FTC Slams Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), Effectively Patent Trolls, Which Are a Growing Problem in Europe

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 3:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some baseball bats

Summary: A look at remnants of coverage of the recent FTC report as it relates to a new report from European officials

SEVERAL weeks ago the FTC released a very important report that criticised patent trolls, specifically the patent assertion (PAE) type.

Watchtroll protects patent trolls, as usual, saying that this report is “Doing More Harm Than Good”; then again, did we expect anything else from proponents of trolling and their denialists?

Here is the coverage from IP Watch (behind paywall). What this article means by “some” is the patent microcosm, e.g. trolls’ front groups and clients/representatives (patent lawyers).

“The EPO and UPC certainly make the patent trolls lick their lips.”Well, citing this article that we mentioned on Wednesday early in the month, “The behavior of Litigation PAEs is consistent with nuisance litigation” says FTC, according to this tweet.

Carlo Piana (European lawyer, mostly for Free/Open Source projects) says this “means ask settlement money < upfront unrecoverable litigation cost. Experienced that. Parasites.”

The problem is, as we noted in our previous post, that PAEs have come to Europe and this one person says “Patent Assertion Entities (aka patent trolls) in Europe http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC103321/jrc103321%20online%20version.pdf …”

This is actually the report that we wrote about yesterday in relation to Battistelli. It’s a 149-pages long report.

The EPO and UPC certainly make the patent trolls lick their lips.

The Patent Trolls Are Moving East as Patents on Software Lose Their Lustre in the United States

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 3:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Migration to Europe and to the Far East?

A compass

Summary: The appeal of patent trolling in the United States has taken a hit and a lot of the litigious abuse is shifting eastwards, to places that previously didn’t have such issues

AS THE EPO emulates the mistakes/errors of the USPTO by ushering in software patents and pursuing the UPC (more attractive to patent trolls) we increasingly worry that the end of an epidemic in the US won’t be its end worldwide.

According to recent figures from Lex Machina (which we wrote about earlier this month), the end of software patents already contributes to the demise of patent litigation there. It’s a very statistically meaningful difference and it is consistent (every month). In the words of Managing IP (MIP):

Managing IP reveals data on US district court patent case filing so far in 2016, as well as the biggest plaintiffs and defendants. Natalie Rahhal talks to patent lawyers to identify the biggest pressures on patent litigation

US patent case filing in US district courts fell in the third quarter, according to figures pulled from the Docket Navigator database. Some 1,130 cases were filed, down 13% from the 1,299 in the second quarter.

However, the third quarter was up 17% on the 965 cases filed in the first quarter. Patent case filing at the beginning of the year was subdued as a result of a rush of filing in November last year ahead of new rules requiring more disclosure in patent infringement complaints.

Well done to the US administration for improving patent policy somewhat, thereby reducing frivolous litigation and shakedowns. Good news for a change. But where does that leave the rest of the world?

“Well done to the US administration for improving patent policy somewhat, thereby reducing frivolous litigation and shakedowns.”Judging by the patent trolls-funded IAM and its many new articles about China [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], it sure looks like China becomes more like the US when it comes to patent litigation. It’s already rather chaotic. See this “sponsored article” (MIP was paid to publish this) about patent changes in China. It’s like opportunists pursue somewhat of a boom there — a boom in litigation. The same is true in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, as we noted several times last month. Also see this article from IAM which says the Head of India’s top patentee wants more patent aggression. Have they learned nothing from the mistakes of the US? Korea, for a change, is at least coming to grips with the bubble of companies/entities that are just a pile of patents, based on IAM’s report about a resignation. Is Korea coming to grips with the threat of patent maximalism at long last? Here is a small sort of comparison between the situation in Korea and in China: “This blog has devoted quite a bit of coverage to one of the major divisions in China’s IP policy environment – what sometimes looks like a power struggle between judicial authorities and administrative ones. An analogous situation seems to be playing out in Korea. Local media reports say the Supreme Court there has floated the idea of abolishing certain administrative procedures related to patent validity and handing over those matters to the courts, which currently only review them at second instance.”

“If IAM has shifted its attention to Asia recently, it’s because a lot of the ruinous action moves to Asian countries.”The reason we link so much to IAM here isn’t that they’re accurate or objective; rather, as a matter of fact, they’re pro trolls and pro litigation. It’s important to know what the “other side” is saying. Speaking of IAM, this Microsoft-centric and Microsoft-powered site is now grooming Microsoft’s people again, even those responsible for patent aggression and extortion against Linux.

What IAM considers to be good business sense and success we should often interpret as the very opposite. If IAM has shifted its attention to Asia recently, it’s because a lot of the ruinous action moves to Asian countries.

Courts Are Being Showered With Motions to Invalidate Software Patents, Former USPTO Officials Like Kappos and Stoll in a Panic

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 2:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Officials-turned-lobbyists freak out as courts finally do something to combat USPTO greed

Heritage Foundation and Robert L. Stoll

Summary: Representatives of large corporations’ interests, who used to actually hold key positions at the USPTO, are not particularly happy about the avalanche of software patents (slipping down the cliff)

Another death of software patents (in the US) was recently reported, but not much media attention has been paid to it. That’s pretty much what we expect when the media is controlled or steered by particular interests. It should be noted that software patents are dying in bulk in the US and the ‘mess’ this creates (more requests for invalidation) clogs up the system. As Law 360 put it the other day:

Three federal judges from California and Delaware speaking Tuesday at a symposium to honor retiring U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice ruling, saying it has spurred hundreds of patent invalidity motions in their districts, and its two-part test for analyzing patent validity is too subjective.

As a proponent of software patents put it, “Fed. Judges Report that Their Dockets Are Clogged by 101/Alice; Test Too Subjective to Use…” (that latter part is made up, it’s not even in the headline or the article, at least outside the paywall).

“Don’t think that lobbyists and think tanks of large corporations will just stay idle and watch this without a reaction.”What’s worth emphasising, verbatim from the above, is: “hundreds of patent invalidity motions in their districts” (good news!)

Don’t think that lobbyists and think tanks of large corporations will just stay idle and watch this without a reaction. Watch how in the David Kappos years patent quality in the USPTO sank to gutter level (we wrote about this many times before). This new chart speaks for itself. “In the end,” remarks the author, “the Patent Office was able to ramp-up production enough to end FY2016 with the most utility patents issued in any fiscal year in history – 304,500 utility patents!”

What they mean by “production” is what Battistelli means by production. It’s a distortion of the whole patent system for the sake of short-term profit gains. Battistelli basically repeats the mistakes of Kappos, who is nowadays a paid lobbyist for software patents. “In Europe” according to IAM, “they have not degraded patents like in the US, says Kappos #LESAM16″

Actually, they are now. Battistelli fancies himself another Kappos. As Benjamin Henrion said in response, “he means corrupt and malicious EPO still grants software patents?”

Well, it has certainly gotten there. Insiders told us this too.

“Don’t let the USPTO decide on patent scope.”So while the US moves away from software patents, having ejected this disaster who was David Kappos, Europe under Battistelli turns patent examination into a production line with minimal quality control — the very thing that the US Government Accountability Office recently warned about.

According to this very recent post, Kappos took his lobbying to AIPLA and “Director Lee is likely nearing the end of her term as USPTO Director.” Here is the part which mentions Kappos: “USPTO Director Michelle Lee offered a set of Remarks at the October 28, 2016 AIPLA Luncheon. As a presidential appointee, Director Lee is likely nearing the end of her term as USPTO Director. Although the likely election of fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton suggests a smooth transition that could extend her term beyond January 2017, I expect that she will step-down prior to that point and that Deputy Director Russ Slifer will step-up as Acting Director.”

According to this post from IAM, the USPTO improves patent quality somewhat (Mayo/Alice) and associated fees go up. A sign of improvement to come? Here is how Patently-O put it:

From the USPTO: The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that as part of its effort to solicit input from the public regarding the legal contours of patent subject matter eligibility, it will be holding two roundtables, one in November and one in December.

“In recent years, the jurisprudence on the very basic issue of what is patent eligible subject matter has been evolving requiring adjustments by innovators, businesses, lower courts and administrative agencies such as the USPTO,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Michelle K. Lee. “Our goal is to minimize any uncertainty in the patent system by ensuring we not only continue to apply the statute and case law in this area as faithfully as possible, but also understand the impact of the jurisprudence on innovation by assessing what, if any, changes might be helpful to further support innovation.”

Don’t let the USPTO decide on patent scope. It’s not their job and they are biased because more patents mean job security for them, at the expense of the public that’s attacked by patent trolls and taxed at every corner by low-quality patents. As a cautionary tale look at the EPO.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street media gives a platform to the former USPTO patent commissioner — a broad platform in which to promote patent maximalism, as usual. Here is what Robert L. Stoll wrote earlier this month:

In conclusion, after a long spell of bad news, Planet Blue—along with decisions like Bascom and Enfish—provides software innovators, applicants and owners with not only increased clarity, but also concrete evidence that the courts are working to address the challenges arising from the Alice test and that we’re not headed for a software patent apocalypse (as some have claimed).

I, for one, remain optimistic that the courts and PTO are fully committed to a healthy patent system and will continue working to resolve the remaining issues around patent eligibility and to ensure that effective patent protection is available to innovations in software (and every other field of technology).

Why does Stoll call the end of software patents “bad news”? Is he — like Kappos — a former USPTO official that’s now de facto lobbyist on patent scope, where the goal is just maximising everything with little or no regard to public interests? See our previous article, the one about Stoll's meddling in policy.

For those who may be wondering about Intellectual Ventures v Symantec, it will be the subject of our next few posts (later tonight). It’s a game changer that may have really heralded the very irreversible death of software patents in the US.

An Update on the Apple v Samsung Patent Cases — Cases That Apple Must Lose in Order for Linux to ‘Win’

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Samsung at 1:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Witness those truly innovative things — the work of pure genius! — which are rounded corners!

Apple devices

Summary: A quick roundup of recent articles/reports/analyses about Apple v Samsung, including the impending Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case

APPLE’S longstanding patent war with Samsung (or Android, having started to attack it more than 6 years ago) has become a high profile story and probably the leading example of patent litigation in recent times, with a lot of money at stake.

As expected, patent lawyers go ahead and push forth their fairly tales about patents being surrogates for “innovation” (the 1%’s protectionism), this time in relation to Apple and Samsung. To quote Patent Lawyer Magazine:

The recent and numerous cases opposing companies like Apple and Samsung or Google and Oracle highlight that, today, patents are defensive weapons as well as offensive weapons according to the strategy developed by the holder. Many companies notice lately this functional ambivalence of the patent, just as a patent-related dispute happen, like its violation by a counterfeiter party who reproduces without any authorization the protected invention.

If adopting a strategy of patent application may appear expensive in front of the strategy of the secret which consists in keeping the invention undisclosed, it must be clear that the patents ensure an effective legal protection of the inventions against potential counterfeiters and also permit to the innovative companies recouping their Research & Development costs as a patent owner will be able to negotiate royalties for license agreements signed with firms interested in the use of the patented technology.

That’s a rather misleading framing. If one actually considers which patents Apple is suing with/over, then one hasn’t any doubts; it’s not about innovation at all. Maybe it’s about “first to file” or something along those lines. We have covered these patents many times over the years.

As should become apparent pretty soon — because certainly corporate media will be all over it — Apple’s patent war against Samsung will be discussed at SCOTUS, with design patenting as a whole coming under scrutiny. Here is an overview of some more cases to be discussed by SCOTUS:

Constitutional Challenge to Inter Partes Review: Although the Constitutional issues in Cooper v. Lee and MCM v. HP were law-professor-interesting, they were not substantial enough for certiorari. The Supreme Court has now denied the Cooper and MCM petitions — leaving the IPR regime unchanged. Although Cooper v. Square is still pending, its chances are slight. The Supreme Court has also denied certiorari in Encyclopaedia Britannica (malpractice), Gnosis (appellate review), and GeoTag (case-or-controversy).

A new 101 Challenge: In its first conference of the term, the Supreme Court denied all of the pending petitions regarding patent eligibility. However, Trading Technologies has filed a new petition asking whether a new card game is categorically unpatentable so long as it uses a standard deck (rather than a novel deck) of cards. My post on the case asks: Does the Patent Statute Cabin-in the Abstract Idea Exception? That question references Section 100 of the Patent Act that expressly allows for the patenting of new use of a known manufacture.

Extra Territoriality of Trade Secrecy Law: On the trade secrecy front, Sino Legend has petitioned to review the Federal Circuit’s affirmance of the International Trade Commision’s ban on Legend’s importation of rubber resins used for tire production. The underlying bad-act was a trade secret misappropriation that occurred in China and the question on appeal asks: Whether Section 337(a)(1)(A) permits the ITC to adjudicate claims regarding trade secret misappropriation alleged to have occurred outside the United States. A Chinese court looked at the same case and found no misappropriation.

Design Patent Damages: Oral arguments were held earlier this week in Samsung v. Apple. During the arguments, all parties agreed that (1) the statute does not allow for apportionment of damages but rather requires profit disgorgement; (2) the article-of-manufacture from which profits can be calculated may be a component of the product sold to consumers; and (3) the determination of what counts as the article-of-manufacture is a question of fact to be determined by the jury. The only dispute then was on the factors that a jury should be considered and when the “inside gears” of a product should ever be included in the calculation.

The fourth paragraph is about Apple (design patents, not software patents) and the second paragraph speaks of a Section 101 challenge, which isn’t yet likely to happen. Alice is likely to stay here for a long time to come. The focus of the above cases, or the framing that Patently-O has chosen, is ITC. The I in ITC stands for “international” — surely a misleading label. It’s like calling the KGB “international” because it goes (or went) abroad in order to get its way for its home country. The ITC is to US corporations what the FSB is to Russia’s government (or the Kremlin) and we should recognise that there’s nothing “international” about it. It’s not the UN. Now that the patent battles target Asian companies like Samsung IAM likes to obsess about the subject. This patent trolls-funded site wishes us to believe that patent tax that makes phones worse (removed features to avert risk of lawsuits) and more expensive is a desirable aspect. Phones from Samsung almost literally explode and all that IAM can think about is patents, patents, and more patents.

Over at MIP there has been more coverage of the above patent case of Apple v Samsung. Florian Müller foresees more action in this domain (not involving only design patents but much more).

Little attention is being paid to Apple’s practices or tradition of tax evasion with patents as a financial instrument. It continues to happen in Ireland where Apple has a notorious tax-dodging operation and pro-Apple sites touch on the subject yet don’t quite get to the bottom of it (“Apple Moves $9B Worth of iTunes Intellectual Property To Ireland”). Remember what we wrote about Patent Boxes earlier this year.

Joseph Robinson & Robert Schaffer (over at Watchtroll) write about a related case (a different Apple v Samsung). It is apparent that this site is growingly concerned about yet another case reaffirming the death of software patents in the US. Apple has more than one case against Samsung; there are software patents at stake as well, hence the relevance to us. Watchtroll is still opposing patent reform and uses the terminology of anonymous Twitter accounts that taunt us, e.g. “Efficient Infringement”. What a cesspool Watchtroll has become…

Going back to Müller, here is what he recently wrote about both Apple v Samsung cases that are high profile:

Was it just a coincidence that the Federal Circuit made a decision on an Apple petition for a rehearing about eight months after the original decision and just days before the design patents hearing in the top U.S. court? It may very well have been. But when there are already other oddities (such as the decision not to invite further briefing from the parties and hold a rehearing), it’s not impossible that there is a hidden message or agenda.

The Federal Circuit decision certainly gives Apple leverage. Limited leverage, though: the relatively most valuable one of the three patents on which Apple had prevailed at the spring 2014 trial has expired and the most iconic one, slide-to-unlock, is about as valuable in the age of Touch ID and comparable technologies as an ISDN or floppy disk patent.

“Experts Urge Supreme Court To Take A Bite Out Of Apple’s Patent Win Over Samsung,” said this recent report, stating: “As two of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies face off at the Supreme Court Tuesday, experts in legal, patent, technology and consumer advocacy fields are urging the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in the smartphone war between Apple and Samsung that awarded the iPhone maker the total profit of patent-infringing Galaxy devices.”

Matt Levy wrote about this also [1, 2]. That was 2.5 weeks ago when he pulished some thoughts about “A Funny Thing [That] Happened on the Way to the Court” and to quote:

A funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court in yesterday’s Samsung v. Apple design patent dispute. The high court was expected to review the lower court’s award of the entire profits made for 11 different smartphone models — just under $400 million.


Unexpectedly, some time before the argument Apple had agreed to concede that the “article of manufacture” didn’t have to be the entire product sold. That is, Apple agreed with Samsung and the government that the answer to the question that the Court had agreed to decide is “Yes.”

Will design patents not be challenged even by Samsung after all? IAM (wshfully) thinks there may be alignment on the horizon. To quote: “For the last couple of years it has been apparent that the smartphone wars that have raged in US courts since 2009 have been reaching their final skirmishes. Peace deals between the likes of Microsoft and Google and Apple and Google, have brought many of the battles to an end. Except, that is, for what has probably been the most significant confrontation – Apple v Samsung.”

There’s no “Microsoft and Google” “peace deal”; Microsoft continues to attack Android OEMs with patents and it was Microsoft that initiated antitrust action against Android in Europe. Microsoft is a malicious firm that would lie to anyone, anytime.

Joe Mullin asked: “How much punishment is appropriate when it comes to design patents?”

MIP’s coverage at the time spoke of the arguments and Patently-O offered a “view from inside the courtroom”. It said:

At oral argument, Samsung informed the Court that it was dropping its “causation argument” (i.e., that § 289 must be read in light of background causation principles from general tort law) and wanted to focus on its “article of manufacture” argument (i.e., its argument that a successful design patentee should be entitled to the “total profit” from the “article of manufacture” but that the relevant article should be determined mainly by looking at whether the patent claims a whole design or only part).

We eagerly await rulings against Apple in both cases, one involving software patents and another design patents, which in this case closely resemble software patents in multiple ways/aspects. What’s at stake here isn’t just the price of Samsung phones but the financial viability of Android (Linux-based) phones in general.

The Importance of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board Proven by the Fact That It’s Under Endless Attacks From the Patent Microcosm

Posted in America, Patents at 12:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent maximalists just want patents on everything

PTAB impotence

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to invalidate patents that should never have been granted in the first place, not slowing down even in the face of greater and louder opposition from reckless patent maximalists

THE SCIENCE-LED PTAB is one of the best aspects of the USPTO. It’s almost like the equivalent of the besieged appeal boards at the EPO and it helps ensure high patent quality.

“The patent microcosm just can’t stand the idea of high-profile patents (with high royalties) being subjected to proper scrutiny.”Don’t assume that PTAB is popular with everyone. Not all people have the same goals; peace, for example, isn’t an objective when you sell weapons. There’s bemoaning of PTAB in IAM ‘magazine’ this month (more of the usual) and MIP writes about Kyle Bass essentially making money out of PTAB. Making money by blowing away bad patents is not an evil thing; in a way, this should be very much encouraged. “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has invalidated the claims of a patent covering Shire’s Gattex drug,” MIP wrote. Well, good riddance then. Bass does not just go after solid, decent patents. The patent maximalists call him a “troll” (or “reverse troll”) for it. The patent microcosm just can’t stand the idea of high-profile patents (with high royalties) being subjected to proper scrutiny.

In re Aqua, one high profile case involving PTAB, got covered at Patently-O in recent days/weeks [1, 2]. It’s one of those increasingly common cases where a company gets a bogus patent application past careless examiners at the USPTO and then PTAB steps it, threatening to throw it away, whereupon the grantee wants to modify/change the patent (post-grant) for apparent merit. What is this system going to look like if there are post-issuance edits? What are the patent maximalists sinking/stooping down to? To quote Patently-O:

The only pending en banc patent case before the Federal Circuit is In re Aqua Products (Appeal No. 15-1177) involving claim amendments during inter partes review. The Patent Statute contemplates claim amendments as a possibility but not a right — notably, 35 U.S.C. 316(d) states that “the patent owner may file 1 motion to amend the patent” with additional motions to amend permitted in limited situations. The scope of amendment is also limited to (A) cancelling challenged claims and (B) proposing “a reasonable number of substitute claims” that do not “enlarge the scope of the claims of the patent or introduce new matter.”

Another article from Patently-O says that “[i]n a split opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the PTAB’s determination of obviousness. Biota’s patent claims influenza treatment through oral inhalation of zanamivir while the prior art teaches the identical treatment by nasal inhalation. A second prior art reference also suggests that similar compound can be taken via “inhalation” (without the nasal or oral modifier). On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed that the general inhalation disclosure “is reasonably understood to disclose inhalation by either the nose alone, mouth alone, or both.””

It sure looks like attacks on the legitimacy of PTAB come from many directions and they usually fall flat on their face. The PTAB Litigation Blog, one or those blogs that are managed or run by the patent microcosm (Jones Day in this case), has this new article titled “The Equitable Doctrine of Assignor Estoppel Does Not Prevent PTAB from Instituting an IPR”.

“What is this system going to look like if there are post-issuance edits?”It’s all about stopping PTAB, isn’t it? It’s a serial destroyer of software patents, which is a lot more efficient than US courts (more patents invalidated more quickly).

Finnegan et al (other firms that profit from patents) are increasingly afraid of PTAB and do anything within their capacity to politely (more than Watchtroll) delegitimise it. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP can be seen here poking PTAB again. They just never give up, do they?

Michael Loney, who has done a lot of coverage regarding PTAB this year, has this roundup which includes PTAB news and going back to Patently-O, this one new article is attempting to use any tricks in the book to shoot down PTAB because it invalidates patents and does its job by ensuring high patent quality. To quote one very recent article: “Patent Academic Ray Mercado also took advantage of the request for a responsive brief to file an amicus brief. Mercado argues that patents should be seen as “private rights” and therefore cannot be administratively cancelled. He writes: “Once the historical uniqueness of patent law is taken into account, it is clear that patents are ‘private rights’ for purposes of this Court’s separation of powers jurisprudence, and their validity must be decided by Article III courts.””

“It sure looks like attacks on the legitimacy of PTAB come from many directions and they usually fall flat on their face.”So they try to scrutinise the very existence of PTAB. How predictable. Another new article from Patently-O reveals that large companies are exploring ways to overcome PTAB and maintain their invalid, bogus patents. Here are some of the details: “On rehearing in Medtronic v. Robert Bosch, the Federal Circuit panel has reaffirmed its earlier determining that the PTAB’s vacatur of an IPR institution decision is a decision as to “whether to institute an inter partes review” and therefore is “final and nonappealable.” The original Medtronic decision had been released prior to Cuozzo v. Lee (2016) and the rehearing decision now explains that “nothing in Cuozzo is to the contrary.” [...] An additional difficulty with all of this stems from the pending Ethicon petition and the difference between action by the Director and action by the PTAB. The statute separates the roles – indicating that the PTO Director’s role is in determining “whether to institute” an IPR. Under the statute, the PTAB then steps in to conduct the trial. Those separate roles were then combined by PTO regulation which states “The Board institutes the trial on behalf of the Director.” 37 CFR 42.4. A question – unanswered in this case – is whether the Director’s regulatory delegation above should be interpreted to also extend to vacating and terminating petitions. I’m not sure that it does.”

To clarify, IPRs are about invalidation of patents including software patents (killing software patents one at a time, which isn’t optimal/ideal). Anyone in this domain already knows this, yet law firms spin it as “settlement”. That’s highly misleading a characterisation. Watch what Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP is saying: “Through October 1, 2016, the Federal Circuit decided 120 PTAB appeals from IPRs and CBMs. The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB on every issue in 95 (79.17%) of the cases, and reversed or vacated the PTAB on every issue in 9 (7.50%) of the cases. A mixed outcome on appeal, where at least one issue was affirmed and at least one issue was vacated or reversed, occurred in 11 (9.17%) of the cases.”

“We expect PTAB to come under plenty of new/fresh attacks, including complaints to politicians, to courts, and misinformation (targeting the public and stakeholders).”No matter how much law firms may attempt to destroy the reality (for profit), there are no effective changes to PTAB. Its large-scale patents invalidation progress is not slowing down, not judging by these latest figures. As MIP put it: “The ability to include testimonial evidence with patent owner preliminary responses in Patent Trial and Appeal Board proceedings has not been much help since it was introduced in May, according to an analysis by Oblon’s Scott McKeown”

We expect PTAB to come under plenty of new/fresh attacks, including complaints to politicians, to courts, and misinformation (targeting the public and stakeholders). We’ll keep a close eye on progress and report on it periodically.

Links 30/10/2016: Lenovo Surrenders to Linux, Bodhi Linux 4.0.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • What you can learn from GitHub’s top 10 open source projects

    Open source dominates big data. So much so, in fact, that Cloudera co-founder Mike Olson has declared, “No dominant platform-level software infrastructure has emerged in the last ten years in closed-source, proprietary form.” He’s right, as the vast majority of our best big data infrastructure (Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, MongoDB, etc.) is open source.

  • Nine in ten companies use open source

    It’s not surprising that businesses are feeling jittery about cybersecurity, especially after last week’s news that a botnet had used Internet of Things devices to hack into platforms like Reddit, Twitter and Spotify. And this week, a new report from Rackspace, the managed cloud company, has revealed that while many companies are now using open source – a type of software that makes the original source code freely available – they still harbour security concerns.

    The report, which surveyed 300 large organisations in the UK, found that 90% of companies are using open source coding, despite 54% associating it with security threats. And while 25% of companies are fully using open source, of the companies that aren’t fully using it, 49% saw closed source technologies as more secure.

  • Why Professional Open Source Management is Critical for your Business

    In his Open Source Landscape keynote at LinuxCon Japan earlier this year, Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation said that the trend toward corporate-sponsored open source projects is one of the most important developments in the open source ecosystem. The jobs report released by the Linux Foundation earlier this year found that open source professionals are in high demand. The report was followed by the announcement that TODOGroup, a collaboration project for open source professionals who run corporate open source program offices, was joining the Linux Foundation. Open source is no longer exclusively a pursuit of the weekend hobbyist. Professional open source management is a growing field, and it’s critical to the success of your technology strategy.

  • Ignite UI Is Now Open Source!

    For a while now, Ignite UI has been the choice for large enterprises to create beautiful and powerful modern web UIs on top of their enterprise data. We (Infragistics) are now making this product available to everyone. We want to open up the most powerful and easy-to-use UI framework for Modern Web Applications to everyone. In order to do this, we’ve made the majority of the line of business Ignite UI controls and components open source, and available on GitHub to everyone to grab! The open source part of Ignite UI is licensed under Apache 2.0.

  • Increasing Diversity is not Just the Duty of the Marginalized

    Often women are presented with a “Prove it again” bias in the workplace, in which they must repeatedly demonstrate their competence just to be taken seriously. As a member of the OpenStack Technical Committee for the past four years, Anne Gentle has encountered her fair share of these biases. Gentle shared her experience on today’s episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, recorded at the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona this week.

  • Microservices Ecosystem Transit Map

    Microservices architecture has reached a tipping point where its broad adoption is now pretty much guaranteed. According to a survey by NGINX, nearly a third of companies have deployed microservices in production, and another third are either using microservices in development or considering them. Furthermore, there is fairly even distribution of microservices adoption across small (36%), medium (50%), and large companies (44%), indicating that the approach has merit regardless of how many developers you have in your organization.

  • Free Dev Tools for Running or Creating a Site

    Are you involved in DevOps and web development, or are you aiming to be? If so, you’re probably very aware of many of the tools from the open standards and open source arenas that can make your work easier. Still, these are always spreading out at a fast clip and there are some applications and tools that are rarely discussed. Here at OStatic, we try to regularly update our collections focused on them. In this post, you’ll find numerous free resources for web development that range from complete online courses available for free to unsung applications.

  • Collaboration yields open source technology for computational science

    The gap between the computational science and open source software communities just got smaller – thanks to an international collaboration among national laboratories, universities and industry.

    The Eclipse Science Working Group (SWG), a global community for individuals and organizations who collaborate on commercially-friendly open source software, recently released five projects aimed at expediting scientific breakthroughs by simplifying and streamlining computational science workflows.

  • Open source data sharing software takes aim at cancer
  • Open source oncology software from Pitt, UPMC to speed genomic data sharing

    TCGA Expedition, a new new tool developed by the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, can help cancer investigators wade through huge amounts of genomic data.

    The open-source technology, which manages data from The Cancer Genome Atlas project, continuously downloads, processes and manages TCGA data, allowing researchers to choose specific tools as they work toward better treatments.

    “Starting with TCGA, our goal is to make large data sets available to the average researcher who would not otherwise be able to access this information,” said Rebecca Jacobson, MD, professor of biomedical informatics and chief information officer at Pitt’s School of Medicine, in a statement.

  • Pittsburgh researchers team up to offer open-source genomic software

    Several Pittsburgh-based genetic research organizations have released to the public an open-source software tool that aims to make researchers’ work easier while handing massive amounts of genomic data across disparate data sources.

    The three participants in the software development project, called TCGA Expedition, are the University of Pittsburgh, the UPMC health system and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. The 30-year-old center is a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

    The genetic database known as the Cancer Genome Atlas is, for now, the focus of the Pittsburgh developers’ attention. It is a joint project of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

  • Open source is all about pay it forward

    When a bunch of open source devotees get together, the results can be quite astounding. In eight short years, Cloudera has become number five on the Forbes Cloud 100 list. As for the “pay it forward” reference – see the comments at the end.

  • Mitchell Hashimoto Talks About His Superpower and Why You Should Find Yours

    As the co-founder of HashiCorp, Mitchell Hashimoto is credited with being the creator of Vagrant, Packer, Terraform, Consul, Vault and other DevOps tools. In addition, he’s an O’Reilly author and a top GitHub user, whether guaged by followers, activity or contributions. That’s quite a set of accomplishments for a young man who’s still on the younger side of 30.

  • Events

    • Winners of NZ Open Source Awards revealed

      The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Open Source Awards have been announced.

      Jason Ryan, chair of the judging panel said the winners constituted an impressive list of New Zealand’s Open Source community, and represented a cross-section of a thriving technical, social and creative sector.

      “The calibre of the nominations meant that there were strong contenders in every category. And while all of the finalists were worthy of recognition, the judges unanimously agreed that the winners in each category were those most deserving of recognition for their contributions”, Ryan said.

      The Awards aim to raise awareness of the free and open source advantage for New Zealand by “telling powerful success stories based on real achievements that are already making a difference for our country,” according to the award web site.

    • Winners of the 2016 New Zealand Open Source Awards Announced [Ed: same as below]
    • Winners of the 2016 New Zealand Open Source Awards Announced
    • Tizen DevLab Coming to Bangalore India – 4 November 2016
    • OpenStack Summit Barcelona Presentation

      Yesterday I conducted my talk at the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona. You can find the presentation here: “Vanilla or Distributions: How Do They Differentiate?” and the video from the session on the OpenStack Foundation youtube channel.

    • CppCon Special Report

      KDAB has long supported the C++ community, as C++ is the backbone of Qt and up-to-date knowledge of its changes keeps us on the leading edge in the Qt world.

      Later this year we shall be supporting Europe’s Meeting C++ in Berlin, but now that this year’s talks have been released we felt it was time for a Special Report on CppCon which ran from September 17th-23rd this autumn in Bellevue, WA.

      KDAB’s Kévin Ottens was on the program committee and reviewed the talks at this year’s show, while Giuseppe D’Angelo (Peppe) contributed a day’s training on Programming with Qt Widgets, and two Lightning Talks on Qt (see them here and here), as well as attending the rest of the event.

    • GStreamer Conference 2016: Holographic Telecommunication in the Age of Free Software
    • Sysdig Camp-Con-World-Fest-Summit
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • A Quantum Leap for the Web

        Over the past year, our top priority for Firefox was the Electrolysis project to deliver a multi-process browsing experience to users. Running Firefox in multiple processes greatly improves security and performance. This is the largest change we’ve ever made to Firefox, and we’ll be rolling out the first stage of Electrolysis to 100% of Firefox desktop users over the next few months.

        But, that doesn’t mean we’re all out of ideas in terms of how to improve performance and security. In fact, Electrolysis has just set us up to do something we think will be really big.

      • Mozilla Quantum: New Browser Engine Based On Servo/Rust For Firefox

        Mozilla’s latest secret project to go public is Quantum, a new browser engine for Firefox. But before wondering what happened to Servo, don’t worry, Quantum makes use of Servo and Rust.

      • Porting a few C functions to Rust

        Last time I showed you my beginnings of porting parts of Librsvg to Rust. In this post I’ll do an annotated porting of a few functions.

        Disclaimers: I’m learning Rust as I go. I don’t know all the borrowing/lending rules; “Rust means never having to close a socket” is a very enlightening article, although it doesn’t tell the whole story. I don’t know Rust idioms that would make my code prettier. I am trying to refactor things to be prettier after a the initial pass of C-to-Rust. If you know an idiom that would be useful, please mail me!

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Community Week: Design – get involved

      Earlier this week we talked to Heiko Tietze, LibreOffice’s user experience (UX) mentor, and then looked at some of the changes that the Design team has made in recent releases of the suite. You’ve seen that even the smallest updates to the interface can have a significant effect, and the Design team is always looking for new ideas and contributions. So read on to learn how you can get involved and make LibreOffice better for everyone.

  • CMS

    • Wix denies allegations it stole WordPress code, says it open sourced work

      A day after being on the receiving end of allegations that it not only stole code from WordPress, it also failed to contribute back to the open-source community, Wix has responded, saying that the claims against it are baseless and that its do-it-yourself website building platform has been operating in good faith.

      In an open letter to WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg, Wix chief executive and cofounder Avishai Abrahami answered every criticism leveled at his company. He admitted that Wix did use WordPress’ open source library for “a minor part of the application,” but claimed that every modification or improvement the team made was submitted back as open source. Mullenweg had said previously that Wix’s mobile app editor, which was released this month, was built using “stolen code.”

    • Wix Delivers Weak Response To Stolen WordPress Code Claims

      Recently, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg’s accused Wix of stealing source code from WordPress and using it in the company’s mobile app “without attribution, credit, or following the license”. Wix, deciding it was best not to let Mullenweg’s stipulations go unchallenged, has fired back with a double-barrelled, if wishy-washy, reply.

      Matt Mullenweg’s letter garnered not one, but two responses from Wix: the first from CEO Avishai Abrahami and the second via the company’s lead engineer Tal Kol.

    • WordPress Creator Matt Mullenweg Blasts Wix, Avishai Abrahami Responds

      Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, is not happy with the editor used in the Wix mobile app, saying the web building service copied his platform. Wix.com’s CEO Avishai Abrahami responds to Mullenweg’s accusations.

      Mullenweg said in his blog that Wix’s mobile app seems familiar to him, it’s like he had used it before. He said he has because it’s WordPress.

      “If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license,” he said. “Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress – including their company name, which used to be Wixpress Ltd. – but this blatant rip-off and code theft is beyond anything I’ve seen before from a competitor.”

    • Nasdaq Taps Open Source Tech for IR

      Nasdaq Corporate Solutions, a business line of Nasdaq, Inc., is banking on the collective input from users of Drupal open-source web content management technology to empower its platform for IR websites.

    • Moodle Installation Made Easy

      Moodle is a very popular course-management system, equivalent to Blackboard, but entirely free and open source. This short YouTube video by Moodle expert Nellie Deutsch explains how you can install Moodle in your cPanel with Softaculous in under 2 minutes.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • Poland to start a central source code repository

      Poland is to create a central source code repository, aiming to facilitate sharing and reuse of ICT solutions. The repository is part of an overhaul of the country’s eGovernment strategy, which was adopted last month.

    • Boston city Web site goes open source

      Boston has loaded the source code for boston.gov on github, which means code writers can now rummage around and submit improvements to make the site work better.

      City Hall says this makes Boston the first “major” US city to turn its Web site into an open-source project. Officials emphasize the code – based on open-source Drupal software – contains no sensitive data.

    • EXCLUSIVE – Creating an open source driven culture of innovation in the Malaysian government

      Senior ICT executives from Malaysian government agencies got together at an OpenGov Breakfast Dialogue to discuss the process of transforming government with flexibility and transparency, how to do more with less in an era of increasing budgetary constraints and the key role that could be played by Open Source.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • 3D-printed violins, a new tool from NASA, and more open source news
    • Open source healthcare and the empowered patient

      Conventional ‘top down’ health care is characterised by the system not really catering for the patient’s needs and often restricting the way patient data – especially for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease – can be shared and utilised, says patient advocate, Tim Omer. But there is an alternative, bottom up, approach he tells Ian Scales. A range of “community projects are very interesting because we’re freeing the (patient) data. We’re not necessarily saying we know how to use it, [but] we make it available and other community projects take that data and then do interesting things with it,” he says.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • An Open Source 96 MSPS Logic Analyzer For $22

        If you are in the market for an inexpensive USB logic analyser you have a several choices, but few of them deliver much in the way of performance. There are kits from China for a few dollars using microcontrollers at their heart, but they fail to deliver significant sample rates. If you require more, you will have to pay for it.


        This project has the promise to add a very useful piece of test equipment to the armoury of the engineer on a budget, and to aid the cost-conscious reader he’s provided extensive documentation and installation instructions, as well as the code for the FPGA. Thanks to one of the more awesome hacks of 2015, there is an entirely open toolchain for this Lattice part, and our own [Al Williams] has written up a multi-part getting-started guide if you want to get your feet wet. You probably want one of these anyway, and now it’s a logic analyzer to boot.

      • Global CNC Metal Cutting Machine Tools Market Growth Value, Demand and Analysis 2016
      • Massive Open Source CNC Machine Created Offering 8 x 4ft Cutting Area (video)

        If you are looking for a large format CNC machine you might be interested in a new open source system which has been created by Bar Smith in the form of the Maslow CNC which provides a cutting surface 8 x 4ft in size.


  • Hardware

    • The New Macbook Pro Has a Touchscreen Keyboard, Whether You Like It or Not

      The MacBook introduced in early 2015 already set the stage for this, but the MBP no longer has the USB ports you’re used to. Nope, the now has four Thunderbolt ports, Intel’s proprietary port that also supports the new, smaller, and reversible USB-C standard. What does that mean for you? Basically, if you want to continue to use your current USB devices, like mice, you’ll need an adapter.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Don’t Be Fooled By Profiteers Option

      It is critical, if we are to solve the ongoing healthcare crisis in the US, that we are not fooled by what is actually the Profiteer’s Option that will be another gift to the insurance industry. We must unite instead and fight, just as we fight to stop pipelines and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for the solution, national improved Medicare for All, a single payer system that nearly two-thirds of people in the US support.

    • More Hepatitis C Patients Being Treated In Developing Countries; Price Still An Issue

      In May 2016, the World Health Assembly adopted a viral hepatitis strategy with the goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C as public health threats by 2030.

      The report found that increasing generic competition is beginning to have an impact on the prices of hepatitis medicines, which are becoming more affordable in low- and most lower-middle-income countries. High prices in high income and middle-income countries have led to rationing of treatment, including in the European Union and Switzerland.

      Measures that have been used to increase affordability and improve access to hepatitis medicines include optimised procurement, voluntary licenses, local production, and patent oppositions, said the report.

      Countries that are not able to procure from generic sources have to engage in price negotiations unless they use flexibilities contained in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the report said. The report provides pricing information to help buyer countries to better assess the market prices and fix goals in price negotiations.

    • Protecting Online Access To Safe And Affordable Medication

      High drug prices are a global public health crisis. This is mostly the case among lower income countries but also for citizens and residents in the US, where tens of millions are not filling prescriptions due to cost. The international online marketplace is a much-needed lifeline for consumers who cannot afford prescription medication where they live. People deserve the widest possible access to safe and affordable medication, including online access, and the Internet community can help.

    • Obamacare: The Biggest Insurance Scam in History

      The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called “Obamacare,” may be the biggest insurance scam in history. The industries that profit from our current health care system wrote the legislation, heavily influenced the regulations and have received waivers exempting them from provisions in the law. This has all been done to protect and enhance their profits.

      In the meantime, the health care crisis continues. Fewer people, even those with health insurance, can afford the health care they need because of out-of-pocket costs. The ACA continues that trend by pushing skimpy health plans with low coverage and restricted networks.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security advisories
    • Here’s How to Protect Linux Servers & Android Phones from Dirty COW Vulnerability
    • The Inevitability of Being Hacked

      The last attempted hack came 5 minutes ago, using the username root and the password root.

    • New Windows code injection method could let malware bypass detection

      Security researchers have discovered a new way that allows malware to inject malicious code into other processes without being detected by antivirus programs and other endpoint security systems.

      The new method was devised by researchers from security firm Ensilo who dubbed it AtomBombing because it relies on the Windows atom tables mechanism. These special tables are provided by the operating system and can be used to share data between applications.

      “What we found is that a threat actor can write malicious code into an atom table and force a legitimate program to retrieve the malicious code from the table,” Ensilo researcher Tal Liberman said in a blog post. “We also found that the legitimate program, now containing the malicious code, can be manipulated to execute that code.”

      This new code-injection technique is not currently detected by antivirus and endpoint security programs because it is based on legitimate functionality, according to Liberman. Also, the atom tables mechanism is present in all Windows versions and it’s not something that can be patched because it’s not a vulnerability.

    • Of course smart homes are targets for hackers

      The Wirecutter, an in-depth comparative review site for various electrical and electronic devices, just published an opinion piece on whether users should be worried about security issues in IoT devices. The summary: avoid devices that don’t require passwords (or don’t force you to change a default and devices that want you to disable security, follow general network security best practices but otherwise don’t worry – criminals aren’t likely to target you.

    • OpenStack Security Project Aims to Protect the Open-Source Cloud

      The OpenStack Security project adds new tools and processes to help secure OpenStack technologies. The project technical leader offers insight on the program.
      Security is such a critical element of the open-source OpenStack cloud platform that there is an entire project—the OpenStack Security project—dedicated to the task of helping protect OpenStack technologies.

      In a well-attended session at the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 27, Rob Clark, the project technical leader of the OpenStack Security project, detailed the group’s most recent efforts.

    • Bug Bounty Hunter Launches Accidental DDoS Attack on 911 Systems via iOS Bug

      The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit arrested Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai, an 18-year-old teenager from the Phoenix area, for flooding the 911 emergency system with hang-up calls.

      According to a press release from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Desai created a JavaScript exploit, which he shared on Twitter and other websites with his friends.

      People accessing Desai’s link from their iPhones saw their phone automatically dial and redial 911.

    • Dyn DDoS attack exposes soft underbelly of the cloud

      It’s apparently possible that a DDoS attack can be big enough to break the internet — or, as shown in the attack against ISP Dyn, at least break large parts of it.

      The DDoS attack against Dyn that began Friday went far past taking down Dyn’s servers. Beyond the big-name outages, organizations could not access important corporate applications or perform critical business operations.

    • [Older] ​The Dyn report: What we know so far about the world’s biggest DDoS attack

      First, there was nothing — nothing — surprising about this attack. As Paul Mockapetris, creator of the Domain Name System (DNS), said, “The successful DDoS attack on DYN is merely a new twist on age-old warfare. … Classic warfare can be anticipated and defended against. But warfare on the internet, just like in history, has changed. So let’s take a look at the asymmetrical battle in terms of the good guys (DYN) and the bad guys (Mirai botnets), and realize and plan for more of these sorts of attacks.”

    • Incident Report: Inadvertent Private Repository Disclosure

      On Thursday, October 20th, a bug in GitHub’s system exposed a small amount of user data via Git pulls and clones. In total, 156 private repositories of GitHub.com users were affected (including one of GitHub’s). We have notified everyone affected by this private repository disclosure, so if you have not heard from us, your repositories were not impacted and there is no ongoing risk to your information.

      This was not an attack, and no one was able to retrieve vulnerable data intentionally. There was no outsider involved in exposing this data; this was a programming error that resulted in a small number of Git requests retrieving data from the wrong repositories.

      Regardless of whether or not this incident impacted you specifically, we want to sincerely apologize. It’s our responsibility not only to keep your information safe but also to protect the trust you have placed in us. GitHub would not exist without your trust, and we are deeply sorry that this incident occurred.

    • How Bad Is Dirty COW?
    • Unpatched Linux exploit grants instant full access to other users
    • Dirty COW was Livepatched in Ubuntu within Hours of Publication

      If you haven’t heard about last week’s Dirty COW vulnerability, I hope all of your Linux systems are automatically patching themselves…

      Why? Because every single Linux-based phone, router, modem, tablet, desktop, PC, server, virtual machine, and absolutely everything in between — including all versions of Ubuntu since 2007 — was vulnerable to this face-palming critical security vulnerability.

      Any non-root local user of a vulnerable system can easily exploit the vulnerability and become the root user in a matter of a few seconds. Watch…

    • Canonical Livepatch Service Automatically Updates Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (and later) with the Latest Kernel without Rebooting
    • Dirty COW and clean commit messages
    • Linux kernel CVE-2016-5195 “Dirty COW” mitigated by Sandstorm
    • Flexera Software Acquires Software Composition Analysis Provider, Palamida

      Flexera Software, the leading provider of next-generation software licensing, compliance, security and installation solutions for application producers and enterprises, today announced that it has acquired Palamida, provider of Software Composition Analysis solutions. The financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

    • Flexera Software Acquires Open Source Application Security Provider, Palamida
    • Vulnerability Spotlight: LibTIFF Issues Lead To Code Execution
    • Short DNS Record TTL And Centralization Are Serious Risks For The Internet
    • Distrusting New WoSign and StartCom Certificates
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Leaked Memo: Is Soros Planning ‘Series of Color Revolutions’ in Southeast Asia?

      Wikileaks’ Podesta Files shed light on US billionaire George Soros’ deep concerns about the lack of “freedom” and “constitutional democracy” in Malaysia under Najib Razak. Soros’ concerns may serve as a prelude for a series of “color revolutions” in Southeast Asia, Mathew Maavak of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia assumed in an interview with Sputnik.

      The latest set of documents released by Wikileaks indicates that George Soros and his Open Society Foundation are very concerned about the situation in Malaysia, one of the US’ longstanding allies in Southeast Asia.

      A memo, sent by Michael Vachon, US billionaire George Soros’ “right hand,” on March 6, 2016, to Chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign John Podesta shed light on the Malaysian “corruption crisis” and blamed the country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak for “damaging the US’ credibility in the region.”

    • General is most senior Army officer to kill self

      The Army acknowledged Friday that Maj. Gen. John Rossi committed suicide on July 31, making him the highest-ranking soldier ever to have taken his own life.

      Rossi, who was 55, was just two days from pinning on his third star and taking command of Army Space and Missile Command when he killed himself at his home at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. ‘

      Investigators could find no event, infidelity, misconduct or drug or alcohol abuse, that triggered Rossi’s suicide, said a U.S. government official with direct knowledge of the investigation. It appears that Rossi was overwhelmed by his responsibilities, said the official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

      Rossi himself talked in March about suicide at a conference on preventing troops from killing themselves.

    • Gothenburg ‘one of Europe’s most segregated cities’

      One in ten school students in Gothenburg’s north-eastern suburbs sympathize with religious extremist organizations, according to a survey carried out by Swedish non-profit organization Varken Hora eller Kuvad.

      “I was completely shocked when I saw the result. I perhaps would have guessed one percent. I’m speechless,” Guluzar Tarhan Selvi, acting project manager at Varken Hora eller Kuvad told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP).

      The Swedish government’s national coordinator against violent extremism said she was not hugely surprised by the number however.

      “The study was carried out in some of the areas where we know there are people who have travelled to join Isis in Syria,” Hillevi Engström said.

      And the MP insisted it is good that more facts about support for extremist organizations are coming to light.

      “You have to put forward all the facts and after that start prevention work early, and speak about everyone’s equal value and human rights in school. It’s also to do with alienation. Many people have a feeling that they don’t belong to society,” she added.

    • Turkey parliament to consider death penalty for coup plotters: Erdogan

      Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said his government would ask parliament to consider reintroducing the death penalty as a punishment for the plotters behind the July coup bid.

      “Our government will take this (proposal on capital punishment) to parliament. I am convinced that parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it,” Erdogan said at an inauguration ceremony in Ankara.

      “Soon, soon, don’t worry. It’s happening soon, God willing,” he said, as crowds chanted: “We want the death penalty!”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘Israel is depressing’: Clinton adviser vents frustration in latest Podesta emails

      WikiLeaks has dumped another batch of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta. This is the 21st batch of communications to be released by the whistleblowing site.

    • WikiLeaks Releases 22nd Batch of Clinton Campaign Chair Podesta’s Leaked Emails

      Following the latest release, the total number of leaked emails reached over 35,600.

      WikiLeaks published the first batch of emails on October 8.

    • Despite Administration’s Promises, Most Government Transparency Still The Work Of Whistleblowers And Leakers

      The self-proclaimed “most transparent administration” isn’t even more transparent than the last administration — one run by a hawkish member of a politically-powerful family and given a blank check to increase government power by a terrorist attack on American soil.

      Less transparent, perhaps, than any other previous administration, including those run by the truly corrupt (Nixon) or those engaged in actual wars against actual entities (rather than against loosely-defined concepts like “drugs” or “terrorism”).

      These previous administrations managed to be at least as transparent as the current one, even without the “disadvantages” of being presided over by a lawyer specializing in the Constitution and pushed towards openness by multiple leakers exposing multiple secret surveillance programs.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate change rate to turn southern Spain to desert by 2100, report warns

      Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned.

      Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said.

      The study, published in the journal Science, modelled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other.

    • Pope’s message on climate change trumped by party affiliations in US

      Over time, a funny thing happened to the perception of climate science in some countries: it became just another badge in the culture wars. Public opinion on what this field of science says is now primarily a reflection of which team you’re on politically. While anyone trying to reach across teams to communicate about climate change is likely to be discounted as a result, voices from within a group can get a fairer hearing.

    • Corporate Bias in Investor-State Dispute Settlement Threatens Environmental Protection

      We now know one of the three tribunalists who will decide TransCanada’s $15 billion claim against the U.S. for rejecting the dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta to Texas: David R. Haigh, Q.C.,a lawyer with a long history of representing the oil and gas industry whose previous clients include Alberta-based oil and gas producers, an Alberta-based oilfield materials supplier, and an Alberta-based oil and gas pipeline company. Mr Haigh works as a senior partner in a law firm working on Canadian tar sands.

      The case, which TransCanada is bringing under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is just one of a growing number of suits in which multinational corporations and other investors use sweeping rights in trade deals to challenge environmental protections in private tribunals.

      This raises a critical question about such tribunals, known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals: are they biased in favor of corporations and other investors?

      The answer is yes, according to a growing body of independent empirical research.

      So why does bias plague ISDS tribunals? How does this affect environmental protection, and where does this leave deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with ISDS at their heart?

    • Amy Goodman on Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse

      If it’s possible in this oversaturated age for a mass-protest movement to fly under the radar, the battle over the building of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline certainly qualifies. Just this past weekend in Morton County, North Dakota, 127 people were arrested during protests over renewed construction, which follows what protesters believed was relief from the federal government, in the form of a multi-agency letter to the pipeline builders, Energy Transfer Partners, asking them to halt building for tribal consultation and the preparation of environmental-impact statements. The construction has continued apace.

      And yet the clash hasn’t quite risen to the level of front-page news. That’s despite the efforts of investigative journalist Amy Goodman, the host of the Democracy Now! independent news broadcast, who had an arrest warrant issued for her in September after her coverage of the situation. (A judge dismissed the charges.) “Not enough people realize what’s going on out there,” says Goodman. “It’s a bigger story than the amount of attention its received.”

    • Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair: DOJ Must Investigate Use of Force Against #DAPL Resistance

      “I knew North Dakota state was planning something,” says Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Dave Archambault II of the raid on a resistance camp Thursday by militarized police. “They set up a pre-hospital tent near the camp. … That was sending me signals this was going to get out of hand.” Archambault says he asked the Department of Justice to step in and ask the state not to proceed with the raid, and now calls on the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the use of force against those resisting the Dakota Access pipeline.

  • Finance

    • Zombie protesters call for CETA to stay dead in the ground

      This morning in London, protesters dressed as zombies posed outside the European Commission office in London with a banner saying “Stop CETA rising from the dead – Toxic trade deals belong in the grave.”

      The controversial trade deal between Canada and the EU was due to be signed on Thursday, but was postponed following opposition from one of the regional Belgian parliaments. An agreement was later reached to appease the Wallonian parliament, but the deal has still yet to be signed.

    • Legal Statement on Investment Protection in TTIP and CETA

      Investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are perhaps the most contentious aspects of TTIP and CETA. These mechanisms provide foreign investors with the right to sue the EU or its Member States in private tribunals over potential losses in profit due to current or new public welfare regulations.

      To address this, we, the Stop TTIP European Initiative, are presenting this legal statement signed by 101 professors of law from 24 European countries.

      The goal of this statement is to convey to European decision-makers that a significant part of the legal community finds the investor protection mechanisms within the free trade deals TTIP and CETA to be highly problematic and not compatible with the rule of law. The statement outlines the fundamental legal issues within these mechanisms and explains how they pose grave threats to public interest, democratic principles and state budgets.

    • Vietnam’s reluctance to ratify the TPP is bad news for Washington

      Vietnam’s decision to hold off ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a further blow to the beleaguered trade pact and a setback for American economic ambitions in Asia.

      The 12-nation TPP is aimed at liberalizing trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, and Vietnam has been hoping that its participation in the deal will lead to an increase in exports. But even in the U.S., which led negotiations for the pact, approval of the TPP is nowhere in sight. This apparently convinced Vietnam to proceed slowly as well.

      An official in the secretariat of the Vietnamese parliament told reporters on Oct. 18 that approval of the TPP is not on the agenda for the current legislative session, which runs through late November, making it certain that the country will not ratify the pact this year.

      Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, chairwoman of the parliament, said in September that Vietnam’s ratification would depend on factors such as moves by other negotiating members of the TPP and the outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election in the U.S.

      At the same time, the Philippines, which was considering joining the TPP after Vietnam, has apparently changed its stance in recent weeks, moving away from Washington and closer to Beijing.

    • The EU Made Simple. How the Commission dictates law.

      This article will focus on the power of the EU Commission by looking at how its members are appointed, their security of employment and how they are motivated during and after their employment. The second part will focus on Commission powers including its absolute right to veto all ‘legislative initiatives’ from whatever source, including the Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament. The power is, in effect, a veto on all EU Law, amendments and repeals, without exception.

      Edit. 27 Oct 2016. Some quite strong objections on Twitter have been made by pro EU people about the suggestion that the EU Parliament cannot amend proposed EU legislation.

    • Canadians Launch Constitutional Challenge Against CETA

      Wallonia is not alone. Not only has the region been joined by several other Belgian regional parliaments in opposition to CETA (the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement), but now a Canadian constitutional challenge against CETA has been launched in the Federal Court of Canada.

      On Oct. 21, renowned constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati filed the statement of claim against CETA on behalf of the Hon. Paul Hellyer (former Minister of National Defence) and two co-plaintiffs, Ann Emmett and George Cromwell (members of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform). At the Oct. 25 press conference, Galati referred to the corporate sector as “the new royalty,” and he stated, “What this treaty does is literally revert us back to the divine right of kings, but they are multinational corporations now.”

    • EU, Canada to sign trade accord Sunday

      The European Union and Canada will sign the CETA trade agreement Sunday, after a weeks-long deadlock.

      European Council President Donald Tusk announced in a tweet Friday evening that a summit has been scheduled for noon on Sunday.

    • EU and Canada to sign trade pact after Belgians strike key deal

      Canada and the European Union will sign a landmark free trade deal on Sunday after a series of key votes in Belgian regional assemblies on Friday ended opposition that had threatened to destroy the entire agreement.

      Soon after the final Belgian vote, European Council president Donald Tusk called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and invited him to Brussels for the signing ceremony, which is scheduled for noon local time (1000 GMT).

    • EU-Canada Trade Deal Dodges Belgian Veto For Now, But Faces Multiple Legal Challenges

      First, Germany’s constitutional court imposed some quite stringent constraints on the German government. The most important of these is that the official signing of CETA will not cause the entire text to be applied provisionally, as the European Commission had originally hoped. Instead, some parts must wait until all 28 member states ratify the deal through votes in their national parliaments. That’s going to take quite a while — perhaps years — and there’s no guarantee that every country will ultimately ratify CETA. The corporate sovereignty provisions are one of the elements that will not come into force until after full ratification, something also agreed with Magnette. This means it’s quite likely that the CJEU will hand down its verdict on the legality or otherwise of ICS before that, possibly killing it forever.

      The other important point about the German constitutional court’s decision is that it only rejected a request for a preliminary injunction, which it deemed unnecessary. The German court’s full consideration of whether CETA is constitutional or not continues. The European Commission may have postponed the Wallonian problem but there are plenty of others on both sides of the Atlantic that could still stop CETA, and definitively.

    • Apple’s Cook: ‘We’re going to kill cash’

      “We’re going to kill cash,” he said. “Nobody likes to carry around cash.”

    • Lost thumb drives bedevil U.S. banking agency

      A U.S. banking regulator says an employee downloaded a large amount of data from its computer system a week before he retired and is now unable to locate the thumb drives he stored it on.

      The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is a part of the Department of the Treasury, said the loss represented “a major information security incident” as it reported the case to Congress on Friday.

      The data was taken in November 2015, but its loss was only discovered in September this year as the agency reviewed downloads to removable media devices in the last two years.

      The employee in question used two thumb drives to store the information, both of which he is unable to locate, the agency said.

      It didn’t say what information was downloaded but said it involved “controlled unclassified information, including privacy information” and numbered at least 10,000 records.

    • Uber to fight decision that it must pay drivers the national living wage

      GIG ECONOMY SUPERSTAR Uber has been dealt a blow by a London employment tribunal which has ruled that its drivers be paid the national living wage.

      In July, two drivers took the cab firm to court arguing that their terms of employment meant that they were effectively full-time employees rather than self-employed. This would make them entitled to the national minimum wage of £7.20 per hour, rather than the £5.00 they typically earned.

      Uber argued that its drivers are self-employed and were ineligible for this level of pay, as well as from other benefits such as holiday pay.

    • Airbnb faces worldwide opposition. It plans a movement to rise up in its defence

      In the back room of a pub in Kentish Town, a group of middle-class Londoners are perched on velvet-covered stools, eating hummus and talking about property. On the wall, above a pile of empty beer kegs, a slide presentation is in progress. A video of Airbnb’s recent advert shows smiling hosts opening their front doors and declaring their support for Sadiq Khan’s post-Brexit “London is open” campaign.

      The audience of Airbnb hosts are there after receiving individual invitations from the company to a “home sharers” meet-up – a concept largely unfamiliar to the slightly bemused crowd. Jonathan, an enthusiastic Californian Airbnb employee, who was recently seconded to London to set up the clubs, is happy to explain: “Homesharing clubs are simply a way of organising this into something … that has a unified voice … then actually takes actions as a collective,” he says, in a less than clear answer.

    • Reader Alert: EU-Canada Trade Agreement (CETA) To Be Signed Tomorrow In Brussels

      With a delay of mere days, CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada, will be signed Sunday in Brussels by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker. This follows two weeks of uncertainty over the deal that includes not only tariff reduction, but also an attempt to harmonise regulation and set up a reformed investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • 2006 Audio Emerges of Hillary Clinton Proposing Rigging Palestine Election

      “I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake,” said Sen. Clinton. “And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.”

    • Clinton Adviser Neera Tanden’s Greatest Hits

      In truth, Tanden’s leaked email conversations read almost like discarded lines from a sitcom screenplay, and her candid criticisms of Clinton and colleagues — not to mention her predilection for foul language — have become something of an internet sensation among those keeping close tabs on WikiLeaks releases.

      So, to save our readers from the effort and tedium of spending hours sifting through John Podesta’s leaked emails, here are some of Tanden’s most spectacular statements.

      Tanden on “The Letter” (presumably the letter from Clinton’s doctor touting her health): “Is great. F*** these a**holes.”

      Tanden on Clinton’s use of a private email server: “Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered? Like whole thing is f***ing insane.”

    • Inside The Invisible Government: John Pilger On War, Propaganda, Clinton And Trump

      The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda.
      The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was Bernays who coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for spin and its deceptions.
      In 1929, he persuaded feminists to promote cigarettes for women by smoking in the New York Easter Parade – behaviour then considered outlandish. One feminist, Ruth Booth, declared, “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”
      Bernays’ influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them]according to our will without their knowing about it”.
      He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government”.
      Today, the invisible government has never been more powerful and less understood. In my career as a journalist and film-maker, I have never known propaganda to insinuate our lives as it does now, and to go unchallenged.

    • Choices Other than Clinton or Trump

      And there are more choices. In Connecticut there are at least 20 or so other presidential candidates you can vote for. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will explain.

    • The Green Party’s Radical Common Sense

      Germany and other European countries have a thriving multiparty political culture. The U.S. used to have one too. In 1916, five parties were seated in Congress.

      In his Washington Post article “In Europe, the Green Party is a force. In the U.S., it’s irrelevant. Here’s why,” Per Urlaub, associate professor of German studies at the University of Texas, contends that “the American electoral system is heavily weighted against small political parties.”

      He’s right. Alternative parties must wrestle with ballot-access laws, enacted since 1916 by Democratic and Republican legislators in many states, that privilege major-party candidates and hinder others. In some states, alternative parties are effectively banned from participation.

      When alternative parties do get on the ballot, their candidates often face the “spoiler” accusation. The supposed spoiler effect can be eliminated by replacing the prevailing “first past the post” system with “ranked choice,” which allows people to rank their preferences.

      Reforms like ranked choice voting (RCV) and proportional representation—which gave Germany and other European countries their multiparty legislatures—are considered radical here, even though they grant voters greater power and more options.

    • Unheard Third Debate with Margaret Flowers

      During a TRNN Facebook live event, Green Party Candidate Margaret Flowers – who was not invited to the Maryland Senate debate despite being on the ballot – responds to questions posed to Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen and Republican State Delegate Kathy Szeliga, as well as questions from viewers.

    • Clinton Email Scandal: Kim Dotcom Says Deleted Mails Can Be Recovered

      Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email controversy may be far from over, if internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is to be believed. The man wanted by the U.S. on copyright infringement and money laundering charges said on Twitter Thursday that all of Clinton’s “permanently deleted” emails can, in fact, be accessed. Legally.

    • Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom: NSA Could Recover Hillary’s Emails
    • Clinton’s emails could be recovered by NSA, says Kim Dotcom

      An internet entrepreneur notorious for his illegal file-sharing website Megaupload says Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails could be recovered by the US National Security Agency.

      “I know where Hillary Clintons [sic] deleted emails are and how to get them legally,” wrote Kim Dotcom on Twitter Wednesday (27 October).

      Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States on copyright infringement charges, among others, for hosting unlicensed content like films, music, and software on his defunct file-sharing site.

      Attached to the tweet — which was copied to Donald Trump’s Twitter account — is a screenshot with a five-step plan on how to get the emails. Step two suggests contacting Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA). The third step is to have Rogers use the XKeyscore surveillance program, revealed by Edward Snowden, to recover the emails.

    • How Facebook’s Racial Segmentation Is Helping Trump Campaign Try To Suppress African American Voting

      Earlier this week, Bloomberg had a fairly revealing article about the internal digital efforts of the Donald Trump campaign, in which Bloomberg reporters embedded for a few days. The whole article is quite interesting, but one of the most stunning parts, frankly, was the Trump campaign staffers directly admitting how they are actively trying to suppress voting by African Americans. It’s no secret that a variety of new voter ID laws are designed to suppress voting — especially among minorities. When North Carolina’s voter ID law was struck down by the court, the judge pointed out how the legislators that had backed it had explicitly targeted rules that would suppress votes among African Americans. They had requested “racial data” concerning voter ID and then specifically targeted the types of ID more commonly used by African Americans.

    • Can Iceland’s Pirate Party Win the Election?

      Iceland Pirate Party Candidate Smari McCarthy discusses how the party would govern should it win the country’s upcoming election. He speaks on “Bloomberg Markets.”

    • Iceland elections: The Pirate Party’s march to power

      Snowdens of the world rejoice, the Pirate Party is coming.

      This Saturday Iceland holds its parliamentary elections and is likely to become the first nation to vote Pirates into government.

    • AI system that correctly predicted last 3 US elections says Donald Trump will win

      The New York businessman with a penchant for celebrity television may suddenly find himself in love with artificial intelligence developed in India.

      The polls and simulations that involve the skills and insight of human beings suggest Donald Trump could be heading for something of a pasting. But an artificial intelligence (AI) system developed in Mumbai, and which correctly predicted the last three US presidential elections, puts the Republican nominee ahead of his rival Hillary Clinton in the battle to secure the keys to the White House.

      MogIA was developed by Sanjiv Rai, the founder of Indian start-up Genic.ai. It has taken 20 million data points from public platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter and analysed the information to create predictions, CNBC reported.

    • Rig The Election … With Math!

      Welcome to The Riddler. Every week, I offer up a problem related to the things we hold dear around here: math, logic and probability. These problems, puzzles and riddles come from many top-notch puzzle folks around the world — including you!

      Recently, we started something new: Riddler Express problems. These are bite-size puzzles that don’t take as much fancy math or computational power to solve. For those of you in the slow-puzzle movement, worry not — we still feature our classic, more challenging Riddler.

    • Clinton Aide’s For-Profit Firm Illegally Raised $150 Million for Clinton Charity

      Douglas Band, one of former President Bill Clinton’s closest advisors, boasted to outside auditors that his for-profit corporation had a “historical role in carrying the majority of the fundraising burden” for the nonprofit Clinton Foundation.

      A Nov. 16, 2011 memo Band authored, which WikiLeaks made public Wednesday, raises disturbing questions about charitable law violations due to mixing for-profit activities with the nonprofit foundation.

    • #PodestaEmails22: WikiLeaks release another 600 mails from Clinton chair

      WikiLeaks has released the 22nd batch of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

      To date, the whistleblowing site has released 36,190 emails, with around another 14,000 expected before Americans go to the polls on the November 8.

      It was revealed in mails released on Friday that Podesta had been warned in March 2016 to change his email password “immediately” as someone had illegitimately attempted to gain access to his account.

    • What the WikiLeak Revelations Reveal About Donna Brazile and the DNC

      Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, faces new scrutiny as evidence points to abuses of power.

      Brazile’s alliance with the Hillary Clinton team looks to have started in 2008. In February of that year, while Clinton was running for president against Barack Obama, CNN political commentator and consultant Paul Begala wrote an email to the Clinton team saying that it should “court” Brazile. At that time, during the primaries, Brazile refused to publicly endorse a candidate but worked closely with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Until recently, she also worked for CNN and ABC News. Her close relationship with the Clinton camp has deepened over the years.

    • If President Hillary Is Inevitable, Why Are Her Media Goons Still Attacking Jill Stein?

      This phrase has become very useful in our current political environment. It’s a line from one of those Shakespeare plays where everyone dies in the end, and its use has become a way of pointing out when someone’s frantic resistance to something reveals a lot more about their true agendas than they intended to let on. When you know that your government is lying to you and the media is helping them, such things can often be a useful way of figuring out exactly what’s going on.

      Take for example the way corporate media, proven by WikiLeaks to be pervasively controlled by the Clintons and their allies far more than we ever knew, has continued to run smear pieces on Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, even while they assure everyone that Hillary has an insurmountable lead over Donald Trump.

    • Clinton Aide Boasted About How He Helped Foundation Prosper

      Doug Band, a longtime aide to former President Bill Clinton, said in a 2011 document released by WikiLeaks that the high-powered consulting firm he co-founded helped raise money for the Clinton Foundation when its own efforts were flagging.

      The memo was written around the time Chelsea Clinton was questioning whether Band’s role as an adviser to her father and the family foundation presented conflicts of interest as he courted clients for Teneo Holdings LLC. In the memo, Band argued just the opposite: that he was a volunteer who sought to “leverage my activities, including my partner role at Teneo, to support and raise funds for the Foundation.”

    • Podesta emails finally reveal smoking gun

      The “Podesta emails” being released daily by Wikileaks have produced their first bona fide “smoking gun” — a long email by Clinton Foundation associate Doug Band detailing the manner in which Bill Clinton was using the foundation’s connections as a way to build up personal clients for speech giving and consultancy.

    • Hillary Clinton Tops 2015-16 Islamist Money List

      The Middle East Forum’s “Islamist Money in Politics” (IMIP) project has revealed the top ten recipients of 2015-16 campaign contributions from individuals who subscribe to the same Islamic supremacism as Khomeini, Bin Laden, and ISIS.

      Hillary Clinton tops the list, raking in $41,165 from prominent Islamists. This includes $19,249 from senior officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates on November 15, 2014.

      For example, Mrs. Clinton has accepted $3,900 from former CAIR vice-chairman Ahmad Al-Akhras, who has defended numerous Islamists in Ohio indicted – and later convicted – on terrorism charges.

    • FBI Investigating New Information Regarding Hillary Clinton… Because Of The Anthony Weiner Sexting Investigation

      Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server (at times kept in her own basement…) has obviously been a big story during this campaign — and for a variety of obvious, yet stupid, reasons, the discussion has become ridiculously partisan. What people should be able to admit on all sides of the debate is that Clinton’s use of a private email server was incredibly stupid and, at the very least, calls into serious question the judgment of whoever told her this was okay. It also, almost certainly, put serious information at risk of being exposed through hacks. But, earlier this year, the FBI came out and said that it didn’t actually break the law. There was a bit of the old “high court, low court” to this whole setup, because you could see how someone with much less fame or status would be nailed to the wall by the DOJ if they wanted to put that person away.

      Either way, the surprise of today is the new announcement by James Comey that the FBI is investigating some new emails that were apparently discovered in an “unrelated case” on “a device.” There were a couple of hours of speculation on this, with gradual denials — not the Wikileaks investigation, not the Clinton Foundation investigation — until it was revealed that it was from the investigation into Anthony Weiner’s sexting. Law enforcement seized devices belonging to both Weiner and his then wife (they’ve since filed for divorce), Huma Abedin, who is a close Clinton aide (and who also had an email account on the private Clinton server). Other reports have noted that the emails aren’t ones that were withheld from the original investigation, so it’s not an issue of withholding info, but could potentially reveal issues about the motivations and setup of the private server.

      In political circles this is raising eyebrows, coming just 11 days before the election, in a campaign where Clinton’s opponent, Donald Trump, has repeatedly pointed to her use of an email server as a reason that she should be in jail, and even promising to appoint a special prosecutor to go after her for this (which, uh, actually isn’t how the President is supposed to use that power, but…). Comey’s letter doesn’t go into much detail, though reporters have been getting more and more details. The letter was sent to a variety of people in Congress, on key committees, including the heads of the Intelligence, Judiciary, Oversight and Homeland Security committees.

    • Clinton the Victim, FBI-Email Edition

      Her first role was as “woman,” hoping to sweep up roughly 50% of the electorate in a single empowering noun. As with Obama, she hoped to mobilize a huge swath of voters who wanted to participate in electing the first Black female president. Didn’t go mainstream. Grandmother, same. Competent life-long government person, hmmm, cut both ways, many people wanted a change. Third Obama Term, meh, took some steam out of Bernie’s campaign but not much more. Killer of bin Laden, sorta worked in one debate, dragged on into an SNL skit cliche through the others.

      When the first news of the emails came out in March 2015. Hillary didn’t really have a persona for that, mumbling about no classified, then about not wanting multiple devices, prevaricating here, avoiding there. She tried blaming Colin Powell, then the State Department’s creaky IT infrastructure.

      Until she nailed it: She was the victim of a conspiracy.

    • Only 2 points separate Clinton, Trump in latest tracking poll

      Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are separated by only two percentage points in a new Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll, ending a week in which the race has tightened as core Republican groups have returned to Trump’s fold.

      Likely voters split 47 percent for Clinton and 45 percent for Trump, according to the survey conducted Monday through Thursday. That’s little changed from a 48-44 split in the previous day’s tracking results, which covered Sunday through Wednesday, but it is a substantial tightening since last weekend when Clinton led by a wide margin.

    • #PodestaEmails23: WikiLeaks releases new mails from Clinton chair

      More than 36,000 emails from Podesta’s account have been released by the whistleblowing site, which has vowed to publish a total of 50,000 emails before the US presidential election on November 8.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitter Sued By Shareholders Over Poor Performance Following Censorship Spree

      Twitter took on the narrative of “listen and believe”. They appointed people like Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency to their Trust and Safety Council and had people like Randi Lee Harper and the Crash Override Network crew in their ear. They censored people like Milo Yiannopoulos, a Conservative provocateur at the behest of comedian Leslie Jones, and have amply ignored a lot of other cases of sexual and aggressive harassment that didn’t fit in line with their Social Justice “progressivism”.

    • Why Wikipedia Is Worried About Global ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Delistings

      As Techdirt reported last year, the problematic “right to be forgotten” — strictly speaking, a right to be delisted from search results — took a really dangerous turn when the French data protection regulator told Google that its orders to delist results should apply globally, not just in France, a view it confirmed twice. The latest development in this saga is the submission of a petition to the French Supreme Court against the global reach of delisting, made by the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia

    • Wikimedia Foundation files petition against decision to extend the ‘right to be forgotten’ globally

      Although the [French data protection authority] CNIL’s case is directed towards Google, the gradual disappearance of Wikimedia pages from Google search results around the world ultimately impacts the public’s ability to find the invaluable knowledge contained within the Wikimedia projects. Search engines have played an important role in the quest for knowledge — roughly half of Wikipedia visits originate from search engines.

      The CNIL’s most recent order, if upheld, threatens the capacity to write and share important information about history, public figures, and more. It undermines the public’s ability to find relevant and neutral information on the internet, and would make it exceedingly difficult for projects like Wikimedia’s to provide information that is important for society.

    • Danish Mohammed cartoons editor clashes with paper

      The Danish ex-editor who commissioned the Mohammed cartoons that triggered deadly protests a decade ago on Friday accused the Jyllands-Posten newspaper of trying to silence him, saying it had let “the jihadists” win.

    • Angela Merkel: internet search engines are ‘distorting perception’

      Angela Merkel has called on major internet platforms to divulge the secrets of their algorithms, arguing that their lack of transparency endangers debating culture.

      The German chancellor said internet users had a right to know how and on what basis the information they received via search engines was channelled to them.

      Speaking to a media conference in Munich, Merkel said: “I’m of the opinion that algorithms must be made more transparent, so that one can inform oneself as an interested citizen about questions like ‘what influences my behaviour on the internet and that of others?’.

    • Ex-professor attacked for Halloween email: ‘Certain ideas are too dangerous to be heard at Yale’

      Erika Christakis set off a furor a year ago by publicly questioning whether Yale students should try to stop their peers from wearing allegedly offensive Halloween costumes.

      Student activists tried to get her and her husband Nicholas, both professors, removed as the masters of the Silliman residential college, and Erika canceled her spring classes because the campus climate was not “conducive to civil dialogue.” She never came back.

    • My Halloween email led to a campus firestorm — and a troubling lesson about self-censorship

      The right to speak freely may be enshrined in some of our nation’s great universities, but the culture of listening needs repair. That is the lesson I learned a year ago, when I sent an email urging Yale University students to think critically about an official set of guidelines on costumes to avoid at Halloween.

      I had hoped to generate a reflective conversation among students: What happens when one person’s offense is another person’s pride? Should a costume-wearer’s intent or context matter? Can we always tell the difference between a mocking costume and one that satirizes ignorance? In what circumstances should we allow — or punish — youthful transgression?

    • Citizen Journalists Claim Facebook Censorship After Page Was ‘Unpublished’ by ‘Mistake’

      “It’s a sickening feeling to know you’re being censored not for any horrible thing you’ve done, but for trying to tell the truth to millions of people. Are we living in America? Seriously, our First Amendment rights have been slowly eroding away bit by bit.”

      Leisa Audette and Patty McMurray started the Facebook page when they became “frustrated by so-called journalists” and were inspired by Andrew Breitbart. The citizen journalists say they were both stay-at-home moms with three girls. They met at a fundraiser at Patty’s house.

      Leisa said, “We were blessed to meet and hear Andrew Breitbart speak at a small, private event in Michigan just one week before he died. Inspired by his work and his passion to save America, we started a Facebook page to honor his legacy.”

    • Facebook executives feel the heat of content controversies
    • Is Facebook feeling the heat of content controversies?
    • Facebook continues to face heat over its censorship practices
    • Oscar-nominated filmmaker attacks Kremlin censorship
    • Moscow theatre director sparks row with claims of state censorship

      A culture war between Russia’s artistic community, the Kremlin and a patriotic biker gang has broken out, after the leading star and director of a Moscow theatre accused the state of heading towards Stalin-era censorship.

      “I see how people are itching to change things and send us back to the past. And not just to the time of stagnation, but further back – to Stalin’s times,” said Konstantin Raikin, during an emotional speech to a gathering of theatrical professionals earlier this week.

      “Stop pretending that the authorities are the only bearers of morality. That’s not true,” he said.

      Raikin is the director of Moscow’s Satirikon theatre as well as its star actor, featuring in a number of leading roles including King Lear. He said the state was using informal influence to block stagings or plays it thought were inappropriate, or went against loosely defined traditional values.

    • ‘Leviathan’ Director Says Russian Censorship Is “Rampant”

      Andrey Zvyagintsev, the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated Russian director of Leviathan, has written an op-ed in Russian daily Kommersant, in which he expressed concerns about state censorship in the world of arts and culture.

    • Oscar-nominated filmmaker attacks Kremlin censorship

      Oscar-nominated director Andrei Zvyagintsev on Thursday launched a furious attack on the Kremlin over government censorship that he said is strangling the arts.

      “It’s completely obvious that censorship has fully entered into the cultural life of the country,” Zyagintsev wrote on the website of the Kommersant daily.

      Zvyagintsev, whose biting social drama “Leviathan” was nominated for an Oscar last year, argued that the state effectively censors the arts by limiting funding for only projects it approves.

      The director said he was responding to comments by President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov that while censorship is unacceptable, the commissioning of arts projects made with state funds does not fall under this category.

      “We say it’s censorship, they say it’s a state commission,” he wrote, saying that cinema and other arts are dependent on state funding to survive.

      Zvyagintsev has become one of Russia’s best known directors abroad since he won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival with his debut film “The Return” in 2003.

    • Dad pens sarcastic response to son’s ‘Fahrenheit 451′ permission slip

      Some Twitter users suggested the permission slip may have indeed been a part of the lesson, but Radosh expressed doubt.

    • YouTube Just Censored A Video Criticizing Censorship
    • YouTube Versus Conservative Speech
    • Joe Hildebrand says the Left finds film censorship is a bitter pill
    • Cassie Jaye’s Red Pill too truthful for feminists to tolerate
    • Sex, politics and censorship
    • Protest prison censorship of the Bay View: Use this sample letter
    • Appeals Court Says Plaintiff In Anti-SLAPP Lawsuit Can’t Lower Fee Award Just By Voluntarily Dismissing Lawsuit
    • Australian Teen With Wacky Mullet Sues The Media For Making A Meme Out Of His Haircut
    • The UK government’s war on porn will expose children to more and worse

      Ars first raised the prospect of the UK government bringing in age verification for porn sites a year ago and confirmed that it would be happening in February.

      In its written evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Digital Economy Bill, the Open Rights Group put together a good summary of the problems with the approach. These include the privacy risks of creating insecure databases of the UK’s porn habits, and the fact that age verification will be easy to circumvent.

      As a more recent blog post by the Open Rights Group notes, MPs have finally woken up to the fact that age verification won’t in fact stop children from accessing pornographic sites, and have come up with Plan B, which is even worse than Plan A: “in order to make age verification technologies ‘work,’ some MPs want to block completely legal content from access by every UK citizen. It would have a massive impact on the free expression of adults across the UK. The impact for sexual minorities would be particularly severe.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Google intensifies tracking: check your private settings

      Google made a significant change to the company’s privacy policy recently which changes in a significant way how the company is tracking users on the Internet.

      Previously, the company kept its DoubleClick advertising engine apart from its core user services such as Gmail, Search or YouTube. While users could give Google consent to use the information for advertising, it required users to become active and opt-in for that.

      Those who did give Google consent, did not have their “personal” information and activity used for advertising purposes and tracking.

    • Navy veteran in NSA data breach ‘stole numerous names of American spies abroad and sensitive operational details’
    • How did one contractor steal 50TB of NSA data? Easily, say former spies
    • DOJ: Much of seized 50TB from ex-NSA contractor is “highly classified”
    • Powers to Investigate

      The Communication Data Bill was draft legislation introduced first in May 2012. It sought to compel ISPs to store details of communications usage so that it can later be used for law enforcement purposes. In 2013 the passage of this bill into law had been blocked and the bill was dead.

      In 2014 we saw the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 appear. This seemed to be in response to the Data Retention Directive being successfully challenged at the European Court of Justice by Digital Rights Ireland on human rights grounds, with a judgment given in 2014. It essentially reimplemented the Data Retention Directive along with a whole load of other nasty things.

      The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act contained a sunset clause with a date set for 2016. This brings us to the Investigatory Powers Bill which it looks will be passing into law shortly.

      Among a range of nasty powers, this legislation will be able to force ISPs to record metadata about every website you visit, every connection you make to a server on the Internet. This is sub-optimal for the privacy minded, with my primary concern being that this is a treasure trove of data and it’s going to be abused by someone. It’s going to be too much for someone to resist.

    • N.S.A. Appears to Have Missed ‘Big Red Flags’ in Suspect’s Behavior

      Year after year, both in his messy personal life and his brazen theft of classified documents from the National Security Agency, Harold T. Martin III put to the test the government’s costly system for protecting secrets.

      And year after year, the system failed.

      Mr. Martin got and kept a top-secret security clearance despite a record that included drinking problems, a drunken-driving arrest, two divorces, unpaid tax bills, a charge of computer harassment and a bizarre episode in which he posed as a police officer in a traffic dispute. Under clearance rules, such events should have triggered closer scrutiny by the security agencies where he worked as a contractor.

    • Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race

      Imagine if, during the Jim Crow era, a newspaper offered advertisers the option of placing ads only in copies that went to white readers.

      That’s basically what Facebook is doing nowadays.

      The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.

    • Google AI invents its own cryptographic algorithm; no one knows how it works

      Google Brain has created two artificial intelligences that evolved their own cryptographic algorithm to protect their messages from a third AI, which was trying to evolve its own method to crack the AI-generated crypto. The study was a success: the first two AIs learnt how to communicate securely from scratch.

    • WhatsApp-Facebook privacy U-turn now being probed by EU data watchdog

      A seismic shift in privacy policy by messaging app WhatsApp this summer, when it said it would begin sharing user data with parent company Facebook including for ad targeting, has now attracted the attention of European’s data protection watchdog group, the Article 29 Working Party.

      The WP29 group wrote to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum yesterday, setting out its concerns about the privacy policy U-turn — including how the shift was communicated to users.

      “The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) has serious concerns regarding the manner in which the information relating to the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy was provided to users and consequently about the validity of the users’ consent,” it writes.

      “WP29 also questions the effectiveness of control mechanisms offered to users to exercise their rights and the effects that the data sharing will have on people that are not a user of any other service within the Facebook family of companies.”

      It adds that its various members, so basically all the national DPAs of EU Member States, will “act in a coordinated way” to target any problems they identify, with a dedicated working group for enforcement actions set to address the WhatsApp issue specifically.

    • President Obama ridiculed on Snapchat by daughter Sasha

      President Barack Obama has disclosed that his younger daughter recently mocked him on Snapchat.

      The US leader said Sasha had recorded him discussing the social network at a family dinner and then quietly posted a reaction to her friends.

      It is not the first time the president has discussed his 15-year-old’s online activities.

      In July, he said she also tweets, leading several media outlets to try to identify her account.

      It remains secret.

      Likewise a copy of the described Snapchat post has not been made public. Messages posted to the app are designed to disappear after being viewed or within a short period of time, but there are ways to circumvent the restrictions.

    • Killer sought via text message broadcast

      Ontario police have used the mass-messaging technique, known as a tower dump, before now, but its use was challenged in Canadian courts after one local force applied to use it to contact more than 100,000 people.

    • Standards Symposium Highlights Security, Privacy On Eve Of World Telecom Standardization Assembly

      Besides privacy-enhancing technologies, privacy by design and the “leveraging of international frameworks that contain basic principles of security, privacy and trust,” the conclusions also “stressed” security goals, including “sharing of information between public and private sectors on threats to the ICT infrastructure,” and a joint effort “to develop national capabilities to protect from cyber-attacks.” ITU experiences 1 million attacks every day, according to Reinhard Scholl, deputy director of ITU-T, of which he called 10,000 serious.

    • Would You Be Tempted By This ‘Grand Bargain’ On Privacy?

      Digital privacy and the control of personal data have emerged as two of the main online battlegrounds in recent years, as the flood of Techdirt posts on the subject attests. One of the central questions is how we can use global online services like Facebook and Google without surrendering control of the information we provide them. The US and the EU take contrasting approaches here, both of which have attracted plenty of supporters and detractors.

      But what about alternatives: might there be another way to tackle this crucial subject that is effective and reasonably fair to all? Jack M. Balkin and Jonathan Zittrain, respectively professors at the law schools of Yale and Harvard, believe there is. Together, they’ve written an article that appears in The Atlantic, entitled “A Grand Bargain to Make Tech Companies Trustworthy,”

    • Booz Allen Hamilton hires former FBI director to review its security measures
    • Booz Allen Hamilton hires former FBI director to investigate high-profile thefts
    • Booz Allen hires former FBI director Mueller to review personnel processes
    • Booz Allen reviewing security after arrest of NSA contractor

      Booz Allen Hamilton said on Thursday it had hired a former FBI chief to conduct an external review of its security practices, after the consulting firm learned for the second time in three years that an employee working under contract with the National Security Agency had been charged with stealing classified information.

      Booz Allen, which earns billions of dollars a year contracting with U.S. intelligence agencies, has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks after authorities took Harold Thomas Martin into custody.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • In Leaked Recording, Austin Police Chief Tears Into Commanders For Fatal Shootings, Use Of Excessive Force

      If police culture is truly going to change, it needs to start at the bottom. Years of DOJ investigations and consent agreements have done almost nothing to root out the deep-seated problems found in many law enforcement agencies. The change has to come from within each department — a much longer, slower process that requires those leading the reforms to put their careers on the line. They will be opposed by many of their fellow officers and villainized by police unions for any attempts to bring more accountability to policework.

      There are probably more law enforcement officials out there with the same mindset as Austin (TX) police chief Art Acevedo. Unfortunately, very little of what they’ve done or said makes its way into the public eye without being strained through several filters. Acevedo’s private comments to Austin PD commanders, however, arrive in the form of a leaked recording.

      Acevedo was addressing the criticism he took for firing Geoffrey Freeman after the officer shot and killed a naked, unarmed, mentally-ill 19-year-old as he ran down a residential street. Acevedo addressed many issues during this talk and made it clear the APD isn’t going to keep heading down the same limited-accountability road and end up just another law enforcement agency more known for its misdeeds than its law enforcement efforts.

    • Berkeley protesters form human chain to stop white students from getting to class

      Students at the University of California, Berkeley held a day of protest on Friday to demand the creation of additional “safe spaces” for transgender and nonwhite students, during which a human chain was formed on a main campus artery to prevent white students from getting to class.

      The demonstrators were caught on video blocking Berkeley’s Sather Gate, holding large banners advocating the creation of physical spaces segregated by race and gender identity, including one that read “Fight 4 Spaces of Color.”

      Protesters can be heard shouting “Go around!” to white students who attempt to go through the blockade, while students of color are greeted with calls of “Let him through!”

    • Liberals’ blind faith: The silence on the misogyny in the Muslim world is deafening

      In a new 90-second video ad, a Muslim-focused political action committee rightly slams Donald Trump for his sinister proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

      While Trump is wrong-minded as he pounds the drumbeat of “us vs. them” with the Islamic world, I also hope liberals can move beyond blind defense of the Muslim religion and assess it with greater nuance. I say this as someone who has endured considerable alienation by challenging the premises of Mormonism, my childhood faith (even after facing discrimination growing up because of my religion). While initially painful, thinking about Mormonism objectively has broadened my worldview and allowed me greater ability to analyze any institution, religious or otherwise.

      I wish many Muslims and liberals would be so objective when looking at the brutally misogynistic behavior associated with some Muslims’ interpretations of sharia and reject the knee-jerk reaction that paints anyone who questions the modern Muslim world as Islamophobic. The refusal to do so is chilling those of us who unequivocally believe in women’s rights, who believe in freedom of expression, who believe in rationality and critical thinking. Last week in a #SalonTalks interview, author Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, who is otherwise incredibly talented and articulate, essentially said that the horrible French move to ban the “burkini” is essentially on par with an anti-woman acid attack; this is as false equivalency.

    • ‘I Live in a Lie’: Saudi Women Speak Up

      Saudi Arabia is an incredibly private, patriarchal society. While I was making the film, many women were afraid to share their stories for fear of backlash from the male relatives who oversee all aspects of their lives as so-called guardians. We wanted to hear more about their fears, their frustrations, their ambitions.

      Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest rates of Twitter use, and our posts rocketed around. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring.

      Most of the responses focused on frustration over guardianship rules that force women to get permission from a male relative — a husband, father, brother or even son — to do things like attend college, travel abroad, marry the partner of their choice or seek medical attention. Some women talked about the pride they had in their culture and expressed great distrust of outsiders. But many of them shared a deep desire for change and echoed Juju19’s hopelessness.

    • When CIA and NSA Workers Blow the Whistle, Congress Plays Deaf

      Do the committees that oversee the vast U.S. spying apparatus take intelligence community whistleblowers seriously? Do they earnestly investigate reports of waste, fraud, abuse, professional negligence, or crimes against the Constitution reported by employees or contractors working for agencies like the CIA or NSA? For the last 20 years, the answer has been a resounding “no.”

      My own experience in 1995-96 is illustrative. Over a two-year period working with my wife, Robin (who was a CIA detailee to a Senate committee at the time), we discovered that, contrary to the public statements by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell and other senior George H. W. Bush administration officials (including CIA Director John Deutch), American troops had in fact been exposed to chemical agents during and after the 1991 war with Saddam Hussein. While the Senate Banking Committee under then-Chairman Don Riegle, D-Mich., was trying to uncover the truth of this, officials at the Pentagon and CIA were working to bury it.

    • Youth prisons don’t reform, they damage: Column

      On any given day, more than 50,000 young offenders are locked away from their families in juvenile detention facilities.

      We expect these kids, most of whom have few positive relationships with adults or meaningful connections to education or jobs, to emerge equipped for success.

      Instead, recidivism rates (which vary from state to state) range from nearly 50% to 75% within three years of release for juvenile offenders in many areas of the country. Across America, we need a watershed shift in youth justice that protects public safety and is more informed by what works.

    • A Language to Unite Humankind

      According to Esther Schor, in her new book, “Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language” (Metropolitan), this famous story, of the Tower of Babel, represents a sort of second original sin. “If mortality is what it is like to live after Eden, misunderstanding,” she writes, “is what it is like to live after Babel.” This is not just a psychological misfortune but, more pressingly, a political one. Because we don’t speak the same language as our neighbors, we can’t see their point of view, and therefore we are more likely to rob them and kill them.

      For thousands of years, people have taken this matter quite seriously. Ambitious organizations such as the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church made sure that their members, whatever their mother tongue, learned a second, common language. More recently, various thinkers have considered constructing universal languages from scratch. Schor gives a colorful summary. In the seventeenth century, Francis Bacon proposed that our written language switch to something like Chinese ideograms, bypassing words altogether, and John Wilkins, the first secretary of the Royal Society, proposed a new language with two thousand and thirty characters. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz said that we should use a pictographic system, a little like Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries came the rise of nationalism and, with it, linguistic nationalism, which held that the particularity of language was in fact an advantage, not a problem. Johann Gottfried Herder claimed that a people’s language contained its spiritual essence. Wilhelm von Humboldt believed that language, mediating between the mind and the world, actually created a people’s identity.

    • Seoul considers messaging ban

      The city legislature of Seoul, South Korea, is considering implementing a law that would ban after work messaging to employees, in an effort to reduce work-related stress among employees.

      Members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council proposed a revision to a public ordinance that would ban after-work messaging to employees of the city’s government. The new rule is an attempt to guarantee employees the right to rest and states that employee privacy must not be subject to employer contact outside of work hours. If passed, it would ban managers from contacting public sector employees after work hours through phone calls, text messaging, or social networking.

    • Heart doctor ‘beat teenage daughter for staying at male friend’s house after Halloween party’

      A top heart doctor who worked at the UN gave his teenage daughter a beating and labelled her a “prostitute” after she disobeyed his orders and went to a Halloween party, a medical tribunal heard on Thursday.

      Dr Gohar Rahman, 57, grabbed the youngster by the hair, caned her on the bottom with his walking stick and then rained down punches on her head after he accused her of “bringing shame” on his family.

      Police were called in after the daughter sent out a SOS message on social media using a Nintendo DS.

      The daughter, then 17, had earlier gone to the party after falsely telling her father she would be home from a friend’s house by 9.30pm.

    • Young Scholar, Now Lawyer, Says Clarence Thomas Groped Her in 1999

      The anticipation of meeting a U.S. Supreme Court justice for the first time turned to shock and distress for a young Truman Foundation scholar in 1999 when, she says, Justice Clarence Thomas grabbed and squeezed her on the buttocks several times at a dinner party.

    • James Comey Broke with Loretta Lynch and Justice Department Tradition

      On Friday, James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, acting independently of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, sent a letter to Congress saying that the F.B.I. had discovered e-mails that were potentially relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server. Coming less than two weeks before the Presidential election, Comey’s decision to make public new evidence that may raise additional legal questions about Clinton was contrary to the views of the Attorney General, according to a well-informed Administration official. Lynch expressed her preference that Comey follow the department’s longstanding practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations, and not taking any action that could influence the outcome of an election, but he said that he felt compelled to do otherwise.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast Joins AT&T, Files Lawsuit Against Nashville To Slow Google Fiber

      We’ve been noting for the last year how the latest front in the quest to bring competition to the broadband market is the boring old utility pole. Under the current model, a company like Google Fiber needs to request an ISP move its own gear before Google Fiber can attach its fiber lines. Given that ISPs often own the poles, and have little incentive to speed a competitor to market, this can often take six months or longer — worse if gear from multiple incumbent ISPs needs moving. Google Fiber notes this has quite intentionally slowed its arrival in cities like Nashville.

      As such, Google Fiber has been pushing cities to pass new “one touch make ready” utility pole attachment reform rules, which let a single licensed and insured technician move any ISP’s gear (often a matter of inches), reducing pole attachment from a 9 month process, to one that takes as little as a month. Needless to say, ISPs like AT&T feel threatened by anything that could speed up competition in these stagnant markets, so it has been suing cities like Louisville and Nashville for trying to do so.

    • What’s really at stake if AT&T buys Time Warner

      After all the shouting this election season, perhaps it’s no wonder AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is proposing a tone-deaf $85.4 billion megamerger with Time Warner. On paper, the deal may have seemed like a shoo-in — after all, the Department of Justice approved a similar merger between Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011. But a lot has changed in the meantime.

      Riding the current wave of populism, politicians from both sides of the aisle have expressed skepticism — even outright hostility — to the proposed merger. Hillary Clinton last year vowed to prevent further market concentration by beefing up the antitrust enforcement arms of the DOJ and FTC. And in a fact sheet on competition policy put out earlier this month, she promised a return to stricter antitrust enforcement, “in contrast to the highly permissive approach of the Reagan era.”

    • The Senate Summoned The Wrong Time Warner To Talk About AT&T Merger

      The big news earlier this week, of course, was AT&T’s announced plans to purchase Time Warner. As we, and plenty of others, were careful to point out, Time Warner is a different and totally separate company from Time Warner Cable (which Comcast famously tried to takeover not that long ago). Yes, at one time they were the same company, but that was a long, long time ago. They’ve been separate since 2009. And yet, lots of people still get them confused. In fact, soon after the announcement of the deal, AT&T had to do a special filing with the SEC to clarify which Time Warner it was buying. Really.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Your Brexit briefing

      There is no need for IP owners and advisers to panic following the UK vote to leave the EU. But now is a good time to consider how rights could be affected in the medium term

    • Trademarks

      • Catching up with TTAB cases

        The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has seen a slew of unusual cases this year, according to John Welch, an attorney with Wolf Greenfield

      • Arsenal, The UK Football Club, Sues Arsenal Cider House, The Pittsburgh Bar, Because Of Course It Would

        Exactly how far can overly protective trademark owners go before the wider public wakes up to what a shitstorm trademark has become? It’s a question I find myself asking often, given the type of stories we cover around here. It seems any progress made on that front is slow, however, and the ridiculous stories keep on rolling in. You may recall that the Premier League, the UK’s famous soccer/football/whatever league, has already proven itself incapable of making any kind of sense while enforcing its intellectual property rights. Well, perhaps taking its cue from its parent league, the also-famous Arsenal soccer club is reaching across the pond to try to block a trademark application for a small bar in the suburbs of Pittsburgh.

      • Huge Casino Threatens Small Blues Club For Using The Word ‘Live’ In Its Name

        When I drop dead of a massive heart attack, it will be because some huge company has bullied some small company over a ridiculous trademark that never should have been granted in the first place. The examples for this sort of thing are legion around Techdirt, but it still gets me every single time. The Trademark Office has done such a poor job of turning even the barest of critical eyes towards trademark applications that all sorts of short and common words have been granted trademarks all over the place, including in industries where it was plainly insane to grant them at all.

        The latest of these concerns a small family-owned supper club in Maryland and the threat letter it received from an enormous casino company over the trademark it had somehow received on the word “live.”

    • Copyrights

      • Swedish Court: News Site Embedding A YouTube Video Guilty Of Copyright Infringement

        Nearly a decade ago, just as YouTube was really getting popular, we questioned whether or not it would be considered infringement to merely embed a YouTube video if the content in that video were unauthorized. As we noted at the time, it seemed like a crazy idea that this should be considered infringing, given that embedding is just sticking a simple line of code on a website. No content ever actually is hosted or lives on that website. You’re just telling a browser to go find content from the original YouTube source. For the most part, US courts have agreed that embedding is not infringing. And we’d thought that the EU had come to the same conclusion — however that ruling was a bit vague, in that it focused on the embedding of authorized content, not unauthorized content.

        Last month, however, there was the troubling EU Court of Justice ruling that found that mere links could be deemed direct infringement, especially if they were posted on a for-profit site. The ruling, somewhat dangerously, argued that any for-profit site that posted links should have the burden of checking to make sure the content they link to is not infringing, and it’s fine to assume that they had the requisite knowledge when they link (this is, of course, crazy). And now we’re seeing the reverberations of such a silly ruling.

      • Time Warner Cable Threatens Pirates With Account Termination

        Time Warner Cable has added an interesting clarification to its copyright infringement notifications. In addition to warning pirates of the standard “mitigation measures” that are part of the Copyright Alert System, the ISP now adds that persistent pirates also risk losing their Internet connection, and more.

      • Reykjavik: Icelandic Pirates Triple Result, But Not Largest Party

        The Icelandic Pirate Party has made a record election. Early vote counts place Pirates at 14 percent, for nine seats of the 63-seat world’s oldest Parliament. As the victory party draws to a close and the results slowly finalize, it’s worth looking a little at what comes next.

        Pirate Parties keep succeeding, although on a political timescale. It started out a little carefully with getting elected to the European Parliament from Sweden, then to multiple state parliaments in Germany, city councils all over Europe, the Czech Senate, and the Icelandic Parliament, all in a decade’s insanely hard volunteer work.

        Today, as the victory party draws long into the night and as the Election Saturday becomes Celebration Sunday (and quite probably Interview-and-Media Sunday for a lot of people), it’s clear that the Pirate Party of Iceland has broken all previous election records, clocking in at 14% with about one-third of the votes counted at 01:00 on election night.

      • How Hacker and ‘Pirate’ Birgitta Jónsdóttir Revolutionized Iceland’s Politics

        Birgitta Jónsdóttir likes to describe herself as a “poetician”—part poet, part politician. But that moniker doesn’t touch on what she’s best known for: founding Iceland’s radical Pirate Party, the collection of anarchists, libertarians, and techies that could gain control of the Nordic island’s parliament in an election Saturday.

        The Pirates are expected to gain as many as 20 seats in the weekend vote, which would give them a leading position to form a government. If that happens, the group’s extraordinary rise to power will have taken just a heartbeat in politics—less than four years.

      • Why Icelandic Elections Are More Important Than American

        On Saturday, in the shade of the American presidential elections that dominates the daily global news, some more important elections are going to be held. They will take place in the land of ice and snow, the most northern country of Europe, Iceland.

        This election is important because in Iceland we don’t have the usual “pretenders” to the power, but a pair that symbolizes the fight between the old world that is dying and the new one that is rising. The old is a traditional right-wing, conservative party which gives all power to the politicians. They stand against the radical, which believes in power of the base of the society, the grass root movements, the collective intelligence.

      • Pirate party prepares for first major win in Iceland elections

        This weekend, the political landscape in Iceland could be transformed. Polls show a real possibility that the Pirate Party – best known for its anti-establishment views and activism over copyright law and transparency – could come into power.

        In opinion polls conducted in October, the Pirate Party is tied for first place with the Independence Party (currently in government) and the Left-Green Movement. The pirates and the greens have agreed to form a coalition, and if after Saturday’s election they have a majority – perhaps with the help of some other parties – they will become the government of Iceland.

        “We don’t know what will happen on election night,” says Björn Leví, a Pirate Party candidate hoping to be elected on Saturday. “It will be very exciting, and it looks like it will be amazing for the Pirate Party.”


        Iceland’s Pirate Party is led by Birgitta Jónsdóttir. The first Pirate Party was established in Sweden in 2006 with the main intention of reforming copyright law. Political parties acting under the Pirate Party banner now have a presence in many countries.

        “In Iceland we’ve expanded the Pirate Platform,” says Leví. “We’re not just about copyright and privacy, we’re about transparency and direct democracy as well.”

      • MPAA: EFF Just Jealous It Doesn’t Control Copyright Office Like Hollywood Does

        Earlier this week we wrote about the revelation, via a FOIA request by the EFF, that the Copyright Office consulted heavily with Hollywood (the MPAA directly, and a variety of movie studios) before weighing in on the FCC’s set top box competition proposal. As we noted, the Copyright Office’s discussion on the issue involved completely misrepresenting copyright law to pretend that an agreement between to industries (content studios & TV companies) could contractually wipe out fair use for end users. That’s… just wrong. The FCC’s proposal had absolutely nothing to do with copyright. It was just about letting authorized (paying) customers access content that was already authorized through other devices. What the FOIA request revealed was that the Copyright Office not only had many, many, many meetings with Hollywood, but that it actually prioritized those meetings over ones with the FCC — and lied to the FCC to say that key Copyright Office personnel were not available the very same week they were meeting with the MPAA, in order to push back the meeting with the FCC.

        It was a pretty big deal, given the Copyright Office’s reputation for acting as a taxpayer-funded lobbying arm for Hollywood. Of course, the MPAA is now mocking the EFF over this story, with a blog post by Neil Fried, one of the top lobbyist’s for the MPAA, and someone who features prominently in the conversations with the Copyright Office revealed by the FOIA request. The crux of Fried’s post is that there’s no news in the revelations, and that the Copyright Office met with the MPAA because the MPAA asked to meet with it.

      • Hollywood Accounting Back In Court: How Has Spinal Tap Only Earned $81 In Merchandise Sales For Its Creators?

        We’ve discussed the amazing bullshit known as Hollywood Accounting many times here on Techdirt. This is the trick whereby big Hollywood studios basically get out of paying anyone royalties by claiming movies (including big, mega-famous ones) are not profitable. The most simple version of this trick is that the big studio sets up an independent corporation to represent “the film.” It then “sells” services to that corporation, which it owns, at exorbitant prices. So, for example, it will charge a “marketing and distribution fee,” which may actually be many multiples of the film’s actual budget. No cash changes hands here. It’s just a paper transaction, but because of those “fees” any money made from the film remains with the big Hollywood studio, and is not passed on to anyone who has “participation” in the net profits from the film.

        Things can get more complex than that, but that’s a basic version of the scam. This has come out a lot in the past few years, thanks to a series of lawsuits. It’s how we know that a Harry Potter film that brought in basically a billion dollars in revenue still declared a $167 million “loss”. It’s why one of the highest grossing films ever, Return of the Jedi, still claims to be in the red, when it comes to paying out residuals. That’s a film that’s made $33 billion (with a b). Not profitable, under Hollywood accounting. Another film whose books were opened up in a lawsuit was Goodfellas, where Warner Bros. was not only accused of charging $40 million in interest on the $30 million cost of production, but also of hiding over $100 million in revenue.

        In another bizarre case from a few years ago, two subsidiaries of Vivendi went after each other over Hollywood accounting — with StudioCanal suing Universal for pulling such an accounting trick on a bunch of famous movies. Universal hit back by claiming it actually overpaid StudioCanal.

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