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12.23.15

Links 23/12/2015: Plasma 5.5.2, Wine-Staging 1.8

Posted in News Roundup at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Enterprises are embracing open source for business value, says SanDisk exec

    This year marked a real sea change for open source in the enterprise. With the advent of the cloud and Linux, many are looking to the open source community to further build out their businesses.

    On the vendor side, traditionally proprietary software companies from IBM to Microsoft popped the hood on some code to share with enterprises and developers.

  • 9 Biggest open source stories of 2015

    2015 was an extremely good year for open source, in general. Enterprise customers embraced open source at an unprecedented rate. Not only that, arch rivals came together to work on shared technologies like Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. And we saw traditional proprietary companies like Microsoft and Apple release their software as open source. It was an exciting year.

    Here are my picks for the top 9 open source stories of the year.

  • Five FOSS Wishes for the New Year

    For a major OEM to get behind GNU/Linux and push it as its operating system of choice: Like that’s ever going to happen.

    Back in my radio days, I worked with a salesman who was legendary in our local market, and he would tell hard-to-get prospective clients to “not buy just enough time to prove radio advertising doesn’t work” — which is exactly what the major OEMs have done with Linux. Several OEMs — Dell and HP come immediately to mind — have made feeble attempts to offer machines with Linux preinstalled, but if they haven’t buried the Linux offerings on a back page, they haven’t given customers a good reason to buy the penguin either.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • WebExtensions in Firefox 45

        WebExtensions is currently in an alpha state, so while this is a great time to get involved, please keep in mind that things might change if you decide to use it in its current state. Since August, we’ve closed 77 bugs and ramped up the WebExtensions team at Mozilla. With the release of Firefox 45 in March 2016, we’ll have full support for the following APIs: alarms, contextMenus, pageAction and browserAction. Plus a bunch of partially supported APIs: bookmarks, cookies, extension, i18n, notifications, runtime, storage, tabs, webNavigation, webRequest, windows.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • New document solution offers openness and accountability

      Public administrations that value openness and accountability of their cloud-based document data, should try out Collabora Cloudsuite, a combination of LibreOffice and OwnCloud, recommends Michael Meeks, General Manager Collabora Productivity. “This cloudsuite will enable complete transparency and control of cloud-based document data.”

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • DreamFactory: a RESTful backend shapes a nice MBaaS

      The great PR machine in the sky promised us an enterprise-centric, open source developer news nugget before the Christmas break — could this be it?

      DreamFactory is an open source firm dedicated to helping programmers manage REST APIs for mobile, cloud and IoT applications.

    • DreamFactory fuels enterprise mobility and IoT initiatives with new product for managing open-source REST API platform

      DreamFactory Software, the creators of the fast-growing open source DreamFactory REST API backend, announced the release of DreamFactory Enterprise. A new commercial software package, DreamFactory Enterprise gives users the ability to easily deploy, manage and transport multiple instances of DreamFactory across the entire application development lifecycle. Designed for enterprise development and IT teams, software development agencies, systems integrators, independent software vendors, managed service providers, and cloud infrastructure-as-a-service companies, DreamFactory Enterprise empowers development teams to provision, govern and report on DreamFactory instances so they can accelerate modern application development and deployment on a well-governed infrastructure.

  • Funding

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • France renews its free software reference list

      The 2016 edition of SILL (Socle Interministériel de logiciel libre – a reference list of free and open source software applications) has been published by France’s inter-ministerial working group on free software. The update to the list was approved at a meeting on 11 December of the government’s IT department (Dinsic) and ministries’ CIOs.

    • Open source for Austria’s historical calendar

      The website listing Austria’s historical commemorations and anniversaries is built on open source components, including the Linux operating system, web server Apache, search engine Apache Solr and content management system Typo3. The site, managed by Austria’s Federal Chancellery, list events, projects and publications that deal with historical events in the country. The site was launched in February.

    • Roskilde seeks open source services and support

      The Danish municipality of Roskilde is looking for service specialists to help support and extend Kitos, an open source IT project management system tailored to Denmark’s municipalities. Any improvements to Kitos will be made available as open source.

    • Adullact to reinvigorate repository of tools

      France’s platform for civil servants working on free software, Adullact, is to revitalise its repository of ICT solutions. On 11 December, the Montpellier-based NGO announced a ‘massive investment’ in its tool platform. The group plans to use the ADMS – a method to describe interoperability solutions – to make solutions on the repository easier to find.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • 2015 was a good year for creating the world’s ‘missing maps’ with OpenStreetMap

        The Missing Maps project, which launched in 2014, aims to literally and figuratively put more than 20-million at-risk people on the map using OpenStreetMap (OSM) as a platform. We need to fill in “missing maps” before the next disaster strikes, ensuring the maps have detail sufficient for emergency responders to hit the ground running.

        OpenStreetMap is an open and free source of geographic data. Anyone with a username can add, edit, or update data, so the Missing Maps project is community driven and focuses on local knowledge. Remote volunteers around the world use satellite imagery to trace features, such as roads and buildings. Community members and volunteers in the area then use the base map to add local data to these shapes, including street names, addresses, building types, and points of interest.

Leftovers

  • If the Olympics were the Miss U pageant…

    If it were the Miss Universe beauty pageant, the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, would have taken a much shorter time to strip Ben Johnson of Canada the gold medal he supposedly won for ruling the 100-meter dash for men.

    But there was an official process for taking back the first-place mint from Johnson.

    After three days, it was established by a board of inquiry that the sprinter was indeed a fraud, with the dark episode for sports in general eventually becoming just a footnote to notoriety.

    The Canadian had been found to be relying on stanozolol, a banned anabolic steroid.

    No wonder the unbelievable time (9.79 seconds) he posted in track and field’s centerpiece event against a formidable field that included Carl Lewis, winner of three gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympiad.

    [...]

    Maybe, it’s time for the International Olympic Committee to be harsher with cheats by stripping them of any medal of any color right then and there (if technology would make it possible for fraudsters to be ruled instantly as having doped their way to the podium).

    At least that would be a consolation for Miss Gutierrez and Miss Wurtzbach.

    Congratulations to the two unflappable ladies but shame on Johnson, Jones and Armstrong and their ilk!

  • Why I will be voting to stay in Europe

    Clearly, some speculating journalist had mistaken my willingness to work with the EU’s institutions while I was Foreign Secretary for actually liking them enough to join them. And I am often asked whether the years I spent in EU meetings and negotiations made me less Eurosceptic than when I toured the country 15 years ago with my “Save the Pound” campaign.

  • Science

    • Poverty stunts IQ in the US but not in other developed countries

      As a child develops, a tug of war between genes and environment settles the issue of the child’s intelligence. One theory on how that struggle plays out proposes that among advantaged kids—with the pull of educational resources—DNA largely wins, allowing genetic variation to settle smarts. At the other end of the economic spectrum, the strong arm of poverty drags down genetic potential in the disadvantaged.

      But over the years, researchers have gone back and forth on this theory, called the Scarr-Rowe hypothesis. It has held up in some studies, but inexplicably slipped away in others, leaving researchers puzzled over the deciding factors in the nature-vs-nurture battle. Now, researchers think they know why.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Almost too late’: fears of global superbug crisis in wake of antibiotic misuse

      The director at Antibiotic Research UK, whose discoveries helped make more than £20bn ($30bn) in pharmaceutical sales, said efforts to find new antibiotics are “totally failing” despite significant investment and research.

      It comes after a gene was discovered which makes infectious bacteria resistant to the last line of antibiotic defence, colistin (polymyxins).

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Military to Military: Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war

      Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped.

      The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’ The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Why academics (and the US govt) are so terrified of WikiLeaks

      The International Studies Association (ISA) and its associated journal, the International Studies Quarterly (ISQ), have not always prevented the publication of academic analysis that relies on classified and leaked data. The ISQ published classified data from the Pentagon Papers

    • Sweden VS. Assange – 5 years of historic human rights transgressions

      The United Nations International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights says that the arresting of Mr Julian Assange can & should be put to an end. The extreme intervals and deferrals in the Swedish managing of the case has resulted in protracted period of five years, and in which Sweden has incurred in ostensible infringement of Article 9, paragraph 3, of the said International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This international-law pledge, of which Sweden is a signatory, stipulates that all individuals under prosecution investigation – even if they are only “detained” and thus, even if they are not being charged with any crime – as it is the case of Mr Assange – “shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Making ASEAN haze-free by 2020

      At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Environment Ministers Meeting in October, the 10 member nations agreed to develop a roadmap towards a haze-free ASEAN by 2020. Each country is supposed to come up with its National Plan of Action.

      Since then, Indonesia, where forest fires caused parts of the region to be shrouded in toxic haze this year, has made some important commitments. These include the review of a much-criticised law that still allows farmers to burn up to 2ha of land and the banning of all development on peatland, which is wetland made up of decayed vegetation and organic matter.

      Peatlands are vital carbon sinks, and it is also heartening that Jakarta has pledged to start a new peatland restoration agency as well as to mandate green financing by banks by 2018.

      Nevertheless, some questions remain. First, who will foot the bill? Around S$5.1 billion will be needed for the restoration of 2 million ha of peatlands. Indonesia has said that it would seek international funding, including at the recent Paris climate change summit. But it is unclear how much support Indonesia can garner from international partners.

      Second, will companies causing the peatland degradation take responsibility for restoration projects?

      Third, how will Indonesia ensure the enforcement of its laws?

      Indonesia does not have a good track record of keeping its conservation areas free from fire. In fact, 30 per cent of fire hotspots detected this year occurred in conservation areas.

    • Indonesia – Increasing Demand Could Have Worldwide Implications

      Indonesia, or the Republic of Indonesia, is the largest island country in the world with more than 10 thousand islands and a population of more than a quarter billion people. The company also has the 16th largest nominal GDP in the world with a GDP per capita of more than $3500.

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin: Mixed Signs of A Fee Market

      Six months ago in a previous post I showed that 45% of transactions have an output of less that $1, and estimated that they would get squeezed out first as blocks filled.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Mark Levin Attacks Wall Street Journal Editorial Highlighting The Uncompromising Conservative Media Standard For GOP Candidates

      Radio host Mark Levin responded to an editorial from The Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens that criticized right-wing media for their obsession with electing an ideologically pure conservative candidate at the expense of electability. Levin attacked Stephens as a “mouthpiece for amnesty” and “a jester for big government Republicans.”

      In a December 21 editorial, Stephens claimed conservatives are building a wall around the Republican Party by supporting a frontrunner who insults “Mexicans, Muslims … and others.” Stephens highlighted conservative desire to elect a candidate that “has passed all the Conservative Purity Tests (CPTs), meaning we’ve upheld the honor of our politically hopeless cause.” Stephens concluded that this nonsensical ideology would alienate “not just Hispanics, or Asian-Americans or gays and lesbians, but also moderates turned off by loudmouth vulgarians” and lose elections.

    • Trump Demands Media Focus On Clinton’s Video Comment, Ignore That ISIS Can Use His Words To Recruit

      Jonathan Karl: “Is There Any Doubt That ISIS Would Use What You’re Saying About Muslims?”

    • Do Racists Like Fox News, or Does Fox Make People Racist?

      Is there any merit to such criticisms? Do media and racial polarization reinforce each other? Is there a connection between news media viewing habits and attitudes about racial equality? Based on an analysis of the American National Election Studies 2012 dataset, we find that white respondents who regularly watch Fox News are more likely to express attitudes of symbolic racism and racial resentment. This is especially true of those Fox News viewers who live in the South.

    • Fox News’ 10 Most Cringe-Worthy Sexist Moments Of 2015

      Fox News has a long history of promoting sexism on-air, and 2015 was no different. Media Matters rounded up the 10 most cringe-worthy instances of sexism that happened on Fox this year — as well as a bonus cringe-inducing moment from CNN.

    • Fox Business Displays On-Air Graphic Saying “Dear Santa: Bring Guns”

      On the December 22 edition of his show, Charles Payne discussed increasing gun sales in the holiday season due to fears of terrorism and of Obama taking action to limit gun access. Payne invited Erick Erickson, a Fox contributor who claimed Obama will take executive action to limit access to guns.

    • For Democrats, Debate Night Means Being Quizzed From the Right by Corporate Media

      The Democratic and Republican debates have this asymmetry: Republican candidates are presumed to need ideological sympathizers among their questioners—Fox News, for example, or Salem Media, which teams up with CNN for GOP debates—while Democrats are thought content to be quizzed by representatives of mainstream corporate media outlets like CNN, CBS and ABC (FAIR Action Alert, 10/9/15).

      This set up resulted, on the Republican side, in the spectacle of Salem Media‘s Hugh Hewitt pressing GOP contender Ben Carson to declare his willingness to “kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands.” (Carson’s response: “You got it. You got it.”)

      And on the Democratic side, the result is debates like the one we got on December 19.

      Although primary debates are ostensibly intended to help members of each major party select their nominee, the questions asked by the debate moderators from ABC—World News Tonight anchor John Muir and national security correspondent Martha Raddatz—consistently posed questions from the right.

    • Obama Is Right: Terrorism Has Taken Over Cable News

      In an interview with NPR this week, President Obama complained that the media is oversaturated with coverage of terrorism. “If you’ve been watching television for the last month, all you have been seeing, all you have been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you,” Obama said.

    • If This Is What MSNBC Considers ‘Hard News,’ Things Are Worse Than We Thought

      Of course, during Lack’s lifetime, the world was a more dangerous place when Soviet and American attack submarines were playing chicken with each other every day in the north Atlantic, to say nothing of a certain 13- day stretch in October of 1962. (Also, too, Berlin.) But let’s take his opinion at face value and stipulate the world is in such unprecedented peril that a pivot to “hard news” was called for. What has Lack’s response been to the most dangerous situation in his lifetime so far?

    • No longer pretending to be objective, NYT turns 3rd debate into “The Hillary Clinton Show”

      Corporate media outlets often pretend to be “objective” and “neutral.” People who work in the media nevertheless understand that this is an impossible task — and that publications that present themselves as such do so only as a cynical marketing tactic to attract larger audiences (after all, Fox News’ slogan is “Fair and Balanced”).

      Sometimes, however, media outlets throw the charade out the window altogether and expose whose side they are really on.

      The New York Times did just this today, in its coverage of the third Democratic presidential debate, which was held last night in New Hampshire.

      The first article on the front page of the Times this morning reads “Clinton’s Focus In 3rd Debate Is G.O.P. Field.” This is the headline for the newspaper’s coverage of the debate. It does not have a separate article about Bernie Sanders’ role in the debate, yet alone about fellow candidate Martin O’Malley.

    • [Older] No, Bernie Sanders is not going to bankrupt America to the tune of $18 trillion

      Holy cow! He must be advocating for some crazy stuff that will bankrupt America! But is that really an accurate picture of what Sanders is proposing? And is this the kind of number we should be frightened of?

      The answer isn’t quite so dramatic: while Sanders does want to spend significant amounts of money, almost all of it is on things we’re already paying for; he just wants to change how we pay for them. In some ways it’s by spreading out a cost currently borne by a limited number of people to all taxpayers. His plan for free public college would do this: right now, it’s paid for by students and their families, while under Sanders’ plan we’d all pay for it in the same way we all pay for parks or the military or food safety.

    • Hillary Clinton is just Republican lite: Sorry, boomers, but this millennial is still only voting Bernie Sanders

      My last article, in which I take the position of “Bernie or bust,” seemed to set off a fierce debate, and drew heavy criticism from Hillary supporters. I would like to address some of those concerns, and elaborate points that I made.

      I’ll start with a briefly recap of my main point: If Hillary gets the nomination, and is elected, she will inadequately address the problems this country faces, that are angering people, by negotiating from the center/right and then moving right as a compromise, to give us mere half measures or quarter measures. I fear, given her New Democrat background, that she will likely use social programs and financial reform as bargaining chips.

    • In blockbuster poll, Sanders destroys Trump by 13 points

      Stop the presses! According to a new poll by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) destroys Republican candidate Donald Trump in a general election by 13 percentage points. In this new poll, Sanders has 51 percent to Trump’s 38 percent. If this margin held in a general election, Democrats would almost certainly regain control of the United States Senate and very possibly the House of Representatives.

  • Censorship

    • Sky is switching on porn filters by default from 2016

      Sky Broadband is to switch on its porn filters by default for all new customers from 2016.

      The company announced the decision would lead to “much greater use of home filters”, but said customers could opt-out if they wanted to.

      Two years ago, David Cameron announced plans for every home in the UK to have pornography blocked by their internet providers unless the homeowner specifically opted-in to be able to view adult content.

      [...]

      However, a year later only 3 per cent of its existing customers had opted to switch it on, the BBC reports.

  • Privacy

    • Santa Claus confirms NSA attack on naughty or nice database

      A press conference was organised this morning on behalf of Mr Santa Claus. At the conference, a spokes–elf confirmed that there had been repeated attempts to hack the “naughty or nice (NON)” database. The NON-database was thought to be used by Mr Claus to keep records of young inhabitants of planet earth, in order to set gift-giving priorities on 6, 24 and 25 December each year.

      Mr Claus’ spokes-elf stressed that the security of the database was not compromised in any way. He also confirmed that the IP addresses associated with the attack were traced to the US National Security Agency (NSA). In response, a spokesperson for the NSA said that he could neither confirm nor deny that the attack took place. He also refused to confirm the rumour that the attack took place in order to check whether or not the boys and girls working at the NSA were on the naughty list.

    • How the Investigatory Powers Bill will affect Internet Service Providers

      The draft Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) has serious implications for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who could be both obliged to assist the state in surveillance and also adversely affected by other provisions in the Bill, such as new hacking powers.

    • Thailand’s netizens are living in a climate of fear

      Sasinan also pointed a finger of blame squarely at Microsoft Thailand for divulging users’ private or identifying information in many of her cases. “The prosecutors love Microsoft as they give them all the information they ask for,” she said.

      [...]

      Arnon Chalawan from iLaw said that since the coup 17 people had been prosecuted for article 112 of the criminal code for their Facebook activity. He said that in many cases it was the defendant pressing like rather than re-sharing the offending post that got them arrested.

    • So-Called Oversight in OmniCISA

      I did a working thread of the surveillance portion of the version of CISA in the omnibus funding bill here. The short version: it is worse even than CISA was on most counts, although there are a few changes — such as swapping “person” in all the privacy guidelines to “individual” that will have interesting repercussions for non-biological persons.

      As I said in that post, I’m going to do a closer look at the privacy provisions that didn’t get stripped from the bill; the biggest change, though, is to eliminate a broad biennial review by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board entirely, replacing it with a very narrow assessment, by the Comptroller (?!) of whether the privacy scrub is working. Along with the prohibition on PCLOB accessing information from covert ops that got pulled in as part of the Intelligence Authorization incorporated into the bill, it’s clear the Omnibus as a whole aims to undercut PCLOB.

    • The controversial ‘surveillance’ act Obama just signed

      President Barack Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion spending bill last Friday, staving off a potential government shutdown — and in the process, quietly inaugurated what some have called a second Patriot Act.

      As part of the more-than-2,000-page document, the 14th rider to be exact, the appropriations omnibus includes the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. Buried within that section is the text of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that seeks to permit private companies to handover information to federal agencies.

    • Routing ‘Feature’ Can Expose VPN Users’ Real IP-Addresses

      A VPN is generally touted as an ideal tool to remain anonymous online, but this is more easily said than done. This week ProstoVPN revealed a widespread issue that can in many cases expose the true IP-addresses of users, unless proper action is taken.

    • The Juniper VPN backdoor: buggy code with a dose of shady NSA crypto

      Juniper was using a known flawed random number generator as the foundation for cryptographic operations in NetScreen’s ScreenOS and the safeguards it put in place were ineffective.

      Security researchers and crypto experts have spent the last few days trying to figure out the details of a recently announced backdoor in Juniper NetScreen firewalls that could allow attackers to decrypt VPN (Virtual Private Network) traffic. They believe that they found the answer: a combination of likely malicious third-party modifications and Juniper’s own crypto failures.

    • Panopticlick 2.0 Launches, Featuring New Tracker Protection and Fingerprinting Tests

      Today we’re launching version 2.0 of our tracking and fingerprinting detection tool, Panopticlick. This version brings new tests to our existing tool, such as canvas and touch-capability fingerprinting, updating its ability to uniquely identify browsers with current techniques. In addition, we’re adding a brand new suite of tests that detect how well your browser and extensions are protecting you from (1) tracking by ads; (2) from tracking by invisible beacons; and also (3) whether they encourage compliance with the Do Not Track policy, which EFF and a coalition of allies launched earlier this year. We’ve also redesigned the site look and feel, including friendlier layout on mobile devices. If your browser lacks protections, Panopticlick 2.0 will recommend installing tools that are available on your platform, such as Privacy Badger, Disconnect or AdBlock, in order to get better protections as you navigate the Web.

    • EU Data Protection Regulation: Approval expected soon

      The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR) took a significant step forward ​on 17 December when the European Union’s trilogue (Parliament, Council and Commission) reached agreement on the proposed EU GPDR. All that is needed now is for the full parliament and member state governments to approve it in January next year. Once that has happened, a date will be set for the two-year run in period before the new Regulation comes into being and organisations processing personal data about European citizens will be required to be compliant. The big but in this though is that some data protection regulators may decide to implement some of the coming changes earlier.

  • Civil Rights

    • US Military Tired of Questions From Media, Restricts Access to Guantanamo

      General John F. Kelly, the commander of United States Southern Command who is in charge of Guantanamo military prison, has restricted media access because he is increasingly frustrated with reporters, who “question officials” about President Barack Obama’s failure to close the facility.

      The Associated Press reported on Dec. 17 that journalists will now be allowed four trips to Guantanamo per year. The trips will last no more than one day. Reporters will be prohibited from accessing either of the two prison camps, “where a majority of the 107 current prisoners are held.”

      The New York Times additionally reported, “The general said he no longer wanted reporters to talk to lower-level guards because it was not their role to opine about detention operations, or to go inside the prison because that could cause disruptions. However, he said, depending on what else is going on, exceptions might be made to let first-time visitors inside.”

    • The Whistleblower: An Interview with Thomas Drake

      SPY Historian Vince Houghton sat down with Thomas Drake, former senior executive of the NSA – and whistleblower – who in 2010 was indicted on 10 felony counts; charges that would have carried decades of prison time had Drake been convicted. Instead, in early June 2011, the government dropped all of the charges and agreed not to seek any jail time in return for Drake’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor of misusing the NSA’s computer system. Although the legal case was settled, the controversy would continue, as a new wave of whistleblowers (or leakers – depending on your perspective) burst on to the public scene, and dramatically changed the way many Americans viewed the power of their government.

    • The Corey Williams Story

      You likely have not heard of Corey Williams but the story of his dubious murder conviction is another story that lays bare the scope of injustice that pervades Louisiana’s criminal justice system — and Caddo Parish in particular. It is a story that merits national attention not just for the shoddy work of police and prosecutors in the case but for the way state judges so far have refused to use their authority to unwind what surely is an inaccurate and unreliable result.

    • LAPD Investigated 1,356 Racial Profiling Complaints Against Itself, Dismissed Them All

      The Los Angeles Police Department has announced that of 1,356 allegations of biased policing against them by civilians, zero of those allegations were valid. Sure, sure, sure, sure.

      The claims of biased policing—a euphemism for racial profiling—were submitted to the LAPD from 2012 to 2014, according to the LA Times, and not even the president of the Police Commission can support the idea that an investigation would turn up no instances of wrongdoing whatsoever.

    • Millionaire businessman cleared of raping teenager after he told court he may have accidentally penetrated her

      A Saudi millionaire has been cleared of raping a teenager after claiming he might have accidentally penetrated the 18-year-old when he tripped and fell on her.

      Property developer Ehsan Abdulaziz, 46, was accused of forcing himself on the girl as she slept off a night of drinking on the sofa of his Maida Vale flat.

      He had already had sex with her 24-year-old friend and said his penis might have been poking out of his underwear after that sexual encounter when he tripped on the 18-year-old

      The 18-year-old met Abdulaziz in the exclusive Cirque le Soir nightclub in the West End on 7 August last year where she had been spending the evening with her friend, who was known to the businessman.

      He invited them to join him at his £1,000-per-night table and then offered them a ride home in his Aston Martin.

    • UK Government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public

      The British Government signed a secret security pact with Saudi Arabia and is now attempting to prevent details of the deal from being made public.

      The Home Secretary Theresa May agreed to the so-called ‘memorandum of understanding’ with her Saudi counter-part Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef during a visit to the Kingdom last year.

      The Home Office released no details of her trip at the time or announced that the deal had been signed. The only public acknowledgement was a year later in a Foreign Office report which obliquely referenced an agreement to “modernise the Ministry of the Interior”.

    • General Kanene: Zambia pardons singer who raped 14 year old – makes him ambassador against sexual violence

      UN human rights experts have criticsed Zambia after it pardoned a singer who was convicted of the rape of a 14-year-old girl – then appointed him as an ambassador in the fight against gender violence.

      Clifford Dimba, known as General Kanene, was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to 18 years in prison, but was pardoned by President Edgar Lungu after serving one year.

    • Brunei cancels Christmas: Sultan warns those celebrating could face up to five years in jail

      Anyone found illegally celebrating Christmas in Brunei could face up to five years in prison, according to a reported declaration by the Sultan of the tiny oil-rich state.

      Brunei introduced its ban on Christmas last year over fears that celebrating it “excessively and openly” could lead its Muslim population astray.

    • Sultan of Brunei bans Christmas ‘because it could damage faith of Muslims’

      Tiny conservative nation on Borneo warns citizens that putting up festive decorations or singing carols could threaten the country’s Muslim faith

    • Coe Better Protected Than Blatter By Corrupt National Authorities

      Why are the Metropolitan Police not feeling Tory Lord Sebastian Coe’s collar and trawling his hard drives? I blogged recently about his involvement in awarding the World Athletics Championships without a vote to the hometown of his long term paymasters and sponsors, Nike. Plus the £12 million his promotions company made from VIP hospitality packages for the Olympics, the VIP tickets for which were allocated by the Organising Committee of which he was the £600,000 pa chairman.

    • Calls for David Cameron to step in after US bars British Muslim family from trip

      The prime minister is facing calls to challenge the US over its refusal to allow a British Muslim family to board a flight from Gatwick to Los Angeles, to visit Disneyland.

      Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, has written to the prime minister after a family party of 11, about to embark on a dream holiday for which they had saved for months, were approached by officials from US homeland security as they queued in the departure lounge and told their authorisation to travel had been cancelled, without further explanation.

    • ‘The Tendency Is to Just Publish the Police Blotter’

      At times when media or politicians talk about video, like that of a Chicago police officer killing a 17-year-old, as inciting public unrest, you’d think they believe it is not the horrific action shown, its context and implication, that inflamed—but simply the video itself. It’s as if when it comes to police violence against mostly poor, mostly people of color, some believe things would go easier if we just didn’t know.

      That’s a luxury, of course, and affected community members don’t actually need more proof of their experience. But for journalists, we would hope that “it’s better to know” would be a core principle.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The world’s first website went online 25 years ago today

      Today the world’s first website turns 25 years old. Created by 60-year-old British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1990, while he was a researcher at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the website still exists today.

      The site’s address is info.cern.ch, and provides information about the world wide web – the platform that sits on top of the Internet, where documents and pages on the Internet can be accessed by URLs, and connected to each other via hyperlinks, like this.

    • Inside Tim Berners-Lee’s first website on its 25th birthday

      Berners-Lee, by his own admission, “just” had to take the concept of hypertext linking – as developed in the 1960s – and convince CERN that widespread use of this idea between organisations and institutions could result in a globe-spanning network of information.

    • The first website went online 25 years ago today

      If the web were a person, it wouldn’t have trouble renting a car from now on: the world’s first website, Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, went online 25 years ago today. The inaugural page wasn’t truly public when it went live at CERN on December 20th, 1990 (that wouldn’t happen until August 1991), and it wasn’t much more than an explanation of how the hypertext-based project worked. However, it’s safe to say that this plain page laid the groundwork for much of the internet as you know it — even now, you probably know one or two people who still think the web is the internet.

    • Facebook Spam Tricks The Internet Into Supporting Company’s AOL-ification Of Developing Nations

      For much of the year Facebook has been under fire for trying to dress up its attempt to corner developing nation ad markets under the banner of selfless altruism. Facebook’s plan is relatively simple: through a program dubbed Free Basics, Facebook plans to offer developing markets a Zuckerburg-curated, walled garden version of the Internet, for free. Under Facebook’s vision of this program, Facebook becomes the axle around which online access (and therefore online advertising) spins for generations to come, with the tangential bonus of helping low-income communities get a taste of what online connectivity can offer.

  • DRM

    • Facebook ditches Flash video in favour of HTML5

      FACEBOOK HAS MADE the switch from Flash to HTML5 for playing video content on the social media website.

      Facebook said in a blog post that it has changed to HTML5 for all video content in News Feed, Pages and the Facebook embedded video player.

      “From development velocity to accessibility features, HTML5 offers a lot of benefits. Moving to HTML5 best enables us to continue to innovate quickly and at scale, given Facebook’s large size and complex needs,” said the firm’s front-end engineer Daniel Baulig.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Adidas sues rival in three-stripe TM dispute

        Sportswear designer Adidas has slammed the design of a line of shoes which it has described as a “confusingly similar imitation” of its own three-stripe trademark.

        In a lawsuit filed on December 17 at the US District Court for the District of Oregon, Adidas has claimed a line of shoes manufactured by Delaware-based Tweak Footwear infringes its three-stripe trademark and is “irreparably harming Adidas’s brand”.

        ThinkGeek, a Delaware-based e-commerce company, has also been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

    • Copyrights

      • Court rules that Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the U.S.
      • Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited to the United States, Judge Rules

        Following an extradition hearing lasting 10 weeks, today New Zealand District Court Judge Nevin Dawson ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can indeed be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Dotcom confirmed that an appeal to the High Court would go ahead.

      • New Zealand Judge Rules Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited to U.S.

        The case raises questions about how far U.S. jurisdiction extends in an age when the Internet has erased many traditional borders

      • Kim Dotcom to be finally extradited to the US, New Zealand judge rules

        On Tuesday afternoon (Wednesday, Auckland time) a New Zealand judge ordered that founder Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants are eligible to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges over alleged massive copyright infringement on his now-shuttered site, Megaupload.

        The judgement, which almost certainly will be appealed, sets the stage for the winding down of Dotcom’s tenacious years-long legal fight against the American judicial system.

      • New Zealand Says Kim Dotcom Eligible For Extradition; Dotcom To Appeal

        This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but minutes ago in New Zealand Judge Nevin Dawson gave the US Justice Department a bit of an early Christmas present in declaring that Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants in the Megaupload case are eligible for extradition, following the long extradition trial earlier this year. The judge apparently said that the evidence was “overwhelming” against the defendants. This does not mean that Dotcom and crew are boarding a plane across the Pacific just yet. They have 15 days to file an appeal and Dotcom’s lawyers have already indicated that such an appeal is on the way (what did you expect?). Dotcom’s lawyer Ira Rothken points out that under New Zealand’s extradition agreement with the US, there is no extradition over copyright issues — and argues this ruling renders such a safe harbor “illusory.” Of course, even if that fails, there’s still a separate process for approving the actual extradition, which would take place with New Zealand’s Justice Minister, but that part of the process is more of a formality than anything else. It’s not over yet, but at this point things are leaning strongly towards Dotcom and his colleagues being shipped to Virginia to face a US criminal trial.

      • Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the US to face copyright charges

        Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is set to be extradited to the United States to face charges including copyright infringement, money laundering, and racketeering, a court in New Zealand has decided. District court judge Nevin Dawson gave the verdict today at 2PM local time (8PM ET), decreeing that the US had fulfilled requirements to get Dotcom, plus associates Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato, and Bram van der Kolk extradited to face further time in court, fines, and possible jail time.

        Dotcom was originally indicted in the United States back in 2012, with the Department of Justice claiming that Megaupload — the web storage service he created and operated — cost music and film studios in excess of $500 million dollars as people used it to download pirated songs and movies. He was arrested in a high-profile armed raid on his Auckland home soon after the charges were leveled against him, but it’s taken almost four years for the New Zealand courts to reach a decision on whether to send Dotcom to America.

      • Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom loses fight to avoid extradition to the US

        German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom hs lost a bid to block his extradition from New Zealand to the United States to face charges including copyright infringement and money laundering, a major victory for the U.S. Department of Justice in the long-running case.

        The decision by a New Zealand court comes almost four years after police raided Dotcom’s mansion west of Auckland at the behest of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and shut down his popular filesharing website, Megaupload.

      • Kim Dotcom loses extradition case, files immediate appeal

        A judge has ruled internet mogul Kim Dotcom is eligible for extradition to face charges in the United States.

        However, Dotcom immediately said he would file an appeal, ensuring the long-running courtroom drama will continue for some time yet.

        Following lengthy arguments in the North Shore District Court Judge Nevin Dawson called a last minute hearing on Wednesday to give his ruling.

Managing IP Interview With Battistelli Shows That He’s Either Deluded or Dishonest About EPO Realities

Posted in Europe, Interview, Patents at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Interpretation of the messages between the lines, regarding the Managing IP interview with the EPO’s President, Mr. Battistelli

Earlier today we explained why the Council's statement serves to disprove the narrative floated by Battistelli’s EPO. We are still unable to actually see/read what Battistelli told Managing IP (we’ve even tried Google cache, to no avail) because the original is behind a rather stubborn paywall. All paywalls, whether by intention or not, are a tool of soft censorship or limitation of access by particular audiences. They can help ensure that one only preaches to the choir and can hear back from the choir (patent lawyers in this case) because it’s hard if not impossible to examine what was said, especially as an outsider (to the microcosm) cannot become aware of what was actually said internally. It’s like a closed event/conference/meeting. Maybe like EPO-organised events which are either expensive or invite-only. It becomes an echo chamber.

Managing IP has just published some blog post with afterthoughts about this interview. These are publicly accessible, so we can examine and rebut what is essentially a sort of roundup.

“Battistelli told us he believes he has the support of the majority of staff for his reform programme,” according to the blog. At best, what Battistelli can say about “majority of staff” is that by a rather small (and ever-shrinking) margin, most staff is still afraid to publicly protest. That’s not an expression of consent, just a testament to the fear. Here is a direct quote: “I am convinced I have the support of the majority of staff, and the results we are obtaining would not be achieved by staff which are not fully behind this policy.”

“Battistelli is either deluded or he simply hopes that repeating this lie will help it stick (in the minds of those who are desperate enough to believe it).”This is nonsense. It’s a delusion. Battistelli is either deluded or he simply hopes that repeating this lie will help it stick (in the minds of those who are desperate enough to believe it).

The blog says: “As to where the Boards should be based, the president emphasised that to preserve the appearance of independence, they should be moved outside of the EPO premises, whether in Munich or another city. He also said it was necessary to have rules on conflicts of interest, to prevent members of the Boards going directly into private practice firms.”

Funny that EPO management worries about “private practice firms” in the boards when the management itself seems to be guilty (more on that in an upcoming series).

“Notice how Battistelli basically paints himself and the management as the “victims”.”“Battistelli acknowledged that the reputation of the EPO has been damaged by recent criticisms,” according to this blog. Well, that’s his fault. He blames the criticism rather than what the criticism is about/against.

Battistelli said: “It is true that politically this campaign has had some impact, we have to be realistic about that, and because of our protective roles we couldn’t indicate what was at stake. We will be able in the near future to inform the public on the kinds of attacks and behaviour we have been victims of.”

Notice how Battistelli basically paints himself and the management as the “victims”. Imagine the NSA painting itself, not the people whom it illegally spied on, as the victim. What a terrible PR strategy.

To quote further from the blog: “Disciplinary proceedings are now underway against some senior members of SUEPO, and Battistelli said he would follow the recommendations of the disciplinary committee.”

The “recommendations of the disciplinary committee” are basically a shadow of whatever Battistelli wants. It’s a mock trial, which Team Battistelli keeps trying to make secret not because it jeopardises the so-called ‘investigation’ because it embarrasses the accuser and shows what a laughable ‘trial’ is really happening (we have access to the texts and we have already refuted some ludicrous parts).

“If people want the hogwash, Managing IP will quite likely provide it.”To continue, again from the blog (quoting Battistelli: “There are some individual behaviours which are not acceptable and which need to be sanctioned, such as harassment cases. It is not legitimate to harass somebody because you are a staff representative.”

Complete nonsense! The so-called ‘harassment’ case is suggestive of the Hardon case, where something which happened almost two years ago suddenly (magically!) becomes relevant because Battistelli is determined to crush the unions by any means possible.

If people want the hogwash, Managing IP will quite likely provide it. Provided people are willing to pay Managing IP for access to pro-patents (or patent maximalism) articles.

Last but not least, the blog says: “We put as many of these [question] as we could to Battistelli, and there were no topics he declined to discuss” (except the questions we sent Managing IP). Did Managing IP even ask Battistelli any truly hard questions?

The Demise of Software Patents in Australia and the Unites States Worries Patent Lawyers

Posted in America, Australia, Patents at 8:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent Pools, Patent Thickets, Patent Stockpiling, Patent Trolling, Patent Royalties, Patent Agreements, Patent Lawsuits etc. are the lifeline of patent lawyers

Midland Hotel pool

Summary: Patent lawyers are pooling together their collective influence in an effort to rescue or salvage software patents, which software professionals neither want nor need

“Software shouldn’t be patentable,” Christine Hall of FOSS Force wrote last night. “It’s already covered under copyright law, where it belongs.” That’s just how a lot of software professionals feel, not just FOSS proponents. So who benefits from (and lobbies for) software patents? Monopolists like Microsoft, their lobbyists, and their patent lawyers for the most part.

“Yes, even some large companies have gotten fed up (but not Microsoft).”According to this latest news (covered here a couple of days ago), “APPLE AND ERICSSON have agreed to a global patent deal that will end legal hostilities between the two companies.”

Yes, even some large companies have gotten fed up (but not Microsoft). “The specifics of the deal remain confidential,” says this report, “but it looks like Ericsson has come out on top of the negotiations after confirming that Apple will make an initial payment to Ericsson and then ongoing royalties.”

The Microsoft-controlled Nokia is said to have gotten something similar out of Apple. A lot of these mobile patents pertain to wireless communication, design, and user interfaces/software. These threaten what we have come to know and appreciate as mobile Linux, or FOSS platforms (such as Android) as zero-cost operating systems that commoditise phones and other gadgets, like portable small devices.

We are rather disturbed to see the degree to which patent lawyers dominate the debate in the media. Where are representatives of the software industry (meaning independent developers, not software behemoths with monopolies in their respective field/s)? Spokespeople for the interests of software developers are typically absent, whereas the giants have dedicated front groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

“Where are representatives of the software industry (meaning independent developers, not software behemoths with monopolies in their respective field/s)?”In two recent posts of ours [1, 2], Australia’s patent lawyers were shown with their biased opinions. They currently freak out a bit because software patents are losing their teeth in Australia, at a fairly high level. Truthfully, it can go to an even higher (the highest) level. As George McCubbin from Minter Ellison put it in his conclusion/concluding remarks: “RPL Central can of course still seek special leave to appeal the decision to the High Court, which, if leave was granted and the appeal proceeded, would likely resolve this issue in the short term at least.”

Minter Ellison is just the latest legal firm to write about this. Here is some background or context: “In its long awaited decision Commissioner of Patents v RPL Central, the Full Federal Court has rejected another computer-implemented invention for failing to constitute patentable subject matter. In doing so, Justices Kenny, Bennett and Nicholas overturned the decision of the trial judge, Justice Middleton, delivered in August 2013.

“Patent law needs to take into consideration whether patents in one domain or another actually offer a benefit to society and encourage development.”“The decision has implications for any software developers.”

Yes, well, since they provably hate these patents. There were online petitions in Australia about it (covered repeatedly in Techrights at the time), indicating that it’s good news for developers, maybe bad news for patent lawyers.

Patent lawyers from Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP (US) are doing ‘damage control’ right now, a year and a half after Alice. This other new article says: “There may be a glimmer of hope for owners of software patents as it is possible that the Federal Circuit is rethinking, or at least grappling with, the larger implications of Alice” (the software patents slayer).

They note that “may be a glimmer of hope for owners of software patents” as if it’s a disaster that software are dying (a disaster for patent lawyers for sure, but take note of the biased tone).

Another US-based legal firm has just published something related to this. “As background,” it says, “the patent relates to computer memory modules that comprise a printed circuit with upwards of a dozen “random access memory” (RAM) chips (sometime on both sides of the circuit board) for short-term storage.”

This, unlike what was covered above, actually involves some hardware. It is not something which a sole programmer can produce in a basement.

Patent law needs to take into consideration whether patents in one domain or another actually offer a benefit to society and encourage development. When it comes to software patents, evidence strongly suggests that they mustn’t exist and the US Supreme Court seems to agree.

EPO Administrative Council: the Situation is “Detrimental to the Proper Functioning of the Office and the Public Image of the Whole Organisation”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Administrative Council on EPO

Summary: How the statement from the Administrative Council (above) completely shatters the bogus narrative laid forth by the European Patent Office, led by aggressive managers

THE EPO (where O”” stands for Office, not Organisation) can no longer pretend that just a bunch of people, or "Mafia", are behind the current problems. The Administrative Council makes such narratives increasingly out-of-touch.

“…the President´s continued denying in the Managing IP interview sounds absolutely pathetic.”
      –Anonymous
The Council’s statement, which was echoed here as well as the softball (questions) interview of MIP and Battistelli, makes the point which we were tempted and eager to make at the time (yesterday afternoon). Someone at IP Kat has just said it: “After the AC itself has come to publicly acknowledge “a situation detrimental to the proper functioning of the Office and the public image of the whole Organisation” (see its recent Communiqué), the President´s continued denying in the Managing IP interview sounds absolutely pathetic.

“Clearly James Nurton, the interviewer, got remarkably well informed of the situation at the EPO, and some of his apparently innocent questions are just as many hits (e.g. “Can you do things better or are you resolutely sticking to the path you are on?”)”

In that same previous post we noted that the UPC was high on the agenda at the EPO and paid-for propaganda was being used to promote it. We now take note of this article posted at the end of Tuesday in a British site for lawyers. It’s mostly parroting the EPO by saying that “EPO president Benoît Battistelli said that the establishment of the framework means “the preparations for the unitary patent are complete”.”

“It remains clear that there is an unclear future for the UPC in the UK even if the UPC ever becomes a reality (which is an uncertainty as well).”However, it ends with this cautious note: “In an article for Out-Law.com last month, Bentley explained in more detail the potential implications for businesses of the new unitary patent and UPC regime and how the UK’s potential exit from the EU could impact on both the timescale for, and operational aspects of, the new framework.”

It remains clear that there is an unclear future for the UPC in the UK even if the UPC ever becomes a reality (which is an uncertainty as well). It’s a very crude display of undemocratic takeover by powerful interests, whose only defense is that the end justifies the means and there is some kind of “greater good” (like invading Iraq).

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