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04.28.16

Links 28/4/2016: Fedora 24, EE Goes Open Source

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 1º Computer Science Week 2016

    And since the beginning, I had tried to bring the most of the content about Free Software ideology. And this time next week, it will start the 1º Computer Science Week, and what is more amazing is that this edition is bringing people from more there 14 cities around the state of Rio de Janeiro, for watch the talks. I didn’t expect that.

  • OpenDaylight as an NFV Controller

    In discussing our use cases, we’ve noticed that a key domain for OpenDaylight (ODL) is Cloud and NFV. ODL is closely tied to NFV and accordingly works very closely with the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), a related project with the Linux Foundation that concentrates on providing a carrier-grade, integrated, open source platform to accelerate the introduction of new NFV products and services.

  • Open, available & interoperable: How open source is transforming the data centre industry

    Analysis: From commercial to enterprise hubs, from smaller to bigger players, open source is gearing up to be the future of the data centre.

    The use of open source to design, build and deploy software and even hardware infrastructure in the data centre seems to be an accelerating trend amongst companies in the hosting space.

    Open source software revenues worldwide are expected to go beyond the $50bn barrier this year for the first time, according to Statista. By 2020, that value will rise to $57.3bn.

  • ​OwnCloud founder resigns from his cloud company

    Frank Karlitschek, ownCloud’s founder and CTO, has resigned from his company. OwnCloud is a popular do-it-yourself infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud.

  • 7 science projects powered by open source GIS

    Next week, FOSS4G North America is coming to Raleigh, NC. FOSS4G is a conference celebrating all of the ways that free and open source software are changing the world of geographic and geospatial information science (GIS).

    These days, with ever-expanding technologies for collecting geographic data, sensor networks and the Internet of Things are driving larger and larger quantities of data that must be stored, processed, visualized, and interpreted. Practically every type of industry imaginable is increasing the types and quantities of geographic data they utilize. And the traditional closed source tools of the olden days can no longer keep up.

    Many of the applications of geographic tools are scientific in nature, from biology to oceanography to geology to climatology. Here are seven applications for geographic science that I’m excited about hearing talks on next week.

  • EE

    • EE partners with open source tech innovators to boost connectivity in rural areas

      EE has collaborated with Lime Micro and Canonical on an open source project set to boost connectivity in rural areas.

    • EE Looks To Open Source Networks For 5G And Rural 4G

      EE wants developers to create network services and applications using Lime Micro’s software defined radio transceiver and Canonical Ubuntu Snappy Core

    • EE goes Open Source with Network in a Box solution

      UK telco EE has announced that it is partnering with Lime Micro and Canonical, two of the UK’s leading open source technology companies, to launch a fully programmable network capability with the ability to change the way future mobile networks are built. The solution is built on Lime’s ‘network in a box’ solution, which developers can configure by software to provide any wireless service, including 4G and WiFi. The configuration software, available through the Snappy Ubuntu Core stores, should allow developers to create new applications and services for a mobile network.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 47 Beta Enables VP9, Embedded YouTube Videos Use HTML5

        Running hot off this week’s release of Firefox 46 is the beta release issued by Mozilla for Firefox 47.

        The Firefox 47.0 beta is another hefty update by Mozilla developers. With Firefox 47 Beta, embedded YouTube videos can now play with HTML5 video if Flash is not present, there is support for Google’s Widevine CDM but only on Windows/OSX, and the VP9 video codec is enabled for users with “fast machines.” Outside of the video work, there is now support for ChaCha20/Poly1305 cipher suites, Service Workers improvements, about:debugging additions, smart multi-line input in the Web Console, RSA-PSS signature crypto support, the Firefox User Extension Library (FUEL) has been removed, and various other user and developer additions.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • CoreOS’s Stackanetes Puts OpenStack in Containers

      CoreOS said a few weeks ago it was working on a way to run OpenStack as an application on the Kubernetes container platform. Today the company says it has done just that with its new Stackanetes.

      Stackanetes puts OpenStack in containers as a way to make OpenStack easier to use, according to Alex Polvi, CoreOS CEO, who spoke with SDxCentral in early April. He said OpenStack can be “a bit fragile,” and containers can be useful to make an organization’s infrastructure behave like that of a Web-scale cloud provider.

    • 5 Developers Explain Why They Attend ApacheCon

      ApacheCon North America and Apache Big Data are coming up in just a few weeks and it’s an event that Apache and open source community members won’t want to miss.

      Apache products power half the Internet, manage exabytes of data, execute teraflops of operations, store billions of objects in virtually every industry, and enhance the lives of countless users and developers worldwide. And behind those projects is a thriving community of more than 4,500 committers from around the world.

    • Apache Apex Is Promoted To Top-Level Project

      Streaming and batch big data analytics technology Apache Apex has been elevated to a Top-Level Project by the Apache Software Foundation. Used by organizations including Capital One and GE, the technology can help developers more quickly create apps that leverage real-time data.

    • Qubole releases Kafka ingestion, conversion service to open source

      Less than three weeks after open-sourcing its Quark cost-based SQL optimizer, big data-as-a-service provider Qubole Inc. is at it again.

      Coincident with Kafka Summit taking place in San Francisco this week, Qubole said it’s releasing its StreamX ingestion service under an Apache open source license. StreamX is used to efficiently and reliably capture large scale, real-time data using Apache Kafka, the message broker that is surging in popularity thanks to growing interest in real-time and streaming analytics.

      StreamX ingests data logs from Kafka and persists them to cloud object stores such as Amazon Web Services LLC’s S3. It guarantees that data is delivered without duplicates, addressing a characteristic of Kafka that can cause problems for users in some situations.

    • Qubole and Looker Join Forces to Empower Business Users to Make Data-Driven Decisions

      Qubole, the big data-as-a-service company, and Looker, the company that is powering data-driven businesses, today announced that they are integrating Looker’s business analytics with Qubole’s cloud-based big data platform, giving line of business users across organizations access to powerful, yet easy-to-use big data analytics.

    • Talk Recap: Automated security hardening with OpenStack-Ansible
    • Data and Announcements Roll in from OpenStack Summit
    • OpenStack Summit Austin – Start
    • OpenStack Swift Proxy-FS by SwiftStack

      Proxy-FS is basically a peer to a less known feature of Ceph Rados Gateway that permits accessing it over NFS. Both of them are fundamentally different from e.g. Swift-on-file in that the data is kept in Swift or Ceph, instead of a general filesystem.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU founder Stallman: ‘Open source is not free software’

      Stallman is frequently described as an advocate of open source computing, even its father. It’s a characterization he vehemently denies. “I want people to associate me with free software, not open source,” he said. “I don’t want to make statements about open source except how it differs from free software.”

      Or, as a statement on GNU.org sums it up: “The free software movement campaigns for your freedom in your computing, as a matter of justice. The open source non-movement does not campaign for anything.”

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing

      On 19 April, the European Commission published a communication on “ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market” (hereinafter ‘the Communication’). The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy intends to digitise industries with several legislative and political initiatives, and the Communication is a part of it covering standardisation. In general, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes the Communication’s plausible approach for integrating Free Software and Open Standards into standardisation but expresses its concerns about the lack of understanding of necessary prerequisites to pursue that direction.

    • A fresh look at the U.S. draft policy on ‘federal sourcing’

      The policy both reaffirms and broadens a goal laid out in the Administration’s Second Open Government National Action Plan for “improved access to custom software code developed for the Federal Government.” The Plan emphasized use of (and contributing back to) open source software to fuel innovation, lower costs, and benefit the public. It also furthers a long-standing ‘default to open’ objective going back to the early days of the Administration.

    • The Situation Report: NIST Framework Mandatory? Open Source Rebellion at DHS?

      The Department of Homeland Security’s chief information officer Luke McCormack was put in a tough position recently when he had to publicly flip-flop on the department’s official position on the use of open source software.

      McCormack was forced to post to GitHub a strong formal endorsement of a draft White House policy for publishing Federal source code in the open. “We believe moving towards Government-wide reuse of custom-developed code and releasing Federally-funded custom code as open source software has significant financial, technical, and cybersecurity benefits and will better enable DHS to meet our mission of securing the nation from the many threats we face,” McCormack wrote, reversing the concerns expressed a week earlier by members of his own team.

      Those DHS IT officials had called out the misguided geeks at the White House noting that most security companies do not publish their source code because that would allow hackers to develop highly targeted attacks.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Guide to Facebook’s Open Source Data Center Hardware

        When Facebook rolled out the Open Compute Project in 2011, it started somewhat of a revolution in the data center market. In a way, that revolution had already been going on; Google had figured out it was better off designing its own hardware than buying off-the-shelf products from the top vendors, and it had been some time before Facebook reached that point too.

  • Programming/Development

    • Purdue’s IronHacks series puts unique spin on hackathons

      Hackathons are well-known as events where developers come together to quickly turn out a piece of software, often competing against each other. But what if they were also a place for learning? The Research Center for Open Digital Innovation at Purdue University is making that happen. The IronHacks series of hackathons is designed to allow participants to learn from judges and Center researchers to learn from the participants.

    • Concourse: Scalable Open Source CI Pipeline Tool

      Concourse, an open source CI pipeline tool that uses yaml files for configuring pipelines and configuration-free setup, has recently bumped its major release and is currently available in version 1.1.0. According to the team sponsored by Pivotal, the major benefits of Concourse are explicit and first-class support of pipelines, running isolated builds in containers, avoidance of snowflake build servers and easy access to build logs.

    • GNU compilers learn new C++, parallelism tricks

      The GNU Compiler Collection will be refreshed with updated C++ standards compliance and improvements in parallelism and diagnostics.

      Described as a “major” release, GCC 6.1 leverages the C++ 14 standard, which was approved in 2014. “The C++ front end now defaults to the C++ 14 standard, instead of C++98, [which] it has been defaulting to previously,” said Jakub Jelinek, a Red Hat consulting engineer and a co-release manager of GCC, in a bulletin.

Leftovers

  • Scientology Honcho Miscavige Threatens to Sue Own Father to Block Book That Could Finally Bring Down ‘Church’

    High-ranking Church of Scientology member David Miscavige’s lawyers have threatened to file suit against Miscavige’s father, Ron. The threat is a last-ditch effort to stop Ron Miscavige from releasing a tell-all book about his son’s involvement in the religion, a belief system that outsiders and former members call a cult.

  • Dead Body Found In Conference Room Of Apple’s Headquarters

    A dead body was found in one of the conference rooms of the Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. No other injuries have been reported except a female employee who was also reported to be injured. Sheriff’s department have refused to comment on this case.

  • Annoying Windows 10 Update Request Highlights Its Annoying-Ness On Live Weather Broadcast
  • Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware storms live TV weather forecast

    Microsoft’s relentless Windows 10 nagware has interrupted a live TV weather forecast, urging meteorologist Metinka Slater to upgrade.

    The operating system suddenly popped up a box on screen insisting the station’s computer be upgraded to the latest version – while Slater was on air describing thunderstorms rolling through Iowa, US.

  • The Best Windows 10 Commercial Ever

    We interrupt this weather report with a very important announcement. Despite our best efforts, your local TV station has not yet upgraded to Windows 10. We warned them that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.

  • Teen Pregnancy Rate Has Fallen by More Than Half

    Why are teen women having fewer babies? First, more teens appear to be taking advantage of effective contraceptive methods. Second, they also are having less sex than earlier generations did. In an earlier report on adolescent sex the CDC noted that since 1988 the rate of teen sexual activity had fallen by 22 percent for teen males and 14 percent for teen females. Interestingly, a 2014 study found that births to teens dropped by nearly 6 percent 18 months after the preimiere of the MTV reality show, 16 and Pregnant.

  • Science

    • 3 women who radically changed the course of technology

      Now however, for no discernable reason, just 20% of the Australian IT workforce are women. So in order to not forget the industry’s roots – and hopefully inspire more Australian women to start crunching code – we thought we’d remember three notable innovators who radically changed the course of technology as we know it.

    • More particle than wave

      ASKED by a journalist in April about Canada’s role in fighting Islamic State, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, came back with a pithy lecture on quantum computing. “The uncertainty around quantum states,” he explained, lets quantum computers encode much more information than the conventional binary sort can. This detour into geekdom seemed natural at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which Mr Trudeau was visiting to proclaim his enthusiasm for basic research. The video of the impromptu lecture went viral, adding to the glamour already radiated by the snowboarding, cannabis-legalising, refugee-embracing prime minister. The assembled physicists duly cheered; Mr Trudeau then answered the question.

    • Scientists Think Intelligent Life Could Have Evolved Before Brains

      Learning is a function that has always been precious to humans. In a way, it allows us to believe the fallacy that we can revolt against our evolved, basal tendencies, and forge our future as a species through intellect, as opposed to natural selection.

      We value the capacity to learn in ourselves, but also in other species. It’s why we take so much delight in teaching a dog new tricks, and yet feel threatened by the possibility of sentient, non-human beings.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Here’s Why Kids Are Still Getting More Obese

      But obesity doesn’t exist just because of individual choices by parents and kids. On the policy front, the US government “has yet to aggressively do more than try to make some minor changes in a few programs,” Popkin added. For example, Congress and President Barack Obama reformed the school food environment in important ways back in 2010, cutting down on the once-ubiquitous availability of sugary snacks and beverages, but public school cafeterias are still constrained by tight budgets to churning out plenty of highly processed food. (More here on the the modest US lunch reforms and the brewing congressional backlash against them.) In Brazil, by contrast, “70 percent of all food served in schools must be real food that is healthy,” Popkin said.

    • Plant Variety Protection To Meet Food Security Plant Treaty, But Where Are Farmers’ Rights?

      A planned symposium to identify potential interrelations between the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), and the United Nations International Plant Treaty is raising concerns from civil society about farmers’ rights.

    • Is a GMO Labeling Victory within Our Grasp?

      Oh, to be a fly on the wall inside the offices of the top lobbyists for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

      So close to the July 1 deadline for complying with Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and still no court ruling to overturn Vermont’s law. Still no federal legislation to preempt Vermont’s law.

      Hundreds of millions of dollars spent to keep labels off GMO ingredients. Lawsuits, dirty tricks, shady schemes—all, so far, for naught. Meanwhile, food corporations are labeling, or announcing plans to label, and preparing to implement those plans. Others, including Dannon, will remove GMO ingredients from their products.

    • 3 Pesticides Are Putting Nearly All U.S. Endangered Species At Risk

      The EPA’s draft report, which was released earlier this month, looked at three widely-used pesticides: chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion. It found that both malathion, which is used in agriculture, for lawn care, and for mosquito control, and chlorpyrifos, which is used on a range of crops including cotton, almonds, and fruit trees, was “likely to adversely affect” 97 percent of the 1,782 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The other pesticide, diazinon, which is used in orchards and vegetable crops, was found to likely adversely affect 79 percent of these species.

    • Should We Worry About Arsenic in Baby Cereal and Drinking Water?

      According to a 2007 study this may be because of previous use of arsenic-based pesticides to control the boll weevil pest on cotton. From the 1930s to the 1960s, approximately 10 to 15 pounds of arsenic-based pesticide were used per acre for every planting.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • No Exit: The Case for Moving Security Information Front and Center

      The OWASP Top 10 list is extremely well known; it is impossible to walk through the show floor at a security conference without encountering at least some mention of the top 10 list. The Top 10 list is cited several times by the PCI Security Standards Council Penetration Testing Guidance and has been used as an acceptance test criteria for contract fulfillment for public procurement.

    • What Is Gitian Building? How Bitcoin’s Security Processes Became a Model for the Open Source Community

      But open source code doesn’t necessarily eliminate all risk. Users still need to trust that the software they run on their computers actually reflects the open source code as it should. To eliminate this risk, Bitcoin developers have developed a fierce security policy which goes beyond the open source nature of Bitcoin itself: “Gitian Building.”

    • The road to hell is paved with SAML Assertions

      A vulnerability in Microsoft Office 365 SAML Service Provider implementation allowed for cross domain authentication bypass affecting all federated domains. An attacker exploiting this vulnerability could gain unrestricted access to a victim’s Office 365 account, including access to their email, files stored in OneDrive etc.

    • Cisco Finds Backdoor Installed on 12 Million PCs

      Cisco started analyzing Tuto4PC’s OneSoftPerDay application after its systems detected an increase in “Generic Trojans” (i.e. threats not associate with any known family). An investigation uncovered roughly 7,000 unique samples with names containing the string “Wizz,” including “Wizzupdater.exe,” “Wizzremote.exe” and “WizzInstaller.exe.” The string also showed up in some of the domains the samples had been communicating with.

    • The “Wizzards” of Adware [Ed: unsurprisingly Windows]
    • All About Fraud: How Crooks Get the CVV

      A longtime reader recently asked: “How do online fraudsters get the 3-digit card verification value (CVV or CVV2) code printed on the back of customer cards if merchants are forbidden from storing this information? The answer: If not via phishing, probably by installing a Web-based keylogger at an online merchant so that all data that customers submit to the site is copied and sent to the attacker’s server.

    • Why We Should Be Worried About Ancient Viruses Infecting Power Plants [Ed: unsurprisingly Windows again]

      The reasons these patients are vulnerable to viruses like W32.Ramnit and Conficker is because they run legacy systems that haven’t been patched or updated for a decade. And that’s fine as long as the operators of the plant keep them isolated and assume they are insecure, hopefully keeping the more critical parts of the network away safer.

    • Magical Thinking in Internet Security

      Increased complexity without corresponding increases in understanding would be a net loss to a buyer. At scale, it’s been a net loss to the world economy.

    • Edward Snowden: The Internet Is Broken

      In 2013, a now-infamous government contractor named Edward Snowden shined a stark light on our vulnerable communications infrastructure by leaking 10,000 classified U.S. documents to the world.

      One by one, they detailed a mass surveillance program in which the National Security Administration and others gathered information on citizens — via phone tracking and tapping undersea Internet cables.

      Three years after igniting a controversy over personal privacy, public security, and online rights that he is still very much a part of, Snowden spoke with Popular Science in December 2015 and shared his thoughts on what’s still wrong and how to fix it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Puerto Rico: a Junta By Any Other Name

      Empire is once again fashionable. The financial crisis that is presently gutting the island of Puerto Rico plays out like the world’s worst case of botched assisted suicide. The sell of its municipal funds and its constitutionally guaranteed promise of repayment to investors has plunged the island into a very precarious situation for its millions of citizens and the opportunity of a lifetime for hedge fund vultures. While it is laudable that the current economic meltdown on the island has made some headlines, including a mostly well-thought out piece by comedian John Oliver, the same cannot be said for the congressional knee-jerk legislative reaction to it. The bill, H.R. 4900, was designed to impose an oversight board meant to administer the fiscal responsibilities of the Puerto Rican people and has unleashed a firestorm of opposition that was glossed over by Oliver’s otherwise on-point observations. The controversy surrounding this bill has served as a catalyst underscoring the deep disregard bordering on contempt that frames the question of self-determination and complete lack of sovereignty afforded to islanders.

    • Taking Page from Israel War Tactics, US Military Employs Controversial ‘Roof Knocking’

      An Israeli tactic deemed “ineffective” at preventing civilian causalities by a United Nations commission has now been adopted by the United States in its fight against ISIS, according to a U.S. military official.

      Air Force Maj. Peter Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led coalition, explained at a press briefing Tuesday that the tactic dubbed “knocking on the roof” was, in fact, used during a strike in Mosul, Iraq against a “major distributor of funds to Daesh fighters.” A woman the military had seen come and go with her children from the building died in the strike—”an unfortunality,” as Gersten called it.

      “We went as far as actually to put a Hellfire on top of the building and air burst it so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof to ensure that she and the children were out of the building. And then we proceeded with our operations,” Gersten said. He went on to say that ISIS fighters are “using the civilian force as human shields.” He said that the military saw the woman and children leave the building. They then “began to process the strike,” but the woman ran back into the building and was killed.

    • Why NATO Has Become One of the Most Destructive Forces on the Planet

      Europe is rife with political conflict. Southern European economies continue to splutter along on fumes. The defeat of the Grexit (Greece’s departure from the Euro) is temporary. When the pain of austerity rises once again, the politics of exit from Europe will return. In Spain, there is no government as the conservatives refuse to give up power to the anti-austerity bloc in parliament. The “refugee crisis” continues to rattle European societies, where an anti-refugee bloc has made gains at the ballot box. Austria is the latest test, where the far right anti-refugee party and the Green Party displaced the establishment parties in the presidential elections; it is the right and the Greens that will go for a run-off. It is this polarity between the Far Right and the Left that has broken the “centrist” consensus of European politics.

    • How Big Money in Politics Fuels Inequality and War

      Following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision and related rulings, corporations and the wealthiest Americans gained the legal right to raise and spend as much money as they want on political candidates.

      [...]

      Most notoriously this included Halliburton, a military contractor previously led by Dick Cheney. The company made huge profits from George W. Bush’s decision to wage a costly, unjustified, and illegal war while Cheney served as his vice president.

      Military-industrial corporations spend heavily on political campaigns. They’ve given over $1 million to this year’s presidential candidates so far — over $200,000 of which went to Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack in industry backing.

    • Rahm AWOL on Chicago Police Reform

      Chicago is a city on edge. Last weekend, 20 people were shot over 13 hours. According to the Chicago Tribune, 1,051 have been shot this year alone, through April 25. One hundred seventy-eight have been killed, more than one each day. And while shootings take place across the city, they are concentrated in neighborhoods scarred by deep poverty.

    • US Pivot to Asia Poised to Enter Nuclear Phase

      I’m expecting tactical nuclear weapons to reappear overtly in the US military equation for Asia…

    • What The Next Execution Tells Us About Childhood Trauma And The Death Penalty

      Less than two weeks after executing Kenneth Fults, Georgia is getting ready to lethally inject its fifth death row inmate this year.

      Daniel Anthony Lucas is scheduled to die Wednesday night for the fatal shootings of two children. He doesn’t dispute that he committed the crime. But his story demonstrates how early childhood trauma plays out on death rows across the country today. A substantial number of executions involve people who grew up around substance abuse or grew up in environments where violence and neglect was the norm.

    • Searching for Ground Truth in the Kunduz Hospital Bombing

      Deliberately targeting a hospital is a war crime, after all, but so is the indiscriminate killing of civilians outside a hospital. And it’s worth noting, according to a Western security analyst who is an expert on Kunduz, that “even if they had struck the NDS headquarters, there still would have been civilian casualties.” The NDS office, which the U.S. military has said was the intended target, stands in a residential neighborhood, as do the private home and the tea factory that were also bombed on the night of the MSF hospital strike. An AC-130, the analyst pointed out, is a disproportionate and indiscriminate weapon, not appropriate for use in civilian areas in the dead of night.

    • Bob Graham Says FBI Aggressively Deceived on Sarasota 9/11 Investigation

      James Clapper has suggested that the 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry may be declassified by June. I’m skeptical the pages will be entirely declassified, but look forward to them.

      Meanwhile, former Senate Intelligence Chair has begun to press for an accounting on the Sarasota cell of apparent 9/11 supporters. In an interview with NPR, he stated clearly that FBI lied (um, misstated) what they knew about the Sarasota cell and called for the investigations to be reopened without the tight time limits imposed on the original commissions.

    • French Assembly adopts resolution calling to end anti-Russian sanctions imposed by EU

      French MPs have voted in favor of a resolution to lift the EU-imposed sanctions initially slapped on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine and the reunification with Crimea. The document is non-binding.

      Fifty-five members of the French National Assembly have supported the resolution calling on the government not to extend the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU. Forty-four voted against and two abstained. Of the 577 deputies in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, 101 took part in the vote.

    • The People of the USA will Have the Final Word

      It has been repeatedly said that the American people are the only ones who could perform the Herculean task of bringing down the most powerful and bloodthirsty empire ever known to humankind. Humanity anxiously hopes to see the US people act, and will provide the solidarity they would have earned.

      [...]

      The continuous embarrassing exposure of prisoners’ human rights violations – including torture and serious indignities– in US public or secret prisons scattered around the world, have awakened the awareness of millions of Americans who condemn such injustice.

    • Tibet, symbolism and the Czech Republic

      According to the official statement of the dean’s office, the display of the Tibetan flag was a symbol of the institution’s freedom of thought, a critical expression of the injustices of our times and therefore a reaction to a state visit “reminiscent of communist-era masquerades”.

    • Ten inconsistencies in Donald Trump’s big foreign policy address

      For a speech purporting to challenge Washington’s accepted wisdom, there was much that was familiar about Donald Trump’s first big foreign policy address, not least the customary certainty of its delivery.

      A call to challenge radical Islam through “philosophical struggle” as well as military force might even have come from the lips of Barack Obama. Certainly no mainstream Republican would ever disagree with the somewhat motherhood-and-apple-pie exhortation for US presidents to view the world “through the clear lens of American interests”.

    • 46 Seconds Everyone Should Watch Before Handing Donald Trump The Nuclear Codes

      Now, however, things are getting serious. Trump is, in all likelihood, one of the two people with a shot at becoming our next president. As Commander-In-Chief, Trump would have full control of America’s nuclear weapons arsenal and would be in charge of our diplomatic relationships with the other 8 nations that possess nuclear weapons.

      Trump has said that he believes nuclear weapons are the greatest threat facing our country. Yet the nuclear deterrence strategy he outlined last night during a 46-second soundbite on Fox News borders on incoherency.

    • ‘Outrageous Targeting’ as MSF-Supported Hospital in Syria Bombed

      Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that a hospital it supported in the Syrian city of Aleppo was bombed, destroying the key pediatric facility and killing at least 14 people.

      The medical humanitarian aid group, also known by its French acronym, MSF, said in a statement that two doctors were among the casualties, including one of last pediatricians in Aleppo, and that other medical structures in the city had also been attacked this week.

      Witnesses said the Al Quds hospital was hit by a missile from a fighter jet Wednesday, according to CNN.

    • US expats told to ‘avoid crowded places’ in Stockholm

      The US embassy has warned Americans to avoid crowded places in Sweden as Swedish security police continues to investigate a potential terror threat against Stockholm.

    • Veteran Hindu saint murdered in Bangladesh by pro-Jihadists.

      A Hindu priest died on Saturday, a day after he was stabbed by a local Islamist lumpen in Tungipara of Gopalganj. The deceased Hindu man eschewed his material association with his family life and entered into a life of sainthood for greater social service and emancipation.

      Police arrested the Muslim youth identified as Shariful Sheikh (aged 25), son of Abdul Mannan Sheikh, in the murder case filed in a local police station.

      The dead, Sadhu Paramananda Roy, 75, of Dakkhin Bashuria village under Kushali union, used to preach Hindu values according to scriptures to the people at different programmes in the area, family members said. He was a disciple of Thakur Rasraj Roy.

      He was returning home on last Friday afternoon from a market near Gimadanga village. As he reached a bridge around 6:30pm, fanatic Shariful stabbed him in the abdomen and the right hand with a knife, the victim told his family members before his death.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • BREAKING: DSM Communication on Platforms leaked!

      The role and responsibility of online platforms and intermediaries is a key issue in the Digital Single MarketStrategy, which the EU Commission launched last May [see Katposts here, here, here, here and here]. After a number of public consultations, on-line and off-line enthusiasts were anxiously awaiting for the Commission to release a Communication on that very issue by the end of May 2016. A few hours ago, Politico provided for a good remedy against our anxiety by leaking the draft Communication, which bears the lovely title “Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges for Europe”. The draft version is dated 18 April.

      The draft Communication addresses a number of DSM initiatives where platforms’ liability is involved and shades light upon the general principles that will guide the Commission’s reform efforts as regards E-Commerce, AVMS, and IPRED Directives. Overall, the draft Communication describes a strongly pro-competition program that reminds to this Kat the EU he knew when he attended university [i.e., agesago], when the Commission was perceived as a disruptive Institution aimed at battling status quos, rather than preserving them. Be that as it may, here are the major points that the Communication addresses.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Belarus’s Chernobyl taboo

      Thirty years after the catastrophe at Chernobyl, the government of neighbouring Belarus still refuses to release information about real radiation levels in the surrounding area. It’s even planning to build a new nuclear power plant.

    • Rejection of Montana Coal Train a ‘Big Win’ for Ranchers and Environmentalists

      Driving one more nail into the coal industry’s coffin, a federal board on Tuesday officially rejected a proposal to build a coal-hauling railroad through farm and ranch land in southeastern Montana.

      Ranchers and environmentalists, who aggressively opposed the project, celebrated the Surface Transportation Board ruling.

      “It’s a historic day when a federal agency recognizes there’s no foreseeable future for coal,” stated Ken Rumelt, an attorney at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at the Vermont Law School, who represented the grassroots conservation group Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) before the Board.

    • Summer swelter will be no joy for US

      Scientists warn that the current pleasures of warmer weather will pall for US citizens as climate change brings extreme temperature rises and unhealthy levels of atmospheric ozone.

    • Germany to launch 1 billion-euro discount scheme for electric car buyers

      Germany is set to launch a new incentive scheme worth about 1 billion euros ($1 billion) to get more consumers buying electric cars as it struggles to meet a target of bringing 1 million of them onto its roads by the end of the decade.

      The costs of the incentives, similar to those already established in some other European countries, are to be shared equally between the government and automakers with a view to selling an additional 400,000 electric cars, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said on Wednesday.

      Critics say higher electricity generation to charge battery cars will increase carbon dioxide emissions.

    • Germany Just Announced A Major Push To Increase Electric Car Sales
    • Malaysia planning to amend law to seize land if there are big fires

      Malaysia is proposing to amend an Act to allow the government to seize control of land where big fires are discovered, as part of its long-term efforts to curb haze from slash-and-burn forest clearing techniques usually linked to palm oil plantations.

      The palm oil sector in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia has been facing criticism for deforestation and its land-clearing methods that send vast plumes of smoke across South-east Asia every year.

      Indonesia has already taken measures to reduce the industry’s environmental impact, with the latest being a moratorium on new oil palm concessions.

    • Panama Papers Prove America Has the Money to Transition to 100% Clean Energy

      Last week, the IRS asked anyone who might be exposed in the Panama Papers to come forward before they get caught. And for good reason—America is a hotbed of tax evasion.

      There’s an old myth that we can’t have a comfortable lifestyle—cars, homes, creature comforts—without sacrificing clean water and clean air, because it requires lots of energy and we don’t have the money to transition to cleaner energy sources.

    • Climate Change Is Driving Ocean Oxygen Levels Down, And That’s a Big Problem For Marine Ecosystems

      Scientists know that climate change is slowly robbing the oceans of their oxygen, but historically, it’s been hard to differentiate oxygen loss that’s due to natural ocean cycles and warming-driven loss. Now, a new study predicts that within the next 15 to 25 years, warming-caused oxygen loss will be detectable across the worlds’ oceans.

      The study, published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, used modelling to determine that, between 2030 and 2040, warming-caused oxygen loss will be severe enough — and data will be comprehensive enough — for scientists to see what parts of the ocean are being affected by human-caused deoxygenation.

  • Finance

    • Capitalism Without the Das Capital: Welcome to Uber’s Gig Economy

      Uber has succeeded in almost completely pushing its operating costs (absent the relatively small investment needed to run the app and backoffice) down to people who often can’t afford it but are lured into trying because the alternatives seem even lower paying.

      [...]

      In addition to having to raise their own capital to essentially buy themselves a job driving for Uber, drivers face risks far above the simple “risk” associated with any “investment.”

    • ‘Let the Rich Pay More Taxes’: Thousands Take to Streets in Costa Rica

      Public sector workers in Costa Rica were on strike Tuesday and Wednesday, demanding salary increases, higher taxes on the wealthy, and land rights for peasants.

      Thousands of teachers, medical workers, and their allies reportedly marched to the national congress building on Tuesday, demonstrating to President Luis Guillermo Solís “that the people are not happy with his administration,” said Gilberto Cascante, the president of the ANDE teachers union, one of three major teachers unions joining the strike.

      Spanish language news agency EFE reports that protesters carried banners with messages like “Let the rich pay more taxes” and “For the dignity of workers,” among others.

    • SF College Faculty Strike for Justice Stop Class Reductions & Pay Cuts

      Currently, there are approximately 43.3 million Americans carrying student loans amounting to an astounding $1.2 trillion. This is greater than the country’s towering credit card bill. And, it’s getting worse. 2015 graduates set a new record of indebtedness.

    • How the Democrats Destroyed Welfare [Ed: short]
    • Inequality Will Increase Until There’s a Revolution

      Imagine, after a deep sleep, you suffered the fate of Rip Van Winkle and woke in the spring of 2040. What might you find?

      Among other things, maybe a presidential candidate railing against America’s concentration of wealth. Except this time, it’s not the 1 percent that owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent — it’s the top hundredth of a percent.

      Could it get that bad? Yes, quite easily. In fact, that nightmare is already on the way.

      To see this better, take a step back in time. If you woke up 24 years ago, you could hear candidate Bill Clinton lamenting the fact that the top 1 percent owned as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

    • Elon Musk, Crony Capitalist

      Creating something that people want is how one gets wealthy in a market economy. Sadly, there’s another way to get rich. It’s called cronyism, and it can make billions for the lucky businesses that get government support—whether their products are profitable or not. In the process, the taxpayers foot the bill.

      Taxpayer insurance against unprofitability takes many forms, from loan guarantees to grants, which provide a no-lose scenario for beneficiaries. If the business is profitable, then the corporation makes massive profits. If the business goes bust, then the taxpayers take a hit. Either way, the crony capitalist wins.

      Perhaps the most prominent case of cronyism in modern history is Elon Musk. A brilliant entrepreneur, Musk founded the online payment company X.com with profits he made off the sale of Zip2—another profitable company and the first online version of the Yellow Pages. X.com eventually merged with Confinity and became the wildly successful PayPal.

    • Economic Growth Slows to 0.5% in First Quarter

      The economy grew at a sluggish 0.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter. The main culprits for the poor performance were downturns in durable goods, nonresidential construction, and defense spending. This is the third year in a row in which growth has been poor in the first quarter, which means that one-off excuses about snowstorms and so forth don’t really hold water anymore. But it might be a statistical artifact. Jared Bernstein says “there’s some concern with the seasonal adjusters, which some argue are biasing Q1 down and Q2 up.” I guess we’ll have to wait until Q2 to find out.

    • Are Fair Trade Policies “Extreme?” Is Clinton Ready For Trump On Trade?

      In our country’s current trade regime, however, “trade” is used as a justification and enabler for closing American factories and moving American jobs to places where people are paid less and the environment is not protected, and bringing the same goods that used to be made here back here and selling them in the same outlets. The people who used to employ those American workers can then pocket the wage and environmental-protection-cost differential; the country gets a massive trade deficit.

    • Saudi efforts to ‘modernise’ its economy away from oil are just PR tactics – and the West is lapping them up

      Just like his adventure in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s young Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman got it all wrong this week. It’s not Saudi Arabia which suffers from “oil addiction”, it’s we who are addicted. The unique Saudi drug – a cocktail of wealth, arrogance and infantile Puritanism – is far more dangerous, since it depends on the arithmetic (or myth) of its 716 billion barrels of oil reserves.

      If this statistic is as ill-conceived as the Sunni Saudi war on Yemen’s Shiite Houthis, along with its massive civilian casualties, then Prince Mohamed’s ‘reforms’ – oiled (if that’s the right word) by a $2 trillion public investment fund which would take over ownership of the state oil company Aramco – will have to kick in long before the deadline of his ‘Vision 2030’.

      [...]

      No wonder, as the Washington Post revealed this month, the Saudis are spending millions on Washington’s top law, lobby and public relations companies to promote foreign investment in the Saudi economy – some of them, according to the paper, “tasked with coming up with content for the [Saudi Washington] embassy’s official Twitter and YouTube accounts”. The PR firm Qorvis, it turned out, also ran the Twitter account for the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Firms like Podesta, BGR Government Affairs, DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop are trying to raise the Kingdom’s “visibility”.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Could Voters Opposed to Both Clinton and Trump Team up Using VotePact?

      Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have incredibly high negatives. Most people don’t agree with, like or trust either. In a political system responsive to the public, an alternative with broad support would emerge if they become the nominees, as seems increasingly likely.

      Unfortunately, in our system — which enshrines the dominance of the two establishment parties — the negatives of each end up perversely being the basis of support for the other. Voters end up being trapped by the very unpopularity of the candidates. The main things holding the system together are fear and hate — even as the candidates claim to be bringing people together.

      That is, most people supporting Clinton are not doing so because they view her as upstanding, wise or just. They support her because they fear and despise Trump and his misogyny, racism and temperament.

      And the same largely goes for Trump. He supporters back him because they detest the establishment of the Republican Party as well as Clinton, who shares so much with that very Republican establishment even as she postures as a newly born progressive.

    • The Atlantic Primaries: Trump and Clinton Consolidate

      Sanders won Rhode Island, the only state that had an open primary, allowing independents to vote. The others were limited to registered Democrats only, effectively blocking independent and many young voters from casting a ballot.

    • Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s Disastrous Primary

      Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Gass has tossed a lawsuit from a Tucson, Arizona voter challenging the March 22 presidential primary, which was marred by confusion, 5-hour lines, and rampant errors.

    • After Bitter Tuesday, Progressives Ask Democratic Party What It Stands For

      ‘What I want to know from my Democratic Party is…when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders?’

    • Amid Media Megamergers, A Mosaic of Community Media Thrives

      The business press is all atwitter with merger news, as federal regulators are set to approve a massive deal between cable giants Charter, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. The $78 billion transaction will create the second-largest cable TV/Internet company, dubbed “New Charter,” next to Comcast, and leave just three major cable providers in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Gannett Company, which owns more than 100 newspapers, including USA Today, is attempting to acquire Tribune Publishing, which owns several major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

    • On Open Marriages and Closed Elections

      Cheating is a word that simply is redefined in an open marriage. Hillary and Bill Clinton have had an open marriage for decades. Most of us don’t know the terms of the arrangement. Nor should we, I suppose. Don’t sleep with my friends or lovers might be one. Who knows? Palling around with Jeffrey Epstein the pedophile?

    • An Alternative After a Likely Bern-Out: The Green Party’s Jill Stein

      With Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign falling short, his followers have limited choices. Many would support Hillary Clinton. But the cadre of activists and political newcomers, including the young who have flocked to him, may not accept that choice. Perhaps they’ll retreat from the 2016 election battle. Perhaps they’ll find another candidate.

      They would be welcomed by Dr. Jill Stein. The physician-activist is favored to win the Green Party presidential nomination this year after heading the party’s ticket in 2012.

      “The whole reason for having an independent third party that cannot be silenced is there are 25 percent of Bernie’s voters who are not going into that dark night to vote for the No. 1 cheerleader for Wal-Mart, for Wall Street, for an endless war,” Stein said in a telephone interview this week. “They are looking for another place to hang their hat.”

    • Drudge, Koch, Soros, Bezos: 4 Non-Politicians Exerting an Outsized Influence on the Election

      So-called dark money, in conjunction with a wide-reaching “mouthpiece,” paves the road to the Oval Office—and even a brilliant John Oliver expose can’t change that.

    • Sanders Calls for 50-State Strategy to ‘Revitalize American Democracy’

      Bemoaning a failing democratic process that leaves too many people left out, Bernie Sanders on Thursday said his campaign would continue to bring disenfranchised people into the political process and said the Democratic Party as a whole must forge a 50-state strategy in order to restore civic vibrancy and fuel meaningful outcomes on the key issues people care about in every community nationwide.

    • Dark money group spends $58,000 attacking Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

      Since it formed in 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been under siege from financial institutions. Senate Republicans tried very hard to stop it from functioning at all, and since then they’ve tried to “tighten the leash” on the agency. Nearly five years since it officially opened, a new dark money group is taking aim at the agency — and no one has any idea who’s behind it.

      Protect America’s Consumers is a 501(c)(4) group that incorporated in November 2015. Its registered agent is North Rock Reports LLC, located at the same address in Warrenton, Va., as the law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky. According to Politico, “The firm specializes in untraceable pressure groups for conservative causes.” In 2012, Bloomberg News reported that the firm was tied to groups that had spent more than $250 million on the 2012 election, including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. In 2015, the firm represented the super PAC Pursuing America’s Greatness before the U.S. District Court in D.C., defending its right to use Mike Huckabee’s name in its communications. Jill Vogel, a partner at the firm, is also a Virginia state senator; her website describes the firm as “a law firm that specializes in charity and nonprofit organizations, election law, and ethics.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Online censorship: A new flank in the US-China trade wars?

      Remember Hillary Clinton’s internet freedom agenda? In a groundbreaking speech in 2010, Clinton outlined her State Department policy for promoting internet freedom in the context of human rights and democratisation. This meant funding anti-surveillance tools, chiding repressive governments, and funding efforts to support online democratic activism in troubled states.

    • China Just Earned Its Worst Ever Score in an Annual Global Press Freedom Survey

      On Wednesday, China scored its worst ever marks in the new Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House, with the advocacy group blaming a “trend of ideological tightening” under Xi. Freedom House scored China 87/100 — with higher marks indicating greater restrictions — on press freedom in its 2016 survey. (Last year was the China’s previous worst score with 86.)

    • The waltz of censorship

      In order to avoid censorship, Flaubert honed his prose to convey the scandalous in a subversively indirect manner, making readers complicit in the immorality by inviting them to apply their own understanding to the text. Analysis of Flaubert’s manuscript drafts of Madame Bovary compared to the published text reveals that the author trimmed and entirely cut explicit passages. It is hard to tell whether alterations were legally or artistically motivated. Flaubert was famously fastidious about writing and it could be that his wish to sublimate scandalous content was solely (or at least primarily) due to literary considerations.

    • New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship

      A newly published study from Oxford’s Jon Penney provides empirical evidence for a key argument long made by privacy advocates: that the mere existence of a surveillance state breeds fear and conformity and stifles free expression. Reporting on the study, the Washington Post this morning described this phenomenon: “If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious.”

      The new study documents how, in the wake of the 2013 Snowden revelations (of which 87% of Americans were aware), there was “a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned ‘al-Qaeda,’ “car bomb’ or ‘Taliban.’” People were afraid to read articles about those topics because of fear that doing so would bring them under a cloud of suspicion. The dangers of that dynamic were expressed well by Penney: “If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.”

    • Press Freedom Declining Around the World

      Every year Reporters Without Borders (RSF) compile an index of press freedom around the world. The index has been published since 2002 and measures the state of press freedom in 182 countries. It measures “the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country”. The data is compiled through a questionnaire (answered by experts around the globe) and combined with quantitative data on violence and abuses against journalists.

    • Will Ankara’s new culture plan lead to more censorship of the arts?

      On April 21, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu revealed the long-awaited sustainable cultural development plan in Ankara. The program, commonly referred to as “culture package,” has been in the works for over four months. Davutoglu’s one-hour introduction of the plan generated more questions than answers. He suggested, for instance, that it was the responsibility of artists in Turkish society to act as amicable peacemakers. At one point during his speech he said, “When a society is approaching a crisis, you [artists] should be the light of hope. You must stand against polarization, you must spread a unifying language.”

    • Wikipedia Is Basically a Corporate Bureaucracy, According to a New Study

      Wikipedia is a voluntary organization dedicated to the noble goal of decentralized knowledge creation. But as the community has evolved over time, it has wandered further and further from its early egalitarian ideals, according to a new paper published in the journal Future Internet. In fact, such systems usually end up looking a lot like 20th century bureaucracies.

      Even in the brave new world of online communities, the Who had it right: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    • Huffington Post killed story pitch critical of Uber

      Uber yesterday announced that Huffington Post Editor in Chief Arianna Huffington would be joining its board of directors, a move that put the site’s reporters in an instant bind. To fight the notion that Huffington Post would somehow take it easy on Uber because of these ties, Huffington’s folks noted that her news operation has churned out various hard-hitting stories on Uber while the announcement was “impending,” as spokeswoman Lena Auerbuch put it.

      There was an omission, however.

      On April 6, reporter Sarah Digiulio sent a note to some colleagues apprising them of this story in the New York Times: “Uber Driver Napped as His Passenger Led Highway Chase, Police Say.”

    • The Crime of Speech

      Freedom of expression is a universal right, but the specific threats to it vary widely from country to country and region to region. As activists fighting for free speech worldwide, it is essential that we better understand the specific legal and procedural mechanisms that governments use to silence it. When you begin to untangle the array of laws that are used to prosecute speech in a given country, you get a much clearer picture of the state of digital rights in that country.

      EFF is proud to present The Crime of Speech: How Arab Governments Use the Law to Silence Expression Online. This report was the culmination of six months of work by Wafa Ben Hassine as an Information Controls Fellow through the Open Technology Fund. The ICFP fellowship supports examination into how governments restrict the free flow of information, debilitate the open Internet, and thereby threaten human rights and democracy.

    • Time to put an end to film censorship

      When the credits rolled over Sholay’s powerfully ambiguous ending—Sanjeev Kumar’s Thakur on his knees beside the body of the man he had just killed, Amjad Khan’s Gabbar Singh, weeping in despair—Ramesh Sippy had established his film as perhaps the most iconic representation of Indian popular cinema in the public consciousness.

      Save that it didn’t quite turn out that way. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) deemed the idea that a police officer would violate the law and kill a man in this fashion distasteful. It demanded that the ending be changed. A furious Sippy complied and shot the anodyne sequence everyone knows; the police arrive in time to prevent Gabbar Singh’s murder and arrest him instead. Sholay had enough going for it to survive the hit mostly unscathed—but Sippy’s authorial vision had been violated.

    • A major Hollywood screenwriter self-censored because he was worried about angering China
    • ‘Doctor Strange’ shows why diversity advocates should take Chinese censorship seriously
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • First FISC Phone Records Ruling Post-USA FREEDOM Exposes Shortcomings of Reforms

      The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had its first opportunity to review a government request for telephone call records since the enactment in June 2015 of the USA FREEDOM Act, which placed some restrictions and oversight on the NSA’s surveillance powers. Unfortunately the results of this first post-USA FREEDOM FISC review are not pretty, and remind us all that there is still much work to be done.

      In approving a request for “call detail records” by the FBI, Judge Thomas Hogan allowed the FBI to get people’s call records even in the absence of any belief that those records will be relevant to an investigation, and let the bureau keep records with no foreign intelligence value for 6 months or longer even though USA FREEDOM requires “prompt” destruction of such records. He also declined to take advantage of the new provisions that allow him to appoint an amicus to help sort through the new statute. The opinion, issued on December 31, 2015, was made public April 19, 2016.

    • Supreme Court Gives FBI More Hacking Power

      The Supreme Court on Thursday approved changes that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers, many of them belonging to victims of cybercrime. The changes will take immediate affect in December, unless Congress adopts competing legislation.

      Previously, under the federal rules on criminal procedures, a magistrate judge couldn’t approve a warrant request to search a computer remotely if the investigator didn’t know where the computer was—because it might be outside his or her jurisdiction.

      The rule change, sent in a letter to Congress on Thursday, would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to search or seize an electronic device if the target is using anonymity software like Tor. Over a million people use Tor to browse popular websites like Facebook every month for perfectly legitimate reasons, in addition to criminals who use it to hide their locations.

    • Game Critic Keeps YouTube Vids Ad-Free By Creating ContentID Feeding Frenzy

      You should know by now that YouTube’s ContentID system is a horrible mess. This system, which allows purported intellectual property owners to claim other people’s uploads as containing their content, and then allowing those purported owners to either take the videos down or monetize them for themselves, is so rife with abuse, trolls, and mistakes that it’s a wonder anyone at any point thought this was an idea that could work. Lost in all of this bowing towards intellectual property owners has bred some creative methods for getting around ContentID abuse, but it’s still a problem. A problem particularly challenging in the video game reviews space on YouTube, where entirely too many game studios think that using ContentID to flag game reviews is a practice worth repeating.

    • What the NSA Doesn’t Know? How Many Americans It’s Spying On

      At a press briefing on Monday, National Intelligence Director James Clapper stated that his intelligence network has no idea how many Americans are spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA).

      Congress is being pushed to approve giving the nationally-mandated Federal Bureau of Investigation access to NSA data, undermining the claim that the notorious surveillance agency is not targeting American citizens, but lawmakers seek an answer to a basic question before giving approval.

    • New ‘Tinder Social’ feature under fire for exposing Facebook friends

      There’s the online persona you want to share with your friends — carefully filtered Instagram photos of your sublime beach vacation, for example.

      Then there’s the side you’d perhaps rather keep private — like your Tinder profile.

      But a new feature on the dating app seems to be mixing the two.

      Tinder has come under fire after testing a new feature called Tinder Social for a small number of users in Australia.

      It allows users to create a group of friends, who can then swipe and match with other groups of friends.

    • Zuckerberg has given Facebook investors all they need. He wants one thing in return: control

      Mark Zuckerberg has dominated the desktop internet. He’s dominated the mobile internet. Now he’s going to dominate Facebook itself, and the company is probably going to let him.

    • NSA lauds The Citadel for cybersecurity training [Ed: How long before puff pieces like this one once again outnumber actual NSA news (like pre-2013)?]
    • Germany outlines plan to create Bundeswehr cyber command

      German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen outlined on 26 April a plan to establish a dedicated cyber and information command by merging the Bundeswehr’s current cyber and IT units.

      The Kommando Cyber- und Informationsraum (Cyber and Information Space Command) will be responsible for cyber, IT, military intelligence, geo-information, and operative communication. It will be headed from 1 April 2017 by a lieutenant-general.

    • Defense authorization bill would elevate Cyber Command

      A defense authorization bill that cleared a House committee early Thursday would elevate U.S. Cyber Command and launch a review into whether the agency should still be run by the National Security Agency (NSA) head.

    • The US declares cyber-war on Islamic State
    • U.S. Cyber Command closer to break from NSA

      In an acknowledgement that cyber war is gathering momentum on the international stage, the House on Thursday cleared a defense authorization bill that could split off the U.S. Cyber Command from under the direction of U.S. Strategic Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) and elevate it to its own military command, according to The Hill.

    • Watch: The New Trailer for Oliver Stone’s Biopic of Edward Snowden

      The film covers similar ground as Citizenfour, the 2014 documentary chronicling the fallout of Snowden’s revelations, which was directed by Laura Poitras, one of the journalists who helped report on the documents, along with Glenn Greenwald. Citizenfour received the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2015.

    • Even The Surveillance-Loving Wall Street Journal Is Bashing The FBI For Its War With Apple

      The Wall Street Journal has been a reliably pro-surveillance voice over the years, calling Snowden a “sociopath” while calling for even less NSA oversight, making up bizarre conspiracy theories, and fighting back against any surveillance reform. It even once argued that the tech industry should put backdoors into its encryption to better help the surveillance state.

    • Dangerous new uses for government eavesdropping

      The U.S. government claims the right to eavesdrop at will on your email when you’re writing to someone who lives abroad. Now it wants to be able to use those emails to convict you of a crime.

      [...]

      No court has yet reviewed the law’s constitutionality because until 2013 the government didn’t tell anyone that it had been doing this. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that no one had legal standing to challenge the law based merely on the speculation that it might be applied to them.

    • Italy orders Facebook to hand over fake user account data to its alleged victim

      The Italian data protection authority has ordered Facebook to provide an Italian user with all their data, including the personal information, photos, and posts of a separate fake account set up in that person’s name by somebody else.

      In addition, the US social network must provide details of how the personal data was used, including who it was sent to or might have obtained knowledge about it.

    • Students shrug over NSA spying

      Last year, as the school bathroom wars were heating up, I asked a group of college students how they’d feel if they had to share a toilet with people of a different gender. Nobody seemed to mind; indeed, some of them were doing so already.

    • The NSA has no idea how many Americans it’s spying on

      The answer, says National Intelligence Director James Clapper, is that we have no idea. “We’re looking at several options right now, none of which are optimal,” said Clapper at a press briefing in Washington DC on April 25. Security officials argue that analyzing the dataset would mean even more intrusions upon Americans’ privacy. “Many people find that unsatisfactory, but that is a fact,” says Clapper.

    • Watch first Snowden trailer: Whistle-blower mocks NSA on Twitter

      The first trailer of political thriller Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is out. If the 2.39 minute-long trailer is anything to go by, the movie seems to be fast-paced, action-packed and chaotic.

      Academy-winning director Oliver Stone, whose directing opus includes Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July and George W Bush biographical drama W, is the mastermind behind this sensational thriller. The movie recreates the story of Edward Snowden, who went from being an aspiring Special Forces member to a fugitive living in Russia under political asylum. In the movie, Shailene Woodley features as Snowden’s long-term girlfriend Lindsay Mills, while Nicolas Cage plays an unnamed government official.

    • Snowden trailer is out: Oliver Stone unveils the true story behind NSA leak

      The story of National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden captivated the US in 2013 and now Snowden is getting the Hollywood treatment, as the trailer for Oliver Stone’s Snowden was released on Wednesday (April 27).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Commons and the Centennial of the Easter Rising

      The Proclamation called on Irishmen and Irishwomen to strike for freedom. The republicans were “supported by her exiled children in America.” “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” Sovereignty meant independence from Great Britain, the United Kingdom, England. James Connolly explained, “the essential meanness of the British Empire is that it robs under pretence of being generous.” What was true of the British Empire is doubly true for the American who call robbery “aid.”

    • ‘Stark deterioration of press freedom’ in Europe, says Index on Censorship

      There has been a “stark deterioration of press freedom” in Europe in 2016 with conflict in Turkey and Ukraine creating especially difficult conditions for journalists.

      Index on Censorship said it had seen 301 verified incidents reported to its Mapping Freedom project over the first three months of the year, including four deaths and 43 assaults. The figure is up 30% on the first quarter of 2015.

      Three of the killed journalists died while reporting on conflict in Turkey, while a third, Russian culture journalist Dmitiri Tsilikin, was stabbed to death in his St Petersburg flat.

      Of the 43 assaults, more than half occurred in Ukraine, Italy or Russia, with 12 in the Ukraine alone.

      There were also 27 arrests recorded, with 15 in Turkey when journalists were reporting on violence or protests, with a pattern of arrest on terror charges or during anti-terror operations.

    • John McCain’s Fundraiser Busted for a Meth Lab With LSD, Coke, Heroin and Counterfeit Cash

      Sen. John McCain’s re-election fundraisers all list the same name as the RSVP contact, but that name also showed up as a person arrested during the bust of a meth lab Tuesday.

      In Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff’s deputies made arrests when they found an operational meth lab as well as other illicit drugs when they were carrying out a search warrant for the woman’s home. According to The Arizona Republic, the sheriff’s office identified Emily Pitha, 34, who is a former staffer of retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). She also has worked most recently as a campaign fundraiser for McCain’s 2016 reelection.

    • FT post on Theresa May, Hillsborough, human rights law and the politics of superficiality

      In brief: the new Hillsborough Inquest could not have ranged as widely without Article 2 of the ECHR having effect in domestic law – the same ECHR which May wants the UK to leave.

    • The CIA Illegally Let the Wrong People Do Intelligence Work, Declassified Report Finds
    • OPSEC for Activists (Part 1)
    • OPSEC for Activists, Part 2: Packing for a Protest
    • Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past

      Whatever the truth of that judgment, the surge continued. When his win seemed assured, but just before the actual vote, the second column fantasised on his first hundred days in power. This made the point that for many in the Labour Party, especially the tens of thousands of new members, Corbyn’s appeal stemmed from opposing what was seen as the cavalier way the Conservatives were reversing previous coalition policies in pursuit of ideological certitude:

    • Letter Details FBI Plan for Secretive Anti-Radicalization Committees

      The idea of the committees is to enlist counselors, social workers, religious figures, and other community members to intervene with people the FBI thinks are in danger of radicalizing — the sort of alternative to prosecution and jail time many experts have been clamoring for. But civil liberties groups worry the committees could become just a ruse to expand the FBI’s network of informants, and the government has refused to provide details about the program.

    • So Much For The Fifth Amendment: Man Jailed For Seven Months For Not Turning Over Password

      The FBI recently spent more than $1 million for assistance in decrypting a device’s contents. It may have overpaid. Alternatives exist, whether it’s a $5 wrench or indefinite imprisonment for not helping the government with its prosecution efforts.

    • The Geopolitics of Generosity

      On April 16, Ecuador suffered an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale. One week later, the death toll stood at 656, with more than twelve thousand injuries reported and more than fifty people still missing. Hundreds of aftershocks, some very powerful, continue to shake the country’s northwest coast and cause more damage.

      The day after the disaster, aid began arriving from Ecuador’s Latin American neighbors: Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Bolivia. Quick responses were crucial, as hundreds of people were still missing, many trapped in crumbling rubble.

    • Where Angels Fear to Tread

      I have accepted an offer from Sky News tomorrow to discuss anti-Semitism in the UK, where I shall argue that opponents of Israeli policy are being tarred with anti-Semitism in an witch-hunt.

      [...]

      There is a deliberate ploy by Israel to brand Palestinian sympathisers and critics of the Israeli state as anti-Semitic, in order to delegitimise criticism of Israel, as the settlements programme makes any two state solution completely non-viable.

    • Where will we end up? Terrorism, Islamophobia and the logic of fascism

      Fascism is not only a form of prejudice, it is also a political logic. A logic that reduces complex problems to ‘us and them’ issues.

    • Noam Chomsky: Young Bernie Sanders Supporters are a “Mobilized Force That Could Change the Country”

      During an event Tuesday at the Brooklyn Public Library, Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and professor, was asked about Bernie Sanders’ run for the White House. “[H]e’s considered radical and extremist, which is a pretty interesting characterization, because he’s basically a mainstream New Deal Democrat,” Chomsky said. “His positions would not have surprised President Eisenhower, who said, in fact, that anyone who does not accept New Deal programs doesn’t belong in the American political system. That’s now considered very radical.” Chomsky concluded by noting that Sanders “has mobilized a large number of young people, these young people who are saying, ‘Look, we’re not going to consent anymore.’ And if that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.”

    • An Indictment of Thatcher’s Legacy: Justice for Hillsborough Families, at Last

      The victory of the Hillsborough families in their long struggle for justice was won against an establishment that viewed them and their loved ones as nothing more than scum and which, make no mistake, continues to do so today. Harsh words, perhaps, but true nonetheless. For at the very core of this scandal is the issue of class and the legacy of a prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who throughout the 1980s waged war against working class people, communities, and sought to destroy the bonds of solidarity that provided them with their strength and pride in who they were.

    • In defence of today’s anti-fascist protesters

      Populist leaders today are unable to completely abolish multi-party systems, free press, individual freedom, or instigate actual war both inside and outside the country. But we can’t ignore the danger they present.

    • Hunger Strike in San Francisco Puts a Spotlight on Police Brutality

      At the corner of 17th and Valencia Streets in San Francisco late Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 20 protesters remained camped outside the Mission Police Station, fueled by coconut water, vitamin supplements, and cars honking in solidarity. Several were in the sixth day of a hunger strike. Their goal: The ouster of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and his boss, Mayor Ed Lee, over a string of police violence and alleged misconduct.

      A stash of rations sat near the entrance of the station, where last week five people began the protest: Maria Cristina Gutierrez, Ilyich Sato, Sellassie Blackwell, Ike Peterson and Edwin Lindo. The demonstrators also set up three tents on a nearby corner. Gutierrez, a short, soft-spoken woman who runs a neighborhood preschool, has also at times escaped the cold evenings in her van parked across the street.

    • Workers Say T-Mobile Created A Fake Union To Kill The Real One

      One of the largest cell phone carriers in America is trying to derail a years-long campaign to organize tens of thousands of workers by creating a fake in-house union, Communication Workers of America (CWA) officials say.

      Union leaders are accusing T-Mobile of co-opting worker dissatisfaction through a new internal organization it calls T-Voice. The group functions as “a direct line for Frontline feedback to senior leadership,” according to an internal email obtained by Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson. But management selects the workers who serve as part of T-Voice, and has allegedly pointed to the group as a reason not to unionize during captive-audience meetings with employees.

    • Our Military Shouldn’t Turn Its Back on Servicewomen Who Need an Abortion

      How the U.S. military restricts servicewomen from accessing abortion on military bases is a discriminatory scandal.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Nervous About Regulatory Action, Comcast Bumps Usage Caps To One Terabyte Per Month

      After taking a PR beating for several years on the matter, Comcast has announced that it’s significantly bumping the company’s usage caps. Since 2013 Comcast has been conducting a “trial” in many of the company’s less competitive markets, capping usage at 300 GB per month, then charging users either $10 per each additional 50 gigabytes, or providing users the option of paying $30 to $35 per month extra to avoid the cap entirely. But according to a new blog post by the cable giant, the company will be bumping that usage allotment to one terabyte per month starting June 1.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Blizzard Pretends IP Made It Kill Fan Server

      Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft, has a long and dubious history when it comes to trying to twist intellectual property laws and requirements to be whatever they want it to be at the time. These instances have mostly revolved around using copyright in an attempt to stop people who use cheat-bots to play the company’s games, as well as those who make the bots. The actual tactics Blizzard uses in those cases, which chiefly revolve around twisting copyright into knots as never intended, can get lost because of the hatred most players have for those who game the gaming system.

      But it’s a different story when it comes to Nostalrius, which was the name for fan-servers offering up a “vanilla” version of World of Warcraft to gamers who wanted to play the game without any of the expansion packs that Blizzard has released. Serving thousands of individual gamers, Blizzard decided the fan-server was a threat to its business and used trademark law to threaten those running it into shutting the whole thing down. Smart or not, Blizzard was within its rights to do this. Its explanation as to why, however, is absolutely dripping with bullshit and needs to be called out.

    • DTSA as a Shoe Horn for Contract and Employment Law Claims

      I expect that an important result of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) will be the creation of supplemental federal jurisdiction over contract and employment disputes that are otherwise a matter of state law decided by state courts. The majority of trade secret lawsuits also involve breach of contract and/or employment law claims – with the breach serving as the requisite ‘improper means,’

    • Copyrights

      • Publishing and “the Machine”: help or hindrance?

        This Kat wants to make it clear: from his discussions, it seems that with a few stellar exceptions (some of whom this Kat has had the pleasure of working with), the broad strokes of his tale are not unique to the particular publisher involved. And yes, this Kat holds “the Machine” responsible in part. This Kat would like to think that he is not naïve. He knows that in today’s business climate, there is a strong push to replace labor with capital, even in the publishing world. Digital platforms are ultimately cheaper than additional employees. However, publishing still rests on the human element—author, editor, and publisher. Over reliance on a digital manuscript submission platform does harm to that interrelationship and the exercise of human judgment that has been a linchpin of publishing. Even if, for over 300 years, “the Machine” has been good to authors and publishers, it seems to this Kat the publication process is impaired when it develops an over reliance on digital platforms, at the expense of the human element and at the cost of rigidity and tunnel vision.

      • Techdirt Reading List: How To Fix Copyright

        Nevertheless, Patry was then convinced to write a follow up book How to Fix Copyright, in order to respond to those critics (most of whom will never be satisfied). Once again, the book is an excellent read. It is not — as some believed — an entire book dedicated to discussing possible solutions. Instead, it again spends a lot of time making sure people really understand how messed up copyright law has become, and then towards the end proposes a few, relatively simple, solutions (which, frankly, may not go far enough). It talks about things like bringing back formalities (i.e., make copyright opt-in again) and shortening copyright terms.

      • Lessons From Prince’s Legacy And Struggle With Digital Music Markets

        Famously, Prince, via Universal Music, was behind the “dancing baby” DMCA lawsuit, which featured Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” playing faintly in the background of a short clip as a toddler danced. Ultimately our friends at EFF, who were representing defendant Stephanie Lenz, prevailed on their fair use claim. In 2013, EFF awarded him their “Raspberry Beret Lifetime Aggrievement Award” for “extraordinary abuses of the takedown process in the name of silencing speech.”

      • Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood Withdraws Google Subpoena As Google Appeals Court Ruling

        Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit appeals court tossed out the lawsuit that Google had filed against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, following Hood’s decision to send a subpoena that was written by the MPAA’s lawyers, as part of a plan by the MPAA to pay money to get state Attorneys General to attack Google.

        While some in the legacy copyright world painted the ruling in the Fifth Circuit as a “victory” for Jim Hood, and a loss for Google, anyone reading the details would recognize it was anything but that. The court made it pretty clear that Hood’s subpoena was ridiculous and had no chance of surviving a judicial review… but dumped the case on a procedural issue, arguing that since Jim Hood had not yet taken any action concerning Google’s unwillingness to respond to parts of the subpoena, there was nothing to dispute. Basically, the court said “wait until Hood actually tries to force you to do something… and then we’ll tell him his subpoena is bogus.”

Amid Referendum “the New European Unitary Patent System is Likely to Collapse Before It Started”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trojan horse

Summary: The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) vision seems like it may be just one month away from its gradual death, depending on British voices amongst other key factors

Ericsson used to make decent phones, but it’s no longer the same kind of company. Its presence in Europe is now parasitic. The company has been using patent trolls to sue companies in Europe and now there are head changes (new chief IP officer), which makes one wonder what the future of Europe holds. Might a central patent court facilitate continental lawsuits by Ericsson against a lot more practicing companies in a lot more countries? And if so, who would benefit the most?

“Might a central patent court facilitate continental lawsuits by Ericsson against a lot more practicing companies in a lot more countries?”Based on this new article by Dr. Boris Uphoff and Laura Morelli, Brexit can “stop the European Unitary Patent before it started,” to quote the headline. As they put it in the opening paragraph in a patent maximalism Web site:

On 23 June 2016, the British citizens will hold their referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union. Should they vote for the UK to leave the EU (the so-called ‘Brexit’), the new European unitary patent system is likely to collapse before it started.

There are several other barriers to the UPC, including the Spanish defiance. Ignore all the promotional (often paid-for) UPC propaganda. The future envisaged by Battistelli and his corporate masters for more than half a decade is now in jeopardy and Boards of Appeal may get their solidity back (filling up vacant positions, at long last, as per the EPC). As this legal analysis from a law firm (about Article 112a EPC) put it earlier today: “It has been a long day in Munich. You have reached the end of the Oral Proceedings and the European Patent Office (EPO) Board of Appeal announces its decision, which is final . . . or is it? When the updated European Patent Convention (EPC) 2000 came into force in December 2007, it also brought a new provision that allows a party to request decisions of the EPO Board of Appeal to be judicially reviewed by the Enlarged Board of Appeal. [...] While statistics show that petitions for review at the EPO have an extremely low likelihood of success, if the Board of Appeal has an incorrect composition or has committed a procedural or even criminal violation, that long day in Munich may not necessarily be the end of your case.”

“Battistelli needs to go away along with his UPC fantasy.”In reality, based on many people’s experience (I wrote to the Enlarged Board of Appeal a long time ago), these boards are probably one of the strongest elements of the EPO and eliminating them to give way to the UPC would be a horrible mistake. The system worked reasonably well in the past; what Battistelli does is attract patent aggressors, welcome more spurious litigation, software patents, patent trolls, and unprecedented cronyism. Battistelli needs to go away along with his UPC fantasy. He brought to the EPO nothing but a crisis.

USTR is Trying to Shame and Bully India Into Introducing Software Patents in India

Posted in America, Asia, Deception, Law, Patents at 9:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What is “Special 301 Report”? Check Wikipedia.

USTR

Summary: Lobbying body of the US (corporations-led) is trying its usual dirty tactics against India’s sound policy which excludes software/algorithms from patent scope

“USTR complains about block of software patents in India while they have Alice,” Benjamin Henrion wrote today. For those who are not familiar with the antics of USTR, see examples and details of its bullying in Cablegate articles. Microsoft too uses USTR for influence.

“Microsoft too uses USTR for influence.”“USTR complains about Indian block of software patents while they have Alice,” Henrion wrote hours later (he found out about it because of Jamie Love, who is a FOSS supporter and also an affordable medicine advocate). Love wrote: “This is one of the business lobbies that pressures India on IPR issues.”

In their own words: “Special 301 Report: India’s #IP Climate Continues to Discourage Innovation” (whose innovation?).

USTR is basically an imperialistic corporate army and it needs to be treated as such. We gave examples of how it bullies, shames and potentially sanctions nations that don’t play ball for US multinational corporations. Here is the article about it: “The Special 301 Report echoed several of the same outstanding concerns with India’s IP policies that AFTI and its members outlined in recently submitted comments to the USTR. These issues include inadequate trade secret protection in India, continued copyright piracy across India, concerns about compulsory licensing for biopharmaceutical and environmental technology, and unnecessary and burdensome criteria for the patentability of medicines and other products. The USTR report also noted that weak or inadequate IP protections in India have a negative impact on both U.S. and Indian businesses.”

“USTR is basically an imperialistic corporate army and it needs to be treated as such.”That’s nonsense. To quote the PDF from USTR (Henrion has scanned it), “with respect to CII, there was a lack of transparency in the process to adopt the current set of guidelines” (“CII” is just a cheeky term that’s often when trying to evade the better known term, “software patents”).

In [1] below one can find a report about this from IP Watch. No doubt India’s Indians-leaning policies are upsetting some very rich and powerful people in other countries, not just in India. India’s long war against the software patents lobby continues with RCEP's clauses. As SFLC has just put it (copy here) in a press release: “Indian law on patentability of computer programmes is abundantly clear in that Section 3(k) of the Patents Act 1970 explicitly excludes computer programmes per se, mathematical methods and algorithms from patent protection. Moreover the recent Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions released by the Patent Office on February 19, 2016 ensure that patents are granted only to those inventions where a computer programme is claimed in conjunction with novel hardware. This eliminates the possibility of frivolous patents being granted in the field of software in India. However, recently it has come to light that the Regional Comprehensive Partnership Treaty (RCEP) presently being negotiated proposes a clause on patents in the area of computer programmes that will result in patents being granted in this field.”

“If China and India care about their future and prosperity, then they will give USTR the middle finger, get out of the RCEP ‘trade’ agreement and just carry on developing things (India is big for software, China for hardware), not bickering over patents in courtrooms, where English-speaking (usually foreign) lawyers often become necessary because of language barriers.”We are disgusted to see these attacks on Indian sovereignty, or on politicians who simply try to establish policy based on human rights, innovation and so on. It’s not too hard to see who’s behind these attacks, which impact not only India but also China (see [1] below for context). Right now Chinese censorship, for instance, is being cast a “trade barrier” by think tanks and lobbyists of US corporations. These are just opportunistic excuses which try to frame human rights issues as a barrier to US profits in China. And watch what IAM ‘magazine’ is doing today. When Mr. Schindler says “the Chinese” he probably means “the Chinese lawyers” because IAM believes that more lawsuits are a good thing and wants to increase their frequency. IAM is seemingly worried about barriers to litigation based on yesterday’s article. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s exercising power in the courtroom, usually a large company against a small one or a company from a rich country like the US against another company in a poorer country such as India. In the courts, as virtually everyone knows, those with deeper pockets have the cards stacked in their favour (costs of appeals, experienced lawyers, etc.), so who is this all for? It’s an imperialistic or colonialist system, which India ought to know enough about, having suffered British occupation for a long time.

If China and India care about their future and prosperity, then they will give USTR the middle finger, get out of the RCEP ‘trade’ agreement and just carry on developing things (India is big for software, China for hardware), not bickering over patents in courtrooms, where English-speaking (usually foreign) lawyers often become necessary because of language barriers.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. On IP Protection, USTR Finds Fault With China, India … And Switzerland? [Ed: see what else it did, bullying nations that don’t obey the demands of US corporations]

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) does not hesitate to add even its closest friends to its annual list of concerns about possible inadequate protection of US intellectual property rights. So this year, along with perennial listees China, India and dozens of others, vigorous IP-rights defender Switzerland makes an appearance. The annual Special 301 report was issued today, and in its press release this year, USTR also included its primary client in publishing the list – the rightsholder industry.

No, Visual Studio is NOT Open Source and Xamarin Openwashing is NOT News

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Mono, Patents at 9:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Ballmer with Ximian hat

Summary: The latest example of Microsoft openwashing, courtesy of confidants of Microsoft and those who got bamboozled by them

“Apparently,” lirodon wrote in IRC yesterday, “the commercial iOS/Android Mono forks are now open source (MIT)” (#techrights IRC channel)

MinceR responded with, “do they have an accompanying patent license?”

“I think it falls under this,” lirodon replied, “apparently Microsoft also shifted stewardship of Mono to the .NET Foundation” (as if it hasn’t already happened).

“Xamarin and Miguel de Icaza before Xamarin was formed have played a role in this deception, pretending that .NET is somehow a ‘universal’ platform which is ‘cross-platform’ and also ‘open’.”MinceR immediately responded with: “to avoid having the copyright holder own the patents they’ll sue for, no doubt; that’s just a “promise not to sue” and afaict doesn’t cover all of mono (“but excluding all other functionality in the Windows Presentation Foundation component of .NET Framework.”)” (this can be used behind closed doors for patent extortion, as we shall cover in the next post as this strategy is alive and well).

MinceR added: “also, if there’s a company that should be required to make their terms clear and explicit, it’s Microsoft; they have too much of a history of abuse” (including patent abuse).

The main problem I personally have with this announcement is that it basically gets characterised as a lot more than it really is, putting patents aside. Microsoft has been trying for quite some time to associate Visual Studio with Open Source (e.g. by talking about its editor alone) and with GNU/Linux, even though it’s not available outside of Microsoft Windows. Xamarin and Miguel de Icaza before Xamarin was formed have played a role in this deception, pretending that .NET is somehow a ‘universal’ platform which is ‘cross-platform’ and also ‘open’. It’s everything BUT those things. It’s just Microsoft’s proprietary lock-in. It preys on gullible developers who might simply not know better (or lack access to relevant information about it when they get started developing).

“So a few components that get one STUCK inside Microsoft LOCK-IN are being painted “open”.”Consider the articles from Microsoft’s Mouth and from Tim Anderson, another old friend of Microsoft. One easily gets the impression that this is big news that’s unforeseen, but it’s not. It’s almost old news reannounced, then soon covered by many Microsoft boosters [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. Even an article by Michael Larabel soon enough came out, stating that: “One of the main announcements so far is the formal unveiling of their open.xamarin.com portal. From this open-source portal is where you can fetch Xamarin.IOS for writing mobile apps targeting iOS/OSX Apple devices, Xamarin.Android for writing native mobile apps for Android devices, and Xamarin.Forms as native UIs for iOS/Android/Windows from a single code-base. The code for these projects were opened up in the past few days via GitHub.”

So a few components that get one STUCK inside Microsoft LOCK-IN are being painted “open”. Big bloody deal… and what about the patents? We shall deal with this topic in our next post.

Latest Black Duck Puff Pieces a Good Example of Bad Journalism and How Not to Report

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Marketing, Security at 8:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No investigation, just churnalism

Churnalism

Summary: Why the latest “Future of Open Source Survey” — much like its predecessors — isn’t really a survey but just another churnalism opportunity for the Microsoft-connected Black Duck, which is a proprietary parasite inside the FOSS community

THE “Future of Open Source Survey” is not a survey. It’s just Black Duck’s self-promotional (marketing) tripe packaged as a “survey”. This is a common PR tactic, it’s not unique. We wrote about this so-called ‘survey’ in several articles in the past, e.g.:

We now have more of the same churnalism and it comes from the usual ‘news’ networks, in addition to paid press releases. When we first mentioned Shipley 8 years ago he was busy doing one nefarious thing and two years ago we saw him joining the Microsoft-connected Black Duck. He is quoted as saying (CBS) that “the rapid adoption of open source has outpaced the implementation of effective open-source management and security practices. We see opportunities to make significant improvements in those areas. With nearly half of respondents saying they have no formal processes to track their open source, and half reporting that no one has responsibility for identifying known vulnerabilities and tracking remediation, we expect to see more focus on those areas.” Thanks for the FUD, Mr. Shipley. So where do I buy your proprietary software (and software patents-protected) ‘solution’? That is, after all, what it’s all about, isn’t it? The ‘survey’ is an excuse or a carrier (if not Trojan horse) for proprietary software marketing.

Here is similar coverage from IDG and the Linux Foundation, whose writers did little more than repeat the talking points of Black Duck after the press release got spread around.

If EPO “Form of Thinking Were to be Followed, Guantanamo on German Soil Would be Possible.”

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Siegfried Broß (below) previously defended the defamed judge whom Battistelli suspended if not dismissed in spite of supposed independence

Siegfried Broß
Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: The EPO is still under fire, but a lot of it happens behind the scenes and involves lawyers and/or bureaucrats

The “EPO very silent at the moment,” one person told us yesterday, “what will be the next move? Be prepared!” Well, based on what we know, as few press reports already gradually reveal, there are lawsuits on their way. The defamed judge too seems to be among those who fight back against Caesar Battistelli, who obviously thinks he is above the law and openly brags about it.

“Not even police in Germany or Dutch special forces can go into EPO premises — as strange as it may sound.”Not much is publicly known about these lawsuits. We don’t know how many people are involved, how many people will be named as defendants, how many pertinent lawsuits there are and so on, but we assume that preparation for this is probably keeping SUEPO officials busy and we might soon know more about the basis of the complaints and who is being legally targeted, as the EPO itself is almost immune from lawsuits (my lawyer told me so after the EPO had SLAPPed me and some EPO applicants told me they wished to sue the EPO but didn’t know how because of its outrageous immunity). For instance, doing a search at the EPO (subpoena) requires prior permission from management. Not even police in Germany or Dutch special forces can go into EPO premises — as strange as it may sound. Not even embassies enjoy the same protections which Team Battistelli now flagrantly abuses. The EPO is like Camp X-Ray and suicides oughtn’t be much of a surprise. There is some resemblance to be found there to the UN or WIPO, which is connected to the UN, mostly because it’s chaotic in the legal sense (there are virtually no legal protections for workers).

As this new article from IP Watch puts it this week (yesterday): “To date, there is no consolidated reference text on WIPO’s governance” (and in the EPO there are special rules that are kept secret as they override national/international laws).

“Here we have again, as was the case two months ago, Siegfried Broß comparing the EPO’s legal status to that of Guantánamo Bay.”In his latest blog post, Battistelli, who tried to work for WIPO (he lost to Gurry), cites the WIPO in an effort to gain some legitimacy. It comes amid relative calm, even though Bavarian/German press evidently continues to cover the situation at the EPO (direct link to the video). Moreover, SUEPO has just prepared a translation of “Patentamtsstreit beschäftigt auch Audi”, which it says was published “only in paper version.” Here we have again, as was the case two months ago, Siegfried Broß comparing the EPO’s legal status to that of Guantánamo Bay. It alludes to some of the aforementioned points.

DONAUKURIER 20 APRIL 2016

FORMER CONSTITUTIONAL JUDGE SIEGFRIED BROSS ON THE EPO

Mr. Bross, over the past few months the EPO has been hitting the headlines with a large number of labour law disputes. You are seen as a major critic of the organization. Why is that?

Siegfried Bross: The EPO is the central authority for the protection of patents in Europe. However, it suffers from an underlying flaw in its structure, which slipped in when it was established. It is a creation of a combination of states, and its immunity was recognized. That in itself is in principle not a problem, but within the EPO an
entirely autonomous legal system has been created, which is not based on any effective system of checks and balances.

What does that signify?

Bross: The Patent Office is detached from national systems of law. That has two consequences which are not acceptable in the context of a state governed by law: On the one hand, as can be seen at the present time, there is no legal protection for the workforce. On the other, there is no legal protection either for patent applicants. There are only the Boards of Appeal at the EPO, which are both officials and judges in one, and which, moreover, are subordinate to the President. Anyone who comes to grief there has no further recourse. Nor is the Office subject to any parliamentary monitoring or control.

How could the constitutional arrangements be structured so as to avoid such problems?

Bross: Either a new court would have to be established inside the Patent Organization, which would be independent of the President, or the legal protection would have to be assigned to one of the states where it has a domicile, such as Germany.

In your view, then, the structure as it exists up to now is not reconcilable with applicable law?

Bross: It contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights, because the 38 Member States cannot ensure the status of a state governed by law. It is a basic principle of human rights that states cannot rescind their responsibility to uphold human rights. This means that the organization should never have been established in
the way it was. The combining of administrative and legislative power in one entity is unacceptable. The position of the President contradicts all basic principles of the democratic state governed by law, and the EPO has by now essentially gained autonomy. I have repeatedly said, if this form of thinking were to be followed, Guantanamo on German soil would be possible.

In the attempt to make the Office more efficient, have the states lost sight of the clients and the staff?

Bross: The focus on cutting costs and higher yield from fees have nothing to do with the task of the EPO. The procedures of issuing patents, the aim of which is the protection of intellectual property, are an absolutely inviolable right for the economy. It is a fundamental task of the patent authority to ensure that there are sufficient personnel available for the thorough examination of patents.

Siegfried Bross was a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court from 1998 to 2010. The interview was conducted by Daniel Wenisch. Archive photo: Deck/dpa

As noted in about a dozen recent daily links in Techrights, lawsuits over torture at Guantánamo Bay have just been given the go-ahead (rather unprecedented a development). The people behind torture techniques may be dragged into court. Let’s hope the same happens to the EPO’s management.

“Just watch what monsters Raimund Lutz, for instance, has come to serve.”Working for the EPO as a legal personality (at any capacity) does not legitimise one’s career or improves one’s credibility at this point (unless one is past retirement age, in which case it hardly matters, as is the case for Battistelli and Minnoye). Just watch what monsters Raimund Lutz, for instance, has come to serve. Don’t worry, he’s paid well for this. According to this news update, Justice Arnold too joins the team (probably tempted by big money and power), albeit he’ll be serving the Enlarged Board of Appeal, which is no friend of Battistelli (recall this letter). As IP Kat put it yesterday: “First, the IPKat learned from CIPA that Mr Justice Arnold has been appointed to the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office. The IPKat understands that he is to replace Lord Justice Floyd, who has been the UK external member of the Enlarged Board for some years. One or two external members of the Enlarged Board are included in the panel in cases where there is a referral to the Enlarged Board by an EPO Board of Appeal or the EPO President, and the scope of the matter extends beyond the internal administration of the EPO. Such cases are relatively rare (single numbers per year) and there are over 20 external members, the IPKat does not imagine that Mr Justice Arnold will be having to jet over to Munich very frequently.”

“The next few weeks may be interesting when it comes to the EPO.”In other news, MIP continues writing about the UPC as though it’s definitely coming, irrespective of all the barriers. To quote the summary: “How might a clearing-the-way case proceed once the UPC is in force? In the latest article in our series, David Rose, Nina O’Sullivan and Axel Walz consider the options for a patent challenger who wishes to launch a competing product” (there are already scenarios for this in the existing system, so the UPC solves a problem which does not at all exist, unless you’re a multinational company that’s not even European).

The next few weeks may be interesting when it comes to the EPO. We have mostly omitted all the “Inventor” propaganda which comes out of the EPO these days, even urging people to double-vote and calling in "media partners" like French papers (it’s the same one again) and hoping they won’t notice the poor record of finalists' selection.

Links 28/4/2016: Tomb Raider for GNU/Linux, Proxmox VE 4.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Where did we all go wrong? And why doesn’t anyone remember?

    But we didn’t pursue them. We replaced them with something cheaper — with Unix machines, an OS only a nerd could love. And then we replaced the Unix machines with something cheaper still — the IBM PC, a machine so poor that the £125 ZX Spectrum had better graphics and sound.

    And now, we all use descendants of that. Generally acknowledged as one of the poorest, most-compromised machines, based on descendants of one of the poorest, most-compromised CPUs.

    Yes, over the 40 years since then, most of rough edges have been polished out. The machines are now small, fast, power-frugal with tons of memory and storage, with great graphics and sound. But it’s taken decades to get here.

    And the OSes have developed. Now they’re feature-rich, fairly friendly, really very robust considering the stone-age stuff they’re built from.

    But if we hadn’t spent 3 or 4 decades making a pig’s ear into silk purse — if we’d started with a silk purse instead — where might we have got to by now?

  • Your Beard Doesn’t Intimidate Me Anymore!
  • Server

    • Understanding Your HPC Application Needs

      Many HPC applications began as single processor (single core) programs. If these applications take too long on a single core or need more memory than is available, they need to be modified so they can run on scalable systems. Fortunately, many of the important (and most used) HPC applications are already available for scalable systems. Not all applications require large numbers of cores for effective performance, while others are highly scalable.

    • 5 Container as a Service Tools You Should Know About

      In a previous article on next-generation cloud technologies, I mentioned Containers as a Service (CaaS), which provides a framework to manage container and application deployment.

    • Don’t Worry About IBM’s Mainframe Sales Collapse

      For those who know little about International Business Machines , the company’s hulking System Z mainframe computers may seem like little more than a relic. The 42% year-over-year decline in System Z sales during IBM’s first quarter would appear to offer proof that the mainframe business is struggling.

      But investors shouldn’t worry about this mainframe sales collapse. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. IBM’s System Z product cycle, which sees new models introduced every few years, induces an extreme amount of sales volatility as clients rush to upgrade. While IBM doesn’t report System Z sales numbers directly, the company does report year-over-year performance, and that allows us to see that the big drop in sales during the first quarter is nothing out of the ordinary.

  • Kernel Space

    • PulseAudio Adds Memfd Transport Support

      PulseAudio gained support for utilizing the Linux kernel’s memfd as a transport mechanism as spearheaded by the systemd/KDBUS crew.

    • Linux Kernel 3.12.59 LTS Out Now with Crypto & Networking Fixes, Updated Drivers

      Linux kernel developer Jiri Slaby today announced the availability of the fifty-ninth maintenance release of the long-term supported Linux 3.12 kernel series, urging all users to update as soon as possible.

      Looking at the appended shortlog, we can notice that Linux kernel 3.12.59 LTS is here to patch various security issues that have been discovered since the previous point release, version 3.12.58, which has been announced two weeks ago by Mr. Jiri Slaby, along with an important piece of information, that the Linux 3.12 series will be supported until 2017 because it is used in SUSE Linux Enterprise 12.

    • Linux infosec outfit does a Torvalds, rageblocks innocent vuln spotter

      An open source security firm has blocked a security researcher who reported flaws in a recently issued patch in an apparent fit of pique.

      Hector Martin took to Twitter on Tuesday to note a trivial crashing vulnerability in a recently issued patch by Grsecurity.

      “I literally crashed my box by pasting a bunch of text into a terminal, due to a really sad bug in the patch,” Martin said.

      In response, Grsecurity acknowledged the issue, which it said would be fixed in the next release. At the same time it blocked Martin on both Twitter and by IP address.

    • Why Linux Creator Linus Torvalds Thinks That C++ Programming Language Sucks?

      This morning, I was reading some news about Linux creator Linus Torvalds and I came across a decade-old note from him. You might have heard about Linus Torvald’s opinion of programming language C++ and this note was about the same.

    • Open Source: Thinking Big by Jim Zemlin

      Zemlin’s career spans three of the largest technology trends to rise over the last decade: mobile computing, cloud computing and open source software. Today, as executive director of The Linux Foundation, he uses this experience to accelerate the adoption of Linux and support the future of computing.

    • Graphics Stack

      • See How Your Linux GPU Compares To Various GeForce GPUs With NVIDIA 364.19

        While waiting for today’s release of Tomb Raider on Linux, for which I just posted various NVIDIA Tomb Raider benchmarks on Ubuntu, I was running some other OpenGL benchmarks.

        One of the benchmark runs I did with various graphics cards this morning while waiting for Tomb Raider was the well known and demanding Unigine Valley demo. Tests were done with various Kepler and Maxwell GeForce graphics cards while using the brand new NVIDIA 364.19 driver on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS x86_64.

      • X.Org Foundation Election Results

        Two questions were up for voting, 4 seats on the Board of Directors and approval of the amended By-Laws to join SPI.

        Congratulations to our reelected and new board members Egbert Eich, Alex Deucher, Keith Packard and Bryce Harrington. Thanks a lot to Lucas Stach for running. And also big thanks to our outgoing board member Matt Dew, who stepped down for personal reasons.

      • X.Org Members Approve Becoming Part Of The SPI Organization

        The results just are in of the 2016 X.Org Foundation elections and the members have voted to become part of the SPI. The foundation thus is basically becoming dissolved to become part of Software in the Public Interest.

        After last year’s vote failed for the X.Org Foundation to merge with the SPI due to not reaching the two-thirds quorum to change the by-laws, this year was a success: 61 of the 65 members voted.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Proxmox VE 4.2 Officially Released with Let’s Encrypt Support, ZFS Improvements

        Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH, a renowned company developing the Proxmox VE (Virtual Environment) server virtualization operating system based on the Linux kernel, announced the release of Proxmox VE 4.2.

      • Proxmox VE 4.2 Released

        Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH, the company developing the server virtualization platform Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE), today announced the general availability of version 4.2. The open source virtualization platform Proxmox VE is a hyper-converged solution enabling users to create and manage LXC containers and KVM virtual machines on the same host, and makes it easy to set up highly available clusters, as well as to manage network and storage via an integrated web-based management interface.

      • antiX 16 Linux OS Gets a Second Beta Build with Kernel 4.4.8 LTS, Many Changes

        It’s been a little over two weeks since the first Beta build of the upcoming antiX 16 Linux operating system was announced, and now we can get our hands on the second Beta release.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Adds F2FS Support

        It’s been a while since last having anything to report on with the OpenMandriva Linux distribution, but they wrote in today with news about adding Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) support.

        Within their OpenMandriva “Cooker” development repository is the most interesting support with F2FS support being part of their kernel, shipping f2fs-tools by default, and their Calamares installer allowing F2FS for SSD disks. They’ve also added a F2FS patch for GRUB2. With that work in OpenMandriva Cooker, users can be running F2FS as their root file-system with ease!

    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Entroware’s Orion Laptops Now Ship with Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS and Skylake CPUs

            Entroware, one of the few hardware companies to offer laptops with Ubuntu MATE Linux operating system pre-installed, today announced a refresh of its Orion series of laptops.

            The new Orion laptop is now in stock, and it looks like it comes with the next-generation of Intel Skylake processors, as well as the latest and greatest version of the Ubuntu MATE distro, Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

          • my Shuttleworth Foundation flash grant

            More important than features is making Propellor prevent more classes of mistakes, by creative use of the type system. The biggest improvement in this area was type checking the OSes of Propellor properties, so Propellor can reject host configurations that combine eg, Linux-only and FreeBSD-only properties.

          • Wolfram Research turns your Ubuntu phone into an IoT sensor
          • Ubuntu 16.04′s support for the ZFS file system may violate the General Public License

            Ubuntu 16.04′s support for the ZFS file system is one of many useful enterprise features on top of all the Linux desktop polish in the new OS. But Linux distributions have avoided shipping ZFS support in the past due to licensing issues, and Ubuntu 16.04’s ZFS support sits smack-dab in the middle of a controversial legal gray area.

          • Ubuntu’s $70 computing stick could fit nicely behind your TV

            Want to turn a TV into a Ubuntu computer? The very orange MeLE PCG02U just might be what you’re looking for. This tiny stick computer costs only $70, meaning you can add a desktop to any TV for very little money. It’s the first Ubuntu device from Mele, a Chinese manufacturer that until now has focused on Android and Windows devices.

          • This $70 computer stick is designed for Ubuntu

            Ubuntu is starting to show up in lot more places lately: tablets, phones, and this neat little computer-on-a-stick created by MeLE called the PGC02U. It’s $70, with an Intel BayTrail processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. It also comes in Ubuntu orange and has a wee little antenna to help with wireless reception. Liliputing points out that you might want to go ahead and install this build of Ubuntu created by Ian Morrison, as it’s designed specifically for stick computers.

          • Mele PCG02U is a $70 Ubuntu PC stick

            Chinese computer maker Mele has been offering small Android and Windows computers for a few years. Now the company is selling a PC-on-a-stick that runs Ubuntu Linux.

          • Mele PCG02U Ubuntu PC Stick Launches For $70
          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS video review

            Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was recently released, and many Linux users have been wondering what it has to offer and if it’s worth installing or upgrading from a previous release of Ubuntu.

            Not to worry, a YouTuber by the name of Quidsup has a full video review of Ubuntu 16.04 that will walk you through the latest changes to Canonical’s popular desktop distribution.

          • [Older] Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Released, This Is What’s New
          • uNav 0.59 GPS Navigation App for Ubuntu Phones Brings Pinch-Zoom, a Refreshed UI

            uNav developer Nekhelesh Ramananthan announced the release of version 0.59 of the default GPS navigation app for the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system for Ubuntu Phones.

            According to the announcement, uNav 0.59, which has been dubbed “Beauty and the Beast,” comes with exciting new features, among which we can mention a brand-new navigation structure, giving users the possibility of searching for locations, favorites or coordinates directly from the menubar, as well as a refresh of the UI (details below).

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • YouTube will soon roll out six-second ads that you can’t skip

    YouTube’s adding a new option to help advertisers get their message to consumers — but in a much shorter amount of time than normal. Today the company announced that beginning next month, it’ll offer six-second “Bumper” ads that are designed to be a better companion to the shorter video clips that millions of YouTube users are watching on smartphones. “We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads — and we’re excited to see what the creative community will do with them,” YouTube’s Zach Lupei wrote in a blog post. You can see a sample of one below, which was an early test by Atlantic Records.

  • YouTube just announced plans to steal six seconds of your life

    PEOPLE FALLING over and cat fanciers hangout YouTube is planning to make people sit through six seconds of un-skippable advertising in the sort of move that makes sense to businesses but makes people go cray cray.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • German nuclear plant infected with computer viruses, operator says

      A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility’s operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station’s operator said on Tuesday.

      The Gundremmingen plant, located about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Munich, is run by the German utility RWE (RWEG.DE).

      The viruses, which include “W32.Ramnit” and “Conficker”, were discovered at Gundremmingen’s B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualization software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.

      Malware was also found on 18 removable data drives, mainly USB sticks, in office computers maintained separately from the plant’s operating systems. RWE said it had increased cyber-security measures as a result.

    • Death of the enterprise VPN – if remote access is not secure what comes next? [iophk: "Spam. Besides, if an app cannot be put on the net without a VPN then it does not belong on the net in the first place."]

      VPNs are the backbone of enterprise remote access and yet their security limitations are starting to pile up. The problem is that the very thing that once made them so useful, network access, is now their biggest weakness. As the 2014 attacks on retailers Target and Home Depot painfully illustrate, this architecture can easily be exploited by attackers armed with stolen credentials to move around networks from within in ways that are difficult to spot until it’s too late.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The classified ’28 pages’: A diversion from real US-Saudi issues

      The US government has known that Saudi financing of madrassas all over the world has been a major source of jihadist activism. The Saudi regime’s extremist Wahhabi perspective on Shia Islam is the basis for its paranoid stance on the rest of the region and the destabilisation of Syria and Yemen. The 28 pages should be released, but at a time when the contradictions between US and Saudi interests are finally beginning to be openly acknowledged, the issue is just another diversion from the real debate on Saudi Arabia that is urgently needed.

    • Is This What’s in Those 28 Pages? And Does it Matter?

      Did the CIA meet with some of the 9/11 hijackers ahead of the attacks on New York? Did the Saudi government help finance those hijackers? Someone knows the answers, and soon, you might know as well.

    • Rio Sees A ‘Surge’ In Police Killings Ahead Of The Summer Olympics

      Since the beginning of April, 11 people have been killed by the police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin in just 100 days. One of the victims was a five-year-old boy.

    • Censored, Surveilled, Watch Listed and Jailed: The Absurdity of Being a Citizen in the American Police State

      April 26, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “Ron Paul Institute”- In the American police state, the price to be paid for speaking truth to power (also increasingly viewed as an act of treason) is surveillance, censorship, jail and ultimately death.

      However, where many Americans go wrong is in assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or challenging the government’s authority in order to be flagged as a suspicious character, labeled an enemy of the state and locked up like a dangerous criminal.

    • Nuclear Escalation in Europe

      The United States feigned surprise during the simulation of an attack by the Russian aviation against the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. And yet, as we have reported, Russia already has the capacity to block the ship’s Communications & Commands, and did so, observes Manlio Dinucci, because the ship was in the process of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Furthermore, the US nuclear deployment occurred as China is developing hypersonic launchers, a part of whose trajectory will be in glide mode, inspiring new research by DARPA. As from now, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are participating in the Tactical Boost Glide Program.

    • Ukraine’s Rightists Return to Odessa

      For two years, Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime has balked at investigating dozens of arson deaths in Odessa and now is doing little as far-right nationalists rally for another confrontation, writes Nicolai N. Petro.

    • Can We Feel the Heat?

      I am travelling as a peace witness in Iraqi Kurdistan. We visited a sheikh whom I had met in Fallujah in 2012. He and his family were forced to flee to Kurdistan about two years ago. Fallujah iis being held by ISIS. None of the residents are allowed to leave. People are dying of starvation.

    • Has The American Age of Decline Begun?

      “Low-energy Jeb.” “Little Marco.” “Lyin’ Ted.” “Crooked Hillary.” Give Donald Trump credit. He has a memorable way with insults. His have a way of etching themselves on the brain. And they’ve garnered media coverage, analysis, and commentary almost beyond imagining. Memorable as they might be, however, they won’t be what last of Trump’s 2016 election run. That’s surely reserved for a single slogan that will sum up his candidacy when it’s all over (no matter how it ends). He arrived with it on that Trump Tower escalator in the first moments of his campaign and it now headlines his website, where it’s also emblazoned on an array of products from hats to t-shirts.

      You already know which line I mean: “Make America Great Again!” With that exclamation point ensuring that you won’t miss the hyperbolic, Trumpian nature of its promise to return the country to its former glory days. In it lies the essence of his campaign, of what he’s promising his followers and Americans generally — and yet, strangely enough, of all his lines, it’s the one most taken for granted, the one that’s been given the least thought and analysis. And that’s a shame, because it represents something new in our American age. The problem, I suspect, is that what first catches the eye is the phrase “Make America Great” and then, of course, the exclamation point, while the single most important word in the slogan, historically speaking, is barely noted: “again.”

      With that “again,” Donald Trump crossed a line in American politics that, until his escalator moment, represented a kind of psychological taboo for politicians of any stripe, of either party, including presidents and potential candidates for that position. He is the first American leader or potential leader of recent times not to feel the need or obligation to insist that the United States, the “sole” superpower of Planet Earth, is an “exceptional” nation, an “indispensable” country, or even in an unqualified sense a “great” one. His claim is the opposite. That, at present, America is anything but exceptional, indispensable, or great, though he alone could make it “great again.” In that claim lies a curiosity that, in a court of law, might be considered an admission of guilt. Yes, it says, if one man is allowed to enter the White House in January 2017, this could be a different country, but — and in this lies the originality of the slogan — it is not great now, and in that admission-that-hasn’t-been-seen-as-an-admission lies something new on the American landscape.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Harmful Algal Bloom Reddit “Ask Us Anything”

      With harmful algal bloom (HAB) season beginning over the next few months in several areas of the U.S., this is your chance to talk with two NOAA scientists who study the impacts of harmful algal blooms and forecast bloom conditions for various U.S. coastal regions.

    • Climate Change Is Taking The Spotlight In Australia’s Election

      Australia hasn’t exactly been seen as a leader on climate policy in recent years: Former prime minister Tony Abbott once called climate change “absolute crap,” and current Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull hasn’t delivered the about-face on climate that many environmentalists had hoped for. But that could change with this year’s election.

      On Wednesday, Australia’s Labor Party, the main opposition to the country’s current Turbull-led coalition government, announced a plan to tackle climate change that’s more ambitious than the country’s current approach. Under the Labor Party, Australia would work to decrease emissions 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, compared with the current pledge to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels. A ruling Labor party would also implement a country-wide emissions trading scheme and would set a goal of getting 50 percent of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

    • Climate Change Action Emerges As Winning Wedge Issue In 2016

      A new public opinion survey finds that “Americans across political lines, except conservative Republicans, would support a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming.”

      The survey of 1,004 registered voters by the Climate Change Communication programs at Yale and George Mason University yielded a number of important findings consistent with earlier polling this year by Gallup.

    • Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative

      Oyster beds stabilize the shoreline and filter contaminants from the water, which, in turn, promotes seagrass growth, providing habitat for numerous fish and shellfish species. Oysters are an important food source for animals and people alike, and they are fundamental to the region’s economy. A February 2014 report from NOAA Fisheries estimated that in 2012, the oyster harvest garnered $331 million in revenue in Louisiana alone.

    • ‘Neutral is Not Acceptable’: Nationwide Protests Demand Colleges Go Fossil Free

      A series of sit-ins and protests urging universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuels gained new strength this week, as students at the University of Montana, Vassar College, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched their own actions to combat climate change.

      Two nights in a row, on Monday and Tuesday multiple students at Northern Arizona University (NAU) were arrested for taking part in a nonviolent action demanding their school divest from oil and gas companies.

      “Our administration would rather arrest students then take serious action on climate change,” lamented Fossil Free NAU on its Facebook page.

      “We believe that it is morally unjust to be investing in a dying industry,” said NAU senior Michaela Mujica-Steiner, one of the coordinators of the school sit-in. “We would like to see the school step up and lead with students who are currently demonstrating leadership.”

    • Hanford Seeks Possible Leak in 2nd Double-Walled Tank
    • Michigan Official Tried to Manipulate Lead Tests—Eight Years Ago

      A newly resurfaced email demonstrates that in 2008 an official from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) tried to game lead tests by suggesting that technicians collect extra water samples to make the average lead count for a community appear artificially low.

      The email was sent in response to a test result that showed one home’s lead levels were ten times the federal action level of 15 parts per billion, and urged the lead test technician to take an additional set of water samples to “bump out” the high result so that the MDEQ wouldn’t be required to notify the community of the high levels of lead in its water.

      “Otherwise we’re back to water quality parameters and lead public notice,” complained Adam Rosenthal of the MDEQ’s Drinking Water office in the email.

    • Michael Moore Blasts Obama in an Open Letter About the Flint Water Crisis

      Political documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has been extremely active in advocating for his hometown of Flint, Mich., since the news of the water crisis there broke months ago.

      He has repeatedly posted about Flint on his website, even going so far as demanding Gov. Rick Snyder’s arrest. And, like other activists in Flint, he’s been urging President Obama to pay a visit to the desperate town.

    • Locals In Peru Force US Company To Scrap $5 Billion Mining Project

      Activists in Peru have forced the second-largest gold mining corporation in the world, Newmont, to abandon its $5 billion Conga copper and gold mining project.

      Indigenous Peruvians say the conga mine project, which was intended to replace the nearly-depleted Yanacocha gold mine nearby, threatens the local environment

  • Finance

    • Luxembourg Puts Journalist and Whistleblowers On Trial for Ruining Its “Magical Fairyland” of Tax Avoidance

      LUXEMBOURG IS TRYING to throw two French whistleblowers and a journalist in prison for their role in the “LuxLeaks” exposé that revealed the tiny country’s outsized role in enabling corporate tax avoidance.

      The trial of Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, two former employees of the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and journalist Edouard Perrin began Tuesday.

      Deltour and Halet were charged in connection with theft of PwC documents. Perrin is charged as an accomplice for steering Halet toward documents that he considered of particular interest.

    • Former Tax Lobbyists Are Writing the Rules on Tax Dodging

      The secret tax-dodging strategies of the global elite in China, Russia, Brazil, the U.K., and beyond were exposed in speculator fashion by the recent Panama Papers investigation, fueling a worldwide demand for a crackdown on tax avoidance.

      But there is little appetite in Congress for taking on powerful tax dodgers in the U.S., where the practice has become commonplace.

    • Reinventing Saudi Arabia after Oil: The Prince’s $2 Trillion Gamble

      Saudi Arabia’s citizen population is probably only about 20 million, so it is a small country without a big domestic market. It is surrounded in the general region by huge countries like Egypt (pop. 85 million), Iran (pop. 75 mn.) and Turkey (75 mn.), not to mention Ethiopia (pop. 90 mn.) Without petroleum, it is difficult to see what would be distinctive about Saudi Arabia economically.

      The excruciatingly young prince, who was born in 1985, has a BA in Law from a local Saudi university and his way of speaking about the elements of the economy is not reassuring. Take his emphasis on the maritime trade routes that flow around the Arabian Peninsula. How exactly does Saudi Arabia derive a dime from them? The only tolls I can think of are collected by Egypt for passage through the Suez Canal. By far the most important container port in the region is Jebel Ali in the UAE, which dwarfs Jedda. His estimate of 30% of world trade going through these bodies of water strikes me as exaggerated. Only about 10% of world trade goes through the Suez Canal.

    • Letter from Oxford

      The future independence of universities is in doubt, especially those dependent on alumni support. Old grads are turned off by the erasure of what they remember. Recent grads are not experiencing the same success. A university degree no longer brings the same economic success that it did in the 20th century. A financialized and offshored capitalism has heavily redistributed income and wealth to the One Percent. One consequence is that the alumni donor base will shrink.

    • A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hillary Clinton is DINO-mite to the Billionaires

      Now that Charlie Koch has admitted that his money could ride on Clinton would she just tweak a few of her ideas here or there, I can only presume he may have paid for the Yahoo! ad, which can’t be cheap.

      I’m kidding. Hillary has plenty of money.

      But it would be an expression of his devotion, would it not? Koch likes her for good reason. She’s as much about the money as he is, but not everyone admires Madam.

      The dislike of Clinton is borne out in some polls. People are going to hold their noses and vote for Hillary all the way to the convention. Many dislike her, but it’s in their best interest to keep things the way they are. Not just for the Kochs, but for the majority.

      Bernie and The Donald would mess something up. This election is ultimately about pragmatism once you exit the powder room.

    • Vox’s Puff Piece on Goldman Sachs Doesn’t Reveal Goldman Sponsors Vox

      Matthew Yglesias (4/25/16) gave a generous write-up to Goldman Sachs’ new commercial banking subsidiary, GS Bank, without noting that Goldman Sachs is a sponsor of Vox.

      Despite the obligatory “to be sure” paragraph, where Yglesias ran through some of the downsides (“they don’t have a checking account and there’s no ATM access”), the post mostly served to promote a new product “for the masses” from Goldman Sachs, a company worth roughly $87 billion.

    • Amy Goodman on How the Media Is Ruining the 2016 Election by Focusing on ‘Trump-land’

      If you’ve been near a television, computer or newspaper over the past six months, you know it’s impossible to escape media coverage of Donald Trump. Beyond mere annoyance, this avalanche of attention has created a serious problem in media accountability.

      Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!”, argues that the 24/7 Trump coverage is ruining the election. “We need a media that covers power, not covers for power,” she says, noting the imbalance in election coverage among the candidates in this year’s presidential race.

    • Amy Goodman on AJ+: How the Media Ruins Elections
    • Money Couldn’t Buy Love for Maryland Congressional Candidate David Trone

      David Trone entered Maryland’s 8th Congressional District race in late January, but his late start didn’t hinder his campaign spending. Trone broke the record for self-funding a House campaign by spending more than $12 million of his own money, breaking New Mexico Democrat Phil Maloof’s 1998 record of $6.3 million.

      Despite this significant lump of cash, Trone lost Tuesday’s primary race.

      Throughout the campaign, Trone never labeled himself a front-runner—quite the opposite. “There is no question that I am the underdog,” Trone told Bethesda Magazine in January. The “wine superstore owner” faced seven other opponents for the seat, including Kathleen Matthews, wife of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews; State Sen. Jamie Raskin; and two of Barack Obama’s former aides.

    • Exclusive: Half of Americans think presidential nominating system ‘rigged’ – poll

      More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

      The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties – a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair.

      The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway.

    • Cracked Distills Idiocy, Mendacity of American Politics (Video)

      This Cracked video provides a humorous overview of the presidential election process and explains why candidates can’t be honest.

    • Offshore Democracy, or Argentina through the looking glass

      Exclude the poor from politics on the grounds that they are tempted to misappropriate public funds, and replace them with the rich: this is the project.

    • Noam Chomsky: Bernie Sanders is Not a Radical, He Has Mass Support for Positions on Healthcare & Taxes

      During an event Tuesday night, Noam Chomsky was asked about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and said he considered him more of a “New Deal Democrat” than a radical extremist, as some have portrayed him. Chomsky said Sanders’ positions on taxes and healthcare are supported by a majority of the American public, and have been for a long time. He added that Sanders has “mobilized a large number of young people who are saying, ‘Look, we’re not going to consent anymore.’ If that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.”

    • Fourteen to Go: Sanders Set on ‘Transforming Nation’

      That’s how many Democratic presidential nominating contests remain. From Indiana next week to the District of Columbia on June 14—with delegate prizes as large as 546 in California and small as 12 in Guam to be won in between—14 states and territories have yet to hold their respective caucus or primary.

      “That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast,” said Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, following a win in Rhode Island and losses to rival Hillary Clinton in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

    • Why Bernie Will, Should and Must Stay in the Race

      Bernie has substantively—even profoundly—changed American politics for the better, which is why he’s gaining more and more support and keeps winning delegates. From the start, he said, “This campaign is not about me”—it’s a chance for voters who have been disregarded and discarded to forge a new political revolution that will continue to grow beyond this election and create a true people’s government.

    • Why Sanders Supporters Should Not Let Democratic Primary Demoralize Them

      Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was expected to do very well in the five primaries on April 26, but after the results, Bernie Sanders and his supporters face a critical moment in the election as the campaign fights for every possible delegate on the way to the convention.

      Clinton won Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware decisively. She also eked out a win in Connecticut. She lost in Rhode Island, which was the only state with an open primary that allowed independents to vote for Sanders without affiliating with the Democratic Party.

      Numerous dedicated Sanders volunteers, who have put thousands of hours into the campaign, now face low morale. Sanders supporters lost a lot of hope after New York, and much of that had to do with the establishment news media aggressively promoting the Clinton campaign’s talking points that there was no way Sanders could achieve victory (which was not accurate).

    • The Best Reason for Bernie Sanders to Fight On: Hawkish, Neoliberal Clintons Need a Watchful Eye From Progressives

      Hillary Clinton’s victory language last night showed that she has picked up some of Sanders’ language, and her effort to fold Sanders’ vision into her party’s sounded compelling. But let me mention and rebut some of the Clinton camp’s most convincing points before … ah, elephant in the argument that could end up embarrassing Democrats and actually worsening conditions in the United States even (perhaps especially!) if Clinton wins the White House.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Rhode Island Attorney General Pushing For A State-Level CFAA That Will Turn Researchers, Whistleblowers Into Criminals

      We recently wrote about the Rhode Island attorney general’s “cybercrime” bill — a legislative proposal that seeks to address cyberbullying, revenge porn, etc. with a bunch of broadly — and poorly — written clauses. Two negative comments written months apart could be viewed as “cyber-harassment” under the law, separating it from the sustained pattern of abuse that one normally considers “harassment.”

      In addition, the proposed law would criminalize “non-consensual communications.” If the sender does not obtain the recipient’s permission to send a message, it’s a criminal act if the recipient finds the message to be distressing — which could mean anything from emailing explicit threats to posting a negative comment on someone’s Facebook page.

      But that’s not Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin’s only bad idea. It appears he’s behind another legislative proposal — one that would amend the state’s computer crime laws into something more closely resembling the catastrophic federal equivalent: the CFAA.

    • Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do.

      These are extraordinary claims to level against the UK’s principal party of opposition, and they have generated an extraordinary amount of media coverage, albeit no serious investigation. The common premise underlying this torrent of articles, think-pieces and polemics – that antisemitism is a growing problem within the Labour party – is rapidly congealing into conventional wisdom. Yet this basic claim is devoid of factual basis. The allegations against Corbyn and the Labour party are underpinned by an almost comical paucity of evidence, while what evidence does exist not only fails to justify the claims being made, but has itself been systematically misrepresented. There is no grounds for supposing either that antisemitism is significant within the Labour party, or that its prevalence is increasing. But, under mounting pressure, the Labour leadership’s response to the accusations has regressed from dismissive to defensive, to the point where policy interventions from such noted antisemitism experts as Richard Angell of Progress are reportedly being treated as serious, good-faith contributions.

    • Egypt’s Dangerous Turn

      Egypt’s military regime is suppressing political opposition even more ferociously than the longtime Mubarak dictatorship while also collaborating in the strangulation of Gaza, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • FDA to Massachusetts Group Home: Stop Shocking Disabled Residents

      The government questions whether The Judge Rotenberg Center has been straight with families about the risks of its electrical shock devices and alternative treatments.

    • Bill Clinton’s Shameful Legacy on Immigration: ‘Terrible’ Laws He Signed ‘Rip Apart’ Families and Authorize Unjust Detention, Human Rights Watch Says

      Clinton-era immigration laws “have subjected hundreds of thousands of people to arbitrary detention, fast-track deportations and family separation,” Human Rights Watch says in a new report.

    • Longest-Serving GOP Speaker In History Is A Liar And Serial Child Molester, Federal Judge Says

      Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced in federal court today to 15 months in prison and a $250,000 fine, in addition to two years of supervised release, on the condition that he get treatment as a sex offender. Last year, Hastert pled guilty to breaking banking laws by making illegal withdrawals — which he then lied about to the FBI.

      Hastert took out $1.7 million in small amounts to avoid suspicion, according to the indictment, which he then used as hush money to prevent a victim of sexual abuse from going public. The victim, identified only as “Individual A” in the court papers, was a 14-year-old on Hastert’s wrestling team when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High school in Illinois. When the allegations become public, three other victims came forward and said that they had been molested by Hastert while he was their wrestling coach. While the statute of limitations on the sexual crimes ran out long ago, the judge can take any behavior surrounding the banking crimes into account when sentencing.

    • Notorious Louisiana Prison Accuses Inmate Of ‘Defiance’ For Speaking With Reporters

      Officials at one of the United States’ most notorious prisons have reportedly punished an outspoken inmate for daring to correspond with reporters about conditions inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

      William Kissinger was abruptly relocated from Angola to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center some 70 miles south in early February, after emailing with a reporter from the New Orleans Advocate for some weeks. Prison officials say he was moved as a disciplinary action because he was guilty of “defiance” and “general prohibited behavior,” the Advocate reports — two broad and vague rules of prisoner conduct that allow officials to punish inmates for anything they decide insults staff or impedes the prison’s function.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Roku CEO Kisses Up To Comcast, Supports Opposition To Cable Set Top Box Competition

      As we’ve been discussing, the FCC is cooking up a plan to open up the closed cable set top box to third party competition. As we’ve also been pointing out, the cable industry has been throwing an absolutely epic hissy fit about this plan, given it would destroy the $21 billion in annual revenues cable operators make off of cable box rental fees. Since it can’t just admit this is all about protecting set top rental fees, the cable industry has been pushing an endless wave of editorials in newspapers and websites nationwide, claiming more set top box competition will hurt consumer privacy, increase piracy, harm diversity, and rip the very planet from its orbital axis.

    • As Broadband Usage Caps Expand, Complaints To The FCC Skyrocket

      For several years now, broadband providers have been taking full advantage of the lack of competition in the broadband market by expanding usage caps and overage fees. More recently, companies like AT&T, Comcast and Suddenlink have taken this practice one step further by charging users a $10 to $35 per month surcharge if consumers want to avoid usage caps. In other words, consumers are paying more money than ever for a service that costs less and less to provide, thanks again to limited competition in the broader broadband market.

      And while companies like Comcast have used the same approach seen in the boiling frog metaphor to slowly expand its usage cap “trials” and hope nobody notices, people are definitely noticing the rising temperatures.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Drawn Out Battle Over Genetic Resources Dampens Africa’s Hopes

      The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is the world’s most authoritative legal instrument on intellectual property. It falls under the World Trade Organisation, which sets the rules for trade between countries. The United Nations also has an agency specialising in intellectual property rights, the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The two bodies signed a cooperation agreement in 1996.

      But the trade agreement doesn’t mention traditional knowledge, let alone its association with genetic resources. The UN body, meanwhile, has been trying – unsuccessfully – to negotiate a new framework over the past 16 years. These gaps show how conventional intellectual property frameworks have neglected the knowledge that indigenous communities produce.

      [...]

      All of these examples have attracted international interest. This has prompted indigenous and local communities to spar with foreigners over the benefits that are due to them.

      In the absence of clear rules, a process called “biopiracy” has emerged. Biopirates appropriate genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge by using patents. Sometimes these are turned into blockbuster products. Local communities don’t benefit at all.

    • Magic Leap lampoons Google Glass in patent filing

      Patent drawings are not generally a source of amusement, as artistic as they may sometimes be. Magic Leap, the fabled and secretive augmented reality start-up valued at USD 4.5 billion, however, snuck a first class nerd joke in its application US2016/0109707 published 21 April 2016 with the memorable title “combining at least one variable focus element with a plurality of stacked waveguides for augmented or virtual reality display” (and containing no less than 152 patent drawings).

    • BREAKING: House passes Defend Trade Secrets Act, next stop President Obama

      The US Senate only just unanimously passed S.1890 (see AmeriKat report here) three weeks ago. Following the Senate vote, the Obama administration called the DTSA “important protection” for American business and industries. Why is the DTSA so important? It provides trade secrets owners with the possibility of filing civil claims for trade secrets misappropriation within the federal court system (necessary given the ease and speed with which misappropriated trade secrets can cross state borders). The DTSA also provides for a seizure order to prevent the destruction or dissemination of misappropriated trade secrets. See the recent post by trade secrets expert, James Pooley.

    • US House passes trade secrets bill
    • Implementing and Interpreting the Defend Trade Secrets Act [iophk: “Microsoft, for example, defines just about everything as a trade secret, especially contracts with public entities.” Has Microsoft (along with other corporations that bought the US government) just criminalised revealing Microsoft contracts? Has Microsoft just criminalised revealing its patent racketeering deals?]

      With today’s 410-2 House vote, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) has now passed both the House and Senate and is headed to President Obama for his expected signature.[1] The DTSA amends the Economic Espionage Act to create a private civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation based upon the Congressional sense that trade secret theft exists and is harmful.[2] Trade secret misappropriation (as a civil matter) has previously been purely a matter of state law. Although there is substantial uniformity between the states,[3] there are also a number of differences and perceived procedural weaknesses.[4] The DTSA would not eliminate or preempt the various state trade secret rights but rather would operate as an additional layer of potential protection.[5] The law is designed to go into effect on its day of enactment and apply to any misappropriation that occurs on or after that date.

    • Transparency of patents on medicines and other technologies

      The Beall/Attaran paper deals specifically with the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML), and the authors might make the argument that not much is known about the patent landscape of the entire EML, per se, but that really misses the point. There are many studies and commentaries on the patent landscape for medicines that are essential, including both those on and off the WHO EML. Much of the work in publishing patent landscapes in recent years has been done by MSF, I-Mak, and the Medicines Patent Pool, as well as several academics and health NGOs. NGOs, including but not limited to KEI, have also addressed policy issues related to the transparency of patent landscapes, not only for medicines, but also in other areas, including clean energy, climate change, and standards essential patents on mobile computing devices, for example.

    • On IP Protection, USTR Finds Fault With China, India … And Switzerland? [Ed: see what else it did, bullying nations that don’t obey the demands of US corporations]

      The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) does not hesitate to add even its closest friends to its annual list of concerns about possible inadequate protection of US intellectual property rights. So this year, along with perennial listees China, India and dozens of others, vigorous IP-rights defender Switzerland makes an appearance. The annual Special 301 report was issued today, and in its press release this year, USTR also included its primary client in publishing the list – the rightsholder industry.

    • Trademarks

      • Priceline Throws A Fit And Sues USPTO For Not Granting Them Booking.com Trademark

        The Priceline Group has something of a history with intellectual property. Several years back, Jay Walker, Priceline’s founder, appeared to have transitioned to becoming a full-blown patent troll. In the year’s since, the company he once founded has been in something of a tussle with the USPTO over its attempt to register a trademark for “booking.com.” The USPTO had initially approved of the mark, before reversing its own decision only weeks later due to “booking.com” being essentially descriptive. The Priceline Group appealed, but the appeals board upheld the rejection of the mark, affirming it as being descriptive.

    • Copyrights

      • Judge: RIAA and MPAA Can’t Copy Megaupload’s Servers, Yet

        The legal battles between the RIAA, MPAA and Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload have been put on hold for another six months. Virginia District Court Judge Liam O’Grady agreed to stay the cases, but did not grant a request from the industry groups to allow them to copy Megaupload’s data which remains stored at its former hosting provider.

      • US Supreme Court debates copyright case attorneys’ fees in Kirtsaeng

        The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Susap Kirtsaeng v John Wiley, with justices appearing sceptical that prevailing defendants should be awarded fees in close cases

      • International report – Google Books project gets green light

        On April 18 2016 the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in Authors Guild v Google, thus leaving in place a lower court ruling that Google did not infringe authors’ copyrights in its project to create a searchable library of the world’s books. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had held that Google’s project was a protected ‘fair use’ of copyrighted works.

      • Rep. Goodlatte Promises ‘Consensus’ Copyright Reform Proposals Soon

        Congress has mostly stayed away from any attempt at copyright reform since the great SOPA blackout of 2012, afraid that anything will set off the public again. However, in 2013, Copyright Register Maria Pallante called on Congress to create the “next great copyright act” designed to update copyright for the 21st century. The House Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings and roundtables every few months since then, some of which have been more encouraging than others.