Links 5/6/2013: Calligra 2.6.4 Released, Facebook Collapses

Posted in News Roundup at 3:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • ZorinOS – Gateway to Linux for Windows Users

    Linux currently has probably the largest selection of desktop environment options that any OS has ever had in their entire life. ZorinOS is yet another derivative of the popular Ubuntu Distro and is currently in Version 7. It is based on Ubuntu 13.04 thus offering the latest of what Ubuntu has to offer to the Linux community. But the look and feel is classic Windows 7.

  • 25 Lesser Known Facts About GNU/Linux

    Linux is not an OS, but it is the kernel, GNU Linux is the OS

  • Desktop

  • Server


      This ease of use was especially appreciated when the Banner student system was being deployed. No real standardised configuration and provisioning methodology exists for Oracle Real application Clusters (RaC) nodes. “as a team, we had to come up with a design that we could repeat for all RaC clusters within the infrastructure,” said Swaminathan.

  • Kernel Space

    • PulseAudio 4.0 – Better Performance Less Resources

      PulseAudio is a sound server that’s become quite popular in Linux distributions and has, in fact, replaced most other sound systems in recent years. It was a rough transition there for a while, but most of all that is over now. And today, PulseAudio 4.0 was released, a version which will soon begin to appear on our desktops. Arun Raghavan, PulseAudio developer and Collabora employee, in his announcement said, “this release brings a bunch of Bluetooth stability updates, better low latency handling, performance improvements, and a whole lot more.”

    • Linux Boot Process Chart
    • F2FS Patches Provide Support For Inline Data

      For potential merging in an upcoming Linux kernel release are new patches that allow storing small files as inline data for F2FS.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Core i7 4770K “Haswell” Benchmarks On Ubuntu Linux

        This past weekend I shared the first experiences of running Intel’s new Haswell CPU on Linux. While Intel Haswell is a beast and brings many new features and innovations to the new Core CPUs succeeding Ivy Bridge, there were a few shortcomings with the initial Linux support. It still appears that the Core i7 4770K is still being finicky at times for both the processor and graphics, but in this article are the first benchmarks. Up today are benchmarks of the Intel Core i7 4770K when running Ubuntu 13.04 with the Linux 3.10 kernel.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Snowlinux 4 arrives with frosty MATE and Cinnamon flavours

      The developers of Snowlinux have announced the latest release the Ubuntu-based version of their Linux distribution. Snowlinux 4 “Frosty” is based on Ubuntu 13.04 and is available with both MATE and Cinnamon desktops. The latest release of the distribution introduces Cinnamon 1.8, which debuted in the recently released Linux Mint 15, with features such as a new screen locking application and a redesigned control centre. Users who prefer the MATE environment can take advantage of the latest version of this desktop, MATE 1.6 from April.

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux developers warn of update problems

        The Arch Linux developers are warning users of problems they might encounter when updating their systems. The Arch maintainers are staging a merge of the distribution’s /bin, /sbin and /lib directories into the /usr directory that has already been undertaken in distributions such as Mageia and Fedora; openSUSE also moved its directories in a similar way with version 12.2 of its distribution last year. In contrast with these distributions, Arch operates on a rolling release system, which means that there is no “full release” in which the developers can make these changes. The developers therefore have to make the change in a regular update.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Upgraded by Ned Davis Research to “Neutral” (RHT)

        Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at TheStreet reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Red Hat in a research note to investors on Tuesday, May 28th. Separately, analysts at BMO Capital Markets downgraded shares of Red Hat from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research note to investors on Monday, May 20th. They now have a $54.00 price target on the stock, up previously from $52.57. They noted that the move was a valuation call.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Debian vs CentOS

        When it comes to setup web servers, or Internet servers (web, email and ftp) there is usually two GNU/Linux distributions that comes to mind, Debian and CentOS. Some people are starting to use Ubuntu server, but let’s focus on CentOS and Debian, as Ubuntu is a Debian derivative.

      • Debian Stable to track Firefox ESR
      • Debian Wheezy vs Intel 4965AGN: flop-flop

        Installing Debian may be a trivial task for someone.

      • Derivatives

        • Debian Edu interview: Cédric Boutillier

          It has been a while since my last English Debian Edu and Skolelinux interview last November. But the developers and translators are still pulling along to get the Wheezy based release out the door, and this time I managed to get an interview from one of the French translators in the project, Cédric Boutillier.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

            And here we go again. Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail was released almost a month ago and unlike previous releases, this has been more of a silent affair. Mainstream blogs and news websites didn’t cover much about the release. Ubuntu 13.04 is mostly an incrementally updated release and that could be the reason. But from a user-perspective, “Raring Ringtail” has a number of very important qualities, significant performance improvement being one of them. Leaving all that aside for now, lets discuss what all can be done to further enhance Ubuntu 13.04 for every-day use. 30 things to do after installing Ubuntu 13.04 raring Ringtail.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 319
          • Ubuntu Cloud: Canonical, Inktank Ceph Storage Partnership

            In a move that shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given the close collaboration between Canonical and Inktank—not to mention Mark Shuttleworth personally—around the open source Ceph storage system for Big Data and the cloud, the two companies on Monday announced a deal to provide full support for Ceph on Ubuntu. Here are the details, and what they mean for the channel.

          • Ubuntu Eon Superphone envisioned, could win fans

            We brought readers news about the Ubuntu operating system for mobiles back in January, developed by Canonical. Ubuntu for phones prompted the possibility of a Ubuntu superphone, and we heard that new Ubuntu smartphones could become available by October this year. Now we have a look at one such possible device with the Ubuntu Eon Superphone envisioned, and we reckon that if this phone ever came to fruition it could win fans.

          • Canonical’s free Ubuntu Operating System breathes life into old PCs

            This is a story of how a botched Windows 8 upgrade on an older Windows 7 notebook led me to try and discover the free Ubuntu OS.

            Like many users faced with an opportunity to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 with an early adopter discount, I jumped at the opportunity to move to the latest and greatest OS.

            My mistake was not backing up my Windows 7 system, which proved to be fatal when various errors led to a crashed system sometime after the OS was upgraded to Windows 8.

          • Ubuntu holds its own

            Ubuntu is a free operating system available for desktops, notebooks, phones, tablets, servers and even TVs. For the individual, it offers a simple, intuitive interface that can be customised on many levels. For the business user, Ubuntu offers access to legacy applications, remote management, and, with a full office suite, it eliminates the need for costly software licences. For a support fee, businesses can manage thousands of devices. Furthermore, it’s certified for hardware including Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba and HP, and for software including Centrify, Likewise and LibreOffice, among others.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source evangelist Atul Chitnis passes away
  • Tech World Mourns Death Of India’s Open Source Proponent Atul Chitnis
  • Atul Chitnis, champion of open source tech, dies
  • New RSS Feed Reader and Open Source Project, Newsline Pro, Announced by Fortunate Bear
  • Could open source experience land you a job?

    It’s that time of year. The weather is warming, summer is upon us, the school year is at its end—and many folks are celebrating graduation from their university. If you’re one of those people, congratulations! Now that you’ve completed your studies, you’re probably looking forward to the next big challenge: choosing a career path.

  • Checkbook NYC advances civic open source

    New York City Comptroller John Liu is about to do something we need to see more often in government. This week, his office is open sourcing the code behind Checkbook NYC, the citywide financial transparency site—but the open-sourcing itself is not what I’m referring to. After all, lots of governments open source code these days.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2014 dates announced

      The organisers of FOSDEM, Europe’s biggest open source and free software oriented conference, have announced the dates for the next instalment of the event. FOSDEM 2014 will take place over the weekend of 1 and 2 February 2014 at the Université Libre in Brussels. The organisers say that attendees “may also safely assume that there will be a beer event on Friday 31 January.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Epiphany 3.9.2 Drops Support for WebKit1, Embraces Wayland

      The Epiphany development team announced a few days ago that the unstable version 3.9.2 of the Epiphany web browser for the GNOME desktop environment is available for testing.

    • Mozilla

      • Foxconn taking Firefox OS to tablets, not just phones

        The Chinese electronics manufacturer plans multiple devices, including tablets and phones, as part of a strategy to supply software and services along with hardware.

      • Foxconn Jumps on Firefox OS Bandwagon

        The Firefox OS and browser are creating “an ecosystem where you truly can have anybody and everybody chip in,” said analyst Jeff Orr. The value of HTML5 devices brought out by organizations such as the Mozilla Foundation and the Linux Foundation is “not to overthrow Apple or Google; it’s in promoting interface standards that the larger companies may be holding back.”

      • Mozilla Prepares to Re-Invent Firefox with Australis Update
      • Foxconn Can Help Mozilla with its Major Mobile Evolution

        esterday, The Foxconn Technology Group announced at a press event in Taipei a wide-ranging partnership with Mozilla to develop devices based on the Firefox OS open platform, which has until now been primarily emphasized for use on phones (as shown here). We had reported on the likely of this partnership last week, and it does indeed look like Foxconn will produce tablets based on Firefox OS, although there aren’t many specifics about them. What’s really notable is that this partnership is one that could carry Mozilla forward into the next chapter of its evolution.

      • Firefox Redesign: What Is Australis? Mozilla’s New Browser Offers Clean, Simple Design & More Customization Options [PHOTOS & REPORT]

        A Firefox redesign project is currently underway at Mozilla, titled Australis. Firefox release channels should see the results of this new and exciting project starting with Nightly once it hits version 25 shortly. Then the usual release channels will be employed, but the stable channel will be held off on until the Mozilla team knows that everything is working smoothly – the stable channel probably won’t see Australis before October. A version of Firefox can be installed from Mozilla’s UX branch, available for testing in its current condition, but there is a risk of crashing and hard-drive depletion, according to TechCrunch.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • LPI partners with Big Data Cloud

      (Sacramento, CA, USA: June 4, 2013) The Linux Professional Institute, the world’s premier Linux certification organization, announced a partnership initiative with Big Data Cloud (http://www.bigdatacloud.com/) — a not-for-profit organization evangelizing the new technology movement regarding Big Data and the Cloud. The partnership initiative will promote events and other educational resources for LPI alumni on topics related to Big Data and the Cloud. Big Data Cloud hosts annual events and monthly meetups and has over 2700+ members. It is founded and operated by Third Eye Consulting Services & Solutions LLC (http://thirdeyecss.com/).

    • Waratek ships open source API for Java virtualisation

      Java virtualization and cloud specialists Waratek announced today the release of the Java Virtualization Interface (JVI) empowering developers to deliver customized Java virtualization solutions for their applications.

    • OpenStack Open Source Cloud Crosses 1000 Author Threshold

      There are a lot of different metrics to validate the health of an open source project. In my opinion, one of the most critical is the number of different code authors.

    • Cloudera Democratizes Apache Hadoop for Enterprise End Users With Open Source, Interactive Search
    • Apache CloudStack grows up

      On June 4th, the 4.1.0 release of the Apache CloudStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud orchestration platform arrived. This is the first major CloudStack release since its March 20th graduation from the Apache Incubator.

    • digiKam Software Collection 3.3.0-beta1 is out..

      With API discovery service and a new event framework the latest version of Apache CloudStack, version 4.1, is expanding its capabilities in managing and coordinating cloud infrastructures. The IaaS platform has, in its first release since the project graduated from the Apache Incubator in March, added a service which allows end points in the infrastructure to describe the APIs they support and their associated details. According to the documentation there are over 300 APIs in CloudStack and the discovery service is used by the CLI to generate up a DSL on demand for controlling nodes. Future plans include using it to orchestrate API deployment on the cloud.

  • Databases

    • Enterprise Big Data: Open Source Database PostgreSQL Grows in Popularity

      There may be no part of the channel in which open source is better positioned to dominate than Big Data. Not only are open source solutions such as Hadoop and Ceph enjoying huge popularity for building Big Data infrastructure, but open source relational database technologies are also proliferating among enterprises looking to cut software costs. Survey results released Tuesday by EnterpriseDB on PostgreSQL adoption show just how much that’s the case.

    • “Business Source” not in SkySQL’s MariaDB plans

      Patrik Sallner, CEO of SkySQL, has told The H that Michael “Monty” Widenius’s “Business Source” is not part of SkySQL’s plans for MariaDB. “It is by no means something that has been or will be applied to MariaDB, especially not the server”, Sallner told The H. SkySQL and Widenius’s Monty Program recently merged.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Features Coming To LibreOffice 4.1

      The LibreOffice 4.1 Beta has been available for one week now ahead of the official release coming by the end of July. For those curious about the features of this next major OpenOffice.org-fork successor, there are early release notes on the DocumentFoundation.org Wiki. To point out at this time is also a new blog post by Charles-H. Schulz, a LibreOffice developer, about the upcoming features.

  • CMS

    • WordPress Jetpack Plugin – An Overview

      A couple of years back we ran a series of articles on plugins we considered useful for running websites on the free and open source WordPress platform. Times change. Some of those plugins we still use. Some are no longer being developed. Others, we’ve had problems with and replaced. Along the way, we found some other plugins that offer new features as well. Anyway, we thought it was time to update you–especially those of you who might be contemplating cranking-up your first WordPress site.

  • Project Releases

    • Symfony 2.3 to be maintained for the next three years

      Symfony 2.3.0 is the first long-term-support (LTS) release of the PHP framework for web applications since the introduction of a formal release process. Version 2.3 will be maintained for the next three years through to May 2016, after which a new LTS version will be released. There will also be standard releases with new features every six months and these will be maintained for eight months.

    • Symfony 2.3.0, the first LTS, is now available
  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • SDL 2.0 Finally In Release Candidate Stage

      For those who missed it, the widely-used SDL library among commercial and open-source games is finally up to its version 2.0 release candidate. SDL2 has long been in development and as of last week the release is quite near.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Whatever happened to Google?

      Although Google continues to support a variety of open projects and people, Glyn Moody notes that, following recent changes to Google Code and Google Talk, concern is growing that something fundamental has changed.


  • Smart Move: New Asus Laptop Runs Windows 8 and Android
  • Wishful Thinking In Wintel: M$ Will Innovate…
  • New laptops and hybrids emerge as ‘fatbooks’ are kicked to the curb
  • Facebook’s Stock Is Back In Free Fall And Nobody Seems To Care

    Instead, Sandberg focused on Facebook’s growing user base and engagement, pointing to Facebook’s growth from 845 million to 1.1 billion users in the last year and the fact that 60% of those users return to Facebook each day as opposed to 58% one year ago.

  • Facebook Removes Downloads of Your Posts

    This post isn’t exactly about math, but it is technical in nature, so I figured I’d get it out there. As part of my regular data-backup process, I routinely download my information archives from whatever online presences I can, such as Facebook (which I’ve been on since early 2010), Google Blogger (this blog you’re reading right now), etc. Obviously on Facebook the thing that I’m most interested in is what I actually write, which are usually called “wall posts” (as opposed to photos or media, which I retain locally anyway). Once in a while I’ve found it very useful to pull up the downloaded posts file and search it for some particular bit of info, contact, or date. What I seem to have discovered is that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently and completely removed our ability to download that “wall posts” information.

    This first dawned on me the other day when I used the Facebook “Download Info” process (Gear icon > Account Settings > Download a copy of your Facebook data), and tried to search for a particular post. Well, the normal file was just entirely missing. You can see the difference below in the downloaded archive from March 2013 versus the download from June 2013. The file “wall.html” — which actually contains all of my posts and is by far the largest data file in the old archive — is missing from the new archive.

  • Science

    • TEPCO to use frozen contaminated soil to stop groundwater leakage

      The Japanese central government has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to freeze the contaminated soil that surrounds the damaged No.1 nuclear power station in Fukushima in an attempt to stop groundwater entering the reactor. The nuclear plant was damaged in the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 and has since suffered problems with groundwater becoming contaminated with radioactive substances when it enters the damaged reactor.

  • Security

    • How I used eog utility to pull off a small Linux exploit

      Back in 2012, after my article on Linux ELF Virus was published in Linux Journal, I was curious to come up with a trigger point for this virus. I mean what would compel a Linux user to execute it for the very first time? I thought about it many times but could not come up with something in a working state.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • UK and France claim Syrian attack victims have tested positive for sarin

      The British and French governments have said that medical samples smuggled out of Syria have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, and added that they have shown the evidence to a UN investigation.

    • Devices Linked To Alleged Chemical Weapon Attacks Captured By The Syrian Opposition

      Over the past few weeks I’ve been examining the evidence of chemical weapon use in Syria, and one key piece of evidence in at least two of the attacks, Saraqeb, Idlib, and Sheikh Maghsoud, Aleppo, has been the presence of what seems to be a unknown type of gas grenade at both attacks, later spotted with a Jabhat al-Nusra member

    • What Turkey reminds us about tear gas

      Over the past five days Turkey’s government has unleashed thousands of canisters, cartridges and helicopter drums of tear gas onto its people. This has resulted in hundreds of tear gas-related injuries. Protesters have been repeatedly shot directly and intentionally in the face with canisters, and in at least one instance this has caused permanent damage to the eye. On May 31, two journalists were hospitalized for head wounds from tear gas projectiles. Tear gas has also been fired into enclosed locations, a practice designed to torture and able to kill.

    • Social media and opposition to blame for protests, says Turkish PM

      Thousands of protesters have controlled Istanbul’s main square once more after two days of violent clashes with rampaging riot police, as Turkey’s prime minister vowed to press on with the controversial redevelopment that provoked the clashes.

    • Erdogan rejects ‘dictator’ claims

      Turkey’s prime minister on Sunday rejected claims that he is a “dictator,” dismissing protesters as an extremist fringe, even as thousands returned to the landmark Istanbul square that has become the site of the fiercest anti-government outburst in years.

      Over the past three days, protesters around the country have unleashed pent-up resentment against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who after 10 years in office many Turks see as an uncompromising figure with undue influence in every part of life.

    • Update: Was Pablo Neruda Murdered By a CIA Double Agent Working for Pinochet?

      New evidence shows that the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda may have been murdered by a CIA double agent, according to the Associated Press. The American agent was working for the CIA in Chile when he was recruited by DINA, Augusto Pinochet’s secret police.

    • CIA Releases Analyst’s Fascinating Tale of Cracking the Kryptos Sculpture
    • Studies in Intelligence: New Articles from The CIA’s In-House Journal

      Unofficial Intelligence Community Views on Assassinations, James Angleton’s ‘Monster Plot,’ Agent Protection, and More

    • Police to look into claims Scottish airports were used by CIA to transfer people on ‘rendition flights’

      AN academic study claims to have proof prisoners were flown to destinations, via a number of Scottish airports, before allegedly being tortured.

    • Zero Dark Thirty’s access to secret-keepers revealed

      An draft internal Pentagon report suggests that Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers revealed to filmmakers the name of a special operations planner who participated in the raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden even though the head of the Special Operations Command, Adm. Eric Olson, had specifically asked that the man’s name and the fact of his participation in the raid not be revealed.

    • The CIA Invests in Narrative Science and Its Automated Writers
    • The CIA Invests in Robot Writers

      The Obama administration may be shifting control of the country’s drone program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Pentagon, but robots can still find jobs at Langley — as writers, apparently.

      The CIA’s venture capital wing, In-Q-Tel, has invested an unknown amount in a company called Narrative Science, which codes software capable of turning massive data sets into easy-to-read written prose, according to All Things D.

    • Can Pakistan shoot down US drones?

      Waliur Rehman was one of the few TTP leaders who supported the idea of negotiating with Islamabad to bring an end to the civil-war like situation in the country. And he is not the only supporter of the dialogue process with the Pakistan army whom Washington has assassinated with drone strikes. Many of his like-minded contemporaries were killed in the same manner during the last nine years, shortly after they had struck some kind of peace deal with Pakistan’s army and government.

    • German Drone, Afghan Passenger Plane Near-Collision Shown In Terrifying Footage (VIDEO)

      Footage apparently recorded by a German drone shows what looks like a terrifying near-collision between the unmanned craft and an Afghan passenger plane.

    • Plurality supports targeted killings of U.S.-born terrorists living outside the country: poll

      In the letter, Mr. Holder said that the U.S. “specifically targeted” Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born preacher, during strikes in Yemen and listed the three other Americans who he said had been accidentally killed in the strikes: Samir Khan, Jude Kenan Mohammed and Abderrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, the targeted man’s son.

    • Stop drone attacks!

      Obama and the US government have consistently downplayed the use of drones and the havoc they cause, but in truth their use has grown exponentially during his presidency. It is yet to be seen if Obama’s most recent speech is any more genuine.

      Afghanistan is undoubtedly the epicentre of unmanned drone attacks, with 506 incidents in 2012 and no way to verify the number of civilian casualties accurately.

      In Pakistan there have been 369 since 2004, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that between 2,541 and 3,540 people have been killed, and that between 411 and 884 of those have been civilians.

    • A drone war over semantics

      In sum, after years of ideologically driven effort, Mr. Obama has failed to produce a practical — or politically viable — alternative to the Bush paradigm of the “global war on terrorism.” Instead, the tribunal system goes unused, indefinite detention continues, and suspected terrorists — even American ones — are killed without due process, or even the benefits of interrogation, enhanced or otherwise. Verbal acrobatics aside, suspending the use of the term hasn’t brought an end to the reality.

    • UK anti-drone activists arrested and charged after peaceful action

      Six peace activists, representing the group Disarm the Drones, have become the first in Britain to be arrested and charged for anti-drones related offences.

      The nonviolent peace activists managed to breach security at Britain’s top security drone control base in Lincoln.

      The six, who are Christian peace campaigners, planted a peace garden in RAF Waddington yesterday morning (3 June 2013).

      They also displayed images of the victims of drone attacks and may have located the precise place where UK attacks are programmed.

      The campaigners were detained for 24 hours overnight at Lincoln police station and held incommunicado for eight hours. Some of their homes have been raided by the police, with computers and other personal effects seized.

      There was an attempt to charge the anti-drone activists with Conspiracy and Intent to Trespass and Cause Criminal Damage. Due to a failure of process, the charge of Criminal Damage was levied instead.

    • Obama National Security Policy Wasn’t Bait And Switch, Journalist Says
    • Moving Towards the “Unmanned War”

      On Tuesday May 14th, the US military succeeded in launching a drone from an aircraft carrier off the coast of Virginia, marking a historical first. The aircraft, an “X-47B” produced by Northrop Grumman, is considered to be the first unmanned aircraft that is able to be launched from a ship. The prototype had a successful flight of around 65 minutes, and ultimately landed at a base in Maryland. This event represents another step towards the mass production of drones, which will considerably boost US military capabilities.

    • Page: Loose drone policy risks U.S. lives, too

      Could a president order drone strikes against journalists? I’m not worried. No, really. Not much.

      The broad sweep of our government’s counterterrorism policy on targeted killings by unmanned drones, coupled with the Justice Department’s new aggressiveness against media leaks, makes me wonder whether we journalists should watch our step.

    • Peace activists in Lincoln court after planting peace garden at RAF Waddington

      THIS MORNING six peace activists, representing “Disarm the Drones” will become the first activists in Britain to be arrested and charged for anti-drones related offences, they were kept over-night at Lincoln police station after they planted a peace garden in RAF Waddington yesterday morning, they’ve been charged with Conspiracy and Intent to Trespass and Cause Criminal Damage.

    • German defense chief under fire over drone program
    • This Memorial Day: Remembering 4,700 Killed by U.S. Drones

      Pick an X below and imagine a person. Then kill him. It is your right.

  • Cablegate

    • Bradley Manning on TV Network News

      So “trial of bin Laden accomplice begins” is really how they’re framing it?

    • Brian Williams Makes the Case for Putting NBC on Trial

      But giving classified information to the public is something that news outlets–including NBC News–routinely do, and each time they do it they too could be accused of “aiding the enemy.” For example, NBC’s Michael Isikoff reported on February 4 that a “confidential memo” produced by the Justice Department held that “the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be ‘senior operational leaders’ of Al-Qaeda or ‘an associated force’–even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.”

    • Constitutional Scholar Who Taught Obama Comes Out Against Bradley Manning Trial

      I know that some people have pre-convicted Manning, but the charges here are simply crazy. He’s already pled guilty to certain charges, but this trial focuses on whether or not he was “aiding the enemy,” which would require to show that he did this knowing that it would help Al-Qaida and [classified enemy]. The supposed “proof” of this is going to be the fact that Osama bin Laden apparently had Wikileaks documents in his compound in Pakistan. But that’s ridiculous. Under that theory, anyone reporting information that terrorists found useful would be guilty of violating the Espionage Act and could face the death penalty. As others in the article note, this would create a tremendous chill on investigative reporting.

    • Crowd-funded Stenographers Denied Press Passes to the Bradley Manning Court Martial

      About a month ago, Freedom of the Press Foundation launched a campaign to crowd-fund a court stenographer to provide transcripts of the unclassified portions of the Bradley Manning court martial, given that the military refuses to release transcripts of their own. On Thursday, we learned that all three of our media partners – the Guardian, the Verge, and Forbes – were denied the media passes they requested in order to allow court stenographers to accompany their reporters into the media tent. Each organization asked for a press pass for their reporter and a second press pass for a stenographer to accompany their reporter. Each was issued only one press pass.

    • ‘No hatred of US’ revealed on Manning computer
    • Ten Revelations From Bradley Manning’s WikiLeaks Documents

      There were 109,032 “violent deaths” recorded in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, including 66,081 civilians.

    • Hypocrisy lies at the heart of the trial of Bradley Manning

      It is an outrage that soldiers who killed innocents remain free but the man who exposed them is accused of ‘aiding the enemy’

    • Assange lawyer: DOJ has likely prepared indictment

      The publisher’s attorney says a sealed indictment is possible, as the government war on leaks drives on

    • Manning trial a ‘show of wasteful vengeance’ – Assange

      WIKILEAKS founder, Julian Assange has described the trial of Bradley Manning which began today as “a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Federal Court Criticizes Wisconsin Republicans for “Peculiarly Furtive” Redistricting, Closes Case

      A federal court hearing a challenge to Wisconsin’s Republican-led redistricting sharply criticized the expensive, secretive, and “peculiarly furtive process” employed by the GOP in drawing and defending the maps, but announced a close to “this unfortunate chapter in Wisconsin political history.”

    • Lois Lerner’s “Hands-Off” Approach Likely Contributed to IRS Mess

      The official at the center of the IRS mess, Lois Lerner, gave indications months ago that she was refusing to provide meaningful guidance about how to interpret and apply ambiguous rules for nonprofit political activity.

      Lerner was the head of the IRS’ division on tax-exempt organizations, and was recently suspended after declining to testify before a House Committee investigation into the IRS singling-out Tea Party groups for scrutiny based only on their names or political views.

  • Censorship

    • Sky Broadband Starts Blocking Pirate Bay Proxies

      UK Internet provider Sky Broadband has quietly started to restrict access to a wide range of proxy sites through which subscribers could reach The Pirate Bay, Kat.ph, Movie2k and other blocked sites. The new blockades go beyond the initial court orders and appear to adjust automatically to IP-address changes. TorrentFreak talked to several proxy site operators who are determined to bypass the new measures.

    • Researcher Tries To Connect Violence And Video Games During Murder Trial; Gets Destroyed During Cross Examination

      Violence and violent video games still remain connected in the eyes of many despite a lack of supporting evidence. When an act of violence occurs, the more horrific it is, the more certain it is that people will try to connect the two. We’ve seen it happen time and time again.

    • Video Game Expert Can’t Sway Jury in Mass Murder Trial

      A man who murdered an entire family with a tire iron in 2009 in their Beason, Ill. home tried to use video games as part of his defense earlier this week. After one day of deliberations a jury delivered a stinging verdict.

  • Privacy

    • What are Mobile Providers Doing with Customer Data? – The results so far

      O2, Vodafone and EE have all replied to their customers to say that they provide analytics on aggregated and anonymised data sets of their customers to third party companies. Their privacy policies have sections to this effect.

      Virgin Media say that they don’t sell their customers’ data and their privacy policy says they may pass on aggregate information about their customers’ mobile use to third parties.

      EE have told us that all customers have agreed to their Privacy Policy and implied that this counts as customers giving consent. O2 and EE argue in their responses to customer emails that because they are aggregating and anonymising data, the law does not require them to ask customers to opt-in or opt-out.

    • Liberal Super PAC Goes After Mitch McConnell’s ‘Chinese’ Wife

      A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife.

    • The McConnell Taper’s Ill-Considered, Unrepetant Confession

      Curtis Morrison, the guy behind the recording of a Mitch McConnell campaign strategy session, has confessed to the deed in a lengthy post at Salon. The wisdom of doing so while the FBI convenes a grand jury on the matter is one thing. Morrison’s somewhat deluded overestimation of his actions is another thing entirely.

    • Why I secretly recorded Mitch McConnell

      My effort to expose the Senate minority leader’s ugly campaign upended my life. Here’s what happened

    • Judge: Child porn suspect doesn’t need to decrypt files

      Earlier court order requiring a Wisconsin suspect in underage porn case to decrypt his hard drives for the FBI by the end of the day Tuesday — or face contempt of court — has been lifted.

    • U. of U. training 20 students to work at NSA complex

      They won’t be trained for espionage, but about 20 University of Utah students will learn how to run the National Security Agency’s new data collection center in Bluffdale.

    • Spooks nicking your tech? What you need is THE CLOUD – NSA boss

      Nations swiping intellectual property from rival states and corporations are a much greater threat to economies than private cyber-criminals, America’s spymaster reckons.

      General Keith Alexander, National Security Agency (NSA) director and commander of US Cyber Command, made his comments during the NATO-organised CyCon conference in Estonia today.

    • Onsung Speaks of Re-defector NSA Link

      The source said that Kang also has a long history of aiding in the activities of the security forces in the area, by both reporting on the “anti-socialist” acts of others and seeking out new informants for the NSA.

  • Civil Rights

    • Turkey’s Urban Revolt Signals a Critical Phase in Turkish Politics

      Despite the astonishing, far-reaching changes that Turkey has undergone in recent years, clouds of anxiety are gathering over the country.

      The apprehension has little to do with the economy. The negative energy emanating from Syria has a partial impact. The jitters in public sentiment stem essentially from increasingly pronounced links between politics and religion, interventions in lifestyles and the demands of various social groups going unheeded.

    • Ending Violations of Indigenous Rights: Indigenous Governments Propose Action

      On Tuesday May 28, 72 Indian nations in the United States and 10 Indian and Hawaiian Native organizations — speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues — jointly proposed action be taken to give indigenous peoples, especially indigenous constitutional and customary governments, a dignified and appropriate status for participating regularly in UN activities. As a problem that has already been studied and examined within the UN system, they noted, “it is time to take action at last so that indigenous peoples do not have to call themselves NGOs or depend upon ad hoc resolutions to be able to participate in UN meetings, processes, and events.”

    • Panama’s Indigenous People Reject UN Forest Plan

      Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation – is designed to slow climate change by preventing the destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forests. It is a key part of the UN’s attempts to tackle a warming climate, and failure in Panama will have impacts much further afield.

    • Which Media Outlets Are Attending Or Not Attending Holder Meeting?

      Media executives and editors are divided over whether to attend an off-the-record meeting this week with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss guidelines for dealing with journalists in leak investigations, an issue that’s gotten a lot of attention amid controversies involving the AP and Fox News.

    • Eric Holder’s ‘Off-The-Record’ Meeting With Journalists Leads To ‘On-The-Record’ Quotes, But Not Much Else
    • Horrifying Supreme Court Ruling Lets Police Collect DNA Because You Might Just Be A Horrible Criminal

      I had a busy day on Monday, so it took a bit of time for me to finally get around to reading the full Supreme Court ruling in the Maryland v. King case, in which the court ridiculously ruled that law enforcement can take DNA samples from everyone arrested for a “serious” new crime in the hopes that it might help solve old crimes. We’ve discussed this issue in the past, but the reasoning of the majority ruling in the Supreme Court is rather horrifying. It’s interesting to see that the court did not split along its “traditional” lines. Scalia split with Alito, Thomas and Roberts — who often form a single voting block, while Breyer also was on the other side of his more natural allies, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan. Kennedy is the usual “swing” vote, and wrote the decision here, decimating the basics of the 4th amendment. I mean absolutely decimating it.

    • Constitutional Sheriffs Convention a Successful Promotion of Liberty

      Representing The John Birch Society, this reporter spoke during the fourth segment, describing threats to liberty posed by the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the effectiveness of state measures refusing to enforce those provisions inside state borders.

    • The Center Cannot Hold: Era of a New Democracy: Part II

      …NDAA was passed and FBI escalated infiltration of peaceful activists and prosecution of environmentalists under the pretext of terrorism….

    • Conservative groups reveal ‘chilling’ information requests from the IRS

      Leaders of conservative groups targeted for extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill about the “chilling” demands from the agency as they sought tax exempt status over the last several years.

    • Top Obama political appointees use secret email accounts

      Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees are using secret government email accounts to conduct official business, The Associated Press found, a practice that complicates agencies’ legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails under public records requests and congressional inquiries.

    • Acting IRS head: The IRS has ‘betrayed the trust of the American people’ [VIDEO]

      The acting head of the IRS told congressional investigators Monday morning that his agency has “betrayed the trust of the American people.”

    • Turkish authorities arrest social media users; calls for Erdogan to resign continue

      Thousands of people of all ages gathered Wednesday evening in Ugur Mumcu square in Antakya, a picturesque town in the Hatay province of Turkey.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality – safeguarding the open internet for all

      My speech yesterday where I set out how the EU plans to safeguard the open internet for all.Watch below, orcomment on the text here.

    • Whatever Happened To The Exaflood?

      If you remember, about five years ago, a bunch of astroturfing and front groups for the broadband companies started spreading this myth that the internet was facing a catastrophe known as the the exaflood, in which internet traffic would swamp capacity and the internet would sputter to a crawl. They talked about things like “brown outs” where so much traffic would make the internet difficult to navigate. Of course, it was all FUD and scare tactics to hide the real intent: to allow the telcos to put more tollbooths on the internet, to double charge some popular internet companies, and to generally try to avoid investing in basic infrastructure. Of course, it was easy to debunk those claims, but five years later, Broadband Reports takes a look at some of the latest data to note that the feared exaflood never showed up, and the predictions of clogged pipes never appeared — and the data on internet growth shows little likelihood of that ever happening.

    • Comcast’s Top Lobbyist Pens Editorial To Remind Americans That US Broadband Service Is Awesome

      We live in a nation of wondrous technological advancement, where our average broadband speed and super low prices are the envy of the world, And if Google shows up to throw fiber around, the local citizenry simply shrugs its shoulders in indifference. Life is good… especially if you’re paid to believe it is.

    • Comcast: U.S. The Global Leader on Broadband

      In an editorial in the Philadelphia inquirer last week, Comcast’s top lobbyist and policy man David Cohen proudly proclaimed that the U.S. is “the leader” globally in broadband.

    • Switzerland tops IPv6 adoption charts

      According to recent statistics by Google and Cisco, Switzerland has aced the IPv6 adoption charts by leapfrogging Romania, which topped the charts for nearly a year.

    • EU outlines proposal for network neutrality guarantees

      The European Union wants network neutrality enshrined in law, with guaranteed access to the full and open internet in order to ensure future innovation and strengthen democracy.

    • Speech: The EU, safeguarding the open internet for all
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Coming soon to your backyard, Monsanto and gang!

      When the handful of corporations set on owning, controlling and über-profiting from our common seed heritage — Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow, BASF and Bayer — began experimenting with their proprietary chemicals and genetically engineered crops in Hawaii in the 1990s, barely a peep was made. Two decades later, we can’t even convince our Hawaii state government to pass a law making these companies release basic information about the pesticides they spray next to primary schools. Children are sent home vomiting and with nose bleeds.

    • California Makes A Move To Further Separate The Public From Its Public Records

      The fact that the public is still charged fees to access public records already seems rather questionable. After all, the creation of these documents is paid for by taxpayers. Keeping them locked up behind a governmental paywall often seems like double-dipping.

    • Searching Court Records Will Cost a Lot More, if California Senate Has Its Way
    • Trademarks

      • Twisted Sisters Coffee Shop Decides To Fight Back Against Trademark Bully Band Twisted Sister

        We recently wrote about how the band Twisted Sister was acting as a trademark bully and threatening a small coffee shop in Kansas, called Twisted Sisters. As we noted, the coffee shop name had nothing to do with the band, but actually was named after (you guessed it) a pair of sisters who had been called that by their brother decades ago (long before the band existed). The coffee shop had indicated at the time that it was going to change its name, but it looks like it’s now decided to fight back. jupiterkansas lets us know that a lawyer agreed to represent them pro bono and is trying to explain trademark law basics to the band’s lawyer. In the meantime, the coffee shop’s owner sent a friendly letter to the band, saying that the shop’s name has nothing to do with the band and that she really can’t think of a better name, so she’d like to keep it.

    • Copyrights

      • Few People Are Pirating ‘Arrested Development’ Because Netflix Is Affordable Enough Already
      • Once Again, Convenience Trumps Free, As Few People Pirate Arrested Development

        We’ve pointed out over and over and over again for years that for many people (certainly not all, but enough to make a huge difference) convenience trumps free when it comes to getting content. The latest example of this in action is the fact that way fewer people downloaded the new Arrested Development from unauthorized sources than other similarly hyped TV shows. As you probably know, the new Arrested Development was released via Netflix, rather than TV, and all episodes were immediately available. Unlike other TV shows that are tied to cable and hardly available online at all, Arrested Development was easy to watch online for those who had a Netflix account (which also doesn’t require additional fees to watch the show if you already have a subscription).

      • France Ready To Shut Down Hadopi As It’s ‘Incompatible’ With Digital Economy

        It’s amazing how frequently we still hear from entertainment industry folks or politicians pointing to Hadopi as an example of “success” in a three strikes program. Of course, the reality is that it has been a colossal failure by nearly every measure possible. The industry has had to seriously massage the statistics, but they can’t deny the simple fact that it hasn’t helped drive sales, which really seems like the key metric. In fact, the latest reports show that music sales — including digital sales — have continued to drop. Even more telling: the decline in sales in France has outpaced the decline elsewhere. In other words, nothing about Hadopi worked.

      • New Filing Presents Evidence That John Steele Uploaded Videos To BitTorrent Himself

        If you thought Graham Syfert was done with taking on John Steele and Prenda law with the closing of the Sunlust case in Florida, you’d be wrong. Today he’s filed an incredible filing not just hitting back at Prenda in another case, First Time Videos vs. Paul Oppold, and asking for attorney’s fees, but also including an affidavit from an actual expert (i.e., not a Prenda-style “forensic” expert) named Delvan Neville, who lays out in astounding detail how it’s almost certain that John Steele himself uploaded the various videos to BitTorrent that were then used to sue various defendants for either “hacking” or copyright infringement. Oh, and in doing so, Steele appears to have made some choices that are pretty damning, including suggesting that he set up the file to effectively broadcast that it was free for the taking. In other words, there’s an incredibly strong argument that the release of the file on BitTorrent was very authorized.

      • Blind Law School Dean Explains Why We Need The WIPO Copyright Treaty For The Blind

        As the MPAA and other copyright maximalist organizations continue to try to block the WIPO copyright treaty for the blind, which will make it easier for blind people around the globe to be able to access creative works, I was touched by this incredible video from Ron McCallum, the former dean at the University of Sydney Law School, where he is now an Emeritus Professor. McCallum has been blind since birth, and in the video he talks about how technology changed his life and allowed him to do so much — and how important the treaty in question is, to allow that same revolution to help others, especially in less developed countries.

      • MPAA: Oh, Of Course We Want To Help The Blind Read More… Just As Long As You Don’t Touch Copyright

        So it appears that late last week, the MPAA realized that their whole stance on trying to block the approval of an important copyright treaty for helping the visually impaired and the blind gain more access to works was a PR nightmare, and decided to put out a joint statement with the National Federation for the Blind. Apparently, Chris Dodd’s initial weak attempt at claiming that it loved helping the blind, despite working hard to stop the treaty, wasn’t enough. Of course, the new “joint statement” is really more of the same when you peel back the basics.

      • Court Says Copying Journal Articles To Show Prior Art In Patent Proceedings Is Fair Use

        Here’s one that touches on both patents and copyrights. Last year, we wrote about how some academic journals were ridiculously claiming that law firms, who made copies of journal articles to submit to the US Patent and Trademark Office to show examples of prior art, were infringing on their copyrights. Yes, they were arguing that you couldn’t use their journals as examples of prior art without paying them for the privilege. Thankfully, the USPTO stepped up and issued a memo explaining why they believed such usage was clearly protected as fair use. Still, the American Institute of Physics and Blackwell Publishing decided to sue a law firm, Winstead PC, and patent filers over the matter. The USPTO then stepped in as an “intervening defendant.” Over the course of the case, the publishers finally admitted that articles submitted with patent filings themselves probably weren’t infringing and dropped that claim. However, they still argued that other copies made “during the process of evaluating and
        selecting” material to be submitted to the USPTO were infringing (in other words, the clients and the lawyers sharing copies of the articles back and forth — and later copies of the articles associated with patent files).

      • EU’s Chief Negotiator Has Learned Nothing From ACTA, Will Negotiate TAFTA In Secret

        The EU trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, was a driving force behind ACTA, and apparently he’s learned nothing about why ACTA failed so spectacularly in Europe. MEP Christian Engstrom pointed out to De Gucht that a big part of the reason why ACTA failed was the lack of transparency, and asked him to be more transparent with TAFTA (the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, but which many are calling TTIP — for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

      • EU Commissioner De Gucht says no to transparent TTIP negotiations

        The new TTIP agreement between the EU and the US will be negotiated in the same secrecy as the ACTA agreement was, EU trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told the European Parliament on Wednesday evening.

      • UK Police Launch Campaign to Shut Down Torrent Sites

        City of London Police inform TorrentFreak that they have begun targeting sites that provide access to unauthorized content for “criminal gain.” The initiative is part of a collaboration with Hollywood studios represented by FACT and the major recording labels of the BPI. In letters being sent out now, police accuse site operators of committing offenses under the Serious Crime Act. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau further warns that the crimes carry a jail sentence of 10 years.

Obama Administration Goes After Phantom Enemy; Patent Trolls Are a Symptom, Hardly the Only Problem

Posted in Patents at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money talks, the suggested ‘reform’ is corporate

A thousand dollars

Summary: More evidence showing that in order to eradicate patent trolls, as well as their large equivalents (patent pools and thickets), we must reconsider patent scope, not size of plaintiffs; President Obama is going only after the small offenders

EARLIER ON we wrote about the racketeering operation known as Intellectual Ventures. It is so vast that it has summoned a legion of lobbyists constantly pressuring the government, seeking to legalise (or keep legal) extortion like its own.

“Acacia uses software parents, which Microsoft habitually passes to trolls.”To understand what Intellectual Ventures is about (world’s largest patent troll bar none; as IP Troll Tracker points out, it’s hard to believe anyone is still unaware of this), think of Goldman Sachs and Mr. Madoff. Both are committing more or less the same crime but at vastly different levels of granularity. One gets a bailout (taxpayers’ money), whereas the other gets sent to prison. Why? Well, pyramid schemes are only cracked down on by the government if they are small; if the scale is large, then there are lobbyists and more work is required (with the risk of retribution) to convict and arrest the perpetrators. Ask AG Holder why he doesn’t convict large banks. He has already said that, fearing prosecution would have a negative effect on the economy, he would rather just let them be. Astounding!

Some days ago we wrote about Microsoft’s friends at Acacia (former Microsoft employees in it) apparently taxing GNU/Linux again. Acacia uses software parents, which Microsoft habitually passes to trolls. As this news shows, Acacia’s patents are “abstract” (i.e. on software) and therein lies the problem. The article says: “In a 14-page ruling issued on May 29, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte granted summary judgment to EMC Corporation, NetApp Inc., and Quantum Corp. in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Acacia subsidiary Compression Technology Solutions LLC. Whyte ruled that Acacia’s patent, which relates to a process of compressing digital data, is an abstract idea. Abstract ideas are categorically excluded from patent-eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act, along with “laws of nature” and “physical phenomena.”

“Another ‘legal’ site uses patent trolls as a distraction again. ““In September 2011, Acacia asserted the patent at issue against seven tech companies — EMC, NetApp, Quantum, Hewlett-Packard Company, International Business Machines Corporation, and Quest Software Inc. All of the defendants settled except EMC, NetApp, and Quantum, represented by Ropes & Gray, Goodwin Procter, and Durie Tangri, respectively.”

Don’t expect David Kappos from the USPTO to pay attention to it. Regarding the latest software patents promotion from Kappos (published in Patently O to make some waves) Pamela Jones wrote: “No, the problem really is deeper than just poor quality patents; the problem is that software never should have been patentable. Software patents are destroying innovation, making it simply impossible to do a thing in software without getting sued. And sued multiple times, if you are successful. To pretend otherwise is to represent the interests of those who are already holding patents, not those who are trying to innovate.”

Tell this to the EFF too. They seem to be targeting one patent at a time, still, and especially patent trolls. This is a misguided, short-term approach.

“This current patent crisis has nothing to do with patent trolls, it is about patent scope.”Several ‘legal’ sites, ones that we habitually mention for promoting the views of patent lawyers in news feeds, continue to distort the public debate about software patents in the US. Mondaq pushes a couple of such views and Managing IP does so too, summarising with “Court issues seven conflicting opinions” and “USPTO responds” (the USPTO is defending broad scope for patenting, as we showed before), but that is not a court of law, it is a rogue institute seeking to increase revenue. Another ‘legal’ site uses patent trolls as a distraction again. This current patent crisis has nothing to do with patent trolls, it is about patent scope. As TechDirt noted the other day, even a student who won the Intel Science Fair got “Threatened With Patent Infringement Claims For Patent Not Yet Granted”. Or to put it another way: “So it goes in America. No one’s immune from the threat of patent litigation, not even 18-year high school students in possession of an award-winning science project in one of the most prestigious science fairs around.” (original article at IDG)

When so many horrible patents get granted and then groomed by patent lawyers’ sites it is no wonder we’re in this sordid mess. “Seems to me that it is Patent Lawyers who mainly endorse patenting. Makes more business for them,” wrote “Anti Software Patent” in Twitter the other day, adding that “Maths done on a calculator isn’t Patentable but if you type it into a computer it is? A calculator is a computer as it Computes!” (as noted yesterday in this essay).

“Suffice to say, the White House will be addressing the wrong problem, obeying corporate requests rather than public requests to re-assess patent scope. “Watch how opposition to software patents gets smeared by patent boosters like Martin Goetz, whose sole achievement seems to be getting a patent on software.

Suffice to say, the White House will be addressing the wrong problem, obeying corporate requests rather than public requests to re-assess patent scope. That’s what all politicians do. According to this, Obama is still going after the symptoms rather than the root cause. The analysis adequately starts by giving this bit of background: “Back in February, we were a bit surprised during President Obama’s “Fireside Hangout” when he appeared to speak out against patent trolls. Historically, most politicians had always tiptoed around the issue, in part because the pharma industry seems to view any attack on patent trolls as an existential threat — and, frankly, because some small time patent holders can also make a lot of noise. However, it’s become exceptionally clear that there’s political will to take on patent trolls. We’ve noted five different patent law bills introduced in Congress, all targeting patent trolls in one form or another.”

“The issue with patent thickets is showing that trolls are not the real problem. “Yes, it’s all about trolls to them. The article carries on as follows: “And now, it’s been reported that President Obama is going to come out strongly against patent trolling, directing the USPTO and others to fix certain issues, while also asking Congress to pass further laws to deal with patent trolling. The President will flat out note that patent trolls represent a “drain on the American economy.” The announcement will directly say that “patent trolls” (yes, they use the phrase) are a problem, while also talking about the problem of patent thickets like the infamous “smartphone wars.””

The issue with patent thickets is showing that trolls are not the real problem. There is a more fundamental problem and that is what Obama should be tackling. The press coverage only concentrates on trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] (FOSS-friendly sites aside [1, 2]), which re-affirmes our position that President Obama will only crack down on small abusers while ignoring the massive extortion rackets. “The White House Hates Patent Trolls,” says this alternative news site, but it sure doesn’t hate software patents. Not yet anyway…

The biggest patent abusers are, in the White House’s view, perhaps too big to jail, let alone speak about.

Interference With Free(dom) Software Policy in European Governments and Beyond

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EU flags

Summary: Countries where policy is written to prioritise Free software (i.e. software controlled by domestic companies) as well as open standards are facing interference from hostile pressure groups

With Microsoft moles inside many governments (we gave lot of examples) it is no wonder that taxpayers don’t have their interests served. As a bit of a primer, consider going through the following Wiki pages:

Over in France, which famously has gotten one of the strongest European pro-FOSS policies in place, funny business is going on. April writes: “The Senate, at first reading, and National Assembly commission of Cultural Affairs and Education, at second reading, voted for a provision giving priority to Free Software and open formats in the future “Public Service for Digital Education.” Regrettably, the government, yielding, without any doubt, to pressure from Afdel and Syntec Numérique, has just filed an amendment neutralizing this provision.”

“Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS.”Recall what Microsoft did about imminent ODF preference in France. It used proxies to derail the democracy and promote OOXML, i.e. Microsoft formats as a ‘standard’ [1, 2, 3, 4].

Speaking of people who boosted OOXML (e.g. Winterford in this case, the writer who became a Microsoft booster after receiving gifts from Microsoft [1, 2]), they are demonising FOSS, comparing the FOSS advocates to “crusaders” and even showing a photo of a medieval shield. The truth is exactly the opposite. The crusaders are the foreigners (multinationals) who try to impose proprietary software on populations across the world. Winterford must not be happy to see ODF elevated in his nation, Australia. He did a lot to promote OOXML after Microsoft had given him gifts.

“Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison.”Over here in the UK, policy is being put in place which favours local companies like my employer (FOSS only). Pogson writes: “There it is, a whole government planning how to escape M$ and “partners” bloat. They are going to do IT the right way, considering what will give the desired outcome efficiently instead of just throwing money away to get the desired outcome any way possible. If we all did that would anyone pay ~$100 extra for a PC with M$’s OS on it, $150 extra for M$’s office suite, $thousands to run a server on a network? How about enduring endless malware aimed at the leaking hulk of that other OS and endless re-re-reboots?”

Over in Italy, rogue actions are being reported as people try to stall the famous migrations to FOSS. To quote: “The discussion in the working group that is supposed to detail when Italy’s public administrations should prefer open source over proprietary solutions, is stalling, says lawyer Ernesto Belisario, professor at University of Basilicata in the city of Potenza. “Some of the members think the law stipulates a technical and economical assessment, instead of reading it as a statement supporting open source.””

“The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written.”Recall the role played by Nichi Vendola. Microsoft can sometimes make the Italian Mafia look benign in comparison. Microsoft is desperate to stop FOSS expansion in Italy and some other news from Italy is now properly summarised in our Wiki.

The article above notes that “Carlo Piana, member of the working group on behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe and the KDE foundation, confirms that the members do not agree on the reading of the law. “It is important that we agree on the interpretation as soon as possible, otherwise the working group will fall short on its tasks. “I don’t believe this will be the outcome, but if the current position persists, the communities I and the other members represent will strongly protest and we will have little choice but to take all the consequences on our contribution.”

“I am sure that the organisation will realise that this is a crucial point. The law clearly supports our position, for many good reasons. While we are aware that some level of compromise is necessary, this cannot be on the substance of the law and on the very mission of our activity. As Mr. Belisario correctly says, some may disagree with the law, in which case they can try to change it; but as long as it remains unchanged, the law must be abided with.”

“One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). “The fight for FOSS in the public sector does not end when policies are written. Just look at what Microsoft did in Brazil to bypass policies.

One strategy for impeding FOSS growth in Europe has been lobbying for FRAND and the unitary patent (software patents in Europe through the back doors). Matthias Lamping does not think that the EU should embrace this trajectory for patents. He writes in a pro-patents blog that he “is not a big fan of the unitary patent package – not because it dislikes the idea of unitary patent protection for the Internal Market, but precisely because [he] does like it. However, creating a “unitary patent” which claims EU origin but disclaims EU character, just because something is supposedly better than nothing, is rather an act of desperation than sensible policy making. This is not the place and not the time to repeat old arguments, but [despite Merpel's warning that this might offend the sensibilities of some readers] one thing cannot be said often enough: False integration can be worse than no integration; and a bad court system is not necessarily better than no court at all. It may be true, to a certain extent, that the system can be improved once it is in force. But a house built on a shaky foundation will always be in danger of collapsing, no matter how many cosmetic repairs are made.”

It seems possible that, owing to pressure from countries like Spain, the unitary patent package will fall through. Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, the loudest opposer of the unitary patent package, said the other day:

that’s why I’m now 99.9999% sure that #UnitaryPatent will die, but what a waste of time/energy and political confidence!

The unitary patent package has taught many of us on the developers’ side that there will always be opportunistic lawyers/politicians looking to serve themselves and their friends at governmental/industrial levels. This incestuous relationship is all about self gain. The fight against corruption is perpetual and it is an important fight to be fighting.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’

Edmund Burke

Apple Wanted Embargo and Apple Got It. iPhones and iPads… Banned!

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple asked for it

No entry

Summary: Quick response amid media spin which strives to portray Apple as the victim in the latest round of rulings from the United States

APPLE chose to sue Samsung rather than compete, seeking to embargo the leading products in vain. Samsung did not roll over like HTC had done and it sued back with full force, owing to its large patents portfolio. The result? Some iPhones and iPads are banned in the United states, urging Apple to pull back.

It was long due when Apple needed to taste it’s own bitter medicine. Desperate to get competitor’s products banned (without any success so far) Apple got its own iPhone (4, 3 and 3GS) and iPad (3G, 2 3G) banned from the US. The ban came from the ITC as these devices infringes upon Samsung’s patents related to cellular data. This ban effects only the AT&T models which use these patents.

Don’t let Apple-loving sites portray this as Samsung aggression. Apple is the one which started it all, striving to block anything that dares to compete with iDevices. Apple deserves this ban and it is irrevocable for now, or at least hard to revoke. AOL says “[t]he import ban could theoretically result in Apple being unable to sell the devices in question in the U.S., should all appeals fail and the decision be upheld, since Apple wouldn’t be able to bring the devices into the country from its overseas suppliers and manufacturing facilities. As this is an ITC ruling, it would have to be appealed to the White House or Federal Circuit to be overturned, notes Nilay Patel of The Verge on Twitter.”

Nilay Patel said “This is final, appealable only to WH (won’t touch it) and Fed Circuit.” The US system is biased against the Koreans, so maybe Apple can use its connections in the white house to whine about how it got beaten up after it had started a fight, totally unprovoked. This is an important post to send out with little additional research because a lot of the English-speaking media is already trying to smear the Korean company for defending itself in the face of Apple’s artillery.

Microsoft’s Patent Troll is Going After Banks Now, Expanding to Large-scale Racketeering Using Pyramid Scheme With Approximately 2,000 Proxies

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold, Bill Gates’ very close friend, created an ever-expanding pyramid scheme

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: The criminal operation of Bill Gates’ close friend is getting further explored and the more gets revealed, the more urgent it seems to arrest the perpetrators

The Microsoft- and Gates Foundation-backed patent troll known as Intellectual Ventures just keeps growing and growing. It devours a lot of the industry using patent tax which accompanies extortion and lobbying. This should be criminal and those behind it would be better off in some padded cell. They are dangerous sociopaths with friends in high places.

“Remember a few months ago, when Intellectual Ventures said that there was nothing at all nefarious about their 2,000 or so shell companies?”
      –Mike Masnick
One key person in this extortion racket is Peter Detkin, whom we wrote about before. Companies like CBS help whitewash him and others, impeding federal action that should shut it all down in the name of RICO Act. One longtime critic of this extortion racket writes about new facts, starting with some background: “Nearly two years ago, This American Life did an incredible episode about patents and patent trolling, which really got the issue of patent trolling into the mainstream. At the center of that episode was an exploration into Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest, most obnoxious patent troll. The story revolved around one single patent (5,771,354), which Intellectual Ventures itself had held up as an example of how they were really just helping the poor, brilliant, lone inventor who was being ripped off. In that story, This American Life reporter/producer Alex Blumberg and NPR New reporter Laura Sydell tried to follow the story of that patent to exonerate Intellectual Ventures and show that, indeed, it was helping small inventors get their due. But the story turned out to not stand up to even the slightest amount of scrutiny. Because when they went in search of the inventor, Chris Crawford, he refused to respond to them, and then IV itself noted that it had “sold off” the patent and it was currently engaged in litigation. The entity doing the litigation was a company called Oasis Research, which had an empty office in Marshall, Texas with no employees, but had sued over a dozen internet companies for broadly doing online backup.

“In a hilarious exchange with IV’s Peter Detkin, the guy who coined the phrase patent troll but now likes to delude himself that he’s not an executive at the world’s largest troll, pretended that it was some sort of “ambush” when Blumberg simply asked him to explain when IV bought the patent from Crawford and then when and to whom they sold it, based on the data on the US Patent Office’s own website. Hilariously, Detkin insisted that he hadn’t looked at the USPTO website, so he didn’t know what was going on.”

According to the following paragraph, there are now over or around 2,000 proxies, not about 1,100 as reported a few years ago. This is a pyramid schemes and there are laws against such schemes. Masnick writes: “Remember a few months ago, when Intellectual Ventures said that there was nothing at all nefarious about their 2,000 or so shell companies? Perhaps they knew what was coming… which was a pretty clear expose of how Intellectual Ventures is very much the same sort of entity that Peter Detkin once claimed were hellbent on holding up innovation. Except, now he’s profiting from it. Massively. While pretending not to.”

“There is a law against this. There may even be several laws against this.”Here is another interesting new bit about this pyramid scheme: “Well-known non-practicing entity Intellectual Ventures has been fairly quiet on the litigation front, particularly as compared to other high-profile NPEs. And when IV has filed suits, it has generally targeted technology companies, such as semiconductor manufacturers, handset makers, or telecom service providers. But earlier this week, IV branched out into new territory, suing the First National Bank of Omaha in Nebraska district court and accusing the bank of infringing several patents (including some potentially standard-essential patents).”

There is a law against this. There may even be several laws against this. The proxies act as a shield (obfuscation) against enforcement of the law, or even an investigation.

This is only starting to show the scope of this racketeering operation, which was more recently whitewashed by CBS (aided perpetually by the corporate media that won’t do journalism which can result in arrests for racketeering and pyramid schemes).

Intellectual Ventures is neither a company nor a firm. It is a criminal operation, operating with impunity.

Microsoft is Giving More Patents for Patent Trolls to Attack Google

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Legal loopholes exploited

Gavel in silk

Summary: Lawsuits by proxy still a preferable strategy at Microsoft, the company which made racketeering a key business model

According to this article from Groklaw, “Microsoft Assigns Six Patents to Patent Troll Vringo — Is This an Antitrust Issue?”

Yes, well, it is not the first time, either. The article says: “A couple of things about this Vringo affair. First, Mark Cuban — who set up the chair at EFF to fight against stupid patents — also bought a 7% interest in Vringo, back when they were dreaming their Big Dreams. Blech. Gambling on litigation. That’s what patents are being used for, and that’s only part of what’s wrong with the US patent system.”

“The American Antitrust Institute is getting involved now, but it should be noted that the above is not unprecedented.”The American Antitrust Institute is getting involved now, but it should be noted that the above is not unprecedented. Nokia gave Vringo some patents before. We wrote about a Nokia boycott exactly when Vringo got fed by Nokia. When another troll, MOSAID, got fed by Nokia, we know for a fact Microsoft was directly involved. It did not even hide it, so this would not be the first time when Microsoft uses one proxy (Nokia) to feed another proxy (patent troll) to harass Google. It would be valuable to have the “smoking gun” showing why Mr. Elop (Microsoft’s mole in Nokia) gave patents to Vringo.

“It would be valuable to have the “smoking gun” showing why Elop (Microsoft’s mole in Nokia) gave patents to Vringo.”Microsoft paid Vringo an additional one million dollars. As Million put it: “The settlement also provides for Microsoft to transfer six patents to I/P engine, the patent-holding subsidiary of Vringo. “The assigned patents relate to telecommunications, data management, and other technology areas,” stated Vringo in its filing.

“Microsoft confirmed that Vringo’s description of the settlement was accurate, but declined further comment when asked about the case by Reuters.”

Here is more coverage for future record [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], inclusive of the Reuters article.

“These are very real conspiracies of common interests. What’s not in their interests? Android.”Microsoft uses some other proxies to harm Google, e.g. this long-going patent troll called MPEG-LA, which based on this analysis is compromising free multimedia codecs. As VAR Guy put it: “From headline-grabbing threats by Microsoft (MSFT) to more subdued court battles involving the cloud, the open-source ecosystem has a pretty good record of winning patent challenges. But a crushing defeat has now tarnished that record with Google’s (GOOG) grudging surrender in a campaign to make the open-source VP8 video codec ubiquitous across the Web. Free-software stalwarts need not panic, though: In this case, they can blame Google, not a systemic failure by the open-source world itself.”

No, to blame here are companies like Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft, which are behind MPEG-LA. We wrote about it in [1, 2, 3]. These are not unsubstantiated rumours or theories. These are very real conspiracies of common interests. What’s not in their interests? Android.

Apple, the Bully, Cannot Stop or Even Embargo Android/Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The grudge

Summary: Setbacks for branding giant Apple and its affiliates, having just failed — yet again — to knock the Linux-powered market leader (Android) off course

“Apple”-branded products are not as perfect as Apple fans prefer to believe. As this new settlement shows, Apple too acknowledges this. To quote: “Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has filed a $53 million preliminary class settlement agreement in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, potentially allowing $200 refunds to iPhone and iPod Touch customers who claim they should be covered under warranties but were not because of liquid indicators in their devices.

“The copyright case against Android is without merit.”“A group of four class representatives were upset over Apple’s liquid damage policy prior to Dec. 31, 2009, in which the company would deny coverage under the standard warranty and purchased AppleCare Protection Plan for an iPhone whose headphone jack or dock connector was pink or red, indicating water contact, and for an iPod Touch with the same description before June 30, 2010.”

Apple has been very desperately trying to stop competing products, not by making better products but by litigation aiming at embargo. Seemingly, based on our interpretation and gradually-gathered evidence [1, 2, 3, 4], Oracle’s action against Android ties in with CPTN and the strong bond between Apple’s leader and Oracle’s leader. The copyright case against Android is without merit. It’s like SCO, thus it’s aptly named SCOracle sometimes. Just ask the many innovators and entrepreneurs who attest to it. Oracle is even antagonised by the CCIA, which we wrote about many times before. Even lawyers, or Law Professors, are against Oracle here. As Groklaw put it: “Bit by bit, the amicus briefs on behalf of Google in the Oracle v. Google appeal about the uncopyrightability of Java APIs are becoming available. They are all interesting in different ways, but they all agree — Oracle is wrong on the law and if it prevails, it will be a sad day for innovation. Copyright protection doesn’t extend to procedures, processes, systems, or methods of operation, and it shouldn’t.”

“This is bad news for Apple and Microsoft, fellow CPTN members. They were counting on patent-stacking and rising cost burdens for Android.”This is bad news for Apple and Microsoft, fellow CPTN members. They were counting on patent-stacking and rising cost burdens for Android. Joe Mullin, an excellent reporter in this area, shows Apple getting nailed by its own law firm now. Funnily enough, Muillin describes one troll there as “someone who no longer had much of a business beyond lawsuits.” Actually, that sounds like Apple, which is losing everything from technical leadership to market dominance to Samsung, including this embargo attempt. To quote the news, “The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t infringe on the design of the Apple iPad, according to reports. Although Apple does hold a European design patent, the Court has limited the applicability of the patent based on prior art. The iPad has predecessors, such as a Knight Ridder concept tablet dating back well over a decade before Apple’s product was released. The iPad may have a “unique character,” the court adds, but the Galaxy Tab is sufficiently different that an informed person can tell.”

Here is the news is Dutch. Apple is losing it fast.

It should be noted that in 2011 we asked readers to boycott Apple primarily because the company has become a direct, offensive threat to Linux, nothing less. Over time we realised that Mr. Cook, who had started some of Apple’s flirtations with patent threats (against Palm), would do nothing to reverse Steve Jobs’ legacy as a patent bully. Don’t expect Apple to change any more than Microsoft has ‘changed’ (from serial abuser to serial racketeer).

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