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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 25 sec ago

Links 21/3/2018: Cutelyst 2, More on webOS

3 hours 37 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • What is Docker and why is it so darn popular?

      Five years ago, Solomon Hykes helped found a business, Docker, which sought to make containers easy to use. With the release of Docker 1.0 in June 2014, the buzz became a roar. And, over the years, it’s only got louder.

      All the noise is happening because companies are adopting Docker at a remarkable rate. In July 2014 at OSCon, I ran into numerous businesses that had already moved their server applications from virtual machines (VM) to containers.

    • Understanding the SMACK stack for big data

      Just as the LAMP stack revolutionized servers and web hosting, the SMACK stack has made big data applications viable and easier to develop. Want to come up to speed? Here are the basics.

    • OpenPower Foundation Aims to Power Server Acceleration Beyond Moore’s Law

      When IBM first created the OpenPower Foundation in 2013, there were vendors that thought they would get into the silicon business and build their own chips, but as it turns out, that’s not quite what happened.

      At the OpenPower Summit 2018 event, Brad McCredie, IBM fellow and VP, outlined how OpenPower has progressed over the last five years and what members are actually building.


      An offshoot of the OpenPower Foundation is OpenCAPI, which is an effort to build an Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface that is supported by AMD, Google, Mellanox and Micron among the group’s founding members.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.15.12
    • Linux 4.14.29
    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • A new era for Linux’s low-level graphics – Part 1

        Over the past couple of years, Linux’s low-level graphics infrastructure has undergone a quiet revolution. Since experimental core support for the atomic modesetting framework landed a couple of years ago, the DRM subsystem in the kernel has seen roughly 300,000 lines of code changed and 300,000 new lines added, when the new AMD driver (~2.5m lines) is excluded. Lately Weston has undergone the same revolution, albeit on a much smaller scale.

        Daniel Vetter’s excellent two-part series on LWN covers the details quite well, but in short atomic has two headline features. The first is better display control: by grouping all configuration changes together, it is possible to change display modes more quickly and more reliably, especially if you have multiple monitors. The second is that it allows userspace to finally use overlay planes in the display controller for composition, bypassing the GPU.

        A third, less heralded, feature is that the atomic core standardises user-visible behaviour. Before atomic, drivers had very wide latitude to implement whatever user-facing behaviour they liked. As a result, each chipset had its own kernel driver and its own X11 driver as well. With the rewrite of the core, backed up by a comprehensive test suite, we no longer need hardware-specific drivers to take full advantage of hardware features. With the substantial rework of Weston’s DRM backend, we can now take full advantage of these. Using atomic gives us a smoother user experience, with better performance and using less power, whilst still being completely hardware-agnostic.

      • Radeon Pro 18.Q1.1 Enterprise Edition Released For Linux Workstations

        AMD on Monday quietly released their quarterly update to the Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition Linux driver that is derived from their AMDGPU-PRO stack for FirePro / Radeon Pro class hardware.

        Like with AMDGPU-PRO, Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition 18.Q1.1 remains focused on supporting the enterprise Linux distributions including Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS and RHEL/CentOS 6 (6.9) and 7 (7.4).

      • AMDGPU DC’s Latest 34 Patches Provide More Fixes

        Another week, another code drop derived from AMD’s internal driver code-base providing an updated DC display code stack.

        This week’s collection of 34 AMDGPU DC patches are mostly comprised of general fixes. Surprisingly no mentions of Raven Ridge (and only one patch mentioning DCN), so it’s looking like at least from the display side things are calming down for those Vega+Zen APUs — I’ve been running tests the past day and will have an update later today or tomorrow on the situation.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Cutelyst 2 released with HTTP/2 support

        Cutelyst the Qt/C++ web framework just got a major release update, around one and half year ago Cutelyst v1 got the first release with a stable API/ABI, many improvements where made during this period but now it was time to clean up the mistakes and give room for new features.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GStreamer Major Release, OpenBMC Project, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds Free Mobile Version and More

        GStreamer, the cross-platform multimedia framework, announced a new major stable release yesterday. The new version 1.14.0 has lots of new features and bug fixes, including WebRTC support, “experimental support for the next-gen royalty-free AV1 video codec”, Video4Linux encoding support and more. See the release notes for more info.

      • GStreamer 1.14 released
      • GStreamer 1.14.0 new major stable release

        The GStreamer team is proud to announce a new major feature release of your favourite cross-platform multimedia framework!

        The 1.14 release series adds new features on top of the previous 1.12 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

      • IMPORTANT: GitLab mass migration plan

        I know some fellows doesn’t read desktop-devel-list, so let me share here an email that it’s important for all to read: We have put in place the plan for the mass migration to GitLab and the steps maintainers needs to do.

      • ED Update – week 11
      • Reflections on Distractions in Work, Productivity and Time Usage

        For the past year or so I have mostly worked at home or remote in my daily life. Currently I’m engaged in my master thesis and need to manage my daily time and energy to work on it. It is no surprise to many of us that working using your internet-connected personal computer at home can make you prone to many distractions. However, managing your own time is not just about whipping and self-discipline. It is about setting yourself up in a structure which rewards you for hard work and gives your mind the breaks it needs. Based on reflections and experimentation with many scheduling systems and tools I finally felt I have achieved a set of principles I really like and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today.


        Minimizing shell notifications: While I don’t have the same big hammer to “block access to my e-mail” here, I decided to change the order of my e-mail inboxes in Geary so my more relevant (and far less activity prone) student e-mail inbox appears first. I also turned off the background e-mail daemon and turned off notification banners in GNOME Shell.


        Lastly, I want to give two additional tips. If you like listening to music while working, consider whether it might affect your productivity. For example, I found music with vocals to be distracting me if I try to immerse myself in reading difficult litterature. I can really recommend Doctor Turtle’s acoustic instrumental music while working though (all free). Secondly, I find that different types of tasks requires different postures. For abstract, high-level or vaguely formulated tasks (fx formulating goals, reviewing something or reflecting), I find interacting with the computer whilst standing up and walking around to really help gather my thoughts. On the other hand with practical tasks or tasks which require immersion (fx programming tasks), I find sitting down to be much more comfortable.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • MX Linux Review – Version 17 – An Excellent All Around Linux Distribution

        MX Linux is a popular and fast Linux distribution based on Debian stable that is currently in version 17.1. Today, I’m going to take you through my MX Linux Review to see why this distribution is so popular.

        One of the best things about MX Linux is the variety of custom tools that have been built to make the life of the user easier. The team of devs at MX Linux have really outdone themselves making every single possible need as easy as possible with their MX apps.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian CEF packages

        I’ve created some Debian CEF packages—CEF isn’t the easiest thing to package (and it takes an hour to build even on my 20-core server, since it needs to build basically all of Chromium), but it’s fairly rewarding to see everything fall into place. It should benefit not only Nageru, but also OBS and potentially CasparCG if anyone wants to package that.

      • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #151
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Mir 0.31 Officially Released

            Mir 0.31 is now available as the latest version of the Canonical-developed display stack that continues implementing support for Wayland’s protocols.

            Mir 0.31 has been in development for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with several new features and today the release surfaced as v0.31.0.1, as an apparent brown paper bag release hours after v0.31.0 was tagged.

          • Server development summary – 20 March 2018

            If you have a server that you are using for Bionic testing, please look in /etc/netplan and give netplan a run through. Note that only new installs of Artful+ will be enabled for netplan.

          • LXD weekly status #39

            The focus for this week was on CEPH and LXD clustering, trying to get the last few remaining pieces to work together properly. We’ve tagged a couple more betas as we went through that.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS NEW FEATURES

            With the first beta release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS available and the stable released planned on 26 April 2018, now is a great time to take a closer look at what you can expect to see in the latest version of Canonical’s Linux distribution.

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS has been codenamed Bionic Beaver by the founder of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, who provided the following explanation for the curious name on his personal blog: “It’s builders that we celebrate – the people that build our upstream applications and packages, the people who build Ubuntu, and the people who build on Ubuntu. In honor of that tireless toil, our mascot this cycle is a mammal known for its energetic attitude, industrious nature and engineering prowess. We give it a neatly nerdy 21st-century twist in honor of the relentless robots running Ubuntu Core. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 18.04 LTS, the Bionic Beaver.”

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • FSF Blogs: Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: March 23rd starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
    • LibrePlanet free software conference celebrates 10th anniversary, this weekend at MIT, March 24-25

      This weekend, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) present the tenth annual LibrePlanet free software conference in Cambridge, March 24-25, 2018, at MIT. LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and tackle challenges facing the free software movement. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature sessions for all ages and experience levels.

      LibrePlanet’s tenth anniversary theme is “Freedom Embedded.” Embedded systems are everywhere, in cars, digital watches, traffic lights, and even within our bodies. We’ve come to expect that proprietary software’s sinister aspects are embedded in software, digital devices, and our lives, too: we expect that our phones monitor our activity and share that data with big companies, that governments enforce digital restrictions management (DRM), and that even our activity on social Web sites is out of our control. This year’s talks and workshops will explore how to defend user freedom in a society reliant on embedded systems.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla’s opt-out Firefox DNS privacy test sparks, er, privacy outcry

        Mozilla’s plan to test a more secure method for resolving internet domain names – known as Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) via DNS over HTTPs (DoH) – in Firefox Nightly builds has met with objections from its user community due to privacy concerns.

        The browser maker’s intentions appear to be beneficial for Firefox users. As Patrick McManus, one of the Mozilla software engineers conducting the test, explains in a note posted this week to one of the company’s developer forums, DoH can make DNS communication more secure.

      • Mozilla Statement, Petition: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

        The headlines speak for themselves: Up to 50 million Facebook users had their information used by Cambridge Analytica, a private company, without their knowledge or consent. That’s not okay.

      • Enough is enough. Let’s tell Facebook what we want fixed.

        I had one big loud thought pounding in my head as I read the Cambridge Analytica headlines this past weekend: it’s time for Facebook users to say ‘enough is enough‘.

      • Crash-Stop, an extension to help handle crashes on Bugzilla

        Crash-stop is a webextension I wrote for Bugzilla to display crash stats by builds and patch information.

        The goal is to have enough information to be able to decide if a patch helped (hence its name) and, if needed, uplift it to the Beta/ESR/Release trains as appropriate.

        This project was initially meant to assist release-managers but it’s been useful for developers who fix/monitor crashes or for folks doing bug triage.

      • New features in Notes v3

        Today we are updating TestPilot Notes to v3.1! We have several new user-facing features and behind the scenes changes in this v3 release. The focus of this release was discoverability, speed and a bit of codebase cleanup.

        We heard your feedback about “Exporting notes…” and with this release we have added the first export related feature. You can now export the notepad as HTML using the menu. We are still playing around with Markdown and other exporting features.

      • compare-locales 3.0 – GSOC

        There’s something magic about compare-locales 3.0. It comes with Python 3 support.

        It took me quite a while to get to it, but the writing is on the wall that I had to add support for Python 3. That’s just been out for 10 years, too. Well, more like 9ish.

        We’re testing against Python 2.7, 3.5, and 3.6 now.

      • Multilingual Gecko Status Update 2018.1

        As promised in my previous post, I’d like to do a better job at delivering status updates on Internationalization and Localization technologies at Gecko at shorter intervals than once per year.

        In the previous post we covered recent history up to Firefox 58 which got released in January 2018. Since then we finished and shipped Firefox 59 and also finished all major work on Firefox 60, so this post will cover the two.

      • Bringing interactive examples to MDN
      • March Add(on)ness: Ghostery (2) Vs Decentraleyes (3)
  • Databases
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • [Eben Moglen] Additional Companies Join Red Hat’s GPLv3 Termination Policy for GPLv2 Programs

      The software developers and distributors who have backed the “first-time cure period” approach of GPLv3 for use with GPLv2 programs are, as they have stated, improving certainty for users and redistriubutors everywhere. So far as our experience shows, this occurs at no expense to the legitimate interest of free software programmers who want their license terms respected by redistributors downstream. Everyone wins, except trolls. We hope more developers and companies will climb aboard this bandwagon.

    • Microsoft, Cisco, HPE and others sign on to open-source licensing initiative [Ed: Like all other such articles, fails to mention that Microsoft is a serial GPL violator]

      “The large ecosystems of projects using the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x licenses will benefit from adoption of this more balanced approach to termination derived from GPLv3,” Red Hat explained in a press release announcing the new license-compliance partners.

  • Public Services/Government
    • CAVO Promotes Open Source Voting in Documentary and Legislation

      “The Real Activist” slated for release this summer will include an interview with Brent Turner of OSI Affiliate Member CAVO, as well as coverage of the groups work to promote open source software within US elections’ voting systems. The documentary highlights Turner’s efforts and CAVO’s mission to secure the United States election systems through GPL licensed open source software. Famed narrator Peter Coyote also stars in the film along with former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and many political notables.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • GitHub’s tool reduces open source software license violations

      GitHub has open-sourced its Licensed tool, a Ruby gem that caches and verifies the status of license dependencies in Git repos.

      Licensed has helped GitHub engineers who use open source software find potential problems with license dependencies early in the development cycle. The tool reports any dependencies needing review.

    • Open Source Compliance [Ed: Obsessing over risks of FOSS compliance while ignoring vastly worse risks associated with proprietary software]

      For some time, the open source community has discussed how to put a stop to the copyright troll game. Approaches such as the “Principles of Community Enforcement” and the Linux Kernel developers “Kernel Enforcement Statement” were created to regain lost trust. Large companies such as Facebook, Googleand IBM are already committed to these principles.

      In view of the millions that can be generated by aggressively pursuing license violations, copyright trolls are likely to continue to their activities despite these measures.

      In addition, many issues regarding open source law are still unclear. The wording of license terms is often so imprecise that even the scope of the rights being granted is not clear. This “construction error” can be exploited by anyone seeking to enforce claims for profit. Cases have become known in which even over-the-air distribution of open source software was criticised for license violations. The licenses do not contain a clear provision for this form of use, which can be exploited by a holder of rights seeking profits.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • With Much of the Data Center Stack Open Source, Security is a Special Challenge [Ed: Black attacking FOSS again in order to sell its proprietary products; does proprietary software have no security issues? Which cannot be fixed, either?]
    • Synopsys reveals its open-source rookies of the year [Ed: Anti-FOSS company Black Duck, which markets its proprietary software by attacking FOSS (it admitted being anti-GPL since inception, created by Microsoft employee), wants the public to think of it as a FOSS authority]
    • Software security over convenience

      Recently I got inspired (paranoid ?) by my boss who cares a lot about software security. Previously, I had almost the same password on all the websites I used, I had them synced to google servers (Chrome user previously), but once I started taking software security seriously, I knew the biggest mistake I was making was to have a single password everywhere, so I went one step forward and set randomly generated passwords on all online accounts and stored them in a keystore.

    • 7 Questions to Ask About Your DevSecOps Program
    • Developers Are Ethical But Not Responsible?

      Ask a person if he or she is a racist and the answer is almost always no. Ask a developer if they consider ethical considerations when writing code and only six percent say no. If everyone acted the way they self-report, then there would be peace and love throughout the world.

      Based on over a hundred thousand respondents, StackOverflow’s Developer Survey 2018 presents a more complicated reality. If they were asked to write code for an unethical purpose, 59 percent would say no, but another 37 percent of developers were non-committal about whether they would comply. In another question, only about 5 percent said they definitely not report unethical problems with code. But sounding the alarm is about as far as most people will go.

    • Cloud Security: 10 Top Tips
    • Group Policy Objects (GPOs) for Linux®
  • Defence/Aggression
    • In Run-Up to Vote to End Yemen War, MSNBC Remains Totally Silent

      In the run-up to a vote this week on a bill co-sponsored by senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy to withdraw US support for the Saudi air campaign—a move that, according to at least one insider, would end the war itself—the US’s major “liberal” cable network has continued its radio silence. MSNBC continued to ignore the story this week as activists and a broad coalition of anti-war groups tried to put pressure on the Senate to finally end the US-sustained siege of Yemen.

      MSNBC’s three major stars—Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell—haven’t used their sizable social media followings to highlight the issue either. None of the well-paid pundits has tweeted about the topic of Yemen in 2018. While Hayes has handwrung about the topic on Twitter in the past, he hasn’t covered it on his show since summer 2016. O’Donnell has tweeted about Yemen once in 20,000 tweets since joining the social media platform in June 2010; Maddow has mentioned it in four out of 7,000 tweets, two of those mentions in 2010.

      Even as frequent MSNBC guests Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy, as well as celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon, lobby directly for the bill, MSNBC has not dedicated a single segment to the war, or to the recent high-profile efforts to end it.

      MSNBC ceding anti-war sentiment is notable in its own right, and as part of a broader trend of liberal institutions abandoning anti-war voices in favor of short-term liberal jingoism (, 8/24/16). Despite not having a single segment on Yemen thus far in 2018, MSNBC did manage 143 segments on Stormy Daniels, the woman President Trump paid off and harassed to hide an affair. A story to be sure, but perhaps not one worth 143 more reports than thousands being bombed with the help of US weapons sales and military support.

    • Trump Supports ‘Space Force’ For War-Making And Dominance in Space

      In the few dreamy moments between his various personal dramas and dramas of State, Trump has been floating the idea of creating a ‘Space Force’ to fight wars in space.” Bruce Gagnon is concerned. Last Thursday, March 15, Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space said, “The aerospace industry sees an opportunity to expand their profit capability by the creation of a new ‘Space Force’ that would direct the expanding U.S. war-making program in space.

    • New York University: A center of militarism, mass surveillance and censorship

      NYU’s Center for Data Science (CDS), which is affiliated with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, was founded by Yann LeCun in 2013. LeCun is a professor at the Courant Institute and one of the best-known experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Just after he founded the center, in 2014, he was personally recruited by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to head the company’s new AI research division, a position he held until January 2018. While working at Facebook, LeCun continued to teach and do research at NYU.

      The idea behind the center was, as LeCun himself put it in an interview, to create a “partnership between NYU and Facebook … they [Facebook] would be right next door―770 Broadway, just up the street.” This cooperation, LeCun argued, would allow him “to do academic-style research here at Courant, and at the same time, lead research projects that are better done in an industry environment” at Facebook.

      Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently the most important branch in IT and is rapidly transforming the economy. It designates various areas of machine learning. As such, AI has become increasingly significant for major corporations and banks, as well as the military. AI is central to the functioning of internal data systems and for the development of social media platforms like Facebook and search engines such as Google.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • DOJ Readying Warrants In Carter Page Investigation For Public Release

      For the first time since the FISA court opened for national security business, the DOJ is considering declassifying FISA warrant applications. The documents are linked to the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Both sides of the political aisle have asked for these documents, which is something you’d think they’d have wanted to see before issuing their takes on perceived surveillance improprieties.

      Devin Nunes — following the release of his memo — sent a letter to the FISA court asking it to clear the warrants for public release. The court’s reply, penned by Judge Rosemary Collyer, pointed out two things. First, the FISA court had never released these documents publicly, nor was it in the best position to do so. It is only tasked with determining whether or not surveillance is warranted and to what restrictions it must adhere. It does not have the innate power to declassify documents, nor can it arbitrarily decide what documents have gathered enough public interest to outweigh the government’s perpetual demands for secrecy.

    • No, the President Can’t Legally Gag White House Staffers

      It’s no surprise that the Trump administration would like to find a way to stop the flood of leaks coming from the White House. But avoiding embarrassment is no grounds for government censorship, and the latest leak-plugging effort we’ve heard of violates the First Amendment.

      The Washington Post has reported that senior White House staff members were pressured to sign nondisclosure agreements prohibiting them from revealing any non-public information they learn of at work. The draft NDA supposedly requires them to stay silent, not just while they are employed at the White House, but even after they leave — and to pay damages into the federal treasury if they speak out. In other words, it aims to muzzle them forever.

      Such a broad agreement is unenforceable because the First Amendment protects federal employees’ right to speak in a private capacity about matters of public concern — and certainly the functioning of a presidential administration raises many issues that are of public concern.

      Indeed, countless former White House officials have talked and written books about their time working for presidents, covering everything from decision-making processes and substantive policy debates to interagency turf battles and personal vendettas. Putting a gag order on these officials would leave the public in the dark about how the government works, preventing the kind of informed debate that is critical to democratic accountability.

    • Assange Says to Evidence on Cambridge Analytica Issue to UK Lawmakers

      The UK House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is probing the Cambridge Analytica firm after reports that the company had collected the personal information of about 50 million Facebook users in order to target them with ads favoring Brexit.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday he accepted the request by the UK House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to give evidence via video link on the Cambridge Analytica issue.

      Earlier in the day, Damian Collins, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK House of Commons, said Tuesday that he was requesting that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appear to give oral evidence in the case of the Cambridge Analytica firm, accused of data harvesting.

    • MPs hit back at Julian Assange’s claims that he’s been invited to testify on Cambridge Analytica and say he OFFERED to appear on videolink

      Julian Assange claimed earlier today that he had accepted an invitation to testify on Cambridge Analytica – but now the MPs involved have said he actually offered to appear.

    • Cambridge Analytica: Assange offers testimony to committee, without being invited

      This past week the attention of the technology world has been consumed by Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has graciously said that he’ll testify in front of the UK’s ‘fake news committee’.

      There’s just one problem though, and that’s that the committee — or to use its full name, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee — never actually invited Assange to attend.

    • WikiLeaks Cable reveals massive corruption in then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Government

      A cable from the American embassy in New Delhi to the Secretary of State of the USA in 1976 published on WikiLeaks is expected to send shock-waves across the country as it reveals the extent of corruption prevailing in the country during the Congress regime. The cable reveals that the corruption files were kept in the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s office and no major figure could be charged without her approval. It also says that bribery that involved contributions to the Congress party were considered acceptable.

      The cable also reveals that Sanjay Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, offered his assistance to the British Aircraft Corporation through the Maruti company, which is addressed as a firm “controlled” by Sanjay Gandhi. The cable also mentions one Civil Aviation Minister who was paid a bribe by an Indian manufacturer for a particular contract.

  • Finance
    • Capitalism’s Process of Universal Commodification

      Unless regulated, capitalism operates as a wide-open market system. If a demand exists or can be created and a profit made, that demand will be met. As a consequence, capitalism has the capacity to commercialize almost anything, including its detractors and even its enemies.

    • Arrest of Pilatus Bank chairman ‘the beginning of the end’ – Jonathan Ferris

      The arrest of Pilatus Bank chairman Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad in the US on Tuesday may be the beginning of the end of a dark period that has engulfed Malta, according to former anti-money laundering investigator Jonathan Ferris.

      Ferris spoke to The Shift News after Sadr, 38, was charged in a six-count indictment filed in a Manhattan court accusing him of participating in a scheme to evade US sanctions against Iran.

      He is charged with funnelling more than $115 million paid under a Venezuelan construction contract through the US financial system. If convicted, Ali Sadr could face a sentence of up to 125 years in prison, AP said.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Donald Trump Jr. Pushed ‘Blatantly Illegal’ Project In India, Former Official Says — ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast

      Last month, Donald Trump Jr. visited India to tout new Trump properties. Full page ads in India’s top papers announced, “Trump has arrived. Have you?”

      It wasn’t Trump Jr.’s first trip to India. “I’ve been coming to India for over a decade,” he said during his visit last month. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit here … it needs no further explanation.”

      This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re looking at the Trumps’ yearslong work in India, where corruption in the real estate industry is endemic.

      We worked with Investigative Fund reporter Anjali Kamat, whose reporting on the Trumps’ business in India appears in the new issue of The New Republic.

    • A Political Boss Goes Down

      Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, one of the last leaders of the old Democratic machine, loses the Democratic primary to a wealthy political newcomer.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Did Facebook Violate SESTA By Promoting Child Abuse Videos?

      After this became public and people called it out, Facebook also claimed that this was “an error,” but it seems like it wouldn’t take a genius lawyer or prosecutor to argue that the company choosing to send out just such a survey shows it facilitating sex trafficking. I mean, it was directly asking if it should allow for the sort of activity directly involved in grooming victims for sex trafficking.

      Oh, and remember, that even while this is blatantly unconstitutional, SESTA says the law applies retroactively — meaning that even though all of this happened prior to SESTA becoming law, Facebook is potentially still quite guilty of violating the poorly drafted criminal law it is loudly supporting.

    • A comedian balked at censorship on Loyola’s campus; they cut his mic

      Loyola University Chicago, a Catholic school, invited popular comedian Hannibal Buress to perform for students last Saturday. Administrators asked him to comply with restrictive content guidelines. Buress agreed.

      You can probably guess what happened next.

      Buress began by displaying what appeared to be an email outlining the school’s content restrictions on a projector screen. After flagrantly violating those restrictions with an explicit quip about priest molestation, the school cut Buress’ microphone. Students booed the decision, and Buress eventually left the stage before returning to finish his set after 15 minutes, according to the student newspaper, which also reported that his return was greeted with a standing ovation.

      The paper further reported that Buress told students “he was originally going to follow Loyola’s content restriction until he saw that he’d already been paid for his performance ahead of time.” Given his style of comedy, I can’t even imagine what a Hannibal Buress set that complied with the school’s restrictions would look like. But he was apparently willing to lie, take their money, and then try.

    • YouTuber Who Trained His Girlfriend’s Dog To Be A Nazi Facing Hate Crime Charges In Scotland

      Across the sea in the UK, offensive speech is still getting people jailed. An obnoxious person who trained his girlfriend’s dog to perform the Nazi salute and respond excitedly to the phrase “gas the Jews” is looking at possible jail time after posting these exploits to YouTube under the name Count Dankula. According to Scotland resident Markus Meechan, it was the “least cute” thing he could train his girlfriend’s dog to do, apparently in response to her constant gushing about the dog’s cuteness.

      Meechan’s video racked up 3 million views on YouTube, but it really didn’t start making news until local police started paying attention.

    • Index on Censorship organisation slams Nazi dog conviction

      FREE speech organisation Index on Censorship has condemnded the decision by a Scottish court to convict a Scot who trained his dog to be a Nazi and raise its paw every time he said “gas the Jews”.

      Mark Meechan, known as Count Dankula, was found guilty of being “grossly offensive” under the UK’s Communications Act 2003 on Tuesday.

      No sentence has yet been set, but the conviction could result in a sentence of six months and a fine.


      The organisation notes that in 1976 the European Court of Human Rights found that “Freedom of expression…is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”.

      Sentencing has been deferred till April 23.

    • TRON (TRX) Plans to Combat Internet Censorship

      Many people are well-familiar with internet censorship imposed by nations like Russia, China, and the Middle East. However, there is a more familiar and understandable form of censorship that has seen its emergence on social media platforms. For instance, people of stringent and conservative political views have put the accusation on YouTube that it has been demonetizing their videos. This means that these videos are unable to mint advertising revenue.

    • NSA hacking internet backbone to monitor Bitcoin?

      The conspiracy theorists have been saying it for years and a great piece of journalism, from Brookyn-based security and technology journalist Sam Biddle in the Intercept, has proved it.

      The United States’ National Security Agency (NSA), says Biddle, has not just been identifying Bitcoin users for many years but has also been supplying the browser software that allows the users to believe they are remaining anonymous.

    • Censorship in China Turns Social Media Into Tool of Repression

      To the surprise of none, a new report says that the Chinese regime continues to tighten its grip on the internet and imposes ever-more aggressive censorship on Chinese social media, while putting in jail those who those dare to express dissent.

      The report, “Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China” was compiled by PEN America and released on March 13, documenting the escalating censorship of information and online speech on China’s internet, particularly on social media where China has seen an explosive growth in users in the last decade. PEN America advocates for free expression for writers and artists.

      “China’s Great Firewall is getting taller,” the report says, a reference to the Chinese regime’s multi-billion dollar investment over the past two decades in building the world’s largest and most sophisticated internet censorship system, which combines the regime’s regulatory power with new advancements in censorship technology in order to repress dissident voices and shape online conversation.

    • Israel officially admits striking ‘Syrian nuclear reactor’ in 2007
    • Israel Acknowledges Bombing Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007
    • Former IDF chief of staff: Israel was ready for war following Syria strike
    • Israel Lifts Censorship, Confirms 2007 Attack on Syrian Nuclear Reactor
    • Israel ends censorship on air strike

      The Israeli military released newly declassified operational footage, photographs and intelligence documents about the bombing, showing the moment that the suspected reactor was hit, an detailing the intelligence operation that led up to it.

      Israeli intelligence reports concluded that the reactor had been under construction with North Korean help and was months away from activation. Reuters has been unable to immediately verify the Israeli material.

      Israel’s decision to go public comes after repeated calls in recent months by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the United States and international community to take tougher action on Syria’s ally, Iran.

    • Has IDF Intelligence learned the lessons from the Syrian reactor strike?
    • Things We Saw Today: Dorkly Gives a Fascinating Look at How Censorship Crafted Batman: The Animated Series
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Facebook Has the Most Depressing Stock in Tech Right Now — Buy or Sell It?

      Facebook’s investors have had a terrible start to the week as the Cambridge Analytica situation spirals out of control.

    • Cambridge Analytica and its many scandals, explained

      Before there was Cambridge Analytica, there was the Strategic Communication Laboratories Group — SCL Group, for short. Founded in 1993 by a British ad man named Nigel Oakes, it is, basically, a messaging and PR firm that’s done work for governments, politicians, and militaries around the world. Its clients included governments and politicians in Indonesia, Thailand, Kenya, the UK, and elsewhere.

      SCL tends to describe its capabilities in grandiose and somewhat unsettling language — the company has touted its expertise at ”psychological warfare” and “influence operations.” It’s long claimed that its sophisticated understanding of human psychology helps it target and persuade people of its clients’ preferred message. Lately, its preferred buzzwords have focused on “big data” and “psychographic profiling.”

    • Dear Companies: Stop Putting Voice Control In Everything
    • Censorship, surveillance, and harassment: China cracks down on critics

      Hours after the Chinese Communist Party proposed a constitutional change last month to lift presidential term limits, any words or phrases that remotely suggested President Xi Jingping was seeking a life term were blocked from social media. Censors targeted everything from “Emperor Xi,” “The Emperor’s Dream,” and “Dream of Returning to the Great Qing,” to “Winnie the Pooh,” a reference to Xi’s apparent resemblance to the cartoon character, the China Digital Times reported.

      Such censorship is not new in China, but in recent months the country has increased its grip, regulating tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) that can bypass the country’s infamous firewall, issuing lists “of “approved” news outlets, and disbarring lawyers who represent jailed journalists.

      On January 30, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced a list of 462 websites and social media handles granted permission to provide online news services. Outlets that create a news website without permission face a fine of up to 30,000 Chinese yuan (US$4,700). The following month, the administration announced regulations for social media users that will legally require users to disclose their name, personal ID, organization code, and phone number before being allowed to post content online. The new regulations come in effect March 20.

      The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also announced that from March 31 it will regulate unlicensed VPNs to “maintain a fair, organized market order.” The move means that individuals and foreign companies whose operations require the use of VPNs will only have access to state-approved VPNs.

    • Secret Documents Reveal NSA Surveillance Program to Monitor ‎Bitcoin Users
    • Edward Snowden Reveals Bitcoin Inquiries By NSA
    • The NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users, Snowden Papers Reveals
    • US National Security Agency (NSA) has been tracking bitcoin users
    • ‘Bitcoin is #1 priority’: NSA targeted cryptocurrency users globally, Snowden leaks show
    • Snowden Document Reveals NSA Program to Track Bitcoin Users
    • Snowden Leak Suggests NSA Is Extensively Tracking Bitcoin Users
    • The NSA Worked to “Track Down” Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal

      Internet paranoiacs drawn to bitcoin have long indulged fantasies of American spies subverting the booming, controversial digital currency. Increasingly popular among get-rich-quick speculators, bitcoin started out as a high-minded project to make financial transactions public and mathematically verifiable — while also offering discretion. Governments, with a vested interest in controlling how money moves, would, some of bitcoin’s fierce advocates believed, naturally try and thwart the coming techno-libertarian financial order.

    • Google Sibling Jigsaw Launches Outline, an Open Source and Self-Hosted VPN
    • Alphabet’s Outline lets you run your own self-hosted VPN for free
    • Alphabet’s ‘Outline’ Software Lets Anyone Run a Homebrew VPN [Ed: Only a fool would pursue privacy through VPN software which isn't just proprietary but is also owned by companies like Google and Facebook]

      A virtual private network, that core privacy tool that encrypts your internet traffic and bounces it through a faraway server, has always presented a paradox: Sure, it helps you hide from some forms of surveillance, like your internet service provider’s snooping and eavesdroppers on your local network. But it leaves you vulnerable to a different, equally powerful spy: Whoever controls the VPN server you’re routing all your traffic through.

      To help solve that quagmire, Jigsaw, the Alphabet-owned Google sibling that serves as a human rights-focused tech incubator, will now offer VPN software that you can easily set up on your own server—or at least, one you set up yourself, and control in the cloud. And unlike older homebrew VPN code, Jigsaw says it’s focused on making the setup and hosting of that server simple enough that even small, less savvy organizations or even individual users can do it in minutes.

    • How to delete your Facebook account?

      I was planning to delete my Facebook account for some time, but, never took the actual steps to do it. The recent news on how the companies are using data from Facebook made me take that next step. And I know Snowden is talking about these issues for a long time (feel free to read a recent interview), I should have done that before. I was just lazy.

    • How To Delete Your Facebook Account Permanently?

      Sometimes you want to get out of your Facebook life and enjoy the real world. You do this by deactivating your Facebook account. But you can also delete your Facebook account permanently if you want to leave Facebook for the rest of your life.

    • #DeleteFacebook trends in response to Cambridge Analytica

      This was a typical message found on Twitter in the wake of accusations over Cambridge Analytica using personal data from 50 million Facebook users to influence the US presidential election in 2016.

      After reports of Cambridge Analytica using Facebook’s user information came to light, people began to urge others to either #DeleteFacebook or #BoycottFacebook in response.

    • Yet Another Lesson from the Cambridge Analytica Fiasco: Remove the Barriers to User Privacy Control

      Last weekend’s Cambridge Analytica news—that the company was able to access tens of millions of users’ data by paying low-wage workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to take a Facebook survey, which gave Cambridge Analytica access to Facebook’s dossier on each of those turkers’ Facebook friends—has hammered home two problems: first, that Facebook’s default privacy settings are woefully inadequate to the task of really protecting user privacy; and second, that ticking the right boxes to make Facebook less creepy is far too complicated. Unfortunately for Facebook, regulators in the U.S. and around the world are looking for solutions, and fast.

      But there’s a third problem, one that platforms and regulators themselves helped create: the plethora of legal and technical barriers that make it hard for third parties—companies, individual programmers, free software collectives—to give users tools that would help them take control of the technologies they use.

      Think of an ad-blocker: you view the web through your browser, and so you get to tell your web-browser which parts of a website you want to see and which parts you want to ignore. You can install plugins to do trivial things, like replace the word “millennials” with “snake people”—and profound things, like making the web readable by people with visual impairments.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Democracy Just Got Stronger in Washington State

      The state’s Voting Rights Act will help ensure minority representation in a system of majority rule.

      After years of work by activists, stakeholders, community groups, and lawmakers, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Washington Voting Rights Act into law. This historic legislation paves the way for communities across Washington state to find local solutions for an issue that has existed since the founding of our democracy — how to ensure minority representation in a system of majority rule.

      The WVRA improves voting rights by expanding on the protections of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Almost all local elections in Washington currently use an at-large system where the entire community chooses who represents them on multi-member bodies such as city councils, school boards, and port districts. In areas where polarized voting occurs, at-large elections may prevent a minority group from electing any candidates that represent their community. Because the votes of the minority group become diluted in the at-large system, the makeup of the elected body does not truly reflect the community it is supposed to represent. This has had damaging effects for minority groups in Washington and around the country.

    • Internal Email Reveals Racism in Madison County Sheriff’s Department

      These are the words that have been pre-filled on a cover sheet to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit’s case files. All other fields have been left blank. These words tell the story of racially biased policing in the county that begins before officers even go into the community.

      The internal racism of the department represented in this form is just one piece of a larger body of compelling evidence that the sheriff’s department has a culture of racism that threatens Madison County’s Black community. .

    • Tempe Police Chief Indicates The Uber Self-Driving Car Probably Isn’t At Fault In Pedestrian Death

      The internet ink has barely dried on Karl’s post about an Uber self-driving vehicle striking and killing a pedestrian in Arizona, and we already have an indication from the authorities that the vehicle probably isn’t to blame for the fatality. Because public relations waits for nobody, Uber suspended its autonomous vehicles in the wake of the death of a woman in Tempe, but that didn’t keep fairly breathless headlines being painted all across the mainstream media. The stories that accompanied those headlines were more careful to mention that an investigation is required before anyone knows what actually happened, but the buzz created by the headlines wasn’t so nuanced. I actually saw this in my own office, where several people could be heard mentioning that autonomous vehicles were now done.

      But that was always silly. It’s an awkward thing to say, but the fact that it took this long for AVs to strike and kill a pedestrian is a triumph of technology, given just how many people we humans kill with our cars. Hell, the Phoenix area itself had 11 pedestrian deaths by car in the last week, with only one of them being this Uber car incident. And now all of that hand-wringing is set to really look silly, as the Tempe police chief is indicating that no driver, human or AI, would likely have been able to prevent this death.

    • YouTube as Conspiracy Conduit

      The murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 has sparked protests and marches for gun control, led by many of the Parkland teenagers who experienced the horror of the massacre. The students have taken an outspoken stance against the National Rifle Association and the politicians it funds.

      In response, some gun advocates pulled out a familiar rhetorical tool: accusing shooting victims of being paid “crisis actors,” pretend victims supposedly employed by left-wing boogeymen like George Soros to drum up support for gun control and other progressive policies. Victims of past mass shootings, including Newtown, Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas, had earlier been accused of participating in “false flag” attacks designed to justify federal gun control. These preposterous claims have subjected the families of the victims of those tragedies to death threats and harassment from hoaxers and conspiracy theorists.


      YouTube took down the “mike m” video—after it received over 200,000 views and appeared on the website’s “trending” page. However, right-wing and conspiracy-oriented news sources and activists had already picked up the story and run with it. A former congressmember and a Pennsylvania state representative fanned the flames. Even Donald Trump Jr. liked tweets connecting the massacre to the FBI, which is currently investigating his father. While some sources didn’t come out and endorse false flag/crisis actor conspiracies outright, they used the typical rhetorical devices used to drum up paranoia, claiming they were “just asking questions” or “connecting the dots.”


      These far-right conspiracy videos insulate viewers in reactionary content bubbles through YouTube’s “suggested content” algorithm. The algorithm is centered on bundling viewers into neat “identity” groups that the platform can then market to advertisers. Since 2012, YouTube’s algorithm has done this by focusing on the amount of time watched per video, rather than number of clicks, on both channels and videos, thereby rewarding videos that attract dedicated viewers rather than quick samplers. Additionally, keywords, tags, descriptions and titles help videos get noticed and suggested by the algorithm, so having a set of buzzwords like “social justice warriors” helps get related videos into viewers’ suggested video queue.


      Conspiracy theories and challenges against the “official narrative” have long been fixtures in the paranoid style of American politics. InfoWars continues to release conspiracy theory videos on YouTube that receive millions of views. One of Jones’ latest videos, “The Florida Shooting Happened! ‘Crisis Actors’ Are a MSM Hoax to Censor the Web,” now denies that the shooting was a false flag, but maintains that the mainstream media is using the massacre as a tool to promote gun control and censor right-wing internet “truth tellers.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Trade mark trolls arrive in Canada

        IP practitioners describe a “Wild West” trade mark situation in Canada ahead of the elimination of the use requirement. The number of “all-class” applications is soaring

    • Copyrights
      • ISPs In US Face New Copyright Challenge

        Online firms don’t do enough to combat copyright infringement. That, at least, is what US copyright owners have been saying for years. They recently received some good news from the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision in BMG Rights Management v. Cox Communications puts new teeth in the legal requirements for internet service providers (ISPs) to act against infringing customers. The ruling, however, is worrying ISPs and many legal experts, because it empowers copyright trolls, increases costs for ISPs, and puts many of their customers in an untenable situation.

      • Fstoppers Uploaded a Brilliant Hoax ‘Anti-Piracy’ Tutorial to The Pirate Bay

        Photography-focused site Fstoppers has revealed it poured considerable resources into ‘pirating’ one of its own video tutorials in order to send an anti-piracy message. Instead of a $300 instructional, the 25GB torrent uploaded to The Pirate Bay contains a somewhat hilarious tutorial which is clearly not what people have come to expect from the site.

      • Photographer Tutorial Company Reacts To Pirates By Screwing With Them Hilariously

        When it comes to content producers reacting to the pirating of their works, we’ve seen just about every reaction possible. From costly lawsuits and copyright trolling, to attempts to engage with this untapped market, up to and including creatively messing with those that would commit copyright infringement. The last of those options doesn’t do a great deal to generate sales revenue, but it can often be seen by the public as both a funny way to jerk around pirates and as a method for educating them on the needs of creators.

        But Fstoppers, a site that produces high-end tutorials for photographers and sells them for hundreds of dollars each, may have taken the creativity to the next level to mess with those downloading illegitimate copies of their latest work. They decided to release a version of Photographing the World 3 on several torrent sites a few days before it went to retail, but the version they released was much different than the actual product. It was close enough to the real thing that many people were left wondering just what the hell was going on, but ridiculous enough that it’s downright funny.

      • EU’s Mandatory Copyright Content Filter Is The Zombie That Just Never Dies

        For the past few years, there’s been a dedicated effort by some to get mandatory filters into EU copyright rules, despite the fact that this would destroy smaller websites, wouldn’t work very well, and would create all sorts of other consequences the EU doesn’t want, including suppression of free speech. Each time it pops up again, a few people who actually understand these things have to waste a ridiculous amount of time lobbying folks in Brussels to explain to them how disastrous the plan will be, and they back down. And then, magically, it comes back again.

SUEPO: “Today May Be Your Last Chance to Demonstrate Against the Seriously Flawed Reforms That Mr Battistelli Has Imposed” on EPO Staff

10 hours 27 min ago

Exactly a month ago: Rumour: European Patent Office to Lay Off a Significant Proportion of Its Workforce

Be sure that Battistelli will be back at the EPO routinely; he didn’t just blow money intended for a Dutch contractor in another country (for a different project) because a private pub is a priority for the Office (Battistelli appears to have developed an 'addiction' to wine)

Summary: Benoît Battistelli will likely remain involved in EPO affairs for a long time to come (even through a fellow Frenchman, Campinos, whom he swaps two chairs with at the Office and CEIPI), but today is the last opportunity for EPO staff to march in protest against the Battistelli regime, which for the first time ever will result in major staff cuts and growing irrelevance for the Office

“The next meeting of the Administrative Council will take place on 27 and 28 June in The Hague,” the staff union of the EPO (SUEPO) reminded staff this morning. “So unless you want to travel to The Hague, today may be your last chance to demonstrate against the seriously flawed reforms that Mr Battistelli has imposed and continues to impose (CA/3/18 – contracts instead of permanent employment for all new recruits) on the EPO.”

“They try to sort of ‘borrow’ from the future.”What has happened at the EPO under Battistelli is rather horrific, with a sharp decline in human decency around 2014. If one looks at the underlying numbers, that is also around the time the Office lost technical edge and lost control. About an hour ago the EPO’s PR people were alluding to something we wrote about several days ago. It’s just another way for EPO management to stuff the numbers as revenue is down probably for (at least) the second year in a row. They try to sort of ‘borrow’ from the future. We already wrote a great deal about the so-called ‘results’, even as recently as yesterday.

Dr. Thorsten Bausch, bearing in mind that the EPO’s Administrative Council is meeting in the west, wrote about judicial independence yesterday. The EPO has no such thing anymore. It’s out of control. Since 2014 judges have been attacked by Battistelli even more directly and more bluntly. “I know that this is a patent blog,” Bausch wrote. “But something – I don’t know what, maybe it’s the upcoming meeting of the EPO’s Administrative Council – drives me to refer very briefly to a new CJEU ruling. Here is what the Court of Justice had to say about judicial independence in Case C-64/16.”

The one notable outcome of Battistelli’s attacks on jurors is the death of the UPC. The Boards will remain relevant because the UPC won’t happen (probably never). Whether the Boards can function independently again may partly depend on Campinos (who is himself dependent on Battistelli, for he gave him the job). Yesterday we saw this new press release about “Issuance of European Patent” and nowadays when we see grants of European Patents we generally assume that they’re of questionable legitimacy; even EPO examiners complain about a sharp decline in the quality of European Patents.

Funnily enough, the EPO wrote yesterday that Battistelli spoke of “growth, [in what?] which is set to be boosted by the Unitary Patent.”

Well, first of all, the UPC (Unitary Patent) is dead. And it was a threat of destruction to Europe, a growth opportunity mainly for the lawsuits ‘industry’.

Benoît Battistelli has only about 3 months left at the job and he is just as delusional as always. Here’s an outline of this nonsense of his: (warning: link) [via]

EPO President Benoît Battistelli outlined recent developments in the European patent system and the importance of patents in supporting innovation and economic growth, which is set to be boosted by the Unitary Patent.

Whether Battistelli leaves the EPO only to mutter ‘Unitary Patent’ all day long in his cellar or basement we can’t tell for sure; but we are pretty certain he will still be involved in EPO affairs, whether directly or indirectly (maybe he’ll come to visit Campinos at that pub of his, which he secretly built in Munich using money which was intended for a Dutch contractor). Rumours say that Battistelli still dreams of being ‘king’ of UPC (i.e. courts), hence he got himself a position at CEIPI (swapping a chair with Campinos). Context below.

Links 20/3/2018: GStreamer 1.14.0, Freespire 3.0, Endless OS 3.3.13

Tuesday 20th of March 2018 05:25:39 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Purchased a PlayStation 3 Between 2006 and 2010? You May Be Entitled to $65

      PS3 owners first qualified to receive compensation from Sony following the settlement of a lawsuit in 2016. That case dealt with the “OtherOS” feature that came with the console when it debuted. With OtherOS, Sony promised a new PlayStation that would operate like a computer, allowing users to partition their hard drive and install third-party operating systems like the open-source Linux software.

  • Server
    • Inspur Unveils Open Source Software Adapted Server at OpenPOWER Summit 2018

      Inspur, a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation, showcased its FP5280G2 server based on OpenPOWER9 that has completed the adaptation of mainstream open source software for cloud computing, big data and AI. It was the first time that this product was introduced in North America. As the initiator of the OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM disclosed more details of POWER9 processors: designed for emerging applications such as AI, cloud computing, and big data, and has 50% to 200% performance improvement compared to POWER8.

    • Updated Oracle Linux 7 update 4 ARM64/aarch64 with uek5 4.14.26-2

      We refreshed the installation media for OL7/ARM64 with the latest uek5 preview build based on upstream stable 4.14.26 and added perf and tuned.

      You can download it from the OTN OL ARM webpage. Ignore the 4.14-14 in the text, that will get updated. We’re also working on updating the Raspberry Pi 3 image to match the same version. Hopefully using grub2 there as well to make it easier to have a single image repo.

    • Oracle Linux 7 For ARM64 Updated, Using Linux 4.14 Kernel

      Oracle has made available updated installation media for Oracle Linux 7 for ARM64.

      With Oracle’s Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 5 they are using the Linux 4.14 LTS base and that includes for this 64-bit ARM support too. Oracle has made available Oracle Linux 7 for 64-bit ARM with an “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 5″ based on the upstream Linux 4.14.26 kernel.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Gets Ported To China’s 32-bit “C-SKY” CPU Architecture

      While the Linux kernel maintainers are currently working on dropping support for some old CPU architectures, a new CPU architecture is looking to receive the mainline treatment.

      Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems is a Chinese producer of CPU IP licenses and a SoC platform. The company has developed their own 32-bit embedded CPU cores for use within cameras, set-top boxes, digital video recorders, printers, and other appliances / industrial devices. C-SKY is a member of the RISC-V Foundation but their current offerings do not appear based on this ISA.

    • Which Linux Distribution Does Linus Torvalds Use in 2018?

      We know a sizeable amount of his views on Linux distros, thanks to an interview he took long ago in 2007, but who knows – could he have changed his mind?

      In a 2007 interview, Linus professed that he didn’t use Debian because he found it hard to install, a statement I find interesting because he’s the guy who wrote GIT in C.

      Anyway, he buttressed his reason for not using Debian in a later interview from 2014, when he explained that because he is responsible for maintaining his computer and all the computers used by his household, he likes to use an OS with virtually no installation hassle.


      As far as I know, he uses Fedora on most of his computers because of its fairly good support for PowerPC. He mentioned that he used OpenSuse at one point in time and complimented Ubuntu for making Debian accessible to the mass. So most of the flak on the internet about Linus disliking Ubuntu isn’t factual.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation announces open source reference hypervisor project designed for IoT device development

        The Linux Foundation today announced a new embedded reference hypervisor project called ACRN (pronounced “acorn”). With engineering and code contributions from Intel Corporation, the hypervisor was built with real-time and safety-criticality in mind, and optimized to streamline embedded development. This project will provide a framework for industry leaders to build an open source embedded hypervisor specifically for the Internet of Things (IoT).

      • Linux Foundation Announces OpenBMC Project To Create Open-Source BMC Firmware

        Last week Intel announced their open-source sound firmware project while the latest project in the open-source realm comes via the Linux Foundation with the launch of OpenBMC.

        The Linux Foundation is backing the OpenBMC project community with a goal of creating an open-source baseboard management controller (BMC) firmware stack that can be used across motherboards and computing environments.

      • Linux Foundation, Intel launch open source IoT hypervisor

        The Linux Foundation has unveiled plans for a new open source project to provide streamlined embedded hypervisors for IoT devices.

        Called Acrn, the project has been assisted by Intel, which contributed code and engineering. The main thrust of the project is to create small, flexible virtual machines.

        ACRN comprises two main components: the hypervisor and its device model, complete with I/O mediators. The Linux-based hypervisor can run many ‘guest’ operating systems at the same time.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Reverse-Engineering of ARM Mali “Midgard” Now Has A Working NIR Shader Compiler

        Earlier this year work on the “Chai” open-source Mali T700 GPU driver resumed with an aim to get a working Mesa driver for this “Midgard” graphics architecture. There’s still a long battle ahead, but their NIR shader compiler is beginning to work.

        Alyssa Rosenzweig remains the main developer working on this Chai driver effort but with using some remnants done by Luc and Connor during the Lima driver days. Her focus lately has been on assembler and shader support for this reverse-engineered driver for ARM Mali graphics.

      • Wayland 1.15 Beta Released With Weston 4.0 Beta

        The beta releases are available today of Wayland 1.15 and the Weston 4.0 reference compositor.

        Wayland 1.15 is another relatively modest cycle. Wayland 1.15 pulls in libwayland-egl where as before that library was part of Mesa, making some semantics of Wayland more clear in the documentation, improvements to wayland-scanner, and some minor API additions.

      • Mesa 17.3.7 RC2 Issued With Even More Patches

        Last week the release candidate of Mesa 17.3.7 was issued with more than 50 patches queued. That count grew more over the weekend resulting in an additional release candidate.

        Mesa point releases tend to get just one RC and a few days of testing before going gold, but on top of the 50 patches last week another handful of patches were since proposed and queued up for this increasingly large point release. The very latest patches include a RADV Vulkan driver fix by Feral Interactive, and several other RADV and Intel Vulkan fixes.

      • Nouveau NIR Support Appears Almost Baked, NV50 Support Added

        Karol Herbst at Red Hat started off this week by publishing his latest patches around Nouveau NIR support as part of the company’s effort for getting SPIR-V/compute support up and running on this open-source NVIDIA driver.

        Red Hat’s grand vision around open-source GPGPU compute still isn’t entirely clear especially with Nouveau re-clocking not being suitable for delivering high performance at this point, but it must be grand given the number of developers they have working on improving the Linux GPU compute stack at the moment.

      • xf86-input-libinput 0.27.0 Released

        Aside from a few touchpad issues and other minor random issues with select hardware, libinput these days is mostly in great shape for being a generic input handling library that is working out well for both X.Org and Wayland users.

    • Benchmarks
      • Radeon GPUs Are Increasingly Competing With NVIDIA GPUs On Latest RadeonSI/RADV Drivers

        As it’s been a few weeks since last delivering a modest Linux GPU comparison and given the continuously evolving state of the Linux kernel Git tree as well as the Mesa project that houses the RadeonSI OpenGL and RADV Vulkan drivers, here are our latest benchmarks showing the current state of the AMD Radeon open-source Linux graphics driver performance relative to NVIDIA’s long-standing and high-performance but proprietary driver using several different graphics cards.

      • Fresh Benchmarks Of CentOS 7 On Xeon & EPYC With/Without KPTI/Retpolines

        While every few weeks or so we have ended up running benchmarks of the latest Linux Git kernel to see the evolving performance impact of KPTI (Kernel Page Table Isolation) and Retpolines for Meltdown and Spectre V2 mitigation, respectively, a request came in last week from a premium supporter to see some new comparison test runs on CentOS 7 with its older 3.10-evolved kernel.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Applications 18.04 branches created

        Make sure you commit anything you want to end up in the KDE Applications 18.04 release to them

      • KDE Connect – State of the union

        We haven’t blogged about KDE Connect in a long time, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve been lazy. Some new people have joined the project and together we have implemented some exciting features. Our last post was about version 1.0, but recently we released version 1.8 of the Android app and 1.2.1 of the desktop component some time ago, which we did not blog about yet. Until now!

      • KMyMoney 5.0.1 released

        The KMyMoney development team is proud to present the first maintenance version 5.0.1 of its open source Personal Finance Manager. Although several members of the development team had been using the new version 5.0.0 in production for some time, a number of bugs and regressions slipped through testing, mainly in areas and features not used by them.

      • Qt Quick without a GPU: i.MX6 ULL

        With the introduction of the Qt Quick software renderer it became possible to use Qt Quick on devices without a GPU. We investigated how viable this option is on a lower end device, particularly the NXP i.MX6 ULL. It turns out that with some (partially not yet integrated) patches developed by KDAB and The Qt Company, the performance is very competitive. Even smooth video playback (with at least half-size VGA resolution) can be done by using the PXP engine on the i.MX6 ULL.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GitLab + Flatpak – GNOME’s full flow

        In this post I will explain how GitLab, CI, Flatpak and GNOME apps come together into a (imho) dream-come-true full flow for GNOME, a proposal to be implemented by all GNOME apps.

      • GNOME 3.28 released & coming to Fedora 28

        Last week, The GNOME project announced the release of GNOME 3.28. This major release of the GNOME desktop is the default desktop environment in the upcoming release of Fedora 28 Workstation. 3.28 includes a wide range of enhancements, including updates to Files (nautilus), Contacts, Calendar, Clocks and the on-screen keyboard. Additionally, the new application Usage is added to “make it easy to diagnose and resolve performance and capacity issues”

      • Shotwell Photo Manager Just Got a Big Performance Boost

        A new version of the Shotwell photo manager and editor is available to download. Shotwell 0.28 “Braunschweig” arrives half a year later than originally planned but hasn’t shirked on improvements or bug fixes during the wait. In all some 60 bugs have been closed since the Shotwell 0.27 release last year…

      • GStreamer Rust bindings 0.11 / plugin writing infrastructure 0.2 release

        Following the GStreamer 1.14 release and the new round of gtk-rs releases, there are also new releases for the GStreamer Rust bindings (0.11) and the plugin writing infrastructure (0.2).

      • GStreamer 1.14.0 Released With WebRTC Support, AV1 Video & Better Rust Bindings

        GStreamer 1.14.0 is now available as the first big feature release of 2018 for this widely-used, open-source multimedia framework.

        GStreamer 1.14 packs in many new features including experimental AV1 video codec support for that royalty-free specification, IPC pipeline improvements, RTSP 2.0 client/server support (Real Time Streaming Protocol 2.0), LAME/mpg123/twolame being promoted to the “good” plugin repository now that the related patents have expired for MP3, improved OpenGL integration, initial WebRTC support for real-time communication, and many other improvements.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Manjaro 17.1.6 Hakoila Plasma – A rollercoaster of Tux

        Wow, there could not be a more bi-polar distro than Manjaro Hakoila. On one hand, it’s the state-of-art, bleeding-edge tech demonstrator with some rather brilliant and unique features, belying its Archy roots. On the other, it’s rife with bugs and problems that are typical of small distros and badly integrated products. The network and smartphone side of things are particularly bad. You cannot excuse pale fonts or the menu error either, and then, if you’ve actually read a review, there were a dozen different issues through my test session.

        That said, Manjaro 17.1.6 is pretty, inviting, elegant, largely robust and stable, fast enough on ancient hardware, it gives you Nvidia support out of the box, it gives you media goodies, it gives you the Microsoft Office access right there on your desktop, and it’s got charm and character that goes beyond the bland copypasta you get elsewhere in the Linux world.

        And then, I got meself thinking. I tried a few small but reasonably brilliant distros recently – Manjaro, MX Linux, Antergos. They all have unique, powerful features, all covering different angles. Imagine if they combined their efforts – MX Linux live session data import and its tools, Antergos software wizard, Manjaro office stuff. What a killer distro we could have then! But that’s an article for a different time.

        Back to Manjaro – I am actually liking this particular edition quite a lot. It’s far from perfect, but then, with some hard work and attention to details, this could be an excellent choice for a desktop system. Perhaps more than any other distro did in recent times. Of course, there’s still a huge amount of effort needed to make this a fully integrated, offline-online Windows competitor, but it’s making steady progress, and I like that. A sure sign of greatness to come. Grade wise, about 7.5/10, just watch out for the buggy parts. And I will extend the testing onto my UEFI-powered Lenovo G50 laptop.

    • New Releases
      • Freespire 3.0.8 Released

        Today we are pleased to announce the release of Freespire 3.0.8, the open source equivalent to Linspire OS, freely available to download and redistribute. Freespire OS 3.0.8 includes several bug fixes, application updates and usability changes requested by our users.

        One important change : KDE fans have requested it and now we have released an ISO featuring the KDE Plasma 5 desktop

        Freespire OS 3.0.8 contains all previous bug fixes and system updates along with the following changes.

      • Endless OS Version 3.3.13

        Improved Chromium behaviour with low memory. The Chromium browser now frees up the memory used by other tabs much more effectively when you’re running very low on memory. This means you have to wait a little longer after you switch to one of these tabs, but keeps the system running more smoothly and helps to prevent crashes.

    • Arch Family
      • What’s New in ArchLabs 2018.03

        ArchLabs 2018.03 is the latest release of Linux distribution based on Arch Linux featuring the Openbox window manager as the primary desktop interface. The project’s latest release ArchLabs 2018.03 brings a few fixes and improvements and improve the user.

        Powered by Linux kernel 4.15 series and based-on latest version of Arch Linux. LUKS and encryption is now working, for those security concious users out there you should be all go on the encryption side. There have been a few installer updates, base-devel is included at install time. Also the mirrorlist is optimised at the same time.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • [Older] openSUSE.Asia Summit 2018: Call for Host

        The openSUSE.Asia organization committee is accepting proposals to host the openSUSE.Asia Summit during the second half of 2018. The openSUSE.Asia Summit is the largest annual openSUSE conference in Asia, attended by contributors and enthusiasts from all over Asia.

      • TidalScale Software-Defined Servers Now Support SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

        TidalScale, the leader in Software-Defined Servers, announced today that working in partnership with SUSE, the world’s first provider of Enterprise Linux, TidalScale has achieved SUSE Ready certification to ensure full compatibility with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. TidalScale’s breakthrough scaling platform allows multiple industry standard servers to be combined into a single Software-Defined Server running a single instance of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • RcppSMC 0.2.1: A few new tricks

        A new release, now at 0.2.1, of the RcppSMC package arrived on CRAN earlier this afternoon (and once again as a very quick pretest-publish within minutes of submission).

      • sbuild-debian-developer-setup(1) (2018-03-19)

        I have heard a number of times that sbuild is too hard to get started with, and hence people don’t use it.

        To reduce hurdles from using/contributing to Debian, I wanted to make sbuild easier to set up.

        sbuild ≥ 0.74.0 provides a Debian package called sbuild-debian-developer-setup. Once installed, run the sbuild-debian-developer-setup(1) command to create a chroot suitable for building packages for Debian unstable.

      • control-archive 1.8.0

        This is the software that maintains the archive of control messages and the newsgroups and active files on I update things in place, but it’s been a while since I made a formal release, and one seemed overdue (particularly since it needed some compatibility tweaks for GnuPG v1).

      • The problem with the Code of Conduct
      • Some problems with Code of Conducts
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Officially Announces Mozilla’s Firefox as a Snap App for Ubuntu Linux

            The Firefox Snap package appears to be maintained by Mozilla, which allows Linux users to test drive the latest features of their Quantum browser on multiple GNU/Linux distributions that support Canonical’s Snappy universal binary format.

            Developed by Canonical, the Snap universal application packaging format for Linux lets Linux users enjoy the most recent release of a software product as soon as it’s released upstream. It’s secure by design and works natively on multiple popular Linux OSes.

          • Mozilla Firefox Quantum available as Snap for Linux

            If you use Linux on the desktop, there is no shortage of great web browsers from which to choose. For instance, popular options like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are all available. Thankfully, Microsoft Edge is nowhere to be found!

          • Firefox Quantum snap now available on Linux-based devices

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, today announced that Mozilla has launched a Firefox snap bringing their latest Quantum browser to multiple Linux distributions, including Ubuntu. Developed by Canonical, snaps are a universal application packaging format for Linux, allowing them to work natively on hundreds of different platforms and multiple distributions.

          • uNav 0.75: A libre GPS navigator for your libre pocket device!

            A new release for your Ubuntu Phone powered by UBports!

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Looking At LZ4-Compressed Initramfs Image By Default

            With Ubuntu 18.10 being the release after an LTS cycle, it’s shaping up to be another big feature period. They have already been discussing Zstd-compressed Debian packages for Ubuntu 18.10 while the latest proposal for this next cycle is on switching from Gzip to LZ4 for the default kernel initramfs image.

            Canonical’s Balint Reczey is going to be adding support for LZ4 compression to initramfs-tools, which should be done in time for the 18.04 release, but for the Ubuntu 18.10 release is where they are looking at making the LZ4-compressed image the default rather than Gzip.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Will Boot Faster, Thanks to LZ4 Initramfs Compression

            Canonical’s Balint Reczey recently proposed the implementation of LZ4 compression to Ubuntu’s initramfs (initial ramdisk) instead of the older gzip compression used in previous releases of the wildly used operating system. LZ4 is a lossless data compression algorithm that offers extremely fast compression and decompression speed.

            During some initial tests on an old laptop, the developer reports that the initramfs extraction time decreased from approximately 1.2 seconds to about 0.24 seconds. The creation of the initramfs also received a speed boost of 2-3 seconds, decreasing from roughly 24 seconds to about 21 seconds, despite of slightly bigger initramfs files.

          • The Top 10 Advantages Ubuntu Has Over Windows

            Microsoft’s Windows OS currently owns 90% of the market share for desktop computers so the question of what advantages a Linux distro, specifically, Ubuntu, has over Windows might come as a surprise.

            But don’t be fooled, my friends – there are a number of features that make Ubuntu a better OS for your workstation than Windows is.

            Here is my list of the Top 10 Advantages Ubuntu has Over Windows.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • DigitalBits launches open-source blockchain-based marketplace for loyalty points

    Their value — or at least their versatility — could get a boost if The DigitalBits Project is successful. This community endeavor, soon to become a nonprofit foundation based out of the tiny European country of Lichtenstein, is today launching an open-source blockchain-based infrastructure that supports trading loyalty points or rewards or transferring them to other individuals.

  • Aventus Announces Development of Open-Source Protocol Foundation

    Aventus, the blockchain ticketing startup that raised 60,000 Ether via a crowdsale in 2017, has announced the next stage of development for its non-profit foundation. The Aventus Protocol Foundation will serve as an entity tasked with supporting open-source projects built using the Aventus protocol. This encourages the growth of the Aventus ticketing ecosystem while protecting the rights of holders of AVT, the native Aventus token.

  • An Overview of Cryptocurrency Consensus Algorithms

    One of the most important aspects of a decentralized cryptocurrency project is the consensus algorithm it employs. A consensus algorithm is crucial to the implementation of a digital currency because it prevents the double spending problem, a challenge that has historically limited the development of digital currencies until the recent development and adoption of the blockchain ledger method. Because cryptocurrencies are implemented as public, decentralized ledgers that are append-only, they must employ a consensus algorithm to verify that there “is one version of the truth” and that the network cannot be overwhelmed by bad actors.

  • LG Creates Open Source Branch Of webOS
  • LG Releases webOS Open Source Edition To Drive Platform Adoption
  • LG takes webOS open source
  • LG takes its webOS platform open source to step up Samsung rivalry
  • LG looks to broaden webOS more with ‘Open Source Edition’
  • LG open-sources webOS Making It A Global Platform
  • LG makes WebOS open source in effort to expand the operating system’s market presence
  • webOS Goes Open Source
  • LG announces webOS Open Source Edition to bring the platform to more devices
  • LG is taking webOS beyond TVs with ‘Open Source Edition’
  • LG releases webOS Open Source Edition
  • LG webOS Open Source Edition Made Available
  • LG wants to take webOS beyond TVs with ‘Open Source Edition’
  • LG is making its open source webOS operating system er, open source

    Those of you with long memories may recall that webOS is already open source, having originally been designed for tablet computers under the auspices of HP Inc (or Hewlett Packard as it was at the time). Even the unfinished overhaul at the time that LG took it underground is open source.

  • LG launches open source version of webOS

    LG Electronics is moving webOS beyond TVs with the release of webOS Open Source Edition. WebOS is a multitasking operating system that was designed for smart devices and smart TVs.

    Before coming to LG, webOS was launched as Palm OS in 2009. It was acquired by HP in 2010, and then licensed to LG in 2013. Since then, the company has been using the technology for its smart TVs and refrigerators.

    “WebOS has come a long way since then and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs to join the very exclusive group of operating systems that have been successfully commercialization at such a mass level. As we move from an app-based environment to a web-based one, we believe the true potential of webOS has yet to be seen,” said I.P. Park, chief technology officer at LG Electronics.

  • How 11 open source projects got their names

    “So, two open source developers walk into a bar…” Arduino derives its name from one of co-founder Massimo Banzi’s favorite bars in Ivrea, Italy, where the founders of this “hardware and software ecosystem” used to meet. The bar was named for Arduin of Ivrea, who was king of Italy a bit more than 1,000 years ago.

  • Feed the dog and close the door with an open source home automation system

    As voice assistants, smart bulbs, and other devices increasingly become household staples, more people than ever are bringing smart technology into their homes. But the bewildering assortment of products on the market can present challenges: Remembering which app to use and trying to link things together with automation can get complicated quickly. In this article, I’ll show you a few ways I used an open source home automation platform, Home Assistant, to bring all my devices together.

  • Can we build a social network that serves users rather than advertisers?

    Today, open source software is far-reaching and has played a key role driving innovation in our digital economy. The world is undergoing radical change at a rapid pace. People in all parts of the world need a purpose-built, neutral, and transparent online platform to meet the challenges of our time.

    And open principles might just be the way to get us there. What would happen if we married digital innovation with social innovation using open-focused thinking?

  • Digital asset management for an open movie project

    A DAMS will typically provide something like a search interface combined with automatically collected metadata and user-assisted tagging. So, instead of having to remember where you put the file you need, you can find it by remembering things about it, such as when you created it, what part of the project it connects to, what’s included in it, and so forth.

    A good DAMS for 3D assets generally will also support associations between assets, including dependencies. For example, a 3D model asset may incorporate linked 3D models, textures, or other components. A really good system can discover these automatically by examining the links inside the asset file.

  • LG Releases ‘Open Source Edition’ Of webOS Operating System
  • Private Internet Access VPN opens code-y kimono, starting with Chrome extension

    VPN tunneller Private Internet Access (PIA) has begun open sourcing its software.

    Over the next six months, the service promises that all its client-side software will make its way into the hands of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, starting with PIA’s Chrome extension.

    The extension turns off mics, cameras, Adobe’s delightful Flash plug-in, and prevents IP discovery. It also blocks ads and tracking.

    Christel Dahlskjaer, director of outreach at PIA, warned that “our code may not be perfect, and we hope that the wider FOSS community will get involved.”

  • Open sourcing FOSSA’s build analysis in fossa-cli

    Today, FOSSA is open sourcing our dependency analysis infrastructure on GitHub. Now, everyone can participate and have access to the best tools to get dependency data out of any codebase, no matter how complex it is.

  • Events
    • syslog-ng at SCALE 2018

      It is the fourth year that syslog-ng has participated at Southern California Linux Expo or, as better known to many, SCALE ‒ the largest Linux event in the USA. In many ways, it is similar to FOSDEM in Europe, however, SCALE also focuses on users and administrators, not just developers. It was a pretty busy four days for me.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • What we learned about gender identity in Open Source

        To learn more, we launched a Diversity & Inclusion in Open Source survey earlier this year, which sought to better understand how people identify, including gender-identity.

        Our gender spectrum question, was purposely long — to experiment with the value people found in seeing their identity represented in a question. People from over 200 open projects participated. Amazingly, of 17 choices, each was uniquely selected, by a survey participant at least once.

      • Why we participate in support

        Users will not use Firefox if they don’t know how to use it, or if it is not working as expected. Support exists to retain users. If their experience of using Firefox is a bad, we’re here to make it good, so they continue to use Firefox.

      • WebRender newsletter #16
      • A good question, from Twitter

        Why do I pay attention to Internet advertising? Why not just block it and forget about it? By now, web ad revenue per user is so small that it only makes sense if you’re running a platform with billions of users, so sites are busy figuring out other ways to get paid anyway.

      • This Week In Servo 108

        We have been working on adding automated performance tests for the Alexa top pages, and thanks to contributions from the Servo community we are now regularly tracking the performance of the top 10 websites.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • LLVM-MCA Will Analyze Your Machine Code, Help Analyze Potential Performance Issues

      One of the tools merged to LLVM SVN/Git earlier this month for the LLVM 7.0 cycle is LLVM-MCA. The LLVM-MCA tool is a machine code analyzer that estimates how the given machine code would perform on a specific CPU and attempt to report possible bottlenecks.

      The LLVM-MCA analysis tool uses information already used within LLVM about a given CPU family’s scheduler model and other information to try to statically measure how the machine code would carry out on a particular CPU, even going as far as estimating the instructions per cycle and possible resource pressure.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Taking Data Further with Standards

        Imagine reading a book, written by many different authors, each working apart from the others, without guidelines, and published without edits. That book is a difficult read — it’s in 23 different languages, there’s no consistency in character names, and the story gets lost. As a reader, you have an uphill battle to get the information to tell you one cohesive story. Data is a lot like that, and that’s why data standards matter. By establishing common standards for the collection, storage, and control of data and information, data can go farther, be integrated with other data, and make “big data” research and development possible.

        For example, NOAA collects around 20 terabytes of data every day.Through the National Ocean Service, instruments are at work daily gathering physical data in the ocean, from current speed to the movement of schools of fish and much more. Hundreds of government agencies and programs generate this information to fulfill their missions and mandates, but without consistency from agency to agency, the benefits of that data are limited. In addition to federal agencies, there are hundreds more non-federal and academic researchers gathering data every day. Having open, available, comprehensive data standards that are widely implemented facilitates data sharing, and when data is shared, it maximizes the benefits of “big data”— integrated, multi-source data that yields a whole greater than its parts.

  • Snapchat’s UK ad revenue set to overtake Twitter’s next year

    Snapchat’s UK ad revenue growth is forecast to soar from just £21.9m in 2016 to £181.7m next year. Twitter UK will make about £171m in revenues, according to eMarketer, a market research company. The UK currently accounts for about 10% of Snapchat’s global ad revenues.

  • Apple Is Using a Secret Facility to Do Something It’s Never Done Before

    The technology giant is making a significant investment in the development of next-generation MicroLED screens, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. MicroLED screens use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and promise to make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.

  • Hardware
    • The Last Barrier To Ultra-Miniaturized Electronics Is Broken, Thanks To A New Type Of Inductor

      In the race for ever-improving technology, there are two related technical capabilities that drive our world forward: speed and size. These are related, as the smaller a device is, the less distance the electrical signal driving your device has to travel. As we’ve been able to cut silicon thinner, print circuit elements smaller, and develop increasingly miniaturized transistors, gains in computing speed-and-power and decreases in device size have gone hand-in-hand. But at the same time these advances have comes in leaps and bounds, one fundamental circuit element — the inductor — has had its design remain exactly the same. Found in everything from televisions to laptops to smartphones to wireless chargers, radios, and transformers, it’s one of the most indispensable electronic components in existence.

  • Security
    • AMD And CTS Labs: A Story Of Failed Stock Manipulation

      We have attempted to contact Jessica Schaefer from Bevel PR, the listed PR firm on the vulnerability disclosure website, only to be greeted by a full voicemail inbox. We attempted to contact both Bevel PR and CTS Labs by email and inquire about the relationship between CTS and Viceroy, and provided them with ample time to respond. They did not respond to our inquiry.

      So, let’s look at Viceroy Research. According to MoneyWeb, Viceroy Research is headed by a 44-year-old British citizen and ex-social worker, John Fraser Perring, in conjunction with two 23-year-old Australian citizens, Gabriel Bernarde and Aidan Lau. I wonder which of these guys is so fast at typing. Viceroy Research was the group responsible for the uncovering of the Steinhoff accounting scandal, about which you can read more here.

      After successfully taking down Steinhoff, it tried to manufacture controversy around Capitec Bank, a fast-growing South African bank. This time it didn’t work out so well. The Capitec stock price dropped shortly and quickly recovered when the South African reserve bank made a statement that Capitec’s business is sound. Just a week ago Viceroy attempted to do the same thing with a German company called ProSieben, also with mixed success, and in alleged breach of German securities laws, according to BaFin (similar to the SEC).

      Now, it appears it is going after AMD, though it looks to be another unsuccessful attack.

      Investor Takeaway

      After the announcement of this news, AMD stock generally traded sideways with slight downward movement, not uncommon for AMD in general. Hopefully this article showed you that CTS’s report is largely nonsense and a fabrication with perhaps a small kernel of truth hidden somewhere in the middle. If the vulnerabilities are confirmed by AMD, they are likely to be easily fixed by software patches. If you are long AMD, stay long. If you are looking for an entry point, this might be a good opportunity to use this fake news to your advantage. AMD is a company with a bright future if it continues to execute well, and we see it hitting $20 per share by the end of 2018.

    • Endgame Launches Open-Source Initiative to Drive Adoption of MITRE ATT&CK™, the Best Model of Attacker Behavior

      Endgame, the leader in unified endpoint protection against targeted attacks, today announced it released a set of open-source tools that allow enterprises to test defenses against modern attacker behaviors. These tools, called red team automation (RTA), directly map to MITRE’s ATT&CK™ matrix, the most comprehensive framework for attacker techniques and tactics. Security teams that lack sufficient time and resources will now have the ability to measure protection capabilities beyond malware-based attacks.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Debian-Based antiX Linux OS Receives New Kernel Patches for Meltdown and Spectre

      The first point release of the Debian-based antiX 17 “Heather Heyer” operating system series arrived this past weekend with a new kernel patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws, as well as the latest software versions.

      antiX 17.1 (Heather Heyer) is now available, powered by the Linux 4.9.87 LTS kernel patched against the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities unearthed in January 2018 and discovered to put billions of devices at risk of attacks. This protects new antiX installations against these type of attacks.

      Based on the latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch” operating system, antiX 17.1 comes with up-to-date packages from its software repositories, including the LibreOffice 5.2.7 office suite and Mozilla Firefox 52.7.1 ESR web browser. Additionally, this release comes with eudev 3.5 and latest xf86-video-sisimedia-antix release.

    • Update on the Meltdown & Spectre vulnerabilities

      January saw the annoucement of a series of critical vulnerabilities called Spectre and Meltdown. The nature of these issues meant the solutions were complex and required fixing delicate code. The initial fix for Meltdown on x86 was KPTI, which was available almost immediately. Developing mitigations for Spectre was more complex. Other architectures had to look at their vulnerability status as well, and get mitigation in where it was needed. As a bit of time has passed, what is the exposure on Fedora now?

    • SELinux should and does BLOCK access to Docker socket
    • diff -u: Intel Design Flaw Fallout

      Linux patches for these issues are in a state of ongoing development. Security is always the first priority, at the expense of any other feature. Next would probably be the general speed of a running system for the average user. After that, the developers might begin piecing together any features that had been pulled as part of the initial security fix.

      But while this effort goes on, the kernel developers seem fairly angry at Intel, especially when they feel that Intel is not doing enough to fix the problems in future processors.

      In response to one set of patches, for example, Linus Torvalds burst out with, “All of this is pure garbage. Is Intel really planning on making this shit architectural? Has anybody talked to them and told them they are f*cking insane?” He went on, “the IBRS garbage implies that Intel is _not_ planning on doing the right thing for the indirect branch speculation. Honestly, that’s completely unacceptable.”

    • Hackers Can Abuse Plugins for Popular Unix Text Editors to Escalate Privileges

      Advanced Unix Text Editors offers extensibility by allowing users to install third-party plugins for ease of use and to enhance the Text Editors functionalities.

      Server administrators often run text editors with elevated privileges “sudo gedit” to edit root-owned configuration files. If the text editor contains vulnerable third-party plugin it enlarges attack surface.

    • House approves legislation to authorize Homeland Security cyber teams

      House lawmakers on Monday passed legislation that would codify into law the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber incident response teams that help protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • It isn’t Russia that destroyed British sovereignty
    • Why We Need to Remember the Iraq War—As Well as the Global Resistance to It

      Fifteen years ago, on February 15, 2003, the world said “No to War”: Some 10 million to 15 million people, in hundreds of cities and dozens of countries all over the world, embraced the same slogan, made the same demand, in scores of different languages. A war against Iraq was looming, with Washington and London standing virtually alone in their false claims that Baghdad had amassed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

    • D’un Type Développé par des Menteurs

      While Boris Johnson may spout off the cuff lies while giving TV interviews, when it comes to any formal document or statement – in parliament, the Security Council, NATO and now the EU – the British government always reverts to this precise formulation “of a type developed by Russia” which attempts to disguise the fact that they have no evidence the material is made in Russia. Many laboratories can produce “novichoks”.

    • As Video Games Are In Presidential Crosshairs, New Study Again Shows They Don’t Effect Behavior

      Violent video games have once again found themselves in the role of scapegoat after a recent spate of gun violence in America. After the Florida school shooting, and in the extended wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, several government representatives at various levels have leveled their ire at violent games, including Trump, who commissioned an insane sit-down to act as moderator between game company executives and those that blame them for all the world’s ills. Amid this deluge of distraction, it would be easy to forget that study after study after study have detailed how bunk the notion is that you can tie real-world violence and violent games is. Not to mention, of course, that there has never been more people playing more violent video games in the history of the world than at this moment right now, and at the same time research shows a declining trend for deviant behavior in teens rather than any sort of upswing.

    • On Being a Dissenting Voice in 2018

      Now it is true that, when I was sacked as Ambassador by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for blowing the whistle on extraordinary rendition and the Blair government’s misuse of intelligence from torture, I went into a terrible depression and voluntarily spent ten days or so in St Thomas Hospital (not a mental illness facility) for treatment. I have never tried to keep this secret, indeed it is a major part of my memoir “Murder in Samarkand”. It is also true, as I have always acknowledged, that I have had other less serious depressive episodes treated at home and been diagnosed as bipolar since I was 20.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Advocating for Change: How Lucy Parsons Labs Defends Transparency in Chicago

      Here at the Electronic Frontier Alliance, we’re lucky to have incredible member organizations engaging in advocacy on our issues across the U.S. One of those groups in Chicago, Lucy Parsons Labs (LPL), has done incredible work taking on a range of civil liberties issues. They’re a dedicated group of advocates volunteering to make their world (and the Windy City) a better, more equitable place.

      We sat down with one of the founders of LPL, Freddy Martinez, to gain a better understanding of the Lab and how they use their collective powers for good.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • New NOAA Report Looks at National Coastal Flood Vulnerability

      A report, spearheaded by sea level experts from NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, looked at existing flood thresholds established by the National Weather Service and found patterns in the thresholds based upon tide range. They were then able to apply that pattern nationwide and find a statistical and consistent way to measure and monitor minor high tide flooding, as well as moderate and major flooding in locations where no threshold exists.

      The report finds that, on average, U.S. coastal infrastructure is vulnerable to minor, moderate, and major flooding at heights of about 0.5, 0.8, and 1.2 meters above the average daily highest tide (Mean Higher High Water). Trends in annual high tide flood frequencies are increasing or accelerating at two-thirds of the roughly 100 locations examined.

    • Climate Legal Paradox: Judges Issue Dueling Rulings for Cities Suing Fossil Fuel Companies

      Five cities and counties in California that are suing fossil fuel companies for damages triggered by climate change are now at the center of a legal paradox created by conflicting decisions from two federal court judges reviewing nearly identical claims.

      The judicial collision course was set Friday when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that climate change lawsuits by two counties and one city were best adjudicated in California state courts. The ruling came less than a month after another federal court judge ruled that a similar climate case, brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, should be tried in federal court.

      The contradictory rulings by the judges—both Democratic appointees who serve in the same San Francisco courthouse just two floors apart—were handed down in lawsuits targeting oil and gas companies, including Exxon, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhilips and Shell, for damages associated with climate change.

  • Finance
    • Weinstein Co. has filed for bankruptcy and will pursue a sale

      Harvey Weinstein’s embattled movie studio — once a premier maker of award-winning films — has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than five months after sexual misconduct allegations against its co-founder sent the company spiraling out of control, the company’s board said late Monday night.

      The filing, submitted in Delaware, is the culmination of a long struggle to spare the formerly highflying studio from bankruptcy court. The move to seek protection from creditors owed hundreds of millions of dollars comes after the company tried and failed to sell assets to a group of investors led by billionaire Ron Burkle and former Obama administration official Maria Contreras-Sweet.

    • For WaPo, It’s Never a Bad Time to Slash Programs for Elderly

      It’s hard not to have a certain attachment to the Washington Post‘s longstanding crusade against Social Security and Medicare. After all, it has been pushing for cuts to these programs at least since I came to town in 1992. They did in the high-deficit years of the early 1990s, the boom times of the late 1990s, the housing bubble years of the 2000s and through the Great Recession. The Post calling for cuts to these programs is pretty much as predictable as the sun coming up. So this morning’s call for “reform” (3/19/18) is a bit like the morning coffee, although somewhat less pleasant.

      At the most basic level, you sort of have to love the Post criticizing politicians for not wanting to go on record for cuts to these programs, even when the editorial writers, who don’t have to run for office, are scared to say what they actually want, and instead use the euphemism “reform” when they mean cuts. But the substance is also a bit hard to take.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump Attacks Mueller for First Time by Name

      President Trump attacked special counsel Robert Mueller for the first time by name on Twitter over the weekend. On Saturday, he wrote, “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.” On Sunday, he wrote, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!” Mueller is a longtime Republican and a former FBI director who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.

    • Revealed: Trump’s election consultants filmed saying they use bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians

      Mr Turnbull described how, having obtained damaging material on opponents, Cambridge Analytica can discreetly push it onto social media and the internet.

      He said: “… we just put information into the bloodstream of the [I]nternet, and then, and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again… like a remote control. It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘that’s propaganda’, because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda’, the next question is, ‘who’s put that out?’.”

      Mr Nix also said: “…Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company… so often we set up, if we are working then we can set up fake IDs and websites, we can be students doing research projects attached to a university, we can be tourists, there’s so many options we can look at. I have lots of experience in this.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Cybercrime bill repressive, designed to steer self-censorship among citizens

      The Cybercrime and Cyber-security Bill which seeks to regulate internet conduct in Zimbabwe is very repressive and is being crafted with authoritarian intentions to instil self-censorship among citizens, a study has revealed.

      According to a study done by Zimbabwe Democracy Institute and Media Centre, “the political context of the Cybercrime and Cyber-Security Bill dictates that, in crafting this Bill, the government was driven more by its fear of the citizen power and its desire to protect itself from citizen and civic pressure unveiled by unsuppressed internet freedom than amplifying citizens’ security when exercising their freedoms online.”

      The study found that the bill is repressive because it came about after government the internet has liberated the masses in terms of freedom of expression.

    • SESTA’s Sponsors Falsely Claim That Fixing SESTA’s Worst Problem Harms Hollywood

      Here’s the problem with that. Almost everything stated above is 100% factually wrong. And not just a little bit wrong. It’s so wrong that it raises serious questions about whether Blumenthal understands some fairly fundamental issues in the bill he’s backing. Professor Eric Goldman has a pretty concise explanation of everything that’s wrong with the statement, noting that it — somewhat incredibly — shows that SESTA’s main sponsors don’t even understand the very basic aspects of CDA 230, as they insist on changing the law.

    • Hollywood’s Behind-The-Scenes Support For SESTA Is All About Filtering The Internet

      There’s a lot more in Mullin’s post, but it actually goes much beyond that. Every rock you lift up in looking at where SESTA’s support has come from, you magically find Hollywood people scurrying quietly around. We’ve already noted that much of the initial support for SESTA came from a group whose then board chair was a top lobbyist for News Corp.. And, as we reported last month, after a whole bunch of people we spoke to suggested that much of the support for SESTA was being driven by former top News Corp. lobbyist, Rick Lane, we noticed that a group of people who went around Capitol Hill telling Congress to support SESTA publicly thanked their “partner” Rick Lane for showing them around.

      In other words, it’s not just Hollywood seeing a bill that gets them what it wants and suddenly speaking up in favor of it… this is Hollywood helping to make this bill happen in the first place as part of its ongoing effort to remake the internet away from being a communications medium for everyone, and into a broadcast/gatekeeper dominated medium where it gets to act as the gatekeeper.

      And if you think that Hollywood big shots are above pumping up a bogus moral panic to get their way, you haven’t been paying attention. Remember, for years Hollywood has also pushed the idea that the internet requires filters and censorship for basically any possible reason. Back during the SOPA days, it focused on “counterfeit pharmaceuticals.” Again, not an issue that Hollywood is actually concerned with, but if it helped force filters and stopped user-generated content online, Hollywood was quick to embrace it.

    • A lesson in censorship

      The headline should have read “Citrus County students denied their voice — school officials quell free speech.”

      It is unacceptable that Citrus County school officials prohibited, and even penalized, those students trying to exercise their rights to peacefully assemble and voice their opinions about a situation that directly impacts their daily lives: Guns and schools.

    • Egyptian director cancels play over state censorship

      Egypt’s state censors prohibited the performance of a play just hours before its Sunday premiere in Cairo, the latest episode in authorities’ unrelenting crackdown on free speech. Director Ahmed El Attar cancelled the Sunday and Monday showings of Before The Revolution, a two-actor piece that depicts feelings of oppression and stagnation in Egypt before its 2011 popular uprising, saying that to remove five scenes as required by the censors heavily distorted the piece.

      The play, which had been set to show in a 100-seat theater for six nights, is part of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, the biggest arts event in Cairo’s city center, supported mostly by foreign cultural institutes and embassies as well as UNESCO.

      “The director and playwright El Attar saw that removing five scenes has a negative and strong impact on the dramatic construction and the work of art, draining its artistic and literary content,” the organizers said.

    • Ceremony canceled after Israeli mayor refuses to censor speech
    • Poles fail to censor Israeli speaker, cancel Holocaust memorial ceremony
    • Israeli mayor refuses to deliver remarks in Poland censored under new Holocaust law
    • Poland censors Israeli mayor who sought to cite Polish Holocaust crimes at event
    • Israeli Mayor Cancels Speech In Poland After Being Censored Under Holocaust Law
    • Holocaust memorial ceremony canceled after Poland censors Israeli speech
    • Holocaust Ceremony in Poland Cancelled After Israeli Mayor Refuses Censorship
    • Sentenced to Prison For His Political Views, Sadegh Zibakalam Decries Censorship in Iran
    • Social Media = Social Right? Professor Talks Censorship, Election Influence

      The whistleblower at the center of the ‘Cambridge Analytica’ scandal has had his account suspended by Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. We spoke to mc schraefel, Professor of Computer Science and Human Performance at the University of Southampton about the scandal.

    • Facebook and Sri Lankan government collaborate on social media censorship

      While Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena last Thursday officially removed its bans placed on Facebook on March 7, his government is working closely with the giant corporation to restrict access to the social media platform.

      In a tweet message Sirisena noted that his secretary, Austin Fernando, discussed “with officials of Facebook, who have agreed that its platform will not be used for spreading hate speech and inciting violence [in Sri Lanka].”

      The government imposed the ban on Facebook, and other social media outlets, including Viber and WhatsApp, as part of its national state of emergency on March 6. The draconian measure was in response to anti-Muslim violence unleashed by Sinhala-Buddhist extremist groups in some areas of central Kandy district.

    • Censorship is patronizing. Always has been, always will be: Neil Macdonald

      In the early ’90s, long before the very nature of the internet had mooted the question, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre was pushing the Canadian government to regulate Holocaust denial online.

      Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Centre’s public voice in Los Angeles, laid out a compelling case, at least on the face of it:

      Holocaust denial is meant to encourage hatred of Jews. Canada had already made hate speech a crime. Ernst Zundel, perhaps the world’s best known Holocaust denier at the time, had in fact been charged in Canada with hate speech for publishing a tract titled “Did Six Million Really Die?”

      Why then, asked Cooper, should Holocaust deniers be allowed to preach into Canada via the internet? Holocaust denial, he argued, works. It constitutes a clear threat to Jews.


      This is ridiculous; Richard Spencer, like those who preach humans coexisted with dinosaurs, talks utter drivel. If he belongs in a marketplace, it’s the one that caters to cretins, not students pursuing higher education.

      The antifa response to the free-speechers was just as woolly.

      One woman wrote in demanding to know why the “cognitive safety of white males” trumps the emotional distress that Spencer’s very presence causes people of colour. As though the U.S. Constitution guarantees, along with freedom of expression, the right not to be offended.

      There was the old words-are-weapons logic, leavened with rhetoric about patriarchal hegemony.

    • Overdubbing movies for TV is the only funny type of censorship

      When you have the family in your living room, sometimes you can’t just pop-in a Scorsese movie. I’ve found that most times, movie violence (like Kung-Fu) might be OK in a mixed crowd, but lots of swear words usually won’t (I can’t watch Tarantino with Grandma). I don’t particularly know why it’s language almost universally, but everyone’s got their preferences and a right to not be put on edge by my movie choices.

      When a film gets edited to be broadcast on TV, often times the coarse language is the first to go in an edit, as an overdubbing. Although I dislike censorship in all forms, the practice has led to something I’ve come to find humorous when watching a watered down “R” rated film with my family on TV; the only funny kind of censorship I’ve ever encountered.


      Ultimately, these changes are probably a happy medium for people wanting to still watch “Robocop” while their kids are in the room, but after watching watered-down versions of films like “Bad Boys II,” I think these misfit cuts of favorite films should have their own awards category. After all, watching (Marky) Mark Wahlberg turn all of his fierce, angry expletives into monotone, phoned in adjectives changes the entire tone of his scenes in the best picture winning “The Departed,” and it really becomes a work of art of a different kind. The next time you see a movie edited for TV, you might try to see if it has any noticeable changes. You might have a laugh.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Cops Wanting To Track Movements Of Hundreds Of People Are Turning To Google For Location Records

      Cellphones — and any other devices using Google products that serve up location info — are steady generators of third party records. Conceivably, this puts a wealth of location info only a subpoena’s-length away from the government. It appears Google is pushing back, but that tactic isn’t going to work in every case. The Raleigh PD may have been willing to oblige Google to avoid a fight in court (and the risk of handing over information about how often it approaches third parties for records and what it demands from them), but not every PD making use of Google’s location info stash is going to back down this easily.

      Other warrants obtained by WRAL show local law enforcement has collected phone info and location data on thousands of people while investigating such crimes as arson and sexual battery. Despite having no evidence showing the perpetrators of these crimes even had a cellphone in their possession at the time the incidents occurred, agencies approached Google with judge-approved warrants to collect data on people living in nearby apartment units or visiting local businesses near the crime scene.

    • Matt Hancock has no right to complain about the internet being a “Wild West”

      In recent years, many have warned about the dangers of Facebook knowing so much about everyone’s beliefs, preferences, and attitudes. Clearly Cambridge Analytica, the advertising firm accused of harvesting 50 million Facebook users’ data without their consent, thought they were a match made in – let’s say – purgatory. But let us focus on a particular claim made today by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Matt Hancock: that the companies are operating in an internet “Wild West” in which the UK government is straining to impose law and order.

    • The Future The FBI Wants: Secure Phones For Criminals, Broken Encryption For Everyone Else

      The old truism is in play again with the FBI’s renewed CryptoWar: if X is outlawed, only criminals will have X. In this case, it’s secure encryption. The FBI may not be trying to get encryption banned, but it does want it weakened. No backdoors, claims FBI director Chris Wray, just holes for the government to use at its pleasure. So, if the FBI gets it way, the only truly secure encryption will be in the hands of criminals… exactly the sort of people the FBI claims it needs weakened encryption to catch.

    • Can a GSoC project beat Cambridge Analytica at their own game?

      A few weeks ago, I proposed a GSoC project on the topic of Firefox and Thunderbird plugins for Free Software Habits.

      At first glance, this topic may seem innocent and mundane. After all, we all know what habits are, don’t we? There are already plugins that help people avoid visiting Facebook too many times in one day, what difference will another one make?

      Yet the success of companies like Facebook and those that prey on their users, like Cambridge Analytica (who are facing the prospect of a search warrant today), is down to habits: in other words, the things that users do over and over again without consciously thinking about it. That is exactly why this plugin is relevant.

    • How Personal Data of 50 Million Facebook Users Was Turned Into A Political Tool?
    • Crowdfunded OpenSCHUFA Project Wants To Reverse-Engineer Germany’s Main Credit-Scoring Algorithm

      We’ve just written about calls for a key legal communications system to be open-sourced as a way of re-building confidence in a project that has been plagued by problems. In many ways, it’s surprising that these moves aren’t more common. Without transparency, there can be little trust that a system is working as claimed. In the past this was just about software, but today there’s another aspect to the problem. As well as the code itself, there are the increasingly-complex algorithms, which the software implements. There is a growing realization that algorithms are ruling important parts of our lives without any public knowledge of how they work or make decisions about us. In Germany, for example, one of the most important algorithms determines a person’s SCHUFA credit rating: the name comes from an abbreviation of its German “Schutzorganisation für Allgemeine Kreditsicherung”, which means “Protection Agency for General Credit Security”.

    • Both Facebook And Cambridge Analytica Threatened To Sue Journalists Over Stories On CA’s Use Of Facebook Data

      I’m going to assume that you weren’t living in an internet-proof cave this weekend, and caught at least some of the stories about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. The news first kicked off with the announcement of a data protection lawsuit filed against Cambridge Analytica in the UK on Friday evening (we’ll likely have more on that lawsuit soon), followed quickly by an attempt by Facebook to get out ahead of the coming tidal wave by announcing that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and some associated parties from its platforms, claiming terms of service violations. This was quickly followed on Saturday with two explosive stories. The first, from Carole Cadwalladr at The Guardian, revealing a “whistleblower” from the very early days of Cambridge Analytica (who more or less set up how it works with data profiles) named Christopher Wylie. This was quickly followed up by another story at the NY Times, which was a bit more newsy, providing more details on how Cambridge Analytica got data on about 50 million people out of Facebook.

      Admittedly — much of this isn’t actually new. The Intercept had reported something similar a year ago, though it only said it was 30 million Facebook users, rather than 50 million. And that story built on the work of a 2015 (yes, 2015) story in the Guardian discussing how Cambridge Analytica was using data from “tens of millions” of Facebook users “harvested without permission” in support of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

    • Is Facebook NASDAQ:FB an NSA Agent?

      Edward Snowden tweeted Saturday that Facebook is a “surveillance company” that sells its users’ personal details, weighing in on a scandal involving a private firm that harvested data from the social media giant.

      “Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies,’” wrote the former National Security Agency contractor. “Their rebranding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.”

    • Snowden: Facebook Is a ‘Surveillance Company’ That Exploits User Data

      Facebook’s data policies are exploitative and resemble the work of a “surveillance company,” according to exiled National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden who spoke out in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      Snowden criticized the social media network in a series of tweets on Saturday after revelations that Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from 50 million Facebook users back in 2014. Cambridge Analytica has been contracted to work on high-profile projects, including the 2016 election campaign of Donald Trump.

    • Facebook suspends account of Cambridge Analytica whistleblower

      Chris Wylie, the whistleblower who has alleged the knowingly improper use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, says The Social Network™ has suspended his account.

    • New biometric system to boost accuracy of border identity checking

      A new enterprise biometric identification service to be deployed by Australia’s Department of Home Affairs in July will vastly improve Australia’s biometric storage and processing capability, consolidating biometrics collected through visa and detention programs, according to the Federal Government.

    • UK warrant sought to raid controversial data firm’s servers

      Britain’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham will seek a warrant to examine the databases and servers used by data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, the firm that is alleged to have used data of more than 50 million Facebook subscribers for targeting voters in the US presidential election.

    • Europe’s New Privacy Law Will Change the Web, and More

      On May 25, however, the power balance will shift towards consumers, thanks to a European privacy law that restricts how personal data is collected and handled. The rule, called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. Under GDPR, pages of fine print won’t suffice. Neither will forcing users to click yes in order to sign up.

      Instead, companies must be clear and concise about their collection and use of personal data like full name, home address, location data, IP address, or the identifier that tracks web and app use on smartphones. Companies have to spell out why the data is being collected and whether it will be used to create profiles of people’s actions and habits. Moreover, consumers will gain the right to access data companies store about them, the right to correct inaccurate information, and the right to limit the use of decisions made by algorithms, among others.

    • This Call May Be Monitored for Tone and Emotion
    • Cambridge Analytica CEO filmed talking about using bribes, sex workers in political work

      Channel 4 reports that over a four-month undercover investigation, it discovered that Cambridge Analytica has secretly worked to influence more than 200 elections all over the world, sometimes using sub-contractors or a web of secretive front companies.

    • Cambridge Analytica: Five things to watch
    • Facebook will hold an emergency meeting to let employees ask questions about Cambridge Analytica

      Facebook has scheduled an open meeting for all employees Tuesday to let them ask questions about the unfolding Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.

    • Breach leaves Facebook users wondering: how safe is my data?

      In what appeared to be a damage limitation exercise, the social network preempted the stories that appeared in the Observer and the New York Times over the weekend by banning the political strategy company from its platform while it investigated the claims.

    • Why We’re Not Calling the Cambridge Analytica Story a ‘Data Breach’

      Facebook insists that Cambridge Analytica didn’t get information on 50 million Americans because of a ‘data breach.’ It’s right. What really happened is much worse.


      And while the process that Kogan exploited is no longer allowed, Facebook still collects—and then sells—massive amounts of data on its users.

    • Facebook Executive Planning to Leave Company Amid Disinformation Backlash

      Mr. Stamos, who plans to leave Facebook by August, had advocated more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform and some restructuring to better address the issues, but was met with resistance by colleagues, said the current and former employees. In December, Mr. Stamos’s day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others, they said.

      Mr. Stamos said he would leave Facebook but was persuaded to stay through August to oversee the transition of his responsibilities and because executives thought his departure would look bad, the people said. He has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions. His group, which once had 120 people, now has three, the current and former employees said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The Trump Administration’s Multi-Pronged Assault on Immigrants’ Rights

      Right now, President Trump and Congress seek to pass a federal budget that would put the deportation machinery into even higher gear. The administration’s budget request asks taxpayers for $21.5 billion for its immigration and border enforcement agenda, an amount greater than the budgets of all other law enforcement agencies combined. This would mean more agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol agents, more detention beds in private immigration prisons, and the further militarization of border communities. In light of what we are witnessing across America, we should be ending, not enabling, the Trump deportation agenda.

    • Kobach Exposed at Trial

      Kobach utterly failed to present convincing evidence for his claim of rampant voter fraud.

      The federal trial over a law that disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters in Kansas is expected to end tomorrow. For the past two weeks, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has attempted to defend not just his signature legislation, which requires people to show documentary proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote, but to support his claim of rampant voter fraud.

    • Copspeak: When Black Children Suddenly Become ‘Juveniles’

      As FAIR has noted many times before (7/10/16, 1/30/18), one of the primary goals of “Copspeak”—broadly defined as the media internalizing police verbiage to sound Cool and Official—is to dehumanize those officers have detained, harassed or killed.

      One popular iteration of Copspeak is when reporters refer to children or teenagers as “juveniles.” This works to criminalize and dehumanize a distinction—being a child—we would otherwise view in a sympathetic light, by using the dry, scientistic language of an anthropological study. “Police shoot fleeing juvenile” impacts us far less than “police shoot fleeing child” or “police shoot fleeing teenager,” which is why it’s the preferred term of the police, and thus police-aligned local reporters doing their best Copspeak impression.

      Here are a few recent examples, children are referred to as “juveniles” before they’ve been indicted much less found guilty of any crimes…

    • Black Mirror’s Scary “Social Credit Score” Is Becoming A Reality In China

      We have been hearing about a similar system being developed by China, with its first limited run starting in May 2018. If the big data-fueled system becomes full-fledged, the social credit of Chinese citizens would be a significant factor when they would want to avail services and benefits. According to the reports, the initial implementation would impose a ban on train and air travel. And this banning period could go up to a year.

    • Self-driving Uber Car Hits And Kills A Woman Crossing The Street

      On Sunday evening, a self-driving Uber car hit and killed a woman pedestrian who was crossing a road. The incident took place in Tempe, Arizona, which has become a hub for testing self-driving technology.

    • Pedestrian Deaths By Car In Phoenix Area Last Week: 11. But One Was By A Self-Driving Uber

      Despite worries about the reliability and safety of self-driving vehicles, the millions of test miles driven so far have repeatedly shown self-driving cars to be significantly more safe than their human-piloted counterparts. Yet whenever accidents (or near accidents) occur, they tend to be blown completely out of proportion by those terrified of (or financially disrupted by) an automated future.

    • Uber self-driving car kills Arizona woman, realizing worst fears of the new tech

      In a tweet, National Transportation Safety Board officials said they were sending a team to Arizona to investigate the accident.

    • Uber Self-Driving Car Kills Arizona Woman, the First Pedestrian Death By Autonomous Car

      Unlike other testing grounds, such as California, Arizona does not require autonomous car companies to submit disengagement reports, or instances of a vehicle’s operator taking control of the car.

    • Self-Driving Uber Car Kills Arizona Pedestrian

      The Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human safety driver at the wheel when it struck the woman, who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, the Tempe police said in a statement. The episode happened on Sunday around 10 p.m. The woman was not publicly identified.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The Cable Industry Is Quietly Securing A Massive Monopoly Over American Broadband

      Cable providers like Comcast and Charter continue to quietly secure a growing monopoly over American broadband. A new report by Leichtman Research notes that the nation’s biggest cable companies added a whopping 83% of all net broadband subscribers last quarter. All told, the nation’s top cable companies (predominately Charter Spectrum and Comcast) added 2.7 million broadband subscribers in 2017, while the nation’s telcos (AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier) saw a net loss of 625,000 subscribers last year, slightly worse than the 600,000 subscriber net loss they witness in 2016.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Evidence on Polarization in IP

      The abstract doesn’t do justice to the results – the paper is worth a read, with some interesting graphs as well. One of the more interesting findings is that political party has almost no correlation with views on copyright, but relatively strong correlation with views on patenting. This latter result makes me an odd duck, as I lean more (way, in some cases) liberal but have also leaned more pro-patent than many of my colleagues. I think there are reasons for that, but we don’t need to debate them here.

    • Drug-Patent Abuse and the High Cost of Healthcare: Case of the Double-Half Dose-Time Injection

      Fortunately, in May and July 2017, three different panels of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) (with five different Administrative Patent Judges between them), saw through this charade. Armed with the benefit of evidence from experts on both sides of the issue through trial, they agreed with the petitioners that the prior art already knew how to correlate IV dosing regimens to the more convenient arm-shot method, routinely; that a 20 mg dose per week was “nearly equally efficacious when given weekly via arm-injection (subcutaneously); and that the half-life for Humira is between 11.6 and 13.7 days; or at least that it would have been on any skilled doctor’s very-short list of obvious things to try a double-dose, half-as-often regimen, with a reasonable expectation that it would succeed at treating arthritis. The patent was held to be invalid as obvious over the prior art.

    • Texas jury awards $706m in trade secret and breach of contract case

      HouseCanary has been awarded $235.4 million in damages for misappropriation of the trade secrets and fraud claims, and an additional $471.4 million in punitive damages, in a case involving real estate analytics

    • Trademarks
      • Will trade mark law stop Marine Le Pen’s new campaign?

        Last week, Marine Le Pen, leader of the political party National Front (‘Front National’), announced the re-branding of her party, following a defeat in the latest presidential elections in France. A new name, a new team, and a new programme, are all on the cards. The National Front is now to be called ‘Rassemblement national’ (read: National Rally). The objective is to ‘soften’ the image of the National Front, and thereby to distance the party from its tumultuous past (hereand here).

        Ironically, perhaps, this is not the first time that the name ‘National Rally’ has featured as the name of a national party. Indeed, it had already been used by a collaborationist party known as ‘National Popular Rally’ (‘Rassemblement National Populaire’), founded in 1941 by Marcel Déatduring the period of Vichy France (through 1945) (here).

    • Copyrights
      • Pirate Streaming Giant 123Movies Announces Shutdown

        Popular pirate streaming site 123movies, also known as 123movieshub and GoMovies, has announced its shutdown. According to a message posted on the site, it will close its doors at the end of the week. At the same time, the operators are now urging their users to respect filmmakers by paying for movies and TV-shows.

      • How The Pirate Bay Helped Spotify Become a Success

        Without The Pirate Bay, Spotify may have never turned into the success it is today. Ten years ago record labels were so desperate to find an answer to the ever-growing piracy problem that they agreed to take a gamble. Now, more than a decade later, Spotify has turned into a billion-dollar company, with pirate roots.

      • Swedish Supreme Court says that painting based on photograph is new and independent creation and hence … non-infringing

        Exhausted after several days of intense work, I (finally) afforded the luxury of watching some TV. Zapping my way through the channels, I stumbled upon something called “Domstolen” (ENG: “The Court”), a reality TV-show in the form of a reportage, based on somewhat recent court cases and judicial developments in Sweden. Just as I was about to zap away to the next channel there appeared a case concerning copyright infringement.

        The case reported is colloquially known as Swedish scapegoats – a case from 2017 that made all the way up to the Swedish Supreme Court, and concerned a copyright dispute between the author of a close-up photograph and the author of a painting that was based on that photograph.

BIO, MDMA and PhRMA Are Pushing the PTAB-Hostile STRONGER Patents Act While IAM and Patently-O Continue to Bash PTAB

Tuesday 20th of March 2018 01:41:54 PM

The only “death squad” (their term) is the patent extremists trying to ‘shoot down’ PTAB and its judges

Summary: The patent microcosm, which compares the Board to the above (crude analogy from Judge Rader and other patent extremists), is still trying to kill inter partes reviews (IPRs), in effect overlooking its own hypocrisy on the matter (they don’t want patent justice, they just want to metaphorically ‘shoot down’ the judges)

THE USPTO is improving things with inter partes reviews (IPRs), so it’s rather hard to imagine that anyone other than patent maximalists would wish to interfere.

We were a little stunned to see the STRONGER Patents Act mentioned again yesterday. We have hardly heard anything about it for nearly a year. What the CCIA’s Josh Landau is saying here, along with that corny zombie silhouette, is that “Like A Horror Movie Villain, The STRONGER Patents Act Returns,” but as far as we can see/tell, it is still pretty much dead and not mentioned anywhere except Koch-funded think tanks (they mention it on occasions, usually in tweets). Landau wrote:

Since the STRONGER Patents Act was introduced last year, it’s basically been a dead topic. Maybe that’s because the bill would gut the extremely successful inter partes review procedure and overturn more than a decade of Supreme Court precedent, crippling the ability of small and medium enterprises to develop products without fear. It would even make it legally beneficial to develop products anywhere other than the United States – a sort of R&D inversion scheme, enshrined in statute.

So, given that the STRONGER Patents Act will harm innovators and drive R&D overseas, why are Reps. Stivers (R-OH) and Foster (D-IL) planning to bring the STRONGER Patents Act back and introduce it in the House on Tuesday?


Who Greenlighted This Sequel, Anyway?

So who’s supporting this bill, despite the harm to American innovation?

PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry lobby. BIO, the biotech version of PhRMA. MDMA, the medical device version of PhRMA. I can’t imagine why they want to make it harder to invalidate the patents they use to keep generic companies off the market.

The Qualcomm-funded Innovation Alliance? InterDigital? Companies that make their money by licensing patents under threat of litigation? I’m sure Qualcomm and InterDigital would be unhappy if they could bar sales of iPhones entirely based on a patent related to a small part of a component that costs $20.

And there’s one other party lurking in the background—litigation finance. Third-party financial companies that underwrite patent litigation on spec, hoping to share in any damages awarded. Stivers and Foster aren’t on the Judiciary Committee, the House committee with jurisdiction over patent issues. They’re on House Financial Services.

And litigation finance companies making money by betting on patent litigation would like to make their business a less risky bet by making it harder to challenge patents and easier to extract royalties that exceed the value of the patent using the threat of injunctions.

A bill that will keep drug prices high by sending research overseas and increase everyone’s prices to reward financial speculators?

That’s a real-life horror story.

At least we know who’s behind it.

Landau is now being cited by Joff Wild (IAM). This new guest post cites CCIA/Patent Progress and starts by saying that “one thing everyone can agree on, surely, is that IPRs have saved companies billions of dollars…”

As Landau points out (above), he “can’t imagine why they want to make it harder to invalidate the patents they use to keep generic companies off the market.”

If justice is what one cares for, PTAB is great. It makes access to justice better.

“Well, maybe not.”

So says IAM’s guest post. It suits IAM’s PTAB-hostile narrative.

“IP Edge managing director Gautham Bodepudi,” Wild continues, “has been doing some calculaitons and, he claims, while some parties do indeed make big savings, overall the results are not particularly impressive. This is Gau’s view, not necessarily ours, so we’d be very keen to hear from anyone who thinks he may have missed something. Anyway, here is what he has to say.”

It’s hardly surprising that a patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) would relay things like that. It also uses the “death squad” canard, in essence equating/comparing a court to a firing line and judges to people who execute. It’s also unsurprising that Patently-O, as of yesterday, cherry-picked a PTAB case because it’s one of those rare cases where CAFC does not fully agree with PTAB. In short, Dell uses an IPR to tackle dubious patents that the USPTO probably oughtn’t have granted. This is what happened next:

In its original decision, the PTAB cancelled claim 3 of Acceleron’s U.S. Patent No. 6,948,021 (inter alia). That holding was based upon an argument first presented by Dell at Oral Arguments (over Acceleron’s procedural objections). The Federal Circuit in 2016 vacated that first PTAB decision — “the Board denied Acceleron its procedural rights by relying in its decision on a factual assertion introduced into the proceeding only at oral argument, after Acceleron could meaningfully respond.”


On appeal again, the Federal Circuit has now affirmed the validity finding — holding that the Board properly ignored Dell’s argument – even though the result is that we confirm the validity of a patent claim that is thought to be invalid. The problem for Dell is that the procedural rules are clear – “No new evidence or arguments may be presented at the Oral Arguments.” (Office Patent Trial Practice Guide, 77 Fed. Reg. 48,756 (Aug. 14, 2012)).

The primary holding here is that the PTAB was not required to allow for any re-briefing of the arguments and evidence.

This is that same old propaganda pattern from Crouch. He likes to pretend that PTAB is some very unfair, biased court. He only covers cases that support such a narrative while discarding the rest. He has done so over a hundred times in the past year alone, probably in an effort to sway the opinion of Justices who are about to conclude Oil States.

35 U.S.C. § 101 is Still Effectively Tackling Software Patents in the US, But Patent Law Firms Lie/Distort to ‘Sell’ These Anyway

Tuesday 20th of March 2018 12:55:59 PM

The arts of being a “good” lawyer

Reference: Lying by omission

Summary: The assertion that software patents are still worth pursuing in 2018 is based on carefully-constructed spin which mis-frames several court decisions and underplays/downplays/ignores pretty much everything that does not suit the narrative

YESTERDAY morning we wrote about how spin had evolved to convince people to pursue software patents (which even the USPTO — let alone courts — makes harder to attain/obtain).

Facts and marketing blend like water and sand. So it’s hardly surprising that little substance exists in these falsehoods-ridden infomercials.

We habitually cover cases that the patent microcosm prefers not to mention (or never to elaborate on). Such cases aren’t good for ‘business’ (patenting and litigation) as they can discourage ‘sales’ of ‘services’. The other day we took note/stock of several such cases.

Yesterday, Immersion Corp. v Fitbit, Inc. was brought up by a site of the patent microcosm, alluding to this latest outcome in a case initiated by Immersion, a notorious patent aggressor if not troll [1, 2] (it’s not exactly a troll, but it has no concrete products, just licensing).

Judge Koh is once again emerging as a somewhat technical judge who is hard to fool. Seeing what kind of patents Immersion is ‘sporting’, she sided with the defendant, Fitbit, whereupon the maximalists said that “it appears as though the lack of detailed physical components and detailed algorithms is what doomed the ’301 patent.”

Goodbye abstract patents.

Here’s more from that post:

Last week, Judge Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California deemed claims relating to transmission of haptic messages to be directed to an abstract idea and therefore invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The Plaintiff, Immersion Corp., alleged that Fitbit’s wearable health and fitness devices infringe three of Immersion’s patents, each of which involve “haptic” feedback technology — namely, technology that provides forces, vibrations, or other motion feedback that recreates a sense of touch for a user. Fitbit filed a motion to dismiss contending that the asserted claims of each patent are patent ineligible under § 101. The District Court denied Fitbit’s motion on two of the three patents, but granted the motion with respect to U.S. Patent No. 8,638,301 (the ’301 patent).


The District Court then addressed the patent ineligibility of the ’301 patent, whose claimed invention involves a mobile device transmitting a “haptic message” to another mobile device. The patent describes haptic messages as a useful form of non-linguistic communication that tie physical effects to a message, contrasting with more conventional messaging systems that may provide less or no contextual information associated with received and sent messages. For example, the patent describes a scenario in which one user appends a haptic signal simulating a heartbeat to a message, sends the message to the other user along with the haptic signal, which causes the other user’s phone to vibrate in a manner that simulates the heartbeat pattern.


Given the state of the asserted claims — especially that of claim 27, compared with the other two patents — the District Court’s finding here is relatively unsurprising. Again, it appears as though the lack of detailed physical components and detailed algorithms is what doomed the ’301 patent.

This is a classic example of abstract things that do not merit a patent.

The maximalists have since then turned to other cases, such as this one in which “Zmodo moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

§ 101 is a recurring theme, but the patent microcosm only really cares when a § 101 challenge is denied (even if it was unsuitably invoked, in cases where the claims are not abstract).

We saw two new examples of that yesterday. Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP came up with that familiar spin pattern that’s intended to help them sell worthless services:

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank in 2014, there has been an increasing trend in district courts granting pretrial dispositive motions to effect early dismissal of patent infringement cases under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Last month, however, the Federal Circuit issued two patent-friendly decisions that preclude such early dismissal when there are factual disputes that underlie the ultimate legal conclusion of patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

We already wrote about a dozen rebuttals to that; but it doesn’t matter, the patent microcosm knows that prospective clients won’t fact-check and might even get the false impression that something substantial has happened and changed. Knobbe Martens was next to exploit these widely-distorted (by the patent microcosm) decisions in order to help itself sell worthless services. It wrote this yesterday:

In two recent cases, the Federal Circuit addressed the role of factual questions in resolving patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The first case was Berkheimer v. HP Inc. and the second was Aatrix Software v. Green Shades Software.[1] These cases possibly undercut the holdings of previous cases in which the Federal Circuit routinely affirmed judgments invalidating patent claims under § 101 in the early stages of litigation, when factual questions are typically unresolved.[2]

They keep mentioning Aatrix and Berkheimer (which we read), but we doubt they even understand these. They just live in a little echo chamber where name-dropping Aatrix and Berkheimer is like showering pixie dust.

Yesterday Watchtroll wrote: “While the value of patents has been under attack (e.g., with the Supreme Court Alice and Mayo decisions limiting what can be patented and the establishment of IPRs), trade secrets have become a bigger risk with the current rapid changing of jobs by engineers and programmers.”

Those patents are not “under attack”, they should never have been granted in the first place and courts belatedly rectify their ways, especially after Judge Rader left the Federal Circuit (he was pretty much forced to leave after he had been caught doing corrupt things).

Battistelli’s EPO Became Extremely Reliant on China for Distraction and on Endless Supply of Applications (Supply Which Doesn’t Exist)

Tuesday 20th of March 2018 12:13:58 PM

Applications are quickly running out in spite of ‘discounts’ (which reduced revenue and failed to spur much ‘demand’)

Not much ‘growth’ in Europe (as in European Patent Office)

China is ranked 38th for patent applications per capita (at the EPO) and accounts only for 5% of applications

Summary: Discussion about the EPO granting machine (or patent-printing machine) and figures the way EPO management would rather the public won’t ever see them; the concept that China means redemption for this patent system is as laughable as always

IF the EPO was a goose that lays golden eggs, those eggs would be the backlog. Pending applications don’t last forever and Battistelli now slaughters the goose, making redundancies quite imminent; Office rumour is, the Office will lay off about quarter of staff (the numbers/estimates heard vary).

“…Office rumour is, the Office will lay off about quarter of staff (the numbers/estimates heard vary).”We don’t wish to depress staff, but realistic expectations prevent disappointment. Earlier this month (and even this week in Twitter) the EPO was spreading false or misleading information which it called results. We responded in the following 4 posts (and limited that to 4 although we could go on and on):

It’s no secret that the EPO typically isolates graphs and figures that help mislead the media (so-called ‘journalists’ who simply repeat EPO PR staff/external agencies); last year, for instance, the EPO isolatd the European nations where there were positive rather than negative figures. We wrote about this many times a year ago, e.g. in the following reactionary posts:

We don’t wish to write as many rebuttals as we wrote last year because much of the deception is identical or at least similar. China, with a relatively small contribution to EPO totals, is still being emphasised everywhere. It’s not hard to see why; the biggest ‘growth’ comes from there (relative growth, not absolute).

“China, with a relatively small contribution to EPO totals, is still being emphasised everywhere. It’s not hard to see why; the biggest ‘growth’ comes from there (relative growth, not absolute).”Yesterday the EPO wrote: “Applications from France up again (+0.5%) in 2017 after a drop in the previous year…”

Pretty pathetic considering the fact that Battistelli gave them a discount. Had he not done that, it would be negative again. Notice how they send a shoutout there to INPI, where a lot of Team Battistelli came from.

What are we seeing at the EPO that actually gives room for hope? Almost nothing. Appeals are being made more expensive in order to discourage repeals/rejections of patents. Especially when it comes to oppositions, not rejections being appealed. Figures pertaining to rejections don’t take fee alterations into account (so year-to-year comparisons are inadequate). The same goes for the number of applications (the prices were lowered to artificially increase ‘growth’, just not in terms of revenue).

“Appeals are being made more expensive in order to discourage repeals/rejections of patents.”Don’t expect any law firms to speak about it. They profit from this turbulence and the increase in so-called ‘production’ typically means more business for them. They also longed for the UPC, knowing that a growing number of lawsuits would help their bottom line (at the expense or everyone else).

Laura Carney and Thomas Zvesper from Marks & Clerk now speak about the Boards, but they will never ever mention the EPO scandals as that might ‘upset’ their monetary supply chain. Yesterday they wrote this self-promotional piece (infomercial as we called it yesterday) about an old case:

In the present decision, the Board had to consider the validity of the priority claim of patent EP1773302. In particular, the Board had to consider whether the granted patent’s priority claim was invalid in view of an earlier document which was the “first application” from which priority should have been claimed. The patent and the application from which priority was claimed were directed to a tablet having, amongst other features, a gelatinous first and second coating, a gap being provided between the two gelatinous coatings of from 3 to 33% of the length of the tablet. However, the patentee had filed an earlier application (US 2005/0152970, D22) which was identical to the granted patent, except that the disclosed gap was 5 to 33%.

“Perhaps Europe could take a lesson from south Asia.”Like we said some weeks ago as well as last month, with an upcoming appeal regarding CRISPR patents we worry that the Boards won’t be able to rule impartially. They themselves complain about it on occasions. Yesterday, as usual, patent maximalists from Managing IP were celebrating CRISPR patents, neglecting to note that these are bunk and usually void in the US (and more recently in Europe as well). “Filing trends include a 194% increase globally between 2013 and 2015,” it said, but filings and grants aren’t the same, never mind actual court rulings (of which they are few that can assess/determine patent eligibility in light of Myriad, Mayo, the EPC and so on).

Perhaps Europe could take a lesson from south Asia. India, for example, successfully resisted the patent maximalists and antagonised many software and pharmaceutical patents. It usually explains (correctly in our view) that when it comes to patents the interest of the people (not very rich people and corporations) should come first.

“As many people expected (Glyn Moody for instance), China now uses US courts to hit American companies over the head, essentially taking the patent aggression abroad, too. Makes one wonder what Chinese firms can do with all these European Patents, with or without a horrific system like UPC in place.”IAM just won’t leave India alone. Jacob Schindler wrote many articles last year in which he shamed India. Coming from the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), this is more or less expected, albeit it seems like they softened their tone after that. Instead of bashing India like it was some kind of ‘pirate’, IAM now calls India’s policy something “controversial among multinational patent owners.” They kept bullying India, yet the language changed somewhat. Yesterday IAM said: “Litigation developments in Delhi over the last few months have put a spotlight on a somewhat unique feature of India’s patent system: Form 27, which requires patentees to disclose how they commercially exploit their granted rights. Now, it appears that the Patent Office will consider making changes to the form, which has long been controversial among multinational patent owners. Each year, patentees must submit a disclosure to the Indian Patent Office stating whether each patent they own is being “worked” on a commercial scale in India.”

So they realise that a massive pile of fictional patents on fictional things isn’t dedirable. Unlike China?

China officially opened the floodgates to software patents about a year ago (April) and since then we have seen a lot of patent aggression in China. It’s chaotic. “Meanwhile,” IAM noted yesterday, “Chinese tech giant ZTE disposed of seven US assets [patents] in a deal which was executed on 22nd January and recorded on 15th March.”

These are going to patent trolls, which IAM euphemises as “NPE”, as usual. Here’s what remains outside the new paywall:

ZTE and Panasonic have both transferred small packages of patents to a relatively new US NPE called Global Innovation Aggregators, a Delaware registered entity with offices in Pasadena, California. According to the assignment records Panasonic handed over 11 US grants in two separate deals that were recorded on the USPTO’s site earlier this month and executed in late February. Meanwhile Chinese tech giant ZTE disposed of seven US assets in a deal which was executed on 22nd January and recorded on 15th March. For Panasonic it is the latest in a long line of patent divestments which most recently included the transfer…

ZTE is Chinese. As many people expected (Glyn Moody for instance), China now uses US courts to hit American companies over the head, essentially taking the patent aggression abroad, too. Makes one wonder what Chinese firms can do with all these European Patents, with or without a horrific system like UPC in place.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) Against Comcast, Courtesy of the Intellectual Ventures-Connected Rovi

Tuesday 20th of March 2018 10:48:53 AM

Reference: Administrative Law Judge Photos

Summary: The USITC/ITC, which mostly serves to impose embargoes (sometimes in shocking defiance of PTAB decisions), is being invoked by a firm connected to the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures

WE occasionally mention the ITC in relation to sanctions. The ITC mostly services technology giants in the US, protecting these from foreign competition. A decade ago, for instance, Microsoft used the ITC to embargo imports of rival mice, using nothing but patent allegations rather than claims of counterfeiting (which would be more severe).

Yesterday the Docket Navigator picked a case in which the ITC had gotten involved.

“What we find most interesting in all this is that here, for a change, a large company from the US is being targeted and the instigator is connected to a very notorious patent troll.”“The ALJ [Administrative Law Judge],” it said, “denied respondents’ motion to certify for judicial enforcement its prior art subpoena to two nonparties whom complainants sued for infringement of the same patents in district court because the documents sought were protected attorney work product.”

Days prior to this we found this report about Rovi Corporation, which is connected to the world’s largest patent troll and is suing a lot [1, 2, 3], using the ITC against Comcast. “The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has instituted a section 337 investigation into Comcast over the alleged infringement of Rovi Corporation’s patents,” the report said.

What we find most interesting in all this is that here, for a change, a large company from the US is being targeted and the instigator is connected to a very notorious patent troll. A new form of sanction/extortion?

Tinder/Match Group Uses Software Patents to Sue a Rival, Obviously Choosing to Sue in Texas

Tuesday 20th of March 2018 10:21:32 AM

Summary: Software patents are being used for leverage, but only those which were likely granted before Alice and only in courts at districts somewhere around Texas

THE remnant of software patents granted by the USPTO is a massive liability. A lot of lawsuits rely on such patents, which are likely toothless and thus worthless after Alice.

A few days ago it turned out that Tinder had become a patent bully. It’s suing over alleged infringement of software patents (which are likely bunk and void). Maybe it was hoping that the rival will just settle/fold/sell, or even remove features (modifying the platform); eventually came a lawsuit in an expectedly biased court:

Match Group, the online dating company that owns services like Tinder and, wants to buy Bumble, another popular dating app that lets women make the first move.

But Match may be trying to push the deal along in an unconventional way: A new patent infringement lawsuit filed late Friday in U.S. District court in Waco, Texas.

Match Group is suing Bumble, which was founded by one of Tinder’s co-founders, for infringing on two of its patents, including a design patent for Tinder’s now-famous swipe-to-connect feature, according to the suit.

Assuming that the lawsuit cannot be relocated (venue change), there’s a chance they might get away with it.

“Examiners ought to stop allowing monopolies on algorithms and applicants oughtn’t bother patenting software (because courts don’t really care for these).”In the meantime, Judge Gilstrap is said to have supported a defendant in a patent case in the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). That’s rare! So rare in fact that Docket Navigator gave it a special mention yesterday. The case is Adjustacam LLC v, Inc., et al and the summary is as follows: “The court awarded defendant its attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and rejected plaintiff’s argument that defendant was not entitled to attorney fees prior to claim construction.”

That does not mean that the defendant is safe though; the best way to assure one’s safety is to exit EDTX or appeal to the CAFC (which is even more expensive).

A lot of these issues boil down to the granting of software patents, which patent trolls love and judges like Gilstrap uphold in spite of Alice. Yesterday we saw this new outline of recent patents in New Hampshire. Some of them sound like classic algorithms, e.g. “data gathering devices on behalf of a calling secure software application.”

Examiners ought to stop allowing monopolies on algorithms and applicants oughtn’t bother patenting software (because courts don’t really care for these). Such patents are only useful when you can bully small companies outside courts. As long as examiners continue to grant these…

Links 19/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC6, Atom 1.25, antiX 17.1, GNU Mcron 1.1

Monday 19th of March 2018 05:27:48 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • If you owned a ‘fat’ PlayStation 3 you could be entitled to $65 from Sony because of Linux option

    Cast your mind back to when Sony released the original PlayStation 3, and you may well remember claims that the console was also a “computer”. The claims were such that Sony suggested that owners could install Linux — which, technically speaking, they could.

    However, installing Linux on a PS3 also posed something of a security issue, and Sony backtracked on the “Other OS” feature, killing it will a firmware update. Unsurprisingly, a lawsuit followed, and the result of this is that you could in line for a pay-out.

  • PlayStation 3 Phat owners have a month left to claim ‘OtherOS’ class action settlement
  • If you bought an original PlayStation 3, you could be $65 richer
  • Original PlayStation 3 Owners Could Be Entitled To A $65 Check From Sony
  • In re Sony PS3 “Other OS” Litigation –
  • Sony paying up to $65 to people who purchased the original PlayStation 3
  • If one owns an original PlayStation 3, he could be 65 dollars richer
  • PS3 OtherOS settlement claims end next month
  • Desktop
    • Ubuntu-Based Zorin OS Gets Better Support for Windows Apps, Desktop Improvements

      A new maintenance update of the Ubuntu-based Zorin OS GNU/Linux distribution arrived at the end of this week with a bunch of enhancements to its desktop environment, as well as the latest versions of core components and apps.

      Zorin OS 12.3 is here as the latest stable update of the Ubuntu-based operating system with a focus on improving the security, stability, and functionality of Zorin OS, which was always known as one of the most reliable open-source alternatives to Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

      Therefore, probably the most important change of the Zorin OS 12.3 release is the introduction of Wine 3.0, the latest stable version of the compatibility layer for running Windows programs on Linux and UNIX-like systems, which ensures better compatibility with more Windows apps and games on Zorin OS.

    • Microsoft tries forcing Mail users to open links in Edge, and people are freaking out

      Under the new rules, it doesn’t matter which browser you have selected as the default; if you use the basic Mail app within Windows, any link you click will open up Edge.

    • Google picks up another win for G Suite as Airbus grounds Microsoft Office

      With over 130,000 employees, Airbus uses a lot of office productivity software. It recently decided to make a big bet on Google’s G Suite software package after running the company for years on hosted versions of Microsoft Office, according to a report.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 3.18.100
    • Linux 4.4.122
    • Linux 4.9.88
    • Linux 4.15.11
    • Linux 4.14.28
    • More Spectre + Meltdown Updates Heading Into Linux 4.16

      Thomas Gleixner who has been wrangling all of the Spectre and Meltdown related patches for the Linux kernel tree has submitted another pull request of more changes to land for the Linux 4.16 cycle that is nearing the end of its development.

    • Linux 4.16-rc6

      This has been a nice quiet week, so rc6 is pretty tiny. Everything
      looks like we’re on a usual schedule – I’ll make an rc7, but hopefully
      that will be it.

      Mostly driver changes (usb, gpu, sound, scsi, md), but it’s all tiny.
      Some arch fixes (x86 and microblaze, tiny changes to others), and some
      filesystem fixes (a couple of small core vfs fixlets, and some btrfs
      and nfs fixes).

    • Linux 4.16-rc6 Released: Looking Good For Final Release In Two Weeks
    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation announces open source ACRN hypervisor for the Internet of Things

        ACRN’s small footprint is partly attributable to the fact that it takes a mere 25,000 lines of code for a hypervisor. There’s already involvement from the likes of ADLINK, Aptiv, Intel Corporation, LG Electronics and Neusoft Corporation, and it’s likely that many more names will join this list.

      • Linux Foundation Announces ACRN —Open Source Hypervisor for IoT Devices

        The Linux Foundation announced a new project called ACRN (pronounced “acorn”) that will provide generic code for the creation of hypervisors for IoT devices.

        A hypervisor is computer code for creating and running virtual machines. Project ACRN aims to provide a generic structure for an IoT-specific hypervisor component.

        The Linux Foundation says it built ACRN to be fully-customizable, and as such, the project is comprised of two main components: the hypervisor itself and a device model for interacting with the underlying hardware.

      • Linux Foundation backs new ‘ACRN’ hypervisor for embedded and IoT

        The Linux Foundation has announced a new hypervizor for use in embedded and internet of things scenarios.

        Project ACRN (pronounced “acorn”) will offer a “hypervizor, and its device model complete with rich I/O mediators.”

        There’ll also be “a Linux-based Service OS” and the ability to “run guest operating systems (another Linux instance, an RTOS, Android, or other operating systems) simultaneously”.

      • Linux Foundation LFCS: Ahmed Alkabary

        I always knew about Linux as an alternative to Windows, but never really got to experience it until 2011. I decided to buy a new laptop, and the laptop that stood out for me had Linux pre-installed on it. I remember well the pre-installed distribution was openSUSE. I was hesitant to buy it as I had no experience with Linux whatsoever, but I thought to myself, Well, I can just install windows on it if I don’t like it. Once I booted the system and saw how fast and neat everything was, I thought it is a message from the Linux gods.

        It’s really weird because on my first day I felt that Linux was meant for me not just as an operating system to use, but I felt my life will be centered around Linux from that day.

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMDKFD GPUVM Support Updated For Discrete Radeon GPUs, Adds Userptr Support

        Unfortunately the AMDKFD GPUVM support for discrete GPUs isn’t looking like it will make it for the Linux 4.17 kernel cycle.

        This past week brought the AMDKFD updates for DRM-Next, a.k.a. Linux 4.17. While it has much of the discrete GPU support landing that we have long been looking forward to seeing in the mainline kernel in order to run ROCm OpenCL out-of-the-box, unfortunately, the GPUVM support wasn’t part of that pull. The GPUVM support for discrete Radeon GPUs was still being discussed and not ready for pulling.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Dolphin Getting More Improvements For KDE Applications 18.04 & Other KDE Happenings

        KDE contributor Nathaniel Graham is out with another recap of the usability and productivity improvements made this past week by the KDE community.

        The Dolphin file manager has been seeing improvements recently. The latest Dolphin work includes help for installing Konsole if it’s not available when trying to launch the terminal pane, reporting of a symlink’s target fi

      • [Krita] Interview with Jennifer

        When I used Krita for the first time I already knew most of the tools, so it was easy to use. But I needed to learn more, then I watched a video that explained the basic tools and method to paint. I thought then that Krita was a good tool for painting. Today I can tell it’s a great tool for digital artists. My personal opinion: Krita is the best and I really can’t use a different program.

      • Akademy-es 2018 in Valencia – 11-13 May
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Here’s GNOME 3.28 – See What’s New

        The latest version of GNOME 3 has been released today. Version 3.28 contains six months of work and new features by the GNOME community and comes with many improvements and new features.

        One major new feature for this release is automatic downloading of operating systems in Boxes, which takes the work out of creating and running virtual machines – just pick the operating system that you want to create a virtual machine of, and Boxes will now download and install it for you.

        Other highlights include improvements to the Calendar and Contacts applications, the ability to star files and folders in the Files application, and improved support for Thunderbolt 3 and Bluetooth LE devices. GNOME’s default UI font has also been overhauled to be more attractive and easy to read, and the on-screen keyboard has been rewritten to be more reliable and has layouts for a number of different locales.

      • textures and paintables

        With GTK4, we’ve been trying to find better solution for image data. In GTK3 the objects we used for this were pixbufs and Cairo surfaces. But they don’t fit the bill anymore, so now we have GdkTexture and GdkPaintable.

      • Web Engines Hackfest 2014

        Last week I attended the Web Engines Hackfest. The event was sponsored by Igalia (also hosting the event), Adobe and Collabora.

        As usual I spent most of the time working on the WebKitGTK+ GStreamer backend and Sebastian Dröge kindly joined and helped out quite a bit, make sure to read his post about the event!

      • GStreamer’s playbin3 overview for application developers

        Multimedia applications based on GStreamer usually handle playback with the playbin element. I recently added support for playbin3 in WebKit. This post aims to document the changes needed on application side to support this new generation flavour of playbin.

      • GTK+ 4.0 Getting Audio/Video Playback Integration

        The GTK+ 4.0 tool-kit has just landed its GtkMediaStream / GtkMediaFile / GtkVideo / GtkMediaControls widgets for now having native multimedia stream playback support in the tool-kit that in turn is backed by GStreamer / FFmpeg.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: ArchMerge 6.4.1

        The distribution I have been asked most frequently to cover so far in 2018 is ArchMerge, an Arch-based project which runs the Xfce desktop environment and can be installed using the Calamares system installer. If the description sounds familiar, it should, as this summary could equally well apply to Archman, SwagArch and one edition of the Revenge OS distribution.

        There are two main features which set ArchMerge apart from its close relatives. First, ArchMerge is available in two flavours. The full featured desktop edition ships with three graphical user interfaces (Xfce, Openbox and i3). A second, minimal flavour is available for people who want to start with a text console and build from the ground up.

        The other point which helps ArchMerge stand out from the crowd of Arch-based distributions is its documentation. Arch Linux is famous for its detailed wiki, and rightfully so. ArchMerge takes a slightly different approach and, instead of supplying detailed pages for virtually every aspect of the distribution, the project supplies quick overviews and tutorials for common tasks and issues. These overviews are each accompanied by a video which shows the user how to perform the task.

        The ArchMerge website places a strong emphasis on learning and the tutorial pages guide visitors through how to install the distribution, how to configure the desktop, how to install additional software and how to set up file synchronizing through Dropbox. There is also a section dedicated to fixing common problems, a sort of FAQ for distribution issues. Since there are videos for the topics covered, we are shown where to go and what each step should look like, rather than just being given a written description.

    • New Releases
      • antiX-17.1 released

        antiX-17.1 (Heather Heyer) released

        This is primarily an upgrade of antiX-17 with a new Meltdown/Spectre patched kernel and a few new applications for users to enjoy.

        As usual we offer the following completely systemd-free flavours for both 32 and 64 bit architecture.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • [Mageia] Weekly roundup 2018, Week 11 and CLT!

        Very small Roundup this week, so there will be space for the CLT report and pics – thanks Marc for writing this up!

        Loads of updates through; as always, you can check for yourself on Mageia Advisories, the Mageia AppDB, PkgSubmit to see the last 48 hours, and Bugzilla to see what’s currently happening.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • GSoC and Outreachy: Mentors don’t need to be Debian Developers

        A frequent response I receive when talking to prospective mentors: “I’m not a Debian Developer yet”.

        As student applications have started coming in, now is the time for any prospective mentors to introduce yourself on the debian-outreach list if you would like to help with any of the listed projects or any topics that have been proposed spontaneously by students without any mentor.

        It doesn’t matter if you are a Debian Developer or not. Furthermore, mentoring in a program like GSoC or Outreachy is a form of volunteering that is recognized just as highly as packaging or any other development activity.

        When an existing developer writes an email advocating your application to become a developer yourself, they can refer to your contribution as a mentor. Many other processes, such as requests for DebConf bursaries, also ask for a list of your contributions and you can mention your mentoring experience there.

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.6.1 is out

          This release fixes several security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • UBports Continues Work On Moving From Ubuntu 15.04 Base To 16.04

            For those still holding out the dream for Ubuntu on phones/tablets, the UBports community continues their work in updating their Ubuntu Touch fork to riding off a 16.04 Xenial base rather than the existing Ubuntu 15.04.

            UBports is working on Ubuntu 16.04 support to eventually replace their 15.04 stable base. Ubuntu 18.04 isn’t being pursued yet due to the Mir changes around Wayland support, and just being a much different target than going from 15.04 to 16.04.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Linux Mint 19 ‘Tara’ Cinnamon will be faster

              Is Linux Mint slow? Hell, no! The operating system is plenty fast. Speed is in the eye of the beholder, however, and the Mint developers apparently thought app-launching seemed slow when using the Cinnamon desktop environment. They didn’t have any proof, but they felt that both Mate and Xfce were faster in this regard.

              Well, rather than allow their feelings to remain unproven, the Mint devs decided to come up with a speed test to see if they were correct. Guess what? They were! Windows build time was four times slower with Cinnamon compared to Metacity, while recovery time was nearly four times slower too. So yes, app-launching on Cinnamon — as of today — is slow comparatively. The big benefit to pinpointing a problem, however, is that it is the first step in solving it. And so, Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon will be faster as a result.

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS Will Ship with a New Default Layout Called “Familiar”

              Ubuntu MATE’s lead developer Martin Wimpress announced that the forthcoming Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system would sport a brand-new default layout for new installations.

              If you plan on installing or reinstalling Ubuntu MATE this spring, the upcoming 18.04 release sports a new default layout called “Familiar.” According to Martin Wimpress, the new layout is based on the Traditional layout with the menu-bar replaced by Brisk Menu, which was used in previous Ubuntu MATE releases.

              The decision to replace the Traditional layout with the Familiar one was taken due to some technical issues when the development team tried to update it for Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). Traditional will still be available, but not enabled by default, and bears no changes.

              “I experimented with a change to the Traditional layout earlier in the 18.04 development cycle and this was met with some hostility and brought into question my commitment to community opinion because it strayed from something I’d previously communicated, that we would retain the Traditional layout as default,” explains Martin Wimpress.

            • Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS: What’s New?

              Ahead of the Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS release next month you may be wondering what new features and changes the update will bring.

              Well, wonder no more.

              In this post we round up all of the key information about the next release of one Ubuntu’s most popular community flavors.

            • Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon will open apps a lot faster

              The Linux Mint development team plans to launch the next version of the popular Linux distribution Linux Mint in the coming months.

              Linux Mint 19 will be offered in multiple flavors including MATE, Xfce and Cinnamon. If you have used Linux Mint Cinnamon in the past or plan to take it for a test drive in the future, you may benefit from application loading improvements in the upcoming version of Linux Mint.

              A new blog post on the official Linux Mint blog offers some insight. It all began with a perceived feeling; team members noticed that app loading “felt” faster on MATE or Xfce versions of Linux Mint and slower on Cinnamon versions.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Google Pixel 2 Portrait Mode Tech Is Now Open Source

    The tech behind the portrait mode on Google Pixel 2 has been made open source by the company. For those who not familiar with it, one of the main draw to the algorithm in the Pixel 2’s camera app is excellent subject isolation without needing additional apparatus such as specialized lens or second camera.

  • Xiaomi releases Oreo kernel source code for the Mi A1

    Xiaomi promised that the Mi A1 would receive Oreo by the end of 2017, and the company hit a buzzer-beater by rolling out Android 8.0 to the Android One device on December 30th. But the kernel source code was nowhere to be found, a violation of the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2), and an affront to the development and enthusiast community. It’s about two-and-a-half months late, but Xiaomi has finally released the Android 8.0 Oreo source code for the Mi A1.

  • Mi A1 Oreo Kernel source code released by Xiaomi

    Xiaomi’s first Android One phone, the Mi A1 was expected to receive Android 8.0 Oreo update by the end December, and the company did roll out the update to the device under the stipulated time. However, the kernel source for the upgrade was left covered with no access to it for third-party developers. This also violated the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2) and also hampered the advancement of developers who base their codes on source codes. Thankfully, after a delay of more than two months, Xiaomi has finally released the kernel source code of Android 8.1 for the Xiaomi Mi A1.

  • Events
    • 11th Open Source Day Conference

      On May 23rd, Warsaw will host the 11th edition of Open Source Day. OSD is the largest conference about open source in Poland and CEE region, gathering every year nearly 1000 participants. The programme of the upcoming edition is focused mainly on practical sessions devoted to the most important directions of IT market development. Registration for the event is already open. For the first 600 attendees, participation in the conference is free-of-charge.

      Open Source Day is the biggest event in Poland and CEE region dedicated to open source. Over 6,000 people took part in previous editions, and several thousand followed the event online. Open Source Day is the knowledge exchange platform about open software, as one of the most important trends in the development of modern technologies, enabling creation of high-quality, stable IT solutions, which today are the basis for all branches of the economy.

  • Web Browsers
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Programming/Development
    • 6 common questions about agile development practices for teams

      You’ve probably heard a speaker ask this question at the end of their presentation. This is the most important part of the presentation—after all, you didn’t attend just to hear a lecture but to participate in a conversation and a community.

      Recently I had the opportunity to hear my fellow Red Hatters present a session called “Agile in Practice” to a group of technical students at a local university. During the session, software engineer Tomas Tomecek and agile practitioners Fernando Colleone and Pavel Najman collaborated to explain the foundations of agile methodology and showcase best practices for day-to-day activities.

  • The US Navy’s newest submarine comes with an Xbox controller
  • Elon Musk says The Boring Company’s Loop will prioritize pedestrians, cyclists

    A system of small tunnels could bypass some of the aesthetic concerns that communities might have, but it may not eliminate some of the structural concerns. Of the California High Speed Rail project, the Times wrote: “The cost of environmental reviews jumped from a projected $388 million in 2010 to more than $1 billion. The rail authority found that nobody could be sure what was under the ground in Fresno [a California city through which the bullet train would pass], driving up the cost of relocating sewers, water lines, communications cables, and electrical conduits by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

  • Elon Musk’s Boring Company Is Now All About Public Transit, and It’s Confusing

    Now, Musk seems to have heard the criticism. Well, at least part of it. In a series of Twitter posts on Friday, the CEO announced his company’s work would “prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars,” emphasizing public transit over private transportation.

  • Hardware
    • Apple Is Secretly Developing Its Own Screens for the First Time

      The technology giant is making a significant investment in the development of next-generation MicroLED screens, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. MicroLED screens use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and promise to make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Deadly superbug just got scarier—it can mysteriously thwart last-resort drug

      It’s the first time researchers have seen colistin-heteroresistant germs in the US.

    • 7 Years on, Sailors Exposed to Fukushima Radiation Seek Their Day in Court

      “All of the sudden, this big cloud engulfs us,” Torres said. “It wasn’t white smoke, like you would see from a steam leak,” he explained, but it also wasn’t like the black smoke he saw from the burning oil fields during his deployment in Kuwait in 1991. “It was like something I’d never seen before.”

    • EPA inspector general says Flint water crisis report expected in summer

      A report on how Flint’s water was contaminated and how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency responded isn’t expected to be completed until summer, a spokesman for the EPA Office of Inspector General says.

    • Transnational beer corporation creates water crisis in northern Mexico

      Just in its initial phase, it is calculated that the plant will use 81 percent of the total water currently used by Mexicali’s industries. If Constellation Brands is allowed to operate at full capacity, the company’s Mexicali plant would consume more water than all industries in Mexicali and the neighboring city of Tijuana combined. The company has stated that it plans to stay in Mexicali for at least 50 years, with the plant’s opening date set for 2019 or 2020.

      The water situation in the municipality of Zaragoza, with a population of 8,000, has already reached crisis levels because of the company’s operations. “We have no more water for human consumption,” stated mayor Leoncio Martínez Sánchez. “We are worried because we are being affected by this extraction of 1,200 liters of water per second by this beer manufacturer. It does not make sense that while Constellation Brands has industrial amounts of water to make beer, the municipality does not even have 100 liters for people to drink or use in their homes.”

    • Save water for future generations: Kavinder to people

      Kavinder Gupta said that Water is the most important element in human life and called for a need to find out a comprehensive strategy to save the portable drinking water for the future generations. The Speaker said that there is only 3 percent of portable water available for the people and providing portable drinking water to every household is emerging as a tremendous challenge for both state and central governments.

    • First case in Finland: [Moose] dies due to chronic wasting disease

      CWD is a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy like BSE (‘mad cow disease’), but no cases of transmission to humans have been confirmed. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns hunters in areas where the illness has been found not to consume parts of deer and elk that may harbour the disease, including the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes.

    • ‘We Must Protect the Water’: Indigenous Leaders and Allies Stage Sit-In to Protest Kinder Morgan Pipeline

      Building on the massive march against the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline that brought 10,000 people to the streets of British Columbia last weekend, Indigenous leaders and their allies staged a sit-in on Saturday at a pipeline construction site on Burnaby Mountain, kicking off a wave of civil disobedience that is set to continue through next week.

  • Security
    • Google Says Android Is as Secure as Apple’s iOS and Wants You to Know That

      Google’s Android security chief David Kleidermacher told CNET today that the Linux-based Android mobile operating system the company develops for a wide range of devices is now as secure as Apple’s iOS.

      Google recently published its “Android Security 2017 Year In Review” report where the company talks about how Android security has matured in the last few years and how it fights to find new ways to protect Android users from malware and all the other nasty stuff you obviously don’t want to have on your mobile phone or tablet.

    • Behind the scenes with the Bitwarden password manager

      Having to remember passwords for web applications, email, banking, and more begat the password manager. And that begat such popular and proprietary services like LastPass and 1Password.

      A little over two years ago, software developer Kyle Spearrin decided the open source world needed its own web-based password manager. His company, 8Bit Solutions, develops and markets an open source alternative to services like LastPass and 1Password called Bitwarden.

      Recently I had the opportunity to ask Spearrin some questions about Bitwarden’s origins, how it secures user information, where he sees Bitwarden going, and more.

    • Episode 88 – Chat with Chris Rosen from IBM about Container Security
    • Feds: Russian [Crackers] Are Attacking U.S. Power Plants

      The targets of these attacks include the country’s electric grid, including its nuclear power system, as well as “commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors,” the statement said.

      The report is damning confirmation of what has for months been suspected: that [crackers] in Russia are capable of infiltrating and compromising vital systems relied on by millions of Americans. According to the new report, the attacks began at least as early as March 2016, thriving on vulnerabilities in these systems’ online operations.

    • Firefox’s Weak Master Password Encryption Can Be Cracked In Just 1 Minute [Ed: If you have physical/remote access to a machine and an account, then you have a lot more power over it than just a list of passwords]

      You might rest assured after setting a Master Password in the Firefox web browser, but it’s not as secure as you think. Last year, Mozilla did a major overhaul of their browser in the form of Firefox Quantum. But the non-profit forgot to fix the security holes that exist in their ‘very fast’ web browser for nine years.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • US moves to soothe Turkey, endangering ties with Kurdish allies

      Beyond quarreling over the Kurds, the US and Turkey have also traded diplomatic volleys in the aftermath of a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stoked anti-American sentiment at home, and American policymakers have explored the possibility of imposing sanctions on Turkey in response to Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian policies.

    • Targeting Midanki dam caused water crisis ,municipality seeks to resolve crisis

      Due to inability of the Water Corporation to cover all of the city’s neighborhoods with water, hundreds of families suffer from lack of water. Some neighborhoods do not reach the water for 5 to 7 days.

    • U.S.-Funded Afghan Military Units Accused Of Child Sexual Abuse, Report Says

      NPR’s David Greene talks to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont about a new report that details the Pentagon’s refusal to end military aid to Afghan military units who commit “gross human rights abuses.”


      The abuses include the routine enslavement and sexual abuse of underage boys by Afghan military commanders. Senator Patrick Leahy wrote a law requiring the Pentagon to stop funding foreign military groups who commit human rights abuses. But in Afghanistan, that has not happened.

    • Detroit’s Iraqi Christians Voted For Trump Then Faced Deportation

      Assyrian is a term used to represent the now nationless people’s ethnicity, and the term Chaldean commonly represents the group’s affiliation with the Catholic Church. They are sometimes grouped with Arabs, but that’s a distinction Assyrians try to make. While many Assyrians learn to speak Arabic at a young age, their mother tongue is Aramaic, which is similar in sound to Hebrew with its “khh’s” and other difficult throaty tones.

      The ICE detainments of Assyrians began June 11, 2017, but Naoum saw warning signs much earlier. “I rang the alarm bell in May, and people laughed at me,” Naoum says. He noticed Arab immigrants were becoming a larger focus for the Trump administration, which was enacting the immigration ban for majority-Muslim countries; he also noticed Iraq was left off the second ban list and wondered what bargaining chip was used to remove it.

    • Where Are the Syrians Kidnapped by ISIS?

      Amer tells me that the process of identifying DNA in mass graves may take years. In addition to the graves, he informs me, “there are dead bodies still buried under the rubble from the US-led military campaign.” He adds, “Sadly, these families, including mine, can’t do anything but wait.” The only thing they can do now, he says, is to prepare, collect evidence, and preserve it until human-rights organizations can provide further assistance.

    • China and India flex muscles over tiny Maldives

      A Chinese naval combat force that entered the Indian Ocean for the first time in four years may have helped deter an Indian intervention in the Maldives after its pro-China president imposed a state of emergency, according to military and diplomatic sources and analysts.

    • Taliban urge religious scholars to boycott peace conference
    • Teenage girl left for dead for resisting gang rape in Nawabshah

      They said that police had first refused to register the case and lodged it only after the news was flashed in electronic media. Police had not yet arrested the main suspect while influential people of the area were pressurising them to accept compensation money and withdraw the case, they said.

    • Boris Johnson Attempt to Refute My Sources on Porton Down the Most Hilarious Fail

      The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a statement to refute my report from well-placed FCO sources that the British government continually re-uses the phrase “of a type developed by Russia” because its own scientists refused government pressure to say the nerve agent was made by Russia, and as getting even agreement to “of a type developed by” was bloody, the government has to stick to precisely that rather odd choice of phrase.

    • Craig Murray Radio 5 Interview on Skripal Attack
    • Boris Johnson Issues Completely New Story on “Russian Novichoks”
    • Portonblimp Down – A Tale By Boris Johnson

      If you harbour any doubts at all about the plausibility of Mr Johnson’s story, you are a crazed conspiracy theorist and a traitor. Plus you will never, ever get employed in the BBC or corporate media.

    • McCabe: A War on (or in) the FBI?

      Andrew McCabe’s claim that his firing amounts to a “war on the FBI” doesn’t make sense considering it was the FBI’s own internal affairs office that recommended he be fired, as FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley explains.

    • In #CallForPeace Address, Sanders Takes on Endless War and Global Oligarchy

      “Increasingly, in the United States and around the world, we see an economic and political system in which a small number of multi-billionaires and corporate interests have increased control over the world’s economic life, our political life, and our media,” Sanders said. “Inequality, corruption, oligarchy, and authoritarianism are inseparable. They must be understood as part of the same system, and fought and opposed in the same way.”

    • Cambodia Joins China for Military Drills as US Relations Cool

      Hundreds of Cambodian and Chinese soldiers began a 15-day joint military exercise in central Cambodia this week, involving live-fire rocket launches from helicopters, mock tank battles, and anti-terrorism and emergency relief training. China will reportedly also donate tanks and armored personnel carriers on the occasion.

      The unprecedented show of military cooperation, dubbed “Golden Dragon,” is the latest sign that the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is relying on Beijing to further shore up its control of the country through growing diplomatic, economic and military support, according to analysts.

      They say increased Chinese military support will also aid the Cambodian army’s balance of power with its neighbors. But some warn that Cambodia’s suspension of planned joint exercises with the U.S. military last year signals Phnom Penh’s growing divide with Washington and its regional allies, as well as other Asian countries that seek to counter China’s aspirations for regional primacy.

    • US Empire on Decline

      US empire is in decline. Reports of the end of the US being the unitary power in world affairs are common, as are predictions of the end of US empire. China surpassed the United States as the world economic leader, according to Purchasing Power Parity Gross National Product, and Russia announced new weapons that can overcome the US’ defense systems.

      What is happening in the United States, in response, is to do more of what has been causing the decline. As the Pentagon outlined in its post-primacy report, the US’ plan is more money, more aggression and more surveillance. Congress voted nearly unanimously to give the Pentagon tens of billions more than it requested. Military spending will now consume 57% of federal discretionary spending, leaving less for basic necessities. The Trump administration’s new nominees to the State Department and CIA are a war hawk and a torturer. And the Democrat’s “Blue Wave” is composed of security state candidates.

      The US is escalating an arms race with Russia and China. This may create the mirror image of President Reagan forcing Russia to spend so much on its military that it aided in the break-up of the Soviet Union. The US economy cannot handle more military spending, worsening austerity when most people in the US are in financial distress.

      This is an urgent situation for all people in the world. In the US, we carry an extra burden as citizens of empire to do what we can to oppose US imperialism. We must be clear that it is time to end wars and other tools of regime change, to become a cooperative member of the world community and to prioritize the needs of people and protection of the planet.

    • Iraq +15: Accumulated Evil of the Whole

      Robert Jackson, the Chief United States Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, once denounced aggressive war as “the greatest menace of our time.” With much of Europe laying in smoldering ruin, he said in 1945 that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime: it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of whole.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Pruitt: California ‘can’t dictate to the rest of the country’ on fuel emissions

      Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said that when it comes to determining new federal vehicle emission standards, California doesn’t have the right to lead.

    • Poaching for trophies poses threat to Big Cats

      Uganda is home to three famous Big Cats; the Leopard, Lion, and Cheetah. Two of these are members of the Big Five. Most of them are located in Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth and Kidepo Valley National Park. Unlike the other big cats, the Cheetah is found only in Kidepo Valley. In his speech at the World Wildlife Day celebrations in Kasese, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities(MTWA) Prof Ephraim Kamuntu indicated that the lion population had declined from more than 1,000 individuals in the 1990’s to the current estimated 420 individuals nationwide. Cheetahs and leopards are under assessment but Dr Akankwasah Barirega, a board member at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) estimates the leopard and cheetah population at 2500 and less than 100 respectively. Out of the wild, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), a rescue, rehabilitation, conservation, and education centre boasts of eight lions, one leopard, and two cheetahs.
      Conservationists are worried about survival of the big cats in the wild. Unless this trend is reversed, the cats could become extinct in Uganda.

    • India lost 40% of its mangroves in the last century. And it’s putting communities at risk

      Mangroves provide excellent nesting and breeding habitats for fish and shellfish, migratory birds and sea turtles, underlining their importance to coastal fishing communities. An estimated 80% of the global fish catch relies on mangrove forests either directly or indirectly, a 2008 paper in the Journal of Sea Research claims.


      Mangroves are also great carbon sinks. They isolate carbon at two to four times the rate of tropical forests like the Amazon and store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests.

    • Greenland is melting

      Greenland is melting. As it melts, it adds roughly 1 millimeter of water per year to global sea levels. And the pace of melting is quickening.

      If all the ice covering the world’s largest island were to thaw, sea levels would rise roughly 6 meters. Scientists don’t know how fast, or how likely, that is to happen. East GRIP is looking for evidence to inform both those questions.

    • Research hints at tipping point in the Atlantic’s currents

      A new study, however, suggests that there’s a tipping point for the Atlantic conveyor that could be reached much sooner. It only relies indirectly on warm temperatures; instead, it is driven by the melting of the Greenland Icecap. And the new research suggests we’ve already gone nearly halfway to the tipping point.

    • Why what we eat is crucial to the climate change question

      Did you know that what’s on your plate plays a larger role in contributing to climate change than the car you drive? When most wealthy people think about their carbon footprint, or their contributions to climate change, they’ll think about where their electricity and heat come from or what they drive. They’ll think about fossil fuels and miles per gallon, about LED lights and mass transit – but not so much about combine harvesters or processed meals or food waste. Few consider the impacts of the food they eat, despite the fact that globally, food systems account for roughly one quarter of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the entire transportation sector, more than all industrial practices, and roughly the same as the production of electricity and heat.

    • Wanna limit global warming to 1.5°C? Get cracking

      One surprise in the international Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions was the addition of the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Nations have long stated that their aim was to avoid exceeding 2-degree warming (though they’ve largely failed to follow through with actions that would make that possible), and so scientists have studied that scenario in great detail. But nobody had been promising to keep this a 1.5-degree world, so the information was lacking.

    • Sea Level Rise in the SF Bay Area Just Got a Lot More Dire

      Sea level rise threatens to wipe out swaths of the Bay’s densely populated coastlines, and a new study out today in Science Advances paints an even more dire scenario: The coastal land is also sinking, making a rising sea that much more precarious. Considering sea level rise alone, models show that, on the low end, 20 square miles could be inundated by 2100. But factor in subsiding land and that estimate jumps to almost 50 square miles. The high end? 165 square miles lost.

    • Almost four environmental defenders a week killed in 2017

      The slaughter of people defending their land or environment continued unabated in 2017, with new research showing almost four people a week were killed worldwide in struggles against mines, plantations, poachers and infrastructure projects.

      The toll of 197 in 2017 – which has risen fourfold since it was first compiled in 2002 – underscores the violence on the frontiers of a global economy driven by expansion and consumption.

    • Climate of Fear

      Now, we are the people of the gulf and of the islands who fear for every ripple on the water, every puff of wind, and every drop of rain. We are the people of the drought who fear for every day without moisture. We are the people of the temperate lands who fear the extremes of heat and cold. We are the people of the tropics who fear the cold, and of the polar landscapes who fear the melting of the ice. We are the people of the burned lands who fear for every wisp of smoke. We are the people of the debris flows who fear for every rivulet and rill. We are the people of the flood lands who fear for every rise in the water; we are the people of the tide who fear its every incoming, and we are the people of the storm who fear its every surge.

    • Ahtium, former Talvivaara Mining, files for bankruptcy

      A state-owned firm, Terrafame, is now running the mine that previously faced bankruptcy under the Talvivaara name. After extensive environmental problems with the company’s production process, the Finnish state stepped in to take over mining operations through Terrafame in 2015.

    • Standing Rock is everywhere: one year later

      In the protection of Mni Woc’oni, it is more than oil pipelines threatening the well-being and future of our water. Near the native territory of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, concentrated animal feeding operations or “CAFOs” are draining and degrading the land and water. As a result, the air is toxic, swamps have dried up, and aquifers, to which the people are supposed to have water rights, are being drained. Residents have mortgaged their homes to fight these threats in court and lost. In other places — in mining spills across South America and Africa and at Fukushima — man has gone too far.

      Water is a source of life, not a resource.

  • Finance
    • Bernie Sanders Wants to Tell the Story That Corporate Media Fails To Tell
    • Twitter is reportedly planning to ban cryptocurrency ads
    • As Brexit Britain heads for the rocks what does Corbyn’s Labour stand for?

      The diminished global status of Britain and our future post-Brexit has been on display in the last few days. The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and the possible role of Russian authorities; the visit of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, and the continued saga of Donald Trump’s unpredictable, erratic Presidency from trade wars to his state visit, all illustrate the challenges a diminished UK will face in the aftermath of Brexit.

      Twenty-one months on from the Brexit vote we have no clear plan or detail from the UK Government. Indeed, the kind of Brexit and Britain which the UK Government represents is nothing more than a sketch and vague principles, much to the increasing consternation of the EU and the remaining 27 nation-states.

      Brexit is full of contradictions, tensions and paradoxes. Can the fabled Tory Party with its reputation for statecraft really be reduced to its current incompetence and divisions? Decades of Tory appeasement of Euroscepticism culminated in David Cameron’s pledge in 2013 to hold an in/out referendum – a pledge he thought he would never have to deliver. His subsequent failed attempts to secure renegotiated terms of EU membership – echoes of Harold Wilson in 1975 – were followed by the subsequent referendum campaign and Brexit triumph.

    • Cable’s confusion – on Brexit imperial “nostalgia” and what it means to be English

      Vince Cable’s swipe at Leave voters ‘nostalgic for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink’ sounds like the latest proof that most Remainers would rather abuse their opponents than engage with them. But, let’s assume for a moment that Vince was on to something. What if Leavers did yearn for an older if irrecoverable, idea of greatness? Why should that be, and why in England in particular?

      It wasn’t Britain that voted Leave. It was England, and above all it was England outside London, that chose to take the UK out of the EU. Within England, it is those who felt most English who gave Leave their strongest support. If it was simple nostalgia for the British empire, then the British would have been Leavers too. But residents of England who identified as British rather than English were strongly in favour of Remain.

      For all its historic resentment of its larger southern neighbour, Scotland was as invested in the British Empire as any part of England. From the financial elites to the active colonialists and administrators to the working classes in the shipyards and the protected textile industries, Scots appear to have as much reason to be nostalgic for Empire as most in England. Yet Scotland voted strongly for Remain, as did Northern Ireland. True, Wales voted narrowly for Leave, but much less than England outside London. London, significantly, also voted Remain.

    • Could Britain’s Labour Party Under Corbyn Hold the Answer to Europe’s Woes?

      For over 40 years, Britain has pushed extreme, free-market policies in the European Union (EU). While the EU has delivered, for Britain, better workers’ rights, cleaner air and water, and more enforceable human rights, Britain has consistently argued against the regulation of big business and big finance and against better social protection.

      While enjoying special privileges and rebates, Britain consistently argued for opt-outs, believing it was an exceptional member of the EU, too good for the rules that apply to everyone else. David Cameron’s pre-referendum negotiations wanted more exemptions, which would have allowed it to crack down on migrants’ rights, protect the City of London’s financial excesses and drive deregulation.


      They urge Corbyn to commit to remaining in the EU if he wins the next election, and working with allies to push a series of dramatic reforms to transform the EU.

    • Northern Irish party donors finally published – but source of DUP Brexit money remains secret

      While all major political donations in the rest of the UK have been public since 2000, yesterday’s data release marks the first modicum of transparency for Northern Irish politics.

      The Electoral Commission’s disclosure comes after a long-awaited change in the law in Northern Ireland – and after additional pressure for transparency was triggered by openDemocracy’s revelation that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had taken a controversial £435,000 donation for its Brexit campaign. The source of that money is still a secret, because the UK government reneged on its previous commitment to publish details of donations from January 2014 onwards.

      But the data – which only goes back to July 2017 – does include some interesting details.

    • Donald Trump Is Determined to Privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs

      Aaron Hughes, who was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 and 2004, now has a serious, very rare lung condition. But he told In These Times he gets “really outstanding care” at the nearby Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. “The doctors are at the top of their class,” he said.

      Because his condition is so rare, Hughes has been sent to a hospital outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for specific tests. And his taste of the private healthcare system has been sour. “As soon as I went there, all hell broke loose,” he said said, explaining there were problems with sharing records between the two institutions. “With the VA system, when you do tests, it’s all integrated.” Every doctor Hughes sees is aware of all the other treatment he gets, from vision to mental health. The private hospitals, on the other hand, often refuse to send the records back to the VA. “The private sector isn’t about sharing your information,” Hughes explained. “It’s not about healthcare, it’s about ownership of care.”

    • Statistics: Nearly 12% of Finnish residents at risk of “living in poverty”

      One-third of individuals who were at risk of living in poverty in 2016 were young adults between the ages of 18-34.

    • Forget about GDP: it’s time for a wellbeing economy

      GDP doesn’t capture the value of non-monetized or non-marketed work, like housework, raising children, caring for the elderly, or volunteering.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Koch Brothers Get Their Very Own Secretary of State

      After serving for a little more than a year as Donald Trump’s top yes-man at the Central Intelligence Agency, Pompeo is Trump’s pick to replace Rex Tillerson, the administration’s listless placeholder at the Department of State.

    • Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary

      MSNBC prides itself for progressive reporting on national security issues but continues to use apologists for the Central Intelligence Agency in reporting on key intelligence issues. The network’s reliance on former deputy director of the CIA John McLaughlin is an excellent example of the skewed and tailored information that it offers to viewers on matters dealing with CIA. McLaughlin, a former colleague of mine at the CIA who I remember as an amateur magician, regularly pulls the wool over the eyes of such MSNBC veterans as Andrea Mitchell.

      The most recent example took place over the past several days, when McLaughlin made the case for confirmation of Gina Haspel as the first woman to become director of the CIA. McLaughlin and former CIA directors Leon Panetta and John Brennan referred to Haspel as a “seasoned veteran” who had the support of senior CIA leaders. Perhaps MSNBC should acknowledge the fact that Deputy Director McLaughlin was Haspel’s boss during this terrible period in American history.

    • The Mad King

      Now he’s either fired or is in the process of removing the adults. He’s replacing them with a Star Wars cantina of toadies and sycophants who will reflect back at him his own glorious view of himself, and help sell it on TV.

    • ‘Trump Must Be Desperate’: President’s Lawyers File to Move Stormy Daniels Suit to Federal Court, Out of Public View

      “Attorney Charles Harder—best known for representing Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against Gawker, which resulted in its bankruptcy—is handling the case on the President’s behalf,” CNN reported.

      The moves by the Trump legal team came just a day after it was reported that CBS’s “60 Minutes” interview with Clifford and her attorney will air March 25.

      As Common Dreams reported on Friday, Clifford’s lawyer Michael Avenatti said his client has been physically threatened to remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump.

      “I think it will become apparent to people when they tune in to ’60 minutes’ on March 25 as to the details relating to the threat,” Avenatti added.

    • Former CIA Chief Brennan Running Scared

      This blame game turned out to be a hugely successful effort to divert attention from the content of the emails, which showed in bas relief the dirty tricks the DNC played on Bernie Sanders. The media readily fell in line, and all attention was deflected from the substance of the DNC emails to the question as to why the Russians supposedly “hacked into the DNC and gave the emails to WikiLeaks.”

      This media operation worked like a charm, but even Secretary Clinton’s PR person, Jennifer Palmieri, conceded later that at first it strained credulity that the Russians would be doing what they were being accused of doing.

    • Edward Snowden: “How the Deep State Shapes Presidents”

      When Edward Snowden emerged from the shadowy world of American intelligence contractors five years ago to reveal the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, he immediately became one of the most wanted men on earth. A hero for public opinion, an enemy of the state for governments and secret services. In fact he asked twenty-one countries for protection, mostly European nations, and they completely shut their doors to him. In a newly published book “Women, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks” by Renata Avila, Sarah Harrison and Angela Richter (Or Books), fresh details of this global manhunt emerge, revealing what was happening behind the scenes as the social networks, reporters and TVs pursued Edward Snowden alongside the US government.

      Yes, because as soon as Snowden handed the top-secret NSA documents to journalists Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, the United States government immediately charged him, using a draconian law created in 1917: the Espionage Act. “A law which has been around for a hundred years that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and selling secrets to foreign enemies for a personal profit”, explains Snowden’s US lawyer, Ben Wizner, to Repubblica, elaborating on the serious impact of this law on journalistic sources: “There is no investigative journalism without unauthorized sources”, says Wizner. Today Snowden lives in exile in Russia, where he only has a temporary residence permit.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • How a Norwegian comment section turned chaos into order—with a simple quiz

      Commenters offered a variety of ideas, which included everything from comment voting to more active moderation. The staff mulled over what they could implement that would be low cost and low impact to its community, and Grut had his own eureka moment while showering before biking to the office: why not a quiz? A WordPress plugin could force users to correctly answer a few multiple-choice questions before the page’s comment field would appear. Once he got to the office, he and fellow staffers spent three hours building the plugin, which Grut reminded the crowd is wholly open source.

    • European Commission’s expert group tackling fake news misses the point

      Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and appointed expert to the Commission’s fake news group, has voted against the final report which was presented in Brussels today. Monique Goyens deplores that the report does not tackle the root causes of fake news.

    • Deleted, suspended, demoted: Censorship, Silicon Valley-style

      When Google launched almost 20 years ago, its corporate motto was “Don’t be Evil”. And until last year, Facebook’s official mission was to “make the world more open and connected”.

      Things have changed since the two tech giants first came online. Both companies have been accused of working behind the scenes to silence or de-emphasise certain kinds of voices.

      “Censorship has changed completely and dramatically because of the internet and because of particularly these big tech companies which are basically monopolies. They can end your existence online,” says Robert Epstein, research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioural Research & Technology.

    • College Warns Saying “God Bless You” is Islamophobic

      That bit of information is tucked inside the college’s Anti-Oppression Library Guide – an exhaustive collection of words and phrases that could trigger perpetually offended collegiate snowflakes.

      Islamomisia is a fairly new malady that until recently was known as Islamphobia.

    • Is it now a thoughtcrime to hate Islam?

      Few will shed tears over Fransen and Golding. Britain First is an odious group. Its loathing of Muslims is bizarre and obsessive and highly prejudiced. But here’s the question, the question that cuts to the heart of whether or not we want to live in a free society: shouldn’t people have the right to loathe Islam?


      There is a dark irony to what happened yesterday. Fransen and Golding are referred to by many as far right and extremist, and there is little doubt that is true. But I would say that having laws that in some situations allow for the punishment of thought is more extreme, and more worrying.

    • RIP Matt Damon, who Terry Gilliam says has been ‘beaten to death’ by internet mobs

      Decent human being Matt Damon, 47, has supposedly perished in an untimely death brought about by mobs of angry #MeToo supporters, according to director Terry Gilliam. In an interview with AFP, Gilliam boldly shines a spotlight on the horrifying plight of the powerful and popular actor. “I feel sorry for someone like Matt Damon, who is a decent human being,” Gilliam says of those original statements. “He came out and said all men are not rapists, and he got beaten to death. Come on, this is crazy!”

      Despite his wife’s sensible advice to “keep [his] head a bit low” when it comes to saying the least useful thing at the worst possible time, Gilliam continues to spew complaints about the survivors of assault and abuse who have stepped forward as part of the #MeToo movement. After insisting that “people have got to take responsibility for their own selves,” and that “I know enough girls who were in Harvey’s suites who were not victims and walked out,” he simultaneously compares the increasing sense of accountability and intolerance for the endemic problem of sexual abuse and assault to a crazed, pitchfork-wielding mob attacking innocent monsters.

    • Don’t Censor Lil Yachty

      This debate is not only about the censorship of the word “Columbine.” It brings up a larger question of whether or not censorship of any offensive words is acceptable. If we were to allow censorship in this case, it could justify the censorship of other words or phrases that offend, disrespect or make people feel uncomfortable. Censorship of this nature could result in countless works being altered and a society with mechanisms reminiscent of the “thought-police” depicted in George Orwell’s “1984.”

    • China ramps up social media censorship

      The stranglehold on freedom of expression, particularly online, in mainland China is “a potent tool of repression” as digital rights continue to plummet under the government’s control, according to a rights group.

      PEN America released a report on March 13, “Forbidden Feeds,” documenting the rising censorship of social media, which the organization said is ruthlessly enforced and leaves little space for dissent.

      The report found through both extensive interviews and research that under President Xi Jinping the scope and severity of censorship has significantly expanded.

      “We were concerned by how the government’s regulatory power, technological capacity for censorship and willingness to censor increasingly large areas of speech are all expanding in tandem,” James Tager, senior program manager for PEN, told

    • By banning Russian propaganda, the UK will help Putin in his campaign against press freedom

      The poisoning of Sergey Skripal has led to a sharp deterioration in UK-Russia relations. For now, London’s official moves, such as deporting 23 Russian diplomats and searching planes inbound from Russia, look moderate. But Boris Johnson’s statement on 16 March was likely unexpected for Moscow. The British foreign minister came to the conclusion that Vladimir Putin sanctioned the attack on Skripal too quickly, though the Kremlin has, for now, merely commented that Johnson’s tone was “unacceptable”.

    • “Censorship is the worst it has ever been”

      There are no standards. Thatʹs the biggest problem of the Egyptian censor board. When it comes to censorship, there simply are no rules. Itʹs often left up to one particular censor dealing with a specific movie. And then there are some films, where you just know beforehand, that they wonʹt ever make it to a cinema. Mostly because thereʹs a direct message of dissent against the government. In that respect, itʹs the worse it has ever been. A lot of films are being censored at the moment. I donʹt just mean that certain scenes are cut out. I mean that they arenʹt even shown at all.

    • Orange is the New Black’s Turkish adaptation faces censorship over terror propaganda

      The US TV series Orange is the New Black’s Turkish version, Avlu [the Yard] faces censorship over some of its scenes considered making propaganda on behalf of terror organizations.

      Starring Turkish actress Demet Evgar as the lead character, the new TV series is set to make its debut on March 29.

      Cumhuriyet newspaper reported Monday that Justice Ministry officials has asked the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) to “take necessary measures” against some scenes that allegedly make prison officials look like torturers and prisons like torture centers.

    • Can SESTA Be Fixed?

      It appears that sometime this week (or even possibly today), the Senate is unfortunately likely to vote (perhaps by an overwhelming margin) for SESTA, despite the fact that it’s a terribly drafted bill which no one can explain how it will actually stop sex trafficking. Indeed, it’s a bill that many victims advocates are warning will not just make problems worse, but will put lives in danger. And that’s leaving aside all of the damage it will do to free speech and tons of websites on the internet.

      Much of this could have been avoided if anyone in Congress were actually interested in understanding how the internet worked, and how to write a bill that actually addressed problems around sex trafficking — rather than buying into a false narrative (pushed mainly by Hollywood) that the liability protections of CDA 230 were magically responsible for sex traffickers using the internet. Two academics who are probably the most knowledgeable experts on intermediary liability, Daphne Keller at Stanford and Eric Goldman at Santa Clara University, have each posted thoughts on how to “salvage” SESTA. If Congress were serious, it would listen to them. But that’s a big “if.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • U.K. Alleges Facebook-Linked Data Firm CEO Made False Statements

      Damian Collins, chair of the U.K. Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said he will ask Nix to explain his comments and answer further questions about the company’s connections to the Facebook data. He also plans to ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to have a senior executive of the social networking giant answer the panel’s questions.

    • Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data was a ‘grossly unethical experiment’

      On Friday, Facebook announced that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics company, Cambridge Analytica, for violating its Terms of Service, by collecting and sharing the personal information of up to 50 million users without their consent. The incident is demonstrative of ways that Facebook’s core business model — delivering individualized ads to users — can be exploited, while raising uncomfortable questions about how such data might have been used to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.

      Cambridge Analytica is owned in part by hedge fund billionaire Richard Mercer, and first aided Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2015, before helping the Trump campaign in 2016. [...]

    • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Under Pressure Over Data Breach

      “It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,’’ Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, said Saturday on Twitter. “They say ‘trust us.’ Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary.’’ Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also separately launched an investigation.

    • New York professor sues Cambridge Analytica to find out what it knows about him

      Last year, David Carroll, a professor at the New School’s Parsons School of Design, used a British data protection law to ask Cambridge Analytica’s branch in the United Kingdom to provide the data it had gathered on him.

    • NY professor sues Cambridge Analytica

      David Carroll, a professor at the New School’s Parsons School of Design, filed a request on Friday with a British court asking them to order Cambridge Analytica, a data firm used by the Trump campaign, to turn over all the data they’ve collected on the professor, and the source of that data.

    • Self-described whistleblower suspended by Facebook after Cambridge Analytica reports

      On Sunday, Wylie shared a screenshot of an “account disabled” message that he said came from Facebook. He said the company suspended him for revealing something that they had already known for two years.


      Roughly 30 million of the profiles Kogan gave the firm had enough information to create psychographic profiles but only 270,000 people had given permission for their data to be collected.

    • Cambridge Analytica working to stop undercover report on its practices from airing: report

      Reporters for Channel 4 posed as prospective clients and secretly filmed a number of meetings with the firm.

    • Mark Zuckerberg Told to ‘Stop Hiding Behind his Facebook Page’ After Reports of Data Breach

      A British lawmaker accused Facebook on Sunday of misleading officials by downplaying the risk of users’ data being shared without their consent.

    • Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: ‘We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles’ – video

      Christopher Wylie, who worked for data firm Cambridge Analytica, reveals how personal information was taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters in order to target them with personalised political advertisements. At the time the company was owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Donald Trump’s key adviser, Steve Bannon. Its CEO is Alexander Nix

    • Thanks to the CIA, Issues of the Agency’s Most-Hated Magazine Are Now Online

      Long before Wikileaks was promoting “radical transparency” in the digital age, CounterSpy was publishing a magazine that named CIA station chiefs and exposed covert operations. Now, 23 issues from its 32-issue run have been pulled from the CIA’s own archives and digitized for your perusal. We can neither confirm nor deny that the agency is happy about this.

      CounterSpy started publishing from its headquarters in Washington, DC in 1973. Its staff and contributors were made up of journalists and former intelligence agents who wanted to expose the CIA and other intelligence apparatuses as corrupt organizations. It ran stories about subjects like the CIA’s efforts to undermine labor movements around the world and psychological warfare conducted under COINTELPRO. The spooks at Langley weren’t fans but were certainly readers.

    • Mossad starts funding sociopathic startups aiming to deprive people of liberty

      Mossad has started funding the worst of the worst of IT startups. Normally, a headline such as this would only be seen on very questionable websites, but the source for this story is the Israeli Jerusalem Post itself – and further: the Israeli Mossad are far from the only ones.

    • Raleigh cops are investigating crime by getting Google to reveal the identity of every mobile user within acres of the scene

      Public records requests have revealed that on at least four occasions, the Raleigh-Durham police obtained warrants forcing Google to reveal the identities of every mobile user within acres of a crime scene, sweeping up the personal information of thousands of people in a quest to locate a single perp.

      The warrants came with gag orders that banned Google from disclosing their existence; in their requests for the warrants, local prosecutors say that they don’t even believe that warrants are needed to get this information, but since Google insists, they’re willing to get them.

      The cops insist that this approach balances the public’s Fourth Amendment rights with their need to fight crimes. Only one of the crimes in which police used this dragnet technique has had an arrest; it’s not clear if this arrest was the result of data from Google.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Why Is No One Demanding an Explanation for the Torture of Doyle Hamm?

      While the execution of Eggers itself raises serious constitutional questions, an equally critical question remains, which has neither been asked nor addressed: How can Alabama, without having answered at all for its botched and torturous execution of Doyle Hamm a mere three weeks ago, be permitted to simply move on to execute the next man on its death row? Why is no one demanding an explanation? And why is Alabama not at least publicly explaining that what happened three weeks ago was not a systematic breakdown of its death-penalty system?

    • My story of detention in Yarl’s Wood
    • Tina Fontaine Is Further Proof That Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Need Justice
    • It’s Time to Abolish ICE

      Canon has also defended clients swept up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, and fought a Kafkaesque deportation system that, at one point, wouldn’t even disclose the location of his client. Now Canon believes ICE should be abolished entirely.

    • Abolishing ICE is the radical idea America needs to be talking about | Will Bunch

      After all the stories and viral videos — the screaming mom dragged away from her horrified young children, the 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who got busted in her ambulance after emergency surgery, the pillars of their local communities who showed for a routine check-up and ended up in detention, the stepped-up raids, and all the arrests in courtrooms, outside schoolhouse doors, and behind churches — Americans are right to wonder if our out-of-control immigration cops have any limits at all.

      Amazingly, they do. When it came out a couple of weeks ago that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was on the brink of deporting the wife of an Army Special Forces veteran — planning to send her back to Honduras, where drug dealers might seek violent revenge for her husband’s past drug-interdiction work there with the U.S. military — the public outcry was so great that even this tone-deaf federal agency backed down, for once.

    • Iran jails woman for removing headscarf in public
    • Saudi Crown Prince Plans Meetings With Apple, Google

      Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman plans to meet top global executives, including the heads of Apple Inc. and Google, during his first trip to the U.S. since becoming heir to the throne of the world’s largest oil exporter, according to a person briefed on the trip’s details.

    • No Dancing, No Swaying: Saudi Pop Concert Comes With Warning

      Many Saudi conservatives are deeply uncomfortable with Prince Mohammed’s reforms, although they have mostly kept quiet, fearing arrest. Many of the online posts about Mr. Hosny’s concert condemned the concert, not the rules governing it.

    • Saudis Said to Use Coercion and Abuse to Seize Billions

      Businessmen once considered giants of the Saudi economy now wear ankle bracelets that track their movements. Princes who led military forces and appeared in glossy magazines are monitored by guards they do not command. Families who flew on private jets cannot gain access to their bank accounts. Even wives and children have been forbidden to travel.

    • Now we know why defense attorneys quit the USS Cole case. They found a microphone.

      Lawyers for the alleged USS Cole bombing mastermind quit the capital case after discovering a microphone in their special client meeting room and were denied the opportunity to either talk about or investigate it, the Miami Herald has learned.


      The court filing is an attempt by prosecutors in the USS Cole case to get the review panel to order a military judge to resume the case. Nashiri, a Saudi, is charged with engineering al-Qaida’s suicide bombing of the warship off the Yemen post of Aden on Oct. 12, 2000. Seventeen U.S. sailors died in the blast, and the prosecutor is seeking a death sentence. Air Force Col. Vance Spath, the judge, abruptly abated the case Feb. 16, saying he wanted a higher court to clarify his authority as a judge in the Guantánamo war court.

    • Telangana: Angry at teen watching porn on mobile, father chops off his hand with butcher’s knife

      According to police, 43-year-old Mohammed Qayyum Qureshi, who is an electrician by profession, was angry at his son Khaled as the latter was addicted to his smartphone.

    • 5 Ways We’re Fighting Crime (And Making Everything Worse)
    • Christian asylum seekers in Sweden face violent attacks, warns Swedish Evangelical Alliance

      They point out: ‘There are many studies focusing on hate crimes against Jews and Muslims in Sweden but few on hate crimes against Christians, even though statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention show that police reports of the latter have risen in recent years.’

    • Illegal Minaret Calls Divide Inhabitants in Sweden’s ‘Most Tolerant Town’

      An Islamic center in the town of Växjö has been reported to the police after it was disclosed that it has been broadcasting prayer calls without permission for several years. The notification is based on a breach of the public order act, and the police are serious about the incident, Swedish Radio reported.

    • A Women’s Rights March in Turkey Has Ended With Tear Gas and Arrests

      Women’s rights marchers in Ankara met with tear gas and arrests Sunday as they gathered for a protest ahead of International Women’s Day later this week.

    • Bangladesh police say writer was attacked as ‘enemy of Islam’

      Saturday’s attack on Zafar Iqbal in the northern city of Sylhet was just the latest in a series of stabbings of secular or atheist authors and bloggers in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

      Iqbal, a longstanding champion of free speech and secularism, remains in stable condition in hospital where he is being treated for stab wounds to his head.

    • Syrian man in Germany appears on air with blood on his face after killing wife

      In an attempt to justify the crime, Abu Marwan said that his actions were a message to all women who irritate their husbands saying “this is how you’ll end.” The man and his son urged viewers to share the video.

    • Ten men deny sex abuse of care home runaway girls

      Ms Melly told the court: “Frustrated at the lack of coverage… her partner contacted Look North, telling them the abuse was ‘much wider than Rotherham’.”

    • Husband divorces wife on honeymoon for not enough sex

      The couple appealed to a sharia court in Dubai, where the man said his new wife did not allow him to touch her or have sex with her during the honeymoon.

    • In Sweden, Christians Fleeing Persecution Face Violence All Over Again

      More than half of all participants in the survey, 53 percent, reported that they had been attacked violently at least once because of their Christian faith. Almost half, 45 percent, reported that they had received at least one death threat, and 6 percent reported that they had been sexually assaulted.

    • University of Auckland worker fired after trying to force female Muslim student to shake hands

      A University of Auckland academic has been fired after trying to shake a female Muslim student’s hand and then accusing her of sexual discrimination when she refused.

    • #MeToo Behind Bars: When the Sexual Assaulter Holds the Keys to Your Cell

      In January, Strawberry Hampton, a trans woman incarcerated in Illinois, settled a lawsuit about repeated sexual and physical abuse she’d experienced by prison staff in the state’s men’s prisons. What she endured isn’t limited to Illinois prisons, or to men’s prisons. Across the country, thousands of incarcerated people face sexual harassment, abuse and assault, frequently at the hands of staff. In the face of these attacks — and the reality of retaliation — incarcerated people have come forward to file complaints and lawsuits, fighting back against system-wide abuse.

    • Women barred from Sidi Saiyed mosque

      They got a red-carpet welcome last September. Situation changed later with four notice boards put up at the mosque banning women entry. They read, “Lady visitors are not allowed to enter the masjid premises under any circumstances. They should see the site from the water hoj (tank for ablutions) or garden side only.”

    • Egypt struggles to end female genital mutilation

      A 2016 survey by the U.N. Children’s Fund showed that 87 percent of women and girls aged 15-49 in Egypt have undergone the procedure.

    • Delhi: Father slits throat of girl over ‘friendship’ with boy in suspected honour killing
    • Students Aren’t Waiting for March or April. They’re Protesting Now

      Every day since February 21, high-school and middle-school students across the country have protested for stronger gun laws, often by walking out of class.

    • YouTube stopped hiring white men in attempt to boost diversity, lawsuit claims

      YouTube stopped hiring white and Asian men in a blunt attempt to make the company more diverse, a lawsuit claims.

      Arne Wilberg, a former recruiter at the Google-owned video website, said he was fired for speaking out against the company’s practices last year when it cancelled interviews with candidates who were not female, black or Hispanic for technical jobs.

    • United Airlines kills another pet

      Last year the carrier killed nine times as many animals as American and Delta

    • Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel

      With the not-entirely-unexpected departure of United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the brightest light in the Trump administration is now extinguished. Not that the illumination caused by that light was particularly bright, but when one is operating in total darkness, even a small candle is something for which to be grateful.

      The former ExxonMobile executive supported the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action); sought a diplomatic solution with North Korea, and not only tried to delay the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but also skipped visiting Apartheid Israel during a year-end tour of the Middle East. In each of these significant ways, Tillerson differed from his erratic, trigger-happy boss, who brooks no disagreement with his ever-changing thoughts. Add to that the fact that Tillerson was quoted in October as calling Trump a moron, and he basically issued his own pink slip.

    • ‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem

      Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video evidence that has allowed the public to test officers’ credibility.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Founder of Fan-Made Subtitle Site Lose Copyright Infringement Appeal

        The founder of a site that provided fan-created subtitles has lost his appeal against a conviction for copyright infringement. In 2017 a Swedish court found that the unauthorized distribution of movie subtitles is a crime, sentencing the then 32-year-old to probation and a fine. The Court of Appeal has now largely upheld that earlier verdict.

      • Canadian Pirate Site Blocking Plan Triggers Thousands of Responses

        A group of prominent Canadian ISPs and movie industry companies have asked the local telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program. Before making any decisions, CRTC launched a public consultation which has already received thousands of responses. It appears that most people argue against the plan, fearing widespread censorship, but there is support as well.

From PTAB Bashing to Federal Circuit (CAFC) Bashing: How the Patent ‘Industry’ Sells Software Patents

Monday 19th of March 2018 08:02:50 AM

No, the patent microcosm needs no facts, only innuendo!

Summary: The latest tactics of the patent microcosm are just about as distasteful as last month’s (or last year’s), with focus shifting to the courts and few broadly-misinterpreted patent cases (mainly Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix)

IN OUR previous post we explained how buzzwords were being used by both the EPO and USPTO to allow some software patents. This isn’t good, but one must remember that a patent being granted by a patent office isn’t the final stop; courts too must examine and rule on the matter, but only if it reaches the courts (i.e. not a settlement out of court or ‘protection’ money).

US courts have become very hostile (albeit understandably and suitably — as per the law — hostile) towards software patents. This really, really upsets patent zealots such as IAM and Watchtroll. They seem to have shifted attention away from PTAB and mostly to CAFC, whose judges they are bashing and credibility/legitimacy they question. It’s disgusting because we recently saw even racial smears against Judge Reyna.

Watchtroll used to bash PTAB almost every day — sometimes several times per day — but gone are those days. Several days ago they wrote about the Zeidman lawsuit over “optimizing software code to run on a modern space processor [...] Zeidman was informed that the funding topic was seeking a software tool or tool suite capable of converting high level software languages like C++ or Matlab into a hardware description language (HDL).”

Watchtroll has always been a loud proponent of software patents; so isn’t it a shame that nobody there (with very rare exceptions) even understands how programming works? The founder got so upset when questioned about it that he blocked me in Twitter. He had made a fool of himself, making contradictory statements and showing that he hasn’t the faintest of clue what computer programs are (he thinks a Web page is a computer program, for instance, not hypertext).

About a week or two late Watchtroll wrote about the ‘car parts’ case and yesterday it mentioned Judge Reyna in the context of a case from last week (not about patent scope). The gist:

SimpleAir, Inc. v. Google LLC, No. 2016-2738, 2018 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 12, 2018) (Before Lourie, Reyna, and Chen, J.) (Opinion for the court, Lourie, J.)

The Federal Circuit vacated a district court order dismissing SimpleAir’s complaint as barred by claim preclusion and the Kessler doctrine, and remanded for further proceedings.

Days earlier a patent maximalism site, Patent Docs, cherry-picked a rarity: reversal on § 101 grounds (Mayo and Alice) at CAFC.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the decision on § 101, reversed denial of JMOL on infringement of the ’685 patent, vacated judgment for damages as a result of its decision on ’685 patent infringement, and remanded for the District Court to recalculate damages, in a decision by Judge Moore joined by Judge Bryson; Judge Hughes dissented.

The majority set forth the now canonical two-prong test for subject matter eligibility under Mayo and Alice: the claims need to be “directed to” a law of nature, natural phenomenon or abstract idea, and there must be “something more” amounting to an “inventive concept” that is not merely “routine, conventional, and well-understood” in the prior art. Here, the majority spends little time on the first prong, accepting without comment that the claimed invention is dependent on the “natural law” that body temperature can be measured from skin temperature at the forehead. The District Court had relied on Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981), for the principle that claims can recite “additional steps” that “transformed the underlying natural laws into inventive methods and useful devices that noninvasively and accurately detect human body temperature.” These steps, which included “(1) moving while laterally scanning (’685 patent claims 7, 14, and 17; ’938 patent claims 17, 24, 33, 60, and 66); (2) obtaining a peak temperature reading (’685 patent claim 7; ’938 patent claims 60 and 66); and (3) obtaining at least three readings per second (’938 patent claims 17, 24, 39, 40, 46, and 49)” were known in the prior art but that was not enough. According to the District Court “simply being known in the art did not suffice to establish that the subject matter was not eligible for patenting” because “a new combination of steps in a process may be patentable even though all the constituents of the combination were well known and in common use before the combination was made,” citing Diehr. The distinction (and in some ways the distinction missing from much of § 101 jurisprudence post-Mayo) is that these methods were used for a different purpose in the prior art, in this case detecting “hot spots” indicative of tumors, fractures, or other injuries (and in at least some testimony, used in horses not humans). In addition, the invention here newly provided a “calculated coefficient for translating measurements taken at the forehead into core body temperature readings” which was not routine, well understood or conventional in the prior art.

Notice how none of these cases can really change anything. So patent lawyers reject reality, manipulate law, and latch onto imaginary things. Here we have boosters from Fenwick & West writing about the ‘vibrations’ case (covered here before). They continue to nitpick decisions and try to warp reality against Alice et al (decisions similar to it), borrowing from very old CAFC rulings, e.g.:

I have not spent too much time trying to determine whether the court here accurately applied the tests mandated by Alice, Mayo and their progeny. My discomfort comes from the specific result (that the claims are not, as a whole directed to patent eligible subject matter) more than the general result (patent invalidity) or the path to it. At bottom, all inventions work because of the physics, math, etc. governing their structure and operation. The claims here seem directed, as a whole, to the manufacture of automotive drive shafts. It seems certain to me that even a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to challenge such a claim on Section 101 grounds. Was the patent bar really that disconnected from the statute for the past century? Is the sea change brought on by Bilski, Alice and Mayo based not on difficult questions brought on by the nature of information age inventions but instead on a longstanding, fundamental misunderstanding of the statutory statement of what our patent system is intended to protect?

Not to our shock, other patent maximalists still hope to make of Berkheimer something that it isn’t (explanation in [1, 2] among other posts of ours). Patently-O mentioned it again the other day:

The case has good shot at being heard by the whole court. I expect that the court would agree with Judge Moore that underlying factual issues are possible in the eligibility analysis, the exercise is not “a predominately factual one that ‘opens the door in both steps of the Alice inquiry for the introduction of an inexhaustible array of extrinsic evidence, such as prior art, publications, other patents, and expert opinion.’” (HP Petition, quoting Judge Reyna’s dissent in Aatrix).

No cartoon of Judge Reyna this time around, for ‘daring’ to express dissent (in Aatrix). Watchtroll is still bringing up Aatrix. Yes, yet again as an excuse to assert (again!) that there’s another route for avoiding rejection of a software patent. This is nonsensical.

Then that’s that old Finjan case from January — a case in which all patents except one were discarded, causing a great deal of commotion among patent maximalists.

Sara O’Connell (Pillsbury’s Internet & Social Media Law Blog/Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP) recalled this old case, which she pushed out as a “press release” and an ‘article’ (another example of infomercials, like those we referred to earlier today). To quote:

Finjan Inc. owns patents on technology involving computer and network security. Its patents are directed toward behavior-based internet security, addressing a method of “identifying, isolating, and neutralizing” potentially malicious code based on the behavior of that code rather than by scanning and maintaining a list of known viruses and malicious code signatures like so many other providers of internet security software.

Finjan was also mentioned in this other infomercial from a few days ago. To quote:

Patent claims serve to provide notice as to the scope of an invention described in a patent. The claims can be directed to various statutory types, such as an apparatus, article, composition, method, system, or any other patentable subject matter.


CRM claims combine the functionality of method claims with the tangibility of apparatus claims: they recite operations typically provided in a method while being directed to a physical memory having instructions that are executable to cause such operations. Accordingly, whereas it is uncertain whether a method can be “sold,” “offered for sale,” or “imported” for purposes of infringement under § 271, the Federal Circuit has held that CRMs can be. For example, in Finjan v. Secure Computing Corp., the Federal Circuit affirmed that the defendant infringed the plaintiff’s CRM claims because the defendant had “sold” an infringing software product.[14] And while each step of a method must actually be performed in the United States to be infringed, the court in Finjan did not require that the instructions stored in the infringing CRM actually be executed. The court reasoned that, “to infringe a claim that recites capability and not actual operation, an accused device ‘need only be capable of operating’ in the described mode.”[15] Thus, CRM claims can operate like apparatus claims for purposes of an infringement analysis.

It’s worth noting that all they ever mention is Finjan, Berkheimer, and Aatrix (nothing from 2017). But as we pointed out many times before (in more than a dozen articles), none of this triplet can be considered a real challenge to Section 101 and nothing at all last year even came close to that. Nothing has really changed, except the frequency of infomercials that try to ‘poach’ customers; they used to bash PTAB a lot and now they just basically cherry-pick CAFC cases and argue that they can miraculously enforce software patents. They cannot.

Patent Maximalists Keep Coming Up With New Terms and Buzzwords to Bypass the Practical Ban on Software Patents

Monday 19th of March 2018 06:39:54 AM

Reference: Buzzword

Summary: The fightback against Section 101 and the US Supreme Court (notably Alice) seems to concentrate on old and new buzzwords, such as “Software as a Medical Device” (“SaMD”) or “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (“4IR”), which the EPO recently paid European media to spread and promote

THE demise of software patents is very much real in the United States (the USPTO grants these only if semantic tricks are being used and courts don’t easily fall for such semantics). The EPO is another matter, which we deal with separately as it’s rather frustrating.

Several days ago Microsoft’s old ‘shill’ Rob Enderle was back to implicitly promoting software patents, piggybacking BlackBerry v Facebook (we covered it earlier this month). “Facebook can afford to license,” he wrote, “but is part of a wave of companies that didn’t believe in software patents and licensing and seemingly gives its products away for free.”

“Several days ago Microsoft’s old ‘shill’ Rob Enderle was back to implicitly promoting software patents, piggybacking BlackBerry v Facebook…”Facebook does believe in software patents and has already pursued many of its own, but don’t expect to get facts from Enderle. The only positive thing that Facebook does in the domain of patents is its support of PTAB (through front groups that it’s funding).

Either way, as we said above, the main route to software patenting in the US (more so nowadays) is semantic tricks, notably buzzwords like “IoT” and “cloud”. The same is true in Europe ("4IR" is the buzzword of choice this year). Days ago, Canadian Lawyer suggested patenting software under the guise of another resurgent hype wave, “artificial intelligence”. None of this is new, it’s more like a fashion and it’s led primarily by marketing-type brainstorms.

How about this upcoming ‘webinar’ on patenting software under the guise of “medical” and “device”? Judge Corcoran from the EPO had dealt with something like this (he rejected a patent of an EPO partner) before Battistelli put him on "house ban". Even if not a retaliatory move, it does make one wonder…

Watch them coming up with another new buzzword: SaMD.

“…the main route to software patenting in the US (more so nowadays) is semantic tricks, notably buzzwords like “IoT” and “cloud”.”To quote: “counsel for companies in the medical device industry on protecting software as a medical device (SaMD), and also discuss the new FDA rules regulating SaMD and how to leverage IP law to protect SaMD.”

These sorts of think tanks (‘webinars’) are sickening, yet Patent Docs, a site of patent maximalists, promoted half a dozens of these yesterday. Here’s one from the Boston Patent Law Association and the Federal Circuit Bar Association with “The Impact of Recent Section 101 Patent Eligibility Cases on U.S. Innovation” (sounds like Alice lobbying right there!).

The Federal Circuit Bar Association also gives ‘access’ to Federal Circuit Judge Kara Stoll (if you’re rich enough to be able to afford these massive fees) and there’s this “Course on Federal Circuit Practice & Procedure”. “The course will provide a comprehensive study of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC),” says the outline. We intend to deal separately with CAFC in our next post, especially in relation to Alice.

“Watch them coming up with another new buzzword: SaMD.”Last but not least, Patent Docs promoted another lobbying event (‘webinar’) of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which is lobbying hard to thwart Alice and water down Section 101.

All in all, we remain rather concerned to see this well-funded lobby for software patents. Especially in a country where it’s notoriously easy to simply buy policy. This lobby is already extremely harmful. It often suggests merely disguising such software patents, so courts will deem them invalid as “abstract” rather than invalid as “algorithm” or invalid as “software”.

“With the success we have achieved in early implementations along with the patents we’ve secured for our innovation,” said this press release from 6 days ago, “now is the time to build our sales channels and lead the way in 3D vision guidance software.”

“All in all, we remain rather concerned to see this well-funded lobby for software patents.”So they’re patenting software. In my research area in fact. We often complain about how computer vision patents get granted in the US, sometimes because they’re laden/decorated with buzzwords like “artificial intelligence”, “machine learning” and so on (these are all mathematics/algorithms).

How about this other new press release which says “Aquiire features patented, real-time B2B e-commerce shopping” (again, that’s software!).

Are examiners paying close enough attention to what they’re granting and thus making/rendering a de facto monopoly? It takes a lot of money to challenge wrongly-granted patents and Section 101 is all over these. PTAB would be all of these (if it was petitioned to recheck). Here we have PTAB hater Gross bragging about exceptional cases where IBM ‘survives’ Section 101 and citing the IAM interview with Iancu he goes again into his ALL CAPS rant mode: “SO WE CAN EXPECT MORE ONGOING 101 NONSENSE FROM PT” (Iancu does not intend to change this any time soon).

“Are examiners paying close enough attention to what they’re granting and thus making/rendering a de facto monopoly?”The funniest from him (this past week) is this claim that “PTAB continues indiscriminate use of “abstract idea” to destroy US based innovations…”

He must have meant “destroy software patents,” which were themselves destroying US based innovations in many domains other than software. Watchtroll has meanwhile published “Dueling Visions of the Patent System, Dueling Visions for America”, which again conflates patent maximalism with the “American Dream” and all that malarkey. We frankly try not to give them much attention anymore, except for entertainment purposes (they’re a very angry bunch that bullies judges and officials, including the outgoing USPTO Director). We’ll say more about judges and courts in our next post.

News About Patents is Often Just Advertisements Composed Directly or Indirectly by Companies That Sell Patents and Patent Services

Monday 19th of March 2018 05:36:58 AM

Reference: Infomercial

Summary: Infomercials are still dominant among news about patents, in effect drowning out the signal (real journalism) and instead pushing agenda that is detached from reality, pertinent facts, objective assessment, public interest and so on

HAVING just complained about IAM, which is like a front group of patent trolls that lie as habitually as the EPO‘s management does (and gets syndicated as ‘news’, e.g. by Google News), we’d like to draw readers’ attention to this advertisement from Douglas Kim Law Firm LLC (masquerading as a news ‘article’). Like we said many times over the years, a lot of so-called ‘news’ about patents is composed directly or indirectly by firms trying to just sell something. It does, in our assessment, make sites like ours more essential. The title of this advertisement (published in the form of a report but actually an infomercial) is “South Carolina [USPTO] patent grants higher than the national trends” (this may simply mean that more large companies are based in SC compared to the national average, i.e. it’s meaningless).

“This is actually IAM’s business model. The infomercials there are often euphemised as “international reports” or “industry reports” and a lot of the rest is pure lobbying.”Notice the author’s final words: “Doug Kim is an intellectual property attorney with Douglas Kim Law Firm LLC. He develops IP strategies, manages IP portfolios, and creates IP protection plans to complement companies’ business goals and to build intellectual capital. He can be reached at 864-616-9095 or”

They even give a phone number and E-mail. In the ‘report’! How shallow is that?

It’s pretty sad that news sites are stooping so low; they actively publish commercials with misleading headlines as though these were works of journalism. This is actually IAM’s business model. The infomercials there are often euphemised as “international reports” or “industry reports” and a lot of the rest is pure lobbying. Battistelli gets his money's (actually EPO stakeholders' money) worth there.

Blocks and Paywalls Won’t Protect the Patent Trolls’ Lobby From Scrutiny/Fact-Checking

Monday 19th of March 2018 05:01:58 AM

Summary: Joff Wild and Benoît Battistelli have much in common, including patent maximalism and chronic resistance to facts (or fact-checking)

THE EPO is well known for its censorship (of its union, of its staff representatives, of this site and many other things). They’re aggressive authoritarians (the management) and they lie routinely; they just don’t want to stand corrected.

“They’re aggressive authoritarians (the management) and they lie routinely; they just don’t want to stand corrected.”A few days ago we noticed that IAM had introduced a new kind of paywall, one which was ‘built’ around its blog, too (traditionally the paywall was reserved for other sections). This is new and I am guessing they don’t want critics to see what they are writing (mostly nonsense and patent propaganda). That says a lot about IAM, whose piece about the EPO (from half a day ago) we mentioned a couple of hours ago. They know they’re deflecting/lying, so they want not to be held accountable. IAM previously blocked me (before realising how futile a measure it was as it does not prevent me from seeing and rebutting their stuff). From now on it’s going to get a lot harder to know what they say to their subscribers (the patent microcosm, trolls etc.), but we’ll try our best. A few days ago they wrote about Microsoft's former General Manager of Outbound Licensing (patent extortion basically), who joined Sonos less than a year ago and is now leaving:

Senior licensing executive Tanya Moore is leaving Sonos after little over a year at the audio business. Her departure comes as something of a surprise given that the company has continued to enjoy considerable success in its litigation against rival speaker manufacturer Denon and looked set to capitalise on its strong IP position in the rapidly…

We rely on IAM to track some of these moves. These people whom they worship and whitewash are typically the worst patent bullies, so we try to keep abreast of such moves. Around the same time IAM also wrote a euphemisms-filled piece about patent shakedown in Southeast Asia, with sentences such as these:

There is a lot more IP creation going on in this region than patent filing and enforcement statistics might suggest. And that leaves plenty of scope for technology-based deals. As more patent-oriented companies like Japan’s IP Bridge continue to explore partnerships with local firms, creative and patient deal-making will be crucial.

Translated into crude English (bar the euphemisms:

There is a lot more patenting going on in this region than patent shakedowns and lawsuits might suggest. And that leaves plenty of scope for extortion and ‘protection’ money. As more patent trolls like Japan’s IP Bridge continue to explore patent settlements with local firms, aggressive and prolonged threat-making will be crucial.

IAM is quite a funny site in all sorts of ways. But we find it valuable for keeping track of trolls (which IAM obviously glorifies). We’ll try our best to get past the paywalls and still challenge the nonsense, such as their recent attacks on a study demonstrating insurgence of patent trolls in Europe.

China Has Become Very Aggressive With Patents

Monday 19th of March 2018 04:27:38 AM

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has a protectionist plan and a shared agenda (not just tactics) with Battistelli, who significantly lowered patent quality for the sake of raw quantity

Summary: China now targets other Asian countries/firms — more so than Western firms — with patent lawsuits; we expect this to get worse in years to come

KOREAN giant Samsung, which employs an extraordinary number of people, has traditionally been one of the top patenters (if not the top patenter, e.g. in 2012) at the EPO and USPTO, not just KIPO. Sure, it fell behind LG (the ‘other’ South Korean giant) this past year at the EPO, for whatever reason (we don’t want to speculate).

“China’s patent aggression is a growing problem and it’s like nothing we ever saw in Japan and Korea (traditionally of the patent ideology of live and let live).”Samsung, at least traditionally, is not patent-aggressive. In other words, it rarely sues anyone except if sued first. The same is said about Korean culture in general. Some time ago China began assaulting LG with patents — to the point where LG withdrew/pulled a lot of its business out of China. Samsung too came under many attacks in China and then it retaliated, even in the US. The latest in this retaliation? Florian Müller reports on the injunction against Huawei (highly CPC-connected firm):

A few days ago, reported that United States District Judge William H. Orrick (Northern District of California) expressed an inclination at a Wednesday hearing to grant Samsung’s motion seeking to bar Huawei from enforcing a couple of Chinese patent injunctions before the U.S. court has determined whether it is, in light of its FRAND obligations, entitled to injunctive relief.

You won’t be surprised if you’ve been following the case here. Two weeks ago I published a post here with a headline that contained the following prognosis: “antisuit injunction looms large”

Even though I’m just a little blogger, it’s a bit daring to offer such a prediction based on the briefing record, especially since antisuit (here, actually just anti-enforcement) injunctions don’t come down every day. But for the reasons explained in my previous posts, above all Ninth Circuit case law, Huawei won’t be able to complain.

China’s patent aggression is a growing problem and it’s like nothing we ever saw in Japan and Korea (traditionally of the patent ideology of live and let live). A few days ago Managing IP wrote:

Big changes to the intellectual property office, including combining the enforcement functions of trade marks and patents, are expected to strengthen IP enforcement in China

Managing IP speaks of “administrative overlap” at SIPO. The main issue with SIPO, however, is not “administrative overlap” but really low patent quality which already causes patent trolls to soar there and few large Chinese firms (which can afford to fight trolls in court) to merely consolidate power.

“…expect Xi and CPC to try to leverage their ‘soft power’ abroad with patents.”China isn’t what patent maximalists claim it to be (we wrote many rebuttals to that effect recently) and the number of granted patents says little about innovation. Chinese patents at European and American patent offices are basically the ‘best of Mandarin’ (SIPO patents translated, sometimes with help from foreign workers). Those are the patents that are probably actually worth something.

Either way, expect Xi and CPC to try to leverage their ‘soft power’ abroad with patents. They know that trade sanctions are imminent (if not already in tact, e.g. tariffs), so it’s a form of deterrent or counterattack.

UPC/Battistelli Booster IAM Blames Brexit Rather Than EPO Abuses

Monday 19th of March 2018 03:42:21 AM

IAM spoon-feeds Battistelli annually

Summary: While the EPO is collapsing due to mismanagement the boosters of Team Battistelli would rather deflect and speak about Brexit, which is itself partly motivated by such mismanagement

THE EPO is in trouble. Ignore the spin which is known as “Annual Report” and does not take into account depletion of work (layoffs will come soon, quite inevitably, for the first time ever). EPO recruitment of Brits had gone down by 80% and the UPC isn’t coming (for about half a dozen very important reasons, not just Brexit); the German press too now joins the British press (3 articles so far) in talking about the petition regarding patent quality (new article by Stefan Krempl, who is familiar with EPO affairs).

Thorsten Bausch has just published the last part of his series called “The EPO’s Vision,” in which he says: “…we need to talk about (a) the intended task or purpose and (b) the extent to which time or effort is well used, when a patent is searched and examined by the European Patent Office” (EPO).

“Amid all this, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) bemoans the UK’s lack of participation in the EPO, having been paid by the EPO’s PR agency to promote the UPC.”As we said over the weekend, the European Patent Office ceased being a patent office; it’s more like a patent-printing machine now, unregulated and reckless beyond belief. Staff is suffering while management (executives) floods its own bank accounts. It’s utterly despicable and it doesn't look like European authorities intend to do anything.

Amid all this, the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) bemoans the UK’s lack of participation in the EPO, having been paid by the EPO’s PR agency to promote the UPC. The editor of IAM wrote yesterday: “If you do incline to this view, patent data backs you up. Take, for example, the European Patent Office’s recently released annual report for 2017. This showed that UK-based entities accounted for just 3% of applications the office received last year. That put the UK in seventeenth position in terms of patent applications per million of population.”

“…EPO scandals contribute to anti-EU sentiments — whether justifiably or not — and those who care about the Union should do a lot more to tackle EPO abuses.”Further down he says “we all know that patents do not equate to innovation.” (but IAM does often say so, equating patents to innovation)

Either way, the point of this IAM post was to express that same old dissatisfaction over Brexit (to be clear, I am strongly against Brexit too) and having watched this closely over the past couple of years, it seems clear that their motivations aren’t quite the same as everybody’s. In fact, the clear absence of coverage about EPO scandals says a lot. Had IAM been objective (which it clearly isn’t; check its lists of sponsors), it would realise that EPO scandals contribute to anti-EU sentiments — whether justifiably or not — and those who care about the Union should do a lot more to tackle EPO abuses.

European Commission Again Urged to Tackle Abuses at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Monday 19th of March 2018 03:12:28 AM

Summary: Rina Ronja Kari (left) is the latest MEP attempting to compel the Commission to actually do something about the EPO other than turning a blind eye

IT IS not often that European politicians decide to bring up EPO abuses. It happens only a few times a year. But a politician from Copenhagen (same as Kongstad), a young politician (since age 29) called Rina Ronja Kari (who is “a member of the People’s Movement against the EU,” according to Wikipedia) has brought up the latest USF letter in the following question:

Parliamentary questions
5 March 2018
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Rina Ronja Kari (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Working conditions at the European Patent Office

Working conditions at the European Patent Office (EPO) have been the subject of persistent criticism for years now. The trade union federation USF recently sent a letter to all 38 of the EPO’s delegations. In the letter, the USF’s chair, Dr Bernd Loescher, describes the situation at the EPO as ‘extreme’(1).

1. What are the Commission’s views on the criticism that has been raised about working conditions at the EPO?

2. How is the Commission planning to follow up on the criticism about working conditions at the EPO?

SUEPO added: “Visit Mrs Rina Ronja Kari’s official website at the European Parliament here (to view the Q & A scroll down to Parliamentary Questions).”

The European Parliament and Commission have repeatedly failed to do anything substantial regarding the EPO. We thus expect this latest endeavour to fall on deaf ears, even amid imminent trouble.

Links 18/3/2018: Wine 3.4, Wine-Staging 3.4, KDE Connect 1.8 for Android

Sunday 18th of March 2018 11:22:41 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Surprise! Microsoft Found A New Way To Force Edge Browser On You

      On Friday, Microsoft released the new Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17263 for Skip Ahead users. As you might be knowing, the changes and improvements pushed as a part of the build will be included in the semi-annual Windows 10 feature update (codenamed Redstone 5) releasing in the second half of 2018.

    • Lawsuit claims sexual harassment rife in Microsoft’s ‘boys’ club atmosphere’

      Between 2010 and 2016, women in technical jobs at the company lodged 108 complaints of sexual harassment, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination.

    • Don’t want Microsoft forcing Edge on you? Switch from Windows 10 to Linux with Zorin OS 12.3!

      I am sick and tired of technology companies like Microsoft thinking they can impose their will on consumers. Just today, the company made a startling announcement — it will now force links from the Windows Mail app to open in its own Edge web browser. In other words, whether you like it or not, even if Edge isn’t your default browser, it will still be used for opening links from emails. This is unacceptable, and when combined with all of the other Windows 10 calamities, users should consider switching operating systems immediately.

      Since macOS requires you to buy an entirely new computer from Apple, a Linux-based operating system is probably your best bet. By using Linux, you can finally reclaim your computer as your own — not Microsoft’s. Today, version 12.3 of Zorin OS is released, and it is the perfect OS to replace Windows 10. Hell, it can even run Windows programs (including Microsoft Office) with the help of the pre-installed and pre-configured Wine 3.

    • Zorin OS 12.3 Linux Distro Released: Download The Perfect Windows Replacement

      While listing out the best distros for a Linux beginner, the ease of use and installation are the most critical factors. Such qualities make distros like Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Zorin OS the most recommended options. In case you’re also concerned about your privacy and security, a shift to the world of Linux becomes a more obvious option.

      Calling itself a replacement for Windows and macOS, Zorin OS has been established as a beginner-friendly option that offers a smooth ride while making the transition. The latest Zorin OS 12.3 release works to strengthen the basics of the operating system and polishes the whole experience.

    • Ramblings about long ago and far away

      I had originally run MCC (Manchester Computer Center Interim Linux) in college but when I moved it was easier to find a box of floppies with SLS so I had installed that on the 486. I would then download software source code from the internet and rebuild it for my own use using all the extra flags I could find in GCC to make my 20Mhz system seem faster. I instead learned that most of the options didn’t do anything on i386 Linux at the time and most of my reports about it were probably met by eye-rolls with the people at Cygnus. My supposed goal was to try and set up a MUD so I could code up a text based virtual reality. Or to get a war game called Conquer working on Linux. Or maybe get xTrek working on my system. [I think I mostly was trying to become a game developer by just building stuff versus actually coding stuff. I cave-man debugged a lot of things using stuff I had learned in FORTRAN but it wasn't actually making new things.]

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • lkml: remove eight obsolete architectures

      In the end, it seems that while the eight architectures are extremely
      different, they all suffered the same fate: There was one company in
      charge of an SoC line, a CPU microarchitecture and a software ecosystem,
      which was more costly than licensing newer off-the-shelf CPU cores from
      a third party (typically ARM, MIPS, or RISC-V). It seems that all the
      SoC product lines are still around, but have not used the custom CPU
      architectures for several years at this point.

    • Linux 4.17 Spring Cleaning To Drop Some Old CPU Architectures

      Longtime Linux kernel developer Arnd Bergmann is working to drop a number of old and obsolete CPU architectures from the next kernel cycle, Linux 4.17.

      The obsolete CPU architectures set to be removed include Blackfin, CRIS, FR-V, M32R, MN10300, META (Metag), and TILE. Managing to escape its death sentence is the Unicore32 architecture with its port maintainer claiming it’s still actively being used and maintained.

    • [Older] Linus Torvalds Interview by Kristaps

      Interviewer: we all know who Linus is, but not many people know he’s also a proficient diver. Why don’t we start at the beginning: where you first started diving, and when you started to take diving seriously.

      Actually, it was related to open source, in some way. [...]

    • Linux Foundation
      • NATS Messaging Project Joins Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) voted on March 14 to accept the NATS messaging project as its newest hosted effort.

        The NATS project is an open-source distributed messaging technology that got its start seven years ago and has already been deployed by multiple organizations including Ericsson, Comcast, Samsung and General Electric (GE).

        “NATS has room to grow as cloud native adds more use cases and grows adoption, driven by Kubernetes and containers,” Alexis Richardson, Chair of the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) at the CNCF told eWEEK. “CNCF provides a way to scale community and education so that adopters can engage faster and at all levels.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • Six Candidates Are Vying For This Year’s X.Org Foundation Board

        There are six candidates running for this year’s X.Org Foundation Board of Directors with four seats being open this election.

        Those six candidates for this year’s X.Org elections include Eric Anholt (Broadcom), Robert Foss (Collabora), Bryce Harrington (Samsung), Keith Packard (HP), Laurent Pinchart (Ideas on Board), and Harry Wentland (AMD).

      • Vulkan 1.1.71 Released As The First Update To Vulkan 1.1

        The first point release to the Vulkan 1.1 release from earlier this month is now available. Vulkan 1.1 promoted a lot of functionality to core while also officially adding sub-groups and protected content support. This Vulkan 1.1.71 point release adds a new extension and fixes.

        This first point release to Vulkan 1.1 is officially version 1.1.71. This is because when Vulkan 1.1 was created, Khronos decided not to reset the patch number… Vulkan 1.1 was technically 1.1.70 and not 1.1.0. So now with this first update it’s bumped to Vulkan 1.1.71.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Updated With Improvements For Sub-Groups & Multi-View

        The AMD developers working on their official cross-platform “AMDVLK” Vulkan driver have updated their open-source code-base for Linux users.

        On Friday the AMD developers pushed to the open-source repository their latest work, their first update since introducing Vulkan 1.1 support back on launch day earlier this month.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Ebony and Ivory, icons together in perfect harmony

      Writing about taste, style and colors is like unraveling chaos. There’s no end to it, and everyone has their own particular taste. Flat and shiny icons seem to be quite popular nowadays, but I’m actually looking for something calmer, less conspicuous, and perhaps less eye-wearing. You want to see things when you need to focus. The rest of the time, the desktop elements should be a neutral background. Nothing speaks neutral like gray.

      Over the years, I’ve tested and tried a lot of available art packages. I won’t backlink to all of them, please peruse the software section at your own delight and peril. I’ve never quite found what I needed, until recently. ACYLS and Ghost Flat are good candidates but Numix White seems to offer the best overall results, except this set might be hard to come by, and we’re cheating color wise. Well, if you have any ideas or suggestions, send them over. And enjoy the full spectrum of your desktop.

    • Best 50 HD Wallpapers for Ubuntu

      Wallpapers are useful in many ways depending on the visual it contains for example if there is a motivational quote on it, it helps to motivate you. The images are the best type of wallpaper because they have an impact on the mind of a human being. So if you are a working professional and have to work continuously on a computer then your desktop cab be a source of inspiration and happiness.

      So today we are going to share 50 best HD Wallpapers for your Ubuntu which will keep your desktop fresh.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kdenlive Café #27 and #28 – You can’t miss it

        Timeline refactoring, new Pro features, packages for fast and easy install, Windows version and a bunch of other activities are happening in the Kdenlive world NOW!

      • Kubuntu 17.10 Guide for Newbie Part 9

        This is the 9th article, the final part of the series. This ninth article gives you more documentations to help yourself in using Kubuntu 17.10. The resources are online links to certain manuals and ebooks specialized for Kubuntu basics, command lines usage, software installation instructions, how to operate LibreOffice and KDE Plasma.

      • KDE’s Elisa Music Player Preparing For Its v0.1 Released

        We have been tracking the development of Elisa, one of several KDE music players, since development started about one year ago. Following the recent alpha releases, the KDE Elisa 0.1 stable release is on the way.

        Elisa developers are preparing the Elisa v0.1 release and they plan to have it out around the middle of April.

      • KDE Connect Keeps Getting Better For Interacting With Your Desktop From Android

        KDE Connect is the exciting project that allows you to leverage your KDE desktop from Android tablets/smartphones for features like sending/receiving SMS messages from your desktop, toggling music, sharing files, and much more. KDE Connect does continue getting even better.

      • First blog & KDE Connect media control improvements

        I’ve started working on KDE Connect last November. My first big features were released yesterday in KDE Connect 1.8 for Android, so cause for celebration and a blog post!

        My first big feature is media notifications. KDE Connect has, since it’s inception, allowed you to remotely control your music and video’s. Now you can also do this with a notification, like all Android music apps do! So next time a bad song comes up, you don’t need to switch to the KDE Connect app. Just click next on the notification without closing you current app. And just in case you don’t like notifications popping up, there’s an option to disable it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Ubuntu Tried Adding Synaptics Support Back To GNOME’s Mutter

        GNOME developers previously dropped support for Synaptics and other input drivers from Mutter in favor of the universal libinput stack that is also Wayland-friendly. Canonical developers tried to get Synaptics support on X11 added back into Mutter but it looks clear now that was rejected.

        Canonical’s Will Cooke reported in this week’s Ubuntu happenings that they were trying to add upstream support for Synaptics to Mutter, complementing the libinput support. While it’s great Canonical trying to contribute upstream to GNOME, Synaptics support was previously dropped as being a maintenance burden and with libinput support getting into rather good shape.

  • Distributions
    • Red Hat Family
      • Fedora
        • Long live Release Engineering

          y involvement in Fedora goes back to late 2003 early 2004 somewhere as a packager for I started by getting a few packages in to scratch some of my itches and I saw it as a way to give back to the greater open source community. Around FC3 somewhere I stepped up to help in infrastructure to rebuild the builders in plague, the build system we used before koji and that we used for EPEL(Something that I helped form) for awhile until we got external repo support in koji.

          I was involved in the implementation of koji in Fedora, I joined OLPC as a build and release engineer, where I oversaw a move of the OS they shipped from FC6 to F8, and laid a foundation for the move to F9. I left OLPC when Red Hat opensourced RHN Satellite as “spacewalk project” I joined Red Hat as the release engineer for both, after a brief period there was some reorganisation in engineering that resulted in me handing off the release engineering tasks to someone closer the the engineers working on the code. As a result I worked on Fedora full time helping Jesse Keating. When he decided to work on the internal migration from CVS to git I took over as the lead.


          Recently I have accepted a Job offer to become the manager of a different team inside of Red Hat.

    • Debian Family
      • OSCAL’18, call for speakers, radio hams, hackers & sponsors reminder

        The OSCAL organizers have given a reminder about their call for papers, booths and sponsors (ask questions here). The deadline is imminent but you may not be too late.

        OSCAL is the Open Source Conference of Albania. OSCAL attracts visitors from far beyond Albania (OpenStreetmap), as the biggest Free Software conference in the Balkans, people come from many neighboring countries including Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Italy. OSCAL has a unique character unlike any other event I’ve visited in Europe and many international guests keep returning every year.

      • RcppClassicExamples 0.1.2
      • RDieHarder 0.1.4

        Per a CRAN email sent to 300+ maintainers, this package (just like many others) was asked to please register its S3 method. So we did, and also overhauled a few other packagaging standards which changed since the last upload in 2014.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • If you hitch a ride with a scorpion…

    I haven’t seen a blog post or notice about this, but according to the Twitters, Coverity has stopped supporting online scanning for open source projects. Is anybody shocked by this? Anybody?


    Not sure what the story is with Coverity, but it probably has something to do with 1) they haven’t been able to monetize the service the way they hoped, or 2) they’ve been able to monetize the service and don’t fancy spending the money anymore or 3) they’ve pivoted entirely and just aren’t doing the scanning thing. Not sure which, don’t really care — the end result is the same. Open source projects that have come to depend on this now have to scramble to replace the service.


    I’m not going to go all RMS, but the only way to prevent this is to have open tools and services. And pay for them.

  • About Campus Party + 20 years of OSI

    This year was the 4th year that I attended Campus Party, and with butterflies, in my belly, I went over there to show Atelier and do two talks: One about Qt and one about Free Software.

    We are working on AtCore and Atelier since 2016, and on the couple weeks of January, we made the first release of AtCore. That triggered a lot of feelings. And with the good part of those feelings, I made some partnerships(To get a 3DPrinter and material) and went to Campus Party to show our work.

  • 2018 Affilaite and Individual Member Election Results

    The OSI would like to thank all of those who ran for the Board. Volunteering to serve the OSI and support the Open Source community is a tremendous commitment in time and energy–we truly appreciate their willingness to contribute to our continued success and participate in our ongoing work to promote and protect open source software, communities, and development as well as the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

    The winners of the 2018 Board of Directors elections are,

    VM Brasseur (elected by the Individual Membership)
    Chris Lamb (elected by the Affiliate Membership)
    Faidon Liambotis (elected by the Affiliate Membership)
    Josh Simmons (elected by the Individual Membership)

  • Web Browsers
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Google Opens Maps APIs and World Becomes Dev Playground

      Google this week announced that it will open its Maps APIs to video game developers, which could result in far more realistic settings in augmented reality games. With access to real-time map updates and rich location data, developers will have many choices of settings for their games.

      The APIs will provide devs with what Google has described as a “living model of the world” to use as a foundation for game worlds. Developers will have access to more than 100 million 3D buildings, roads, landmarks and parks from more than 200 countries around the globe.

  • Funding
    • Easily Fund Open Source Projects With These Platforms

      Financial support is one of the many ways to help Linux and Open Source community. This is why you see “Donate” option on the websites of most open source projects.

      While the big corporations have the necessary funding and resources, most open source projects are developed by individuals in their spare time. However, it does require one’s efforts, time and probably includes some overhead costs too. Monetary supports surely help drive the project development.

      If you would like to support open source projects financially, let me show you some platforms dedicated to open source and/or Linux.

  • BSD
    • HAMMER2 Gets Many Fixes On The Latest DragonFlyBSD Git

      The HAMMER2 file-system has been available with install-time support since DragonFlyBSD 5.0 while the latest Git code continues to revise this next-generation FS for DragonFly. Landing overnight in DragonFlyBSD were several HAMMER and HAMMER2 improvements.

    • [Older] Exploring permutations and a mystery with BSD and GNU split filenames

      In summary, gsplit’s default file naming behavior is to add a letter to the prefix and suffix of a filename whenever it reaches 26^r – 26 files (with r being the current length of the suffix), so you don’t need to worry about running out of filenames (just disk space, haha).

    • Turbocharging ZFS Data Recovery

      Besides being able to display the new debug information, zdb has another new feature that brings its capabilities on par with the kernel: the ability to set global libzpool variables.

    • Intel SGX Enclave Support Added To GCC

      The latest feature addition to the GCC compiler this week is support for Intel’s new “ENCLV”.

      ENCLV is a new intrinsic that is part of the Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX). The Enclave happens to be a trusted execution environment embedded into a process with isolated memory regions of Enclaves are protected areas of execution and the ENCLV instruction is needed to put application code into that special mode.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Developers dread Visual Basic 6, IBM Db2, SharePoint – survey

      Stack Overflow’s annual survey has revealed the tools and tech that developers love to hate: Visual Basic 6, IBM Db2 and SharePoint.

      According to the poll, which took in the views of more than 100,000 devs, Rust is the most loved programming language for the third year running. It is closely followed by Kotlin, which makes its debut in the survey.


      At the other end of the spectrum is Visual Basic 6, which has been voted most dreaded programming language. Visual Basic 6 is also linked to lower pay, with Stack Overflow saying that devs using it are “paid less even given years of experience”.

  • Porsche and Bugatti turn to 3D printing for complex or rare parts

    The last time we looked at 3D printing in the automotive world, it was still a technique limited to startups like Divergent 3D or Local Motors. But in the last few months, there’s been growing evidence that the big OEMs are waking up to the advantages of additive manufacturing. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Bugatti reveal that it has been 3D printing brake calipers out of titanium, followed soon after by news that Porsche has been using the technique to recreate out-of-stock parts for its classic cars.

  • My Search for Freedom in the Swedish Countryside
  • An information apocalypse is coming. How can we protect ourselves?
  • Science
    • Scolding female scientists for embracing Instagram doesn’t solve the gender gap in STEM
    • The battle for digital supremacy
    • Meet the tech evangelist who now fears for our mental health

      As her children grew up, she started to be disturbed by her son’s apparent compulsion to play video games. “Technology takes parents out of control. I can’t compete with an amazing monster, that level of dopamine. He doesn’t want to eat with us, to be with us, because it’s not as exciting,“ she says. She bought a Circle, a device that allows you to manage the whole family’s internet access, controlling which devices are online at which times and what they can view. “My son hid it,” she says. She tried to turn the wifi off, but he stood guarding it, blocking her way. She still does not know where the Circle is. “In theory,” she says, “if you’ve got compliant children, this would be perfect.” Perhaps that is why her combination to the safe, with his devices and hers, is 12 digits long.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • U.S. Fires a Warning Shot at Silicon Valley With Theranos Case

      “The Theranos story is an important lesson for Silicon Valley,” Jina Choi, director of the agency’s San Francisco office, said in a statement. “Innovators who seek to revolutionize and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope it might do someday.”

    • The known unknowns of plastic pollution

      Unfortunately, of the 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. The rest has been dumped in landfills or the natural environment. Often, as with disposable coffee cups, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and other packets that account for much of the plastic produced in Europe and America, this happens after a brief, one-off indulgence. If the stuff ends up in the sea, it can wash up on a distant beach or choke a seal. Exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light, it can fragment into “microplastics” small enoughto find their way into fish bellies. From there, it seems only a short journey to dinner plates.

    • Plastic and cigarette butts make up most of debris in waterways

      Across Sydney’s beaches, the most common type of rubbish recorded was cigarette butts, which accounted for 31 per cent of all rubbish collected, with 147,900 collected since 2010. Nationally, they accounted for 21 per cent of all debris.

      In second place was foam and plastic packaging, collectively making up more than a fifth of the debris.


    • Is India’s Bangalore doomed to be the next Cape Town?

      A recent report has said the south Indian city of Bangalore could be doomed, like Cape Town in South Africa, to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But is this really the case? The BBC’s Imran Qureshi investigates.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • On Not Being Refuted

      Several million people have now read my articles on the lack of evidence of Russian government guilt for the Salisbury attack. That’s over 300,000 unique visitors on this little blog alone so far, and it has been repeated on hundreds of sites all over the internet. My own tweets on the subject have been retweeted over 12,500 times and received 8 million impressions. I know that journalists from every mainstream media outlet you can mention have seen the material, because of numerous tweets from them none of which address any of the facts, but instead call me a “Conspiracy nutter” or variants of that, some very rude.

      Yet what I wrote has not been refuted. It would be very easy to refute were it not true. The government would just have to say “Porton Down have stated that they have definitely identified the nerve agent as made in Russia”. They have not said that. Most extraordinarily, not one mainstream media “journalist” has asked a minister the question: “You keep using this phrase the nerve agent is “of a type developed by Russia”. Are you able to confirm it was actually made in Russia?” .

      There is no excuse for this. Literally hundreds of mainstream media “journalists” have slavishly reproduced the propaganda phrase “of a type developed by Russia” without a single one of them every querying this rather odd wording, or why it is the government always uses that precise wording again and again and again.

    • The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On

      Beginning just before 8 a.m. on March 16th, the three platoons of Charlie Company were airlifted to the fringes of the Vietnamese hamlets where they expected to encounter fierce enemy resistance. The hail of bullets from helicopter gunships that churned up the earth around them and aimed at suppressing potential enemy fire, created for many of these soldiers who had never experienced combat the impression that they’d been dropped in the midst of the “hot landing zone” Captain Medina had promised them. But as Army photographer Ron Haeberle, assigned to document the assault, would later testify, there was “no hostile fire.” The headquarters of the 48th and what remained of its fighters had taken refuge west into the mountains after being decimated during the Tet Offensive a month before. And the few VC who had been visiting their families around My Lai, hardly ignorant of American movements, had gotten out by dawn on the 16th.

    • 50 Years After My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, Revisiting the Slaughter the U.S. Military Tried to Hide

      Fifty years ago, on March 16, 1968, U.S. soldiers attacked the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Even though the soldiers met no resistance, they slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese women, children and old men over the next four hours, in what became known as the My Lai massacre. After the massacre, the U.S. military attempted to cover up what happened. But in 1969 a young reporter named Seymour Hersh would reveal a 26-year-old soldier named William Calley was being investigated for killing 109 Vietnamese civilians. Today, memorials have been held in My Lai to mark the 50th anniversary of this horrific attack.

    • Hamburg Islamist knife attacker gets life in prison

      His aim was to kill as many German Christians as possible to avenge the suffering of Muslims worldwide, they said.

    • Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan delivers anti-Semitic speech

      The Nation of Islam is a designated hate group [...]


      Rep. Keith Ellison faced scrutiny during his bid for Democratic National Committee chair over his past ties with the group, and a previous CNN review revealed the Minnesota Democrat had a decade-long involvement with NOI.

    • Pakistani court wants names, ages & family info of those who left Islam

      On Monday, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), ordered Pakistan’s Citizen Authority (NADRA) provide information on residents who reportedly changed their religion from Islam to Qadianism. Qadiani, or Ahmadi Muslims are believers of a minority Islamic sect considered heretical by other, mainstream, Muslims.


      Along with providing their names, the court also directed the citizen authority to provide their ages, international travel history, and their parents’ names. In 1974 the Pakistani constitution was amended to declare Ahmadis “non-Muslims.

    • Islamic scholar with 109,000 Twitter followers calls for those who leave Islam to be killed

      Ex-Muslim Ridvan Aydemir, writes: “Assim Alhakeem is a Saudi scholar who is ‘trying to enlighten people about Islam.’ He is quite influential on Twitter, YouTube, TV and his website. On February 24, he tweeted that apostates should be killed by Islamic law.” When he was challenged about this, “he confirmed it with more horrible words. When I retweeted it, he blocked me.”

    • How maulanas in Bangladesh use fatwas to oppress women

      The state religion of Bangladesh was still Islam. Even though passing a fatwa was illegal as per the laws of the country, it was allowed within the tenets of Islam. Islam has certain punishments specified for certain crimes. If someone commits adultery, they are to be stoned and if one is accused of something that is not Islamic, then they are to be caned a hundred and one times. In my country, fundamentalism was on the rise and the winds were blowing in their favour. As usual, women were the first to fall victim to the fatwas issued by fatwaphilic maulanas in villages across the country.

    • My husband got Imam to sleep with me for rituals – Wife tells court

      A divorce seeking wife, Musilimotu Olashuyi, on Wednesday told the Igando Customary Court in Lagos that her husband employed an Islamic preacher to have sex with her for money-making ritual.

    • The great immigration deceit

      When facing the migrant crisis in 2015, Merkel would surely have been aware of this sentiment in her own country. If she had any idea, then Merkel should have known that mass migration was not a viable long-term solution to account for low German birth rates. By fixing the root issues that are causing native Germans to have fewer children, Merkel would have been infinitely more successful in plugging the nation’s long-term demographic shortfall. Programs such a generous maternity leave, while expensive to implement, would largely negate any apparent ‘necessity’ for mass immigration from the third-world; and would avoid the litany of costs and threats to social cohesion that present themselves as a result.

    • Merkel Finally Acknowledges German “No-Go” Zones, Vows To Eliminate

      Following approval from Germany’s conservatives to cooperate with the Social Democrats (SPD) on several political impasses, German Chancellor Angela Merkel sat down with Germany’s RTL Aktuell where she discussed a number of policy positions – including an acknowledgement of Germany’s growing “no-go” zones, and the need to do something about them.

    • ‘Bury them alive!’: White South Africans fear for their future as horrific farm attacks escalate

      “South Africans have got this undying ability to believe in the bigger picture, and I’m talking about many blacks. There are lots of wonderful people of all colours that believe all of this stuff is wrong.

      “The question I would ask, given the rhetoric, is there a future for farming in South Africa? It’s not just about, is there a future for white farmers. It’s three times more dangerous to be a farmer than it is to be a policeman. It’s sad — it’s not what we want.”

    • Militia members accused of targeting Somalis to stand trial

      Months before the 2016 general election, members of a Kansas militia group that prosecutors say came to be known as the “the Crusaders” met in an office to pick the targets of bombings that they hoped would inspire a wave of attacks on Muslims throughout the U.S.

      In a business in the southwestern city of Liberal that sold mobile homes, the four men took precautions to avoid getting caught, putting their cellphones in a separate room and locking the door to prevent anyone from walking in on them. Three of them didn’t know that the fourth was wearing a wire as part of a federal investigation that would thwart their alleged plot.

      Authorities say that on the day after Election Day, they hoped to detonate four car bombs outside of a mosque and an apartment complex that was home to Somali refugees who had settled in the meatpacking town of Garden City, which is about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Liberal along the Oklahoma border.

    • First Recorded Successful Novichok Synthesis was in 2016 – By Iran, in Cooperation with the OPCW

      While Iran acted absolutely responsibly in cooperating with the OPCW, there are a handful of rogue states operating outwith the rule of international law, like Israel and North Korea, which refuse to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW or destroy their chemical weapons stocks. Russia has cooperated in the OPCW destruction of all its chemical weapons stocks, completed last year, which included regular OPCW inspection of all the sites alleged to have been in the original “novichok” programme. Why nobody is even looking at the rogue states outwith the OPCW is a genuine puzzle.

    • Have We Learned Anything From My Lai?

      On March 16, 1968, 504 women, children and old men were shot at point-blank range by American soldiers over the course of a few hours in Son My village—407 were killed in the “My Lai 4” hamlet and another 97 were slaughtered in the hamlet known on U.S. military maps as “My Khe 4,” about a mile from My Lai. The soldiers’ mission: to “search and destroy.”


      Destruction of the civilian population from the air was routine, with non-combatants the intended targets of an unprecedented array of weaponry.

    • Vietnam Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the My Lai Massacre

      The AP reports that, in one instance, a family was forced into a bomb shelter that U.S. soldiers then threw grenades into.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Adrian Lamo, computer hacker who turned in whistleblower, found dead

      Lamo was known in tech circles for his computer proficiency, which earned him a high degree of notoriety among hackers and security experts. He volunteered his security and website building skills to a number of services and companies in the mid-1990s and early 2000s before turning to mischief with his hacking of a New York Times database in 2002.

      The latter earned him a federal computer hacking conviction in 2003. He plead guilty and was sentenced to six months of probation, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay the newspaper company more than $60,000 in restitution. After his sentencing, Lamo served time in jail after refusing to allow the U.S. Marshals to collect his DNA — a standard practice for federal convicts, but one Lamo objected to on “religious grounds.”

    • Hacker who revealed Wikileaks source dead, Assange calls him ‘petty conman’

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Friday described Lamo as a “petty conman and betrayer of basic human decency”.

    • Hacker Adrian Lamo who turned in Chelsea Manning for leaking classified government documents dies in unknown circumstances at the age of 37 as Wikileaks Julian Assange calls him ‘a conman’

      Kate Flavin, a spokeswoman for Sedgwick County’s regional forensic science center told Business Insider that an autopsy is being conducted and will determine the cause of death.

      Flavin also told the outlet that she was unsure when Lamo died or how his body was found.


      Lamo was well aware of his infamy telling US News last January that turning Manning in was not his ‘most honorable moment’ but he had made peace with his decision.

      ‘So many people think they know why I did what I did or what I was thinking or why I made my choice. And almost without exception they’re wrong,’ he said. ‘There’s essentially a public avatar that’s Adrian Lamo that they’re looking at, and then there’s me. And I can’t be upset about what they think of something that isn’t me.’

    • Decision shines new light on public officials’ emails

      Municipalities and government agencies are working to develop retention and retrieval policies and guidelines for public officials and employees who use private devices.

    • Adrian Lamo dead age 37: Wikileaks’ Assange blasts hacker behind Chelsea Manning capture

      The cause of Lamo’s death has not yet been made public, but a Sedgwick County coroner in Kansas, where Lamo lived, confirmed the news last night.

    • US hacker, who led to WikiLeaks whistleblower Manning’s arrest, dies

      Earlier, in a 2011 interview to The Guardian, Lamo had expressed some regrets about a possible lengthy prison sentence for Manning. He said he thought of Manning “every day”, adding: “The decision was not one I decided to make, but was thrust upon me.”

      Interestingly, Lamo’s hacking skills had also landed him in law enforcement authorities’ net for breaking into computers at the New York Times, Yahoo and Microsoft.

      Not to much surprise, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had disapproved of Lamo. On Friday, responding to Lamo’s news of death he wrote on Twitter, “Lamo, a fake journalist, petty conman & betrayer of basic human decency, promised alleged source @xychelsea journalistic protection, friendship and support, then sold him to the FBI.”

    • FBI to quiz Pamela Anderson over her visits to Julian Assange at London Embassy

      She made her name as a Playboy pin-up but now former Baywatch TV star Pamela Anderson could be forced to bare all to the FBI who want to quiz her about her friendship with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

      According to US website Radar Online, the 50-year-old faces a grilling over her visits to Assange who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 after being accused in Sweden of rape and sexual assault by two women.

      Assange feared that if he went to Sweden to defend himself he would be extradited to America where he is wanted over Wikileaks’ releases of US military documents. Sweden dropped the sex charges last year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • These provocative images show Russian [shills] sought to inflame debate over climate change, fracking and Dakota pipeline

      Russian [shills] used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to inflame U.S. political debate over energy policy and climate change, a finding that underscores how the Russian campaign of social media manipulation went beyond the 2016 presidential election, congressional investigators reported Thursday.

      The new report from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee includes previously unreleased social media posts that Russians created on such contentious political issues as the Dakota Access pipeline, government efforts to curb global warming and hydraulic fracturing, a gas mining technique often called “fracking.”

    • Republican investigation links Russian [shills] to #NoDAPL movement

      A new report from the Republican majority staff on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology claims [shills] from Russia exploited the #NoDAPL movement in order to undermine America’s energy sector. The investigation uncovered posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, showing an attempt at overseas influence.


      The social media posts cited in the report originated from accounts with names like “Native Americans United” and “Blacktivist.” The latter name has already been associated with Russian [astroturfer] farms by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has indicted a Russian government agency and 13 Russians for meddling in American politics.

    • ‘SOS’: the rainforest distress call carved into Sumatra’s oil palms

      “Save Our Souls is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connectedness we share with nature,” he says of the acronym. “As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process.”

    • Halal butchers who chanted and danced as they tortured animals walk free from court

      Hussain and Hussein received suspended prison sentences yesterday at Leeds Magistrates’ Court after admitting causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Abattoir boss William Woodward was jailed for 20 weeks.

  • Finance
    • Finns falling below poverty line due to transport costs

      Heikki Liimatainen, the head of Transport Research Centre Verne at Tampere University of Technology, is certain that transport costs have dragged people below the poverty threshold also in Finland.

    • America’s richest 2% made more money in 2017 than the cost of the entire safety net

      U.S. wealth increased by $8.5 trillion in 2017, with the richest 2% getting about $1.15 trillion (details here), which is more than the total cost of Medicaid (federal AND state) and the complete safety net, both mandatory and discretionary, including the low-income programs that make up the social support package derisively referred to as ‘welfare.’

    • Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?

      It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the U.S., it’s as high as 55%. In Germany, a solid 77% are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

    • Big Telco hates “regulation,” but they love their billions in government handouts

      When it comes to killing Net Neutrality, Big Telco’s major talking point is that “government regulation” has no place in telcoms; but the reality is that the nation’s telecommunications providers are the recipients of regulatory gifts that run to $5B/year, and are expected to do very little in return for this corporate welfare.

    • This City Just Passed the First Bitcoin Mining Ban in the US

      Plattsburgh, New York has imposed an 18-month moratorium on Bitcoin mining to prevent miners from using all the city’s cheap electricity.

    • Spotify will go public on April 3

      The company will go public through an unorthodox direct listing, which doesn’t involve underwriters or require the company to sell any of its stock. Such a move is unusual for a company of Spotify’s size.

    • Adapt or die: How to cope when the bots take your job

      Reports that robots, automation and artificial intelligence are going to put millions of us out of work may sound troubling, but should we believe them? That largely depends on whether we’re technology optimists or pessimists. In our Future of Work series we look at how jobs might change in the future.

    • If You Ratify The CETA Trade Deal, You’ll Break The Law, Legal Expert Tells EU Member States

      It’s an interesting argument, which the European Commission will doubtless do its best to ignore in the hope that it can just steamroller CETA through the ratification process before the CJEU issues its ruling. However, if, as seems likely, CETA’s investment chapter is indeed ruled illegal by the top court, this will present a rather thorny problem for the EU. Given the other challenges it faces thanks to rising populism in many EU countries, the Commission could probably do without this kind of constitutional crisis that would undermine further people’s support for the European project. That might be a good reason for putting those ratifications on hold for a while.

    • How Toys R Us was doomed by a leveraged buyout and shortsighted strategy

      Toys R Us will go down as a cautionary tale in retail — an emblem of the dangers of leveraged buyouts and of strategic shortsightedness.

    • The Trump administration is a government of billionaires and their sycophants
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Meet the ‘Outrage Fairy’ Protecting You on the Internet

      Though the 2017 [sic] election underlined America’s vulnerability to cyberattacks and data theft, protecting the privacy of individuals, which she says is the first thing authoritarian regimes try to strip from their citizens, has always been her mission.

    • Trump Attorney: Porn Star Broke Nondisclosure Pact, Could Owe $20M

      The filing by attorney Michael Cohen seeks to move actress Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit from a state-level court to federal court in Los Angeles. It accuses Daniels of violating the agreement more than 20 times.

    • Andrew McCabe, ex-FBI deputy and Trump target, fired days before retiring

      Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director and a frequent target of Donald Trump, has been fired less than two days before he was due to retire.

    • The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn’t
    • Malice As #News

      The theme: fake news. Which, of course, has a strong Indian edition. The realisation is growing that, in the bruising online battles these days over politics, policies and personalities, with trench warriors raining poison arrows at each other, fake news has become a key weapon of the online arsenal. On March 8, Science published a paper by MIT rese­archers that proves fake news travels faster on Twitter, though many suspect it is more pervasive and travels fast enough on Facebook too.

    • The Vulture On The Wire

      There’s no escaping it. Being on social media is like stepping out in Delhi’s toxic winter smog—even if you’re trying to find good cheer, a vile murk defines the ambient mood. Trolls are everywhere, like suspen­ded particulate matter. You could post a picture of a lunch or of an outing with friends. Share an article on the party in power or an innocuous paper showing that coffee isn’t good for digestion. If you are visible or vocal on ­social media, you are fair game for these gremlins, and a special menu of malice, rage and harassment is reserved for you.

    • Situationer: Pakistan’s social media conundrum as election looms

      In the light of growing crackdown against social media activists in the country, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had announced plans to formulate a framework to monitor social media in order to prevent it from being used as a tool to malign national institutions and spread anarchy or extremism.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Ten months later: People of Turkey still denied access to Wikipedia

      It has been ten months since the block of Wikipedia in Turkey. For almost a year, the 80 million people of Turkey have been denied access to information on topics ranging from medicine, to history, to current events on Wikipedia. After ten months, and in the midst of the school term, the need to restore access to Wikipedia in Turkey becomes more urgent every day.

    • Vigil for imprisoned writers in Saudi Arabia

      For more than three years, English PEN has been holding regular vigils outside the Saudi Embassy in London in support of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair whom we believe to be detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

    • Pakistan’s blasphemy laws persecute the weakest of the weak

      Pakistan’s blasphemy laws date back to the military dictatorship of Gen. Muhammad Zia ul Haq. In 1980, making a derogatory remark against any Islamic personage was defined as a crime under Pakistan’s Penal Code Section 295, punishable by three years in prison. In 1982, another clause was added that prescribed life imprisonment for “willful desecration of the Quran” and, in 1986, a separate clause was added to punish blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed with “death, or imprisonment for life.”

      Bibi’s case illustrates how blasphemy laws are used to persecute the weakest of the weak among Pakistan’s religious minorities. As a poor Christian from a low caste, Bibi was among the most vulnerable and susceptible to discrimination. And the legal system — which, in theory, should be designed to protect the innocent — failed her in every way

    • Has Pakistan’s top judge failed Asia Bibi?

      Asia Bibi, a 52-year-old Catholic mother of five, was a fruit picker from Sheikhupura, a town in Punjab. Her sentence is based on the allegation that she insulted the Prophet Mohammad during an argument with Muslim farm workers over a glass of water.

      She has pleaded innocent and challenged her conviction in the highest court after the Lahore High Court chose not to overturn the earlier ruling.

      However, her appeal has been pending in the Supreme Court since November 2014.

    • European Parliament ambushed by doctored version of pending internet censorship rules that sneaks filtering into all online services

      hankfully, the filters had been largely erased from the negotiating drafts, thanks to vigorous debate and activism. But last week, German MEP Axel Voss, rapporteur for the Copyright Directive, introduced a new draft that brought the filters back, and imposed them on virtually every kind of online platform, vastly expanding their scope beyond the worst drafts of the earlier proposals.

      What’s worse, Voss apparently didn’t author this draft: according to the Word metadata in the document, it was authored by an unelected European Commission bureaucrat who has previously advocated for the filters.

    • Why we must have the right to call Allah gay

      In Britain in the 21st century you can be punished for mocking gods. You can be expelled from the kingdom, frozen out, if you dare to diss Allah. Perversely adopting medieval Islamic blasphemy laws, modern Britain has made it clear that it will tolerate no individual who says scurrilous or reviling things about the Islamic god or prophet. Witness the authorities’ refusal to grant entrance to the nation to the alt-right Christian YouTuber Lauren Southern. Her crime? She once distributed a leaflet in Luton with the words ‘Allah is gay, Allah is trans, Allah is lesbian…’, and according to the letter she received from the Home Office informing her of her ban from Britain, such behaviour poses a ‘threat to the fundamental interests of [British] society’.

    • Sadiq Khan wants tech firms to do more to tackle hate speech
    • Exclusive: Activist Lauri Love Speaks Out After Twitter Suspension

      The activism community was shocked recently by the news that Twitter had permanently suspended UK-based activist, Lauri Love. Love recently won a landmark case in a drawn-out legal battle against extradition to the United States. Following the suspension, human rights activists commenced calls for Love’s account to be reinstated immediately, to no avail at the time of writing.

      Last month, UK Judges ruled against the United States’ effort to extradite Love to the US, on the grounds that extraditing him would be: “Oppressive by reason of his physical and mental condition.” The finding is likely to have an ongoing effect, possibly setting legal precedent for future extradition cases. wrote of the importance of the finding: “Love was facing criminal allegations in the United States despite never having visited the country, and he also had significant mental health issues that could deteriorate considerably if he were extradited… The High Court’s ruling on Lauri Love’s case yesterday provides welcome relief and hope to UK extradition lawyers and campaigners. ”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Cambridge Analytica Took 50M Facebook Users’ Data—And Both Companies Owe Answers

      And yet, following Facebook’s announcement Friday night, sources close to Cambridge confirmed to WIRED that this data was still accessible as recently as last year. According to one source, a trove of Facebook users’ personal data was visible on Cambridge’s internal databases in 2017, despite SCL’s current denial and past promises to both Cambridge employees and Facebook that it had all been deleted in 2015. The data included Facebook IDs, and responses to personality surveys that had been administered by Kogan in 2015. Another source close to the company recalled seeing a database called “Kogan-import” in Cambridge’s system, which was only visible to a small number of staffers in data science, engineering, and IT. The source says the database was tightly controlled in terms of who could edit or delete it.

    • How Cambridge Analytica turned Facebook ‘likes’ into a lucrative political tool

      The algorithm used in the Facebook data breach trawled though personal data for information on sexual orientation, race, gender – and even intelligence and childhood trauma

    • Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach

      The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

      A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

      Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

      Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

    • ‘They’ll squash you like a bug’: how Silicon Valley keeps a lid on leakers

      The interrogation was a technicality; they already knew he was guilty of leaking some innocuous information to the press. They had records of a screenshot he’d taken, links he had clicked or hovered over, and they strongly indicated they had accessed chats between him and the journalist, dating back to before he joined the company.

    • Judge eases feds’ case against NSA hoarder

      A federal judge handed prosecutors a significant win this week over a computer specialist accused of stealing a massive quantity of classified documents and data during two decades working at the National Security Agency and other agencies.

      U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis suggested last month that he might require prosecutors to prove that the contractor formerly assigned to an elite NSA hacking unit, Harold Martin, knew he had the 20 specific documents listed in a 20-count indictment accusing him of illegally retaining national security information at his Maryland home.

    • Selling you out: Mass public surveillance for corporate gain

      Private companies have built businesses around the concept of creating huge databases of aggregated data collected through mass public surveillance. This is a form of “surveillance capitalism” where the focus is on monetizing new forms of data extraction rather than creating goods. The money is made, in large part, through charging a fee to federal, state, and local law enforcement to have access to the data and analytical tools to analyze all the information collected by these companies.

    • Facebook brings ‘Lite’ version to U.S.
    • Facebook Lite is coming to Canada, Australia, the UK and US
    • Facebook Lite to launch in developed countries, including U.S
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • After the niqab: what life is like for French women who remove the veil

      Testimonies of those who’ve chosen to “leave the niqab behind” are rare. The number of women who have adopted it is extremely low, and the ones who then choose to renounce it must often sever their old relationships and adopt what is in many ways a new identity – they change their e-mail addresses, phone numbers and move on completely. For them the full-length veil has become something firmly in the past, representative of a transitional stage in their lives.

    • China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains

      Starting in May, Chinese citizens who rank low on the country’s burgeoning “social credit” system will be in danger of being banned from buying plane or train tickets for up to a year, according to statements recently released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.

      With the social credit system, the Chinese government rates citizens based on things like criminal behavior and financial misdeeds, but also on what they buy, say, and do. Those with low “scores” have to deal with penalties and restrictions. China has been working towards rolling out a full version of the system by 2020, but some early versions of it are already in place.

    • Journalists say arrest of Ottawa reporter is abnormal, unacceptable

      The Crown has not yet decided if charges will proceed.

    • Uber accused of silencing women who claim sexual assault by drivers

      Court records in a California class-action lawsuit revealed that the ride-sharing firm has argued that female passengers who speak up about being raped in an Uber must individually settle their cases through arbitration, a private process that often results in confidentiality agreements.

    • “Clock boy” family loses racism lawsuit against city, school, and police

      Police and school defeat lawsuit over boy who was accused of building hoax bomb.

    • Facebook suspends Trump-linked firm Cambridge Analytica

      Facebook Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal wrote in a post Friday night that the decision was made after reports that the firm did not fully delete data given to them by a University of Cambridge professor in violation of Facebook policies.

    • Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s data operations team for misusing people’s personal information

      Facebook said late Friday that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), along with its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, for violating its policies around data collection and retention. The companies, which ran data operations for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, are widely credited with helping Trump more effectively target voters on Facebook than his rival, Hillary Clinton. While the exact nature of their role remains somewhat mysterious, Facebook’s disclosure suggests that the company improperly obtained user data that could have given it an unfair advantage in reaching voters.

      Facebook said it cannot determine whether or how the data in question could have been used in conjunction with election ad campaigns. Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    • Perspective | I went to prison for disclosing the CIA’s torture. Gina Haspel helped cover it up.
    • Richard Spencer says that antifa sucked all the fun out of college appearances, calls it quits

      Elements of the left say that antifa tactics — direct, physical confrontations with fascists and racists — are a “gift to the alt-right,” letting them play victim and validating their paranoid fantasies about the persecution of white dudes — but punched Nazi Richard Spencer says that antifa tactics have worked as intended, making it impossible for him to continue his on-campus recruitment tour for his forthcoming race-war.

      Spencer’s admission of antifa’s victory was part of a long, dull Youtube video he posted last Sunday, in which he announced the premature end of his “college tour,” because “When they become violent clashes and pitched battles, they aren’t fun,” adding, “Antifa is winning to the extent that they’re willing to go further than anyone else, in the sense that they will do things in terms of just violence, intimidating, and general nastiness.”

    • Enough of the shameful kowtowing to the Saudis

      Remember Raif Badawi? He is the blogger who was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in jail, and 1,000 lashes, for daring to advocate respect for human rights, secularism and democracy in his native Saudi Arabia. When he received a first batch of 50 lashes in a public square in Jeddah in 2015 it nearly killed him. An international outcry ensued. Since then, Badawi has not been flogged again. But he remains in jail.

    • Indonesian Christians whipped over sharia-banned child’s play

      Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province Feb. 27 for playing a children’s entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures.

    • Why Indonesia’s Christian Diaspora Fears Going Home

      The three men’s immigration claims have shone a light on the worsening religious intolerance endured by religious minorities in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Indonesia has long been seen as a religiously moderate country and has an official national motto of ‘unity in diversity’. But over the past two decades a combination of discriminatory laws and growing intolerance from some Sunni Muslims has resulted in harassment, intimidation and violence against religious minorities. Successive Indonesian governments have failed to confront this intolerance, which has only emboldened those who victimise religious minorities.

    • El Salvador’s Gangs Are Targeting Young Girls

      While a majority of El Salvador’s homicide victims are young men from poor urban areas, the gangs’ practice of explicitly targeting girls for sexual violence or coerced relationships is well known. Since 2000, the homicide rate for young women in El Salvador has also increased sharply, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. To refuse the gangs’ demands can mean death for girls and their families.

    • Oklahoma To Experiment With Nitrogen Gas In Executions

      Oklahoma will execute prisoners using an experimental method never before attempted anywhere in the world: nitrogen hypoxia.

      Mike Hunter, the state’s attorney general, and Joe M. Allbaugh, the director of the department of corrections, announced Oklahoma will asphyxiate prisoners by locking them in a chamber that will fill with a physiologically inert gas, such as nitrogen. Such gases are not toxic but instead deplete blood oxygen levels.

      The method has never been tested, but those who support the method contend it is “more humane” than lethal injection. They point to support among advocates of voluntary euthanasia and its use in some food production processes to kill animals.

      Death penalty abolitionists, on the other hand, believe capital punishment can never be humane or just, regardless of the method. They maintain the death penalty is disproportionately used against black and poor people. It does not deter crime. People who are innocent or too mentally ill to understand their punishment are often put to death.

    • Power and the divine: self-repression in Egypt

      Focusing on the afterlife, the rewards of heaven for the just and hell for the unjust, keeps the masses in check and accepting of their social reality. This needs to change.

    • ‘Queen bee syndrome’ at workplace getting worse: study

      “Queen bee syndrome” – the phenomenon of women discriminating against other female coworkers as they rise in seniority – may be getting worse, a study has found.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Entire broadband industry will help FCC defend net neutrality repeal

      Yesterday, three trade groups that collectively represent every major home Internet and mobile broadband provider in the US filed motions to intervene in the case on behalf of the FCC. The motions for leave to intervene were filed by NCTA–The Internet & Television Association, CTIA–The Wireless Association, and USTelecom–The Broadband Association. (Yes, those are the organizations’ correct names.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • MPAA Brands 123Movies as the World’s Most Popular Illegal Site

        The MPAA is visiting Vietnam to discuss with local authorities how they can properly deal with movie piracy sites. One target that was singled out is 123movies, a streaming site that is said to be operated from Vietnam. According to the movie industry group, it is “the most popular illegal site in the world.”

      • ‘Dutch Pirate Bay Blocking Case Should Get a Do-Over’

        In the legal battle over the legality of the Dutch Pirate Bay blockade, Advocate General Van Peursem has advised the Supreme Court to throw out the previous order and do the case all over again. Citing recent EU jurisprudence, the Attorney General suggests that the previous freedom of entrepreneurship and information defenses are less likely to survive a do-over.

TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

Sunday 18th of March 2018 06:21:08 AM

Reference: Courts of Texas

Summary: A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

THE Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) has been getting a bad name. It’s now nationally recognised (if not internationally renowned/notorious) for fostering patent trolls. They typically use software patents granted by the USPTO and they enjoy courts whose attitude is plaintiff-friendly and tolerant/accepting of software patents in spite of Alice. After TC Heartland, however, it became a lot harder to drag companies into these courts.

“Ironically, for Eastern Texas at least, this whole gamble on the ‘litigation’ industry may, from now on, actively discourage companies from coming and encourage those which have an office there to leave that district.”The other day Watchtroll recalled a “complaint filed by SimpleAir in the Eastern District of Texas. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the lower court’s decision” (as usual).

It also recalled Portal Communications [1, 2], an EDTX case in which Apple is accused of patent infringement by a de facto troll (someone’s ‘monetisation’ shell). There’s also this new update on the case of an old patent troll called VirnetX. In VirnetX Inc. et al v Apple Inc. (Eastern Texas again) there was an attempt to deny Apple a right to defense:

The court denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment that the redesigned version of defendant’s adjudicated product infringed its network security patents because there were genuine disputes of material fact which precluded a finding of collateral estoppel.

It’s pretty clear that in spite of TC Heartland, which caused new filings in EDTX to collapse, there is still an issue. Apart from ongoing cases, there’s still the prospect of filing new lawsuits there provided the accused party has some operations there. Ironically, for Eastern Texas at least, this whole gamble on the ‘litigation’ industry may, from now on, actively discourage companies from coming and encourage those which have an office there to leave that district. We gave one example of that a week ago. Karma in action? Unemployment crisis looming?

PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent ‘Industry’ That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

Sunday 18th of March 2018 05:23:05 AM

Summary: The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it’s supporting sham deals (or “scams”) and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

THE patent reform in the United States is very real; it’s effective. The USPTO makes it a lot harder to pursue software patents (unless they’re disguised as something different — a subject we shall cover and tackle separately).

An anti-PTAB site of the patent microcosm currently tries to frame PTAB’s opposition as “[p]harmaceutical patent owners”, but in reality it’s just greedy law firms that oppose PTAB. It mentioned PTAB’s Chief Judge Ruschke the other day after he had once again responded to critics.

Likely in response to these concerns, Chief Judge Ruschke announced the results of an Orange Book-listed Patent Study during his “Chat with the Chief” on March 13, 2018. The meeting presentation slides can be found here. During the chat, the Chief Judge also revealed the results of an expanded panel study, which we will analyze in a future post. For the Orange Book study, the PTAB classified a petition as challenging an Orange Book-listed patent if, unsurprisingly, the patent was listed in the Orange Book when the petition was filed. The data provided was through the end of the fiscal year 2017, which ended on September 31, 2017. We will look at three of the questions asked by the Office in this study.

The author, Andrew Williams, concluded as follows: “In any event, this study by the Patent Office is certainly interesting. It does go a long way to allaying the fears of NDA holders. Nevertheless, considering that an IPR is a lose-or-draw proposition for any patent holder, and that Orange Book-listed patents are so valuable to NDA holders, this may come as little comfort to the community. Instead, anything that disrupts the balance struck by Hatch-Waxman is not going to be seen as favorable, no matter how the actual numbers have been borne out.”

The patent microcosm is attempting to guard an old (antiquated and collectively undesirable) status quo — one in which patent trolls thrived, software patents had legal ‘teeth’, and lawsuits were abundant. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, continues to amplify if not promote scammers and then appeals to SCOTUS for help. The author of this new piece is a patent extremist with a long history of promoting trolls and software patents.

“The USPTO is not a for-profit organisation. It exists to service those entitled to some protection in exchange for publication.”Unfortunately we have gotten used to it. All we have here is IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, which attacks PTAB and attempts to influence/incite Justices against IPRs. IAM is toxic, but it enjoys free speech rights (even if that speech is funded by nefarious elements).

With the context being a recent IAM 'interview' (more like PTAB bashing, or an IAM piece using Andrei Iancu to smear PTAB), we at least know who orchestrates much of the propaganda. The CCIA responded the other day as follows:

Director Andrei Iancu has been making the rounds since his confirmation. In a recent interview, he suggested that “[t]here is, for sure, a perception problem in the IP community with the PTAB” and that “when you have a perception problem you have a real problem in the sense that if the IP community loses faith in what you do then it loses faith in the reliability of the system.”

Director Iancu is right. When you have a perception problem, that can create an actual problem. But instead of looking to the IP community, which has far more widely varying views than the interview gives credence to, I’d look at the Patent Office to see the real impacts.


The post-grant proceedings created by the AIA—post grant review, inter partes review, and covered business method—were designed to allow the Patent Office to correct its own errors when it issues a patent that never should have issued. Part of this process is allowing interested parties to locate prior art the examiner never located.

But part of the process is allowing parties to correct errors made by the examiner in the art they did find. Examiners miss things when they search, but they also miss things once they’ve found a reference. That’s exactly why 325(d) says that the PTAB “may take into account” if the prior art was previously at the office.

Not “must take into account” or “can’t institute”, but “may take into account.” The statute itself recognizes that sometimes examiners misunderstand or misapply art.

Well, the Patent Office (USPTO) would be wise to listen to actual companies rather than law firms. At the moment the impression we are getting is that the USPTO’s reputation is improving. If Iancu wants to be remembered positively, he’ll maintain the positive elements and reject those who pursue patents just for the sake of having more patents or making more money from the patent-granting process. The USPTO is not a for-profit organisation. It exists to service those entitled to some protection in exchange for publication.

The Patent ‘Industry’ is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn’t Like the Decisions

Sunday 18th of March 2018 04:44:28 AM

Latching onto cases like Berkheimer when it suits them, otherwise ridiculing judges and urging them to step down

Reference: “Why court-bashing is out of control.”

Summary: Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they’re willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

LAST year the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) almost always rejected software patents that had been granted by the USPTO. Those granted patents were bogus. They should never have been granted in the first place.

“No matter the number of debunkings, they’ll continues to ‘namedrop’ these cases and attempt to give an impression that software patents are still worth pursuing. They’re not.”Earlier this year there were a few CAFC decisions (such as Berkheimer [1, 2] and others) that were intentionally warped and wrongly interpreted as resurgence of software patents. We already wrote more than a dozen rebuttals to these and would spare ourselves the need to do so again. Unfortunately, sites like Watchtroll continue to push these lies/misinterpretations; they also act like a ‘proper’ lobby group with headlines like “Law Professors Urge CAFC to Uphold Cleveland Clinic Diagnostic Method Patents”.

Knobbe Martens’ Jeremy Anapol also wrote about CAFC the other day, recalling these misinterpreted case:

The first case was Berkheimer v. HP Inc. and the second was Aatrix Software v. Green Shades Software.

No matter the number of debunkings, they’ll continues to ‘namedrop’ these cases and attempt to give an impression that software patents are still worth pursuing. They’re not. 35 U.S.C. § 101 is pretty clear about that.

“We have already seen judges from CAFC coming under attacks by the likes of Watchtroll and Crouch.”Regarding 35 U.S.C. § 112, this “Guest Post” by Gary M. Fox from the University of Michigan Law School deals with CAFC. It was hosted by Dennis Crouch, who himself also wrote about § 112 (a short time apart) in relation to Capital Security Systems, Inc. v NCR Corp.

We have already seen judges from CAFC coming under attacks by the likes of Watchtroll and Crouch. They’re not happy with the more restrictive approach towards patents. A few days ago Managing IP gave a platform to a patent maximalist who called it “CAFC’s evolving approach on patent eligibility,” saying that he “[d]escribes court’s approach now as a “touch and feel analysis”. Does something feel new?”

No, nothing new here. Patent zealots who make a living out of patents just carry on bashing not only PTAB but also ‘proper’ courts like CAFC, which support PTAB the vast majority of the time.