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“Very Mysterious Things Going on at the IPKat Recently”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The effect of the EPO’s SLAPP-happy lawyers in London or FTI Consulting’s branch in London? (or both, or maybe just good old entryism)

3 Monkeys

Summary: Criticism of the EPO has become harder to find not because people have come to accept the EPO’s management but because there’s a censorship campaign and people are growingly afraid to speak

FEWER and fewer publications nowadays cover EPO scandals, for reasons we attempted to explain some days ago. SUEPO too hardly publishes anything. The other day we mentioned censorship at IPKat (or IP Kat) — an issue we had been writing about for a while now, especially in recent months.

“Very mysterious things [are] going on at the IPKat recently,” this one comment said this week. To quote in full: “Good to see that my comment submitted on 10/06/16 at around 11:30 CEST and again on 10/07/16, 10:41 CEST has now finally been published. Remarkable, however, is the alleged publication date and time of 10/07/16, 9:42 BST. It was not published (yet) when I looked for it on 10/08/16 and in the morning of 10/09/2016; I first saw it this morning (10/10/16). Has the publication date/time been backdated and if so, why? And what happened to the first comment filed on 10/06/16?

“Apparently — and over time it seems ever more plausible — there is just an attempt by the EPO’s management to cause media blackout and information lockdown, not just by shutting down critical media (or critical elements within it) but also scaring EPO staff.”“Very mysterious things going on at the IPKat recently.”

A reply like “Yours is not to question why, yours but to grant or reject” (sounds like pro-management slant) was posted in reply toWe have even been urged not to discuss among ourselves or with our union committee(s)…

Apparently — and over time it seems ever more plausible — there is just an attempt by the EPO’s management to cause media blackout and information lockdown, not just by shutting down critical media (or critical elements within it) but also scaring EPO staff. Self-censorship is an incredibly powerful weapon they have attempted to use even against non-profits. Regarding IP Kat, not a single EPO-hostile article has appeared there since the one-day censorship by the EPO. IP Kat is not responding to my queries about this.

“New rumour [is] circulating at the EPO,” said this new comment, showing that rumours get around whether the management likes it or not. Laughably enough, it’s believed that Battistelli’s bulldog is being considered for the job of managing the boards of appeal (which Battistelli cannot help bullying). If true, that would be a new low for the EPO and for the independence of the boards. “It is being whispered in the corridors of the EPO Isar building,” wrote this person, “that VP4 has applied for the job as President of the Boards of Appeal citing his vast experience in litigation matters and his extensive knowledge of court procedures including appeals.”

Is it also being whispered in the corridors of the EPO Isar building that he faces many criminal charges in Croatia? Does that count as experience in litigation matters? These boards, one might add, face risk of getting replaced by UPC courts. Battistelli promotes the UPC like it’s his sole baby and he keeps demolishing the boards by all means possible. He just can’t help himself. It has gotten so bad that it’s difficult for outsiders to believe and the media hardly covers the matter. Watch what IP Kat has turned into; it’s like a textbook example of vendor captive/capture. As we put it recently, "IP Kat is Lobbying Heavily for the UPC, Courtesy of Team UPC" (notably Bristows, which continues to stomp on EU citizens by UPC lobbying).

“Laughably enough, it’s believed that Battistelli’s bulldog is being considered for the job of managing the boards of appeal (which Battistelli cannot help bullying).”The latest from Bristows says that “In a press release (here) on 7 October 2016, the Italian Ministry of Justice announced that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) in Milan will be located in an existing court building at via San Barnaba 50.”

They just refuse to give up and they are willing to mislead even politicians. “UPC, Brexit and swpats are on the agenda of next 22nd November,” Benjamin Henrion wrote the other day. “I give you the benefit of doubt.”

Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer said he was “Thinking of returning to Brussels a bit more often. Lobbying for Open the @hintjens way is needed. Be very afraid :-)”

“Sadly, and not to suggest that it was ever not the case, IP Kat spends a lot of time advocating/promoting the UPC, occasionally software patents, and apparently it now suppresses or self-censors particular EPO criticism.”Wildeboer speaks about software patents, which he campaigned against a decade ago. UPC threatens to bring this curse back in a very big way. See the entire thread in [1, 2] to witness who’s pulling the strings. “Of course,” Dr. Stefane Fermigier wrote to Henrion about proponents of software patents, “but then they shouldn’t pretend they are working for the common good.”

Sadly, and not to suggest that it was ever not the case, IP Kat spends a lot of time advocating/promoting the UPC, occasionally propping up software patents, and apparently it now suppresses or self-censors particular EPO criticism.

Danish Puff Pieces: Latest ‘Puff Pieces’ From Denmark About the Opening of a New DKPTO Branch Office

Posted in Deception, Patents at 7:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Evoking and invoking memories of showy presidential bicycles

Collage of DKPTO
Full size

Summary: The Danish media fails to look into the dodgy dealings of Jesper Kongstad and instead plays along with his (and his political protectors’) childish publicity stunts

SHALLOW coverage with little journalistic integrity dominated Danish press, which as far as we know has paid no attention to our series of Danish stories (more on that later this week). They’re in the business of promotion of businesses, not investigative journalism. It truly shows.

Rather than speak about the dodgy dealings of Mr. Kongstad from the EPO and DKPTO, Danish media became his lapdog again. It also helped those crooked or controversial politicians who protect him. We don’t know who in Denmark is fit to explore and report the information in Danish. This information does merit nationwide coverage.

“They’re in the business of promotion of businesses, not investigative journalism.”On the 7th of October, the Minister Troels Lund Poulsen [1, 2] officially opened a new branch office of the DKPTO located in Ikast on the Jutland Peninsula. The DKPTO head office is located in Taastrup near Copehagen.

The opening of the new branch office is apparently part of a “decentralisation” programme being pursued by the current Danish government whereby it plans to move about 4000 civil service jobs out of the Copenhagen area. The official press release from the DKPTO can be found here. Some puff pieces about the event appeared in the Danish press. Photos of the event showing Poulsen and Kongstad are shown above. If anyone who is Danish-speaking and lives in Denmark can tip Danish journalists about our series of Danish stories, please do so. We have provided plenty of material for further investigation.

The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) Protested Today in Munich (Against the EPO’s Management) While President Benoît Battistelli Lied

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The sorts of pictures that Battistelli doesn’t want the delegates to see ahead of tomorrow’s meeting…

SUEPO protest

Summary: The EPO’s so-called ‘Social Conference’ (prepackaged, commissioned and paid-for bundle of lies) took place today, but staff was outside protesting against this Orwellian charade from President Benoît Battistelli

THE very many scandals at the EPO (all of them the management’s fault) have led staff of the EPO to to taking the great risk of going out, leaving their office to protest against the management at lunchtime. Personal sacrifices are plenty; these people aren’t the selfish/overpaid/cushy job/spoiled types which pro-Battistelli media tries to portray them as. They are loyal to fellow workers, not (just, if at all) to autocrats who manage them and do a great disservice to Europe with their horrible policies. Techrights has enormous respect for examiners who support their representatives and are willing to ruin their work security, personal safety, health etc. just to do the right thing. We cannot stress strongly enough that collective punishment isn’t of merit here because many examiners have served the Office since long before Battistelli arrived at the scene and brought his cronies. We all want to save the EPO, not destroy it. It’s Battistelli who is destroying the Office.

“We all want to save the EPO, not destroy it. It’s Battistelli who is destroying the Office.”Shown above is Ion Brumme (dismissed by Battistelli earlier this year). He was speaking at today’s SUEPO demonstration, which took place directly under the room where the EPO Social Conference was taking place (this photo is from today by the way).

Clever move there from SUEPO. Did it help highlight the great degree of injustice that this entire Social Conference was? SUEPO was denied access so that Battistelli can lie unchallenged. He was ‘grooming’ people ahead of tomorrow’s meeting. He wants to avoid/dodge accountability for social injustice at the Office. He wants demands from March to simply vanish as though they never existed.

As one person put it in comments the other day:

that is no real wonder.
Internally only the last two weeks things started happening.

We live in a cycle of 3 months, which is dictated by the four meetings of the AC every year.

Management tables their proposals as late as possible, to deny everyone a possibility to fully read all the papers and make an informed opinion, thus eliminating any possibility for positive feedback (this became an obvious tactic under Miss Brimelow) and staff has learnt to wait for the proposals to be on the table instead of guessing what might come.

The fight for PR has already started on management side, the staff has a bit more difficulty with that, as it has less money available for that, and is not allowed to discuss anything our management considers to be internal matters anywhere. We have even been urged not to discuss among ourselves or with our union committee(s)…

“It’s a total disgrace and it makes it abundantly clear that the Administrative Council no longer does its job.”One day, time permitting, we might get around to revisiting the demands from March and what exactly happened to them back in June. It’s a total disgrace and it makes it abundantly clear that the Administrative Council no longer does its job.

Earlier today we mentioned an open letter to the Delegations of the EPO's Administrative Council. It relates to the change proposal for new WIPO Investigation Guidelines (see the WIPO Investigation Guidelines proposal from 3 weeks ago [PDF]) and this was covered earlier today by IP Watch, a site that closely follows WIPO — more so than it follows the calamity at the EPO. Here are portions of what it published:

The Administrative Council (AC), made up of members of the EPO member states, meets 12-13 October in Munich. In an 11 October letter to the council, the EPO-FLIER team, which identifies itself as a “group of concerned staff” who wish to remain anonymous “due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of rule of law” at the office, blasted President Benoît Battistelli’s proposed new disciplinary and investigation guidelines and urged governments instead to consider a WIPO proposal (available here).

Battistelli’s new guidelines, if approved, would allow the president to dismiss staff members for “professional incompetence” without any meaningful advisory review, and would also permit the administration to investigate and discipline employees without due process, the EPO-FLIER letter said. It asked AC members to consider WIPO’s recently proposed investigation guidelines, saying that while WIPO has “immense problems in its staff relations,” it seems to have floated a balanced proposal that includes an independent investigative unit, due process guarantees and whistle-blower protections.

A summary of conclusions from the 22 September AC Board meeting noted that the German delegation “was unhappy with President’s change proposal for the Investigation Guidelines CA/52/16 Rev. 1 … so that ‘no common understanding could be reached on the right to be silent and on other issues. The President had strong reservations on this issue, insisting on the necessity to ensure an efficient procedure to fight fraud and harassment, and reserved the possibility to withdraw the package from the agenda.’”


In a 12 February 2016 letter, made public on 29 September by techrights.org (available here), http://techrights.org/2016/09/29/netherlands-institute-of-patent-attorneys-on-battistelli/ the president of the 500-member Dutch Institute of Patent Attorneys (Nederlandse Orde van Octrooigemachtigden) told the AC that while the Orde applauds EPO efforts to set worldwide standards in patent quality and efficiency, it “has to express its serious and on-going concern” about the way in which the office’s reinvention process is happening and the “effects that it has on the image of the EPO.” Specifically, the letter said, patent lawyers are worried about developments regarding the organisation and government of the Boards of Appeals and the treatment of EPO personnel.

The Orde observed that employment conditions at the office and the basic rights of employees are “seriously compromised.” In the beginning, staff opposition seemed to be a common and understandable reaction to changes every organisation experiences, but over time the information that reached the public became more and more serious, with union officials subjected to disciplinary measures and downgraded, pension reductions and firings, the organisation said.

“It seems that the people at the EPO are afraid of their own management,” the Orde said. “We sincerely believe that the current situation at the EPO has spun out of control by the actions of its President,” and that the AC should stop Battistelli from “continuing these unproductive and destructive practices,” it said.

The current climate holds negative consequences for the future of the European patent, EPO-FLIER said. The estimated 2016 over 2014 increase in production (up 23 percent) and productivity (up 11 percent) “is not a sign of successful reforms but rather proves that the examiners have lost any ambition to withstand unrealistic and arbitrary production targets imposed on them by the Administration” – to the detriment of patent quality.

Publications in Battistelli's pocket have said nothing about it and relative quiet/calm/apathy in the media is what we predicted several days ago, due to threats and money awards from Battistelli to the media. It’s nice to see IP Watch returning to EPO coverage and we hope to see more of that in the future.

There was also a new article today in the French media, focusing on the social situation not at WIPO but at the EPO (Battistelli — it’s worth repeating — tried to become WIPO’s head). Hopefully a SUEPO-provided translation of this French article about the EPO is imminent; several people told us about it today and SUEPO too linked to it. Do we have any volunteers for translation?

“It’s nice to see IP Watch returning to EPO coverage and we hope to see more of that in the future.”As for the EPO, it has said nothing at all (publicly at least) about the Social Conference. Not even a tweet about it! Nothing about the Friday release of the so-called 'social' 'study', either. Maybe they just want to keep it all covert/internal so as to avoid outside scrutiny, criticism, or independent assessment. They know it’s junk/pseudo-science and propaganda that wouldn’t carry water. The EPO chose quite some timing for useless PPH distraction (warning: epo.org link), having just published this nonsense today and repeatedly warned people about a deadline for participation in Battistelli's next public lobbying event. Getting desperate there, eh? Maybe because people don’t play along with the stunt/lobbying this time around? They have 'spammed' nearly 50 universities across Europe about it, but these universities hardly reciprocated. One of these latest calls of misery says: “Tomorrow is the last day! If you know a researcher who has invented something amazing, nominate them now…”

Another one says: “Nominations close in about 24 hours. Who should win next year’s European Inventor Award?”

Elizabeth Holmes, definitely! Give her another chance. She had the same level of integrity as the President of the EPO.

Links 11/10/2016: Torvalds’ ARM Rant, End of Production of Galaxy Note 7

Posted in News Roundup at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • A Look At The Most Promising Next-Gen Linux Software Update Mechanisms

    With traditional software package management solutions like APT and Yum showing their age and not adapting well to the embedded world and the slew of new areas for Linux like IoT, a new generation of atomic-based Linux software update solutions continue to be worked on. Matt Porter of the Konsulko Group is presenting at this week’s Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2016 with a comparison of these update technologies.

    Incremental atomic updates have been what’s being pursued by multiple Linux software vendors for delivering more reliable distribution updates, smaller sized updates via binary deltas, and generally allow rollbacks in case of problems. Some of the new distribution update mechanisms covered included SWUpdate, Mender, OSTree, and swupd. Interestingly, not mentioned in the slide deck is Ubuntu’s Snappy.

  • Desktop

    • Microsoft remains silent as Surface Pro 3 battery woes pile up

      Surface Pro 3 battery woes have gone from bad to dire. Microsoft, meanwhile, is hiding and stonewalling again.

      SP3 owners with LGC batteries have been complaining since the middle of September about bad batteries — greatly diminished capacities, tablets that refuse to run unless they’re plugged into the wall, and charge times measured in minutes, not hours. A month later, and the Microsoft Answers forum thread about bad LGC batteries is up to 18 pages. A separate thread for general SP3 battery problems is at 131 pages and growing rapidly.

  • Server

    • No SDN Kubernetes

      How these requirements are implemented is up to the operator. In many cases this means using a software defined network “SDN” also called an overlay network (e.g. flannel, weave, calico) or underlay network (MACvlan, IPvlan). The SDNs all accomplish the same three goals but usually with different implementation and often unique features.

      But the networking requirements doesn’t mean you have to run an SDN. It also means you can implement a traditional SDN product in a non-traditional way. Let’s look at the simplest solution for networking in Kubernetes.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Epiphany Browser Is Quick To Working On 3.24 Features

        It’s been just over two weeks since GNOME 3.22 was released while already a ton of feature work has been landing in Epiphany, GNOME’s Web Browser.

        It’s looking like the Epiphany web-browser update in GNOME 3.24 will be another feature-packed release. Some of the work that’s landed in the past two weeks already includes a lot of work around redoing the browser’s bookmarks support, removing obsolete code in different areas, a lot of work on sync support, asynchronous Storage Server support, a new preferences dialog user-interface, and more.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

      • GoboLinux 016 Joins the 64-bit Revolution, First Alpha Is Based on Awesome WM

        GoboLinux developer Lucas C. Villa Real announced today, October 10, 2016, the general availability of the first Alpha pre-release version of the upcoming GoboLinux 016 GNU/Linux operating system.

      • Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Beta released-Final release is expected at the end of month

        Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 is making its way to final release and it is now one more step closer to this by having its beta release.Yes, the Ubuntu based beauty with Moksha DE(Moksha is a forked version of well known Enlightenment DE) got its beta release i.e. Bodhi LInux 4.0.0 Beta after months of release of Alpha version.Back in July,Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 alpha released.

      • Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Beta Out, Final Release Lands This Month Based on Ubuntu 16.04

        Today, October 10, 2016, Bodhi Linux developer Jeff Hoogland proudly announced the release and immediate availability of the Beta pre-release of the upcoming Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 operating system.

        Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Beta comes exactly one month after the release of the second Alpha milestone, bringing the development cycle to an end, as the developer plans to launch the final version of the Ubuntu-based distribution by the end of the month. As expected, the Beta contains many improvements and fixes to some of the bugs reported by users since the Alpha builds.

    • Arch Family

      • Antergos – Best Arch based distro for beginners, whoever want to taste arch, give a try

        As we know Arch Linux is one of the best Linux Distribution ever because we can customize whatever we want. We can get all the latest software’s because of rolling release but its very difficult for freshers, installation & configuration. Today i’m going to show you, how to install Antergos – The Best Arch based distro for beginners, whoever want to taste arch Linux give a try, i can assure worth to try.

    • Slackware Family

      • You Can Now Run Linux Kernel 4.8.1 on Your Slackware 14.2 System, Here’s How

        GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton announced earlier, October 10, 2016, that he made a new, special kernel based on Linux kernel 4.8.1 for Slackware and Slackware-based distributions.

        Linux kernel 4.8.1 is the first point release to the Linux 4.8 series, which is the latest and most advanced stable kernel to date, and now you can install it on your Slackware operating system thanks to Arne Exton. The new build is designed for 64-bit (x86_64) installation and works with Slackware 14.2 (Current), Zenwalk, Slax, and SlackEX, but it should work on any 64-bit Slackware 14.2 derivative, such as Salix.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Arrow now offering Red Hat’s hybrid cloud solutions in UK

        Arrow has announced it has joined the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider programme, allowing it to distribute the company’s hybrid cloud solutions to its channel customers in the UK.

        Now customers and independent software vendors can benefit from Arrow’s extensive partner network, which in turn, will be fully supported to sell Red Hat’s innovations.

        The products Arrow will be selling will help cloud hosting, system integrators and managed service providers resell Red Hat’s full range of products using its on-demand, via multi-tenant, dedicated, and managed models.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Ease of 3D Printing in Fedora

          Fedora has been known to be the best OS for 3D printing already for some time, mainly due to the work of Miro (he packaged all the available open source software for 3D printing, prepared udev rules to automatically connect to 3D printers etc.), but I was still surprised how easy it is to 3D print with Fedora these days. It really took just a couple of minutes from a stock system to start of the actual printing. It’s almost as simple as printing on papers.
          There is still room for improvements though. Some 3D printing apps (Cura Lulzbot Edition is one of them) are available in the official repositories of Fedora, but don’t have an appdata file, so they don’t show up in GNOME Software. And it would also be nice to have “3D Printing” category in GNOME Software, so that the software is more discoverable for users.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian is participating in the next round of Outreachy!

        Following the success of the last round of Outreachy, we are glad to announce that Debian will take part in the program for the next round, with internships lasting from the 6th of December 2016 to the 6th of March 2017.

        From the official website: Outreachy helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. We provide a supportive community for beginning to contribute any time throughout the year and offer focused internship opportunities twice a year with a number of free software organizations.

        Currently, internships are open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, they are open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

      • Debian Fun in September 2016
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The Open Source Era: A Q&A With Canonical CEO Jane Silber

            Canonical, a 750-person company with employees in more than 42 countries around the world, is the driving force behind Ubuntu open-source software. Although Canonical and Ubuntu are well-known and well-respected among hardcore technologists, most consumers have probably never heard of either.

            This is an unfortunate reality of open-source software. Products and projects dedicated to democratizing technology by making computer use free and fair for everyone often fly under the radar. Whether Canonical and Ubuntu become synonymous with the general consumer is largely dependent on whether or not consumers move away from traditional device usage. Can Canonical’s vision for a converged computing experience across a spectrum devices make the Canonical name as synonymous with desktop users as it is with users of its enterprise cloud and application performance management (APM) solutions?

            I chatted with Canonical CEO Jane Silber, a remarkable executive with a rich technological background, over email about the challenges Canonical faces in consumer computing and even television, as well as how the company plans to maintain its status in the enterprise cloud and software markets.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ETSI releases first SDN software stack as open source

    This week, standardisation organisation ETSI published OSM Release ONE, an open-source software stack to implement Software-Defined Networking (SDN). SDN, or network virtualisation, brings the management of computer networks to a higher level by abstracting the physical infrastructure. This allows network administrators to manage their networks in a more flexible, or even a fully automated, dynamic way.

  • Google’s Open-Source Noto Font Covers All Languages
  • Google Noto is an open source font family for more than 800 languages
  • Google releases open source font Noto to eliminate the tofu problem

    You may not have heard of the tofu problem, but you have almost certainly experienced it. If you visit a website or open a document that can’t display a particular character, you’ll see a white box symbol resembling a cube of tofu. Now Google has a solution.

    The Noto font project (it’s a mashup of ‘NO more TOfu’) has been something of a labor of love, taking five years to reach its conclusion. But the result is an open source Noto font family which Google says includes “every symbol in the Unicode standard, covering more than 800 languages and 110,000 characters”.

    Talking about the new font family, Google says: “The Noto project started as a necessity for Google’s Android and ChromeOS operating systems. When we began, we did not realize the enormity of the challenge. It required design and technical testing in hundreds of languages, and expertise from specialists in specific scripts. In Arabic, for example, each character has four glyphs (i.e., shapes a character can take) that change depending on the text that comes after it. In Indic languages, glyphs may be reordered or even split into two depending on the surrounding text”.

  • Google’s New Fonts Chip Away at Written Language Barriers

    Project Noto, one of Google’s most ambitious undertakings ever, has reached a milestone. Noto now supports 800 languages and 100 writing scripts, the companies announced last week. Google and Monotype launched the open source initiative to create a typeface family that supports all the languages in the world, even rarely used languages. Both serif and sans serif letters with up to eight weights are supported, as well as numbers, emoji, symbols and musical notation. “Noto” is short for “no tofu.”

  • Syncano makes it’s dashboard open source

    Syncano has open-sourced its Dashboard platform, so that more developers will be able to access the libraries and repositories to help them build apps faster.

    Up to now, Syncano’s Dashboard has been a private project. With the company’s release of the Dashboard on GitHub, a new repository has been created that allows contributions, pull requests, and issue requests from any developer with a GitHub account.

  • AT&T plans to launch ECOMP into the open source community by Q1 2017

    AT&T is hopeful that it can launch its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) virtualization platform into the open source community during the first quarter of 2017.

    The telco said that this will further its goal to make ECOMP the telecom industry’s standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities.

    Chris Rice, SVP of AT&T Labs Domain 2.0 architecture and design, said in a blog post that by launching ECOMP into open source, “community members can use and contribute to the evolution of this software platform.”

  • Open Source Initiative Welcomes Open edX as Newest Affiliate Member
  • Ulterius Dials In With Open-Source Remote Desktop PC Management
  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Best Open Source CMS

      Trying to determine the best open source CMS is a lot like choosing the best shoes. In the end, it’s a matter of perspective. However, it’s accurate to point out that the real differences between each open source CMS are usually feature related. The main items of concern range from add-ons to security and are factors you should consider when choosing the best CMS for your needs.

      In this article, I’ll share what I believe are the best open source CMS options available today. Bear in mind that not everyone is willing to sacrifice ease of use for security or security for ease of use. There is no single answer for everyone. Let’s get started, shall we?

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)/Microsoft

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.0 Officially Released

      Following the recent delays, FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE is now officially available.

      FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE was announced this morning as the latest major update to this BSD operating system.

      Among the many changes for FreeBSD 11 is 802.11n WiFi support, better WiFi/wireless support in general, native graphics support for the Bhyve hypervisor, official support for ARM 64-bit / AArch64, vastly improved/updated DRM graphics driver code, and much more.

      FreeBSD 11.0 can be downloaded from the FreeBSD.org announcement.

    • FreeBSD 11.0 Operating System Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

      Today, October 10, 2016, the FreeBSD Foundation proudly announced the release and general availability of the FreeBSD 11.0 operating system based on the latest BSD and Open Source technologies.

      FreeBSD 11.0 has been in development since March 2016, during which it received a total of four Beta builds and three Release Candidates. FreeBSD 11.0 packs a large number of new features and improvements, among which we can mention support for the open source RISC-V instruction set architecture, support for NUMA memory allocation and scheduler policies, as well as out-of-the-box support for Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi 2, and Beaglebone Black peripherals.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • State Of The Map, Thanks!

        Thanks to everyone who made it to the international State Of The Map conference in Brussels two weeks ago. With around 400 attendees from 52 different countries, this was a fantastic event bringing our community together.

        Huge thanks to the team of organisers, and local volunteers in Belgium who helped make it such a success. We saw some of these people up on stage at the end of the conference:

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Zula Open Source Audiophile Amplifier Hits Kickstarter (video)

        Audioberry has unveiled a new open source amplifier they have created which has been designed to provide audiophile amplification for streaming devices as well as mini PCs such as the Raspberry Pi.

        The Zula amplifier has been developed to be the best in class, providing both exceptional value together with superb sound, and is now available to back. With pledges starting from just £24 for the Zula Raspberry Pi internal mount kit which will start shipping during November 2016.

  • Programming/Development

    • More software engineers over age 40 may join a lawsuit against Google

      Google suffered a setback in an age discrimination suit this week. A judge ruled that other software engineers over age 40 who interviewed with the company but didn’t get hired can step forward and join the lawsuit.

      The suit was brought by two job applicants, both over the age of 40, who interviewed but weren’t offered jobs.

      Specifically, the judge has approved turning the suit into a “collective action” meaning that people who “interviewed in person with Google for a software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position when they were 40 years old or older, and received notice on or after August 28, 2014, that they were refused employment, will have an opportunity to join in the collective action against Google,” the ruling says.

    • RISC-V Backend For LLVM Making Progress

      The ongoing development of a RISC-V back-end for the LLVM compiler stack continues making progress and stepping closer to merging to mainline.

      Alex Bradbury issued a status update concerning the state of the RISC-V patches for LLVM. Six of the patches so far have been reviewed and ready to land, three are being reviewed still, and two patches are yet to be reviewed. It’s looking like within the months ahead this RISC-V back-end will be merged so LLVM can support this open-source CPU ISA.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • French Company Sues Apple Because of Improper HTML5 Support in iOS

      Nexedi, a French software development company, is suing Apple in a French court because of the sorry state of HTML5 support on iOS, and because Apple actively prevents third-party browser engines from running on iOS.

      The company filed a civil lawsuit in France because a local law gives it the best chances of succeeding in its effort. A local French law passed a few years back prevents large companies from imposing unbalanced contracts on smaller businesses.

      Nexedi says that Apple forces software developers to sign an unfair contract when submitting an app to the iOS App Store that states that all web content should be handled by a WebKit-based browser engine.

      The French company’s problem is that the WebKit engine is seriously lagging behind when it comes to supporting modern HTML5 features. Because Apple forces iOS app developers to use WebKit-based browsers, developers must invest serious time and effort into porting modern apps to work with the limited version of HTML5 supported in iOS, indirectly cutting down their profits.

    • Here’s Why These Open Source Programmers Have Sued Apple

      Nexedi, a French open source software vendor has sued Apple. The lack of support for standard web technologies on iOS irked the company, resulting in the allegations that Apple’s App Store contract is unfair. We have contacted Apple for a clarification and we’ll be keeping you in the know.


  • Science

    • WikiLeaks Reveals UFO ​Messages in Clinton Campaign Emails

      The former lead singer of the band Blink 182 was in recent contact with ‘s campaign chairman John Podesta about UFOs, newly disclosed emails show.

    • Neural Net Computing Explodes

      Neural networking with advanced parallel processing is beginning to take root in a number of markets ranging from predicting earthquakes and hurricanes to parsing MRI image datasets in order to identify and classify tumors.

      As this approach gets implemented in more places, it is being customized and parsed in ways that many experts never envisioned. And it is driving new research into how else these kinds of compute architectures can be applied.

    • Vint Cerf Warns Humanity: Can Our Data Survive Longer Than A Century?

      Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) co-author Vint Cerf is hailed as “the father of the internet,” but now he’s worried about an even larger communications protocol, on a scale of thousands of years. How will our civilization communicate with people in the future? When it comes to generations yet to come, how will we preserve the glory that is present-day, 21st-century society?

      Yes, we’ve got storage media — but for long-lasting durability, does it really compare with centuries past? “We’re going backward,” Cerf argued in his column published in Communications of the ACM looking fondly back at the history of humankind — and the way bygone eras preserved glimpses of their lives to echo down through the ages. It’s like a tour of humanity’s mediums over the last 17 millennia, offering the breath-taking perspective of a tumble through time.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Michigan paid more than FEMA for Flint emergency supplies

      The State of Michigan likely paid hundreds of thousands of dollars too much for emergency supplies related to the Flint drinking water crisis because it used no formal bidding process, relied almost exclusively on one out-of-state company with ties to a top aide to Gov. Rick Snyder, and didn’t turn to Michigan companies already approved to do business with the state, a Detroit Free Press investigation has found.

      The Free Press compared Flint purchasing records by the State of Michigan between October and January with purchasing by the Federal Emergency Management Agency between January and August.

    • New parents charged £30 to hold their newborn baby as part of popular skin-to-skin bonding experience

      A dad claims a hospital charged him and his wife £30 to hold their newborn son.

      Ryan Grassley says he had to pay the fee, worth $39.35 in US money, for his wife to hold their tiny newborn immediately after he was delivered by C-section.

      The Utah father shared a snap of the itemized bill, which included a charge for “skin-to-skin after c-sec,” on Reddit – with readers offering a mixed rection.

      Grassley said when his son was born by C-section at Utah Valley Hospital on September 4, the operating room nurse asked if the couple wanted to do “skin to skin.”

      They agreed and their baby was cleaned-up and handed over for his time with mum.

      The practice, viewed to have many benefits, is when a new baby’s bare skin is placed against its mother’s to help them bond.

    • US Media Don’t Need to Look Abroad to Find an Abortion Crisis

      US media saw a story in the work boycott and street protests by some 6 million women in Poland that led to a reversal of government plans to put through a complete ban on abortion, including in cases of rape or danger to a woman’s life. Stories in major outlets pointed out that Poland’s laws are already among the most restrictive in Europe; they noted the concerns of human rights advocates that the ban would criminalize women and doctors, and make women who have miscarriages subjects of suspicion and investigation. It was good to see, but it did make one wonder: If those conditions are unacceptable, they’re unacceptable whether they’re de jure or de facto, right?

    • It’s Time to Go, Hyde Amendment

      Enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment turns 40 years old this year. The Hyde Amendment was introduced by the late Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois who sought to ban abortions outright. Disappointed that the Supreme Court had just ruled that the Constitution protects the right to an abortion, Rep. Hyde introduced the amendment to restrict abortion access for those who qualify for Medicaid.

      The amendment withholds insurance coverage for abortion care in virtually all cases from women who qualify for Medicaid and others who access their health insurance through the federal government. Effectively, it reserves the right to an abortion for those privileged to afford it.

    • Is toxic trade in your backyard?

      If passed by Congress, two pending U.S. trade deals – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – would give some of the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations broad new rights to challenge our climate protections in private tribunals. For the first time, these corporations could ask unaccountable panels of corporate lawyers to order U.S. government compensation if such protections interfered with their widespread fossil fuel projects.

  • Security

    • One election-system vendor uses developers in Serbia

      The use of proprietary systems in elections has its critics. One Silicon Valley group, the Open Source Election Technology Foundation, is pushing for an election system that shifts from proprietary, vendor-owned systems to one that that is owned “by the people of the United States.”

    • Europe to Push New Security Rules Amid IoT Mess

      The European Commission is drafting new cybersecurity requirements to beef up security around so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as Web-connected security cameras, routers and digital video recorders (DVRs). News of the expected proposal comes as security firms are warning that a great many IoT devices are equipped with little or no security protections.

    • Internet of Things botnets: You ain’t seen nothing yet

      Internet of Things (IoT) botnet “Mirai” is the shape of things to come and future assaults could be even more severe, a leading security research firm warns.

      Mirai powered the largest ever DDoS attack ever, spawning a 620Gbps DDoS against KrebsOnSecurity. Source code for the malware was released on hacker forums last week.

      The malware relied on factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords to compromise vulnerable IoT devices such as insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders and the like.

      PenTestPartners, the UK security consultancy behind numerous hack on Iot devices ranging from Wi-Fi enabled kettles to cars, said that the botnet finally illustrates the consequences of IoT vendors cutting the corners on security.

    • The top three Wi-Fi pen testing tools in Kali Linux

      Every hacker and security researcher loves Kali Linux. The developers of Kali Linux ethical hacking distro have released the second Kali Rolling ISO release i.e. Kali 2016.2. Just like the previous one, Kali promises to deliver lots of new updates and changes in this release. Over the course of past few months, Kali developers have been busy adding new tools to Kali and fixing multiple bugs. For example, they have added HTTPS support in busybox that allows secure installation over SSL.

      Kali Linux provides you the flexibility to install your favorite desktop environment and personalizing your experience. However, Kali developers note that users often talk about how they would love to see another desktop environments instead of GNOME.

    • How ‘Security Fatigue’ Affects Our Choices Online

      A new study claims many users suffer from ‘security fatigue,’ which affects the choices we make online. What’s the real answer and where does the root cause sit?
      An overabundance of security news and alerts has led to “security fatigue,” which is causing users to make bad choices when it comes to online security, suggests a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

    • Apache Milagro: A New Security System for the Future of the Web
    • Ransomware hackers are hitting the NHS in the knackers [ophk: "politicians’ heads should roll for running MS anywhere near the NHS”]

      Rashmi Knowles, chief EMEA security architect at RSA, said: “Ransomware is an extremely lucrative business for cyber criminals as once they are in they just need to encrypt the data. Whereas actually stealing data and then trying to resell makes it a much longer process.

      “Current data shows that ransomware cases are expected to double from 2015 to 2016, and it should come as no surprise that breaches continue to happen as frequently as they do.

      “The results show organisations relying on a fragmented foundation of data and technologies. Because it remains siloed, visibility is incomplete, making attacker activity difficult to scope.

      “As a result the speed with which they can detect and investigate threats becomes a real challenge.”

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Exclusive: As Saudis bombed Yemen, U.S. worried about legal blowback

      The Obama administration went ahead with a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings from some officials that the United States could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians, according to government documents and the accounts of current and former officials.

      State Department officials also were privately skeptical of the Saudi military’s ability to target Houthi militants without killing civilians and destroying “critical infrastructure” needed for Yemen to recover, according to the emails and other records obtained by Reuters and interviews with nearly a dozen officials with knowledge of those discussions.

      U.S. government lawyers ultimately did not reach a conclusion on whether U.S. support for the campaign would make the United States a “co-belligerent” in the war under international law, four current and former officials said. That finding would have obligated Washington to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen and would have raised a legal risk that U.S. military personnel could be subject to prosecution, at least in theory.

    • Obama DOJ drops charges against alleged broker of Libyan weapons

      The Obama administration is moving to dismiss charges against an arms dealer it had accused of selling weapons that were destined for Libyan rebels.

      Lawyers for the Justice Department on Monday filed a motion in federal court in Phoenix to drop the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.

      The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.

    • The Nobel Peace Prize Has Become A Cruel Joke

      Notable peace activists needn’t apply. Despicable war criminals time and again become Nobel Peace Prize honorees.

      This year was no exception, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos the latest recipient for negotiating dubious peace with FARC-EP freedom fighters.

      James Petras earlier called them “the longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world…founded in 1964…legitimate resistance” against ruthless Colombian repression.

    • Isis recruiting violent criminals and gang members across Europe in dangerous new ‘crime-terror nexus’

      “Sometimes people with the worst pasts create the best futures,” reads the slogan, emblazoned on an image of a masked fighter wielding a Kalashnikov, walking into blinding light.

      The poster was shared on Facebook by Rayat al-Tawheed, a group of British Isis fighters from London calling themselves the “Banner of God”.

      Their target is young men looking for redemption from crime, drugs or gangs, willing to save their souls by waging jihad for the so-called Islamic State.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks releases Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches in ‘handy Kindle format’

      After months of calls upon Hillary Clinton to release her Wall Street speeches, they are now more available and accessible than ever before, with WikiLeaks publishing them in Kindle format.

      If a word document or a PDF does not suit the reader, all they need to do is download to file to their Kindle and read the extracts on the move.

      WikiLeaks dumped the excerpts online last Friday, claiming they showed excerpts of paid, closed-door speeches to Wall Street executives, out of a batch of more than 2,000 emails belonging to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

    • Wikileaks: New York Times Caught Providing Bill Clinton Questions Before ‘Interview’

      The New York Times provided questions to former President Bill Clinton before an interview with Nicholas Kristoff, the Wikileaks release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta emails has revealed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A military view on climate change: It’s eroding our national security and we should prepare for it

      In this presidential election year we have heard much about some issues, such as immigration and trade, and less about others. For example, climate change was discussed for an estimated 82 seconds in the first presidential debate last week, and for just 37 minutes in all presidential and vice presidential debates since the year 2000.

      Many observers think climate change deserves more attention. They might be surprised to learn that U.S. military leaders and defense planners agree. The armed forces have been studying climate change for years from a perspective that rarely is mentioned in the news: as a national security threat. And they agree that it poses serious risks.

      I spent 32 years as a meteorologist in the U.S. Navy, where I initiated and led the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. Here is how military planners see this issue: We know that the climate is changing, we know why it’s changing and we understand that change will have large impacts on our national security. Yet as a nation we still only begrudgingly take precautions.

    • Dahr Jamail on Climate Disruption, Richard Phillips on Trump’s Taxes

      This week on CounterSpin: From vanishing ice to animal die-offs to increasing wildfires, scientists use words like “unprecedented” and “staggering” to describe the evident impacts of human-driven climate disruption. Elite media say they take it all very seriously…. How far are they from taking it seriously enough?

      Dahr Jamail is a staff reporter at Truthout and author of a number of books, including Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and the forthcoming The End of Ice.

    • Coverage of Haiti and Hurricane Reinforces a Sad, Static Storyline

      While the extent of the damage exacted by Hurricane Matthew on Haiti is not yet known, more than 500 deaths have been reported. But with the storm moving toward the US, media too are moving, leaving in their wake the sorts of stories you would predict: “Fragile Haiti in the Line of Fire From Matthew” (USA Today, 10/3/16), “Impoverished Haiti Braces for ‘Catastrophic’ Floods as Hurricane Approaches” (Reuters, 10/4/16) and, from the New York Times (10/4/16), “A List of Previous Disasters in Haiti, a Land All Too Familiar With Hardship.”

    • Proposed Pipeline Sparks Widespread Dissent

      The People over Pipelines march packed the streets with local activists in July who came together in protest and embarked on a five day trek across 55 miles, covering only a fraction of the proposed path for the high-pressure fracked natural gas pipeline we seek to stop. Despite such a powerful and outspoken movement, policymakers have neglected to restrain Spectra Energy from constructing the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline. Such disregard for the resolution of the people, and a tendency to overlook what is truly best for our wellbeing, is not only a clear sign of rapacious ignorance, it’s simply undemocratic.

      Many people, including high schoolers like me, have raised countless concerns about this pipeline, ranging from local safety threats to the consequences of climate change. From neighborhood-disrupting construction and family displacement from the abuses of eminent domain, to water pollution from hydraulic fracturing, to transporting the explosive gas through leak-prone pipelines, to climate disruption—essentially every aspect of this pipeline is hazardous. Not to mention, scientists say we can’t afford to build even one more pipeline if we’re serious about avoiding catastrophic climate change.

    • ‘We Must Honor Our Mother’: Actress Shailene Woodley Arrested at DAPL

      Actress Shailene Woodley has been arrested for trespassing at one of the construction sites for the Dakota Access oil pipeline, multiple reports confirm.

      She was one of 28 people taken in for criminal trespassing, according to the Bismarck Tribune, which reported that more than 200 people were demonstrating at one of the construction sites outside a 20-mile buffer that the federal government had requested the company respect.

    • Hillary Clinton Touted Her Record of Spreading Fracking in Secret, Paid Speeches

      Behind closed doors on the paid speaking circuit, Hillary Clinton was far more candid than she has been in public about her prominent role as Secretary of State in exporting American-style hydraulic fracturing — the controversial, environmentally damaging technique best known as fracking — to countries all over the world.

      “I’ve promoted fracking in other places around the world,” she declared during a 2013 paid talk to Deutsche Bank, adding that she launched a new wing of the State Department devoted to the initiative.

      During a paid speech in Canada the following year, Clinton touted her role in “accelerating” natural gas development in Europe, calling attention to Poland’s embrace of fracking as a positive step.

      The contrast with the rhetoric Clinton has used on the campaign trail is striking. Clinton has rarely spoken in public of her role selling fracking abroad, and at times positioned herself as a skeptic of the controversial drilling technique. In the lead-up to the New York Democratic primary, Clinton’s campaign released a television advertisement that gave the impression that she has worked to discourage fracking.

    • The $20 Billion Arctic Pipeline That Will Haunt Canada Forever

      The vision came to Jonas Antoine during a drum session with the other men of the tribe. Jonas is not a medicine man, but it was a medicine dream, of the kind that visited his Dene ancestors. He was in the village of Wrigley in a remote section of Canada’s Northwest Territories, standing at the cliff on the edge of town, looking out over the massive river valley, and as he beat the hand-held drum and chanted with the men he saw something out on the horizon.

      “I saw skyscrapers rise out of the ground,” Antoine told me. “We’re drumming, drumming, and I saw them. In the distance, rising out of our beautiful mountains. And I thought, ‘This can’t happen here.’ I knew I had to stop it.”

    • Why Rush Limbaugh thinks Hurricane Matthew is liberal propaganda

      Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh offered a bold assessment of Hurricane Matthew on Wednesday: the category 4 storm was exaggerated by the Obama administration in order to validate climate change theories.

      At the crux of Limbaugh’s argument was the so-called ‘hurricane drought’ in the United States, which ended when Matthew made landfall in Florida last week. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, former vice president Al Gore predicted that hurricane activity would increase as a result of man-made warming.

      “And then what happened? We had 11 years of no hurricanes – 11 straight years of no major hurricanes striking land in the United States, which just bores a hole right through the whole climate change argument,” Limbaugh said on his talk radio show. “They want people to think this way: Hurricane reported. Must be climate change.”

    • Climate Change Doubled the Size of Forest Fires in Western U.S., Study Says

      “No matter how hard we try, the fires are going to keep getting bigger”

      Man-made climate change has doubled the total area burned by forest fires in the Western U.S. in the past three decades, according to new research.

      Damage from forest fires has risen dramatically in recent decades, with the total acres burned in the U.S. rising from 2.9 million in 1985 to 10.1 million in 2015, according to National Interagency Fire Center data. Suppression costs paid by the federal government now top $2 billion.

      Now a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that a significant portion of the increase in land burned by forest fires can be attributed to man-made climate change. Other factors are also at play, including natural climate shifts and a change in how humans use land, but man-made climate change has had the biggest impact. That trend will likely continue as temperatures keep rising, researchers said.

  • Finance

    • The Dash For Cash: Leaked Files Reveal RBS Systematically Crushed British Businesses For Profit

      The Royal Bank of Scotland killed or crippled thousands of businesses during the recession as a result of a deliberate plan to add billions of pounds to its balance sheet, according to a leaked cache of thousands of secret documents.

      The RBS Files – revealed today by BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight – lay bare the secret policies under which firms were pushed into the bank’s feared troubled-business unit, Global Restructuring Group (GRG), which chased profits by hitting them with massive fees and fines and by snapping up their assets at rock-bottom prices.

      The internal documents starkly contradict the bank’s public insistence that GRG acted as an “intensive care unit” for ailing firms, tasked with restructuring their loan agreements to “help them back to health”.

    • Yle: State funding for sports bodies used mainly for admin and personnel costs, not athletes

      An Yle Sports analysis of available data has shown a sizeable 64-percent increase in state funding for Finnish sporting associations, much of it used to cover administrative and personnel costs, leaving athletes largely to fend for themselves. In many cases sports administrators are earning over 100,000 euros annually, while top athletes are trying to make ends meet on less than 1,200 euros a month.

    • ‘Poverty Is a Product of the Institutions We Have in Society’

      The new census data show the steepest one-year decline in the US poverty rate in decades. The dip from 14.8 percent to 13.5 percent was widely heralded, if some did indicate that declarations like the New York Times’ “Millions in US Climb Out of Poverty at Long Last” might be overblown. The rate was 11.3 percent in 2000, after all, and the gains aren’t evenly spread around, or necessarily sustainable.

      When corporate media talk about poverty, this is often what it looks like. “Experts” talk about what amount and sorts of resources it “makes sense” to allow people to have before they’re eligible for what amount or sort of assistance from the state, and how tweaks to those rules may affect the overall number of people who qualify to be labeled poor.

    • Facebook accused of ‘picking and choosing’ tax rules after paying just $5 million in UK

      Facebook ended up with an £11.3 million ($14 million) tax credit in the U.K. last year, which more than offset the amount it was charged, according to a new company filing, adding to concerns that the social media giant isn’t paying enough into the country’s coffers.

    • Facebook paid $5.16 million in UK taxes last year, 1,000 times what it paid in 2014

      Facebook paid £4.16 million ($5.16 million) in UK corporation tax last year, the company revealed on Sunday, a huge increase on the paltry £4,327 (around $5,367 at current exchange rates) it paid the year before. The company’s accounts show a turnover of £210 million, and a taxable profit of £20 million, on which it paid standard UK corporation tax rate.

      While technically compliant with UK tax laws, Facebook’s previous payments drew criticism from campaigners and politicians, who complained that the billion-dollar company was shirking its moral responsibility to pay tax in countries that it did business in. The criticism prompted Facebook to overhaul its UK tax structure, changing its policy so it counted UK ad sales as taking place the UK, rather than in Ireland — a tax loophole that had allowed to to pay minimal levels of tax on billions of dollars in profits.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Government Is Seizing Control Of Our Election Process (And It’s Not The Russians)

      There is an attempt underway for a government to take control of our election process and throw the election to Hillary Clinton. It is not the Russian government. Mark this day – it is when we came to understand that the American government decided to elect a president.

    • GOP ex-prosecutors slam Trump over threat to ‘jail’ Clinton

      Donald Trump’s debate-night vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email setup and put her “in jail” provoked a sharp blowback from former U.S. prosecutors, who said Trump’s view of the Justice Department serving the whims of the president is antithetical to the American system.

      While presidents appoint the attorney general, they do not make decisions on whom to prosecute for crimes — and were Trump to do so, prosecutors warned, he would spark a constitutional crisis similar to that of the “Saturday Night Massacre” in the Nixon administration. In that case, Nixon attempted to fire the prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal, and the top two Justice Department officials resigned on the spot.

    • Trump Is Not the Only Grabber Who Must Go

      As far as I’m concerned, there are 54 Trumps in the US Senate and 237 Trumps in the House. You can’t make this look good by removing your endorsement from Trump. Yes, Trump has to go — but so do you, all of you. Starting with the election on November 8th, we need to show up at the polls and remove as many of you as possible. This abuse of women stops now. I believe that most women and many men are going to determine their vote with this one thought, thanks to you and Trump:

    • New Jersey’s Student Loan Agency Has Started Getting Good Reviews — By Giving Free Stuff

      Over the past few years, dozens of borrowers have written devastating reviews of the New Jersey state agency whose student loans, as we have detailed, have strikingly onerous terms.

      “This place doesn’t even deserve one star,” posted Ashante Patterson on Google’s review platform. “It is a scam and horrendous organization that preys on and belittles borrowers.”

      “You are better off not going to college,” wrote another reviewer, Nik Sharma, about the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, also known as HESAA. “They are the absolute worst and are inhumane.”

    • NBC waited for green light from lawyers before airing Trump video

      NBC News was aware of video footage of Donald Trump making lewd and disparaging remarks about women for nearly four days, a network executive said Saturday, but held onto the recording until lawyers finished reviewing the material.

      The network’s caution led to an awkward result: NBC News was scooped by The Washington Post, which took just five hours to vet and post its story. A tip from an individual led to The Post breaking one of the most consequential stories of the 2016 presidential campaign.

    • Trump Shows His Inner Dictator

      “I didn’t think I’d say this,” Donald Trump said to Hillary Clinton, as he took a couple of steps across the stage at the second Presidential debate, on Sunday night in St. Louis. “But I’m going to say it—and I hate to say it.” At that point, just nineteen minutes in, it was already hard to imagine what might give Trump any qualms. He had already said that her record was “terrible” and “disgraceful,” and that she “should be ashamed”; called Clinton’s husband, Bill, the worst abuser of women “in the history of politics in this nation,” and claimed that Hillary had “viciously” attacked women who had made allegations against him (three of those women were Trump’s guests at the debate); accused her of “laughing at the girl who was raped” by a man she had represented as a young lawyer (he’d brought her, too); accused her of being behind birtherism, which he himself had pushed; and objected when Clinton referred to Michelle Obama, who has been campaigning for her, as her friend—objected, it seemed, to the idea that Clinton could have any friends but Sidney Blumenthal (“he’s another real winner that you have”).

      In those first nineteen minutes, Trump had also repeatedly insisted that a video that emerged last Friday—outtakes from “Access Hollywood,” in which he told the host, Billy Bush, that because Trump was “a star” he could do whatever he wanted to women without their consent (Anderson Cooper, the moderator, paraphrased one line as “grabbing their genitals”)—was an example of “locker-room talk.” Trump made a vague expression of contrition, but with the air of a man looking over the moderators’ shoulders for a sign pointing to said locker room. And he had claimed that Clinton had cheated in her primary victory over Senator Bernie Sanders. Referring to Sanders’s endorsement of Clinton, Trump said, “I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.” That was a few seconds before he sighed, overcame his supposed reluctance to speak harshly, and pushed American political discourse to even lower depths.

    • The media’s Weimar moment

      In June 1954 on national television, Joe Welch, the US Army’s chief counsel, exposed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s dubious morality with those two legendary questions: “Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Such was the novelty of television back then that having given McCarthy an authoritative forum for his views, TV could now serve as the instrument of his destruction.

      We all know what followed. The media attained the highest point of its legitimacy and authority during the Vietnam War with the publication of the Pentagon Papers and then the unfolding of the Watergate scandal. That ascendancy ran parallel to the rapid discrediting of politics as a vocation. Journalists were heroes. Politicians were scoundrels.

      Thirty years later, with the revelations of the media’s blindness to and sometimes complicity with the lies that led America into the Iraq War, journalists joined politicians in the space of detention into which public opinion puts those figures who betray the people’s trust. From that point on, America, once dubbed the oldest young country in the world by Gertrude Stein, began to experience the historical version of a senior moment. It began to undergo a Weimar moment.

      Existing between 1919 and 1933, the Weimar Republic was Germany’s first experience of democracy. Transparency of the political process, freedom of association, an openness to all groups and factions to express themselves and vie, through legitimate means, for power became established features of social and political life. Culture underwent a revolution as well. To borrow a formulation from Peter Gay’s landmark study of the Weimar period, outsiders such as Jews, homosexuals, experimental artists, and daring psychologists became insiders.

      The results, however, were disastrous. The instruments of democracy were appropriated by anti-democratic forces and used to undermine the democratic institutions that had made them available. And the breaking of cultural taboos reverberated from high culture into the depths of popular culture and custom, making once-taboo practices, from bestiality to pedophilia, semi-underground styles of gratification. Occurring simultaneously, the twin specters of economic despair and profligate wealth beset the population.

    • Donald Trump in 1993: ‘It’s fortunate I don’t have to run for political office’ – video

      In a 23-year-old video interview unearthed in New Zealand on Monday, Donald Trump says it is fortunate he is not running for political office given his belief that ‘certain women are more beautiful than others’. The TV interview by reporter Owen Poland was recorded in 1993, when Trump was making an ultimately unsuccessful bid to start a casino in New Zealand

    • Trump Taj Mahal Closes After 26 Years on Atlantic City Boardwalk

      Donald Trump opened his Trump Taj Mahal casino 26 years ago, calling it “the eighth wonder of the world.”

      But his friend and fellow billionaire Carl Icahn closed it Monday morning, making it the fifth casualty of Atlantic City’s casino crisis.

    • UN Critic of Donald Trump Must Be Silenced, Russia Says

      Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations filed a formal complaint last month demanding that the head of the world body’s human rights organization cease criticizing Donald Trump and other anti-Muslim politicians.

      Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday that he had delivered a démarche, a form of diplomatic protest, to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month. The complaint was in response to comments from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, denouncing the racist rhetoric of Trump and European nationalists, including Geert Wilders, the Dutch populist who has promised to close mosques and ban the Koran if elected.

      “Prince Zeid is overstepping his limits from time to time and we’re unhappy about it,” Churkin told the AP.

      There was no indication that Trump requested Russia’s intercession on his behalf, or that he was even aware of the comments from the head of the UN rights group. Across the West, Russia has been accused of supporting inward-looking, nationalist demagogues who are considered less likely to be critical of Russian foreign and domestic policies. Hillary Clinton and her supporters have seized upon Trump’s boasts about being praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin as evidence of his naivety in world affairs.

    • What Got Left Out–and Right-Spun–at VP Debate

      The vice presidential debate (10/4/16) provided a stark picture of just how distorted corporate media’s priorities are compared to issues of actual consequence in people’s lives. Questions of national security and national debt consumed the evening, while issues such as abortion, poverty, LGBTQ rights and climate change were never asked about.

      Some of the topics that moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News asked about: Russia, North Korea nuking the United States, ISIS/terrorism, why the US should bomb the Syrian and Russian air force and Donald Trump’s taxes.

      Topics that Quijano did not ask about: climate change, poverty, abortion, healthcare, student debt, privacy, LGBTQ rights or drug policy. There were no questions about these issues in the first presidential debate, either (FAIR.org, 9/27/16).

      Quijano did ask about immigration, a topic overlooked in the presidential debate. The economy was addressed via questions about the national debt and Social Security “run[ning] out of money.” Jobs and trade issues, which were discussed at some length by the presidential candidates, were not topics of questions in the VP debate.

      This is the 11th consecutive debate with a Democratic candidate for president or vice president that did not ask about poverty or abortion (FAIR.org, 5/27/16). The candidates did discuss abortion, but only in the context of an open-ended question about “balanc[ing] your personal faith and a public policy position,” which invited a religious reading of reproductive rights.

    • Both Campaigns Enthusiastically Violate Ban on Super PAC Coordination, Watchdog Says

      In another noble, doomed attempt to encourage the Federal Election Commission to enforce campaign finance law, the Campaign Legal Center filed complaints Thursday against Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and several Super PACs supporting them for illegal coordination.

      The Campaign Legal Center is a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., nonprofit that frequently files such complaints — including one based on The Intercept’s reporting — on which the FEC then generally takes no action.

      The FEC’s coma-like state is due to the ferocious opposition of its three Republican members to almost any restriction on money in politics. The FEC has six members, and by law no more than three can be from any one political party, so on many significant votes the commission deadlocks 3-3.

      Based on the CLC’s current complaints, it’s difficult to say whether the Trump or Clinton campaign more joyfully violates campaign finance rules.

      Several 2010 court decisions, including Citizens United, made it possible for Super PACs to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money supporting candidates for federal office. The Supreme Court determined that this would not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption” so long as Super PACs’ expenditures were truly independent — i.e., not coordinated with candidates’ campaigns.

    • We’re Not With Him: GOP Discovers Women’s Rights, Slams Donald Trump

      It takes a lot to rouse the feminist indignation of the GOP, but even Washington’s most diehard opponents of women’s rights are condemning Donald Trump’s comments in a 2005 recorded conversation with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush. The Republican presidential nominee said, among other things: “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” and “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

      Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and other members of the Republican leadership distanced themselves from Trump’s comments.

      Pence issued a statement rejecting his running mate’s conduct. “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them,” Pence said.

      Yet Pence’s record is not exactly out of sync with Trump’s words. Indeed, as a governor and legislator, Pence has been an innovator when it comes to measures that obstruct women’s rights. In Congress in 2007, he sponsored the first bill to defund Planned Parenthood. He is credited with starting the fight against the organization, which offers contraception, STI screenings, and primary care — as well as abortions.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Kosher Internet: A Niche, But Necessary Market for Ultra-Orthodox Jews

      Jonathan was 20 when he left orthodox Jewish school, or yeshiva, and got his first computer: a ThinkPad laptop to get him through his college program in engineering. Having grown up in Jerusalem in the 1980s and 90s, he had gone the entirety of his life without a computer, or even a television at home—as was, and remains customary to varying degrees among Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews. Still, that didn’t stop the future programmer from falling in love with computers.

      While packs of yeshiva boys would sneak into town, crowding internet cafes to watch soccer or porn, or merely to cruise the web—the secular world only a click away—Jonathan hacked his school’s internet filters blocking certain websites in the name of ruchnius, or spirituality. Though he had ventured outside the insular Haredi community where he grew up, the Jerusalem College of Technology still adhered to strict codes of religiosity, which included filtering the internet.

    • Torrent-based websites that cannot be censored?

      This is exciting. The Web2Web project claims to be able to put web pages on the Internet that cannot be taken down, using torrents and Bitcoin. And it can be run from any modern browser.

    • Too many academics are now censoring themselves

      My colleague at another university showed a picture of an emaciated Hungarian Jewish woman liberated from a death camp. A student, yelled out, “stop showing this, I did not come here to be traumatised”, disrupting his lecture on the Hungarian Holocaust. After the student complained of distress, caused by the disturbing image, my colleague was told by an administrator to be more careful when discussing such a sensitive subject. “How can I teach the Holocaust without unsettling my students?” asked my friend. Academics who now feel they have to mind their words are increasingly posing such questions.

    • Users enraged, confused over YouTube censorship

      YouTube users are up in arms over the platform’s recent censorship of content, the most notorious example being the removal of videos showing Hillary Clinton stumbling during a 9/11 event.

      Users have already been complaining about the YouTube policy that denies revenue to content it deems as not “advertiser friendly.”

      Since late August, some users noticed that YouTube had removed ads from any videos that go against newly updated guidelines, which means the people who uploaded the videos wouldn’t make any money. The process is called “demonetization.”

    • What would Sixties rebels make of consent classes?

      If you want an example of how thoroughly today’s campus activists have lost the plot, look no further than mandatory consent classes. After starting life in the US, these workshops – now rolled out at more than 20 UK campuses – are at the cutting edge of campus Orwellianism. (As Brendan O’Neill has pointed out, there is a profound irony in making classes on consent mandatory.) But, more crucially, this creepy desire to regulate students’ sex lives – pushed, in the main, by student leaders themselves – is undermining the hard-won gains of student activism itself.

      As this new academic year has begun, there have been pockets of resistance to consent classes. At the University of York, students staged a walkout. ‘Consent talks are patronising’, 23-year-old student Ben Froughi told the Mail. ‘If students really need lessons in how to say yes or no then they should not be at university.’ Last week, at Clare College, Cambridge, a consent class was held, and no one showed up. Clare’s women’s officer posted a picture of the empty lecture hall on social media, decrying students’ evident apathy as a ‘huge step backwards’. She later deleted the post.

    • Ben Affleck’s ‘PR Dopes’ Called Out for ‘Censorship’ At Press Junket
    • NDTV’s Censorship Of Chidambaram’s Interview Is Rather Curious
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Workplace Tries to Muscle In on Your Job [iophk: "centralized surveillance"]

      One in four people on Earth use Facebook to connect with friends and family. But Mark Zuckerberg and company really want all those people to use the social network for office chatter, too.

      This morning, at an event in London, the company formally released Facebook Workplace, a service designed specifically for business communication. It first unveiled the service—originally called Facebook for Work—eighteen months ago, testing it with many businesses. Now, Workplace is available to any organization that wants it. Facebook will charge a monthly fee to businesses who use the service—the first time it will generate revenue through fees instead of ads.

    • Facebook Wants to Kill Work Email With This New App

      You can officially add Facebook to the list of software companies seeking to all-but-eliminate corporate email.

      The social network’s much-anticipated business edition—formally dubbed Workplace by Facebook, rather than the Facebook at Work moniker used during its 18-month beta test—has already been adopted by more than 1,000 companies, according to information that Facebook plans to share Monday evening during the product’s official launch event in London.

    • Apple Watch banned from UK cabinet meetings over Russian hacking fears

      Politicians in the UK have reportedly been banned from wearing the Apple Watch to cabinet meetings over fears the device could be hacked. According to a report from The Telegraph, the government is worried that the Apple Watch’s microphone could be used to listen in on high-level policy discussions, especially by Russian spies.

      It’s a justified paranoia, especially after the announcement last week from the US government that it is officially blaming Russia for the hack on the Democratic National Committee. A source in the UK told The Telegraph: “The Russians are trying to hack everything.”

    • In the UK, running a blog over HTTPS is an act of terrorism, says Scotland Yard

      In a bizarre case, Scotland Yard is accusing a person for six separate acts of preparing terrorism. Those six acts include researching encryption, developing an “encrypted version” of his blog, and instructing others how to use encryption.

      This is one of those cases where you do a double take. As reported by Ars Technica, UK’s Scotland Yard is charging a Cardiff person with preparing for terrorism – but the list of charges shows activities we associate with very ordinary precautionary privacy measures. “Developing an encrypted version of a blog” can be read as, and probably means, publishing it over HTTPS – such as this blog and many others, simply because it’s considered best practice.

    • U.S. Tech Giants Are Investing Billions to Keep Data in Europe

      In the battle to dominate Europe’s cloud computing market, American tech giants are spending big to build up their local credibility.

      Amazon Web Services, the largest player, announced last week that it would soon open multiple data centers in France and Britain. Google, which already has sites in countries like Finland and Belgium, is expected to finish a new multimillion-dollar data complex in the Netherlands by the end of the year.

    • NSA In Support Of Encryption Is ‘Disingenuous’: EFF Purports

      On Wednesday, CAMBRIDGE, Ma. – The NSA, National Security Agency appeared in support of encryption. But the stance was quickly contested by the privacy advocates, who criticizes the agency for peculiar definition of the term “encryption” than others.

      The general counsel for the NSA, Glenn Gerstell, asserted that the company “believes in strong encryption” during the panel, “Privacy vs. Security: Beyond the Zero-Sum Game,” on (CCS) Cambridge Cyber Summit conducted by MIT.

    • Unblinking Eyes: The State of Communications Surveillance in Latin America

      In December 1992, following a hastily-drawn sketch of a map given to him by a whistleblower, the Paraguayan lawyer Martin Almada drove to an obscure police station in the suburb of Lambaré, near Asunción. Behind the police offices, in a run-down office building, he discovered a cache of 700,000 documents, piled nearly to the ceiling. This was the “Terror Archive,” an almost complete record of the interrogations, torture, and surveillance conducted by the Paraguayan military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner. The files reported details of “Operation Condor,” a clandestine program between the military dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil between the 1970s and 1980s. The military governments of those nations agreed to cooperate in sending teams into other countries to track, monitor, and kill their political opponents. The files listed more than 50,000 deaths and 400,000 political prisoners throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

    • Subpoena to Encrypted App Provider Highlights Overbroad FBI Requests for Information

      A recently revealed grand jury subpoena shows that the FBI is likely continuing to ask companies for more information than the law allows, according to technology and privacy attorneys interviewed by The Intercept.

      Earlier this year, the FBI served Open Whisper Systems, the creator of Signal, a popular end-to-end encrypted messaging application, with its first criminal grand jury subpoena. On Tuesday, Open Whisper Systems and its lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union successfully challenged a gag order forbidding the company from speaking about that request.

      The published documents show that the FBI requested “any and all subscriber information and any associated accounts to include subscriber name, address, telephone numbers, email addresses, method of payment, IP registration, IP history logs and addresses, account history, toll records, upstream and downstream providers, any associated accounts acquired through cookie data, and any other contact information from inception to the present” for two phone numbers.

    • What would a CYBERCOM-NSA split mean?

      Much has been made over the discussions surrounding a potential separation of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command. Such a determination would involve severing the “dual-hat” leadership of these organizations, which share the same chief, as well as raise questions of what CYBERCOM standing up as its own independent organization might look like.

    • Briefing Unsealed in Court Battle Over National Security Letters

      EFF Argues that NSL Secrecy Violates First Amendment and Chills Debate on Government Surveillance

      San Francisco – An appeals court published redacted briefing by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today arguing that national security letters (NSLs) and their accompanying gag orders violate the free speech rights of companies who want to keep their users informed about government surveillance.

      EFF represents two service providers in challenging the NSL statutes in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Most of the proceedings have been sealed since the case began five years ago, but some redacted documents have been released after government approval.

    • USA FREEDOM Act Requires Government to Declassify Any Order to Yahoo

      In the wake of reports this week that the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Yahoo to scan all of its users’ email in 2015, there are many unanswered legal and technical questions about the mass surveillance.

      But before we can even begin to answer them, there is a more fundamental question: what does the court order say?

      We should be able to answer this question. Section 402 of the USA FREEDOM Act, passed in June 2015, specifically requires government officials to “conduct a declassification review of each decision, order, or opinion issued” by the FISC “that includes a significant construction or interpretation of any provision of law.” The Yahoo order would appear to fall squarely within this provision.

      Congress passed Section 402 to end decades of secret FISC-created law after learning that the court was interpreting federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution in secret and without the benefit of any other voices to counter arguments by the Executive Branch.

    • Experience and updated recipe for using the Signal app without a mobile phone

      In July I wrote how to get the Signal Chrome/Chromium app working without the ability to receive SMS messages (aka without a cell phone). It is time to share some experiences and provide an updated setup.

      The Signal app have worked fine for several months now, and I use it regularly to chat with my loved ones. I had a major snag at the end of my summer vacation, when the the app completely forgot my setup, identify and keys. The reason behind this major mess was running out of disk space. To avoid that ever happening again I have started storing everything in userdata/ in git, to be able to roll back to an earlier version if the files are wiped by mistake. I had to use it once after introducing the git backup. When rolling back to an earlier version, one need to use the ‘reset session’ option in Signal to get going, and notify the people you talk with about the problem. I assume there is some sequence number tracking in the protocol to detect rollback attacks. The git repository is rather big (674 MiB so far), but I have not tried to figure out if some of the content can be added to a .gitignore file due to lack of spare time.

      I’ve also hit the 90 days timeout blocking, and noticed that this make it impossible to send messages using Signal. I could still receive them, but had to patch the code with a new timestamp to send. I believe the timeout is added by the developers to force people to upgrade to the latest version of the app, even when there is no protocol changes, to reduce the version skew among the user base and thus try to keep the number of support requests down.

      Since my original recipe, the Signal source code changed slightly, making the old patch fail to apply cleanly. Below is an updated patch, including the shell wrapper I use to start Signal. The original version required a new user to locate the JavaScript console and call a function from there. I got help from a friend with more JavaScript knowledge than me to modify the code to provide a GUI button instead. This mean that to get started you just need to run the wrapper and click the ‘Register without mobile phone’ to get going now. I’ve also modified the timeout code to always set it to 90 days in the future, to avoid having to patch the code regularly.

    • Self-driving cars won’t just log miles and road markers; they’ll be logging you

      A Silicon Valley company called Nauto announced a partnership with Toyota’s Research Institute, BMWi Ventures (a venture capital company founded by BMW), and insurance company Allianz Ventures to bring driver analysis to autonomous vehicles.

      Nauto currently produces a $400 aftermarket camera- and sensor-equipped device that attaches to a car’s windshield to analyze driver behavior. According to Reuters, the device is part-dash cam—snapping footage and tagging “events” like accidents—and part-driver monitor—detecting possible driver distraction in the car like drinking or texting. Nauto then collects and anonymizes this information to draw conclusions about driver habits, intersections, and congestion in certain areas.

    • Remotely accessing an IP address inside a target computer is a search

      First, several readers pointed out that the government actually has made this argument. You can read the government’s argument here in the Michaud case (pages 6-7) and here in the Lemus case (pages 8-12). My apologies for the misstatement, and thanks to reader Jonathan Mayer for sending on the briefs.

      Second, some readers argued that a Tor user loses a reasonable expectation of privacy in IP addresses because the user must disclose his true IP address to Tor. This is essentially the argument the government (briefly) makes in Michaud: By using Tor, you are sending your IP address to Tor, which is ultimately hosted by “an unknowable collection of strangers” who are running Tor exit nodes. You have put out your IP address to lots of people, which means that you have no expectation of privacy in it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Sweden became an exporter of jihad

      Sweden is a peaceful democratic state that has long been a safe haven for those fleeing conflict. Yet many young people whose families took refuge there are now turning their back on the country. More than 300 people have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, making Sweden per capita one of the biggest exporters of jihadists in Europe.

      I meet a young woman in the basement of a building in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city. She seems like any other young Western woman, wearing tight clothing and make-up. But she has recently returned from Raqqa in Syria, where her husband died fighting for the so-called Islamic State (IS).

    • Pimping charges over escort ads could erode tech firms’ legal protection: experts

      The CEO and owners of Backpage.com are accused of heinous crimes, but California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ indictment of the three men could lead to a major upheaval for some Silicon Valley tech companies, experts said Friday.


      In going after Backpage, Harris — in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign — might have been emboldened by last year’s courtroom victory over the operator of a revenge-porn website. Kevin Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison — despite a Section 230 defense, Goldman said.

      It was Bollaert’s design and operation of the site, rather than just the hosting of third-party content, that helped Harris get a conviction, Goldman said. “It’s possible they think they can hold (the Backpage defendants) accountable for the design and operation of Backpage, which has been in (prosecutors’) opinion optimized to facilitate online prostitution ads,” Goldman said.

    • Police Unions Reject Charges of Bias, Find a Hero in Donald Trump

      During the first presidential debate, Donald Trump answered a question about how to heal the country’s racial divide by boasting of his law enforcement endorsements.

      “We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group,” he said, before rephrasing to “a large percentage of them.” Later in the debate, in response to a question about cybersecurity, he boasted again: “I was just endorsed by ICE. They’ve never endorsed anybody before on immigration. I was just endorsed by ICE.”

      As is often the case, the candidate’s statements were hyperbolic in the first claim and plain incorrect in the second. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency operating under the Department of Homeland Security, did not, of course, endorse anyone, even though the National ICE Council, the union representing 7,600 of ICE’s 20,000 employees, did endorse Trump. And while the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police association in the country, as well as some local police unions, also endorsed Trump, that’s hardly every police group in the country.

      But Trump did have a point: At a time when law enforcement is perhaps the only issue that divides Americans more than the presidential election itself, a notable number of police and immigration officers are throwing their weight behind his candidacy — at least through their unions and associations.

    • Ways You Can Be Killed During An Encounter with Police

      How do you defend yourself against individuals who have been indoctrinated into believing that they are superior to you, that their word is law, and that they have the power to take your life?

      Most of all, how can you maintain the illusion of freedom when daily, Americans are being shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, challenge an order or just exist?

      The short answer: you can’t.

      Now for the long answer, which is far more complicated but still leaves us feeling hopeless, helpless and vulnerable to the fears, moods and misguided training of every cop on the beat.

      If you ask police and their enablers what Americans should do to stay alive during encounters with law enforcement, they will tell you to comply (or die).

    • Avoiding Contempt of Court, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach Says He’ll Let People Vote

      Under the threat of contempt of court, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has agreed to register thousands of eligible voters and to properly notify them that they are registered. His announcement came after a federal judge summoned him to a contempt hearing for failing to fully carry out the court’s order and add about 18,000 voters to the rolls.

      Kobach is the architect of laws across the country that have created barriers for eligible voters to register and vote, including requirements that people present citizenship documents at the time of registration and restrictions on the forms of ID voters must provide. Kobach has helped develop model legislation for these restrictions and coached legislators in how to pass them. Other states have eliminated same-day registration and narrowed time periods for voting — mainly affecting people of color.

      Some legislators have admitted that it is part of their political strategy to spread false fear of electoral fraud in order to issue stricter rules for voter registration. Judges in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, and North Dakota have recently ruled that states restrictions on voters discriminate on the basis of race.

    • Gov. LePage’s Binder of Black and Brown People Is Actually Pretty White

      According to our count, more than half of the people in Gov. LePage’s binder are white.

      Last month, Maine’s Gov. LePage once again got our attention when he claimed to be keeping a binder of “every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state,” 90 percent of whom, he said, are Black or Hispanic.

      We couldn’t believe that was true, so we filed a public records request for the binder. On Monday, we got in line at the state house to receive our copy on CD.

      What we received could best be described as a scrapbook: a random, incomplete collection of newspaper clippings and press releases from the Maine Department of Public Safety. Some press releases don’t include photos of the arrested. Some contain handwritten notes from the governor himself: “get photo for my album;” “please be sure we get all mugs with release;” “file pictures in my binder for historical value.”

      While the binder paints an incomplete picture of the demographics of drug arrests in Maine, it very clearly does not support the governor’s assertions that over 90 percent of the people in his scrapbook are Black or Hispanic. While it is impossible to tell the race of all arrestees included in the binder, at least 50 of the 90 people pictured appear to be white. In other words, the governor greatly exaggerated the role people of color play in Maine’s drug trade.

    • For Mexican Towns Attacked by Cartel, Few Answers and No Justice

      It was a brazen attack. Some 60 gunmen linked to the brutal Zetas cartel descended on a quiet cluster of towns just south of the Mexican border in the spring of 2011 and launched a door-to-door extermination campaign that went on for weeks, leaving an untold number of people dead or missing. Yet in the five years since the slaughter in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, the Mexican government has failed to fully investigate, much less address the needs of the victims and their families, according to a preliminary report released today by a panel of scholars and human rights investigators.

      “It’s horrifying because it was all so blatant,” said Mariclaire Acosta, a veteran human rights investigator who advised the panel. “This wasn’t a hidden crime. It all happened out in the open, and not one government agency did anything to stop it.”

      Such charges have become a disturbing echo in Mexico, where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by drug violence, either at the hands of traffickers or corrupt security forces, and the crippled — often complicit — justice system is incapable of pursuing those responsible. Sunday’s report suggests that Mexicans have begun to look for ways, at the very least, to get to the truth, rather than sitting idly and wait for justice from their government. They are increasingly calling for help from external experts, both at home and abroad, to oversee investigations into the most egregious crimes. And government leaders — who may or may not be committed to real reforms, but seem prickly about public opinion polls — are relenting.

    • Hell in “Dark Prison”: New forms of torture at CIA black site revealed

      Previously undisclosed methods of torture used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency have been revealed in a new report by Human Rights Watch.

      Two Tunisian men detained without charge or trial in a CIA black site in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2015 independently described to the rights group several excruciating forms of abuse they endured at the hands of the CIA.

      The detainees, who were subjected to extreme sensory deprivation and hunger, recalled being brutally beaten all over their bodies with batons by U.S. interrogators. They also said they were repeatedly punched and kicked. One man suffered broken bones in these beatings.

      Even more grueling were the many weeks the detainees endured chained by their hands to the ceilings of their cells for repeated 24-hour periods. These days of torment were only punctuated by short breaks for interrogations or other forms of torture. One man said he was forced to hang like this for roughly three months; another said he suffered through it for a month.

    • 40 boys in mass brawl at troubled Danish asylum centre

      Around 40 underage asylum seekers participated in a mass brawl at the children’ asylum centres Børnecenter Tullebølle on Sunday, local news site Fyens.dk reported.

      Boys from the same centre were also involved in a fight involving upwards of 100 minor asylum seekers during a football match against another centre in July.

      The following month, five teenage boys from the centre were charged for sexual assaults committed during the Langelandsfestival. Three were charged with groping, and two for raping a 16-year-old girl.

    • Malmö nightclub rocked by powerful explosion

      A popular nightclub in Malmö was damaged in a powerful explosion in the early hours of Monday.

      No one was injured in the blast, which was heard across large parts of central Malmö shortly after 1.30am on Monday.

      Babel, a popular nightclub and concert venue in the Möllevången area, was damaged in the explosion, which shattered windows on the first floor. A car parked on the street outside was also damaged.

      Police examined the property overnight. The explosion is believed to have been intentional, but in the morning it was still unclear what had caused the detonation.

    • Girl under 15 married every seven seconds, says Save the Children

      One girl under the age of 15 is married every seven seconds, according to a new report by Save the Children.

      The study says girls as young as 10 are forced to marry much older men in countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Somalia.

      Save the Children says early marriage can trigger a cycle of disadvantage across every part of a girl’s life.

      Conflict, poverty and humanitarian crises are seen as major factors that leave girls exposed to child marriage.

      “Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children,” said Save the Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

    • The Freedom to Associate

      In 1854, an Austrian priest and physics teacher named Gregor Mendel sought and received permission from his abbot to plant a two-acre garden of pea plants on the grounds of the monastery at which he lived. Over the course of the next seven years, he bred together thousands upon thousands of the plants under carefully controlled circumstances, recording in a journal the appearance of every single offspring that resulted, as defined by seven characteristics: plant height, pod shape and color, seed shape and color, and flower position and color. In the end, he collected enough data to formulate the basis of the modern science of genetics, in the form of a theory of dominant and recessive traits passed down in pairs from generation to generation. He presented his paper on the subject, “Experiments on Plant Hybridization,” before the Natural History Society of Austria in 1865, and saw it published in a poorly circulated scientific journal the following year.

      And then came… nothing. For various reasons — perhaps due partly to the paper’s unassuming title, perhaps due partly to the fact that Mendel was hardly a known figure in the world of biology, undoubtedly due largely to the poor circulation of the journal in which it was published — few noticed it at all, and those who did dismissed it seemingly without grasping its import. Most notably, Charles Darwin, whose On the Origin of Species had been published while Mendel was in the midst of his own experiments, seems never to have been aware of the paper at all, thereby missing this key gear in the mechanism of evolution. Mendel was promoted to abbot of his monastery shortly after the publication of his paper, and the increased responsibilities of his new post ended his career as a scientist. He died in 1884, remembered as a quiet man of religion who had for a time been a gentleman dabbler in the science of botany.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Members Still Debating Changes To Oversight At WIPO

      Stung by what some saw as a botched process for handling an investigation into allegations from senior officials about the head of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO members are working this week to agree on changes to procedures. A new draft text circulated this morning introduces additional responsibility for governments in the process, and is under discussion today. At press time, ambassadors from the African Group were meeting among themselves and asked to hold up the process until internal agreement could be reached on the text. The plenary is scheduled to reconvene at four o’clock today.

      The annual WIPO General Assemblies are taking place from 3-11 October.

      The latest draft text of the proposed changes to the WIPO Internal Oversight Charter changes is available here [pdf]. The latest version accepted many of changes in the previous version [pdf], but the latest text goes much further.

    • Promoting Transparency in Trade Act Would Bring Long-Needed Reforms to the USTR

      The one important thing that the current legislation omits to do is to require the publication of consolidated draft texts of trade agreements after each round of negotiations. This reform, alone, would be a significant advance which would bring trade negotiations into line with other intergovernmental treaty negotiations such as those that take place at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is unfortunate that, although it was part of an earlier draft, this didn’t make it into the current draft bill. We are hopeful that the bill can be amended to include this in its final form.

      None of these three proposals, even including the omitted one, is particularly radical. They are far less radical, for example, than a separate proposal by Congressman Morgan Griffith that would actually divest the USTR of its authority and move it to a committee of Congress. EFF considers the Promoting Transparency in Trade Act to be an important and achievable step forward in making long-needed reforms to the USTR. Provided that it can be amended to include the publication of consolidated texts, EFF supports the bill.

    • Key takeaways from the IP Enforcement Forum 2016

      Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) provide a good example of a technology where different IP rights have a role to play, and Noam Shemtov, senior lecturer in IP at Queen Mary University of London, examined the merits of patents, trade marks, trade dress, unfair competition, registered designs and copyright in a discussion that covered cases including Apple’s slide-to-unlock feature and the pending dispute Microsoft v Corel (over Microsoft Office) in the US.

    • Examining the Madrid Protocol in Africa

      International Registrations are not being properly administered in several African countries, and take up by local businesses has been low. Wayne Meiring explains why this is a problem

      Much has been written about the Madrid Protocol in Africa. The focus has been on the common law issue and the issue regarding the accession of OAPI. This article, however, looks at two other issues. The first is that in many member countries International Registrations (IRs) are not being properly administered. The second is the fact that to a great extent, IRs are not being used by African IP rights holders to any significant degree.

    • Interview With Brazilian Culture Minister Marcelo Calero

      At last week’s first-ever Assembly of the Marrakesh Treaty, Intellectual Property Watch caught up with the Assembly Chair, new Brazilian Culture Minister Marcelo Calero. In a video interview with William New, he talked briefly about the importance of libraries and of implementing the Marrakesh Treaty.

    • The Whole VR Porn Industry Is Talking About These Patent Lawsuits

      For the past few years, the media’s been abuzz about the promise of VR porn. VR technology keeps getting better and more affordable, and adult entrepreneurs are eager to find a medium that might actually make them money. Throw in the fact that the immersive properties of VR are ideal for the intimate experience of porn viewing, and it starts to seem like a perfect storm for the future of high-tech erotic entertainment.

      What force could possibly derail the adult industry’s virtual reality dreams? Well, for starters, patents.

      Two weeks ago, the National Law Review reported that Virtual Immersion Technologies LLC had begun enforcing patent 6409599, an incredibly broad patent for an “interactive virtual reality performance theater entertainment system.” The patent is at the heart of a handful of active lawsuits—including one related to VR porn, and another about teledildonics—and other VR companies, even those that haven’t been sued themselves, are beginning to panic.

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