EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.03.15

Links 3/8/2015: Linux 4.2 RC5, Korora 22

Posted in News Roundup at 3:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • A College Without Classes

    Had Daniella Kippnick followed in the footsteps of the hundreds of millions of students who have earned university degrees in the past millennium, she might be slumping in a lecture hall somewhere while a professor droned. But Kippnick has no course lectures. She has no courses to attend at all. No classroom, no college quad, no grades. Her university has no deadlines or tenure-track professors.

    Instead, Kippnick makes her way through different subject matters on the way to a bachelor’s in accounting. When she feels she’s mastered a certain subject, she takes a test at home, where a proctor watches her from afar by monitoring her computer and watching her over a video feed. If she proves she’s competent—by getting the equivalent of a B—she passes and moves on to the next subject.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Aging Pipes Are Poisoning America’s Tap Water

      In Flint, Michigan, lead, copper, and bacteria are contaminating the drinking supply and making residents ill. If other cities fail to fix their old pipes, the problem could soon become a lot more common.

      [...]

      In the past 16 months, abnormally high levels of e. coli, trihamlomethanes, lead, and copper have been found in the city’s water, which comes from the local river (a dead body and an abandoned car were also found in the same river). Mays and other residents say that the city government endangered their health when it stopped buying water from Detroit last year and instead started selling residents treated water from the Flint River. “I’ve never seen a first-world city have such disregard for human safety,” she told me.

  • Security

    • DNS server attacks begin using BIND software flaw

      Attackers have started exploiting a flaw in the most widely used software for the DNS (Domain Name System), which translates domain names into IP addresses.

      Last week, a patch was issued for the denial-of-service flaw, which affects all versions of BIND 9, open-source software originally developed by the University of California at Berkeley in the 1980s.

    • Researchers Create First Firmware Worm That Attacks Macs

      The common wisdom when it comes to PCs and Apple computers is that the latter are much more secure. Particularly when it comes to firmware, people have assumed that Apple systems are locked down in ways that PCs aren’t.

      It turns out this isn’t true. Two researchers have found that several known vulnerabilities affecting the firmware of all the top PC makers can also hit the firmware of MACs. What’s more, the researchers have designed a proof-of-concept worm for the first time that would allow a firmware attack to spread automatically from MacBook to MacBook, without the need for them to be networked.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • A Haven From the Animal Holocaust

      There are mornings when Susie Coston, walking up to the gate of this bucolic farm in her rubber boots, finds crates of pigs, sheep, chickens, goats, geese or turkeys on the dirt road. Sometimes there are notes with the crates letting her know that the animals are sick or injured. The animals, often barely able to stand when taken from the crates, have been rescued from huge industrial or factory farms by activists.

      The crates are delivered anonymously under the cover of darkness. This is because those who liberate animals from factory farms are considered terrorists under U.S. law. If caught, they can get a 10-year prison term and a $250,000 fine under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. That is the punishment faced by two activists who were arrested in Oakland, Calif., last month and charged with freeing more than 5,700 minks in 2013, destroying breeding records and vandalizing other property of the fur industry.

  • Finance

    • Jimmy Carter: U.S. Is an ‘Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery’

      Former President Jimmy Carter had some harsh words to say about the current state of America’s electoral process, calling the country “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” resulting in “nominations for president or to elect the president.” When asked this week by The Thom Hartmann Program (via The Intercept) about the Supreme Court’s April 2014 decision to eliminate limits on campaign donations, Carter said the ruling “violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system.”

    • Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery”

      Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”

    • Charles Koch calls for unity against ‘corporate welfare’

      As top GOP presidential candidates arrived at a hotel here to court the influential donors of the Koch network, Charles Koch called on retreat attendees to unite with him in a campaign against “corporate welfare” and “irresponsible spending” by both political parties.

      Speaking on the hotel’s grassy lawn with the Pacific Ocean shimmering behind him, Koch opened the gathering hosted by Freedom Partners by noting that the theme of the weekend would be “Unleashing Our Free Society.” Koch network donors and politicians alike must work toward “eliminating welfare for the wealthy,” he said.

    • Fox Analyst Compares Donald Trump To St. Augustine And Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • At NY Observer, Trump’s Too Close to Cover–but Promoting Publisher’s Real Estate Is No Problem

      The Huffington Post‘s Michael Calderone (7/28/15) had a piece on the ethical dilemma posed for the weekly New York Observer by the fact that its owner and publisher, Jared Kushner, is married to Ivanka Trump, daughter of real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. One would expect the Observer to be all over the Trump story, given that its self-proclaimed mission is to cover “the city’s influencers in politics, culture, luxury and real estate who collectively make New York City unique,” but instead the paper has had next to nothing to say about Trump’s controversy-fueled presidential bid.

  • Censorship

    • Anti-Web Blocking Site More Popular in the UK than Spotify & Skype

      A service that helps users circumvent web-blocking injunctions handed down by the UK High Court has grown to become one of the country’s most popular websites. Unblocked.pw provides instant access to dozens of otherwise blocked domains and is currently ranked 192nd in the UK, ahead of both Spotify and Skype.

    • David Cameron Wants To Shut Down Porn Sites Because Kids Are Clever Enough To Defeat Age Restrictions

      UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been using “porn” moral panics as a wedge issue to ramp up censorship and control over the internet in the UK. He’s been pushing aspects of it for years, including demands for the impossible: filters that block “bad content” but allow “good content.” Yes, it does seem bizarre that someone in as powerful a position as David Cameron sees the world in such a black and white way, but remember, this is the same guy who bases his defense of more spying powers on what happens in fictional TV crime dramas.

      His latest plan? Well, he’s insisting that he’s going to shut down porn websites if they don’t guarantee to keep out everyone under the age of 18. Yes, many sites have some age controls, but kids aren’t stupid and can usually figure out a way around them. And that’s always going to be the case. And it’s been the case since pornography existed. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that it’s quite likely that David Cameron himself first came across pornographic material long before his 18th birthday.

    • The Pirate Bay Will Be Blocked in Austria

      Following a European trend, an Austrian Court has ordered a local ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay. The legal action, brought by copyright holders, resulted in an injunction which orders the ISPs to block access to several popular torrent sites and also affects Isohunt.to, 1337x.to and h33t.to.

  • Privacy

    • GCHQ and Me

      Events were about to take me on a different journey. Behind me, sharp footfalls broke the stillness. A squad was running, hard, toward the porch of the house we had left. Suited men surrounded us. A burly middle-aged cop held up his police ID. We had broken “Section 2″ of Britain’s secrecy law, he claimed. These were “Special Branch,” then the elite security division of the British police.

      For a split second, I thought this was a hustle. I knew that a parliamentary commission had released a report five years earlier that concluded that the secrecy law, first enacted a century ago, should be changed. I pulled out my journalist identification card, ready to ask them to respect the press.

    • I’m Quitting Social Media to Learn What I Actually Like

      Three years ago, I began taking August off social media. I wasn’t alone. That was the year everyone started writing about digital detoxes, smartphone-free summer camps, and Facebook cleanses. One writer at the Verge took a year’s vacation from the Internet.

      I don’t seem to see those stories as much anymore. To figure out why, I decided to ask my 1,868 Facebook friends. I pulled up the site, but before I could properly articulate the question, I noticed a guy I met briefly five years ago had posted hiking photos from the same place I went hiking last week. We had both been in Oregon!! What a coincidence! I clicked on the photo and saw he’d been there with a woman I knew from high school. Well, how do they know each other? I clicked on her photo and up came a profile pic of three tiny children, all adorable. The youngest had a Brown University shirt on. A little bit of digging revealed that, in fact, her husband had gotten a job at my alma mater and they’d all moved to Providence. I’d learned so much in just five minutes, but what was it I’d wanted to know from Facebook?

    • Supporter Newsletter: July 2015

      And now, after taking legal action, the High Court has ruled that DRIPA was indeed inconsistent with EU law.

  • Civil Rights

    • Police in Norway Haven’t Killed Anyone in Nearly 10 Years

      Police in Norway hardly ever use their guns, a new report released by the Scandinavian country’s government shows. In fact, it’s been almost 10 years since law enforcement shot and killed someone, in 2006.

      Perhaps the most telling instance was when terrorist Anders Breivik opened fire in 2011 and killed 77 people in Utoya and Oslo. Authorities fired back at him, all right, but only a single time. In 2014, officers drew their guns 42 times, but they fired just two shots while on duty. No one was hurt in either of those instances.

    • Training Officers to Shoot First, and He Will Answer Questions Later

      Dr. Lewinski and his company have provided training for dozens of departments, including in Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Seattle. His messages often conflict, in both substance and tone, with the training now recommended by the Justice Department and police organizations.

      The Police Executive Research Forum, a group that counts most major city police chiefs as members, has called for greater restraint from officers and slower, better decision making. Chuck Wexler, its director, said he is troubled by Dr. Lewinski’s teachings. He added that even as chiefs changed their use-of-force policies, many did not know what their officers were taught in academies and private sessions.

    • Spanish Cops Use New Law To Fine Facebook Commenter For Calling Them ‘Slackers’

      On July 1st, the Spanish government enacted a set of laws designed to keep disruption within its borders to a minimum. In addition to making dissent illegal (criminal acts now include “public disruption” and “unauthorized protests”), Spanish legislators decided the nation’s law enforcement officers should be above reproach. This doesn’t mean Spanish cops will be behaving better. It just means the public will no longer be able to criticize them.

    • German Netzpolitik journalists investigated for treason

      Press freedom is under threat in Germany — two journalists and their alleged source are under investigation for potential treason for disclosing and reporting what appears to be an illegal and secret plan to spy on German citizens.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Why ISPs still take forever to install business Internet service

      Dealing with telcos and carriers for enterprise circuit installation is still a royal pain. Haven’t we been doing this long enough to do it well?

    • The Web We Have to Save

      Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. They were Tehran’s taxicabs writ large.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Killing Spotify’s Free Version Will Boost Piracy

        Spotify is generally hailed as a piracy killer, with music file-sharing traffic dropping in virtually every country where the service launches. However, much of this effect may be lost if recent calls to end Spotify’s free tier are honored.

      • Google Asked to Remove 18 ‘Pirate Links’ Every Second

        Copyright holders continue to increase the number of copyright takedown requests they send to Google. As a result the company is currently asked to remove a record breaking 18 links to “pirate” pages from its search results every second, a number that is still increasing at a rapid pace.

      • Kim Dotcom claims deal offered

        He says the offers included one which was conditional on him leaving New Zealand, where he has been a thorn in the side of the government since he and three colleagues were arrested at the request of the FBI in January 2012.

      • Copying And Sharing Was Always A Natural Right; Restricting Copying Never Was

        In the still-ongoing debate over sharing it’s paramount to realize that sharing and copying was always the natural state, and that restricting of copying is an arbitrary restriction of property rights.

The World is Changing and Patent Law Can Change Either for Better or for Worse

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Recent secret dealings (which are being exposed to the public owing to whistle-blowers) show the degree of coordination and collusion against public interests; it’s up to us, the majority, to fight back and tackle this injustice

THE world’s disparate legal systems are under attack from so-called ‘trade’ deals and their dirty dealers. We hardly ever cover this subject (except in daily links), but almost everyone knows the impact of these, owing in part to leaks and public demonstrations which raise awareness. One goal is globalisation (in the negative sense) and a method that is trending these days is ‘harminisation’ of laws across nations and continents, almost always in a way that makes them more corporations-leaning and plutocrats-friendly. It’s not surprising considering who works on these deals in secret. These conspirators are bypassing democracy because they want more for themselves and less for the rest of us. It has a lot to do with patents, which are codified into law to legalise monopolisation, i.e. marginalisation of challenge or competition (even from government, as ISDS comes to demonstrate).

Last week we wrote about what was happening in New Zealand. The so-called ‘trade’ deals can potentially bring software patents to New Zealand. Here is how one news site from New Zealand put it some days ago: “The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry won’t say whether New Zealand’s laws on software patents will need to be overhauled if agreement is reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Parliament passed a law that outlawed software patents “as such” in 2013. The wording of the law change was a compromise that resulted from years of tortuous debate.

“Trade magazine CIO reported that Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaks suggested Mexico was now the only country against allowing software to be patented.

“The important point here is that some companies are starting to distance themselves from the EPO and USPTO.”Here in Europe we already have some loopholes similar to those which exist in New Zealand. These enable some companies to patent software (as long as it’s bound to some unspecified “device”). Europe has the Boards of Appeal (BoA) mechanism for independent/external assessment — not oversight — of the EPO and it too is being crushed right now (recall the BoA’s role in defending against software patents half a decade ago). The BoA is clearly under attack right now, as stories we covered served to show. It wants public input to help save it from the ruthless EPO, which hates to share any of its governance. The European Patent Office is now a totalitarian entity right at the heart of Europe. It must be stopped.

A biased site which targets patent lawyers spoke of an interesting trend the other day, published under the headline “The companies that abandon most US and EPO patents – and shoulder much responsibility for raising quality” (the latter part is spin).

The important point here is that some companies are starting to distance themselves from the EPO and USPTO. Corporate culture may be evolving for the better. “In the latest issue of IAM magazine,” says the author, “Matthew Beers and Maria Lazarova of Ocean Tomo take a deep-dive look at patent abandonments data from both the USPTO and EPO. The full article contains a wealth of interesting data but, for the purposes of this blog we’ll take a sneak peek at the findings relating to IP owners and which of them abandon the most patents at both agencies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, about half of the top 50 companies by abandonment volume are also in the top 50 by number of applications filed. What’s more, of the top 50 companies by abandonment volume over the period examined by Beers’ and Lazarova’s analysis, well over two-thirds appear among the top abandoners at both the USPTO and the EPO.”

This is bad news for patent lawyers. Over in the US, which expands the USPTO to Silicon Valley (as planned), it is said that there is now “New Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility”. “On July 30,” writes a site of patent lawyers, “the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a set of documents providing examiners and practitioners with additional guidance on patent subject matter eligibility. The July 2015 Update responds to comments received from the public following the USPTO’s issuance of the 2014 Interim Guidance (2014 IEG) on December 26, 2014.”

It sure looks like they are limiting patent scope. The assignment of patents on software really must stop, at the very least because judges deem these patents patent-ineligible, based on the law (they are not patent examiners, but they know the limits of the law and can enforce the law by exercising their duty).

Just the other day we learned that a famed BitTorrent entrepreneur managed to get a patent on P2P live streaming. TorrentFreak said this “may be the start of a new breakthrough,” but we hardly feel excited by the passage of yet another patent on software. This really ought to stop and a good start would be scrutiny of the ‘trade’ deals, those who facilitate them, the USPTO, the EPO, and politicians who push for the UPC (essentially another so-called ‘harmonisation’ of law and courts framework). There are many powerful and selfish forces looking to gain power and money at the expense of everybody else, especially scientists. As we are by far the majority, we can repeatedly beat those relentless forces. From awareness comes anger and when the majority is angry the evil forces become fearful and often retreat (see ACTA).

The Latest on Patent ‘Reform’ in the US: GOP Media Deception, Healthwashing Patents, and SIIA Lobbying

Posted in Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s all about might and power (rich people can buy law), not objective assessment of public interests

Semi trailer

Summary: Techrights looks at the more prominent actors driving patent policy in the US, with budget to absorb and agenda to lobby for

THE efforts to make a ‘reform’ happen in the US patent system have not been receiving much media coverage, not in the past week anyway. As we have pointed out before, such efforts mostly or only target patent trolls anyway, so they are incomplete. “Give existing reforms a chance to kill patent trolls,” said this article from last week (the headline speaks only about patent trolls). “Over 8 million patents later,” the author said, “we’ve moved from fertilizer to a revolution in genetics and digital technologies. Thousands of patents have issued on computer software and methods of doing business.” Well, so patent scope is certainly a problem, why focus just on trolls?

“Patent Reform Is Not a Left Wing Thing,” said the Independent blog a week ago while GOP-leaning media is still fighting against patent reform. Here is a notable right-wing site attacking the Innovation Act by stating: “Congressman Goodlatte’s Innovation Act (H.R. 9) is too broadly written and will penalize numerous inventors and companies who develop and commercialize patented innovation. Further, it is based on flawed and unreliable data about “patent trolls.” Rather than rushing to pass this legislation, we should slow down and ask more questions. Only by asking questions will we understand the potential downfalls, unintended consequences, and effects on all stakeholders of the innovation economy.”

The corporate media took a stance similar to that of the GOP. “We Must Not Weaken the Patent Laws that Lead to Cures” was the headline in NewsWeek and Wall Street media uses the ‘health’ card too (painting patents as “healthy” or “life-saving”). To quote: “In 2012, CardioNet, a BioTelemetry subsidiary, filed suit against MedTel24, Inc. and other Companies in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for patent infringement. CardioNet sought an injunction against each defendant, as well as monetary damages. The defendants asserted counterclaims alleging the patents in the suit were invalid and not infringed.”

Andrew Chung, over at Reuters, wrote about UnitedHealth getting sued on antitrust claims. It’s about patents and more specifically misuse of patents to actually harm lives and damage health. To quote Chung: “Nearly four months after a California healthcare software company won a patent infringement verdict against UnitedHealth Group, it filed a new lawsuit alleging the insurance giant obtained its patents fraudulently and violated federal antitrust laws” (not a unique situation).

Over at lobbyists’ media and sites that repost articles (not really news sites), the SIIA (lobby which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4]) pushes to crack down on trolls. The writer describes himself as “vice president for public policy at the Software & Information Industry Association, the principal association for the software and digital content industries, and a leading authority on U.S. tech policy.”

Looking at the SIIA’s Web site and recalling what we wrote about it over the years, it can do both good and evil because some of the time it lobbies for interests of its proprietary software component (members).

In summary, the debate over ‘reform’ continues in the media, but it is dominated not by scientists but politicians and other lawyers, including lobbyists. Conveniently they use the “health” metaphors to give the illusion that lives are at stake. It’s that infamous “do X or many people ARE GOING TO DIE” trickery.

Newegg Uses Its Fight Against Patent Trolls for Marketing

Posted in Courtroom, Patents at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Newegg
Phoro credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

Summary: Comments on Newegg’s fight against patent trolls in court, setting an example for other companies

Newegg, founded by a Taiwanese man just 14 years ago, has been an important player in the fight against patent trolls that take companies to court because it has no tolerance towards such lawsuits and it is willing to lose money in the courtroom rather than pay up (it usually costs less to make the trolls go away with extortion money). “Newegg is famous for fighting patent trolls,” wrote a trolls expert the other day, “and the company is currently trying to win fees from several cases where it has won or the troll has given up.”

A week ago Newegg got some positive covers for winning an important battle. Newegg then used this fightback against patent trolls for PR [1, 2]. “Again,” wrote our reader iophk about this original blog post, “a distraction away from sw patents themselves.”

It is true that software patents are the real issue for us, but it doesn’t mean that Newegg tackling one patent at the time for defensive purposes is a bad thing. If only every company did that…

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts