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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 15 min ago

Another Misleading Article Regarding Patents From Rana Foroohar at the Financial Times

5 hours 36 min ago

Summary: In an effort to promote the agenda of patent maximalists, many of whom are connected to the Financial Times, another deceiving report comes out

A NEW article that’s composed by Rana Foroohar from New York worries us because it’s not the first time she spreads falsehoods. She recently did more of that and her latest says: “Critics fear Silicon Valley lobbying has weakened the defence of intellectual property and sapped innovation” (by “critics” she means the patent microcosm).

“The Financial Times actively participates in lobbying, e.g. for the UPC. Agenda is up for sale.”
      –Foroohar writes for a large audience, namely the readers of the Financial Times which the EPO incidentally pays. The Financial Times actively participates in lobbying, e.g. for the UPC. Agenda is up for sale.

The latest nonsense from Foroohar uses false dichotomy/split (it’s not about “Big Pharma” but the patent microcosm) and quotes lobbyists like David Kappos. Unfortunately, we live in a world where big media is just a business and ‘facts’ (or ‘alternative facts’) are just a commodity to be determined by the highest bidder.

“The latest nonsense from Foroohar uses false dichotomy/split (it’s not about “Big Pharma” but the patent microcosm) and quotes lobbyists like David Kappos.”Speaking of the patent microcosm, Patently-O has just spotted that “Oral arguments for both Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, No. 16-712 and SAS Institute Inc. v. Matal, No. 16-969, have been set for November 27, 2017.”

As a reminder, Patently-O has been trying hard to ‘scandalise’ PTAB and influence this case in favour of patent trolls. The US Supreme Court will likely rubberstamp PTAB some time soon in spite of all the pressure from the patent trolls lobby and biased media including Patently-O and the Financial Times. A day earlier Patently-O presented some data about patent application pendency at the USPTO. To quote:

The chart below shows the pendency timing for issued US patents — looking particularly at the time from priority filing (including foreign priority claims) until issuance of the US patent.

This does not show anything profoundly interesting, but compared to the EPO it looks consistent. The EPO is just rushing things through and granting low-quality patents — the very same thing which the patent microcosm in the US wants. It’s all about litigation to these people.

Monika Ermert’s Reports About the Crisis at the EPO and IP Kat’s Uncharacteristically Shallow Coverage

6 hours 7 min ago

Good site; shame about the paywall…

Summary: News from inside the Council shows conflict regarding the quality of European Patents (granted by the EPO under pressure from top-level management)

THE situation behind the scenes at the EPO is hard to decipher because secrecy persists and intimidation prevails.

Earlier today, adding further to the mystique, Monika Ermert published this article about “System Battistelli” behind a paywall. To quote the only paragraph which is open access:

Considerable quality problems in the examination and processing of patent applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) were deplored by a group of patent attorneys during a visit of the new Chair of the EPO Administrative Board, Christoph Ernst, from the German Ministry of Justice, to the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research in Munich. Meant as a presentation of Ernst’s thoughts on “the future of the European patent system,” the debate developed into a harsh reckoning of the “System Battistelli.”

Some readers of ours asked if we could gain access to the full article, but we could not. One reader said that “the only way to receive the full article is by subscribing and paying the 1 year fee of 99 CHF or 86 €!”

Transparency at the EPO is crucial now. It would be nice to know what the article above said (which was new).

We have instead decided to publish a translation of another article from Ermert. She wrote also for Germany’s leading technology news site.

Translation of the article which appeared on Heise.de on the 14th of October can be found below:

Outgoing head of the European Patent Office criticised

14.10.2017 15:30 – Monika Ermert

European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. (Picture: dpa, Frank Leonhardt)

On Friday evening, what had originally been intended as a specialist technical discussion about the future of the European patent system with the new head of the EPO Administrative Council turned into a round of severe criticism directed at the outgoing President.

The newly appointed head of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office (EPO), Christoph Ernst, Assistant Chief Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice, was obliged to listen to harsh criticism about the deteriorating quality of patent examination at the EPO as a result of the overworking of patent examiners. At the invitation of the Munich Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Innovation and Competition, Ernst presented an optimistic picture of the future of the European patent system but declared that he was willing to conduct a discussion about the quality problem with the experts.

The patent figures at the European Patent Office are rising, the Office is equipped to deal with new challenges and the EU Unitary patent is almost ready to go, according to Ernst’s optimistic message. On 1st October, he took over the Chairmanship of the Administrative Council. Prior to that, he already sat as head of the German delegation in the supervisory body of the 38 member states and he represented Germany at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Pressure to perform and toxic workplace relations

For years the EPO has been getting negative press coverage, mainly because of the severe conflict between President Benoit Battistelli who is due to depart next year and his employees and staff unions. Because of the intense pressure to perform and also psychological pressure exerted on the employees within the Office, perverse incentives have been introduced, warned Gero Maatz-Jansen from the Munich-based law firm Grüncker.

Instead of thoroughly scrutinizing patent applications, EPO staff try to get the files off their desks as quickly as possible. In the medium term, declining quality could drive the users away and cause the entire EPO system to collapse, the lawyer said with great applause from around 60 participants at the MPI event, many of whom contributed their own observations.

Evidence of deterioration in quality?

Weaker prior art citations and superficial search reports on the state of the art, as well as problems in the formal procedures underscored the fact that the work of the EPA staff was suffering. Examiners increasingly complied with the rigorous efficiency agenda of EPA CEO Battistelli by quickly rejecting applications because of minor formal flaws, said one lawyer.

Ernst called for data concerning such deficiencies to be presented. To date, there had been no real evidence of a deterioration in quality, he said. The number of oppositions against granted applications was declining slightly, as were the revocations and the “destruction rate” was negligible. “The mere fact that more patents are granted does not in itself mean that the quality is impaired,” he told the patent lawyers.

The EPO examiner and staff union official Elizabeth Hardon, who was dismissed by Battistelli in 2016, recalled that quality problems will only become apparent a number of years down the line in subsequent nullity proceedings. The staff union official expressly welcomed the fact that at the MPI event others were standing up to voice criticism of the workplace situation at the EPO. “For years nobody was listening to us,” she said.

Patent system in crisis?

According to the host, Reto Hilty, Managing Director of the MPI for Innovation and Competition, a rising number of patent applications does not provide proof of any increase in innovation, which is supposed to be what the patent system is all about. Researchers who for a long time have been talking about a “crisis of the patent system” are noting a veritable race for high numbers of applications in China, the USA and Europe.

In his speech at the MPI Ernst also referred to individual crisis symptoms. For example, there are intense discussions at the United Nations about the artificial restriction of access to vital medication by patents. However, he called the relevant UN report “one-sided” and “not pointing in the right direction.” The controversial issue of bio-patenting has not yet been resolved because the EPO is currently dealing with a new opposition proceedings against the patenting of beer. Finally, a consultation relating to patents on essential standards is one of the top priorities on the agenda of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Update, 14.10.2017 16:30:

Name of Elizabeth Hardon corrected (Monika Ermert)

One might wonder, where’s the Kat?

Well, the Kat finally wrote something about it, but it’s disappointing. “Merpel welcomes Mr. Campinos to the exciting world of European Patents,” it says.

This unusually shallow coverage from the user “Merpel” makes us wonder if it’s CIPA (Stephen) who wrote it. It’s a short post that’s repeating/parroting Battistelli’s statements (without noting that it’s Battistelli who set him up for this job) and calling Campinos “a Portuguese national” even though he is French too (like Battistelli). Merpel is not an actual person but a name used by several people who prefer to post anonymously.

Incidentally, somebody wrote this comment today regarding what Ernst means to the UPC. It says: “Interesting thoughts – one further comment – should the UPC fail or succeed in coming about, that may indicate the trend of IP in future, reflecting as it does the “in” or “out” discussions in regions and nations at present (although with an added sprinkling of complex constitutional compromise for good measure to mix things up a little). Personally a retreat to tribalism does not seem to bode well.”

The UPC will probably fail at the end; it’s stuck and won’t become a reality under Battistelli, but the one legacy Battistelli put in place is lenient grants with PPH, PACE, Early Certainty etc. Very bad for patent quality, no doubt. Earlier today Awapatent published this article about the EPO’s PPH arrangement with a former Portuguese colony (not Angola but Brazil). What this will mean when Campinos take charge remains to be seen.

Patent Troll VirnetX a Reminder to Apple That Software Patents Are a Threat to Apple Too

6 hours 46 min ago

Summary: VirnetX, a notorious patent troll, is poised to receive a huge sum of money from Apple and Qualcomm is trying to ban Apple products, serving to remind Apple of the detrimental impact of patents on Apple itself

AS reported in some Apple fan sites and VirnetX with its press release, Apple will need to pay about half a billion dollars for some dubious patents. It’s the latest reminder to Apple that software patents should be abolished.

There is also an attempt to ban all the ‘i’ things. That’s the latest on Qualcomm, as we noted yesterday. Even patent fanatics from IAM don’t think Qualcomm’s strategy will succeed. As they put it some hours ago:

A series of Beijing lawsuits first reported by Bloomberg on Friday are just the latest salvos in the increasingly bitter global patent war between Qualcomm and Apple. Announcing the new suits to the press, Qualcomm declared explicitly that it will seek an injunction in China to stop the manufacture and sale of iPhones.

The three cases have been filed to the Beijing IP Court. A Qualcomm spokesperson said the patents are related to power management and touch screen technologies, and made clear that they are not standard essential patents (SEPs). Apple emphasised that the rights are peripheral to the core of the dispute between the two companies, saying in a statement: “In our many years of ongoing negotiations with Qualcomm, these patents have never been discussed.” But by asserting patents not subject to a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing pledge, Qualcomm is likely to be counting on an easier path to injunctive relief – its stated goal.

Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler for Apple if software patents simply did not exist (in China too)? Many of the patents Qualcomm is using are software patents.

Links 16/10/2017: Linux 4.14 RC5, Debian 9.2.1, End of LibreOffice Conference 2017

17 hours 9 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Microsoft faces Dutch crunch over Windows 10 private data slurp

      Yet another European nation is turning up the heat on Microsoft for extracting heaps and heaps of telemetry and other intelligence from Windows 10 PCs.

      This time, it’s privacy authorities in the Netherlands who are calling out Redmond for its hog-wild harvesting of data from machines that run Windows 10 Home and Pro. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) said on Friday it will impose sanctions on Microsoft should the American tech giant fail to make changes to its software.

    • Dutch slam Windows 10 for breaking privacy laws

      Dutch authorities claim Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system is violating data protection and privacy laws, and warned they may impose fines on the US technology giant.

      “Microsoft breaches the Dutch data protection law by processing personal data of people that use the Windows 10 operating system on their computers,” the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) said in a statement late Friday.

      The company fails to “clearly inform” users of Windows 10 that it “continuously collects personal data about the usage of apps and web surfing behavior through its web browser Edge, when the default settings are used,” the DPA said.

    • Raspberry Pi 3 based laptop features DIY hacking bay

      Pi-top has revised its RPi based laptop with a 14-inch HD screen and a slide-off keyboard that reveals a cooling unit and DIY space for a breadboard kit.

      Pi-top’s Raspberry Pi driven laptop has received a major upgrade with a new model with a slightly larger 14-inch, HD screen and a 6 to 8 hour battery. The 2017 edition of the education-focused Pi-top features a modular design with a larger keyboard that slides forward to reveal a Raspberry Pi 3 with a new heatsink. It also includes an empty bay for DIY hacking, which can be filled with components from a free Inventor’s Kit. This DIY kit includes a breadboard, a motion sensor, LEDs, and a microphone, all mounted on a magnetic sliding rail.

    • Pi-Top: This Raspberry Pi And Linux-powered Laptop Is For New

      In late 2014, Pi-Top, U.K.’s education startup raised about $200,000 on Indiegogo to fund its first DIY laptop. It was followed by pi-topCEED, a cheap desktop computer that’s powered by Raspberry Pi.

      Their latest offering, the new Pi-Top, is a new tinkering machine that you can assemble on your own using modular approach. Compared to the past offerings, the number of steps needed to assemble the computer and start working are much less.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.13.7

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.13.7 kernel.

      All users of the 4.13 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.13.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.13.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

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

    • Linux 4.15 Is Shaping Up To be An Exciting Kernel, Especially For AMD Users

      There still is a few weeks to go until the Linux 4.14 kernel will be released, but following that the Linux 4.15 kernel is shaping up to be a very exciting cycle.

    • F2FS Tools 1.9 Released With Encryption & More

      An updated version of the user-space F2FS (Flash Friendly File-System) utilities was quietly released a few weeks back.

      The f2fs-tools 1.9 update is a fairly big update for adding the bits for recent additions to the F2FS kernel driver. Now handled by f2fs-tools is dealing with encryption support, sparse support, inode checksum support, no-heap allocation is enabled by default, and support for the CP_TRIMMED_FLAG.

    • Improvements in the block layer

      Jens Axboe is the maintainer of the block layer of the kernel. In this capacity, he spoke at Kernel Recipes 2017 on what’s new in the storage world for Linux, with a particular focus on the new block-multiqueue subsystem: the degree to which it’s been adopted, a number of optimizations that have recently been made, and a bit of speculation about how it will further improve in the future.

      Back in 2011, Intel published a Linux driver for NVM Express (or NVMe, where NVM is the Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface), which was its new bus for accessing solid-state storage devices (SSDs). This driver was incorporated into the mainline kernel in 2012, first appearing in 3.3. It allowed new, fast SSD devices to be run at speed, but that gave no improvement if the block subsystem continued to treat them as pedestrian hard drives. So a new, scalable block layer known as blk-mq (for block-multiqueue) was developed to take better advantage of these fast devices; it was merged for 3.13 in 2014. It was introduced with the understanding that all of the old drivers would be ported to blk-mq over time; this continues, even though most of the mainstream block storage devices have by now been successfully ported. Axboe’s first focus was a status update on this process.

    • Kernel prepatch 4.14-rc5
    • Linux 4.14-rc5 Released

      Linus Torvalds has just issued the Linux 4.14-rc5 kernel update.

      With this release out today, we’re three to four weeks out from seeing the official Linux 4.14 kernel release. Linux 4.14 has overall been a big cycle with the possibility of going up to a Linux 4.14-rc8 test release prior to declaring the stable release, but we’ll have to see Torvalds’ reactions in the weeks ahead.

    • Linux 4.14-rc5

      Things seem to be finally starting to calm down for 4.14.

      We’ve certainly had smaller rc5′s, but we’ve had bigger ones too, and
      this week finally felt fairly normal in a release that has up until
      now felt a bit messier than it perhaps should have been.

      So assuming this trend holds, we’re all good. Knock wood.

      So what do we have here? A little bit of everything, but what might be
      most noticeable is some more fixes for the whole new x86 TLB handling
      due to the ASID changes that came in this release. Some of the lazy
      TLB handling changes caused problems on a few AMD chips with
      particular settings, because it was all a little bit *too* lazy in
      flushing the TLB. Even when TLB entries aren’t used (and will be
      flushed before any possible use), the TLB may be speculatively filled,
      and that can cause problems if we’ve already free’d the page tables
      that the speculative fill ends up looking up.

      The other thing perhaps worth mentioning is how much random fuzzing
      people are doing, and it’s finding things. We’ve always done fuzzing
      (who remembers the old “crashme” program that just generated random
      code and jumped to it? We used to do that quite actively very early
      on), but people have been doing some nice targeted fuzzing of driver
      subsystems etc, and there’s been various fixes (not just this last
      week either) coming out of those efforts. Very nice to see.

      Anyway, rc5 is out, and things look normal. We’ve got arch updates
      (mostly x86and poweerpc, but some mips), drivers (gpu, networking,
      usb, sound, misc), some core kernel (lockdep fixes, networking, mm)
      and some tooling (perf, selftests).

      Go out and test,

      Linus

    • Linus Torvalds lauds fuzzing for improving Linux security

      Linus Torvalds release notification for Linux 4.14′s fifth release candidate contains an interesting aside: the Linux Lord says fuzzing is making a big difference to the open source operating system.

      Torvalds’ announcement says Linux kernel 4.14 is coming along nicely, with this week’s release candidate pleasingly small and “fairly normal in a release that has up until now felt a bit messier than it perhaps should have been.”

      This week’s most prominent changes concern “… more fixes for the whole new x86 TLB [translation lookaside buffer – Ed] handling due to the ASID [address space ID - Ed] changes that came in this release.”

  • Applications
    • Catching up with RawTherapee 5.x

      Free-software raw photo editor RawTherapee released a major new revision earlier this year, followed by a string of incremental updates. The 5.x series, released at a rapid pace, marks a significant improvement in the RawTherapee’s development tempo — the project’s preceding update had landed in 2014. Regardless of the speed of the releases themselves, however, the improved RawTherapee offers users a lot of added functionality and may shake up the raw-photo-processing workflow for many photographers.

      It has been quite some time since we last examined the program during the run-up to the 3.0 series in 2010. In the intervening years, the scope of the project has grown considerably: macOS is now supported in addition to Windows and various flavors of Linux, and the application has seen substantial additions to the tool set it provides.

      The competitive landscape that RawTherapee inhabits has also changed; 2010-era competitors Rawstudio and UFRaw are not seeing much active development these days (not to mention the death of proprietary competitors like Apple’s Aperture), while darktable has amassed a significant following — particularly among photographers interested in a rich set of effects and retouching tools. At the other end of the spectrum, raw-file support improved in the “consumer” desktop photo-management tools (such as Shotwell) in the same time period, thus offering casual users some options with a less intimidating learning curve than darktable’s. Where RawTherapee sits amid all of the current offerings can be a bit hard to define.

      The 5.0 release landed on January 22, 5.1 then arrived on May 15, and 5.2 was unleashed (in the words of the announcement) on July 23. The project also migrated its source-code repository and issue tracking to GitHub, launched a new discussion forum, and has assembled a wiki-style documentation site called RawPedia.

    • psdash – System And Process Monitoring Web Dashboard For Linux

      psdash is a system monitoring and information web dashboard for Linux written in python using psutils and flask. The GUI is pretty much straight forward and clean. All the data is updated automatically, no need to refresh.

      psutils (process and system utilities) is a cross-platform library for retrieving information on running processes and system utilization (CPU, memory, disks, network, sensors) in Python.

    • Tiling Terminal Emulator Tilix 1.7.0 Released with Minor Improvements

      Tilix, the modern tiling terminal emulator for Linux desktops, scored an update at the weekend.

      Although a modest release, Tilix 1.7.0 brings some timely bug fixes and feature improvements to the app formerly known as Terminix.

      This includes support for using tabs instead of a sidebar, a feature Tilix dev Gerald Nunn says was a frequent user request.

      There’s also preliminary Flatpak support, though there’s no specific information on how to text or make use of the Tilix Flatpak. It’d be great to see the app added to the (awesome) Flathub Flatpak app store.

    • Oceanaudio An Audio Editor For Linux

      Audios are an integral part of life. Playing our best songs, having a party or a special function, we require audio everywhere. That is why audio editors are there too to help us make the best of an audio file. When I say audio editor, many of you will just think of audacity. Sure that is a pretty cool software but I think it’s a bit complicated for the inexperienced one.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
      • Wine 2.19 Supports 32-Bit Float Audio on Android, Has iTunes 11.1.x Improvements

        The bi-weekly release of Wine is here today with a new development release, versioned 2.19, which adds a few new features and fixes a total of 16 bugs in multiple Windows apps and games.

        Let’s start with the new features and improvements, as the Wine 2.19 release introduces support for 32-bit float audio on Android, support for a new Microsoft root certificate, the ability for the Wine server to fully handle named pipes, a bunch of optimizations to heap allocation, as well as an extra layer of transform fixes in GdiPlus.

    • Games
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Celebrates 21st Anniversary with New Updates of KDE Applications, Frameworks

        Today, the KDE Project celebrates the 21st anniversary of the well-known and widely used desktop environment for GNU/Linux and UNIX-like operating systems with new releases of its KDE Frameworks and KDE Applications software stacks.

        KDE recently unveiled KDE Plasma 5.11 as the latest and most advanced version of the KDE desktop environment, and today they released KDE Applications 17.08.2 and KDE Frameworks 5.39.0, which are now available to download for users of the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environments, as well as GNU/Linux distros that use the KDE Stack.

      • Replacing Audacity with KWave

        KWave has been developed since 1998, yet few have heard of it. I only recently heard of it myself from writer and podcaster Marcel Gagné while I was setting up to do how-to-videos. Part of the reason for its obscurity might be that, despite its name, it only recently become an official KDE project in the last release. However, the major reason for its obscurity is probably that it has been overshadowed by the better-known Audacity — which is a pity, because in most ways, KWave is every bit as useful as an audio editor.

        Why would anyone want an Audacity substitute? For one thing, while Audacity is cross-platform, it is not well-integrated into Linux. Audacity handles its own resources, as you can tell by its lengthy load time. Often, Audacity frequently gives confusing options for input and playback sources, giving several names to the same device and offering irrelevant front and back options for mono devices, so that users can only find the one they need through trial and error. Sometimes, the necessary option for a particular source can change for no apparent each time Audacity starts.

      • Kubuntu Artful Aardvark (17.10) final RC images now available

        Artful Aardvark (17.10) final Release Candidate (RC) images are now available for testing. Help us make 17.10 the best release yet!

        The Kubuntu team will be releasing 17.10 on October 19, 2017.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • There’s One Week Left To Apply For Outreachy Round 15

        There’s one week left for women and other under-represented groups in the open-source world to apply for Outreachy Round 15 for a winter internship to work on various projects.

        Outreachy applications are due 23 October and accepted participants are announced in early November for this $5500 USD internship period that runs from December to March. This round is open to: “internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Internships are also open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.”

      • retro-gtk: Renaissance

        This is the second article in a small series about retro-gtk, I recommend you to read the first one, retro-gtk: Postmortem, before this one.

        In the previous article I listed some problems I encountered while developing and using retro-gtk; in this one I will present some solutions I implemented to fix them! All that is presented in this article is part of the newly-released retro-gtk 0.13.1, which is the first version of the 0.14 development cycle.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Linux Mint 18.2 “Sonya” Xfce

        The mission for a swap Linux conveyance for Linux Mint 13 LTS “Maya” Xfce proceeds. With this post comes a review of the most recent MATE version of Linux Mint. Particularly for consistent perusers of this blog, I will simply say that with the most recent point discharge, it appears like the designers have put cleaner into the conveyance, including their new arrangement of “X-applications” intended to work crosswise over MATE, Cinnamon, Xfce, and GNOME, keeping away from the entanglements of more DE-particular applications. I need to perceive what has changed since my last review and to see whether this would be reasonable for the establishment and everyday use on my portable workstation. With that in mind, I made a live USB framework (once more, on my new SanDisk Cruzer USB streak drive) utilizing the “dd” order. Take after the bounce to perceive what it resembles. Note that I’ll often refer to past review, noticing just changes and general imperative focuses as required.

      • Star 1.0.1 – lightweight desktops on a Devuan base

        On the whole, I like the ideas presented in Star’s design. The distribution is basically Devuan and pulls packages from Devuan’s software repositories, but the live media and lightweight environments are great for testing the distribution and for breathing life into older computers. While this approach of starting light and adding only what we need is a solid concept, and proved to be very forgiving on resources, there are some rough edges in the implementation. The missing manual pages, for example, and the media player issues I ran into posed problems.

        A few programs I used flashed warning messages letting me know PulseAudio was not available as Star uses the ALSA sound system by default. Strictly speaking, PulseAudio is not required most of the time and, if we do run into a situation where it is needed, we can install PulseAudio easily enough by rerunning Star’s welcome script.

        The default JWM environment is very plain and empty, which suited me. My only complaint was the constantly updating Conky status panel at the bottom of the screen. I was able to disable Conky, but it required digging into JWM’s configuration files. Which brings me to another point: many users will probably prefer to try heavier editions of Star (like Xfce) to gain access to more user friendly configuration tools. The JWM edition is intentionally bare bones and probably best suited to more experienced users.

        One last observation I had while using Star is that it is based on Devuan 1.0.0, which presents us with software that is about three years old (or more) at this point. This means some packages, like LibreOffice, are notably behind upstream versions. Since Star is best suited for older computers, this may not be an issue for most users, but it is worth keeping in mind that Star’s software repository is a few years old at this point.

    • Gentoo Family
      • Sakaki’s EFI Install Guide/Disabling the Intel Management Engine

        The Intel Management Engine (‘IME’ or ‘ME’) is an out-of-band co-processor integrated in all post-2006 Intel-CPU-based PCs. It has full network and memory access and runs proprietary, signed, closed-source software at ring -3,[1][2][3][4] independently of the BIOS, main CPU and platform operating system[5][6] — a fact which many regard as an unacceptable security risk (particularly given that at least one remotely exploitable security hole has already been reported[7][8]).

    • Slackware Family
      • October updates for the Slackware Plasma5 desktop

        There’s been updates to all the major components of the KDE Software Collection (I know they stopped using that name but I think it is still fitting). So I tasked my build box to compile hundreds of new packages and today I have for you the October ’17 set of Plasma 5 packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current. KDE 5_17.10 contains: KDE Frameworks 5.39.0, Plasma 5.11.0 and Applications 17.08.2. All based on Qt 5.9.2 for Slackware-current and Qt 5.7.1 for Slackware 14.2.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat software and services land on Alibaba Cloud

        With that in mind, Alibaba Cloud, which is the cloud computing arm of eCommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said today that it’s partnering with the open-source software company Red Hat Inc. The alliance sees Alibaba Cloud join the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program, which makes it possible for it to offer a range of popular Red Hat products to its customers. These will include the company’s flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform, which will soon be made available via a pay-as-you-go pricing model in the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace.

      • Fedora
        • Korora 26 Bloat – More is less or less is more?

          Korora 26 Bloat is a noble concept, but it does not solve the fundamental problem it aims to solve: make Fedora usable. It tries to minimize the wreck that is Fedora 26 and fails to do so. Additionally, it introduces problems that the original did not have, making an even bigger mess.
          Korora comes with a slew of ergonomics issues, flaking hardware support, too much actual bloat, tons of niggles and issues that are technically Fedora’s legacy, and then the horrible Nvidia support that is just embarrassing in 2017. To answer my own question, more is less in this case, and there isn’t a justifiable reason why you should prefer Korora over Fedora, nor why you should use it against the likes of Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Mint. Alas, this is not a good release, 2/10. Unusable, which is a shame, because I did like what Korora managed to do in the past. But it just shows how fragile the Linux world is. Proper distro release QA is a joke, regressions are nothing but a silent excuse to move on and churn out more bad code, almost like industrial protein, and this is so depressing I sometimes wonder why I even bother.

          Anyway, to sum it up, Fedora 26 is worse than its predecessors, and Korora 26 is both worse than its own forefathers and the original article it seeks to tame, with appalling support for proprietary graphics drivers and other distros in a multi-boot setup that I really cannot recommend it. The cosmetic issues are also important, but in the end, the real deal breaker is the hardware side. Waiting for Korora 27. Peace.

    • Debian Family
      • Debian 9.2.1 is out
      • A New Debian/Ubuntu Kernel Build With The Latest AMDGPU DC Patches

        For those wanting to run the very latest bleeding-edge AMDGPU DC display code on an Ubuntu/Debian-based box, here is a fresh x86_64 kernel build of the latest DC kernel patches as of today.

        It was on Friday that more AMDGPU DC patches were pushed out as AMD works to have this code all tidied up and prepped for the upcoming Linux 4.15 cycle.

      • Debian Installer git repository

        While dealing with d-i’s translation last month in FOSScamp, I was kinda surprised it’s still on SVN. While reviewing PO files from others, I couldn’t select specific parts to commit.

        Debian does have a git server, and many DDs (Debian Developers) use it for their Debian work, but it’s not as public as I wish it to be. Meaning I lack the pull / merge request abilities as well as the review process.

      • Free software log (September 2017)

        I said that I was going to start writing these regularly, so I’m going to stick to it, even when the results are rather underwhelming. One of the goals is to make the time for more free software work, and I do better at doing things that I record.

        The only piece of free software work for September was that I made rra-c-util compile cleanly with the Clang static analyzer. This was fairly tedious work that mostly involved unconfusing the compiler or converting (semi-intentional) crashes into explicit asserts, but it unblocks using the Clang static analyzer as part of the automated test suite of my other projects that are downstream of rra-c-util.

        One of the semantic changes I made was that the vector utilities in rra-c-util (which maintain a resizable array of strings) now always allocate room for at least one string pointer. This wastes a small amount of memory for empty vectors that are never used, but ensures that the strings struct member is always valid. This isn’t, strictly speaking, a correctness fix, since all the checks were correct, but after some thought, I decided that humans might have the same problem that the static analyzer had. It’s a lot easier to reason about a field that’s never NULL. Similarly, the replacement function for a missing reallocarray now does an allocation of size 1 if given a size of 0, just to avoid edge case behavior. (I’m sure the behavior of a realloc with size 0 is defined somewhere in the C standard, but if I have to look it up, I’d rather not make a human reason about it.)

      • Free Software Efforts (2017W41)

        The issue that was preventing the migration of the Tasktools Packaging Team’s mailing list from Alioth to Savannah has now been resolved.

        Ana’s chkservice package that I sponsored last week has been ACCEPTED into unstable and since MIGRATED to testing.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Newbie’s Guide to Ubuntu 17.10 Part 2

            This is Part 2 of the newbie’s guide to operate Ubuntu 17.10. Here you’ll learn how to operate the Nautilus File Manager. You’ll do most of daily activities in Nautilus because it is your file manager, like Finder in Mac OS X or Explorer in Windows. You’ll learn basic skills such as selecting & navigating, creating & deleting, searching & sorting files/folders, and also basic knowledge for keyboard shortcuts and the user interface. I wish this article helps you best to run Ubuntu 17.10 easily and happily.

          • Do You Plan to Upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10? [Poll]

            Ubuntu 17.10 is set to be released on Thursday October 19 — which, if you haven’t been paying attention to the nearest calendar, is less than a week away!

            Having spent the past 6 months in development chances are you’ve some inclination as to whether or not you will upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10.

          • Kubuntu Artful Aardvark (17.10) initial RC images now available

            Artful Aardvark (17.10) initial Release Candidate (RC) images are now available for testing. Help us make 17.10 the best release yet!

          • Please get to testing Artful RCs (20171015)
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • How to define a metrics strategy for your community

    Data sets are everywhere, and because open source communities produce plenty of information in addition to source code, most community infrastructures require tools to support the software development process. Examples include bug-reporting systems such as Jira and Bugzilla, versioning systems such as Git, and code review tools like Gerrit. Although communication also takes place through these tools, most is done through mailing lists, IRC, supporting systems like Discourse, and even Twitter and other social channels (especially for marketing and announcements). In fact, most open source communities utilize at least five or ten tools, if not more.

  • Events
    • LibreOffice Conference 2017

      This week the annual LibreOffice conference was held in Rome and I had the pleasure to attend. The city of Rome is migrating their IT infrastructure to open software and standards and the city council was kind enough to provide the awesome venue for the event, the Campidoglio.

    • More from the testing and fuzzing microconference

      A lot was discussed and presented in the three hours allotted to the Testing and Fuzzing microconference at this year’s Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), but some spilled out of that slot. We have already looked at some discussions on kernel testing that occurred both before and during the microconference. Much of the rest of the discussion will be summarized below. As it turns out, a discussion on the efforts by Intel to do continuous-integration (CI) testing of graphics hardware and drivers continued several hundred miles north the following week at the X.Org Developers Conference (XDC); that will be covered in a separate article.

    • Opensource.com Lightning Talks at All Things Open 2017

      Join the Opensource.com community for a set of amazing lightning talks you won’t want to miss during the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, NC. Speakers have five minutes to enlighten the audience about an open source topic they are passionate about. We’ve got everything from DevOps and Kubernetes, to wearables, cloud, and more. Grab your lunch, find a seat, warm up your Twitter fingers, and get ready for the fastest hour at All Things Open 2017. Share your favorite thoughts using hashtage #ATO2017.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CMS
    • 4 website maintenance mistakes to avoid

      Maintenance is a good idea for every website, but it’s a requirement for websites using open source code. The upside of open source is that everyone can participate. The downside is that means keeping up with everyone’s changes. Code gets patched, which causes other code to stop working and need patches in turn. Exploits are found and then blocked. Fancy new features are developed, and your users want them. All of this means you need to keep up! The most important weapon to combat these forces is maintenance. Maintenance is a simple process, but there are basic mistakes that many people make at least once. Avoid these and you’ll be well on your way to a safer, cleaner website that isn’t a huge pain to keep running.

      [...]

      Even if you could do better, are you being paid to rewrite something that’s already mostly working? If you’re frustrated enough to take it on as a hobby project, is that what you want to spend your weekend on? GitHub is chock full of not-all-that-unique content management systems (CMSes) and static site builders. Most of them are abandoned, clones of more popular systems, or both. Don’t be yet another one.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Open-source mapping being used to help first responders in Puerto Rico

        Satellite images of rural towns, sprawling woodlands and grooved mountainsides fill the computer screens as homeowners and students scroll across digital maps.

        This group of a few dozen people gathered on Friday at the Perry Castenada Library on the University of Texas at Austin campus for a four-hour disaster relief mapathon to bolster humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico, where 91 percent of the island is still without electricity, and Mexico, which was ravaged by a 6.1 earthquake.

  • Programming/Development
    • Kotlin Programming Language Will Surpass Java On Android Next Year

      At Google I/O 2017, Google announced the newly added support for Kotlin programming language in Android, along with the existing languages Java and C++. As per the experts, Kotlin came as a breath of fresh air in Android development ecosystem to make “Android development faster and more fun. But, what about the numbers? How many developers are making a shift to Kotlin? Let’s find out.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Progress Being Made On New “WebGPU” Web Graphics API

      There continues to be progress made on the new Apple/W3C backed web graphics API dubbed “WebGPU” that has the backing of major stakeholders.

      Separate from the work being done by The Khronos Group on “WebGL-Next” there is the “WebGPU” initiative being organized by the W3C.

Leftovers
  • How China Has Built Major Roads In Doklam: Exclusive

    India backs Bhutan’s claim to the Doklam Plateau, which lies North of the “Chicken’s Neck” – a narrow strip that links India to its northeastern states. Any roads in or around this area are a cause of concern for Delhi because they could give Beijing access to this strategically sensitive terrain.

  • Car accidents killed 37,000 people last year — it’s time to act
  • Finnish military grants athlete status to e-sports conscripts

    Young people pursuing a career in the increasingly-lucrative field of e-sports will be able to serve their compulsory service in the Finnish Defence Forces as an athlete in future. The Finnish Defence Forces will allow the e-sports players to serve with the same status as elite sportspeople, giving them special privileges as they undertake their compulsory service.

    Conscripts meeting the requirements will be assessed as part of the special forces selection associated with every round of call-ups. The Finnish E-sports Federation will assist in the assessment of possible candidates.

    “By completing their military service in the Sports School, e-sports professionals will have enough time to practice and compete,” the federation’s director Joonas Kapiainen said in a press release.

  • Outlook, Office 2007 slowly taken behind the shed, shots heard

    A decade after their release, Microsoft Office 2007 and Outlook 2007 today fell out of extended support. Gaze teary-eyed at your installation discs. The software has entered the Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

    The cutoff has been coming for some time, of course, but if you’re of a nostalgic bent, the Outlook 2007 epitaph is here, and the somewhat longer (with more dates to absorb) Office 2007 farewell is here.

    With extended support ending for both 2007-era families, no new features, bug fixes, security patches, nor support, will be available in future for the programs.

  • Catalonia and the ‘Europe of Regions’

    One of the solutions that emerged was to promote the notion of a “Europe of Regions,” i.e. along with the centralization of power on certain matters at the supranational level, there would also be a devolution of powers towards local authorities in other fields. The idea of emphasizing regional characteristics on an ethnic basis was not new, but it received renewed attention in the 1990s as avenues were sought to advance E.U. integration.

  • Science
    • Humans Made the Banana Perfect—But Soon, It’ll Be Gone
    • Studying human tumors in mice may end up being misleading

      Cancer is, unfortunately, governed by the same evolutionary rules that drive life itself. Cells in tumors are essentially competing to see which can divide the fastest. This competition drives them to pick up new mutations that can help them divide faster, survive immune attack, resist drugs, and expand to new areas of the body.

      We can tell this by looking at the genetic changes that occur as tumors progress. Over time, we can trace the appearance of new mutations that confer abilities that are, from cancer’s perspective, useful for tumor cells.

      Now, a new study suggests that an unfortunate side effect of these evolutionary changes is that human tumors are really difficult to study. Whether the tumor cells are put in a culture dish or grown in mice, they evolve changes that help them grow in this new environment. And some of these changes influence how the tumor cells respond to drugs.

  • Hardware
    • The impossible dream of USB-C

      I love the idea of USB-C: one port and one cable that can replace all other ports and cables. It sounds so simple, straightforward, and unified.

      In practice, it’s not even close.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Labor’s Stake in the Fight for Veterans’ Health Care

      In January President Trump delivered on his promise to shrink the federal government: he announced a hiring freeze, despite thousands of federal job vacancies.

      As a candidate, Trump campaigned as a great friend of veterans. He pledged to make big improvements in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the arm of the Veterans Administration (VA) that operates the largest health care system in the country.

      But Trump’s hiring freeze deepened an already existing staffing crisis at VHA hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S., where there are 49,000 vacant positions.

    • Vulnerable people left to suffer chronic loneliness as services ‘underfunded and overwhelmed’, Labour warns

      Vulnerable people are being left to suffer chronic loneliness as nearly half of all local authorities are spending nothing on specialist social isolation services, new figures suggest.

      A probe by Labour found crucial services had been left “underfunded and overwhelmed” as dedicated spending fell by around £1m in two years amid a squeeze on town hall budgets.

      It comes as the leader of Britain’s GPs warned that being lonely could be as harmful to older people’s health as a chronic long-term condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, with around 1.1 million elderly people believed to be affected.

    • Finnish police weigh criminal probe into tobacco industry

      Police will decide by the end of October whether to launch a pre-trial investigation into allegations that Finnish tobacco executives should be held personally liable for misleading marketing of “light” cigarettes, with the terminology banned 15 years ago. Experts estimate that the products led to some 60,000 deaths in Finland.

    • Early Medicaid Expansion Associated With Reduced Payday Borrowing In California

      The early Medicaid expansion was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the number of loans taken out each month. It also reduced the number of unique borrowers each month and the amount of payday loan debt.

    • Why Do Republicans (and Some Democrats) Vilify Single Payer?

      Unfortunately, very bad ideas never die in a corrupted political process. It’s all about bottom lines: for billionaire campaign donors and for the powerful recipients of those campaign donations.

    • Your Boss Shouldn’t Get to Have ‘Religious’ Objections to Your Health Care

      When Obamacare — aka, the Affordable Care Act — became law in 2010, it mandated coverage of birth control without co-payments.

      Some employers didn’t like the rule, and Hobby Lobby hated it so much that the company filed a lawsuit to stop it. Company owners said they didn’t believe in contraception and claimed that covering it for female employees violated their religious freedom.

      Understand, the Obama administration went to great lengths to exempt churches and church-related institutions from the rule, while still guaranteeing their female employees the right to birth control if they wanted it.

    • NHS chiefs spend £100,000 on failed bid to stop whistleblowing doctor having his day in court

      NHS chiefs spent more than £100,000 on a failed bid to stop a whistleblowing junior doctor having his day in court.

      Dr Chris Day, 32, said his career was “destroyed” after he raised fears over a short-staffed intensive care unit in Woolwich, London.

      Yet he was blocked from taking his claims to an employment tribunal after Health Education England (HEE) argued it wasn’t his employer.

    • Neonicotinoid pesticides found in honey from every continent

      The evidence has been mounting for years that the world’s most widely used pesticides, neonicotinoids, harm bees and other pollinating insects. Now it seems the problem isn’t limited to Europe and North America, where the alarm was first sounded. It’s everywhere.

    • Bad news for bees: three-quarters of all honey on Earth has pesticides in it

      Scientists analyzed 198 honey samples from all continents, except Antarctica, for five types of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are known to harm bees. They found at least one of the five compounds in most samples, with the highest contamination in North America, Asia, and Europe. The results are published today in the journal Science.

    • Did Monsanto Ignore Evidence Linking Its Weed Killer to Cancer?

      But the future of the ubiquitous herbicide is in question. Monsanto is currently fighting allegations that glyphosate might not be as safe as advertised, particularly when combined with other chemicals in Roundup. In 2015, an international science committee ruled that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, countering previous determinations by regulatory agencies in the United States and other countries. Soon after, more than 200 people sued Monsanto in a federal case now centralized in California, claiming that Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a common blood cancer. Over 1,000 people have filed similar suits against the company in state courts in Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, Nebraska, and elsewhere.

    • Multi-State Suit Targets Trump’s “Reckless Assault” on Healthcare as Anger Flows

      Warning of the decision’s “great human cost,” 19 attorneys general on Friday filed suit in a federal court to stop President Donald Trump’s decision to cut off key Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies, as outrage from advocacy groups continued to pour in.

      “Taking these legally required subsidies away from working families’ health plans and forcing them to choose between paying rent or their medical bills is completely reckless. This is sabotage, plain and simple,” said California Attorney Xavier General Becerra, who’s leading the coalition of states.

      New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who’s also a party to the suit, called it “a reckless assault on the healthcare of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans,” which is part of a “partisan campaign to sabotage our healthcare system.”

  • Security
    • N. Korea stole cyber tools from NSA, carried out WannaCry ransomware attack – Microsoft chief [Ed: Microsoft's Brad Smith is a liar who blackmails with patents. He's now trying to blame the Norks for Microsoft giving back doors to the NSA. No shame!]
    • North Korea behind devastating ‘WannaCry’ cyberattack that hit NHS and systems across US, says Microsoft head [Ed: Microsoft will say anything to distract from and deflect from the fact it gives the NSA back doors. The NHS ‘attacked’ itself by installing on its system an OS which it knew had back doors. Kaspersky showed that Microsoft lied about Wannacry and that Windows XP was hardly targeted. Now watch how US media treats Kaspersky. Microsoft blaming North Korea rather than itself and the NSA (for back doors) is basically high-fiving the Trump administration for agenda.]

      North Korea was behind the devastating WannaCry ransomware attack that temporarily crippled dozens of NHS trusts, the president of Microsoft has said.

    • Kaspersky asks for proof of claims made in American media

      Under pressure after a series of articles in the US press made various claims about its links to Russian state authorities this week, security firm Kaspersky Lab appears to be reluctant to dismiss the allegations out of hand.

    • Google, IBM, and Others Introduce Grafeas Open Source API
    • My Blogging

      Blog regulars will notice that I haven’t been posting as much lately as I have in the past. There are two reasons. One, it feels harder to find things to write about. So often it’s the same stories over and over. I don’t like repeating myself. Two, I am busy writing a book.

    • Sexual assault allegations levied against high profile security researcher and activist
    • Let MalwareTech Surf! Status Report
    • 500 million PCs are being used for stealth cryptocurrency mining online

      A month or so ago, torrent search website The Pirate Bay raised concern among the community as visitors noticed their CPU usage surged whenever a page was opened.

    • Using Elliptic Curve Cryptography with TPM2

      One of the most significant advances going from TPM1.2 to TPM2 was the addition of algorithm agility: The ability of TPM2 to work with arbitrary symmetric and asymmetric encryption schemes. In practice, in spite of this much vaunted agile encryption capability, most actual TPM2 chips I’ve seen only support a small number of asymmetric encryption schemes, usually RSA2048 and a couple of Elliptic Curves. However, the ability to support any Elliptic Curve at all is a step up from TPM1.2. This blog post will detail how elliptic curve schemes can be integrated into existing cryptographic systems using TPM2. However, before we start on the practice, we need at least a tiny swing through the theory of Elliptic Curves.

    • Linux vulnerable to privilege escalation

      An advisory from Cisco issued last Friday, October 13th, gave us the heads-up on a local privilege escalation vulnerability in the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA).

      The bug is designated CVE-2017-15265, but its Mitre entry was still marked “reserved” at the time of writing. Cisco, however, had this to say about it before release:

    • Pizza Hut was hacked, company says

      According to a customer notice emailed from the pizza chain, those who placed an order on its website or mobile app between the morning of Oct. 1 and midday Oct. 2 might have had their information exposed.

      The “temporary security intrusion” lasted for about 28 hours, the notice said, and it’s believed that names, billing ZIP codes, delivery addresses, email addresses and payment card information — meaning account number, expiration date and CVV number — were compromised.

    • Want to see something crazy? Open this link on your phone with WiFi turned off

      These services are using your mobile phone’s IP address to look up your phone number, your billing information and possibly your phone’s current location as provided by cell phone towers (no GPS or phone location services required). These services are doing this with the assistance of the telco providers.

    • Telcos “selling realtime ability to associate web browsing with name & address”
    • Severe flaw in WPA2 protocol leaves Wi-Fi traffic open to eavesdropping

      An air of unease set into the security circles on Sunday as they prepared for the disclosure of high-severity vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi Protected Access II protocol that make it possible for attackers to eavesdrop Wi-Fi traffic passing between computers and access points.

    • WiFi Security Is Borked – We’re All Screwed… Maybe

      KRACK – or the Key Reinstallation AttaCK – looks like the new infosec word we all need to know. According to the authors of a paper that will be presented at conference in a couple of weeks, Mathy Vanhoef of KU Leuven and Frank Piessens say they have found a way to circumvent WPA2 security – one of the key tools used for protecting wireless networks. If KRACk proves to be true, all bets are off when it comes to stopping eavesdroppers from listening in to your wireless network.

    • Your Wifi router could be hiding a scary vulnerability

      Anybody that has a WiFi router might want to be sure to have their login details close at hand throughout the course of today.

      That’s because later today security researcher Mathy Vanhoef will reveal a potentially disastrous vulnerability in the WPA2 protocol.

      The Wifi Protected Access protocol appears to have been cracked by Vanhoef according to Gizmodo which took a look at the source code of the researcher’s website Krack Attacks and found this throw forward.

    • Wi-Fi WPA2 encryption possibly cracked

      Just to add on to your Monday morning blues, WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 2) which is the de-facto encryption method used by the majority of Wi-Fi routers is rumored to have been cracked.

    • Researchers Reveal Critical KRACK Flaws in WPA WiFi Security

      The WPA2 protocol which is widely used to secure WiFi traffic is at risk from multiple vulnerabilities, collectively referred to as “KRACK Attacks” that were publicly disclosed on Oct. 16

      “Attackers can use this novel attack technique to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted,” the vulnerability disclosure warns.”The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks.”

      KRACK is an acronym for Key Reinstallation Attacks, which were discovered by security research Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens working at Belgian University KU Leuven. The researchers have disclosed the details of the KRACK attack in a research paper and plan on discussing it further in talks at the Computer and Communications Security (CCS) and Black Hat Europe conferences later this year.

    • The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More.
  • Defence/Aggression
    • When Cities Fall

      Recovery, as in other parts of formerly IS-held cities, appears a near impossibility. All the military and political plans aimed at driving Islamic State out seem to take little account of the aftermath.

    • Trump’s North Korea Delusions

      A combination of ignorance and rashness is making President Trump a particularly dangerous leader as he crashes ahead with a possible preemptive war on North Korea, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • How Trump’s Iran Decision Invites War

      By decertifying the Iran-nuke deal, President Trump opts for another Mideast war of choice, but war on Iran is really the choice of Israel and Saudi Arabia wanting the U.S. to do the killing and dying, as Trita Parsi explains.

    • Police investigate blast in Malmö apartment block

      A large explosion caused severe damage to an apartment building in the southern Swedish city of Malmö early on Friday morning, which police believe was caused by dynamite.
      “It’s lucky that no one was in the area because it clearly would have been fatal,” said regional police officer Hans Nilsson.

    • Marseille attack: Two young women stabbed to death
    • West Papua petition: Australia made a human rights promise that’s about to be tested

      Many Australians wouldn’t think twice about putting their name to a petition to support a cause close to their hearts, but in Indonesia’s Papuan provinces, where free speech is routinely and severely curtailed, “acts of treason” such as supporting calls for independence can land you in jail for 15 years.

      So it is truly remarkable that 1.8 million Papuans (about 70 per cent of the population) have signed a petition — specifically banned by the Indonesian Government — calling on the United Nations to conduct a free vote about independence.

    • Rockin’ for West Papua Peace Concerts held around the world!

      Free West Papua music and the West Papuan flag are outlawed by the Indonesian government in occupied West Papua but Rockin’ For West Papua; organised by the Free West Papua Campaign and the music collaborative Rize Of The Morning Star brought people together from across the world to play Free West Papua music and raise the West Papuan flag!

    • ‘Soldier of Allah’ avoids terror charge due to Facebook settings

      However, he could not be charged under the Terrorism Act because his profile was set to private, meaning he was jailed for just 18 weeks.

    • Ex-Taliban hostage says group killed infant daughter, raped wife
    • From estate agent to IS recruiter: How woman became ‘different person’ & kidnapped her son
    • Migrant Crisis: As Rule of Law Crumbles, Denmark Deploys Army, Depleting its Capacity to Fulfill NATO Obligations

      Skyrocketing terror and crime following increased numbers of migrants and refugees from Islamic countries has seriously depleted police resources. Yet another EU country will see a decrease in its ability to fulfill international military obligations as a result of domestic instability.

    • Death toll rises to 276 in Somalia truck bomb attack

      The death toll from the single deadliest attack in Somalia’s history rose to 276 Sunday as emergency workers feverishly dug through the rubble of a Mogadishu bomb blast that collapsed buildings and set nearby cars ablaze.

      About 300 people were injured when the truck explosion rocked a crowded shopping district Saturday. On Sunday, Mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed issued a plea for residents and businesses that owned earth-moving equipment to bring it to the blast site to help the desperate search for survivors — and bodies.

    • Union rep for hero Las Vegas security guard addresses ‘highly unusual’ disappearance

      The Mandalay Bay security guard shot in the moments leading up to the Las Vegas massacre checked into a “quick clinic” instead of appearing in a series of previously scheduled interviews, but his union representative does not know his exact condition or location.

    • Macron: ‘I told Trump not to tear up Iran deal’

      French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he told U.S. President Donald Trump not to tear up a nuclear arms deal with Iran, as doing so could lead to a similar standoff as the one with North Korea.

      “What I told him was not to tear up the deal,” Macron told TF1 and LCI in his first live TV interview since taking office. “After that I told him, let’s have a demanding dialogue, let’s continue to conduct checks, but let’s be much more demanding with Iran on its ballistic activity.”

    • Trump Ignores Israeli/Saudi Abuses

      By offering a propagandistic tirade on Iran’s role in the Mideast – a classic neocon screed – President Trump has demonstrated his inability to bring any fresh or honest thinking to the regional crises, as Kathy Kelly explains.

      Mordechai Vanunu was imprisoned in Israel for 18 years because he blew the whistle on Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. He felt he had “an obligation to tell the people of Israel what was going on behind their backs” at a supposed nuclear research facility which was actually producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. His punishment for breaking the silence about Israel’s capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons included 11 years of solitary confinement.

      [...]

      Vanunu, designated by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as the “the pre-eminent hero of the nuclear era,” helped many people envision nations in the region making progress toward a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.

      In fact, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jawad Zarif, spoke eloquently about just that possibility, in 2015, holding that “if the Vienna deal is to mean anything, the whole of the Middle East must rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.”

    • Jeremy Corbyn’s minister for peace calls for arms embargo on Yemen coalition

      A Labour government would ban exports of British-made weapons to all members of the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Yemen, Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow minister for peace has told Middle East Eye.

      “We should not be selling weapons to any state that uses, or could potentially use, weapons we supply for internal repression or for foreign wars,” said Fabian Hamilton MP in his first major interview since he was appointed shadow minister for peace and the Middle East last year.

      Hamilton said that the Labour leader’s recent calls to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia over its bombardment of Yemen would be widened to include all nations involved in the bloody conflict.

    • Why North Korea Wants Nuke Deterrence

      In September 2016, North Korean cyber-defense forces hacked into South Korean military computers and downloaded 235 gigabytes of documents. The BBC has revealed that the documents included detailed U.S. plans to assassinate North Korea’s president, Kim Jong Un, and launch an all-out war on North Korea. The BBC’s main source for this story is Rhee Cheol-Hee, a member of the Defense Committee of the South Korean National Assembly.

      These plans for aggressive war have actually been long in the making. In 2003, the U.S. scrapped an agreement signed in 1994 under which North Korea suspended its nuclear program and the U.S. agreed to build two light water reactors in North Korea. The two countries also agreed to a step-by-step normalization of relations. Even after the U.S. scrapped the 1994 Agreed Framework in 2003, North Korea did not restart work on the two reactors frozen under that agreement, which could by now be producing enough plutonium to make several nuclear weapons every year.

    • History Blinded by Anti Socialism: Ken Burns’ Vietnam

      It’s not surprising that an Americana-obsessed filmmaker botched a history of the Vietnam War. National pride doesn’t mesh with the Empire’s lost war. And though Ken Burns’ Vietnam is worth the watch for its footage alone, Vietnam war experts such as John Pilger and Nick Turse have offered blistering critiques that, when combined, allow for accusations of “whitewash” to be levied against the film.

      Why does Burns make such glaring mistakes of analysis? He did his best to be objective, but ultimately Burns made yet another film “about America” for an American audience, which colors the entire film in red, white and blue. But there’s also a deeper bias that further distorts the history he’s trying to tell.

    • Profiting from America’s Longest War: Trump Seeks to Exploit Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan

      In an effort to justify the continued and expanded presence of US troops in the country, President Trump is seeking a plan to have US companies extract minerals from resource-rich Afghanistan. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

      October 7th marked sixteen years since the start of the US War in Afghanistan – America’s longest war. In an effort to justify the continued and expanded presence of US troops in the country, President Trump is seeking a plan to have US companies extract minerals from resource-rich Afghanistan.

      Afghanistan’s deposits of iron, copper, zinc, gold, silver, lithium and other rare-earth metals are estimated to be worth roughly $1 trillion, a price tag which has intrigued the business mogul-turned-President Trump.

      Afghan President Ashraf Ghani brought up the matter in one of his first conversations with Trump, suggesting it would be a great opportunity for US businesses.

    • EU vows to save Iran deal, fears for North Korea mediation

      The European Union vowed on Monday to defend a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and urged U.S. lawmakers not to reimpose sanctions after President Donald Trump chose not to certify Tehran’s compliance with the accord.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Talvivaara: Finland’s biggest environmental crime case returns to court [iophk: "actually Europe's biggest case. more such cases probably on the way in coming years given the huge burst of mining activity by foreign firms."]

      Under scrutiny in the trial are the construction and use of Talvivaara’s gypsum waste pond, alleged scheduled and uncontrolled dumping of effluents into nature, as well as issues surrounding the handling and placement of the mine’s various waste components.

    • The defenders: recording the deaths of environmental defenders around the world

      This year, in collaboration with Global Witness, the Guardian will attempt to record the deaths of all these people, whether they be wildlife rangers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or indigenous land rights activists in Brazil. At this current rate, chances are that four environmental defenders will be killed this week somewhere on the planet.

    • Catholic church to make record divestment from fossil fuels

      More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, on the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi.

    • A Final Fight for the Keystone Pipeline

      Kleeb is already organizing for an intensified struggle in the event that the Keystone XL survives the PSC’s decision. “We have two years of eminent-domain lawsuits” mixed with direct action and civil disobedience of the type seen at Standing Rock, she says. It is all part of Bold’s larger legacy: a new environmentalism, galvanized by a lack of access to clean water in ever more places, that has taken root in rural America. In 2014, Art got “so pissed off at TransCanada” that he installed an array of solar panels by his barn – “It’s the only crop I made money on last year,” he says – and now rolls to the town coffee shop in a Chevy Volt. “It’s good,” Helen says, “to feel like part of the solution.” If the bulldozers come, they say, TransCanada will meet massive resistance. “Money’s nice, but it’s not important,” Art tells me. “If one of your grandchildren drinks a drop of benzene, that’s important. If our grandchildren decide not to have children because they’re worried about the planet they’ll grow up on, that’s important.”

    • The Sioux Lost a Key Battle in Their Struggle Against the DAPL

      A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) may continue to operate, keeping the oil flowing while the government completes a court-ordered environmental review.

    • MLPs: Careful What You Wish For

      The Dakota Access Pipeline is cannibalizing other pipelines, creating new winners and losers in the Bakken Region, says AB Bernstein.

    • The Grain That Tastes Like Wheat, but Grows Like a Prairie Grass

      For 12,000 years, human agriculture has cultivated grains that are replanted every year, at enormous environmental cost. Kernza represents a new way forward.

    • Why Rick Perry’s proposed subsidies for coal fail Economics 101

      In a controversial proposal, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has asked federal regulators to effectively subsidize coal and nuclear power plants at ratepayers’ expense. Under Perry’s proposal, plants that operate in deregulated electricity markets – where generators normally compete to provide power at the lowest cost – would be guaranteed positive profits so long as they stockpile 90 days’ worth of fuel on site.

      To rationalize this proposal, which a former Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has dubbed “the antithesis of good economics,” Secretary Perry points to uncompensated benefits generated by coal and nuclear plants.

      As energy economists, when we think about coal-fired electricity generation, what usually comes to mind are unaccounted-for costs – not benefits. This emerging pro-coal narrative is worth unpacking.

  • Finance
    • British MPs want to force Theresa May to sign soft Brexit deal

      A cross-party group of British lawmakers is trying to make it impossible for Prime Minister Theresa May to withdraw from the EU without soft transition and trade deals, the Guardian reported.

      The group, which includes several former Tory and Labour ministers and other prominent parliamentarians, wants to write a transition deal — including acceptance of EU rules — into the U.K.’s withdrawal bill. If such a transition does not happen, one tabled amendment to the bill says, Britain should not be allowed to leave the EU.

    • Britain’s missing billions: Revised figures reveal UK is £490bn poorer than previously thought

      Global banks and international bond strategists have been left stunned by revised ONS figures showing that Britain is £490bn poorer than had been ­assumed and no longer has any reserve of net foreign assets, depriving the country of its safety margin as Brexit talks reach a crucial juncture.

      A massive write-down in the UK balance of payments data shows that Britain’s stock of wealth – the net international investment position – has collapsed from a surplus of £469bn to a net deficit of £22bn. This transforms the outlook for sterling and the gilts markets.

    • Beloved local restauranteur can’t sell coffee or tea because Starbucks strongarmed the landlord

      But when they applied for a liquor license, they revealed a curious circumstance: the Arepa Lady wanted a license to sell beer, wine and spirits because their landlords wouldn’t let them sell coffee.

      That’s because their landlord has also rented a storefront to a Starbucks cafe, and Starbucks insisted on a clause in their lease that banned the landlord from renting to anyone who competed with them to sell coffee or tea.

    • Tories to give private firms like G4S and Serco POWERS TO ARREST people in shocking 290m privatisation deal

      That’s right, Serco and G4S – the same two companies who were stripped of contracts for tagging prisoners because a Serious Fraud Office investigation revealed they were charging for tagging people who didn’t exist – are going to be trusted with the handcuffs by the Tory government.

    • China’s 1 percenters are now worth as much as the GDP of the United Kingdom

      China’s latest rich-list of 2,030 people controlling fortunes of $300M or more now totals $2.6 trillion, as much as the UK GDP.

    • I’m a working class woman. The British Dream is unachievable for me

      Let’s assume it means owning your own home, progressing well in your chosen career and feeling financially comfortable – and that all of this is achievable no matter what your background. If that’s the case, as a working class woman, nothing about the ‘British Dream’ feels achievable for me.

    • Detroit evictions: Crackdown could worsen issues

      “It got pretty bad,” Garner said. “The investors would belly up the money to do a rehab on a property. We’d go in and put new cabinets in, carpet, paint and show up the next day to finish up a project, and someone would have broken into the property and steal everything out, including the carpet, toilet and cabinets. We’d be starting all over again.”

    • When Growing Old Means Living in Your Car, Working in an Amazon Warehouse
    • Five things to know about Trump and NAFTA

      A fourth round of talks is taking place this week in Washington, and the negotiations seem surrounded by angst and gloom for those with the most invested in the pact’s future.

    • Tesla Fires Underperforming Workers After Annual Evaluation
    • Tesla fires hundreds of workers

      Tesla has a reputation as a demanding place to work, and the company lived up to its reputation this week when it fired hundreds of workers. The San Jose Mercury News estimates that between 400 and 700 workers were let go, based on employee reports.

    • Tesla fires hundreds after company-wide performance reviews

      Tesla fired hundreds of workers this week, including engineers, managers and factory workers, even as the company struggles to expand its manufacturing and product line.

    • How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico’s Debt Without Hurting Bondholders

      How did the president plan to pull this off? Pam Martens and Russ Martens, writing in Wall Street on Parade, note that the U.S. municipal bond market holds $3.8 trillion in debt, and it is not just owned by Wall Street banks. Mom and pop retail investors are exposed to billions of dollars of potential losses through their holdings of Puerto Rican municipal bonds, either directly or in mutual funds. Wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt, they warned, could undermine confidence in the municipal bond market, causing bond interest rates to rise, imposing an additional burden on already-struggling states and municipalities across the country.

    • Yanis Varoufakis: ‘I would like to live in a world where we’re all privileged’
    • The British right’s propaganda is an affront to democracy

      It’s easy to dismiss the Tory right as stupid: too easy if you wish to stop Brexit or limit the damage it will cause. As insults go, it is mild. The right has no plan beyond a desire to turn Britain into a Randian dystopia where regulations vanish and the state withers. It has no policy beyond a nostalgic hope that Britain will sail across the wide blue oceans and conquer new markets as our imperial ancestors conquered them before.

      The right offers religion, not politics. Its faith is without blemish, the gospel runs. If Brexit fails, that is not because the faith is false but because heretical traitors, judges, civil servants and EU governments have schemed to defeat it. “He that doubteth is damned,” said St Paul. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Boris Johnson agrees.

      Thatcherism, Britain’s last revolt of the right, was preceded by years of hard planning in the Centre for Policy Studies and Institute of Economic Affairs. If you were around in the 1970s, you might have loved or loathed it. But you could not deny the right had built a programme for government. Today, there is no plan, no programme, no nothing. Instead of being populated by serious thinkers, Brexit’s thinktanks are filled with propagandists, tabloid hacks and tax-exile newspaper proprietors. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are columnists turned politicians. The Sun, Telegraph, Mail and Express do not just cheer on the cause while the grown-ups make the real decisions, as they did in Margaret Thatcher’s day. They are what brains the Brexit campaign possesses.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Why the 25th Amendment Won’t Save Us

      This may only be a minor accent in the vast symphony of outrage we are confronted with on a daily basis, but it is worthy of note. You are aware, I’m sure, of the ongoing shouting match Donald Trump is having with the NFL over players standing for the national anthem. Well, Trump found himself last week at the Air National Guard Base in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with Fox fiend Sean Hannity. By tradition, “Retreat” was bugled on the base as the flag was lowered for the day.

      The same tradition requires all military personnel and civilian leadership to stand at attention out of respect for the flag. Neither Trump nor Hannity stood, flouting that tradition. Laughing as the bugle call filled the air, Trump asked Hannity, “Are they playing that for you or for me?” Referring to Hannity’s show, Trump then addressed the crowd with, “They’re playing that in honor of his ratings.”

    • 5 of the Biggest Corporate Media Disasters This Week
    • On what should happen if the unthinkable happens

      This “if” has got to be specified very precisely. The question is not whether Trump obstructed justice, or is guilty of tax evasion, or has violated the Emoluments Clause or done any other act justifying impeachment. The “if” here is quite specific: It relates explicitly to the validity of the election. The question I’m asking here is what should happen if Trump conspired with a foreign government to get elected? If he did that, then what should happen.

    • It’s the One-Year Anniversary of the Leak of Trump’s “Access Hollywood” Tapes About Sexual Assault
    • What happened: Hillary’s view

      There are many lessons Clinton learned. There is extraordinary wisdom and insight that her book teaches us. But I fear that this point is still lost on too many on our side. That blindness leaves the field wide open for the party of no — no taxes, no immigration, no health care, no (more) social security, no protection for privacy, no network neutrality, no family planning, no dreamers.

    • It’s What Bob Corker Does Next That Counts

      For reporters, there is a logical extension from the opening Corker has given. Get Mitch McConnell, get Paul Ryan, get John Thune and John Barrasso and John Cornyn, get Kevin McCarthy, get every Republican in a position of responsibility to answer: Do you agree with your colleague that Donald Trump is a danger to the country and the world? Who’s right here: Your comrade who is the veteran chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee? Or a president who can’t stop tweet-threatening “Little Rocket Man”? And what about Corker’s claim that the White House is a daily battleground to keep the incumbent under control? Are you going to call one of your own a liar? Or is he right about Trump?

    • ‘It’s a Shame the White House Has Become an Adult Day Care Center’
    • Mike Pence’s NFL Walkout Was a Cheap, Transparent Stunt

      It’s not what happened. It’s how it happened. This was staged: a taxpayer subsidized stunt aimed at attacking dissenting black athletes. It was revealed in record time to be yet another toxic effort by this administration to divide people along racial lines and distract us from a train wreck of an administration, described by Senator Bob Corker as “an adult day care center” that looks after a big orange baby.

    • Noam Chomsky Diagnoses the Trump Era

      The president has abetted the collapse of a decaying system; Chomsky explains how.

    • Why Christian conservatives supported Trump — and why they might regret it

      For many of these self-described “value voters,” Trump was a walking contradiction of nearly everything they claim to believe in — a vulgar, thrice-married real estate tycoon whose brand is built on money, women, and debauchery.

    • Were Trump Voters Irrational?

      I am afraid that my Democratic friends are just going to have to reconcile themselves to the conclusion that the cognitive science of rationality does not support their judgment of the Trump voters. You can say whatever you want about the rationality or irrationality of Trump himself, but cognitive science does not support the claim that his voters were irrational—or, more specifically, that they were any less rational than the Clinton voters. Politics is not the place to look for objective rightness or wrongness—and that is what judgments about the rationality of voting entail. Our judgments in this domain are uniquely susceptible to myside bias.

    • What Justice Kennedy’s Silence Means For The Future Of Gerrymandering
    • The Media Needs To Stop Rationalizing President Trump’s Behavior

      His outburst on Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico shows that not everything is a clever ploy to rally his base.

    • Hustler Magazine founder offers $10 million for info to help impeach Trump

      Flynt cites several reasons he believes Trump should be impeached in the ad, including Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate change agreement. The adult magazine founder also ripped Trump for his “unconscionable defense of the KKK and neo-Nazis after the Charlottesville riots,” and argued that Trump’s “worrisome” ability to “trigger a nuclear world war” is one of the more “horrifying” reasons Trump should be impeached.

      “Impeachment would be a messy, contentious affair, but the alternative – three more years of destabilizing dysfunction – is worse,” Flynt writes in the ad. “Both good Democrats and good Republicans who put country over party did it before with Watergate.”

    • Harvey Weinstein and the Trump children show why the US shouldn’t have elected prosecutors

      Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr is a Democrat who has been New York County’s chief prosecutor since 2008. He is also, at the moment, a very controversial figure.

      On Oct. 4, the New Yorker (paywall) revealed that Vance had ordered his prosecutors to drop an investigation into Donald Trump’s children, Ivanka and Donald Jr, for allegedly inflating the worth of a property in New York to prospective buyers. Just a few days later, the same magazine (paywall) revealed that he had decided not to press sexual abuse charges against Harvey Weinstein, the high-powered Hollywood producer, after listening to a police tape of Weinstein aggressively propositioning a model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. Weinstein has now been accused of sexual harassment and rape by a host of women.

      What links these two cases is that in both of them, Vance received hefty campaign donations from lawyers for the people involved. Donald Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, had given $25,000 to Vance’s campaign, the New Yorker reported. Vance had returned the money after Kasowitz asked him to intercede on the Trump children’s behalf—as is customary with people involved in investigations. But a few months after deciding not to prosecute them, Vance accepted another, larger donation and fundraising help from Kasowitz, worth a total of about $50,000. Similarly, a few months after Vance decided to drop the case against Weinstein, the producer’s attorney, David Boies, donated $10,000 to the prosecutor’s campaign.

    • Germany’s Dangerous Lean: What the Far-Right Victory Means for the Rest of Europe

      The German election last month once again secured Chancellor Angela Merkel and her centrist Christian Democratic Union’s position in government, but it also heralded the dramatic rise of Germany’s populist far-right party, Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), the country’s first right extremist group to enter the Bundestag since World War II.

      In an unprecedented turn, the AfD – which was founded in 2013 primarily as a Eurosceptic party, before its deeper xenophobic message took hold – garnered nearly 13 percent of the national vote, placing third after the CDU and the Social Democratic Party. The bulk of its supporters hailed from formerly Communist-occupied parts of East Germany; according to voters in AfD strongholds, the “Revenge of the East” resulted from Merkel’s “lack of respect” for Germans in the region, who accused her CDU of wasting money on immigrants while their local economies crumbled.

    • Trump and Weinstein

      Trump is actively assaulting women in other ways. The Trump administration’s Education Department has moved to make it harder for women at universities to prove sexual harassment. Trump’s Health and Human Services Department has made it harder for women to get contraceptives. Trump has nominated 32 men and just one woman to become U.S. Attorneys. Trump’s 2018 budget calls for a 93 percent cut in funding for federal programs that aid survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

    • Is Trump Unraveling?

      Last week, Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview with the New York Times that Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

      Corker said he was concerned about Trump. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said, adding that “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here … the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

      Corker’s interview was followed by a report from Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair, who wrote that the situation has gotten so out of control that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack. Kelly has tried to keep Trump focused by intercepting outside phone calls to the White House and restricting access to the Oval Office. Many of Trump’s advisors believe he is “unstable” and “unravelling” quickly.

    • Trump and Pence’s War on Black Athletes Has Nothing to Do With Sports

      Like his boss Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence is a lazy racist. Trump’s public demands nothing more because they are easily satisfied by the thought of humiliating black and brown people. Last Sunday, Pence spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to fly from Las Vegas to an NFL game in Indiana. His plan? To stage a political stunt where he showed his displeasure towards “uppity” black football players who are protesting police brutality and social injustice in America.

    • Promise the Moon? Easy for Trump. But Now Comes the Reckoning.
    • California secessionists think their path to independence is easier than Catalonia’s

      The world has been watching the play-by-play of Catalonia’s bid for independence from Spain, but one group is tuning in more closely than most: California secessionists.

      The California Freedom Coalition, the campaign that has taken the lead in the effort to break California off from the United States, sees similarities with Catalonia’s secessionist movement. But there’s an important caveat: they believe California has more legal tools at its disposal, creating an easier path to secession – if that’s what Californians decide they want.

      “There are definitely similarities in the fiscal situation – we both give more than we get back,” said Dave Marin, director of research and policy for the California Freedom Coalition. “But there’s more flexibility in the U.S. Constitution for secession than there is in the Spanish one. California has more tools available to it.”

    • Where’s the Beef? The Senate Intel Committee and Russia

      The Senate Intelligence Committee has made it clear that it is not conducting an open and independent investigation of alleged Russian hacking, but making a determined effort to support a theory that was presented in the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment.

    • The Bizarre Story of How Trump Won’t Stop Claiming a Fake Renoir Painting He Owns Is Real

      Biographer Tim O’Brien told Vanity Fair an amazing anecdote about how President Donald Trump owns a Renoir print and straight-up refuses to acknowledge it’s not the original painting.

      O’Brien spotted the print on Trump’s plane and asked him if it was an original, apparently to see if he’d lie.

      Trump told O’Brien it was. The biographer responded, “No, it’s not Donald.” Instead of letting it go, Trump argued with him.

      “I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called Two Sisters on the Terrace, and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago,” O’Brien countered. “That’s not an original.” The conversation was eventually dropped.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Learn the ins and outs of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
    • How Facebook Outs Sex Workers

      Leila has two identities, but Facebook is only supposed to know about one of them.

      Leila is a sex worker. She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).

      Her “real identity”—the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics—joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila (a name I’m using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

    • DreamHost Wins Challenge Against DOJ’s Overbroad Data Demands

      DreamHost has been fighting the DOJ and its breathtakingly-broad demand for information on all visitors to an anti-Trump website. This has gone on for a few months now, but the origin of the DOJ’s interest in the DreamHosted disruptj20.org site traces all the way back to protests during Trump’s inauguration.

    • Strategies for offline PGP key storage

      While the adoption of OpenPGP by the general population is marginal at best, it is a critical component for the security community and particularly for Linux distributions. For example, every package uploaded into Debian is verified by the central repository using the maintainer’s OpenPGP keys and the repository itself is, in turn, signed using a separate key. If upstream packages also use such signatures, this creates a complete trust path from the original upstream developer to users. Beyond that, pull requests for the Linux kernel are verified using signatures as well. Therefore, the stakes are high: a compromise of the release key, or even of a single maintainer’s key, could enable devastating attacks against many machines.

      That has led the Debian community to develop a good grasp of best practices for cryptographic signatures (which are typically handled using GNU Privacy Guard, also known as GnuPG or GPG). For example, weak (less than 2048 bits) and vulnerable PGPv3 keys were removed from the keyring in 2015, and there is a strong culture of cross-signing keys between Debian members at in-person meetings. Yet even Debian developers (DDs) do not seem to have established practices on how to actually store critical private key material, as we can see in this discussion on the debian-project mailing list. That email boiled down to a simple request: can I have a “key dongles for dummies” tutorial? Key dongles, or keycards as we’ll call them here, are small devices that allow users to store keys on an offline device and provide one possible solution for protecting private key material. In this article, I hope to use my experience in this domain to clarify the issue of how to store those precious private keys that, if compromised, could enable arbitrary code execution on millions of machines all over the world.

    • Intel leaders urge Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program [Ed: Intel leaders urge Congress to give “Intel leaders” more money and power]

      FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that members of Congress who are trying to restrict the bureau’s access to information obtained through the monitoring of foreign nationals are jeopardizing national security.

      The Section 702 program, first amended to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008 and reauthorized in 2012, allows intelligence agencies to legally monitor emails and phone calls of foreign nationals outside of the US and is set to expire at the end of the year.

    • Policing in the future involves citizen detectives and a Pokémon Go-like app

      A loose translation of what Akerboom described is that citizens would photograph license plates to find out if the car is stolen via the Pokémon-inspired app Automon. If it is, then the citizen-turned-detective scores points. And if a vehicle is reported stolen, citizens in that neighborhood might also be tasked to search for that specific license plate. The more you find, the higher your score.

    • Someone Created a Tor Hidden Service to Phish my Tor Hidden Service

      SMS Privacy is available as a Tor hidden service, and it turns out ~10% of users actually use it that way. This post details what I found when somebody created a phishing site of my Tor hidden service.

    • Judge Limits DOJ’s Warrant For Records From Anti-Trump Site

      The judge’s new order instructs DreamHost to redact identifying information of “innocent persons” who visited the website before providing the records to the government. It also dictates a protocol for incorporating procedural safeguards to comply with “First Amendment and Fourth Amendment considerations.” Among other stipulations, the government must submit to the court its plan for permanently deleting from its possession all information not within the scope of the warrant.

      [...]

      The company says it does not intend to appeal the court’s ruling.

    • French intelligence texts jihadist by mistake, inadvertently warning of surveillance operation

      A French intelligence agent sent a text message by mistake to the mobile phone of a jihadist, inadvertently warning him that he was under surveillance and undermining an investigation, it emerged on Friday.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • After Harvey, Texas Inmates Were Left in Flooded Prisons Without Adequate Water or Food

      The treatment allegedly follows a pattern of neglect set during previous years’ hurricanes.

    • Turkey sentences Wall Street Journal journalist to jail in absentia: WSJ

      Ayla Albayrak, a Wall Street Journal reporter with dual Turkish and Finnish citizenship, was sentenced over a 2015 story about ongoing clashes between Turkish security forces and militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

    • Outrageous charges against jailed Amnesty staff in Turkey must be rejected
    • Dalit Girl Raped by Muslim Man in MP, Act Recorded on Mobile by Accused’s Female Relative

      Such instances of Muslim women facilitating rape or sexual grooming of non-Muslim girls are disturbingly common. In January, we had reported on the case of a Bengaluru teen who was gang-raped, confined & tortured for 40 days by a Muslim family (including women of the family).

    • Dalit woman raped, video uploaded on net in MP’s Agar-Malwa dist

      The act was recorded by a woman who facilitated the crime and put on online platforms to shame the girl. The matter came to fore when the 18-year-old girl approached the police [...]

    • Turkey Issues Arrest Warrant For Second US Consulate Worker, Lira Plunge Accelerates

      One day after an escalating diplomatic spat, in which both the US and Turkey halted the issuance of non-immigrant visas to each other’s citizens following last week’s arrest by Turkey of a US consulate worker, on Monday Turkey issued another detention warrant for a second US consulate employee, Ahaber newspaper reports.

    • Turkish prosecutors demand up to 15 years in prison for Amnesty International activists

      Turkish prosecutors have demanded up to 15 years in prison on charges of backing a terror group for 11 activists, most of whom were detained in a raid on a workshop led by Amnesty International, a report said on Sunday.

    • Jammu and Kashmir clerics of Majlis-e-Shura issue fatwa banning women from travelling alone

      According to Times Now, the religious conglomerate issued a list of diktats imposing restrictions on women in the state. According to the diktat, women can’t go to markets and public events alone, they must not interact with men on the streets and there will be separate classrooms for boys and girls in schools as co-education is ‘un-Islamic’.

    • Malaysia’s moderate Muslim nation image dented?

      The Economist says what happened to prominent Turkish intellectual Mustafa Akyol sends sombre message about Islam and the current situation in Malaysia.

    • I’m on Probation and It’s Like Another Form of Incarceration
    • He was 20 and unarmed. A police shooting brings Seattle’s Vietnamese Americans into the world of activism
    • Trump Thinks Protest Is a Worse Offense Than Treason

      There are at least two grave legal implications to what the president has been urging—one of private law, the other constitutional.

    • Pakistan is “mainstreaming” misogynist tribal justice

      Instead of trying to stamp out jirgas, however, the government has decided to integrate them into the formal justice system. Earlier this year it won parliamentary approval for a law that gives their rulings force, subject to certain reforms. The government will appoint “neutral arbitrators” to each jirga, who must approve their verdicts—a measure it hopes will eliminate misogynist horrors.

    • Girls wearing mini-skirts made me convert to Islam- Bishop
    • Less judgement, more action is needed on female genital mutilation
    • ‘FGM Should Be Everybody’s Business’ – We Spoke to a FGM Activist About the Lifelong Impact of Cutting

      Due to the secrecy that surrounds FGM, the true extent of the practise in Western countries isn’t known. We spoke to the director of No FGM Australia, the Human Rights Award-winning charity that works to abolish FGM and supports those at risk.

    • Campaign Tackles Baby-killing Ritual in Nigeria
    • Cameroon palm oil campaigner arrested in crackdown on activists

      Nasako Besingi has been jailed after opposing a US-funded palm-oil plantation and supporters say this is linked to Cameroon’s ‘anglophone crisis’

    • On-duty NYPD officers admit handcuffing teenage girl, putting her in van, and having sex with her, but say it wasn’t rape
    • Is the Republican Party a Threat to the Constitution?

      Anti-Constitution politics is an opposition to democracy as both practice and ideal. This is different from being against effective campaign-finance reform or for spurious voter-fraud measures. Elite dominance of national politics long precedes PACs and dark money. And the poor and people of color have been excluded from polling stations as long as ballots have been in the United States. However pernicious, these are retail assaults on constitutional democracy—all serious, but nonfatal to the enterprise as a whole. A full-scale version of the same attack requires more. If the movement accepts elections, it does so only if they serve as rituals to sanctify what is already known to be the true voice of the people.

    • The burden of reform and why we do it

      As patriarchal misogyny slowly dawned on us, we realised it was institutional and these lives being revealed before us were either vocal, aggressive cries for help or the last moment breaking of silences in shared confidences by those who elected to stay mute for years. The inner harem of our homes where women turned to women for help, advice, a shoulder to cry on, we girls had front seats to the sadness and tragedy permeating Muslim society because of laws that were unjust and biased towards us.

    • Unholy Alliance: Why do left-wing Americans support right-wing Muslims?

      Now, try to imagine the shock, betrayal and sadness I feel seeing fellow liberals celebrating right-wing, conservative aspects of Islam. On February 1, I was so upset over World Hijab Day that I spent the day in bed with a migraine. Hijab Day? Would it make sense to have Wings Day to celebrate the garment that women in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ are forced to wear? Is there a Mormon underwear day? What about a chastity belt day? I risked my life, and my daughter’s life, to escape from the darkness into the light — only to find the light celebrating and fetishising darkness.

    • Love jihad a fact in Kerala: Yogi Adityanath
    • Pakistani Christian On Death Row Among Nominees For Sakharov Prize

      She was convicted and sentenced to hang after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Her supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute.

      Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam can be sentenced to death. Rights groups say blasphemy laws are often abused to carry out personal vendettas, mainly against minority Christians.

    • Chess player banned by Iran for not wearing a hijab switches to US

      A chess player banned from the Iranian national women’s team for attending an international competition without wearing an Islamic headscarf has joined the US team.

    • Donald Trump is letting Turkey hold an American citizen hostage

      Erdogan, a frequent recipient of Trump’s praise, has refused to release an American citizen being held hostage

    • The Quiet Islamic Conquest of Spain

      The Saudis also launched a new Spanish television channel, Cordoba TV, as did Iran.

    • A Proposal for Islam

      “We heard that you will speak about commonalities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity,” one officer said. “We don’t like that kind of stuff.” Then they left.

    • A one-way wall on the border?

      Do the people in USA supporting this wall really believe it is a one way wall, only keeping people on the outside from getting in, while not keeping people in the inside from getting out?

    • Justice for José Antonio, a 16-Year-Old Boy Killed By U.S. Border Patrol

      There is no Constitution-free zone where border patrol agents can kill unarmed civilians, no matter their country.

      If a U.S. Border Patrol agent uses excessive and unnecessary force to kill a noncitizen in a foreign country, are there consequences under the U.S. Constitution? The answer might seem to be obviously “yes” to most people. Unfortunately, our own government believes the answer is “no.”

      On October 10, 2012, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16-year old boy, was shot and killed on Calle Internacional, a street in his hometown of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico by a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. He was four blocks away from his home.

    • Changing the Politics of Mass Incarceration

      It’s been almost 50 years since President Richard Nixon played the law-and-order card to help him win the presidency. Decades later Donald Trump has adopted the same playbook, telling his own version of the forgotten American who is at the mercy of a crime wave. It didn’t matter that facts didn’t support candidate Trump’s arguments. Politically speaking, it worked.

      Nixon’s tough on crime political playbook, used by generations of American politicians after him, including Bill Clinton during the introduction and passage of the 1994 crime bill, has resulted in a mass incarceration crisis. On any given day, 2.3 million people are locked up, more than in any other nation. This mass incarceration crisis has devastated families and communities, particularly low income communities of color.

    • Louise Godbold: “My Encounter with Harvey Weinstein and What It Tells Us About Trauma”

      We continue our look at two shocking investigations by The New Yorker and The New York Times, which revealed a slew of rape and sexual assault allegations against disgraced and now-fired movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who had been one of the most powerful men in Hollywood for decades. We speak with Louise Godbold, who recently wrote a blog post titled “My Encounter with Harvey Weinstein and What It Tells Us About Trauma.” Now executive director of Echo Parenting & Education, Godbold calls on others to believe and support survivors of sexual assault and harassment, saying, “We need to educate everyone about trauma.”

    • 5 Shocking Failures Of Criminal Justice You’ve Never Heard

      The legal system isn’t run by all-knowing super-robots (yet), so we’re stuck with regular old law enforcement officers, who are human beings. Ones who are going to make mistakes. Sometimes authorities make the right call. Sometimes they make honest mistakes. But then there are the times you get stories like…

    • These Muslim Students Built an App to Document Islamophobia on Campus

      In the aftermath of the Chapel Hill shooting in February 2015—when Deah Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were killed by their 44-year-old neighbor—police hesitated to call the shooting a hate crime. After Craig Hicks’s arrest, Chapel Hill police announced that the ruthless killings were “motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.” But for many in the Muslim community, the Chapel Hill shooting wasn’t an isolated event. It was just one of many instances of Islamophobia that Muslims in America experience on a regular basis.

      “After the shooting, I remember going on YikYak, and the hate speech was just blowing my mind,” said Ayesha Faisal, current president of the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill’s Muslim Student Association. “It was hours after the shooting. Out of nowhere there were people saying…‘It was justified because Muslims are terrorists.’”

    • If Ahmadis want equal status, they should stop pretending to be Muslims: Sanaullah

      Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan on Friday said the Ahmadi minority community should stop declaring themselves as Muslims if they want to be treated in the same manner as other religious minority groups in Pakistan.

      Addressing a press conference organised to ‘clear his position’ on the issue, Rana Sanaullah said that some media outfits had quoted his statement on Ahmadis out of context.

      “I said that Ahmadis pretend to be Muslims as they quote Quranic verses and perform religious rituals just like us in a bid to propagate their faith. But let me state it very clearly that, according to Islam and Pakistan’s constitution, those who do not believe in Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (finality of Prophethood) are not Muslims,” he said.

    • ‘I was not aware of what I was doing at the time,’ says UBC attempted murder suspect

      When asked by Sgt. Jeffrey why he might have attacked Mary Hare with a knife Almestadi said, “I started listening to the Koran and understanding the meanings differently.”

      “If you read something and your mind is thinking something else, you understand differently.”

      Almestadi — who was 18 at the time of the incident — said he even began seeing things that weren’t real.

      “At that point I thought Mary was the devil,” he said.

    • Judge rules Kentucky county liable for handcuffed children

      A federal judge says it was unreasonable for a Kentucky sheriff’s deputy to handcuff two unruly elementary school students and says the county government is liable for the officer’s conduct.

      The lawsuit was filed by the parents of two children, an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, identified in court documents only by their initials. In 2014, both children were handcuffed in separate incidents at separate schools after officials called for assistance from Kevin Sumner, a Kenton County Sheriff’s deputy and a school resource officer.

      The lawsuit and an accompanying video uploaded to YouTube by the ACLU ignited a nationwide debate about school discipline. The video, captured by a teacher, showed the boy handcuffed above his elbows and squirming in a chair with his arms behind his back while crying that he was in pain.

    • Utah police officer who dragged screaming nurse is fired

      A Salt Lake City Police spokesman told the AP that police chief Mike Brown decided to fire the officer on Tuesday after an investigation into the incident.

    • BREAKING: Utah officer fired after nurse’s arrest caught on video

      Authorities say a Utah police officer who was caught on video roughly handcuffing a nurse because she refused to allow a blood draw has been fired.

    • QB Colin Kaepernick files grievance for collusion against NFL owners

      Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance under the latest collective bargaining agreement against NFL owners for collusion, according to his attorney, Mark Geragos.

      Kaepernick is not going through the NFL Players Association but has instead hired Geragos, who has represented several high-profile clients, including Michael Jackson, former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield and musician Chris Brown.

    • California Police and Civil Liberties Groups Agreed on a Simple Transparency Measure. Gov. Brown Vetoed It Anyway.

      California Gov. Jerry Brown used the weekend to veto one of 2017′s last remaining bills to shine light on police practices.

      S.B. 345 was pretty straightforward: every law enforcement agency would have to upload its policies and training materials to its public website—but only documents that would be available anyway under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). The bill had uncommon support from both law enforcement associations and civil liberties organizations, like EFF and the ACLU of California.

    • Russia’s anti-corruption protests: detentions, detentions, detentions

      On 7 October, supporters of Alexey Navalny held events in 79 Russian cities. Jointly with Meduza, we have made an interactive map of the protests. According to our data, between 2,560 and 21,520 people took part in the various protests. In total, the number of those detained was 321 in 30 cities; some of the activists were detained before the start of the protests.

      The interactive map shows how many people took part in the protests, whether the rallies had official permission or not, how many people were detained, and in addition the various specifics of how each rally was held. You can tell the story of your own detention by using the form on our website (click on the megaphone in the top righthand corner) or add to the information about detentions on the map if we have missed something.

    • No evidence torture produces reliable info: former investigator

      Torture is not only immoral and illegal, it is also counterproductive to effective intelligence gathering, an independent international security consultant has said.

      Mark Fallon spent more than three decades with the US Government, mainly as a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
      Since the 1990s he has been working in counter-terrorism operations, particularly related to Al-Qaeda, and is the author of a forthcoming book on torture.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • How Many “Parts” (or “Labels”) Does A Domain Name Typically Have?

      Summarizing that graph, 99.98% of all unique RRnames seen have 10 or fewer labels, and 78.36% have just 1, 2 or 3 labels

    • TV Stocks Tumble After AT&T Cord-Cutting Disclosure

      The research firm eMarketer says that by the end of last year 16.7 million U.S. adults had already cut the cord and that by the end of this year it will be 22 million.

    • Google Fiber Gives Up On Traditional TV, And Won’t Be The Last Company To Do So

      While Google Fiber was initially hailed as the be-all-end-all of broadband disruption, the bloom has come off the rose in recent months. Last fall, Google executives began to have doubts about the high cost and slow pace of the project, resulting in a not-yet cooked pivot to wireless and the departure of two CEOs in less than a year. Company PR reps seem unable to answer basic questions about cancelled installations and the unsteady direction of the project, which has also faced more than a few obstacles erected by incumbent ISPs unhappy about the added competition.

      But Google Fiber has another problem: the slow but steady death of traditional television.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Monster Energy Loses Trademark Bid To Push Around Japanese Software Company

        There must be something about using the word “monster” in one’s business that turns that business into a true monster from a trademark bully perspective. Readers of this site will be familiar with the two largest offenders along these lines, Monster Cable and Monster Energy Corporation. It’s the latter that has continued its prolific trademark bullying ways to date, as recently as earlier this year, when it threatened a root beer company with the word “beast” in its name, claiming that this was too close to “monster” for the purposes of trademark law.

    • Copyrights
      • EU Study Finds Even Publishers Oppose the “Link Tax”

        Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament representing Germany, writes about a EU study which finds that even publishers oppose the proposed “link tax” which is currently up for consideration by legislators. Interestingly, the report also finds that many journalists are afraid to cover the issue. Several publications declined to comment giving various reasons, including differences of view between the online editions and their parent publications. In other words, the subject is being silenced.

      • Popular Zer0day Torrent Tracker Taken Offline By Mass Copyright Complaint

        A popular content-neutral torrent tracker has been forced offline following pressure from an anti-piracy outfit. Zer0day was tracking more than five million peers earlier this month but a mass complaint from SCPP, an outfit that represents Warner, Universal, Sony and thousands of others, caused its host to terminate service.

      • Netflix Expands Content Protection Team to Reduce Piracy

        Netflix-type streaming services are among the best and most convenient alternatives to piracy but they have failed to make unauthorized consumption a thing of the past. Netflix understands this and by continuing to expand its content protection team, the company hopes to reduce piracy to a fringe activity.

      • ‘Pirate’ EBook Site Refuses Point Blank to Cooperate With BREIN

        A site focusing on eBooks is being pressured by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. Among other things, Eboek.info says it provides digital versions of comics to people who’ve already bought a physical copy but BREIN insists this is illegal. The site says it won’t be giving in to BREIN’s demands, adding that Cloudflare’s services offer no protection against copyright groups.

The Systematic Erosion of Workers’ Rights and Holidays at the EPO Goes Years Back

21 hours 5 min ago

And Christoph Ernst ought to restore and recognise Reformation Day 2017 at the EPO

Summary: The legitimacy of the staff’s concerns at the EPO, having seen basic labour safeguards being shredded to pieces by Battistelli for a number of years (predating even the escalation of the conflict)

THE legacy of Battistelli as President of the EPO isn’t just brain drain, poor quality of EPs, and serious damage to reputation.

The erosion in pay and career paths, combined with depression and sometimes suicides, will continue to haunt the Office. SUEPO warned about this years ago [PDF], but that fell on deaf ears and the only outcome was the sacking of SUEPO leaders. Recently, Battistelli had yet more holidays called off simply because that suits him (and his right-hand bulldog said it would increase “productivity”).

“Will the rule of law be enforced and will it be recognised that Battistelli cannot simply ‘rob’ the staff (their rights, their rest days) for the sake of “productivity”?”Well now, with a German at the helm, will any of this change? Will the rule of law be enforced and will it be recognised that Battistelli cannot simply ‘rob’ the staff (their rights, their rest days) for the sake of “productivity”? Ernst has an opportunity to intervene before it’s too late, at the very least as a goodwill gesture to staff in Germany (Munich, Berlin).

Earlier this morning someone posted/approved this comment at IP Kat

Now that the EPO has a German chairman, will there be a different (even If only temporary ) approach to being so UP promoting??

As we wrote a very long time ago, Ernst has a hand in the UPC too, so we doubt he’ll just unilaterally walk away from it, the constitutional challenge notwithstanding.

If he is truly toothless a Chairman, who is as subservient to Battistelli as Kongstad was, he’ll probably neither say nor do anything.

The bizarre situation of Battistelli controlling the Council isn’t new. It’s like the overseer of Battistelli became his lapdog, sometimes because Battistelli showered some nations (typically smaller ones) with Office money.

The situation was never this bad. Staff representatives already pointed this out to the Council 3 years ago ahead of its quarterly meeting, chaired by Kongstad. To quote the letter in full:

Zentraler Vorstand . Central Executive Committee . Bureau Central

su14216cl
8 October 2014

To the members of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation

Increased legal uncertainty surrounding decisions of the Administrative Council of the EPO

Dear Sir, Madam,

In our letter of 3 March 2014, we have informed you1 about the legal risks taken by the Organisation when introducing unilaterally – and against the reasoned opinion of the Staff Representation – substantial changes to the Service Regulations.

It is our responsibility to draw your attention to new facts that further question the legal validity of many decisions taken by the Administrative Council in the recent past.

Since 2012 Mr Battistelli has been appointing the Vice-Presidents of the Office (VPs) to the General Advisory Committee (GAC). The Staff Representation warned the Office that this was probably unlawful, to no avail. GAC members filed Internal Appeals against this decision. The Internal Appeals Committee (IAC) recently decided on the matter and unanimously considered that appointing VPs to the GAC in 2012 and 2013 was against the Service Regulations in force. The IAC further discussed the legal consequences, i.e. whether all decisions following GAC consultations in 2012 and 2013 should be quashed or not, and had a split opinion in this respect.

The President, who took the challenged decision in the first place, disagreed with the opinion of the IAC and rejected the appeal. The matter will thus be referred to the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILO-AT) that will issue its judgement in a few years’ time.

________

1 Letter to AC Delegations ref. su14037cl dated 3 March 2014 concerning the reform “Social Democracy”.

Should the Tribunal, as we deem likely, concur with the unanimous opinion of the IAC, it could decide to quash all decisions of the AC that followed GAC consultations since 20122, including CA/D 2/14 that led to the creation of the new framework for social dialogue labelled “social democracy”, and to the body which replaces the GAC in that new framework, namely, the General Consultative Committee (GCC), to which the President has again appointed VPs.

After the doubts cast in 2010 on the legal validity of Ms Brimelow’s pension reform 3, you may have hoped of not being confronted with even larger legal issues created by the Office. Not only several past decisions of the AC (since 2012) are now put into question, but also future ones.

The reputation of the Organisation is at stake. Solutions can be found before the Tribunal rules on the matter. Be assured that SUEPO is – as ever – willing to develop them together with management.

Yours faithfully,

SUEPO Central

________
2 It is likely that the appeal against the 2014 appointments of VPs to the GAC will receive the same opinion from the IAC.
3 Cf. Opinion of the Internal Appeals Committee on CA/D 17/08. The case is now pending in front of the ILO-AT.

Who runs today’s Organisation? Does the Organisation manage the Office or does the ‘king’ of the Office manage the Organisation still?

How can Battistelli just deny staff’s rights? He’s likely doing this unlawfully, probably without any consultation with — or authorisation from — the Council, having nonchalantly decided to call off public holidays.

Reformation Day 2017 is at the end of this month, but Battistelli decided to call it off. Will Ernst intervene? Will he signal to staff that Battistelli is no longer a ‘king’ (in his own mind)? What we have seen so far isn't reassuring. Ernst is too weak.

Articles in English and German Speak About the Decline in Quality of European Patents (Granted by the EPO)

Monday 16th of October 2017 02:15:47 AM

Quality of European Patents (EPs) is the very thing EPs derive their value from

Summary: Heise and The Register, two sites that have closely watched EPO affairs for a number of years, speak about the real problem which is declining patent quality (or rushed examination) — a recipe for frivolous litigation in Europe

THE past week was a busy week for the EPO, but most news coverage focused on the next President. We did, however, write several articles about patent quality (or lack thereof) and the disappointing statement from Christoph Ernst's Council (or rather, the Administrative Council headed by Ernst).

“The Council seems too weak to be willing to state the truth and publicly acknowledge that there’s a problem with patent quality — a problem whose full magnitude will only be realised after invalidations, appeals etc.”The new German Chairman of the Administrative Council is already coming under scrutiny. Now there’s some news coverage in German about it and SUEPO drew attention to it. An update also contains some information from Elizabeth Hardon. From the article in German (written by one who is familiar with these matters):

Was als Fachdiskussion über die Zukunft des europäischen Patentsystems mit dem neuen Verwaltungsratschef des EPA gedacht war, entwickelte sich am Freitagabend zu einer harten Abrechnung mit dem scheidenden Präsidenten.

Harte Kritik an der sinkenden Qualität der Patentprüfungen im Europäischen Patentamt (EPA) als Folge der Überlastung von Patentprüfern musste sich der frisch gebackene Chef des Verwaltungsrats des Europäischen Patentamts, Christoph Ernst, Ministerialdirigent im Bundesjustizministerium am Freitag anhören. Ernst hatte auf Einladung des Münchner Max-Planck-Instituts (MPI) für Innovation und Wettbewerb eine optimistisches Bild zur Zukunft des europäischen Patentsystems gezeichnet, erklärte sich aber dazu bereit, die Diskussion über das Qualitätsproblem mit den Fachleuten zu führen.

An automated translation from Google Translate says:

What was conceived as a discussion about the future of the European patent system with the new board of directors of the EPO developed on Friday night to a hard billing with the outgoing president.

The freshly baked head of the Administrative Board of the European Patent Office, Christoph Ernst, Ministerialdirigent in the Federal Ministry of Justice, had to listen bitterly to the falling quality of the patent tests in the European Patent Office (EPO) as a result of overloading patent examiners. Ernst had drawn an optimistic picture of the future of the European patent system at the invitation of the Munich Max Planck Institute (MPI) for innovation and competition, but declared willing to discuss the quality problem with the experts.

Here is what stakeholders think about it:

Instead of thoroughly scrutinizing the filings, the EPA staff tried to get the files back quickly from the table. In the medium term, the declining quality of users could drive the users away and the entire EPO system shake, the lawyer said with great applause from around 60 participants at the MPI, many of whom contributed their own observations.

And then the part about Elizabeth Hardon:

The EPA auditor and trade unionist Elizabeth Hardon, who was put on the air by Battistelli in 2016, recalled that deficiencies in quality will only be apparent in a few years in follow-up nullity proceedings. The trade unionist at the MPI expressly welcomed the fact that others are standing up to criticize the work situation at the EPO. “We have not been heard for years,” she said.

There are many comments there.

More was said about the subject over at The Register; from page 2 (emphasised by SUEPO):

In response to the criticism, Battistelli came out swinging. He pushed the EPO’s annual Quality Report and argued that “quality is the first priority of the Office.”

He went to suggest there was a split between the examiners doing the work and their union representatives: “Unfortunately, I regularly hear untruths about the quality offered by the Office. In particular, this comes from the side of the personnel representation. Those who represent the staff dispute the quality of the products. This is normally never the case that one contests the quality of the work of his/her colleagues.”

But after years of complaints about how Battistelli has handled staff complaints and union officials, and with the announcement of his successor at the same meeting, several governments expressed their dissatisfaction.

The German government representative welcomed the quality report but then noted that the EPO was effectively grading itself.

“We must distinguish between process quality and product quality. The process quality can be certified. Product quality is discussed at meetings and it is unclear how it can be assessed,” he noted.

Aside from the German government being a very powerful voice within the EPO given Germany’s position as the largest patent holder in Europe, the EPO’s new chair is German government representative Christoph Ernst.

[...]

Concerns about EPO quality don’t just rest with the staff or governments either. Recently the EPO’s customers – European corporations – have started raising doubts about patent quality.

With Battistelli still in office until July next year, it is clear that nothing is going to be done to remedy what has become a toxic environment at the organization for the next six months (lest you forget, Battistelli has a permanent bodyguard and even had the brakes of his bike cut – quite something for a man who is very far from the public eye).

In a sense, none of this was new except the response from Battistelli and Ernst. The Council seems too weak to be willing to state the truth and publicly acknowledge that there’s a problem with patent quality — a problem whose full magnitude will only be realised after invalidations, appeals etc.

Software Patents and Patent Trolls Not a Solved Issue, But the US is Getting There

Sunday 15th of October 2017 04:18:52 PM

Summary: A media survey regarding software patents, which are being rejected in the US in spite of all the spin from law firms and bullies such as IBM

TROLLS appear to be moving to Europe and Asia, notably to China. It’s not hard to see why.

As we noted in our previous post, there’s a big problem for patent trolls in the US. As for China? An article just updated (or bumped), some time during this weekend, reminds us that the only country where software patents are still valid and enforceable is China. Lei Zhou and Nancy (Xiaowen) Song (of Linda Liu & Partners, Linda Liu Group) said: “A computer program is patentable in China if it is written in the form of a method or virtual apparatus (ie, an apparatus including modules in one-to-one correspondence with methodological steps). In recent years, claims with an apparatus including processors and memories as their subject matter have been increasingly accepted by examiners.”

Barely any other nation that we can think of would tolerate these; it’s only China where these have bearing when brought before a court. We need to ensure that software patents become extinct everywhere, including in China, as many companies still trade with/in China.

Over the past week we’ve accumulated observations and various takes on the subject of software patents in the US. We’re still observing and concluding that there’s no redemption for them. More worthless software patents, based on [1, 2], are being framed as “AI”, but anyone with a clue knows Alice scraps these. Even if the USPTO says “OK” the courts will likely say “No!”

Steven J. Pollinger, the managing principal of McKool Smith’s Austin office (Texas), ranted the other day about the USPTO’s rejection of “Direct Claiming Of ‘Computer Software’” (i.e. no weasel words or loopholes).

McKool Smith staff, however, are in no position to assert what should come under patent scope; they represent many patent trolls. National Law Review published this on behalf of Pollinger, in essence lobbying for software patents without even asking any software professionals (who oppose this, obviously). To quote:

We propose that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office amend its subject matter eligibility guidelines, and all other related guidance, to make clear that claims may be expressly directed to “computer software” consistent with 35 U.S.C. §101. This would bring the Patent Office’s practice in line with recent Supreme Court and Federal Circuit case law, and would help innovators to better protect their software inventions that play such a key role in today’s computer-focused economy.

The Patent Office’s current guidelines can be read to discourage or even prohibit direct claiming of computer software. Even where the crux of an invention is directed to software, patentees currently are motivated to engage in a needlessly inefficient and expensive claim drafting process, whereby practitioners seek to cover software in an indirect manner — with various sets of claims directed to configured systems, media, methods, or other similar language — instead of simply claiming software itself.

Even if people like Pollinger can ‘trick’ examiners into granting a software patent, the likelihood of such a patent being respected by courts has been vastly diminished. They know it! An honest law firm would say, “don’t litigate, software patents are dead,” but they profit for lying about it. As is often the case, the media that they have a grip on will twist and spin to make it seem otherwise.

How about this press release? It’s a paid-for statement that says “Enterprise IP management software is an automation system for modern corporate that supports in the tracking of patents, trademarks, copyrights and IP.”

IP Pro Patents, in the meantime, reminds us that it’s just a propaganda and marketing site with this puff piece about Anaqua. All these pieces of software merely give the illusion of value. They’re like a virtual world for paper ‘assets’.

Here is IP Pro Patents with another puff piece, ‘dressed up’ as an article preceded by: “Barney Dixon speaks to James Muraff of Neal Gerber Eisenbeg on how to tackle patent subject matter eligibility in the ever-growing wake of Alice” (2014)

The whole thing is just a marketing opportunity and a lot of spin around Alice, e.g.:

How does Neal Gerber & Eisenberg’s approach to Section 101 litigation differ from other law firms?

Arguing the first step equally to, if not more than, the second is important because it gives a patent examiner a better sense of what the invention really is and the meaning of the specific required claim limitations, all up front. This often causes the examiner to realise the invention is really not just some broad (abstract) idea, at the outset of the arguments. I think the firms with better success argue both steps strongly, especially the first step.

But once assessed at a higher level like PTAB or courts (with an appellant) none of this would work. We’ve seen it all before. What are these people on, drugs?

Surely they know that patents on software aren’t worth pursuing, but either they intentionally lie about it or they’re on some truly strong drugs. Speaking of drugs, there are also patents on drugs, deemed “recreational”. Here is an article composed and published about it 5 days ago. From the introduction:

Patent law, possibly the most talked about yet least understood form of intellectual property, has yet to have a large impact on the marijuana industry. However, there is no doubt that the powerful protections that patent registrations provide will certainly have lasting effects. Many within the industry have the powerful tool known as patent law at their disposal, and a few have used it to great extent already. In this post I intend to nail down some patent basics and the potential implications that a patent-ridden landscape could have on not just the industry, but the plants themselves.

Even patents on drugs would be a lot more enforceable than patents on software at this stage. This new article admits that “Alice thus significantly curtailed what software-related inventions remained available for patent protection. However, it provided no specific guidance for determining the bounds of what software-related innovations remained patent eligible” (there are caselaw-type examples though).

EFF bashers such as J Nicholas Gross like to over-complicate patents to celebrate them being granted; when rejected they simplify it.

Watch what he wrote the other day: “USPTO reaches new milestone of insanity, rejects patent application on turbine engine as just an “abstract idea” https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2016005774-09-28-2017-1 …”

“You must be over-simplifying what the patent claimed,” I told him “maybe wrongly ascribed to a “device” such as a turbine engine.”

Several days ago we found this report titled “Lufthansa Technik AG Files Patents For New Composite Repair Robot” and it made it sound like Lufthansa is patenting software now. To quote from the article: “The robot’s specially developed software scans and diagnoses damage, identifies the surface and calculates the scarf joint’s form and a milling path before cutting out the damaged material.”

There’s a physical element to it, but the software part should not be patentable. The same goes for 3-D printers. Several days ago there was this report about Ultimaker, noting that “[o]pen source was a big focus at this year’s edition of the TCT Show, and remains so as well for Ultimaker, which maintains deep roots in the community.”

So why patents? It says “following the company’s first filed intellectual property patent” as if they try to build a patent portfolio around their software.

How about this new article regarding Blockchain, which is already being infested with questionable software patents? Leslie M. Spencer and Marta Belcher ought to know that software patents are dead. Courts reject them.

Why does Ropes & Gray LLP promote software patents on Blockchain still?

From their article:

Blockchain — the distributed ledger technology underlying bitcoin — has the potential to have a revolutionary impact far beyond cryptocurrencies. Fundamentally, a blockchain is an immutable record of transactions — each one cryptographically verifiable and linked to the other transactions — that allows for accurate and secure transfers of digital assets without requiring a middleman or trusted broker such as a bank. IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty has stated that “blockchain will do for trusted transactions what the internet has done for information,”1 and a recently published World Economic Forum white paper argued that blockchain is creating an “internet of value.”2 Whether the mainstreaming of blockchain is as imminent as some suggest, a huge amount of investment is flowing into the development of blockchain applications in sectors ranging from financial services to health care to supply chain management.

They are quoting Ginni Rometty from IBM, the leading lobbyist for software patents and one of the biggest patent bullies around. IBM keeps trying to undermine Alice and the company’s patent chief has in fact just promoted this article about Alice, taking note only of the few decisions where Alice challenges got rejected by the Federal Circuit (not any time recently). To quote:

It has now been over three years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its transformative patent decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. During that time, the Federal Circuit has issued only a precious few decisions upholding the validity of software patent claims. Thus, it is critical that patent applicants and practitioners understand the lessons that these cases offer and the hallmarks of software patent eligibility they establish. While clear eligibility rules remain elusive, the cases that have been decided provide valuable guideposts for drafting patent applications moving forward.

The post-Alice eligibility analysis uses the Supreme Court’s previously established two-step framework. Under Step 1, courts first decide whether patent claims are directed to an abstract idea. If they are found “not abstract,” that finding alone supports eligibility, and the analysis can end. If the claims are found to be directed to an abstract idea, under Step 2 courts decide whether the claims contain an inventive concept sufficient to ensure that the claims amount to “significantly more” than the abstract idea itself. If they do, they are deemed patent eligible. This post examines the Federal Circuit decisions upholding software patent claims on Step 1 grounds; we will also publish a second post that examines patent claims upheld on Step 2 grounds.

Look who wrote this article. It’s S. James Boumil from Proskauer Rose LLP, which is being dishonest (cherry-picking) again. No Federal Circuit case has, for many months, favoured software patents (Visual Memory v NVIDIA is not relevant at all). “James assists clients in obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights in the U.S. and abroad,” says the disclosure. So obviously he just wants companies to sue spuriously; he would earn money no matter if the cases get dropped/dismissed.

This is the kind of tripe pushed by IBM!

IBM is trying hard to convert its pile of software patents into much-needed cash (now that IBM is imploding), but PTAB and courts keep invaliding IBM patents, typically using Alice. IBM keeps setting up groups and events to fight against Alice, but so far no success…

Dennis Crouch, who has also been trying to crush Alice and bring back software patents, advertised this event a few days ago. The title says very clearly what it’s trying to accomplish. “The Need for Legislative Reform: The Berkeley Section 101 Workshop” is the title and here is the abstract:

Over the past five years, the Supreme Court has embarked upon a drastic and far-reaching experiment in patent eligibility standards. Since the founding era, the nation’s patent statutes have afforded patent protection to technological innovations and practical applications of scientific discoveries. However, the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories imposed a new limitation on the scope of the patent system: that a useful application of a scientific discovery is ineligible for patent protection unless the inventor also claims an “inventive” application of the discovery. The following year, the Court ruled that discoveries of the location and sequence of DNA compositions that are useful in diagnosing diseases are ineligible for patent protection. And in its 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International decision, the Court ruled that software-related claims are ineligible for patent protection unless the abstract ideas or mathematical formulas disclosed are inventively applied.

They just can’t help trying to undermine the Supreme Court, can they?

The other day Crouch promoted a paper which said “legal job market is strong and growing” (by “legal jobs” they means jobs that are not making anything, just suing, or threatening to sue).

Looking at the paper in question, it speaks of patent maximalism and concludes: “In fact, patent attorneys with the appropriate background (mechanical, electrical, chemical or computer engineering degrees or “MECC Engineers”) are quite attractive on the employment market. Yet, they still do not come to law school.”

Maybe they want to change the world for the better, not destroying people’s actual work. Dennis Crouch remarked that this “article argues that “this fact will have a deleterious effect on the United States economy.””

What will? The patent microcosm? To people like Crouch, for example, the “United States economy” probably just means a bunch of blood-sucking law firms. With patents being granted to malicious firms like Securus (the incarceration industrial complex).

Some “economy”, eh?

US Patent Trolls Are Leaving and the Eastern District of Texas Sees Patent Cases Falling by More Than Half

Sunday 15th of October 2017 03:14:47 PM

Summary: The decline of patent aggression in the US and the patent microcosm’s response to Justices, having ruled in TC Heartland, curtailing patent trolls

THE world is changing for the better when it comes to patents. Sure, the European Patent Office (EPO) is in trouble as patent scope is out of control there, but in the US things are improving. The EPO‘s friends at IP Europe wrote/quoted: “Development of innovative new standards jeopardised by #IEEE patent policy”

We wrote about IEEE the other day, specifically in relation to this article. This is a lie. IP Europe knows that it’s a lie. But it’s paid to lobby for patent extremists such as Microsoft. The IEEE is US-based and it’s possibly leaning towards liberal policies. That may mean no patent tax on standards.

In various other ways the US improving. Patent trolls seem to be on their way out. We have not heard of Erich Spangenberg for a while (he nearly disappeared). He is one of the most disgusting patent trolls of all. He had blackmailed over a thousand (maybe thousands) of firms using what later turned out to be an invalid patent and now, according to IAM, he is “back buying in the US”. To quote:

IPNav founder and renowned [sic] patent monetiser [sic] Erich Spangenberg is back buying US assets. According to an 18th September notice on the USPTO patent assignment database an entity called Page Innovations LLC acquired a single patent from inventor Justin Page relating to identity theft protection. In the assignment cover sheet Spangenberg is listed as the manager of Page Innovations. The details of the assignment were first reported in an RPX weekly email.

We have been writing about RPX for nearly a decade. We’ll come back to RPX in a moment.

The biggest news on the patent front was reported by Joe Mullin several days ago. It’s extremely pleasing to see that the US Supreme Court has managed to eject many patent trolls out of Texas. Here are some numbers:

New lawsuits are down—way down—in the mostly rural district that was once the national hotspot for patent disputes.

For several years, the Eastern District of Texas hosted more patent lawsuits than any other judicial district in the country. Last year, East Texas saw more patent lawsuits filed than the next four judicial districts combined. But in May, the Supreme Court sharply limited where patent owners can choose to file their lawsuits, in a case called TC Heartland. That’s leading to a sharp change in the geography of patent litigation.

[...]

The trend seems likely to continue, given a recent case called In re: Cray Inc., in which an appeals court clarified how TC Heartland must be applied. In that case, a federal judge ruled that a case against supercomputer manufacturer Cray could be kept in East Texas because the company employed a single work-from-home employee in the district. The top patent appeals court sharply disagreed, though, and overturned that decision, forcing the Cray case out of East Texas.

“The patterns we’re seeing are changing dramatically, and the double-digit dominance of East Texas is gone,” said Brian Howard, Lex Machina’s data scientist, in an interview with Ars.

United for Patent Reform‏ said: “Since #TCHeartland #patenttroll filings in #EDTX have dropped from 50% to 26%…”

This is based on Lex Machina.

Here is RPX’s take on some of the latest figures: “Patent law faces continued uncertainty in all three branches of government. The Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision in May likely precipitated a dip in new patent litigation that carried unevenly through the third quarter. While litigation remains slow overall, plaintiffs have begun to test the bounds of TC Heartland by bringing novel venue arguments in the Eastern District of Texas and by charting new courses in Delaware, California, and Illinois. On the other hand, the tables could turn: the Court granted certiorari in Oil States in June, casting the continued existence of inter partes review (IPR) into doubt. Though most commentators discount petitioner Oil States’s likelihood of success, even the slightest potential for victory is a ray of hope for patent owners.”

On the Federal Circuit reaffirming all this, here is another belated take (we wrote about this before):

Until the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 22, 2017 ruling in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States district courts had interpreted the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. §1400(b), to allow plaintiffs to bring a patent infringement case against a domestic corporation in any district court where there is personal jurisdiction over that corporate defendant. The Supreme Court’s TC Heartland ruling, however, clarified that personal jurisdiction alone does not convey venue for patent cases under the patent venue statute. But that clarification led to confusion as to how to interpret the venue statute itself. The Federal Circuit just addressed that confusion in In re Cray Inc.

In re Cray was also an important decision because it helped highlight the sheer disregard for the law (and the Supreme Court) down in Texas. It is hopefully a lot clearer now (to more trolls) that there’s nothing attractive about Texas. The figures speak for themselves.

Qualcomm’s Nightmares Are Getting Worse as Antitrust Questions Are Raised and Assessed

Sunday 15th of October 2017 02:22:13 PM

Summary: Qualcomm is getting itself deeper in trouble as fines pile up and its multi-billion dollar dispute with Apple isn’t getting it anywhere

THE company known as “Qualcomm” used to exist in the market. One could actually buy things with the “Qualcomm” brand on them. Nowadays, Qualcomm is just something that’s a tax. It’s embedded in many products and the tax includes software patents, which aren’t even valid in many of the respective markets. Later this week we intend to organise our articles about Qualcomm in a Wiki page similar to that of the EPO.

“It’s embedded in many products and the tax includes software patents, which aren’t even valid in many of the respective markets.”Several days ago Qualcomm got slapped with a massive fine (almost $0.8 billion in a nation as small as Taiwan). Will they fine them even more in nations like Korea and China? We shall see…

From the report of Bloomberg (found via Florian Müller):

Qualcomm Inc. was fined a record NT$23.4 billion ($773 million) by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission in the latest blow from regulators over the way the U.S. company prices mobile phone chips and patents.

The company has been violating antitrust rules for at least 7 years and Qualcomm collected NT$400 billion in licensing fees from local companies during that time, the Taiwanese regulator said in a statement on its website Wednesday. The San Diego-based company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qualcomm has attracted scrutiny from regulators around the world, with it practices probed in South Korea, China, Japan, the European Union and elsewhere. The company is engaged in a fierce battle with Apple Inc. that has seen the iPhone maker cut off billions of dollars in payments to Qualcomm.

Müller wrote about it in his own blog later on. To quote:

The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission’s decision to impose a record fine of more than $700 million on Qualcomm and to demand a departure from some of Qualcomm’s longstanding, problematic practices is really huge. If I didn’t believe so, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post about two hours after receiving approval from Apple to publish my iOS game, after three years of development. We’re initially making the game available in 24 countries now and will do our U.S. launch (after a bit more fine-tuning) next month, at which time I’ll be more specific about category, name, features, everything.

[...]

This has been a very eventful ten months for Qualcomm in antitrust terms. It’s hard to identify the tipping point, but my prediction is Qualcomm will have to fundamentally change its patent licensing and other business practices in the not too distant future, and when that happens, today’s Taiwanese decision will be considered to have been among the more important events in that regard.

IAM, as expected, isn’t too happy. “Whatever happens with the appeals,” it wrote, “the fact that the TFTC has shown its cards means there is one less major regulatory question mark for Qualcomm in Asia. The focus of the antitrust war may shift to the US and EU going forward, although there is still important Apple-Qualcomm litigation going on in China, Taiwan and Japan.”

On a separate day IAM spoke about NXP patents and Qualcomm, which it dubbed “one of the world’s leading licensors” (more like one of the world’s leading bullies). To quote:

According to a news report earlier this week Qualcomm has offered to agree to certain patent-related conditions in order to get the greenlight for its $38 billion takeover of NXP from European Union regulators. The giant US chipmaker is said to have told regulators that it will not acquire NXP’s standard essential patents (SEPs) and will not assert the Dutch company’s IP relating to near field communication (NFC) technology, except for defensive purposes.

Given that Qualcomm is one of the world’s leading licensors and makes a big chunk of its profits from monetising its patent portfolio in the mobile space, these possible concessions are very significant. The San Diego based business’s licensing practices are of course well and truly in the spotlight right now thanks to various regulatory investigations and its increasingly bitter spat with Apple. As we reported earlier today, Qualcomm was fined $773 million by Taiwan’s antitrust authorities (the company has said it will challenge the decision in court) and has also been hit with fines in the recent past by South Korea and China.

An article from Eric Jhonsa at The Street has meanwhile explained “Why Apple Is Likely to Come Out Ahead in Its Royalty Battle With Qualcomm” and to quote the summary:

Apple probably won’t get everything it officially wants in its legal fight with Qualcomm. But similar to what happened in its patent battles with Samsung, Apple might end up in a better position than if it had never sued.

As we explained at the start of the year, if Apple wins this battle, it will be good news for Android, too. Apple has just, yet again, been sued for patent infringement. Will Apple interpret that as a wakeup call regarding patents? Perhaps a nice goal for us to have is to compel companies like Apple to understand that software patents aren’t in their interest and therefore fight along with us.

“Will Apple interpret that as a wakeup call regarding patents?”In the meantime, as of Friday, “Qualcomm Seeks China iPhone Ban, Expanding Apple Legal Fight” (because it’s feeling the pressure).

To quote Bloomberg again:

Qualcomm Inc. filed lawsuits in China seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in the country, the chipmaker’s biggest shot at Apple Inc. so far in a sprawling and bitter legal fight.

The San Diego-based company aims to inflict pain on Apple in the world’s largest market for smartphones and cut off production in a country where most iPhones are made. The product provides almost two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. Qualcomm filed the suits in a Beijing intellectual property court claiming patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman.

Qualcomm is just trying to intimidate Apple, but we very much doubt this pressure (or financial risk) will turn Apple away. At the end, we certainly hope that Qualcomm will lose and preferably fold as a company. Qualcomm has nothing left to offer.

Forget About Apple; Two of the Leading Phone Makers (Samsung and Huawei) Are Bickering Over Patents

Sunday 15th of October 2017 01:35:25 PM

The aggressor is Huawei

Summary: Massive Android OEMs, Huawei and Samsung, are in a big patent dispute and this time, for a change, China is a legal battleground

THE war Apple started against Android in 2010 was a patent war. The first target was HTC from Taiwan. Later on Apple targeted the biggest (at the time) Android OEM, namely Samsung.

Huawei has since then challenged Samsung to the crown, after Samsung became a bigger OEM than Apple. As is widely known by now, Apple started flinging all sorts of ridiculous design patent lawsuits at Samsung. Some of these patents looked almost comical and last week we explained why design patents, as a whole, are a lame shame (trademark and copyright laws already cover designs). More people need to talk about this. Several days ago Patently-O plotted duration of such patents (believe it or not, it’s fifteen years). “If I were preparing to file a design patent around early May 2015,” it said, “I might have held-off a bit on the filing to pass the May 13, 2015 threshold. Design patents stemming from applications filed on or after that date have a 15-year patent term (calculated from patent issuance) as opposed to a 14-year term for those filed prior to the threshold date.”

“…the patent courts in china have become kangaroo courts like the Eastern District of Texas.”So the USPTO further extended the life of patents which probably ought not exist in the first place.

Sadly, patents like these continue to be used in countries where the threshold for patenting is low. Huawei, for example, first sued Samsung in both China and the US, knowing that China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) is notorious worldwide for probably the lowest patent quality. Moreover, as we have shown recently, the patent courts in china had become kangaroo courts like in the Eastern District of Texas. Here is the latest on this from English-speaking Chinese media:

The patent war between Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies Co and its South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co has been in the headlines again recently, after China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) announced its latest rulings on eight cases.

The SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board announced on September 30 that five patents involved in Samsung’s lawsuits against Huawei are invalid, one is partly invalid and only two remain valid. At this point, 10 of the 16 patent infringement lawsuits Samsung filed against Huawei in China have been determined invalid, accounting for 62.5 percent of the total.

The patent battle started in May 2016 when Huawei first sued Samsung in both China and the US for alleged infringement of its smartphone patents, involving several of its cellular communications technology and software inventions used in Samsung smartphones. In July 2016, Samsung countersued Huawei over six alleged infringement patents.

It’s worth noting that SIPO found most of the patents it had granted to be invalid. Yet another reminder of the low patent quality there.

IAM (lobbying group that calls itself publisher) keeps egging on or encouraging a patent trolls epidemic in China. See what it wrote some days ago. We are worried that China’s race towards patent maximalism will spread to other countries. Patent radicals in the US already cite “China!” all the time, in an effort to lobby their officials for broader patent scope.

Tim Heberden From the Glasshouse Advisory is Throwing Stones in a Glasshouse to Create Patent Litigation

Sunday 15th of October 2017 12:55:50 PM

One-man firm or just a patent propaganda front with marketing like “Elevate your IP”?

Summary: IAM’s latest lobbying, aided by the patent microcosm, for a climate of feuds and disputes (to line the pockets of the litigation ‘industry’)

PEOPLE who make a living out of patent maximalism are, quite expectedly, promoting patent maximalism. Tim Heberden is one such person, who is linked to IAM, a patent maximalism lobby group.

As a reminder, Australia recently extended or augmented the ban on software patents. We last wrote about this a monhh ago. The Productivity Commission, a government research body, studied these matters and concluded that patents on almost everything would be misguided and counterproductive. Patent maximalists were — and still are — angry about it. That means more money for programmers, not for pests.

“The Productivity Commission, a government research body, studied these matters and concluded that patents on almost everything would be misguided and counterproductive.”Now there is a so-called ‘study’ from a patent maximalist who says companies should embrace patent maximalists (like himself). Tim Heberden From the Glasshouse Advisory (which seems to be only/mostly about himself) obviously received a mention from IAM, which towards the end disclosed the connection. To quote: “These businesses are all leaders in the field of IP value creation. But new research from Tim Heberden, IP economics director at Glasshouse Advisory, shows that many publicly traded companies in Australia are missing the opportunity to explain the value of their intellectual assets to investors. This, he says, can be detrimental to their corporate health. [...] Heberden is a member of the IAM Strategy 300.”

“What’s worth noting here is IAM’s eagerness to increase litigation and tensions.”Another fine example of IAM lobbying disguised as media (as in “IAM Media”). Around the same time they also congratulated TiVo, which had become somewhat of a patent bully in recent years, on a new hire from patent bully number 1, IBM. TiVo seems certain or looks like it’s going to become more and more aggressive with patents. To quote IAM: “Ehrlich spent almost 30 years at IBM first as an engineer before moving to the legal department in 1994 and taking a series of IP-focused roles. Most recently he led the patent licensing and business development legal team responsible for generating IP income. At TiVo he will take charge of all of the IP functions outside of litigation essentially filling the role that Patel had at Rovi before his move to take the top IP job at Technicolor and the company’s acquisition of TiVo (the combined business adopted the latter’s name). “The TiVo IP team is already one of the best in the world but we’re looking to make it even stronger,” Patel told the IAM blog. “I’m looking to turn it into a powerful 21st century commercialisation engine that is capable of driving the growth of the company. Marc is one of the first pieces that will help us move in that direction.””

IBM’s push for software patents will be mentioned later today in another post. What’s worth noting here is IAM’s eagerness to increase litigation and tensions.

Access to Medicine is More Important Than Patents

Sunday 15th of October 2017 11:51:05 AM

Summary: Some of the latest news about patents that impede/deny access to crucial medication; strategic litigation from the generics sector, seeking to invalidate patents and then offer low-cost alternatives

A COUPLE of weeks ago we wrote about various patent monopolies whose value to society is questionable. At one point we highlighted news about a patent case which led to massive penalties ($70,000,000) and medicine embargoes. That was Amgen.

Last week Amgen’s patent disputes were brought up again by Managing IP. To quote: (it’s mostly restricted in terms of access)

The permanent injunction [i.e. embargo] granted by the District of Delaware in the dispute between Amgen and Sanofi/Regeneron over cholesterol-lowering treatment has been vacated, in a decision that also included some implications for the USPTO’s practice of granting broad antibody claims

The Federal Circuit has vacated the permanent injunction in the dispute between Amgen and Sanofi/Regeneron over cholesterol-lowering treatment.

It’s hard to see how sanctions like embargoes can ever benefit society, especially when life-saving medicine is at stake. It’s saddening to see almost no sites (bar IP Watch perhaps) speaking about this. What’s worse, now that there’s positive change, owing to the US Supreme Court, sites like this are promoting the illusion that doing the right thing on patents would cause death in “developing nations” — the very opposite of what is true. To quote:

On May 30th, the Supreme Court ruled in Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. that all patent rights are automatically exhausted upon the sale of a product irrespective of contract stipulations and regardless of whether the sale is made domestically or internationally. While the dispute in this case involved articles of manufacture, the decision has strong implications for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical Industry, and may make it easier for drugs sold legally overseas to make their way back to the U.S. market.

[...]

Another possible effect of the Lexmark decision is a decrease in drug donations from pharmaceutical companies to developing nations…

This is nonsense. If anything, the ruling compels companies to focus less (in their business model) on patents. We used to write a great deal about the sham such “donations” tend to be; sometimes they just experiment on a population, under the guise of philanthropy or charity. Production costs are minuscule anyway and what’s expensive is risk of litigation due to clinical trials gone awry. We wrote about companies such as Merck and Novartis in relation to this (mostly half a decade ago) and speaking of which, watch what Patently-O published a few days ago. It is now a platform for patent radicals from Novartis (malicious company in the patent sense) and the notorious WIPO. It’s easy to see what they want and it has nothing to do with public interests.

In Japan, according to last week’s IAM blog post, there’s now a debate (and lawsuit) that spills over to the US. Generics versus patents again:

In order to submit Paragraph IV certifications, Sawai will reportedly conduct invalidity searches for patents which protect original drugs and that have significant patent terms remaining. By invalidating patents for original drugs, Sawai expects to increase sales of its generic drugs. From the early 2020s, Sawai plans to release one or two generic drugs each year in the United States.

This is very good. Sawai would therefore improve access to medicine at affordable prices.

Links 14/10/2017: Windows Breaks Dutch Law, Wine 2.19 Released

Saturday 14th of October 2017 04:15:38 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Haiku OS Is Still Chugging Along To Get Its First Official Release Out

    The BeOS-inspired Haiku OS has been around since 2002 and its alpha release came out five years ago while the beta and first “R1″ stable release are still being pursued.

    This week the open-source operating system project published a new report entitled Where is Haiku R1?

  • Web Browsers
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • BSD
    • pfSense 2.4 BSD Operating System Debuts with New Installer, Drops 32-Bit Images

      Rubicon Communications’ Jim Pingle announced the release of the pfSense 2.4.0 operating system, a major release that introduces support for new devices, new features, and numerous improvements.

      Based on the latest FreeBSD 11.1 operating system, the pfSense 2.4 release comes with an all-new installer based on bsdinstall and featuring support for the ZFS file system, UEFI machines, as well as multiple types of partition layouts, including the widely used GPT and BIOS.

    • Coda revival

      Coda is a distributed file system developed as a research project at Carnegie Mellon University, descended from a older version of the Andrew File System. It got dropped from FreeBSD some five years ago, due to not having been adopted for a MPSAFE world. The focus for this current project is to bring it back into sufficiently workable shape that it could return to the kernel. It is currently in a working condition. Work is underway to test it better, fix whatever issues are found, and commit it to 12-CURRENT.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GLib tools rewrite

      If you’re still stuck with Autotools, though, you may also want to consider dropping glib-genmarshal, and use the FFI-based generic marshaller in your signal definitions — which comes at a small performance cost, but if you’re putting signal emission inside a performance-critical path you should just be ashamed of yourself.

      For enumerations, you could use something like this macro, which I tend to employ in all my projects with just few, small enumeration types, and where involving a whole separate pass at parsing C files is kind of overkill. Ideally, GLib would ship its own version, so maybe it’ll be replaced in a new version.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Fashion Needs an Open-Source Sustainability Solution

      Fashion brands are treating sustainability with new seriousness, but only an open source approach will move the entire industry forward.

    • Open Data
      • ‘Need open-source data platforms to curb corruption’

        Gandhi delivering a lecture on political reforms at NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad on Friday.
        BJP MP Varun Gandhi delivers a lecture at NALSAR University of Law

        Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sultanpur MP Varun Gandhi steered clear of the Jay Shah controversy when asked about it at NALSAR University of Law here on Friday.

        Mr. Gandhi was asked his views by a student, following a lecture on political reforms, on the response of the Indian government to a media story that alluded to an alleged connection between the profits made by businesses of Jay Shah, son of BJP national president Amit Shah, and the government. Without naming Jay Shah, the 37-year-old parliamentarian said nobody can be held guilty just by pointing a finger.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • How do you dump the firmware from a “secure” voting machine? With a $15 open source hardware board

        One of the highlights of this year’s Defcon conference in Vegas was the Voting Machine Hacking Village, where security researchers tore apart the “secure” voting machines America trusts its democracy to.

        The Voting Machine Hacking Village just released its master report on the vulnerabilities they found, and the participants are talking about it on Twitter, including Joe Fitz’s note that he dumped the firmware off a Accuvote TSX with one of Adafruit’s $15 open source hardware FT232h breakout boards.

  • Programming/Development
    • Google’s Learning Software Learns to Write Learning Software

      In a project called AutoML, Google’s researchers have taught machine-learning software to build machine-learning software. In some instances, what it comes up with is more powerful and efficient than the best systems the researchers themselves can design. Google says the system recently scored a record 82 percent at categorizing images by their content. On the harder task of marking the location of multiple objects in an image, an important task for augmented reality and autonomous robots, the auto-generated system scored 43 percent. The best human-built system scored 39 percent.

    • Intel Begins Working On “Knights Mill” Support For LLVM/Clang

      Intel compiler engineers have begun mainlining “Knights Mill” enablement within the LLVM compiler stack.

      Knights Mill is the codename for an upcoming Xeon Phi expected for release later this quarter. Details on Knights Mill are relatively light but it will cater to deep learning / AI use-cases and more efficient than Knights Landing (KNL).

      Intel has previously said Knights Mill is capable of twice the performance of Knights Landing for floating point operations per cycle and there are also new/optimized instructions for 8-bit and 16-bit arithmetic.

Leftovers
  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak launches his own online tech education platform

    Woz U also offers access to tech companies interested in using the tools and resources provided to recruit and train employees. The platform will be available to students K-12 through partnerships with school districts too. Down the line, Woz U wants to offer one-on-one instruction to students and, later on, to offer its own accelerator program for prospective startup founders. The overall goal is to increase interest in what Woz U calls STEAM careers, or science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, with the addition of arts presumably a nod to Wozniak’s role at Apple and fellow co-founder Steve Jobs’ lifelong mission to blend technology with the humanities.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Jeremy Hunt considers banning patients from walking up to A&Es
    • ‘Sadistic’ Sabotage: Uproar After Trump Declares End of Healthcare Subsidies

      Just hours after signing a widely denounced executive order that is expected to drive up insurance costs for sick Americans, President Donald Trump took what critics called another “absolutely despicable” step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) late Thursday by cutting off cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income individuals and families afford out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

    • White House Attempting to Railroad Obamacare Repeal Through Executive Order, After Congressional Embarrassment

      President Trump is attempting to relax healthcare rules by fiat after failing repeatedly to pass an Obamacare-rollback law through Congress.

      The President signed an executive order on Thursday in an effort to allow the propagation of health insurance plans without key requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

      “Every congressional Democrat has blocked the efforts to save Americans from Obamacare along with a very small, frankly, handful of Republicans,” Trump said.

      The White House rolled out its decree at a ceremony featuring an introduction from one of those Republicans–Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

  • Security
    • Australian defense firm was hacked and F-35 data stolen, DOD confirms

      The Australian Cyber Security Centre noted in its just-issued 2017 Threat Report that a small Australian defense company “with contracting links to national security projects” had been the victim of a cyber-espionage attack detected last November. “ACSC analysis confirmed that the adversary had sustained access to the network for an extended period of time and had stolen a significant amount of data,” the ACSC report stated. “The adversary remained active on the network at the time.”

      More details of the breach were revealed on Wednesday at an IT conference in Sydney. ASD Incident Response Manager Mitchell Clarke said, “The compromise was extensive and extreme.” The attacker behind the breach has been internally referred to at the Australian Signals Directorate as “APT Alf” (named for a character in Australia’s long-running television show Home and Away, not the US television furry alien). Alf stole approximately 30 gigabytes of data, including data related to Australia’s involvement in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, as well as data on the P-8 Poseidon patrol plane, planned future Australian Navy ships, the C-130 Hercules cargo plane, and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb. The breach began in July of 2016.

    • IRS changes its mind about giving Equifax $7.5m to fight fraud (for now)

      Weeks after Equifax announced its worst-in-world-history breach, the IRS awarded the company a $7.5 million no-bid contract to prevent fraud.

      The announcement attracted incredulity and derision, but the IRS pressed ahead…until this week, when it was revealed that Equifax had been hacked again and was serving malware to people who were trying to correct errors in their credit records.

      That, finally, was the bridge too far for the tax-man. The IRS has (temporarily) yanked the contract. My guess is that they will try to quietly reinstate the contract later, with the tiniest, most obfuscated notice in the Federal Register. After all, the IRS single-sourced this contract because they said that Equifax is literally the only company in America with the data and skills to do the task they say they want done, so either the IRS pays another company a lot more to develop the capabilities, gives up on the project, or just waits until the heat is off and cuts a $7.5m check to the muppets at Equifax.

    • After second bungle, IRS suspends Equifax’s “taxpayer identity” contract

      The tax-collecting agency is now temporarily suspending the contract because of another Equifax snafu. The Equifax site was maliciously manipulated again, this time to deliver fraudulent Adobe Flash updates, which, when clicked, infected visitors’ computers with adware that was detected by just three of 65 antivirus providers. The development means that at least for now, taxpayers cannot open new Secure Access accounts with the IRS. Secure Access allows taxpayers to retrieve various online tax records and provides other “tax account tools” to those who have signed up.

    • Google, IBM Partner to Tighten Container Security
    • Grafeas, new open-source API for the software supply chain, released
    • Senior U.S. legal official meeting UK leaders to tackle online security issues

      “The approach taken in the recent past – negotiating with technology companies and hoping that they eventually will assist law enforcement out of a sense of civic duty – is unlikely to work,” he said at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday.

    • Over 500 Million PCs Are Secretly Mining Cryptocurrency, Researchers Reveal

      Research by ad blocking firm AdGuard found 220 popular websites with an aggregated audience of half a billion people use so-called crypto-mining scripts when a user opens their main page.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Mass hysteria may explain ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba, say top neurologists

      Senior neurologists have suggested that a spate of mysterious ailments among US diplomats in Cuba – which has caused a diplomat rift between the two countries – could have been caused by a form of “mass hysteria” rather than sonic attacks.

      The unexplained incidents have prompted the US to withdraw most of its embassy staff from Havana and expel the majority of Cuban diplomats from Washington.

      The neurologists who talked to the Guardian cautioned that no proper diagnosis is possible without far more information and access to the 22 US victims, who have suffered a range of symptoms including hearing loss, tinnitus, headaches and dizziness.

    • Desensitised to Tragedy

      Islamophobia has become so insidious, so all-pervasive, and so powerful in media culture that there is virtually no concern expressed at the probable killing in a US drone strike of a 12 year old British child, Jojo Jones, whose short life was so spectacularly horrid through absolutely no fault of his own. Child soldiers in conflict are a dreadful problem. I tried in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo to convey the extremely powerful emotions I experienced when faced very directly with those who had seen atrocities and themselves been forced to kill at primary school age.

      But nobody in their right mind thinks that the answer to child soldiers is to kill them. If it is correct young Jojo is killed, I mourn him, the childhood he hardly knew and the potential for realising the dreams of normality such children always have.

      But Jojo is one of many thousands of children killed by the US in its “war on terror”, including the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is only the dehumanising of Muslims that causes the near total lack of visible western empathy for the nine young kids under 13 killed this year in one US raid in Yemen alone.

    • How Chicago Gets Its Guns

      John Thomas set up the deal the way he had arranged nearly two dozen others. A friend said he wanted to buy as many guns as he could, so Thomas got in touch with someone he knew who had guns to sell.

      The three of them met in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in south suburban Lansing at noon on Aug. 6, 2014. Larry McIntosh, whom Thomas had met in his South Shore neighborhood, took two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun from his car and put them in the buyer’s car. He handed over a plastic shopping bag with four handguns.

    • The House of Saud Bows to the House of Putin

      The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.

    • Trump’s Mendacious Speech on Iran

      Donald Trump’s speech on Iran is the latest chapter in his struggle to reconcile his overriding impulse to denigrate and destroy any significant achievements of his predecessor with the fact that the most salient of those achievements in foreign policy— the Iran nuclear agreement or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — is working.

    • How the CIA Staged Sham Academic Conferences to Thwart Iran’s Nuclear Program

      The CIA agent tapped softly on the hotel room door. After the keynote speeches, panel discussions and dinner, the conference attendees had retired for the night. Audio and visual surveillance of the room showed that the nuclear scientist’s minders from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were sleeping but he was still awake. Sure enough, he opened the door, alone.

      According to a person familiar with this encounter, which took place about a decade ago, the agency had been preparing it for months. Through a business front, it had funded and staged the conference at an unsuspecting foreign institution of scientific research, invited speakers and guests, and planted operatives among the kitchen workers and other staff, just so it could entice the nuclear expert out of Iran, separate him for a few minutes from his guards, and pitch him one-on-one. A last-minute snag had almost derailed the plans: The target switched hotels because the conference’s preferred hotel cost $75 more than his superiors in Iran were willing to spend.

      To show his sincerity and goodwill, the agent put his hand over his heart. “Salam habibi,” he said. “I’m from the CIA, and I want you to board a plane with me to the United States.” The agent could read the Iranian’s reactions on his face: a mix of shock, fear and curiosity. From prior experience with defectors, he knew the thousand questions flooding the scientist’s mind: What about my family? How will you protect me? Where will I live? How will I support myself? How do I get a visa? Do I have time to pack? What happens if I say no?

    • Sanders Responds to Trump’s Iran Deal Announcement

      “President Trump’s speech today was the latest in a series of rash and reckless moves that make Americans less safe. By refusing to re-certify the Iran nuclear agreement, President Trump ignored the public statements of his own national security officials. Last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Dunford and Secretary of Defense Mattis affirmed to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran is meeting its commitments under the agreement and that staying in the agreement is in the national security interests of the United States.

      “Trump’s decision also isolates the United States from some of its most important allies. France, the U.K. and Germany all continue to support the agreement and have consistently said that it is in their own national security interests.

    • Trump’s Scary Nuclear Doctrine

      Pleasing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and terrifying almost everybody else, President Trump is threatening nuclear war against North Korea and, by implication, war with Iran, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.

    • Trump’s Speech Against Iran Deal a National Disgrace

      Trump’s speech today was a national disgrace. This isn’t an effort to stiff a contractor over a real estate project, it’s a matter of war and peace. Donald Trump is in way over his head.

      Contrary to the reporting, Donald Trump is killing the deal – not in one move, but in several moves. First, Congress will attempt to kill it through deal-killing legislation from Sen. Tom Cotton. If that is blocked, Trump has vowed to kill it himself. Either way, the deal will get killed by this process triggered by Trump.

    • We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

      It is not America’s gun laws that are the issue when it comes to the mass shootings which occur with banal regularity in the land of the free, it is the gun culture that underpins those laws – a culture symptomatic of the moral sickness the country is suffering from, and for which in 2017 there appears no sign of a cure.

      In the wake of the latest mass shooting to erupt in the US, this one at an open-air music festival in Las Vegas – during which 59 people were killed and hundreds more wounded by lone gunman Stephen Paddock, spraying automatic gunfire into the crowd from the window of a room overlooking the event at the Mandalay Bay Hotel – the same debate over America’s notorious gun laws has ensued, involving the usual parade of fulminating defenders of the country’s ‘sacred’ Second Amendment of the US Constitution, enshrining the right of citizens to bear arms.

      Said supporters of this provision within the country’s constitution, adopted and ratified in 1791 at a time when automatic and semi-automatic weapons were still centuries away from being invented, have in time honoured fashion been extending themselves in arguing that freedom in America means the freedom to be able to walk into a gun store on any given day and procure enough firepower to wipe out a herd of elephants.

      But as mentioned, the question is not over the rights or wrongs of the Second Amendment; the question is the culture of violence married to the near total lack of social cohesion that pervades in a country suffocating under the weight of its own nauseating hypocrisy. This culture and this lack of social cohesion are the underlying causes of the mass shootings and massacres that are so ubiquitous in America that they have become part of the cultural fabric, just like the Superbowl and Kim Kardashian’s tits.

      [...]

      The gun culture in America is also central to law enforcement. The inordinate number of people killed by cops across the country on a regular basis is less to do with trigger-happy police officers in fear of their lives committing catastrophic and fatal errors, and more to do with an ethos of vigilantism born of the dehumanization of the poor and/or of minorities, who make up the vast majority of victims of cop violence across the country. Indeed, in this respect, things have got to the point where within US law enforcement it seems that executing young black males, regardless of whether they happened to be armed or unarmed, has become more acceptable than ‘protecting and serving’.

    • A Peace Prize That Means Something: ICAN’s Nobel

      In the mid-1980s, there were 70,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Today there are just under 15,000. ICAN’s goal and NAPF’s goal is a world with zero nuclear weapons. This must also become the goal of all humanity. The great hope in the Nobel Peace Prize going to ICAN is that it will help draw global attention and concern to the ongoing threats posed by nuclear weapons and tip the scales toward ending the nuclear weapons era with its abundant dangers to all humanity.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Media coverage of climate negotiations greeted with indifference

      As the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement demonstrates, the agreement is not a binding contract requiring countries to act on climate change. In fact, given the fact that the emissions pledges in the agreement were voluntary, political and civic engagement will play an important role in ensuring that governments keep to their pledges.

      So, did the widespread media coverage of COP21 negotiations in Paris make any headway toward achieving this kind of civic engagement with climate policy? According to a paper in this week’s Nature Climate Change, it seems as though coverage may have done the opposite. People’s understanding of the issues at stake improved slightly over the course of the conference, but not much changed in their sense of personal or national responsibility. If anything, the authors write, “this global media event had a modest appeasing rather than mobilizing effect.”

    • Tail end of Hurricane Ophelia to bring rain, wind and warmth to UK

      As Hurricane Ophelia approached the UK on Friday night, forecasters were warning of heavy rain and gusts of up to 80mph, while some areas were set to enjoy a balmy 25C (77F).

      The Met Office issued severe weather alerts, warning of potential power cuts, damage to buildings and disruption to transport and mobile phone signals.

      The storm, which was losing force as it crossed the Atlantic, was forecast to reach the UK on Monday.

    • Trump Lies as Global Warming’s Victims Die

      Legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone often cautioned, “All governments lie.” But even Izzy would have been dizzy with the deluge of lies pouring out of the Trump administration, including President Donald Trump’s claim that human-induced climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy. Global warming has exacerbated recent catastrophic events from Houston to Miami to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and, now, to raging fires sweeping across California. The corporate TV weather reporting aids and abets Trump’s misinformation by consistently ignoring the role of climate change in this string of disasters.

    • Trump’s War for Coal Raises Risks

      President Trump’s war for coal is threatening progress on alternative energy while creating hazards both in the weather effects from global warming and in health risks from breathing dirty air, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • Rep. Luis Gutiérrez: Trump Wants to Own Puerto Rico But Not Help Those Dying After the Hurricane

      As President Trump threatens to withdraw federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, home to 3.5 million U.S. citizens, residents of the island and their supporters respond with outrage and disbelief. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz called Trump the “hater-in-chief.” We get response from Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez.

    • As Trump Fumes, Puerto Rico Struggles

      Some three weeks after Hurricane Maria shredded Puerto Rico, the situation on the U.S. island territory remains grave with only about 10 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents having electricity, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Meanwhile, thousands of people remain in packed shelters in San Juan.

    • Robert Jay Lifton on the Apocalyptic Twins of Nuclear and Climate Threats & Reflections on Survival

      We spend the bulk of the hour with Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a leading American psychiatrist and author of more than 20 books about the effects of nuclear war, terrorism and genocide. As NBC News reports President Trump has called for a nearly tenfold increase in the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal, and as he threatens to attack North Korea and decertify the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Lifton examines what he calls the “apocalyptic twins: nuclear and climate threats.” His new book is titled “The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival.”

  • Finance
    • Taxing the Wealthy to Pay for Universal Home Care

      Maine is developing a well-deserved reputation for cutting-edge progressive ballot initiatives. In 2016, voters approved proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage, raise taxes on the wealthy to fund education, introduce ranked choice voting, and legalize marijuana.

      The key force behind the state’s progressive ballot initiatives, the Maine People’s Alliance, has just launched a campaign to put another landmark issue on the 2018 ballot: universal home care for the elderly and disabled.

      There’s no question that such services are sorely needed — particularly in Maine, the state with the country’s highest median age. Caring for this rapidly aging population is extremely costly. The median annual cost for home care is now more than $50,000. That’s about on par with Maine’s median income for an entire household.

      Medicare does not cover the costs of in-home care and Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low that employers have difficulty finding workers willing to do this tough work for the meager wages they offer.

      Universal home care would be a huge relief for family members facing impossible choices between paying bills for basic needs versus covering the exorbitant cost of services for their loved ones.

    • Tax Cuts for the Rich, Paid for with Your Health Care
    • Trump administration’s zeal to peel back regulations is leading us to another era of robber barons

      The late 19th century in the United States was the heyday of robber barons – John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould and many others – who secured exorbitant wealth by building unregulated monopolies. They controlled the country’s oil, steel and railroads, and they used their wealth to bankrupt competitors, buy off politicians and fleece consumers. They manipulated a growing market economy that had weak rules and even weaker legal enforcement.

    • Digital Trade Agreements Failing to Reflect Internet Community Input: UNCTAD

      A hallmark of the new generation of trade agreements under negotiation, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), is the inclusion of chapters on e-commerce or digital trade. But interest in using trade agreements to address issues such as data localization, disclosure of software source code, and platform safe harbors, isn’t restricted to these regional trade negotiations.

      The same issues have also been raised at the international level at bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Recent reports from some of these bodies highlight some serious shortcomings in the way that these digital issues are being shoehorned into new trade agreements without adequate transparency and consultation.

    • Corporate Media Have Few Apologies for Getting IRS Scandal Backwards

      Back in May 2013, corporate media outlets expressed alarm at a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that suggested that from 2004 through 2013, the IRS had applied extra scrutiny to groups applying for tax-exempt status with conservative-sounding names. The report, “based on concerns expressed by members of Congress,” said that 96 groups applying for 501(c)(4) exemptions had been targeted for heightened questioning because of terms like “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names.

    • Britain’s top Brexit negotiator faces legal threat for withholding secret research

      Brexit Secretary David Davis has been threatened with legal action over his refusal to publish 50 secret studies commissioned on the impact of Britain leaving the EU.

    • This is why we’re taking David Davis to court over Brexit

      There have been letters, Freedom of Information requests, Parliamentary questions and, earlier this week, a letter signed by 120 cross-party MPs – all demanding that the government release studies they are sitting on about the economic impacts of Brexit.

      But David Davis has remained bullish, refusing to publish the findings.

      So, I have teamed up with Jolyon Maugham QC, a barrister and director of the The Good Law Project, to demand the Government release these studies within 14 days or face legal action. If the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the Treasury fail to do so, we will issue judicial review proceedings before the High Court, which would seek to compel the Government to release them.

    • Colorado’s Alamosa Municipal Court Tramples on the Rights of Poor People

      Municipal judges have incredible power over the lives of the people who enter their courtrooms. When these judges refuse to follow the law and instead run their courtrooms like fiefdoms, they can ruin lives. This is starkly true for people already living in poverty who must appear in Colorado’s Alamosa Municipal Court.

      In our new investigative report, “Justice Derailed,” we examine Alamosa’s local court, which operates under the sole leadership of Judge Daniel Powell. This court stands out for the frequency and seriousness of its constitutional abuses, which most often affect low-income individuals. The striking inequity in treatment between defendants with means and those without reveals the unfairness of a system that is supposed to be just, but which is actually the opposite.

      While Alamosa is the focus of this report, it is not alone in its abuses. Colorado has more than 200 local city courts that deal mostly with low-level offenses, which are often tied to drug addiction and poverty.

      For six years, the ACLU of Colorado has been investigating injustices in municipal courts. We have challenged debtors’ prison practices through letters sent to several municipalities and settlements reached in Colorado Springs and Aurora. We also brought evidence to the state capitol resulting in legislation to address debtors’ prisons, the lack of counsel in municipal courts, and lengthy waits in jail to see a municipal judge when an individual cannot afford to post bond.

    • Seattle Teacher: Dear Betsy DeVos, You’re Not Welcome Here

      There will be students there questioning your qualifications to serve as Secretary of Education, given that they have more experience with the public schools than you. They might point out that you never attended public schools and neither did any of your four children.

      There will be black people and civil rights organizations because you refused to say if the federal government would bar funding for private schools that discriminate. These anti-racist activists will protest your claim that Historically Black Colleges and Universities are “pioneers of school choice” as a way to promote privatizing public education—as if the segregation that forced African Americans to start their own colleges was a magnificent choice.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Internet Mocks Donald Trump for Not Knowing He Is the President of the Virgin Islands
    • Twitter Is Crawling With Bots and Lacks Incentive to Expel Them

      Despite all the recent attention, the exact dimensions of Twitter’s bot community remains opaque. Academics have asked Twitter to collaborate on research, to no avail, Ferrara, the USC professor, said. He said without internal Twitter data, he cannot figure out the origin and controller of the bots he has uncovered that posted politically-motivated Tweets. The last time he was in contact with Twitter was after the French elections to follow up on his research and ask the company about how bots were used during the election.

    • Lessig wants to fix the electoral college

      Writing in USA Today, Lawrence Lessig and Richard Painter compare the disenfranchisement of the electoral college to the much more hotly debated disenfranchisement due to gerrymadnering, and float a tantalizing idea for fixing it.

    • Let’s fix Electoral College. It’ll be easy compared to gerrymandering: Lessig & Painter

      The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that “one person, one vote” principle applies to the “presidential selection process” too. That was the basis of its judgment in Bush v. Gore (2000). But the court has never considered directly whether the state imposed rule of winner-take-all is consistent with that fundamental federal principle of equality.

      It’s time that it did. [...]

    • Getting the Fairness Doctrine Wrong–Again

      Actually, the Fairness Doctrine did not require equal time (Extra!, 1–2/05). Fisher is making a common error, confusing the Doctrine with the FCC’s Equal Time rule, which is still in force, but applies solely to political campaigns and candidates.

      Additionally, opinionated talk radio was not “a relatively new concept” in 1989 (Extra!, 1–2/07). Indeed, opinionated talk radio, which was always dominated by right-wing personalities, was born in 1960, and flourished in local markets under the Fairness Doctrine, which wasn’t jettisoned until 1987. By taking callers with contrasting views, talk radio was actually seen as comporting with the Fairness Doctrine.

      Fisher is not alone in these errors. Over the years, liberals and conservatives have respectively blamed and credited the demise of the Fairness Doctrine for the rapid growth of right-wing talk radio in 1980s and 1990s.

    • Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump. The world should be wary

      AMERICAN presidents have a habit of describing their Chinese counterparts in terms of awe. A fawning Richard Nixon said to Mao Zedong that the chairman’s writings had “changed the world”. To Jimmy Carter, Deng Xiaoping was a string of flattering adjectives: “smart, tough, intelligent, frank, courageous, personable, self-assured, friendly”. Bill Clinton described China’s then president, Jiang Zemin, as a “visionary” and “a man of extraordinary intellect”. Donald Trump is no less wowed. The Washington Post quotes him as saying that China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is “probably the most powerful” China has had in a century.

    • ‘He is failing’: Trump strikes out solo as friends worry and enemies circle

      Donald Trump’s decision to go it alone with rapid fire announcements on healthcare and Iran reflects his boiling frustration with the limits of presidential power, analysts say.

      The US president made a brazen move on Thursday night to halt payments to insurers under Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Democrats accused him of a “temper tantrum” and spiteful attempt to sabotage legislation he promised but failed to replace. Less than 24 hours later, he condemned the “fanatical” government of Iran as he decertified his predecessor’s nuclear deal, defying his own cabinet and disquieting European allies.

      The one-two punch showed Trump straining to assail Obama’s legacy but stopping short of terminating either the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, or the Iran nuclear accord. Both are back in the hands of Congress, a source of constant exasperation for the property tycoon turned novice politician, who finds himself isolated and lashing out.

    • ‘Partisan’ Gerrymandering Is Still About Race

      The Wisconsin voting rights case before the Supreme Court has been cast as the definitive test of whether partisan gerrymandering is permitted by the Constitution. But a closer look at the case and others like it shows that race remains an integral element of redistricting disputes, even when the intent of those involved was to give one party an advantage.

      Consider Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin case that was argued last week before the nation’s highest court.

      During its journey through the legal system, the case has turned on whether Republicans secured an impermissible advantage over Democrats in the way Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature redrew district lines after the 2010 census.

      But because of the deep racial divides that pervade American politics, the story is not that simple.

      Wisconsin’s Democratic Party includes a substantial number of African-American and Latino voters, particularly in cities like Milwaukee. When you look more closely at redistricting plans drawn in Wisconsin and elsewhere, you see that both parties have improved their statewide prospects by diminishing the political power of minority voters.

    • On Being Unable to Discharge the Powers and Duties of His Office

      The catastrophes pile up, from large – Iran, Obamacare, immigration, Puerto Rico, North Korea, women’s rights, the atrocity of a serial sexual predator lecturing about “values” at a hate-filled “summit” – to small, like rhyming Tanzania with mania, confusing the national debt with the stock market, and not knowing that he, himself, Little Man-Child Donny, is in fact the president of the Virgin Islands, who he says he just talked to. Amidst such chaos, opposition is slowly, slowly mounting: A GOP lawmaker argues his moves on health care will do the opposite of what he says, Pelosi insists everything he does represents violence – “He’s saying, ‘Stop the world,’ because he doesn’t know how to deal with it” – and questions about fitness repeatedly arise: Is he just a moron, or also mentally ill?

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Tech Giants Protest Looming US Pirate Site Blocking Order

      The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, is protesting a looming injunction that would require search engines, ISPs and hosting companies to stop linking to or offering services to several “pirate” sites. The injunction requested by — is overbroad, the tech giants warn.

    • Angered by gun control, this lawmaker drafted a bill to require licenses for journalists

      The measure would require journalists — defined as anyone writing or broadcasting news for a newspaper, magazine, website or television or radio station — to be registered and fingerprinted by the police and vetted for their “character and reputation.”

    • Donald Trump Thinks the Freedom of the Press Is ‘Disgusting’

      Donald Trump has pledged to defend the Constitution — even an article that doesn’t exist — but he can’t seem to lay off that pesky First Amendment.

    • Statute Of Limitations Has Run Out On Trump’s Bogus Promise To Sue The NY Times

      A year ago, we wrote in great detail about just how ridiculous it was that then Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s lawyers had threatened to sue the NY Times over a story about two women who claimed that Trump had groped them inappropriately. Trump insisted to the NY Times that none of it happened, and one of his favorite lawyers, Marc Kasowitz sent a letter calling the story “reckless, defamatory, and constitutes libel per se.” It also demanded the article be removed from the Times’ website and that a “full and immediate retraction and apology” be posted instead. The letter insisted that “failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies.”

    • Another Ridiculous Lawsuit Hopes To Hold Social Media Companies Responsible For Terrorist Attacks

      Yet another lawsuit has been filed against social media companies hoping to hold them responsible for terrorist acts. The family of an American victim of a terrorist attack in Europe is suing Twitter, Facebook, and Google for providing material support to terrorists. [h/t Eric Goldman]

      The lawsuit [PDF] is long and detailed, describing the rise of ISIS and use of social media by the terrorist group. It may be an interesting history lesson, but it’s all meant to steer judges towards finding violations of anti-terrorism laws rather than recognize the obvious immunity given to third party platforms by Section 230.

      When it does finally get around to discussing the issue, the complaint from 1-800-LAW-FIRM (not its first Twitter terrorism rodeo…) attacks immunity from an unsurprising angle. The suit attempts to portray the placement of ads on alleged terrorist content as somehow being equivalent to Google, Twitter, et al creating the terrorist content themselves.

    • Trump’s threats against NBC aren’t empty — look at the damage done by Nixon

      The right-wing war against the mainstream media goes back at least as far as Nixon — and it’s effective

    • Trump May Not Be Serious About His NBC Threats… But He May Have Violated The First Amendment

      By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about President Trump’s multiple tweet attack on NBC for having a story he didn’t like. A few times, Trump has suggested that NBC should “lose its license” because he doesn’t like the company’s reporting.

    • Turkey: Artistic freedom or self-censorship

      The motto of this year’s Istanbul Biennial is ‘A good neighbor’. But what do you do when your neighbors turn away, and your government grows increasingly autocratic? Some have cricized the event for being too apolitical.

    • Copyright Isn’t a Tool for Removing Negative Reviews

      At EFF, we see endless attempts to misuse copyright law in order to silence content that a person dislikes. Copyright law is sadly less protective of speech than other speech regulations like defamation, so plaintiffs are motivated to find ways to turn many kinds of disputes into issues of copyright law. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected one such ploy: an attempt to use copyright to get rid of a negative review.

      The website Ripoff Report hosts criticism of a variety of professionals and companies, who doubtless would prefer that those critiques not exist. In order to protect platforms for speech like Ripoff Report, federal law sets a very high bar for private litigants to collect damages or obtain censorship orders against them. The gaping exception to this protection is intellectual property claims, including copyright, for which a lesser protection applies.

      One aggrieved professional named Goren (and his company) went to court to get a negative review taken down from Ripoff Report. If Goren had relied on a defamation claim alone, the strong protection of CDA 230 would protect Ripoff Report. But Goren sought to circumvent that protection by getting a court order seizing ownership of the copyright from its author for himself, then suing Ripoff Report’s owner for copyright infringement. We filed a brief explaining several reasons why his claims should fail, and urging the court to prevent the use of copyright as a pretense for suppressing speech.

    • Corporations Have Utterly Failed to Protect Speech

      Let us take stock of how the private companies that manage two of the largest communication platforms in the world—Facebook and Twitter—have managed people’s speech in the last week alone:

      Rapper Lil B was temporarily banned from Facebook for “hate speech” after calling out gun-loving white people (calling them “violent”) in the wake of a deadly shooting in Las Vegas committed by a white retiree; actress Rose McGowan was briefly suspended from Twitter after speaking out about those who enabled her own abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein; and Twitter first blocked but then allowed US congresswoman Marsha Blackburn to run an ad promoting a far-right conspiracy theory about Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts, which has been thoroughly debunked.

    • NBC Reportedly Axed the Harvey Weinstein Story as Hollywood Made Rape Survivors the Butt of Jokes

      As part of a roundtable discussion on the rape and sexual assault allegations against disgraced and now-fired movie producer Harvey Weinstein, we speak with journalist Irin Carmon, who wrote an essay titled “Women shouldn’t trust the men who call themselves allies.” We are also joined by two women who are survivors of assaults by Weinstein: Tomi-Ann Roberts, professor of psychology at Colorado College, and Louise Godbold, executive director of Echo Parenting & Education.

    • A lighter, softer censorship in Vietnam

      Vietnam’s first ever licensed nude photography exhibition took place last month in Ho Chi Minh City, a collection of portraits entitled Tao Tac, which translates loosely to “subtle pieces making a whole when put together.”

      Hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association Headquarters, the show collated over four years of shoots, editing and planning by Vietnamese photographer Hao Nhien.

    • China’s Internet censors know how to block Russian interference
    • Great Firewall of China
    • President Xi Nails Shut Chinese Internet’s Coffin
    • Here are the Reasons Why China’s Digital Media Landscape is Dominated by Local Players
    • China’s Great Firewall Grows Higher Ahead of Party Congress
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Kaspersky asks for proof of claims made in American media

      Under pressure after a series of articles in the US press made various claims about its links to Russian state authorities this week, security firm Kaspersky Lab appears to be reluctant to dismiss the allegations out of hand.

    • US government calls for ‘reasonable’, er, breakable encryption

      “I wouldn’t describe my goal is to put pressure on the tech industry…Regulation is a potential option”.

    • Facial Recognition for Porn Stars Is a Privacy Nightmare Waiting to Happen

      The underlying tech being used by Pornhub could one day be used by more nefarious actors to identify amateur and unwitting porn models.

    • How Facebook Outs Sex Workers

      Her “real identity”—the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics—joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila (a name I’m using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

    • US Congress mulls first ‘hack back’ revenge law. And yup, you can guess what it’ll let people do

      Two members of the US House of Representatives today introduced a law bill that would allow hacking victims to seek revenge and hack the hackers who hacked them.

      The Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act (ACDC) [PDF] amends the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to make limited retaliatory strikes against cyber-miscreants legal in America for the first time. The bill would allow hacked organizations to venture outside their networks to identify an intruder and infiltrate their systems, destroy any data that had been stolen, and deploy “beaconing technology” to trace the physical location of the attacker.

      “While it doesn’t solve every problem, ACDC brings some light into the dark places where cybercriminals operate,” said co-sponsor Representative Tom Graves (R-GA).

      “The certainty the bill provides will empower individuals and companies use new defenses against cybercriminals. I also hope it spurs a new generation of tools and methods to level the lopsided cyber battlefield, if not give an edge to cyber defenders. We must continue working toward the day when it’s the norm – not the exception – for criminal hackers to be identified and prosecuted.”

    • Congress wants to tie the intelligence community’s hands for no reason

      What happens when you start with panicky civil libertarians, sprinkle in some right-wing conspiracy theories about “unmasking” intelligence, and polish it off with a healthy dose of congressional dysfunction and a self-imposed legislative deadline? You get bad surveillance policy in the name of reform. Don’t look now, but that’s what’s shaping up in Congress at this moment.

    • FBI director warns against restricting controversial NSA surveillance program

      FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned Friday that changing the rules of a soon-to-expire surveillance program could create new barriers to preventing terrorist attacks, similar to those that existed before 2001.

      In defending his agency’s information-sharing program with the National Security Agency — which civil liberties groups have criticized as a threat to privacy — Wray said his agents get just a small piece of the NSA’s intelligence gathering.

    • Pass the Protecting Data at the Border Act

      The federal government sees the U.S. border as a Constitution-free zone. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims that border officers—from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—can freely ransack travelers’ smartphones and laptops and the massive troves of highly personal information they contain. This practice is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and free speech rights. Congress can and should fix this problem by enacting the bipartisan Protecting Data at the Border Act (S. 823 and H.R. 1899).

      The need for reform is urgent. In the last two years, DHS more than tripled the number of border device searches. It conducted about 8,500 in fiscal year 2015, about 19,000 in fiscal year 2016, and is on track to conduct 30,000 in fiscal year 2017. DHS’s written policies specify that border officers may search electronic devices “with or without individualized suspicion.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Victory! California Just Reformed Its Gang Databases and Made Them More Accountable

      Gov. Jerry Brown has signed A.B. 90, a bill that EFF advocated for to bring additional accountability and transparency to the various shared gang databases maintained by the State of California. With a campaign organized by a broad coalition of civil liberties organizations—such as Youth Justice Coalition, National Immigration Law Center, Urban Peace Institute, among others—the much needed reform was passed.

    • Narrow path walked by the non-religious just got narrower

      Lately, the non-religious are in the news for all the wrong reasons : from Malaysia’s minister denouncing atheists and wanting them tracked down; to Singapore’s former top civil servant insinuating atheists to be the potential cause in Singapore’s imminent demise; to Amos Yee’s release from a Chicago immigration jail and vowing to ply his old tricks. I feel the non-religious community in Singapore is very much misunderstood by people with religion, and hence marginalised by the politics of majority.

    • The 6 Agencies Where Employee Morale Has Declined the Most

      A number of agencies with fewer than 1,000 employees saw much worse declines, although organizations with smaller workforces often see more drastic changes from year to year.

      The African Development Fund saw the worst drop-off in employee happiness, reversing some of its landmark gains from the previous year. The agency jumped from a satisfaction index of 18 in 2015 up to 62 last year. But in 2017, it fell again to 47.

    • Muslim Ban 3.0 Is Heading to Court — Here’s What You Need to Know Right Now

      This Monday, we are back in court, fighting to block Muslim Ban 3.0 before it can go into effect on October 18, 2017. President Trump’s latest proclamation is largely the same as his first two bans, in terms of who will suffer, but worse — because it has no end date.

    • How Trump’s Threats Against the NFL Could Violate the First Amendment

      Official threats of retaliation can chill speech, with or without actual punishment.

      Across the country, African-American athletes have been taking a knee or raising a fist during the national anthem. They are protesting the killings of Black men and women by law enforcement officers and the systemic failure to hold anyone accountable for those killings. They have put their lives and livelihoods on the line for doing so.

    • Can We Call Trump a Fascist Now?

      He has contempt for democratic norms and procedures, and has repeated undermined them;
      He has threatened violence against his political enemies;
      He espouses militant nationalism;
      He is patriarchal, hyper-masculine and misogynist;
      He uses racism, ethnocentrism and bigotry to advance his political goals;
      He lies compulsively in order to twist reality to his will and keep supporters enthralled;
      He stokes a sense of racial grievance and victimhood among his voters;
      He acts with contempt and utter disregard for the law;
      He uses his position as president to personally enrich himself, his family and his political allies;
      He openly admires authoritarian leaders from other countries;
      Through voter purges and other means, he is trying to ensure a permanent Republican majority and de facto one-party state;
      He believes in “blood and soil” racism;
      He is trying to remove any regulations or other types of restrictions on corporations;
      He appears to be a malignant narcissist who believes he is above the law;
      He grants pardons to his political allies;
      He has utter contempt for freedom of the press and the concept of “checks and balances”;
      He encourages police and other paramilitary forces to abuse racial and ethnic minorities;
      He has been acclaimed by white supremacist and other right-wing fascist groups as their leader.

    • We Don’t Think an 8-Year-Old Boy Should Be Put in Handcuffs. A Judge Finally Agreed With Us.

      A federal judge just put a small crack in the school to prison pipeline.

      In the fall of 2014, “SR,” a little 8-year-old boy in Kenton County, Kentucky, had a terrible day at school. The assistant principal put him in a restraint hold after he yelled at kids who were mean to him. And then she confined him to her office, where he kicked and screamed to be let out because he needed to go to the bathroom.

      But then it got worse.

      The assistant principal called the local deputy sheriff who served as a school resource officer (SRO). By the time Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner arrived, SR had calmed down. He had spoken to his mother, and the assistant principal had told him he could go to the bathroom when the deputy arrived. When they returned from the bathroom, the deputy sheriff said SR — all 54 pounds of him — swung an elbow at him. The deputy sheriff’s response was to clap him in handcuffs.

      Really. We could barely believe it either, but the assistant principal video-taped it. So the Disability Rights Program of the National ACLU filed suit, along with the ACLU of Kentucky, the Children’s Law Center of Cincinnati, and the law firm of Dinsmore Shohl.

    • I am in Guantánamo Bay. The US Government is Starving Me to Death

      I haven’t had food in my stomach for 23 days. The 20 September was the day they told us they would no longer feed us. They have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead.

      I am in so much pain every minute that I know it can’t go on much longer. Now as each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning. When will my organs fail? When will my heart stop? I am slowly slipping away and no one notices.

      There is a man who is in charge of all the medical staff. I don’t know his name but they call him the senior medical officer. He was the one who called us all in and told us they would stop feeding us. As soon as he took over I knew he was bad news and now he has decided to end our lives.

    • We’re Suing the Government for Violating the Rights of Passengers on Delta Airlines 1583 in Police-State Fashion

      CBP agents detained every passenger on a domestic flight and forced them to show their papers before deplaning.

      On February 22, 2017, Delta Airlines Flight 1583 departed San Francisco and headed for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. As the plane was landing, passengers heard a strange announcement.

      Speaking over the intercom, a flight attendant announced that everyone would have to show their documents in order to get off the plane. After passengers expressed their consternation, the flight attendant repeated her announcement, stating that officers would be meeting the plane and every passenger would have to show government-issued ID to deplane.

      The announcement immediately unsettled Kelley Amadei, who was traveling with her wife and 7-year-old son. Kelley flies frequently for work, both internationally and domestically, and she knew this did not feel right. Around her, other passengers wondered aloud how the government had the authority to prevent them from leaving the plane and requiring them to show identification again.

    • Congress Can’t Keep Letting The White House Enforce Secret Laws

      Intelligence agency leaders are waging an all-out public relations campaign in support of their favored surveillance authority, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which expires at the end of this year. But at the same time they demand Congress renew this far-reaching spying power, officials are refusing to tell Americans how the government interprets this authority to sweep up and search their phone calls, emails, and other communications, all without a warrant.

    • Think You Have a Constitutional Right to an Attorney? Not in Many South Carolina Courts

      Municipal courts in South Carolina are treating the right to counsel as a luxury the poor cannot afford.

      Imagine getting arrested, charged with a crime, prosecuted, convicted, and hauled off to jail. Imagine that happening without ever being represented by a lawyer. Not in America, right? Wrong. This injustice happens with shocking regularity to people in South Carolina in the city of Beaufort and town of Bluffton.

      Take the case of Tina Bairefoot, whose constitutional rights were trampled upon in Beaufort.

      Ms. Bairefoot was arrested for shoplifting at Walmart and charged with a misdemeanor in Beaufort municipal court. She pleaded not guilty. Despite the fact that she was facing criminal charges and possible incarceration if convicted, Bairefoot was never even advised of her right to have a court-appointed lawyer if she could not afford to pay for one.

      In fact, not only was she on her own to defend herself, but it was the police officer who arrested her who then acted as the prosecutor in court. After a “trial” that took a matter of minutes, Ms. Bairefoot was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail without counsel by her side.

    • Psychologists are facing consequences for helping with torture. It’s not enough.
    • Guantánamo’s USS Cole death-penalty case in limbo after key defense lawyer quits

      It also comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear an appeal brought by Nashiri’s Pentagon lawyers that asks the justices to intervene in the war court case.

      Nashiri, 52, is accused of orchestrating al-Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide bombing of the warship off Yemen. His lawyers say his years of torture in CIA custody merits pre-trial review of the case. The Supreme Court could announce Monday whether it will accept the challenge.

    • Trump Becomes First Sitting President to Speak at Hate-Filled ‘Values Voter Summit’

      Advocates of LGBT rights and religious freedom denounced President Donald Trump as he became the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit on Friday. In his speech, Trump assured his supporters that Judeo-Christian religious values would be protected by his administration and pushed the narrative that social conservatives have been under attack in the U.S.

    • Our Fight to Stop Discriminatory Screening Practices at AmeriCorps

      The program’s intrusive health screening forms and guidelines discriminate against people with disabilities.

      Has your employer, school, or volunteer program ever required you to disclose all the medications you are taking – including birth control and antidepressants? Have you been asked if you saw a counselor or if you visited a hospital in the last five years?

      Shockingly, AmeriCorps requires this information – and many more medical details – of all applicants to the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), the federal service program for young people ages 18 to 24. Even worse, it rescinds offers it has given based on the information it receives, even when the applicant is qualified to serve.

      This is what happened to Susie Balcom, who applied to join AmeriCorps NCCC during her last year of college. With a 4.0 GPA, two successful terms with the state AmeriCorps program, and a demonstrated commitment to public service, she received multiple offers from AmeriCorps in April 2017. She accepted a one-year position to serve as a Support Team Leader, which would require her to coordinate logistics and trainings for corps members from the AmeriCorps office in Mississippi, starting in June. Thrilled to be able to serve her country, she made plans to move and postponed the start of her graduate studies.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Supported by Congress, a Federal Judge, Soon to be Supported by the Supreme Court Too?

Saturday 14th of October 2017 11:49:23 AM

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) may ‘rubberstamp’ PTAB pretty soon


Judge William Bryson, by his own words, wonders “whether the Tribe should be joined as a co-plaintiff in this action, or whether the assignment of the patents to the Tribe should be disregarded as a sham.”

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board is still widely defended, except by the patent microcosm which likes (and profits from) patent trolls and litigation Armageddon

THE latest news about immunity [1, 2, 3] from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board is quite positive. The latest news is, politicians have begun intervening. Now judges too are asking ‘funny’ questions, alluding to a “sham” or scam. This judge, as per this report, seems to be reading critical analysis of the anti-PTAB ‘hack’ used by Allergan.

To quote the key passages:

The six patents protect the blockbuster drug Restasis, a treatment for dry eyes which earns $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Generic drug companies have challenged the Restasis patents, through both IPRs and federal court litigation. Allergan agreed to pay the St. Regis Mohawk tribe $15 million annually as long as the patents are alive, because the company believes that the tribe will be immune to IPR under a legal principle known as sovereign immunity.

Allergan’s tactic has come under fire from the tech sector, from Congress, and perhaps soon, from a federal judge.

[...]

The legal battle between Allergan, Teva, Mylan, and two other generic drugmakers came to a head in August 2017, when a week-long bench trial was overseen by US Circuit Judge William Bryson. (Bryson, an appeals court judge at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, was sitting by designation in the Eastern District; this is a common practice for appeals judges to gain trial experience.) Final briefs were filed in the case on September 20, and Bryson has yet to render a decision about whether or not Allergan’s patents are valid and infringed.

[...]

The judge ordered Allergan to provide all documents relating to the patent assignment and ordered both sides to file briefs addressing the question of “whether the Tribe should be joined as a co-plaintiff in this action, or whether the assignment of the patents to the Tribe should be disregarded as a sham.”

Even IAM, a supporter of patent aggressors, is asking ‘funny’ questions like: “How can Allergan grant anyone a license to use Restasis patents when it does not own them?”

Exactly.

The matter of fact is, this entire incident served to discredit not PTAB but those who criticise PTAB and try so hard to dodge it (to the point of exploiting immunity of Native American tribes).

“The matter of fact is, this entire incident served to discredit not PTAB but those who criticise PTAB and try so hard to dodge it (to the point of exploiting immunity of Native American tribes).”Why even mention discreditisation? Because ahead of a SCOTUS case there are many attempts — always by the patent microcosm — to scandalise PTAB in an effort to scuttle it. Watchtroll, for example, continues to attack PTAB almost every day now (this is one of the latest examples). The patent trolls’ lobby, sometimes pretending to be a “blog”, keeps trying to generate negative publicity about PTAB. Here is Watchtroll coming out in defense of patent trolls such as Blackbird Technologies [sic].

Watchtroll is now attacking publications that say the truth about trolls, which are bad, and about PTAB, which is very good because it helps annihilate low-quality patents and trolls.

As expected, Patently-O has common goals with Watchtroll and it continues cherry-picking the unusual cases where the Federal Circuit (however rarely) disagrees with PTAB. Here is the latest:

After being sued for infringing Fast Felt’s U.S. Patent No. 8,137,757, Owens Corning retaliated with a petition for inter partes review. Although the PTO instituted the IPR, the PTAB eventually determined that the claims were not obvious — i.e., that “Owens Corning had failed to show obviousness of any of the challenged claims.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit has reversed — holding that under a proper BRI claim construction, that the claims are obvious.

As a reminder, the Federal Circuit agrees with PTAB about 80% of the time — not a statistic the likes of Watchtroll or Patently-O would wish to share with their readers.

Mind this new upcoming event from the Illinois Institute of Technology. The headline says “The Power of PTAB: The New Authority in Patent Law” and here are some statistics:

This one-day conference examines the rise of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which is on pace in 2017 to set a record of deciding over 2,000 inter partes reviews (IPRs) initiated by parties challenging the validity of existing patents.

The public conference will convene leading patent academics, patent attorneys from law firms and corporations, and PTAB judges to examine many facets of the PTAB’s expanded powers under the America Invents Act, including those related to PTAB procedures, claim construction and decisions. This conference is ideal for all patent attorneys.

PTAB is incredibly popular among technology companies. This is why some of them support campaigns in support of PTAB.

The CCIA’s Josh Landau has in fact just continued (2 days ago) his good series in support of PTAB — an important apparatus which helps eliminate software patents.

From the latest part:

Assuming, as I think will be the case, that IPR survives Oil States and that sovereign immunity doesn’t render IPR ineffective, the question becomes: what’s next? While IPR is a generally fair and effective procedure, what changes could be made to continue to promote IPR’s role as a fair and efficient way to provide a second-level review of issued patents?

[...]

Beyond actions the PTO can take, Congress could improve IPR in a number of ways.

First, in the event that the Supreme Court decides in SAS that the PTO’s interpretation of the statute does not receive deference, Congress could amend the statute to make clear that the PTAB can institute on less than all challenged claims in order to promote efficiency of the proceeding.

Second, with the covered business method (CBM) proceeding sunsetting in the near future, Congress should consider whether to incorporate challenges to subject-matter eligibility, written description, enablement, and indefiniteness into IPR. Expanding IPR to include these types of validity concerns would help petitioners place all their challenges to a patent’s validity into a single place, rather than challenging prior art validity at the PTAB and then challenging the patent’s eligibility and clarity in district court, as is currently the case.

IPR has had a good first five years. In five year’s time, I hope to see a similar post showing how improvements have cemented IPR’s place as an efficient, effective way to adjudicate all forms of patent validity.

As we said before (many times in fact), we expect SCOTUS to defend PTAB and therefore further cement its place in the system. But nothing should be taken for granted.

Patents Are Turning BlackBerry and Nokia, Which Used Android, Into Anti-Android Fronts That Tax Android OEMs

Saturday 14th of October 2017 09:53:36 AM

When patents are treated like an ‘insurance’ plan for the moment business runs dry

Summary: The Canadian BlackBerry has sued BLU in the US only to compel it to pay ‘protection’ money; Nokia’s patents are being scattered to trolls, which are doing something similar (without risking litigation themselves)

MR. Kokes has left BlackBerry, but his ugly and (self-)destructive legacy remains. It probably won’t be long before BlackBerry’s bankruptcy (maybe a couple of years). What would happen to the company’s trove of patents then? BlackBerry has a very large number of patents. Would these be sold to trolls? BlackBerry’s rise and fall were pretty fast (in relative terms), which means that many patents remain that aren’t expired and can potentially do a lot of damage.

Currently, things are not rosy. It has been pretty grim for a number of years. BlackBerry already operates a bit like a troll. The patent microcosm crafts many misleading terms by which to refer to such behaviour, so the term “troll” is only occasionally used in relation to BlackBerry (some of the mainstream media did this years ago). If only the public knew better what BlackBerry had been reduced to…

“BlackBerry already operates a bit like a troll.”When patent litigation/settlement is being framed as “licensing” and then “technology transfer” (see this new example) it’s difficult to trust the mainstream media. Days ago there were many articles to that effect, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. They were all about BlackBerry and BLU, but the headlines were mostly misleading. The outcome of the trial makes one wonder if the BlackBerry “licensing” campaign is nothing but a cover for blackmail; in other words, maybe the true story is that BlackBerry threatens litigation and when there’s settlement it’s touted as an amicable agreement instead (Microsoft does its blackmail this way). Remember that
BlackBerry uses patents against Android OEMs and even takes litigation down to Texas (BlackBerry is based in Canada).

“BlackBerry is a lost cause. It’s just a pile of patents now.”Here is what Indian media wrote, what Canadian media wrote, and what Android sites wrote yesterday [1, 2]. These mostly repeat the same euphemisms as the press release [1, 2], which went along the lines of “BlackBerry (BBRY) Announces Patent License Agreement with BLU Products”. To quote: “BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY) and BLU Products announced today they have entered into a patent license agreement. This will result in settlement of all existing patent litigation between the two companies and withdrawal of pending actions in the United States. The financial structure of the agreement includes on-going payments from BLU Products to BlackBerry. Additional terms of the agreement are confidential.”

They keep it secret, as usual. This secrecy is intended to help BlackBerry leverage better negotiation power in ‘protection’ money (or “settlement” as they euphemistically call it).

“This secrecy is intended to help BlackBerry leverage better negotiation power in ‘protection’ money (or “settlement” as they euphemistically call it)”BlackBerry is a lost cause. It’s just a pile of patents now. A better coverage said “Here’s How BlackBerry Plans to End Its Patent Dispute With This Google Android Phone Maker” or “BlackBerry details patent deal with Android maker BLU” (Reuters).

Reuters actually wrote not one but two articles about this [1, 2], emphasising the role of Android in the grand scheme of things:

BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) said on Thursday it signed a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Does BlackBerry intend to use this to demand money from many more Android OEMs? “They still own QNX,” one person told me. “It’s a very impressive RTOS.”

“Does BlackBerry intend to use this to demand money from many more Android OEMs?”But it’s competing with Linux and Android.

We are saddened to see not only BlackBerry being reduced to this but also Nokia. Look what Microsoft has turned Nokia into (intentionally, in order to attack rivals). It is connected to MPEG-LA, as explained in
this new report. Apple is being sued by proxy after settling with Nokia:

New patent-holder grabs Nokia patents, sues over Apple iPhones

A patent-holding company that stands to win 12.5 cents for every iPhone sold has filed a new lawsuit (PDF) against Apple.

Ironworks Patents LLC is a patent-enforcement company formed earlier this year, with no apparent business other than filing lawsuits over patents. It’s a business model that’s now decades old, and companies that engage in it are often derided as “patent trolls.”

Yet Ironworks isn’t your everyday patent enforcer. The company has inherited a patent portfolio belonging to MobileMedia Ideas LLC, which has already proven its value. MobileMedia Ideas was a kind of “corporate troll,” majority-owned by a patent pool called MPEG-LA. Minority stakes in MobileMedia were owned by Sony and Nokia, who also provided patents that could be used in lawsuits against other tech companies.

How long before these patents are also used against Android OEMs (if it’s not happening already)? Remember that Microsoft has already passed some of Nokia’s patents to this notorious patent troll.

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is Rotting Like the European Patent Office

Saturday 14th of October 2017 08:59:09 AM

A system which would work only for parasites

Summary: The Unitary Patent litigation pipe dreams (or prosecution/trolling fast lane), which Battistelli’s EPO long relied on, turn out to be the road to nowhere

THE purpose of patent offices is to assess the eligibility of applicants’ inventions and decide whether to grant a monopoly on some device or compound (usually not just a mere idea). The purpose of patents isn’t just to cushion the litigation ‘industry’. Everyone knows that.

“The purpose of patents isn’t just to cushion the litigation ‘industry’.”A few days ago a popular US-based blog wrote about patent trial misconduct in the US. We have been covering many examples like this; it’s a timely reminder to those who have blind faith in patent justice. Sometimes only the lawyers win (legal fees). Another failed patent lawsuit in Germany was also reported just before the weekend [1, 2]. It turns out there was no infringement and moreover:

Although ResMed’s products do not infringe, ResMed will continue its challenge of the validity of the German utility model before the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO).

Will GPTO and EPO take note? Don’t let patent ‘SLAPP’ like the above happen. Don’t allow spurious litigation, irrespective of the eligibility of a patent (which is still a subject of controversy here). Germany is already being flooded with nuisance (or ‘SLAPP’) litigation and the UPC promised to make things even worse for a lot of companies. SMEs would be hurt the most (cost of litigation).

Thankfully, the UPC is stuck. Just before the weekend, in fact, Mark Engelman published this article (behind paywall) titled, “Is the door closing on the Unified Patent?”

From what’s not behind paywall:

A cloud continues to loom over the implementation of the Unified Patent Convention…

Engelman must be one among many who now realise that timing matters (momentum) and time is running out.

Two days ago this Team UPC blog bemoaned the situation in Ireland. To quote the conclusion/concluding part:

Ireland is one of the few member states of the UP system where a referendum is held as part of the ratification formalities. In Denmark a referendum was held on 25 May 2014. 62.5% of the Danish voters approved joining the UPC. So far, 14 member states have ratified the UPCA. If the UK and Germany ratify as well, the system will start. The UK may complete the ratification process later this year, but in Germany this depends on the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court about the complaint that has been filed against ratification.

It links to this article from the Irish media; it says that the “referendums on the establishment of a Unified Patent Court” have been canceled. Rightly so in fact, for the UPC is a dead project. Here is the relevant bit:

There are a number of referendums omitted from the list.

These include the promised referendums on the establishment of a Unified Patent Court, changes to how the Ceann Comhairle is elected and also a vote on the public ownership of Irish Water.

It is worth noting that the above Team UPC blog no longer names the authors like it used to. Notice how a lot of pro-UPC lobbying is nowadays being published anonymously by UPC boosters. Unitary Patent lies (expectations/predictions that repeatedly turn out to be false) make them look bad. Bristows has said nothing about the subject for weeks (which is very atypical). The above post was promoted by UPC proponents who have dedicated accounts for this purpose, e.g. “UPCtracker” (they’re still hoping), but with no English-speaking countries in the UPC there will be no Unitary Patent (because English is an official language). Expect not much to happen on this front any time before next year.

Lying and Faking Now a Standard Procedure at the European Patent Office

Saturday 14th of October 2017 08:43:16 AM


Reference: Diesel emissions scandal

Summary: The European Patent Organisation (EPO) under the leadership (or chairmanship) of Christoph Ernst continues to relay lies from Battistelli’s Office, SUEPO rejects these, the Office lies about SMEs, prioritises Microsoft (again), and probably buys fake Twitter “followers”

THE PAST week was eventful at the EPO because of the relatively secretive meeting of national delegates, who expectedly fulfilled Battistelli’s wishes of French succession. We prefer not to comment any further on that. We sincerely hope that Campinos will surprise his critics and put things back on track, i.e. improve patent quality, bring back the dismissed staff representatives, reinstate the judge from the appeals boards and maybe improve the opposition/appeal process (to improve patent quality). Campinos looks like a decent person and we hope he can grasp the feelings in the minds and hearts of EPO staff. Leadership must do that.

“We sincerely hope that Campinos will surprise his critics and put things back on track, i.e. improve patent quality, bring back the dismissed staff representatives, reinstate the judge from the appeals boards and maybe improve the opposition/appeal process (to improve patent quality).”Yesterday we wrote about the EPO's lies regarding patent quality (intentional lies, measuring the wrong things intentionally). It’s almost as though Christoph Ernst does not care enough about this problem, which SUEPO is again stressing (see what it wrote yesterday in this update). EPO staff is very smart; it’s very difficult to fool these people. They know firsthand about the decline in patent quality and they can also see that assessment tools for quality — as used by Battistelli — are scientifically unsound. It’s insulting to their intelligence. Kieren McCarthy from The Register has criticised these repeatedly. The only ones eager to deny it or refrain from commenting on the matter are the patent microcosm. A few courageous exceptions like Dr. Thorsten Bausch should be commended for breaking that silence.

There are other EPO lies that we cannot help but notice every day this month. This tweet from yesterday, for example, said this: “Share your thoughts on Twitter about the benefits of a strong IP portfolio. Use this hashtag: #IPforSMEs Details: bit.ly/SMEstudies2017 pic.twitter.com/ztioBUZotJ” (the EPO has been posting things like these every day for about a fortnight).

“The EPO totally lacks integrity.”They even came up with that stupid hashtag, #IPforSMEs (remember that the EPO actively DISCRIMINATES against SMEs, based on leaks which show that this was centrally planned). Companies such as Microsoft receive preferential treatment and yesterday the EPO promoted Microsoft’s proprietary formats. “How to file in DOCX format? Find out during this interactive workshop,” it said. As we mentioned/noted the other day, this is just one among many examples of the strong relationship between the EPO and Microsoft, a company with a history of corruption (including, quite notably, in Munich these days). For those who don’t know, Microsoft gives “gifts” to the Mayor of Munich and hires a firm to do fake “consulting” and help undermine GNU/Linux (LiMux). Microsoft has tried hard to undermine LiMux for many years (without success).

Much of this is only to be expected from the Office that became accustomed to lying and faking (e.g. ‘evidence’ against staff, performance, and even Twitter following; notice how the proportion of fake Twitter followers of the EPO has grown. Compare earlier this year to the latest).

“These are already-debunked claims (lies) from the EPO, but in Latin America it’s apparently credible enough to be worth citing.”The EPO totally lacks integrity. Yesterday the EPO also retweeted this thing about SMEs. It just links to the EPO as ‘evidence’. These are already-debunked claims (lies) from the EPO, but in Latin America it’s apparently credible enough to be worth citing.

Yesterday the EPO went further than painting patents as an “SME” thing; it painted these as academic or “university”, failing to explain that patents are assigned (not “owned” as the EPO put it). Moreover, when public money supports universities (as is often the case) patents as such should be verboten. They privatise something which should be given back to the public free of barbwire.

Links 13/10/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.5, pfSense 2.4, Final Stages of Ubuntu 17.10

Friday 13th of October 2017 04:25:55 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Olimex ships open spec Linux laptop and tips new COM format

      Olimex has launched its open source, Alwinner A64 based Teres-A64 laptop kit for $284, and unveiled a SOM204 form factor that will debut on an A20 COM.

      Back in February, Bulgaria-based Olimex, which is known for its open spec OLinuXino SBCs like the Allwinner A64 based A64-OLinuXino, announced an open source laptop kit based on the same quad-core, Cortex-A53 SoC called the Teres-1. The Ubuntu Mate-supported laptop kit took longer than expected, but it’s finally here as the Teres-A64, selling for 240 Euros ($284) instead of 225 Euros.

    • Olimex Teres DIY open source laptop kit now available for $284

      The Olimex Teres I is a small laptop designed to run open source software… and which features open source hardware as well. We reported on the Teres I when the hardware design was finalized earlier this year. Now the laptop is available for purchase for 240 Euros (about $284).

    • Microsoft Fixes Windows Blue Screen Error After Patch Tuesday Update

      As a part of their monthly routine, Microsoft released the Patch Tuesday update on October 10. But other than the necessary security patches and bug fixes, it also brought BSODs to some Windows users.

  • Server
    • 5 traits of good systems architecture

      Two books helped me come to some sort of understanding about the art of being an architect. I read them a long time ago, but I still dip into them from time to time: 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know, by Richard Monson-Haefel; and Beautiful Architecture: Leading Thinkers Reveal the Hidden Beauty in Software Design, by Diomidis Spinellis and Georgios Gousios.

      What’s interesting about them is that they both have multiple points of view expressed in them: some contradictory—even within each book. And this rather reflects the fact that I believe that being a systems architect is an art or a discipline. Different practitioners will have different views about it. You can talk about computer science being a hard science, and there are parts of it that are, but much of software engineering (lower case intentional) goes beyond that.

      The same, I think, is even more true for systems architecture: you may be able to grok what it is once you know it, but it’s very difficult to point to something—even a set of principles—and say, “that is systems architecture.” Sometimes, the easiest way to define something is by defining what it’s not: e.g., search for “I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

    • Kubernetes the not so easy way

      The simplest method to deploy and operate Kubernetes on Ubuntu is with conjure-up. Whether the substrate is a public cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP, etc) private virtualized environments (VMware) or bare metal, conjure-up will allow you to quickly deploy a fully functional, production-grade Kubernetes.

    • Puppet and Google Partner on Cloud On-Ramp
  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • S10E32 – Possessive Open Chicken

      This week we’ve been playing Wifiwars, discuss what happened at the Ubuntu Rally in New York, serve up some command line lurve and go over your feedback.

  • Kernel Space
    • Four new stable kernels

      Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the 4.13.6, 4.9.55, 4.4.92, and 3.18.75 stable kernels. As usual, they contain fixes throughout the tree, so users should upgrade.

    • Linux 4.13.6

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.13.6 kernel.

    • Linux 4.9.55
    • Linux 4.4.92
    • Linux 3.18.75
    • Etnaviv Landing Performance Counters For Linux 4.15

      Lucas Stach has sent in the Etnaviv DRM driver changes to DRM-Next for the Linux 4.15 kernel. This is one of the bigger pull requests for this reverse-engineered, open-source Vivante graphics driver.

      This community-driven Vivante graphics driver continues to become more capable and feature complete with each kernel cycle. For Linux 4.15 the new work includes landing GPU performance counter support, which is important for developers in being able to analyze/tune the performance. They’ve been reverse engineering the Vivante performance counters for a while and now it’s ready to go for Linux 4.15. There are experimental patches currently for libdrm in making use of the new API.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 17.3 Will Be Branching Soon For Releasing In Mid-November

        Feature development for Mesa 17.3 will be over soon in order to get this quarterly update to Mesa3D shipping next month.

        Release manager Emil Velikov is planning to issue the feature freeze and first release candidate next Friday, 20 October. That will mark the deadline for getting major features/improvements into Mesa 17.3, after which point it will be reserved for bug fixes.

      • xorg-server 1.19.5

        One regression fix since 1.19.4 (mea culpa), and fixes for CVEs 2017- 12176 through 2017-12187. C is a terrible language, please stop writing code in it.

      • X.Org Server 1.19.5 Released To Fix Another Handful Of Security Vulnerabilities

        Ouch, so basically a lot of potential for buffer overflows. Sadly, this is not the first time we have seen a big batch of X.Org Security vulnerabilities and security researchers in the past have generally characterized X.Org security as even worse than it looks.

      • Intel Is Prepping A Final Batch Of Feature Changes For Linux 4.15 DRM

        Intel has been sending in feature updates for their Direct Rendering Manager driver of new material that will debut in Linux 4.15. A third and final feature update is expected next week for DRM-Next.

    • Benchmarks
      • 7-Way Linux Distribution Comparison On The Intel Core i7 8700K

        Our latest benchmarking of Intel’s 8th Gen Core “Coffee Lake” processors entailed seeing how well the i7-8700K performs on a variety of modern Linux distributions. Tested for this comparison was Ubuntu 17.10, Antergos 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Clear Linux, Debian Testing, Solus 3, and Fedora 26.

        With these seven GNU/Linux distributions they were tested out-of-the-box following a clean install on the i7-8700K setup. Some highlights from these distributions include:

        The Arch-based Antergos 17.10 rolling distribution has Linux 4.13.5, GNOME Shell, Mesa 17.2.2, GCC 7.2.0, and EXT4 by default.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Here’s 10 Best Linux Desktop Environments

      A desktop environment is a suite of tools which make it easier for you to use your computer. Linux users have a choice of many different desktop environments, all with their own styles and strengths. Here, we’ve created a list of the 10 best linux desktop environments.

    • Dedoimedo interviews: Xfce team

      Hi, I’m Sean! I’m an Xfce core developer, Xubuntu Technical Lead, and long-time Linux user. I love solving problems … and maintaining a desktop environment means there’s no shortage of those.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma 5.11 Release Party in Heidelberg
      • My first patch on Kate: Signals&Slots
      • KDE Neon 5.11 Linux Distro Released With Latest Plasma Release

        couple of days ago, the much awaited Plasma 5.11 desktop was released by KDE developers. The major features of this release were better notifications, redesigned settings app, improved task manager, and new Vault app. Soon after this release, KDE Neon developers also shipped their brand new release, i.e., KDE Neon 5.11.

        On a side note, we recently published our list of most beautiful Linux distributions, which features KDE Neon at #5. Do check it out.

      • KDE Powers up the Qt World Summit

        We also wanted to make it easy for visitors to power up their devices, so we placed plugs and USB charging stations all over our booth. Our visitors came, sat, chatted, re-charged their bodies, minds and devices, while at the same time finding out why KDE is the driving force behind many a software project. This turned out to be winning idea. A lot of people came by the “Power up!” space, and the buzz gave us the chance to demonstrate exactly how KDE could also power up their software and hardware projects. Many still perceive KDE exclusively as the creator of a desktop, but, at the ripe age of twenty, KDE is much more than that.

      • KDE Edu Sprint 2017

        Two weeks, two posts. Lets see how long I can keep up with this!

        Last weekend I was part of the KDE Edu Sprint 2017 in the Endocode offices in Berlin, just a couple of days before the Qt World Summit, which was actually my first KDE Edu sprint (if you do not count Randa 2014). It was great as always to meet other KDE developers working on educational projects and I think we got a lot of work done.

        While my primary focus going into the sprint was to work on macro support in Kig (there were many open bugs regarding macros), Aleix Pol’s initial remarks helped me realize it was better to “take advantage of the fact that we were all at one place, and work on things you cannot do back home” so I decided to see what others were doing and try to help with that as well. Since Sandro Andrade was working on testing KDE Edu builds in Windows using Craft and I had been working on generating Craft recipes from Portage ebuilds, I finished a script that translates portage ebuilds from Gentoo’s Portage tree into Craft recipes. This will automate low-hanging fruits like applications that basically only depend on KDE frameworks and Qt5 libraries. I committed this script to the development scripts repository in case someone finds them useful. It is a very experimental script so you are welcome to improve it!

  • Distributions
    • The developers of Solus are hoping to improve Linux gaming with snaps and their Linux Steam Integration

      The Solus distribution [Official Site] developers are a clever bunch, with their Linux Steam Integration [GitHub] software package and snaps, they are hoping to “relieve the pressure on distributions for supporting gaming”.

      When I say snaps, I’m talking the snap package system, specifically from version 2.28 onwards which supports something called “base” snaps. You can read more about the idea behind base snaps here.

    • Gentoo Family
      • Gentoo Linux listed RethinkDB’s website

        The rethinkdb‘s website has (finally) been updated and Gentoo Linux is now listed on the installation page!

        Meanwhile, we have bumped the ebuild to version 2.3.6 with fixes for building on gcc-6 thanks to Peter Levine who kindly proposed a nice PR on github.

    • Slackware Family
      • Updates for LibreOffice, Pale Moon, Flash

        The LibreOffice packages were uploaded to my repository last Friday, so you probably already have that installed. Never hurts to mention it for those people who did not subscribe to my RSS feed.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Alibaba Cloud, Red Hat look to boost flexibility with open source

        Alibaba Cloud customers will soon be able to harness the power and flexibility of Red Hat’s open source solutions following a tie-up between the two companies.

        The tie-up will see Alibaba Cloud join the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program, joining a host of other big name tech companies who offer Red Hat-tested and validated solutions.

      • Alibaba Cloud to offer, host Red Hat software

        Chinese internet giant has joined Red Hat’s cloud partner ecosystem and will offer the latter’s open source products to Alibaba Cloud customers as well as host Red Hat customers on its cloud platform.

      • Alibaba Cloud to offer Red Hat open source

        Alibaba Cloud has joined the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider Program, the tech giant has announced. Through the partnership, Alibaba cloud will offer Red Hat open source solutions to Alibaba’s global customer base.

      • China’s Alibaba and U.S.-Based Red Hat Ink Global Software Deal

        Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and cloud computing giant, will start selling Red Hat’s business software globally, the two companies said late Wednesday.

        Many Fortune 500 companies run Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating systems on their own servers. They may also opt to run it on third-party cloud data centers run by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft msft , or Google goog because Red Hat already has formal ties to those three companies. Now, Red Hat is also allied with Alibaba and its Aliyun cloud.

        Red Hat rht Linux and other Red Hat business software will be available from Alibaba’s cloud within months, the two companies said. The news was announced at an Alibaba tech conference in Hangzhou, China.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • What’s New Going To Be In Fedora 27

          ​To the delight of its users, the team of developers in charge of the Fedora project officially announced the availability of the beta version of Fedora 27. This new version, which incorporates several important innovations, is distinguished mainly by the absence of an alpha version. However, the Fedora team points out that significant efforts have been made to make this intermediate step unnecessary and to provide a quality product.

        • AAC support will be available in Fedora Workstation 27!

          So I am really happy to announce another major codec addition to Fedora Workstation 27 namely the addition of the codec called AAC. As you might have seen from Tom Callaways announcement this has just been cleared for inclusion in Fedora.

          For those not well versed in the arcane lore of audio codecs AAC is the codec used for things like iTunes and is found in a lot of general media files online. AAC stands for Advanced Audio Coding and was created by the MPEG working group as the successor to mp3. Especially due to Apple embracing the format there is a lot of files out there using it and thus we wanted to support it in Fedora too.

        • Fedora Linux Can Finally Offer AAC Audio Codec Support

          Fedora is now able to bundle and offer a specific AAC audio codec implementation as a package for its Linux distribution.

          With Fedora always striving for free software and ensuring its legal state is in order due to Red Hat’s control, it was only earlier this year Fedora was legally allowed to begin offering full MP3 support for both decode/encode along with AC3 support while last year it received H.264 support. The latest multimedia expansion for Fedora is now being able to distribute an AAC codec.

        • Fedora 27 bekommt Support für AAC [Ed: in German]
        • Taking Stock, Making Plans.

          When I got started contributing to open source communities it was with the Fedora Project and specifically the Docs team. I have not been anywhere near as active with Fedora lately and I miss it. I still consider myself an active Ambassador with each class I teach but I have not really contributed through content or formal activities lately. I am actually looking for a new challenge though, rather than returning to an old stomping ground, and probably with a smaller project. I dabbled in an Apache Hadoop ecosystem project for a bit and I still follow that mailing list but I never really got into that community. Melding open source and security is ideal, though I have really enjoyed the past year where I jumped into automation with Ansible and containers with OpenShift. The search continues.

        • PHP version 7.0.25RC1 and 7.1.11RC1
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • ExTiX 17.8 “The Ultimate Linux System” Is First Distro Based on Ubuntu 17.10

          GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton recently released a new version of his ExTiX Linux distro, which he dubs as “the Ultimate Linux System,” based on Ubuntu 17.10 and Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch.”

          Tagged as Build 171012, ExTiX 17.8 is the most recent update of the GNU/Linux distribution, which appears to be the first to be based on Canonical’s upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, but also borrowing some packages from the repositories of Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” OS.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark Enters Final Freeze — Final Release On October 19th

            The last big milestone in Ubuntu 17.10 development process was the release of Beta 2 that witnessed the participation of Ubuntu’s flagship edition which now ships with GNOME desktop environment. In a way, it was the first chance to try the new and polished features.

            “Adam Conrad, on behalf of the Ubuntu Release Team is pleased to announce that artful has entered the Final Freeze period in preparation for the final release of Ubuntu 17.10 next week,” the Ubuntu Fridge announcement reads.

          • Artful Aardvark (17.10) Final Freeze

            Adam Conrad, on behalf of the Ubuntu Release Team is pleased to announce that artful has entered the Final Freeze period in preparation for the final release of Ubuntu 17.10 next week.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Is Now in Final Freeze, Launches October 19

            The Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) GNU/Linux operating system is only six days apart and, according to the release schedule, it just entered Final Freeze development stage on Thursday, October 12, 2017.

            Work on Ubuntu 17.10 begun six months ago, on April 20, when the toolchain was uploaded to the repository, with the main goal of replacing our beloved Unity user interface with the latest GNOME 3 desktop environment. Two Alpha and Beta milestones later, Ubuntu 17.10 is now officially in Final Freeze stage.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • Rugged i.MX6 touch-panel has optional Nimbelink and supercap backup

      Technologic’s open-source, 7-inch “TS-TPC-7990” panel PC runs Linux on an i.MX6, and offers optional WiFi, BT, Nimbelink, supercap, and cabinet.

      The TS-TPC-7990 touch panel is designed for HMI applications like industrial automation, medical, automotive, self-service kiosks, and retail point-of-sale terminals. The panel PC is built around NXP’s tried-and-true i.MX6 SoC in either single-core Solo or quad-core Quad Cortex-A9 models. It uses a custom mainboard instead of Technologic’s new i.MX6 based TS-7970 SBC or TS-4900 COM.

    • New SODIMM-style COM standard to debut on an Allwinner A20 based module

      Olimex unveiled a new “SOM204” form factor for computer-on-modules and previewed an open spec, Allwinner A20 based “A20-SOM204” COM built in the new format.

      Last week Olimex announced it was standardizing all future computer-on-modules on a new “SOM204” form factor with an 204-pin SODIMM edge connector. It also previewed the first SOM204 module: the “A20-SOM204,” based on the Allwinner A20 SoC. The module will ship in November with an evaluation board at prices comparable to that of the company’s earlier A20-SOM, says Olimex. Schematics for the A20-SOM204 COM and A20-EVB204 carrier board are already available for free download.

    • A new nerd phone promises true, open Linux and security

      Like the computer the new smartphone, called Librem 5, runs PureOS, a Linux-based operating system. Purism markets the phone as the truly pure GNU+Linux-based smartphone product.

      While Android is based on Linux too, PureOS is based on GNU free software and Debian Linux distribution and is entirely open source. This means that Librem 5 owners can, for example, change the Linux distribution to something else if they don’t like PureOS.

    • Noted in Passing: Microsoft Smartphone OS Platform Passed Away

      Oh. One more bit. I was the first to also tell you that Google won the battle of the century for the OS of all high tech – when Android was passing Windows (all devices, not just smartphones, but PCs included). Nobody else told you that either. It is now becoming apparent to many experts that Google owns the tech world via Android. Who told you first? The dude who saw how Windows was truly collapsing and that iOS was never a threat to Google’s world domination plans. Yeah, we’ll return to those issues in coming years no doubt. Goodbye Windows smartphones and by darn it, good riddance too! Ballmer gone. Elop gone. Lumia gone. Windows smartphone OS gone. Now when can we see Microsoft the company gone too, please, next?

    • Raspberry Pi 7″ Touch Panel, SiI9234 To Be Supported By Linux 4.15

      Daniel Vetter has sent in the latest feature pull request of new drm-misc-next material for staging in DRM-Next ahead of the Linux 4.15 kernel cycle.

      This latest batch of miscellaneous Direct Rendering Manager updates include continued core work around atomic mode-setting, HDMI CEC control support for the adv7511 driver, remote control support for the sii8620 driver, improved HDMI and A31 chip support in the Sun4i DRM driver, and some new driver activity too.

    • Top 10 Open Source Linux Robots

      Back in 2014, we struggled to fill out our top 10 roundup of Linux-based robots and padded the list with conceptually similar autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In addition, many of those robots were proprietary or open source only on the software side. Today, however, it’s easy to fill out a top 10 list of Linux-based terrestrial robots that are open source in both software and hardware. In fact, we were forced to leave a number of worthy projects waiting in the wings.

      The latest open source Linux robot to hit the scene — the Turtle Rover — won funding on Indiegogo only last week. This four-wheeled bot, which is larger and more sophisticated than typical wheeled robots like the popular, dual-wheeled GoPiGo, was designed to mimic Martian rovers. Another major player here is the recently rev’d, dual-wheeled TurtleBot 3.

      Like most of our entries, these models are wheeled robots built around the Raspberry Pi. With the advent of the quad-core, WiFi-enabled RPi 3 model, we’ve seen far more advanced, and sometimes semi-autonomous Pi-based robots, in addition to the numerous RPi-based toy designs of recent years. Other SBCs have also inspired robot designs, especially the BeagleBone and BeagleBone Blue, which is especially suitable for robotics projects.

      While open source hacker boards have expanded Linux robot development in recent years, a larger influence is the optimization of Linux platforms such as Ubuntu for interaction with the open source Robot Operating System (ROS) middleware. A number of our top 10 robots include ROS integration.

    • Linux-friendly embedded PC pours on the PoE

      Aaeon’s rugged “Boxer-6639M” industrial PC supports 6th or 7th Generation Intel CPUs and provides 8x USB, 6x RS-232/422/485, 3x GbE, and 4x PoE ports.

      Over the last year, Aaeon has spun off a number of similar versions of its fanless, Linux-ready Boxer-6xxx line of fanless industrial PCs. The new Boxer-6639M is so similar to last year’s Boxer-6639 and the recent Boxer-6839 that it seems it could just as easily have been an optional SKU to either instead of a separate product. The new model does have one unique superpower, however: 4x 802.3at-compliant GbE PoE ports for up to 80W Power-over-Ethernet, which join the existing 3x standard GbE ports.

    • Android
Free Software/Open Source
  • 10 open source alternatives to Minecraft

    There’s no denying that Minecraft is a favorite game for millions. And being written in Java enables it to run on a variety of platforms, including Linux. With a huge modding community, there are countless Minecraft tinkerers out there who would love to be able to get under the hood and play around with the source code themselves. Unfortunately, the source is not available to the general public.

    But there’s good news. Minecraft’s popularity has led to many attempts to recreate the game, and others in a similar vein, as open source software. Interested in a free Minecraft alternative? Here’s a quick look at some clones and derivatives out there that you really ought to check out.

  • Open source sets sights on killing WhatsApp and Slack

    Exclusive The company that writes the open-source software for three-quarters of the world’s Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) email servers has a plan that could kill off proprietary chat services like Facebook’s WhatsApp. And that means you, too, Slack.

    German open-source software-as-a-service operation Open-Xchange acquired the IMAP developer Dovecot three years ago, and announced today at the OX Summit in Brussels that it wants to integrate chat into the bundle.

  • SUSE spreads the open source message – through videos

    German Linux company SUSE Linux is well-known for its Linux and other open source solutions. It is also known for producing videos for geeks and debuting them at its annual SUSECon conference.

    This year, in Prague, was no different. The company, which marked its 25th year on 2 September, came up with two videos, one to mark the occasion and the other all about Linux and open source.

  • What is Open Source? [iophk: "actively avoids mentioning GNU or Free Software"]

    Open source technology has been around for decades. Driven by passionate developers and engineers, the open source movement is a hotbed of innovation and collaboration – but what does ‘open source’ actually mean?

    ‘Open source’ as a term is most commonly used to refer to software where the creators have made the source code freely available online. Anyone is free to view, download, use and even modify it. This has led to thriving communities on code-hosting sites like Github, where devs contribute to each others’ work, joining forces to build and improve applications on their own time.

  • ‘Most open source software coders on GitHub from product firms’

    Notwithstanding that ITes companies have the highest number of software engineers, major contribution towards open source code writing is made by developers in product firms such as Amazon, while services firms like TCS and Cognizant are fast catching up, says a survey.

    According to a survey by talent acquisition start-up Belong, Amazon had the highest number of registered users on Github, followed by Cognizant, TCS and Microsoft.

    The survey covered 75,000 Indian engineers that have a presence on GitHub — one of the largest communities where software developers host and review code.

  • 6 reasons open source is good for business

    This also makes compliance easier; with proprietary software, you have harsh compliance clauses with large fines. Worse is what happens with some open core products that ship as a mix of GPL and proprietary software; these can breach a license and put customers at risk. And, as Gartner points out, an open core model means you get none of the benefits of open source. A pure open source licensed product avoids all these issues. Instead, you have just one compliance rule: If you make modifications to the code (not configuration, logos, or anything like that), you have to share them with those you distribute the software to if they ask.

    Clearly open source is the better option. It is easier to pick the right vendor (with whom you won’t be stuck), plus you benefit from more security, a stronger focus on customers, and better support. And finally, you’ll know you’re on legally safe footing.

  • ONAP and MEF Join Each Others’ Groups, Collaborate on LSO

    MEF and the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) are officially working together, the organizations announced today at the SDN and NFV World Congress. MEF has joined ONAP as an associate member. And the Linux Foundation, which hosts ONAP, has joined MEF as an auditing member.

  • MEF joins ONAP to accelerate open source virtualisation

    A trade body counting Orange and Telefónica as members has joined the Linux Foundation’s Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) project to use open source approaches in virtualisation.

  • Best open source inventory management software 2017

    Stock control or inventory management is the process of specifying and quantifying the shape and percentage of goods you hold in stock. By knowing what you have, and where, you can save money and improve your service to customers.

    There is myriad free software to choose from, many of which are free to use and totally open source. We have highlighted 13 that are worth considering for your business.

    For more free software, see our free software downloads. See all of our IT Business tutorials.

  • Why use open source tools for containerized apps?

    the engine that powers the modern containerization movement that’s sweeping across application development. Today, let’s take a look at the top three open source tools that are essential to building containerized apps.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • Call for help: fund GIMP development and Libre animation

      Too long, didn’t read? In a few words: our GIMP development + ZeMarmot production is currently funded barely above 400 € per month, this doesn’t pay the bills, my main computer broke today and Aryeom’s graphics tablet has been working badly for some time now. We are a bit bummed out.

  • BSD
    • pfSense 2.4.0-RELEASE Now Available!

      We are excited to announce the release of pfSense® software version 2.4, now available for new installations and upgrades!

      pfSense software version 2.4.0 was a herculean effort! It is the culmination of 18 months of hard work by Netgate and community contributors, with over 290 items resolved. According to git, 671 files were changed with a total 1651680 lines added, and 185727 lines deleted. Most of those added lines are from translated strings for multiple language support!

      pfSense 2.4.0-RELEASE updates and installation images are available now!

    • pfSense 2.4 Released, Rebased To FreeBSD 11.1 & New Installer

      There’s a new version available of pfSense, the popular BSD-based operating system common to network appliances / firewalls / routers.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Programming/Development
    • A Look at PyCharm Python IDE for Linux

      Python is one of the most amazing languages one can learn to code. Python is very simple to learn when compared to some other languages out there, but yet, it’s still very powerful, and is one of the most widely used languages for some programs and websites you may not even know used it, such as:

    • Announcing Rust 1.21

      The Rust team is happy to announce the latest version of Rust, 1.21.0. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

    • Rust 1.21 Released With Minor Updates

      For fans of the Rust “safe, concurrent, practical systems language”, the Rust 1.21 update is available today with some modest updates and additions.

    • 15 Top Programming Languages Used By Coders On GitHub

      Learning new skills can be helpful if you are looking to change careers. In case you end up learning a skill that’s in heavy demand, it turns out to be something that brings immense benefits and stay with you lifelong. In case you’re a programmer, learning a new programming language helps you expand your career opportunities. One also needs to have the knowledge of top programming languages to make correct choices.

    • “The Future Of Coding Is No Coding At All” — Did GitHub CEO Predict Traditional Programming’s Death?

      GitHub, also called “Facebook for Programmers,” has completed a decade this year. Today, it has become a go-to place for developers to share their code with others, indulge in collaborative approaches, etc. It’s now home to 24 million total users and 1.5 million organization.

      At the company’s annual GitHub Universe user conference, company’s CEO Chris Wanstrath made his final keynote address on Wednesday. Earlier in August, he announced that he’d step down as company’s CEO as soon as a worthy replacement is found.

    • GitHub Streak: Round Four
    • The Basics of Consuming REST APIs

      APIs are becoming a very popular and a must-know if you are any type of developer. But, what is an API? API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is a way to get one software application to talk to another software application. In this article, I’ll go over the basics of what they are and why to use them.

      Nom Nom Nom! I happened to be snacking on chips while trying to think of a name for my REST API talk coming up at APIStrat in Portland. Similarly, the act of consuming or using a REST API means to eat it all up. In context, it means to eat it, swallow it, and digest it — leaving any others in the pile exposed. Sounds yummy, right?

Leftovers
  • The designer of the iPhone worries that his grandkids will think he’s the guy who ‘destroyed society’

    But this success has come with “unintended consequences,” Fadell said, like the way social platforms so relentlessly hijack our minds. Users would obviously love to have free things, he added, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest want to make money. The user isn’t the customer for these services—it’s Coca Cola, Nike, or whoever is buying ads targeted at you.

  • Real Life Soccer Player Besieged By Requests To Play For Foreign Team Due To Video Game Error

    Video games have been steadily becoming more realistic since their first creation. Conversations about this progress has mostly centered around graphical enhancements and tech such as virtual reality that strive to better immerse the player in the fictional world in which they play. But graphical and visual enhancements aren’t the only form of realism in which video games have progressed. More unsung have been the enhancements in pure data and detail in these games. For this type of progress, one need only look to management-style simulations games, such as those of the sports realm. In games centered on managing sports franchises, the depth of detail that has emerged has become somewhat breathtaking. Baseball sims, such as the excellent Out of the Park series, are an example of this as is the equally deep Football Manager series for soccer fans.

  • How the University of New Hampshire spun blowing a frugal librarian’s donation on a stupid football scoreboard

    In September 2016, we learned that the University of New Hampshire was going to use $1 million that an incredibly frugal librarian saved while working as a library cataloger for 50 years to buy a new scoreboard for its stadium.

    Now, an enraging investigative piece by Craig Fehrman in Deadspin reveals how the university cynically planned to spin its decision to blow $1m of this librarian’s generous gift on a useless frippery for its ill-starred football team while only directing $100k of his donation to the library he loved.

  • Hardware
    • Intel Takes First Steps To Universal Quantum Computing

      Someone is going to commercialize a general purpose, universal quantum computer first, and Intel wants to be the first. So does Google. So does IBM. And D-Wave is pretty sure it already has done this, even if many academics and a slew of upstart competitors don’t agree. What we can all agree on is that there is a very long road ahead in the development of quantum computing, and it will be a costly endeavor that could nonetheless help solve some intractable problems.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Cancer Group Recommendations To Ensure Medicines Access In South Africa Draft IP Policy

      A US cancer group has provided a series of recommendations to the South African government on ways to improve the country’s draft national intellectual property policy, including greater transparency, voluntary licensing, and the use of compulsory licences.

      The Union of Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT) wrote a letter to the South African Minister of Trade and Industry raising concerns about the South African draft national policy on intellectual property.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Sound of mystery attacks in Cuba released. It’s as obnoxious as you’d expect

      On Thursday, the Associated Press released the first audio recording of the sound that some diplomats say they heard during mystery attacks in Havana, Cuba. Those attacks have so far left 22 Americans with a puzzling range of symptoms, from brain injuries to hearing loss.

    • Trump Threatens NBC License over Nuclear Weapons Report

      President Trump has threatened to retaliate against NBC, following NBC’s report that Trump is seeking a tenfold increase in the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” The federal government licenses television airwaves through the FCC. Trump went on to tweet, “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” The threats drew immediate concerns Trump is undermining the First Amendment. This is constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams.

    • U.S.-Led Coalition Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Civilians in Raqqa, Syria

      In Syria, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Raqqa said Wednesday it will not accept a negotiated withdrawal to end the fighting in the northeastern Syrian city that was once ISIS’s de facto capital. Thousands of civilians remain trapped in the 2.5 square miles still controlled by ISIS. Activists say more than 1,000 civilians have already been killed since the U.S.-led offensive to seize control of the city began in June. The journalistic monitoring group Airwars says dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed in the last week, including in a barrage of airstrikes on October 6, which reportedly collapsed a number of apartment buildings, killing up to 40 people. Meanwhile, in eastern Syria, tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced by fighting against ISIS in Deir ez-Zor. This is Alaa, speaking from a makeshift refugee camp.

  • Finance
    • End of the road: will automation put an end to the American trucker?

      America’s 2 million truckers have long been mythologised in popular culture. But self-driving trucks are set to lay waste to one of the country’s most beloved jobs – and the fallout could be huge

    • Bitcoin surges above $5,000

      The rise is remarkable because there has been quite a bit of unfavorable news about Bitcoin in recent weeks. China, one of the biggest markets for Bitcoin, is shutting down trading. The Bitcoin community faces ongoing acrimony over how to scale the Bitcoin network. A contentious fork split the Bitcoin network in two in August, and there might be another schism in the Bitcoin community come November.

    • Wall Street Analyst Bernstein: Bitcoin Is a ‘Censorship Resistant Asset Class’
    • Brexit has made the UK the sick man of Europe once more

      Though it didn’t feel like it at the time, the years preceding 2017 now resemble an economic golden age for the UK. After the damage imposed by the financial crisis and excessive austerity, Britain recovered to become the fastest growing G7 country. Real earnings finally rose as wages increased and inflation fell (income per person grew by 3.5 per cent in 2015).

      And then the Brexit vote happened. Though the immediate recession that the Treasury and others forecast did not materialise, the UK has already paid a significant price. Having previously been the fastest growing G7 country, Britain is now the slowest. Real earnings are again in decline owing to the inflationary spike caused by the pound’s depreciation (the UK has the lowest growth and the highest inflation – stagflation – of any major EU economy). Firms have delayed investment for fear of future chaos and consumer confidence has plummeted. EU negotiator Michel Barner’s warning of a “very disturbing” deadlock in the Brexit talks reflects and reinforces all of these maladies.

    • Homelessness has surged for seven years. And it’s clear who’s to blame

      From the knuckles upwards, at least three of his fingers were missing. Frostbite last winter, he said. Some of his toes had gone too. Someone had found him unconscious with hypothermia, and he had spent months in hospital before once again living on the street. He said he needed £17 for a one-night stay in a hostel: I gave him a fiver and some cigarettes, and we talked some more.

    • David Davis faces legal threat over secret reports on Brexit impact

      David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has been threatened with legal action over his refusal to publish 50 secret studies commissioned on the impact of Brexit.

      Lawyers acting for the Good Law Project, which is bringing the action jointly with the Green party MEP Molly Scott Cato, wrote to the Brexit department and Treasury on Thursday demanding the release of the documents. They said that failure to do so within 14 days would result in the issue of judicial review proceedings before the high court in an attempt to force their release.

      The 50 studies into the impact of Brexit on different industries were commissioned earlier this year but the government has argued that publishing them could damage the UK’s negotiating position with Brussels.

      Jolyon Maugham QC, who runs the GLP, said he would not bring the case without believing it had “good, serious prospects” of succeeding. He said he had received legal advice that the government may have a duty under common law to publish the studies into the potential impact on jobs and living standards.

      “It seems to me the government’s reluctance to release these studies is born not of its ability to damage our negotiating position but what’s politically expedient,” he said.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook apologizes for allowing Russian ads to interfere with 2016 campaign

      A top Facebook executive said Thursday that the company regrets how Russian influence on the social network played out in the run-up to last year’s presidential election.

    • How Gore, Kerry and Clinton Put Trump in the White House

      Amidst the hellish chaos of the Donald Trump catastrophe, it’s more essential than ever to understand how he got into the White House and who put him there. Then we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

      In her recent blame-everybody-else-while-doing-nothing screed, “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton fingers James Comey, the Russians and Bernie Sanders.

      But, in fact, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry put this madman in office.

      This trio of multi-millionaire corporate Democrats won the presidential races of 2000, 2004 and 2016. Then they lay down, said hardly a word and did even less as they let George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump rule the land.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook ad ban over nude artwork shocks women’s not-for-profit

      The Victorian Women’s Trust, a not-for-profit organisation that supports women and girls through research and advocacy, has been banned by Facebook from advertising a tote bag for sale as part of a fundraising drive.

    • No surrender in the new free‑speech wars

      America’s commitment to freedom of speech, embodied in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, is under increasing pressure everywhere from liberal university campuses to the White House. Now even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) appears torn over which side it should be on in the new free-speech wars.

      The ACLU has long been a beacon of liberty in the Western world, whose commitment to free speech for all puts to shame pallid imitators such as the UK’s misnamed Liberty lobby group. If the ACLU joins the retreat from an absolute defence of free speech, then…

      The trouble centres on the ACLU’s defence of free-speech rights for the ‘alt-right’ and neo-Nazis, most notably around the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended with an anti-fascist protester being run down and killed.

    • Twitter Suspends Rose McGowan’s Account

      Rose McGowan had a hold placed on her Twitter account Wednesday night, an act that quickly sparked outrage among the many users who have been following her posts ever since news first broke of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

      [...]

      She added a screenshot from a message from Twitter telling her that she had violated their terms of service and she would be locked out for 12 hours once she deleted certain tweets. She posted the message late Wednesday night.

    • Rose McGowan Says Twitter Blocked Her After Weinstein Claims
    • Interview: Ai Weiwei on Human Flow, Activist Art, and Political Censorship

      “It’s going to be a big challenge to recognize that the world is shrinking.” This quote comes toward the end of Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, a documentary built around intuitive contradictions: It’s a production of massive scale that, at the same time, is most intent on capturing the small details of the lives affected by the global refugee crisis. Ai understands that his images, of refugees wrapped in glimmering golden thermal blankets and boats invisible in the darkness but for a mass of orange life vests, represent the unfortunate but inescapable iconography of our time.

    • How Self-Censorship Feeds Extremism

      In a Columbus Day scandal for the ages, a measured but provocative essay reconsidering the evils of colonialism got the axe a month after its publication. First, critics of Portland State University political science professor Bruce Gilley’s “The Case for Colonialism” launched a 10,000-signature petition. Then, there were mass resignations from the board at the Third World Quarterly. Next, an apology from the author—and finally, what did it in, per the publisher: “serious and credible threats of personal violence…linked to the publication of this essay.” From whom, they don’t say.

    • Investment Fund Manager Tries To Bury Past Screwups With Sketchy Libel Suit Court Order

      More libel-related bullshittery happening on the internet. And, again, Eugene Volokh is on top of it. Between him, Paul Levy of Public Citizen, and Pissed Consumer, we’ve seen a huge amount of shady-to-completely-fraudulent behavior by lawyers and rep management firms exposed. This is more of the same, although it doesn’t appear anyone in the SEO business was involved.

      Jordan Wirsz is an investment manager with a problem. He’s previously gotten in trouble with state regulators for running investment schemes without a license. It’s not a huge problem, but it’s enough to make people think twice before trusting him with their money.

    • Rose McGowan blocked from Twitter after tweeting about Harvey Weinstein and Ben Affleck

      On the flip side of that support was her Twitter wrath toward Ben Affleck, who released a statement denouncing Weinstein this week. “You lie,” she said in one tweet, tagging the actor’s Twitter handle. McGowan has spent considerable time over the past few days calling out Affleck and other powerful individuals whom she believed had prior knowledge of Weinstein’s behavior.

      Overnight on Thursday, one of those tweets got McGowan temporarily suspended for the platform. The actress posted an image of a message she received from Twitter to her Instagram account:

    • Facebook advertising ban leaves not-for-profit ‘dumbfounded’
    • Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg criticizes Twitter over political ad censorship
    • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg criticizes Twitter’s censorship of Marsha Blackburn
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Man acquitted of felony charge over Facebook police parody page sues

      Anthony Novak alleges federal civil rights violations in the aftermath of his 2016 arrest by the police department of Parma, just south of Cleveland. The agency issued an advisory last year to citizens saying the page wasn’t real and that “the public should disregard any and all information posted on the fake Facebook account.”

    • Man sues city for free speech violation after escaping charges over ‘fake police’ Facebook page

      Parma police announced an investigation into the page the day it was created. Novak, 28, took the page down less than 12 hours after putting it up. Officers sent Facebook a letter requesting that the Menlo Park, California-based company shut the page down, and they issued a subpoena to obtain Novak’s identity.

    • Emails Show ICE Couldn’t Find Enough Dangerous Immigrants To Fulfill The Adminstration’s Fantasies

      When you’ve got an official narrative to deliver, you need everyone to pitch in to keep it from falling apart. No one can say ICE didn’t try. The Trump administration — bolstered by supporting statements conjecture from DOJ and DHS officials — has portrayed undocumented immigrants as little more than nomadic thugs. Unfortunately, there’s hardly any evidence available to back up the assertion that people here illegally are more likely to commit serious criminal acts.

      Back in February, shortly after Trump handed down immigration-focused executive orders, ICE went all in on arresting undocumented visitors and immigrants. Included in this push was a focus on so-called “sanctuary cities” like Austin, Texas, which had vowed to push back against Trump’s anti-immigrant actions.

    • How Top NBC Executives Quashed The Bombshell Harvey Weinstein Story

      In mid-August, Ronan Farrow, an NBC News contributor, had secured an interview with a woman who was willing to appear on camera, in silhouette, her identity concealed, and say Harvey Weinstein had raped her, according to four people with close knowledge of the reporting. It was a pivotal moment in a testy, months-long process of reporting a story that had bedeviled a generation of media and Hollywood reporters.

      Farrow had a lot of material already. In March, he had acquired a damning and much-coveted audio recording in which Weinstein admits to having groped an Italian model. He had interviews with former executives and assistants who’d worked closely with Weinstein who spoke about the culture of harassment and abuse he perpetrated. And now he had someone ready to accuse Weinstein of rape, on camera.

    • Weinstein Company Knew About Sexual Assault Payoffs for Two Years

      In Hollywood, new revelations about Harvey Weinstein have surfaced, showing his studio, Weinstein Company, knew for at least two years that he had been paying off women who accused him of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein has been fired from the company, as a slew of women have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Among his accusers are some of Hollywood’s top actresses: Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Rose McGowan. Many are now asking why Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance refused to prosecute Weinstein after he confessed to groping Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in an audio recording captured in a 2015 NYPD sting operation. One of Weinstein’s lawyers at the time donated $10,000 to Vance’s election campaign only days after Vance decided not to prosecute the case. We’ll have more on Harvey Weinstein after headlines.

    • The scientists persuading terrorists to spill their secrets

      In 2013, a British man was arrested for planning to kidnap and brutally murder a soldier. The suspect, who had a criminal history, had posted messages on social media in support of violent jihad. In a search of his residence, the police had found a bag containing a hammer, a kitchen knife and a map with the location of a nearby army barracks.

      Shortly after his arrest, the suspect was interviewed by a counter-terrorist police officer. The interviewer wanted him to provide an account of his plan, and to reveal with whom, if anyone, he has been conspiring. But the detainee – we will call him Diola – refused to divulge any information. Instead, he expounded grandiloquently on the evils of the British state for 42 minutes, with little interruption. When the interviewer attempted questions, Diola responded with scornful, finger-jabbing accusations of ignorance, naivety and moral weakness: “You don’t know how corrupt your own government is – and if you don’t care, then a curse upon you.”

      [...]

      The new interviewer does not answer directly, but something about his opening speech triggers a change in Diola’s demeanour. “On the day we arrested you,” he began, “I believe that you had the intention of killing a British soldier or police officer. I don’t know the details of what happened, why you may have felt it needed to happen, or what you wanted to achieve by doing this. Only you know these things Diola. If you are willing, you’ll tell me, and if you’re not, you won’t. I can’t force you to tell me – I don’t want to force you. I’d like you to help me understand. Would you tell me about what happened?” The interviewer opens up his notebook, and shows Diola the empty pages. “You see? I don’t even have a list of questions.”

      “That is beautiful,” Diola says. “Because you have treated me with consideration and respect, yes I will tell you now. But only to help you understand what is really happening in this country.”

    • An insider’s view of Guantánamo: conspiracy to torture

      For those who wonder why it’s taken the United States so long to get justice at Guantánamo’s war court, Mark Fallon, the former NCIS special agent entrusted to help build cases, offers an explanation in his frustratingly censored memoir, “Unjustifiable Means.”

      In short, the book subtitled “The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon and U.S. Government Conspired to Torture” makes the case that the U.S. military and spy agency contaminated some cases with interrogations that were untrustworthy and unprofessional, if not unlawful.

      The book will be available for purchase Oct. 24.

    • Australian Police Ran A Dark Web Child Porn Site For Eleven Months

      Thanks to an investigation by Norwegian newspaper VG, a long-running child porn operation by Australian police has been (inadvertently) uncovered. An IT specialist at VG was monitoring forum activity and only stumbled on law enforcement’s involvement on accident.

      In comparison to the FBI’s takeover of the Playpen site, the Taskforce Argos operation was epic. The FBI held onto the seized Playpen seizure for only a couple of weeks. The Australian police served as replacement administrators for eleven months.

      The government’s turn as child porn site administrators began with the arrest of two men in the United States, one of them a Canadian citizen. Both were apparently actively abusing children as well as running the dark web site. According to data gathered by investigators, Childs Play had more than a 1 million registered users by the time it was shut down. (Estimates suggest fewer than 5,000 accounts could be considered active, however.) Based on estimates from multiple countries now involved in the law enforcement action, the eleven-month hosting effort has resulted in nearly 1,000 suspects being identified. Some have already been arrested.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • ISPs don’t want to tell the FCC exactly where they offer Internet service

      The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether it should collect more accurate data about broadband deployment in the US, but cable and telecom lobby groups are urging the FCC to maintain the status quo.

      Currently, the FCC’s “Form 477″ data collection program requires Internet service providers to identify the census blocks in which they provide residential or business Internet service and the maximum speeds offered in each block. ISPs are also supposed to identify the census blocks that are near enough to their networks that they could provide service within a reasonable timeframe.

    • FCC chair “refused” to rebuke Trump over threat to take NBC off the air

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai still hasn’t publicly responded to President Trump’s call for NBC and other networks to have their FCC licenses challenged, and Democratic lawmakers are stepping up the pressure.

    • Comcast found a way to raise other cable companies’ prices, rivals say

      Comcast is increasingly making demands in TV programming contract negotiations that would force its smaller rivals to raise their minimum cable TV prices, a lobby group for small cable companies told the Federal Communications Commission yesterday.

      The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents nearly 800 small and medium-sized cable operators, asked the FCC to investigate the practice and prohibit it under its program access rules.

    • Groups Battle Trump FCC’s Claim That One ISP In A Market Means There’s Effective Competition

      While the lack of competition in residential broadband gets plenty of well-deserved attention, the business broadband market in the United States may be even worse. Just one of three companies (Verizon, AT&T, or CenturyLink) dominate what’s dubbed the business data services (BDS) market, which connects everything from cellular towers to ATMs to the broader internet. According to the FCC’s own data (pdf), 73% of the special access market is controlled by one ISP, 24% of markets usually “enjoy” duopoly control, and only a tiny fraction of markets have more than two choices of BDS providers.

    • DOJ Staffers: The T-Mobile Sprint Merger Will Reduce Competition And Should Be Blocked

      We’ve already noted how, despite some empty promises by Sprint and Japanese-owner Softbank, the company’s (second) attempted merger with T-Mobile will be a notable job killer. How bad will the damage be? At least one analyst predicts the total number of jobs lost could be more than the total number of people Sprint currently employs (around 28,000). Other analysts estimate the deal could kill something closer to 20,000 jobs, and even the most optimistic tallies put the job damage at somewhere closer to 10,000 lost positions — most of them either in retail (as duplicate stores are closed) or among redundant management positions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • The Pirate Bay Is Using Your CPU To Mine Cryptocurrency AGAIN — Here’s How To Block

        The Pirate Bay the first major website caught running crypto coin miner. Last month, it was found that the website was running a JavaScript-based miner that mined Monero digital coins using your CPU power.

        Back then, the miner was tested only briefly to find out the economic potential of mining. Now, the website has started mining again using the embedded code. This time, the miner runs through an ad script, instead of being embedded in website’s core code.

      • Internet Archives Liberates Old Books Using Never Used Before Provision Of Copyright Law

        Section 108 of copyright law doesn’t get very much attention (though, we did just mention it in regards to an archive of Howard Stern/Donald Trump interviews). It’s the part of the law that grants some fairly narrow exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives. In short, it was a recognition that libraries and archives are good and important things, and copyright law under the 1976 Copyright Act would basically make them illegal. Rather than fixing the fact that copyright law was too broad, Section 108 simply carved out a few important exceptions. Many of those exceptions are, unfortunately, under attack from all the usual sources.

        However Section 108 is important to protect until we fix wider problems with copyright law. Of course, some parts of 108 have rarely, if ever, been tested. The Internet Archive is looking to fix that. It just announced that it is making a bunch of books published between 1923 and 1941 available on the Archive. As you may know from the handy dandy public domain term chart at Cornell, thanks to the 1976 Copyright Act (and various extensions) tons of works that should have been in the public domain long before now have been locked up and unavailable. The key date is 1923. Works before that are clearly in the public domain. After that, it gets… fuzzy.

      • Popcorn Time Creator Readies BitTorrent & Blockchain-Powered Video Platform

        Popcorn Time creator Federico Abad is part of a new team prepping a BitTorrent and blockchain powered YouTube competitor. In just under two weeks time, Flixxo will begin its token sale, kicking off a platform that will reward users for both creating, producing, and distributing content using BitTorrent.

Truly Terrible ‘Journalism’ About António Campinos Boils Down to Lobbying and Agenda-Pushing

Friday 13th of October 2017 04:06:17 AM

FTI Consulting, which lobbies for the fracking industry, may still be working for Battistelli

Summary: The expectedly shallow coverage of the appointment (succession) of Battistelli’s French pick, which will likely change nothing of significance at the European Patent Office (EPO)

THE EPO will have a new President after 6 months in 2018. Does it mean much will change? We strongly doubt it. The EPO tweeted about it later on Thursday (yet again) and media coverage, as we noted on Thursday, had been appalling. We can’t help but wonder where these millions of euros in PR budget end up landing.

“We can’t help but wonder where these millions of euros in PR budget end up landing.”Not too shockingly, yesterday the EPO made the news again in relation to a former Portuguese colony (Brazil). Most sites took no note of it; nor did they mention anything about Angola (it was in the meeting, not in the media).

At the core of this failure of the media is an echo chamber effect. No outsiders asked. No opinions from anyone other than the choir.

“They’re no strangers and they can have a fluent chat in French (the mother of António Campinos is French, he was born in France and studied in France).”António Campinos was parachuted by Battistelli who had lobbied across Europe (mostly small nations) to shield ‘Battistellism’ at the EPO. Almost nobody bothered mentioning this.

Hours ago someone alerted us regarding this article, which is more of that echo chamber about António Campinos. This was soon cross-posted in other sites and it quotes people who are connected to small nations, including Željko Topić’s:

Director General`s Office of the Croatian Intellectual Property Office:

“We welcome the election of Mr Campinos as the next president of the EPO in an open and transparent procedure. His outstanding experience and results in leading the intellectual property organisations will surely provide further ambitious and dynamic development of the EPO in line with the needs and expectations of patent system stakeholders.”

It’s lots of these shallow quotes that we see everywhere. James Nurton (historically close to Battistelli) did the same thing and even US-based sites like Law 360 mentioned it (however shallowly). To quote: “Battistelli congratulated Campinos on his election by the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation in a statement released Wednesday.”

“Battistelli’s apologist Joff Wild has already used (or exploited) the news about António Campinos to do some UPC advocacy (Wild was paid by the EPO’s PR firm, FTI Consulting, for UPC promotion).”That’s like one friend congratulating another. They’re no strangers and they can have a fluent chat in French (the mother of António Campinos is French, he was born in France and studied in France).

Incidentally, the EPO mentioned less than a day ago that “San Marino, Monaco and Portugal help the Federated Register service to 21 countries…”

Monaco and Portugal. What an interesting new pair.

Anyway, the German media covered this too and there’s more discussion about it here (in German) among EPO people. They’re not exactly happy.

Battistelli’s apologist Joff Wild has already used (or exploited) the news about António Campinos to do some UPC advocacy (Wild was paid by the EPO’s PR firm for UPC promotion).

Here is the UPC part:

If that were not enough, there is also the small matter of the unitary patent regime to throw into the mix. Right now, we are in a holding pattern as we await promised UK ratification of the Unified Patent Court agreement and the resolution of a court case that is holding up Germany’s sign-off, but all things being equal by the time Campinos arrives in Munich both should be done and the UPC regime will either be up and running or on the verge of beginning. For the EPO that means the administration of a brand new right – the unitary patent – as well as handling all the complications that come with the UPC’s transitional provisions. There are bound to be major challenges, and the buck will stop at Campinos’s desk. All in all, then, there will be no gentle bedding-in process for the new president next year; he will have to hit the ground running.

Wild is far too optimistic about it. What he calls “promised UK ratification of the Unified Patent Court agreement” probably predates Jo Johnson and is now in serious jeopardy because of “hard Brexit” talks/prospects. Wild also trivialises a serious and potent constitutional challenge, referring to it as “court case that is holding up Germany’s sign-off” (as if it’s inevitable). But anyway, what else can be expected from IAM? It’s in bed with Battistelli.

“Wild also trivialises a serious and potent constitutional challenge, referring to it as “court case that is holding up Germany’s sign-off” (as if it’s inevitable).”Another curious report turned up yesterday with the headline “SUEPO willing to work with new EPO president” (which overstates the reality).

“Some of them have been doing it all the time with the old ones nonetheless,” one person remarked. Don’t expect Campinos to be very different; he’ll probably be like Kongstad, i.e. just keeping silent, complicit by apathy (to avoid confrontation/controversy). Campinos can be a ‘cute’ face for a French antipathy. SUEPO has no choice but to be diplomatic about it — that is to say, assume or hope for best of intentions/good faith. To quote the article:

The source close to SUEPO explained that the union would “like to see the end of a system based on the total distrust of all staff, this by a handful of top managers brought by Battistelli”.

“The EPO cannot continue to function by violating fundamental rights of its staff and disrespecting the rule of law. Anxiety and insecurity do not enhance sustainable business models,” the source said.

“SUEPO is professional. SUEPO looks forward not backward and hopes for better days where intelligence prevails over emotions, where the EPO is re-established as a respected international institution delivering the best patents for the public.”

The source commented: “Now António Campinos is elected. For him and all stakeholders (staff and the organisation) one can only wish for a better future.”

So please do notice that all the above is based on an anonymous “source close to SUEPO,” not SUEPO itself. They ought to correct their headline. But they won’t. Because patents-centric news sites (in this case, IP Pro Patents, which does marketing SPAM, as we shall show in the weekend) are not into journalism but into lobbying/agenda-pushing. Therein lies their business model. They’ll say anything to make Campinos look like an heroic knight in shining armour poised to salvage the EPO’s long-lost reputation.

Under Christoph Ernst, the Council is Just a Megaphone of Battistelli’s EPO, Including on Patent Quality

Friday 13th of October 2017 03:15:38 AM

A strong watchdog would say, “look, we have an issue here with quality…”

Summary: The Administrative Council of the EPO does not appear to be interested in a serious, adult, scientific debate about the quality of European Patents (EPs) and is instead relaying lies from Benoît Battistelli

IT’S sad to see the EPO failing to reform (or rather rehabilitate) itself even with some new leadership (Battistelli getting a new 'boss'). Earlier today the EPO published this. (epo.org link, which means clicks could, in theory, be tracked)

The statement is worrisome and Techrights will make a complete copy of it, just in case the EPO’s current site ceases to exist some time soon (as some insiders believe; when EPO people say that the EPO might cease to exist “soon” they mean in relative terms, like half a decade or a decade, perhaps following some sort of merger).

Here is the full text:

The Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation held its 153rd meeting in Munich on 10 and 11 October 2017 under the chairmanship of Christoph ERNST (DE).

A central issue was the election of the next President of the European Patent Office. A special Communiqué has been issued in this respect.

The Administrative Council noted the activities reports given respectively by its Chairman and by the President of the European Patent Office, Benoît BATTISTELLI. In the ensuing discussion on the latter, the Council praised again the Office and its staff for the excellent results achieved. It also took note of the first report of the President of the Boards of Appeal, following the reform adopted in 2016.

The Council further noted the oral reports from the chairpersons of its advisory bodies on their recent meetings: Boards of Appeal Committee, Supervisory Board of the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security, Supervisory Board of the EPO Academy, and Select Committee.

The Council then proceeded with a series of elections and appointments to its advisory bodies. In particular it elected Mr Lex Kaufhold Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee for 3 years, starting on 10 October 2017. The Council also decided on appointments and re-appointments to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, the Boards of Appeal and the Disciplinary Board of Appeal.

The Council carried out an exchange of views on the first ever Annual Report on Quality. It expressed its satisfaction both on the methodology developed and on the measured achievements.

In respect of legal affairs the Council authorised the President of the Office to renew the EPO-WIPO Agreement in relation to the functioning of the EPO as an International Searching Authority and as an International Preliminary Examining Authority under the PCT.

Turning to matters concerning the Reserve Funds for Pensions and Social Security (RFPSS), the Council reviewed the composition and competence profile of the RFPSS Supervisory Board and unanimously endorsed a revised governance.

At last, the Council held a thorough exchange of views on the Office’s social report for 2016, which comprehensiveness and transparency were most appreciated.

Council Secretariat

They cite that insulting “social report” (we wrote a lot about it) and there’s a lot more to be said about the rest of it. It’s like it was written with (or by) Team Battistelli. There’s no notion of real scrutiny or oversight. It’s just congratulatory and supine.

The part about patent quality has been debunked by The Register (“Annual Report on Quality” and some comments there in El Reg). To quote from this two-page article:

A row has broken out at the European Patent Office over the quality of its work.

The international organization’s big annual meeting in Munich this week has been overshadowed by a war of words between staff and the EPO’s president, Benoit Battistelli. Staff are warning that quality is falling in response to an aggressive effort by management to increase output and Battistelli is publicly disparaging his own staff in response.

In response to pointed criticism, Battistelli highlighted his team’s first ever annual quality report that showed very high levels of satisfaction as evidence that all was well at the organization. But at least one government subsequently picked apart that report by noting that it relies entirely on internal evaluations.

The row kicked off when the EPO’s staff representative dropped its typically diplomatic update to the EPO’s Administrative Council – made up of 38 European government representatives – and provided a caustic criticism of reforms efforts at the EPO, arguing that a push for ever-faster and greater numbers of patent approvals was leading to a drop in quality.

[...]

Battistelli was, predictably, furious. He has waged a long reform battle at the EPO that has seen the organization repeatedly pulled in front of the International Labor Organization, the courts and even the European Court of Human Rights. He has, however, retained the support of the majority of the Administrative Council by arguing that he is modernizing the EPO and – critically – that the number of patents is increasing while quality has been maintained or even improved.

Any suggestion that the reforms efforts are reducing the quality of patents would risk undermining that entire organization since it raises the likelihood that approved patents are then challenged and even defeated in court: every business’ worst nightmare.

Patent offices live or die (or perish, as governments can typically cushion for losses) based on patent quality. The EPO is dying, at least judging by quality and decline in applications. EPs lost their value. Workers are not happy. Experienced examiners are leaving. In short, Battistelli killed what existed and more or less worked (even if far from perfectly).

The comments section did not immediately attract much abuse, except against the author of the article (pretending patent quality was always or for over a decade been pretty poor). Having written about this for over a decade, I reject that supposition. EPs used to be pretty strong. That’s why it took a long time to process applications. See this leaked E-mail from the EPO's Roberto Vacca. No wonder patent quality collapsed.

As one commenter put it:

The EPA did have (still does?) a quality audit department which were independent examiners who controlled the actual output for quality – should it really have been granted etc. The figures e’re only for internal use and were disputed and massaged. But they weren’t good. BB never talks about them.

Yes, exactly. The next comment said that the EPO’s “assessment of quality [...] can be misleading [...] or even dangerous if you consider the opposite.” Watch what they’re measuring:

The distinction is an important one. It seems that the EPO include timeliness of delivery in its assessment of quality which can be misleading….or even dangerous if you consider the opposite. If a product is of lesser quality because it took longer to arrive then the extreme case could be that a European Patent may not be worth waiting for!

Earlier today the EPO wrote: “Is it possible to object to a particular application, either before or after it has been granted?”

Well, there’s far less opportunity to do that due to Battistelli’s so-called ‘reforms’, which seemed aimed at lowering patent quality to fake ‘production’.

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