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08.09.16

Rumours About Likely Salary of (or Compensation to) Jesper Kongstad of the EPO Administrative Council

Posted in Europe, Finance, Rumour at 8:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kongstad scam

Summary: Successor of Benoît Battistelli at the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, is rumoured to be hiding something from tax authorities, but lack of transparency in “Eponia” prevents actual verification

THE EPO is no stranger to controversy and scandals. There is virtually no oversight there, no transparency, no accountability. This breeds distrust and often abuse as well. The USPTO is an angel in comparison as it doesn’t enjoy exemptions from European or US laws. There is no “USponia”, only “Eponia”.

“We just read your article with the title "Rumours About Secret EPO Salary of Benoît Battistelli",” some readers told us. “We’re surprised that you didn’t give any mention to the “Rumours About Secret EPO Salary of Jesper Kongstad”…

“If these rumours were true, then as a Danish civil servant he could be in serious trouble if the Danish tax authorities ever happened to investigate the matter.”
      –Anonymous
“At the end of an interview published by MIP in March of this year Kongstad was quoted as claiming that he does not receive any remuneration for his work at the EPO: “I am now spending about half of my time on EPO-related work, but I do not receive any remuneration for that.”

“In the MIP interview Kongstad was emphatic about the “pro bono” nature of his work for the EPO but not everybody is prepared to buy that storyline.”

Recall this embarrassing recent story. The readers continue: “In fact for some time now there have been persistent rumours circulating that he is somehow “on the payroll” at the EPO although nobody seems to know the precise details about this. Evil tongues have even been heard to say that he does not disclose this additional remuneration for tax purposes in Denmark. If these rumours were true, then as a Danish civil servant he could be in serious trouble if the Danish tax authorities ever happened to investigate the matter.

“It is important to emphasise that these are just rumours.”
      –Anonymous
“According to this report from 2010, under Danish law intentional and systematic tax evasion can lead to 8 years imprisonment and penalties of twice the unpaid tax liability. However, given the lack of effective oversight at the EPO it’s unlikely that Kongstad has anything to fear. Even if there was an investigation he would probably be whitewashed by the Internal Audit department which operates the EPO’s Investigative Unit and only answers to Battistelli. We are unlikely to see a truly independent audit of Kongstad’s financial relationship with the EPO any time soon.

“It is important to emphasise that these are just rumours. The close symbiosis between Kongstad and Battistelli and the fact that Kongstad is one of the few people privy to the details of Battistelli’s contract lends a certain amount of plausibility to the rumours. But in the absence of an independent audit nobody can say for certain how much substance there is to them. The fact that Kongstad went on record in March to specifically deny that he receives any remuneration for his EPO activities might be an indication that he felt a need to say something in public to counteract these rumours.”

Deviation From (and Violation of) the EPC Under Battistelli at the EPO for the Sake of ‘Production’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New document questions the legitimacy of patent policy under Battistelli — a policy which strives to maximise grants and bypasses a lot of quality control so as to achieve high ‘production’ (measured using a self-serving yardstick which retroactively devalues all patents)

NO wonder Battistelli is so afraid of SUEPO. As a sort of watchdog representing half of all EPO staff, it has highlighted legitimate concerns shared by a lot of the staff, which believes Battistelli steers the EPO into a registration system (like early certainty) a lot worse than even the USPTO.

A lot of people have already seen the document below and someone decided to leak it to us. We have decided that, as IP Kat comments already speak about it, it’s worth presenting in full:

Getting there faster, a case of unclarity?

An Efficiency Presentation has been given in a number of administrative directorates in Berlin during the recent weeks. It was based on a power point presentation titled “Getting there faster” and was further complemented by individual remarks by administrative as well as examining staff.

It has come to the Berlin staff committee’s attention that some parts of this presentation appear to have been misunderstood by many technically qualified examiners in Berlin who felt that those parts of the presentations in their respective directorate lead to undue interferences, be it from interested circles outside or inside the Office, with the responsibilities directly vested by the Contracting States in Examining Divisions (Articles 15 and 18 EPC) to which these examiners are administratively assigned. The title as well as some remark was understood as a prompt to ignore some of the Examining Divisions’ responsibilities in order to more quickly grant patents on European patent applications. Apparently, the following messages were perceived:

(a) the requirements under Article 84 EPC, especially clarity, were often less essential for the quality of the granted patent

(b) the description and figures should be employed, together with the claims, to determine the subject-matter for which protection is sought with the procedure up to grant

(c) clarity of the claims was no ground for opposition, and lack of clarity as such should thus not be the basis to refuse a European patent application

(d) the procedure up to grant should be a co-operative and an interactive process involving essentially the entrusted examiner and the applicants’ representatives as partners, preferably via telephone conversations instead of oral proceedings

(e) a benefit of the doubt on the part of the entrusted examiner should lead to a proposal to grant

(f) the other members of the divisions should follow the entrusted examiners’ proposals to grant

(g) the proposal to grant should promptly be signed by the other members when their own merely administrative checks have been done, i.e. without their own assessments of the requirements e.g. for patentability.

Examining staff thus defied the Berlin staff committee to take position on these issues, and the Berlin staff committee is prepared to dispel any doubts:

The Berlin staff committee finds the title “Getting there faster” as unclear as the title of the Office’s “Early Certainty” presentation in the Patent Law Committee (CA/PL 7/16), because both the term “there” and the term “Certainty” are not unambiguously defined in the presentations. For pending examination procedures (Articles 94 and 97 EPC), the applicants as well as third parties have the right to get in due time a legitimate decision of the Examining Division, be it grant or refusal pursuant to Article 97(1) respectively Article 97(2) EPC (see e.g. point 1.2 of T1131/12, or point 7 of T1515/07). It would thus be illegitimate to understand these terms in the manner that “there” or “Certainty” merely meant grant, even if some parts of the presentations rather apply only to grant. Any bias in this direction does not come as a surprise to the Berlin staff committee, however, since more and more patents are granted directly without any objections, or directly after the applicants answer to any objections, and the percentage of refusals has thus become marginal in most of the technical domains, compared to direct grants.

A grant cannot legitimately be decided by a responsible Examining Division before the patent application and the invention meet all the requirements of the EPC (Article 97(1) EPC), and knowingly skipping any requirement thus amounts to not discharging the responsibilities vested in the Examining Division (e.g. the Catchword and points 2.5 to 2.8 of T0075/09, or point 3 of T1849/12). For a legitimate refusal, on the other hand, a failure of the applicant to comply with a single requirement is sufficient (e.g. Headnote of T0005/81) unless the EPC provides for a different legal consequence (Article 97(2) EPC), i.e. inter alia unless procedural violations are to be overcome (e.g. point 2 of T2411/10), e.g. meeting the principles of party disposition or of the right to be heard (Article 113 EPC, e.g. point 8 of T1969/07). In effect, examination procedures up to grant of a patent in the mean drastically differ from examination procedures up to refusal.

Clearly, not discharging the responsibilities of the Examining Division is often much more “efficient” and “timely” than trying to get from the applicant’s representative a grantable request which meets all the requirements, and this without any procedural violation. And not spending any time and effort for a point, or for the paid search and examination fees, would drastically reduce the beloved “unit costs” and the Office’s liabilities (e.g. point 7 of T1515/07). It was therefore very fortunate that Examining Divisions at least were legitimately able to successfully propose minor amendments to the text in a proposal for grant (in the “Druckexemplar”) in order to overcome minor objections and thereby discharge the responsibilities of the Examining Divisions in a somewhat more efficient manner (e.g. point 14 of T0121/06).

Whereas the staff representation thus certainly supports all legitimate measures to keep and improve the timeliness of the EPO’s services, this end cannot justify illegitimate decisions, i.e. illegitimate grants or refusals, since a lack of discharge of the Examining Divisions’ responsibilities cannot ensure the functioning of the Office in the sense of Article 10 EPC. The Berlin staff representation should thus take position with regard to the misunderstanding as follows:

(a) Article 84 EPC comprises an enumeration of requirements which should be met by the text of the claims proposed for a grant, since these claims define the subject matter for which protection is sought. The wording of Article 84 EPC (“shall”) does not involve any discretionary powers of the Examining Divisions to skip any identified objections (e.g. the Catchword and points 2.5 to 2.8 of T0075/09). Valid objections thus simply need to be overcome by amendments, as submitted or agreed by the applicants, in order to meet the principle of party disposition enshrined in Article 113(2) EPC (e.g. point 14 of T0121/06). A level of “sufficient quality” as promoted for a grant is thus not commensurate with the EPC, since merely ignoring identified objections, thereby not even informing the applicants about them at all, simply amounts to a violation of the principle of party disposition, and it is harmful for third parties, the public as well as the patent system as a whole when examining divisions fail to fully discharge their responsibilities.

(b) Article 84 and Article 97 EPC make no difference between major and minor clarity objections, and they do not define essential or inessential clarity objections which must or must not be communicated to the applicants and considered for the decision to grant or to refuse. The EPC rather is built on the assumption of due administration which does not encompass arbitrary decisions, or decisions tainted by partiality of the (members of) Examining Divisions, and deviations from due administration thus amount to a violation of the EPC.

(c) The claims shall define the subject-matter for which protection is sought, not the descriptions nor the figures. They additionally (“and”) shall support the clear claims. Article 69 EPC, together with the Protocol on its Interpretation, is not applicable to the assessment of the text of the claims proposed for a grant (e.g. point 3.3 T2613/11) and inappropriately assessing the clarity of the claims by invoking the description for the claims’ interpretation, instead impinges upon third parties’ rights to oppose illegitimately granted patents, since lack of clarity of the claims is no ground for opposition (Article 100 EPC, “only”) nor can it be employed for revocation in national proceedings (Article 138(1) EPC, “only”). Other grounds for opposition or revocation are indeed not always suitable to make good for any negligence on the part of the Examining Division in glossing over an instance of lack of clarity, and the public is thus merely left with ill-defined claims under these circumstances. If an applicant does not submit or at least agree to amendments overcoming the identified lack of clarity, the responsible Examining Division cannot legitimately grant a patent.

(d) The procedure up to grant is essentially defined in Part IV of the EPC as complemented by the common provisions governing procedure (Part VII EPC). As regards examination by the Examining Divisions, the procedure before the examining division shows all essential elements of a quasi-judicial administrative procedure leading to collective decision making within the Examining Divisions. It is furthermore based on the legal principles of party disposition, of parties’ right to be heard, and of reasoned administrative decisions. The Examining Divisions have been vested by the Contracting States with discretionary powers pursuant to Articles 94(3) and 116(1) EPC in certain cases or situations only, namely to object in writing “as often as necessary” and hold oral proceedings when “expedient”. These discretionary powers should be duly applied by the responsible Examining Divisions when deciding on the course of the procedure. Informal contacts between certain representatives and individual officers, whether members of the responsible Examining Division or not, are not foreseen at all in the EPC, can easily raise issues of suspicion of partiality or lack of independence in the sense of Article 14 ServReg, and suspicion of breach of the principle of collective decision making (e.g. point 2 of T1251/08). The suggested co-operative and interactive processes merely involving the entrusted examiner instead of the responsible Examining Division thus merely enhance the risk of illegitimate grants but hinder and postpone legitimate refusal decisions (e.g. point 3 of T1101/05, or points 3 and 4). It is observed in passing that the Office’s administration has tried more than once to convince the Contracting States of examination procedures involving merely one examiner (most recently in connection with automatic communications and reimbursement of examination fees, see inter alias points 84 and 85 of the minutes of the 42nd meeting of the PLC, CA/PL 13/12). The attempts were refused by the representatives of the Contracting States.

(e) In the proceedings before them, the Examining Divisions shall examine the facts of their own motion, cf. Article 114(1) EPC, and the members shall thereby come collectively to the Examining Divisions’ decision pursuant to Article 97 EPC. Pursuant to Article 97(1) EPC, the Examining Division thus shall be “of the opinion” that all requirements are met before a legitimate grant can collectively be decided. The Examining Divisions’ collective opinion is thus crucial in accordance with the principle of free evaluation of evidence and the measure of proof according to the balance of probabilities. The Contracting States did not vest in the Examining Divisions any discretionary power to disregard any deficiency or to apply a benefit of the doubt (e.g. point 3 of T0622/02, page 11 of T0869/06 or T0075/09, T1849/12), while the legal concepts of the distribution of the burden of proof and the benefit of the doubt rather apply in inter partes procedures.

(f) The other members of the responsible Examining Divisions thus have a duty to contribute to the collective decision making within the Examining Divisions, if necessary by taking votes, and they cannot legitimately follow the entrusted examiners’ proposals to grant when they have identified any requirement that has not been met, and thus come to a different opinion. Rather, it is their duty to determine the Examining Divisions’ collective opinions and correspondingly follow the legitimate procedure.

(g) The Examining Divisions’ appointed members shall collectively decide for the Examining Divisions (Article 97 EPC), and the authentications of all appointed members thus confirm the approval of the collective decisions (Rule 113 EPC). Merely signing without approving the collective decision thus amounts to a procedural violation since the collective decision has not been taken at all if the other members have not duly made an assessment of their own (e.g. points 1 and 2 of T1538/05 or point 1 of T2076/11). Each member is thus individually responsible that her/his own authentication legitimately approves the Examining Divisions’ collective views. Any Guidelines, PPNs, Internal Instructions and other individual instructions can only be understood in accordance with the Contracting States contractual will as enshrined in the EPC. The Berlin staff committee is thus convinced that legitimate timeliness requires fewer administrative interferences with the responsible Examining Divisions, balanced and unbiased examination procedures which are appropriate for both final results, i.e. refusal as well as grant, fewer informal procedural steps which furthermore should be left at the discretion of the responsible examining divisions, and more collective decision making skills which are essential for the legitimate functioning of the EPO.

The Local Staff Committee Berlin, 23 July 2016

Techrights has some more EPO material in store and will resume more frequent updates later this summer or in autumn.

The Problem With Overpatenting: The Google Example

Posted in Apple, Google, Oracle, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patents, especially software patents, continue to pose a threat to progress where innovation is a lot faster than in most scientific domains

SEVERAL years ago I developed software designed to help cars navigate. It was a research project funded by the EU. I did not pursue patents, nor did I look up any. In the USPTO — unlike in the EPO — ‘pure’ software patents exist (for now at least) and there are software patents on driving, not just on miniature computing systems that distract from the task of actually driving (the buzzword these days is “infotainment”).

“In our daily links we’ve recently included many news items about the dangers associated with autonomous cars (bugs, back doors, lack of human judgment and no communication — verbal or body gestures — with other drivers).”According to this news, “Google Self-Driving Car Director Chris Urmson Hits Exit Ramp To Pursue Other Projects,” which says a lot about market prospects. In our daily links we’ve recently included many news items about the dangers associated with autonomous cars (bugs, back doors, lack of human judgment and no communication — verbal or body gestures — with other drivers). If Google is having issues with this endeavor (as does Tesla reportedly), who would pursue moving from theory (or even from patents) to reality/practice? My project’s supervisor at the time worked part time for Google (primarily a university professor) and he too wasn’t optimistic about the work. It’s just a very hard task, not just because of lack of patents or anything like this. For similar reasons, voting should not be done by machines (there is extensive literature about the drawbacks) and patent examination cannot be done by machines (no matter what Battistelli and his clueless circle believe or hear from the opportunistic private sector looking for outsourcing).

According to a pro-software patents author, patents on “infotainment” are being pursued not so much by Google and Apple but by automakers. To quote one bit:

According to market research reports, the market for in-car infotainment systems is expected to rise from $14.4 billion in 2016 up to $35.2 billion in 2020.

Putting aside the fact that drivers should focus on driving rather than phonecalls and Internet browsing, it’s not entirely accurate to say that Google stays out of it because Google is pursing a lot of patents on things inside the car, including the driver (which Google hopes to replace with a machine). Cars that are entirely autonomous may be a distant dream, but partial mechanisation — like vocal/visual assistance while parking — is already here and there is nothing innovative about it (it’s actually extremely simple to implement).

“Cars that are entirely autonomous may be a distant dream, but partial mechanisation — like vocal/visual assistance while parking — is already here and there is nothing innovative about it (it’s actually extremely simple to implement).”Speaking of Google, in this new article Florian Müller says that “Google’s integration of Android into Chrome makes a third Android-Java copyright trial 100% inevitable,” even though APIs are not copyrightable (there was a ruling on that a few months back, but there were also patents thrown into the mix). He told me “[i]t’s not about ARC but about the full integration of the Android Marshmallow APIs into Chrome.” Well, as long as there is no copyright on APIs (as the latest judgment acknowledged), Oracle would just be wasting its money and become even less popular.

Regarding Apple-Android/Google (or Samsung being one OEM of several) disputes, Müller didn’t imagine that “Apple would entirely fail to garner support from companies” in its patent wars using design patents, but he later corrected his article and said: “An earlier version of this post was based on the (false) assumption that last week’s widely-reported amicus brief by 111 designers and design educators was the only amicus brief supporting Apple. This misperception was due to the delay with which both the court’s own website and the SCOTUSblog get updated. Actually, a total of 10 briefs were filed in support of Apple. Furthermore, the first version of this post noted an “artsy font” used on the title page of the designers’ brief. However, that font was only used in the version published on Apple’s website.” (links in the article)

These petty patent wars between Apple and Android OEMs are clearly far from over. Apple is losing market share to Android pretty rapidly, so it hopes to simply tax Android rather than beat it (artificially raising the price of Android, henceforth becoming a little more competitive). Well, such is the legacy of dumb patents on every stupid thing. Battistelli has proven to be totally clueless about Apple's patents at the EPO (these were found invalid in the courts after they had been granted by the Office).

“EPO Shows an Operating Loss of €145,000,000”

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli is wasting money and is driving the EPO into a wall

Wasting money
And with the UK’s diminishing hopes of UPC, what would he have left to show for it?

Summary: Based on the latest financial statements of the EPO, Benoît Battistelli would have to declare bankruptcy if he wasn’t so unaccountable and dismissive of accounting

THE EPO does not appear to be doing too well under Battistelli’s management, even from a fiscal point of view. He made his contract a closely-guarded secret with some saying that he doubled (or more) his salary (a massive salary in the context of any public office in the EU), he is wasting millions of Euros on his ludicrous lobbying events, he hired PR agencies even from the US (over a million dollars on that alone for just one year), and he pretends all is well and the money flows in like water while many senior examiners take early retirement to escape him.

“Benoît Battistelli will surely be remembered as one who crashed the EPO as we once knew it, emitting lots of worthless patents in haste like Robert Mugabe printing lots of worthless banknotes…”Extensive surveillance (Control Risks) and militarised forces including unnecessary bodyguards that cost a fortune are among other ‘luxuries’ of Battistelli, even if some of these defy European laws. Then there are the massive contracts without tenders (even tens of millions of Euros for each contract), the terrible IT spendings that make it into a black hole, and other budgetary issues that we have covered here over the years.

Suffice to say, those who will pay the price are past and present (and maybe future) employees; none of that stuff, as listed above, is free/gratis after all. Battistelli runs the EPO like Bush ran the US (into debt, into totally avoidable war, and into the ground on grounds of credibility). Here is a comment that showed up today, claiming (with evidence) that “the EPO shows an operating loss (of EUR 145 million), largely due to an increase of over EUR 260 million in “Employee benefit expenses”.” Here is the full comment:

What do you mean by a surplus? I am no accountant, but it appears to me that the latest financial statement (for 2015) produced by the EPO shows an operating loss (of EUR 145 million), largely due to an increase of over EUR 260 million in “Employee benefit expenses”.

http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/6C4CC693A4FAA752C1257FE2004A2CE8/$File/financial_statements_2015_en.pdf

I know that the figures presented need to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially due to the lack of oversight in the preparation of the figures. However, even the “sanitised” figures show what appears to be a huge hole in the pension fund. That is, there are liabilities of EUR15,828 million relating to “defined benefits”, which completely dwarfs the EPO’s current equity of less than EUR8,000 million. It also dwarfs the current assets of the pension, which were reported as just under EUR6,600 million.

I would be keen to know what “Remeasurement defined benefit obligations” means, though. This is because the EPO appears to have found over EUR4,750 million down the back of the sofa in 2015 thanks to that little accounting trick.

This does raise an interesting question, though. Has BB been brought in to deal with the black hole in the pension fund? Can the major effects of his policies be understood as being aimed at maximising current operating profit and minimising pension liability? If so, it would appear that EPOnia is a microcosm of society at large, with current workers (and users of the system) effectively paying the price for the over-generous benefits awarded to the generation that preceded them.

A lot of these expenses are associated with early departures — something which, as we pointed out yesterday, happened a lot in the past two years because of Battistelli and his ‘reforms’.

Benoît Battistelli will surely be remembered as one who crashed the EPO as we once knew it, emitting lots of worthless patents in haste like Robert Mugabe printing lots of worthless banknotes (“231 million percent peak hyperinflation in 2008,” according to Wikipedia).

Links 9/8/2016: Chrome 53 Beta, SQLite 3.14

Posted in News Roundup at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • STEAMpunking Linux: The Physical Computing Stack

    I’ve been on a quest lately to add nano-Linux boards to steampunk projects. The effort has been pretty successful and it’s fun doing things like putting a Raspberry Pi into my “Conference Personality Identification Device,” which everyone recognizes as a name badge. The badge sports a 1.8-inch color TFT screen that plays little sepia toned promotional videos and an orbing tricolor LED “ozone tube.” I wear the badge to my conference tech talks and it tends to be a big hit.

  • More Fun with Windows 10, Yabba Dabba Do Bedrock Linux

    Windows 10 is back in the news and back up to their old tricks. The latest Windows 10 updates has been reported to delete Linux partitions without confirmation or even warning. Even pure Windows users have reported unbootable systems and Linux is the bad guy in a security question with Linux on Windows. Elsewhere, Lumina Desktop Environment hit milestone version 1.0.0 today and Linux Mint had an oopsy with their Firefox 48 update. New Bedrock Linux introduced a different approach to universal packaging and Christine Hall shared her top five favorite Linux distributions.

  • Desktop

    • London’s Met Police has missed the Windows XP escape deadline [Ed: known problem, London’s police is a prisoner of NSA and also China, Russia etc. [1, 2]]

      London’s Metropolitan Police has missed its deadline to dump Windows XP, with tens of thousands of copper still running the risky OS.

      The force, on the front line against terrorist threats and criminals in the capital city, is running Windows XP on around 27,000 PCs.

      At last count, in May 2015, the Met had a total of 35,640 PCs, with 34,920 of them running XP. Policemen set themselves a deadline of March 2016 to finish migrating to Windows 8.1.

      London Mayor Sadiq Khan, however, has apparently now revealed that just 8,000 of the force’s PCs have moved to Windows 8.1 since last September. The target is for another 6,000 by the end of September 2016.

      Khan provided the update in response to a question from Conservative Greater London Assembly member Andrew Boff.

    • Met Police still running Windows XP on 27,000 computers [iophk: "forget XP, Windows in general is dangerously out of date"]

      LONDON BOYS IN BLUE the Metropolitan Police may be armed with tasers and extendable batons, but they are backed up by Windows XP in a lot of cases, which is a really bad thing.

      Windows XP no longer gets official security updates, and Microsoft sees it as the sort of thing that should be scraped off shoes before walking on the carpet.

      The company will let people pay to keep using it, but only on a case-by-case basis. We do not know the police arrangement with Microsoft, but the Met needs to accelerate the updating of its computer systems as it puts Londoners’ information at risk, according to London Assembly member Andrew Boff.

  • Server

    • What is Private Cloud?
    • Safety first: The best use of the public cloud for analytics apps and data
    • Huawei Launches Labs to Drive Open Cloud Networks

      The Cloud Open Labs are part of the vendor’s All Cloud strategy to make it easier for telco operators to migrate their infrastructures to the cloud.
      Huawei is unveiling an interconnected group of laboratories that are designed to help network operators more quickly and easily embrace and deploy cloud computing solutions in their environments.

    • Data Center Architecture Lessons From Isaac Newton

      Sir Isaac Newton remains our favorite source for axiomatic laws of physics, despite giving us the language of calculus. Particularly relevant for today’s discussion is Newton’s third law as formally stated: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

      In the cosmology of the data center, this existentially proves itself in the network whenever there are significant changes in application infrastructure and architectures. As evidence, consider the reaction to first, virtualization, and now, containerization, APIs, and microservice architectures.

      These changes, while improving speed and agility of application development and delivery, have created greater mass in the data center, essentially changing the center of gravity and pulling many network services toward it. Application-focused services like load balancing and even web application security have been pulled toward the development environment as scale and security have become a necessary component of application architectures.

      [...]

      Achieving the agility and speed necessary in the app network requires software — virtual or containerized — with APIs and programmatic methods of integration into the orchestration engines driving the build and release process. These components must also be scalable, but not of the same magnitude as the core network. Software solutions rule in this growing division in the data center.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Open vSwitch Joins Linux Foundation Open Networking Ecosystem
    • Refereed Talk Deadline Approaching for Linux Plumbers Conference

      The refereed talk deadline for Linux Plumbers Conference is only a few weeks off, September 1, 2016 at 11:59PM CET. So there is still some time to get your proposals in, but time is growing short.

      Note that this year’s Plumbers is co-located with Linux Kernel Summit rather than LinuxCon, so the refereed track is all Plumbers this year. We are therefore looking forward to seeing your all-Plumbers refereed-track submission!

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon RX 460 Released, Linux Review Later This Week

        Just days after the Radeon RX 470 began shipping, the Radeon RX 460 is shipping this morning and the embargo concerning the RX 460 has expired.

        This Polaris 11 graphics card has 14 compute units, 896 stream process, 1090MHz boost clock speed with 1200MHz boost clock speed, and is rated for up to 2.2 TFLOPS of compute power. The video memory is GDDR5 on a 128-bit bus. The TDP for this graphics card is less than 75 Watts.

      • AMD GPUOpen’s CodeXL 2.2 Now Supports Linux With AMDGPU-PRO

        Earlier this year AMD made CodeXL 2.0 open-source as a developer tool with GUI centered around profiling/optimizing D3D, OpenGL, and Vulkan (since CodeXL 2.1) under Windows and Linux. Today marks the release of CodeXL 2.2.

      • Lower Memory Use For The VC4 Raspberry Pi Gallium3D Driver

        One of the latest initiatives worked on by Eric Anholt at Broadcom for the VC4 Gallium3D driver — the open-source driver used most famously by the Raspberry Pi hardware — is lower memory use.

        Over the past week he’s been working on lowering the memory use for the VC4 open-source Linux driver stack. Eric ended up making various fixes and optimizations to reduce the memory consumption, which is important considering the limited RAM available on the Raspberry Pi boards.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Rainbow Folders

        Breeze Icons follow the colorscheme that’s not new but now the folder icons also follow the color scheme.

      • QRPC: A Qt remoting library

        This project of mine has been around for quite a while already. I’ve never much publicised it, however, and for the past year the code hasn’t seen any changes (until a few days ago, anyway). But related to my current job, I’ve found a new need for remote procedure calls, so I came back to the code after all.

      • Qt 5.8 Is Preparing For Its Feature Freeze

        Qt developers are preparing for the feature-freeze of the upcoming Qt 5.8 tool-kit.

        The branching of “dev” to “5.8″ is happening with developers preparing for Qt 5.8 to set out on its final course ahead of the official release later this year. The actual feature freeze is set to happen one week from today on 15 August.

        Qt developers concerned about the logistics of the 5.8 branching can see this mailing list post.

      • My experiences with SOCIS 2016

        This post is a small synopsis of my experiences so far as a student in this years Summer of Code in Space, where I shall recount the whole adventure of integrating Sentinel-2 data into Marble Virtual Globe.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Need an ARM board to do GNOME development?

        As per the Qualcomm boards, they run with the freedreno driver (by the way, props to Rob Clark for his amazing work on this driver) and I was able to run a GNOME on Wayland on them using the official Debian image, so they are more suitable if you want to focus on the upper layers of the stack.

        I would like to reiterate my gratitude to Banana Pi and Qualcomm for their generosity for the hardware, as well as ARM and Codethink for the server side stuff that is already being used in our GNOME Continuous efforts.

        And of course, I’m going to GUADEC! I’ll be taking the boards with me, so if you think you have something interesting to do with them and you are attending just find me around.

      • Missing GUADEC this week

        This week is the annual GNOME Users And Developers European Conference (“GUADEC”). I’m sad that I am not able to attend this year. I was looking forward to being there.

        As I’ve reported before, I have a few work conflicts this year. I started a new job in late December, as CIO in county government. The new position comes with new responsibilities and a new schedule.

      • GSoC coding – Part 4

        Yes, I know it has been a while since I did any update on my GSoC project with GNOME. The reasons being that, I was busy with my visa and travel documents for Germany (GUADEC). As this trip would mark my international travel debut (yay!), it took some time for me to get familiarize with the process of visa and required travel documents. I applied in Ahmedabad (where I live currently), but looks like visa granting people were not satisfied and they called for a personal interview at Mumbai.

      • GNOME Improves Handling of Unknown Audio Devices (Thanks to Unity)

        Is it a mic? Is it a speaker? No, it’s a … Well, actually GNOME doesn’t know either — but the open-source desktop is about to be smarter about finding out.

      • Blog backlog, Post 4, Headset fixes for Dell machines

        Many thanks to David Henningsson for the original code, and his help integrating the functionality into GNOME, Bednet for providing hardware to test and maintain this functionality, and Allan, Florian and Rui for working on the UI notification part of the functionality, and wiring it all up after I abandoned them to go on holidays ;)

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Trying two new distributions

        I recently decided to do something different and, instead of reviewing one of the distributions in the DistroWatch database, I opted to select two projects at random from the waiting list. I was not sure what I would get when I spun the virtual roulette wheel, but I was eager to try something new.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Asia Summit 2016 opens up event registration

        openSUSE.Asia Summit is a 2 day event hosted every year in different regions of Asia to promote openSUSE and open source. Hosting a variety of workshops, talks and a hackathon, openSUSE Asia summit is expecting over 400 participants. Attendees will learn how to use openSUSE and incorporate it in their personal as well as professional lives. They will also understand the dynamics of the openSUSE project and meet the openSUSE contributors and board.

        In addition, we have chance to learn free and open technologies, to share experiences with each other, and most of all, have fun at the Summit, and, in beautiful tropical scene of Yogyakarta region (a travel guide for you coming soon). In previous years openSUSE.Asia Summit has been held in Beijing, China in 2014 and National Taipei University of Education,Taipei / Taiwan, Republic Of China 2015.

    • Red Hat Family

      • A new technology called ‘containers’ is creating ‘winners and losers’ says Red Hat CEO

        By now you may have heard of a three-year old tech startup called Docker, valued at over a billion dollars, and the new tech market it created called containers.

        But what you may not realize is that the insane popularity of containers, a tech used by computer programmers, promises to completely change the multi-trillion-dollar enterprise software market, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst tells us.

      • Could Red Hat’s Acquisition of API Management Technology Revolutionize Software Development Again?

        Open source is a big part of my life. So far, I’ve been the CEO of three open source companies. Red Hat is a superlative example of how to create revenue and maintain an organization through the monetization of open source technology via subscriptions and support. And yet, as the entire tech industry transforms with a dramatic shift toward the cloud, Red Hat will have to modify its business structure in order to stay ahead of the game. Their acquisition of 3scale shows that they’ve already identified this necessity, and are taking steps to address it.

      • Managers: Do you delegate or donate?
      • The Red Hat Paradox

        When one thinks of Red Hat, Linux emerges as the top of mind software application. The Red Hat Linux software solution paradigm represented, to many, a “crazy” business model in its early days. Prior to the emergence, the likes of Microsoft, IBM, HP, etc. had defined the software development, sales and support model narrative in a clear objectified manner. Organizations paid a monetized licencing fee, and monetized annual support. Modifications to core software were often reliant upon the vendor, based upon established pricing models. Also, core product upgrades were solely the responsibility of the provider.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Flock 2016

          The annual Flock was held last week in Poland. This year was much busier for me than last year. I’ve been on the team for well over a year now (my how time flies!) so I was more involved with everything.

          I gave the annual kernel talk. This was mostly a status report/update. If you’ve been to Flock in the past, this talk will seem very familiar. One item I tried to emphasize this year was that we really wanted to get more people involved. Our policy is still ‘go upstream’ but we still want to build an active Fedora community of kernel participants as well. The distro is probably going to be most users first interaction with the kernel and we want the best experience possible. The slides are super boring but you can read them if you want.

        • Flock 2016 – krakow – Travel home (saturday/sunday)
        • Identifying Fedora Contributors – Stats for Flock

          I was working on generating statistics for Flock this week. Bhagyashree (bee2502), my GSoC mentor, had delivered a talk on Fedora Contributors and Newcomers Onboarding and I was assigned the task of generating statistics of the whole Fedora Community. At first thought, this was a pretty hectic thing to do. To accomplish this, I will need data of all the contributors from the beginning of fedmsg -i.e from 2012. And, I will have to find when a user had signed up for a FAS account and track his/her activity. Phew!

        • Siddarth Sharma: How do you Fedora?

          Sharma is a software engineer on the Red Hat product security team. He focuses on security of storage products such as Ceph and Gluster. He used to work as a software maintenance engineer at Red Hat, looking after the GNOME and KDE desktop packages. “I learned from the most talented people in the software security industry and still have a lot to learn,” said Sharma. He started using Linux in 2004 with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, but later switched to Fedora Core 2.

        • Fedora 25 Alpha Freeze Goes Into Effect, Still Eyeing November Release

          Today marks the Fedora 25 Alpha release that also means it’s time for the software string freeze and Bodhi activation point. If all goes well, Fedora 25 will be released three months from yesterday.

          The various freezes are beginning to take place for Fedora 25 so it can hopefully be on target for its release on 8 November. Details on the various milestones hit today can be found via this mailing list post.

        • Flock 2016 & my talk on ABI checking in Fedora

          Flock is the annual Fedora conference where you can find Fedora contributors as the main audience. This year the conference was held at the beautiful city Kraków, Poland from 2nd to 5th August. Being a schedule of 4 days, it was split into first 2 days of talks and later on workshops. Majority of talks were enriched with various Fedora related topics.

        • FAD and Flock to Fedora 2016

          Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one! In the past 2 weeks I’ve been traveling a lot: first to Westford, US for Design Team Fedora Activity Days 2016 and then to Krakow, Poland for Flock to Fedora 2016.

    • Debian Family

      • Is that a Debian all-in-one PC in your pocket?

        I’ve experimented with Next Thing’s Chip SBC, connected to a big screen TV via its composite video output, and controlled with a wireless keyboard/mousepad, for about a month now. It’s a nice little full-featured Linux machine that runs LibreOffice and other desktop applications reasonably well.

        The Chip sports a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 based Allwinner R8 processor, accompanied by 512MB of RAM and 4GB of eMMC flash. The board’s built-in WiFi is convenient, and its $9 cost is easy on the wallet.

      • My Debian Activities in July 2016
      • Derivatives

        • Emmabuntus Debian Edition 1.0: the new story begins

          Emmabuntus Debian Edition is a nice distribution that works for the particular niche. It delivers Linux and computer enablement into remote areas of the world where computers are rare and Internet connection could be something exotic. That is why it contains “all you can eat” software in the same ISO image.

          It is the reason of one of the issues I listed above as different applications may use different design styles.

          However, there are some more issues mentioned above that could be solved if the team looked into the distribution polishing a bit more. Luckily, they are mostly in the design area, meaning they are very likely to be resolved in the next releases.

          I remember the early version of Emmabuntus which had many similar issues at that time. Most of them are no longer in the system. Let’s hope that Emmabuntus DE will follow the case.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Business of Open Source Software

    Although open source software (OSS) has been around for decades, only within the past several years has there been a surge in its acceptance within the business world. Today, open source is perceived as a viable business alternative to commercial solutions, and is used by 64 percent of companies. Several factors have led to this shift in perception of OSS, including an evolving culture of software developers, undeniable business advantages, and, perhaps most importantly, the success of Linux—the leading open source operating system. The background of how and why the open source model has matured is also a key to understanding why organizations of all sizes continue to not only adopt OSS but to also actively support and contribute to open source projects.

  • Open Source Can Drive True Innovation and Growth

    To win in today’s market, in which disruptive startups and nimble competitors are advancing on all sides, digitizing the enterprise to inject greater agility and promote innovation is critical. You need to transform your operating model and reinvent products, services, and business processes and business functions across the entire enterprise. Undeniably, software is a central part of this transformation. And open-source software is leading the way, because what the digital era needs are “connected economies of expertise” that can capitalize on the power of our collaborative imagination.

  • Advice for building a career in open source

    Back in 1998 when I discovered Linux and open source, I never would have believed that I would make a career out of this. Back in those days I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted it to involve technology in some way.

    Since those dim distant days filled with teenage inexperience and … well, hair … I have learned so many things about what works and what doesn’t in building a career in open source. So here are some broader principles I have learned that may be handy for those of you starting out on your journey. Irrespective of whether you want to be a programmer, community leader, documentation writer, entrepreneur, or something else, I think these principles will help in setting you up for success and differentiating you from the pack.

  • Google open-sources Parsey’s Cousins, a set of parsers for 40 more languages

    Google today is announcing that it’s open-sourcing pre-trained models for parsing text in 40 languages. Think of it as an extension of Google’s decision in May to open-source the interestingly named Parsey McParseface English-language parser. The new parsers are available on GitHub under an open-source Apache license.

    Parsing language might not sound like a big deal — it involves looking at a sentence and picking out the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on. But Parsey McParseface works at Google scale, that is to say it is very good, good enough for machines to use it to understand users’ web search queries. Researchers can now take advantage of the technology in more languages without worrying about where they’ll get the data for teaching the models.http://venturebeat.com/2016/08/08/google-open-sources-parseys-cousins-a-set-of-parsers-for-40-more-languages/

  • Events

    • Doha and the Supreme Court of DFSG Free

      So, it was a sheer stroke of luck that I met Mr. Bradley M. Kuhn who works with Karen Sandler on Software Conservancy. While I wanted to be there for his presentation, it was just one of those days which doesn’t go as planned. However, as we met socially and over e-mail there were two basic questions which I asked him which also imbibes why we need to fight for software freedom in the court of law. Below is a re-wording of what he shared .

      Q1. why do people think that GPL still needs to be challenged in the court of law while there are gpl-violations which has been more or less successfully defended in the court of law ?

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • The Importance of Bell Labs Unix

      Unix was first developed by Ken Thompson in the summer of 1969 on the DEC PDP-7 minicomputer. By 1979 Unix version 7 was making the rounds at universities all over the world. Bell Labs Unix has enormous importance: It was the basis for many operating systems that followed including BSD, and the template for Minix and Linux.

    • Lumina Desktop 1.0.0 released
    • Version 1.0.0 Released

      After roughly four years of development, I am pleased to announce the first official release of the Lumina desktop environment! This release is an incredible realization of the initial idea of Lumina – a simple and unobtrusive desktop environment meant for users to configure to match their individual needs. I hope you all enjoy it, and I look forward to working with all of you on the next iterations of this desktop!

    • Lumina Desktop 1.0 Released
  • Public Services/Government

    • White House software code sharing policy gains steam

      The White House has released its Federal Source Code policy that promotes reuse of new source code developed by government agencies across the federal government.

      The new policy also sets up a pilot program “that requires agencies, when commissioning new custom software, to release at least 20 percent of new custom-developed code as Open Source Software (OSS) for three years,” Tony Scott, U.S. CIO and Anne E. Rung, chief acquisition officer, wrote in a memorandum to heads of departments and agencies on Monday.

    • US government to Open Source bespoke code and allow contributions
    • Consider government open source, don’t mandate it [Ed: Not everyone agrees with ACT. This one could be titled "government should be allowed to pay for back-doored binaries."]
    • Argentina introduced the Czech open source system FRED for the administration of its internet domains

      The Argentinian national domain registrar will use the Czech registration system FRED (Free Registry for ENUM and Domains) for the administration of its internet domains with the .AR extension. NIC Argentina currently administers around 530,000 domains and has used FRED for their administration since the beginning of July 2016. The FRED registration system was developed by the Czech national domain registrar, the CZ.NIC association, in 2007 and besides Argentina and the Czech Republic it is also used in Albania, Angola, Costa Rica, Macedonia, Malawi, Tanzania and the Faroe Islands.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • ETSI workshop on FRAND and open source controversy

      The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is organising a workshop on the conundrum between FRAND intellectual property rights (patents) and open source software. The organisation, one of the key players in European standardisation, also hopes to increase cooperation with open source communities.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Medical Researchers Want Up To Five Years Exclusivity For Clinical Trial Data Derived From Volunteers

      A year ago, we wrote about how TPP’s requirement for “data exclusivity” risked undermining one of science’s fundamental principles: that facts cannot be owned. Data exclusivity is just the latest attempt by Big Pharma to extend its monopoly over drugs, whether using patents or other means. To a certain extent, you might expect that: after all, companies are designed to maximize profits, and if it means more people suffer or die along the way, well, that’s regrettable but sort of beside the point. However, it’s surprising to see a group of medical researchers writing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) calling for just the same kind of data exclusivity. The post is in response to an earlier NEJM article by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), entitled “Sharing Clinical Trial Data”…

  • Programming/Development

    • 7 reasons to love Vim

      When I started using the vi text editor, I hated it. I thought it was the most painful and counter-intuitive editor ever designed. But I’d decided I had to learn the thing, because if you’re using Unix, vi was everywhere and was the only editor you were guaranteed to have access to. That was back in 1998, but it remains true today—vi is available, usually as part of the base install, on almost every Linux distribution in existence.

      It took about a month before I could do anything with any proficiency in vi and I still didn’t love it, but by then I’d realized that there was an insanely powerful editor hiding behind this bizarre facade. So I stuck with it, and eventually found out that once you know what you’re doing, it’s an incredibly fast editor.

    • devRant Releases The Most Annoying Programming Languages List — Which One Do You Use?

      devRant, an online community for developers, has released its data, revealing the most annoying programming languages. The developers with SQL in their profile skills rant +56.0 percent more than the average rate. On the contrary, Objective-C developers are the most content

    • ELLCC 0.1.32 Embedded Cross-Compiler Released
    • ELLCC 0.1.32 Released

      A new binary release of the ELLCC cross compilation tool chain is available. ELLCC is a pre-packaged set of tools designed to support cross compilation for a variety of target processors.

Leftovers

  • Will Uber Go Under?

    Uber, the huge taxi service, is undoubtedly still reeling from its defeat in China. After investing $2 billion to get a foothold in the Chinese market, Uber sold out to its competitor, Didi Chuxing, and agreed to be a junior partner in China.

    While this is a dramatic story that made headlines across the country, a less covered story could have a far more impact on Uber’s future. This is the story of Uber’s departure from Austin, Texas.

    Uber, along with Lyft, stopped operating in Austin in early May after the city’s voters endorsed a requirement that drivers for these services had to be fingerprinted and undergo background checks. The companies complained that the requirement placed an onerous burden on them and instead said that they would just stop operating in the city.

  • Find This Secret Command In MS-DOS Code To Win $100,000 And “Embarrass” Microsoft

    If we start reading Microsoft’s history, the MS-DOS chapter comes very early. The operating system acts as a foundation of the Microsoft Empire. Bill Gates got his big break in 1980 when he licensed this OS to IBM.

    You might know that Microsoft didn’t develop this operating system in-house. Instead, it acquired another operating system named QDOS–Quick and Dirty Operating System. QDOS was developed by SCP’s Tim Paterson, who was later hired by Gates to modify QDOS into MS-DOS.

    If you turn more pages of the history, you’ll come across another technology pioneer named the late Gary Kildall. He was the founder of DRI (Digital Research Inc.) and creator of an early PC OS named CP/M.

  • Man held after climbing Buckingham Palace fence

    A 22-year-old man has been arrested after he climbed over a security fence at Buckingham Palace, police have said.

    The man from Croydon, south London, was arrested in the early hours after he was seen by officers who were monitoring CCTV cameras.

    He was arrested at 04:15 BST within a security perimeter. He did not gain access to the palace.

    The Met said the suspected intruder had been drinking and that the incident was not thought to be terrorism related.

    The force added the man was not armed and no Taser was deployed by officers.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicaid expansion under ACA linked with better health care, improved health for low-income adults

      Two years after Medicaid coverage was expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in their states, low-income adults in Kentucky and Arkansas received more primary and preventive care, made fewer emergency departments visits, and reported higher quality care and improved health compared with low-income adults in Texas, which did not expand Medicaid, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The findings provide new evidence for states that are debating whether to expand or how to expand coverage to low-income adults.

    • Despite GOP Opposition, Mounting Evidence That Medicaid Improves Health

      Bolstering the call for universal coverage and undercutting a key Republican talking point, a new study finds that Medicaid expansion in Arkansas and Kentucky resulted in better healthcare and improved health outcomes among low-income Americans.

      The research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that two years after Medicaid coverage was expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in their states, low-income adults in Kentucky and Arkansas received more primary and preventive care, made fewer emergency room visits, had less trouble paying bills, and reported higher quality care and improved health compared with their counterparts in Texas, one of 19 states that did not expand Medicaid.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • We’re figuring out the security problem (finally)

      If you attended Black Hat last week, the single biggest message I kept hearing over and over again is that what we do today in the security industry isn’t working. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem (and we have a big one). Of course it’s easy to proclaim this, if you just look at the numbers it’s pretty clear. The numbers haven’t really ever been in our favor though, we’ve mostly ignored them in the past, I think we’re taking real looks at them now.

    • Hackers Fool Tesla S’s Autopilot to Hide and Spoof Obstacles [Ed: When Tesla makes a lot of noise about “Open Source” it talks about patents, must make all its software Free as well, or else…]
    • Computers That Don’t Track You

      Todd Weaver, the Founder and CEO of Purism shows Leo Laporte and Aaron Newcomb the Librem line of secure Linux computers. They discuss PureOS the operating system based on Debian, and how the computers are sourced and built. Plus, he talks about their line of no-carrier, encrypted smartphone coming next year.

    • The state of cyber security: we’re all screwed

      When cybersecurity professionals converged in Las Vegas last week to expose vulnerabilities and swap hacking techniques at Black Hat and Defcon, a consistent theme emerged: the internet is broken, and if we don’t do something soon, we risk permanent damage to our economy.

      “Half of all Americans are backing away from the net due to fears regarding security and privacy,” longtime tech security guru Dan Kaminsky said in his Black Hat keynote speech, citing a July 2015 study by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “We need to go ahead and get the internet fixed or risk losing this engine of beauty.”

    • Oh, not again: US reportedly finds new secret software in VW diesels [Ed: cannot trust proprietary software]

      Volkswagen first ended up in this situation after it admitted to intentionally installing secret software in its 2.0-liter diesels. That software curtailed nitrogen oxide emissions in lab-testing environments, but once on the road, the diesels would pollute well in excess of legal limitations. It was allegedly used in response to ever-stricter emissions regulations.

    • Chinese Hunting Chinese Over POP3 In Fjord Country

      More specifically, here at bsdly.net we’ve been seeing attempts at logging in to the pop3 mail retrieval service using usernames that sound distinctively like Chinese names, and the attempts originate almost exclusively from Chinese networks.

    • ‘Sauron’ spyware attacking targets in Belgium, China, Russia and Sweden

      A previously unknown hacking group called Strider has been conducting cyber espionage against selected targets in Belgium, China, Russia and Sweden, according to Symantec.

      The security firm suggested that the product of the espionage would be of interest to a nation state’s intelligence services.

      Strider uses malware known as Remsec that appears primarily to have been designed for espionage, rather than as ransomware or any other nefarious software.

      Symantec has linked Strider with a group called Flamer which uses similar attack techniques and malware.

      The Lord of the Rings reference is deliberate as the Remsec stealth tool contains a reference to Sauron, the necromancer and main protagonist in a number of Tolkien’s stories.

      “Strider has been active since at least October 2011. The group has maintained a low profile until now and its targets have been mainly organisations and individuals that would be of interest to a nation state’s intelligence services,” said Symantec in a blog post.

    • New MacBooks expected to feature Touch ID power button as well as OLED touch-panel [iophk: "as UID or password? Former is ok latter is insecure"]

      A source who has provided reliable information in the past has informed us that the new MacBook Pro models, expected to be launched in the fall, will feature a Touch ID power button as well as the previously-reported OLED touch-sensitive function keys.

    • it’s hard work printing nothing

      It all starts with a bug report to LibreSSL that the openssl tool crashes when it tries to print NULL. This bug doesn’t manifest on OpenBSD because libc will convert NULL strings to ”(null)” when printing. However, this behavior is not required, and as observed, it’s not universal. When snprintf silently accepts NULL, that simply leads to propagating the error.

    • Researchers crack open unusually advanced malware that hid for 5 years [Ed: Windows]

      Security experts have discovered a malware platform that’s so advanced in its design and execution that it could probably have been developed only with the active support of a nation-state.

      The malware—known alternatively as “ProjectSauron” by researchers from Kaspersky Lab and “Remsec” by their counterparts from Symantec—has been active since at least 2011 and has been discovered on 30 or so targets. Its ability to operate undetected for five years is a testament to its creators, who clearly studied other state-sponsored hacking groups in an attempt to replicate their advances and avoid their mistakes. State-sponsored groups have been responsible for malware like the Stuxnet- or National Security Agency-linked Flame, Duqu, and Regin. Much of ProjectSauron resides solely in computer memory and was written in the form of Binary Large Objects, making it hard to detect using antivirus.

    • 5 Best Hacks From The Black Hat 2016
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The U.S. Government Accused a Salvadorian Human Rights Activist of Gang Activity – Now He’s In Jail

      In the early morning hours of July 28, Salvadoran police arrested 77 people in a nationwide raid of alleged members of a multimillion-dollar financial network run by El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha gang, known as MS-13. Among those arrested was Dany Balmore Romero García, a former member of MS-13 who for the past decade has served as the director of the OPERA Youth Group, a violence-prevention organization that works with former and current gang members.

      At a hearing on August 1, the judge presented three formal charges against Romero: being a leader of a terrorist organization, conspiring to commit terrorist acts, and conspiring to commit homicide against someone with the code name “Meme,” who will serve as a key witness in the trial, according to a lawyer present for the proceedings. The judge announced that the investigation to substantiate the charges will last at least six months.

    • Drone warfare: Why the whole truth matters

      The Defence White Paper released early this year signals that the Australian Government will spend $2 billion acquiring armed drones by the early 2020s. They will be used to assist the US in the ongoing “war on terror”. Before this investment is made, it is important the Australian public has a chance to debate the ethics of drone warfare. Is the use of armed drones ethically justifiable? Should our taxpayer dollars go on acquiring drones?

    • The Classified Appendix Fifth Bullet on “Certain Counterterrorism Matters”

      As part of its implementation of the Rule Book, DOD released a Report on Congressional Notification of Sensitive Military Operations and Counterterrorism Operational Briefings (DOD released several related documents; CIA released nothing). Throughout the short document, it says the 2014 Defense Authorization (which was introduced after the Rule Book was signed but before DOD issued its Drone Rule Book implementation procedures and signed into law on December 23, 2013) and the PPG require Congress be informed of sensitive military operations. That’s the Executive Branch’s way of saying, “Congress has required we tell it what we’re doing but so has the President” as if they came up with the idea to do that additional reporting in the first place.

      [...]

      As I said, this is a fairly minor point. But it also suggests that even while the Executive was leaking wildly to get good press about this Drone Rule book, Congress was at the same time mandating specifically some of the things the Rule Book only nodded to in theory.

    • Details Abound in Drone ‘Playbook’ — Except for the Ones That Really Matter Most

      In response to a court order in an ACLU lawsuit, the government late Friday evening (as is its wont) released five documents relating to its process for nominating terrorism suspects for kill or capture. Most notable was the “Presidential Policy Guidance,” a document particularly central to the government’s targeted killing program.

      The release is important and illuminating, especially considering the backdrop of extreme secrecy surrounding the program since its inception. Before a 2013 ACLU victory in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the government had claimed that it could neither “confirm nor deny” that the program existed at all. But surprisingly, and disappointingly, the Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG) and other records released over the weekend do nothing to assuage concerns about the government’s standards governing who it decides to kill.

    • More Neocon Excuses to Bomb Syria

      Official Washington’s influential neocons continue to dream up new excuses for expanding U.S. military intervention in Syria, including why to bomb Syrian government forces and confront Russia, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • Canada resistance to Iraq War resisters must end

      The time has come for Prime Minister Trudeau to allow American deserters who resisted the war begun in Iraq by the U.S. and the U.K. in 2003 to stay in Canada. During the election, he signalled this was where his moral instincts lay. Unfortunately, so far his Liberal government is not showing leadership on this issue.

      I have a double worry about where a Trudeau government may be heading. One is that this government is prone to buying into certain Harper-era ‘moral’ and geopolitical arguments. A second worry is that factual confusion amongst Canadians who are against allowing these conscientious objectors to stay will be used as a political shield by the government.

      Let’s start with this second worry. Letters to the Editor in the Star’s pages following a column by Bob Hepburn (“Trudeau should act on U.S. war resisters,” July 20, 2016) show some think they have a knock-down argument against the war resisters because the Vietnam analogy does not work. We are told that, when former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government gave sanctuary to war resisters, they were “draft dodgers” being compelled to fight whereas the current Iraq War resisters are “deserters” who volunteered.

    • Hospital Bombing in Pakistan Targeted Lawyers, Killed 70

      A suicide bomber killed at least 70 people and wounded more than a hundred in Quetta, Pakistan, on Monday.

      “There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise,” said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister, to Reuters.

      Many of those killed were lawyers who had gathered at the hospital “after the body of their colleague, prominent attorney Bilal Kasi was brought there,” Associated Press (AP) reports.

    • Suicide Attack Targets Lawyers at Pakistan Hospital, 70 Dead

      Pakistani militants struck at the heart of the country’s legal profession on Monday, killing a prominent attorney and then bombing the hospital where dozens of other lawyers had gathered to mourn. The twin attacks killed at least 70 people, most of them lawyers, authorities said.

      A breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks in Quetta, the capital of restive Baluchistan province, which also wounded dozens of others.

      In a statement, Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar militant group, said its fighters killed Bilal Kasi, the president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, then as dozens of lawyers gathered at the government-run Civil Hospital, a suicide bomber targeted the mourners.

    • A Job Well Done: Someone Made Bond For the Inmate Who Assaulted Dylann Roof

      In a much-hailed if modestly problematic act of righteous revenge, an African-American inmate allegedly sucker-punched racist creep and murderer Dylann Roof – an act that sparked much online praise for the “vigilante hero,” a fundraiser for donations to his commissary account, and, finally, the posting of his $100,000 bond by a supporter. Roof is in protective custody at the Charleston County Detention Center for killing nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015; he was in the shower when Dwayne Stafford, a 26-year-old inmate reportedly doing time for either weed violations or strong arm burglary, allegedly got out of his cell, reached Roof, and landed a couple of punches to his face. The sheriff said Roof was attacked “for no reason,” which many would argue was less than accurate.

    • Terror group Lashkar-e-Islam threatens Kashmiri pandits asking them to leave or get killed

      Posters in Pulwama are threatening Kashmiri Hindus to exit the valley of Kashmir. The poster is allegedly been put up by Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) militant.

      This is not the first time that Kashmiri Hindus have been threatened. In mass rapes and killings in the 90’s, a genocide by Kashmiri Hidus, there was a mass exodus of Hindus from the valley. Initially the government provided security to the population, but the then governor asked the minority population to exit to safety.

      The black and white poster flaunts the flag and the logo of the outfit. What has created a flutter is the flag that is similar to the Jamat-ud-dawa, the fountainhead of Lashkar-e-Taiba headed by Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

    • Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews in WW2 then disappeared was ‘liquidated by Soviet KGB’

      The newly-published memoirs of the first chief of the KGB may shed light on the fate of a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust only to disappear in the final weeks of the Second World War.

      Raoul Wallenberg is honoured around the world for rescuing tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis by issuing them with fake Swedish passports or housing them in diplomatic buildings.

      But in January 1945 he vanished from the streets of Soviet-occupied Budapest and was never seen again.

      His family has long suspected that he was kidnapped by the Soviet Union but have never received definitive proof of what happened to him.

      Moscow’s story has changed over the decades. At first Russia claimed that Soviet intelligence had nothing to do with Wallenberg’s case, they later said he died of a heart attack in a prison camp.

      Now, the memoirs of KGB chief Ivan Serov offer another explanation – he was executed at Stalin’s orders.

      “I have no doubts that Wallenberg was liquidated in 1947,” Serov wrote in his memoirs, according to the New York Times.

    • Looming Aleppo Battle indicts both sides of Civil War for breaking Cease-Fire

      The only thing worse than the new hero status of now-covert al-Qaeda operative Abu Muhammad al-Julani and his Army of Syrian Conquest (ASC) is the news that he plans to subject all of Aleppo.

      Aleppo is Syria’s largest city, or at least it used to be, with some 2.5 million people. Some reporters who have been there think that although a lot of people have left, others have come flooding in from the countryside, so that its current population may be similar but rearranged. Many more people, perhaps 1.2 million, live in relatively well-off West Aleppo, still controlled by the Syrian regime, which by all accounts is still very popular among them. Some 250,000 live in slummy East Aleppo, ruled by a congeries of fundamentalist militias who are supported from the outside by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Julani.

    • Washington Slapdown: Turkey Turns to Moscow for Help

      On August 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg The two leaders will discuss political developments following the recent coup-attempt in Turkey, tourism, and the launching of Turkstream, the natural gas pipeline that will transform Turkey into southern Europe’s biggest energy hub.. They are also expected to explore options for ending the fighting in Syria. Putin will insist that Erdogan make a concerted effort to stop Islamic militants from crossing back-and-forth into Syria, while Erdogan will demand that Putin do everything in his power to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdish state on Turkey’s southern border. The meeting will end with the typical smiles and handshakes accompanied by a joint statement pledging to work together peacefully to resolve regional issues and to put an end to the proxy war that has left Syria in tatters.

      All in all, the confab will seem like another public relations charade devoid of any larger meaning, but that’s certainly not the case. The fact is, the normalizing of relations between Russia and Turkey will foreshadow a bigger geopolitical shift that will link Ankara to Tehran, Damascus and other Russian allies across Eurasia. The alliance will alter the global chessboard in a way that eviscerates the imperial plan to control the flow of energy from Qatar to Europe, redraw the map of the Middle East and pivot to Asia. That strategy will either be decimated or suffer a severe setback. The reasons for this should be fairly obvious to anyone who can read a map. Turkey’s location makes it the indispensable state, the landbridge that connects the wealth and modernity of the EU with the vast resources and growing population of Asia. That vital connecting piece of the geopolitical puzzle is gradually slipping out of Washington’s orbit and into enemy territory. The July 15 coup is likely the final nail in the NWO coffin for reasons we will discuss later. Here’s a clip from Eric Draitser’s insightful piece titled “Erdogan’s Checkmate: CIA-Backed Coup in Turkey Fails, Upsets Global Chessboard” that summarizes what’s going on:

    • Team Clinton Focuses on the Demise of Hezbollah

      This according to sources at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Judicial Council on which this observer served representing his State of Oregon many moons ago. One staffer reports that the Neocon-Zionist lobby has a Middle East Policy deal with the Clinton campaign as a linchpin of her pledge to “eternally cover Israel’s back.” The Clinton camp, which appears to be gaining adherents within the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon, believes that the Obama administration’s policy toward Russia and Syria is badly flawed partly because, so they claim, Obama wrongly assumes that Russia wants to limit its involvement in Syria. Clinton advisers claim that, on the contrary, Putin’s key objectives include demonstrating that Russia is winning in Syria, that the US has become a paper tiger in the region, and that the Arab states best follow Russia’s lead as it dramatically returns to the region a la the former USSR.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate politics heat up Ohio’s role as an electoral battleground

      With Ohio shaping up to once again be a battleground state for this year’s presidential election, contrasts on energy and climate policy could affect whether Democrats or Republicans win the state’s 18 votes in the Electoral College.

      And while Republican nominee Donald Trump’s promises to revive the state’s coal industry may resonate with some voters, the party’s continued denial of climate science appears to be a growing political liability.

      “Most people believe that climate change is happening,” Mercury political strategist Jai Chabria said at a panel in Cleveland last month, hosted during the Republican National Convention by Politico and sponsored by Vote4Energy, a project of the American Petroleum Institute. Chabria previously served as an advisor to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and helped launch his bid for the Republican nomination.

    • Iowa could go 100% Green with Wind in only 14 years, w/ Few Birds Killed, Mr. Trump

      Iowa gets 31% of its electricity from wind turbines, the highest percentage in the nation (though Texas generates more than twice as many megawatts from wind). But you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Some Iowa planners think that in only 14 years Iowa will be able to power its entire grid with wind and have some electrical generation capacity to spare, enabling it to supply other states, as well.

      Trump has notoriously pronounced that the wind turbines kill all the birds. Actually as the turbines have gotten taller it has been found that the birds typically fly under them. But if Trump is so concerned about the birds, maybe he should take on the mighty house cat instead. According to the Nature Conservancy, house cats polish off 2.4 billion birds annually. Wind turbines? Only 500k a year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    • Greenpeace Responds to New Energy Proposals from Donald Trump
    • Our Deteriorating Environment: Is Anybody Listening?

      *Five scientists from the Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in College Park, Maryland, give findings on the rate of climate change increase—“unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years”—and therefore the need for an accelerated response.

      *To the now familiar melting of the Arctic ice packs—which the most recent study shows is likely to cause a sea level rise of “at least several meters”– should be added the equally if not more dangerous thawing of the permafrost, which means increasing emissions of methane and carbon dioxide. “Indeed,” Chris Mooney reports, “scientists have discovered a simple statistic that underscores the scale of the potential problem: There may be more than twice as much carbon contained in northern permafrost as there is in the atmosphere itself. That’s a staggering thought.” (Methane, by the way, seems to be the unsung villain: all the attention to carbon dioxide, Bill McKibben tells us in The Nation, detracts from methane’s equally potent heat trapping. Increased use of natural gas, plus fracking, are significantly increasing methane emissions in the U.S.)

      *The world’s largest forest “carbon sink,” the Amazon basin, is losing its ability to soak up excess carbon dioxide, a British study reports. In a nutshell, growth—i.e., conversion of forest land to agriculture—is outpacing forest sustainability.

      *Human expansion, such as in the Amazon basin, is imperiling the ecosystem itself. A study by European scientists finds that biodiversity levels have fallen below the point where the ecosystem can remain intact. Species decline of 10 percent, the scientists estimate, is dangerous; “but their study found that overall, across the globe, the average decline is already more like 15 percent. In other words, original species are only about 85 percent as abundant (84.6 percent to be precise) as they were before human land-use changes.” Climate change will add substantially to this sobering assessment.

    • Humanity Just Ate Through Planet’s Annual Resource Budget Faster Than Ever

      Earth Overshoot Day—the day on which people worldwide have officially used up more natural resources like air, food, and water than the planet can regenerate in a year—has come early.

      The 2016 threshold was hit on Monday, making it the fastest pace yet, according to a new report by the Global Footprint Network, which measures the dubious milestone every year.

      That’s five days earlier than last year, about five weeks earlier than in 2003, and months earlier than it was in 1987, when it fell on December 19. In 1961, the global population didn’t even use up 100 percent of the world’s natural resources, according to the network. But the next decade propelled the planet into an era of overconsumption, the group said.

      “This is possible because we emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than our oceans and forests can absorb, and we deplete fisheries and harvest forests more quickly than they can reproduce and regrow,” Global Footprint Network said in a statement.

    • BP Greenwashes the Olympics … Again

      As the Olympic Games officially opened last Friday, oil giant BP placed a two-third of a page advert in the global business newspaper, the Financial Times, featuring its sponsorship of Team GB, the British Olympic team.

      “The dreaming. The training. The waiting. The hoping. The best of luck to Team GB. Its time to harness the #Energywithin,” ran the strap-line.

      The hashtag #Energywithin is no co-incidence. BP, which is also an international partner of the International Paralympic Committee and the national Olympic committees of the US, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Trinidad & Tobago, is keen to make the comparison between Olympic excellence and the oil giant.

    • Chevron wins U.S. ruling blocking $8.6 billion Ecuador rainforest award

      Chevron Corp persuaded a federal appeals court on Monday to block enforcement in the United States of an $8.65 billion Ecuadorean pollution judgment that it said, and which the court agreed, was obtained through bribery and fraud.

      The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court ruling against the American lawyer Steven Donziger, who has spent more than two decades battling Chevron to hold it responsible for pollution in the Ecuadorean rain forest.

    • ‘Justice Denied’ as Court Sides with Chevron in Amazon Pollution Case

      A U.S. appeals court on Monday “inexplicably” sided with oil giant Chevron in a massive case over its legacy of pollution in the Amazon.

      Chevron persuaded the court to block enforcement of an $8.65 billion judgment delivered by Ecuador against the energy company for rainforest damage.

      The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with a March 2014 ruling by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan that found the judgment had been obtained through bribery, coercion, and fraud—a decision that astonished environmental rights activists following the case.

    • Siberian Child Dies After Climate Change Thaws an Anthrax-Infected Reindeer

      This story originally appeared on the Guardian and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

      A 12-year-old boy in the far north of Russia has died in an outbreak of anthrax that experts believe was triggered when unusually warm weather caused the release of the bacteria.

      The boy was one of 72 nomadic herders, including 41 children, hospitalized in the town of Salekhard in the Arctic Circle, after reindeer began dying en masse from anthrax.

      Five adults and two other children have been diagnosed with the disease, which is known as “Siberian plague” in Russian and was last seen in the region in 1941. More than 2,300 reindeer have died, and at least 63 people have been evacuated from a quarantine area around the site of the outbreak. “We literally fought for the life of each person, but the infection showed its cunning,” the Yamal governor, Dmitry Kobylkin, told the Russia-based Interfax news agency. “It returned after 75 years and took the life of a child.”

    • Pence: Trump will ‘end the war on coal’

      Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) on Monday said his running mate, Donald Trump will not undermine the coal industry, should he become president.

      “Donald Trump is going to end the war on coal on Day 1 of his administration,” he said during a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa, on Monday evening. “We’re going to free up coal production in this country for the American people.”

      Pence, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, said Trump is much more receptive to fossil fuels than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

      “Hillary Clinton wants to reduce the use of fossil fuels. We’re going to have an all-of-the-above energy strategy under President Trump.”

      Pence said Trump’s admiration for blue-collar voters guides the GOP presidential nominee’s economic agenda.

    • Hiroshima, Presidential Campaigns and Our Nuclear Future

      We have brief reminders of this danger from time to time and passing acknowledgements to the extreme peril we face, yet we never have the courage to take the steps necessary to eliminate this threat. In a classic bullying posture we continue to threaten the use of these weapons, effectively holding the rest of the world hostage to our delusion of safety, akin to a smoker floating on a raft in a pool of gasoline. We now recognize the dangers posed by these weapons is much greater than we had previously thought. Physicians for Social Responsibility, the U.S. affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, has scientifically shown that the detonation of “only” 100 nuclear warheads could kill two billion people from the devastating climate change and nuclear famine that would follow. There are currently more than 15,000 weapons on the planet. The United States and Russia have approximately 7,000 each.

  • Finance

    • Brexit Britain and the political economy of undemocracy: part 1 – the right
    • Brexit Britain and the political economy of undemocracy: part 2 – the left
    • Are Basic Income Proposals Crazy?

      As much of the developed world struggles to address the growth of income inequality, there has been emerging consideration of a guaranteed basic income. There are a number of variations, but the basic idea is that government would eliminate the various forms of social welfare that are currently in place, and would instead send each citizen an annual amount sufficient to cover basic living expenses.

      Most of us understand that without economic freedom, guarantees of personal, political and religious freedom aren’t worth much. If your day-to-day existence is consumed with the struggle for survival, the fact that you have freedom of speech is small comfort.

    • American Greed: Trump’s Economic Team Is a Who’s Who of What’s Wrong

      Trump’s tone-deafness was in full effect last week, when he announced his team of economic advisers in advance of what is being billed as “a major economic address” in Detroit on Monday.

      Trump’s team isn’t just monochromatic and male. At least four, and perhaps as many six, of the men are billionaires. They range in age from 50 to 74 – or, from “younger old white guy” to “older old white guy.”

      Five team members are named Steve – which means that eight of them are not. For diversity, that will have to do.

      There are only two economists on the team – and one of them believes in the flat tax.

    • Trump Offers Huge Favors to Billionaires, and Calls It a Big Economic Speech
    • ‘America is Back,’ Trump Declares, Announcing Tax Cuts for Billionaires

      Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump introduced his most detailed policy plan yet on Monday at the Detroit Economic Club, in a speech that was ostensibly targeted toward the working class but mostly outlined benefits for the wealthy.

      The speech was also widely panned for lacking substance: New York Magazine editor Annie Lowrey commented on CNN that “it was self-contradictory word salad,” adding that “there was just not much detail here.”

      Presumably channeling the advice of an economics policy team comprised of wealthy white men over age 50—five out of 13 are named “Steve”—Trump announced a hodgepodge of economic reforms that he promised would enrich the working class and “make America grow again.”

    • While Hillary Courts the Billionaire Class, Democratic Socialists Organize for a Better Future

      There has always existed a fundamental tension between those who seek to amplify the voices of the oppressed and the vulnerable and those who paint a rosier picture, one that acknowledges superficial flaws but seeks, ultimately, to justify the prevailing order, economic or otherwise.

      In January of 1963, Dwight Macdonald, in his famous essay reviewing Michael Harrington’s groundbreaking book The Other America, cast a light on this perpetual conflict.

      “For a long time now,” Macdonald wrote, “almost everybody has assumed that, because of the New Deal’s social legislation and — more important — the prosperity we have enjoyed since 1940, mass poverty no longer exists in this country.”

      Referring to John Kenneth Galbraith’s declaration in his 1958 work The Affluent Society that poverty “can no longer be presented as a universal or massive affliction,” Macdonald expressed dismay at the fact that such a “humane critic” as Galbraith could downplay (and, in some cases, overlook entirely) the tremendous suffering felt in marginalized communities — particularly in communities of color.

      [...]

      It is a party now dedicated to the trope that “America is already great,” a rhetorical flourish that provides both a shameful defense of the status quo and little comfort — much less material relief — to those victimized by American capitalism.

    • ‘We Triggered Something Epic’: An Interview with Naquasia LeGrand of the Fight for $15

      When Naquasia LeGrand first got involved with the Fight for $15 workers’ movement, it was, she says, “underground.” No one, least of all her, knew how far the movement would spread in the four years since she helped launch the first fast-food workers’ strike, in New York City in November 2012. New York fast-food workers won their raise in 2015, though it won’t be fully phased in in the city until 2018.

      Cities and states around the country have acted to raise wages since the movement began, and the battle has spilled over into the presidential election. Fast-food workers, including LeGrand, are demanding that the candidates endorse the $15 an hour wage. LeGrand is now in North Carolina and continues to organize her fellow workers in one of the least union-friendly states in the country, having become a national leader in the movement. We spoke about what’s changed—and what still needs changing—since the beginning of the Fight for $15.

    • Time for a UK agricultural policy that doesn’t subsidise the rich

      Let’s get one thing straight. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a disaster. It is essentially a £50 billion welfare system for the landed gentry and other big landowners across Europe. While people who genuinely need public funds find their benefits cut to the bone, these people get huge amounts of public money for doing absolutely nothing. It amounts to one of the most glaring transfers of money from poor to rich in the UK. The CAP has also been disastrous for people in the global south. For decades, Europe dumped excess agricultural produce into markets in the global south, ruining the livelihoods of local farmers who could not compete with the artificially cheap imports. But cleverly, through the WTO, rich countries have ensured that poor countries cannot raise equivalent subsidy programmes of their own. For example, India has been castigated for its food security policy that gives cheap food to the poor, while relatively rich EU farmers gets huge sums for doing not very much at all.

    • Billionaire Bonanza as Wealth Surges Among One Percent

      There is little doubt that the global one percent is winning. In fact, a new study has found that the number of billionaires reached an all-time high in 2015 at the same time that their portfolios and piggy banks also continued to grow to record proportions.

      According to the 2015-2016 Billionaire Census by international market research firm Wealth-X, which bills itself as “the global authority on wealth intelligence,” the billionaire population grew by 6.4 percent last year and now totals 2,473 people worldwide. The combined wealth of those individuals also increased by 5.4 percent, amounting to $7.7 trillion—which is more than every country’s gross domestic product (GDP), except the United States ($17.9 tr) and China ($11 tr).

      Billionaires, defined as individuals with a net worth of $1 billion or above, are not all created equal. While North America trails Europe in the number of billionaires—628 compared with 806, respectively—they hold more wealth ($2,561 bn versus $2,330 bn) than their cross-Atlantic compatriots.

      Wealth-X attributes the overall billionaire population growth largely to inherited wealth. According to the report, “billionaires with partially inherited wealth continue to be the fastest growing segment of this population, up 29.9% year on year, while responsible for nearly two thirds of total billionaire additions.”

      Also, Wealth-X found that fear of a global market collapse has prompted many to liquidate their assets, further shoring up their wealth and adding to the overall rise in combined net worth.

    • Grassroots Democrats Are Making the TPP a Big Issue in Congressional Races

      Trade policy in general—and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in particular—has become a vital concern for Democrats up and down the ballot.

      Just ask Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind, one of the few congressional Democrats who continue to make arguments for agreements such as the TPP.

      Kind, who has served almost two decades as the Democratic representative from farm and factory towns of western Wisconsin, did not receive a warm welcome from Wisconsin delegates to this month’s Democratic National Convention.

    • Ecuador’s Correa: It’s Neoliberalism, Not Socialism That Has Failed

      Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa on Sunday denounced “fantasies of trickle-down theories” and said that it’s neoliberalism, not socialism that has failed his region.

      Latin America has largely pursued “socialism of the 21st century,” TeleSUR reports the leftist leader as saying in an interview. Despite current external factors affecting his country’s economy—like the fall in the price of oil and trade partners’ economic slowdown—that model has helped the country weather the impacts far better compared to the situation in 1999 when the country was under conservative rule and “external shocks [...] made the economy crash.”

      “Neoliberalism is what failed, not socialism of the 21st century; on the contrary, socialism of the 21st century is what has us firmly on our feet, withstanding all of these difficulties,” he said.

      Correa also said, “Inequality in a poor country means misery,” and added that only the pursuit of the kind of growth “that favors the poor, growth with social justice, growth with equity,” was important.

    • Brexit was a crisis long in the making

      The Brexit vote was the reaping of years of deepening inequality, sown by the neoliberal policy programmes of successive governments.

    • Three million working families are ‘one pay cheque away from losing their home’

      Cash-strapped working families in England are so “stretched to breaking point” that one in three could not afford to pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month if they lost their job, according to new figures.

      The high cost of housing added to having little or no personal savings to fall back on, and means that three million working families could be just one pay cheque away from losing their home, the Shelter and YouGov study found.

      The figures come from a July 2016 poll of 8,381 adults which included 1,581 working families with children. They were asked how long, if at all, did they think they could afford to pay their rent or mortgage from their savings if they lost their job and could not find work?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Lead Attorney In Anti-Clinton DNC Fraud Case Mysteriously Found Dead

      Call it conspiracy theory, coincidence or just bad luck, but any time someone is in a position to bring down Hillary Clinton they wind up dead. In fact, as we noted previously, there’s a long history of Clinton-related body counts, with scores of people dying under mysterious circumstances. While Vince Foster remains the most infamous, the body count is starting to build ominously this election cycle – from the mysterious “crushing his own throat” death of a UN official to the latest death of an attorney who served the DNC with a fraud suit.

      As GatewayPundit’s Jim Hoft reports, on July 3, 2016, Shawn Lucas and filmmaker Ricardo Villaba served the DNC Services Corp. and Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz at DNC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., in the fraud class action suit against the Democrat Party on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters (this was before Wikileaks released documents proving the DNC was working against the Sanders campaign during the 2016 primary).

    • Pentagon, CIA Form Praetorian Guard for Clinton as Warmonger President

      Former director of the Central Intelligence Agency Michael J Morell is the latest in a phalanx of senior US military-intelligence figures who are shedding any pretense of political neutrality and giving their full-throated endorsement to Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

      In a New York Times opinion piece, Morell starkly backed Clinton as the most «highly qualified to be commander-in-chief… keeping our nation safe».

      The ex-CIA chief’s op-ed piece also served as a blunt hatchet job on Republican presidential rival Donald J Trump. Morell said the New York billionaire-turned politician is «not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security».

      The hoary, old scare-theme of «national security» is being rehabilitated as the criterion for electing Clinton. It also has the disturbing connotation of an increasingly militarized totalitarian regime that the United States is becoming.

    • The Real Threat to American Sovereignty

      “Without a border, we just don’t have a country,“ Donald Trump says repeatedly. For him, the biggest threats to American sovereignty are three-dimensional items that cross our borders, such as unwanted imports and undocumented immigrants.

      He’s wrong. The biggest threats to American sovereignty are invisible digital dollars wired into U.S. election campaigns from abroad.

      Yet Trump seems to welcome foreign influence over our democracy.

      Sovereignty is mainly about a government’s capacity to govern. A government not fully accountable to its citizens won’t pass laws that benefit and protect those citizens – not just laws about trade and immigration but about national security, the environment, labor standards, the economy, and all else.

    • A Former CIA Officer Enters the Presidential Race as a Republican Alternative to Trump

      On Monday, a new GOP presidential contender threw their hat in the ring. Anti-Trump Republican Evan McMullin announced he’s running for president to offer voters a choice other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in November. McMullin resigned from his position as the chief policy director for the House Republican Conference in order to run and previously worked as a CIA counterterrorism officer.

    • Collins Dumps Trump, and About Time

      Maine’s four-term Sen. Susan Collins, one of the last of a dying breed of moderate, occasionally coherent Republicans , has finally summoned the strength of character to announce she will not support Trump in the election, thus becoming one of the most high-profile GOP members to abandon their lunatic flag-bearer. After months of waffling and cautious criticism of Trump’s more outrageous stands, Collins announced her decision in a Washington Post op-ed, listing several excellent examples of Trump’s “unsuitability for office” – even at a Burger King. Those include his “lack of self-restraint,” “barrage of ill-informed comments,” and “disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics.” She adds, “Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.” You think? As Maine goes, so goes, hopefully, the nation.

    • Not Alone, But Together: Sanders Campaign Declares Creation of ‘Our Revolution’
    • 2020 Vision: Four Steps to Get There

      The progressive vision for 2020 is focused on the needs of average working people, on the strength of society rather than on winner-take-all individualism, on the cooperative efforts of underpaid people who have been forced out of the middle class.

    • Hopelessly Divided? Think Again.

      Surprisingly, though, despite all the handwringing about dysfunctional division, there is much that unites us — even on contentious topics. A 2014 study comparing red congressional districts and states to blue ones asked 388 questions on hot-topic issues ranging from abortion to gun control. In two-thirds of cases, researchers found “no statistical differences” in the answers between Republican and Democratic strongholds.

    • Not All Bernie Backers Buying His Clinton Pitch

      Bernie Sanders has urged his supporters to back Hillary Clinton—a point he reiterated in an op-ed at the Los Angeles Times last week.

      But a string of recent polls shows that about one-third of Sanders backers aren’t willing to do that, as political website FiveThirtyEight points out.

      Harry Enten writes Monday that since the Democratic National Convention, Clinton has seen a boost in support from Sanders supporters. Looking at the average of four post-convention polls—CNN, Fox News, Marist, and YouGov—78 percent of Sanders backers said they’d vote for Clinton compared to nine percent for Donald Trump when presented with a two-way match-up. That’s up from about half of Sanders supporters ahead of the conventions, he writes.

      But when given the option of third party candidates, the number drops, with the four polls showing an average of 63 percent of Sanders supporters saying they’d back Clinton.

    • Can Clinton corner Condi, Kissinger?

      As Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign reaches out to Republicans alarmed by Donald Trump’s national security blunders, there’s a group of high-profile GOP hold-outs whose endorsement would be a major coup if the Democrat could win them over.

      Condoleezza Rice, James Baker, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger are among a handful of so-called Republican “elders” with foreign policy and national security experience — people who have held Cabinet-level or otherwise high-ranking positions in past administrations — who have yet to come out for or against Trump.

    • Clinton Bonds with Neocons as GOP Elites Launch Final Bid Against Trump

      Hillary Clinton is reaching out to Republican elites—including fellow former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger—to support her campaign over Donald Trump’s, suggesting a growing alliance between Clinton and neoconservatives, according to Politico.

      Clinton’s charm offensive comes amid a growing public rift between the Republican party and its own nominee. The backlash against Trump has seen numerous high-profile Republicans defecting to the Democrats and explicitly denouncing Trump’s suitability for office. At a fundraiser for ‘foreign policy professionals’ in July, prominent neoconservative Robert Kagan told attendees that “a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”

    • Trump and Authoritarianism

      In the 1930s in key countries, it was a Hitler in Germany, a Mussolini in Italy, a Stalin in the USSR, a Franco in Spain, et al. In our own time, it’s a Putin in Russia, an Erdogan in Turkey, a Xi in China, a Thaksin in Thailand, a Mugabe in Zimbabwe, a Duterte in the Philippines, an al-Sisi in Egypt — and, our own homegrown Mussolini in America, Donald J. Trump. 

It must be understood that these authoritarians often differ widely in their origins (Erdogan, for example, assumed power through elections) and methods of operation, degree of brutality, etc. Every society has a multiplicity of forces affecting its manner of governance. There is no one template that explains the various expressions of authoritarianism across the globe.

But there are enough similarities to draw some tentative conclusions.

    • 50 Former National Security Officials and Advisers From GOP Administrations Denounce Trump
    • Hillary Clinton Should Push Hard for Disability Civil Rights

      This year, the Democratic National Convention mentioned the civil rights of Americans with disabilities. That this happened now, decades into a movement, speaks volumes about the priorities of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Hillary Clinton deserves credit for being the first United States presidential candidate from a major party to address the civil rights of these 56 million Americans.

      Does Clinton assume that all those votes are going her way? Even after Clinton launched an ad focused on Donald Trump’s bullying of a reporter with a disability, the DNC balked at mentioning the Disability Integration Act in Philadelphia.

      The DIA was introduced to the Senate by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Dec. 18, 2015, and into the House of Representatives by Christopher Gibson, R-N.Y., on July 8. According to DIA advocate Bruce Darling, “Democrats need to not take disabled voters for granted and support DIA like they support the [LGBTQ] Equality Act. It isn’t enough to say Trump made fun of a disabled journalist.”

    • The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism

      College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended.

      There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism.

      These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate. They want the freedom to use words like “nigger,” “kike,” “spic,” “chink,” “raghead” and “fag.” They want the freedom to idealize violence and the gun culture. They want the freedom to have enemies, to physically assault Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, homosexuals and anyone who dares criticize their cryptofascism. They want the freedom to celebrate historical movements and figures that the college-educated elites condemn, including the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederacy. They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave. And they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiment

    • Jeremy Corbyn Launches Bold Progressive Vision to Transform UK

      Leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn announced a 10-point plan on Thursday designed to “rebuild and transform” the U.K. while undoing the damage wrought by privatization schemes and concerted attacks on the public good.

    • Gunning for Corbyn, not the Conservatives, is Labour’s tragedy

      Give the grown-ups back control of the Labour party. Wasn’t that supposed to be the idea? Yet with each fresh turn of events, the coup against Jeremy Corbyn looks less like an adult intervention, and more like a slapstick farce.

    • Can Corbynism claim the centre ground?

      Whatever happens this summer, Jeremy Corbyn leaves a major legacy. Most notable is the longterm leftwards shift in Labour’s centre of gravity. The party’s right in retreat, Corbyn’s challenger Owen Smith campaigns on an almost identical platform, Trident and the EU aside. Smith’s pitch is to present it better and add much-need policy heft. The course steered may need a new captain, but politically Corbyn binds Labour left for the foreseeable future.

    • Green Party Nominee Jill Stein: “We Are Saying No to the ‘Lesser Evil’ and Yes to the Greater Good”

      In Houston, Texas, Dr. Jill Stein formally accepted the Green Party’s nomination for president at the party’s convention over the weekend. Interest in the Green Party has jumped in recent weeks since Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, defeating Bernie Sanders. In 2012, Dr. Stein ran on the Green ticket and won less than 1 percent of the national vote. But according to CNN’s Poll of Polls, Stein is now polling at 5 percent. The same poll finds Clinton at 45 percent, Republican Donald Trump at 35 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson at 9 percent. Neither Stein nor Johnson will be invited to take part in this fall’s presidential debates, however, unless they top 15 percent in national polls. For more, we hear excerpts of Dr. Jill Stein speaking at the Green Party convention.

    • What the Democratic Party Could Learn From Its Overseas Footsoldiers

      Party politics is messy and often inefficient. And in today’s political climate, one filled with distrust and apathy, ensuring representation and active participation is more important than ever. Democrats Abroad serves as a very successful model for how other state parties can reinvigorate faith in the party.

    • AARP to Drop Membership in Right-Wing Lobby Group ALEC After Progressive Groups Apply Pressure

      Progressives dedicated to protecting safety nets for seniors have pressured AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired People, to drop its dues-paying membership at ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, whose work includes drafting and promoting bills that would undermine and privatize Social Security and Medicare.

      “After hearing from many of you, we’ve decided not to renew our membership to ALEC,” said a post on AARP’s Facebook page Friday. “We would never work against the interests of older Americans and our engagement with ALEC was NOT an endorsement of the organization’s policies, but an opportunity to engage with state legislators and advance our members’ priorities.”

      “AARP is and always has been non-partisan,” the statement continued. “We meet with legislators from both sides of the aisle in order to do our job: fighting to improve the lives of people 50+. We will continue to explore ways to serve our diverse membership and fulfill our responsibility.”

    • How Repealing the Johnson Amendment Could Ruin Politics Forever

      Donald Trump is the Republican nominee and despite his previous time as a Democrat and his Johnny-come-lately stances on many of the social conservative issues that the religious right has come to love, he has managed to get a myriad of Christian leaders to back him in his battle for the White House. Exactly what magical spell has he worked that has brought around the values voters and made them believe that a business mogul with multiple ex-wives is now the person who should lead their country?

    • We Have to Stop Demeaning or Ignoring Trump Voters—Elitism Won’t Defeat Trumpism

      Anyone with confidence in the American people (and I have quite a lot of it) had to believe that Donald Trump’s unpreparedness, instability and just plain meanness would catch up with him eventually. This, as the polls show, is what happened over the last week or so. Simply by revealing who he really is, Trump sent millions of voters fleeing him in disgust.

      But understanding what still attracts many voters to Trump is important, not only to those who want to prevent Trump from staging a comeback but also to anyone who wants to make our democracy thrive in the long run. Those of us who are horrified by Trump’s hideous lack of empathy need empathy ourselves.

      It’s certainly true that Trump appeals to outright racists and nativists. He is, first and foremost, the product of a Republican Party that has exploited extremism since President Obama took office. GOP leaders should be called to account whenever they try to prettify Trump by ignoring his assaults on Mexican-Americans and Muslims or a checkered business record that belies his pretensions of being a friend to the working class.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • John Oliver Warns That Problems Plaguing Journalism Will Lead to Widespread Corruption (Video)
    • Newspaper Association Of America Complains That Comedian John Oliver Failed To Solve Newspaper Biz Model Problem

      This is pretty ridiculous. First of all, much of the mocking was over the Tribune Company’s ridiculous rebranding as “tronc,” and specifically the absolutely ridiculous “tronc employee video” the company put together, that I still am partially convinced is a parody of the kind of idiocy big newspapers put out these days to pretend they get technology. “Artificial intelligence!” “The future of journalism!” “Tech startup culture!” “Evolving, changing — the fun part!” “Optimization group!” “Feed it into a funnel and then optimize it!” “Maximize all the time.” “Monetize video!” “The role of tronc is to transform journalism — from pixels to Pulitzers.”

    • John Oliver Exposes the Abject Dangers of Billionaires Buying Up Newspapers

      We’re so used to getting our news for free that we’ve forgotten what that means for journalism. And as “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver points out, the decades long financial battle newsrooms have been facing affects all of us. Think about local government reporting. While it’s not as clickbaity as puppies or a “raccoon cats,” it’s a crucial part of urban reform. But often, because it does not pay, good local civic reporting is the first thing to go.

      “A study of over 200 papers found between 2003 and 2014, the number of full-time State House reporters declined by thirty-five percent,” Oliver pointed out. “And that’s not good because while there are some great web outlets some of which do cover local government there aren’t nearly enough to replace what has been lost.”

    • Heresy: A Reporter Investigates Evidence That Jesus Had a Wife

      Walter Fritz had been an East German museum director, a real estate agent, an auto-parts business executive, an Egyptology student, and an amateur pornographer.

      But his most recent achievement might well be his most lasting and ignominious – his involvement in an audacious antiquity transaction, wherein a piece of papyrus made its way into the hands of Harvard scholar Karen King, who then declared before the Vatican that it showed Jesus may have been married.

    • Federal Health Officials Seek to Stop Social Media Abuse of Nursing Home Residents

      Federal health regulators have announced plans to crack down on nursing home employees who take demeaning photographs and videos of residents and post them on social media.

      The move follows a series of ProPublica reports that have documented abuses in nursing homes and assisted living centers using social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. These include photos and videos of residents who were naked, covered in feces or even deceased. They also include images of abuse.

      The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees nursing homes, said in a memo to state health departments on Friday that they should begin checking to make sure that all nursing homes have policies prohibiting staff from taking demeaning photographs of residents. The memo also calls on state officials to quickly investigate such complaints and report offending workers to state licensing agencies for investigation and possible discipline. State health departments help enforce nursing home rules for the federal government.

    • Israel Calls on Citizens to Track and Report Activists in ‘Ruthless’ War Against BDS

      Amplifying the growing crackdown on dissent and specifically the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, the Israeli government this weekend unveiled a new initiative to track and deport activists suspected of supporting the campaign.

      Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery on Sunday announced the creation of a new government task force charged with gathering intelligence on pro-Palestininian activists and organizations with the intent, as Haaretz put it, of collecting enough evidence to legally deport them from Israel or the occupied West Bank.

      “We have the responsibility to do all we can to crush the boycott and say clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed,” Dery said.

      Later, Erdan took to Facebook to call on Israeli citizens to help by informing the government of suspicious activities.

    • Olympics fan claims Twitter killed his account after posting Rio videos

      Venezuelan free software activist Luigino Bracci Roa has claimed that his Twitter account was closed down permanently by the US company without any prior warning, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) complained about videos he had posted on the micro-blogging service.

      The @Lubrio account was popular: Bracci says that he tweeted 133,000 times since he created the account in 2008, and had garnered nearly 43,000 followers in that time.

      On his blog, Bracci shared the letters of complaint sent by the IOC to Twitter, which show that the committee did not demand that his account be shut down, but instead asked Twitter to “immediately and permanently remove the material” from its website. That’s hardly surprising given the IOC’s attempts to impose strict controls on all media outlets and how they use material connected with the Olympics.

    • Art magazine covers nipples of nude by celebrated artist with huge yellow stickers

      Controversy over the cover of an Australian art magazine has resurrected a debate of the digital age: when, if ever, are nipples acceptable?

      The latest issue of Vault, a quarterly art periodical, was distributed last week with round yellow stickers covering the nipples of a female nude in a painting on its cover.

      Its editor, Neha Kale, told Guardian Australia the stickers were added at the request of its distributor, which feared its stockists would refuse to display the magazine.

    • Art magazine questions censorship of Lisa Yuskavage nude

      The latest issue of art periodical Vault Magazine is being censored in Australian newsagents because it features a Lisa Yuskavage painting of a nude pregnant woman on the front cover. What does this say about how Australia responds to women in art?

    • Divya Khosla speaks up on ‘Pyaar Manga Hai’ being termed as ‘semi-porn’
    • There Is No Censorship for Internet: Divya Khosla Kumar
    • Divya Khosla Kumar: We cater to demand
    • Zareen Khan hot kissing scenes video crosses 1 crore mark on Youtube
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • CensusFail: the ABS hasn’t convinced the public their privacy is protected

      The Australian Census, which takes a snapshot of the demographics of the Australian population, is embroiled in a last minute furore around the mandatory collection of names and addresses.

      South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has declared he will not be providing his name and address. In doing so, he risks a A$180 fine for each day of “non-compliance”.

      Xenophon argues that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has not made “a compelling case why names must be provided”. However, the rationale is actually quite simple.

      With names and addresses, the Census data can be linked to other data sets where we have already allowed our name and address to be used. This includes health, education and other data. Together, they should help give a more complete and accurate picture of how the distribution of people in Australia matches present and future services.

    • Police Scotland told to pay journalist £10,000 over illegal intercepts

      Police Scotland has been ordered to pay a journalist £10,000 in damages after it illegally intercepted his communications data in an investigation into a botched murder case.

      The investigatory powers tribunal ruled the force had breached the human rights of Gerard Gallacher, a former police officer turned freelance journalist, who had spent 18 months investigating a cold murder case in which a prime suspect had been released without charge.

      Gallacher said he suffered “invasion of privacy, familial strife, personal stress and strain and loss of long-standing friendships” after detectives accessed 32 days of his communications data, ignoring clear court rulings to protect journalists and their sources.

      Police Scotland had been braced for an adverse ruling after Sir Stanley Burnton, the communications interception commissioner, ruled last November that the force had been reckless in its repeated abuse of its powers.

      Detectives in an elite anti-corruption unit breached the law five times when they collected phone records for Gallacher and two police officers suspected of leaking information, Burnton said.

      In its ruling on Monday on the cases of the six people affected – Gerard Gallacher and his wife Marjorie, the two officers David Moran and Steven Adams and a former officer and his wife named only as Mr and Mrs O – the tribunal agreed that the collection of their data breached the Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights.

    • The US Marines are testing a pocket-sized helicopter drone

      The U.S. Marine Corps is testing a pocket-sized drone that can deliver live video feeds from three cameras and is small enough that it’s almost invisible from the ground.

      The Black Hornet PD-100 can stay aloft for 25 minutes and has a range of 1.6 km (1 mile). That means Marines can use it for surveillance far beyond their current position.

      It can fly missions guided by GPS yet fits in a pocket. The cable hanging out the back in this image is an antenna, not a cord for power or data.

    • ABS head must take blame if census compromised

      If the data that is collected in the Australian census in any way lacks integrity, then one man will have to bear the blame: the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, David Kalisch.

      Remember, just a 5% non-response will screw up the whole works.

      For the uninitiated, or those who have been living under a rock for the last two months, there has been an uncharacteristic amount of jaw about the census this time.

      And all because an unelected bureaucrat suddenly decided to act like a mini-dictator and make changes in what was once a source of excellent detail about the population at large.

      First, the ABS announced, in the quiet news period in December, that the names and addresses of Australians would be retained indefinitely in this year’s census.

      And while the ABS had claimed all along that it was not retaining names and addresses and tying them to personal data, Kalisch revealed that this had been a big lie and since 2006, these personal details had indeed been retained for 18 months.

    • The founder of the Pirate Party joins to share liberty ideas with Steem

      Hi! I’m Rick Falkvinge, and during business hours, I’m Head of Privacy at the VPN company Private Internet Access, which ttobmk is the only VPN company to have court records prove we don’t keep any logs whatsoever. We love decentralization and privacy.

      However, I’m more known for being the founder of the Pirate Party, an international collection of technopunk parties that have won elections to take office in the European Parliament and elsewhere. The Pirate Party in Iceland is currently the largest party in the polls there, leading to very interesting scenarios worldwide after the next election. (It only takes one country out of 196 to create a safe data haven and guarantee freedoms of speech and expression worldwide.)

      I’ve also written a book, Swarmwise, that outlines how we were able to beat the establishment in the elections – their struggle for centralized power – despite having less than one percent of their campaign budget. Basically, it comes down to the tactical and strategic advantage of running an organization on decentralized voluntaryism.

    • SoylentNews Deploys HSTS and Mandates HTTPS Everywhere

      So after an extended period of inactivity, I’ve finally decided to jump back into working on SoylentNews and rehash (the code that powers the site). As such, I’ve decided to scratch some long-standing itches. The first (and easiest) to deploy was HSTS to SoylentNews. What is HSTS you may ask?

    • Want cheaper Internet access? Hand over your privacy

      It seems a simple enough proposition: Would you agree to receive marketing pitches in return for a discount on your high-speed Internet service?

      Telecom heavyweight Comcast made just such a case last week in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. The company defended what it called “a bargained-for exchange of information for service,” which it said “is a perfectly acceptable and widely used model throughout the U.S. economy.”

      And that’s true. You can spend less on a Kindle e-reader from Amazon if you agree to see “special offers” when you turn on the device. Your free use of online search engines, email and other services is subsidized in part by an acceptance of marketers peeking at your browsing habits.

      But privacy advocates are starting to worry about a society of privacy haves and have-nots. That is, keeping one’s personal info under wraps or avoiding incessant intrusions from advertisers would be a privilege enjoyed only by those who can afford it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Facebook Removes Potential Evidence of Police Brutality Too Readily, Activists Say

      As more details emerge about last week’s killing by Baltimore County police of 23-year-old Korryn Gaines, activists have directed growing anger not only at local law enforcement but also at Facebook, the social media platform where Gaines posted parts of her five-hour standoff with police.

      At the request of law enforcement, Facebook deleted Gaines’ account, as well her account on Instagram, which it also owns, during her confrontation with authorities. While many of her videos remain inaccessible, in one, which was re-uploaded to YouTube, an officer can be seen pointing a gun as he peers into a living room from behind a door, while a child’s voice is heard in the background. In another video, which remains on Instagram, Gaines can be heard speaking to her five-year-old son, who’s sitting on the floor wearing red pajamas.

      “Who’s outside?” she asks him. “The police,” he replies timidly. “What are they trying to do?” “They trying to kill us.”

    • Just Another Misogynist Monday

      I’m not watching the Olympics on NBC. I see more than enough of the events in my social media feed that I don’t need to turn on the television. This post is based on the observations and media content shared online, an indicator of just how much content there is about the Olympics, both corporate and personal.

      And I am SO glad I haven’t bothered to watch based on the persistent anger in my timeline. NBC’s coverage has been a bunch of sexist and racist nonsense, framing female athletes not by their performance but by the men or white family members in their lives.

      Like noting a particular athlete became a mother since her last competition — gee, how many of the male athletes became fathers? The narrative NBC built around each woman competitor sounds more like an observation of their performing femininity. “She’s turned in the best time and look, she can still clean house and wear a dress!” Obnoxious.

    • An Impolitic Situation: When Rights Disappear

      For months, political parties and presidential candidates fight for the highest office in the land, where the job duties include protecting the consitutional rights of all Americans.

      Few things illustrate the practice of our most basic rights—namely those of speech, assembly and petitioning our government— better than the run-up to the presidential election. Candidates stake out their turf and the public listens, discusses, and absorbs the constant 24-hour election media cycle, opposing and supporting candidates with friends and family, on Facebook and in the streets. The product of this constitutional civics lesson is our new national political leadership.

      So it’s ironic that both parties’ showcases—their national conventions—have historically been constitutional black holes. In 2004, hundreds of protesters at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York were wrongly arrested and held in abysmal detention conditions. Of course, the ACLU was there for them—the New York Civil Liberties Union and others filed suit on behalf of protesters that resulted in a total victory and a nearly $18 million award for those wrongly arrested, detained and fingerprinted.

    • Obama Prepares to Reinforce the Militarized Police Occupation of Black America

      Barack Obama is “responsible for the biggest escalation in the history of the one-sided war against Black America.” He increased militarization of local police 24-fold before banning some kinds of Pentagon weapons transfers, but is now preparing to send more battlefield weaponry to the streets of our cities. “Clinton or Trump will surely build on Obama’s lethal legacy.”

    • Apartheid Israel’s war on water

      Sumaya Awad explains how Israel uses access to the essential resource of water to impose horrific conditions on life for Palestinians in the West Bank.

    • ‘On Contact’ With Chris Hedges: The Big Business of Keeping People in Cages

      On this week’s episode of RT’s “On Contact,” Chris Hedges discusses mass incarceration with prison reform advocates Walter Fortson and Boris Franklin.

      From the school-to-prison pipeline, to solitary confinement, to preventing recidivism, they reflect on their experiences to address how to fix one of today’s major civil rights issues. RT correspondent Anya Parampil also reports on the business of locking people up.

    • Remembering Lenny Bruce, 50 years after his death

      It’s almost 50 years since the death of Lenny Bruce. The groundbreaking comedian died on Aug. 3, 1966 from an overdose of morphine while his New York obscenity conviction was still on appeal. On that same day he received a foreclosure notice at his Los Angeles home.

      But his death was an overdose, not a suicide. In the kitchen, a kettle of water was still boiling, and in his office, the electric typewriter was still humming. He had stopped typing in mid-word: “Conspiracy to interfere with the 4th Amendment const” … constitutes what, I wonder?

      Lenny was a subscriber to my satirical magazine, the Realist, and in 1959 we met for the first time in his Times Square hotel. He was amazed that I got away with publishing those profane words for which other periodicals used asterisks or dashes. He had been using euphemisms and asked, “Are you telling me this is legal to sell on the newsstands?” I replied, “The Supreme Court’s definition of obscenity is that it has to be material which appeals to your prurient interest.”

    • Hillary Clinton is no feminist: Just look at her stance on Palestine

      With Hillary Clinton now running as the Democratic Party’s official nominee, there has been much discussion about the glass ceiling finally shattering now that a woman is running for president on a major party ticket for the first time in US history.

      “I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” she told the convention crowd in Philadelphia last month after she was introduced with shattering glass sound effects.

      But this accolade needs to be qualified on a number of levels.

      Firstly, Senator Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to be nominated to run for president, at the 1964 Republican National Convention (she eventually lost out to Barry Goldwater).

      And in 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm became the first woman to run for the Democrat nomination. She also broke another barrier, that of being the first black politician to run for president for a major political party.

    • The dangers of exposing corruption in Russia’s jails

      Campaigner Vladimir Osechkin, who has exposed corruption and torture in Russian prisons, fled the country after being targeted by Russia’s secret police. But life outside Russia hasn’t been easy.

    • Police Violence: Peace Isn’t The Priority

      Precisely how did Korryn Gaines die? We don’t know, and probably never will.

      The Baltimore County, Maryland Police Department admits that one of its officers shot her dead on August 1. In fact, the department admits that the officer shot first and that Gaines then returned fire in self-defense and defense of her five-year-old son (no, the department does not use those terms) before being gunned down.

      The police also admit that before forcing their way into Gaines’s apartment and killing her, they went out of their way to ensure their actions would be hidden from public view. The department contacted two social media services, Facebook and Instagram, asking that Gaines’s accounts be disabled so as to cut off her photo and video streams of what was happening. To their everlasting shame, the two firms complied with the request.

    • What Brexit could mean for refugee protection in Britain

      Survivors of Torture and other refugees who came here for protection and a safe recovery environment now worry about their future in this country. For their sake, we need to use this time to work out what we want to fight for within the EU asylum acquis, and what we are willing or even happy to let go. We need to be clear on what trade-offs to support and which ones to prevent. And we need to be ready to exploit the opportunities that present themselves along the way. Only then will we be in a position to effectively influence the course and impact of a withdrawal from the EU to maximise protection for refugees.

    • Turkey’s Constitutional Court stirs outrage by annulling child sex abuse clause

      The Constitutional Court has ruled to annul a provision that punishes all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as “sexual abuse,” stirring outrage from academics and women’s rights activists who warn that the decision will lead to cases of child abuse going unpunished.

      The Constitutional Court discussed the issue upon an application from a district court, which complained that the current law does not discriminate between age groups in cases of child sexual abuse and treats a 14-year-old as equal to a four-year-old.

      The local court said the law does not provide legal consequences for the “consent” of victims in cases where the child victim is from 12 to 15 years of age and able to understand the meaning of the sexual act. “This creates an imbalance between legal benefits and sanctions that should be preserved in crime and punishment,” the application stated.

      With seven votes against six, the Constitutional Court agreed with the local court and decided to annul the provision. The decision will come into effect on Jan. 13, 2017.

      The local court’s argument and the Constitutional Court’s endorsement have drawn a backlash from academic and human rights circles, which underlined that all individuals under the age of 18 are considered children according to international conventions to which Turkey is a party.

    • Forced underage marriages rise in Switzerland

      The number of forced marriages involving minors has increased significantly in Switzerland, with a specialist Swiss website reporting 119 cases so far this year, compared with fewer than 60 for all of 2015.

      According to zwangsheirat.ch (a website focused on forced marriages) of particular concern is that of the 119 cases, 26 were with girls under the age of 16, most of whom came from Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Somalia. This figure is five times the total number reported between 2005 and 2015.

      One case involved a ten-year-old Somali girl at a Swiss school where a social worker discovered that the girl was married, Anu Sivaganesan, president of zwangsheirat.ch, told the NZZ am Sonntag.

    • Iran regime tries to justify the execution of young people

      A notorious torture expert and official of the mullahs’ regime has attempted to justify the executions in Iran of young adults, who were under 18 when they were charged.

      On August 4, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, who in a bizarre twist is the secretary of the Iranian regime’s so-called Human Rights Council, told the regime-affiliated Tasnim News Agency that minors are not executed until they have reached the age of 18.

      Indeed, he blamed Western criticism for bringing this to media attention and suggested that the United Nations take the mullahs’ so-called ‘Islamic laws’ into account when addressing the rights of children in legal cases. He attacked the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran for exposing the regime’s brutal intimidation tactics and bloody history of human rights abuses.

      He said: “Ahmed Shaheed was the least successful choice in case of discussing our human rights. We have never authorized his position and we will not also accept the newly elected person for this position.”

    • “Clock boy” Ahmed Mohamed sues Irving schools, police for wrongful arrest

      Ahmed Mohamed, who was arrested last year after showing a home-made clock to a teacher at his high school, has filed a lawsuit against his former school district, its principal, and the city of Irving, Texas.

      Mohamed’s lawsuit (PDF), filed earlier today, claims that the school district has a history of racial discrimination, and that the treatment he received violated both US civil rights laws and his 14th Amendment right to equal treatment under the law.

    • Is the Fight to End Mass Incarceration Wasting Away in Washington?

      Mass incarceration’s profile as a national issue appears to be on the wane. Throughout 2015, the nation’s over-reliance on imprisonment drew a constant spotlight, producing a plethora of bipartisan policy proposals and expressions of moral outrage in Beltway circles. In March last year, Newt Gingrich and Democrat stalwart Van Jones co-hosted an unprecedented Washington, D.C. conference of nearly 500 key role players billed as a “Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform.” The Koch Brothers Foundation teamed up with George Soros’ Open Society forces to sponsor it. Author and formerly incarcerated activist Shaka Senghor spoke, as did Georgia’s Republican governor Nathan Deal. At a moment of great congressional discord, people across the spectrum were finally agreeing on at least one thing: the U.S. was spending too much money on corrections and locking up too many people, especially black folks.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • The Coming Copyright Fight Over Viral News Videos, Such As Police Shootings

        There are two subjects we write about frequently on Techdirt that we didn’t think would ever have all that much overlap: copyright and people using their mobile phones to record events in real time. This can cover a lot of stuff, but lately it’s been getting extra attention in the world of police shootings and police protests. We didn’t necessarily think these two kinds of stories would overlap very often, but when you’ve got video, you’ve got copyright. Last year, for example, there was a bit of a copyright dustup when the guy who shot the infamous video of Walter Scott being shot in the back by police officer Michael Slager, started demanding to get paid. As we pointed out at the time, news programs using the video were almost certainly protected by fair use.

        And that’s still true. But… eventually this is going to go to courts. And that’s especially true because of the new group of middlemen who are racing to buy up any viral video within hours (or minutes!) of it going viral, and then trying to license it everywhere. If you follow the space, you may have heard of some of these guys: Jukin Media is the most well-known, but there are others like ViralHog, ViralNova and Newsflare. And they don’t seem all that thrilled about this part of the law called fair use.

“EPO is Quickly Turning Into a Registration System”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Under Battistelli, the European Patent Office (EPO) simply neglects examination and turns examiners into machine operators

EPO Frame Breaking
Context: “The Luddite movement emerged during the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic Wars”

Summary: Benoît Battistelli is breaking to pieces the world’s leading patent system, which took decades to build and refine, in order to increase what he foolishly labels ‘production’ (a race to the bottom)

THE EPO, based on insider knowledge, is not just repeating the mistakes of the USPTO but becoming even worse than the USPTO. Patent quality, say workers, is declining to the point where things will become irreversibly grim. “Apparently,” one person wrote yesterday, “the EPO is quickly turning into a registration system,” which means that Battistelli has killed the EPO as an examination office. Do people high up in Europe even care? Do they realise how much damage this would cause? The PR drones are keeping Battistelli in house and calling, now on a daily basis (sometimes several times per day), for European Inventor Award 2017 nominations. It is a wasteful lobbying event which promises to do nothing but empty the EPO’s coffers for publicity points (scored by Battistelli himself, at the expense of the EPO). They are also propping up a dead forum and advertising an event organised in “close co-operation with” a think tank/lobbying group (warning: mouse-clicks can be spied on by EPO) that is in favour of software patents and is connected to the world’s largest trolls (like Intellectual Ventures). It’s the same IPO (not to be confused with UK-IPO) which was against patents in ACTA and is against Alice. “This high-level event is organised in close co-operation with the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO),” the EPO says. What does that tell us about the EPO’s neighbourhood now? Patent trolls, proponents of software patents, and US businesses that favour software patents? The EPO does not care about patent quality and scope anymore. All it cares about is so-called ‘production’, even if that means fudging the figures and throwing away quality control (including the appeal boards, which are being thrown overboard).

Sooner of later all this ‘cheapening’ of patents will result in garbage quality and people may start asking questions like, “was your EP a pre-Battistelli or post-Battistelli one?” (in other words, is it of high quality of just rubberstamped for quick and temporary gains?). As one person put it yesterday:

The private suepo web site can only be accessed from within the office, so I had no access during my holiday. Back to work, I checked the post from Berlin and can indeed confirm what “BoardMember” has cited.

Apparently, the EPO is quickly turning into a registration system…

Well, Battistelli has killed the old EPO and created a new kind of monster. Would people be willing to pay the high fees anymore? If so, for how much longer? Here are some more details from SUEPO Berlin, which resemble the vision of people replaced by primitive machines for vastly inferior prior art search and for corporate profits through outsourcing:

Back to work, I checked what people think about the future of the united patent. Apparently, management is still confident that they can push the UK to join before the end of the year.

How do they think they can achieve that, I do not know. But we have had so many surprises in the past year, that I would not take a bet either way.

Something else: there is a rumor that the EPO will change their examination ways. It is true. It is on the Berlin suepo website and there is a powerpoint around, which will be presented to the examiners. Basically, the examiners are supposed to run an automatic search, not object clarity, send one single communication to the applicant if there are doubts about novelty or inventive step, simply accept the response and grant. All this within a year. The other members are instructed not to check any more and they will get warnings if the granted file lingers too long. Management wants the complete backlog gone in 4 years.

There will also be an assessment center for recruiting new examiners (not sure about that, decision is not out yet). Apparently, some directors are refusing to recruit many candidates for lack of competence and recruitment cannot meet their targets. Therefore the responsibility of recruiting will be taken from the directors and put into the hands of the new assessment center.

It is a completely different Patent Office that is being created under our eyes. What I don’t understand is where the money will go: at present, the EPO is producing a plus of several hundred millions Euros a year (and that with the costs of a new building in the Hague). If we are suddenly producing many more patents a year, the surplus will shoot to the roof. That, and we are paying the new examiners a lot less and nudging the more expensive older ones to early retirement and retirement benefits will be cut massively. In 4 years, when we have no stock left, how much will the surplus be? A billion a year or more? Maybe that is how Battistelli plans to convince the UK to stay?

It sure looks as though patent examiners now share the same concerns we have (for a number of years now). Patent lawyers get their way by lowering the bar and as noted yesterday, a post by a Bristows employee (i.e. part of Team UPC which lobbies the British government along with Battistelli) said that “The Intellectual Property Office [the other IPO] responds to Brexit, highlighting that EU-derived protection is still in place while the UK remains a Member of the EU, and that the UK is looking into various post-Brexit options.”

This is about attempts to ratify the UPC in spite of Brexit and in spite of UPC being squarely against the interests of British citizens, not just British engineers.

There is a lot of nefarious stuff going on these days and the EU is piggybacked to advance the interests of few shadowy groups, essentially by legislative laundering. SUEPO, as of yesterday, expresses concern about revolving doors and systemic corruption in the EU. “The USF issued a Communiqué on 20 July 2016 in which they reproduce an open letter (EN, FR) sent to Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission about the Barroso case,” SUEPO wrote. Here is the original in full:

An open letter to: Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

Re: The Barroso case

Mr Juncker, is the « last chance » you gave to this Commission being used up?

The recruitment of Mr Barroso by the sadly notorious Goldman Sachs investment bank sent a shock wave through European public opinion.

As several Press media have pointed out, this shameful move is further widening the gap between two worlds, of the elites on the one hand and the citizens on the other and is likely to strengthen and consolidate the persistent –and most recently highlighted by Brexit– blame thrown on the EU institutions: that of acting in collusion with global finance to the detriment of the European citizens’ interests.

According to Article 245 of the TFEU, the Members of the Commission give a solemn undertaking that, “both during and after their term of office, they will respect (…) the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits”. The case of Mr Barroso is so blatant that no internal document, such as a ‘Code of Conduct’, besides introduced by Mr Barroso himself, can be relied upon to defeat a clear and unconditional Treaty provision.

Union Syndicale Fédérale1 requests President Juncker that his Commission –“the last-chance Commission”, to put it in his own words– proceed without delay to the preliminary acts in view to applying to the Court of Justice.

It will then be for the European Court to judge whether Mr Barroso, by accepting a position of responsibility with Goldman Sachs, has broken or not his “duty of discretion” required by the Treaty and to determine possible consequences (including loss of the right to a pension).

Bernd LOESCHER, president USF

Over the years we wrote quite a few articles about Goldman Sachs. If entities like these get access to EU corridors through the likes of Barroso, why wouldn’t US businesses be able to gain access to institutions like the EPO, where discriminatory practices are already rampant under Battistelli (after Microsoft pressured the EPO)?

The EPO is under attack. It’s under attack from Battistelli and his masters, who are evidently not European taxpayers or European SMEs.

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