EPO staff was a lazy bunch which only deserved a kick somewhere. This is the idea with which the present president came to the EPO. In this endeavour he got all the support from the AC, and Mr Ernst is not a member of the AC since last year.

Mr Ernst did not oppose a lot of the amendments introduced in the staff regulations. he positively voted much of them, even when other big countries were much more reserved on the issue. He did oppose a few, and as far as is known, the changes in status of the Boards of Appeal. But not much more.

Mr Ernst would be more credible now, had he requested systematically a vote with a qualified majority. This would have avoided that when voting over some very important changes, that the votes of some small countries to have a much higher weight than they actually deserve. I have nothing against small countries, but the tenant of the 10th floor knows how to make small countries vote his way. And this not with his own money, but that of the users of the system.

When one sees for instance, that the changes for the Boards, especially sending them to Haar in order to improve the perception of their independence (sic), were voted mainly by countries having hardly an application going at the EPO, one wonders whether he was as concerned at the time as he makes out now. In spite of what Mr Ernst claims, the Boards of Appeal have not gained in independence. In order to receive a further 5 year contract, a member must have produced enough. In which judiciary system is the continuation of the work as judge subjected to quantitative constraints? In the past the Praesidium of the Boards could propose its rules of procedure. Nowadays, it is heard, but the rules of procedure are decided by the Boards of Appeal Committee. I could go on.

When looking at what happened in the AC, it was at least for the last 5 years the tail wagging the dog. The president was controlling the AC and not the AC controlling the president. Let’s see if Mr Ernst has the real will and power to revert to the former situation. In older times it even happened that the AC refused to accept the budget of the president…..

The first exercise when Mr Ernst can show whether he wants the Council to control the Office and not the other way round, is whether the present tenant of the 10th floor will manage to get the most stupid reform he thought off through: 5 years contracts for examiners as off 01.01.2018.

If Mr Ernst, and other members of the Administrative Council of the EPO wants an organisation which is not just a bunch of mercenaries for a short length of time, but rather wants a perennial organisation, the AC will have to oppose strongly such a move. If this move is approved 6 months before the arrival of a new president, then it is not only to despair from the AC and its members, but it will also be a blow in the face of the incoming president.

If people stay for 5 or 10 years, then there is clearly no chance that they get involved in union matters or the like. But is then the EPO still in a position to deliver the quality of work which has made its reputation?

When the Principal Directors began to get 5 years contracts, the effect was clearly to be seen. From 3 ½ years onwards, the thought was only: what can I do to get my renewal? This is the best way to stifle critics, but the damages brought about through the attitude “Yes prime minister”, leads in general to a cultural collapse. Is this the future the member states wish to the EPO? Then they will be killing the cash cow.

Let’s hope Mr Ernst realises well the immense responsibility he has taken over, and that he will bring back to the institution the urgently needed peace and quiet.

The next couple of comments say:

So, Herr Ernst sees a need for improvement in the “social culture” prevailing under President Battistelli at the EPO. I suppose the AC’s lengthy complicity in the culture of Battistelli leaves Herr Ernst unable to call it how it really is, in the area of employee relations at the EPO. Ever the optimist, I will suppose that Herr Ernst well knows already, and here is alluding to, Team Battistelli’s utter contempt for what we in Europe are most proud of, namely, due process, a fair trial and The Rule of Law. That, gentle readers, is a disgrace, an embarrassment for Western European civilisation and social values. The sooner M. Battistelli (and his flunkeys and hangers-on, one floor down from the President’s penthouse) are out on the street, the better. I await for the AC (and the incoming President) to set a good example to the rest of the world. It is not as if the EPO can’t afford to treat its employees fairly, is it?

I understand that the document concerning contract staff has recently been removed from the AC December meeting, after the meeting of the Board 28 which organises the agenda. The Budget and Finance Committee had recently not decided on the document. At the moment contracts unde this scheme cannot begin on 01.01.2018.

In reply to the above:

Believing in fairy tales is a dangerous thing given the current brutal regime and in particular the pronounced taste of PD HR to pick on those who work hard to pay her salary.

The situation is a little more subtle than what you present here:

a) the point is still is still on the agenda of the December AC for information
b) the “cunning plan” of Mrs Bergot (after her debacle during last AC meeting with a pathetic presentation of it lacking any substantive work) is to review her deficient document and have it back for the March 2018 Council for decision

So much for “off the table”

On Monday evening someone wrote:

That the document about the 5 years contracts for examiners has been removed from the agenda of the AC is a good thing. It is to be hoped that this document has disappeared for good!

But if the AC would have done his job, such a document would never have been submitted. It is only since the AC gave the present tenant of the 10th floor the freedom to fool around that such an action was even thought of.

It shows clearly and abundantly that some people claiming to be “managers” in the higher ranks of the EPO have not the faintest idea what the work of examiners consists of. If they had inquired, they would have realised how stupid this proposal is. That the top management of DG1, or its new form (Super PDs), did not even try to dissuade HR to present such a document is certainly not to be put to its credit. But they want their contract to be renewed….

As far as Mr Ernst is concerned, did he oppose the way the president blatantly disregarded separation of powers between the Boards of Appeal and the management of the EPO? Did he also forward the decision of the Disciplinary Committee of the AC to the Enlarged Board so that the latter was merely invited to rubber stamp this decision, what it refused to do? If this is the case, his words are shallow.

As a lawyer working in the Ministry of Justice of the largest contracting state of the EPO one can suppose that Mr Ernst should know what separation of powers means, and what respect this notion deserves. He should also know that a mere quantitative assessment of the work done by a judge is not a way on deciding on the career of a judge.

And later that evening someone added:

My comment was purely intended to be factual. No spin intended.
However, I now understand that a replacement/amended ‘ orientation’ document has been tabled for December for ‘opinion’ rather than decision or information. The document has limited some aspects e.g. a maximum percentage of contract staff and a maximum number of renewals. It is explained as being as a result of comments previously made.

We certainly hope that Dr. Ernst is reading these comments. His interview with JUVE does not allow comments (it’s in paper form only, or online PDF) and only 2 months after he began his work people aren’t exactly pleased. He’s like a gentle form of Kongstad. We expect Campinos, Battistelli’s choice for President, to also be a gentler form of Battistelli. Battistelli was (and still is) a politician, whereas Campinos is a former banker. The EPO was supposed to revolve around science, but nowadays it’s pure politics and lies are so habitual that it often resembles the White House in 2017. Europe can do better than that.

EPO is Already Going ‘Dark’ Like in China

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 08:03:29 AM

When corruption becomes the norm journalism becomes an enemy


Reference: Loose Patent Scope Becoming a Publicity Nightmare for the EPO and Battistelli Does a China Outreach (Worst/Most Notorious on Patent Quality)

Summary: The already-opaque EPO continues to be getting more secretive and the main strategic ally seems to be China, best known for low patent quality and a wealth of frivolous litigation

“Last week was case law conference,” a source told us. “In [the] past it was always recorded and could be seen on the EPO’s web site. Not this time. Because of many questions expected to criticise reform? Attorneys are not happy.”

This isn’t the first time the EPO reduces transparency while Battistelli boasts about “transparency” in his so-called ‘blog’. The only ‘transparency’ we now have at the EPO is leaks. People from the inside take great risks to expose the rot and the abuses. A lot of things that the EPO used to publish (e.g. salary of the President) are now secret, yet Battistelli has the audacity to speak about “transparency”.

“A lot of things that the EPO used to publish (e.g. salary of the President) are now secret, yet Battistelli has the audacity to speak about “transparency”.”Published yesterday in Battistelli’s ‘blog’ (warning: epo.org link) and then promoted by the PR team was the assimilation to SIPO, which is no accomplishment. It was also covered on the same day by the Chinese state media, noting that the EPO is now similar to China’s SIPO. Is Battistelli so proud to be emulating China? Where people are put in prison for exposing corruption? Where patent quality has sunk to bottom low? Where litigation is soaring to the point where patent trolls flock there and based on last night’s article from Managing IP, patent litigation has just become an ‘app’? China seems very eager to help patent extortion and patent trolls and “[t]o facilitate the use of mediation and minimise its caseload, the Beijing IP court has launched a “Faxin WeSue” platform. The platform operates via a mini programme, an app built into WeChat – China’s popular messaging service…”

Coming soon to the EPO? An ‘app’ for making demand of payments using dubious European Patents (EPs)? Whatever happens with the UPC (or doesn’t happen), things look grim for 'SIPO Europe'.

French Stress Levels at the EPO and Replacement of Patent Quality With ‘Autopilot’ (Like INPI, France)

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 07:42:41 AM

Summary: Concerns expressed not only about the management style of Benoît Battistelli but also his disregard/disdain for science (or patent assessment)

YESTERDAY, somebody wrote to us regarding the EPO. It was about stress as measured among French workers. There are various but few French companies where the working conditions were reported to be notoriously toxic like at the EPO (including suicides).

Here is the message in question:

I have found this article in the morning news:

Un quart des salariés français sont dans un “état d’hyperstress

The title translates “one fourth of the French employees are in an hyperstress condition”.

I hope you understand the French content. It is remarkable to see that it applies to 100% to the brave new EPO. Are these kinds of managerial skills taught at the ENA? This is an excellent perspective for the next employer of Monsieur Battistelli, his curriculum fits perfectly.

As we noted earlier this month, Battistelli and his colleagues in politics are notorious in their own town, too. There are press articles about it (in French). They’re considered to be tyrannical.

In Battistelli’s mind, based on the latest proposed ‘reforms’ (to be covered shortly), the goal it to make examiners obsolete (along with patent quality).

4 days late this comment was approved by IP Kat (only yesterday it appeared, but it was posted 5 days ago):

Well , it may help not to mix technologies, functionalities and examiner targets. Ansera uses off the shelf technologies for performing searches, nothing that Google has not been doing for ages or any modern data retreival system. Not sure the EPO can seriously pretend to be a reference in searches while keeping technology of the 80’s. What is different in Ansera from say Google, is that it supports the query language unique to the EPO and yes , surprise surprise, searching with classes. I think that by now everybody knows that ANYTHING is used as an excuse for higher targets.

SUEPO has been warning about this for years. These things do not work well. In fact, it’s incredible that decisions on these matters are made without consulting examiners who understand the technicalities. Who knows how low a quality European Patents (EPs) from the past few years might be. It remains to be learned from statistics about litigation, and that may take years if not a decade to become visible.

Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić (EPO President and Vice-President) Try to Keep ‘Independent’ Judge in a Limbo

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 07:21:43 AM

Related: Munich State Attorney is Pursuing Criminal Charges Against the European Patent Office


The International Criminal Court (ICC). Author/photographer: Vincent van Zeijst

Summary: Additional information about the EPO defamation case in Munich (alluded to occasionally by the Administrative Council but never spoken about by the media)

THE situation at the EPO is really bad because judges who are supposed to be independent are being terrorised by Battistelli’s regime. We’ll revisit this point later this morning.

“Perhaps the Administrative Council members should have made the former ICC judge the next EPO President, but knowing their complicity in all this, they were probably afraid that they too would be held accountable.”“Separately,” an insider said, “a source called patentlyobvious reported over the weekend that Battistelli and his vice-president are rumoured to have lost a private prosecution case for alleged insult and defamation filed against an EPO staff member, [] and that the Munich Public Prosecutor may now be considering an investigation of the EPO officials. This could not be confirmed by press time. [] [] An insider informed me about the following: Battistelli and VP4 have lost a couple of times, but kept re-filing so there was always some pending case, so the [Administrative] Council could not close the disciplinary case (against the suspended Judge). [] Here is my reply: That makes sense! Vexatious litigation considered an abuse of the judicial process and may result in sanctions against the offender. A well known tactic to harass and subdue an adversary.”

This is why the EPO continues not only to be defunct but also maintain the “perception of” being defunct (to use its spin regarding the perceived ‘independence’ of the judges). Perhaps the Administrative Council members should have made the former ICC judge the next EPO President, but knowing their complicity in all this, they were probably afraid that they too would be held accountable. As we shall explain later, the Chairman of the Administrative Council (Dr. Ernst) is himself partly culpable.

Battistelli’s Big Fat Greek Wedding at the EPO’s Budget and Finance Committee

Monday 27th of November 2017 05:28:30 AM

Related: Battistelli is Busy Securing the Vote of Countries Whose Support and Tickets Are Easy to ‘Buy’

Summary: Information from inside the EPO regarding the Budget and Finance Committee and Battistelli’s alleged leverage over it

“When the Greek representative left the Greek patent office,” an insider from the EPO told us, “Battistelli kept him as president of the finance and budget committee for another two years, illegally of course. And why? The answer is obvious. Serafeim Stasinos at that time was rather stronger than the Danish counterpart.”

“Lots of money [was] in Battistelli’s pocket while the Greek representative was president of the finance and budget committee…”
      –AnonymousWe had previously heard something like this (about Greek people in charge of finance at the EPO), so the above message rang a bell.

“This Greek guy is a master in bullying,” continued this source. “You should ask the Greek employees about that…”

“Lots of money [was] in Battistelli’s pocket while the Greek representative was president of the finance and budget committee,” our source claimed. If anyone out there has additional information about this, please do get in touch (preferably anonymously).

We can’t help but wonder if all this was also Battistelli’s way of buying Greek representatives’ votes.

“The representatives make their own deals, as Battistelli is quite generous to them…”
      –Anonymous“But also there is a rumour about the Italian representative,” our source continued. “This information comes from epi. To appoint someone whose name is not involved in anything so fat and at the same time can be manipulated.”

Her name is Loredana Gulino and she is listed here. epi has not made a statement, so this is just hearsay.

“The issue is that whoever will be, nothing changes,” our source explained. “The representatives make their own deals, as Battistelli is quite generous to them…”

“Two years ago the Greek representative changed again and came from the left party. At the beginning he opposed Battistelli, and some months later become Battistelli’s puppet. Ioannis Kaplanis is the “left” representative at the AC” (Administrative Council).

Raw: Open Letter Regarding Likely Violations of the EPC and Damage to the EPO’s Reputation

Monday 27th of November 2017 04:54:28 AM

Also see: The European Patent Convention (EPC) is Habitually Being Violated by the President of the EPO


Full document [PDF]

Summary: The EPO‘s longstanding deviations from the treaty that gave it the power to grant patents (European Patent Convention)

“Legal and Administrative Rules at the EPO Are Similar to Those at SIPO” (China)

Monday 27th of November 2017 04:20:32 AM

Patent quality and human rights alike


Also see: Workers’ rights activists sentenced in China

Summary: Battistelli’s emulation of the Chinese model (so-called ‘production’ at the expense of economic rationale and human factors) as covered by Chinese state media and the latest lies about the Unitary Patent (UPC)

THE EPO has quickly morphed or devolved into what we called "SIPO Europe" about a year ago. Patent quality and human rights matter no more. It’s all about ‘producing’ as many patents as possible, as quickly as possible. It’s the very antithesis of patent systems.

“It’s all about ‘producing’ as many patents as possible, as quickly as possible.”The “legal and administrative rules at the EPO are similar to those at SIPO,” says Li Yahui in the official media of China today (Official China News Service in English, also known as ECNS).

So far, only two English-speaking sites (based in Britain) were disseminating EPO 'press releases' with 'prepared' Battistelli quotes about this. Now China does the same thing and Battistelli ends with a lie about UPC, insisting it will start next year. To quote:

With more than 30 years of development, the cooperation between China’s State Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office has evolved from a technical partnership to a strategic one, EPO President Benoit Battistelli said in a recent news conference in Beijing.

The two sides signed a new comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on Nov 23 with the aim of strengthening cooperation between the two offices and providing better services for global intellectual property users and contributing to improvements in the world’s IP system.

“SIPO and the EPO are equal partners sharing similar views and objectives for the development of the global IP system,” said Battistelli.

[...]

He said the Unitary Patent system will be applied next year, which is an improvement on the current European patent system, as it will make it possible to get patent protections in 26 European Union members by submitting a single request to the EPO. It will not only simplify patent granting procedures, but also cut the application costs by 70 percent.

That last part is a lie. As we said some days ago, the Constitutional Court (CC) case may not be decided before 2020. A source close to the action has just said that “if German CC holds hearing [then] judgement before 2020 is unlikely.”

“Yes, don’t expect the UPC to get anywhere. But at the time time vigilance is needed because Team UPC is very manipulative and mischievous.”It was said in response to David Pearce‏ (former ‘Kat’), who had stressed again: “As I’ve said before, the #UPC is dead. Start again, and do it properly this time please.”

Yes, don’t expect the UPC to get anywhere. But at the time time vigilance is needed because Team UPC is very manipulative and mischievous. The EPO is lobbying in Brussels (we covered this a couple of years back) and Team UPC too now boasts about expanding to Brussels. [via]

The EPO and Team UPC are trying to make it all political. They cannot make it lawful, so they attempt to bypass the law.

Even PTAB Bashers Expect the US Supreme Court to Defend PTAB in Important Case Which Starts Later Today

Monday 27th of November 2017 03:28:19 AM

The voice of Clarence Thomas is expected to play a key role

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), whose process of IPR as per AIA helps thwart software patents, is expected to be defended by the Justices of the US Supreme Court

SO, starting Monday the US Supreme Court will hear an important case known as Oil States (shorthand). This case helps determine to what degree if any PTAB can correct decisions made to grant (at the USPTO). PTAB has already invalidated thousands of granted patents, many of which were software patents, so this case is important to us.

Three Supreme Court petitions have just been mentioned by Patently-O, which (as we pointed out early on Sunday) spent a lot of time pressuring the Supreme Court to scuttle PTAB. Prior to that the blog had another strategy. The pricipal PTAB basher, Dennis Crouch, now openly admits that he expects PTAB to endure (see third paragraph):

My expectation is that the AIA and [US]PTO’s approach will be upheld in both cases. At oral arguments look for any signals that conservatives will break away from Justice Thomas notion that patent rights are not “core private property” but instead are properly considered lesser franchise rights. In addition, look for consideration of whether the justices are thinking outside-of-patent-law at a bigger picture review of public rights doctrine.

Justice Thomas is currently mentioned in some headlines for sexual abuse allegations (Wikipedia has a whole section about that), but he is correct in this case about patents not being “private property”, as we noted earlier this year when we refuted Crouch.

Links 26/11/2017: Mesa 17.2.6, Builder 3.27 Progress, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta

Sunday 26th of November 2017 05:26:14 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • AWS to Help Build ONNX Open Source AI Platform

      Amazon Web Services has become the latest tech firm to join the deep learning community’s collaboration on the Open Neural Network Exchange, recently launched to advance artificial intelligence in a frictionless and interoperable environment. Facebook and Microsoft led the effort.

      As part of that collaboration, AWS made its open source Python package, ONNX-MxNet, available as a deep learning framework that offers application programming interfaces across multiple languages including Python, Scala and open source statistics software R.

    • container-diff – an Open Source Tool from Google for Analyzing Differences Between Docker Images

      Google released an open source project called container-diff which can be used to analyze differences between Docker images. It supports file-system differences and is aware of changes brought about by the apt, npm and pip package managers.

      Dockerfiles are used to create and make additions to container images. A change in the Dockerfile followed by a rebuild leads to the creation of a new image. Differences between Dockerfile versions can be easily seen, usually by using the source control system’s diff tool, since they are plain text. However, it is difficult to visualize or list down the exact changes that occurred in the image as a result of a new command in the Dockerfile. This can become a challenge when the application being packaged in the image has dependencies on specific versions of other software, and there are downstream dependencies that make it complex to track what will get installed as a result. Untracked dependencies can also lead to unnecessary bloating of the image, leading to slower download times.

    • Linux dominates supercomputing, the Pentagon’s big open source push, and more

      In this week’s edition of our open source news roundup, we cover the release of Linux kernel 4.14 LTS, Linux powering all 500 of the world’s supercomputers, why banks favor open source software, how the Pentagon is going open source, and how the latest release of Firefox saves your processor.

  • Kernel Space
    • Intel UMIP KVM Support Ejected From Linux 4.15, Will Have To Wait To Linux 4.16

      Linus had pulled in these changes but then decided to unpull it for not enough testing. Linus wrote, “So I pulled it, but then checked, None of this was in linux-next 20171117 either, So I unpulled it.”

    • VirtualBox Guest Drivers Still Working Their Way To The Mainline Linux Kernel

      While the VirtualBox DRM/KMS driver was merged for Linux 4.13 as one step towards improving the out-of-the-box support for Linux guests on Oracle VM VirtualBox, other drivers remain out-of-tree still, but that is slowly changing.

      Red Hat’s Hans de Goede has been working on getting the vboxguest driver merged to mainline Linux as the next step of improving VirtualBox guest integration.

      Sent out on Sunday were the latest patches for vboxguest. This driver supports the Virtual Box Guest PCI device to allow for supporting features like copy-and-paste, the VirtualBox seamless mode, and OpenGL pass-through to work with the host system running this virtualization software.

    • Linux Foundation
      • MuQSS Scheduler Updated For Linux 4.14, Experimental SMT Improvements

        This week Con Kolivas updated his MuQSS scheduler patch-set for the Linux 4.14 kernel. This is the scheduler that was born out of his earlier work on BFS.

        MuQSS has now been around for one year as the “Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler” that succeeded his work on BFS, the “Brain Fuck Scheduler”, for years prior. The aim of this scheduler is still about system responsiveness and interactivity with desktop class systems but should work out for most workloads.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Posts FP16 GLSL Patches For Mesa

        Topi Pohjolainen of Intel has been working on adding proper FP16/half-precision support to Mesa’s GLSL code.

      • Marek & Mario Prep 10-bit Color Visual Support For Mesa/Gallium3D

        Building off the work by Mario Kleiner, AMD developer Marek Olšák has been working on 10-bit color visual support within Mesa/Gallium3D.

        Currently housed within Marek’s Git branch are the patches by Mario and him for supporting 10-bit color visuals properly within Mesa and wired through for Gallium3D. With 10-bit color visuals, it’s basically going from 256 luminosity levels per color/channel with 8-bit to 1024 levels. Most graphics cards going back years have supported 10-bit color visuals while the number of monitors supporting 10-bit colors has been much more limited until recently.

      • There’s An ARM Mali Gallium3D Driver Still Being Developed

        Making the rounds this weekend online as a “new” ARM Mali open-source driver is what we wrote about back in June as A New Mali-400 Open-Source Graphics Driver Is In Development.

      • mesa 17.2.6

        In Mesa Core we have included a correction to keep a program alive when re-linking and prevent an use-after-free.

      • Mesa 17.2.6 Released With 53 Changes While Mesa 17.3 Is Around The Corner

        While the release of the belated Mesa 17.3 is imminent, Mesa 17.2.6 is now available as the current latest stable release.

        Andres Gomez of Igalia announced the Mesa 17.2.6 release just minutes ago with more than 50 changes/fixes found in this maintenance update.

      • Freedreno A4xx Picks Up Some More OpenGL 4 Extensions

        When Ilia Mirkin isn’t busy being one of the key contributors to the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver stack, he’s often working on the Freedreno driver stack for the open-source Qualcomm Adreno support.

    • Benchmarks
      • Which Linux Distribution Boots The Fastest? An 11-Way Linux Comparison

        The distributions used were:

        Antergos 17.11 – This Arch-based Linux distribution currently ships with the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.2 by default, and an EXT4 file-system.

        CentOS 7 – The community flavor of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. CentOS Linux 7 latest has Linux 3.10, GNOME Shell 3.22, and uses an XFS file-system.

        Clear Linux 19260 – Intel’s performance-optimized Linux distribution presently ships with the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.2, and EXT4.

        Debian 9.2.1 – The latest stable release of Stretch is using the Linux 4.9 kernel and GNOME Shell 3.22.3 atop EXT4.

        Fedora Workstation 27 – Fedora 27 has the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 with Wayland, and EXT4.

        Manjaro 17.0.6 – Some more Arch Linux based action happening. Manjaro 17.0.6 has Linux 4.9, Xfce 4.12, and EXT4.

        Solus 3 – The Solus Linux distribution that continues growing in popularity currently has Linux 4.13, its GNOME-derived Budgie desktop environment, and EXT4 file-system.

        Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS – The current LTS release of Ubuntu Linux with Linux 4.10, Unity 7.4, and EXT4.

        Ubuntu 17.10 – The latest Ubuntu stable release with Linux 4.13, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 atop Wayland, and EXT4.

        openSUSE Leap 42.3 – The current stable release of openSUSE built from SUSE Linux Enterprise sources with the Linux 4.4 kernel, KDE Plasma 5, and XFS file-system.

        openSUSE Tumbleweed – The rolling-release version of openSUSE with the Linux 4.14 kermel, KDE Plasma 5 desktop, and XFS file-system.

      • Cycles Benchmark – AMD update + new benchmark file

        Three weeks ago we posted a benchmark update with Nvidia GPUs. Meanwhile we had AMD sending us a flagship Threadripper system – 32 threads, 64 GB memory, onboard SSD.

        The image below shows the latest numbers, updated from our test lab today. Click on the link under the image for a live website where you can inspect the numbers more closely (and you can turn on/off gpu or cpu tests).

      • Blender Has A Beautiful New Benchmark: Barbershop

        The digital artists working on the Barbershop 3D modeling software have released a new benchmark file for stressing CPUs and GPUs by rendering an advanced scene.

        Barbershop is Blender’s newest benchmark file and is an interior scene making use of branched path tracing. It’s quite a beast to render on a CPU or GPU.

      • Blender 2.79 Performance On Various Intel/AMD CPUs From Ryzen To EPYC

        This weekend I took a variety of systems running Ubuntu Linux and ran tests via the Phoronix Test Suite of Blender 2.79 with the BMW, Classroom, Fishy Cat, Barbershop, and Pabellon Barcelona scenes to see how their performance compares from desktop CPUs to AMD Threadripper and EPYC setups. The CPUs I had available for this quick comparison included the Core i7 6800K, Core i7 8700K, Core i8 7960X, Core i9 7980XE, Xeon Silver 4108, dual Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs on the Intel side. On the AMD side was the Ryzen 7 1700, Ryzen 7 1800X, Threadripper 1950X, and AMD EPYC 7601. All the Blender rendering was done on the CPUs; a fresh GPU comparison will be coming up soon.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Recommended GNOME Shell Extensions for Ubuntu 17.10

        This is a list of GNOME Shell Extensions (GSE) that are very useful for Ubuntu 17.10 users. Among them are NetSpeed (to show up/down speed), Dash to Panel (to combine all panels into single bottom panel), Datetime Format (to show complete day-date-clock at top panel), even EasyScreenCast (to record your desktop activity to video), and more. They are handy for many user’s daily/repeating tasks, easy to install, and user-friendly to operate. Finally, I hope this recommendation article is useful for you.

      • Builder 3.27 Progress

        We are a couple of months into Builder’s 3.28 development. We have fewer big ticket features scheduled this cycle when compared to 3.26. However that is replaced by a multitude of smaller features and details. Let’s take a look at some of what has been done already.

      • GNOME Builder Development Environment Picking Up Many Features For GNOME 3.28
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • NuTyX 9.92 available with cards 2.3.103

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.92 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.92 comes with kernel LTS 4.14.2, kernel LTS 4.9.65, glibc 2.26, gcc 7.2.0, binutils 2.29.1, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.5, qt 5.9.3, KDE plasma 5.11.3, KDE Framework 5.40.0, KDE Applications 17.08.3, gnome 3.24.2, mate 1.18.2, xfce4 4.12.4, firefox 57.0 Quantum, etc…

        If we take in consideration all the GIT projects, we did more then 5000 commits on the development branch since the 9.1 version.

    • Arch Family
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Policy call for participation — November 2017, pt. 1
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Aquaris M10 Ubuntu tablet – With Android

            I am slightly sad that I decided to give up on Ubuntu on this tablet. But it’s also a happy decision, because I have a functional, capable device now, and I can use it to the full range of its specification and abilities. Simple value for money, and there are no sentiments there.

            Now, let’s be reasonable, I’m not gonna be seen gallivanting into the sunset with a tablet in my hand. This will be strictly opportunistic, on-the-go use, 90% experimentation and novelty, 10% real use. Still, when I take into consideration the last four years or my tablet usage, a pattern appears, and it’s a positive one, even though tablets are unnecessary in between smartphones and laptops.

            All that said, BQ Aquaris M10 FHD with Android is a decent device, and it works well. I wish the situation was different with Ubuntu, but it isn’t. On the desktop, it remains one of the more sensible Linux options, but it never had what’s needed to succeed in the brutal touch world. Well, a new hope is born, and we shall see what gives. To be continued.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Kubuntu 17.10

              As Ubuntu 17.10 had made its way among the users, so had its various flavors. Kubuntu is one of them. Recently launched Kubuntu 17.10 supported for 9 months is available to download in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Most users will actually skip out 17.x series as it’s not LTS and moreover, stability is the main concern. Check out the official release notes and what I experienced on using Kubuntu 17.10 on my PC below.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Cinnamon and MATE Editions Now Available to Download

              As of November 24, 2017, the final Cinnamon and MATE live ISO images of the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” operating system have been uploaded to the official mirror for both 64-bit and 32-bit hardware.

              There’s no official announcement published by the Linux Mint team at the moment of writing this article, but it shouldn’t be long until the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Cinnamon and MATE editions are published on the project’s website, and you can download the ISO images right now from their main FTP mirror.

              Linux Minx 18.3 “Sylvia” is based on the Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system and uses the Linux 4.10 kernel series by default. While the Cinnamon edition ships with the latest and greatest Cinnamon 3.6 desktop environment, the MATE edition is using the MATE 1.18 desktop.

              This release comes with updated components and refinements, but also a bunch of new features, such as a configurable login screen, new System Reports tool for easier reporting of crashes, a dedicated tool for creating system snapshots called Timeshift, and a completely revamped Backup Tool.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • Audio Recordings Posted For Linux Plumbers Conference 2017

      For those looking for some technical talks to listen to this weekend, audio recordings of the Linux Plumbers Conference 2017 are now available.

      The 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference took place in Los Angeles from 13 to 15 September. Video recordings were not made, but this year they decided to experiment with audio recordings.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Available – Huge Open-Source Office Suite Update For 2018

      Today the branching of LibreOffice 6.0 from Git master took place as well as tagging the first beta.

      LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is currently available in source form as of writing and the code will continue to be refined via the libreoffice-6-0 branch until it’s ready for release in early 2018. The mainline LibreOffice Git code meanwhile is bumped for early work on what’s marked as LibreOffice 6.1.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC Plugins Now Supported On Windows/MinGW

      A late addition for the GCC 8 code compiler is adding support for plug-ins to Windows/MinGW.

      The GNU Compiler Collection for years has supported plug-ins on Linux and other operating systems like macOS while finally there is the Windows/MinGW treatment. GCC plugins are loadable modules allowing for extended functionality via a subset of the GCC API for offering additional optimizations, analysis tools, etc.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Mapping the Future: Cartography Stages a Comeback

        Cartography is the new code. Increasingly, everything from your takeout delivery to your UberPool route is orchestrated not just by engineers but by cartographers. Between 2007 and 2015, the number of grads earning master’s degrees in cartography increased annually by more than 40 percent on average. And as advanced satellites, digital mapping tools, and open-source geographical software progress, the demand for cartographers is projected to grow nearly 30 percent by 2024.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • The quest for open science

        Within two minutes of talking to Dr Richard Bowman, in his lab at the University of Bath, he’s guiding me through the physics of tractor beams in Star trek. He’s using it as a simile to explain the complicated subject of optical tweezers to a stupid person.

        He does so in a charming way, as someone familiar with explaining his complex field to journalists, but it’s clear why he’s a Prize Fellow and Royal Commission 1851 Research Fellow – his explanation ends with our imaginary tractor beam melting an object it’s trying to move before Bowman shrinks this entire sci-fi example down to demonstrate how he’s used laser beams in his past work to move tiny objects.

Leftovers
  • Science
  • Hardware
    • Fixing the MacBook Pro

      There’s a lot to like about the new MacBook Pros, but they need some changes to be truly great and up to Apple’s standards.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Some U.S. Hospitals Don’t Put Americans First for Liver Transplants

      At a time when there aren’t enough livers for ailing Americans, wealthy foreigners fly here for transplants.

      [...]

      Little known to the public, or to sick patients and their families, organs donated domestically are sometimes given to patients flying in from other countries, who often pay a premium. Some hospitals even seek out foreign patients in need of a transplant. A Saudi Arabian company, Ansaq Medical Co., whose stated aim is to “facilitate the procedures and mechanisms of ‘medical tourism,’” said it signed an agreement with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in 2015.

    • New York City Launches Committee to Review Maternal Deaths

      Following in the steps of Baltimore and Philadelphia, New York City is establishing a committee to review deaths and severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, aiming to reduce their toll on expectant and new mothers in the nation’s largest metropolis.

      There’s ample room for improvement: The city’s maternal mortality rate is thought to be slightly above average for the U.S., which has the highest such rate in the industrialized world. Of the estimated 700 to 900 deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth nationwide each year, New York City accounts for about 30.

      Moreover, the city’s outcomes feature a worsening racial divide. Between 2006 and 2010, black women were 12 times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, up from seven times more likely between 2001 and 2005.

    • For the next year, TV, newspapers, and the web will run massive ads from tobacco companies admitting that their products kill people, that they were engineered to be addictive, and that they covered this up

      After losing their 19-year court battle with the US Department of Justice, tobacco giants Altria, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA are now beginning to run their court-ordered “corrective statements” as full-page newspaper ads, major web display ads, and primetime TV spots, containing frank admissions that they violated federal racketeering and fraud laws when they conspired to cover up the fact that their products killed their customers and that they intentionally designed their products to be as addictive as possible.

  • Security
    • Name+DOB+SSN=FAFSA Data Gold Mine

      KrebsOnSecurity has sought to call attention to online services which expose sensitive consumer data if the user knows a handful of static details about a person that are broadly for sale in the cybercrime underground, such as name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Perhaps the most eye-opening example of this is on display at fafsa.ed.gov, the Web site set up by the U.S. Department of Education for anyone interested in applying for federal student financial aid.

    • Uber Hacks and Bitcoin Futures

      What is Uber? Why is it a $70-billion-or-whatever company? You could tell a bunch of stories — it is an app company, a taxi company, a driverless-car company — but one possibility is that it is a regulatory-evasion company. Local regulations around the world entrenched taxi companies and allowed them to capture excess value, and Uber’s central innovation was not building an app or developing a surge-pricing algorithm but simply saying “what if we took that value instead?” In 2017 it spends a lot of time lobbying and buttering up local governments so that they don’t ban it, but earlier on the process was simpler: It would just ignore the local regulations and hope no one would stop it. That worked really well! Not flawlessly, not permanently, not at scale — that’s why it has now pivoted to lobbying and buttering-up — but well enough to get Uber to this point, the point where its lobbying and buttering-up can work.

    • Segwit2x Bugs Explained

      The Segwit2x hard fork was called off a little over a week ago in an email post to the 2x mailing list. Several parties threatened to split the network anyway, and we eagerly waited for block 494784 to see whether someone would mine the 2x hard fork or not.

      As it turns out, there was a bug in the Segwit2x software which caused the client to stop at block 494782. In this article, I’m going to examine the details of what caused the software to stop, why it stopped a block before it was supposed to and what would have happened had Belshe, et al, not cancelled the hard fork a week early.

    • Firefox to warn users who visit p0wned sites

      Mozilla developer Nihanth Subramanya has revealed the organisation’s Firefox browser will soon warn users if they visit sites that have experienced data breaches that led to user credential leaks.

      A recently-released GitHub repo titled “Breach Alerts Prototype” revealed “a vehicle for prototyping basic UI and interaction flow for an upcoming feature in Firefox that notifies users when their credentials have possibly been leaked or stolen in a data breach.”

    • [Imgur] NOTICE OF DATA BREACH

      On November 23, Imgur was notified of a potential security breach that occurred in 2014 that affected the email addresses and passwords of 1.7 million user accounts. While we are still actively investigating the intrusion, we wanted to inform you as quickly as possible as to what we know and what we are doing in response.

    • Spam was nearly dead, then it became an essential tool for crime and came roaring back
    • Spam is back [iophk: "Microsoft Windows botnets"]
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #134
    • Young “Daeshgram” Hackers Flood Official ISIS Propaganda Channels With Porn
  • Defence/Aggression
    • U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed

      The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war, a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.

      With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there.

    • The Duty to Disobey a Nuclear Launch Order

      On November 19, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command, declared he would refuse to follow an illegal presidential order to launch a nuclear attack. “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail,” the general explained at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. “You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

      Gen. Hyten is correct. For those in the military, there is a legal duty to obey a lawful order, but also a legal duty to disobey an unlawful order. An order to use nuclear weapons — except possibly in an extreme circumstance of self-defense when the survival of the nation is at stake — would be an unlawful order.

    • DoD, military donors aid Democrats

      Department of Defense employees have given a greater percentage of their donations to Democrats so far this election cycle than they did under any Republican administration since at least George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

      CRP’s political donation data covers each year beginning in 1989 — the first year of the elder Bush’s presidency — and comes from FEC filings, which include a donor’s self-identified occupation and employer.

      From January through September, DoD employees donated about $127,000 to political candidates. About 65 percent of the contributions, or roughly $83,000, went to Democrats. Republicans received about $43,000, or 34 percent. The remaining went to third-party candidates.

    • The Quality of Mercy

      As I watched in 1999, Layla stood before her class to ask two renowned peacemakers what difference there was between her and a sixteen-year-old living in a more secure part of the world. The answer, in terms of her basic human rights and her irreplaceable human value, should be manifestly clear: there is no difference whatsoever. And yet, while U.S. warlords and military contractors collude with their counterparts in other lands, they earn former president Dwight Eisenhower’s blistering evaluation. This world in arms “is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” Among the most vulnerable children sacrificed are those forced into poverty by military blockade and military occupation, who steel themselves as the bombs tear through their towns and their neighborhoods and their neighbors, through their traumatized memories, and through their prospective futures when they dare to hope for one.

      The comfortable nations often authorize the worst atrocities overseas through fear for their own safety, imagining themselves the victims to be protected from crime at all costs. Such attitudes entitle people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen to look in our direction when they ask, “Who are the criminals?” They will be looking at us when they ask that, until we at last exert our historically unprecedented economic and political ability to turn our imperial nations away from ruinous war, and earn our talk of mercy.

    • The Myth of the “Clean War”

      Many previous columns in this series focus on the transition in the western way of war since 9/11 from tens of thousands of “boots on the ground” to “remote warfare”. This has mainly involved a much more intensive use of air-power, including armed-drones; the utilisation of long-range artillery and ground-launched ballistic-missiles; and the much wider use of special forces and privatised military corporations.

      The change has been consistently analysed by a few non-government organisations, most notably the Remote Control project and Drone Wars UK, whose specific concern is armed drones.

    • White House Statement on Yemen Crisis Fails to Address US Complicity

      As aid groups remain cut off from Yemen—despite an intensifying humanitarian crisis and a promise from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to lift the blockade—in a statement released Friday, the Trump White House ignored the United States’ complicity in the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade while reiterating U.S. support for the coalition in the ongoing war.

      The statement praised Saudi Arabia and the coalition for “reopening Hudaydah port and Sanaa International Airport to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen”—even though, as the Guardian reported Friday, “aid agencies said Saudi Arabia has not fulfilled its promise to reopen humanitarian aid corridors into northern Yemen, leaving the main aid lifeline closed for tens of thousands of starving people.”

      Although the White House statement declared “the magnitude of suffering in Yemen requires all parties to this conflict to focus on assistance to those in need,” it also said, “We remain committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all of our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression.”

    • US and South Korea Announce Plans for Massive Air Force Exercise Aimed at North Korea

      The U.S. and South Korea announced Friday they will conduct a massive air force exercise over the Korean Peninsula next month as a notable show of force targeting North Korea—despite warnings that the Trump administration’s decision earlier this week to add North Korea to the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism could further provoke the isolated country.

    • Zimbabwe activists fear post-Mugabe human rights crackdown

      Activists and human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe fear a new crackdown that could roll back gains made during the eight-day crisis that culminated in the resignation of President Robert Mugabe last week.

      Relatives of victims of state-sponsored violence said they were concerned about the track record of the new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe’s righthand man and is blamed for the brutal suppression of political opposition parties during elections in 2008.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Barrett Brown Explains His Pursuance Project and Why It’s Worth a Shot

      That’s the kind of activism the convicted activist journalist Barrett Brown wants to organize online, as the Daily Dot reported in August. Last night, he spoke to supporters of what he calls the Pursuance Project over YouTube, answering questions about his open source software project.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy

      And the release of ruthenium 106 is a massive one, indicating a major accident, not a minor leak. The French radiological institute for nuclear safety IRSN) calculated the release at 300 Terrabequerels. To put this in perspective, it is an amount equivalent to 375,000 times the annual release of ruthenium 106 authorized for a French nuclear power plant.

      IRSN has consistently downplayed the potential harm of the plume’s fallout across Europe, a position all too eerily familiar to the French, who were falsely told at the time of the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine that the radioactive plume would not cross into France.

    • Native People and Allies Pledge to Stop Keystone XL

      I’m in Lower Brule, South Dakota, where elected tribal officials, spiritual leaders, Native grassroots organizations, youth groups, and traditional women’s societies have gathered with non-Native farmers, ranchers and others affected by the Keystone XL pipeline. That project to carry tar sands from shale fields in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico threatens our water, our livelihoods and our sacred sites.

    • Lightning strikes leave behind a radioactive cloud

      Thunderstorms have a lot of overt indications of power, from the thunder and lightning to torrential rains and hail. But the full extent of their power wasn’t obvious until recent years, when we discovered they generate antimatter. Now, researchers in Japan have looked at this phenomenon more closely and determined that a lightning bolt generates a zone that contains unstable isotopes of oxygen and nitrogen, leading to series of radioactive decays over the next minute.

    • The trouble with bitcoin and big data is the huge energy bill

      Once upon a time, a very long time ago – 2009 in fact – there was a brief but interesting controversy about the carbon footprint of a Google search. It was kicked off by a newspaper story reporting a “calculation” of mysterious origin that suggested a single Google search generated 7 grams of CO2, which is about half of the carbon footprint of boiling a kettle. Irked by this, Google responded with a blogpost saying that this estimate was much too high. “In terms of greenhouse gases,” the company said, “one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe [exhaust] emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven, but most cars don’t reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometre (0.6 miles for those in the US) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.”

      Every service that Google provides is provided via its huge data centres, which consume vast amounts of electricity to power and cool the servers, and are therefore responsible for the emission of significant amounts of CO2. Since the advent of the modern smartphone in about 2007 our reliance on distant data centres has become total, because everything we do on our phones involves an interaction with the “cloud” and therefore has a carbon footprint.

      The size of this footprint has been growing. At the moment, about 7% of the world’s electricity consumption is taken by our digital ecosystem but this is forecast to rise to 12% by 2020 and is expected to grow annually at about 7% through to 2030.

    • A year after Trump’s election, coal’s future remains bleak

      A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever.

    • Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking

      The world’s governments got together in Germany over the past two weeks to discuss global warming, and as a result, they, well, talked. And issued some nice press releases.

      Discussing an existential threat to the environment, and all who are dependent on it, certainly is better than not discussing it. Agreeing to do something about it is also good, as is reiterating that something will be done.

      None of the above, however, should be confused with implementing, and mandating, measures that would reverse global warming and begin to deal concretely with the wrenching changes necessary to avoid flooded cities, a climate going out of control, mass species die-offs and the other rather serious problems that have only begun to manifest themselves in an already warming world.

    • ‘Modern air is a little too clean’: the rise of air pollution denial

      Despite report after report linking air pollution to deterioration of the lungs, heart and brain, Professor Robert Phalen believes the air is “too clean” for children.

      After all, everybody needs a bit of immune-system-boosting dirt in their lungs.

      “Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world’s largest scientific societies, in 2012.

      “My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy,” he added.

    • Fukushima Darkness, Part Two

      The impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear meltdown extends far and wide, as the hemispheric ecosystem gets hit by tons of radioactive water. Additionally, surreptitiousness surrounds untold death and illness, yet it remains one of the least understood and deceitfully reported episodes of journalism in modern history.

      At the same time as Japan passed its totalitarian secrecy act in December 2013, it passed an obstructive Cancer Registration Law, which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues, denying public access to medical records, with violators subject to fines of two million Yen or 5-10 years in prison, a pretty stiff penalty for peeking into medical records, giving the appearance of somebody running scared.

      Furthermore, and more egregiously yet, a confidentiality agreement to control medical information about radiation exposure was signed in January 2014 by IAEA, UNSCEAR, and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University. Thereafter, all info of illness from radiation is reported to a central repository run by Fukushima Medical Centre and IAEA. In turn, the Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation was created in 2015 to communicate “accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety.” Ahem!

    • Blocked From Discussing Climate Change, Valve-Turner Faces 10 Years in Prison After Felony Conviction

      After a judge refused to allow him to share his reasons for shutting off a tar sands pipeline valve in a protest of fossil fuel mining, 65-year-old climate activist Leonard Higgins was found guilty of criminal mischief—a felony—and misdemeanor criminal trespass. Higgins faces up to 10 years in jail and as much as $50,000 in fines.

      “I’m happy for the opportunity to share why I had to shut down this pipeline, and I really appreciate the time and dedication of the jury and the judge,” Higgins said. “I was disappointed and surprised by the verdict, but even more disappointed that I was not allowed a ‘necessity defense,’ and that I wasn’t allowed to talk about climate change as it related to my state of mind. When I tried to talk about why I did what I did I was silenced. I’m looking forward to an appeal.”

    • Averting the apocalypse: lessons from Costa Rica

      Earlier this summer, a paper published in the journal Nature captured headlines with a rather bleak forecast. Our chances of keeping global warming below the 2C danger threshold are very, very small: only about 5%. The reason, according to the paper’s authors, is that the cuts we’re making to greenhouse gas emissions are being cancelled out by economic growth.

    • In Puerto Rico, the ‘natural disaster’ is the US government

      The wreckage of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma teaches us that there is no such thing as a “natural disaster.” This trope drives the federal response to environmental traumas under the Stafford Act, which allows the U.S. president to direct funds to any “state,” including Puerto Rico, when it is felled by events such as hurricanes.

      The failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), show the illusions of the “disaster” story: It characterizes environmental traumas as short-term, one-size-fits-all catastrophes that are nobody’s fault. It also positions the federal government as a savior of victims, who should be thankful for U.S. aid that is given a matter of largesse. For this reason, President Trump could make the now-infamous complaint that “they” “want everything done for them” via Twitter on Sept. 30, and on Nov. 17 request that Congress provide only $44 billion in aid, a number that Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt) describes as “insulting,” especially for Puerto Rico.

    • A reflection on COP23: Incremental progress but no industrialized country’s top priority (commentary)

      I remember well the vibrancy that December evening in 2015 when word spread on the last day of the 21st UN climate summit that there would be an agreement — the Paris Agreement.

      After two decades of staring at a known and worsening global crisis of epic proportions, leaders of 196 nations, pushed mercilessly by UN, French, and US negotiators, finally decided to not allow the earth to burn up by 2100. The Eiffel Tower glowed with triumphant messages against a starry Paris sky.

      For the first time, nations voluntarily agreed to reduce their carbon emissions and slow the rate of deforestation. That moment in Paris felt historic, hopeful, perhaps the most significant agreement among world leaders for the greater good of this earth since World War II.

      Just two years later, as I stayed late on the last night of the 23rd UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany, I felt no such vibrancy and certainly no such history-making optimism. There was little. COP23 wasn’t designed for major breakthroughs. Everyone conceded that.

  • Finance
    • Nature lovers may #OptOutside on Black Friday, but they consume resources year-round

      While shoppers scramble for Black Friday bargains this year, outdoor retailer REI is closing its 154 U.S. stores. This is the third consecutive year that the Seattle-based company will ignore the frenzy that traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. REI’s nearly 12,000 employees will get a paid holiday and will not process any online orders.

      Instead, REI exhorts workers and customers to get outside with family and friends. #OptOutside, a Twitter hashtag that REI coined to promote its anti-Black Friday, has been widely adopted by outdoor lovers, as well as environmental groups and businesses that partner with REI to promote this event.

    • Fools or Knaves?

      Mnuchin continues to insist that the legislation puts a higher tax burden on people earning more than $1 million a year, and reduce taxes on everyone else. “I can tell you that virtually everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a significant tax cut,” Mnuchin says repeatedly.

      But the prestigious Tax Policy Center concludes that by 2025, almost all of the benefits of both bills will have gone to the richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class payers will pay higher taxes and those at the lower levels will receive only modest benefits.

      So is Mnuchin a fool? His career before he became Treasury Secretary doesn’t suggest so. He graduated from Yale, and worked for seventeen years for investment bank Goldman Sachs.

    • How to Stop a Tax Plan Rigged for the Rich

      The Earth doesn’t quite shake when lawmakers in Washington, D.C. take one of their periodic votes on tax “reform.” But sometimes history does turn, and this coming week’s expected vote on the Senate version of the GOP tax plan could be one of those rare times that history actually turns for the better.

      Indeed, this year’s situation bears a remarkable resemblance to the epic tax battle of 1932, a largely forgotten struggle that set the stage for an entire generation of increasing equality. Could this history repeat? It certainly is already echoing.

      Back in 1932, just as today, the Republican Party had a lockgrip on the White House and both houses of Congress. Then as now, America’s wealthy lusted for fundamental tax changes that would significantly reduce their already reduced tax burden. Then as now, those wealthy — and the pols they subsidized — framed tax breaks for the rich as our only road to prosperity.

    • Showdown Looms as Trump, Flouting Dodd-Frank, Says CFPB Hater Mulvaney to Head Agency

      A battle appears to be brewing between the White House and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), with each having named a different individual to serve as acting director of the agency, and President Donald Trump’s appointment denounced as “legally dubious.”

      The showdown gained steam on Friday afternoon when Richard Cordray, who had been leading the CFPB since its inception, tendered his expected resignation, saying he was leaving at the end of the day. Another key event that day was the CFPB naming Leandra English as deputy director of the agency. She had been serving as the agency’s chief of staff.

    • Dozens of #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins and Rallies Planned for Final Resistance Push

      The grassroots resistance group Indivisible was gearing up on Friday for a planned National Day of Action, targeting Republican senators who are thought to be potential “no” votes on the GOP’s tax plan—in a final push to keep the bill from passing. The Senate is expected to vote on the plan as soon as Thursday.

      The group was preparing for #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins taking place across the country on Monday, at the offices of several senators including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—focusing attention on some of the lawmakers who were targeted last summer during the fight against the Republican healthcare plan.

      “Republicans have made it crystal clear: the Trump Tax Scam fight and the TrumpCare fight are one and the same,” the group wrote on its website, noting the Senate Finance Committee’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which was revealed earlier this month. The move would leave 13 million Americans uninsured according to the Congressional Budget Office—in the interest of reducing the federal deficit that would be caused by the Republican plan to lower taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

    • Legatum: who are the Brexiteers’ favourite think tank and who is behind them?

      It’s arguably the most influential think tank in the country, pushing a free market pro-Brexit vision and enjoying privileged access to media and ministers. But what does their background in ‘disaster capitalism’ tell us about Legatum’s Brexit agenda?

    • Your Taxpayer Dollars Are Funding Corporate Propaganda

      While Congress hasn’t accomplished much in 2017, it did manage to pass a budget resolution — and within that budget, a sum of $3 million stands out.

      Congress appropriated that $3 million to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. That’s a partnership between the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) “to provide consumer education on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology.”

      What they’re really talking about is a promotional campaign for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

    • The Paul Ryan Guide to Pretending You Care About the Poor

      Once, at a town hall in Wisconsin, someone asked known anti-poverty crusader Paul Ryan (R-WI) the following question:

      “I know that you’re Catholic, as am I, and it seems to me that most of the Republicans in the Congress are not willing to stand with the poor and working class as evidenced in the recent debates about health care and the anticipated tax reform. So I’d like to ask you how you see yourself upholding the church’s social teaching that has the idea that God is always on the side of the poor and dispossessed, as should we be.”

    • Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets

      We are living a collective illusion known as the civilized world. We feign concern for our horrendous conditions of poverty, socioeconomic inequality, deteriorating public health, and severe environmental degradation (to which climate change is merely one factor), but everything we do belies that distress. These issues comprise the largest risks to the survival of the human species, as well as the most significant amoral atrocities on the planet. Both individually and as a species, our health, safety, and ability to live a decent, dignified life have always been imperiled by these predicaments. Yet, we continue along with complete cognitive dissonance in that the crux of our lives – our jobs, our consumer culture – all contribute to, perpetuate, and exacerbate the unsustainable and morally reprehensible conditions of our existence. But while we are all marginally responsible for the multitude of calamities befalling us, the one group who bears the brunt of the blame for our social and ecological decay is the wealthy.

      Have you looked around and seen just what humanity has done to our stunning Earth? We’ve bulldozed the beauty for bucks. Far too much of what was once a glorious paradise is now a complete disaster of unfathomable proportions. A disaster wholly of our own making. In America, and in most places around the world, from the moment we are born we are preparing for a future career, and more specifically, for the lifelong goal of making money. But on the whole, most of the jobs we do end up being more detrimental than beneficial to society and the environment. We characterize work through measures of productivity, but producing more and more unnecessary, meaningless, and often useless products compromises our physical environment, which in turn, compromises the health of humans, other beings, and our entire planetary ecosystem.

    • Jeff Bezos’ Net Worth Crosses $100 Billion

      As a result of the jump in Amazon’s shares by more 2 percent due to Black Friday sales, founder Jeff Bezos’ net worth has crossed the magical $100 billion mark–that’s 100,000,000,000 dollars!

      Bezos, 53, is the first billionaire to reach this mark since 1999. Back then, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hit this mark, according to Bloomberg. This year itself, worth of Bezos has risen $32.6 billion. As per Bloomberg’s Index of world’s richest 500 people, this is the largest ever increase for an individual.

    • Why are we leaving the customs union again?

      Liam Fox made a very interesting admission this morning. In an interview with The House magazine, the international trade secretary seemed to put the blame for our sluggish exports on British companies rather than the suffocating restrictions of the EU.

      “From Britain’s point of view, our main advantage doesn’t lie in getting more trade deals, it lies in getting more trade,” he said. “So, we need to do an awful lot better with the markets that we already have access to globally.”

      He’s right of course. The EU has never been a barrier to ‘global Britain’ or its ability to export all over the world. In 2013, Britain’s exports to China were worth £7.6bn, whereas France’s were worth £14.3bn and Germany’s £55bn. But Fox’s admission that trade deals aren’t what’s required to boost British exports is rather surprising, given this is the whole reason we’re leaving the customs union.

      Perhaps he saw yesterday’s comments from YK Sinha, India’s high commissioner to the UK, which made it clear that free movement of people would be a central requirement of any UK-Indian trade deal. This has long been the country’s position.

    • ‘I thought I’d put in a protest vote’: the people who regret voting leave

      On the morning of 23 June 2016, Rosamund Shaw still wasn’t sure if she wanted Britain to leave the European Union. During the preceding weeks, she had been in turmoil. She absorbed a stream of negative stories about the EU in the Daily Mail, but wasn’t sure they were reliable. She trusted Boris Johnson, but loathed Michael Gove. Her family was divided. One daughter, who worked abroad, was a staunch remainer; the other an adamant leaver. Upending the usual age dynamic, her younger relatives complained of eastern European migrants costing them work, while her mother, who had lived through the second world war, felt that the EU had guaranteed peace in Europe. In the voting booth, Shaw finally made her choice: she voted leave. “To be quite frank, I did not believe it would happen,” she says. “I thought I’d put in a protest vote. The impact of my stupidity!”

      As soon as Shaw saw the result the following morning, her heart sank. “I was in shock,” she remembers. “Even though I voted leave, I thought, ‘Oh no! This is terrible!’ Then all hell broke loose. The texts started flying. There was a massive fight on Facebook.”

      [...]

      For experts in voter behaviour or cognitive science, however, this is unsurprising. Humans do not instinctively enjoy changing their minds. Admitting that you were wrong, especially when the original decision has huge ramifications, is a painful and destabilising experience that the brain tends to resist. Research into this kind of denial has given us concepts such as cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

      “When you have a strong view about something, you’re likely to reject information that’s contrary to your view, reject the source of the information and rationalise the information,” says Jane Green, professor of political science at the University of Manchester and co-director of the British Election Study. “We select information that’s consistent with our views, because it’s more comfortable and reaffirming.” In fact, it’s physically pleasurable. Some recent studies of confirmation bias indicate that consuming information that supports our beliefs actually produces a dopamine rush.

    • Everything Must Go

      Economic growth will destroy everything. There’s no way of greening it – we need a new system.

    • Confusion as Trump and outgoing director pick leaders for consumer agency

      But hours before, CFPB Director Richard Cordray had sent a letter to Trump, declaring he was officially done leading the federal consumer watchdog agency once the clock struck midnight.

      Cordray named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director, which essentially establishes her as the bureau’s acting director.
      The departure of Cordray, the first-ever director of the consumer agency, marks an opening for Trump to embark on a major overhaul of the agency.

      There had been speculation that Trump would tap a member of his administration to lead the bureau.

    • Hammond backtracked on funding after ‘fury’ at NHS boss’s demands

      The chancellor viewed Stevens’s plea, in which he urged ministers to deliver on leave campaigners’ promise of £350m a week more for the NHS, as “very, very unhelpful” when he was facing so many pleas from other services for cash.

      At the time of Stevens’s speech on 8 November, Hammond had already begun discussions with the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over his formal pre-budget request that the NHS in England be given a £3bn uplift for 2018-19.

    • Think Brexit negotiations are going badly? It’s about to get a whole lot worse

      If you have been following politics of late, it will not have escaped your notice that progress in the Brexit negotiations has been painfully slow. Eight months on from the triggering of Article 50, Britain has managed to stumble over every imaginable hurdle. It has been like watching a car crash in slow motion.

      Britain is desperate to move on from simply discussing exit terms—it wants talks on the future trading relationship. But the EU has maintained that it will not move in this direction until the UK offers some clarity on EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border (a nightmarishly complex issue), and the Brexit “divorce bill” to settle the UK’s financial obligations.

      Until recently, there had been no progress on the UK side whatsoever. But now, after months of huffing and puffing, it looks like the UK may be about to make the much-needed breakthrough. On the divorce bill, at least, there have been more positive noises coming from No 10, with Theresa May doubling her offer from £20bn to £40bn. There is a chance, if things move further still, that the EU will decide “sufficient progress” has been made at its December summit and that talks on the future relationship can begin.

      Great news, you might think. You’d be wrong. The problem with entering phase two of Brexit talks is that Britain has no idea what it wants out of a future trading relationship. The prime minister doesn’t know what she wants, cabinet doesn’t know what it wants, parliament doesn’t know what it wants and the public don’t know what they want. If you thought phase one was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • The European Left in times of crises: lessons from Greece

      The prospect of government did not generate or impose novel thinking, practices, or behaviours within the Greek left.

    • Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis

      Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in September-October 2017. The impact of these storms was great, but greater still are the convulsions on the island long after the storms had passed over. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure remains in tatters, with the power grid still largely dysfunctional and basic institutions such as schools and hospitals on life support. Not surprisingly, large numbers of Puerto Ricans—who are citizens of the United States—have moved to the mainland. The Centre for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College, New York) estimates that of a population of 3.5 million, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will make this journey. Already, 1,30,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October.

      Towns and States in the mainland U.S. that are already home to Puerto Ricans have welcomed thousands more since the storms of this year. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, for instance, hundreds of Puerto Ricans have already arrived to join their families. There is little indication that these people will return to the island. Betty Medina Lichtenstein of Enlace de Familias says that it is the elderly who are likely to return, while the younger families seem to want to stay on.

    • Putin’s link to Boris and Gove’s Brexit ‘coup’ revealed: Tycoon who netted millions from Russian gas deal funds think tank that helped write the ministers letter demanding May take a tougher stance on leaving the EU
    • The hard-won kinship between Britain and Ireland is threatened by Brexit idiocy

      When people are screwing up, they tend to take their rage and frustration out on their nearest and dearest. If, as seems increasingly likely, the European Union summit on 15 December does not give the go-ahead for talks on a post-Brexit trade deal, we already know who’s going to get the blame.

      It will be all Ireland’s fault. The Sun this month gave the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, fair warning, advising him to “shut your gob and grow up” and stop “disrespecting 17.4 million voters of a country whose billions stopped Ireland going bust as recently as 2010”. Boris Johnson, in Dublin, delivered a slightly more diplomatic version of the same message. The Irish should stop worrying about a hard border being reimposed on their island, trust all the lovely reassurances they have received from the British government and make the necessary declaration that “sufficient progress” has been made on the issue for substantive talks to go ahead.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • How Trump is slowly destroying America’s national security agencies

      The Guardian has reported that John Le Carre, the famed British spy novelist, recently said of the Trump presidency: “something truly, seriously bad is happening and we have to be awake to that.” Chillingly, he expressed alarm about the “toxic” parallels between the rise of President Trump and hard right regimes in Poland and Hungary and the rise of fascism in the 1930s.

      Mr Le Carre may be overstating the risk of rising fascism but he is surely right to warn that many of Mr Trump’s early actions and words challenge fundamental tenets of democracy.

      These challenges include his assertion that the media is “the enemy of the people”, that news he doesn’t like is “fake news,” that there were “good people” among the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, and that the Senate should change its rules to abolish the requirement for 60 votes to end a filibuster, thus eliminating the single most important protection of minority interests in our system of government.

    • The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta.

      It is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III whose work seems to be sending shock waves through the capital, by exposing the lucrative work lobbyists from both parties engage in on behalf of foreign interests.

      The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta. His lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, a Washington icon of power and political influence, notified its employees recently that the enterprise is shutting its doors.

    • Trump tweets he ‘took a pass’ at being named TIME’s person of the year

      The magazine issued a statement disputing the President’s account.

      “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6,” a spokeswoman told CNN.

      [...]

      Trump has long been obsessed with being on the cover of TIME and other news magazines, even making fake covers to hang in some of his properties.

      Last summer, TIME asked for the fake magazines to be removed after reports surfaced that at least five of Trump’s golf clubs featured the fakes bearing his photo.

    • Labour can take Tory ‘crown jewel’ councils next year, says Sadiq Khan

      Sadiq Khan expects Labour to wrest control of long-held Conservative councils in the capital in next year’s local elections, pledging that there is “no corner of London where Labour can’t win”.

      The mayor of London will say his party’s aim is to capture the Tory “crown jewels” of Wandsworth – known for its historically low council tax – and Barnet, once dubbed “Easycouncil” for its mass outsourcing of services.

      In a speech at London Labour’s conference on Saturday, Khan will say he will make Brexit the cornerstone of the campaign, as well as air quality, police cuts and affordable housing.

    • The movement to replace neoliberalism is on the ascendency – where should it go next?

      This is because neoliberalism – the broad set of political-economic ideas and policies which have dominated public life over the last 40 years – has failed, in both theory and in practice. It is in the wake of the global financial crisis that these failures have plumbed new depths. Financial instability looms over economies shackled by insufficient investment. Living standards stagnate and work becomes ever more insecure, shattering the implicit bargain of the entire endeavour. The human costs of this experiment have been enormous, with psychological and non-communicable ill-health becoming the hallmark of a system that cares for little but profit. Inequality, itself linked to ill-health, has grown to levels unseen since the nineteenth century, leading to large power imbalances throughout society. Socio-economic mobility has been further stalled by the erosion of the public realm, from universities to the legal system. Most pressingly, neoliberalism continues to rely on a growth model that is destroying the biophysical preconditions upon which it relies, increasing the chance of collapse in the climate and other natural systems.

    • The Influence of Israel on Britain

      Ms Patel admitted her actions “fell below the high standards expected of a secretary of state” which was certainly the case, because she told lies; but her low standard expeditions appear to have involved some intriguing antics. It was reported that in August she went on “a secret trip to Israel with a lobbyist, during which she held 12 meetings, including one with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, without informing either [Prime Minister] May or Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary.” It is amazing that she could have imagined that British intelligence services would not report her movements and meetings in the daily brief, but this did not stop her telling the Guardian newspaper that “Boris knew about the visit. The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew about [the visit to Israel]. It is not on, it is not on at all. I went out there, I paid for it, and there is nothing else to this. It is quite extraordinary. It is for the Foreign Office to go away and explain themselves.”

      But it wasn’t the Foreign Office that had to explain things, because this was yet another squalid deception by a grubby little politician — for whatever reason she may have had to try to disguise her motives. Her assertion that “I went on holiday and met with people and organisations . . . It is not about who else I met, I have friends out there,” didn’t ring true, and the media discovered a whole raft of deceit.

      Not only did she have a dozen meetings with “friends” in Israel, but, as revealed by the Sun newspaper, “on September 7, Ms Patel met Israeli Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan for talks in the House of Commons. Then, on September 18, she met Israel’s Foreign Ministry boss Yuval Rotem while in New York at the UN General Assembly. Ms Patel would not last night [November 6] disclose what the meetings were about. She had seen both men in Tel Aviv in August . . .”

      She was accompanied on her Middle Eastern holiday by an agent of influence of Israel, Lord Polak, who attended all her meetings with Israel’s best and brightest, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. And Polak went with her to New York, with his flight being paid for by the Israeli consulting firm ISHRA, which “offers a wide range of client services.” Polak was also present when she had undisclosed discussions with the Israeli Minister for Public Security in the House of Commons before she went to New York.

    • National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place

      Seeking to capitalize on the Republicans’ disarray, public cruelty and Trumpitis, the Democratic Party is gearing up for the Congressional elections of 2018. Alas, party leaders are likely to enlist the same old cast and crew.

      The Democratic National Committee and their state imitators are raising money from the same old big donors and PACs that are complicit in the Party’s chronic history of losing so many Congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races—not to mention the White House.

      The large, embattled unions are preparing to spend millions on television ads and unimaginative get-out-the-vote efforts, without demanding fresh pro-worker/pro-union agendas from the Democratic politicians they regularly endorse.

    • Bridging the Gap Between Movements and Elections: How the Working Families Party Organized in 2017

      Today we bring you a conversation with Joe Dinkin, the national campaigns and communications director at the Working Families Party. Dinkin discusses how the Working Families Party bridges the gap between the energy of social movements and the machinations of politics.

    • What It’s Like Covering Trump

      Remember that time Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz emailed, “Watch your back, bitch”?

      Or that time when Don Jr. and Ivanka were almost charged with felony fraud?

      You remember that because we found out.

      The day President Trump took office, our reporters laid out the topics they were going to cover.

      Now, a year after the election, we’ve asked five of our reporters to tell us about the stories they’ve done and what has stuck out.

    • Racism and Avarice: Thanksgiving in Trump’s Dystopia

      If the president has his way, they will be returned to a country ravaged by almost a million cases of cholera, a country not nearly ready to take them back, a country that sees more than a full quarter of its gross domestic product come from personal donations given by Haitians in the US. Many will have nowhere to go once they arrive. Here, they have jobs, lives and children, and contribute to society.

      [...]

      Rank racism and towering avarice are on the menu this Thanksgiving. Fifty-nine thousand good people now suffer the terror of threatened displacement, with millions more standing on the cusp of ruin in service to a powerful few. There is nothing new here. All the Thanksgiving apocrypha in the world cannot obscure the genocide, slavery and greed that clang across 10 generations of brutality in pursuit of profit. This is the truth that lies beneath the veneer of holiday. Wealth must be extracted; this is all ye know and all ye need know.

    • NYT’s Obit for Ed Herman Requires a Correction

      The problem with this statement is that Manufacturing Consent was published in 1988—years before the 1994 Rwandan genocide or the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

      The book does deal at length with the Cambodian mass murders. It cites as the best analysis of Cambodian losses before, during and after Khmer Rouge rule the work of historian Michael Vickery, who estimated that the Khmer Rouge executed some 200,000 to 300,000 people, with a total of about 750,000 excess deaths (out of a population of about 7 million) due to killings, famine and disease, during their three-year reign. Vickery found that a lesser but comparable figure, about half a million, were killed in the US bombing of Cambodia beginning in 1969 and the concurrent Cambodian civil war.

    • Matt Taibbi’s Slip Shows Beneath Praise for Ed Herman

      See what I mean? Am I the only one to see supreme irony in the fact that Taibbi would credit Herman with unmasking key historical WHOPPERS, but the fact that he was a “skeptic” about Russia-gate … well, “you can believe he’s dead wrong” on that one. One can still admire Herman for providing the framework and conceptual tools needed to unmask whoppers – except please don’t apply them to Russia-gate. Would the NY Times manufacture consent on Russia-gate? Does anyone remember the Times’scheerleading for the war on Iraq?

    • Russian President Putin signs ‘foreign agent’ media law

      The bill, in retaliation for Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT being told to register as a foreign agent in the US, was earlier approved by parliament.

    • As Flynn cuts off WH, top 4 Alleged Crimes he could sink Trump with

      Ret. 3-star general Michael Flynn, under investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, has ceased sharing information on his case with the Trump white house. Analysts think that this move may be a sign that Flynn is turning state’s evidence and may provide information damning to Trump.

      Flynn was a top Trump campaign official and then National Security Adviser to the president. He appears to have committed or planned several alleged crimes and if Trump was in the loop, he would be tarnished by Flynn’s rackets. (Not that Trump doesn’t have his own tarnishing rackets). Remember, it isn’t the crime that usually gets them but the cover-up.

    • What Happened to the 16 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct

      As new sexual-harassment accusations — sometimes several per day — pour out in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, there’s one person whose alleged sexual misconduct seems simultaneously ever-present, and yet grossly overlooked.

      Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo moment if Donald Trump had not been elected, even after being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape. But in recent weeks several of Trump’s accusers have said that while they’re happy sexual harassment is being discussed more openly, they’re still dismayed that their own stories seem to have had little impact. Some have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more ready to listen to their accounts. A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, one of the accusers, has also opened up the possibility that they’ll get their day in court.

      But for now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed last month that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning alleged sexual harassers (if they’re Democrats).

      Here’s a reminder of what behavior the president has been accused of, including, when available, an update on how the women have continued trying to make their stories heard.

    • In the Era of #MeToo, Will Trump’s Accusers Finally Be Heard?

      The #MeToo social movement has taken off with surprising swiftness after numerous women broke their silence in October over Harvey Weinstein’s years of alleged assaults. Every day new revelations emerge of yet another prominent man in power facing accusations from multiple women of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior—sometimes dating back decades. News media are enthusiastically reporting on these stories, and employers have been quick to suspend alleged perpetrators and launch investigations. The accusations are aimed at men across the political spectrum, revealing that men who profess liberal and conservative views alike appear to have resorted to despicable behavior behind closed doors—simply because they could.

      Why then is Donald Trump still immune from the equal-opportunity whirlwind of public shaming?

      It is nothing new for women to come forward about their victimization at the hands of men. But until now they have paid a high personal price for doing so, and often had their experiences discounted. One of the earliest high-profile cases in recent memory was that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who during his confirmation hearings in 1991 faced allegations of sexual harassment by junior staff attorney Anita Hill. Hill’s accusations were ridiculed and dismissed. Right-wing operative David Brock even wrote a book about her called “The Real Anita Hill,” which he has since disavowed as “character assassination” after he changed political sides. Hill’s experience was a message to women in Washington, D.C., and the nation as a whole: If women dared expose the predations of powerful men, they would pay a stiff personal price.

    • The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It

      The news is coming so fast and furious, from so many sources and in so many fragments, that it takes more than a scorecard to keep up with the Trump-Russia connection. It takes a timeline — a “map,” if you will, of where events and names and dates and deeds converge into a story that makes sense of the incredible scandal of the 2016 election and now of the Trump Administration.

      For years Steve Harper produced timelines for the cases he argued or defended in court as a successful litigator. Retired now from practicing law, Harper has turned his experience, talent, and curiosity to monitoring for BillMoyers.com the bizarre and entangled ties between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and the murky world of Russian oligarchs, state officials, hackers, spies, and Republican operatives. You can check out the over 700 entries right here. But for an overview — and some specifics — of recent developments, I called up Steve to give us a sense of the emerging story.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook hiring hundreds to comply with hate speech law

      The new personnel, who will work for a service provider called CCC out of a new office in the western city of Essen that opened on Thursday, will be responsible for reviewing content posted to the social media platform.

    • Facebook opens 2nd office combating hate speech in Germany

      German lawmakers approved a bill in June that could see social networking sites fined up to 50 million euros ($59 million) if they persistently fail to remove illegal content within a week.

    • Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are currently blocked for millions in Pakistan

      Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are currently blocked in Pakistan. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) also ordered that all news channels be taken off-air. They made these drastic changes in light of protests in the capital and under the authority of the Media Code of Conduct 2015.

    • WordPress ignoring terrorist propaganda, campaigners say
    • Were being pushed towards silence, self-censorship: Gandhi
    • Stop Funding Hate has a simple aim: political censorship

      Here’s a law of politics that is about as cast-iron as a law of politics can be: people who hate tabloid newspapers are snobs. Every time. Scratch a Daily Mail basher or those people who seethe daily about the Sun and you will find someone who’s really just scared of the throng and of what all this tabloid fare is doing to their brains.

    • Sudden Shift at a Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored

      For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

      But now, a feud has erupted over the small academic publication, as its editorial board — the scientists who advise the journal’s direction and handle article submissions — has accused the journal’s new owner of suppressing a paper and promoting “corporate interests over independent science in the public interest.”

      More is at stake than just the journal’s direction.

    • Language and Censorship Stir Singapore Filmmakers

      The title of the panel discussion at the Singapore International Film Festival on Saturday was innocuous enough – Singapore cinema: Then and Now – but the filmmaker panelists chose to speak about subjects close to their hearts, especially the use of the Hokkien dialect of the Chinese language and censorship.

      The panelists included Ghazi Alqudcy, whose debut feature “Temporary Visa,” shot entirely in Bosnia Herzegovina is currently in post; Wesley Leon Aroozoo whose first feature documentary “I Want To Go Home” premiered at Busan and is also playing at SGIFF; and filmmaking couple Colin Goh and Woo Yen Wen, who are now based in Taiwan.

    • Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?

      OK, it’s from Russia Today so you should of course not trust it but somehow this video and text and the man in it seems quite factual, not fake and obviously not omitted.

      It documents that Eric Emerson Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet – an American multinational conglomerate that owns a lot and among them Google – is working on “de-ranking” alleged propaganda outlets such as Russia Today, RT – the world’s third largest television network – and Sputnik.

      [...]

      Mr Schmidt, you are blatantly and clearly interfering in the rights of millions, if not billions, to know. To seek information. To shape their opinions.

      With your few words you abuse your almost unlimited digital, political, economic and ‘defence’ power – much much worse than if you had sexually abused just one woman for which older men today are fired or choose to resign.

      This has to be stated irrespective of whether we like or dislike Russia and its media. That is not the issue here. This has to be fought against because it is slippery slope, Mr Schmidt.

    • How a lone Ghanaian cartoonist stood up to China

      In April, Ghanaian artist Bright Tetteh Ackwerh published a cartoon on his Facebook page titled, “We Dey Beg,” or “We are begging,” in honor of a recent campaign against illegal gold mining supported by Chinese companies, which has polluted local rivers.

      In the image, China’s president Xi Jinping is pouring a sludge of brown water from a Ming dynasty vase into bowls held by Ghana’s president and the minister of natural resource. Next to Xi, China’s ambassador to Ghana happily clutches a gold bar.

    • The Hays Code: Real censorship in America SOFREP Original Content

      Most people admit that propaganda is pretty common in the United States in one form or another, but all out censorship is pretty rare. Freedom of speech is a hallmark of American values, and though private institutions may disallow one thing, or groups of people might discourage another, it is still generally legal to say whatever you want. Still, you get in murky waters when you’re talking about the distribution of entertainment, as it’s tied in with both the government and monopoly-like institutions that will effectively have the final say as to what type of stuff is put out there.

    • Govt should strike balance between censorship, security: DRF

      The NetBlocks internet shutdown observatory project in coordination with the Digital Rights Foundation has collected evidence of nation-wide internet disruptions throughout Pakistan.

      On the afternoon of Saturday 25 November, internet users reported disruptions affecting key social media platforms amid protests. The present investigation seeks to provide an early determination of the extent of those restrictions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name

      The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of US visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

      The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch.

    • UK spy court ruled immune from judicial review – for now

      The UK’s Court of Appeal has ruled that the body that oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies cannot be held subject to a judicial review under active laws.

      In a judgment handed down yesterday, the court rejected an argument from campaign group Privacy International that aimed to use case law to back up its the right to appeal a decision from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

      As part of its ongoing legal battles with the UK’s snoops, Privacy International took GCHQ to the court, alleging that it had been the subject of unlawful computer hacking by the spy agency.

      It questioned whether there had been a lawful warrant from the secretary of state for this activity, with the case hinging on the specificity of the warrant.

    • How to link Aadhaar to insurance policies

      The Irdai has issued a circular making it mandatory for all policyholders to link their Aadhaar and PAN details to their insurance policies. If one does not have a PAN card, Form 60 must be furnished to comply with this requirement.

    • How to link PAN with Aadhaar

      It has now become mandatory to link your Permanent Account Number (PAN) with Aadhaar irrespective of whether you file income tax returns or not. The government in the last budget introduced a new law which made it mandatory for every individual with a PAN to link it with Aadhaar.

    • What Amazon Echo and Google Home Do With Your Voice Data
    • Best browsers for privacy

      With a number of options out there for private browsing, we take a look at the best browsers on the market for privacy. Please note this list is not ranked.

    • Watching NSFW Sites? Microsoft Edge May Automatically Turn On Incognito Mode [Ed: Misleading headline. Better headline: Microsoft is spying on all your browsing and detects what porn you watch.]
    • China’s censorship czar falls, as its “Police Cloud” tracking system rises across the country

      Another key application is the infamous “predictive policing“. The hope is that by analyzing huge quantities of data about past events and incidents, the police can predict where future crimes may occur, and who the perpetrators will be. This is something that is being explored around the world, but China’s comprehensive datasets may encourage local authorities to rely on it even more than elsewhere. On this point, the HRW post concludes [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Birth of a Nation

      These acts reveal the Virginian mindset. Indigenous peoples were barriers to development, keeping colonists from realizing their new plan for the region. The initial scheme had been to get in, find gold or silver, then get out. That went nowhere. Then the settlers turned to agriculture. To acquire land, they seized it from the Chickahominies, Paspaheghs, and Weyanocks, and occupied Appomattoc, Arrohattoc, and Powhatan domains.

      Farming also required labor. Finding too many inclined to sloth, Dale instituted martial law. “People were to be called to work by drumbeat, leave their work by drumbeat, be led to church by drumbeat”— rules that “were welcomed by the venture’s leaders as bringing order and stability to the colony.” Others thought the strictures “mercylessly executed,” as one case demonstrates. A group of men was fleeing to Native lands. “When caught, some were ‘apointed to be hanged, some burned, some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked, and some to be shott to deathe,’” Bernard Bailyn explains.

      For some reason this colony could not attract enough settlers, but English functionaries soon found a solution. “In the fall of 1618,” it was “reported that the City of London was shipping to Virginia ‘an hundred younge boyes and girles that [had] bin starving in the streetes,’” and who were to be sent “‘against their wills’ if necessary.” Officials forced several hundred more children to Virginia in the following years.

      There were also seven young “vagabonds who had been snatched up from the London streets” aboard the Mayflower. The Pilgrims aimed to settle in Virginia after talks with Edwin Sandys, a top Company man. But they never reached their intended destination– at the Hudson River’s mouth; Virginia’s holdings ranged far– and instead arrived at Plymouth in December 1620.

      [...]

      We should see Plymouth, with its founding document crafted to constrain populism; political theater passing as elections; racism; severe arrogance; and affinity for violence, as a city upon a hill. From it, we can discern the grim contours of US history, as it would unfold in centuries to come.

    • History’s Emancipator: Did Abraham Lincoln Have “a Drop of Anti-Slavery Blood in His Veins”?

      On December 24, 1860, South Carolina legislators alluded to the Declaration of Independence when stating their reasons for secession. Abolitionists were “inciting” contented captives to “servile insurrection,” and “elevating to citizenships” Blacks who constitutionally were “incapable of becoming citizens.” South Carolina’s secession from the United States did not just mean the loss of a state, and soon a region, but the loss of the region’s land and wealth. The South had millions of acres of land that were worth more in purely economic terms than the almost 4 million enslaved human beings who were toiling on its plantations in 1860. With their financial investments in the institution of slavery and their dependence on its productivity, northern lenders and manufacturers were crucial sponsors of slavery. And so, they pushed their congressmen onto their compromising knees to restore the Union.

    • One Officer, Scores of Tickets and a Familiar Racial Disparity

      Brown has fully embraced the ticket enforcement effort. Records show Brown issued 198 pedestrian tickets over five years, four times the total of the next most prolific officer. Slightly more than 60 percent of his tickets went to blacks, meaning one of every 10 blacks to receive a pedestrian ticket in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017 was cited by Brown.

    • China under-20 football tour suspended after pro-Tibet protests

      A tour of Germany by China’s under-20 men’s football team has been suspended after their first match was met with protests.

      The remaining games in Germany will be postponed, the German Football Association said, after a group of protesters unfurled Tibetan flags causing the Chinese team to walk off the pitch. The association has not given a date for the rescheduled games.

    • Police Oversight Ordinance Promised Transparency But Doesn’t Fully Deliver

      The reason? The agency is hamstrung by the ordinance that created it. The law, pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, includes specific language preventing the agency from immediately sharing its reports with the public.

      Sharon Fairley, who recently resigned as COPA’s chief administrator to run for Illinois attorney general, said she objected to that provision in the ordinance, passed by the City Council last year.

    • Thanksgiving Is a Tradition. It’s Also a Lie

      We don’t have to buy turkey. We don’t have to buy into any of it. Sure, it’s a tradition. So is the Confederate flag. Last year, we got national media attention at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests when they sicced their dogs on us. The last time we got that kind of attention, Richard Nixon was in office, when we occupied Alcatraz for almost two years. That occupation started the week of Thanksgiving 1969. In North Dakota almost 50 years later, private militia spent the week of Thanksgiving shooting Native protesters with rubber bullets and spraying us with freezing water. Some of us had never seen ourselves onscreen. And then we saw them trying to get rid of us like time never moved, like the Indian wars didn’t end, just went cold.

    • Remembering Puerto Ricans–Americans–on Thanksgiving

      Many Puerto Ricans are spending Thanksgiving on the mainland, away from home and family and friends, as climate refugees. I guess this catastrophe is something that should be on our minds on this day of feasting.

      Thanksgiving was a northern, regional holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln promulgated its as a way of creating a national symbol to incorporate even the alienated South. Thanksgiving needs to continue that work of national integration today, with regard to Puerto Rico. It should be remembered that they didn’t ask for us. We invaded during the Spanish-American War of 1898 on the grounds that we regretted their lack of liberty under the crown. Then we kept the island as a territory and gave the inhabitants citizenship.

    • The ‘Opposite’ of Leadership: Anita Hill Says Joe Biden Apology Not Good Enough

      In a lengthy Washington Post interview with Anita Hill and five female Democratic lawmakers who supported her during the historic confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, Hill criticized former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent apology regarding how he and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee handled her allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

      In her remarks, published late Wednesday, Hill said Biden’s new mea culpas don’t really take “ownership of his role in what happened.” He and other lawmakers should have shown “leadership” at the time, she added, “And they did just the opposite.”

      Hill, who is now a professor of legal history and public policy at Brandeis University, testified in 1991—in front of a Judiciary Committee comprised of only white men—that Thomas sexually harassed her when he worked as her supervisor at both the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    • More Than 180 Women Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy

      On May 2, 2015, Susan Ingram lay facedown in the dark at her local Massage Envy in West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of the franchise’s nearly 1,200 spas nationwide. It was her seventh session with James Deiter, a massage therapist whom the spa had enthusiastically recommended. By now, Ingram trusted Deiter, and she closed her eyes and relaxed as he worked her muscles. Then, without warning, Deiter ground his erect penis against Ingram’s body. He groped her breasts. He put his fingers in and out of her vagina.

      Ingram lay there, frozen in fear and disbelief, until the session was over. After driving home sobbing, she called the spa to report the sexual assault. She was shocked when the manager refused to interrupt the session Deiter was having with a female client, Ingram said, or to connect Ingram with the spa’s owner.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked

      I used natural language processing techniques to analyze net neutrality comments submitted to the FCC from April-October 2017, and the results were disturbing.

    • From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages

      Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations.

      As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwith. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

    • Dem FCC member: Stop us from ending net neutrality

      “They have proposed to end net neutrality, and they are trying to force a vote on their plan on Dec. 14,” Rosenworcel writes. “It’s a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

    • I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality

      Net neutrality is the right to go where you want and do what you want on the internet without your broadband provider getting in the way. It means your broadband provider can’t block websites, throttle services or charge you premiums if you want to reach certain online content.

    • If Trump’s FCC Repeals Net Neutrality, Elites Will Rule the Internet—and the Future

      Net-neutrality protections assure that the essential democratic discourse on the World Wide Web cannot be bartered off to the highest bidders of a billionaire class that dominates the political debate on so many other media platforms.

    • Net Neutrality and the FCC: Let’s talk about this abusive pattern of releasing controversial policies on major holidays

      So the FCC has released its plans to eradicate Net Neutrality in the United States, on Thanksgiving, as it said it would. This, on its own, merits more discussion – for it is such a blatant display not just of bad faith, but bad faith that they fully expect to get away with.

    • Maine lawmakers denounce FCC plan to end net neutrality

      “[The internet is] a vital part of 21st century life and a critical driver of a modern economy,” King said in a statement. “The proposed repeal of net neutrality threatens those advancements by putting speed and availability of information for sale to the highest bidder.”

    • The FCC’s Order Is Out, We’ve Read It, and Here’s What You Need to Know: It Will End Net Neutrality and Break the Internet

      The FCC is scheduled to vote on this dangerous proposal at its meeting on Dec. 14.

      Pai’s draft is a lot of things: thin on substance and reasoning, cruel, willfully naive — and it’s everything that ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon could have wanted (and more). But what it’s not is sensible or grounded in reality. It will take away every safeguard we need to protect the open internet we’ve always had, giving ISPs the power to kill off their competition, choke innovation, charge more for different kinds of content, suppress political dissent, and marginalize the voices of racial-justice advocates and others organizing for change.

    • FCC Commissioner Begs Nation to Stop GOP Colleagues From Killing Net Neutrality

      After one commissioner called the FCC’s newly-released plan to roll back net neutrality “worse than one could imagine,” a second commissioner is now calling voters to make sure the proposal by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai does not go through.

      In a Los Angeles Times op-ed published Thursday—entitled “I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality”—Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel points to the overwhelming public support for net neutrality and the ongoing questions about validity of anti-net neutrality public comments submitted to FCC, as well as what appear to be tens of thousands of missing comments. “If the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for commenting on it has been even worse,” she writes.

      Rosenworcel decries Pai’s plan as “a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Copyright Holders Want ISPs to Police Pirate Sites and Issue Warnings

        Copyright holders have asked South African lawmakers to include tough anti-piracy measures in the upcoming Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill. Among other things, they want ISPs to police pirate sites and send warnings to copyright-infringing subscribers. For now, however, the Government doesn’t plan to include any, as this doesn’t fit the purpose of the bill.

      • Supreme Court Will Decide if ISP Can Charge Money to Expose Pirates

        US-based movie company Voltage Pictures is using a reverse class action in Canada, hoping to obtain settlements from alleged pirates. The case requires Internet provider Rogers to expose many alleged pirates, but the ISP wants $100 per hour to make this happen. This resulted in a dispute between the movie company and Rogers, which is now heading to the Supreme Court.

      • Police Seize Hundreds of Computers Over Pirate Movie Download in 2013

        Copyright trolling in Poland has taken on a sinister twist. A local journalist informs TorrentFreak that as many as 300 people have had their computers seized by police over an alleged movie download four years ago. Furthermore, the lawyer involved in this case is currently subject to a disciplinary inquiry after some of his copyright work was seen as potentially undermining trust in the legal profession.

        [...]

        “As a barrister of the [copyright holder], Artur Glass-Brudziński had access to the prosecutor’s documentation. So he used this to obtain identified names and addresses, without waiting for the end of the criminal proceeding. Those people were just witnesses, but Glass-Brudziński sent thousands of letters to them, suggesting they are suspects, which was not true,” Maj says.

Patent Sharks’ Last Resort: Mohawk Immunity, ‘STRONGER’ Patents Act, Qualcomm Thickets, and SLAPP

Sunday 26th of November 2017 01:10:36 PM

Trolls’ alter ego; they used to be called “patent sharks” — now a broader group of predators or parasites whose existence is based solely on patents

Summary: A roundup of news stories which serve to illustrate the depths of the methods now employed by patent predators, to whom nothing is out of bounds (in the name of patent predation)

THIS morning an article by Brian Nearing was published in the mainstream media. It’s about the US patent system (USPTO) and PTAB, or more specifically about attempts to dodge PTAB inter partes reviews — a subject we have written many articles about. What’s particularly odd about it is the summary: “Senators call tribe’s ownership of trademarks “legal fiction””.

This has nothing to do with trademarks. It’s about patents. Can the author/editor not distinguish? Generally speaking, copyrights, trademarks and patents are very different. Stop calling these “IPR”, “IP” or “intellectual property [rights]“. These propaganda terms are intended to mislead and demonstrably that deception succeeds sometimes. The article’s headline and body are OK and many quotes are included in it (after the introduction).

At the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation on New York’s side of the St. Lawrence River, there is a casino, a broadband company, and a television studio. But pharmaceutical and computer software facilities are nowhere to be found.

This fall, the tribe and its 15,600 members put no money down to become new legal owners of federal patents for a multibillion-dollar eye medication, as well as for computer software programs that help drive tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

[...]

Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said patent sales to the Mohawks were “one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I’ve ever seen, and it should be illegal.”

She has introduced legislation seeking to abrogate tribal sovereign immunity.

In a letter this fall, four other U.S. senators called the deal a scheme to protect “Allergan’s market monopoly — and its profits — at the expense of people who need the drug.”

That letter was signed by Sens. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Margaret Wood Hassan of New Hampshire, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

We expect that practice to be made illegal soon. We also expect the US Supreme Court to cement PTAB’s role, as we said earlier today. Hearings in Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group start in about 24 hours from now.

PTAB is, contrary to the above, also under attack from few American politicians. About a week ago we saw this article about an Oklahoma CEO. This is total, unadulterated rubbish. It’s a puff piece for the patent trolls’ lobby (STRONGER Patents Act of 2017). When talking about STRONGER [sic] Patents Act always remember that what they mean by strong is the very opposite of strong. It means crappy, low-quality, weak patents. We wrote quite a few articles about it (as early as summer) and why it’ll never get enough Congressional support.

Patent maximalists are nowadays on the retreat and they typically rely on mischief and deception, just like Team UPC in Europe. Such is the case with the Mohawks and STRONGER [sic] Patents Act. What next/else will they try? Shaming another USPTO Director out of Office? Burning (literally) patents in an illegal protest on USPTO premises? Fake scandals regarding PTAB? Fake news?

Notice how the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) spoke about Qualcomm’s latest patent thicket. “Very quietly” it came about because the public knows it’s a predatory shark and its fees are nothing but ‘protection’ money. Also notice the attack on free speech itself. Last weekend we wrote about how the EFF got repeatedly sued for mocking patents. The judge said that it’s OK to mock bad patents, but only after the EFF had spent a lot of money and time (legal altercations). Several days ago the technical media wrote about it as follows:

A federal judge in California has ruled in favor of the Electronic Frontier Foundation after the organization was recently sued over its “Stupid Patent of the Month” blog posts. As a result, the advocacy group is not required to remove a recent post simply because an Australian patent entity (often called “trolls”) doesn’t like it.

The case began back in April 2017 when EFF countersued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a “classic patent troll” in a June 2016 blog post entitled: “Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer.”

In 2016, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post—but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still left the post up and then sued regarding the Australian court’s injunction.

The EFF uses databases like Docket Navigator and Lex Machina to 'hunt' patents and will hopefully carry on in spite of years of SLAPPing. Google too has a repository of patents and days ago a press release said that “CPA GLOBAL CONTRIBUTES DATA TO GOOGLE PATENTS PUBLIC DATASETS BIG DATA PROJECT” (but with Google one cannot track actual lawsuits, for strategic take on patents that escalated into legal action).

The more marginalised patent sharks feel, the more aggressive they’ll become. Like a cornered animal…

More in Tux Machines

Games: Slaps and Beans and Games Online For Android

  • Slaps and Beans now in Early Access
    Bud Spencer & Terence Hill: Slaps and Beans [Steam] is now in Early Access after a successful Kickstarter campaign in which the developers gained over $200k.
  • Best First Person Shooter Games Online For Android
    With the ever shining genre of First Person Shooters making it Huge in the PC market, game studios have brought the best of FPS action to people’s mobile devices. Here I present to you my best picks for the Free first person shooter games online for Android.

Software and howtos

New: NuTyX 9.93 and Linux Mint 18.3

  • NuTyX 9.93 available with cards 2.3.105
    The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.93 release of NuTyX. NuTyX 9.92 comes with kernel LTS 4.14.6, glibc 2.26, gcc 7.2.0, binutils 2.29.1, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.5, qt 5.10.0, KDE plasma 5.11.3, KDE Framework 5.41.0, KDE Applications 17.12.0, mate 1.18.2, xfce4 4.12.4, firefox 57.0.2 Quantum, etc...
  • Linux Mint 18.3 'Sylvia' Xfce and KDE editions are available for download
    Linux Mint is killing the KDE version of its operaring system -- a move some people applaud. That's what makes the new 18.3 version -- named "Sylvia" -- so frustrating. It's bizarre to release a new version of an operating system that essentially has no future. But oh well, here we are. After a short beta period, the KDE distro is now available for download -- if you still care. I recommend that KDE loyalists just switch to Kubuntu or Netrunner, but I digress. Despite being the final version of Linux Mint KDE, it is still a great alternative to the consistently disappointing Windows 10. After all, it has been discovered that Microsoft is bundling a bug-ridden password-manager with its operating system without user consent! How can you trust such an OS?! Sigh.
  • Linux Mint 18.3 "Sylvia" KDE and Xfce Editions Officially Released, Download Now
    The Linux Mint team released the final Linux Mint 18.3 "Sylvia" Xfce and Linux Mint 18.3 "Sylvia" KDE editions to download, as well as an upgrade for existing Linux Mint 18.2 "Sonya" users. Previously in beta, the Linux Mint 18.3 "Sylvia" KDE and Xfce editions are now officially released and ready for production use. Just like the Cinnamon and MATE flavors, they are based on Canonical's long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system and use the Linux 4.10 kernel by default for new installations.

GNU: Glibc, GIMP, GCC

  • Glibc 2.27 Lands Yet More Performance Optimizations
    Earlier this month I wrote how Intel engineers have been busy with continuing to tune glibc's performance with FMA and AVX optimizations. That work has continued but also other architectures continue tuning their GNU C Library performance ahead of the expected v2.27 update. There has been a ton of optimization work this cycle, particularly on the Intel/x86_64 front. For those with newer Intel 64-bit processors, this next glibc release is shaping up to be a speedy update.
  • GIMP PIcks Up Support For The New Flatpak/FreeDesktop.org Screenshot API
    Hot off the release of the new GIMP 2.9.8 and ahead of the expected GIMP 2.10 release candidates that are expected to begin, a new addition to GIMP is a plug-in supporting the new FreeDesktop.org/Flatpak screenshot API. The org.freedesktop.portal.Screenshot specification aims to be a screenshot API that will work not only cross-desktop (e.g. KDE, GNOME, etc) but also work for sandboxed applications (i.e. Flatpak) and also work regardless of whether you are using Wayland or X11.
  • GCC Prepares For Fortran 2018 Support
    The Fortran committee decided last month to rename the upcoming Fortran 2015 programming language update to Fortran 2018. GCC support is being prepped. With this updated programming language technical specification not expected to be published until mid-2018, the committee behind this long-standing programming language decided to rename Fortran 2015 to Fortran 2018. Fortran 2018 should further improve interoperability with C code, improve its parallel programming capabilities, support hexadecimal inputs/outputs, and other improvements over Fortran 2008.