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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 30 min ago

Fake News About Software Patents in the United States

Sunday 24th of September 2017 12:40:30 PM

Science fiction does not just predict the future but rather inspires it. Similarly, in patent lobbying, making ridiculous claims can change the outcome to the effect the lobbyists want (UPC, Alice and so on)

Summary: Spinning and twisting the facts (for so-called ‘alternative facts’), the patent microcosm is trying to give the impression that software patents are still fine in the US

THE previous post reminded readers that the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), together with IBM, is trying to undermine Alice. They mislead the world. It’s a lobbying and PR campaign. IBM’s longtime asset, David Kappos (former USPTO Director), plays a role in that. But what role does crooked media play in the attempts to water down or suppress Alice? Actually, as we have been showing for years, such media is occupied or dominated by the patent microcosm.

“It’s a classic reversal of narratives, where the attacker is the “defender” and the attacked (defender) is the “aggressor”.”Yesterday, Matthew Bultman was at it again, spinning against Alice, as usual. He is habitually cherry-picking and using misleading language to make it seem as though the patent microcosm is right and still has might. He writes for Law 360, a news site which many people would wrongly assume to be objective. Hidden behind paywalls is this latest article of his, with the word “Surviving” in the headline (sometimes he puts “Attack” in his headlines). To Bultman, the one being sued “attacks” and the troll “survives”. It’s a classic reversal of narratives, where the attacker is the “defender” and the attacked (defender) is the “aggressor”. It’s appalling. Foreign policy officials often use similar linguistic tricks.

Here is the opening paragraph from Bultman:

Federal courts followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice decision by invalidating scores of computer and software patents. But district courts are more often upholding patents in these types of challenges, new data shows, with a surprising twist coming out of the Eastern District of Texas.

Well, that assertion does not match the headline. At all. Back in summer we said that we had not seen (for a very long time) the Federal Circuit ruling in favour of any software patents. Nothing has changed since. I have been watching these things closely for about a decade and I call Bultman’s article — especially the headline — “fake news”.

“I have been watching these things closely for about a decade and I call Bultman’s article — especially the headline — “fake news”.”What do others say? Well, judging by the past week’s news, concerns about the death of software patents are widely expressed. Their demise is generally acknowledged by both sides. There is a “chilling effect on many non-practicing entities [trolls], which often assert ‘business method’ and software patents,” one site wrote some days ago in preparation for the “Patent disputes” roundtable (an echo chamber of patent maximalists). They are worried about the demise of software patents — a fact they cannot deny even publicly.

“Speaking at IPO meeting,” IAM said the other day, “acting USPTO director Matal predicts Congressional action on [Section] 101 reform amid concern over medical diagnostics.”

“Remember that Matal played a role in putting AIA in place.”Section 101 is fine as it is regarding abstract patents like software patents. As for medical diagnostics? That’s another domain…

Remember that Matal played a role in putting AIA in place. It paved the way to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). Matal is not perfect, but Iancu would probably be a lot worse.

Earlier on Professor Jason Rantanen wrote about a “second part of the Mayo/Alice inquiry” (basis for Section 101). To quote Patently-O:

The idea that courts describe patent claims in words other than those of the claims themselves during patent eligible subject matter inquiries is nothing new–to the contrary, it’s a frequent complaint about the Supreme Court’s patent eligible subject matter cases. Usually, it’s referred to as determining what the claims are “directed to,” or, in the second part of the Mayo/Alice inquiry, the search for an “inventive concept.”

As we shall show later today, Patently-O is still trying to undermine PTAB, which basically applies criteria like those in Section 101 in order to thwart software patents. It has already been said that it’s harder to enforce software patents in the US than in Europe (owing to EPO being rather defunct under Battistelli). Isn’t it incredible? The US went towards the light and Europe entered darkness. Patent profiteers look at it the other way around. Here is Bastian Best, for example, stating: “Kickstart your day with a good read!⚡️How to get your software patent allowed in Europe” (well, that’s a very bad way to start the day when you actually develop software).

Also just found via Bastian Best was this new article about a NON-CAFC case (United States District Court in Delaware). To quote:

The Federal District Court in Delaware recently denied a motion to dismiss a patent infringement case involving a video game networking technology patent based on the patent allegedly being invalid for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Despite all of the recent press regarding the so-called Alice test, which revised the test for patent-eligible subject matter, video game related patents are still obtainable and enforceable. It is critical that patent applications for these inventions be carefully considered, the patent applications be properly drafted and the claims be presented in a way that complies with the relevant test.

Guess what would happen if it was to reach CAFC…

“As we shall show later today, Patently-O is still trying to undermine PTAB, which basically applies criteria like those in Section 101 in order to thwart software patents.”The usual.

There is another new article about Alice, this time by Mark Nowotarski (who wrote to tell me that his article does not represent the stance of Fenwick & West). This third article in the “Surviving Alice” series still uses the word “survive” to reinforce the notion that quality control (PTAB) is death/killer, merely to be “survived”. What does the article show? Here is a portion:

Figure 1 shows how the PTAB ex parte appeals judges[8] have responded to Alice in the field of business methods. The blue curve shows the PTAB reversals as a percent of all decisions in the business method work groups from the first quarter of 2013 (before Alice) to the second quarter of 2017. There are typically 100 to 250 decisions in each quarter. These are “full reversals” in the sense that all rejections by the examiner including § 101, § 102, § 103, §112, etc. were overturned by the board. Some of these full reversals have new grounds of rejection introduced by the board[9]. The black curve shows the reversals where the board introduced a new ground of rejection under § 101. The new grounds were typically based on the claims for failing the Alice/Mayo test. Finally, the brown curve shows the reversals in which the PTAB did not make a new § 101 rejection, but nonetheless put in a footnote suggesting that the examiner review the claims under Alice.[10] Alice footnotes[11] started immediately after the Alice decision and abruptly ended in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Figure 1 also shows how examiners in the business method work groups responded to the reversals by the board. The green curve shows the reversals that the examiners subsequently allowed. The red curve shows the reversals that the examiners subsequently rejected with a new ground of rejection under § 101. Examiners can reject claims again after a reversal by the board but only with the approval of their art unit director[12]. This is normally a rare event, but it became standard practice in the business method work groups after Alice.

So here we have some measurable figures; we’ll focus on PTAB in our next post though. Focusing instead on Alice itself, see “‘Alice’ Before ‘Alice’”, “[t]he story of how the USPTO first began systematically denying patentability to software inventions long before Alice v. CLS Bank International.”

“Their overall message is, don’t bother with software patents.”It’s a “[w]ebinar on how to get software patents despite Alice,” Benjamin Henrion explained. So over time they try to devise new tricks to get past the restrictions and still they are failing to win cases. CAFC is about as convinced/impressed by software patents as the Supreme Court was, i.e. not at all.

Writing from Canada, Gowling WLG’s Georgi Paskalev and Benoit Yelle said about a week ago that “pure software algorithms might prove difficult to protect using patents.”

They reposted this days later in another site of the patent microcosm.

Their overall message is, don’t bother with software patents. Or “pure” software patents — whatever that actually means (software is just software). As we have been arguing and showing (with detailed evidence) for years, software patents are worth neither the money nor the effort. Unless the lobby of IBM can pull something off (i.e. changing the law), none of this reality will change any time soon.

IBM and IPO Continue Working Behind the Scenes to Undermine Alice and Promote Software Patents

Sunday 24th of September 2017 11:35:53 AM

Summary: The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), together with IBM (Manny Schecter, Marian Underweiser and others), is still trying to overturn Mayo and Alice

THREE years ago Alice came to change everything. It was the summer of 2014 when the US patent system became more ‘officially’ hostile towards software patents. Much has been written on the subject since then, including literally about a thousand articles here in Techrights (we regret not developing a detailed index page in Wiki form as we went along covering Alice; we had made one for the Bilski case).

“We constantly need to defend and advocate Alice; in absence of opposition to these saboteurs (usually the patent microcosm, which produces nothing but lawsuits) things can quickly change for the worse.”Alice is not a “done deal”, so to speak. Alice and Section 101 are constantly under attack. USPTO examiners often ignore the determination, instead relying on amorphous and dynamic guidelines, which contain loopholes for patenting software (a bunch of loopholes that courts don’t quite fall for).

We constantly need to defend and advocate Alice; in absence of opposition to these saboteurs (usually the patent microcosm, which produces nothing but lawsuits) things can quickly change for the worse. We have already named some of these saboteurs. They don’t quite keep it a secret (at least not effectively).

Yesterday we were reminded of the effect of stacked panels because Juve’s UPC specialist wrote: “Nine panelist @Vossius #UPC Conference to vote on new start date of #UPC. All: at some day in 2019″

“We have already named some of these saboteurs. They don’t quite keep it a secret (at least not effectively).”“I guess none of these panelists was a UPC sceptic,” I wrote. “Just gotta push the lie of Unitary Patent being inevitable.”

UPC is a great example of echo chamber politics. Lots of people with financial stake in the outcome keep misleading one another. It’s like a blind religion.

The same is true for software patents.

Just a short while ago IBM’s patent chief, Manny Schecter, wrote that “99% of respondents to a survey at the IPO Annual Meeting indicated that change is needed to reform patent subject matter eligibility…”

For those who don’t know what IPO is and how IBM is connected to it, see this article from February (we last mentioned it in May). IBM spearheads a propaganda campaign against Alice and it’s too shallow for them to hide. The FFII’s President responded to Schecter with, “this is what happens when you only ask the patent community. An echo chamber.”

“Lots of people with financial stake in the outcome keep misleading one another.”This is also what happens when IBM needs to rely on propaganda to harm software developers (with patent lawsuits).

We also see Steven Lundberg right there in the comments. Lundberg has long been a key part of the software patents lobby.

The EFF’s Vera Ranieri also commented on this instance of IBM pushing for software patents.

She asked: “Is this like asking foxes whether the henhouse should be left wide open?”

“The meddling in patent policy by IBM is rather telling; IBM views its future as never-ending blackmail and extortion using software patents.”IBM used to be “OK” towards Free/Open Source software in the late nineties, but right now it is an evil, aggressive, lying company. It's a patent aggressor. It is perfectly possibly/plausible that technology companies other than IBM (Microsoft for sure) want Alice thwarted and Section 101 changed, but they don’t actively push for it like IBM does. The meddling in patent policy by IBM is rather telling; IBM views its future as never-ending blackmail and extortion using software patents.

Professor Polk Wagner, Intellectual Property [sic] professor at Penn, responded to Schecter by saying: “Only narrowly losing to ‘Is water wet?’ I’m sure!”

In our next post we’ll talk about Alice trends and media spin that relates to it.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Gradually Champions Patent Quality, in a Spectacular Reversal on Its Past Ways

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 02:49:18 PM

Under Chief Judge Sharon Prost

Summary: Some of the latest actions and decisions from the Federal Circuit, which originally brought software patents to the United States and is now taking them away, gradually

LAST night we wrote about the Federal Circuit (CAFC) refuting Gilstrap yet again. We later updated our post with a statement from CCIA and then found this good coverage from a good journalist (a lot of those who cover patent issues are unfortunately with — and usually from — the patent microcosm). He summarised it as follows:

Not long after TC Heartland, though, the East Texas judge who hears more patent cases than any other turned down a motion to transfer by supercomputer maker Cray Inc., which was sued for patent infringement by Raytheon in 2015. Lawyers for Cray argued that, under the provisions of TC Heartland, their client was entitled to have its case in a home venue. But US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap disagreed and said that Cray’s ties to the district—a single salesperson, working out of his home—was enough to keep the case in the Eastern District.

Today, Gilstrap’s decision was reversed by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals. In a 20-page decision (PDF), the three-judge panel directed the case against the Seattle-based tech company to be transferred.

Gilstrap’s decision to keep Raytheon v. Cray in his court turned the normally wonky area of patent venue into a scorching political issue. At a Capitol Hill hearing about patent reform, the judge was denounced by both Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), with Issa calling Gilstrap’s decision “reprehensible.”

Last week the patent microcosm wrote about a “declaration that, inter alia, the US patent is invalid, not infringed, and unenforceable.” This too was a CAFC case. To quote:

Allied then filed a declaratory judgment action in the US — asking for a declaration that, inter alia, the US patent is invalid, not infringed, and unenforceable. In the appeal here, the Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower court ruling that the DJ action is not based upon a “case of actual controversy” as required both by the Declaratory Judgment Act as well as the US Constitution.

It is good to see CAFC, which was originally worst of the worst (responsible for software patents in the US), changing its stance/stipulations on such matters. Watchtroll had gotten so angry about it that he called for dismissal of some CAFC judges and nowadays it’s relying on Trump for destruction of all the progress made. Watch Watchtroll’s political obsession, which four days ago culminated in this: “Trump’s selection for deputy director of management at the OMB, is an inventor who has received “14 successful U.S. patents,” an indication that someone knowledgeable about patents and the U.S. patent system will have a role in shaping U.S. policy on the budget for the executive branch, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”

“Watchtroll had gotten so angry about it that he called for dismissal of some CAFC judges and nowadays it’s relying on Trump for destruction of all the progress made.”Under Trump, however, with Iancu likely in charge of the USPTO, there’s a growing danger that the Office will soon be run by the patent ‘industry’ rather than scientists and technologists. The Trump administration is certainly on a warpath of destruction if it ends up putting Iancu in charge of other patent radicals. See the new articles titled “Trump’s Path to IP Wars” and “Intellectual Property Laws: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”. Quoting the summary: “The excesses of IP law are now a serious obstacle to innovation and economic growth.”

The article says that “the CAFC has reshaped the law by lowering the standards for patentability and expanding the scope of patentable inventions to include software, business methods, and even parts of the human genome.”

“The Trump administration is certainly on a warpath of destruction if it ends up putting Iancu in charge of other patent radicals.”And where has that gotten us? That was the past. Things have changed. While the patent microcosm chooses to obsess over every case where CAFC rules in favour of a patent (this new example is not even a ruling but a reversal of dismissal where “the district court should now pick-up the case again and give the patentee a chance”), the reality of the matter is that CAFC finally learned its lesson (after the Supreme Court had overruled almost every single time) and last year admitted that software patents are an impediment to free speech and should thus be invalidated.

As we shall show later, the anti-Alice lobby rears its ugly head again, pushing for changes irrespective of what CAFC and the Supreme Court (the highest courts) are saying. Facts don’t matter to these people, only cash speaks to them.

“…here again we see CAFC rejecting the temptation to side with patent maximalists.”As a side note, the other day Patently-O wrote about a CAFC case and argued that “[t]he approach here then is for the State Court to first figure out ownership. Then, if it decides that Interactive is the owner, an infringement case can return to Federal Court.”

Sorry, Dennis Crouch, but patents have assignees, not "owners". You should be smart enough to know that. WIPR should know that patents are not owned but merely assigned, but it repeated similar wordings around the same time (with the word “ownership” right there in the headline even). To quote:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a ruling by the US District Court for the District of New Jersey that dismissed patent infringement claims centring on interactive software, and remanded questions back to the New Jersey Superior Court in a precedential ruling.

Eric Inselberg, the appellant, had invented various systems which audiences can use to interact with live events such as football games and live concerts.

The patents he received for his inventions were formerly held by Inselberg Interactive (also a party in the appeal).

[...]

The alleged patent law issues were “incidental and contingent” because Inselberg and Interactive were not the current patent owners, and neither were suing as the patentee.

McNulty dismissed the federal claims and remanded the state law claims back to state court.

Bisignano and First Data then appealed against the district court’s orders to the Federal Circuit.

The above certainly sounds like a software patents case, but we have not looked closely at the patents. Either way, here again we see CAFC rejecting the temptation to side with patent maximalists.

Not a good time to be in the patent ‘industry’…

The Mohawk-PTAB Fiasco Threatens the Tribe’s Reputation More Than It Threatens PTAB

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 01:53:28 PM

Since the patents are not even assigned to the Mohawk people, this whole “scam” accomplishes nothing


Photo credit: Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

Summary: In an effort to dodge scrutiny from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), Allergan Plc offloaded a lot of negative publicity onto the Mohawk people, owing primarily to the Mowhawk Tribe’s general counsel, Dale White

THE Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has been making many headlines recently. The patent microcosm is trying as hard as it can to kill it. It cannot kill the people inside the PTAB (whom it vainly refers to as a “death squad”), so it wants to kill the entire institution. It’s appalling.

We were very sad to see the Mohawk people exploited, or virtually used as a sort of ‘instrument’ for killing PTAB. As some people have put it, the Mohawk tribe is now facilitating a "scam" (not our word). Don’t expect the patent microcosm to admit this. In fact, in some comments that we saw over the past week, all criticisms of this ploy are being dismissed or played down as being just a substance-less cry of “scam”. Far from it!

Earlier this week, in a site of the patent microcosm, Philippe J.C. Signore from Oblon wrote about this as a case for refreshing Constitutional Law recollection. Well, as patent radicalism is waning (the system has improved in recent years) they will try to crush the system. Here is what Signore wrote:

Article III also states that the judicial power of the U.S. is vested in the federal courts and judges. In its brief filed in August 2017, Oil States argued that IPR proceedings are unconstitutional because they are set up as adversarial judicial trials (as opposed to examination proceedings) of granted private property rights, and as such should be handled by Article III judges and not “administrative agency employees who are beholden to Executive Branch officials.” Oil States also argued that IPR trials resolve questions of novelty or obviousness, which “are precisely the same questions that English jurors resolved,” such that “they fall within the Seventh Amendment’s scope.”

The Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution has also made the patent headlines lately. This amendment bans lawsuits against individual states of the union, unless the immunity is waived. The immunity stems from the principle that states entered the federal system on the condition of keeping their sovereignty intact. In 1999, the Supreme Court interpreted the immunity of the Eleventh amendment as extending to state universities and agencies, recognized as arms of the state. As such, state universities cannot be sued for patent or trademark infringement (unless the immunity is waived or abrogated by Congress).

Earlier this year, in Covidien v. University of Florida, the PTAB refused to institute an IPR because it held that the patent owner, the University of Florida, should benefit from the immunity afforded to the States by the Eleventh Amendment. The PTAB reasoned that the “considerable resemblance” between IPR proceedings and civil litigation justified application of the sovereign immunity to the administrative proceeding. If this decision is affirmed, it would place state universities in the very enviable position of being able to sue for patent infringement in a federal court—without being subject to IPRs before the PTAB, and without being subject to infringement lawsuits.

Better change jobs if one relies on just suing lots of companies and trying to dodge legal challenges.

Three days ago we saw Susan Decker from the Wall Street media relaying the offensive analogy from a corrupt judge, who called PTAB a “death squad”. She wrote about the Mohawk fiasco and cited an extremist “who founded a group called US Inventor Inc.” (laughing stock of a tiny group). Why did Bloomberg decide to quote radicals like Paul Morinville? Or disgraced judges? Is that all that’s left to discredit PTAB by?

Decker said that “Allergan Plc’s decision to pay a Native American tribe $15 million a year rather than let one of its blockbuster drugs be scrutinized by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is part of a backlash against an agency review panel that has been dubbed a “death squad.””

This so-called ‘backlash’ is orchestrated by the patent maximalists. It’s a made up controversy which the practicing industry has repeatedly refuted. Sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O worked very hard to scandalise PTAB and solicit briefs to that effect. So did Morinville, who burned papers in an unauthorised protest in front of the USPTO (like some Tea Party nut).

Managing IP, another key element of the patent microcosm, wrote about it several days ago (stating, in the headline, that this “could blow up the IPR system”):

If successful, Allergan’s eye-catching gambit of seeking to cancel PTAB proceedings by assigning patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe would be a blueprint for others to follow. But will the PTAB rule that sovereign immunity applies in this case?

Then came Bristows, the UPC propagandists and the friends of patent trolls (even in Europe), with a headline that says “rip off consumers” [sic] (means customers). These are the mischievous people who openly lobby for patent trolls (even promoting them in the UK) — using words like “attack” to mean quality control (typical calls to weaken PTAB IPRs). It says that “according to this New York Times article, the Mowhawk Tribe’s general counsel, Dale White, said it was a Dallas law firm called Shore Chan DePumpo that first approached the tribe with the proposal.”

This highly dodgy entity was mentioned here before. To quote Bristows:

Critics have said that the move should fail because a company should not be able to shield its patents from review. The response, of course, being that they cannot completely shield their patents from any review – they will still be subject to federal court and the realm of Hatch-Waxman litigation (at least in this case). So the patents are, for now, not completely immune to the attack as stated by Allergan’s press release (although a different deal and parties could take a different position which could make the sovereign immunity v federal court position a bit murkier).

In the meantime, what seems clear is that this move is another flag to Congress that the IPR regime needs to be re-examined. Senator Brown, however, stated that he would look into how Congress can “close loopholes that drug companies exploit to avoid competition”. But perhaps a more holistic view as to all the issues in play is in order…

“The biggest problem with Allergan’s St Regis Mohawk deal is that the tribe may not own the patents,” IAM explained. They just (mis)use it for immunity and herein lies the great controversy. The Mowhawk Tribe’s general counsel, Dale White, got them into a scam. The tribe ought to fire him and ‘burn’ the patents (if at all possible). Any financial gain made through this ridiculous transaction is likely outweighed by the damage done to the tribe’s reputation already. Is this what they want to become synonymous with? Because many people will know nothing about the tribe except this episode.

Latest EPO Rumours Allege That Benoît Battistelli Rigged the Process of EPO President’s Selection

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 01:04:24 PM

Don’t mess with the École


Reference: Order of succession

Summary: António Campinos is quite likely the next EPO President, as insiders suspect that many applications for the job got rejected politically (turned down by political mischief)

THE German media believes that António Campinos will be the next head of the EPO (the Office, not the Organisation, whose Chairman will leave one week from now). Campinos is believed to be French, for reasons we explained before [1, 2], and he is close to Battistelli. Insiders suspect that Battistelli is already paving the way for Campinos to ‘win’ the job, as we previously explained in:

  1. It’s a Family Business: French Succession Plan at EPO After Battistelli’s Departure
  2. One Week Left for Battistelli’s Coronation of Another Frenchman, António Campinos, to Lobby for UPC?
  3. Rumours That Another Frenchman is the Only Candidate to Succeed Benoît Battistelli at the EPO

Imagine having 3 French Presidents (out of 4) in succession! Never mind the fact that much of the remaining management, dubbed Team Battistelli, is also French. What a coup! (French word)

“Insiders suspect that Battistelli is already paving the way for Campinos to ‘win’ the job”“According to sources close to the action,” one reader told us, “there are only two valid applications for the position of EPO President. One of these comes from Campinos as long suspected. The other is not yet clear but may be announced by the Administrative Council in October.

“It is rumoured that there were actually a lot of applications but most of the aspiring candidates did not secure the necessary approval of their home state.

“Imagine having 3 French Presidents (out of 4) in succession!”“What is not clear is whether the withholding of support for these applications was the result of an official high-level decision by the competent ministry or whether the Council delegations were manipulated by Battistelli to withhold support without referring the matter to their ministries.

“If Battistelli had in fact influenced the national delegations and manipulated them into blocking potential candidates then this could be a major political scandal. The Council delegates are ultimately answerable to their national governments via the supervising ministries and not to the EPO President.

“Given the lack of transparency at the EPO, it is unlikely that anybody will ever manage to uncover the real story about what is going in behind the scenes.”

“Public scrutiny is sorely needed (at the very least for justice) as lack of transparency at the EPO facilitates much mischief.”We were also barely able to verify claims that Jesper Kongstad had gotten pushed out (sacked) by his government. He is leaving next week (also his job at the DKPTO).

“At this stage,” our reader continued, “it seems almost certain that Campinos will be anointed as Battistelli’s successor in October or at the latest by December.”

If anyone out there has any additional information, please get in touch with us. Public scrutiny is sorely needed (at the very least for justice) as lack of transparency at the EPO facilitates much mischief. ILO ‘politics’ are also of interest to us.

We have another series coming soon. It will be focused on Battistelli with his string-pulling skills. He is, after all, a politician.

Links 23/9/2017: Mesa 17.1.10 RC, Samba 4.7.0, KStars 2.8.4

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 10:51:34 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Roughing it, with Linux

    I have been traveling for about two weeks now, spending 10 days camping in Iceland and now a few days on the ferry to get back. For this trip I brought along my Samsung N150 Plus (a very old netbook), loaded with openSUSE Linux 42.3.

  • Server
    • Finding the Mainframers of the Future Through Open Source Ecosystem Development

      Speak the word “mainframe” to many millennial techies, and the first things that likely come to mind are in the form of grainy sepia photos of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall computers with big spinning tapes. But that’s far from the reality of the modern mainframe.

      Imagine instead up to 240 10-core, 5.2ghz processors, 32TB of RAIM (redundant array of independent memory), hardware-based encryption, and fully hot-swappable hardware components. Those are the specs of the newly released IBM z14 – a single machine that could replace the computing resources of an average corporate data center with room to spare.

    • Hybrid datacenter is Docker’s latest open source goal

      Docker, Docker, Docker — everyone’s talking about Docker. A surprising fact is that Docker wasn’t on anyone’s roadmap in 2014, but was on everyone’s roadmap just a year later. A lot of people are calling it the most phenomenal, amazing, and speedy adoption of technology that they’ve witnessed during their careers. But this sudden rise to fame hasn’t been a lonely one. Docker has shared this amazing growth spurt with an entire ecosystem of tools and services.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Open Source Summit in Los Angeles: Day 1 in 5 Minutes

      Open Source Summit North America in Los Angeles was packed with keynotes, technical sessions, and special presentations, including a conversation with Linux creator Linus Torvalds. In case you couldn’t make it, CodePop.com’s Gregg Pollack has put together some short videos recapping highlights of the event.

    • Heterogeneous Memory Management Made It For Linux 4.14

      Heterogeneous Memory Management is the long-time work-in-progress functionality by Jerome Glisse of Red Hat for allowing a process address space to be mirrored and for system memory to be transparently used by any device process.

    • A Set Of BFQ Improvements Ready For Testing

      Recently I wrote about a BFQ regression fix that should take care of a problem spotted in our recent I/O scheduler Linux 4.13 benchmarks while now that work has yielded a set of four patches working to improve this recently-merged scheduler.

    • A different approach to kernel configuration

      The kernel’s configuration system can be challenging to deal with; Linus Torvalds recently called it “one of the worst parts of the whole project”. Thus, anything that might help users with the process of configuring a kernel build would be welcome. A talk by Junghwan Kang at the 2017 Open-Source Summit demonstrated an interesting approach, even if it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.

      Kang is working on a Debian-based, cloud-oriented distribution; he wanted to tweak the kernel configuration to minimize the size of the kernel and, especially, to reduce its attack surface by removing features that were not needed. The problem is that the kernel is huge, and there are a lot of features that are controlled by configuration options. There are over 300 feature groups and over 20,000 configuration options in current kernels. Many of these options have complicated dependencies between them, adding to the challenge of configuring them properly.

    • The first half of the 4.14 merge window

      September 8, 2017 As of this writing, just over 8,000 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline kernel repository for the 4.14 development cycle. In other words, it looks like the pace is not slowing down for this cycle either. The merge window is not yet done, but quite a few significant changes have been merged so far. Read on for a summary of the most interesting changes entering the mainline in the first half of this merge window.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 17.1.10 release candidate

        The candidate for the Mesa 17.1.10 is now available. Currently we have:
        – 41 queued
        – 0 nominated (outstanding)
        – and 5 rejected patches

        This is the last release for the 17.1 series.

      • Mesa 17.1.10 Is Being Prepped As The Final 17.1 Update

        J.A. Suarez Romero of Igalia is preparing Mesa 17.1.10 as the final point release for the Mesa 17.1 release stream.

        The release candidate is out today while Romero is planning to issue this final update to Mesa 17.1 by next week Monday, 25 September. Following that, users are encouraged to upgrade to the stable Mesa 17.2 series.

      • Running Android on a mainline graphics stack

        The Android system may be based on the Linux kernel, but its developers have famously gone their own way for many other parts of the system. That includes the graphics subsystem, which avoids user-space components like X or Wayland and has special (often binary-only) kernel drivers as well. But that picture may be about to change. As Robert Foss described in his Open Source Summit North America presentation, running Android on the mainline graphics subsystem is becoming possible and brings a number of potential benefits.
        He started the talk by addressing the question of why one might want to use mainline graphics with Android. The core of the answer was simple enough: we use open-source software because it’s better, and running mainline graphics takes us toward a fully open system. With mainline graphics, there are no proprietary blobs to deal with. That, in turn, makes it easy to run current versions of the kernel and higher-level graphics software like Mesa.

      • RADV Vulkan vs. RadeonSI OpenGL Performance With Linux 4.13 + Mesa 17.3-dev

        It’s been a few weeks since last delivering any large RADV/RadeonSI open-source AMD Linux graphics benchmark results due to being busy with testing other hardware as well as battling some regressions / stability problems within the AMDGPU DRM code and Mesa Git. But with Linux 4.13 stable and the newest Mesa 17.3-dev code, things are playing well so here are some fresh OpenGL vs. Vulkan benchmarks on three Radeon graphics cards.

      • Open-Source OpenCL Adoption Is Sadly An Issue In 2017

        While most of the talks that take place at the annual X.Org Developers’ Conference are around the exciting progress being made across the Linux graphics landscape, at XDC2017 taking place this week at Google, the open-source GPGPU / compute talk is rather the let down due to the less than desirable state of the open-source OpenCL ecosystem.

        Tom Stellard who formerly worked for AMD on their LLVM compiler stack and compute initiatives who recently joined Red Hat provided a “Current state of Open Source GPGPU” talk. It’s not too much of a surprise if you are up-to-date in your daily Phoronix reading and our close coverage of all things Linux GPU. But if you’re not a devoted reader or looking for an hour synopsis, check out his presentation embedded in this article.

      • VIA Graphics & Other Vintage GPUs Still Interest At Least One Developer In 2017

        Kevin Brace, the sole active developer left working on the OpenChrome driver stack for VIA x86 graphics, presented yesterday at XDC2017 about his work on this driver and how in the years to come he still hopes to work on other vintage GPU support.

        Brace’s work mostly covered his personal motivations, a brief history of Via Unichrome and the Linux driver options, and then his recent work on trying to get the OpenChrome DDX and DRM drivers into shape.

      • libinput and the HUION PenTablet devices

        HUION PenTablet devices are graphics tablet devices aimed at artists. These tablets tend to aim for the lower end of the market, driver support is often somewhere between meh and disappointing. The DIGImend project used to take care of them, but with that out of the picture, the bugs bubble up to userspace more often.

    • Benchmarks
      • AKiTiO Node: Testing NVIDIA eGPU Support in Ubuntu 17.10

        Ever since the announcement of Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology there has been external graphics card (eGPU) support. Unfortunately for most of last year, including with Intel’s own Skull Canyon NUC, putting this solution to use was challenging at best. Most motherboards didn’t fully support the technology and those that did typically required a system that was far more expensive. For example, the Skull Canyon NUC at release was $700, unconfigured. Adding SSDs and RAM usually bumped that up well over $1000.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Randa news, release update

        Last week, from wednesday to saturday I attended KDE’s annual Randa sprint organized by wonderful people. This was an occasion to work fulltime on Kdenlive.

      • Beautify Your KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Environment with Freshly Ported Adapta Theme

        Good morning! It’s time to beautify your KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment, and we have just the perfect theme for that as it looks like the popular Adapta GTK theme was recently ported to Plasma 5.

      • KDE Plasma 5.11 Desktop Will Be Coming to Kubuntu 17.10 Soon After Its Release

        KDE kicked off the development of the KDE Plasma 5.11 desktop environment a few months ago, and they’ve already published the Beta release, allowing users to get a first glimpse of what’s coming in the final release next month.

        Canonical’s Ubuntu Desktop team did a great job bringing the latest GNOME 3.26 desktop environment to the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, and it looks like the Kubuntu team also want to rebase the official flavor on the forthcoming KDE Plasma 5.11 desktop environment.

      • Krita 3.3 Digital Painting App Promises Better HiDPI Support on Linux & Windows

        Work on the next Krita 3.x point release has started, and a first Release Candidate (RC) milestone of the upcoming Krita 3.3 version is now ready for public testing, giving us a glimpse of what’s coming in the new release.

        In the release announcement, Krita devs reveal the fact that they were forced to bump the version number from 3.2.x to 3.3.x because the upcoming Krita 3.3 release will be introducing some important changes for Windows platforms, such as support for the Windows 8 event API, thus supporting the n-trig pen in Surface laptops.

      • Randa-progress post-hoc

        So, back in Randa I was splitting my energies and attentions in many pieces. Some attention went to making pancakes and running the kitchen in the morning — which is stuff I take credit for, but it is really Grace, and Scarlett, and Thomas who did the heavy lifting, and Christian and Mario who make sure the whole thing can happen. And the attendees of the Randa meeting who pitch in for the dishes after lunch and dinner. The Randa meetings are more like a campground than a 5-star hotel, and we work together to make the experience enjoyable. So thanks to everyone who pitched in.

        Part of a good sprint is keeping the attendees healthy and attentive — otherwise those 16-hour hacking days really get to you, in spite of the fresh Swiss air.

        [...]

        You can read more of what the attendees in Randa achieved on planet KDE (e.g. kdenlive, snappy, kmymoney, marble, kube, Plasma mobile, kdepim, and kwin). I’d like to give a special shout out to Manuel, who taught me one gesture in Italian Sign Langauage — which is different from American or Dutch Sign Language, reminding me that there’s localization everywhere.

      • The Evolution of Plasma Mobile

        Back around 2006, when the Plasma project was started by Aaron Seigo and a group of brave hackers (among which, yours truly) we wanted to create a user interface that is future-proof. We didn’t want to create something that would only run on desktop devices (or laptops), but a code-base that grows with us into whatever the future would bring. Mobile devices were already getting more powerful, but would usually run entirely different software than desktop devices. We wondered why. The Linux kernel served as a wonderful example. Linux runs on a wide range of devices, from super computers to embedded systems, you would set it up for the target system and it would run largely without code changes. Linux architecture is in fact convergent. Could we do something similar at the user interface level?

      • KStars 2.8.4 aka Juli is released!

        Less than two weeks after the release of KStars 2.8.3 comes another minor bugfix release. Download KStars 2.8.4 for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Visual revamp of GNOME To Do

        I’m a fan of productivity. It is not a coincidence that I’m the maintainer of Calendar and To Do. And even though I’m not a power user, I’m a heavy user of productivity applications.

        For some time now, I’m finding the overall experience of GNOME To Do clumsy and far from ideal. Recently, I received a thank you email from a fellow user, and I asked they what they think that could be improved.

        It was not a surprise when they said To Do’s interface is clumsy too.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Endless OS 3.2 Review – The Offline Distro

        Endless OS is a free, easy-to-use operating system preloaded with over 100 apps, making it useful from the moment you turn it on. Endless takes Linux to a whole different dimension. It is intuitive and quite different. The developers have come out with a distro that targets mainly developing countries and also computers with no or limited internet access. So even without internet, you will have access to stuff like Wikipedia. The aim is to provide an operating system that comes with everything you will need. Intrigued? Let us take a look at what makes Endless OS different, intuitive, and so powerful in its own right. Endless OS uses OSTree to manage a read-only file system and uses Flatpaks for application delivery and updates.

    • Arch Family
      • Manjaro Linux Discontinues 32-bit Support

        You might already know that I love Manjaro Linux. And as an ardent Manjaro Linux fan, I have a bad news for you.

        Recently, Philip, the lead developer of Manjaro Linux, announced that the project would be dropping support for the 32-bit architecture. He said that the reason for the move was “due to the decreasing popularity of i686 among the developers and the community”.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat pledges patent protection for 99 per cent of FOSS-ware [Ed: And when Red Hat gets taken over (like Sun and Oracle) this promise will be worthless]

        Red Hat says it has amassed over 2,000 patents and won’t enforce them if the technologies they describe are used in properly-licensed open source software.

        The company’s made more or less the same offer since the year 2002, when it first made a “Patent Promise” in order to “to discourage patent aggression in free and open source software.” In 2002 the company didn’t own many patents and claimed its non-enforcement promise covered per cent of open source software.

        The Promise was revised in order to reflect the company’s growing patent trove and to spruce up the language it uses to make it more relevant.

        The revised promise “applies to all software meeting the free software or open source definitions of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) or the Open Source Initiative (OSI)”. That verbiage translates into any software licensed on terms the OSI approves on this list, or which meet the Initiative’s definition of open source offered here. Licenses listed by the Free Software Foundation as a free software license at https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#SoftwareLicenses also come under the Promise’s purview, as do those here as of the date this edition of Our Promise is published.

      • Red Hat Open Source Day rewards with proprietary hardware. For the fourth time

        The above is an excerpt of the 2017 event announcement. Which, as you can see below, will be at least the fourth consecutive one in which Red Hat Italia will award participants with some of the most proprietary devices around. Please note the absence of anything like, e.g. Matchstick, “100% Linux compatible laptop, with Linux preinstalled”, or a Fairphone, in the screenshots…

      • Red Hat’s automation solution spreading among APAC enterprises

        Red Hat recently shared revealed its agentless automation platform is spreading among enterprises in APAC countries like Australia, China, India and Singapore.

        The company asserts its Ansible Tower helps enterprises cut through the complexities of modern IT environments with powerful automation capabilities that improve productivity and reduce downtime.

        “Today’s business demands can mean even greater complexity for many organisations. Such dynamic environments can necessitate a new approach to automation that can improve speed, scale and stability across IT environments,” says head of APAC office of technology at Red Hat, Frank Feldmann.

      • Red Hat broadens patent pledge to most open-source software

        Red Hat, the world’s biggest open source company, has expanded its commitment on patents, which had originally been not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.

      • Red Hat expands Patent Promise

        Open-source software provider Red Hat has revised its Patent Promise, which was initially intended to discourage patent aggression against free and open-source software.

        The expanded version of the defensive patent aggregation scheme extends the zone of non-enforcement to all of Red Hat’s patents and all software under “well-recognised” open-source licenses.

        In its original Patent Promise in 2002, Red Hat said software patents are “inconsistent with open-source and free software”.

      • Red Hat Enlarges Its Open Source Patent Promise Umbrella

        Red Hat on Thursday announced major enhancements to the Patent Promise it first published 15 years ago, with the intention of providing new protections to innovation in the open source community. In its 2002 Patent Promise, Red Hat vowed not to pursue patent infringement actions against parties that used its covered Free and Open Source Software, or FOSS, subject to certain limitations. The current Patent Promise reaffirms the 2002 pledge and extends the zone of non-enforcement.

      • Red Hat breaks new ground with open source Patent Promise

        Red Hat has decided to revise its 2002 Patent Promise that originally signalled the company’s intention not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.

        The company, which is famed for its open source approach, had laid out in its original promise that it was designed to discourage patent aggression against free and open source software. The updated version not only reaffirms this but “extends the zone of non-enforcement.”

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora 27 Beta Hit By A Second Delay

          Last week it was decided to delay the Fedora 27 beta due to bugs while this week they’ve been forced to delay the release a second time.

          The first beta delay wasn’t too bad as the F27 schedule already had a built-in “rain date”, in acknowledging Fedora’s frequent release delays. But today a second unplanned delay is pushing back F27 Beta by at least one more week. This will now also push back the Fedora 27 final release by at least one week.

        • Fedora 27 Beta status is NO-GO
        • News: The new Krita 3.3.0
        • Two Docs Workshops at Flock 2017
        • Documentation and Modularity at Flock 2017
        • Join the Magazine team

          The recent Flock conference of Fedora contributors included a Fedora Magazine workshop. Current editorial board members Ryan Lerch, Justin W. Flory, and Paul W. Frields covered how to join and get started as an author. Here are some highlights of the workshop and discussion that took place.

    • Debian Family
      • Retiring the Debian-Administration.org site

        So previously I’ve documented the setup of the Debian-Administration website, and now I’m going to retire it I’m planning how that will work.

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.2 Anonymous OS to Work Better on Nvidia Maxwell GPUs, Add PPPoE Support

          Tails, the amnesic incognito live system, also known as the Anonymous Live CD, will soon get a new version that promises to introduce several new features and updated components, along with an improved installer.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” Preview Part 6: The New Tweaks

            Artful will have a new GNOME Tweak Tool, version 3.26, which is called Tweaks now. This tool provides you capability to alter your desktop, such as moving control buttons from left to right, adjusting options, or disabling/enabling Shell extensions. Take a look to its new stuffs below.

          • You’ll Soon Be Able to Run GNOME 3.26 Apps on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS via Snaps

            Don’t know if you recall, but we told you that Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system, is working on a packaging more GNOME apps as Snaps for Ubuntu and other Snappy-enabled distros.

            Well, it turns out that they’ve been working on a Platform Snap for the recently released GNOME 3.26 desktop environment, which should allow users of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system to run the latest apps from the GNOME 3.26 Stack as Snaps, as well as developers to package their apps as Snaps.

            “We’ve been working on a Platform Snap for GNOME 3.26 to allow you to run the latest GNOME apps on Xenial as well as making Snaps for the new apps,” reveals Will Cooke, Ubuntu Desktop Director at Canonical, in his latest weekly report. “This should be ready for testing soon and we’d appreciate some feedback.”

          • Ubuntu Desktop Weekly Update: September 22, 2017

            We’re less than a week away from Final Beta! It seems to have come round very quickly this cycle. Next week we’re at the Ubuntu Rally in New York City where we will be putting the finishing touches to the beta. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown on what happened this week:

          • Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes: Development Summary 2017.38

            In our current sprint we’ve started testing 1.8.0 in anticipation of the upstream release at the end of this month. We’re also testing with docker 1.13.1, which will soon become the default in CDK.

          • Ubuntu Community Council 2017 election under way!

            The Ubuntu Community Council election has begun and ballots sent out to all Ubuntu Members. Voting closes September 27th at end of day UTC.

            The following candidates are standing for 7 seats on the council:

            Anis El Achèche – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/elacheche
            Leo Arias – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/elopio
            Danial Behzadi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/danialbehzadi
            (incumbent) Marco Ceppi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/marco-ceppi
            Aaron Honeycutt – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/AaronHoneycutt
            Walter Lapchynksi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/wxl
            Marius Quabeck – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/marius.quabeck
            José Antonio Rey – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/jose
            Larry Tavin – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/wildmanne39
            Iulian Udrea – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/IulianUdrea
            Martin Wimpress – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MartinWimpress
            Naeil Zoueidi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/nzoueidi

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Puppet Acquires Distelli, Boosting Its Cloud Automation Offerings

    Puppet, the open source company that markets cloud-native software management tools, has acquired startup Distelli. Based in Seattle, Distelli offers a software as a service platform used by developers to build, test, and deploy code written in any language to any server, including cloud platforms. This is an obvious good match, as both platforms enable developers to manage infrastructure and applications across the entire software delivery process to make app development quicker.

    “Today, a company’s success is predicated on how quickly and successfully it can deliver new experiences to customers through software,” Puppet’s CEO, Sanjay Mirchandani, said in a statement. “Automation makes world-class application delivery straightforward for every enterprise, not just for companies born in the cloud. Together with Distelli, we are bringing a comprehensive solution for orchestrating and automating the entire software delivery lifecycle, from infrastructure, all the way up through containers.”

  • The Meteoric Rise Of Open Source And Why Investors Should Care

    The adoption and integration of open-source technologies have rapidly usurped the closed-source incumbents, so much so that investors are pouring record amounts of money into open-source software investments.

  • Events
    • Introducing The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Networking Days

      One of my primary goals at The Linux Foundation is to foster innovation across the entire open source networking ecosystem. This involves coordinating across multiple open source projects and initiatives and identifying key areas for collaboration to create an open source networking stack.

      We are working across the entire ecosystem with industry-leading partners — from developers to service providers to vendors — to unify various open source components and create solutions that will accelerate network transformation. As part of this journey, I am pleased to introduce Open Source Networking Days (OSN Days), a series of free events that are hosted and organized by local user groups and The Linux Foundation members, with support from our projects, including DPDK, FD.io, ONAP, OpenDaylight, OPNFV, PNDA, and others.

  • Web Browsers
    • Vivaldi 1.12 Web Browser Debuts with Highly Requested Features, Improvements

      Vivaldi, the Chromium-based web browser designed with the power user in mind, has been recently updated to version 1.12, a release that introduces highly requested features and a whole lot of under-the-hood improvements.

      There are three big new features implemented in Vivaldi 1.12. The first is a built-in Image Properties feature that works when you right-click on an image on the Web, showing you a bunch of useful information, such as camera model, depth of field, ISO sensitivity, focal length, exposure, histogram, time and date, and white balance.

    • Chromium Will Soon Let You Browse the Web in VR with a Daydream View Headset

      Chromium evangelist François Beaufort posted today on his Google+ profile information regarding the VR (Virtual Reality) capabilities of the open-source web browser, which is the base of Chrome OS and Google Chrome.

      It would appear that the Chromium team is working on a set of new virtual reality features for the web browser, which means that more VR goodies are coming to popular Chromium-based web browsers like Opera, Vivaldi, and Google Chrome.

    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Adds Tracking Protection to Firefox for iOS, Focus Gets Multitasking

        Mozilla released on Thursday new updates for its Firefox for iOS and Firefox Focus for Android apps adding new features like tracking protection and multi-tasking, along with various other improvements.

        Firefox for iOS has been updated today to version 9.0, a release that’s available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running iOS 10.3 or later. It comes with support for Apple’s recently launched iOS 11 operating system, as well as tracking protection, which is enabled by default in the private browsing mode to automatically block third-party trackers in an attempt to increase browsing speed.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Document Liberation Project: New releases

      LibreOffice’s native file format is the fully standardised OpenDocument Format. This is ideal for long-term storage of data, but many of us have to work with other file formats as well, including those generated by proprietary software.

    • Coming up on 28th September: Reddit “Ask us Anything” (and a birthday)

      Thursday, 28th September 2017 will be a special day – not only is it the seventh birthday of The Document Foundation, but we will also be running an “Ask me (us) Anything” session on Reddit – specifically, the /r/linux subreddit.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • Public Services/Government
    • FSFE: ‘German public sector a digital laggard’

      With their lacklustre approach to free software, German public services remain behind other European member states, says the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). When asked, the current governing parties’ say they support free software, but their statements are contradicted by the lack of action, the advocacy group says.

      In early September, the FSFE published its analysis of the free software policies put forward by the main political parties on the ballot, in preparation for Germany’s parliamentary elections on 24 September. This analysis (in German) is far more detailed than an earlier report generated by the Digital-O-Mat, a web portal set up to focus on political parties’ positions on 12 digital topics.

    • New release: ISA² interoperability test bed software v1.1.0
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Cloud Native Open Source License Choices

      One of the most common questions regarding open source licensing today concerns trajectories. Specifically, what are the current directions of travel both for specific licenses as well as license types more broadly. Or put more simply, what licenses are projects using today, and how is that changing?

      We’ve examined this data several times, most recently in this January look at the state of licensing based on Black Duck’s dataset. That data suggested major growth for permissive licenses, primarily at the expense of reciprocal alternatives. The Apache and MIT licenses, for example, were up 10% and 21% respectively, while the GPL was down 27%. All of this is on a relative share basis, of course: the “drop” doesn’t reflect relicensing of existing projects, but less usage relative to its peers.

      [...]

      One such community with enough of a sample size to be relevant is the one currently forming around the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Founded in 2015 with the Kubernetes project as its first asset, the Foundation has added eleven more open source projects, all of which are licensed under the same Apache 2 license. But as a successful Foundation is only a part of the broader ecosystem, the real question is what are the licensing preferences of the Cloud Native projects and products outside of the CNCF itself.

      [...]
      Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the influence of the CNCF itself, Apache strongly outperforms all other licenses, showing far greater relative adoption than it has in more generalized datasets such as the Black Duck survey. Overall in this dataset, approximately 64% of projects are covered by the Apache license. No other project has greater than a 12% share. The only other licenses above 10%, in fact, are the GPL at 12% and MIT at 11%. After that, the other projects are all 5% or less.

    • Facebook relicenses several projects [Ed: About time [1, 2]]

      Facebook has announced that the React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js projects will be moving to the MIT license. This is, of course, a somewhat delayed reaction to the controversy over the “BSD+patent” license previously applied to those projects.

    • Relicensing React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js

      Next week, we are going to relicense our open source projects React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license. We’re relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.

      This decision comes after several weeks of disappointment and uncertainty for our community. Although we still believe our BSD + Patents license provides some benefits to users of our projects, we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community.

    • Facebook U-turn: React, other libraries freed from unloved patent license

      Faced with growing dissatisfaction about licensing requirements for some of its open-source projects, Facebook today said it will move React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license next week.

      “We’re relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons,” said Facebook engineering director Adam Wolff in a blog post on Friday.

      Wolff said while Facebook continues to believe its BSD + Patents license has benefits, “we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • New Collaboration To Deliver Open-Source Submission And Peer-Review Platform

      This week, eLife and Collaborative Knowledge Foundation announced a partnership “to build a user-driven, open-source submission and peer-review platform” aimed at improving on existing industry models.

      Working together, the two organisations “hope to accelerate progress in delivering a modern, fast and user-driven system,” they said in a press release. “The project will be designed to help streamline communications between authors, editors and reviewers at all stages of the submission and review process.”

    • Open Data
      • Slovenia publishes statistics on open data portal

        As of this month, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia is making available 3374 data collections on the country’s open data portal, making it by far the portal’s biggest contributor. The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities comes second, with 62 datasets.

  • Programming/Development
    • Java JDK 9 Finally Reaches General Availability

      Java 9 (JDK 9) has finally reached general availability! Following setbacks, Java 9 is officially available as well as Java EE 8.

    • 10 Open Source Skills That Can Lead to Higher Pay

      Last month, The Linux Foundation and the online job board Dice released the results of a survey about open source hiring. It found that 67 percent of managers expected their hiring of open source professionals to increase more than their hiring of other types of IT workers.

      In addition, 42 percent of managers surveyed said they need to hire more open source talent because they were increasing their use of open source technologies, and 30 said open source was becoming core to their business. A vast majority — 89 percent — of hiring managers said that they were finding it difficult to find the open source talent they need to fill positions.

    • If you want to upgrade your data analysis skills, which programming language should you learn?

      For a growing number of people, data analysis is a central part of their job. Increased data availability, more powerful computing, and an emphasis on analytics-driven decision in business has made it a heyday for data science. According to a report from IBM, in 2015 there were 2.35 million openings for data analytics jobs in the US. It estimates that number will rise to 2.72 million by 2020.

      A significant share of people who crunch numbers for a living use Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet programs like Google Sheets. Others use proprietary statistical software like SAS, Stata, or SPSS that they often first learned in school.

    • std::bind

      In digging through the ASIO C++ library examples, I came across an actual use of std::bind. Its entry in cppreference seemed like buzzword salad, so I never previously had paid it any attention.

Leftovers
  • Take a trip through music history with the Great 78 Project

    A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to the Great 78 Project, “a community project for the preservation, research, and discovery of 78 rpm records.” The project is supported by the Internet Archive, George Blood, and the Archive of Contemporary Music. Its purpose, first and foremost, is to convert old recordings into digital audio to preserve those historic performances for future listeners. Currently it’s working to digitize the 200,000 or so 78 rpm records it has collected, and it’s actively looking for contributions to add to its collection.

    I think this is an exciting project that should be of interest to anyone who enjoys exploring music—and especially those involved in the open community. In this article, I’ll look at a few things you may want to know about the project.

  • You Might Be Evil

    The M-Word · It’s “Monopoly” of course. If you fol­low the links above and read, the au­thors come at the tech gi­ants from ev­ery which di­rec­tion, but al­ways end­ing up bang­ing out the monopoly melody. Some­times they say “corporate concentration” or an­oth­er eu­phemis­m, be­cause be­ing anti-monopoly sounds kind of old-fashioned; and any­how, shouldn’t you be talk­ing about Com­cast or Unit­ed?

    Not any more. A lot of smart peo­ple think it’s good eco­nomic­s, good pol­i­cy, and good pol­i­tics to aim the anti-trust gun at the tech sec­tor. I’m not say­ing they’re wrong. I’m al­so not pre­dict­ing that they’ll get any trac­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Amer­i­ca where the short-term fo­cus has to be on com­bat­ing Nazis and pussy-grabbers.

  • Science
    • Snopes and the Search for Facts in a Post-Fact World
    • Artificial intelligence pioneer calls for the breakup of Big Tech

      Yoshua Bengio, the artificial intelligence pioneer, says the centralization of wealth, power and capability in Big Tech is “dangerous for democracy” and that the companies should be broken up.

      Why it matters: Bengio is a professor at the University of Montreal and a member of the three-man “Canadian Mafia” that pioneered machine learning, the leading method used in AI. His remarks are notable because of his influence in the AI community and because he or his peers all either directly lead or consult for Big Tech’s AI programs. Says Bengio: “Concentration of wealth leads to concentration of power. That’s one reason why monopoly is dangerous. It’s dangerous for democracy.”

      The AI pioneers: Bengio consults for IBM and his colleagues Geoffrey Hinton consults for Google and Yann LeCun for Facebook. Ruslan Salakhutdinov, a protege of Hinton’s, runs Apple’s AI research effort.

    • There cannot be two kinds of medicine: EU scientists shred homeopathy, alt med

      An organization representing scientific academies throughout Europe released a statement Wednesday that squarely bashed homeopathy as nonsense and warned that the “promotion and use of homeopathic products risks significant harms.”

      The statement by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC)—an umbrella organization representing 29 national and international scientific academies in Europe, including the Royal Society (UK) and Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences—is intended to influence policy and regulations across the European Union. The EASAC emphasized the need to “reinforce criticisms” by scientists as the markets for homeopathy in the EU and US continue to grow.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Study: Flint water killed unborn babies; many moms who drank it couldn’t get pregnant

      The city of Flint saw fewer pregnancies, and a higher number of fetal deaths, during the period women and their fetuses were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, according to a new research study that reviewed health records from Flint and the state.

      Fertility rates decreased by 12% among Flint women, and fetal death rates increased by 58%, after April 2014, according to research by assistant professors and health economists David Slusky at Kansas University and Daniel Grossman at West Virginia University. The pair examined vital statistics data for Flint and the rest of the state of Michigan from 2008 to 2015, zoomed down to the census-tract level.

  • Security
    • iOS 11 Muddies WiFi and Bluetooth Controls

      Turning WiFi and Bluetooth off is often viewed as a good security practice. Apple did not rationalize these changes in behavior.

    • How To Hack A Turned-Off Computer, Or Running Unsigned Code In Intel Management Engine

      Intel Management Engine is a proprietary technology that consists of a microcontroller integrated into the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) microchip with a set of built-in peripherals. The PCH carries almost all communication between the processor and external devices; therefore Intel ME has access to almost all data on the computer, and the ability to execute third-party code allows compromising the platform completely. Researchers have been long interested in such “God mode” capabilities, but recently we have seen a surge of interest in Intel ME. One of the reasons is the transition of this subsystem to a new hardware (x86) and software (modified MINIX as an operating system) architecture. The x86 platform allows researchers to bring to bear all the power of binary code analysis tools.

    • Optionsbleed: Don’t get your panties in a wad

      To be honest, this isn’t the first security concern you’ve run in to, and it isn’t the first security issue you’re vulnerable to, that will remain exploitable for quite some time, until after someone you rely on fixed the issue for you, meanwhile compromising your customers.

      [...]

      Is it a small part of the SSL public key? A small part of the web request response? A chunk of the path to the index.php? Or is it a chunk of the database password used? Nobody knows until you get enough data to analyse the results of all data. If you can’t appreciate the maths behind analysing multiple readings of 8 arbitrary bytes, choose another career. Not that I know what to do and how to do it, by the way.

    • SEC discloses hackers [sic] penetrated EDGAR, profited in trading

      Hackers [sic] made their way into the Security and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR electronic filing system last year, retrieving private data that appear to have resulted in “an illicit gain through trading,” the agency reported Wednesday.

    • US Securities and Exchange Commission confesses to hacker [sic] access
    • Zone Walking (Zone Enumeration via DNSSEC NSEC Records)

      An important capability of DNSSEC is the ability to authoritatively assert that a given domain name does NOT exist, as per Authenticated Denial of Existence in the DNS.

    • New FinFisher surveillance campaigns: Internet providers involved?

      New surveillance campaigns utilizing FinFisher, infamous spyware known also as FinSpy and sold to governments and their agencies worldwide, are in the wild. Besides featuring technical improvements, some of these variants have been using a cunning, previously-unseen infection vector with strong indicators of major internet service provider (ISP) involvement.

    • FinFisher spyware variant returns with a vengeance

      A variant of the FinFisher spyware is being spread in seven countries through legitimate applications like WhatsApp, Skype, Avast, WinRAR and VLC Player, the security company ESET says.

    • The CCleaner Malware Fiasco Targeted at Least 18 Specific Tech Firms

      Earlier this week, security firms Morphisec and Cisco revealed that CCleaner, a piece of security software distributed by Czech company Avast, had been hijacked by hackers and loaded with a backdoor that evaded the company’s security checks. It wound up installed on more than 700,000 computers. On Wednesday, researchers at Cisco’s Talos security division revealed that they’ve now analyzed the hackers’ “command-and-control” server to which those malicious versions of CCleaner connected.

    • CCleaner hacked [sic] with malware: What you need to know

      It seems that CCleaner, one of PCWorld’s recommendations for the best free software for new PCs, might not have been keeping your PC so clean after all. In an in-depth probe of the popular optimization and scrubbing software, Cisco Talos has discovered a malicious bit of code injected by hackers that could have affected more than 2 million users who downloaded the most recent update.

    • Reminder: the CIA has been able to hack your WiFi router for years
    • Antipatterns in IoT security

      Security for Internet of Things (IoT) devices is something of a hot topic over the last year or more. Marti Bolivar presented an overview of some of the antipatterns that are leading to the lack of security for these devices at a session at the 2017 Open Source Summit North America in Los Angeles. He also had some specific recommendations for IoT developers on how to think about these problems and where to turn for help in making security a part of the normal development process.

      A big portion of the talk was about antipatterns that he has seen—and even fallen prey to—in security engineering, he said. It was intended to help engineers develop more secure products on a schedule. It was not meant to be a detailed look at security technologies like cryptography, nor even a guide to what technical solutions to use. Instead, it targeted how to think about security with regard to developing IoT products.

    • Signing programs for Linux

      At his 2017 Open Source Summit North America talk, Matthew Garrett looked at the state of cryptographic signing and verification of programs for Linux. Allowing policies that would restrict Linux from executing programs that are not signed would provide a measure of security for those systems, but there is work to be done to get there. Garrett started by talking about “binaries”, but programs come in other forms (e.g. scripts) so any solution must look beyond simply binary executables.

      There are a few different reasons to sign programs. The first is to provide an indication of the provenance of a program; whoever controls the key actually did sign it at some point. So if something is signed by a Debian or Red Hat key, it is strong evidence that it came from those organizations (assuming the keys have been securely handled). A signed program might be given different privileges based on the trust you place in a particular organization, as well.

    • A Guide to Common Types of Two-Factor Authentication on the Web

      Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) is one of the biggest-bang-for-your-buck ways to improve the security of your online accounts. Luckily, it’s becoming much more common across the web. With often just a few clicks in a given account’s settings, 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts on top of your password.

      In addition to requesting something you know to log in (in this case, your password), an account protected with 2FA will also request information from something you have (usually your phone or a special USB security key). Once you put in your password, you’ll grab a code from a text or app on your phone or plug in your security key before you are allowed to log in. Some platforms call 2FA different things—Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Two Step Verification (2SV), or Login Approvals—but no matter the name, the idea is the same: Even if someone gets your password, they won’t be able to access your accounts unless they also have your phone or security key.

      There are four main types of 2FA in common use by consumer websites, and it’s useful to know the differences. Some sites offer only one option; other sites offer a few different options. We recommend checking twofactorauth.org to find out which sites support 2FA and how, and turning on 2FA for as many of your online accounts as possible. For more visual learners, this infographic from Access Now offers additional information.

      Finally, the extra layer of protection from 2FA doesn’t mean you should use a weak password. Always make unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts, and then put 2FA on top of those for even better log-in security.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • SEC Chairman reveals financial reporting system was hacked
    • CCleaner malware outbreak is much worse than it first appeared
    • CCleaner Hack May Have Been A State-Sponsored Attack On 18 Major Tech Companies

      At the beginning of this week, reports emerged that Avast, owner of the popular CCleaner software, had been hacked. Initial investigations by security researchers at Cisco Talos discovered that the intruder not only compromised Avast’s servers, but managed to embed both a backdoor and “a multi-stage malware payload” that rode on top of the installation of CCleaner. That infected software — traditionally designed to help scrub PCs of cookies and other tracking software and malware — was subsequently distributed by Avast to 700,000 customers (initially, that number was thought to be 2.27 million).

      And while that’s all notably terrible, it appears initial reports dramatically under-stated both the scope and the damage done by the hack. Initially, news reports and statements by Avast insisted that the hackers weren’t able to “do any harm” because the second, multi-stage malware payload was never effectively delivered. But subsequent reports by both Avast and Cisco Talos researchers indicate this payload was effectively delivered — with the express goal of gaining access to the servers and networks of at least 18 technology giants, including Intel, Google, Microsoft, Akamai, Samsung, Sony, VMware, HTC, Linksys, D-Link and Cisco itself.

    • IoT botnet Linux.ProxyM turns its grubby claws to spam rather than DDoS

      An IoT botnet is making a nuisance of itself online after becoming a conduit for spam distribution.

      Linux.ProxyM has the capability to engage in email spam campaigns with marked difference to other IoT botnets, such as Mirai, that infamously offered a potent platform for running distributed-denial-of-service attacks (DDoSing). Other IoT botnets have been used as proxies to offer online anonymity.

    • Linux IoT botnet retooled to send spam email

      An IoT botnet has set its hooks in about 4,500 – 5,000 proxy devices to send spam emails which each device capable of sending 400 messages or a total of 1.8 million messages per day.

    • Mini-Heartbleed info leak bug strikes Apache, airborne malware, NSA algo U-turn, and more

      As ever, it’s been a doozy of a week for cybersecurity, or lack thereof. The Equifax saga just keeps giving, the SEC admitted it was thoroughly pwned, and Slack doesn’t bother to sign its Linux versions. We do spoil you so, Reg readers. And that was only yesterday. Here’s the rest of the week’s shenanigans we didn’t get round to.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Rouhani says Iran will strengthen its missile capabilities: state TV

      Iran will strengthen its missile capabilities and will not seek permission from any country to do so, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday in an address to a parade of armed forces in the capital Tehran.

      “We will increase our military power as a deterrent. We will strengthen our missile capabilities … We will not seek permission from anyone to defend our country,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.

    • ‘The World May Conclude the US Is No Longer Capable of Diplomacy’

      Americans don’t really need to be enjoined to “never forget” September 11, 2001. But what about February 5, 2003, when Colin Powell presented the UN Security Council with some blurry pictures and mistranslated intercepts he said proved that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that the US should go to war over? Today, media acknowledge that George W. Bush just wanted to invade Iraq, and concocted a scenario that would make it seem justifiable.

      Donald Trump hasn’t troubled to veil his hostile intentions toward Iran and his desire to undo the 2015 deal, in which Iran agreed to give up enriched uranium, destroy thousands of centrifuges, and allow for UN inspections, among other things, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Some say it’s a desire to please Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some say it’s just a desire to destroy whatever Barack Obama did. But whatever the causes, undoing the deal could have major negative consequence, and not just in Iran. Here to talk about the situation is Murtaza Hussain, a journalist for The Intercept. He joins us by phone from here in town. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Murtaza Hussain.

    • The Killing of History

      One of the most hyped “events” of American television, “The Vietnam War,” has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam War in an entirely new way.”

      In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism,” Burns’s “entirely new” Vietnam War is presented as an “epic, historic work.” Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

      Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans.” Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

      I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings.”

    • Civil Society Rises to Confront Disasters

      Scores of survivors have already been pulled out of the rubble of various disaster sites all over the sprawling city. The quake has taken the lives of over 230 people with thousands more injured.

      First responders and volunteers dug through the rubble of a collapsed school in the southern part of the city for children buried in the fallen books and bricks. Reuters reported early Thursday that “eleven other children were rescued from the Enrique Rebsamen School, where students are aged roughly six to 15. Twenty-one children and four adults there were killed.”

    • Trump’s Warped View of World War II

      Phew. Well, let’s kick off with the one country Trump left alone in the UN: Russia. It was Russia which bore the brunt of Hitler’s Wehrmacht; it was Russia’s destruction of Hitler’s military power that broke the Nazis; and it was Russia which – with the approval of both Churchill and Roosevelt (and later Truman, whom Trump quotes at some length) – dominated eastern Europe with a series of vicious “socialist” dictatorships for decades after the war was over. When Trump referred to “our allies” in the Second World War, he surely – though I’m not certain of this – knew that the most powerful of them in Europe was the Soviet Union.

      There’s no problem with D-Day (“the beaches of Europe”), and the landings in Italy and southern France, although they came a bit late for Stalin who’d been pleading for a Second Front for two years. Besides, the Western Allies feared that if they didn’t launch D-Day soon, then the advancing Russian army would be sunbathing on the beaches of Spain.

      But the reference to the “deserts of the Middle East” went way beyond reality. US Middle East policy after the Second World War was based on oil resources – and the propping up of dictators and kings who would ensure the flow of oil in the future – and total and uncritical support for Israel, whose occupation and theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank would have produced a froth of economic sanctions from the Trumps of this world had it been any other country.

    • Presidential Bomb Threats at the UN

      Donald Trump denounced North Korea and its president Kim Jong-un as “depraved” before the United Nations Sept. 19, saying the nation “threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life.” Of course, North Korea can barely feed itself, and yet has to defend itself against an onslaught of Western hostility, UN sanctions, and ongoing US/South Korean war games which are rehearsals for an invasion of the North. It tests rockets and bombs to be sure, just as the US and its allies and adversaries do all year round. It’s big business.

      Trump’s claim that North Korea is threatening is preposterous since it has no deliverable nuclear weapons at all. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week that North Korea is no danger to the United States. In June 2016, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that Pyongyang may have between 13 and 21 warheads. The CIA, whose job it is to find hostile weapons (even where they don’t exist) says Pyongyang has at most about 21. US intelligence agencies’ combined estimates are that while it may have miniaturized a nuclear warhead, North Korea has no missile that can drop them on the United States. The Federation of American Scientists is more skeptical and estimates it has “potentially produce[d] 10-20 nuclear warheads.”

    • Trump at the UN: Nuremberg Redux

      The time for equivocation and satire where Donald Trump is concerned has passed. Indeed if the current US President’s address to the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York confirms anything, it is that satire must now give way to a sober and serious appreciation of the clear and present danger his administration poses to the world.

      When Trump arrived at the podium at the UN to deliver his address to the world leaders and diplomats in attendance, it was impossible to resist pondering how it is that a man with zero political experience, whose dysfunctional relationship with the English language you would imagine would disqualify him from political office of any kind, could possibly find himself thrust onto the world stage in command of the largest economy and military, including nuclear weapons, ever known.

      Some have attempted to posit Trump’s election to the highest political office in the United States as confirmation of the unyielding magic of the American dream, the power it has to make the seemingly impossible eminently possible, carrying with it the source of America’s promise.

      However those of us who refuse to succumb to such illusions understand Trump’s election as evidence not of America’s greatness but of its weakness and decline. To put it another way, if Obama was our Emperor Augustus, a president who managed to succeed in cloaking the snarling beast of US imperialism and hegemony with the patina of peace and stability – a Pax Americana if you will – Trump is our Nero, a leader whose departure from reality knows no bounds.

    • The Trump Administration Is Looking to Make It Easier to Kill More People in More Places

      President Trump may relax Obama-era limits on drone and special forces’ kill missions. More civilians will die.

      The Trump administration is reportedly poised to kill more people in more countries around the world, from Nigeria to the Philippines.

      According to the New York Times, the administration is considering loosening Obama administration policy on drone killings and other lethal operations in places where the United States is not at war. The changes will result in more unlawful and secret killings, alienate our allies, and make the world less safe.

      To understand what these changes would mean, it helps to remember what the Obama administration did. Soon after coming to office, President Obama began to expand and normalize what had been a Bush administration aberration: a policy of invoking war-based legal rationales to kill terrorism suspects in places where the U.S. was not at war, usually through CIA drone strikes.

      In the early years, Obama’s killing rules were largely secret, even as a range of Obama officials gave speeches claiming — but not explaining how — they were lawful, necessary, and wise. Those government claims were repeatedly undercut by the facts.

    • What Are the Rights of an American Captured Fighting for ISIS?

      The Constitution is clear. Any American fighting for ISIS should be transferred to federal court for prosecution.

      Media outlets are reporting that the U.S. military is currently detaining an American citizen captured allegedly fighting on behalf of ISIS in Syria. The Trump administration has not released the citizen’s name or location, nor has it indicated whether the suspect will face criminal charges in federal court or be subjected to continued military detention.

      But the right choice here is plain: It would be a grave error for the administration to resurrect the failed and illegal Bush-era policy of enemy combatant detentions. If, in fact, the U.S. citizen was fighting for ISIS, the surest way to safeguard both our Constitution and security is to transfer the suspect promptly to federal court to face criminal charges.

      Even without knowing all the facts, the basic legal requirements for the suspect’s treatment, rights in detention, and prosecution are clear.

    • North Korea could test hydrogen bomb over Pacific Ocean, says foreign minister

      North Korea could test a powerful nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean in response to US President Donald Trump’s threats of military action, the country’s foreign minister has warned.
      Ri Yong Ho spoke to reporters in New York shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made an unprecedented televised statement, accusing Trump of being “mentally deranged.”

    • Trump And Kim Playing With Fire

      The only thing that’s different is now we have two nut-cases leading USA and North Korea. Both “leaders” are erratic and unpredictable. They inspire fear and worry rather than confidence.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Sebastian Gorka Gave A Classified “Tirade” About Radical Islam

      A couple of weeks before he was ousted as deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, Sebastian Gorka gave an explosive two-and-a-half hour speech at to the army’s special operations school, which an officer who was present characterized as a “tirade” about the war in Afghanistan, Sharia law, radical Islamic terrorism, and the Trump administration’s aggressive policies to counter and “defeat it all.”

      It was “classic Gorka,” said another U.S. Army special operations officer.

      BuzzFeed News learned about the speech, which was classified, through documents obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • At 50 tons and 700 kilowatt-hours, this truck is the biggest EV in the world

      When it comes to bench-racing electric vehicles, the kilowatt-hour is king. And over in Switzerland, there’s an EV that will make Tesla’s P100Ds look positively puny. But this is no carbon-fiber hypercar, and it’s never going set any records for 0-60 times or the standing quarter. No, this is an altogether more practical creation that’s meant to work for a living. It’s a Komatsu quarry truck that’s being modified by Kuhn Schweiz and Lithium Storage, weighing in at almost 50 tons (45 tonnes) and powered by a whopping 700kWh battery pack.

      The e-Dumper has been in the works for a couple of years now, during which time its battery capacity has grown from the original 600kWh to what is now the equivalent of seven top-of-the-line Teslas. The cells in question are nickel-manganese-cobalt, 1,440 of them in total, weighing almost 10,000lbs (4.5 tonnes). And once the team has found space in the chassis for all of that energy storage, the idea is for the e-Dumper to spend the next decade trundling between a Swiss cement quarry and the Ciments Vigier works near Biel.

    • Groups: Harvey Recovery Must Serve Vulnerable Victims, Not Corporate Polluters

      Prompted in part by the appointment of former Shell CEO Marvin Odum to lead Texas recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a coalition of over 130 organizations released a joint statement directed at elected officials in Texas and Louisiana on Thursday demanding that hurricane relief funds be delivered to communities in need, not to big polluters—”the same corporate actors that caused or contributed to many of these problems in the first place.”

    • How Exxon Mobil May Soon Have Greater Sway Over Science Used in EPA Policies

      Exxon Mobil may soon have a greater hand in shaping the science used to develop major environmental regulations.

      The published list of potential names for the Science Advisory Board and the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee includes many industry representatives and consultants. The panels are typically composed primarily of independent academics and researchers charged with reviewing agency science and advising the Environmental Protection Agency on major policy decisions.

      While industry has always had a voice on those panels, comments from the Trump administration and the potential new appointees suggest the balance may soon change in favor of greater power for regulated companies, particularly the oil and gas industries.

      The long list of potential new advisory board members includes officials from Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Alcoa, Noble Energy, Total, and the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for the chemical industry. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will make the final determination to select the members of the panels.

    • Florida Utilities Lobbied To Make It Illegal For Solar Users To Use Panels In Wake Of Hurricanes, Outages

      You may have noticed that the shift to solar is happening whether traditional utilities like it or not, and attempting to stop solar’s forward momentum is akin to believing you can thwart the Mississippi with a fork and a few copies of Mad Magazine. Said futility clearly hasn’t discouraged Florida utilities, who have gone to numerous, highly-creative lengths to try and hinder or curtail solar use. When last we checked in with legacy Florida utilities, they were busy using entirely fake consumer groups to push a law that professed to help the solar industry while actually undermining it.

      Fortunately Florida consumers ultimately saw through this effort, though this was just one of a steady stream of similar bills aimed at stalling progress. Many Florida Power and Light customers obviously lost power in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, despite promises by the company that endless rate hikes would help harden the utilities’ lines. But customers thinking they could use the solar panels on their roofs to help keep themselves afloat until traditional power was restored were in for a rude awakening.

    • Oil companies sued to pay for cost of rising sea levels, climate change

      At least five California municipalities are suing five major oil companies, claiming in public nuisance lawsuits that the firms should pay for the infrastructure costs associated with rising sea levels due to climate change.

      The latest suits announced Wednesday by Oakland and San Francisco name BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The cities claim the oil companies knew of the dangers of fossil-fuel-driven climate change but kept mum. The cities claim that global warming, which they say has melted ice sheets and heated sea water, has contributed to rising seas by about eight inches in California over the past decade. They say it could rise 10 feet by the year 2100.

      “The bill has come due,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “It’s time for these companies to take responsibility.”

  • Finance
    • Uber really doesn’t want its drivers to be considered employees

      A three-judge panel at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to lean in favor of Uber in a case that could have a profound impact on the future of employment and gig economy startups.

      On Wednesday, the court heard a consolidated appeal of 11 pending cases that essentially boil down to the same issue: should drivers be considered employees? If so, can they sue as part of a class-action lawsuit? If Uber prevails, drivers will be considered contractors—and they won’t, as is currently the case, receive numerous benefits.

    • London regulator announces Uber ban

      London’s taxi regulator is revoking Uber’s license to operate in the city, the agency announced on its Twitter feed on Friday morning. “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility,” Transport for London wrote.

      The agency cited Uber’s “approach to reporting serious criminal offenses” as one problem with the company’s conduct. It also pointed to Greyball, a controversial software program Uber allegedly used to mislead regulators about the locations of its cars, making it more difficult for regulators to ticket Uber vehicles.

      Uber’s license expires on September 30. However, it has 21 days to appeal the agency’s ruling, and it can continue operating in the city during the appeal process.

      London’s Licensed Taxi Drivers Association praised the decision. “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” a spokesman told the Independent.

    • Tech’s push to teach coding isn’t about kids’ success – it’s about cutting wages

      Computer science courses for children have proliferated rapidly in the past few years. A 2016 Gallup report found that 40% of American schools now offer coding classes – up from only 25% a few years ago. New York, with the largest public school system in the country, has pledged to offer computer science to all 1.1 million students by 2025. Los Angeles, with the second largest, plans to do the same by 2020. And Chicago, the fourth largest, has gone further, promising to make computer science a high school graduation requirement by 2018.

    • Theresa May’s Florentine gambit

      Theresa May arrives in Florence on Friday with the political realities of Brexit closing in around her.

      To begin negotiations on a future trade deal or even a transition period, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier must be able to advise EU leaders at the European Council summit in October that “sufficient progress” has been made on what it defines as “divorce issues,” including the so-called Brexit bill and citizens’ rights.

      Back in London, concern is building about the lack of time before the U.K. crashes out of the EU, with or without a deal, on March 29, 2019, when the two-year negotiation period allowed for under Article 50 expires.

      In a special two-and-a-half hour cabinet meeting Thursday, Chancellor Philip Hammond intervened to urge more haste. “’We need to keep the pace up’ was his message,” said one government official. Hammond believes the time has come to make a decision about what kind of relationship Britain wants with the EU post Brexit and argued the decision-making process needs to be speeded up considerably over the fall.

    • Brexit: Majority of British people believe UK should stay in the EU, finds latest poll

      British people have turned their backs on Brexit, according to a new poll released just as Theresa May prepares to give a make-or-break speech on her plans for EU withdrawal.

      The exclusive survey for The Independent by BMG Research shows a majority now believe the country should remain in the EU, after weeks in which deadlocked Brussels talks and cabinet splits exposed the sheer complexity of withdrawal.

      Ms May goes to Florence in the hope of convincing EU leaders of the “importance of negotiations making further progress” with time running out before Britain falls out of the bloc without terms.

    • The City of London: Capital of an Invisible Empire

      In July 2017 director Michael Oswald’s latest film, The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire was premiered at the Frontline Club in London. It has since had several screenings in London and public screenings can be organised from November onwards. This fascinating interview just published in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten explores what inspired co-producers Michael Oswald and John Christensen to make a film documentary about London’s role as the world’s pre-eminent tax haven. Oswald and Christensen also talk about how London might develop once Brexit kicks in, exploring the possibility of deepening the City’s tax haven role through further tax cuts for the rich and more rolling back of financial market regulation and other social protections.

    • Uber stripped of London licence due to lack of corporate responsibility

      Uber’s application for a new licence in London has been rejected on the basis that the company is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator.

      Uber said it planned to challenge the ruling by London’s transport authority in the courts immediately.

      The current licence expires on 30 September but Uber has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until that process expires.

    • WTO Market Access Committee Debates China, India Restrictions On IT, Russia’s GIs On Wine

      In the World Trade Organization Market Access Committee today, a range of member countries raised concern over China’s tariffs on semiconductors and India’s duties on a range of information technology products. In addition, the European Union raised concern over uneven application of lower tariffs for geographically indicated wines, favouring local producers.

      According to a Geneva trade official, at the 22 September meeting, six WTO members expressed concern over tariff increases by China that took effect at the start of the year, arguing that they violate China’s commitments under the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

      Complaints came from the United States, European Union, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. The EU said some duty rates rose from 0 percent to 3.4 percent.

    • Who Was Behind the Move to Halt Reporting Rules on Equal Pay?

      The Trump administration’s decision was reached behind closed doors, without public input or sound justification.

      In its aggressive campaign to roll back efforts advanced in recent years to close the gender wage gap, the Trump administration now is politicizing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency that was created more than 50 years ago by Congress to enforce the nation’s laws against discrimination in employment.

      On Wednesday, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the EEOC seeking records concerning the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recent decision directing the civil rights agency to halt implementation of its new pay data collection initiative. Set to go into effect in March 2018, the initiative updated the EEO-1, a form used by the government to collect information from certain employers about the gender, race, and ethnicity of their employees by job category. The updated EEO-1 would have required these employers to also provide information about the wages they pay their employees. Separately on Wednesday, the National Women’s Law Center and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights also filed several FOIA requests with OMB about the decision to stay the new EEO-1 data collection.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Media Has A Probability Problem

      You won’t be surprised to learn that I see a lot of similarities between hurricane forecasting and election forecasting — and between the media’s coverage of Irma and its coverage of the 2016 campaign. In recent elections, the media has often overestimated the precision of polling, cherry-picked data and portrayed elections as sure things when that conclusion very much wasn’t supported by polls or other empirical evidence.

    • Twitter Will Meet With Senate Intelligence Committee on Russia

      Twitter has confirmed it will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The company tells WIRED that it will speak with Senators next Wednesday about the prevalence of bot accounts, as well as the widespread dissemination of fake news and misinformation, on its platform.

    • Facebook revamps political-ad rules after discovering Russian ad buys

      Two weeks ago, Facebook admitted that a “shadowy Russian company” spent $100,000 on political ads targeting US Facebook users during the 2016 election campaign. At the time, Facebook turned in information about these ad buys to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the election.

      Today, Facebook announced that it would also be turning the information over to Congressional investigators. And Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be stepping up its efforts to prevent foreign election interference in the future.

      “The integrity of our elections is fundamental to democracy around the world,” Zuckerberg said in a video posted to Facebook. “We can’t prevent all governments from all interference. But we can make it harder.”

    • Instagram accidentally advertises itself on Facebook with rape threat photo
    • Instagram uses ‘I will rape you’ post as Facebook ad in latest algorithm mishap

      When Guardian reporter Olivia Solon was sent a rape threat, she posted a screenshot on Instagram. Then the Facebook-owned company made it an ad

    • Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will end untraceable political ads
    • Islamophobic U.S. Mega-Donor Fuels German Far-Right Party With Viral Fake News

      THE RISE OF Alternative for Germany, the new far-right political party competing in the upcoming federal election, has unsettled the consensus-driven, moderate politics of postwar Germany with its rabid anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, unabashed nationalism, and winking gestures embracing the country’s Nazi past.

      Election-watchers expected a flood of fake news and inflammatory social media aiding Alternative for Germany, known by its German initials, AfD, to come from Russia. But one of the major publishers of online content friendly to the far-right party is an American website financed in large part and lead by Jewish philanthropist Nina Rosenwald.

      Rosenwald’s site, the Gatestone Institute, publishes a steady flow of inflammatory content about the German election, focused on stoking fears about immigrants and Muslims. In one of the most recent posts, the website warns of the construction of mosques in Germany and claims that Christianity is becoming “extinct.”

      [...]

      Local German press, however, condemned the Gatestone story as false. A single house in Hamburg went into temporary trusteeship after several apartments at the home remained vacant. “Refugees did not play a role in the district’s decision,” fact-checking website Correctiv noted.

      The story was typical of Gatestone’s approach. The website’s Germany-related coverage includes story after story about migrants raping German women, claims that migrants are bringing “highly infectious diseases” to Germany, and Muslims are transforming entire German neighborhoods into “no-go zones” where local police have lost control. Many of the claims about Muslims in Europe have been debunked as false or sensationalized.

      Gatestone articles in the past have notably elevated Björn Höcke, an AfD leader who represents the party’s far-right faction. Höcke has since sparked controversy in January with a firebrand speech denouncing German guilt over its Nazi past and criticizing the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, claiming that Germans suffer from a “mentality of a totally vanquished people.”

      [...]

      Rosenwald, the president and funder of Gatestone, did not respond to a request for comment. She is the daughter of the late William Rosenwald, a famous Jewish philanthropist who used his share of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. department store fortune to settle Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi terror in Europe. Nina, however, has emerged as one of the most generous donors to campaigns against Muslim refugee in the U.S. and Europe.

    • Trump Says Frederick Douglass Is Doing An Amazing Job Making All His Friends Rich In Nambia

      With death lurking daily – either from our impending un-health care and the mountain of lies being told about it or from an understandably pissed North Korea threatening to take revenge on our “deranged” leader by setting off a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean – we’re thinking about moving to Nambia. It actually doesn’t exist – though Namibia does – but that didn’t stop the ever-well-informed Trump from praising its health care to African leaders at the U.N., painstakingly reading its name aloud twice among all the other foreign-type countries he’d clearly never heard of before.

      Cue a particularly riotous online response on the wonders of Nambia – where everyone has an Emmy and large hands, where the three to five million illegal immigrants who gave Hillary the popular vote win came from, where the climate’s between Narnia and Middle Earth, where Frederick Douglass is organizing refugees from the Bowling Green Massacre, where the government’s so broke they’re selling off letters from their name, where Trump U plans to open a campus offering a degree in Colonial Profiteering. And don’t forget their great covfefe.

      Still, Nambia was the fun part. Things got more weird and venal when Trump did his best mindless imitation of King Leopold, brutal colonizer and “Butcher of Congo” during whose reign of profit-seeking terror he killed, enslaved and cut off the hands of thousands of Africans. Trump got as far in his script as citing Africa’s “tremendous business potential” before veering disastrously off-course into one of his surreal ad-libs.

    • What We Do and Don’t Know About Facebook’s New Political Ad Transparency Initiative

      On Thursday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced several steps to make political ads on the world’s largest social network more transparent. The changes follow Facebook’s acknowledgment earlier this month that $100,000 worth of political ads were placed during the 2016 election cycle by “inauthentic accounts” linked to Russia.

      The changes also follow ProPublica’s launch of a crowdsourcing effort earlier this month to collect political advertising from Facebook. Our goal was to ensure that political ads on Facebook, which until now have largely avoided scrutiny, receive the same level of fact-checking by journalists, advocacy groups and political opponents as do print, broadcast and radio political ads. We hope to have some results to share soon.

    • Bernie Sanders To Democrats: This Is What a Radical Foreign Policy Looks Like

      During the Democratic presidential primaries, politicians and pundits alike agreed that Sanders had a foreign policy deficit. “Foreign policy,” wrote David Ignatius, the Washington Post’s foreign affairs doyen, “is the hole in Sanders’s political doughnut.” Patrick Leahy, Sanders’s fellow senator from Vermont, was only a tad more diplomatic in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s not the subject he gravitates to, that’s fair to say,” acknowledged Leahy.

      A long-promised set piece speech on foreign policy during the campaign never came, and the Sanders campaign website lacked a foreign policy page for the first few months of his candidacy. Some of the figures identified by the senator as outside advisers on national security issues later claimed to hardly know him.

      His discomfort with the topic is palpable, but the truth is that the 76-year-old Sanders is far from a foreign policy neophyte. In the 1980s, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he was an outspoken critic of U.S. interventions in Latin America, becoming the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to visit Nicaragua and meet with President Daniel Ortega (which earned him the soubriquet “Sandernista”). He even went on honeymoon to the Soviet Union in 1988, as part of his effort to establish a sister city program between Burlington and Yaroslavl.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Silicon Valley Should Just Say No to Saudi

      American companies face a difficult tradeoff when dealing with government requests, but they should just say no to Saudi Arabia, which is using social media companies to do its dirty work in censoring Qatari media. Over the past few weeks, both Medium and Snap have caved to Saudi demands to geoblock journalistic content in the kingdom.

      The history of Silicon Valley companies’ compliance with requests from foreign governments is a sad one, and one that has undoubtedly led to more censorship around the world. While groups like EFF have been successful at pushing companies toward more transparency and at pushing back against domestic censorship in the United States, it seems that companies are unwilling or unable to see why protecting freedom of expression on their platforms abroad is important.

      After Yahoo’s compliance with a user data request from the Chinese government in the early 2000s resulted in the imprisonment of two Chinese citizens, the digital rights community began to pressure companies to use more scrutiny when dealing with orders from foreign governments. The early work of scholars such as Rebecca MacKinnon led to widespread awareness amongst civil society groups and the eventual creation of the Global Network Initiative, which created standards guiding companies’ compliance with foreign requests. A push from advocacy groups resulted in Google issuing its first transparency report in 2010, with other companies following the Silicon Valley giant’s lead. Today—thanks to tireless advocacy and projects like EFF’s Who Has Your Back report—dozens of companies issue their own reports.

      Transparency is vital. It helps users to understand who the censors are, and to make informed decisions about what platforms they use. But, as it turns out, transparency does not necessarily lead to less censorship.

    • Foxborough Exhibit On Media Censorship Gets Censored

      A photo exhibit at the Boyden Library about the dangers of news censorship and the threats reporters face around the world has itself been censored following a complaint.

      During September, the library played host to a photo exhibit showing posting dedicated to freedom of the press. Recently, some photos, including one that showed a beaten Ethopian journalist and another featuring an Iranian government official giving an pointed order to the media, were taken down, according to the Sun Chronicle.

    • In Foxboro, library exhibit on censorship is censored

      A publicly funded poster exhibit extolling press freedom has been removed from the Boyden Public Library following complaints over what some regarded as “graphic” and “inappropriate” content.

      Stephen Lewis, a collector and former union official, had produced the display, which consisted of more than 20 posters protesting threats to freedom or describing dangers faced by news-gatherers around the world in reporting on terrorism, war and corruption.

    • NU-Qatar Study Shows More Tolerance for Censorship of Mideast Media

      It’s well-established that trust in the U.S. media is at an all-time low, but that may be a sign that the press is doing its job.

      In the Middle East, trust in the media is twice that – 66 percent. But higher levels of trust may actually be because Middle Eastern media is less critical and less controversial, according to Everette Dennis, the dean and CEO Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Qatar).

    • Pahlaj Nihalani: India needs censorship rating between ‘U/A’ and ‘A’

      There are “two cracks” that need to be fixed in the Indian film censorship system, says controversial former chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Pahlaj Nihalani, who believes introducing a new rating slab could be a solution.

      During his term as CBFC chief, Nihalani faced a lot of flak for refusing certificates to films or demanding cuts and beeps. He says the problem will never get sorted until the rules of the rating system are improved.

    • British PM Wants More Internet Censorship: Delete ‘Extremist Content’ In 2 Hours
    • After Milo Accuses D.C. Coffeehouse Of Censorship, It Faces Barrage Of Harassment [Ed: Racist sexist provocateur/troll paints himself as the victim]
    • Spain and Catalonia Wrestle Over .Cat Internet Domain
    • Censorship – 1984 dot now

      Truth initiatives are a horrible idea, because they imply there is just one truth and that it should somehow be accepted blindly. What this is going to do is make smart people even more suspicious of the nonsense the media tosses at them, and the stupid people even stupider. Maybe that’s the goal?

      I do not need pseudo-liberals to be my tranquility police. I do not subscribe to arbitrary values of goodness, because such a thing does not exist. The walled-garden mentality is a horrible thing, and it’s been done before, throughout history, in countries, societies and regimes that do not resonate well with the so-called democratic process.

      The greatest human trait is curiosity. The need to learn and challenge conventions. We got where we are by fighting the established truths, by coping with the unknown and uncertain, by not accepting the reality at face value. This is just the digital version of going to the middle ages and following the party dogma or some similar nonsense. One truth to bring them all and in the stupidity bind them. In the land of idiots where the data lies.

    • Bogus Lawsuit-Slinging Rep Management Firm Sued By Pissed Consumer

      Solvera — a reputation management firm allegedly engaging in legal fraud to delist criticism — is facing multiple legal problems as a result of its highly-questionable services. In late August, the Texas Attorney General filed a complaint against the company, alleging it defrauded courts by filing bogus defamation lawsuits on behalf of possibly-unaware clients, utilizing duped lawyers with bogus statements from fake defendants.

      This sort of behavior has been uncovered in recent months through investigations by Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and lawprof/blogger Eugene Volokh. It has also been revealed through independent research by Pissed Consumer, an obvious target of these unsavory (and illegal) reputation management tactics.

    • Comey convocation address derailed by angry protesters at Howard University

      Comey was unable to speak at first due to the disruption. After several minutes, Comey tried to begin. “I hope you’ll stay and listen to what I have to say. … I listened to you for five minutes,” he said, before pausing again.

      After several more minutes of protests, Comey launched into his prepared speech – which, ironically, was about how the rest of the world is often “too noisy” to take time to reflect, whereas Howard University represents an “island.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell Remarks on Section 702 Oversight [Ed: No, they have zero oversight. A department that always says "yes" is just 'legal theatre']
    • NSA cryptography proposal rejected by allies

      Distrust of the US National Security Agency has caused experts from allied nations to reject its proposals for new cryptography standards.

      A “track record of subverting the standardisation process” has led to the intelligence agency losing much of the respect it once held, according to Dr Steven J Murdoch, a security researcher at University College London.

    • US allies accuse NSA of manipulating encryption standards

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) is in the global bad books again after allegations surfaced suggesting it was trying to manipulate international encryption standards. Reuters reports that it has seen interviews and emails from experts in countries including Germany, Japan and Israel expressing concern that the NSA has been pushing two particular encryption techniques not because they are secure, but because the agency knows how to break them.

    • NSA Tried to Push Global Encryption Standards “Because It Knew How to Break Them”

      The cybersecurity world continues to mistrust the National Security Agency of the United States. According to a latest Reuters report, an international group of cryptography experts from the country’s closest allies has forced the NSA to back down over two encryption techniques that the agency wanted to turn into global industry standards.

    • ‘Subversive’ NSA forced to back down over cyber encryption techniques

      US allies, distrustful of the NSA, have forced the agency to abandon some data encryption techniques it sought to set as the global standard, over fears the spy agency already knew how to bypass the security.

      Trust in the NSA is at an all-time low following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations that, among other things, it had previously promoted technology it could penetrate and had plotted to manipulate international standards.

      This mistrust has manifested itself in a series of closed-door meetings, held around the world over the last three years, Reuters reports. The NSA was trying to push through two encryption techniques, Simon and Speck, that it said were needed for defensive purposes.

    • Friend Request film review: Another Facebook horror film? Yes—and it’s solid

      Friend Request is the second “Facebook horror film” to receive wide release in the past two years. That number may either seem too high or too low to you, but it’s certainly fertile pop-culture territory: young, hip kids live their lives online and die for it, mwahaha.

    • WhatsApp Reportedly Rejected UK Government Demand For Encryption Backdoor [Ed: Misleading PR stunt from Facebook. Facebook still can (and does) intercept everything. Government then asks for access. Stop telling people that things which are not secure can guard their privacy. Advice like that is doing far more harm than good. Can kill people.]
    • Nest adds new cameras and a wireless alarm system to its product suite [Ed: What kind of a fool does it take to install a CCTV for Google in one’s own home? And pay for it?]

      Alphabet-owned Nest announced several new products today, all of them focused on home security. Two new cameras have been introduced—the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor and Nest Hello—along with Nest Secure, a multi-device home alarm system powered by motion sensors.

    • Another court tells police: Want to use a stingray? Get a warrant

      The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that the warrantless use of a cell-site simulator violated the Constitution when a man suspected of sexual assault and robbery was located by local police.

      In a 2-1 opinion issued Thursday, the DC Court of Appeals—effectively the equivalent of a state supreme court—agreed with the lower court’s ruling that the use of the device, also known as a stingray, was unconstitutional. In addition, however, the judges went further: they found that the violation was so egregious that any evidence derived from the stingray should be excluded from the case, which overturned the conviction.

      The case, Prince Jones v. United States, joins a recent string of judgements from around the country that concluded that stingrays are a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. That means they require a warrant, barring exigent circumstances or other known exceptions.

    • Appeals Court Rules Against Warrantless Cell-site Simulator Surveillance

      Law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C. violated the Fourth Amendment when they used a cell site simulator to locate a suspect without a warrant, a D.C. appeals court ruled on Thursday. The court thus found that the resulting evidence should have been excluded from trial and overturned the defendant’s convictions.

      EFF joined the ACLU in filing an amicus brief, arguing that the use of a cell-site simulator without a warrant constituted an illegal search. We applaud the court’s decision in applying long-established Fourth Amendment principles to the digital age.

    • ISO Rejects NSA Encryption Algorithms

      The ISO has decided not to approve two NSA-designed block encryption algorithms: Speck and Simon. It’s because the NSA is not trusted to put security ahead of surveillance:

    • ISO decides not to approve two NSA encryption algorithms, citing trust issues

      The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) decided not to approve the NSA encryption algorithms Speck and Simon after expressing concerns that the NSA was able to crack the encryption techniques and would thus gain a back door into coded transmissions.

      The decision follows a three year dispute behind closed doors around the world between academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel about whether or not the two data encryption techniques would be set as global encryption standards, according to Reuters.

    • This Former GCHQ Head Took A Private Sector Role Without Asking For Government Approval – And Got Away With It

      A former head of the UK spy agency GCHQ has been criticised by the panel that advises on new jobs for former ministers and senior civil servants for taking a new role without seeking its permission – but was then immediately approved for a second role.

      Robert Hannigan, who earlier this year stepped down as the director of GCHQ, has launched a consultancy company and accepted a commission as head of the European advisory board for a new US cybersecurity firm, BlueteamGlobal.

      However, he did not seek approval from the Advisory Commission for Business Appointments (Acoba) before this role was announced. The move contradicts the committee’s rules for civil servants in the first two years after they leave public service.

    • UK banks to check 70m bank accounts in search for illegal immigrants

      Banks and building societies are to carry out immigration checks on 70m current accounts from January in the biggest extension of Theresa May’s plans to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in Britain, the Guardian has learned.

      The Home Office expects to identify 6,000 visa overstayers, failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders facing deportation in the first year of the checks, which are to be carried out quarterly.

    • I Have Nothing to Hide – Really? Here’s why privacy matters to all of us

      The statement “I have nothing to hide” is very popular. But recently reversing this statement has also become very popular: “Give me your bank account login, your email login, your Facebook login.” Most people refuse this instantly, and for a good reason: Everybody has something to hide. To convince everybody – once and for all – let’s take a deep dive into why privacy matters and how everybody can protect their private data easily.

    • Parrot mimics owner to make purchases using Amazon Echo
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Opening the black boxes: algorithmic bias and the need for accountability

      If this position is allowed to stand, we run the risk of turning algorithms into black boxes whose results we are forced to accept, but whose workings we may not query. In particular, we won’t know what personal information has been used in the decision-making process, and thus how our privacy is being affected.

    • Norway under fire for deporting woman who was whipped in Iran

      Social media is subjecting Norway’s ultra-strict attitude with asylum seekers to public trial after an Iranian woman was deported and given 80 lashes for allegedly consuming alcohol.

      Thirty-six-year-old Leila Bayat had lived in Norway for eight years, but was expelled in March this year, separating her from her 13-year-old son. Her punishment in Iran was on Tuesday. A friend in Norway contacted her.

      “Morning, Leila, how are you?”

      “Not at all well. It’s is very, very painful. I was whipped 80 times, I can hardly talk abut it”.

      Norway’s Immigration Ministry did not believe Leila’s reasons for demanding asylum. Now she intends to take it to court, and she has allies.

    • Anti-Fascist Heroines Then and Now

      The torchlit procession and violent rally of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, and President Donald Trump’s repeated defense of the racist gathering, mark a turning point in modern America. Trump doubled down last week when he blamed both sides again, denouncing some anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters as “bad dudes,” a day after meeting with the Senate’s lone black Republican, Sen. Tim Scott, whom the White House called “Tom” Scott.

      To recap: Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old activist, was killed, and at least 19 more were injured, when a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters on Aug. 12. Hate groups and white supremacists, on the rise since Barack Obama became the first African-American president, are emboldened by Trump.

      The history of resistance to fascism is worth recalling at this critical moment in U.S. politics, and also at this time of the Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The stories of Anne Frank and Sophie Scholl — two young German women, one a Jew, another a Christian — should guide and inspire us in this darkening time.

    • Is the West complicit in the Rohingya crisis?

      Britain and other Western countries have provided support to the Burmese military despite repeated reports of ethnic cleansing. Steve Shaw reports.

      Over 370,000 people have fled Burma’s Rakhine State, in the west of the country, since 25 August. They cross the border to Bangladesh with accounts of atrocities, torture and death, after what appears to be the latest and most horrific case of the Rohingya minority’s persecution by the country’s military.

      It is not known how many have been killed, and as many as 10,000 homes may have been destroyed. Entire villages have been torched, food and water supplies cut off and aid agencies shut out.

    • Abu Ghraib civil lawsuit returns to federal courthouse
    • Getty photographer arrested while covering protest in St. Louis

      Getty photographer Scott Olson was arrested while covering a protest in St. Louis on September 17, 2017.

      That night, hundreds of people gathered in downtown St. Louis to protest the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white former St. Louis police officer who in 2011 fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man.

      Olson told the Freedom of the Press Foundation that more than a hundred St. Louis police officers converged from all sides on the intersection of Washington Street and Tucker Boulevard, where a crowd of people had gathered. He described the crowd as a mix of a few activists, some journalists and many bystanders. He said that the police ordered everyone to disperse while simultaneously cutting off their exits and then ordered everyone to lie down on the ground and started to arrest them.

    • Home Office wrongly denying people bank accounts in 10% of cases

      As many as one in 10 people refused a new account because they failed an immigration status check were wrongly denied access to Britain’s banking system because of mistakes in Home Office records, according to an official watchdog.

      An examination of Theresa May’s existing “hostile environment” measures against illegal immigrants by the chief inspector of borders also found that hundreds of driving licences had been wrongly revoked after Home Office mistakes in identifying people as remaining in Britain unlawfully.

      David Bolt, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, said – after uncovering the 10% error rate in refusing new bank accounts in his 2016 report – that the Home Office “failed to appreciate the potential impact of such wrong decisions on those affected”.

    • White people are really confident that things are getting better for black people
    • The Breakthrough: A Reporter Finds a Man Proven Innocent, But Still Guilty in Eyes of the Law

      For five days, ProPublica reporter Megan Rose hunkered down in a very small, very hot conference room in Las Vegas, surrounded by boxes brimming with legal records. She took notes and scanned documents one page at a time. The grind of investigative reporting, personified.

      But in those pages lay a big payoff: a story of murder, misadventure and injustice.

    • Dedrick Asante-Muhammad on the Widening Racial Wealth Gap

      This week on CounterSpin: Virtually every newscast will contain some item about “the economy.” It’s always been a very inexact way to talk: The economy encompasses many factors and many actors. But as a new report underscores, even if we’re just talking about people’s economic well-being, speaking in broad terms doesn’t just miss a lot, it’s anti-explanatory; it obscures more than it reveals. The report is called The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class. It explores why that wealth gap exists, and how we might intervene to turn it around. Because if we don’t, we are driving the country toward what authors describe in no uncertain times as a “racial and economic apartheid state.”

    • People Power Launches 50-State Voting Rights Campaign to Reenergize Our Democracy

      Freedom Cities victories show how citizens can come together and bring change to their communities.

      While Donald Trump and Kris Kobach look for ways to disenfranchise Americans, People Power is launching the Let People Vote campaign to uphold, protect, and expand the right to vote.

      We have witnessed the impact of People Power activists in the ACLU’s ongoing Freedom Cities campaign, where volunteers have advocated that their communities adopt nine “model” rules to ensure that local police aren’t used to target and discriminate against immigrant communities.

      Just look at how a group of concerned citizens can make a difference in a city like Phoenix.

    • ‘Legislators Criminalize Practices That Led to Wrongdoings Being Exposed’

      Simply put, if an industry goes after people who seek to investigate it, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re doing something they don’t want you to know. This is certainly the case with the animal agriculture industry. The term “ag-gag,” introduced by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, describes the slew of laws introduced to target undercover investigations and whistleblowing about the industry. Because, it turns out, when people don’t just hear about but see piglets having their heads bashed against cement floors, or cows too sick to walk being picked up by forklifts, it affects how they feel—and how they act.

    • Syrian Military Police defector “Caesar” Passes Key Evidence to German Federal Prosecutor

      Thousands of photos of corpses in Syrian government detention facilities, in high definition, many containing metadata – key evidence for the ongoing investigations into human rights abuses under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
      “Caesar-File Support Group” files criminal complaint in Germany against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police

      On 21 September 2017, the group around the former Syrian military police employee “Caesar” took for the first legal action by filing together with ECCHR a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes. A representative of the “Caesar-File Support Group” also provided the Federal Prosecutor with a set of high-resolution images and metadata. The metadata can be used to verify the photographs and provide further information about them. This adds to the evidentiary value of the images and paves the way for further investigatory steps.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Report: T-Mobile, Sprint finally figuring out this merger thing

      T-Mobile USA and Sprint are getting further along in merger talks and are “close to agreeing [to] tentative terms on a deal,” Reuters reported today, citing anonymous sources.

      A merger would join the third and fourth largest wireless carriers in the US, leaving the country with three major nationwide carriers including Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

    • Verizon Hangs Up On Tens Of Thousands Of ‘Unlimited’ Wireless Customers For Using Too Much Data

      Over the last few years, you may have noticed that Verizon is attempting a pivot from stodgy old telco to sexy new advertising juggernaut. Part of that effort has involved refusing to upgrade its lagging DSL infrastructure in countless towns and cities as it shifts its focus toward wireless and using its AOL and Yahoo acquisitions to sling videos and advertisements at Millennials. To justify its failure to upgrade its fixed-line network during this period (something it’s being sued for by cities like New York), Verizon has long proclaimed that wireless is a “good enough” replacement for fixed-line alternatives.

    • Verizon kicking people off network for using just a few gigabytes a month

      When Verizon Wireless started disconnecting rural customers for using too much data, the nation’s largest wireless carrier described them as extremely heavy data users who were costing the company money. When the disconnections began in June, Verizon told Ars the customers “are using vast amounts of data—some as much as a terabyte or more a month—outside of our network footprint.”

      But it’s now become clear that Verizon’s disconnection notices also went to people using just a few gigabytes a month. As we’ve previously reported, the affected customers are supported by Verizon’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) program, which relies on a partnership between Verizon and small rural carriers who lease Verizon spectrum in order to build their own networks.

    • Email delivery is stuck on IPv4

      One of those things that I’ve always wondered was that now that we have IPv6 in the world would it be possible to run an email server only on IPv6. Given that most service providers have IPv6 now surely they would be able to deliver email on v6?

  • DRM
    • With the World Wide Web Consortium captured by the copyright industry, who will step up to lead web development next?

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which used to develop standards for the Web, has been captured by the copyright industry. In a doubly controversial vote, the W3C decided that media companies and not the user should be in control, ending their longstanding commitment to openness and the Internet’s core values. The open question is what new body web developers will choose to follow for future generations of standards.

    • Boring, complex and important: the deadly mix that blew up the open web

      I spent years working to get people to pay attention to the ramifications of the effort, but was stymied by the deadly combination of an issue that was super-technical and complicated, as well as kind of boring (standards-making is a slow-moving, legalistic process).

    • Boring, complex and important: a recipe for the web’s dire future

      Standards are boring, complicated and important. Reasonable people can debate at length the optimal gauge for a railroad track or voltage for a mains socket, but in the absence of an agreement at the end, your trains will go off the rails as your kettle will burst into flames.

    • Netflix, Microsoft, and Google just quietly changed how the web works

      There is no consensus on how bad EME will actually be for users. But what’s potentially more concerning is the perception that the organization that architects the world wide web has been colonized by big business. The World Wide Web Consortium was started at MIT in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, in collaboration with the CERN science center in Geneva with support from DARPA and the European Commission. It has always maintained that it is a “neutral forum.” From early press releases: “The Consortium is neutral forum, and no member has a priori a greater say than another.” “The Consortium is vendor-neutral.” Now, the passage of EME is fueling the perception that the consortium is in the pocket of its large corporate members. The consortium’s press release announcing EME included laudatory statements from the MPAA, the RIAA, and the cable industry.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • What Netflix’s Congenial Trademark ‘Threat Letter’ Says About Everyone’s Tolerance For Trademark Bullying

        Readers of this site will be well-versed in trademark threat letters. With the sorts of trademark stories we cover here, our discussion about threat letters typically take the form of trademark holders going out of their way either to overstate their rights or to act as aggressive and threatening as possible. Or, of course, both of those things at the same time. But not every company goes full bully when sending out trademark cease and desist notices, as exemplified by Netflix this week, when it sent out a notice to a Chicago popup bar called The Upside Down, an obvious reference to Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things.

        [...]

        What is most interesting to me about this story isn’t Netflix’s letter itself, although it was certainly nice to see a company get this so right. More interesting was both the media’s and public’s reactions to the letter, which seems to indicate that on some level the media and general public are waking up to trademark bullying and the fact that there are other ways to handle trademark issues beyond being a jerk. While I cover trademark issues all the time, I don’t expect the everyman to have an understanding of ways to protect trademarks that goes beyond, “Company X has a trademark, so of course their lawyers sent out a threat.” The reaction to this story seems to indicate that the public is beginning to understand that enforcing trademark law doesn’t have to equal acting like a jerk. And that’s a good thing.

      • “Super classy” Netflix cease-and-desist letter shows how to boost goodwill while tackling infringement

        The letter was sent to The Upside Down, a Chicago pop-up bar themed on the popular Netflix series Stranger Things. Having opened in August with the initial intention of operating for six weeks, the venue planned to extend its lifespan until after the show’s second season premieres in October. However, it had not sought or received Netflix’s permission to use its protected branding.

    • Copyrights
      • The Soaring Cost Of Sports Programming Is Simply Not Sustainable

        One of the biggest reasons for soaring cable rates is the bloated and soaring cost of sports programming. Similarly, one of the biggest causes for the unprecedented rise in cord cutting (ditching cable and going with a streaming alternative) is the cost of sports programming. Surveys have shown that 56% of ESPN viewers would dump the channel just to save the $8 per month it costs each subscriber. Once streaming alternatives emerged for the sports-bloated traditional cable bundles that let them do just that, users began flooding to the exits at a historic rate.

        The reality is millions upon millions of customers don’t give a shit about sports, yet are forced to pay $120 or more per month for cable bundles filled with content they don’t watch, and didn’t want. And when some cable companies initially tried to offer “skinny bundles” without ESPN or other sports networks, they were sued by ESPN for trying to give consumers what they wanted. And while that has slowly started to change with the rise of live TV streaming alternatives, for traditional cable providers something in this cycle of dysfunction needs to change. Quickly.

      • European Commission spent 360,000€ on a piracy study, then buried it because they didn’t like what it said

        Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU is a 360,000€ study commissioned by the European Commission from the Dutch consulting firm Ecorys, whose mandate was to “research the effect piracy had on sales of copyrighted content” — the report was completed in 2015, but never made public.

        That’s because the report concluded that “the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements” with the exception of “recent top films.”

        The European Commission has gone on to institute and recommend a series of brutal, repressive systems of censorship and surveillance in the name of preventing copyright infringement, stating all along that this was necessary to preserve the arts in the EU.

      • EC DIAGNOSED WITH © ‘OSTRICH SYNDROME’: MISSING STUDY ON PIRACY

        German MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA) published a ‘new’ copyright study [PDF] from the European Commission (EC) titled “Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU”.

        Yes, you’re reading the 1st paragraph correctly, an MEP published a study from the EC. If this sounds weird to you, that’s about right, and we know the feeling. So, before we dive into sharing some of the study’s findings, let’s first give you some insights on why this study is not so ‘breaking’ as one would assume, and how and why MEP Reda needed to dig it from under the sand and publish it online herself.

      • Joy, Are you Happy about This Lawsuit?

        Depending upon your mood, this case might make you happy, sad, angry, or afraid — perhaps even fill you with love.

        Daniels is known for creating the Moodsters – five anthropomorphic color-coded, gendered characters each representing a single abstract emotion that live in an world inside a child’s mind.

      • German Court: Thumbnail Images In Search Engines Not A Copyright Violation

        In a noteworthy ruling, the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe today decided that the use of picture search engines and the publishing of the resulting thumbnails and reference links does not violate German copyright law (I ZR 11/16 – Vorschaubilder III) . The case that had been brought by US adult content provider Perfect 10 against AOL Germany turned out favourable to Google in the end, whose picture search engine had been the tool in question.

      • German Federal Court of Justice rules that GS Media presumption of knowledge does not apply to Google Images

        Is Google responsible for the lawfulness of the images displayed through its Images search service?

        According to the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH), the answer is NO.

        In a judgment delivered yesterday (I ZR 11/16 – Preview III) the BGH relied on the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in GS Media, C-160/15 [Katposts here]and dismissed the action that the operator of a photography website had brought against Google and its search engine.

      • What the Commission found out about copyright infringement but ‘forgot’ to tell us

        The study’s conclusion: With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales. While this result is not unique, but consistent with previous studies [...]

      • More concerns over the Copyright Directive: Germany questions Council Legal Service on Article 13
      • Are Cryptocurrency Miners The Future for Pirate Sites?

        Following in the footsteps of The Pirate Bay, pirate streaming link site Alluc has also added a cryptocurrency miner, hoping to generate some extra revenue through its visitors. This begs the question: Are these cryptocurrency miners the future for pirate sites?

      • Google Signs Agreement to Tackle YouTube Piracy

        Google has signed a deal with the audio-visual industry in France to more effectively target piracy on YouTube. The agreement, reached with anti-piracy outfit ALPA with government oversight, will see rightsholders gaining direct access to takedown mechanisms. Google will also provide financial support and training.

Courts Are Losing Patience for Gilstrap’s Unbridled Support of Patent Trolls

Friday 22nd of September 2017 09:08:06 PM

He’s no better than Randall Rader, a facilitator of trolls (discharged with dishonor, so to speak)


Photo from Reuters

Summary: The man whose court has become a trolling ‘factory’ is being refuted (but not reprimanded) by the CAFC, which certainly can see that something is amiss and serves to discredit the system as a whole

THE media does not usually name judges (personifying cases). But Gilstrap is a special case; he himself has become the story due to outrageous rulings on patents (and more recently copyrights, too). The judge whom prominent politicians have dubbed “reprehensible” keeps ignoring the Supreme Court [1, 2]. He has single-handedly decided that the litigation ‘industry’ in his town is more important than the law itself.

What will people think of the legal system, having read about the tales of Gilstrap? It’s almost as though he is proudly biased; he boasts about it and openly invites patent trolls to his court (for favourable treatment). If he continues to make complete and utter mockery of the law, how long will it take before higher courts intervene at a more personal level/capacity?

Well, towards the end of this week the patent microcosm’s media took note of one such development; “Federal Circuit rejects Gilstrap’s test for patent venue,” said the headline. Here is the opening paragraph (much of the rest is behind a paywall):

The Federal Circuit has reversed an Eastern District of Texas refusal to transfer the Cray case, and rejected Judge Gilstrap’s test for determining patent venue. This includes the appeals court stating there must be a physical, geographical location in the district from which the business of the defendant is carried out

Almost simultaneously the other site of the patent microcosm reaffirmed the view that Gilstrap is obviously rigging the system:

As a general matter, Judge Gilstrap’s interpretation appears fairly broad, and on writ of mandamus, the Federal Circuit has rejected Gisltrap’s analysis and directed that he transfer the case to a more appropriate venue.

Why is he tolerated after all he has done? The era of patent trolls in the US may be ending, but Trump’s nomination (USPTO Director) gives reasons for concern and judges like Gilstrap somehow maintain their job, in the face of growing controversy and outrage. Here is another new article to that effect (about patent venue):

Judge Leonard Stark of the District of Delaware has issues two rulings on motions to transfer that provide guidance for Hatch-Waxman and other patent litigation. This included ruling “regular and established place of business” requires a physical place of business in the district

The EFF has already commented on this. Yesterday Vera Ranieri wrote about Gilstrap , noting that this latest appeal/reversal is good news for those of us who work hard to stop software patents and patent trolls (overlapping issues). To quote some of the relevant parts:

In a closely watched case, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued an order that should see many more patent cases leaving the Eastern District of Texas. The order in In re Cray, together with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, should make it much more difficult for patent owners to pick and choose among various courts in the country. In particular, it should drastically limit the ability of patent trolls to file in their preferred venue: the Eastern District of Texas.

“Venue” is a legal doctrine that relates to where cases can be heard. Prior to 1990, the Supreme Court had long held that in patent cases, the statute found at 28 U.S.C. § 1400 controlled where a patent case could be filed. This statute says that venue in patent cases is proper either (1) where the defendant “resides” or (2) where the defendant has “committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” However, in 1990 in a case called VE Holding, the Federal Circuit held that a small technical amendment to another statute—28 U.S.C. § 1391—abrogated this long line of cases. VE Holding, together with another case called Beverly Hills Fan, essentially meant that companies that sold products nationwide could be hailed into any court in the country on charges of patent infringement, regardless of how tenuous the connection to that forum.

[...]

One decision, Raytheon Co. v. Cray, Inc., written by Judge Gilstrap (a judge who at one point had ~25% of all patent cases in the entire country before him) appeared to take a broad view of what it meant to have a “regular and established place of business.” Judge Gilstrap held that “a fixed physical location in the district is not a prerequisite to proper venue.” More concerningly, Judge Gilstrap announced his own four-factor “test” that created greater possibilities that venue would be proper in the Eastern District.

The Federal Circuit has now rejected both that test and Judge Gilstrap’s finding that a physical location in the district is not necessary. The Federal Circuit specifically noted that the venue statute “cannot be read to refer merely to a virtual space or to electronic communications from one person to another.” Importantly, the Federal Circuit also held that it is not enough that an employee may live in the district. What is important is whether the alleged infringer has itself (as opposed to the employee) established a place of business in the district. The Federal Circuit did stress, however, that every case should be judged on its own facts. Based on the facts of Cray’s relationship to the district, the Federal Circuit ordered Judge Gilstrap to transfer the case out of the Eastern District.

What will it take for Gilstrap to accept that he is wrong to put the financial interests of litigators ahead of the law itself? What will compel those in charge to consider his dismissal (for making his mission as a judge akin to that of the disgraced CAFC judge, Randall Rader)? How are people expected to respect the patent system when rules are not being honoured even by these judges?

Update: Just an hour before publishing this article the CCIA’s Josh Landau wrote about this too. He mentioned the judge:

Yesterday afternoon, the Federal Circuit overturned the Eastern District of Texas’s test for venue. Even after TC Heartland, patent trolls were trying to keep defendants in the Eastern District of Texas. And in the first order issued by Judge Gilstrap, in a case called Raytheon v. Cray, it seemed like he was going to cooperate.

In Cray’s request to overturn Judge Gilstrap’s decision, the Federal Circuit ruled that Judge Gilstrap had abused his discretion in refusing to transfer the lawsuit out of the Eastern District. The Federal Circuit then established three key factors in analyzing the “regular and established place of business.” Their factors are based on the text of the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400, and the history of its development, a history that establishes that it was intended to restrict the availability of venue in patent cases.

The upshot? Having a website generally accessible in a district or a telecommuting employee isn’t enough to create venue. And that stems directly from the text of the statute – a district where “the defendant has … a regular and established place of business”.

Intellectual Ventures, GNU/Linux/Android/FOSS Patents, and the Ascent of European Patent Trolls

Friday 22nd of September 2017 08:24:41 PM

Summary: The existing status of GNU/Linux in a world full of patent trolls, which not only target OEMs from Asia — typically in the US — but are also dragging them into Europe, aided by the EPO’s ‘patent bubble’

THE FREE/LIBRE software world is thriving. It’s spreading everywhere. But that does not mean that users of such software are protected from frivolous lawsuits, especially in countries where software patents exist. Developers too are occasionally being threatened or sued; we have given examples where projects got shut down due to these actions.

Readers might rightly wonder why we haven’t said a single thing about Red Hat’s latest press release; we instead included about a dozen stories in our daily links under the Red Hat section (not much new there, just reiteration of a promise from a decade and a half ago). We are more concerned about real, existing, potent threats to software.

According to today’s blog post from IAM, Microsoft’s patent troll Nathan Myhrvold now dominates the world’s largest troll, Intellectual Ventures. IAM is a fan of his and this is what it wrote:

Intellectual Ventures founder Greg Gorder has left the firm, becoming the latest of the quartet of its founders to step away from the business, following Peter Detkin and Ed Jung. According to his bio, which remains on the IV website, Gorder left earlier this month and will now “focus on his family’s philanthropic activities”.

Detkin stood down as vice chairman in January 2015, although he has continued to devote part of his time to IV-related work. Earlier this year he became a senior adviser to Sherpa Technology Group, the consulting business that was established by former VP of IP at IBM and IP Hall of Fame member Kevin Rivette. Jung also took on a new role at the start of the year, becoming CEO of Xinova, the innovation business that was spun out of IV in 2016.

“Intellectual property is the next software,” Myhrvold once said. It means that to him it’s all about patents. This Microsoft-connected patent troll is already suing quite a few companies that distribute BSD and/or GNU/Linux. It’s not a matter of “if” or “when”. The battle began years ago, but Intellectual Ventures operates through various shells. One of those is Dominion Harbor, which is publicly defaming me and smearing the EFF. To them, there’s much money at stake.

“HTC took some of these patents for defensive purposes after Apple and Microsoft had sued or blackmailed.”As is widely known by now (it’s in our daily links also), Google is taking over a large portion of HTC and IAM notes that “HTC does have around 2,000 US patents including third-party assets from the likes of HP, NEC and Nokia. It is now clear that those patents will stay in the Taiwanese company’s possession.”

HTC took some of these patents for defensive purposes after Apple and Microsoft had sued or blackmailed. HTC was Apple’s first Android target (before Apple moved on to Samsung, the largest Android OEM at the time).

Samsung’s home base, South Korea, still seems to have very low tolerance for patent parasites/trolls (and the likes of them). IAM says that the new antitrust boss (KFTC) will be tough on those who seek to restrict competition using patents:

Over the past few years, South Korea’s antitrust regulator has been one of the toughest on issues of intellectual property. Now, the leader of the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) says the body is about to start an inquest focused on how patents affect competition in the Internet of Things (IoT) or 5G space.

KFTC chairman Kim Sang-jo mentioned the role of patents in IoT during an appearance Monday at which he outlined five priorities for competition policy. 5G communications, digital broadcasting and connected devices were named as fields in which the KFTC plans to study the market for “monopolistic and oligopolistic situations”. Apparently the watchdog will establish a “monitoring network for prevention of patent rights abuse”; it is not clear what that means, but if it leads to investigations of specific patent owners, it will make waves given the commission’s history of dealing out major fines.

Germany, on the other hand, goes the other way, with the EPO being a prominent symptom of it. German companies, in a country where trolling has become a fast-growing epidemic, are stockpiling patents and Florian Müller expects those companies to become trolls before these patents expire. To quote what he wrote the other day:

Meet the patent trolls of the 2030s: Bosch, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW

our days before the 67th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt will end, I’d like to offer a bold prediction: unless a miracle of the kind I can’t imagine happens, Germany’s automotive industry (car manufacturers as well as suppliers) will suffer a fate similar to that of the smartphone divisions of the likes of Nokia and Ericsson, ultimately resulting in “trollification” by the 2030s.

As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted last month, 52% of all patent filings related to self-driving cars belong to German companies, with Bosch alone (which is number one and followed by Audi and Continental)holding three times as many patents in that field as Google and Apple or Tesla not having any significant patent holdings in that field yet. Besides Bosch, Audi, and Continental, three other German companies are among the top 10 patent holders in this field: BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler.

Patent filings related to self-driving cars are picking up speed, so the landscape will almost certainly change in some ways in the coming years, but not entirely.

Müller can see these writings on the wall. We could not agree more; the situation at the EPO is untenable and patent grants in Germany are disproportionately high (almost an order of magnitude more than the UK’s). We certainly hope that EPO workers are paying attention to these trends; every patent grant can cause to an innocent engineer an equal (or greater) amount of agony than that inflicted by Battistelli. We’ll say more about patent trolls in our next post.

Shelston IP Blames “Well-Organised and Appropriately-Connected Open Source Lobby” for Ban on Software Patents

Friday 22nd of September 2017 07:50:40 PM

Summary: The activism is working and foes of programmers are feeling the pressure, for software patents are being more explicitly banned in some countries

THANKFULLY enough, New Zealand’s software industry (i.e. developers) managed to keep software patents away. The same is true, to some degree, in Australia (we wrote some articles about that a few weeks ago). We have covered the subject very closely for many years and it last intensified again a couple of years ago when Shelston IP et el — basically a bunch of self-serving liars (lying about the software industry) — reared their ugly heads again [1, 2, 3, 4]. No doubt they will keep on trying again and again until they get their way (if ever).

“It is now blaming FOSS — by name — for the de facto software patents ban (loopholes notwithstanding).”A couple of days ago Shelston IP had another go at it. It is now blaming FOSS — by name — for the de facto software patents ban (loopholes notwithstanding). The whole thing was “largely due to a well-organised and appropriately-connected open source lobby – however, the change of Government and its amenability to such campaigning cannot be ruled out as a contributing factor.”

Last year we wrote a lot of articles about the Productivity Commission of Australia, whose suggestions were more officially adopted only weeks ago, in defiance of pressure from law firms (whose agenda is altogether different; they’re patent maximalists).

Writing from Australia, here is what Shelston IP said about New Zealand:

With few exceptions, most of the reforms listed above are apolitical in the sense that they would likely have eventuated irrespective of which party held the balance of power at the time. That said, some of the specific detail of the various reforms may have had a slightly partisan political flavour to it – for instance, the issue of software patents in the lead-up to the new Patents Act 2013. Originally, when the exposure draft of the new legislation was published (2004), the Labour-led coalition of the time proposed no software-specific restrictions as to whether it was patentable. However, by 2010, the National-led Government had purported to impose not only an “as such” restriction – but, further, to align more with the English courts (exemplified in the Aerotel decision) than with the European system. New Zealand’s change in position over these six years was largely due to a well-organised and appropriately-connected open source lobby – however, the change of Government and its amenability to such campaigning cannot be ruled out as a contributing factor.

Unfortunately, in New Zealand and elsewhere, one cannot be too nice, courteous or polite; the only way to keep software patents away is to starve companies like Shelston IP which keep meddling in policy (and demonise/lie about people who are actually affected by those policies, e.g. software developers).

The EPO’s Latest Lies About the UPC and SMEs Unraveled, Long-Term Plan Described as Daunting

Friday 22nd of September 2017 06:43:27 PM

Battistelli sets up Europe for patent trolls and abuse

Summary: The vision of Battistelli and the latest lies (about SMEs) are being criticised anonymously — for fear of retaliation — as Europe braces for impact with patent trolls from all around the world

THE EPO has sunk to new lows this week, at least as far as lying is concerned. As we said last night, one must now assume that everything the EPO’s management says is a lie. It’s almost always the case (and we’re barely exaggerating).

Look at the EPO’s Twitter account. When they don’t post ‘template’ promotions (e.g. of some upcoming event or section of the site) they just carry on with the usual nonsense. Earlier today the EPO wrote: “The very first guide for obtaining, maintaining and managing Unitary Patents is out: http://bit.ly/2xuHsjV pic.twitter.com/Wl4xuQjUWC

“Remember that EPO examiners are smart people. They are very well educated and they obviously know all the above. They know when they’re being lied to by the management and are conscious when the management lies in their name/on their behalf.”So I responded: “Why put out a guide for a system that does not exist and probably will never exist?”

Later on they wrote: “See if and where a patent has been granted, if it is valid, if there is still time to challenge it, etc. All here: http://bit.ly/2uVaOpR”

They also wrote: “Want to know more about the opposition procedure at the EPO? This course will help…”

I told them that “Battistelli [had] narrowed [the] oppositions window, attacked the appeal board/s, forced examiners to issue many bogus patents” (as leaks serve to reaffirm).

“It’s getting very frustrating to work as a patent examiner, no matter the level of compensation (salary).”Remember that EPO examiners are smart people. They are very well educated and they obviously know all the above. They know when they’re being lied to by the management and are conscious when the management lies in their name/on their behalf. They are not happy about it, they try to join the union (in spite of retaliation risks), and they occasionally reach out to the press (what’s left of it that’s not paid by Battistelli to keep silent or issue PR pieces). It’s getting very frustrating to work as a patent examiner, no matter the level of compensation (salary). It’s not as rewarding as it used to be. “Producing stronger patents (or being able to produce them) is also a matter of professional pride for the examiners,” somebody explained a month ago.

Earlier today in IP Kat we saw two good comments from what might be existing or former examiners. The first comment says almost exactly what we have been warning about for years, alluding to a long message from “Proof of the Pudding” (which had been suppressed, apparently algorithmically, until it was broken into parts).

“It is a frightening thought,” said this comment,” but the more one looks at the situation, one can discover what the hidden agenda of the actual president of the EPO could have been, now was: transform the EPO in an examination-light office, reduce the boards of appeal to nothing, and push the UPC at any rate.”

Yes, this is exactly what we have said over the years. Here is the comment in full (buried down in a comments section that’s weeks old):

Proof of the Pudding’s picture is scary, but it cannot be dismissed.

It is a frightening thought, but the more one looks at the situation, one can discover what the hidden agenda of the actual president of the EPO could have been, now was: transform the EPO in an examination-light office, reduce the boards of appeal to nothing, and push the UPC at any rate.

One does not have been scholar of the ENA (the posh stable where the president comes from) to guess who will benefit from this.

As far as the UPC is concerned, the SMEs have always been used as fig leaf to push the project through for the benefit of any other players than the SMEs. That even the Commission once thought to introduce a litigation insurance says a lot. The stance about SMEs is repeated with the regularity of a Tibetan prayer mill turning in the wind.

As SMEs benefit from a fee reduction when filing European applications, it would be interesting to see if the EPO is prepared to publish statistics about the number of filings by SMEs in member states of the EPC in general, and from SMEs in the EU in particular, and then from the countries having ratified the UPC. I take bets that the number is barely worth mentioning, otherwise those figures would have been already published.

The official filing figures at the EPO are clear in themselves, even abundantly clear: filings coming from EU states are barely above a third of all filings. The first beneficiaries are easy to find: all non EPC member states.

Another figure which would be interesting: how many EP are validated in all EU member states? How many are validated in all EPC member states?

That at the last conference on the UPC in Munich, the organisers managed to find a SME which reaves about the UPC is a good marketing coup. It is certainly not representative of the real situation of SMEs.

The UPC is a perfect example of lobbying at its best, when one sees who will be the beneficiaries of the whole system: litigation lawyers (some of them having written themselves the Rules of Procedure of the UPC) and large companies acting internationally and with deep pockets.

It might be more expensive to litigate in each and every EU or EPC country, but at least it was a barrier for stopping some bullies. And if it was worth it, the litigants had enough money to fight were the market share was worth it. How many cases of this kind?

With the UPC, no reason to refrain, in one go all are caught. In the long run the number of diverging decisions between EPC member states have gone down and will continue to go down, so why do we absolutely need an instance like the UPC?

But is looks so social to apparently care for the smaller and poorer among us….

Propaganda/echo chamber ‘events’ (or ‘forums’) are taken note of, too. The EPO organises quite a few of these nowadays (Margot Fröhlinger is doing another one in a few days in Canada), sometimes helped by IAM (which did this in the US, sponsored by the EPO’s PR agency) and Managing IP (it last did this earlier this month in major cities in Europe).

It’s just gross. As the above notes: “That at the last conference on the UPC in Munich, the organisers managed to find a SME which reaves about the UPC is a good marketing coup. It is certainly not representative of the real situation of SMEs.”

“It’s like politicians who attempt to pass laws by speaking about “terrorism”, “the children”, or “piracy” (they allude to copyright).”See how they’re distorting the record?

No matter if SMEs oppose the UPC (the European Digital SME Alliance too has made it very clear) and the EPO covertly offered fast lanes to large corporations, the EPO persists with this lie that the UPC is “for SMEs” (or something along those lines). It’s like politicians who attempt to pass laws by speaking about “terrorism”, “the children”, or “piracy” (they allude to copyright).

The EPO has lied about it again (as above) and later pushed a so-called ‘study’ with lots of EPO promotion of it (five times yesterday alone).

As the following new comment (received earlier today) puts it, the paper labels trolls “SMEs” and conveniently cherry-picks:

The choice of SME in the EPO paper is quite telling as well. Most of them are known in the industry as patent trolls. Just check a few of their patents application and see what their contribution to the art really is.

That, of course, is a direct consequence of the EPO choosing the SME with the larger number of patents for their case studies. Normal SME only patent what they really intent to manufacture and sell, which amounts to a relatively small number of patents. When a small company applies for dozens of patents each year, it usually means that their main business is litigation.

Going back to IP Kat, the next comment skewers the EPO ‘study’ and takes note of the incredibly low sample size:

A study about the benefits for SMEs of the patent system, and hence also the benefits they can gain by using the UPC, has been published today by the EPO:

http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/FF76F6F0783153B7C12581A2004DA0D2/$File/epo_sme_case_studies_2017_en.pdf

It looks at 12(sic) cases of successful SMEs spread all over Europe.

If a drug manufacturer would file a demand for approval supported by just showing 12 positive cases, among a total of unknown cases, and without any negative cases, no approval would be obtained, as the result is not statistically proven and the benefits of the drug have not been demonstrated. One should not be mesmerised by this apparent string of success.

To be fair, the Spanish SME which was raving about the UPC at the last UPC conference in Munich is among the 12.

The figures relating to all the filings by SMEs compared to the overall figures of filings should be urgently published by the EPO! Negative cases should also be examined as there certainly are some.

The number of cases in which SMEs have been harassed by large companies, is much more difficult to apprehend, but this figure would also be useful.

Only then, the stance about the usefulness of the patent system for SMEs will have been correctly established.

What has been done here is just blending out the full breadth of the problems faced by SMEs attempting to use the patent system, or in other words, blow smoke in the eyes and pull the leg of the inattentive reader. One wonders why?

In a conference held in 2015 at the German Patent Office, Bavarian SMEs made clear what they thought of the UPC: a nightmare, whereby the fee reduction and the help with translations costs are not worth the bother. This result can certainly be extrapolated to the whole of Germany, if not to the whole of the EU, and everybody can draw its own conclusion.

So this is the EPO in 2017.

So anti-scientific that it should be offensive to science itself.

Moreover, the EPO is offensive to human rights and labour rights. As someone explained to us today:

In 2018, the EPO will also cut another 2 public holidays for its Munich staff: corpus christi and whit monday. Both are bank holidays in Bavaria and the Munich branch of the EPO has always been closed on these days. So shops, banks, everything is closed in Munich, but not the EPO.

Nothing shall stand in the way of “production”; the trolls are relying on hastily-granted patents for them to abuse for many decades to come (even after Battistelli is no longer alive to see these consequences).

In an Effort to Push the Unitary Patent (UPC), EPO and the Liar in Chief Spread the Famous Lie About SMEs

Thursday 21st of September 2017 11:23:42 PM

Rule of thumb: everything that the EPO says nowadays is a deliberate lie.

Summary: The EPO wants people to hear just a bunch of lies rather than the simple truth, courtesy of the people whom the EPO proclaims it represents

THE EPO offers nepotism and fast lanes to large corporations. It panics when the public finds out about it and constantly lies about the matter, stating that it protects SMEs, small inventors and so on. The European Digital SME Alliance has already refuted some of these lies, but that wasn’t enough to make the lies stop.

As a matter of priority, even though it’s past midnight right now, we’ve decided to compose a quick rebuttal/response to today’s EPO lies (disguised as ‘study’, as usual). What a nerve these people have. They are lying so much to the European public, with Battistelli taking the lead, as usual.

“hat a nerve these people have. They are lying so much to the European public, with Battistelli taking the lead, as usual.”The latest lie was promoted in Twitter in the late afternoon. I responded by stating that the “first EPO announcement in more than a month spreads a lie, the famous “SME”-themed lie [in which the EPO] makes up more “SME”-themed lies in order to sell the [other] lie that UPC is good for SMEs. See last paragraph.”

Yes, I used the word “lie” quite a lot. It’s as simple as this. They lied deliberately.

The official ‘news’ item (epo.org link), which quotes the ‘king’, as usual (self glorification), ends like this:

They also highlight the benefits that SMEs can expect from the planned Unitary Patent. These include savings in time and money, as well as increased legal certainty across the EU market.

That’s a lie. Even insiders know that it’s a lie and yet later in the day (earlier tonight) the Liar in Chief, Battistelli, promoted (epo.org link) the same Big Lie that SMEs want the UPC (it would kill them). From his closing paragraph:

As we look to the future of SMEs and patents, the case studies underline the significant role that the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court are set to play in IP strategies. Many of the SMEs featured talk about how the cost-effectiveness of the Unitary Patent and the jurisdiction of the Court will help them expand into other European markets, previously unconsidered by those same companies. Potential savings of up to 70%, a simplified application process with the EPO acting as a one-stop-shop and greater legal certainty will all prove attractive features of the UP and UPC. So, whether they use the Unitary Patent or the classical European patent, or a combination of both, the future holds a wealth of opportunities for SMEs to make the most of patents. It is our hope that these case studies will help increase understanding of how IP can play a fundamental role in the success of SMEs.

That’s a lie again. It’s a lie that the EPO promoted in another tweet that said: “This publication gives you full access to twelve case studies on the benefits of IP for #SMEs http://bit.ly/SMEstudies2017 #IPforSMEs”

They even came up with a hastag for it: #IPforSMEs

It links to this page (epo.org link), which gives the veneer of a ‘study’ to something that’s a lie to the very core.

“So don’t expect the UPC any time soon (or ever). As for SMEs, they are unambiguously against it (see the above position paper from the European Digital SME Alliance).”First of all, the UPC isn’t happening. The UPC Preparatory Committee has in fact just officially admitted that their plan is derailed (no schedule) due to the situation in Germany. Team UPC wrote about it some hours ago. The best spin they could come up with was this: “The Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has today published a short update, in which it notes that the pending case in the German Federal Constitutional Court will cause delay to Germany’s ratification of the UPC Agreement (UPCA) and the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) and concludes that it is currently difficult to predict any timeline for the start of the new system.”

So don’t expect the UPC any time soon (or ever). As for SMEs, they are unambiguously against it (see the above position paper from the European Digital SME Alliance). Even observers in the field know damn well that the UPC would be an SME killer. There were several comments to that effect in IP Kat on Thursday (today). Well, after the site stopped covering the scandals we rely on comments there; the authors/Kats (who now include CIPA) certainly won’t say anything negative about the UPC.

“What will happen if the UPC and the TBA come to totally different views with respect of the validity of a UP?” (Unitary Patent)

That’s what the first comment (relating to the earlier ones) said:

Thanks to Proof of the pudding for his interesting contribution on the law applicable for infringement.

I have a further question with respect to validity, which is also to be decided by the UPC.

What will happen if the UPC and the TBA come to totally different views with respect of the validity of a UP? In other words, in case of conflict between decisions of the UPC and the TBA.

At the latest conference on the UPC in Munich, Sir Jacob made it clear that for him the UPC will be the leading court in Europe. In other words, the UPC decisions should prevail. By doing so he forgets that there are also other non-EU member states at the EPO. And they also deserve some respect.

One example: it is abundantly clear that the boards of appeal of the EPO have taken a strict stance in respect of added subject-matter. What if the UPC waters down the requirements? This thought is not abstruse when one looks at certain national decisions in this respect.

The UP being a patent to be granted by the EPO, the examining and opposition divisions are bound to follow the case law of the boards of appeal, and especially that of the enlarged board. The strict stance will be maintained be it only for this reason.

If the UPC is more lenient in the matter, which is to be expected, the only way to have a patent scrutinised strictly on this point is to file an opposition at the EPO. Otherwise it might become difficult to have a strict view on the matter. That proprietors prefer a more lenient way is obvious, but the opponents will want exactly the opposite.

At the recent INGRES Conference reported in another blog on IPKat, Mr Hoying made an interesting comment. According to his view, “Art. 54(3) EPC [is] a big problem which leads to multiple patents for the same invention (and – via divisionals – unacceptable uncertainty of third parties). Why can EPO and Dutch courts not read “the content of European patent application” broader? The skilled person should always read (when reading for Art. 54(3) EPC purposes) with the common general knowledge and consider each combination with the common general knowledge as disclosed”.

This is to me a clear attempt to water down the requirement for novelty which is goes like an Ariadne thread through all decisions of the enlarged board, novelty, added subject-matter, priority, divisional applications and disclaimers.

If the UPC follows this line, then we can say good bye to certainty in this matter. Is this really want is good for the users of the system? For US companies yes, as they have never understood the problem, for European companies, and especially EU and SMEs among them, certainly not.

In any case, the uncertainty will remain. And to me, this is not good for business, unless it has deep pockets.

By the way, at the latest conference on the UPC in Munich, Sir Jacob made it also very clear what he thought of opposition divisions and the boards of appeal: an opposition is playing waiting for Godot! This is not very kind, to say the least.

To me, the problems with the UPC are not only when it comes to infringement as exemplified by Proof of the pudding, but also when it comes to validity.

Then, in reply to it, someone recalled Battistelli’s attack on TBA and said: “I would say that the EPO Boards of Appeal are history at least as a judicial or quasi-judicial instance.”

To quote the whole comment:

I would say that the EPO Boards of Appeal are history at least as a judicial or quasi-judicial instance. They may potter on for a while in Haar but their glory days are over.

The independence has been so far eroded despite or perhaps as a result of the fig-lesf reform in 2016 so that they can no longer be seriously considered as an independent judicial instance. The “President” of the Boards of Appeal cannot even appoint his deputy without the approval of the President of the EPO (nota bene: the EPO President and not the Admin Council has the final say here). The President of the EPO also has the final say over the promotion of Board members.

The plan of the EU manadarins seems to be to replace the EPO Boards of Appeal by the UPC. That much is clear from Jacob’s comments.

The next one said this:

The Boards of Appeal are likely not to survive the upcoming decisions of the German constitutional court, be it only because the Enlarged Board itself in a recent and disastrous disciplinary case stated it was under the influence of the President of the office.

This entirely changes the situation which prevailed for decades, when earlier decisions rightly concluded that the members of the Boards were judges in all but name.

As the next and final comment put it, “revocation actions at the UPC are likely to be an order of magnitude more expensive.”

It explained how the UPC would crush SMEs — something we have said repeatedly for years.

Here is the full comment:

Hmmmn. If that is true, then we could be looking at a very dark future indeed.

Oppositions at the EPO could hardly be described as a “low-cost” exercise. However, on any realistic assessment, revocation actions at the UPC are likely to be an order of magnitude more expensive.

It is therefore all too easy to envisage disastrous consequences for SMEs (and the public) across Europe if the UPC becomes the only forum for revoking European patents. That is, if the cost of knocking out a “bad” patent that has been asserted against you becomes prohibitively expensive, and the market for litigation insurance has (predictably) failed to materialise, how do you stop the “trolls”?

There is another factor could make this a “perfect storm” that could devastate important areas of industry across Europe, especially those that are largely populated by SMEs. That is, we need to consider that the management of the EPO has, in recent years, engaged upon a drive to grant as many patents as possible. It is clear to anyone who has been paying attention that this drive has involved a “light touch” approach to examination… thus greatly increasing the likelihood that patents will have been granted with overly-broad claims, or perhaps even no valid claims at all.

So, we could end upon with more “bad” patents and the prospect of hugely increased costs for knocking out such patents. Who would that benefit, I wonder?

Whilst I am very reluctant to believe in conspiracies, even I have to admit that the actions of the current EPO management (grant rate forced ever upwards, Boards of Appeal hobbled, chances of the opposition procedure surviving the constitutional complaints in Germany correspondingly decreased…) all seem to be tailor-made to benefit only a certain section of the patent ecosystem. We shall just have to wait and see whether this is the result of accident or design.

The last paragraph (above) is key. It spares us the need to once again explain why UPC would be an SME killer, contrary to what the EPO claimed 5 times today (new page, news item, blog post and 2 tweets).

It will actually be news when the EPO stops spreading lies.

Links 21/9/2017: Red Hat’s Open Source Patent Promise; Qt 5.6.3, Kali Linux 2017.2 Release

Thursday 21st of September 2017 10:21:12 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • The ISS just got its own Linux supercomputer

      A year-long project to determine how high-performance computers can perform in space has just cleared a major hurdle — successfully booting up on the International Space Station (ISS).

      This experiment conducted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NASA aims to run a commercial off-the-shelf high-performance computer in the harsh conditions of space for one year — roughly the amount of time it will take to travel to Mars.

    • Kubernetes Snaps: The Quick Version

      When we built the Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK), one of our goals was to provide snap packages for the various Kubernetes clients and services: kubectl, kube-apiserver, kubelet, etc.

      While we mainly built the snaps for use in CDK, they are freely available to use for other purposes as well. Let’s have a quick look at how to install and configure the Kubernetes snaps directly.

    • Kubernetes is Transforming Operations in the Enterprise

      At many organizations, managing containerized applications at scale is the order of the day (or soon will be). And few open source projects are having the impact in this arena that Kubernetes is.

      Above all, Kubernetes is ushering in “operations transformation” and helping organizations make the transition to cloud-native computing, says Craig McLuckie co-founder and CEO of Heptio and a co-founder of Kubernetes at Google, in a recent free webinar, ‘Getting to Know Kubernetes.’ Kubernetes was created at Google, which donated the open source project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

    • Kubernetes gains momentum as big-name vendors flock to Cloud Native Computing Foundation

      Like a train gaining speed as it leaves the station, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation is quickly gathering momentum, attracting some of the biggest names in tech. In the last month and a half alone AWS, Oracle, Microsoft, VMware and Pivotal have all joined.

      It’s not every day you see this group of companies agree on anything, but as Kubernetes has developed into an essential industry tool, each of these companies sees it as a necessity to join the CNCF and support its mission. This is partly driven by customer demand and partly by the desire to simply have a say in how Kubernetes and other related cloud-native technologies are developed.

    • The Cloud-Native Architecture: One Stack, Many Options

      As the chief technology officer of a company specialized in cloud native storage, I have a first hand view of the massive transformation happening right now in enterprise IT. In short, two things are happening in parallel right now that make it radically simpler to build, deploy and run sophisticated applications.

      The first is the move to the cloud. This topic has been discussed so much that I won’t try to add anything new. We all know it’s happening, and we all know that its impact is huge.

    • Sysadmin 101: Leveling Up

      I hope this description of levels in systems administration has been helpful as you plan your own career. When it comes to gaining experience, nothing quite beats making your own mistakes and having to recover from them yourself. At the same time, it sure is a lot easier to invite battle-hardened senior sysadmins to beers and learn from their war stories. I hope this series in Sysadmin 101 fundamentals has been helpful for those of you new to the sysadmin trenches, and also I hope it helps save you from having to learn from your own mistakes as you move forward in your career.

  • Desktop
    • TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 Review: a Powerful Ultrabook Running TUXEDO Xubuntu

      There is no doubt that the TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 is not a powerful ultrabook, providing good value for the money. And having it shipped with a Linux OS pre-installed makes your Linux journey a breeze if you’re just getting started with exploring the wonderful world of Open Source software and GNU/Linux technologies.

      There are a few issues that caught our attention during our testing, and you should be aware of them before buying this laptop. For example, the LCD screen leaks light, which is most visible on a dark background and when watching movies. Also, the display is only be tilted back to about 120 degrees, which might be inconvenient for the owner.

      The laptop doesn’t heat up that much, and we find the backlit keyboard with the Tux logo on the Super key a plus when buying a TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13. Of course, if you don’t need all this power, you can always buy any other laptop out there and install your favorite Linux OS on it, but it’s not guaranteed that everything will work out of the box like on TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13.

    • Chromebook Owners Will Soon Be Able to Monitor CPU and RAM Usage in Real-Time

      Chromium evangelist François Beaufort announced today that Google’s Chrome OS engineers have managed to implement a new feature that will let Chromebook owners monitor the CPU usage, RAM, and zRam statistics in real-time.

      The feature was implemented in the Chrome Canary experimental channel and can be easily enabled by opening the Google Chrome web browser and accessing the chrome://flags/#sys-internals flag. There you’ll be able to monitor your Chromebook’s hardware and see what’s eating your memory or CPU during heavy workloads, all in real-time.

      “Chrome OS users can monitor in real-time their CPU usage, memory and zRam statistics thanks to the new internal page chrome://sys-internals in the latest Canary,” said François Beaufort in a Google+ post. “For that, enable the experimental chrome://flags/#sys-internals flag, restart Chrome, and enjoy watching real-time resource consumption.”

    • Free Software Install Fests on October 2

      The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) will conduct ‘Free Software Install Fests’ on October 2 as part of Software Freedom Day celebrations.

      The latest version of IT@School GNU/Linux will be installed free of cost in computers at the festival.

  • Intel
    • Intel Preps Their First Batch Of Graphics Changes For Linux 4.15

      The first batch of drm-intel-next changes are ready to be queued in DRM-Next as feature work for eventually merging to mainline come the Linux 4.15 merge window.

    • Announcing Intel® Clear Containers 3.0!

      The Clear Containers team has been working on the next generation of Clear Containers and today that work culminates in the release of Clear Containers 3.0!

      Today’s release presents a generational and architectural shift to utilize virtcontainers, a modular and hypervisor agnostic library for hardware virtualized containers. Clear Containers 3.0 is written in Go language and boasts an OCI* compatible runtime implementation (cc-runtime ) that works both on top of virtcontainers, and as a platform for deployment.

    • Intel Unleashes Clear Containers 3.0, Written In Go

      Clear Containers 3.0 as Intel’s latest Linux container tech is now written in the Go programming language rather than C. They are also now making use of virtcontainers as a modular and hypervisor agnostic library for hardware-virtualized containers. Clear Containers 3.0 also adds support for a virtio-blk storage back-end and other improvements for security and performance.

  • Kernel Space
    • Graphics Stack
      • Valve Is Collaborating On GPUVis For Tuning Radeon Linux VR Performance

        One of the many interesting talks at yesterday’s XDC2017 conference was Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais talking about GPUVis.

      • GPUVis, an open source Linux GPU profiler similar to GPUView

        It seems Valve have been busy. GPUVis is a Linux GPU profiler similar to GPUView on Windows. It’s supposed to help track down Linux gpu and application performance issues.

      • NVIDIA 384.90 Linux Driver Brings Fixes, Quadro P5200 Support

        One day after releasing updated GeForce Linux legacy drivers, NVIDIA is now out with an update to their long-lived 384 branch.

        The NVIDIA 384 Linux series is the current latest series for their proprietary driver. Coming out today is the 384.90 update that is primarily comprised of bug fixes but also includes Quadro P5200 support.

      • NVIDIA Continues Prepping The Linux Desktop Stack For HDR Display Support

        Besides working on the new Unix device memory allocator project, they have also been engaged with upstream open-source Linux developers over preparing the Linux desktop for HDR display support.

        Alex Goins of the NVIDIA Linux team presented on their HDR ambitions for the Linux desktop and the work they are still doing for prepping the X.Org stack for dealing with these next-generation computer displays. This is a project they have also been looking at for more than one year: NVIDIA Is Working Towards HDR Display Support For Linux, But The Desktop Isn’t Ready.

      • The State Of The VC4 Driver Stack, Early Work On VC5

        ric Anholt of Broadcom just finished presenting at XDC2017 Mountain View on the state of the VC4 driver stack most notably used by the Raspberry Pi devices. Additionally, he also shared about his early work on the VC5 driver for next-generation Broadcom graphics.

      • Intel’s Linux Driver & Mesa Have Hit Amazing Milestones This Year

        Kaveh Nasri, the manager of Intel’s Mesa driver team within the Open-Source Technology Center since 2011, spoke this morning at XDC2017 about the accomplishments of his team and more broadly the Mesa community. Particularly over the past year there has been amazing milestones accomplished for this open-source driver stack.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.6.3 Released

        I am pleased to inform that Qt 5.6.3 has been released today. As always with a patch release Qt 5.6.3 does not bring any new features, just error corrections. For details of the bug fixes in Qt 5.6.3, please check the change logs for each module.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • PlayStation 4 controller support for Fedora Linux

        GNOME developer Bastien Nocera has implemented enhancements to the Bluetooth stack of the Fedora Linux operating system, reported Softpedia.

        The improvements are set to enhance the use of PlayStation 3 DualShock controllers in the GNOME desktop environment.

        The controller is now easier to connect to a PC, but still requires an initial connection via USB.

      • Nifty GNOME Global Menu Extension Is ‘Discontinued For the Moment’

        The developer behind the popular Global App Menu GNOME extension has announced it is “discontinued for the moment”.

        Explaining the reasons for his decision on Github, Lester Carballo cites the shift to Wayland (the extension doesn’t work in Wayland for a whole spaghetti heap of technical and ideological reasons) as being the primate motivator to move on.

        Canonical also has no plans to support the unity-gtk-module under Wayland (a crucial component that this extension, and similar app menu implementations, rely on).

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Release

        We are happy to announce the release of Kali Linux 2017.2, available now for your downloading pleasure. This release is a roll-up of all updates and fixes since our 2017.1 release in April. In tangible terms, if you were to install Kali from your 2017.1 ISO, after logging in to the desktop and running ‘apt update && apt full-upgrade’, you would be faced with something similiar to this daunting message:

      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Released With New Hacking Tools — Download ISO And Torrent Files Here
      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Security OS Released With New Hacking Tools – Download Now!!!
      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Ethical Hacking & Pentesting OS Introduces New Security Tools

        Offensive Security announced the release and general availability of the Kali Linux 2017.2 installation images for their advanced penetration testing and ethical hacking GNU/Linux distribution.

        Kali Linux is the successor of the well-known Debian/Ubuntu-based BackTrack ethical hacking and penetration testing distro, and it follows a rolling release model where the user installs once and receives updates forever, or at least until he decides to reinstall.

        If that’s the case, the Kali Linux 2017.2 installation mediums are now available for download, and they include a bunch of general performance improvements and bugfixes, along with new security tools. The new images include all the updates pushed through the official channels since April’s release of Kali Linux 2017.1.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat expands its pioneering patent promise to the open source community

        Open source software business Red Hat this morning announced a big expansion of its patent promise, its commitment to not assert its patents against free and open source software which it launched in 2002. The expansion of the promise means that it now extends to all of Red Hat’s patents and so offers further defensive cover to the open source community.

        Red Hat claims that the new promise is significantly broader than the original agreement with the new version covering more than 99% of open source software compared with 35% for the original. The new promise also specifically covers permissive licences which, in recent years, have over taken copyleft licences as the most popular type of open source agreement.

      • Red Hat’s Patent Promise covers permissively-licensed code, offering broad protection for open innovation

        Red Hat announced on Thursday a significant revision of its Patent Promise, helping to protect open innovation. That promise, originating in 2002, was based on Red Hat’s intention not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.

        The expanded Patent Promise, while consistent with Red Hat’s prior positions, breaks new ground in expanding the amount of software covered and otherwise clarifying the scope of the promise. Red Hat believes its updated Patent Promise represents the broadest commitment to protecting the open source software community to date.

      • Red Hat Announces Broad Expansion to Open Source Patent Promise [Ed: Red Hat should toss out all the software patents, in case of takeover]

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced a significant revision of its Patent Promise. That promise, originating in 2002, was based on Red Hat’s intention not to enforce its patents against free and open source software. The new version significantly expands and extends Red Hat’s promise, helping to protect open innovation.

        In its original Patent Promise, Red Hat explained that its patent portfolio was intended to discourage patent aggression against free and open source software. The expanded version published today reaffirms this intention and extends the zone of non-enforcement. It applies to all of Red Hat’s patents, and all software licensed under well-recognized open source licenses.

        The expanded Patent Promise, while consistent with Red Hat’s prior positions, breaks new ground in expanding the amount of software covered and otherwise clarifying the scope of the promise. Red Hat believes its updated Patent Promise represents the broadest commitment to protecting the open source software community to date.

      • How 10,000 people helped us rediscover our purpose [Ed: Red Hat openwashing again]
      • Ansible, or Not Ansible?: Interview with Director of Ansible Community
      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • PipeWire aims to do for video what PulseAudio did for sound

          An ambitious new project from GNOME is aiming to do for video what PulseAudio did for sound.

          It’s called PipeWire and it aims to improve the handling of audio and video on Linux to such an extent that it become a ‘core building block for the future of Linux application development’.

          PipeWire has been designed form the ground up to modernize the way video and audio processing is handled on Linux, with particular focus on supporting Wayland and Flatpak.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Is Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.13, GCC 7.2

            As of today, the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system is powered by the latest Linux 4.13 kernel, which arrived in the stable repositories along with GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 7.2.

            So there you have it, Canonical kept on its promise to rebase the Ubuntu 17.10 release on the Linux 4.13 kernel series, and with today’s repo sync, the previous Linux 4.12 kernel, which is now EOL (End-of-Life) upstream, were replaced by a 4.13.0-11 kernel that’s apparently based on Linux kernel 4.13.1. Ubuntu 17.10 is also using the latest GCC 7.2 compiler and Mesa 17.2.1 graphics stack by default.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source-based business lessons from a seasoned CEO

    The default now is to build from open and in the open. So that’s a positive. The downside is that by open source being the default, we may be getting a little lazy. If you remember back 5-10 years, open sourcing was a big deal, and it forced a level of rigor that may have led, in some cases, to founders and early investors taking better approaches to building their company—for example, shifting towards SaaS wherever possible, in part because of the ability to demonstrate clear value versus their own open source.

  • Open source strategies bring benefits, but don’t rush in

    When organizations adopt open source strategies, they rarely intend to dive into the source code. That would require hiring internal miracle workers — an expensive proposition. Instead, they contract for support, usually with a vendor that’s a primary contributor to the open source project.

    Often, but not always, this is the company that has many of the original open source project contributors on staff, and continues to make the most commits back to the code base. Sometimes, like with big data analytics, this gets competitive, resulting in several downstream distributions — each from a different vendor.

  • The Symphony Software Foundation: Bringing Open Source To Wall Street

    Whenever banks merge, they typically bring along their overlapping, proprietary software platforms as luggage.

    “In most cases, they don’t merge … because it’s a massive business and technological endeavor,” Gabriele Columbro, 35, the executive director of the Symphony Software Foundation, told Benzinga.

    “Rather than undertaking massive consolidation projects, open source gives you a way to leapfrog it.”

    It’s one area in the financial services universe in which the nonprofit arm of the messaging platform Symphony Communications is working to bring wider adoption of open source software.

  • Unix to GitHub: 10 Key Events in Free and Open Source Software History
  • Engineer Spotlight: Brian Gerkey of Open Robotics Talks ROS and Robotics

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of the inception of the Robotic Operating System (ROS) — an open source robotics platform being used around the world in research, industrial, and recreational settings. The premise of ROS is simple: to simplify and standardize robotic programming, enabling faster development of robotic systems through the spirit of open source collaboration.

    On September 21st and 22nd, the Open Robotics (formerly the Open Source Robotics Foundation) will convene for the fifth time for ROSCon 2017. Delegates ranging from students, researchers, industry representatives, and hobbyists/enthusiasts will meet, discuss, and present on a range of topics related to the development of ROS. Even though ROSCon is still a relatively young event, every year it has continued to grow in both number of attendees and sponsors.

  • Ericsson CTO: Open source is good but fragmentation, not so much

    Open source, just like standards, can be a good thing as long as there aren’t too many of them, because that can result in fragmentation and too many resources being spread across too many groups, according to Ericsson Group CTO Erik Ekudden.

    “We can’t spread ourselves too thin, so we are focusing of course on open source as it’s relevant to network platforms”—and that includes everything from the cloud side to management and control, he told FierceWirelessTech on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA).

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • IBM
  • Databases
    • Keeping up with advances in open source database administration

      The world of open source databases is rapidly evolving. It seems like every day brings a new release of an open source technology that might make a database administrator’s life easier, if only he or she knew about it.

      Fortunately, there are many ways to stay on top of what’s going on with open source database technology. One such way is the Percona Live Open Source Database Conference, taking place next week in Dublin, Ireland. We’ve covered Percona Live before, and invite you to take a look back at some of our previous stories. From IoT to big data to working with the cloud, there’s plenty to keep up with. Here are a look at a couple of the sessions you might enjoy, as described by the speakers.

    • PostgreSQL 10 RC1 Released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces today that the first release candidate of version 10 is available for download. As a release candidate, 10 RC 1 should be identical to the final release of the new version. It contains fixes for all known issues found during testing, so users should test and report any issues that they find.

    • PostgreSQL 10 Release Candidate 1 Arrives

      PostgreSQL 10 has been queuing up improvements to declarative partitioning, logical replication support, an improved parallel query system, SCRAM authentication, performance speed-ups, hash indexes are now WAL, extended statistics, new integrity checking tools, smart connection handling, and many other promising improvements. Our earlier performance tests of Postgre 10 during its beta phase showed some speed-ups over PostgreSQL 9.

    • Pivotal Greenplum Analytic Database Adds Multicloud Support

      Pivotal’s latest release of its Greenplum analytic database includes multicloud support and, for the first time, is based entirely on open source code.

      In 2015, the company open sourced the core of Pivotal Greenplum as the Greenplum Database project. “This is the first commercially available release that we are shipping with the open source project truly at its core,” said Elisabeth Hendrickson, VP of data research and development at Pivotal.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • City of Rennes to tackle IT vendor lock-in

      Rennes, France’s eleventh largest city, aims to get rid of IT vendor lock-in. To begin with, the city will switch to Zimbra, an open source-based collaboration and email solution. Next year, it will commence a feasibility study into other free and open source software applications, including office productivity tools.

    • Thin Edge Of The Wedge
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Open source licensing: What every technologist should know

      If you’re a software developer today, you know how to use open source software, but do you know how and why open source licensing started? A little background will help you understand how and why the licenses work the way they do.

    • A New Era for Free Software Non-Profits

      The US Internal Revenue Service has ushered in a new and much more favorable treatment for free software projects seeking to have 501c3 tax exempt non-profit organizations of their own. After years of suffering from a specially prejudicial environment at IRS, free software projects—particularly new projects starting out and seeking organizational identity and the ability to solicit and receive tax-deductible contributions for the first time—can now do so much more easily, and with confident expectation of fast, favorable review. For lawyers and others counseling free software projects, this is without question “game-changing.”

      At SFLC, we have ridden all the ups and downs of the US tax law’s interaction with free software non-profits. When I formed SFLC—which in addition to being a 501c3 tax-deductible organization under US federal tax law is also a non-profit educational corporation under NY State law—in 2005, we acquired our federal 501c3 determination in less than 70 days. Over our first several years of operation, we shepherded several of our clients through the so-called “1023 process,” named after the form on which one applies for 501c3 determination, as well as creating several 501c3-determined “condominium” or “conservancy” arrangements, to allow multiple free software projects to share one tax-deductible legal identity.

      But by the middle of the Obama Administration’s first term, our ability to get new 501c3 determinations from the IRS largely ceased. The Service’s Exempt Organizations Division began scrutinizing certain classes of 1023’s particularly closely, forming task forces to centralize review of—and, seemingly, to prevent success of—these classes of application. In our practice on behalf of free software projects seeking legal organization and tax exemption, we began to deal with unremitting Service pushback against our clients’ applications. Sometimes, the determination to refuse our clients’ applications seemed to indicate a fixed political prejudice against their work; more than once we were asked by IRS examiners “What if your software is used by terrorists?”

    • The Faces of Open Source: Harald Welte

      Harald is the original GPL enforcer. He reached out to companies and brought the GPL to court for the first time, way back in the early 2000s. His activities, initially seen as controversial, ultimately led to much greater and improved dialogue between companies and the community-at-large, not least because it cast the GPL as a solid, simple legal document, with terms that a court could rule on.

      One of Harald’s most noticeable characteristics is his calm, measured, and carefully considered approach to matters. His passion for free software is genuine, but he is not driven by passion alone. He has clear, thoughtful arguments for issues that he engages with, and he often provides insight in an accessible manner. While he is far too modest to use the term, Harald is a thought-leader in open source, and this is one of the interviews I was most excited to shoot.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • The Four Layers of Programming Skills

      When learning how to code for the first time, there’s a common misconception that learning how to code is primarily about learning the syntax of a programming language. That is, learning how the special symbols, keywords, and characters must be written in the right order for the language to run without errors.

      However, focusing only on knowledge of syntax is a bit like practicing to write a novel by only studying grammar and spelling. Grammar and spelling are needed to write a novel, but there are many other layers of skills that are needed in order to write an original, creative novel.

      [...]

      This is the layer that is most often focused on in the early learning phase. Syntax skills essentially means how to read and write a programming language using the rules for how different characters must be used for the code to actually work.

    • Beignet OpenCL Now Supports LLVM 5.0

      For those making use of Beignet for Intel graphics OpenCL acceleration on Linux, it finally has added support for LLVM 5.0.

      Beignet doesn’t tend to support new LLVM versions early but rather a bit notorious for their tardiness in supporting new LLVM releases. LLVM 5.0 has been out for two weeks, so Beignet Git has moved on to adding support for LLVM 5.

      There were Beignet changes to libocl and GBE for enabling the LLVM 5.0 support.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • On Heels of Progressive Wave, Rhode Island Expands Sick Leave to 100,000 Workers

      Rhode Island’s General Assembly voted 59 to 11 to pass a bill on Tuesday guaranteeing sick days to over 100,000 workers, joining the state Senate, which passed the legislation along a 25 to seven vote. The bill now goes to Gov. Gina Raimondo, who is expected to sign it.

      The new law will guarantee workers at large firms five earned sick days by 2020; workers at businesses with 17 or fewer employees will be allowed to have three unpaid sick days a year. Overall, around 90 percent of the state’s workforce will have access to paid sick days.

      The passage of the law is the culmination of a yearlong effort by the Rhode Island Earned Sick Days Campaign, made up of more than a dozen groups, including the Service Employees International Union, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, and the Working Families Party, an organization founded in New York that has since spread its issue activism and electoral work to many other states.

      Over the last year of elections, WFP helped lay the groundwork for the passage of paid sick days by backing candidates supporting the issue in 10 legislative races. In seven of those races, its candidates won.

      Part of WFP’s challenge is how it chooses to engage in electoral politics. In New York, there is a fusion party system, in which groups other than the main parties can develop their own ballot line based on endorsements, which is the system WFP has used to create an independent voice in New York politics. Under that scenario, the same candidate can run on both the Democratic line and the WFP line, meaning people can vote for the WFP candidate without the fear of contributing to the victory of the opposing Republican.

    • Trump’s Failure to Tackle Opioid Crisis Is Costing Lives, House Democrats Say

      It’s been nearly six months since President Donald Trump issued an executive order forming a commission to combat the nation’s opioid crisis — which he described on August 10 as “a national emergency” — and almost two months since the White House panel issued interim recommendations for dealing with the epidemic. But Trump has made a habit of failing to follow-up on his executive orders, and his administration has yet to officially declare the crisis a national emergency. In fact, there’s no evidence that his administration has moved on nearly any of the of the commission’s recommendations.

      Now, members of Congress are saying the inaction is costing lives.

      In a letter to the president, 51 House Democrats led by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., urged the administration to declare a national emergency and act on one critical recommendation: ensuring that naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, gets into the hands of every law enforcement officer in the United States.

    • Maine Won’t Let Nurse Practitioners Perform Early Abortions, and It’s Harming Our Patients — So I’m Suing

      I’m a nurse practitioner who has sent away patients in desperate situations even though I can provide abortion care safely.

      From the time I was in college, I knew two things: I wanted to be a nurse practitioner, and I wanted to be an abortion provider. As the stepdaughter of a Maine abortion provider, and then a patient advocate at a Maine abortion clinic, I’d seen firsthand the importance of high-quality, comprehensive reproductive health care. I saw the challenges and protestors, too, but that didn’t deter me—I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career.

      Today, I’m proud to say that I am a practicing nurse practitioner and that I had the gratifying experience of providing safe, compassionate abortion care while living in California. And now that I’m back in Maine, I provide my patients at Maine Family Planning with a range of reproductive health services, including inserting intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) and performing colposcopies, which involve very similar skills as first-trimester abortion care.

    • Outlets That Scolded Sanders Over Deficits Uniformly Silent on $700B Pentagon Handout

      Where did all the concern over deficits go? After two years of the media lamenting, worrying and feigning outrage over the cost of Bernie Sanders’ two big-budget items—free college and single-payer healthcare—the same outlets are uniformly silent, days after the largest military budget increase in history.

      Monday, the Senate voted to increase military spending by a whopping $81 billion, from $619 billion to $700 billion–an increase of over 13 percent. (The House passed its own $696 billion Pentagon budget in July—Politico, 7/14/17.) The reaction thus far to this unprecedented handout to military contractors and weapons makers has been one big yawn.

      No write-ups worrying about the cost increase in the Washington Post or Vox or NPR. No op-eds expressing concern for “deficits” in the New York Times, Boston Globe or US News. No news segments on Fox News or CNN on the “unaffordable” increase in government spending. All the outlets that spent considerable column inches and airtime stressing over Sanders’ social programs are suddenly indifferent to “how we will afford” this latest military giveaway. The US government votes 89–9 to add $81 billion extra to the balance sheet—the equivalent of the government creating three new Justice Departments, four more NASAs, seven Treasury Departments, ten EPAs or 546 National Endowments for the the Arts—and there’s zero discussion as to “how we will pay for it.”

    • Head of Health Insurance Giant Aetna Slams Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer Plan As “Lousy”

      The head of Aetna, the health insurance giant, not only slammed the gains being made in the push for universal Medicare, but also mocked its proponents as misguided. But in the process, Mark Bertolini got basic facts wrong about single-payer health care.

      Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurance company in the U.S., rejected the Medicare for All proposal released last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and a group of 16 Senate Democrats. He at times used disparaging comments and outright falsehoods about neighboring countries’ national health systems to criticize the plan.

      Bertolini, speaking at the Strategic Investor Initiative conference in New York on Tuesday in response to a question from The Intercept, said that the Sanders single-payer bill does “nothing to fix the underlying cost structure” of the health care system. “So if we refinance a lousy product, what do we get? A lousy result,” Bertolini said.

    • Why Lisa Murkowski Is So Unlikely To Flip Her Vote On Repealing Obamacare

      The last-ditch Senate Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has zeroed in on a single target: Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who cast one of three decisive no votes in July.

      Her colleagues Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine have been written off as no votes by the bill’s backers. If Murkowski joins them and votes no again, the bill, which cuts federal health-care spending and devolves power to the states, falls short of the 50 votes it needs.

      Murkowski has given no indication that she has re-thought her opposition, and on Tuesday, Alaska’s governor, Bill Walker, announced he was against the new bill. Later that day, while speaking with reporters, Murkowski quoted Walker’s statement, adding that she is not yet announcing her own position.

      If all that isn’t enough to give an indication of how she’ll vote this time around, take a look at a conversation she had with a class of high school interns just last month. Murkowski, who tends to hold her cards close to her vest, didn’t announce her decision last time before the vote, either. But that doesn’t mean she hadn’t made up her mind.

      In the Q&A with her outgoing interns, she allowed each to ask her a question. The back and forth was recorded and posted to YouTube. As of this writing, it has been viewed 523 times, and was referenced in a profile of Murkowski written in August by Jennifer Bendery of HuffPost.

      [...]

      Collins, for her part, is deeply disturbed that the Congressional Budget Office won’t be fully analyzing the bill. When The Intercept told her the CBO wouldn’t be studying its effect on the number of uninsured or the cost of premiums, she laughed. “Really? It will be interesting to see what they do have if they don’t have those two, because that’s pretty major,” she said. “That’s problematic. It’s part of the problem with short-circuiting the process.”

    • Latest GOP Plan ‘Is Even Worse for Women’s Health Than Previous Repeal Bills’

      The bill, coauthored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would eliminate Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty, and all large employers to offer insurance plans. It would also end cost-sharing subsidies for insurers and tax credits that help Americans afford coverage.

      Further, the plan would halt Medicaid expansion, and restructure the distribution of federal funding so that states receive block grants, or lump sums to allocate as they see fit. As Anna North at Vox notes, “its program of block grants would create new ways for the federal government to restrict abortion coverage.”

    • Senate Republicans Scramble to Secure Votes for Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Affordable Care Act

      Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill lobbying Republican senators to support the latest healthcare plan, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, named after its main architects, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has to be done by September 30, when a deadline allowing the Senate to pass the legislation by a simple majority expires. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the bill would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, gut Medicaid, eliminate or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and increase out-of-pocket healthcare costs to individuals, all while showering tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. The New York Times editorial board wrote on Tuesday, “It is hard to overstate the cruelty of the Graham-Cassidy bill.” We speak with Alice Ollstein, a politics reporter at Talking Points Memo focusing on healthcare. Her recent piece is titled “Where Things Stand with the Senate’s Last-Ditch Obamacare Repeal Push.”

    • Panel Brings Out Key Public Interest Issues In Gene Editing Technology

      The still-emerging breakthrough CRISPR gene editing tool has the potential to transform the field and do enormous good for humankind. But let’s make sure we understand it better and ensure the public interest before launching into using it too widely. Meanwhile, companies and researchers are actively licensing the technology. That was a message of a set of panellists working close to CRISPR’s development, speaking at a recent event in Washington, DC.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Witnesses yell ‘he can’t hear you’ as cop shoots deaf man

      Oklahoma City police officers who opened fire on a man in front of his home as he approached them holding a metal pipe didn’t hear witnesses yelling that he was deaf, a department official said Wednesday.

      Magdiel Sanchez, 35, wasn’t obeying the officers’ commands before one shot him with a gun and the other with a Taser on Tuesday night, police Capt. Bo Mathews said at a news conference. He said witnesses were yelling “he can’t hear you” before the officers fired, but they didn’t hear them.

    • PBS’ ‘Vietnam War’ Tells Some Truths

      When PBS announced that it was broadcasting a 10-part, 18-hour series, entitled “The Vietnam War,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. As a network news correspondent who covered the war for five years through many of its bloodiest chapters, I have had mixed feelings about some of the other attempts to recount and explain the war.

      Many of the previous efforts were colored by the political pressures of the moment, especially from policymakers and journalists who had career stakes in how assessments of the failed war would make them look. So, with some trepidation, I watched the entire 10-part series and read the companion book by writer Geoffrey C. Ward over the past week. To my pleasant surprise, I found many reasons to applaud the effort and my criticisms were relatively minor.

      In my view, the PBS series, directed by Ken Burns and Lynne Novick, represents the most honest and thorough account available to the general public. Over those 18 hours, the series reveals so much duplicity and mendacity that this real history makes even the most cynical movies about the war, such as “Apocalypse Now,” and “The Deer Hunter,” look tame by comparison.

    • America’s NSA Spied On And Knew About India’s Secret Sagarika Ballistic Missile Back In 2005!

      In the world of covert intelligence gathering, no one is no one’s friend. What else explains America’s NSA spying on India’s nuclear and missile program in 2005, when the relations between the two countries were warming up?

    • US spies had info on India’s nuclear missiles years before launch – NSA leaks

      The NSA may have known about India’s nuclear-capable Sagarika and Dhanush missiles as early as 2005, newly released documents from the trove obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal.

      US spies also likely possessed “significant intelligence” about the bombs in service in India during that period.

      Those revelations come from the batch of 294 articles published by The Intercept last week, and traced back to the from National Security Agency’s Signal Intelligence Directorate internal newsletter, SIDtoday.

    • NYT Lets Think Tank Funded by Gov’t and Arms Industry Claim Huge US Military Budget Isn’t Huge Enough

      The New York Times (9/18/17) gave an enormous platform to a hawkish think tank that is funded by the US government and by top weapons corporations, letting it absurdly claim, without any pushback, that the gargantuan US military—by far the largest in the world—has been “underfunded.”

      On September 18, the Senate voted overwhelmingly (89 to eight) to pass an enormous, record-breaking $700 billion Pentagon bill, giving far-right President Donald Trump even more money for war than he had requested.

      Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg effectively helped to sell the bill in an extremely sympathetic article, headlined “Senate Passes $700 Billion Pentagon Bill, More Money Than Trump Sought.”

      Stolberg’s story also doubled as a kind of puff piece for hyper-hawkish Sen. John McCain, whom it lionized as an intrepid hero boldly taking the lead on the Pentagon legislation.

      The Times report all but openly applauded the bill, describing it as “a rare act of bipartisanship” that “sets forth a muscular vision of America as a global power.”

    • Trump, a Boorish Interventionist

      My political positions have very frequently been countercurrent. When American liberals were calling for Donald Trump’s head at the outset of his presidency, when Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi were preaching all-out obstructionism to thwart his policies, I was urging progressives to lay down their pitchforks and try to deal constructively with the new administration for the good of the nation.

    • Bernie Sanders: Saudi Arabia Is “Not an Ally” and the U.S. Should “Rethink” Its Approach to Iran

      Saudi Arabia is “not an ally of the United States,” according to Bernie Sanders, the independent senator and former Democratic presidential hopeful.

      Sanders broke with the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill in an exclusive interview with The Intercept. The United States has long considered Saudi Arabia to be a loyal friend, supporter, and partner in the so-called war on terror.

      Sanders issued a scathing denunciation of the Gulf kingdom, which has recently embarked on a new round of domestic repression.

      “I consider [Saudi Arabia] to be an undemocratic country that has supported terrorism around the world, it has funded terrorism. … They are not an ally of the United States.”

      The Vermont senator accused the “incredibly anti-democratic” Saudis of “continuing to fund madrasas” and spreading “an extremely radical Wahhabi doctrine in many countries around the world.”

      “They are fomenting a lot of hatred,” he added. In June, Sanders joined 46 other senators in voting to try and block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. has been bombing Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen since 2015 and is accused of killing thousands of Yemeni civilians.

    • Who Will Pay for Huge Pentagon Budget Increase?

      This week, the United States Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing military spending by $700 billion, pouring even more money into by far the most expensive military in the world and exceeding military funding from any time during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The U.S. Military budget is larger than the next nine most expensive countries combined, and this new budget now makes it ten countries.

      Though both political parties are abrasive toward spending on social programs, from expanding the social safety net through policies like single payer healthcare, to boosting welfare, medicare, and social security, military spending receives little resistance, even in the wake of a massive accounting error at the Pentagon in which trillions of dollars are still unaccounted for. The spending increases continue a trend of enormous military spending set under the Obama Administration, in which the United States’ military budget was the highest its been since World War II.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Chelsea Manning: Harvard Told Me “Sean Spicer Has Something to Contribute to American Policy”

      Shortly after Harvard publicly rescinded whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellowship, the dean of her would-be school called her personally to break the news.

      According to Manning, Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, began by reading what she later learned was a statement the school had already posted online. But as Manning pressed for more of an explanation, and noted some of the other controversial fellows at the school, he told her simply that “Sean Spicer has something to contribute to American policy,” and “you can’t really bring that to the table.”

      Manning relayed her story during an interview with the Nantucket Project on Sunday, two days after Harvard took away her fellowship.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Paris Agreement Dispute Is a Distraction. The Real Battle Is Playing Out in the EPA.

      For anyone who’s been following the fate of the United States’ involvement in the Paris agreement, the main question surrounding it recently has been pretty clear: Will he or won’t he?

      Conflicting reports over the weekend — sparked by a vague Wall Street Journal story on Saturday — alleged that the Trump administration was reconsidering its June decision to withdraw from the landmark climate deal. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster denied it, only to be upstaged Sunday morning by Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, whose department would theoretically oversee either a renegotiation or a withdrawal. On this week’s Face the Nation, Tillerson said that President Donald Trump was “open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.”

      In what’s being taken as a for-now final word on the matter, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn emphasized Monday that the U.S. will leave the agreement “unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country,” doubling down on the line the administration has held since its initial withdrawal announcement.

    • An Electric Bus Just Broke the World Record for Distance Traveled on a Single Charge

      When California-based automaker Proterra took one of their all-electric Catalyst E2 Max busses to the Navistar Proving Grounds in Indiana, the vehicle managed to cover 1,772.2 kilometers (1,101.2 miles) before its battery pack ran out of power, breaking the record for the longest distance travelled by an electric vehicle on a single charge.

      The 40-foot bus was outfitted with a 660 kWh battery pack for the trial — the equivalent of 11 Chevy Bolts — and according to the company, it could be back at full capacity in just an hour using Proterra’s high-speed charging system.

    • Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico in total blackout as storm batters island

      Puerto Rico is without electricity, officials have said, after Hurricane Maria’s strong winds and flooding knocked out the US territory’s power service.

      Island residents endured a day of punishing winds and life-threatening flooding on Wednesday from the category 4 storm, which was the third hurricane to pummel the Caribbean in as many weeks.

  • Finance
    • Brexit means…progressive alliances, or ‘corporate absolutism’?

      The snap election in June tested to the limit the resolve by a progressive alliance of centre left parties to work together to defeat the Conservatives. The damage done to the Green Party’s electoral prospects resulted from a simplistic mistranslation of the progressive alliance as a tactical voting exercise; one that played to the benefit of Labour without reciprocal gains for the Greens.

      As a Labour supporter, I pushed hard for a local progressive alliance in Cornwall, and I share the dismay felt by many local Greens. In Cornwall, they stood down in three constituencies in the hope that local Labour would follow their example. They did not. What we got was the official line that ‘it is not Labour policy to pursue a progressive alliance’.

      Yet I remain hopeful. The political bargaining over marginal constituencies to remove the Tories may bear fruit next time round. Meanwhile there are other possibilities that progressives can explore, which side-step tribal politics; specifically, to turn instead to a ‘45-degree politics’ that involve centre-left parties looking outwards not upwards. To develop strong lateral networks with campaign and community groups as a counterbalance to the vertical structures of party control. But to what end?

      Currently in Cornwall and elsewhere, the focus has been on electoral reform and this is starting to gather a head of steam. While we did not break the Tory stranglehold in Cornwall, we have raised a much stronger awareness about our broken and outdated election system and the need to replace it with Proportional Representation.

    • Damaged by Hurricanes and “Vulture” Capitalism, Caribbean Islands Plead for Debt Relief

      Last week, just days after Hurricane Irma thrashed through the Caribbean with record-high winds, the Catholic bishop of the island nation of Dominica sent a letter to the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Bishop Gabriel Malzaire pleaded with the IMF to temporarily delay debt payments from Antigua and Barbuda and other islands left in ruins by the storm.

      “The few dozen small Island States across the world, for example, have neither the size nor developmental history to have been major contributors to current climate change,” Malzaire wrote on behalf of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, the Caribbean conference of Catholic Bishops. “Yet these small Island States are the most easily devastated by rising seas and harsher storms.”

    • More Republicans Now Support Free College Than Oppose It, Poll Finds

      Bernie Sanders’s plan to make tuition free at all public colleges and universities is becoming a mainstream position in the Democratic Party.

      But the plan has appeal far beyond the Democratic faithful.

      A Morning Consult poll conducted in mid-September finds that a plurality of self-identified Republicans now agree with a “proposal to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free,” as the question is worded.

      Forty-seven percent of Republican respondents say they strongly or somewhat support the proposal, while 45 percent say they strongly or somewhat oppose it. Seven percent say they don’t know or have no opinion.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • How Merkel’s Win May Hide Rising Discontent

      The citizens of Germany will head to the polls this Sunday, in the last of a series of elections in major European countries this year. Before the voting began, there were fears that populist, anti-system parties could actually win in some cases, in the wake of the victory of last year’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. That hasn’t happened, as Marine Le Pen of the National Front was defeated in a run-off in France, and Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party failed to break through in Holland.

    • Prosecutors Want Anthony Weiner to Serve About 2 Years in Prison
    • At Least Three Wealthy Trump Officials Used Private Jets For Government Work

      Three of President Trump’s agency heads have been using private jets for government travel, BuzzFeed News has confirmed, following days of news reports and ethical questions about the administration’s private jet use.

      A spokesperson for Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, told BuzzFeed News Thursday that the former wrestling CEO has used private jets since she’s been in her post.

      “What I can pass along is that Administrator McMahon utilizes both commercial and private air services in accordance with all federal regulations and guidelines relating to travel for government officials,” Carol Wilkerson, spokesperson for McMahon, said in a statement.

    • What The World Thinks Of Trump
    • The scale of repression over Catalonia is exposing the crisis of the Spanish state

      On Wednesday Mariano Rajoy lost control of the narrative on the Catalan question. Appearing before the press after a series of raids and arrests designed to halt a unilateral referendum on independence planned for 1 October, the Spanish Prime Minister trotted out the government’s well-worn arguments in defence of the constitution and the “rights of all Spaniards”.

      However, Rajoy’s professed defence of the rule of law is increasingly at odds with reality on the ground. Over recent weeks, judges in Spain have used startlingly loose interpretations of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the referendum’s illegality to issue orders that violate many of the rights they’re charged with upholding. Local police across Catalonia have seized posters and banners related to the 1 October vote, and the Spanish Civil Guard has searched a number of newspaper offices for incriminating materials. These aren’t signs of a state that’s confident in its authority.

    • Spain’s attempt to block Catalonia’s referendum is a violation of our basic rights
    • Catalonia’s de facto independence

      It is hard to be an internationalist in the age of nationalism. It is hard to believe in individual rights in times when group rights are supposed to prevail. It is hard to believe in citizenship when all that seems to count is nationality. It is hard, in short, to be cosmopolitan in an age of parochialism and identity politics.

      And it is also hard, on the eve of a referendum/mobilisation due to take place on October 1 in Catalonia, to stay calm and moderate when facing a confrontation of two narratives that carry with them at least in part, some of the cleavages separating the two logics mentioned above.

    • China cannot ‘choke off’ Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations, says former governor Chris Patten
    • Seeking to Ban Mosques and Deport All Migrants, Right-Wing Party Is Set to Enter German Parliament

      In Germany’s upcoming federal elections on September 24, the extremist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) political party is expected to become the first openly far-right party to enter the German national parliament since the end of World War II.

      The AfD party is polling in third place at 11 percent of the prospective national vote behind the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) with 23 percent and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) with 36 percent. In Germany, a political party must attain at least 5 percent of the national vote to seat its members in the Bundestag, the lower chamber of the German parliament. Since its founding in 2013, the AfD has entered 13 out of 16 German state parliaments, known as Landtage, and it collectively holds 9 percent of the seats.

    • Facebook to share Russia-linked ads with U.S. Congress

      Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Thursday it plans to share with U.S. congressional investigators some 3,000 political ads that it says Russia-based operatives ran on Facebook in the months before and after last year’s U.S. presidential election.

      Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been under pressure to do more to prevent the use of Facebook for election manipulation, said in a live broadcast on Facebook that he supported the investigation by the U.S. Congress.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Meet Shadowsocks, the underground tool that China’s coders use to blast through the Great Firewall

      But the Great Firewall has since grown more powerful. Nowadays, even if you have a proxy server in Australia, the Great Firewall can identify and block traffic it doesn’t like from that server. It still knows you are requesting packets from Google—you’re just using a bit of an odd route for it. That’s where Shadowsocks comes in. It creates an encrypted connection between the Shadowsocks client on your local computer and the one running on your proxy server, using an open-source internet protocol called SOCKS5.

    • Alt-Right Twitter App Developers Sue Google After Gab.Ai App Is Kicked Out Of The Play Store

      Google’s decision to boot a controversial social media app from its Play store has resulted in a lawsuit. And it’s a very strange lawsuit — one that attempts to turn inconsistent moderation efforts into anti-trust allegations against Google.

      Some background information is necessary. Some of this can be gleaned from the complaint [PDF], which was put together by Marc Randazza (of First Amendment fame), Ron Coleman (key to the Slants’ Supreme Court trademark win), and Jordan Rushie (who has participated in/fought against copyright trolling efforts). Given the litigation credentials behind the filing, it’s surprising there’s not more to the complaint.

      But first, the background:

    • Saudi Arabia lifts ban on messaging apps like Skype and Snapchat
    • Lesotho govt accused of media censorship

      The Government of Lesotho has been under heavy criticism for shutting down a private radio station that is seen to be anti-government.

      But the government has defended its decision citing the current security volatility as the sole purpose of its drastic action on Moafrika FM.

      Pictures of the chief editor of Moafrika FM, Candy Ramainoane, being wrestled to the ground began circulating on social media recently.

    • ‘Snowflakes fall everywhere’: when ‘censorship‘ comes from the right

      Last week, the University of California, Berkeley, spent $600,000 (£443,000) on security to ensure that Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer, could speak on the campus without being disrupted. Also this month, Charles Murray, whose research is blasted by many as racist, appeared at Harvard University. Security was tight there, and some protested outside, but Mr Murray spoke without incident.

      In both cases, the universities rejected requests by some that the appearances be called off. In both cases, the speakers praised the universities for the way that they handled the events.

      The appearances don’t quite fit the narrative – widely in play after Mr Murray was shouted down at Middlebury College in the spring – that it’s impossible for controversial conservative speakers to appear on campuses these days, and that colleges won’t protect the right to free speech. Indeed, since the Murray incident at Middlebury, he has given speeches at several institutions – such as Columbia and Indiana Universities – with protests outside and heavy security but no disruptions. And when some students tried to disrupt his talk at Villanova University, campus police intervened, removed those disrupting, and the talk went on.

    • Berkeley launches website explaining free speech, denouncing ‘de facto censorship’

      Chancellor Christ is saying exactly the right things and Berkeley’s free speech site is too. Of course, it would be great if none of this was necessary because students already understood and valued free speech, but that’s clearly not where we are. In addition, the fact that Ben Shapiro’s speech was not canceled or shouted down suggests the school seems to be moving in a good direction. Of course, the real test is yet to come.

    • Academic journals defy Chinese censorship in case for integrity

      In recent years, China has been notorious for censoring the internet from the public and removing anything that doesn’t laud the Communist Party of China.

      Cambridge University Press, the oldest publishing house in the world, had initially complied with Chinese authorities by removing academic articles that the government didn’t want accessed by its public. On Aug. 18, CUP confirmed that the publisher was contacted by a Chinese import agency to block certain articles from The China Quarterly, an academic journal published by CUP.

    • New uni standards needed to counter Chinese censorship bids
    • Turkish Authorities Top For Twitter Censorship [Infographic]
    • Censorship: Facebook bans Rohingya group’s posts
    • Facebook bans Rohingya group’s posts as minority faces ‘ethnic cleansing’
    • M-103 talk turns to prosecution, censorship
    • .cat Domain a Casualty in Catalonian Independence Crackdown

      On October 1, a referendum will be held on whether Catalonia, an autonomous region of the northeast of Spain, should declare itself to be an independent country. The Spanish government has ruled the referendum illegal, and is taking action on a number of fronts to shut it down and to censor communications promoting it. One of its latest moves in this campaign was a Tuesday police raid of the offices of puntCAT, the domain registry that operates the .cat top-level domain, resulting in the seizure of computers, the arrest of its head of IT for sedition, and the deletion of domains promoting the October 1 referendum, such as refoct1.cat (that website is now available at an alternate URL).

      The .cat top-level domain was one of the earliest new top-level domains approved by ICANN in 2004, and is operated by a non-governmental, non-profit organization for the promotion of Catalan language and culture. Despite the seizure of computers at the puntCAT offices, because the operations of the domain registry are handled by an external provider, .cat domains not connected with the October 1 referendum (including eff.cat, EFF’s little-known Catalan language website) have not been affected.

    • Insanity: Theresa May Says Internet Companies Need To Remove ‘Extremist’ Content Within 2 Hours

      It’s fairly stunning just how much people believe that it’s easy for companies to moderate content online. Take, for example, this random dude who assumes its perfectly reasonable for Facebook, Google and Twitter to “manually review all content” on their platforms (and since Google is a search engine, I imagine this means basically all public web content that can be found via its search engine). This is, unfortunately, a complete failure of basic comprehension about the scale of these platforms and how much content flows through them.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Taser Wants to Build an Army of Smartphone Informants
    • Lidar tells distance, radar tells velocity, this new sensor aims to do both

      Silicon Valley is crawling with startups looking for a piece of the emerging self-driving car business. One of those startups, Aeva, just came out of stealth mode with a big write-up in The New York Times. Its breakthrough: building a single sensor that can determine both the position and velocity of surrounding objects.

      Most experts say that the best self-driving cars need a trifecta of sensors: cameras, lidar, and radar. They need all three sensor types because each performs a different function. Cameras can tell you what objects look like but not how far away they are or how fast they’re moving. Lidar measures distance, while radar provides a precise estimate of velocity.

    • Released Snowden Doc Shows NSA Thwarting Electronic Dead Drops By Using Email Metadata

      The latest batch of Snowden docs published at The Intercept cover a lot of ground. The internal informational sheets from the Signals Intelligence Directorate include info on a host of surveillance programs that haven’t been revealed by previous document dumps. Nor do they discuss the programs in full. As such, some of the information is limited.

      One of those published last week mentions the NSA’s targeting of internet cafes in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries using a program called MASTERSHAKE. Using MASTERSHAKE, analysts were apparently able to drill down location info to which target was sitting in which chair at the cafes under surveillance.

      Further down the page [PDF], past this brief mention of a program discussed more fully elsewhere, there’s another interesting tidbit. Apparently, the NSA can suss out electronic dead drops using harvested metadata. (h/t Electrospaces)

    • Are you being watched? FinFisher government spy tool found hiding as WhatsApp and Skype
    • Distrustful US allies force spy agency to back down in encryption row

      An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies.

      In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.

      The NSA has now agreed to drop all but the most powerful versions of the techniques – those least likely to be vulnerable to hacks – to address the concerns.

    • NSA Employees Routinely Undermined ‘Non-Attributable’ Web Access With Personal Web Use

      Another large batch of Snowden docs have been released by The Intercept. The new documents are part of the site’s “SID (Signals Intelligence Directorate) Today” collection, a sort of interoffice newsletter featuring discussions of intelligence-gathering efforts the agency has engaged in, as well as more mundane office business.

      The one discussed in this Intercept post details some careless opsec by Intelligence Community (IC) employees. Like anyone in any office anywhere, IC employees use their office computers to send personal email, shop online, and fritter away the downtime with some web surfing.

      That’s where they’re running into problems. This SID Today document [PDF] deals with the IC’s personal use of company computers — namely, the “attribution” problem that develops when outside websites are accessed using IP addresses that can be traced back to the NSA and other IC components.

    • Another Chinese Developer Arrested For Selling VPN Access

      Reports coming out of China indicate that another citizen has been caught up in the country’s VPN dragnet. The software developer reportedly set up a VPN for his own use but sensing demand, sold access to the service to third parties. Despite making just $164 from his business, he was arrested and detained for three days.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Insidious management speak has infected the land, from our boardrooms to our school halls

      And as I became more attuned to this ridiculous, insidious corporate cant, I realised it wasn’t confined to large businesses. Politicians loved it to. I noticed Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, was particularly fond of empty language like “outcome-focused models” and “bringing fresh ideas to the table”. I discovered government department brimming with business balderdash – like The Department for Exiting the European Union, which describes itself as aiming to “organise ourselves flexibly to deliver our objectives efficiently and effectively”.

    • I’m an immigration and human rights lawyer – and my chambers just won a case that could land Amber Rudd in prison

      On Sunday night, Samim Bigzad walked through the arrivals hall at London Heathrow, dropped his bag and ran into the arms of his friends. This was no ordinary end to a long flight. Rather, it was just one leg of a journey that saw Samim thrust into the centre of British politics and the debate about how the government should protect asylum seekers.

      It also placed Samim at the centre of a growing constitutional crisis that could land the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, in court for contempt – and ultimately, in prison.

      Samim’s case is remarkable. The Home Secretary authorised his removal to Afghanistan, sending him on a journey of over 4,000 miles to Kabul, via Istanbul. This journey occurred in breach of three High Court orders made by three different judges.

      Every mile of Samim’s journey was unlawful. It was only after four hours of legal argument in the Court of Appeal on Saturday afternoon that confirmation was received that Samim would be returned to the UK. Another 4,000 miles later and Samim arrived safely at Heathrow on Sunday evening.

    • Stingray surveillance ends with cop shooter getting 33 years in prison

      Last month, a federal judge in Oakland, California, ruled that police must generally have a warrant before they use a cell-site simulator to locate a criminal suspect. However, the same judge also ruled that, in this particular case, a warrant was not needed, and so the evidence obtained from it could stand.

      That ruling in United States v. Ellis effectively ended the case of the three remaining men charged with racketeering and the attempted murder of an Oakland police officer in 2013. A fourth defendant, Damien McDaniel, who had previously pleaded guilty in April 2017, was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday.

      According to prosecutors, McDaniel and two other co-defendants, Deante Kincaid (aka “Tay Tay”) and Joseph Pennymon (aka “Junkie”) also took similar plea deals last month. That leaves Purvis Ellis as the sole defendant left in the case—he is expected to plead guilty at a Thursday hearing.

    • Why Do Border Deaths Persist When the Number of Border Crossings Is Falling?

      In July, a sweltering tractor trailer ride in Texas became the latest harrowing example of the perils of crossing the U.S. border illegally. From the hospital, one survivor told authorities that he had paid smugglers to get him across the Rio Grande and then cram him on a northbound truck with what he guessed were nearly 100 people. The survivor managed to keep breathing in the pitch black trailer without food or water. But when the doors were opened in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot, eight migrants were dead, their bodies “lying on the floor like meat,” the truck’s driver subsequently said. Another two expired later.

      Those 10 deaths are among the 255 known migrant fatalities recorded by the International Organization for Migration in the first eight months of 2017. That’s up from 240 in the same period last year. Experts aren’t certain what’s causing the recent increase; verifying numbers is inherently difficult when it comes to an endeavor whose very mission is to avoid detection by the authorities.

    • After Charlottesville, The American Far Right Is Tearing Itself Apart

      When white nationalist Richard Spencer coined the term “alt-right” nearly a decade ago, his movement was marginal, impotent, and striving for respectability. The phrase was a useful euphemism for his genocidal ideology, a palatable alternative to “the Ku Klux Klan” or “the American Nazi Party” to go with his suit, tie, and military undercut.

      In the years to follow, as trolling culture grew online and began to adopt the symbols and lexicon of white supremacy — first ironically, then less so — “alt-right” proved a conveniently ambiguous label for the sanitized neo-Nazi movement’s new prankster fellow travelers. The online trolls who flocked to the “alt-right” liked to play footsie with racist extremism, then laugh at anyone who took it seriously. Like their cryptic “Kek” flags and Pepe the Frog memes, the “alt-right” label signaled an allegiance to white nationalism without fully committing to it. It was so malleable, in fact, that during the 2016 election, it expanded to include just about anyone on the right who considered themselves “anti-establishment,” including many of Donald Trump’s rank-and-file supporters.

    • The Fight to Kill Texas’ Anti-Immigrant Law SB4 Is Not Over, But We Have the Constitution on Our Side

      Texas continues to push the false narrative that SB4 is about public safety despite police opposition to the law.

      The fight to kill SB4, Texas’ unconstitutional anti-immigrant law, is not over yet.

      Following a defeat in federal court where key provisions of SB4 were declared unconstitutional just two days before it was to go into effect, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott filed an emergency motion at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asking that SB4 be allowed to go into effect, claiming that the decision to block it “makes Texas communities less safe.”

      Let’s be clear: Enforcing SB4 is not about safety.

    • St. Louis Police’s Chants of ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!’ Once Again Reveal the Warped Mindset Infecting Too Many Departments

      The streets do not belong to the police. They belong to the community. The time for police reform is now.

      The antagonistic “us versus them” culture that plagues many police departments with regard to their interactions with communities of color was on full, disturbing display this week in St. Louis. In response to protests by community members over the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, a group of St. Louis police officers provocatively chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!”

      That’s right — in one of the nation’s most racially segregated cities, where zip codes separated by only a few miles can mean an 18-year difference in life expectancy — a police department entrusted to serve the community aggressively claimed ownership over public streets while mocking protestors expressing the community’s pain and frustration. They did so by co-opting a chant that emanated from the very communities of color long marginalized and victimized by this country’s criminal, economic, and political systems. And adding insult to injury, they did so less than a 10-minute drive from where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Sued For Ignoring FOIA Request Investigating Fraudulent Net Neutrality Comments

      or months now we’ve noted how somebody is intentionally filling the FCC’s net neutrality comment proceeding with bot-generated bogus comments supporting the agency’s plan to kill net neutrality protections. Despite these fake comments being easily identifiable, the FCC has made it abundantly clear it intends to do absolutely nothing about it. Similarly, the FCC has told me it refuses to do anything about the fact that someone is using my name to file comments like this one falsely claiming I support killing net neutrality rules (you may have noticed I don’t).

      While nobody has identified who is polluting the FCC comment system with fake support, it should be fairly obvious who this effort benefits. By undermining the legitimacy of the public FCC comment proceeding (the one opportunity for transparent, public dialogue on this subject), it’s easier for ISPs and the FCC to downplay the massive public opposition to killing popular net neutrality rules. After all, most analysis has shown that once you remove form, bot and other automated comments from the proceeding, the vast, vast majority of consumers oppose what the FCC and Trump administration are up to.

    • Ajit Pai’s plan to lower broadband standards is “crazy,” FCC Democrat says

      The Federal Communications Commission chairman’s proposal that could lower the country’s broadband standard is “crazy” and does nothing to solve the United States’ broadband accessibility problems, a Democratic FCC commissioner said yesterday.

      The FCC is “proposing to lower US broadband standard from 25 to 10Mbps,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted. “This is crazy. Lowering standards doesn’t solve our broadband problems.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • 3D Printing Patent Landscape

      he field of 3D printing has been growing rapidly for years. It has applications in many areas of life and the economy, such as healthcare, aerospace, and parts replacement. 3D printing also reshapes supply chains and democratizes manufacturing. Fueled by this growth, 3D printing-related patent filings are trending upward.

      The graph and table below show the growth of issued 3D printing-related patents since 1995 (in blue) and of published patent applications since 2001 (in magenta). Patent applications are not made public at the time of filing—they are usually published 18 months after filing—so the graph shows only published applications. Also, counting 3D printing-related patents is not an exact science. Depending on the patent title, a patent covering 3D printing technology may not be picked up in a keyword search, and searches can also include false positives, for example, products made by additive processes that are not typically viewed as 3D printing technologies. The U.S. Patent Office recently developed a new standard classification system for identifying patents related to 3D printing, which should help to identify new patents going forward.

    • Trademarks
      • “Comic-Con” trademark may have to activate superpowers to survive attack

        The future survival of the trademarked term “Comic-Con” is at stake.

        The trademark is facing its potential doom because of the legal fallout from the producers of the San Diego Comic-Con flexing their IP muscles. They sued a competing “Comic-Con” convention for using the unhyphenated form of their trademarked term “Comic-Con” without paying licensing fees. But their suit has raised questions about the legitimacy of the trademark—in particular whether the trademark has become too generic and, hence, a victim to its own pop-culture popularity.

    • Copyrights
      • EU Buried Its Own $400,000 Study Showing Unauthorized Downloads Have Almost No Effect On Sales

        One of the problems in the debate about the impact of unauthorized downloads on the copyright industry is the paucity of large-scale, rigorous data. That makes it easy for the industry to demand government policies that are not supported by any evidence they are needed or will work.

      • With Court Ruling, Fan Subtitles Officially Copyright Infringement In Sweden

        Several years ago, in an unfortunate display of police bending the knee to the copyright industries, Swedish law enforcement raided the offices of Undertexter, a site chiefly dedicated to fan translations for subtitles of films. While these fan translations have been handcuffed to film piracy — mostly through the messaging efforts of film and television content producers — the raid registered as an extreme escalation in the battle on subtitles. Most folks have a hard time understanding why such action was taken, with most fan translations only being useful due to the content makers underserving parts of the earth that speak a variety of languages. These fan translations mostly open up those markets for makers of movies and television who have otherwise chosen not to translate their work into the relevant languages.

      • Furie-ous creator of Pepe the Frog determined to use copyright to get his green creation back

        Can the author of a comic character oppose what he believes to be a distortion of the character’s meaning?

        Katfriend Nedim Malovic (Sandart & Partners) reports on the heated debate surrounding Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog.

        [...]

        The Pepe the Frog case is one to watch: it raises issues of character protection, but also prompts a discussion around the thin moral rights regime in US copyright law. Finally, it calls for consideration – once again – of the interplay between copyright protection, fair use, and freedom of expression.”

      • Windstream Gives Up Preemptive Fight Over ISP’s Piracy Liability

        U.S. Internet provider Windstream has given up on its preemptive “piracy liability” case against BMG and Rightscorp. The ISP hoped to get legal clarity after it was accused of direct and contributory copyright infringement, but after an initial setback and subsequent appeal, it has now dropped the case.

East Asia’s Patent Peril and the Curse of Patent Trolls

Thursday 21st of September 2017 08:42:48 AM

From manufacturing to merely taxing manufacturers?

Summary: The high cost of China’s new obsession with patents and the never-ending saga of Samsung (Korea), which gets dragged into courts not only in the US but also in China

THE unit once owned by Google (now Lenovo) — namely Motorola‘s mobile business — is in the news again. IAM says that the judge who oversaw Microsoft’s patent war on Linux (Android/Motorola) is upset that Britain now enables patent trolls to operate in London (we wrote a lot about this decision at the time). Huawei, a Chinese giant and leading Android OEM, was attacked by Ericsson’s patent troll. As IAM puts it:

US district court judge James Robart has taken aim at the decision handed down by Justice Colin Birss in the high profile London High Court SEP/FRAND case of Unwired Planet v Huawei, decided earlier this year. Speaking at the annual IPO meeting in San Francisco yesterday, Robart – who handed down the famous Microsoft v Motorola decision in 2013 and sits in the Western District of Washington – said that Birss was wrong to offer specific royalty rates for the technology in question, rather than offering a range, and stated that he did not expect the judgment to be particularly influential in US courthouses.

[...]

Robart’s claim that the Unwired decision wouldn’t have much influence over US courts has previously been made by former Chief Judge for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel who told this blog after the London ruling was handed down that the US legal system was traditionally inward looking and so rarely paid much heed to overseas cases. Of course, judges around the world often disagree on key areas of patent law – the Supreme Court’s rulings in several patent eligibility cases has meant that the US is out-of-step with many jurisdictions in sectors like medical diagnostics – but Robart’s comments highlight the degree to which the law in FRAND licensing remains unsettled.

This decision ought to have been a wake-up call for Huawei, Lenovo (now holding Motorola’s ‘assets’), and China in general. Patent maximalism harms them everywhere. IAM also wrote about this collapse of a Chinese company that wrongly relies on patents rather than production. To quote:

Sanan Optoelectronics failed to take over Osram after having its bold $8.2 billion bid rebuffed late last year. But the Chinese LED maker has turned to the patent market to shore up its IP position, most recently buying a pair of portfolios from Sony. As increased scrutiny from regulators in both Europe and the United States threatens to scuttle Chinese firms’ more audacious M&A endeavours, there is still significant scope for them to acquire IP in smaller-scale deals.

[...]

A USPTO database search turned up just one previous example of Sony transferring patents to a Chinese entity. In 2015, it assigned six imaging-related assets to Hikvision, a video surveillance company whose controlling shareholder is a state-owned enterprise. So it appears to be a relatively rare occurance. Throughout this year and going back to 2015, Sony has steadily transferred LED-related assets to JOLED, an entity which was formed to combine the OLED functions of Sony, Panasonic and Japan Display in 2014. The Sanan sale perhaps shows that Sony has identified assets in the technology area which are not needed by its spun-out business but can find willing buyers on the open market.

As we said here many times before, this strategy of China’s patent gold rush (with government support/backing/financing) is going to be self-destructive. China is, indeed, becoming a patent trolls hub (self harm). IAM wrote about it the other day in relation to Samsung coming under fire. Shortly beforehand, Florian Müller wrote about the Apple v Samsung design patent case — a case which was discussed some days ago:

About a month and a half ago, Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that Samsung had not waived its “article of manufacture” argument in the first Apple v. Samsung case. That was another step forward for Samsung in its quest to get the damages award reduced. But prior to ordering a new trial on design patent damages, Judge Koh ordered briefing on various questions to be resolved first.

Last week, the parties filed their answers to the court’s questions (Apple, Samsung). Samsung argues that Apple has the burden of proof and that the only way the damages question could be resolved without a new trial would be for the court to find an evidentiary failure on Apple’s part. Apple refers the court to the Solicitor General’s Supreme Court brief. According to Apple, after a prima facie showing regarding the article of manufacture that infringes a design patent, the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that a component of that product is the appropriate basis for a disgorgement of infringer’s profits. While I tend to consider Samsung’s proposition better policy, I have no idea to what extent Judge Koh may be influenced by the DoJ’s Supreme Court brief.

Design patents were certainly on the line after the case had been escalated to the Supreme Court and then sent back down to lower courts. As one publication put it the other day:

The U.S. Supreme Court furthered a legal dispute last year as it sent a patent law case involving the two biggest smartphone makers, Apple and Samsung, back to lower courts. Intellectual property experts are now looking to those courts to better define an “article of manufacture” and determine how to place value on individual features in a complex device.

This case seems like it has lasted forever (so far). The only party happy about it is the patent ‘industry’, which is wasting time bickering over patents instead of creating something.

USPTO Starts Discriminating Against Poor People, and Does So Even When They Rightly Point Out Errors

Thursday 21st of September 2017 07:59:03 AM

Forget these photo-ops, he doesn’t work “for the children” (patent indoctrination starts early)


Source: USPTO’s Leadership blog

Summary: Even though the burden of proof ought to be on one who grants a monopoly, the legal costs are being offloaded onto those who challenge an erroneously-granted monopoly (even if the court sides with the challenger)

YESTERDAY we wrote about a bogus Google patent making its way through the system. The Polish challenger could not afford legal advice and therefore it seems likely that Google will get its way. Such is the nature of the system today and it seems to have just gotten worse. As one firm put it a few days ago (emphasis below is ours):

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently began making applicants who challenge agency rulings on trademarks and patents in district court pay the attorney fees and expenses of the agency, regardless of the case’s outcome. This was supported by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for trademarks in 2015, and more recently by a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for patents in Nantkwest, Inc v Matal (June 23 2017). However, the Federal Circuit appears to be having second thoughts, as in August 2017 it vacated the Nantkwest panel decision of its own accord and ordered a rehearing by the full court.

This is really bad. So it’s going to get a lot harder for anyone other than large corporations to point out errors in examination. In addition to this, there’s now a big lobby (led by trolls and parasites) against PTAB, which has made challenges more affordable.

Whose system is this and what is it for? It was supposed to correctly issue patents and revoke/reject applications where triviality/prior art, for instance, could be demonstrated/shown.

The USPTO grants patents which certainly look like parody sometimes. Consider this example of a patent, spotted by Dennis Crouch the other day. Notice the length:

Thought pioneer Dan Abelow fits within an interesting designation. So far in 2017, his U.S. Patent Application No. 2012/0069131 – mysteriously titled “Reality Alternate” – is the Most-Oft examiner cited U.S. prior art reference. The document – now patented as U.S. Patent No. 9,183,560 – covers a method of providing “a portal for a user … to be present simultaneously in two or more different non-fictional alternate realities that are distinct from a non-fictional physical reality of the user.” [Here, I’m looking at Examiner citations rather than those submitted by Applicants]

[...]

In addition to being written in a way that draws diverse connections (helpful for obviousness conclusions), the reference is also 750 pages long! (The patentee paid an extra $4,000+ in filing costs for the extra page length). One of the best patent attorneys in the country – David Feigenbaum – filed this case and helped push it through to issuance.

What has become of this system? If it openly discriminates against those who are without deep pockets, then certainly it will promote the perception of protectionism (for the rich) rather than innovation.

Ambrose Chan Enters Document Security Systems (DSS), a Partly Patent Troll Entity

Thursday 21st of September 2017 07:26:50 AM

De-storying the destructive strategy of destroying one’s competitors (by litigation).

Summary: The Board of Directors of DSS enlists a man from Singapore, whose lack of technical background suggests that the company is still more of a bully than an innovator

Serial litigator DSS is at it again, hiring non-technical people as its real business collapses. For background, read this 2012 article about DSS (comparing it to Vringo, a patent troll).

According to this press release and form (8-K), DSS turns to Singapore, which harbours some patent trolls (not just tax evaders, having become one of the top 5 places for people to pursue tax havens in), and hires this man:

While Chan does not appear to have much of a background in technology or intellectual property, his comments when appointed as a board member suggest that his focus is on the operating part of DSS’s business….

[...]

Today’s incarnation of DSS is the product of the first known merger between an NPE (Lexington Technology Group) and an operating business. Ronaldi, who led the previous standalone patent licensing business, took over as chief of the merged entity in 2013.

It’s true that DSS may still have some products, but those are gradually going away as the company turns to serial litigation (“NPE” is a euphemism for patent troll). Earlier this year it filed lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas.

Meanwhile, over at IP Kat there’s this new puff piece about IPOS, Singapore’s patent office.

UPC Threatens to Weaponise Software Patents in Countries That Forbade These

Thursday 21st of September 2017 06:38:19 AM

Summary: The reality of software patents in Europe and what a Unified Patent Court (UPC) would mean for these if it ever became a reality

“Having to inspect the patent database before writing a single line of code, that’s not what I call Happy Programmer’s Day,” Benjamin Henrion wrote the other day, adding that “it does not change much to the fact that the EPO and al [sic] still forces you to read their invention garbage.”

The EU rejects software patents, but the EPO flagrantly disobeys the rules, instructions, common sense etc.

Henrion took note of this new article from an EPO-friendly site, relaying the words of “Francisco Mingorance [who is] executive secretary of IP Europe, a lobby group representing European technology companies and research institutes.”

“Open standards and Francisco Mingorance do not go well in the same sentence,” Henrion wrote. “We now await a communication from the European Commission on FRAND licensing this autumn,” he added. FRAND is a euphemism for patent traps inside standards.

To say the least, Mingorance is an enemy of programming. He used to work for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a pro-FRAND, anti-FOSS, pro-software patents lobby (and the whole bundle of Microsoft lobbying).

At the moment, the main concern we have is that Unitary Patent lobbying threatens to bring software patents to more countries, even countries which explicitly disallow software patents. We wrote many articles about that before.

There’s one particular comment in IP Kat which reinforces our views about the UPC. The comment is very long so its author was prevented from posting it (or rather having it published) — to the point of stating: “It would be nice to see comments appearing a little sooner on this thread. There is still a lot to discuss (including the points made in comments that I posted over 9 hours ago!).”

Here is the comment in full, posted in fragments as follows (with emphasis added):

OK, so my later comment from yesterday eventually appears, but not the earlier, more substantive one. I shall try again (in two parts).

Part 1:
Wow, not even a deliberate, glaring error in my first comment from yesterday can provoke a response! Either no one cares or no one is watching who has a thorough understanding of EU law.

As decided by the CJEU in C-274/11, “it must be concluded that the competences conferred by Article 118 TFEU fall within an area of shared competences for the purpose of Article 4(2) TFEU and are, in consequence, non-exclusive for the purpose of the first paragraph of Article 20(1) TEU”.

Thus, the hypothetical arguments based upon Article 118 TFEU and “traditional” EPs don’t work… meaning that more subtle arguments need to be deployed if incompatibilities between the UPCA and EU law are going to stand up.

OK, so my shorter comment makes it through quickly but my longer, more substantive comment still does not appear. I shall assume that the problem is length and not content and will therefore have another go, breaking down my comments even further.

[...]

For me, the major issue with the Unitary Patent Package has still got to be the (impermissible) retroactive application of new / different law to pre-existing cases. The fact that the UPC would (in theory) be free to apply the infringement law of the UPCA to “traditional” EPs in fact makes the effects of retroactivity a lot worse.

To illustrate, consider a pending EP that has the same claims for enough EU Member States to qualify (in theory) for unitary effect. Which law of infringement would you say will be applied (e.g. in the UK) to the claims of that EP, once granted? To me, it seems that there are, in fact, multiple choices.

(1) In this scenario, a request for unitary effect is filed after the patent is granted.

The law of infringement applied by the UPC (the only litigation forum for the “unitary” patent) will then be dictated by Articles 5 and 7 of the UP Regulation. For the sake of simplicity, we shall assume that the patent proprietor has no residence or place of business in the Participating Member States, meaning that the UPC will apply German national law for the purposes of determining infringement.

(2) In this scenario: unitary effect is not requested; no opt-out is filed; and the “traditional” EP patent (the UK validation, plus a handful of other validations) is litigated at the UPC.

Which law of infringement will the UPC apply to the “traditional” EP? Whilst this is a tricky question to answer, we can apply some common sense to work out the most likely result.

Firstly, the UPC will not be bound to apply the same national law as under scenario 1. This is because the UP regulation does not apply to “traditional” EPs.

Secondly, in all likelihood, the UPC will apply a single law… as otherwise there would be no benefit to using a supposedly “unified” court!

Thirdly, Article 24 UPCA provides a hierarchy of laws. With no overarching EU law to consider (as the UP Regulation is irrelevant to “traditional” EPs), the next stop for the UPC will be the UPCA itself (Article 24(1)(b) UPCA).

Thus, in all likelihood, the UPC will apply the infringement law of the UPCA (Articles 24 to 30 UPCA) to all validations of “traditional” EPs that are litigated in that forum.

(3) In this scenario: unitary effect is not requested; no opt-out is filed; and the UK validation of the “traditional” EP patent is litigated at the UK High Court.

Here the answer is simple. The UK High Court will apply UK national law for the purposes of determining infringement. There is simply no basis under UK law for the court to do anything else… not least because the provisions of the UPCA have not been incorporated into UK law (instead, a few “tweaks” have been made that only partially align UK law with the UPCA provisions on infringement).

(4) In this scenario: unitary effect is not requested; an opt-out is filed; and the UK validation of the “traditional” EP patent is litigated at the UK High Court.

Here, the same answer applies as under option 3, namely UK national law will be applied for the purposes of determining infringement.

So, for a single, pending EP, there are actually three possible choices of law of infringement (namely German national law, UPCA law or UK national law) that will be applied in respect of a single territory (the UK). More worryingly, the choice of law will be dictated by post-filing actions of the proprietor, ie whether or not unitary effect is requested, whether or not an opt-out is filed (and, if so, whether or not it is later withdrawn) and/or which litigation venue is selected (from the UPC or national courts).

Remember, national laws of infringement have not been fully harmonised with one another across the Participating Member States, nor have they been fully harmonised with the infringement provisions of the UPCA. Thus, it will make a difference to the outcome which law of infringement is selected.

So, the UPCA coming into force will bring the advent of what I like to call “Schrödinger’s patents”, which are pending EPs whose precise effect upon third parties cannot be fully pinned down until they are actually granted and litigated (at a specific forum). As will be evident from the above, until the proprietor has made final, irreversible choices with regard to all three of unitary effect, opt-out and litigation forum, uncertainties will remain as to the law of infringement that will be applied.

Bringing such “Schrödinger’s patents” to life seems to me to be irreconcilable with the principle of legal certainty, and no doubt countless other provisions and principles of EU law (especially fundamental principles relating to the rule of law). But why has this issue attracted so little attention?

It is about time that this changed, I would say. It would be horrible to “sleepwalk” into a nightmare scenario that might become impossible to wake up from.

We certainly hope that patent examiners understand why British software companies, for instance, dread the UPC and oppose it.

Some more EPO articles are on the way. The big series about Battistelli will start quite soon, culminating some time ahead of the quarterly meeting of the Administrative Council.

The Latest Lies About the Unitary Patent (UPC) and CIPO’s Participation in Those

Thursday 21st of September 2017 05:54:48 AM

They got CETA, but they won’t get UPC

Summary: Team UPC continues to overplay its chances, conveniently ignoring simple facts as well as the Rule of Law

THE EPO is quiet. So is SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, whose Web site has not been updated for a while. On the UPC front, however, spin continues. Left unchallenged, some people out there might even believe it. Team UPC extravagantly lies, exaggerates, and places too much emphasis on perceived positives. Everything else is discarded, ignored, or ridiculed.

As we noted earlier this week, there’s UPC propaganda coming to Canada pretty soon. We can’t help but wonder, why would anyone actually pay to be lied to by Team Battistelli about the UPC in Montreal (Canada)? Maybe to make contacts/connections? A few days ago CIPO wrote: “Only 2 days left to register to the #Montreal roadshow with @EPOorg on Unitary #Patent & Unified Patent Court!”

That’s just basically Battistelli’s right-hand liar. She’ll be spreading the usual lies there. They will have the audience believe that the UPC is coming very soon. Bristows is doing the same thing this week, with staff pretty much repeating themselves regarding Scotland (never mind the reality of Brexit).

IAM’s chief editor also did his thing earlier this week. The UK-based IAM is perfectly happy that the EPO’s declining patent quality (which IAM helps Battistelli deny) brings its beloved patent trolls to Europe. Joff Wild speaks of the UPC again, joined by the term “BigTech” with the usual whipping boy being “Google”. Here are some portions:

And that brings me to patents. As everyone in the IP market knows, over recent year Europe has emerged as a much more important part of the equation for patent owners seeking to assert their rights. For multiple reasons – including the perceived quality of EPO-granted assets, speed to get a decision, the relatively low cost of litigating, the expertise of courts and, crucially, the availability of injunctions – the worsening environment for rights holders in the US is driving more companies to try courts in Germany, the UK and other European jurisdictions. Should the Unified Patent Court ever become a reality that process is likely to accelerate.

[...]

Where that leaves lobbying efforts that seek to water down or eliminate the UPC injunction regime, for example, remains to be seen. My guess is that as long as BigTech identifiably campaigns as BigTech it is unlikely to get much traction. Instead, what it needs are examples of small European companies falling foul of abusive patent litigants – the kinds of stories that it has always been possible to dig out in the US. The problem is that in Europe these are tough to find – precisely because the system is not troll-friendly. Getting around that may be a challenge that even the expertise of Silicon Valley’s best paid public relations advisers and lobbyists will struggle to meet.

Again, notice the term “BigTech”. The patent trolls’ sites (or patent maximalists) are openly demonising technology companies, e.g. those that protect PTAB. It makes it abundantly clear that they, the patent radicals, are against technology. We shall revisit the subject later this week.

The matter of fact is, UPC is a failed project. Even some insiders are willing to admit it now. The Boards of Appeal (BoA) need to stay and regulate patent quality, just like PTAB does at the USPTO. After Battistelli sent BoA judges to exile (as punishment, or simply to warn them) the EPO has the nerve to talk as if everything is fine and dandy. Earlier this week it wrote: “Oral proceedings at the new Boards of Appeal site are planned to start on 9 October” (but without independence for judges).

With Jesper Kongstad leaving in just over a week (end of this month), it remains to be seen if BoA has a future. If the UPC fails, which seems increasingly likely, many hirings will be needed for BoA (not UPC). Can the new (actually old) building in Haar facilitate growth? The only new building is in Rijswijk and Dutch media wrote about it some days ago. If there is something interesting in this Dutch article, it would be worth knowing. We try to keep abreast of the facts ahead of the ‘grand’ opening.

For those who are wondering where the UPC stands, not much has changed since we last wrote about it. Yesterday IP Kat summarised it as follows: “It has been confirmed that the complainant who filed the constitutional complaint against the ratification of the UPC Agreement in Germany was the attorney Ingve Stjerna. Stjerna has long been a vocal critic of the Unified Patent Court, and the complaint reflects some of his earlier criticisms.”

Looking at some of the latest comments at IP Kat, people now debate whether the UPC is “an EU institution” (it most certainly is) and therefore the UPC (which explicitly requires “UK” amid Brexit) is dead by definition.

Here is a comment about that, relaying the question to the CJEU:

If it is not an EU institution, then I do not understand why in the the preamble of the UPCA the following is said:

RECALLING the primacy of Union law, which includes the TEU, the TFEU, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the general principles of Union law as
developed by the Court of Justice of the European Union, and in particular the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal and a fair and public hearing within a
reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal, the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and secondary Union law;

Furthermore Art 1 of the UPCA states: The Unified Patent Court shall be a court common to the Contracting Member States and thus subject to the same obligations under Union law as any national court of the Contracting Member States.

If I understand well, the TEU and TFEU should thus be clearly applicable. Or did I miss something?

Divisions of the UPC can bring forward prejudicial questions to the CJEU, but the the text governing the UPCA cannot be submitted to the CJEU. I fail to understand the logic behind such a position.

Could somebody explain.

They then went off on a CJEU tangent.

One person said about the UPC, “how can the provisions of that Agreement be used to “harmonise” patent law” (they can’t).

Here’s the comment in full:

It’s not that hard to understand, given the limits of the jurisdiction of the CJEU.

In essence, the CJEU can only review the legality of EU Treaties and the (legislative) acts of EU bodies. The UPCA is not an EU Treaty or legislative act, as it is instead an international agreement (that just so happens to be exclusively between EU Member States).

However, this is not to say that the CJEU will have no teeth when it comes to the effects of the UPCA. That is, pursuant to Article 258 or 259 TFEU, the CJEU will be able to assess whether the Member States that are party to the UPCA are fulfilling their obligations under the EU Treaties. Unfortunately for the public, however, such actions can only be commenced either by the Commission or another Member State.

This effectively means that a challenge by Spain (under Article 259 TFEU) might be the only hope of sorting out whether the actions of the UPC (or the Participating Member States) are compliant with EU law.

It remains to be seen which grounds could be raised by Spain under Article 259 TFEU. However, Article 118 (attributing the European Union with exclusivity regarding the creation of uniform IP rights) is an interesting possibility.

In C-146/13, the CJEU held that:
Notwithstanding the fact that the contested regulation contains no list of the acts against which an EPUE provides protection, that protection remains uniform in so far as, regardless of the precise extent of the substantive protection conferred by an EPUE by virtue of the national law which is applicable, under Article 7 of the contested regulation, that protection will apply, for that EPUE, in the territory of all the participating Member States in which that patent has unitary effect”.

In other words, the CJEU held that Art. 118 TFEU was not contravened because EU law (the UP Regulation) has been used to achieve (partial) harmonisation, through the designation of a single, national law.

However, this would appear to mean that failure of the UPC to apply a single, national law (as determined under Art. 7 of the UP Regulation) would therefore not only contravene the Member States’ obligations under the UP Regulation but also their obligations under Art. 118 TFEU.

This puts an interesting “spin” on the law of infringement to be used under the UPP, doesn’t it?

For a start, it would appear that the UPC would only be able to refer to the infringement provisions in the UPCA to the extent that those provisions are fully incorporated into the national law selected under Arts. 5(3) and 7 of the UP Regulation. This means that the UPC, as well as all patent attorneys, will need to become experts on the extent to which this is true in each of the relevant Member States… and also what the significance might be of seemingly contradictory / non-identical provisions in national laws.

On the other hand, it would also seem to force the UPC to issue judgements for “traditional” (not opted out) EPs on a country-by-country basis. This is because the UP Regulation does not contain any provisions on the law to be applied to “traditional” EPs… meaning that there is no basis under EU law for the law of infringement for those EPs to be “harmonised”. Also, attempts by the Member States to “go it alone” with harmonisation of the law with respect to such EPs may well contravene the provisions of Art. 118 TFEU.

To put it another way, as the UPCA is not part of EU law, how can the provisions of that Agreement be used to “harmonise” patent law (for UPs or not opted out EPs) within the EU without infringing Art. 118 TFEU?

Spain was then brought up too. “Spain could think about a further challenge the legality of Regulation 1257/2012,” said the following comment.

Alternatively, Spain could think about a further challenge the legality of Regulation 1257/2012.

As previously mentioned, the impermissible, retroactive effect of Article 5(3) might be one ground for such a challenge. This is because that Article applies new / different laws (of infringement) to pre-existing patents and patent applications, as well as to acts committed prior to entry into force of the UPP. That hardly seems compliant with the principle of legitimate expectations!

Another, very interesting possibility might be alleged contravention of Article 18 TFEU (“any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited”) by Article 5(3) of the UP Regulation.

Understanding this ground requires a little thought.

Firstly, Art. 5(3) states that the applicable law of infringement is determined by Art. 7. Secondly, the primary factor to be considered under Art. 7(1)(a) is residence / place of business. For many individual and corporate applicants, their residence / place of business will be the same as (ie equivalent to, or a surrogate for) their nationality.

Thus, the UP Regulation requires the selection of a single, national law based upon a criterion that, for many applicants, will be a surrogate for their nationality.

The final step is to realise that the national laws of infringement are not harmonised. Thus, inventors / applicants that have identical claims, but that have different nationalities, would have different laws of infringement applied to those claims (and hence potentially different results from litigation).

It really is hard to understand how this could possibly be compliant with Article 18 TFEU!

The next comment said:

If it is an EU institution why would it need its own dedicated Protocol on Privileges and Immunities ?
Surely it would be covered by the EU PPI ?

Regarding the situation in Germany and the CJEU, one person said that “here we are back to the other complaints before the German Constitutional Court.”

We are ahead of interesting times, and it might be possible that the CJEU considers the UPCA not in accordance with EU law. In view of the sometimes political nature of the CJEU’s decisions, I doubt that it would blow up the whole system, but it could severely harm it.

In the same vein, there is a further question which could be tricky as well. If an opposition is launched against a UP, can the opposition division be composed of nationals of non EU member states?

This becomes particularly critical if the EP has only been validated as a UP.

One could consider that since the EPO regains competence by virtue of an opposition, then the composition of the OD is irrelevant.

On the other hand, one could also consider that having become, at least in some member states of the EPC which are also members of the UPC, an asset according to EU law, its fate can only be decided by nationals of member states of the EU.

If the patent is revoked, then there is no revision possible. And here we are back to the other complaints before the German Constitutional Court.

This question was raised at the latest conference on the UPC in July in Munich, and has up to now not received a reply.

More on CJEU:

“the sometimes political nature of the CJEU decisions”? Are you suggesting that the CJEU might not demonstrate complete independence from the executives of the Member States and/or the executive arms of the EU?

If there is a (perception of) lack of independence, then perhaps it is high time that someone took a close look at the conditions of appointment of the judges of the CJEU, in order to see how well the CJEU fares regarding internationally recognised “best practice” for achieving judicial independence.

Speaking of “political decisions,” the next comment talked about Spain again:

I do not want to claim that all decisions of the CJEU are more of political than strictly judicial nature. It is a minority of decisions, but the manner in which the CJEU has dismissed the second complaint of Spain against the UPC is an example to me of more political decisions.

Any reason not to consider Spain’s complaint were good to dismiss the claims. Some of the questions were however quite specific.

In decisions on the correct application of directives it is certainly not politic. Plenty of those have been published and commented on this blog.

The bottom line is, for those lacking the time or background to read all the above, there are multiple aspects and levels that act as barriers to UPC, ranging from central to pertinent (e.g. Spain, UK, Germany and even Poland). Don’t be misled by EPO staff whose job is to lie about the UPC. No doubt the Canadian press (and maybe European press as well) will soon publish some lies about the UPC. The EPO has a sick habit of paying the media for puff pieces, including patently untrue statements.

The Patents Policy of Facebook is Causing an Exodus

Thursday 21st of September 2017 04:40:18 AM

“They “trust me”. Dumb fucks”

–Mark Zuckerberg, President and Founder of Facebook (source)

Summary: Yet another major player walks away from Facebook’s code because of software patents

THE history of Facebook when it comes to patents is anything but relieving.

Facebook’s dirty patent games have in fact just driven away another company. We didn’t write much about this controversy until recently (relegated to our daily links), but now that the cautionary tale grows wings we decided it’s worth a mention. Last night there was another new example of this, with Gitlab being the latest to walk away. As The Register put it:

Using GraphQL, an increasingly popular query language for grabbing data, may someday infringe upon pending Facebook patents, making the technology inherently problematic for corporate usage.

In an analysis posted to Medium and in a related discussion in the GraphQL repo on GitHub, attorney and developer Dennis Walsh observed that Facebook’s GraphQL specification doesn’t include a patent license. In other words: using GraphQL in your software may lead to your code infringing a Facebook-held patent on the technology in future.

“The patents (as of a few weeks ago) were granted but not issued,” said Walsh in an email to The Register today. ”Damages can start before issuance but litigation cannot. But post-issuance, the threat is very real. My reading of two GraphQL granted applications and the GraphQL spec is that any properly implemented GraphQL server infringes.”

What’s pleasing to see here is that fairly large companies, not just individual developers, are willing to throw away code because of patent clauses. Spectators should take that for a sign that software patents have no room in software development. There’s a price to be paid for clinging onto them.

Links 20/9/2017: Wine Staging 2.17, Randa 2017, Redox OS 0.3.3

Thursday 21st of September 2017 04:01:43 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • 5 fundamental differences between Windows 10 and Linux

    This comparison really only scratches the surface. And don’t get me wrong, there are areas where Windows 10 bests Linux (few, but they do exist). In the end, however, the choice is yours. Chances are you’ll be making the choice based on which platform will allow you get more work done and do so with a certain level of efficiency and reliability. I would highly recommend, to anyone, if Linux can enable you to get your work done…give it a go and see if you don’t find it more dependable and predictable.

  • Desktop
    • Manchester police still relies on Windows XP

      England’s second biggest police force has revealed that more than one in five of its computers were still running Windows XP as of July.
      Greater Manchester Police told the BBC that 1,518 of its PCs ran the ageing operating system, representing 20.3% of all the office computers it used.
      Microsoft ended nearly all support for the operating system in 2014. Experts say its use could pose a hacking risk.
      The figure was disclosed as part of a wider Freedom of Information request.
      “Even if security vulnerabilities are identified in XP, Microsoft won’t distribute patches in the same way it does for later releases of Windows,” said Dr Steven Murdoch, a cyber-security expert at University College London.

    • Pixelbook leak: Google’s new high-end Chromebook expected October 4

      According to Droid Life, on October 4, Google will release the first new retail version of the Chromebook Pixel since 2015, the Pixelbook.

      The Chomebook Pixel was the Rolls-Royce of Chromebooks. It was faster, more powerful, and came with a better display than any other laptop in its day. Google, however, decided that, while the company would still release new Pixels for in-house use, it wouldn’t sell them.

      Thanks to Chromebook Pixel fans, Google has elected to start selling this luxury Chromebook again.

    • Linux: Come for the Kernel, Stay for the Popcorn

      Linux offers so much for users to sink their teeth into that even among desktop and more casual users, it’s easy to get caught up in the tradecraft. It’s only too tempting to put your system’s technical capabilities to the test by trying out a new program or practicing a new command. As with any other interest, though, Linux is not much fun unless you can revel in it with fellow fans and enjoy the camaraderie.

      Here’s a short tour of some of the major cultural hallmarks of the vibrant Linux world, and some of the hubs where you can witness and indulge in the Linux life.

  • Server
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel 4.12 Reached End of Life, Users Are Urged to Move to Linux 4.13

      Greg Kroah-Hartman published on Wednesday new maintenance updates for various of the supported Linux kernel branches that he maintains, including the Linux 4.12 series, which appears to have reached end of life.

    • Linux 4.9.51
    • Linux 4.13.3
    • Linux 4.12.14
    • Linux Weather Forecast

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

    • Graphics Stack
      • A New DRM Driver Is Coming For Linux 4.15

        TVE200 is a new Direct Rendering Manager driver being queued for Linux 4.15.

        The TVE200 DRM driver is for the Faraday Tech TVE200 “TV encoder” block. This mini driver was written by Linus Walleij of Linaro.

      • XDC2017 Kicks Off With X.Org, Wayland & Graphics Talks

        The X.Org Developers Conference kicked off a short time ago at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. But even if you are not at the event, there is a livestream.

      • Mesa Sees An Initial Meson Build System Port

        A few months ago was a vibrant discussion about a Meson proposal for libdrm/Mesa while today the initial patches were posted in bringing a possible Meson build system port for Mesa.

      • NVIDIA Offers Update On Their Proposed Unix Device Memory Allocation Library

        James Jones of NVIDIA presented this morning at XDC2017 with their annual update on a new Unix device memory allocation library. As a reminder, this library originated from NVIDIA’s concerns over the Generic Buffer Manager (GBM) currently used by Wayland compositors not being suitable for use with their driver’s architecture and then the other driver developers not being interested in switching to EGLStreams, NVIDIA’s original push for supporting Wayland.

      • NVIDIA Legacy Linux Drivers Updated With Newer Kernel Support

        NVIDIA has issued new releases of its two legacy drivers for Linux.

        The NVIDIA 340.104 driver is now available for older Tesla architecture graphics processors while the NVIDIA 304.137 is out for the GeForce 6 and GeForce 7 generations.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Call for design: Artful Banner for Kubuntu.org website

        Kubuntu 17.10 — code-named Artful Aardvark — will be released on October 19th, 2017. We need a new banner for the website, and invite artists and designers to submit designs to us based on the Plasma wallpaper and perhaps the mascot design.

      • Randa 2017 Report – Marble Maps

        Just came back home yesterday from Randa Meetings 2017. This year, even though my major motive for the sprint was to use Qt 5.8’s Qt Speech module instead of custom Java for text-to-speech during navigation, that could not be achieved because of a bug which made the routes not appear in the app in the first place. And this bug is reproducible both by using latest code, and old-enough code, and is even there in the prod app in the Google Play Store itself. So, although most of my time had gone in deep-diving on the issue, unfortunately I was not able to find the root-cause to it eventually. I will need to pick up on that in the coming weeks again when I get time, to get it fixed.

      • Kube in Randa

        I’ve spent the last few days with fellow KDE hackers in beautiful Randa in the Swiss Mountains.
        It’s an annual event that focuses on a specific topic every year, and this time accessibility was up, so Michael and me made our way up here to improve Kube in that direction (and to enjoy the scenic surroundings of course).

      • KMyMoney’s Łukasz Wojniłowicz in Randa

        Please read the following guest post from Łukasz who joined me last week in Randa to work on KMyMoney.

      • Randa 2017 – Databases are back to KMyMoney

        On the morning of Day 5 we chased and fixed a problem that was introduced a long time ago but never caused any trouble. The code goes back into the KDE3 version of KMyMoney and was caused by some changes inside Qt5. The fix prevents a crash when saving a transaction which opens an additional dialog to gather more information (e.g. price information). With the help of other devs here in Randa, we were able to drill down the problem and update the code to work on KF5/Qt5 keeping the existing functionality.

      • Randa 2017 – Days 3 and 4

        On Day 3, we started out at 7:02 as usual with the team responsible for breakfast meeting in the kitchen.

        KMyMoney wise, we worked some more on keyboard navigation and porting to KF5. The dialog to open a database and the logic around it have been rewritten/fixed, so that it is now possible to collect the information from the user and proceed with opening. The database I have on file for testing does not open though due to another problem which I still need to investigate.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Usability testing for early-stage software prototypes

        In this article, Ciarrai Cunneen and I describe how to do a paper-based usability test, using an early redesign of the GNOME Settings app as an example. The updated Settings features in GNOME 3.26, released on September 13.

        When writing open source software, we often obsess about making our logic elegant and concise, coming up with clever ways to execute tasks and demonstrate ideas. But we sometimes forget a key fact: Software is not useful if it is not easy to use.

        To make sure our programs can be used by our intended audience, we need usability testing. Usability is basically asking the question, “Can people easily use this thing?” or “Can real people use the software to do real tasks in a reasonable amount of time?” Usability is crucial to the creative process of building anything user-based. If real people can’t use our software, then all the hard work of creating it is pointless.

        [...]

        In early 2016, GNOME decided to make a major UI update to its Settings application. This visual refresh shifts from an icon-based menu to drop-down lists and adds important changes to several individual Settings panels. The GNOME design team wanted to test these early-stage design changes to see how easily real people could navigate the new GNOME Settings application. Previously, GNOME relied on traditional usability tests, where users explore the software’s UI directly. But this wouldn’t work, since the software updates hadn’t been completed.

      • GNOME Foundation partners with Purism to support its efforts to build the Librem 5 smartphone

        The GNOME Foundation has provided their endorsement and support of Purism’s efforts to build the Librem 5, which if successful will be the world’s first free and open smartphone with end-to-end encryption and enhanced user protections. The Librem 5 is a hardware platform the Foundation is interested in advancing as a GNOME/GTK phone device. The GNOME Foundation is committed to partnering with Purism to create hackfests, tools, emulators, and build awareness that surround moving GNOME/GTK onto the Librem 5 phone.

        As part of the collaboration, if the campaign is successful the GNOME Foundation plans to enhance GNOME shell and general performance of the system with Purism to enable features on the Librem 5.

      • Now GNOME Foundation Wants to Support Purism’s Privacy-Focused Linux Smartphone

        GNOME Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the popular GNOME desktop environment designed for Linux-based operating systems, announced on Wednesday that they plan on supporting Purism’s Librem 5 smartphone.

        The announcement comes only a week after KDE unveiled their plans to work with Purism on an implementation of their Plasma Mobile interface into the security- and privacy-focused Librem 5 Linux smartphone, and now GNOME is interested in advancing the Librem 5 hardware platform as a GNOME/GTK+ phone device.

        “Having a Free/Libre and Open Source software stack on a mobile device is a dream-come-true for so many people, and Purism has the proven team to make this happen. We are very pleased to see Purism and the Librem 5 hardware be built to support GNOME,” said Neil McGovern, Executive Director, GNOME Foundation.

      • GNOME Joins The Librem 5 Party, Still Needs To Raise One Million More Dollars

        One week after announcing KDE cooperation on the proposed Librem 5 smartphone with plans to get Plasma Mobile on the device if successful, the GNOME Foundation has sent out their official endorsement of Purism’s smartphone dream.

        Purism had been planning to use GNOME from the start for their GNU/Linux-powered privacy-minded smartphone while as of today they have the official backing of the GNOME Foundation.

      • GNOME partners with Purism on Librem 5 Linux-based privacy-focused smartphone

        The Librem 5 smartphone by Purism has a long and difficult road ahead of it. Competing against the likes of Apple and Google on the mobile market has proven to be a death sentence for many platforms — including Microsoft with its failed Windows 10 Mobile. With that said, I am rooting for Purism and its Pure OS, as the world would benefit from a device that uses Linux and focuses on both privacy and security. Such an alternative to iPhone and Android would be a breath of fresh air.

        Luckily, Purism has found itself a new partner on this project — one of the most important organizations in the Linux community — The GNOME Foundation. Yes, the maker of the absolute best desktop environment is offering to assist with the Librem 5 — if it is successfully crowdfunded, that is. To date, it is only about 33-percent funded, although there is still more than a month to go.

      • GNOME Foundation Gives its Backing to Purism’s Linux Phone

        The GNOME Foundation has today given its backing to Purism’s ambition of building a free, open-source smartphone with user privacy and encryption as a central feature.

  • Distributions
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • A Quick Review Of PCLinuxOS

        Sometimes while I review distros I come across some cool distros that many persons don’t know about. PCLinuxOS is one of them. A user-friendly, stable and quite cool in features and app selection are the things that made me love this distro.

    • Slackware Family
      • liveslak 1.1.9 and new ISO images

        The ‘liveslak‘ scripts used to create the ISO images for Slackware Live Edition have been stamped with a new version, 1.1.9. The updates are significant enough to warrant an ‘official’ update and new ISO images.

        The latest set of Slackware Live Edition ISOs are based on liveslak 1.1.9 and Slackware-current dated “Tue Sep 19 20:49:07 UTC 2017“. Just in time (I was already creating ISOS based on -current “Mon Sep 18 19:15:03 UTC 2017“) I noticed that Patrick downgraded the freetype package in Slackware, and I re-generated all of the ISO images to incorporate the latest freetype package – because that one is working and the previous one had serious issues.

        If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Free software log (July and August 2017)

        August was DebConf, which included a ton of Policy work thanks to Sean Whitton’s energy and encouragement. During DebConf, we incorporated work from Hideki Yamane to convert Policy to reStructuredText, which has already made it far easier to maintain. (Thanks also to David Bremner for a lot of proofreading of the result.) We also did a massive bug triage and closed a ton of older bugs on which there had been no forward progress for many years.

        After DebConf, as expected, we flushed out various bugs in the reStructuredText conversion and build infrastructure. I fixed a variety of build and packaging issues and started doing some more formatting cleanup, including moving some footnotes to make the resulting document more readable.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, August 2017

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #125

        16 package reviews have been added, 99 have been updated and 92 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues.

      • Derivatives
        • There’s Now a Windows 10 Installer for the Debian-Based Q4OS Linux Distribution

          The Q4OS development team is pleased to inform us today about the immediate availability for download of a Windows installer for their Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution, Q4OS, allowing users to create a dual-boot environment on their PCs.

          For those not familiar to Q4OS, it’s an open-source and free Linux distro based on the popular Debian GNU/Linux operating system and built around the Trinity Desktop Environment (TDE), which resembles the look and feel of the old-school KDE 3.5 desktop environment.

          Created with an emphasis on Windows users who want to migrate to a free, open-source, and more secure operating system, Q4OS now lets them install the distribution alongside Microsoft Windows in an easy manner, without having to do any modifications to your personal computer or install any other apps.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu GNOME Shell in Artful: Day 13

            Now that GNOME 3.26 is released, available in Ubuntu artful, and final GNOME Shell UI is confirmed, it’s time to adapt our default user experience to it. Let’s discuss how we worked with dash to dock upstream on the transparency feature. For more background on our current transition to GNOME Shell in artful, you can refer back to our decisions regarding our default session experience as discussed in my blog post.

          • Ubuntu Server Development Summary – 19 Sep 2017
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter 519

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #519 for the weeks of September 5 – 18, 2017, and the full version is available here.

          • Ubuntu Desktop default application survey results

            Canonical has released the results of its default applications survey for the 18.04 long-term support release of Ubuntu.

            The results of the previous survey – for Ubuntu 17.10, dubbed Artful Aardvark – yielded great suggestions, many of which have made their way into the beta version of the operating system.

            For Ubuntu 18.04, over 15,000 responses were processed by the Ubuntu Desktop team.

            “The team is now hard at work evaluating many of the suggested applications,” said Canonical.

          • Ubuntu Dock Now Has Dynamic Transparency

            Ubuntu devs have listened to our gripe on the jarring contrast between GNOME 3.26′s transparent top bar and the Ubuntu Dock.

          • Ubuntu Dock Features Adaptive Transparency on Ubuntu 17.10, Here’s How It Works

            Ubuntu contributor Didier Roche continues his development on the look and feel of the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, and today he announced that Ubuntu Dock is getting adaptive transparency.

            Canonical confirmed that Ubuntu 17.10 would come with the GNOME 3.26 desktop environment by default, though the default session has suffered numerous modifications compared to the vanilla one to make things easier for those using the Unity interface on Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

            Most probably, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS users won’t upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10, but we’re sure Ubuntu 17.04 users will because it’ll reach end of life in about four months from the moment of writing, sometime in January 2018. Therefore, Canonical wants to make their Unity to GNOME transition as painless as possible.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Information Released

              Linux Mint Project Leader Clement Lefebvre, otherwise known as “Clem” released a blog post on Sept. 18, giving some information about the upcoming release of Linux Mint 18.3, dubbed “Sylvia.”

              In his blog post Lefebvre gave some ideas to some of the pieces of software and changes that will be coming, such as the inclusion of the popular system restoration tool Timeshift.

              For those of you who haven’t used Timeshift, it’s an application that creates snapshots of your system, and then restores them later, similar to Windows System Restore, or Mac OS’s Time Machine.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Architecting the future with abstractions and metadata

    The modern data center is built on abstractions, with Docker, Kubernetes, and OpenShift leading the way.

  • SRT open-source video project adds transfer, multiplexing features that can reduce streaming costs

    The SRT Alliance, an open-source initiative focused on developing methods for low-latency video streaming, has released version 1.3 of the SRT video transport protocol.

    This version supports encrypted fast file transfer of VOD files and the multiplexing of streams within the same network port.

    Founded by streaming video providers Haivision and Wowza, the SRT Alliance is focused on developing an open source alternative to proprietary technologies.

  • Redox OS 0.3.3 Released, Lowers RAM Usage

    The Rust-written Redox operating system is out with a new feature release.

    Redox OS 0.3.3 is the operating system’s new version and its primary benefit is much lower memory use. Redox OS 0.3.3 is now using just about 480MB of RAM rather than around 1.3GB.

  • Events
    • Watch the Keynote Videos from Open Source Summit in Los Angeles

      If you weren’t able to attend Open Source Summit North America 2017 in Los Angeles, don’t worry! We’ve rounded up the following keynote presentations so you can hear from the experts about the growing impact of open source software.

    • uniprof: Transparent Unikernel for Performance Profiling and Debugging

      Unikernels are small and fast and give Docker a run for its money, while at the same time still giving stronger features of isolation, says Florian Schmidt, a researcher at NEC Europe, who has developed uniprof, a unikernel performance profiler that can also be used for debugging. Schmidt explained more in his presentation at Xen Summit in Budapest in July.

      Most developers think that unikernels are hard to create and debug. This is not entirely true: Unikernels are a single linked binary that come with a shared address space, which mean you can use gdb. That said, developers do lack tools, such as effective profilers, that would help create and maintain unikernels.

  • Web Browsers
  • SaaS/Back End
    • Fast track Apache Spark

      These tips highlight Spark’s ability to deliver serious gains in productivity despite limited user computing capability. There is definitely an ideal Spark setup for each organization’s particular needs. One or all of the following will most likely be necessary once there is buy-in from stakeholders to create a robust analytics system: expanding to a cluster setup, building a data warehouse, and utilizing an infrastructure team. My hope is that this post has given you some tips to make it easier to create a proof-of-concept with Spark that justifies stakeholder investment, and that it has provided some pointers if you decide that a bare bones Spark setup is best for you.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Marketing activities so far in 2017: Mike Saunders

      Thanks to donations to The Document Foundation, along with valued contributions from our community, we maintain a small team working on various aspects of LibreOffice including documentation, user interface design, quality assurance, release engineering and marketing. Together with Italo Vignoli, I help with the latter, and today I’ll summarise some of the achievements so far in 2017.

  • CMS
    • Magento’s Open Source Release

      On 14th September 2017, Magento released “Open Source” (Magento 2.1.9) which seeks to improve and upgrade current Magento software.

      According to the Magento team, the new release contains 40 security fixes and enhancements.

  • Education
    • 7 Things You Should Know About… Open Source Projects in Education

      Halfway through the semester, Dr. Margaret Broadwater was excited by the progress her students were making in her course Open Source Software Development. Working with open source software projects and development communities gave her students hands-on experience with software development practices, technology frameworks, data structures, and product development. Students also completed installation exercises for open source projects from both developers’ and users’ perspectives, followed by finding and patching bugs in the software. Broadwater knew that her students were learning more than just how to work their way around code. In talking with students she emphasized that open source code was the heart of applications that had become ubiquitous in business and education, including Chrome and Firefox, and was the driver for software like the Apache web server, Fedora Linux, and OpenSSL. Moreover, open source had gained purchase in use by companies, organizations, and government agencies and was thus something they would need to know once they entered the workplace as software devel- opers and engineers. Broadwater knew that by working on open source projects in depth, her students were also learning about the ethos of building code in a community of developers—and, indeed, were becoming part of that community.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • LibrePlanet 2018: Let’s talk about Freedom. Embedded.

      The call for sessions is open now, until November 2nd, 2017. General registration and exhibitor and sponsor registration are also open. Pre-order a LibrePlanet 10th anniversary t-shirt when you register to attend!

      Do you want to discuss or teach others about a topic relevant to the free software community? You’ve got until Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 at 10:00 EDT (14:00 UTC) to submit your session proposals.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts and everyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For the past nine years, LibrePlanet has brought together free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who are at the beginning of their free software journeys. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

    • LibrePlanet free software conference celebrates 10th anniversary, CFP and registration open now

      The call for proposals is open now, until November 2, 2017. General registration and exhibitor and sponsor registration are also open.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For the past nine years, LibrePlanet has brought together free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who are at the beginning of their free software journeys. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

    • dot-zed extractor
    • FSFE Newsletter – September 2017

      To push our demand, the FSFE launched a new campaign last week: “Public Money Public Code”. The campaign explains the benefits of releasing publicly funded Software under free licences with a short inspiring video and an open letter to sign. Furthermore, the campaign and the open letter will be used in the coming months until the European Parliament election in 2019 to highlight good and bad examples of publicly funded software development and its potential reuse.

    • Free Software Foundation Europe Leads Call For Taxpayer-Funded Software To Be Licensed For Free Re-use

      Considered objectively, it’s hard to think of any good reasons why code that is paid for by the public should not be released publicly as a matter of course. The good news is that this “public money, public code” argument is precisely the approach that open access advocates have used with considerable success in the field of academic publishing, so there’s hope it might gain some traction in the world of software too.

    • New FSF membership benefit: LibreOffice certification

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced that the opportunity to apply for LibreOffice certification for migrations and trainings is now available to FSF Associate Members.

      LibreOffice is a free software project of The Document Foundation (TDF), a non-profit based in Germany. An office suite, LibreOffice encompasses word processing, and programs for the creation and editing of spreadsheets, slideshows, databases, diagrams and drawings, and mathematical formulae. It uses the ISO standard OpenDocument file format (ODF).

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • LipidFinder: An Open-Source Python Workflow for Novel Lipid Discovery

      Obtaining precise, high-quality lipidomic (or metabolomic) datasets comes with its challenges. One factor that I am sure comes to mind is the ability to minimize, or even better, eliminate those large numbers of artefacts that could otherwise hinder your mass spectrometry data analysis, to ensure accurate interpretation.

    • The Github threat

      The Github application belongs to a single entity, Github Inc, a US company which manage it alone. So, a unique company under US legislation manages the access to most of Free Software application code sources, which may be a problem with groups using it when a code source is no longer available, for political or technical reason.

    • Stack Overflow gives an even closer look at developer salaries

      Today, Stack Overflow announced a slightly more useful application for that same data, with the Stack Overflow Salary Calculator. Tell it where you live, how much experience and education you have, and what kind of developer you are, and it will tell you the salary range you should expect to make in five national markets (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany) and a handful of cities (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, London, Paris, Berlin).

    • IBM open-sources a microservices-friendly Java app server

      A few weeks ago, Nginx released its multilanguage microservices-friendly app server, but without Java support at launch. Now IBM has a beta build of its own microservices-friendly app server for Java applications: the open source Open Liberty, which implements IBM’s version of Java EE and MicroProfile microservices implementation.

      Open Liberty will provide a runtime supporting Java microservices that can be quickly updated and moved among different cloud environments. When combined with the Eclipse OpenJ9 Java Virtual Machine, OpenLiberty will provide a full Java stack, IBM said. (OpenJ9 had been IBM’s J9 JVM, which it contributed to the Eclipse Foundation that now manages Java EE.)

    • The Future of HHVM

      Several months ago, PHP officially announced the end-of-life for PHP5.

      The HHVM team is happy about the direction PHP has taken with PHP7, and we’re proud of the role we’ve played in pushing the language and runtime to where they are today. Since the PHP community is finally saying goodbye to PHP5, we’ve decided to do so as well.

    • The Ten Essentials for Good API Documentation
Leftovers
  • Science
    • An introduction to machine learning today

      Machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) mean different things to different people, but the newest approaches have one thing in common: They are based on the idea that a program’s output should be created mostly automatically from a high-dimensional and possibly huge dataset, with minimal or no intervention or guidance from a human. Open source tools are used in a variety of machine learning and artificial intelligence projects. In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the state of machine learning today.

      In the past, AI programs usually were explicitly programmed to perform tasks. In most cases, the machine’s “learning” consisted of adjusting a few parameters, guiding the fixed implementation to add facts to a collection of other facts (a knowledge database), then (efficiently) searching the knowledge database for a solution to a problem, in the form of a path of many small steps from one known solution to the next. In some cases, the database wouldn’t need to or couldn’t be explicitly stored and therefore had to be rebuilt.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Media ‘Extremes’ on Healthcare: Universal Coverage or Taking Healthcare From Millions

      For many years, corporate media have largely ignored a single-payer system as a possible solution to the United States healthcare crises (FAIR.org, 3/6/09). This silent treatment, however, is increasingly hard to justify now that the most popular politician in the country has forced the issue into the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill now has 16 cosponsors, up from zero when he introduced a similar bill in 2013. Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, a record 119 of 194 Democrats are cosponsors of HR676, John Conyers’ single-payer legislation. The math is simple enough: 135 of 242 Democrats in Congress (and counting) are on the record as supporting the federal government assuming responsibility for the costs of healthcare.

      Unable to continue ignoring the policy, corporate media have, with predictable uniformity, undermined it as utopian nonsense. The typical elite narrative since Sanders’ bill was announced last Wednesday has been to amplify the same kind of scare tactics that have been injected into the national discourse for decades (at a considerable expense) by the for-profit health industry, the American Medical Association (AMA) and right-wing think tanks.

    • See jerkface bacteria hiding in tumors and gobbling chemotherapy drugs
    • Single Payer, the Democratic Party and the Non Profit Industrial Complex

      It’s not just the likes of Sierra Club taking $25 million from Chesapeake Energy and backing natural gas expansion or Sierra Club aligning itself with Clorox to greenwash the company. Or nominally anti-corruption groups like Transparency International in the United States and Canada getting taken over by corporate lobbyists and law firms.

      It’s more the public interest careerists who want to be players. And to be a player means to cut deals. And to cut deals means to cut out the grassroots activists, who are less likely to want to cut deals.

    • So Much for States’ Rights — GOP Senator Wants to Ban State Single Payer In New Health Care Bill

      Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy plans to use the most recent effort to repeal and replace portions of the Affordable Care Act to push an amendment that would bar states from enacting their own single-payer systems, he told reporters on Monday.

      When asked by The Intercept on Tuesday about the status of his legislation, Kennedy said that the bill’s co-sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., told him that the measure already bans single payer, but that he was welcome to offer his amendment either way.

      “I don’t think states should have the authority to take money from the American taxpayer and set up a single-payer system,” Kennedy said. “Now some people think that that’s inconsistent with the idea of flexibility. But that’s what the United States Congress is for. I very much believe in flexibility, and I know the governors want flexibility. But it’s our job to make sure that that money is properly spent.”

    • Without opioids, our collective life expectancy would be 2.5 mos longer

      In a startling announcement, authorities in New York and New Jersey reported Monday that they had confiscated a whopping 122 kilograms (nearly 270 pounds) of opioids worth more than $30 million in a pair of recent busts. One of the seizures yielded 64 kilograms (more than 140 pounds) of the extremely potent fentanyl opioid. That batch alone is enough to provide lethal doses of opioids to 32 million people.

    • Covering All People With Single Payer, Says GOP Senator, Is Not Money ‘Properly Spent’

      Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced his intention Tuesday to introduce four amendments to the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one of which would forbid states from using the law’s block grants to provide residents with a state-run single payer healthcare system—provoking some to question his commitment to the perennial Republican issue of “states’ rights.”

    • Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers

      At a time when the United States is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, many insurers are limiting access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.

      The reason, experts say: Opioid drugs are generally cheap while safer alternatives are often more expensive.

  • Security
    • WordPress 4.8.2 Security and Maintenance Release

      WordPress 4.8.2 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

    • Attack on CCleaner Highlights the Importance of Securing Downloads and Maintaining User Trust

      Some of the most worrying kinds of attacks are ones that exploit users’ trust in the systems and softwares they use every day. Yesterday, Cisco’s Talos security team uncovered just that kind of attack in the computer cleanup software CCleaner. Download servers at Avast, the company that owns CCleaner, had been compromised to distribute malware inside CCleaner 5.33 updates for at least a month. Avast estimates that over 2 million users downloaded the affected update. Even worse, CCleaner’s popularity with journalists and human rights activists means that particularly vulnerable users are almost certainly among that number. Avast has advised CCleaner Windows users to update their software immediately.

      This is often called a “supply chain” attack, referring to all the steps software takes to get from its developers to its users. As more and more users get better at bread-and-butter personal security like enabling two-factor authentication and detecting phishing, malicious hackers are forced to stop targeting users and move “up” the supply chain to the companies and developers that make software. This means that developers need to get in the practice of “distrusting” their own infrastructure to ensure safer software releases with reproducible builds, allowing third parties to double-check whether released binary and source packages correspond. The goal should be to secure internal development and release infrastructure to that point that no hijacking, even from a malicious actor inside the company, can slip through unnoticed.

    • Apache bug leaks contents of server memory for all to see—Patch now

      There’s a bug in the widely used Apache Web Server that causes servers to leak pieces of arbitrary memory in a way that could expose passwords or other secrets, a freelance journalist has disclosed.

      The vulnerability can be triggered by querying a server with what’s known as an OPTIONS request. Like the better-known GET and POST requests, OPTIONS is a type of HTTP method that allows users to determine which HTTP requests are supported by the server. Normally, a server will respond with GET, POST, OPTIONS, and any other supported methods. Under certain conditions, however, responses from Apache Web Server include the data stored in computer memory. Patches are available here and here.

    • The Pirate Bay Takes Heat for Testing Monero Mining

      Cryptocurrencies usually are mined with CPU power initially, she told LinuxInsider. Users then find ways to speed up the hashing before going to GPU. They build specialized hardware and field programmable gate array (FPGA) chips to carry out the hashing function in order to mine much faster.

      [...]

      The notion that The Pirate Bay effectively would borrow resources from its own users is not the problem, suggested Jessica Groopman, principal analyst at Tractica.

    • Safer but not immune: Cloud lessons from the Equifax breach
    • Warning: If you are using this Kodi repository, you could be in danger

      Kodi is quite possibly the best media center software of all time. If you are looking to watch videos or listen to music, the open source solution provides an excellent overall experience. Thanks to its support for “addons,” it has the potential to become better all the time. You see, developers can easily add new functionality by writing an addon for the platform. And yes, some addons can be used for piracy, but not all of them are. These addons, such as Exodus and Covenant, are normally added using a repository, which hosts them.

      [...]

      We do not know 100 percent if the person that re-registered the metalkettle name on GitHub is planning anything evil, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

    • Infrared signals in surveillance cameras let malware jump network air gaps

      The malware prototype could be a crucial ingredient for attacks that target some of the world’s most sensitive networks. Militaries, energy producers, and other critical infrastructure providers frequently disconnect such networks from the Internet as a precaution. In the event malware is installed, there is no way for it to make contact with attacker-controlled servers that receive stolen data or issue new commands. Such airgaps are one of the most basic measures for securing highly sensitive information and networks.

      The proof-of-concept malware uses connected surveillance cameras to bridge such airgaps. Instead of trying to use the Internet to reach attacker-controlled servers, the malware weaves passwords, cryptographic keys, and other types of data into infrared signals and uses a camera’s built-in infrared lights to transmit them. A nearby attacker then records the signals with a video camera and later decodes embedded secrets. The same nearby attackers can embed data into infrared signals and beam them to an infected camera, where they’re intercepted and decoded by the network malware. The covert channel works best when attackers have a direct line of sight to the video camera, but non-line-of-sight communication is also possible in some cases.

    • Turning Off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in iOS 11′s Control Center Doesn’t Actually Turn Off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth [Ed: Proprietary software means you cannot trust it and anything you think it does it likely won't]

      Turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you’re not using them on your smartphone has long been standard, common sense, advice. Unfortunately, with the iPhone’s new operating system iOS 11, turning them off is not as easy as it used to be.

      Now, when you toggle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off from the iPhone’s Control Center—the somewhat confusing menu that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of the phone—it actually doesn’t completely turn them off. While that might sound like a bug, that’s actually what Apple intended in the new operating system. But security researchers warn that users might not realize this and, as a consequence, could leave Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on without noticing.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Afghanistan Again?
    • Trump Apparently Wants a Massive Military Parade. ‘What’s Next, Portraits of Dear Leader Everywhere?’

      Citing France’s Bastille Day celebration in July—a “dramatic show of pageantry” featuring thousands of French troops and dozens of military jets—U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday suggested that he would like the United States to put on a massive display of “military might” on Independence Day, a proposal commentators immediately portrayed as evidence of Trump’s affinity for authoritarian displays of force.

    • Starve Them to Death: Wall Street Journal’s Solution to North Korea
    • An Escalating North Korea Crisis

      With President Trump demeaning North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, tensions over Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program grow worse, as Dennis J Bernstein reports.

      [...]

      On August 21, the joint US/South Korean war games took place, but they were scaled down a little bit. So, instead of the usual 25,000 US troops, there were 17,500 US troops. That is not an insignificant de-escalation. In response to the war games, the North Koreans fired three short-range missiles.

      A little while later the US conducted new war games with Japan; And North Korea, to express its displeasure, fired an ICBM, which flew over Hokkaido and landed in the ocean. The US retaliated by bringing in B-1 bombers that were doing decapitation runs. This is exactly the kind of strategic asset deployment that the North Koreans consider to be a red line.

      In response to that, they detonated what they claim is an H-bomb on September 3. Later reports said that it was 6.3 on the Richter scale, somewhere between 100 and 150 kilotons, making it ten to fifteen times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. They claimed that this was the perfect test, that it was adjustable and that they were also capable of launching an electromagnetic pulse.

      So, if we look back, we can see a tit-for-tat process. In game theory, this is the only procedure that has been shown to result in de-escalation between two parties who are in conflict and who do not have accurate information.

    • Dealing with North Korean Missiles

      The real purpose of North Korea’s two recent missile tests over Japan is to cause a rupture in relations among the US, China, Japan, and South Korea. Rather than attack Japan, which would galvanize the US-Japan security treaty, these missiles provoke debate in Japan—about US reliability, Japan’s constitutional limitations on taking defensive or offensive action against a threat, and choices of weapons systems (including everything from missile defense to nuclear weapons). All these issues have implications for Japan’s relations with South Korea and China, both of which would strongly protest a major military buildup by Japan and undermine trilateral cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

    • Trump’s War on the North Korean People

      Amid renewed talk by the Trump administration of a military option against North Korea, one salient fact goes unnoticed. The United States is already at war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – the formal name for North Korea). It is doing so through non-military means, with the aim of inducing economic collapse. In a sense, the policy is a continuation of the Obama administration’s ‘strategic patience’ on steroids, in that it couples a refusal to engage in diplomacy with the piling on of sanctions that constitute collective punishment of the entire North Korean population.

      We are told that UN Security Council resolution 2375, passed on September 11, was “watered down” so as to obtain Chinese and Russian agreement. In relative terms, this is true, in that the original draft as submitted by the United States called for extreme measures such as a total oil embargo. However, Western media give the impression that the resolution as passed is mild or mainly symbolic. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Trump Falls in Line with Interventionism

      President Trump’s U.N. speech showed that despite his America First rhetoric, his policies are virtually the same as the neocon strategies of George W. Bush and liberal interventionism of Barack Obama, says Robert Parry.

    • The Greatest Threat Facing America

      The greatest threat facing America is not “radical Islamic terrorism.” Nor is it North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, eliciting American UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s propagandistic charge that Kim Jong-un is ”begging for war.“ Nor is America’s greatest threat Muslim immigrants’ believed to be intent on gaining power and establishing Sharia law. Nor is it hordes of “criminally-disposed” Mexicans, whose “invading” presence is assumed to require more deportation officers and a border wall. Neither is it “inner city crime.” Nor is it about Black Lives Matter people, who are seen by many as a threat to established white status quo order.

      [...]

      Before running for president, Donald Trump was not guided by law and order in his business dealings. He faced lawsuits for refusing to rent apartments to black persons in his buildings. (See “ ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias,” By Jonathan Mahler and Steve Eder, The New York Times, Aug. 27, 2016) He became a one-man vigilante committee, taking out ads in New York City papers, claiming five black and Latino Harlem teenagers were guilty of assaulting and raping a white woman in Central Park and calling for reestablishing the death penalty. The teens spent several years in jail, and were finally released and awarded $41 million dollars after a serial rapist confessed to the crime and no DNA evidence had connected them to it. (See “Trump continues to blast Central Park Five long after they were exonerated: ‘They admitted they were guilty,’ “ By David Boroff, New York Daily News, Oct. 7, 2016) Trump says he is about protecting American workers, yet, as reported, “At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work.” (“USA TODAY exclusive: Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills: among those who say billionaire didn’t pay: dishwashers, painter, waiters,“ By Steve Reilly, USATODAY, June 9, 2016).

    • A Captured American ISIS Fighter Could Undermine the Whole War

      An American citizen fighting for the so-called Islamic State is currently in the U.S. military’s custody. If Donald Trump decides to keep him there, it could spark a far-reaching legal challenge that could have a catastrophic effect on the entire war against ISIS, leading national security lawyers say.

      The unnamed American, whom the Pentagon says surrendered to U.S.-allied forces battling ISIS in Syria around Sept. 12, is currently held by the military as an enemy combatant. Multiple officials told The Daily Beast that the Trump administration has yet to decide whether that will be his long-term fate.

      Neither the Defense Department nor the Justice Department would comment Monday on active deliberations concerning whether the American will face criminal charges in the United States or remain a military detainee. “The disposition for any detainee is ultimately determined by what best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law,” said the Pentagon’s detentions spokesman, Maj. Ben Sakrisson.

    • US’ NSA Knew About India’s Secret Missile Projects: Edward Snowden’s Documents
    • US Knew About India’s Secret Missile Programmes in 2005: Leaked Documents
    • From Edward Snowden trove: US had data on Indian nuclear missiles in 2005
    • The Empire’s Hustle: Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn’t Include Anti-War

      Libertarian U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared from the Senate floor last week in anticipation of the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2018:

      “I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared and unconstitutional war…What we have today is basically unlimited war, anywhere, anytime, any place upon the globe.”

      With these words, Paul became one of the few voices to oppose the obscenity that is known as U.S. war policy. But only two other senators joined him: Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). But there is a wrinkle here: Paul is not concerned with the size of the military budget. He’s pointing his finger at the continuation of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF) of 2001, which was the “legal” basis for the U.S. global “war on terror.” He wants Congress to re-assess this legislation that has prompted endless wars abroad.

      After Paul’s amendment to the NDAA was defeated, the Senate went on to approve it with a vote of 89-9 Monday in what the New York Times correctly identified as a bi-partisan effort, to authorize a military budget of $696 billion—an increase in the military budget of almost $75 billion and well over the $54 billion that Pres. Donald Trump had originally proposed.

    • Trump Uses UN Podium to threaten Nuclear Annihilation

      President Donald Trump raised the possibility of launching high-stakes US military operations in three corners of the world on Tuesday, at his first address to the United Nations General Assembly.

      The president targeted North Korea, Iran and Venezuela–which he termed as “rogue regimes,” from the UN podium, in a speech reminiscent of George W. Bush’s pre-Iraq War “Axis of Evil” State of the Union.

      Trump’s harshest rhetoric was reserved for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

      “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he said.

      Pyongyang has recently conducted intercontinental ballistic missile tests over Japan, including one last week. On September 3, the North Korean military also conducted a hydrogen bomb test. The United Nations Security Council responded by voting to impose harsh economic sanctions on North Korea.

      South Korean officials have reacted to the tests by outlining an “aggressive response,” if Pyongyang is preparing a “missile or nuclear” attack on Seoul.

      While the plan would target “North Korean leadership,” it makes no invocation of the sort of wholesale destruction promised by Trump on Tuesday. Last month, Trump responded to North Korean missile tests by promising “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

    • Rand Paul: Unconstitutional Saudi War in Yemen Is Not in Our Interest and Congress Should Vote

      Last week, on the Senate floor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) called out US participation in the Saudi war in Yemen.

    • Donald Trump Used the United Nations to Threaten a Massive Violation of International Law

      The United States has never cared much about international law. But most U.S. presidents had at least made an effort to pretend that they did. Based on President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly, this is yet another American tradition that he’s discarding.

      [...]

      To clarify the legal significance of Trump’s words, here’s a quick explanation of the rules that purportedly govern the U.S.’s use of force.

      The U.S. was one of the original 26 signatories to the U.N. Charter in June 1945. The U.S. Constitution states that “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” The U.N. Charter is a treaty, so it therefore is the “supreme law” of the U.S.

      Chapter I, Article 2 of the charter states, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters

      Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.

    • At Harvard, Chelsea Manning Lost Her Fellowship. At Fordham, a Former CIA Torture Proponent Kept His.

      It took less than 48 hours for Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government to revoke its fellowship invitation to whistleblower Chelsea Manning. The announcement that Manning would be a visiting fellow at the school’s Institute of Politics had been met with resistance from current and former denizens of the national security state — a former CIA director resigned his position as a fellow, and President Donald Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo withdrew from a planned speech at the school.

      About 200 miles south of Cambridge, Massachusetts, an inverse but much quieter debate unfolded after a top CIA veteran was named to an elite university fellowship. This much, however, resembled the row at Harvard: The security state is poised to win out in this showdown, too.

      On September 4, former CIA Director John Brennan began a two-year stint as a “distinguished fellow for global security” at Fordham University’s Center on National Security at Fordham Law, in New York. Brennan, a 1977 Fordham graduate, will participate in discussions at the school, make himself available to students during office hours, and sit in on classes in advance of teaching his own in the future.

      Some in the Fordham community — including faculty and alumni who were involved in activism against awarding Brennan a 2012 honorary doctorate of humane letters from the school — believe naming the former top spy to a fellowship sends the wrong message, especially given Brennan’s record of support for controversial policies.

      “By making him a fellow, Fordham is clearly endorsing the human rights violations committed under Brennan by the CIA through illegal torture and missile strikes,” said Sapphira Lurie, who graduated from Fordham this year. “Brennan’s status as a public figure is a result of severe violations of human rights.” Lurie noted that the administration has, in the past, distanced itself from Brennan’s actions at the CIA, but questioned whether his record outside of the CIA merited accolades from the university: “Why else would they be giving him an honorary degree and a position as a fellow?”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • We’re building roads to withstand last century’s climate

      Does it make sense to build something that will almost certainly end up wrecked before its useful lifetime is over? In most contexts, the answer is clearly “no,” since doing so is a waste of money and resources. But lots of people seem to have a blind spot when it comes to planning ahead for climate change. North Carolina, for example, went through a protracted debate over whether it should allow people to build on sites that were likely to be under water. And the Trump administration recently cancelled rules that were intended to prevent infrastructure from being built where the ocean would rise to meet it.

    • “Potentially catastrophic” Hurricane Maria set to strike Puerto Rico

      Only one Category 5 hurricane has ever made landfall on the island of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. That was the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane that crossed the island with sustained winds of 160mph and caused more than 300 deaths on the island. Later, that storm would become the second-deadliest hurricane in the history of the continental United States, with 2,500 deaths in Florida.

      Now, Hurricane Maria seems likely to become the second Category 5 to hit Puerto Rico. As of 5pm ET, the storm is intensifying, with 165mph sustained winds. Critically, the storm’s central pressure is also falling, and it is down to 916 millibars as of Tuesday evening. At that central pressure, Maria would rank among the 10 most-intense landfalling hurricanes in the Atlantic basin in the last 150 years.

      In response to the threat to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, warnings from the National Hurricane Center have become increasingly dire during the last 48 hours. In a Tuesday evening public advisory, forecasters warned of Maria’s “potentially catastrophic” winds, rainfall, and storm surge. They urged that final preparations be rushed to completion.

    • ‘Devastating’: Thousands Evacuate as Mexico Struck By Yet Another Massive Earthquake

      On the anniversary of the horrific 1985 earthquake that killed at least 5,000 people, Mexico City on Tuesday was rocked by yet another powerful quake that destroyed buildings and forced thousands to pour into the streets for safety.

      The U.S. Geological Survey placed the quake’s preliminary magnitude at 7.1, and local outlets are reporting that several people have been killed.

    • Trump’s Response to Climate-Related Disasters: Open America’s “Crown Jewels” to Oil Drilling

      You would have thought that after being battered by two devastating hurricanes in recent weeks, which experts believe were fuelled by warmer seas caused by climate change, even the most die-hard climate denier would think again.

      But you would be wrong.

      You would have thought that as the cost of rebuilding after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey mounts, with an estimated bill of $150 billion so far, that politicians would press to move away from a fossil fuel economy.

      But you would be wrong again. In fact the opposite is happening.

      Instead of pushing for clean technology and to end our oil addiction, the Trump Administration is quietly pushing to open up one of America’s great last wilderness areas, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to oil drilling.

    • Hurricane Maria hits Virgin Islands and bears down on Puerto Rico

      Hurricane Maria is edging towards Puerto Rico as the devastating storm continues its north-westerly path across the Caribbean.
      The eye wall of the storm has now reached the outlying island of Vieques, the US National Hurricane Center says.
      The category five hurricane earlier hit St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
      Dominica was badly hit on Monday night and aerial footage shows flattened houses. Details are scant as communications are down.
      The storm briefly weakened to a four but is now again packing top sustained winds of 280km/h (175mph).

    • Hurricane Maria – live updates: Category 4 storm hits Puerto Rico after battering British Virgin Islands and Dominica
    • Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico
    • Our hurricane-hit islands deserve aid. The rules that block it are wrong

      In a manner reminiscent of Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams, dark clouds of despair and destruction hover yet again over the Caribbean with the passage of Hurricane Maria.

      The most recent version of our recurring ecological nightmare included Hurricane Harvey followed by Hurricane Irma, the latter setting a new record of three consecutive days as a category 5 storm with maximum wind speeds of 185mph, and leaving a trail of devastation British foreign secretary Boris Johnson described as “absolutely hellish”.

      Maria’s full fury is yet to be revealed but social media posts from Dominica’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, and acting high commissioner for Dominica to the UK, Janet Charles, early on Tuesday morning described the destruction, the latter posting on Facebook: “Dominica has been brutalised by the hurricane. Please let the world know. We need help!” Communications with Dominica have since been lost.

    • Trump admin wants to allow seismic study of Alaska refuge for oil drilling

      The US Department of the Interior (DOI) is moving to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, which could reverse 30 years of conservation efforts in the far north of the 49th state. According to a document obtained by The Washington Post that was written in mid-August, the DOI requested that the US Fish and Wildlife Service update a 1980s provision to allow new seismic exploration in the Alaska refuge.

    • Fresh Hope Raised of Global Warming Limit

      Scientists in the UK have good news for the 195 nations that pledged to limit global warming to well below 2°C: it can be done. The ideal limit of no more than 1.5°C above the average temperatures for most of human history is possible.

      All it requires is an immediate reduction in the combustion of fossil fuels − a reduction that will continue for the next 40 years, until the world is driven only by renewable energy.

    • Koch Brothers Fuel the GOP’s War on Climate Science

      Now, in the wake of these two unprecedented storms, a third massive hurricane is bearing down on islands already reeling from Irma’s ferocity. Overnight, Hurricane Maria strengthened to a dangerous Category 3 hurricane, and is expected to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico as an even more dangerous Category 4 storm. Puerto Rico sustained serious damage from Irma but was spared the worst of the storm, and it is therefore harboring many who fled the devastation of neighboring islands, and those evacuees are now in harm’s way yet again.

      On The Real News, we have been speaking to leading climate scientists about the clear links between climate change and the ferocity of these storms. In one such interview, which we published on September 7, renowned climate scientist Michael Mann had this to say about the links between climate change and hurricane intensity.

    • Hurricane Maria knocks out power to island of Puerto Rico
    • Still a lethal Category 4 storm, Hurricane Maria pummeling Puerto Rico

      A ferocious Hurricane Maria bore down on Puerto Rico early Wednesday as the island girded for an entire day of vicious winds that are expected to devastate the nation.

      As of 5 a.m, the center of the storm was 50 miles southeast of San Juan – but winds overnight had already pummeled Puerto Rico, toppling trees and sparking flash-flood warnings in the nation’s capital.

      With sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, Maria weakened slightly, enough to make it a still-lethal Category 4 storm.

    • A Proterra electric bus just drove 1,100 miles on a single charge
    • Nikola Motor Company and Bosch team up on long-haul fuel cell truck
    • Setback for group seeking “hockey stick” climate scientists’ e-mails

      Those prone to rejecting the conclusions of climate science sometimes fixate on weird things. For years, there has been a concerted effort to prove that a specific paleoclimate record—often referred to as “the hockey stick” because of the sharp rise at the end—was somehow fraudulent. It doesn’t seem to matter that many other researchers have replicated and advanced those findings. These people seem to feel that all of climate science would come crashing down if you could just dig up a golden e-mail that reveals a dastardly scheme.

      The original record was partly the work of Michael E. Mann, now at Penn State, and he has been hounded ever since. There have been a number of attempts to get universities to turn over his e-mails over the years. But last year, an effort targeting one of Mann’s colleagues in Arizona seemed to have finally found success.

  • Finance
    • California Regulators Require Auto Insurers to Adjust Rates

      California regulators said they have required Nationwide and USAA to adjust their auto insurance rates as a result of a report by ProPublica and Consumer Reports that many minority neighborhoods were paying more than white areas with the same risk.

      The regulators said their review confirmed our finding that linked the pricing disparities to incorrect applications of a provision in California law. The statute allows insurers to cluster neighboring zip codes together into a single rating territory.

    • Can China help fix Venezuela?

      The Chinese government has said little about the dire situation in Venezuela, while few other outside actors – including nearby Latin American neighbours – have called attention to China’s role in it.

      This oversight is both puzzling and misguided, given China’s high-profile economic and diplomatic partnership with Venezuela. The lapse is rooted in China’s foreign policy principle of noninterference in other countries’ domestic politics, its own undemocratic political system, and its claims of fostering win-win relationships with other developing countries. All of these factors have combined to create a deafening silence regarding Beijing’s role in addressing what is, in the end, a crisis of democratic governance in Caracas.

      It is long past time to ask whether there is more that Beijing can and should do to help set Venezuela on a more sustainable path, both out of principle and China’s own practical national interest. Ultimately, China’s involvement in and response to Venezuela’s multilayered turmoil underscore a range of broader economic and diplomatic challenges that Beijing faces in its relations with other resource-rich, crisis-wracked developing countries around the world.

    • Facebook still booking most Australian revenue in Ireland, US

      Facebook has told a standing committee of the Australian Senate that it booked a vast majority of its Australian income for 2016 outside the country.

    • Uber Faces Widespread Asia Bribery Allegations Amid U.S. Criminal Probe

      Attorneys are focused on suspicious activity in at least five Asian countries: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. For instance, Uber’s law firm is reviewing a web of financial arrangements tied to the Malaysian government that may have influenced lawmakers there, the people said.

    • Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

      This past June, Florida’s top education agency delivered a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy in suburban Jacksonville for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as the worst public school in Clay County, and one of the lowest performing in the state.

      Two-thirds of the academy’s students failed the state exams last year, and only a third of them were making any academic progress at all. The school had had four principals in three years, and teacher turnover was high, too.

      “My fourth grader was learning stuff that my second grader was learning — it shouldn’t be that way,” said Tanya Bullard, who moved her three daughters from the arts academy this past summer to a traditional public school. “The school has completely failed me and my children.”

    • This Year’s Poverty Data Look a Lot Different When You Break Them Down by Race

      Yesterday’s Census release of data on income, poverty, and health insurance demonstrated two things: There are policies that work for people who are struggling, and there is still a lot of work left to do—especially for people of color in America.

    • The real saboteurs are the Tory fantasists backing hard Brexit

      In a startling announcement, authorities in New York and New Jersey reported Monday that they had confiscated a whopping 122 kilograms (nearly 270 pounds) of opioids worth more than $30 million in a pair of recent busts. One of the seizures yielded 64 kilograms (more than 140 pounds) of the extremely potent fentanyl opioid. That batch alone is enough to provide lethal doses of opioids to 32 million people.

      “The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking. It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, said in a statement.

    • Condemned to Repeat It History as Rerun

      People on social media red with ire rage about the double-standard applied to both the left anti-fascist protestors, the antifa anarchists, and the white supremacist marchers. Numberless voices rant about how the police protected the free speech of the white supremacists, but actively cracked down on anti-fascists. Now the government is moving to label antifa groups as domestic terrorists while doing nothing to apply the same tag to violent fascist racists. Some fairly argue that antifa are not the same as the majority of anti-fascist protesters. The former are violent, the latter peaceful. But the violence of antifa will be used to brand the entire progressive left with the stigma of domestic terrorism. The right will largely be left alone.

      But this is nothing new. Capitalists and fascists have always had a symbiotic relationship. Before World War Two, historians blame insufficiently strident capitalist politicians like UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for “appeasing” the Nazis, as though they miscalculated the threat of fascism. What is forgotten is that they appeased the Nazis on purpose. Western capitalists rebuilt the German military and funded the rise of National Socialism after World War One. After all, the real threat to capitalism is communism, not fascism. As prolific and fearless author Michael Parenti writes, “fascism is nothing more than a final solution to the class struggle, the totalistic submergence and exploitation of democratic forces for the benefit and profit of higher financial circles.”

    • Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Trump-Republican Tax Plan
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Is Facilitating a Paid Informant Program Part of Journalism’s Job?

      The practice of encouraging people to provide incriminating information for money, however, raises questions. The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report last year that called into question the Drug Enforcement Agency’s use of paid informants, because “poor oversight” led to “an unacceptably increased potential for waste, fraud and abuse.” Lawyers and advocates against the drug war told the Washington Post (9/30/16) that “paying informants creates incentives to lie or fabricate evidence.”

      With those concerns being raised about a federal agency, which can be audited, what kind of protections or protocols do local, private nonprofits use when they dangle money in front of us in exchange for crime tips?

    • Francoist Clampdown in Catalonia

      I have received an email appeal from the Candidaturas de Unidad Popular in Barcelona to say that their party HQ is under siege by the Guardia Civil and that its leaders are resisting arrest.

      There is a peculiar reluctance in the British and other European mainstream media to state the truth about the very real Francoist origins of the Spanish government. The current government of Spain are the direct political heirs of Franco and that many of their ministers have personal and family connections to his rule. Rajoy, Spain’s current Prime Minister, started his political career in 1981 by joining the People’s Alliance, a party founded in 1979 and led by 7 of Franco’s ministers to carry on the Francoist legacy. The People’s Alliance became the major component in the now governing People’s Party. It is a directly Francoist party.

    • Forced Takeover of Catalan Government Institutions by Spanish Police

      I just got of the phone with Josep Maria Sole Sabaté, my friend and a leading Catalan historian and public intellectual. He was nothing short of breathless as he described the helicopters flying overhead stated flatly that he was in the the midst of a coup being carried out by the Spanish State.

      He wanted to get in touch with me and others “out there” because he was not sure how much longer free communication would be available to him and other out in the street protesting against he Spanish central government’s arrest of members of the Catalan Autonomous government.

    • How Netanyahu’s Son Became the Poster Boy for White Supremacists

      It depicts an Illuminati-like figure and a reptilian creature controlling the world through money and dark arts. Alongside them are a cabal of conspirators, their faces altered to show Netanyahu’s main opponents. They include George Soros, a Holocaust survivor who has invested billions in pro-democracy movements, and Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister turned government critic.

      This is not Yair’s first troubling outburst. Last month he emulated US President Donald Trump in decrying demonstrators who opposed a rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left a woman dead.

    • John Kelly Is All Of Us
    • Resisting Trumpism

      New studies show that fascism and populism in government were successful when relied on their ability to keep support by mixing coercion and demagoguery. But they also succeed when the opposition was divided and the population became apathetic and politically disengaged. Trump fomented such divisions after Charlottesville by distributing blame for violence between the Nazis and the “Antifa” movement, and was echoed by others who sought to depict anti-fascism as just another form of totalitarianism. These politicised reactions are not surprising, but they present a genuine challenge: to what extent successful resistance to these governments requires coalitions of political parties, labour movements, and other mass organisations.

    • At U.N., Trump Hides Behind ‘Sovereignty’ to Shield His Administration From Scrutiny

      Trump mentioned “sovereignty” 21 times at the UN today. Here’s what he was getting at.

      This morning, in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump deployed a transparent and familiar tactic to justify a shameful record: an appeal to national sovereignty over human rights.

      In his address, Trump mentioned “sovereignty” 21 times. That’s in contrast to a single reference to “human rights.” The United Nations, he stated, “was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security and promote their prosperity.” That may be, but it’s far from the full picture.

      The U.N., and other international institutions that the United States helped build after the horrors of World War II, recognized that without justice and fundamental human rights, there can be no peace or security. As a result, the 1945 charter of the United Nations is actually more rigorous in its requirements that “human rights and fundamental freedoms” be protected and defended than it is in its defense of national sovereignty. Indeed, it explicitly assigned to the General Assembly the responsibility of “assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights set out those rights in clear terms just a few years later.

    • Media’s Instinct to Rehabilitate the Powerful Has Not Changed Under Trump

      When Stephen Colbert introduced a surprise guest at the end of his Emmys opening monologue on Sunday night, the audience didn’t seem to expect to see former Trump administration press secretary Sean Spicer. The Late Night host shocked most of the crowd—Veep actress Anna Chlumsky was particularly amazed—with the selection of one of comedy’s favorite targets of the last year.

    • On Anthony Barnett’s ‘Lure of Greatness’

      In the era of Brexit and Trump, if another world is possible, what should it look like? Jeremy Fox finds much to praise in Barnett’s timely new study – but also interrogates the book’s interpretations of nationalism and neoliberalism.

    • How to read Donald Trump

      The organizers of the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville last month knew just what they were doing when they decided to carry torches on their nocturnal march to protest the dethroning of a statue of Robert E. Lee. That brandishing of fire in the night was meant to evoke memories of terror, of past parades of hate and aggression by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Adolf Hitler’s Freikorps in Germany.

      The organizers wanted to issue a warning to those watching: that past violence, perpetrated in defense of the “blood and soil” of the white race, would once again be harnessed and deployed in Donald Trump’s America. Indeed, the very next day, that fatal August 12th, those nationalist fanatics unleashed an orgy of brutality that led to the deaths of three people and the injuring of many more.

      Millions around America and the world were horrified and revolted by that parade of torches. In my case, however, they also brought to mind deeply personal memories of other fires that had burned darkly so many decades before, far from the United States or Nazi Europe. As I watched footage of that rally, I couldn’t help remembering the bonfires that lit up my own country, Chile, in the aftermath of General Augusto Pinochet’s September 11th coup in 1973 – that “first 9/11,” which, with the active support of Washington and the CIA, had overthrown the popularly elected government of Salvador Allende.

      We faced the task of finding the words for, the look of, a new reality.

    • Being anti-Trump won’t win in 2020. What will?

      Anti-Trumpers harbour grief and anger about their defeat – this they couple with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Trump’s sins. But Democrats have provided no clear idea of how to move forward.

    • Germany’s right-wing AfD Party poised for major gains on election day

      A little over a year ago, few people gave Germany’s controversial, right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party any chance of making a dent in German national elections. In recent months, the party suffered through several embarrassing internal spats and saw its polling numbers sink amid growing support for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

      But AfD is now poised to become Germany’s third largest political party after Sunday’s elections. Opinion polls show the AfD scoring as much as 12 percent of the vote on Election Day, allowing it to send dozens of lawmakers to national Parliament – or Bundestag – and potentially disrupting German politics.

      If the predictions hold, it will be the first time since the end of World War II that a far-right party has attracted enough votes to enter Germany’s Parliament. And the strong showing means the AfD will be the biggest opposition party if Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) continues its governing coalition with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

    • Unwanted ads on Breitbart lead to massive click fraud revelations, Uber claims

      Uber has sued an advertising firm, Fetch Media, over allegations that the British firm and its Japanese parent company, Dentsu, fraudulently billed Uber tens of millions of dollars for various fake online ads.

      According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday afternoon in federal court in San Francisco, Uber first realized that something was wrong when, earlier this year, the company began receiving complaints that its ads were appearing on Breitbart, a well-known conservative news website. Uber had specifically requested that its ads not appear on Breitbart at all.

      However, when Uber looked into the matter, “the publisher-reported name of the websites and mobile applications where Uber advertisements supposedly appeared did not match the actual URL accessed. For example, one publisher retained by Fetch reported clicks on Uber ads as coming from placements such as ‘Magic_Puzzles’ and ‘Snooker_Champion.’”

    • They said Melania Trump was the face of success. She made them take down billboards with her face.
    • Spanish police storm Catalan government buildings to stop independence referendum
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Senators hear emotional testimony on controversial sex-trafficking bill

      The legislation would alter Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects web publishers from being sued for content posted by third parties on their sites.

    • Is There A Single Online Service Not Put At Risk By SESTA?

      Earlier today, I wrote up a list of the many problems with SESTA and how it will be abused. Over and over again, we’ve seen defenders of the bill — almost none of whom have much, if any, experience in managing services on the internet — insist that the bill is “narrowly targeted” and wouldn’t create any problems at all for smaller internet services. However, with the way the bill is worded, that seems unlikely. As stated in the last post, by opening up sites to facing both lawsuits from state Attorneys General and civil lawsuits, SESTA puts almost any site that offers services to the public at risk. The problematic language in the bill is that this is the “standard” for liability…

    • Senator Blumenthal Happy That SESTA Will Kill Small Internet Companies

      So, earlier today the Senate Commerce Committee held a two and a half hour hearing about SESTA — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017. The panelists were evenly split, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Yiota Souras from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children being in support of the bill, and Professor Eric Goldman and Abigail Slater from the Internet Association worrying about the impacts of SESTA (notably, both highlighted that they’re not against all changes to CDA 230, they just want to be quite careful and are worried about the language in this bill). I was actually somewhat surprised that the hearing wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There certainly was some grandstanding, and some insistence that because SESTA says it will go after sex trafficking, it obviously will — but many Senators did seem willing to listen to concerns about the bill and how it’s written. Much attention was paid to the sketchy “knowledge” standard in the bill, which we wrote about this morning. And that’s good — but there was a fair bit of nonsense spewed as well.

    • Russian Sketch-Comedy Caved to State Censorship, Says Former Writer

      A former editor and actor in Russia’s leading humor television show revealed in a Sept. 11 Youtube interview that the show’s content passes through several rounds of censors before being broadcasted.

      Since it first aired in the Soviet Union, the KVN comedy game show has been broadcast on state-run Channel 1, Russia’s most popular TV network, whose shares are divided between the Russian government and businessmen loyal to the Kremlin.

      In an interview on the Youtube channel Wanna Banana, award-winning comedian Dmitry Kolchin described numerous instances when the show’s content was cut or filtered by Channel One editors.

    • Author of key Internet freedom law opposes new sex trafficking bill

      The United States Senate is moving toward passage of a bill that would—for the first time—water down a landmark 1996 law that shields website operators from lawsuits and state prosecution for user-generated content. And one of the authors of that 1996 law, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), argued Tuesday that this would be a mistake.

      The Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act now has 28 co-sponsors, and the breadth of that support was evident at a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. The legislation would allow state attorneys general to prosecute websites that are used to promote sex trafficking—something that’s currently barred by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It would also allow private lawsuits against sites that host sex trafficking ads.

    • Censorship, social media and Saudi Arabia

      Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms in Middle Eastern countries, especially in Saudi Arabia with more than seven million users a day.

      However, they are not being allowed to see the Al Jazeera Discover Publisher Channel on Snapchat.

      It is blocked by Snapchat because the Saudi government said the channel’s content violates the cybercrime laws.

      It is the latest measure announced by Saudi leaders after they cut diplomatic ties with Qatar n June 5 and imposed a land, sea and air blockade on it along with few neighbouring states.

    • Saudi Arabia To Unblock Internet Calling Applications
    • ORG response to calls for automated takedowns of online extremist content

      “Internet companies have a role to play in removing illegal content from their platforms but we need to recognise the limitations of relying on automated takedowns. Mistakes will inevitably be made – by removing the wrong content and by missing extremist material.

      “Given the global reach of these companies, automated takedowns will have a wide-reaching effect on the content we see, although not necessarily on the spread of extremist ideas as terrorists will switch to using other platforms.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Government Drops Facebook Search Warrant Gag Order At Eleventh Hour

      Details from the case are limited, but the warrant appears to target protesters arrested during Trump’s inauguration. Nearly eight months after having the gag orders challenged, the government has decided to let Facebook inform users affected by the government’s demand for 90 days of Facebook activity from three accounts. But there’s no victory here for Facebook, because it appears the government is merely seeking to avoid losing the case and having gag order-unfriendly precedent established in a district where it does a whole lot of secretive work.

    • The NSA’s Weird Interest In File Sharing Programs

      Another large Snowden document dump from The Intercept uncovers many more off-brand uses of NSA surveillance tools. The pile of documents come from the NSA’s “SID (Signals Intelligence Directorate) Today” files, of which there are apparently thousands of available pages. The documents released late last week show that if it happened online, the NSA was looking at it.

    • Over 40,000 mobile phone ID users in Portugal

      Portugal’s Chave Móvel Digital (Digital Mobile Key) is now used by more than 40,000 citizens, reports the Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA). This authentication method for eGovernment services, combining a PIN code and a one-time security number sent by SMS or email, was introduced by AMA in 2014.

    • CYBERCOM and NSA leadership needs to evolve and that may mean a leadership split

      President Donald Trump already announced that U.S. Cyber Command will split off from the National Security Agency and become a full-fledged combatant command, but the matter of leadership is still to be determined.

    • What Cybercom’s independence means
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Middlebury College Policy Rewards Censorship And Makes Violent Threats Effective [Ed: GOP-aligned media continues to malign education, usually under the "college" flag]
    • Women who had relationships with police spies criticise inquiry

      Women who were deceived into sexual relationships with undercover police officers have called for an urgent meeting with the home secretary over fears the official public inquiry lacks openness and fails to recognise claims of institutional sexism within the Metropolitan police.

      In an open letter to Amber Rudd, 13 women who had relationships with men they did not know were undercover officers criticise delays and raise concerns over the suitability of the new chair of the undercover policing inquiry, Sir John Mitting QC.

    • No easy answers for ending forced labour in India

      The current targets and indicators proposed by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation as of 8 March 2017 for the realisation of SDG 8.7 are wholly inadequate. In particular, the implementation of laws should be monitored (as indicators) rather than the mere ratification of international conventions or adoption of laws. Similarly, alongside measuring the number of prosecutions of traffickers, it is essential to monitor or report on the budgetary allocation and expenditure on assistance to exploited people (bonded labourers, trafficked persons, etc.). In order to draw up an appropriate baseline, the government of India is urged to take advantage of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018 to set out relevant data about the way in which Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being respected in India.

    • Let Jeffrey Sterling Go

      Risen’s book was published soon after Sterling filed a racial discrimination suit against the CIA, arguing that he was denied an overseas assignment because, as his supervisor told him at the time, he would attract attention “as a big black guy speaking Farsi.” Sterling’s suit was dismissed on national security grounds (“We’d love to defend ourselves, but to do that we’d have to release classified information”) by the hanging judge who would later oversee Sterling’s conviction and send him to prison.

      After the book was published, the CIA argued that Sterling was Risen’s source, claiming that Sterling was seeking revenge against the Agency for having his suit dismissed. Prosecutors pointed to metadata indicating that Sterling and Risen had had a handful of phone conversations over the course of 18 months, and that Sterling was probably giving Risen classified information. That’s it. No proof. There were no recordings, no emails, no witnesses, no in-person meetings, no nothing. Just the CIA telling Sterling’s jury, “Take our word for it.”

      Sterling left for prison at Colorado’s FCI Englewood in mid-2015. The BOP has a regulation that prisoners will be assigned to prisons within 500 miles of their homes. It’s supposed to be an effort to keep families intact. But Sterling was sent to a prison nearly 900 miles from home. The BOP said – again, disingenuously – that it was a bed space issue.

      The BOP set out from the very beginning of Sterling’s sentence to make it as difficult as possible. A year ago, Sterling suffered a heart attack in prison that went undiagnosed and then untreated until activists petitioned Colorado Democratic senator Michael Bennett to inquire about his health. Sterling was denied medication until further activism forced some action. In April, he was sent to solitary confinement for several days for “standing too closely” to a corrections officer, an unprovoked outrage that was later dismissed by more senior prison officials.

    • Keith Tharpe’s Scheduled Execution Tests Our Nation’s Tolerance for the Death Penalty’s Racial Bias

      Only a unanimous jury can convict and impose a death sentence in Georgia, and the law has long recognized that misconduct by a single juror requires reversal. The juror’s stunning admission of racially biased views, including his view of the defendant, should have led to a hearing and a new trial. Instead, Tharpe faces possible execution next Tuesday, September 26, 2017.

      In what threatens to be a grave miscarriage of justice, no court has ever considered the testimony about this misconduct. The federal courts must act now under the law’s constitutional promise of equality and fairness and reopen his case so that his claim of racial bias can finally be heard.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • T-Mobile’s unlimited plan will soon let you use 50GB before slowdowns

      T-Mobile USA will soon let subscribers to its unlimited data plans use at least 50GB of data each month before risking slowdowns in congested areas.

      All four major nationwide carriers slow down their heaviest data users when they connect to congested cell towers. But while Verizon Wireless and AT&T set the potential throttle point at 22GB, and Sprint at 23GB, T-Mobile is already letting customers use at least 32GB a month before risking slowdowns.

    • Sign the open letter: European businesses concerned about US changes to net neutrality

      Josh from Fight for the Future writes, “The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is threatening to rollback its net neutrality protections, which help make the Internet a place of equal opportunity and international innovation.”

      “If these rules are repealed, major US Internet service providers will become gatekeepers of the country’s digital economy, and will be in a position to harm or destroy global businesses. For example, US ISPs would gain powers to block your sites and apps, or force your businesses to pay expensive “prioritization” fees just to reach customers online.

    • Stand Up for Net Neutrality: Help Paperstorm the FCC

      Ajit Pai, current Chairman of the FCC, put it bluntly: “We need to fire up the weed whacker” and remove rules like net neutrality, he said recently.

      To keep net neutrality (and a healthy internet) intact, Mozilla is deploying Paperstorm, our activism website developed alongside design studio Moniker.

  • DRM
    • HP Brings Back Obnoxious DRM That Cripples Competing Printer Cartridges

      Around a year ago, HP was roundly and justly ridiculed for launching a DRM time bomb — or a software update designed specifically to disable competing printer cartridges starting on a set date. As a result, HP Printer owners using third-party cartridges woke up one day to warnings about a “cartridge problem,” or errors stating, “one or more cartridges are missing or damaged,” or that the user was using an “older generation cartridge.” The EFF was quick to lambast the practice in a letter to HP, noting that HP abused its security update mechanism to trick its customers and actively erode product functionality.

      HP only made matters worse for itself by claiming at the time that it was only looking out for the safety and security of its customers, while patting itself on the back for being pro-active about addressing a problem it caused — only after a massive consumer backlash occurred.

    • EFF quits W3C over decision to accept EME as Web standard

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has resigned from the World Wide Web Consortium after the latter announced it was accepting the published Encrypted Media Extensions as a Web standard.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Court Allows San Diego Comic-Con’s Suit Against The Salt Lake City Comic Con To Move Forward

        A few months ago, we alerted our readers that a trademark dispute between the San Diego Comic-Con and a company producing a Salt Lake City Comic Con, originally filed in 2014, was still going on. In fact, the district court hearing the case just recently ruled on several motions from both parties, including motions for judicial notice (essentially having the court affirm basic facts about the case), motions to exclude expert testimony, and motions for summary judgement. On the face of it, the news is mostly bad for the Salt Lake City convention, with nearly every ruling coming down against it. However, digging into the ruling itself, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

        As for the bad news, it seems to be mostly of the Salt Lake City Comic Con’s own making, or the making of its legal team. The court points out that the defendant’s lawyers motion and defenses are all over the place, in some places arguing for generecide — or that “comic con” has become a generic term — while in others arguing that “comic con” is generic ab initio — or that the term was generic even prior to San Diego Comic-Con’s initial use of it. It’s an important distinction for a couple of reasons, including that the defenses SLC has stated it will make revolve around genericide, yet much of the evidence in the motions in this ruling revolve around generic ab initio and, more importantly, the 9th Circuit doesn’t have any precedent or acknowledgement of generic ad initio as a matter of law, and this district court is governed by 9th Circuit precedent.

    • Copyrights
      • Pepe the Frog’s Creator Goes Legally Nuclear Against the Alt-Right

        Update: Several people who received legal threats from Matt Furie say they will fight back. Read our update—The Great Meme War II: Amid Lawsuit Threats, the Alt-Right Says Pepe Belongs to Them.

        Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has made good on his threat to “aggressively enforce his intellectual property.”

        The artist’s lawyers have taken legal action against the alt-right. They have served cease and desist orders to several alt-right personalities and websites including Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the r/the_Donald subreddit. In addition, they have issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests to Reddit and Amazon, notifying them that use of Pepe by the alt-right on their platforms is copyright infringement. The message is to the alt-right is clear—stop using Pepe the Frog or prepare for legal consequences.

      • Man who made “Pepe” wants his frog back, and he’ll use copyright to get it

        Matt Furie created the cartoon character Pepe the Frog in 2005 as a kind of peaceful stoner animal for his comic “Boys Club.” By 2008, the frog had become a meme at 4chan. In the 2016 election cycle, though, Pepe became something completely different—an ever-meme of the alt-right. The Anti-Defamation League characterizes Pepe as a hate symbol and has catalogued some of the most viciously racist and anti-semitic examples.

        Now Furie wants his comic frog back. After years of letting it slide, Furie has lawyered up and sent demand letters to several alt-right personalities, including white supremacist Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the subreddit “The_Donald.”

      • Publishers’ Legal Action Advances Against Sci-Hub

        On Friday (September 22), a hearing for ACS’s case against Sci-Hub will take place at a federal trial court in Virginia. The society filed a default judgement request on September 1, asking the court to order the site to cease illegal distribution of its material and pay $4.8 million in damages.

      • Stream Ripping Piracy Goes From Bad to Worse, Music Industry Reports

        New data not only reveals that stream ripping remains the music industry’s main piracy threat, but it’s growing too. IFPI’s latest music consumer insight report shows that more than a third of all Internet subscribers use stream rippers to access unlicensed music.

When Google Used Alex Converse to Raid the Public Domain With Software Patents

Wednesday 20th of September 2017 05:34:41 PM

Summary: In its overzealous pursuit of software patents, Google is now turning public domain methods into private ‘property’ (in defiance of critics)

Google lost its way; it lost its way on patents too. Google is not only pursuing software patents but it is also trying to privatise the public domain. As we had covered this twice already [1, 2] we decided to explore where things stand.

It turns out that the person who first brought up the subject is currently pursuing ways to “find legal help for defending ANS coding,” according to him.

“Google is not only pursuing software patents but it is also trying to privatise the public domain.”“I have seen your Techrights article mentioning my ANS Goolge patent situation,” he told us. “There is also another ongoing patent attempt which is nearly granted by USPTO (second Notice of Allowance), also for basic obvious possibility.

“This defense requires a serious legal help, I have no chance to afford. I have tried asking EFF and EFFE, but there was nearly no response (I wouldn’t be surprised if they were supported by Google, like in the Barry Lynn sandal).”

We have decided that the least we can do is raise this subject again (mention it publicly) and name the culprit/s in hope that bad PR alone would discourage him/them from proceeding. Failing that, we shall escalate with patent offices or whatnot.

“We have decided that the least we can do is raise this subject again (mention it publicly) and name the culprit/s in hope that bad PR alone would discourage him/them from proceeding.”It was all over the media in Poland, we have been told, but as usual, “Google does not comment.”

I have this experience too.

As it turned out, the so-called ‘inventor’ has fled Google. His name is Alex Converse and people have already noticed that he left. From a comment:

According to his LinkedIn profile he is no longer with Google https://www.linkedin.com/in/al… [linkedin.com]

And another right after that:

The engineer may no longer work for Google, but it is Google that is paying and pushing forward said patent. This shows Google patent team acting out with scum-like behaviour.

If higher levels of management are aware of what is going on and they choose not to drop this from patent submission, then they too are likely showing scum-like behaviour

“If Google would admit the mistake,” told us the complainer, “it should be accompanied with some declaration of reparation, emphasizing pathology of software patents and need to fight it…

“Prior art or not, public domain or not, this is a software patent that must never be granted.”“While it seems there is no hurry with Google, the first attempt got second “Notice of Allowance” a month ago. It covers ANS with the most basic statistical modeling (Markov) — what was mentioned in my paper, and much earlier there was other implementation, now it is widely used in CRAM DNA compressor.”

As is typical/usual, when one lives in a country not so wealthy, challenging a company like Google in or outside the patent system is far too expensive. It means that, unless there’s public scrutiny, those with deeper pockets will get their way.

We shall keep an eye on this and find out if Google (or Mr. Converse) is still willing to go further with this. Prior art or not, public domain or not, this is a software patent that must never be granted.

More in Tux Machines

Software and howtos

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    Hi folks am back with another interesting topic called wikipedia2text. It’s a small Shell script to query the Wikipedia articles in console, also it can open the article in any browser. This shell script uses text-browser to query and render Wikipedia articles. The output will be printed to standard out. It Currently supports around 30 Wikipedia languages. Most of us prefer Wikipedia to know the detailed information about any company or any product information & it’s history. For any google search by default Wikipedia link comes in Top 5.
  • Yay! I Found Yet Another Reliable AUR Helper
    Howdy Arch Users! I’ve got a good news for you. Today, I stumbled upon yet another reliable AUR helper called “Yay”. Yep! the name of this AUR helper is Yay. Currently, I use Pacaur for installing AUR packages. It does great job and I really like it. I also have used other AUR helpers such as Packer and Yaourt in the past. After reading its features, I thought to give “Yay” a try and see how things works. So, here we go!
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  • mount.nfs: requested NFS version or transport protocol is not supported
  • How to Deploy Clojure Web Application on Debian 9
  • Copr stack dockerized!
  • Using Dell Dock With Ubuntu
    Over the years I have found my way around many minor hurdles when using Ubuntu, the most recent being Using the DELL ULTRAHD 4K USB 3.0 DOCKING STATION (D3100).

GNU/Linux Desktops/Laptops and Devices

OSS Leftovers

Security Leftovers

  • Google and IBM launch open-source security tool for containers
    Google and IBM, together with a few other partners, released an open-source project that gathers metadata that developers can use to secure their software. According to an IBM blog post, the goal of the project is to help developers keep security standards, while microservices and containers cut the software supply chain.
  • Top 10 Hacking Techniques Used By Hackers
    We live in a world where cyber security has become more important than physical security, thousands of websites and emails are hacked daily. Hence, It is important to know the Top hacking techniques used by hackers worldwide to exploit vulnerable targets all over the internet.
  • Protect your wifi on Fedora against KRACK
    You may have heard about KRACK (for “Key Reinstallation Attack”), a vulnerability in WPA2-protected Wi-Fi. This attack could let attackers decrypt, forge, or steal data, despite WPA2’s improved encryption capabilities. Fear not — fixes for Fedora packages are on their way to stable.
  • Federal watchdog tells Equifax—no $7.25 million IRS contract for you
    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Monday rejected Equifax's bid to retain its $7.25 million "taxpayer identity" contract—the one awarded days after Equifax announced it had exposed the Social Security numbers and other personal data of some 145 million people.
  • Adobe Flash vulnerability exploited by BlackOasis hacking group to plant FinSpy spyware

    Security researchers have discovered a new Adobe Flash vulnerability that has already been exploited by hackers to deploy the latest version of FinSpy malware on targets. Kaspersky Lab researchers said a hacker group called BlackOasis has already taken advantage of the zero-day exploit – CVE-2017-11292 – to deliver its malicious payload via a Microsoft Word document.

  • Companies turn a blind eye to open source risk [Ed: No, Equifax got b0rked due to bad practices, negligence, incompetence, not FOSS]
    For instance, criminals who potentially gained access to the personal data of the Equifax customers exploited an Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 vulnerability.
  • Checking Your Passwords Against the Have I Been Pwned List
    Two months ago, Troy Hunt, the security professional behind Have I been pwned?, released an incredibly comprehensive password list in the hope that it would allow web developers to steer their users away from passwords that have been compromised in past breaches.