Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wanting to eat Linux (and Linux revenue) for breakfast…

Breakfast of love

Summary: Some of the latest reports pertaining to Microsoft’s (and its patent trolls’) pursuit/lobbying for software patents at a time when such patents lose their appeal/lustre in the United States

SOFTWARE PATENTS are still possible to attain at the USPTO, but this does not mean — and is certainly no guarantee — that courts or even boards (like PTAB) will tolerate these. In fact, both often reject these and this reduces the incentive to pursue software patents in the first place.

“They want software patents restored so that they can carry on blackmailing software companies (usually with Linux/Android) at greater ease.”Watchtroll offers tips for overcoming the barriers to software patenting, having come to grips with the fact that at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) almost no software patents survive (one can count this year’s exceptions on the fingers of one hand).

As noted here the other day, based on two reports, Microsoft and its trolls continue trying to undermine the new rules. They want software patents restored so that they can carry on blackmailing software companies (usually with Linux/Android) at greater ease. According to this new report about Microsoft’s biggest troll:

Earlier this week, Intellectual Ventures (IV) petitioned the full Federal Circuit to review the panel opinion in Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec, which invalidated two of its patents under section 101. Both patents—the ’050 and the ’610—are directed to filtering email or file content. (IV does not challenge the invalidation of a third patent, which was directed to receiving, screening, and distributing email.) The petition echoes concerns raised by clients, courts, and the patent bar about the growing uncertainty about what is—and what is not—patent eligible, especially in the area of software patents. Identifying two emerging fault lines in the court’s evolving section 101 jurisprudence, IV urges the full court to bring much needed doctrinal clarity and methodological consistency to the patent eligibility analysis.

It’s important to keep track of this case.

Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ (personal connections) patent troll now pressures CAFC to kowtow to software patents while the media keeps telling us that Microsoft loves Linux so much. We don’t suppose the Linux Foundation cares to comment on Microsoft’s own lobbying for software patents (directly, not just by proxy). It’s an Inconvenient truth when the Linux Foundation gets paid not to understand, having received Microsoft money for a while now [1, 2, 3]. Here is what Simon Phipps (head of OSI for a long time) wrote about the Linux Foundation’s decision to join Microsoft the other day:

“Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ (personal connections) patent troll now pressures CAFC to kowtow to software patents while the media keeps telling us that Microsoft loves Linux so much.”Another odd ‘friend’ of Linux, a company that is attacking small companies using software patents while lobbying for software patents and spreading proprietary software, is mentioned in the news today. IBM’s Manny Schecter is trying to find some balance between secrecy and software patents and we sure hope that he’ll quit his stance on software patents as it often makes IBM look almost as hostile as Microsoft.

‘“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio” —Marshall Phelps (of IBM and Microsoft)

China’s Shot in Its Own Foot Repeats the United States’ Error on Software Patents

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 11:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ancient Chinese tablet

Summary: Chinese policy on software patents and the acceptance of patent trolling is bad news not just for China but for companies everywhere, as they too become vulnerable to trolls and to Chinese companies that file cases in the West

NOT ONLY the EPO and USPTO wrestle with the question of software patenting, as we last noted in our previous post. According to this new article (behind paywall), “US-based IP owners [read trolls] to look to Europe as a place they can get better, more effective rights,” Benjamin Henrion wrote today.

“It’s a real problem and it can destroy what’s left of Europe’s software industry (discouraging development and/or investment).”We have been warning about this for a while and we already see patent trolls coming to the UK, emboldened by the EPO’s bad policies. It’s a real problem and it can destroy what’s left of Europe’s software industry (discouraging development and/or investment). Do we want London to become another EDTX?

Texas, based on this new tweet, attracts ‘business’ like patent lawsuits. By not serving justice but instead serving trolls and aggressors it now welcomes ‘business’ from Asia. “Hitachi filed patent suits in EDTX v Huawei and ZTE,” IP Hawk wrote and IAM commented on it as follows: “Japanese company takes on Chinese companies in EDTX. Can’t happen very often.”

IAM is both a proponent of patent trolls and a tracker of them in east Asia as of late (many articles about it, some of which we wrote about before). China/Far East trolls are a growing problem also for Western companies because some large Chinese firms already take their lawsuits to EDTX (Texas) and demand a lot of money. China’s state-connected telecom ‘arm’, Huawei, reportedly liaises with a large patent troll, InterDigital, which we covered here before (even a decade ago). To quote IAM’s article: “When Huawei and InterDigital revealed that they had entered into a broad worldwide licensing agreement recently, it brought to an end a years-long dispute over standard-essential patents that at times had been rather ugly. Now, relations between the two companies couldn’t be more different as they look to partner on future research and development efforts – and, potentially, on monetising patents, too.”

“Why is China doing this after working to expose Microsoft’s patents that had been used to extort Android device makers across China?”The trolls epidemic sure spreads fast in China this year. “Enemies no more,” one person wrote, “patents bring InterDigital &Huawei together. Consequences could be significant.”

It’s especially important if one considers what kind of patent these are. Henrion says “no glory for the trolls.” However, for them it’s quite a win and definitely more glory (when the giant of China gives legitimacy to a such a giant troll). This gigantic deal will probably help InterDigital go after a lot more companies, even in China.

Why is China doing this after working to expose Microsoft’s patents that had been used to extort Android device makers across China? Well, China seems eager to destroy the progress it made by letting SIPO off the hook, pursuing just quantity (not quality) of patents, very much like Battistelli at the EPO.

This new article by Peter Leung was publishes yesterday and said “China Looks to Boost Protection for Software Patents”. Have they made it official now? To quote Bloomberg:

A draft revision to China’s patent examination guidelines released late last month will likely make it easier to get software and business method patents.

Other proposed changes to ease the standard for amending granted patent claims should also help patent holders and, especially, patent assertion entities, practitioners say.

The draft guidelines follow developments that some have interpreted as evidence of China’s maturing and improving environment for IP owners. The guidelines are not law but rules for instructing examiners at China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) on how to properly examine patent applications.

It’s hard to see what China has to gain from this; SIPO definitely gets more power and money, but at whose expense? Moreover, why has SIPO not learned no lessons from the USPTO’s mea culpa?

Crisis at the EPO Deepens as Dutch Parliament Dives in, European Parliament Snubbed by EPO Management, and Battistelli Relies on ‘High Corruption’ States

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO is going nowhere fast

Road going nowhere

Summary: New problems for the EPO, another new example of EPO defying Parliamentary instructions and laws, and an update about the UPC, which makes progress nowhere but countries that recently received ‘gifts’ from Battistelli

THE situation at the EPO is growingly chaotic (whereas the USPTO is rather stable). It’s not because of an erratic workforce but because of an insane management style. “Fired?” one person asks about the President of the EPO today. “If the article is correct, he should be imprisoned.” Well, Battistelli won’t be imprisoned, not just because the EPO is effectively above the law but because rich and well-connected people tend to be exempted from such laws. As we noted here before, Battistelli is close to Nicolas Sarkozy, who got away with corruption and has thankfully just lost the opportunity to seize power again. Some readers wrote to us about it.

The article from which we extract this comment was published this morning and said:

Fallout from Euro Patent Office meltdown reaches Dutch parliament

The extraordinary meltdown at the European Patent Office (EPO) has started to draw political attention, with the Dutch parliament planning a debate on the organization and its ongoing problems.

Socialist member of the Netherlands Parliament, MP Sharon Gesthuizen, received strong backing to her request for the debate following the dismissal of a key EPO staff member earlier this month by EPO president Benoit Battistelli, and a majority of MPs have now supported the motion.

As a result, the Dutch government is expected to draw up a formal response about the EPO and its view on recent events.

The debate is an escalation of a long-running battle at the patent office that has seen Battistelli suspend several prominent members of its staff union, as well as a member of the Boards of Appeal, for blocking his reform efforts and for criticizing his heavy-handed efforts to force them through.

This has been known for a while and it was possibly Techrights which was first to report it about a week ago. “It’s hard to believe this is still on-going,” one person wrote. “This is well past the stage of “He might be doing the right thing”. Now, he’s taking the piss. Batelli needs fired imo.”

The thugs who run the EPO already give the EU a bad name and one commenter weighed in to point out the same old fact: “Please note that the EPO is quite separate from the EU. Different organisation, different treaties, some differences in member states.”

Does the EU/EC realise just how much damage the EPO is doing to it?

According to this new observation from Benjamin Henrion (FFII), “EPO explains how they keep granting software patents with their “further technical effect”” (link to new PDF from the EPO omitted for privacy reasons).

Indeed, based on our fast assessment, in page 22 and thereabouts the EPO makes it abundantly clear that it snubs the EU Parliament on the subject of software patents, which are supposed to be banned in Europe.

Earlier today the EPO promoted its pro-software patents event in another country where software patents are not even legal. How crooked does the EPO hope to appear worldwide? Also today the EPO pushed out there what it called “facts”. These are not “facts” but disgusting propaganda and lies from the EPO and EUIPO, as foreseen as long as a month ago and debunked repeatedly since.

As I pointed out to Henrion the other day, when the EPO says “no comment” these days it’s actually an improvement because whenever it makes a statement this year it’s almost always filled with lies. Distortion of the truth has become the norm at the EPO (management) and reports of cosmetic changes at the EPO this week overlook the fact that not many stakeholders will still pursue EPs after the current crisis (not at these prices/fees anyway).

Speaking of crookedness under Battistelli, recall what happens in Lithuania when it comes to patents and what Battistelli did in Lithuania at a very strategic time. According to this new update on the UPC (going nowhere without the UK), Lithuania is still acting like a Battistelli “yes man”:

A bill on ratification of the UPC Agreement and a bill on the establishment of a Nordic-Baltic regional division of the UPC were approved on 3 Novermber 2017. They will enter into force on 1 July 2017, according to the website of the Lithuanian IPO. Before that time, amendments to the patent law of Lithuania will have to be adopted. These have already been submitted to the parliament.

What a total waste of time. The UPC in its current form isn’t going to happen. But if one believes the lies from Battistelli and the EPO, then it looks achievable.

Links 22/11/2016: Many Linux Stable Releases, GTK+ 3.89.1

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

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Finding a Non-Mac Alternative to Microsoft

      A. If you do not care for Windows 10 but want to stick with Microsoft Office, the Mac and the macOS version of Office would probably provide the most familiarity. But if the Mac option is too expensive and you dislike Windows 10 enough to avoid it completely, you might consider switching to an alternative operating system, like a computer running Linux or a Google Chromebook. These systems often have the advantage of being less expensive than standard PC or Mac hardware, but they may require an internet connection to perform many functions.

  • Server

    • [Older] The End of the General Purpose Operating System

      Containers as the unit of software

      Hidden behind my hypothosis, which mainly went unsaid, was that containers are becoming the unit of software. By which I mean the software we build or buy will increasingly be distributed as containers and run as containers. The container will carry with it enough metadata for the runtime to determine what resources are required to run it.

      The number of simplying assumption that come from this shared contract should not be underestimated. At least at the host level you’re likely to need lots of near-identical hosts, all simply advertising their capabilities to the container scheduler.

    • DatArcs Is Aiming For Dynamically-Tuned, Self-Optimizing Linux Servers

      DatArcs is a new software start-up aiming to provide software to dynamically tune Linux servers for maximum performance and energy efficiency in the data-center. The DatArcs optimizer analyzes the server’s workload over time and optimizes the server “several times per minute” to achieve better performance or lower power use.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A tale of cylinders and shadows

        Like I wrote before, we at Collabora have been working on improving WebKitGTK+ performance for customer projects, such as Apertis. We took the opportunity brought by recent improvements to WebKitGTK+ and GTK+ itself to make the final leg of drawing contents to screen as efficient as possible. And then we went on investigating why so much CPU was still being used in some of our test cases.

      • Code review in open source projects: Influential factors and actions
      • GNOME Days in Bucharest

        From Wednesday up to Saturday we had the pleasure of hosting some very interesting events related to GNOME and open-source.

        First of them was the GSoC presentation where previous GSoC students shared their experience with those eager to try it next summer. We had a lot of people interested, thus we nearly filled a whole amphitheater.

      • This week in GTK+ – 25
      • GTK+ 3.89.1 Released As First Development Step Towards GTK4

        Matthias Clasen tagged the release today of GTK+ 3.89.1 as the first development snapshot leading towards GTK+ 4.0.

      • GTK+ 3.22.4 Improves CPU Usage Under Wayland, Enables HiDPI Support on Windows

        A new maintenance update for the GTK+ GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkit has been announced this past weekend, versioned 3.22.4, bringing many Wayland improvements and lots of bug fixes.

        GTK+ 3.22.4 is now the latest stable and most advanced version of the GUI toolkit, which is the core of the GNOME desktop environment. This version is released for the GNOME 3.22.x desktop series, and it looks like it adds many improvements for the next-generation Wayland display server.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Endless OS 3.0.5

        Endless OS is a Linux-based operating system which seeks to provide a streamlined, simplified user experience. A large part of the user experience is provided by a custom desktop environment (EOS Shell) which is a fork of GNOME 3.8. The distribution is available in two editions, a 1.5GB Basic edition and a larger (approximately 13GB) Full edition. The Basic edition offers a small number of applications and is suitable for most situations where the user has an Internet connection. The Full edition ships with a large collection of software and is therefore more suited to off-line installations.

        The Endless OS website mentions that support for audio formats, such as OGG and MP3, are built into the operating system, but most video formats are not supported. Video codecs and Netflix support are available for purchase through the Endless on-line store.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Kubuntu Cautiously Good, openSUSE 42.2 Upgrade Smooth

        Today in Linux news, the Fedora project discussed some upcoming features in version 25, headed up by GNOME 3.22. Dedoimedo test drove Kubuntu 16.10 and found Plasma to be its greatest shortcoming, mirroring what I thought of the latest openSUSE. Speaking of which, Neil Rickert blogged his thoughts on the openSUSE 42.2 experience and Jim Dean imparted a bit of information for Korora users.


        As I read the Kubuntu review, I was struck by how much his Plasma experience mirrored my own while testing openSUSE 42.2 this weekend. Konsole crashed on me early on when it was just sitting there idle. WTH? The taskbar pop-ups are large, ugly, and intrusive. The menu is slow and the desktop applets don’t fit properly. For example, the weather applet is scrunched up and cut off with no window size adjustment available. There are very few applets and, most annoying, no dictionary app/applet! And, indeed, that new screenshot tool was very disappointing, cumbersome and awkward. The desktop as a whole was sluggish and jittery. I was considering openSUSE 42.2 as my next full-time workhorse, but alas, Plasma 5(.8.2) is still too rough and incomplete to use. openSUSE 42.2 itself is gorgeous from boot to reboot, but Plasma 5 just ruins it.

      • Fedora & openSUSE: what is common in the latest releases?

        The second half of November brought us two exciting new Linux distribution releases: openSUSE Leap 42.2 and Fedora 25. While both of them are based on the RPM packaging format and cover everything from embedded through desktops to servers, there are also considerable differences.

      • The transition to openSUSE Leap 42.2

        I downloaded the DVD installer, using “aria2c”. I then “burned” that to a USB. I then booted that USB to install on my main desktop.

        This was a clean install. I kept the previous 42.1 on a separate disk area. That way I can boot either.

        After installing, I was switching between 42.1 and 42.2. I needed to tweak the new install to suit my needs. And booting to 42.1 allowed me to get my work done. By Thursday, I had completed the switch, and I am now running 42.2.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Great Debian meeting in Seville

        Last week we had an interesting Debian meeting in Seville, Spain. This has been the third time (in recent years) the local community meets around Debian.

        We met at about 20:00 at Rompemoldes, a crafts creation space. There we had a very nice dinner while talking about Debian and FLOSS. The dinner was sponsored by the Plan4D assosiation.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How to Create Bullet Proof Ubuntu Install

            Installing Ubuntu is an extremely simple process. If you can “read and click next,” setting up a new Ubuntu installation is actually quite easy. But once the distro is installed, how do you keep the data safe? – By creating a bullet proof installation. This article will share my approach to protecting your data while allowing you to restore to a working system should the unthinkable happen.

          • In brief: Canonical hires Wildfire for Ubuntu Core brief, Dexcom appoints Lewis, Wild West enters Bristol
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Cinnamon 3.2 released!

              On behalf of the team and all the developers who contributed to this build, I am proud to announce the release of Cinnamon 3.2!

            • Cinnamon 3.2 Desktop Officially Released
            • Zorin OS 12 Is A Linux-Based Alternative For Windows 10

              We understand that it can be difficult to wean yourself off Windows. It’s a ubiquitous operating system that most people are used to. But Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10 has had some persistent privacy concerns. So if you’re looking for an alternative but can’t bear to give up the familiar user interface (UI), you could try out the Linux-based Zorin OS. The latest release is made to look and feel like Windows 10. Here are the details.

              There have been numerous attempts to replicate the Windows UI on Linux operating systems (does anybody remember Lindows?). In recent years, Zorin OS has become a popular choice for those who want to run Linux but didn’t’ want to give up the Windows UI.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Trends in the Open Source Cloud: A Shift to Microservices and the Public Cloud

    Cloud computing is the cornerstone of the digital economy. Companies across industries now use the cloud — private, public or somewhere in between — to deliver their products and services.

    A recent survey of industry analysis and research that we conducted for our 2016 Guide to the Open Cloud report produced overwhelming evidence of this.

    Forty-one percent of all enterprise workloads are currently running in some type of public or private cloud, according to 451 Research. That number is expected to rise to 60 percent by mid-2018. And Rightscale reports that some 95 percent of companies are at least experimenting in the cloud. Enterprises are continuing to shift workloads to the cloud as their expertise and experience with the technology increases.

  • How to strengthen your agile heartbeat with powerful retrospectives
  • Python versus R for machine learning and data analysis

    Machine learning and data analysis are two areas where open source has become almost the de facto license for innovative new tools. Both the Python and R languages have developed robust ecosystems of open source tools and libraries that help data scientists of any skill level more easily perform analytical work.

    The distinction between machine learning and data analysis is a bit fluid, but the main idea is that machine learning prioritizes predictive accuracy over model interpretability, while data analysis emphasizes interpretability and statistical inference. Python, being more concerned with predictive accuracy, has developed a positive reputation in machine learning. R, as a language for statistical inference, has made its name in data analysis.

  • Geode: The Latest Apache Big Data Project to Graduate to Top-Level Status

    In recent months, we’ve steadily taken note of the many projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent times. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support. Only days ago, the foundation announced that Apache Kudu had graduated as a Top-Level project.

  • Open Source Week at SitePoint

    At SitePoint, we are proud supporters of Open Source. Regular SitePoint readers may have noticed that! Open is in the DNA of many topics we cover by design; GitHub alone is evidence enough, as it’s pretty much a standard tool for most developers nowadays.

  • Education

    • Education management with Moodle: The beginning, middle, and today

      Moodle is the de facto standard in open source learning management systems. It is described as “a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments.” Plus, Moodle is free software, licensed under the GPL.

      Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s founder and lead developer, generously took time from his busy schedule to have a good, long talk with me about why he created it, where it is today, and what’s next in open education.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • The “open” in France has moved forward

      “Things have changed. I believe that this government can be credited with being the one that has carried more than ever the stake of the Open in our country”, said Axelle Lemaire, France’s Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, at the Paris Open Source Summit 2016, last week

    • Free software in administrations: sharing IT requirements is complicated

      Pooling resources is in the DNA of free software, yet French local administrations fail to group their software purchases.

    • Hackathons and bite-sized procurement requests

      Public administrations that want to work with open source communities should organise hackathons and other meetings on software development. They should also publish calls for tender that can be answered by individuals and small businesses. These are some preliminary recommendations from the OSOR workshop at the Paris Open Source Summit last Wednesday.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Last batch of ColorHugALS

        I’ve got 9 more ColorHugALS devices in stock and then when they are sold they will be no more for sale. With all the supplier costs going recently up my “sell at cost price” has turned into “make a small loss on each one” which isn’t sustainable. It’s all OpenHardware, both hardware design and the firmware itself so if someone wanted to start building them for sale they would be doing it with my blessing. Of course, I’m happy to continue supporting the existing sold devices into the distant future.

  • Programming/Development

    • Programmers are having a huge discussion about the unethical and illegal things they’ve been asked to do

      Earlier this week, a post written by programmer and teacher Bill Sourour went viral. It’s called “Code I’m Still Ashamed Of.”

      In it he recounts a horrible story of being a young programmer who landed a job building a website for a pharmaceutical company. The whole post is worth a read, but the upshot is he was duped into helping the company skirt drug advertising laws in order to persuade young women to take a particular drug.

      He later found out the drug was known to worsen depression and at least one young woman committed suicide while taking it. He found out his sister was taking the drug and warned her off it.


  • Facebook Finds More Broken Metrics, Metrics Industry Rejoices

    Well, one thing is clear: fixing Facebook metrics is going to be a huge boon… for the metrics and marketing industries. Big new contracts for metrics companies! Executive jobs on Facebook’s new council! A new strut to prop up the ersatz monster of Nielsen ratings! Millions of dollars will be spent fixing and refining these metrics — which Facebook emphasizes are only four of over 220 it collects. Wow, 220! But online advertising still almost universally sucks, so you’d almost think the quantity of metrics isn’t helping, and might even be optimizing in the wrong direction…

  • New Cars Are Getting Harder To See Out Of

    Citizens of the internet, we need to speak on a subject. Call me old fashioned, but one of the things I look for most in any car is the ability to see out of it when I’m driving it. It doesn’t seem like the designers of new cars these days share my feelings.

    As I strolled the show floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show during the media days and sat in a bunch of different cars, I was struck by how many of them have abhorrent rearward visibility.

  • Science

    • State says literacy not a right in Detroit

      Attorneys for Gov. Rick Snyder and state education officials say no fundamental right to literacy exists for Detroit schoolchildren who are suing the state over the quality of their education.

      The lawyers are asking a federal judge to reject what they call an “attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.”

      Timothy J. Haynes, an assistant attorney general, made those statements in a 62-page motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Snyder and state education leaders in September by seven Detroit children who allege decades of state disinvestment and deliberate indifference to the city schools have denied them access to literacy.

      The motion was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

      Haynes says claims laid out by plaintiffs — including deplorable building conditions, lack of books, classrooms without teachers, insufficient desks, buildings plagued by vermin, unsafe facilities and extreme temperatures — go far beyond mere access to education.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • UNAIDS Report: Less Deaths From HIV But Growing Resistance Creates Great Risk

      A new report from UNAIDS shows that antiretroviral therapy is now accessed by 18.2 million people living with HIV, and fewer people are dying from the virus infection. However, there is stalled progress on HIV prevention among adults, and growing antiretroviral drug resistance among people living with HIV over a long time.

      The UNAIDS report [pdf] released today is titled, “Get on the Fast-Track,” and addresses the life-cycle approach to HIV. It looks into differences of prevention, treatments and access in different ages.

    • Michigan’s Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint Pays for Poisoned Water

      As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the country for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan.

      In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan.

      This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé’s wells are located.

      One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan.

    • Michigan Government Fights Judge’s Ruling to Deliver Water to Residents in Need, Calling it an ‘Unnecessary Burden’

      The Michigan state government is hoping to wiggle its way out of a court-ordered mandate handed down by a judge last week requiring both the city and state to deliver bottled water to Flint residents without verified home water filters.

      In a motion filed earlier this week, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder’s administration argued that the court-ordered requirement placed an ‘”insurmountable” burden on the state. Officials even likened the mandated water deliveries to a “Herculean” military operation that would cost the state government roughly $10.4 million a month and $125 million annually.

    • Nestlé bottled-water company seeks to take more Michigan water

      Nestle Waters North America’s plans to increase its Michigan groundwater withdrawal by more than 2 1/2 times would unravel an accord reached with environmentalists seven years ago that was aimed at protecting the water table and wildlife.

      Nestlé announced a $36-million expansion at its Ice Mountain bottling operations in Stanwood, in Mecosta County, on Oct. 31. The addition of two water-bottling lines — the first to begin operation next spring; the next opening by 2018 — is expected to add 20 jobs to the plant, which employs more than 250 people.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Fast security is the best security

      DevOps security is a bit like developing without a safety net. This is meant to be a reference to a trapeze act at the circus for those of you who have never had the joy of witnessing the heart stopping excitement of the circus trapeze. The idea is that when you watch a trapeze act with a net, you know that if something goes wrong, they just land in a net. The really exciting and scary trapeze acts have no net. If these folks fall, that’s pretty much it for them. Someone pointed out to me that the current DevOps security is a bit like taking away the net.

    • Detecting fraudulent signups?

      I run a couple of different sites that allow users to sign-up and use various services. In each of these sites I have some minimal rules in place to detect bad signups, but these are a little ad hoc, because the nature of “badness” varies on a per-site basis.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 82 in Stretch cycle

      What happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday November 13 and Saturday November 19 2016…

    • Beware: ScanGuard Scam

      My wife called this to my attention; a web site called “smartwebuser.org” (I refuse to post a link) that warned “If you live in Canada and have a Linux computer which is over 6 months old, then we advise you to keep reading.” What followed was a puff piece for something called ScanGuard. It sounded suspiciously to me like all those “cleanup” apps that are advertised in email and occasionally on TV, that promise to protect your PC from viruses and malware, and make it run a zillion times faster. It sounded like a scam to me.

    • The Urgency of Protecting Your Online Data With Let’s Encrypt

      We understand that online security is a necessity, so why is only 48.5% of online traffic encrypted? Josh Aas, co-founder of Let’s Encrypt, gives us a simple answer: it’s too difficult. So what do we do about it? Aas has answers for that as well in his LinuxCon North America presentation.

      Aas explains how the Achilles heel of managing Web encryption is not encryption itself, but authentication, which requires trusted third parties, and secure mechanisms for managing the trust chain. He says, “The encryption part is relatively easy. It’s a software stack…it comes on most operating systems by default. It just needs to be configured. Most Web servers tie into it directly and take care of things for you. Your biggest challenge is protecting your private key. The authentication part is a bit of a nightmare, and it has been for a while, so if you want to authenticate, the way this works on the web is you need to get a certificate from a certificate authority, and it’s complicated, even for really smart people like my friend Colin here at Cisco.”

    • Is encrypted e-mail a must in the Trump presidential era?

      With Donald Trump poised to take over the U.S. presidency, does it make sense for all of us to move to encrypted e-mail if we want to preserve our privacy? Encrypted e-mail provider ProtonMail says yes, indeed.

    • New IoT botnet behind fake Instagram, Twitter and YouTube profiles

      Hackers have created thousands of fake accounts on popular social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Periscope, via an IoT botnet, using the Linux/Moose malware. Security researchers claim that fake social media accounts are created by hackers to randomly follow people and browse content, in efforts to make the bots seem more “human” and avoid spam filters.

      According to security researchers, the Linux/Moose botnet is a “new generation” IoT botnet that operates on embedded systems such as routers, rather than computers. This makes the bot much more difficult to detect. The botnet can function on even limited computational power and specialises in “social media fraud”.

    • Great. Now Even Your Headphones Can Spy on You

      Cautious computer users put a piece of tape over their webcam. Truly paranoid ones worry about their devices’ microphones, some even crack open their computers and phones to disable or remove those audio components so they can’t be hijacked by hackers. Now one group of Israeli researchers has taken that game of spy-versus-spy paranoia a step further, with malware that converts your headphones into makeshift microphones that can slyly record your conversations.

    • Watch out: ɢoogle.com isn’t the same as Google.com

      If you don’t watch where you’re going on the internet, you might be headed down a dark alley before you know it.

      Like a lot of big websites, we use Google Analytics to keep track of traffic on TNW. A few weeks ago, however, we spotted something that looked a bit out of the ordinary.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • My friend James Foley was murdered by Isis reporting the truth. Too few are left to shed such light on the Middle East

      It was a relief that the documentary about Jim Foley did not show his murder, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, forced to kneel on the desert sand before being beheaded by a masked terrorist; the scene from the grotesque Isis video which has been shown repeatedly across the world.

      Those of us who are his friends had often thought about what he was going through in those terrible last moments. But we would rather have memories of his life rather than his death: working alongside him covering conflicts; remembering someone who, as well as being a great photojournalist, was also brave and modest, and always retained sympathy for those whose suffering he chronicled.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Readers prefer Julian Assange over Donald Trump as TIME Person of the Year: Poll

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has overtaken President-elect Donald Trump for the lead in the online poll of who readers think should be TIMEs Person of the Year in 2016. As of 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Assange and Trump were deadlocked with 9 per cent of all the “yes” votes cast by participants, but Assange pulled ahead to 10 per cent shortly after noon, Time reported.

    • Trump, WikiLeaks and Sweden

      Personally, I would like to emphasize that WikiLeaks’ publication did not intend to favour a particular candidate, but to strengthen the democratic process as a whole. In times of political confusion in which the rulers arrogate for themselves secret prerogatives on secrecy, corruption or usurping power given to them by popular mandates, to pursue other than public good objectives, the opening by WikiLeaks of government’s Pandora box has been a lifeboat sent to Democracy. [2]

      I have recently answered a questionnaire sent by journalist Anna Khalitova on behalf of Russian newspaper Izvestia regarding the issue. Some of my statements were quoted in this Izvestia article, [3] and after appeals for a translation I received on Twitter, I decided to publish here the full text of my replies to Izvestia; putting it in context and adding the sources I used. The questions of the Izvestia interview dealt with the interrogation of Assange in London done by a Swedish prosecutor on Monday 14 November 2016, Julian Assange’s health status, and the prospect of the case in Sweden against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s election in the US.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dakota Access pipeline: 300 protesters injured after police use water cannons

      Twenty-six people were hospitalized and more than 300 injured after North Dakota law enforcement officers trained water cannons, teargas, and other “less-than-lethal” weapons on unarmed activists protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline in below-freezing weather on Sunday night, according to a group of medical professionals supporting the anti-pipeline movement.

      The Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council said that injuries from the “mass casualty incident” included multiple bone fractures from projectiles fired by police, a man with internal bleeding from a rubber bullet injury, a man who suffered a grand mal seizure, and a woman who was struck in the face with a rubber bullet and whose vision was compromised.

      The majority of the patients suffered hypothermia, a result of being soaked by water cannons, the group said.

    • Will Russian Oil Break America’s ‘Marriage’ To Saudi Arabia?

      For years, Saudi Arabia was a close American ally, while Russia was a distant enemy.

      That’s why America purchased a lot of oil from Saudi Arabia and very little from Russia. For the period 1973-2005, America’s oil imports from the Saudi kingdom remained steady, in the range of one to 1.5 million barrels per day. Over the same period, America’s oil imports from Russia fluctuated widely, rising from next to nothing in the 1970s and 1980s to a couple of hundred thousand barrels a day in the early 2000s, before falling back to less 38 thousand in 2015.

      At times, America had to pay a steep price for excessive reliance on Saudi oil and the OPEC oil. Like back in 1970s when the kingdom imposed an oil embargo on the US.

    • Global Trumpism Seen Harming Efforts to Reduce Climate Pollution

      Populism is drawing momentum from environmentalism in the U.S. and Europe, threatening the world’s effort to rein in climate change.

      Donald Trump’s election in the U.S., the U.K. Independence Party and Marine Le Pen’s ascent in France all represent a break with political leaders who made the environment a priority. All three are skeptical climate change is happening and are resistant to international projects like the United Nations global warming talks.

      Envoys from more than 190 countries gathered by the UN made progress this weekend in their work to contain fossil-fuel emissions and keep a lid on temperature increases. Two weeks of discussions in Marrakech, Morocco, were overshadowed by the election of Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. Many delegates left the city concerned about the forces working against them.

  • Finance

    • Trump camp denies he sought favor in Argentine call

      President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman denied Monday an Argentine news report that Trump sought a business favor when that nation’s president called to congratulate him on his Nov. 8 election victory.

      “Not true,” Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller told USA TODAY in an email.

      Trump’s Buenos Aires office building project has been delayed by a series of issues, including financing and permitting requirements. When Argentine President Mauricio Macri called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory, Trump asked Macri to address the permitting issues, according to Jorge Lanata, one of the country’s most prominent journalists.

    • Argentine leader: Ivanka joined call with Trump

      Macri and Donald Trump first met through the former’s father Francisco, who sold a defunct real estate development project to Donald Trump in the 1980s.

      Donald Trump’s extensive business background has raised concerns about conflicts of interest between his future White House and his private enterprises.

    • Trade after Trump

      The one policy issue that was an unambiguous loser for Clinton was trade[^1]. Her grudging move to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, choice of Tim Kaine as running mate and some unhelpful remarks from Bill Clinton meant that Trump had all the running. How should we think about trade policy after Trump? My starting point will be the assumption that, in a world where Trump can be President of the US, there’s no point in being overly constrained by calculations of political realism.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Election offered poor choices
    • Which PR Firms Lose Ground After Trump Victory?
    • KING: The alt-right movement goes full Nazi as Steve Bannon prepares to enter the White House

      Steve Bannon was recently appointed as Chief Strategist for President-elect Donald Trump. It was simply a promotion for Bannon, who served as CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign.

      Bannon, though, was not an experienced political strategist. He was the head of Breitbart News. Just a few months ago, he openly bragged that under his leadership he transformed Breitbart into “the platform of the alt-right movement.” Those are his words — not from some distant past, but from this past July.

      I’ve said it many times, but the alt-right movement is simply the KKK without the hoods. They are skinheads with suits and ties. They simply chose a new name, but are fueled by the same hate and the same philosophy as previous white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements.

    • Museum Condemns White Nationalist Conference Rhetoric

      The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply alarmed at the hateful rhetoric at a conference of white nationalists held on November 19 at the Ronald Reagan Building just blocks from the Museum.

    • ‘Hail Trump’: Alt-right Nationalists Celebrate Trump Victory, Quote Nazi Propaganda

      Speakers at an event of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute quoted Nazi propaganda and said the media protects Jewish interests in an event that has garnered condemnation from Jewish groups and even the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

      A video published by The Atlantic shows parts of a speech delivered by Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist within the alt-right movement, at the National Policy Institute’s annual conference to celebrate Trump’s victory in DC over the weekend.

    • ‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect

      “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”

      That’s how Richard B. Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees on Saturday, gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”

      Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to describe the movement he leads. Spencer has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

      For most of the day, a parade of speakers discussed their ideology in relatively anodyne terms, putting a presentable face on their agenda. But after dinner, when most journalists had already departed, Spencer rose and delivered a speech to his followers dripping with anti-Semitism, and leaving no doubt as to what he actually seeks. He referred to the mainstream media as “Lügenpresse,” a term he said he was borrowing from “the original German”; the Nazis used the word to attack their critics in the press.

    • The Washington Post vs. ‘Fake News’: Pot, Meet Kettle

      “Freedom of expression is a bedrock of American democracy,” the Washington Post‘s editorial board writes in a November 18 jeremiad, “but its irresponsible exercise can distort and destabilize our politics.”

      The Post‘s editors, mining the bottomless pit of mainstream media excuses for not predicting Donald Trump’s victory in November’s presidential election, think they’ve hit the mother lode with their newfound focus on “fake news” stories going viral in social media.

      The Post coming out against “fake news?” That’s rich, especially given the last few months, during which the Post‘s reporters went all in for Hillary Clinton even to the extent of manufacturing “news” that Trump, and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, were in bed with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

      Neither the Post nor its sources have publicly revealed so much as a crumb of actual evidence for the assertion. The case for the claim consists entirely of rumor and innuendo. But since doing so seemed to benefit Clinton’s campaign, the Post unreservedly ran with that rumor and innuendo, helpfully packaged for it by the Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee.

    • How Julian Assange hijacked the American media

      Six years ago, in cooperation with prestigious news organizations like The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, WikiLeaks began dumping the first of 251,287 pilfered cables that revealed the inner workings of American diplomacy. And a month before that, WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs: 391,832 field reports documenting, among other things, the deaths of 66,081 Iraqi civilians.

      The Iraq War Logs arguably should have been more shocking than the Pentagon Papers. But the main response from Americans was a depressed shrug. Even The Washington Post shared that sentiment, observing that “many of the insights gleaned from the documents are not surprising by themselves.”

      It was clear that Americans didn’t need a trove of leaked documents to give them a dim view of their government’s transparency and honesty. It was also clear that, for the most part, they weren’t going to bother to read much of what WikiLeaks published anyway.

    • Slain DNC staffer’s parents: Help us find killer

      The parents of murdered Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich are calling on D.C. residents help catch the killer, who shot Rich, 27, multiple times in the back on July 10 in Bloomingdale.

      “We need the public’s help, we need everybody’s help, and I know Seth knew the right thing if everybody helps us, we will find these murderers and we will make that neighborhood a lot safer,” Mary Ann Rich, his mother, said during a news conference in Washington Monday, according to ABC 7 WJLA.

      “We need help,” Rich’s father, Joel, added. “We need people who know what was going on who may know somebody, we need help from whomever can give the police some more information on what might have happened.”

    • Help Wanted, Apply Now!

      You may have seen the stories last week — President-elect Donald Trump was shocked to learn he needs to hire over 4,000 political appointees by January 20, or that people in Washington may refuse to work in a Trump administration, or that Trump, as a newcomer to politics, may not know enough people to get down to the business of hiring. I doubt any of those statements are true, and the task is easier than you think.

    • Trump transition provokes cries of nepotism – but can anything be done?

      President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to bring his children into his inner circle, alongside far-right adviser Stephen Bannon, has provoked concerns about nepotism, ethics and national security, and experts worry he will go unchecked in office.

      Trump can easily ignore calls to act otherwise, experts say, and critics will have few options even after he assumes the Oval Office.


      Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs executive and CEO of the far-right, conspiratorial Breitbart News, was only the first of several highly controversial cabinet appointments. On Friday Trump nominated Senator Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, and the retired general Mike Flynn to be national security adviser, leaving progressives and ethics watchers reeling.

      Norman Eisen, a former special counsel and ethics adviser to Barack Obama, accused Trump of acting “like something out of a tin-pot oligarchy”. Writing in Fortune, he said “this is not the way we behave” in America.

      But there is no evidence that Trump intends to heed such criticism, nor that he could have to confront it legally.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Fighting For The First Amendment Is Going To Be A Priority: Help Us Do It

      Throughout the campaign, we noted how Donald Trump’s views on the First Amendment and free speech were horrific. While some of his supporters insist that he’s wonderful for free speech because he’s not “politically correct,” in almost every way he’s positioned himself as an enemy of free speech and the First Amendment (even the whole “political correctness” thing is misleading, because if you mention certain other words, Trump supporters seem to get just as worked up as the “PC police”). He (along with Clinton) promised to censor the internet and brushed off the free speech concerns about doing so, calling people who bring up free speech in that context to be “foolish people.” And, then of course, there is the long list of threats to sue his opponents for their ads, news organizations for their articles and other critics as well. Those are all protected speech. It didn’t help matters that his very first post-election tweet complained about protesters exercising their First Amendment right to assemble and protest, and the press for supposedly “inciting” them to protest.

      In the past few days things haven’t gotten much better. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway threatened Harry Reid with legal action for criticizing the President-elect. Sure, Reid’s statement was hyperbolic and a bit ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than stuff that Trump himself said on the campaign trail. You don’t go and threaten people for expressing their opinions — especially when its people from opposing parties. That’s what dictatorial strongmen do, not those in a country that has the First Amendment.

    • New Cybercrime Regs Would Open Back Door to Censorship

      An online right advocate pointed out Monday that the latest proposed changes to the Computer Crime Act and its supporting laws would provide the authorities with direct access to deleting things from the internet.

      In the latest draft of the controversial act and its related regulations made public Friday, the new Ministry of Digital Economy and Society would set up a central system to manage the removal of online content. It would be connected to the systems of cooperating internet service providers so authorities could directly remove content.

    • Mainstream Media Uses ‘Fake News’ to Censor Conservative Views
    • Facebook’s Plan To Stop “Fake News” Borders On Censorship
    • How Zuckerberg’s changing his mind on Facebook’s fake news dilemma
    • Need to resolve Maharashtra theatre censorship: Palekar

      Panaji: Maharashtra, which has an especially strong tradition of reform movements and an active theatre community, is also the state with pre-censorship laws for theatre. “As per the laws, the State can control the writers’ script before it is even performed. This does not happen anywhere else in India,” said filmmaker and actor Amol Palekar at the Dakshinayan Rashtriya Parishad here on Sunday.

    • Can’t portray reality by bypassing reality; our censorship laws archaic: Sharmila Tagore

      Former CBFC chief and veteran actor Sharmila Tagore will be speaking at Times Lit Fest Delhi, November 26-27. She spoke about the journey of Indian cinema over the past 70 years to Himanshi Dhawan , explaining why colonial-era censorship laws need to be changed, how filmmakers remain a soft target and why she thinks Indian cinema — with a few exceptions — still remains simplistic in its worldview.

    • How Facebook Should Handle Its Fake News Problem

      Depending on whom you believe, the problem of fake news on Facebook is either one of the most important issues facing mankind, or an over-blown controversy pumped up by the mainstream media. And in a way, that dichotomy itself points out the problem with defining—let alone actually getting rid of—”fake news.”

      When someone uses that term, they could be referring to one of a number of different things: It might be a story about how Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered several top-level Washington insiders, or it might be one about how Donald Trump’s chief adviser is a neo-Nazi, or it might be one about how the most important election issue was Clinton’s emails.

    • ‘They Treated Us Like Garbage’: Former Trending News Writer Slams Facebook

      On Monday, a woman identifying herself as a former writer for Facebook’s trending section took to Twitter to criticize the social media giant, saying the solution to the site’s current fake news problem is the editorial team it fired with “no grace, no notice, no care” earlier this year.

    • Onlinecensorship.org launches second report, “Censorship in Context” (PDF)

      Onlinecensorship.org is pleased to share our second research report, “Censorship in Context: Insights from Crowdsourced Data on Social Media Censorship.” The report draws on data gathered directly from users from April to November 2016, and covers six social media platforms: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In the report, we also look at the increasing number of media stories surrounding this issue.
      Our latest report also closely examines key issues related to online censorship, from the importance of considering context in content moderation to the effects of privatized enforcement of legal statutes by companies.

      We have aggregated and analyzed our data across geography, platform, content type, and issue areas to highlight trends in social media censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FBI’s Dark Web Child Porn Investigation Stretched to Norway

      Nearly two years after its inception, more details about the largest known law enforcement hacking campaign are still coming to light. According to local media reports, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation provided information to Norwegian authorities from its large-scale investigation into child pornography site Playpen.

      The case highlights the FBI’s use of malware to search computers overseas, as the US prepares to usher in new powers for judges to authorize hacking operations, which experts have described as the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI was created.

      Late last week, Norwegian police said they had arrested 51 people on suspicion of child pornography crimes as part of its own “Operation Dark Room.” Authorities have taken 150TB of material, making it one of the largest seizures in Norwegian history, the announcement reads.

    • Creepy new website makes its monitoring of your online behaviour visible

      IF YOU think you are not being analysed while browsing websites, it could be time to reconsider.

      A creepy new website called clickclickclick has been developed to demonstrate how our online behaviour is continuously measured.

      Dutch media company VPRO and Amsterdam based interactive design company Studio Moniker are the masterminds behind the site, which observes and comments on your behaviour in great detail.

    • Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

      I’m a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I’ve never had a social media account.

    • Nokia to develop drone system for United Arab Emirates
    • Just how partisan is Facebook’s fake news? We tested it
    • Facebook says it will hire an extra 500 people in the UK when it opens a new London office next year
    • Facebook to increase UK employees by 500 in 2017
    • NSA Chief Michael Rogers Talks Cybersecurity [Ed: filled with revisionism and lies]

      Cyberattacks represent an expanding and perilous front line for companies and the government. What do we do about a borderless war that has impacted business across the world and even a presidential campaign?

    • NSA head: DNC hack didn’t affect election outcome
    • NSA: The DNC Email Hacks Didn’t Cost Clinton The Election
    • Why GCHQ needs to fix its diversity problem
    • GCHQ may be forced to respond to FoI requests after European court ruling

      European citizens have a right to information from public authorities under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), it has been ruled—in a decision that may force GCHQ to respond to Freedom of Information requests.

      The judgment was made by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and was described by the UK Campaign for Freedom of Information as a “landmark decision.”

      The case concerned a dispute between Hungary’s government and an NGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, over a freedom of information request filed by the latter. However, such was the wider importance of the case that others were permitted to submit their views to the court: the UK government, and a group of international privacy organisations, including the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

    • President Obama Will Soon Turn Over the Keys to the Surveillance State to President-Elect Trump

      On January 20, President Obama will hand Donald Trump the keys to the surveillance state. Not only will Trump have the NSA’s incredibly powerful technological tools at his disposal, but he’ll also have the benefit of the overbroad and unconstitutional surveillance authorities embraced by the Obama administration — authorities that give tremendous discretion to executive branch officials.

      These spying powers have long been cause for concern because they violate our core rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. But when wielded by a man who invited Russia to hack his political opponent, who reportedly eavesdropped on his own hotel guests, and who has called for expanded surveillance of Americans and especially American Muslims, they are all the more frightening. Fortunately, there are several ways to fight back against the surveillance state, including concrete steps you can take to protect yourself and your communications.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama’s ‘Factually Incorrect’ Edward Snowden Remarks: Game Over for a Pardon?

      President Barack Obama told German journalists last week that he can’t pardon Edward Snowden unless he physically submits to U.S. authorities. Those familiar with American law know there’s no such restriction and interpret “can’t” as meaning “won’t.”

      The answer irked some Snowden backers, who launched a push this year to win the whistleblower a prison-free return from Russia, where he’s lived since U.S. officials canceled his passport in 2013, extending for years a Hong Kong-to-Latin America layover.

      “Obama’s claim that he cannot pardon Edward Snowden is misleading and factually incorrect,” says Evan Greer of the advocacy group Fight for the Future, which co-organized a large pro-Snowden rally near the U.S. Capitol in 2013.

      “He has the power to do it, and he should,” Greer says.

      Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Snowden, says Obama picked his words strategically.

      “Obama can certainly grant a pardon to Snowden but does not want to upset the millions of Americans who support a pardon for Snowden by outright denying it,” Radack says. “By avoiding a decision, however, Obama is effectively denying a pardon.”

    • Sweden should promise Julian Assange will not be extradited if he faces justice, Ecuador’s FM says

      Ecuador’s Foreign Minister says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should receive guarantees that he will not be extradited to the US if he faces justice in Sweden after four years of living in the South American nation’s embassy in London.

      Mr Assange, who enraged Washington by publishing a flood of secret US diplomatic cables, fled to the embassy fearing that Sweden could end up sending him on to the United States where he could face prison for leaking US secrets.

    • “RepressIntern”: Russia’s security cooperation with fellow authoritarians

      The formal and informal links between Eurasia’s security services pose deadly risks for opposition activists abroad.

    • European Parliament resolution: check legality ISDS/ICS in CETA

      Members of the European Parliament want the EU’s Court of Justice to check whether a parallel legal system in the trade agreement with Canada (CETA) is compatible with the EU treaties. The parallel legal system, known as ISDS / ICS, is only accessible to foreign investors. Eighty-nine members tabled a resolution. The Parliament will vote next week, Wednesday 23 November 2016.

    • Obama will not pardon NSA leaker Edward Snowden

      On his final trip to Europe as the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama indeed had plenty to talk about in his interview with Germany’s largest newspaper, Der Spiegel.

    • Obama: Snowden has to face trial

      President Barack Obama isn’t going to talk about whether he’ll pardon Edward Snowden.

      That’s because Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked government documents to journalists, has to return to the US to face trial, Obama told Der Spiegel and German broadcaster ARD in an interview published Friday.

      “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves,” Obama said in an interview with the two news organizations, “so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”

    • Let’s Perp-Walk That Honor Student For Cutting A Peach With A Toddler’s Utensil Set Knife

      And this is the best. The Pembroke Pines cops have turned the case over to the State’s Attorney.

      Hmm…do you think she should be sentenced to life without parole? Maybe the electric chair?

      For the record, I took a knife to school probably on most days. A sharp little apple paring knife. I have yet to stab anything but food.

      Yes, that’s right. Even with all that access to dangerous weaponry, I remain merely hostile, not violent.

    • Trump’s Hamilton tweetstorm: calculated distraction from fraud settlement, or fragile mediocrity?

      Yesterday, Donald Trump’s news cycle was dominated by two stories: first, that the president-elect of the United States of America had a well-developed sense of the sanctity of the theatre, such that any on-stage politicking shocked his conscience to the core; second, that he had settled a lawsuit over Trump University, handing $25,000,000 to people whom he had defrauded.

      The Hamilton story certainly played well: it was above the fold on the New York Times print edition (the fraud story was below the fold), and if we attribute to Trump a measured media savvy, then we could call his twitterstorm a master-stroke of distraction at a moment when the press and the world could have been extremely interested in the news that the new president had paid $25,000,000 in hush-money after a well-publicized fraud perpetrated against desperate American workers who were hoping to get retrained to survive in the new economy — the very same people who are widely credited with handing Trump the election.

    • Police clash with North Dakota pipeline protesters, arrest one

      Hundreds of protesters opposed to a North Dakota oil pipeline project they say threatens water resources and sacred tribal lands clashed with police who fired tear gas at the scene of a similar confrontation last month, officials said.

    • Police defend use of water cannons on Dakota Access protesters in freezing weather

      Authorities on Monday defended their decision to douse protesters with water during a skirmish in subfreezing weather near the Dakota Access oil pipeline, and organizers said at least 17 protesters were taken to the hospital — including some who were treated for hypothermia.

      Protesters trying to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway late Sunday and early Monday were turned back by authorities using tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses.

    • Dakota Access Pipeline clashes turn violent

      Police and about 400 people who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline clashed Sunday evening as demonstrators set cars on fire and law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water at the crowds.

      A live stream from the site near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, showed a chaotic, loud scene, with people screaming and car horns honking.

      Protesters were attempting to cross the Backwater Bridge and go north on Highway 1806, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, which described Sunday’s events as an “ongoing riot.”

    • Water Cannons and Tear Gas Used Against Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters

      Reuters photographer Stephanie Keith recently traveled to North Dakota to cover the ongoing protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a $3.8 billion oil pipeline meant to carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields through the Dakotas and Iowa, to Illinois. Protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hundreds of other Native Americans and their supporters are now encamped near the Backwater Bridge, with law enforcement stationed behind a roadblock on the opposite side. According to Reuters, last night hundreds of protesters made attempts to force their way through the barricades, reportedly setting dozens of fires. They were met with water cannons, pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets, resulting in dozens of injuries. Below are images from last night, and some from the previous several days at the protest site.

    • Pope Francis indefinitely extends priests’ ability to forgive women who have abortions

      Pope Francis has said all priests will be able to forgive abortion, extending indefinitely a temporary measure he had put in place for the Vatican’s jubilee year.

      “I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion,” the Pope wrote in a letter marking the end of the “Holy Year of Mercy”.

      “The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary,” he wrote.

    • ‘Biggest invisible thing on earth?’ – It’s called Indonesia, and it’s waking up

      Looking for fun on a rainy afternoon? Try this: take a blow-up globe down to your nearest public space – a shopping mall, perhaps, or a train station – and ask people to find Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation.

      I’ve tried it in London, New York and Rio. The response: “Uuuuuuuhh …”

      Much stroking of chins and scratching of heads. “Somewhere around here, maybe,” accompanied by vague hand gestures towards Indochina or south Asia.

      If you’re in Melbourne or Sydney you may have more luck. But even there, interest in Indonesia per se is muted. In the words of an editor at Penguin Australia: “Despite [Indonesia] being a profoundly important near neighbour of ours, I feel our market would need an Australian angle on the country.”

    • Indonesia’s got a drinking problem – Muslim hardliners who want to ban alcohol

      In all my half-century of drinking, I have only once encountered a pub with no beer. Ironically, that was the Macbeth Arms in the small Scottish village of Lumphanan, where my hallowed ancestor was slain by Malcolm III in 1057.

      There was a reason, of course. It was inconveniently closed for renovations.

      Imagine my horror then, when on a road trip along the northern Java coast to cover Indonesia’s 2014 presidential elections, I inadvertently stopped for the night at what turned out to be a TOWN with no beer.

      Demak (Pop: 33,700), the site of one of Indonesia’s oldest mosques, is one of a growing number of towns and cities across populous Java that have quietly banned the sale of alcohol.

    • Muslim Aversion to Non-Muslim Rule and the Jakarta Riots

      Violence between protesters and police in Jakarta broke out Friday night, November 4, 2016, when an estimated 200,000 Muslims emerged from Friday prayers in mosques to rally outside the Indonesian president’s palace. Clashes with police led to tear gas being used on demonstrators, and Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, had to postpone his planned visit to Australia to deal with the crisis.

      The crowd was calling for the arrest of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, the ethnic Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta, which is Indonesia’s capital and the largest city in the world’s fourth most populous nation.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump Names Two Opponents of Net Neutrality to Oversee FCC Transition Team

      President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Both of the new advisers are staunch opponents of net neutrality regulations.

      Jeff Eisenach, one of the two newly appointed advisers, is an economist who has previously worked as a consultant for Verizon and its trade association. In September 2014, Eisenach testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee and said, “Net neutrality would not improve consumer welfare or protect the public interest.” He has also worked for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and in a blog post wrote, “Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple.”

    • Why Oracle Paid More Than $600 Million for Dyn

      Business software titan Oracle paid somewhere between $600 million and $700 million to acquire Dyn, a source close to the deal told Fortune.

      Earlier on Monday, Dan Primack reported that Oracle paid “north of $600 million” for the Manchester, N.H.-based company. Oracle and Dyn announced the deal, without financial details, Monday morning.

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