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08.19.16

Patents Roundup: Trolls Dominate Litigation, PTAB Crushes Patents, Patent Box Regime Persists, and OIN Explains Itself

Posted in America, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 11:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another roundup of patent news from around the Web with special focus on software patenting

THE USPTO is problematic for quite a few reasons, chiefly or primarily the low patent quality (especially in recent years). When there’s no quality control, as was increasingly the case under Kappos, patents cease to be respected and people resort to filing lawsuits and fighting in courts, which is an expensive process (small companies would just settle out of court, even if they know they can win the case).

“As Suntory and Asahi settle their patent dispute over non-alcoholic beer,” wrote MIP the other say, “John A Tessensohn surveys the state of litigation in Japan, and compares it with the United States” (where litigation is extremely high in frequency).

It is worth taking stock of who’s suing with patents in the US. “Of the 19 patent lawsuits filed today,” United for Patent Reform wrote some days ago, “16 were filed by patent trolls — 84%. It’s time for Congress to take action to #fixpatents!”

It has been estimated recently that nearly 90% of all technology patent lawsuits are now filed by patent trolls. Most of them use software patents. In other words, in the absence of software patents, there would be far fewer trolls and lawsuits.

Speaking of trolls, the EFF’s Elliot Harmon tackles an old problem which is universities selling their patents by the tons/bucketloads to patent trolls (Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, quite notably compared to other entities, buys them and then shakes companies down with these patents, which were originally earned thanks to taxpayers’ money/investment). Here is what Harmon wrote:

When universities invent, those inventions should benefit everyone. Unfortunately, they sometimes end up in the hands of patent trolls—companies that serve no purpose but to amass patents and demand money from others. When a university sells patents to trolls, it undermines the university’s purpose as a driver of innovation. Those patents become landmines that make innovation more difficult.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the problem of universities selling or licensing patents to trolls. We said that the only way that universities will change their patenting and technology transfer policies is if students, professors, and other members of the university community start demanding it.

It’s time to start making those demands.

Well, many demands should be made, even here in Europe. The system is unregulated, so it has been evolving along the lines large corporations and their patent lawyers demand, not the public good. Watch this new article about the “Patent Box Regime”, which is a tax evasion scam/scheme (Microsoft does a lot of that), using patents as loophole. “It relates to income that arises from patents, copyrighted software, and, in the case of smaller companies, other intellectual property that is similar to an invention that could be patented,” according to this article from Tax News.

“The system is unregulated, so it has been evolving along the lines large corporations and their patent lawyers demand, not the public good.”That’s probably too much for small companies to apply for, as is often the case when it comes to Ireland as a notorious tax haven. To quote: “The regime is only available to the companies that carried out the research and development, within the meaning of section 766 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The guidance provides definitions of a qualifying company, a qualifying asset, and profits arising from exploiting the qualifying asset. It also explains the extensive documentation requirements that must be complied with to claim relief under the KDB.”

We wrote about this subject many times before. There’s no indication that European authorities are doing anything at all to stop this abuse.

Speaking of Microsoft, a Microsoft promotion site says that PTAB, abolisher of many software patents, has just come to Microsoft’s rescue. “Personalized Home Page patent troll threatening Microsoft, Google and others squashed by appeal court,” says the headline. To quote:

Bloomberg Legal reports that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has invalidated a patent held by B.E. Technology LLC for a Personalized Internet User Interface or home page which dates back to 1998 and which the company was using against Google, Microsoft and 6 other companies.

B.E. Technology filed 11 lawsuits accused smartphones and tablets of infringing their patent, but also included a wide variety of other devices, including Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles.

Google , Microsoft, Samsung and Sony all challenged the patent, submitting 5 petitions with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and was eventually able to show that a 1996 patent covered all of B.E. Technology’s claims, rendering it invalid.

Speaking of PTAB, Michael Loney wrote a couple of articles (from New York) about the latest figures. He is presenting some graph about big growth in post-grant reviews in 2016, but also demonstrates a decline in the first half of year for filings. The “Patent Trial and Appeal Board filing so far this year is down on 2015,” he notes (as he did before). However, another graph is presented in this article. It says that “Post-grant review petition filing this year is already higher than the whole of 2015, with biopharma companies leading the way.” The part about the decline says this: “The 826 petitions filed in the first six months of the year was the lowest half-year figure since the 730 filed in the first half of 2014 while the PTAB’s appeal was taking hold.”

It’s not entirely clear (yet) if PTAB will grow fast enough to ever overwhelm all software patents, or most patents which Alice effectively invalidates. The patent microcosm just keeps attacking PTAB’s legitimacy, with shameless smears too.

A theme we found in the news today [1-3] was patents of pharmaceutical giants (often referred to, collectively, as Big Pharma). It is common knowledge that Big Pharma are to a large degree subsidised by the US government (i.e. taxpayers), consistently to the tune of tens of billions of dollars per year (this number too is common knowledge), yet all money and patents go to private hands. Talk about injustice! Here is a new comment regarding one of these new articles:

It seems the new patentability landscape post-Alice, Myriad and Mayo is taking shape
- Alice really meant that computer implemented inventions were only patentable in as far as they related to the working of a computer somehow, and so business methods and mental acts are unpatentable inventions
- Myriad and Mayo could could not have meant all inventions relating to natural products and laws were not patentable, and products in particular which are different from nature and have practical uses remain patentable
- Mayo remains a bit of mystery until the Federal Circuit approves an invention based on a natural correlation. Sequenom shows it is difficult to get broad claims where any sort of natural correlation is involved and so diagnostic inventions remain in limbo.

In an age when patents are foolishly treated like money [4] and the patent microcosm spreads tired old myths about patents (marketing) [5] it’s only to be expected that reduction in patents would be portrayed as a loss to “innovation” or something along those lines. Shelston IP, the self-serving propagandists (for their own pocket) who lobby for software patents down under [1, 2] can again be found in the media [6]. They still try to change New Zealand’s patent law so as to allow software patenting. They don’t care about programmers, they just want to tax programmers.

In the US, software patents are somewhat of a passing fad. It doesn’t mean that nobody applies for them and even gets granted some. According to this new article about an acquisition, “Denning noted that AppFirst also has a number of patents around the architecture of its agents.” Additionally, this other new article says that “several patents related to the technology behind their picking system.”

This sounds like software patents, but software patents are rather useless when it comes to litigation as courts typically reject those nowadays. This new article states about CAFC (where software patents very rarely survive scrutiny) that “[i]t is also a reminder that, for the Federal Circuit, the underlying patent and prior art documents represent the most important evidence available in a patent validity dispute.” Well, that’s just common sense and any courts ought to consider that aside from Alice (in the circumstances of allegedly abstract patents).

Another new article says that “Bose holds several patents on this technology…Bose also improved the sound silencing software.” Regarding BlackBerry, which is becoming somewhat of a patent troll nowadays, this article says that “Blackberry [is] slowly fading into obscurity when it comes to the handset market, it makes sense the company would turn to its software, patents, and enterprise expertise as a way to keep the company afloat.”

Nowadays, as we correctly predicted, BlackBerry is a troll (PAE). It is even filing lawsuits down in Texas, as we noted earlier this month. Some of these patents are on software, some on hardware, and some on networking. And speaking of which, there is this new article (behind paywall) about Internet Protocol (IP) patents. The summary says: “Fluent in both types of IP: Scott Bradner has been an architect of intellectual property (IP) policy for internet protocol (IP) standards. He played a core role in the development of internet protocol, leading to the very digital revolution we know today, as well as the next generation IPv6, all the while designing intellectual property policy to go along with it. Here is an interview with Bradner.”

The Internet is supposed to be open to all. Just like the World Wide Web, it should be free from patents (less true today than it was at its genesis, for reasons we covered in past years), so the notion of so-called ‘IP’ on IP (Internet Protocol) is troubling. So is the notion of a ‘FOSS’ group which is open to software patents. OIN, for instance, was created by companies that are not against software patents but wish to minimise risk of being sued. Deb Nicholson, who moved to OIN from the Free Software Foundation, defends OIN as follows. From an interview published earlier today:

The Open Invention Network — OIN, as its friends call it — “is a defensive patent pool and community of patent non-aggression which enables freedom of action in Linux.” That’s what it says (among other things) on the front page of the organization’s website. Basically, if you join OIN (which costs $0) you agree not to sue other members over Linux and Android-related patents, and in return they promise not to sue you. Google, IBM, and NEC are the top three members shown on OIN’s “community” page, which lists over 2,000 members/licensees ranging from Ford to one-person Android app developers.

Today’s interviewee, Deb Nicholson, is the group’s community outreach director. One description of her says she “blurs the line between professional and punk rock,” which is a very cool line to blur. She travels a lot and speaks at a lot of conferences.

She used to work for the Free Software Foundation. You may have heard of them. It is less likely, however, that you know about OIN. But you should, because it does hugely valuable work in keeping the slimy jaws of patent trolls away from innocent FOSS developers and users. If you’re an OIN member and a nasty software patent beast comes after you, they risk the wrath of… well, not “The Wrath of Khan,” but of running afoul of one of the many thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of patents held by OIN’s many members.

That’s hardly the solution at all. Just hoarding software patents and putting them in a very large pool — no matter how large — does not rid us from the actual menace. It’s like stockpiling weapons to make one secure from other groups with a large arsenal. Mutual disarmament of all groups, or invalidation of software patents, is the solution. Nicholson’s previous employer, the Free Software Foundation, ‘gets’ that.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Bad and Good News for Bio-Pharmaceutical Patenting in the United States

    Two recent developments in U.S. patent law mean mixed news for the bio-pharmaceutical industry. First, the bad news — the U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept for review the closely-watched Ariosa Diagnostics v. Sequenom case concerning the patentability of a diagnostic method. Second, the good news — a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued the Rapid Litigation Management v. Cellz Direct decision further clarifying application of the two-step Alice/Mayo test (1. claim directed to a patent ineligible category and 2. lack of inventive concept) concerning laws of nature.

  2. The ‘Cancer Moonshot’ May Succeed — If We Don’t Weaken Patent Protections [Opinion]

    Earlier this summer, the Patent and Trademark Office created an expedited review process for certain patent applications covering “immunotherapies” — new cancer treatments that re-engineer the body’s immune system to attack tumors. Within days, the National Institutes of Health rejected a petition that urged the agency to use “march-in” rights to effectively take back the patent on a prostate cancer drug: It would’ve had a chilling effect on the development of new drugs if such blatant government overreach was implemented.

  3. The Downfall Of Invention: A Broken Patent System

    It’s time to restore the U.S. patent system to its original purpose – to protect and incentivize invention, not innovation. There’s a difference. Innovation is the investment in the commercialization of inventions. Just because a company invests money to commercialize a drug does not mean it has invented a new drug. This is where today’s patent system is broken. If we continue to muddle innovation with the patent system’s original purpose of invention, we will continue to hand out 20 years or more of monopoly power to companies for the same science over and over again and keep paying higher drug prices. Instead of incentivizing a race to the top, we are pursuing a policy of a race to the bottom. Only with genuine inventions can true medical innovations flourish and support both society’s health and a strong drug development pipeline.

  4. Thailand Enforces Law To Promote IP As Loan Collateral, Amends Trademark Law To Raise Penalty For Deception

    Thailand has enforced a new law to promote using intellectual property as loan collateral, an effort likely to make intellectual property a more valuable asset for its holders. But experts caution that the country still lacks the infrastructure of a viable IP market.

  5. Your Ultimate Guide to Applying for a Patent
  6. The Patents Act 2013 creates legislative space (as distinct from impetus) for a New Zealand innovation patent

    A New Zealand “innovation patent”? Unlikely, but watch this space nonetheless. The popularity of Australia’s innovation patents regime has been well documented. Although it is not without its faults, has been prone to certain unintended outcomes and has recently gained some high-profile critics, the Australian innovation patents regime has arguably been relatively successful in stimulating R&D activity (innovation) amongst Australian small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Cost/Toll of the ‘New’ EPO and Where All That Money Goes or Comes From

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 10:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) has essentially become ‘collateral’

A clawback
Reference: Clawback

Summary: The European Patent Office has become a servant of the rich and powerful (including large foreign corporations) and even its own employees now pay the price associated with misguided new policies (or ‘reforms’ as Battistelli habitually refers to these)

THE race to the bottom at the USPTO famously resulted in a rather defunct system — a problem officially (if not belatedly) recognised by GAO. It is now famous for patent trolls and the systematic crushing of startups (euphemistically associated with innovation). The status quo may be reasonably OK and generally acceptable for large corporations with a dedicated legal department. It’s also perfectly fine for patent law firms because when more patents get granted and there is more litigation, more money will inevitably flow their way. They are, in essence, the tax in the system or those who pocket the majority of the damages (or collateral damage).

“The status quo may be reasonably OK and generally acceptable for large corporations with a dedicated legal department.”The EPO under Battistelli is marching down the same path. It wants us to believe that the more patents, the merrier (or the more innovation). In practice, rich countries like Switzerland can better pursue (or afford to pursue) more patent applications. The system is more accessible to them because its costs are less prohibitive compared to east Europe (where the per-person salary/capital is vastly lower). Sweden is another example of this and The Local plays along in this marketing plot/ploy. What are the writers thinking and why are they doing this? The EPO did it with them a few months back, repeatedly even (when the so-called ‘results’ came out). Now they are claiming that Swedish people are “stronger [for] score in patent families [and] drives its upward movement.”

“patents != innovation,” told us a Scandinavian reader. It’s the person who sent this to us. Why are we still seeing these myths spread so widely? And why are we supposed to totally ignore intentionally hidden correlations like cause and effect (in reverse), which suggest perpetuation of monopolies and domination by means of services that are priced out of reach (to most)? That’s a rather broad discussion we covered here many times in the past.

“In return for this ‘service’, much compensation/pension money is promised (not offered) and guess who foots the bill.”In reality, the EPO currently discriminates against smaller member states and increasingly favours large corporations from other nations/continents. In return for this ‘service’, much compensation/pension money is promised (not offered) and guess who foots the bill. As the comment below put it: “The member states have agreed to foot the bill for the pensions. But this is on paper, and for pensioners the only addressee is the EPO. If the EPO unilaterally lowers the pensions, what is the recourse: at the end the ILO AT. In other words a dead end. If the EPO claims it has no money, it cannot be condemned to print it.”

As we stated before, there is apparent clawback already. Here is the comment in its entirety — a comment which was posted in relation to a long discussion about the promise of benefits to EPO staff (past, present and future):

One should not become paranoiac and think that money could go some political party in France. This is going too far.

It is however not the first time that the shear value of the RFPSS has given some appetite to the AC. In drawing out money out of the fund, the procedural fees could be kept constant for quite a while, if not lowered drastically. Then, with more crap patents granted as suggested in Berlin, more annual fees would come in. Who would be the beneficiaries? The member states, especially those with a lot of patents validated. The only unknown, but not one to be neglected is that the attitude of the users. I doubt they need a European patent, unitary or not, which is of the same level of the US one.

On the other hand, if the fund is constantly under performing, then it might not be worth keeping it. And we are back on the thoughts above here, why not simply use it to compensate procedural fees. This could be the ball starting rolling.

The member states have agreed to foot the bill for the pensions. But this is on paper, and for pensioners the only addressee is the EPO. If the EPO unilaterally lowers the pensions, what is the recourse: at the end the ILO AT. In other words a dead end. If the EPO claims it has no money, it cannot be condemned to print it. Nobody would ever lift a finger for a cast of privileged employees of an international organisation. That is exactly the position taken by one of the President’s minions, the PD Personal, Mrs Bergot to name her. They profited for a long time of lots of niceties and it is time for them to bleed…

It might sound far fetched as well, but such a hidden agenda would not surprise me from the President and its advisers.

Battistelli’s history as a public [sic] servant [sic] suggests that as a Republican with no empathy he’ll promise anything to get his way and even lie for some “greater good” (in his own mind). As one recent example of Battistelli’s “greater good”, consider his lobbying for the UPC, crackdown on quality control (of patents), and sending away of the boards — a move which is now being confirmed by the local media in Munich. To quote this new translation from SUEPO [PDF] with highlights in yellow (particularly where we are cited):

Munich’s European Patent Office may be planning a move to Haar

The European Patent Office in heart of Munich simply won’t settle down.

(Photo: dpa)
Advert

- According to SZ sources, the European Patent Office may be planning to transfer a department from Munich’s Inner City to Haar.

- The move to new premises, with a floor area of 11,000 square metres, would affect 200 personnel.

- A power struggle has long been raging within the Office, at the heart of which is the President Benoît Battistelli. Critics are concerned about his stringent reforms.

By Bernhard Lohr, Munich/Haar

Plans are clearly afoot at the European Patent Office in Munich to relocate the legal departments. The whole situation needs to be viewed in the context of a major reform of the legal structure, which the Member States of the European Patent Office Organization only decided on in June.

According to ZS sources, the Boards of Appeal, to which appeals can be lodged against decisions taken by the European Patent Court, are to be relocated to Haar. This will involve more than 200 employees, and an office surface area of 11,000 square metres.

Storm in the Glass House

The European Patent Office still will not settle down: New internal investigations aimed against staff representatives are causing concern – and upset. Because the Office’s own investigation department is overstretched, word has it that crisis specialists from London have been brought in to look into allegations of bullying. Katja Riedel has more …

No-one will officially confirm what is going on. Staff at the Real Estate Department of the Bavarian Insurance Chamber, which owns the office complex known as “8inOne” in Haar-Eglfing, standing empty now for a good two years, are keeping the name of the incoming tenants very much to themselves. The European Patent Office speaks of decisions which are
still pending. The local authorities will only refer to a well-known “non-profit organization” which will be coming to Haar. According to an internal E-mail, which is in the possession of the SZ, this is the European Patent Office.

In the Internet blog Techrights, contributors who are manifestly very well-informed about the inner life of the European Patent Office in Munich, are already engaged in intensive discussion about the move to the edge of the Bavarian capital.

Advert

Stringent reforms, suspensions, defamation: A power struggle is raging in the Patent Office

A power struggle has been raging for a long time within the Patent Office, with its 4000 employees in Munich alone, at the centre of which is the President, Benoît Battistelli. His opponents are opposing the stringent reforms he is seeking to introduce so as to streamline the Office. Battistelli recently suspended a patent judge, who according to the distribution of power should not have been subordinate to him, which in turn caused further upset in the Office. According to an internal investigation, the man is supposed to have used aliases in order to wage a defamation campaign against the President. The accused disputes the accusations.

A possible move to Haar is also being seen by staff members in this light. The word on Techrights is that this is a way of sending disgruntled personnel from the legal departments into “exile”; talk is of money being spent like water, and that personnel without much space should be taking priority.

According to insiders, the move is a done deal

Word has it, too, that staff in the departments affected, which are still sitting in the main building near the Isartor, have already been informed of the forthcoming move to Haar-Eglfing. The search for a suitable location for the Boards of Appeal is said to have involved eleven buildings in the general Munich area.

The closeness to the City and the airport, the actual fixtures and fittings of the building, and the easy access by public transport, are also supposed to have given the address at Richard-Reitzner-Allee 8 in Haar the edge in the search – “in the South-East of Munich”, as they say. According to the information on Techrights, the tenancy agreement is supposed to have already been signed as soon as the Finance Committee of the Patent Office approved the plan in October. The move is supposed to take place in July 2017.

Uprising against the Sun King

Staff at the European Patent Office in Munich are taking to the streets against their boss, Benoît Battistelli: He regards his people as of little consequence, and could even prevent
strikes. And that could mean that he is contravening European human rights. More from Katja Riedel and Christopher Schrader … Report

This matches up with what a spokesman from the Patent Office has been saying, who of course is not going to let anything slip about the move to Haar. Rainer Osterwalder says that the organization is “currently looking into possibilities for a new service building for its Boards of Appeal in Munich and the surroundings”. Once the “technical preparations” have been concluded, more formation will be forthcoming. The separate building is supposed to highlight the independence of the Boards of Appeal in the Patent Office Organization.

This issue is also said to have been discussed in the early part of the year with Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback. He is said to have been convinced that by having a separate building of their own for the Boards, the significance of Munich and Bavaria as focal points in Europe for patent legal procedures can be strengthened still further. On the other hand, it looks as if this positive view is not entirely shared by all the staff at headquarters.

Rainer Osterwalder refuses to just admit the obvious, but he begrudgingly acknowledges what the journalists were able to independently corroborate/confirm based on documents they saw. Where does that leave quality control, appeals, and oppositions? Well, far away from Battistelli, ‘sheltered’ in tighter offices with fewer members of staff and an uncertain future. A new article by Matthew Pinney from software patents proponents and lobbyists at Marks and Clerk (part of the patent microcosm that preys on EPO policies under Battistelli, including the UPC) was published in some of their media circles this week [1, 2]. It speaks of opposition procedures as follows:

The European Patent Office (EPO) opposition procedure allows any person to challenge the validity of a European patent within nine months of its grant. Oppositions are a commercially astute method for revoking others’ patents as an alternative or addition to court proceedings. However, the opposition procedure has historically taken up to three years after grant to reach a decision – even for ‘straightforward’ cases. Whilst a decision is pending, there is legal uncertainty for all parties.

On 1 July 2016, the EPO introduced a streamlined opposition procedure that simplifies the procedure so that opposition proceedings can be brought to a faster conclusion. The aim is that the Opposition Division will reach a decision within two years from grant. This is achieved by imposing reduced time limits on both the patent proprietor and the EPO.

Once an admissible opposition has been filed, the EPO invites the patent proprietor to respond with observations and any amendments to the patent. The streamlined procedure reduces the response time limit from six months to four months except in exceptional circumstances.

They are basically rushing things, which guarantees that quality will be further exacerbated/eroded/reduced and the service will prioritise profit over merit.

It’s sad to see the EPO repeating all those famous mistakes of the USPTO — mistakes that I spent over a decade writing about. Battistelli is certainly aware of the consequences of reduction in patent quality, but as we shall show in a later article, he denies it using his de facto think tanks.

“No amount of gloss can cover institutional rot and when the public discovers the rot, everyone suffers, including ordinary members of staff in the rotting institution.”Not only EPO staff is under attack from merciless and misguided management. Staff of WIPO too has been complaining and severely punished for that. Watch one who has just moved from human rights to WIPO, a serial violator of human rights. To quote IP Watch, “years ago Kwakwa also moved from UNHCR to WIPO, according to his bio. In the role of WIPO legal counsel, Kwakwa took a role once held by now-Director General Francis Gurry, and became known by some for his equanimity, knowledge, and an almost uncanny knack for navigating difficult situations that others could not.” With some very gross violations of human rights in there (under Gurry), one might wonder what Bontekoe is thinking here. It’s like the time the EPO hired Jana Mittermaier from Transparency International. No amount of gloss can cover institutional rot and when the public discovers the rot, everyone suffers, including ordinary members of staff in the rotting institution. Unless Battistelli is stopped, everyone at the EPO will suffer. This is why staff representatives are so sceptical of him. They too are eager to save the Office.

Links 19/8/2016: Linux Mint With KDE, Linux Foundation’s PNDA

Posted in News Roundup at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Windows 10′s upgrade model temporarily wipes $1.6B from Microsoft’s books

      the distribution and maintenance of Windows 10 put a $1.6 billion temporary dent in its revenue, the company said Thursday.

      In a filing covering the March quarter, Microsoft pointed to the revenue deferral of Windows 10 — a relatively new way of accounting for the Redmond, Wash. company — as a reason for the 6% year-over-year decline in revenue.

      “Revenue decreased $1.2 billion or 6%, primarily due to the impact of a net revenue deferral related to Windows 10 of $1.6 billion and an unfavorable foreign currency impact of approximately $838 million or 4%,” Microsoft’s 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) stated.

      The $1.6 billion in Windows 10 revenue during the March quarter didn’t actually vanish: It was instead deferred and will hit the bottom line over the next two to four years.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 16.08 Officially Released for the KDE Plasma 5.7 Desktop

        Today, August 18, 2016, KDE has had the great pleasure of announcing the availability of the final release of KDE Applications 16.08, the latest stable and most advanced software suite for the KDE Plasma 5.7 desktop environment.

      • KDE Applications 16.08 Released, Canonical Becomes A Patron
      • Canonical Becomes a Patron of KDE e.V.

        KDE and Canonical’s Ubuntu have collaborated for years. Today we celebrate the extension of this collaboration with the addition of Canonical to the KDE Patrons family, as part of the corporate membership program.

      • Canonical Is Now a Patron of KDE, as Part of the Corporate Membership Program

        Immediately after releasing KDE Applications 16.08, KDE was proud to announce that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, one of the world’s most popular GNU/Linux distributions, has become a patron of KDE e.V..

        KDE e.V. is the non-profit organization that represents the KDE Community and produces the modern and widely-used KDE Plasma desktop environment, along with the KDE Applications and KDE Frameworks suits of KDE software and libraries. KDE is known to have worked with Canonical’s Ubuntu for many years, and they’re happy that Canonical decided to extend this collaboration and join the KDE Patrons family, as part of the corporate membership program.

      • Plasma 5 is coming

        The KDE edition of Linux Mint 18 just passed QA and should be available as BETA this weekend.

      • Plasma Release Schedule Updated
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Confessions of a command line geek: why I don’t use GNOME but everyone else should

        Despite what tablet- and phone-loving pundits say, the laptop is here to stay. When a user wants to watch a movie on a train, they reach for the tablet first. But if they want to do actual, real work, they still prefer the laptop.

        Meanwhile, software freedom should always be for everyone, not just technical users and software developers. The GNOME project was one of the first in this history of Free Software to realize this, and seek to create a free software desktop that truly allowed everyone to enjoy the software freedom that those of us had already happily found with Bash and Emacs (or vi :) years before.

        This keynote will discuss why GNOME remains best poised to deliver software freedom to everyone, how GNOME continues to be the best welcome-mat for those who want software freedom, and why GNOME remains absolutely essential to the advancement of software freedom for decades to come.

      • GUADEC/2

        Once again, GUADEC has come and gone.

        Once again, it was impeccably organized by so many wonderful volunteers.

        Once again, I feel my batteries recharged.

        Once again, I’ve had so many productive conversations.

        Once again, I’ve had many chances to laugh.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Forget desktop Linux, build your own $40 Android PC

      I had originally planned to slap some desktop Linux on the Pine 64, but instead I’m sticking with Android. Here’s why:

      The choice of operating system, outside of political ideology, very much depends on what you are going to do on a system. I am going to use this machine as an entertainment hub, to watch movies, listen to music and do some casual gaming. I’m also going to use it for writing work, and maybe for some light image editing. That’s pretty much it. I may install this PC in my kids’ room so they can use it.

    • Open Source RTOS for IoT Gains Support from Lenovo

      To provide an open source solution that complements real-time Linux but keeps critical concerns like security and modularity top-of-mind, we created the Zephyr Project. Zephyr Project is a small, scalable, RTOS designed specifically for small-footprint IoT devices. It is also embedded with development tools and has a modular design so that developers can customize its capabilities and create IoT solutions that meet the needs of any device, regardless of architecture. This enables easier connectivity to the cloud as well as other IoT devices.

    • What I Wish I’d Known When I Was an Embedded Linux Newbie

      Here are some tips compiled from our seasoned engineers on what they wish they’d known about embedded Linux back when they were “newbs”. Newcomers and seasoned veterans alike should get some good nuggets of information and possibly a fun perspective looking back at our own humble beginnings. We’ll try not to overwhelm you as we make our way through the list. We’re not here to rewrite the books, but we do want to provide a personal perspective. If you’re in the camp of people who’ve been using desktop Linux, just be aware that embedded Linux is a different animal, especially when it comes to space constraints, different CPU architecture (ARM), resilience to sudden power outages and inability to install any mainline Linux kernel or distribution you please. Or, maybe you’re in the microprocessor camp moving toward a more generalized and capable embedded Linux system. Either way, we’ll assume you have at least some knowledge of Linux as we walk through this guide.

    • Open source, DAQ-enabled hacking platform feels its inner Arduino

      Agilo’s open source, Arduino Mega compatible “Evive” IoT prototyping and DAQ platform offers a 1.8-inch display, breadboard, analog controls, and more.

      Agilo Technologies, a startup formed by students at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), is pitching its flagship Evive prototyping product on Indiegogo. The company has achieved only 39 percent of its $30,000 flexible funding goal, with less than a week remaining, but it is committed to manufacturing the product and fulfilling orders. The company has already lined up other funding, as well as manufacturing and component suppliers, according to an email from CEO and co-founder Dhrupal R Shah.

    • Open source COM and carriers become 3D-printable computers

      Rhombus Tech’s Allwinner A20 based, “fully libre” EOMA68 COM and carrier boards can be installed in 3D printed mini-PC or laptop cases.

      For the past five years, UK-based Rhombus Tech, led by developer Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton, has been developing a fully open source, removable computer-on-module (COM) in a standardized format known as “EOMA68.” Rhombus has now gone to CrowdSupply to help fund an “EOMA68-A20” module based on Allwinner’s A20 SoC, as well as a mini-PC and a 15.6-inch laptop built around the COM.

    • The top 10 IoT application areas – based on real IoT projects

      As part of a larger effort to track the IoT ecosystem, we set out, mining hundreds of homepages, and managed to assemble and verify 640 actual enterprise IoT projects (Note: We did not include any consumer IoT projects such as wearable devices or hobby projects).

    • This tiny $5 computer is giving the Raspberry Pi a run for its money

      When it comes simple homebrew computers, the Raspberry Pi has been king of the mountain for a long time. The ruler might have some new competition, however, if the wild Kickstarter success of Onion’s Omega2 is any indication.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Why Google is building a new operating system

          Google is building a new operating system because it wants to move away from Android, a system that, while enabling it to gain market leadership, has given it a fair share of legal and other headaches over the eight years since it first arrived in the market.

        • Oracle says trial wasn’t fair, it should have known about Google Play for Chrome

          Oracle lawyers argued in federal court today that their copyright trial loss against Google should be thrown out because they were denied key evidence in discovery.

          Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that the launch of Google Play on Chrome OS, which happened in the middle of the trial, showed that Google was trying to break into the market for Java SE on desktops. In her view, that move dramatically changes the amount of market harm that Oracle experienced, and the evidence should have been shared with the jury.

          “This is a game-changer,” Hurst told US District Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the trial. “The whole foundation for their case is gone. [Android] isn’t ‘transformative’; it’s on desktops and laptops.”

          Google argued that its use of Java APIs was “fair use” for several reasons, including the fact that Android, which was built for smartphones, didn’t compete with Java SE, which is used on desktops and laptops. During the post-trial hearing today, Hurst argued that it’s clear that Google intends to use Android smartphones as a “leading wedge” and has plans to “suck in the entire Java SE market.”

        • Google’s Russian Android Antitrust Appeal Just Failed
        • Gartner: Android’s smartphone marketshare hit 86.2% in Q2

          What growth there is left in the smartphone market continues to center on emerging markets where consumers are upgrading from feature phones.

          And that ongoing transition is helping boost Android’s global marketshare, which Gartner pegs at 86.2 per cent in Q2 in its latest mobile market figures.

          But the analyst says Android is not just winning buyers at the mid- to lower-end smartphone segments in emerging markets — with sales of premium smartphones powered by Android up 6.5 per cent in Q2 too.

        • Honor 8 is a high-end Android phone at a mid-range price

          Chinese device maker Huawei unveiled the new Honor 8 smartphone Monday evening during a lavish press event at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The Honor 8 is a good-looking, 5.2-inch Android smartphone aimed at the photography-loving millennial modern marketers droll over. Both sides are made of glass, surrounded by a metal bezel. And the screen takes up almost the entire front of the device, so it offers a lot of real estate.

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Navajo, the EPA, and the Accident That Turned a River Orange

      Leaders with the Navajo Nation said they will file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for its role in a large mine spill in 2015, which contaminated a major river with 3 million gallons of toxic acid and metals.

      The Navajo Nation joins the state of New Mexico, which filed a suit against the EPA for allegedly causing the spill, known as the Gold King Mine Spill, and against the state of Colorado for not doing more to prevent it. The spill is still under criminal investigation, but a federal report released in April found the EPA at fault. The agency had drilled in the area to install drainage pipes below the Gold King Mine because small amounts of toxic water were flowing into the Animas River.

      In August 2015, while workers contracted by the EPA tried to drain some of the toxic water, a massive blowout sent a mix of arsenic, zinc, lead, and mercury into the river, which turned the waters orange and flowed downstream, depositing more than 888,000 pounds of toxic metals in the water.

    • The Queen and David Attenborough urged to cut ties with charity linked to Finland mining plans

      Environmentalists and indigenous reindeer herders are calling on the Queen, Sir David Attenborough and Stephen Fry to disassociate themselves from a charity contracted to help a mining operation in a national park in Finland.

      Fauna and Flora International (FFI), whose patron is the Queen, has been hired by the British-listed mining company Anglo American to assess the environmental value of Viiankiaapa, a stunning 65 sq km (25 sq mile) habitat for 21 endangered bird species in the Arctic circle.

      The research includes an assessment of whether equivalent land could be offered as “compensation” for wetlands damaged by the extraction of massive deposits of platinum, nickel, copper and gold.

      But Jukka Kaaretkoski, a reindeer herder of Sami ancestry from nearby Kersilö, told the Guardian that the drilling would take a heavy environmental toll and be a “terminal” blow for local herders whose animals graze there.

      “Mines cause traffic, noise, grit, pollution and contamination of water supplies,” he said. “Many young reindeer herders are in danger of losing their future livelihoods because of it. We cannot even plan for the future because of the fear and insecurity. ”

      Riikka Karppinen, a Green party councillor in the local Sodankylä municipality, added: “I think this is colonialism, because the big mining company has come here from another country and we are in too weak a position to protect our homeland.”

      About 90 bird species live in Viiankiaapa – including pygmy owls to broad-billed sandpipers – many nesting amid the bogs and moors that host a variety of endangered plant species.

    • As promised, Aetna is pulling out of Obamacare after DOJ blocked its merger

      Aetna announced Monday that due to grave financial losses, it will dramatically slash its participation in public insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, Aetna will only offer insurance policies in 242 counties scattered across four states—that’s a nearly 70-percent decrease from its 2016 offerings in 778 counties across 15 states.

      The deep cuts have largely been seen as a blow to the sustainability of the healthcare law, which has seen other big insurers also pull out, namely UnitedHealth group and Humana. But the explanation that Aetna was forced to scale back due to heavy profit cuts doesn’t square with previous statements by the company.

      In April, Mark Bertolini, the chairman and chief executive of Aetna, told investors that the insurance giant anticipated losses and could weather them, even calling participation in the marketplaces during the rocky first years “a good investment.” And in a July 5 letter (PDF) to the Department of Justice, obtained by the Huffington Post by a Freedom of Information Act request, Bertolini explicitly threatened that Aetna would back out of the marketplace if the department tried to block its planned $37 billion merger with Humana.

      “Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint …. [I]nstead of expanding to 20 states next year, we would reduce our presence to no more than 10 states…” Bertolini wrote.

    • Congress must move beyond partisan politics and act on Zika

      For the past few months I’ve observed with great concern the slow progression of a devastating pandemic. I had hoped that the whole nation would focus its attention on the health crisis as well, but it’s been a distracting year so far. The Zika virus has slowly closed in on American shores. The Center for Disease Control announced that as of last week, 7,350 cases have been reported in the United States and on Puerto Rico.

      I first paid attention to this crisis because of a December 2015 New York Times article about how women were delivering babies in Brazil with microcephaly due to the virus. I approached it analytically – I presumed it was the result of the impact of climate change on the transmission of viruses. Then, when the Zika virus made landfall in Puerto Rico, where I grew up, I became more concerned because of the terrible financial crisis the island was suffering. As it reached stateside and blew through Miami, where I went to graduate school, my concerns have become ever more personal, especially because we are going through a particularly hot and humid summer.

  • Security

    • The pros and cons of open source cyber security

      Open source brings many advantages to enterprises, such as pricing. However, in increasingly security-conscious enterprises it can be unclear how open source software does on cyber security.

      CBR looks at some of the major security pros and cons.

    • CVE-2016-5696 and its effects on Tor

      This vulnerability is quite serious, but it doesn’t affect the Tor network any more than it affects the rest of the internet. In particular, the Tor-specific attacks mentioned in the paper will not work as described.

    • Secure Boot Failure, Response, and Mitigation

      Last week, it became public that there is an attack against Secure Boot, utilizing one of Microsoft’s utilities to install a set of security policies which effectively disables bootloader verification.

    • Static Code Analyzer Reportedly Finds 10,000 Open Source Bugs

      A Russian company behind the PVS-Studio static code analyzer claims to have used the tool to discover more than 10,000 bugs in various open source projects, including well-known offerings such as the Firefox Web browser and the Linux kernel.

    • Linux.Lady the Crypto-Currency Mining Trojan Discovered

      Organizations reliant on Redis NoSQL a most sought after database require re-checking their configurations, security researchers advise. That’s because the Linux.Lady crypto-currency Trojan, which mines digital money, has been discovered as it piggybacks on insufficient out-of-the-box security.

      It is possible that a maximum of 30K Redis servers are susceptible to attack mainly since inadvertent system admins gave them an Internet connection devoid of constructing a password for them in addition to not having Redis secured by default.

    • DDoS protection in the cloud

      OpenFlow and other software-defined networking controllers can discover and combat DDoS attacks, even from within your own network.

      Attacks based on the distributed denial of service (DDoS) model are, unfortunately, common practice, often used to extort protection money or sweep unwanted services off the web. Currently, such attacks can reach bandwidths of 300GBps or more. Admins usually defend themselves by securing the external borders of their own networks and listening for unusual traffic signatures on the gateways, but sometimes they fight attacks even farther outside the network – on the Internet provider’s site – by diverting or blocking the attack before it overloads the line and paralyzes the victim’s services.

      In the case of cloud solutions and traditional hosting providers, the attackers and their victims often reside on the same network. Thanks to virtualization, they could even share the same computer core. In this article, I show you how to identify such scenarios and fight them off with software-defined networking (SDN) technologies.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Republicans, Democrats alike still level threats at Iran

      The 2015 Iran nuclear deal should have curbed the longstanding bellicose rhetoric coming from Republican and Democratic political leaders toward the Muslim country. Signed by Iran and six other nations (including the United States) and ratified by the United Nations Security Council, the comprehensive agreement contains strict provisions limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities to well below the threshold necessary to develop atomic weapons and subjects Iran to the most rigorous inspection regime in history. The result has been dramatically reduced regional tensions and the elimination of any potential threat to U.S. national security.

      Despite this, the Republican and Democratic platforms adopted at their respective conventions last month are both more belligerent toward Iran than they were four years ago.

      The Republican platform claims that the U.N.-sponsored and -endorsed treaty was nothing more than “a personal agreement between the President and his negotiating partners and non-binding on the next president.” Despite making it technologically impossible to weaponize Iran’s fissionable material, the platform instead claims that the agreement has somehow enabled Iran to continue to “develop a nuclear weapon.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Is Julian Assange Finally on the Path to Freedom?

      For the last four years Julian Assange has been trapped in an embassy surrounded by police. The New York Times Editorial Board yesterday called for focus on “the serious legal, ethical and security issues” at stake in the case against Assange. We agree.

      Like the underground author that gives Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle its name, Assange is a writer who disseminates work providing critical insight into readers’ political reality and their collective history. Powerful actors go to great efforts to silence him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Looming Extinction of Humankind, Explained

      For most people, driving with a seat belt tightly strapped around their bodies is a smart habit. Not only is racing down the highway without it illegal—“click it or ticket,” as the slogan goes—but seat belts also “reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.” Yet as we’ve previously estimated, your chances of dying in a car crash are at least 9.5 times lower than dying in a human extinction event.

      If this sounds incredible—and admittedly, it does—it’s because the human mind is susceptible to cognitive biases that distort our understanding of reality. Consider the fact that you’re more likely to be killed by a meteorite than a lightning bolt, and your chances of being struck by lightning are about four times greater than dying in a terrorist attack. In other words, you should be more worried about meteorites than the Islamic State or al-Qaeda (at least for now).

      The calculation above is based on an assumption made by the influential “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change,” a report prepared for the UK government that describes climate change as “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen.” In making its case that climate change should be a top priority, the Stern Review stipulates a 0.1 percent annual probability of human extinction.

    • Why Voters Should Be Concerned About Clinton’s Environmental Promises

      Last week, Hillary Clinton issued her plan for economic reform in a speech aimed at swinging working class voters and discrediting Donald Trump’s bombastic promises to lead an “energy revolution.”

      Speaking at Warren, Michigan’s Futuramic Tool & Engineering factory, Clinton painted a different picture of America’s economic engine—instead of evoking a decaying coal industry, the Democratic presidential hopeful propped her platform on the enduring growth of engineering and technology.

      “Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and create millions of jobs and businesses. It’s probably going to be either China, Germany, or America. I want it to be us! We invent the technology, we should make it and use it and export it, which will help to grow our economy.”

      Clinton’s vows to bolster clean energy can be taken as a panacea to Trump’s fossil fuel fanaticism, but how many of her environmental affirmations are verified by her own political record? When it comes to issues like climate change and renewable energy, Clinton has trumpeted her dedication to support and enact new legislation. But other parts of her legacy, such as her relationship to fracking and the oil lobby, are decidedly less partisan.

    • Zephyr Teachout Challenges Billionaire Right-Wing Donors to Debate

      New York congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout is throwing down the gauntlet to right-wing money men who want to buy elections in secret.

      Teachout, who won the Democratic primary for New York’s 19th district in June, this week challenged hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer and Robert Mercer to a debate in light of their contributions to a super PAC that supports her Republican opponent, John Faso.

      “The voters deserve to hear directly from the billionaires backing John Faso about what they expect to get from him in Congress,” Teachout said. “When someone writes a $500,000 check they don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart. These are people probably trying to buy power, and voters should know who they are and what they stand for.”

      “I’m challenging Paul Singer and Robert Mercer to put your mouth where your money is and debate me directly, not through your mouthpiece,” Teachout said.

    • Are We Feeling Collective Grief Over Climate Change?

      In 1977, I was in middle school in Michigan, and a science teacher shared a tidbit off-curriculum. Some scientists had postulated that as a result of “pollution,” heat-trapping gasses might one day lead to a warming planet. Dubbed “the greenhouse effect,” the image was clear in my 12-year old mind: people enclosed in a glass structure, heating up like tomatoes coaxed to ripen. It was an interesting concept, but something in the very, very distant future.

    • Clashes Halt Work on North Dakota Pipeline

      Work on a 1,154-mile pipeline that would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois was halted this week near the Missouri River, amid growing confrontations between members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and police guarding a construction site.

    • BP oil spill in Great Australian Bight would be catastrophic, modelling shows

      An oil spill from BP’s planned drilling in the Great Australian Bight could affect most of Australia’s southern coastline, shutting down fisheries and threatening wildlife including whales, seabirds and sea lions, new modelling has shown.

  • Finance

    • Uber: “We’ll support drivers” [Ed: Uber is very harmful]

      The head of Uber Finland says the company will support its drivers who run afoul of the law. Uber drivers in Helsinki now potentially face criminal charges if police catch them working for the smartphone-based chauffeur service.

    • Brexit latest: Airports start exchanging less than one Euro for each Pound Sterling

      Certain London airport bureaux de change are now returning less than €1 for each pound offered, underlining how the slide in the value of the sterling since the 23 June Brexit referedum vote is already hitting holidaymakers in the pocket.

      MoneyCorp at Stansted this week offered a rate of €0.9915 and ICE at Luton offered €0.990, according to Caxton FX.

    • Victory For Domestic Workers in Illinois

      The law, which is the result of a five-year campaign by the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Coalition, guarantees nannies, housecleaners, homecare workers and other domestic workers a minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, and one day of rest for every seven days for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week.

      New York became the first state to pass such a bill in 2010. Since then Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Hawaii and Connecticut have followed suit. Illinois now becomes the seventh state to make basic workplace protections for domestic workers a matter of law. The new law amends four existing laws to include domestic workers.

      [...]

      Now, domestic workers in Illinois will no longer have to face the conditions Melendez faced. They will have a way to fight back, and the state will stand with them. It’s a level of basic protection that domestic workers nationwide should have.

    • New Jersey Legislators Move to Reform Aggressive Student Loan Program

      New Jersey lawmakers have announced a series of measures addressing student debt issues this week, including one bill aimed at reforming the state’s controversial student loan program.

      The measure would require the state agency that administers the loan program to offer income-driven repayment for its struggling borrowers, bringing the loans closer in line with the federal government’s loan program.

      Last month, ProPublica and the New York Times published an investigation into the program, which found that its loans come with onerous terms that can easily lead borrowers to financial ruin.

      Repayment of the state’s loans cannot be based on income and borrowers who face unemployment or economic hardships are given few reprieves. One mother, who co-signed her son’s loans, is still paying off his debt even though he was murdered in January 2015.

    • PayPal Stops A Payment Just Because The Payee’s Memo Included The Word ‘Cuba’

      Earlier this year, we discussed how a Treasury Department watchlist under the purview of the Office of Foreign Assets Control was mucking up all kinds of legitimate business because some partakers in said business had scary sounding (read: Islamic) names. Everyone began referring to this watchlist as a “terrorist watchlist”, as most of the stories concerned people, including American citizens, who either have names that are close to the names of terrorist suspects worldwide or because certain banks can’t tell when someone is writing the name of their dog in the memo section, mistaking that name for the name of an Islamic terror group, because why not?

      But as it turns out, this hilariously frustrating example of bureaucratic ineptitude isn’t limited to global terrorism. It also apparently applies to decades old embargo rivalries, too. Mark Frauenfelder details a wonderful story about how his wife, a book editor, used PayPal to pay for a book review about Cuba, only to have the payment suspended and the notices from PayPal begin to fly.

    • With Republicans Backing Away From TPP, Does It Still Have Any Chance?

      We’ve pointed out before how topsy turvy things have become with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement lately, and it seems to be getting even more weird, but not for any good reason. As we’ve pointed out dozens of times now, actual free trade is a good thing for the world — but the TPP agreement has very, very little to do with free trade. There are certainly some good things in the TPP when it comes to trade, including some stuff on helping protect the free flow of information on the internet, but it is significantly outweighed by numerous problems with the agreement that seem to have little to do with actual free trade and plenty to do with certain industries putting in place protectionist/mercantilist programs that are, in many ways, the opposite of free trade. The two areas that we’ve discussed at great length are the intellectual property section, which will force countries to ratchet up their laws (which runs against free trade) and the problematic corporate sovereignty provisions, that allow foreign companies to effectively block regulations that may make perfect sense for certain countries.

      Historically, the way political support for trade deals in the US works breaks down as follows: Republicans support the deals strongly, with a simplistic mantra of “free trade is good, any free trade agreement must be good.” They don’t care much about the details (other than if a big company in their region wants some protectionist nugget in the agreement). Meanwhile, the majority of Democrats oppose the agreements, but again, often for simplistic and protectionist reasons. But, there are always a few “moderate” Democrats (i.e., Democrats who recognize free trade is actually a good thing overall) who support free trade and that’s enough to get the deals passed. That’s mostly how the TPP situation played out for the past few years.

      Then the insanity of the 2016 Presidential election hit and everything went sideways.

      On the Republican side, you’ve got Donald Trump, who is opposed to the TPP, but mainly because he doesn’t understand international trade at all, and ridiculously seems to believe that everything is a zero sum game, and any trade agreement that helps other countries means we’re “losing.” The TPP is bad, but not for the reasons Trump thinks. And then you have Hillary Clinton, who had always been in the Democratic clump that supported free trade agreements, and who has always supported the TPP, despite now pretending not to. That’s because Bernie Sanders was very much against it (also for mostly the wrong reasons!) and feeling pressure from the success of his campaign, she felt the need to come out against the TPP to avoid losing to Bernie.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jill Stein: I will have trouble sleeping at night if either Trump or Clinton is elected

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said Wednesday she doesn’t believe either mainstream candidate is fit for the White House, brushing aside criticism that her bid could help elect Donald Trump.

      “I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected. I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected. And as despicable as Donald Trump’s words are, I find Hillary Clinton’s actions and track record is very troubling,” said Stein, sitting alongside her running mate Ajamu Baraka at CNN’s Green Party town hall event.

      The third-party candidate blasted the logic that voters should discount her candidacy, and citing her opposition to money in politics, Stein said that her party stood alone on the national scene totally independent of corporate influence.

    • Trump Presents Menacing Prospect, But We Cannot Forget What’s Already Happening

      Stories like those Farea encountered in his attempts to provide a voice to the victims of America’s drone operations have continued to emerge. In February of 2015, Mohammed Tuaiman, a 13-year-old Yemeni, was killed in a drone strike — the same way his father and teenage brother were killed years earlier.

    • How a Question’s Phrasing Hobbles Third Parties

      By asking Americans who they expect to vote for rather than who they want to be President, pollsters skew the numbers in favor of major-party candidates and help exclude third-party challengers from crucial debates, notes Sam Husseini.

    • Make America Russian Again (Video)

      Animator Mark Fiore offers his take on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin in his latest clip. Watch the animation and read Fiore’s thoughts on the subject below.

    • Trump says he’ll be known as ‘Mr Brexit’ despite poor poll showing – politics live
    • As Clinton woos Republicans, Sanders’ faithfuls fear they will be forgotten

      On a quiet, tree-lined street in this town with a population of just over 1,000, a lone yard sign bearing the name of Bernie Sanders serves as a faint reminder of the Vermont senator’s grassroots movement.

      It is the home of Missey Bower, a special education professional, who cast her vote for Sanders in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary and helped the senator carry the working-class Wyoming County in which her modest, one-storey home sits across from a public library.

      But it was Hillary Clinton who claimed victory in the state and ultimately the contest for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. And Bower is precisely the kind of voter Clinton must still persuade in her favor with 81 days remaining until election day.

    • Trump has made it clear exactly who should be barred from the US: himself

      In his major policy speech on foreign policy delivered yesterday in the battleground state of Ohio, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finally made it clear who exactly should be barred from the United States: himself.

      The candidate plainly stated that “those who do not believe in our constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country”. Since Trump, who is known to have expressed bigoted and hateful opinions about Mexicans and Muslims, and who has repeatedly demonstrated a tenuous grasp of the constitution, already resides in the United States, I assume he will opt for Mitt Romney-style self-deportation.

    • For real progressives, Jill Stein is now the only choice

      The stakes of Wednesday night’s CNN Green party town hall were high – third-party candidates are rarely allowed entry into the corporate media universe, which thrives on the false narrative that only two parties exist here in the United States.

      This was perhaps the only opportunity the presidential candidate I have endorsed – Jill Stein – and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, to have the ear of a large portion of the mainstream American electorate. There was little room for error.

      They spent little time directly criticizing Donald Trump. This was a wise move, since virtually no one among Stein’s potential base of support is considering Trump as a viable option. Instead, she focused on Hillary Clinton.

      At a moment where the Clinton campaign is still attempting to secure the support of frustrated Bernie Sanders primary voters, Stein demonstrated that Clinton’s brand of liberalism does not represent the tone or spirit of the Sanders campaign. By highlighting Clinton’s pro-corporate politics and active role in hawkish foreign policy, Stein raised considerable doubt about Clinton’s leftist bona fides.

    • Class Action Lawsuit Against Debbie Wasserman Schultz Moves Forward

      In June, the hacker Guccifer 2.0 released internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) documents proving the DNC treated Hillary Clinton as their nominee before the primaries even began. Not long after these revelations came to light, the law firm Beck & Lee filed a class action lawsuit against now-former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters.

      The suit includes six claims: fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, monetary restitution for donors of Sanders, the DNC breaking its own fiduciary duties, and negligence for failing to protect sensitive donor information that was hacked. Beck & Lee noted the lawsuit was a way to give a voice to Sanders supporters who were silenced by the rigging of the primaries for Clinton. Attorneys Jared Beck, a Harvard Law graduate, and Elizabeth Beck, a Yale Law School graduate, have previously filed successful lawsuits against Yelp, Unilever, Korea Airlines, and fraudulent real estate investors.

      The July WikiLeaks release provided further evidence that the DNC actively worked against Sanders, yet the Vermont senator’s supporters have received no recompense. The damage control used to divert from the content of these emails portrayed criticism of Clinton as a Russian conspiracy. While the mainstream media has devolved into an apparatus to funnel messaging and talking points directly from the DNC and Clinton campaign, the litigation for this class action lawsuit has been moving forward.

    • Anarchist group installs nude Donald Trump statues in US cities

      A nude statue of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump without testicles was taken down on Thursday after causing quite the stir in New York’s Union Square.

      The anarchist group INDECLINE erected the statue, titled The Emperor Has No Balls, overnight Thursday.

    • The Green Party Ticket: Obama Murdered Citizens And Terror Suspects ‘From The Sky’

      Thursday on “The Alan Colmes Show,” Alan sat down with both 2016 Green Party candidates for president and vice president, Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, about their chances to defeat the two major party candidates, as well as a challenge from Gov. Gary Johnson and Gov. Bill Weld on the Libertarian Party ticket. Dr. Stein and Ajamu also told Alan why voters shouldn’t trust Hillary Clinton, why they think the Green Party will be left out of the debates, and why they think President Obama has failed at foreign policy:

      COLMES: Where do you differ from the Democratic Party? DR. STEIN: We overlap a lot in terms of what Hillary says, but it’s what Hillary does is the question. Hillary’s track record is for favoring the banks and hurting everyday people like destroying the social safety net, the aid to families with dependent children, Hillary Clinton led the charge, they led the charge for NAFTA which sent our jobs overseas, the led the charge for Wall Street deregulation that led the way to the meltdown of nine million jobs and five million homes.

    • Meet Ajamu Baraka: Green VP Candidate Aims to Continue the Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois & Malcolm X

      The Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka is a longtime human rights activist. He is the founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and coordinator of the U.S.-based Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs. For years, Baraka has led efforts by the U.S. Human Rights Network to challenge police brutality and racism in the United States by bringing these issues to the United Nations.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • When algorithms become politics

      Are Facebook, Google, and Twitter politically biased? The jury seems to be out on that one. But one thing is clear – Facebooks algorithms do have political consequences.

      It’s very simple: If enough people flag a Facebook post as offensive, it will automatically disappear. If this happens frequently, a user or a group can be banned from the platform – sometimes forever.

    • Peter Thiel’s Self-Serving New York Times Column

      Peter Thiel has no regrets about pouring millions of dollars of his own money into the legal fight that bankrupted Gawker Media. “I am proud to have contributed financial support,” Thiel wrote in The New York Times on Monday, “… and I would gladly support someone else in the same position.”

      Thiel says he spent about $10 million to help Terry Bollea—the wrestler better known as Hulk Hogan—sue Gawker for having published, without his consent, a video that showed him having sex with his then-friend’s wife. Hogan ultimately won his case. Gawker, facing a $140 million judgment, filed for bankruptcy.

      Many have noted that there are few characters to root for in this saga. Gawker’s decision to publish the Hogan tape is questionable at best, regardless of whether you consider Hogan to be a public figure. The media company is known for its brashness, and has made several widely-condemned editorial decisions in its 14-year history. Thiel references these in his column for the Times, and it’s hard to argue that some of what Gawker has done—like outing Thiel, who is gay—is anything but despicable. But Thiel’s involvement in the Gawker fight is about much, much more than a personal vendetta. (Perhaps I should note here that I wrote a regular column about internet hoaxes for Gawker in 2014, and that the editors I worked with were consistently sensitive, smart, and receptive to even minor concerns about tone and fairness.)

    • In Malaysia, Humor Is No Laughing Matter

      His office has been raided, his employees arrested and his books banned. His last publisher worked at night, unwilling to take a sample of his previous work, lest it be discovered. Yet political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known to most as Zunar, refuses to put down his pens, providing cartoon commentary on the Malaysian government.

      Zunar has been charged with nine counts of Malaysia’s Sedition Act for social media posts criticizing the Federal Court’s decision to uphold the sodomy conviction of Anwar Ibrahim, the ruling party’s main political rival. Yet, despite facing a possible 43 years of jail time, the award-winning cartoonist continues to encourage what he says is the safest and most-powerful form of protest: laughter. “There’s no law to stop you from laughing,” points out the cartoonist during an interview in his office in the Malaysian capital.

      The cover of his latest book portrays Prime Minister Najib Razak as a swashbuckling pirate. The prime minister is shown wielding a bag of 2.6 billion Malaysian ringgit, representing the $731 million the U.S. Justice Department alleges he received illicitly from the public investment fund he oversees.

    • Thought police

      Here is the full interview I did recently for RT about the announcement of a new section of the UK Metropolitan Police dedicated to hunting down “internet trolls”.

    • ‘Censorship’ and editing

      And so, just to get it on the record, let us state categorically that the Compass never will refuse to publish a reader’s submission simply because it does not accord with our own views. As we say in the newspaper business, “Period. Full stop.”

    • Steven Tyler Responds to Disney Ride Censorship

      Less than a day after word got out that a hand gesture made by Steven Tyler had been digitally removed from a ride at Walt Disney World, the Aerosmith singer has responded. Today, he posted two answers to the theme park on social media.

      “Well now I am in ‘shock,’ he wrote on Facebook, while wearing an NSFW hat. “You know I would own up to this doozie. Way to give me the finger now Walt Disney World…17 years later…See you next week…Here’s to the greatest ride at Disney.”

    • Remains of the Day: Twitter’s New Filter Aims to Remove Trolls From Your Notifications
    • Twitter Suspends Hundreds Of Thousands Of Terrorist Accounts, Gives Everyone Its ‘Quality Filter’

      As for the removal of terrorist accounts, this still feels kind of pointless. Twitter talks about how it’s getting faster at removing these accounts, and they’re not able to build up many followers before they’re shut down again, making Twitter a less useful platform for terrorist or terrorist supporters to use. But, again, if we think about Twitter as a protocol like email or a system like the telephone, this feels… weird. No one’s clamoring for “we must stop ISIS from making phone calls.” Besides, the intelligence community has said, repeatedly, that they get good intel from watching ISIS’ social media activity. Shutting down their accounts may seem like a good thing (no one wants ISIS using their technology…), but what if it’s actually making it more difficult for the intelligence community to track them?

    • Instagram Bans Gun Company after Owner Criticizes Facebook

      When Facebook came under fire last week for banning various pro-Second Amendment pages without explanation, it appears the social-media giant may have sought retribution.

      Last week, the owner of a firearms-parts company called “Tactical Sh*t” logged onto Facebook to discover his company’s page had been taken down without explanation. After he spoke with others in the gun industry, T. J. Kirgin discovered that multiple other pro-Second Amendment pages had also been mysteriously banned.

      Immediately, Kirgin spoke out against what he alleged to be Facebook’s censorship, and, within 36 hours, his company’s page was restored. Since that time, Kirgin has continued to make media appearances telling his side of the story. But now, he believes that decision has cost him. As soon as he came off the air yesterday, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, banned Tactical Sh*t, taking away a stream that accounts for 20 percent of Kirgin’s total revenue.

    • St. Charles gear, gun parts store riled by Instagram takedown
    • Sensitivity is bordering on censorship

      On Monday, Ellen DeGeneres, a comedian and television show host, posted a doctored photo on social media of her riding on the back of the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt.

      “This is how I’m running errands now”, the message, posted on Twitter by DeGeneres, stated.

      While many found this funny, some immediately called her racist and responded to her Tweet with vows that they would boycott her show. Really? Obviously I’m not a black man, and I’m quite aware of our nation’s terrible history in terms of slavery and the atrocities committed against black people, but at some point, we have to move beyond past mistakes and quit looking for excuses to stereotype each other.

    • U.S. slams crackdown, arrests of activists in Azerbaijan
    • Azerbaijan: Renewed human rights crackdown ahead of referendum
    • Indian Censorship Will Be Dead In 100 Days
    • Top 10 instances of video game censorship
    • Amos Yee’s case sent back for trial to continue
    • Teenage blogger Amos Yee back on trial on eight charges
    • Accused teen blogger Amos Yee wants more time to prepare questions for own defence
    • Youth who restrained teen blogger charged
    • Youth charged with using criminal force on Amos Yee at Jurong Point
    • Man charged with using criminal force on Amos Yee at Jurong Point
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Canadian Law Enforcement Admit — And Then Deny — They Own A Stingray Device

      Combined with the previous statement, it appears as though Edmonton PD superintendent Terry Rocchio is apologizing for his own words, which certainly gives the appearance of being misinformation. Further statements released by the Edmonton PD claim the department does not own a Stingray but, again, this is at odds with the unexpectedly straightforward statement given to Motherboard in response to its original query.

      Now, it could be that Edmonton law enforcement did the same thing Vancouver’s did and borrowed it from the nearest RCMP bug shop. Or it could be that this is just the Canadian version of playing along with non-disclosure agreements. Most agencies contacted by Motherboard refused to comment. Others refused to confirm or deny. And the one agency that DID say it had a Stingray now says it doesn’t.

      Given the opacity surrounding local law enforcement use/ownership of these devices, it’s probably safe to say they’ve been deployed without warrants and hidden from judges, defendants, and — quite possibly — local legislators. Months or years from now, Motherboard may have a more complete answer, but for now, this appears to be Canadian law enforcement scrambling to stave off some inevitable discoveries.

    • Think Tank Argues That Giving Up Privacy Is Good For The Poor

      With ISPs like AT&T now charging broadband customers a steep premium just to protect their own privacy, the FCC has begun looking at some relatively basic new privacy protections for broadband. This has, as you might expect, resulted in a notable bump in histrionics from the industry. Comcast, for example, quickly tried to inform the FCC that charging users a surcharge for privacy was ok because it would somehow magically lower broadband prices, and banning them from this kind of behavior would do a tremendous disservice to the internet at large.

      Anybody even marginally aware of the lack of competition in broadband understands this is just another attempt to take advantage of captive customers in a broken market. But the broadband industry quickly doubled down, using the usual assortment of payrolled think tanks to pollute the discourse pool. The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), for example, was quick to try and claim that charging all broadband users steep premiums for privacy would generate huge benefits for the entire “internet ecosystem,” and that anybody who couldn’t see the genius of such a practice was an “absolutist.”

    • After the NSA hack: Cybersecurity in an even more vulnerable world

      It is looking increasingly likely that computer hackers have in fact successfully attacked what had been the pinnacle of cybersecurity – the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). A few days ago, reports began emerging of claims by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers that it had breached the network of, and accessed critical digital content from, computers used by the Equation Group. This attracted more than the usual amount of attention because the Equation Group is widely believed to be a spying element of the NSA.

    • Here’s why the NSA won’t release a ‘smoking gun’ implicating Russia in these major hacks

      Was Russia behind the massive hack of the Democratic National Committee, or the latest breach of what appears to be the NSA’s elite hacking unit?

      That’s quite possible, but the US National Security Agency is probably not going confirm that — even as former employees proclaim that it can do so, and top US officials say that there is “little doubt” Moscow is involved.

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said on Twitter that “evidence that could publicly attribute responsibility for the DNC hack certainly exists at NSA” with a tool known as XKeyscore, which he previously described as a “one stop shop” for information it collects.

    • Edward Snowden: Russia probably behind NSA leak

      The whistleblower Edward Snowden believes Russia is behind a leak of malware allegedly belonging to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

      Hackers calling themselves Shadow Brokers started an auction for the malware last week.

      The security firm Kaspersky said it believed the original files were from Equation Group, which is thought to be linked to the NSA.

      A former NSA worker Dave Aitel pointed the finger at Russian involvement.

      He said it was likely to be a diplomatic strategy, related to the blame being placed on Russia for a recently revealed hack of computers belonging to the Democratic party in the US.

    • Snowden the movie: a reporter watches the NSA super-leak come back to life

      Oliver Stone looks overwhelmed. It is May 2015, and we are in Munich on the penultimate day of shooting his drama about Edward Snowden. At lunch, the director seems anxious and weary, eyes heavy, shoulders stooped, energy sapped. When the idea of Snowden was proposed, he explains, he had strongly resisted. Then, slowly and reluctantly, he was drawn in. Today, he sounds as if he might regret that decision. There have been problems with finance, with finding distributors, in portraying something as dull as the cyberworld that Snowden inhabits.

      “A director has to say everything is great, things are wonderful,” he says, exasperated. “Every day on a set is a potential disaster. Every day on a film set is the hope that it is turning out well, but the truth is it is just a slog all the way through. It’s the bulldozer going through a treeline. It is not easy. It has never been easy.”

      This film, in particular, was not easy. “Every movie I have made is a challenge. But from day one, every day seems to have its obstacles, whether it is computers or the technology being arcane, difficult to understand, or the character of Snowden, who has a strong, robot, nerd quality. It is a drawback. He is not the active type.” As Stone headed back to the set, his final comment expressed his limited ambition for the movie at that time: “I don’t want to do anything that will hurt Edward Snowden.”

      Almost a year later, I meet Stone again, in London. The tiredness is gone. This is a man full of enthusiasm for life and his movie. The editing has gone well, he feels; the previous week a positive reaction had met an early preview in Idaho – despite his sense of dread.

    • Edward Snowden’s Lawyer Wonders Whether Mass Surveillance Could Harm Democracy

      If you know you’re being watched, you behave differently, right? You’re more performative or cautious, perhaps. What does that do, then, to the future of democracy if we know that mass surveillance is inevitable?

      Edward Snowden’s lawyer, Ben Wizner, is wondering the same thing. Wizner, who works for the ACLU, is the primary player in “A Very Different World,” the fourth installment in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s five-part documentary series that explores whether today’s technology helps or hurts democracy. The Huffington Post has been premiering the series all week, including a short film about social media’s impact on election rigging in Pakistan and an in-depth look at surveillance’s (in)ability to prevent terrorism.

    • Cisco confirms two of the Shadow Brokers’ ‘NSA’ vulns are real
    • Tech News! US spy agency’s data hacked!
    • Edward Snowden Has Made A Bunch Of Money While Living In Exile
    • Researchers suspect Russian Federation in Shadow Brokers hack
    • NSA blames storm for website outage

      The National Security Agency (NSA) blamed a partial shutdown of NSA.gov on a storm.

      In a tweet Wednesday, the NSA said a storm on Monday near its headquarters in Ft. Mead, Md., knocked the site offline. The outage occurred around 11 a.m. Monday when links from the NSA homepage stopped working, although the homepage itself remained visible. The entire site was back online by late Tuesday afternoon.

    • Was This NSA ‘Hack’ a Russian Plot or an Inside Job?
    • Snowden says Russia ‘probably responsible’ for NSA hack
    • Cisco, Fortinet Warn of Shadow Brokers’ Zero-Day Flaw Risks
    • Is Russia hacking the US election?

      Huge leaks of data from US organisations have been attributed by some to Russia, so has the former Soviet state launched cyberwar on the US elections?

      Hacking tools allegedly developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) were dumped online by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.

      It follows a string of recent leaks of data from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

      There are also now suspicions that the Clinton Foundation, a charitable body, may have been targeted.

    • Cisco remote flaws revealed in NSA group hack

      Networking giant Cisco has said it will release a security update to patch one of two remotely exploitable flaws in its products. Both flaws were leaked following a hack of a group strongly suspected to be an NSA front.

      The company rates this flaw, known as EPICBACON, of which it had no knowledge, as having a high security impact rating and has advised of workarounds until a fix is released.

      It has released a fix for the second flaw, known as EPICBANNA, also remotely exploitable, the risk of which it terms medium. Detailed explanations of the two flaws are on the Cisco blog.

    • Opinion: NSA hack reveals flaws in White House zero-day process

      A potentially damaging hacking tool revealed in the apparent National Security Agency breach includes a zero-day vulnerability – or previously unknown security hole – in Cisco software.

    • Experts have 2 theories for how top-secret NSA data was stolen, and they’re equally disturbing

      In the wake of an unprecedented breach of hacking tools and exploits apparently stolen from the US National Security Agency’s elite hacking unit, experts are offering two competing theories on how it happened — and they’re equally disturbing.

      Some former agency employees believe that the alleged group behind the leak, the “Shadow Brokers,” may have hacked an NSA server that had a top-secret hacker toolkit left there by mistake.

      Others believe that the Brokers may be just a smokescreen for another possibility: an agency mole.

    • How intelligence agencies undermine our computer security

      Computer security exploits are one of the more lucrative markets you’ve probably never heard of. Find a vulnerability in commonly used software, and sell it to the highest bidder. Ideally, the vulnerability is one the software designer doesn’t know about yet — called zero-day exploits — but even vulnerabilities that have been identified and patched can still be exploited — like a lot of us ordinary computer users, many governments agencies and companies don’t keep their software up-to-date or run old versions that are still vulnerable.

    • The NSA Has a New Disclosure Policy: Getting Hacked

      On Monday, when tech executives arrived in their offices, just days after a mysterious group of hackers released what they claimed were a set of NSA hacking tools, a familiar and frustrating pattern was taking shape. America’s premier signals intelligence agency had once again discovered unknown flaws in products used to secure computer networks around the globe, but instead of telling the manufacturers, the NSA pocketed those flaws, like skeleton keys that would let them open doors to others’ networks whenever and wherever they wanted.

    • Cisco patches against “NSA” bacon

      Cisco has patched its software against hacking tools called extra bacon which are believed to have been nicked from the NSA.

      Two of the cyberweapons were trained on Cisco flaws which would allow the spooks to take over crucial security software used to protect corporate and government networks.

      In a statement, Cisco said that it had immediately conducted a thorough investigation of the files released, and has identified two vulnerabilities affecting Cisco ASA devices that require customer attention.

      “On Aug. 17, 2016, we issued two Security Advisories, which deliver free software updates and workarounds where possible.”

    • Smart meters: A timeline of the UK rollout – Energy customers are cynical about the rollout – click through its history [“fails to mention they are insecure and are major privacy violations” -iophk]

      17 August 2016 The rollout of the national smart meter programme has faced yet another setback, with the launch of a new government body called the Data and Communications Company (DCC) delayed by one month.

      The DCC is supposed to be in charge of the overall infrastructure of the smart meter rollout, which intends to install smart meters in every home and business by 2020. Scroll on to slide nine for the latest.

    • Those Hacked NSA Malware Names Are Funny, But Don’t Laugh Too Hard

      What that means is that if you haven’t been hacked, you probably will be—maybe not by the NSA or its front men, but by someone. And not just you, but your company and your school and probably your church, and definitely your country.

    • Alleged NSA data dump contains powerful, rarely seen hacking tools

      A stolen cache of files that may belong to the National Security Agency contains genuine hacking tools that not only work, but show a level of sophistication rarely seen, according to security researchers.

      That includes malware that can infect a device’s firmware and persist, even if the operating system is reinstalled.

      “It’s terrifying because it demonstrates a serious level of expertise and technical ability,” said Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, an assistant professor at New York University’s school of engineering.

      He’s been among the researchers going over the sample files from the cache, after an anonymous group called the Shadow Brokers posted them online.

      Allegedly, the files were stolen from the Equation Group, a top cyberespionage team that may be connected with the NSA.

      The Equation Group likely helped develop the infamous Stuxnet computer worm, and is said to have created malware that can be impossible to remove once installed.

      Already, researchers have found that the hacking tools inside the sample files target firewall and router products and do so by exploiting software flaws – some of which could be zero-day vulnerabilities or defects that have never been reported before.

      On Wednesday, Cisco confirmed that the sample files did contain one unknown flaw that affects the company’s firewall software, and a patch has been rolled out.

    • Sources: Massive Layoffs Coming At Cisco

      Cisco Systems is laying off upward of 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the networking giant’s global workforce, according to multiple sources close to the company.

      San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, as many early retirement package plans have already been offered to employees, said sources. Cisco is set to announce its fourth fiscal quarter results after the market closes tomorrow.

      The heavy cuts, which sources said will range between 9,000 and 14,000 employees worldwide, stem from Cisco’s transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric organization.

    • Cisco confirms NSA-linked zeroday targeted its firewalls for years

      Cisco Systems has confirmed that recently-leaked malware tied to the National Security Agency exploited a high-severity vulnerability that had gone undetected for years in every supported version of the company’s Adaptive Security Appliance firewall.

    • Security against Election Hacking – Part 2: Cyberoffense is not the best cyberdefense!

      State and county election officials across the country employ thousands of computers in election administration, most of them are connected (from time to time) to the internet (or exchange data cartridges with machines that are connected). In my previous post I explained how we must audit elections independently of the computers, so we can trust the results even if the computers are hacked.

      Still, if state and county election computers were hacked, it would be an enormous headache and it would certainly cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the election. So, should the DHS designate election computers as “critical cyber infrastructure?”

      This question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how computer security really works. You as an individual buy your computers and operating systems from reputable vendors (Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Google/Samsung, HP, Dell, etc.). Businesses and banks (and the Democratic National Committee, and the Republican National Committee) buy their computers and software from the same vendors. Your security, and the security of all the businesses you deal with, is improved when these hardware and software vendors build products without security bugs in them. Election administrators use computers that run Windows (or MacOS, or Linux) bought from the same vendors.

      Parts of the U.S. government, particularly inside the NSA, have “cyberdefense” teams that analyze widely used software for security vulnerabilities. The best thing they could do to enhance our security is notify the vendors immediately about vulnerabilities, so the vendors can fix the bugs (and learn their lessons). Unfortunately, the NSA also has “cyberoffense” teams that like to save up these vulnerabilities, keep them secret, and use them as weak points to break into their adversaries’ computers. They think they’re so smart that the Russkies, or the Chinese, will never be able to figure out the same vulnerabilities and use them to break into the computers of American businesses, individuals, the DNC or RNC, or American election administrators. There’s even an acronym for this fallacy: NOBUS. “NObody But US” will be able to figure out this attack.

    • NSA Use of Software Flaws for Hacking Posed Risk If Exposed
    • NSA’s use of software flaws to hack foreign targets posed risks to cybersecurity

      To penetrate the computers of foreign targets, the National Security Agency relies on software flaws that have gone undetected in the pipes of the Internet. For years, security experts have pressed the agency to disclose these bugs so they can be fixed, but the agency hackers have often been reluctant.

      Now with the mysterious release of a cache of NSA hacking tools over the weekend, the agency has lost an offensive advantage, experts say, and potentially placed at risk the security of countless large companies and government agencies worldwide.

      Several of the tools exploited flaws in commercial firewalls that remain unpatched, and they are out on the Internet for all to see. Anyone from a basement hacker to a sophisticated foreign spy agency has access to them now, and until the flaws are fixed, many computer systems may be in jeopardy.

    • Cisco admits long-standing vulnerability to NSA cyber weapons on some products

      Cisco has confirmed that malware recently uncovered in the Shadow Brokers leak has been available for years, and is able to exploit a serious vulnerability in the firm’s Adaptive Security Appliance firewall.

      Shadow Brokers is a previously unknown group of cyber criminals that recently made available a large cache of weaponised vulnerabilities in high-profile software.

      The vulnerabilities are thought to have been stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA), which actively seeks security flaws in order to build cyber weapons used to hack corporate and government targets.

      Cisco released a warning to its customers recently, admitting that no patch is currently available to address the flaw.

    • The Shadow Brokers EPICBANANAS and EXTRABACON Exploits

      On August 15th, 2016, Cisco was alerted to information posted online by the “Shadow Brokers”, which claimed to possess disclosures from the Equation Group. The files included exploit code that can be used against multi-vendor devices, including the Cisco ASA and legacy Cisco PIX firewalls.

    • Leak in-house? NSA data dump could be work of insider

      The leak of tools used by the NSA’s elite hacking team has resulted in speculation and finger-pointing in a desperate attempt to identify who could have exposed the government agency’s secrets. But one source says it was an inside job.

      The chances of a hacker remotely breaking into the National Security Agency’s systems are very unlikely, according to an anonymous insider who spoke to Motherboard.

      Despite accusations that the leak is Russia’s meddling, the data dropped online under the name “the Shadow Brokers” would have required someone with the ability to access the NSA’s server, the former NSA employee told the news outlet.

    • Mystery plane heard over GCHQ and Cheltenham in the middle of the night
    • Canadian Court Says No Expectation Of Privacy In SMS Messages Residing On Someone Else’s Phone

      But that’s not what the ruling says. Text messages sent “into the ether” do not lose their expectation of privacy. That would make SMS message content open to interception or seizure without a wiretap order or warrant. The circumstances of the case undercut the claims made in these two soundbites.

      In no way does this create some sort of “Third Party Doctrine” governing the content of text messages. Instead, it simply confirms what should be obvious: that once messages are received, the recipient is free to discuss, expose, or otherwise provide the content to whoever asks for it. The sender is no longer in control of the sent message and cannot claim it is still a private communication.

      An investigation into the trafficking of illegal firearms resulted in the seizure of phones owned by the two suspects. Police performed forensic searches on both devices and found messages implicating both arrestees. One of the suspects challenged the search and seizure of the devices. For the most part, he won.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Innovation policy trends in Latin America: Citizen’s Leadership

      The pressure from activists is widespread through various political practices in Latin America and across the world. Protests and social movements, in more or less traditional formats, are merging with new models, tools and innovative formats; and with networked performances, prioritizing the horizontality and the multiplicity of leaderships.

    • Sweden’s summer spate of car fires continues

      Cars were torched in Malmö for the ninth consecutive night. Emergency services were called out to put out two fires within nine minutes, with one alarm raised at 1.28am and the other at 1.37am.

      “There were two incidents close to each other in time in Malmö, but we had no problems handling both incidents,” emergency control room officer Gustaf Sandell told the TT newswire.

      A resident in the area was able to use fire extinguisher to stop the first fire in the Fosie district from spreading. Another three cars were gutted in Rosengård in the second incident.

      More than 70 cars have been torched in Malmö since early July. Police figures put out earlier this month show that the number of car burnings in the city halved between 2009 and 2015.

    • Canadian Cops Want a Law That Forces People to Hand Over Encryption Passwords

      Encryption tools that keep your digital communications hidden from prying eyes are becoming more widespread, and Canadian police say they need a law that compels people to hand over their passwords so cops can access those communications.

      The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), a lobbying organization with membership from across the country, passed a resolution at its annual conference on Tuesday mandating that the group advocate for a law that would force people to provide their computer passwords to police with a judge’s consent, CTV reported.

      “To say this is deeply problematic is to understate the matter,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association. “We have all kinds of laws that do not compel people to incriminate themselves or even speak.”

      A law that compels people to give police access to their devices, which may contain messages, photos, and data that have nothing to do with any active criminal investigation, doesn’t fit within Canada’s current legal landscape and would be “tricky constitutionally,” Vonn added.

    • Companies Can’t Legally Void the Warranty for Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone

      After I published an article about how electronics manufacturers including Microsoft and Sony illegally void the warranties of consumers who open their devices, I got a flood of emails from people wondering whether federal law protects their right to jailbreak or root their phones.

      The short answer is yes, it does: Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, manufacturers cannot legally void your hardware warranty simply because you altered the software of an electronic device. In order to void the warranty without violating federal law, the manufacturer must prove that the modifications you made directly led to a hardware malfunction.

      “They have to show that the jailbreak caused the failure. If yes, they can void your claim (not your whole warranty—just the things which flowed from your mod),” Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, told me in an email. “If not, then they can’t.”

    • Stealing bitcoins with badges: How Silk Road’s dirty cops got caught

      DEA Special Agent Carl Force wanted his money—real cash, not just numbers on a screen—and he wanted it fast.

      It was October 2013, and Force had spent the past couple of years working on a Baltimore-based task force investigating the darknet’s biggest drug site, Silk Road. During that time, he had also carefully cultivated several lucrative side projects all connected to Bitcoin, the digital currency Force was convinced would make him rich.

      One of those schemes had been ripping off the man who ran Silk Road, “Dread Pirate Roberts.” That plan was now falling apart. As it turns out, the largest online drug market in history had been run by a 29-year-old named Ross Ulbricht, who wasn’t as safe behind his screen as he imagined he was. Ulbricht had been arrested earlier that month in the San Francisco Public Library by federal agents with their guns drawn.

    • Russian MP seeks to decriminalise domestic violence

      Tatyana’s stepfather started small.

      At first, he’d get annoyed by things she did. He criticised and lectured her. Soon the lectures stopped and the outrage began. And when the outrage stopped, the hitting started.

      “He just went mad,” said Tatyana, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. “For five years, he beat me and my mother senseless.”

    • Flood destroys home of man who believes floods sent to punish gays

      Amid the horror of floods that have covered southern Louisiana in recent days, a grim note of irony: Tony Perkins, the head of the anti-queer Family Research Council, is among those whose homes are underwater. Perkins believes natural disasters are sent to punish gays.

    • Bad Laws Produce Bad Law Enforcement

      THE POLICE SHOOTING AND KILLING of an unarmed Black teenager named Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, sparked civil unrest in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri. The weeks that followed brought to a national audience shocking stories of inequity suffered by Ferguson residents at the hands of local law enforcement. The fundamental brokenness of the system seemed to be confirmed when a grand jury refused to indict the police officer who shot Brown. Meanwhile, to suppress public demonstrations, police equipped themselves like an occupying force, treating protestors as an insurgency to be stomped out.

    • Beyond Winning and Losing

      It’s the smallest thing in the world. Does the tennis ball land inside the line or outside? But somehow, as I watched this 60-second YouTube clip of an Australian tennis match last January, and heard an explosion of joyous approval surge from the crowd, I could feel the planet shift.

      Or at least it seemed that way for an instant.

      In the clip, a tennis player named Jack Sock tells his opponent, Lleyton Hewitt, whose serve has just been declared out, that he should challenge the call. A little humorous disbelief bounces around the court, but eventually Hewitt says, “Sure, I’ll challenge it.” A judge reviews the tape and declares that the serve was in . . . and the crowd lets loose an enormous cheer.

      I felt like I could hear the stunned amazement in it. Hurray for integrity! Hurray for . . . what? It was different from the usual hoots and hollers of “our guy wins” or the polite acknowledgement of “nice play.”

    • Where the Green Party’s Jill Stein stands on jobs, taxes and more

      Green Party candidate Jill Stein doesn’t command the kind of crowds and headlines that rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do. So many voters may not know where she stands on the issues.

      Stein, who is a physician, is set to participate in a CNN Town Hall Wednesday night where she plans to discuss her policies.

      Here’s a look at some of her key economic proposals.

    • The Boy in the Ambulance Offers Glimpse of ‘Profound Horrors’ in Syria

      Laying bare the horrors of Syria’s ongoing civil war, heartbreaking footage of a young boy rescued from the rubble following an airstrike in Aleppo has gone viral.

      Much as last year’s photos of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi—”The Boy on the Beach”—offered a stark reminder of the human toll of the refugee crisis, the images of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh—”The Boy in the Ambulance”—are forcing many to consider the devastating realities of life in war-torn Syria, where more than 250,000 people, including many children, have died in almost five years of war.

      The photo and accompanying video, taken and distributed by the activist group Aleppo Media Centre, show Omran being pulled from a partially destroyed building and placed in a chair inside a brightly lit ambulance after an airstrike Wednesday evening. His face and body are covered in ash, dust, and blood. Seemingly dazed, he says nothing.

    • I Do Jury Duty

      I just wrapped up a couple of days of jury duty.

      Note “jury duty,” which is very different than serving on a jury. I didn’t do that. Being on an actual jury involves making a careful judgment on someone’s life. I did jury duty, which involves waiting and sitting and waiting, while watching your last hopeful images of democracy fade away.

    • Why We Are Publishing Videos the LAPD Wouldn’t Release

      Videos have become a critical aspect of the latest national reckoning with deadly interactions between the police and the public. In New York, an eyewitness recorded Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a police officer who placed him in a chokehold. In Chicago, a reporter successfully forced the police department to release the footage of an officer firing his gun 16 times in the course of killing Laquan McDonald.

    • Videos Surface of a Death in Custody the LAPD Didn’t Want Released

      Early on the afternoon of June 4, 2012, Vachel Howard was handcuffed to a bench inside the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Station Jail. He was 56 years old, and had been taken into custody for driving while intoxicated. The grandfather of seven had been strip-searched, and his shirt still hung open. Howard told the officers present that he suffered from schizophrenia. Police suspected he was high on cocaine.

      Less than an hour later, Howard was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital, just miles from the jail. He had been released from the handcuffs, but later subdued by half a dozen officers after he became, by their testimony, “violent and combative.” A coroner eventually listed three contributing causes of death: cocaine intoxication, heart disease, and a chokehold employed by one of the officers.

      Two years of litigation followed before, in October of 2015, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay Howard’s family $2.85 million to settle a wrongful death claim.

    • The Greatest Threat to Our Freedoms

      There is nothing more dangerous than a government of the many. The U.S. government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.

      The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror.

      More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.

      This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

      As I explain in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, when the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

      What we have is a government of wolves.

      Worse than that, we are now being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.

      Does the government pose a danger to you and your loved ones?

      The facts speak for themselves.

    • Dozens of news orgs demand DOJ release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters

      A coalition of thirty-seven of news organizations—including the New York Times, the Associated Press, NPR, USA Today, and Buzzfeed—filed a legal brief over the weekend in support of Freedom of the Press Foundation’s case demanding that the Justice Department release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters (NSLs).

      NSLs are controversial (and unconstitutional) surveillance tools that allow the FBI to collect private information in national security cases without any involvement whatsoever from judges or courts. We filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2015 demanding their secret rules for using NSLs on members of the media, and Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press filed the amicus brief on behalf of the thirty seven news organization on Saturday. (We also filed a separate brief, which you can read below.)

    • Justice Department to Stop Using Private Prisons

      The Justice Department said Thursday that it will phase out its use of private contractors to run federal prisons.

      Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said privately run prisons do not provide the same level of correctional services or save on costs. And in a memo to prison officials, she said, “They do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • DirecTV Faces RICO Class Action For Bungling Business Installs, Then Demanding $15,000 For Theft Of Service

      For several years now DirecTV (now owned by AT&T) has been the focus of a series of lawsuits focused on the NFL’s Sunday Ticket exclusive arrangement. More specifically, the lawsuits have claimed that the exclusive arrangement violates antitrust law, resulting in a monopoly that charges often absurd prices to small businesses. Sports bars in particular have to shell out payments of up to $122,895 per year for NFL Sunday Ticket, while those same bars pay significantly less for Major League Baseball’s comparable offering.

      But a new lawsuit filed against DirecTV this week accuses the company of something notably different. Doneyda Perez, owner of Oneida’s Beauty and Barber Salon in Garden Grove, has filed a RICO class action against DirecTV for intentionally selling businesses residential-class TV service, then hitting these customers with penalties of up to $15,000 several years later for failing to subscribe to business-class service. There’s a lot to go through in this case, but before we start, it’s at least worth pointing out that RICO class action cases are almost always ridiculous — even if there does appear to be questionable behavior here.

    • Allegations Of Dysfunction Continue To Plague FirstNet, Our $47 Billion (And Growing) National Emergency Network

      If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll recall that both AT&T and Verizon have a long, proud history of taking billions in subsidies and tax breaks for next-generation networks repeatedly left half completed. AT&T, as we’ve well documented, has a prodigious history of fraud, whether it’s ripping off low-income families, the hearing impaired, various school districts or the company’s own customers. While the nation’s top two wireless carriers make sense as the best positioned to win the contract, they’re also the most likely to milk the program for every extra penny it’s worth while doing the bare minimum required.

      Not too surprisingly, the Atlantic article has reportedly upset those working on FirstNet, even though it’s far from the first report of this kind. The above-cited report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Commerce initially found numerous conflicts of interest on the FirstNet board, with many board members playing fast and loose with conflict reporting rules. It’s worth noting that many of these original board members (like FirstNet GM and former Verizon exec Bill D’Agostino) have already moved on, but these problems set the stage for the kind of dysfunction we’ve seen time and time again in telecom.

      Estimates suggest the contract will be worth around $100 billion to the company that wins it, with the winner grabbing not only the lion’s share of fees paid by state customers, but the right to sell off excess capacity to private companies and consumers. Winners are expected to be announced in November. And while the project may be well-intentioned and even necessary, it’s painfully unclear if the U.S. government is actually capable of completing it without giving a master class in telecom waste, fraud and abuse. History, quite simply, just isn’t on the project’s side.

    • Remember Claims That Cord Cutting Was On The Ropes? It’s Actually Worse Than Ever

      Despite the obvious realities that ratings are down and consumers are cutting the cord, there’s a vibrant and loyal segment of executives and analysts who still somehow believe cord cutting is a myth. Every few months, you’ll see a report about how cord cutting is either nonexistent or overstated. Earlier this year, these voices were quick to argue that the industry had cord cutting on the ropes because several of the biggest cable providers saw modest subscriber gains in the fourth quarter (ignoring several that saw net subscriber losses for the year).

      Those folks have been pretty damn quiet the last few weeks as second quarter earnings show cord cutting is worse than ever.

  • DRM

    • Intel praises killer USB-C audio features in war against traditional headphone jacks [Ed: removing headphone jacks good for DRM]

      You may like your earbuds and its 3.5mm jack, but you’ll downright love USB-C headphones, Intel says. At the company’s IDF developer conference in San Francisco, Intel’s once again pushing hard for mobile devices to ditch analog audio and embrace feature-filled digital headsets.

      Replacing the vaunted 3.5mm jack has evolved into a contentious issue ever since rumors surfaced that Apple would use a lightning connector for audio in the next iPhone. Similarly to the passion that surrounds Windows XP and Windows 7, people are so used to the longstanding headphone jack they just can’t let it go—even for the promise of something potentially better.

      And something better is exactly what Intel is promising, though the pitch may not sway audiophiles who swear that analog signals offer richer sound. During IDF on Tuesday, company architects Rahman Ismail and Brad Saunders talked up the coming USB Type C audio standard, which is due out in the coming months, as first reported by CNET.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

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