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Links 30/12/2016: KDE for FreeBSD, Automotive Grade Linux UCB 3.0

Posted in News Roundup at 12:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • SaaS/Back End

    • 5 Expensive Traps of DIY Hadoop Big Data Environments

      Some myths are rooted in truth — and myths about Apache Hadoop, the open source software framework for very large data sets, are no exception. Yes, Hadoop runs on cheap commodity computer hardware, and it’s easy for users to add nodes. But the devil is in the very expensive details, especially when you’re running Hadoop in a production environment, warns Jean-Pierre Dijcks, Oracle master product manager for big data.

      ‘IT departments will think ‘I’ve got servers anyway’ or ‘I can buy inexpensive ones, and I’ve got some people, so it will cost next to nothing to build our own Hadoop cluster,” Dijcks says. ‘They want to explore this technology and play with it-and exploration is a good thing.’

      But IT departments can find that their Hadoop experiments head down the proverbial rabbit hole, piling up expenses they didn’t anticipate as business colleagues breathe down their necks to deliver. Dijcks cites five common mistakes IT leaders make with their DIY Hadoop clusters.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • How viral open-source startups can build themselves into enterprise-IT powerhouses

      Because open-source software is free and easy to use, it can spread virally through organizations, from the bottom up, in ways that old-style, proprietary software cannot. This is because more-traditional software often requires licenses for specific users upfront. So there’s generally a big, expensive contract signed at the very beginning of an engagement. With open-source, technology gets a free foothold and then sticks around if it proves useful enough for people to pay for it (which is often). Software developers also love tinkering with their tools, which they can easily do with open source.


    • Free Software Foundation Keeps On Giving

      RMS and the Free Software Foundation have given so much to the world: codification of the concept of Free Software, promotion of Free Software, the GNU project, great software licences, and much more. Personally RMS has travelled the world promoting Free Software to all who would listen from students, the media, governments and he’s had great results in Europe, India and South America. Freedom is not just for USAians or other privileged classes. It’s for everyone.

    • A message from RMS: Support the Free Software Foundation

      With just a few days left in 2016, here are some thoughts from Richard M. Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), on why people support the FSF and what we might be able to do next.

  • Programming/Development

    • Hot programming trends in 2016

      Technology is constantly moving forward—well, maybe not always forward, but always moving. Even for someone who keeps an eye on the trends and their effect on programmers, discerning exactly where things are headed can be a challenge. My clearest glimpse into open source programming trends always comes in the fall when I work with my fellow chairs, Kelsey Hightower and Scott Hanselman, and our fantastic programming committee to sculpt the coming year’s OSCON (O’Reilly Open Source Convention). The proposals that we get and the number focused on specific topics turn out to be good indicators of hot trends in the open source world. What follows is an overview of the top programming trends we saw in 2016.


  • Security

    • 10 Things You Must Know About Linux Security

      Millions of users that opt out for using Linux operating system for two decades now, all on the grounds that it is much safer than most others on the market. While it’s true that Linux is less susceptible to security breaches, it is not impenetrable (no system on the planet is), which is why users should get acquainted with some security precautions that can protect their devices even more. The main topic of this article are 10 things you must know about Linux security, and we’ll try to bring this topic closer to home and closer to everyday use of your OS.

    • How to Improve the Security of Your Linux System with Firejail

      Linux is always perceived as a more secure OS than its counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely immune to viruses, worms, and other evil stuff. Like any other operating system, it has its own set of limitations, and a lot is dependent on how the individual uses it.

      Of course, nothing can guarantee absolute protection, but there are ways that make life very hard for viruses, worms, and hackers in general. If you are looking for such a solution, look no further, as in this tutorial we’ll be discussing a software, called Firejail, that can improve the security of your Linux system.

    • 33C3: Works for me

      I’ve attended a bunch of sessions on civil rights and cyber warfare, as well as more technical things. One presentation that touched me in particular was the story of Lauri Love, who is accused of stealing data from agencies including Federal Reserve, Nasa and FBI. This talk was presented by a civil rights activist from the Courage foundation, and two hackers from Anonymous and Lulzsec. While Love is a UK citizen, the US is demanding extradition from the UK so they can prosecute him under US law (which is much stricter than the UK’s). This would create a precedent making it much easier for the US to essentially be able to prosecute citizens anywhere under US law.

    • Libpng Updates Fix 21-Year-Old Null Dereference Bug

      Libpng 1.6.27, 1.5.28, 1.4.20, 1.2.57, and 1.0.67 were all released today to fix a pointer null dereference bug dating back to 1995.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Obama orders sanctions against Russia in response to US election interference

      The Obama administration on Thursday announced its retaliation against Russia for its efforts to interfere with the US electoral process, ordering the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and closing two Russian compounds based the US.

      In a statement, Obama said Americans should “be alarmed by Russia’s actions” and pledged further action.

      US intelligences services believe Russia ordered the cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organizations.

    • ‘It’s Hard to Show the World I Exist’: Chelsea Manning’s Final Plea to Be Seen

      In 2010, Chelsea Manning leaked thousands of classified documents in an attempt to shed light on the “true cost of war” in the Middle East. But while other whistleblowers continue to attract media attention and concern, Manning is locked in a maximum-security prison, six years into a 35-year sentence. On the heels of a last appeal to President Obama for clemency, Manning tells Broadly about her struggle for visibility and justice.

    • Theresa May criticises John Kerry’s ‘inappropriate’ comments on Israel

      Theresa May has distanced the UK from Washington over John Kerry’s condemnation of Israel, in comments that appear to be designed to build bridges with the incoming Trump administration.

      Kerry, the outgoing secretary of state, delivered a robust speech this week that criticised Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as the “most rightwing coalition in Israeli history” and warned that the rapid expansion of settlements in the occupied territories meant that “the status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation”.

      The prime minister’s spokesman said May thought it was not appropriate to make such strongly worded attacks on the makeup of a government or to focus solely on the issue of Israeli settlements.

    • Belgian Police Arrest 14-Years-Old Teenager with Backpack Full of Bombs

      Belgian police arrested a 14-years-old Muslim teenager with a backpack full of explosives near a train station in Brussels. A bottle with the words “Allahu Akbar,” written on it, was also found in his possession.

      Police officers were investigating smoke, emanating from a construction site in the Molenbeek region of Brussels, which is considered a top jihadist hotbed in Europe. According to the De Telegraaf newspaper, during the investigation, four youths were detained at the scene, and the main culprit remains in custody.

    • Berlin attack: Lorry’s automatic braking system stopped more deaths during the Christmas market assault

      An automatic braking system fitted to the lorry used in the Berlin attack prevented the deaths of many more victims, investigators have found.

      Anis Amri, a Tunisian Isis supporter, is believed to have hijacked the vehicle from its Polish driver in the German capital before ploughing it into a busy Christmas market on 19 December.

      Twelve people were killed by the lorry and more than 50 others injured, being caught under the wheels or crushed by debris before it came to a stop.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Are Climate Scientists Ready for Trump?

      How should climate scientists react to a president-elect who calls global warming a “hoax?” How much should they prepare for his administration? And should they ready themselves for the worst?

      These questions loomed over the fall conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) this month, the largest annual gathering of Earth scientists in the world. How the scientific profession chooses to answer them may decide whether the United States can summon the political will necessary to finally vanquish climate-change denialism—or whether it will continue to muddle through on the issue, not really attending to it, as it has for the past three decades.

    • Trump Is Anti-Environment, But So Was Obama

      It’s rather easy, and undoubtedly necessary, to lambast President-elect Donald Trump and his team of corporate parasites who will soon head nearly every key agency in the U.S. government.

      Of note are the pro-fracking, anti-environmental protections positions of everyone from the nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, to the incoming head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. Such appointments signal a reckless abandonment of even the pretense of safeguarding vital resources such as air, water, and soil, among many others, at a time when many in the scientific community are ringing the alarm about our quickly unraveling biosphere.

  • Finance

    • Apple Rumoured to Begin Making iPhones in India Starting in April

      According to a report from The Times of India, Apple supplier Wistron is currently prepping an iPhone assembly facility in Peenya, an industrial center in the city of Bengaluru. The plant is slated to start production in April.

      Amid rumours that Apple is ramping up efforts to sell its devices in India, the report claims the company is “very serious” about starting up iPhone production in the country by the end next year.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Inspector generals gain power, but filling positions loses priority

      With civil liberties and advocacy groups raising concern over some of Mr. Trump’s nominees for some Cabinet positions, watchdogs say, one way to keep an eye on the activities of those agencies would be to have strong oversight through inspectors general.

    • Stein: Election audits should be automatic in Michigan

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said Wednesday her abbreviated recount effort showed the vote “was not carefully guarded” in Michigan and should spur legislative action to require automatic post-election audits.

      Republican President-elect Donald Trump was poised to maintain his 10,000-vote margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton when Michigan’s hand recount was halted more than two million ballots in, but Stein suggested the rare glimpse under the hood of the state election system served an important purpose.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Good Guy Hacker Launches ‘Security Without Borders’ to Defend At-Risk Dissidents

      Some hackers have lost their way. Today, countless techies have entered the for-profit cybersecurity business, potentially neglecting what one security researcher calls their responsibility to civil society: helping at-risk users like dissidents with the security of their work, for example.

    • Authorities to collect iris scans from Singaporeans, PRs starting Jan 1

      From the beginning of next year, authorities will start collecting iris images from Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) when they register or re-register for their NRIC, or apply for or renew a passport, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

      The iris images will serve as another identifier to boost verification methods, in addition to the photographs and fingerprints already used on the documents.

    • US reportedly plans retaliation against Russian election hacks soon [Update: sanctions announced]

      According to a CNN report, officials within the Obama administration have said that retaliatory measures against Russia for interference in the US election will happen very soon—perhaps as early as today. But the response is expected to be “proportional” and include diplomatic measures and sanctions. It’s not clear whether there will be any sort of response in kind against the Russian leadership’s computer systems and data.

    • White House Kicks Russian Diplomats Out Of The Country, Releases Preliminary Report On Russian Hacking With More To Come

      As was widely expected, the White House officially announced its response to claims of Russian interference in our election process, and the “response” is basically kicking 35 Russian diplomats out of the country. Russia admittedly suggested it will do the same. The announcement also includes adding some entities to the official list of “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.” Somewhat incredibly, now added to that list is the FSB, which is the modern incarnation of the KGB. What’s incredible about this was that it took until now for this to happen. With this, the administration also issued an executive order expanding on a previous executive order from last year, enabling it to take these actions.

    • Is an NSA contractor the next Snowden? In 2017, we hope to find out

      We covered a ton of legal cases in 2016.

      The entire Apple encryption saga probably grabbed the gold medal in terms of importance. However, our coverage of a California fisherman who took a government science buoy hostage was definitely our favorite. The case was dropped in May 2016 after the fisherman gave the buoy back.

      Among others, we had plenty of laser strike cases to cover. There were guilty verdicts and sentencing in the red-light camera scandal that consumed Chicago. The Federal Trade Commission settled its lawsuit with Butterfly Labs, a failed startup that mined Bitcoins. A man in Sacramento, California, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful manufacture of a firearm and one count of dealing firearms—he was using a CNC mill to help people make anonymous, untraceable AR-15s.

      While we do our best to cover a wide variety of civil and criminal cases, there are five that stand out to us in 2017. These cases range from privacy and encryption, to government-sanctioned hacking, to the future of drone law in America.

    • Top-Secret Doc May Explain Why Russia Blamed for Hack
    • The scary reason the NSA knows when Russia hacks the US, without any doubt
    • Snowden doc shows NSA blamed Russia for hack of murdered journalist: report
    • Leaked Snowden Document Hints At Why Feds Are So Sure Russia Hacked Election

      U.S. intelligence officials appear certain that Russia was responsible for interfering in the presidential election — though they haven’t fully detailed how they know. But a classified document leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reveals that they’ve tracked Russian hacking before and that the information they gleaned may have helped this time around.

      Russian hacking also occurred in the case of Russian journalist and American citizen Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in 2006 in her Moscow apartment after writing articles critical of the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Five men were convicted of her murder, but it’s still a mystery who ordered the killing.

    • Newly released classified Snowden document suggests NSA knew about previous Russian hacking

      A hitherto-unreleased, top secret document provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reportedly indicates that the NSA has the technical means to collect and analyse evidence of Russian hacking. The agency monitored a similar cyberattack, believed to be the work of the Russian Federal Intelligence Service (FSB), which targeted a noted Russian journalist, also a US citizen, according to a report.

      In 2005, a year before journalist and known Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in her apartment, the FSB is believed to have targeted an email account allegedly used by Politkovskaya. According to a report by The Intercept, the Russian intelligence agency hacked into Politkovskaya’s email account (annapolitkovskaia@US Provider1) and infected it with a customised malware, unavailable in the public domain.

    • Snowden Doc: NSA Blames Russia for Hack of Murdered Journalist
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • CIA Torture Report, Which Reveals How Prisoners Were Abused And Tortured, To Be Preserved After Federal Judge Passes Order

      A federal judge ordered the government to preserve a Senate report on Wednesday that documents the alleged torture of detainees in CIA custody through tactics such as regular beatings, forced rectal feeding, waterboarding, sensory and sleep deprivation and mock executions.

      U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth passed the order on the appeal filed by the attorneys representing Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri who was waterboarded while in CIA custody for his alleged involvement in the attack on the destroyer USS Cole in the port of Aden that killed 17 U.S. military personnel in October 2000.

      The judge has also ordered for the preservation of all associated documents such as the CIA response to the report. He also directed for the report to be deposited with a court security officer. Although for now, the nearly 7,000-page report is being treated as a highly classified document, Lamberth’s order raises the possibility of it being eventually released as a court record, according to Politico.

    • German neuroscientist also told to leave UK after residency rejection

      Schwarzkopf said: “I am a German citizen who moved to the UK in 1999 to study neuroscience at Cardiff University, both my undergraduate degree and my PhD. After I got my PhD in 2007, I decided to remain in the UK to work. I am now married to a British woman and am a faculty member at University College London.

      “I originally applied for that permanent residence document in March 2016 because it is necessary for a British citizenship application.

      “In June, one week before the referendum, my application was rejected. The reason was that I hadn’t included my passport in the application, only a legally certified colour copy. This rejection letter contained the phrase that I ‘should now make preparations to leave’ the UK.

      “I was pretty pissed off at that moment, so I wrote a couple of complaint letters including [one] to the then home secretary Theresa May (she never got back to me).

      “Just to be clear, I don’t think that was anything more than a mistake on the part of the Home Office. They simply use these standard letters.

    • Netanyahu to be investigated for bribery, fraud — report

      Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has reportedly approved a full criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into allegations of bribery and fraud.

      Netanyahu will be investigated by police for two separate cases and will be called in for police questioning in the coming days, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

      Asked by The Times of Israel, the Justice Ministry — under whose auspices the attorney general operates — declined to comment Wednesday evening on the report. There was no immediate response from the Prime Minister’s Office.

      Earlier this month, Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit and Eldad Yaniv, a lawyer and Labor party activist, petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand the Attorney General answer why had not yet opened an investigation despite what they called “overwhelming evidence.”

    • ‘Guardian’ newspaper fails to support colleague facing deportation threat from Israeli government

      Israel is reported to be ready to expel an award-winning Australian journalist and writer, Antony Loewenstein, after he asked a too-probing question of an Israeli politician at a media event last week. Government officials have said they are investigating how they can deny him his work visa when it comes up for renewal in March.

      It is unsurprising to learn that Israel has no serious regard for press freedom. But more depressing has been the lack of solidarity shown by journalistic colleagues, most especially the Guardian newspaper, for which he has regularly worked as a freelancer since 2013. Not only has the paper failed to offer him any support, but its management and staff reporters have hurried to distance themselves from him.

    • Trump’s Pick For Attorney General A Big Fan Of Civil Asset Forfeiture

      Efforts to rein in civil forfeiture have been moving forward around the country. Several states have passed laws that remove some of the perverse incentives that have allowed law enforcement agencies to seize cash, cars, homes, and whatever else might be laying around without criminal convictions. Very few efforts have gone as far as to make convictions a requirement in every case, but most have at least closed the federal loophole that allowed agencies to bypass more restrictive state laws to take control of citizens’ assets.

      The federal government’s use of asset forfeiture still remains untouched. The equitable sharing program that helped local law enforcement agencies skirt state regulations closed briefly due to budget cutbacks, but was revived once the tax dollars started flowing again.

      While some legislators have mounted efforts to scale back federal civil asset forfeiture, nothing has made its way to the president’s desk. There’s a new president on the way and his choice for attorney general isn’t going to help those efforts along. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is a longtime fan of asset forfeiture and still believes — despite years of evidence to the contrary — that it’s an effective Drug War weapon, rather than law enforcement agencies going shopping for things they want.

    • Oversight Board Spares NYPD’s Feelings By Softening Language In Taser Complaint Report

      The NYPD’s estranged relationship with its oversight continues. The Civilian Complaint Review Board — put into place after it became apparent the NYPD wasn’t interested in policing itself — has noticed the department is vocally supportive of better policing, but has no interest in actually making any changes to the way it disciplines its officers.

      The NYPD has yet to see a civilian complaint it can’t make disappear and has almost always recommended a lesser punishment for misconduct than the Board has recommended. In controversial “chokehold” cases, the Board found the NYPD was completely uninterested in doing anything about officers’ use of a tactic it has outlawed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • 10 everyday things on the web the EU Commission wants to make illegal: Oettinger’s legacy

        In a few days, scandal-prone Günther Oettinger will stop being Europe’s top internet policy maker – he’s being promoted to oversee the EU budget.

        But before leaving, the outgoing Digital Commissioner submitted dangerous plans that undermine two core foundations of the internet: Links and file uploads. While Oettinger is going away, his lobby-dictated proposals are here to stay.


Software Patents Continue to Collapse, But IBM, Watchtroll and David Kappos Continue to Deny and Antagonise It

Posted in America, Deception, IBM, Patents at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They even organise events to push their agenda

Lobbying for Watchtroll

Summary: The latest facts and figures about software patents, compared to the spinmeisters’ creed which they profit from (because they are in the litigation business)


atest [Section] 101 Statistics Show Improved Validity Prospects at Dist. Cts, Not CAFC or PTAB,” said a patent attorney the other day, reinforcing our response to Mullin's article (titled “These three 2016 [CAFC] cases gave new life to software patents”). The reality in the US right now is undeniably bad for software patents, which are being chopped at PTAB’s block and CAFC’s block. Patent maximalists are trying to pretend otherwise and we repeatedly rebut their arguments, only to see these arguments resurfacing over and over again, courtesy of the usual suspects. If the lies are repeated often enough, then maybe prospective applicants (or clients in need of legal representation) will actually believe them.

“The reality in the US right now is undeniably bad for software patents, which are being chopped at PTAB’s block and CAFC’s block.”The other day we saw this new article titled “Assessing USPTO’s Memo On Software Claim Patent Eligibility”; we keep wondering if USPTO officials will become as rational and realistic as US courts. Right now they just strive to rubberstamp whatever they can and those who pay the price for it are both plaintiffs and defendants; only patent law firms profit from it.

“This method of presentation involves storing and processing applications or parts of applications at a user’s local personal computer rather than at a remote server.”
As a side note — although an important note nonetheless — we can’t help but notice that IBM keeps trying to corrupt the system though its former Director, who had worked for IBM beforehand. IBM definitely used to be a (GNU/)Linux friend. Now it’s just an Apple promoter/pusher and a malicious patent aggressor. Yes, IBM has been rather busy going after small companies using software patents. Some of these companies, seeing what a menace IBM is becoming, belatedly turn to PTAB in an effort to invalidate these patents of IBM. Here is one report about IBM’s software patent that will quite likely be invalidated: “The ’967 patent relates to a method for presenting applications in an interactive service featuring steps for generating screen displays of the service applications at the reception systems of the respective users. This method of presentation involves storing and processing applications or parts of applications at a user’s local personal computer rather than at a remote server. This helps avoid possible server bandwidth issues that can be caused by the server being required to serve too much data to multiple users simultaneously. The ’967 patent lists many applications that can take advantage of this method of presentation, including games, news, weather, movie reviews, banking, investments, home shopping, messaging, and advertising.”

This is pretty trivial. It’s akin to caching.

Now watch what David Kappos is cited as saying again. “US is losing the innovation war,” he is quoted by IBM as saying, “to China” (where IBM finds buyers for its failing business units, notably Lenovo).

“Kappos is a paid lobbyist,” Benjamin Henrion noted, “working for patent trolls such as Microsoft or IBM.”

“IBM’s Schecter would know,” I replied, as “he’s IBM’s patent chief ^_^ so [he] has the ‘receipts’…”

What we have here is IBM citing as ‘proof’ a former IBM staff who is now an IBM-funded lobbyist for software patents. Look how dirty (as in dirty play) these people are…

And as if the greater the number of patents, the better… who would be foolish enough to actually believe this?!

“China pushing for software patents,” Henrion noted in relation to another Schecter tweet, “apparatus claims relating to software can contain both hardware and “program” components…” (links to “China Files A Million Patents In A Year, As Government Plans To Increase Patentability Of Software”)

“Kappos is a paid lobbyist working for patent trolls such as Microsoft or IBM…”
      –Benjamin Henrion
China is their new bogeyman. One of these people added: “But USA keeps working on UN-patentability of software. What’s wrong with this picture?”

Nothing is wrong with this picture. It’s a good decision. End software patents, end patent trolls.

“China is plain wrong on this,” Henrion wrote, separately noting (to Marietje Schaake regarding software patents in Europe) that it’s “like the unitary patent lie that it won’t affect software development.”

On a final note, worth seeing is this rant from Watchtroll and 'gang' about end of software patenting (or demise thereof). “Stepping Back from the Cliff: The Year Congress Didn’t Cave to the Anti-Patent Lobby” says the title. They’re currently taking stock of a terrible year for them [1, 2] — a year which saw the demise of patent trolls. Watchtroll continues to attack PTAB for doing its job and we can’t help wondering why IBM’s Schecter treats this like some kind of ambassador for his cause. Does IBM really want to be so closely associated with Watchtroll, who even resorts to attacking judges?

For a more balanced summary of recent events, see “Year in Review: The Top-Five Legal Developments of 2016″ (posted days ago). It has a section about software patents.

“…anti patent trolling would be better, even if trolling is considered pejorative.”
      –Benjamin Henrion
Those who are against software patents, notably people who actually write software, are not “anti-patent” as Watchtroll tries to put it. In fact, as Henrion put it, “anti-patent is a gross and blunt exaggeration here. [] anti patent trolling would be better, even if trolling is considered pejorative.”

Patent trolls, in the majority of cases, rely on software patents. Take the latter away to get rid of the former.

2016 Was a Terrible Year for Patent Trolls and 2017 Will Probably be a Lot Worse for Them

Posted in America, Patents at 6:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New year

Summary: The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is planning to weigh in on a case which will quite likely drive patent trolls out of the Eastern District of Texas, where all the courts that are notoriously friendly towards them reside

MANY patents granted by the USPTO have become the basis for ruinous lawsuits filed by patent trolls, which may soon be dealt an unprecedented and much-needed blow.

Patent trolls are not just a minor nuisance or some small random parasitic companies without products; some of them are gigantic and many are covers (or fronts) for large corporation seeking to shield themselves from counterclaims. Consider this new story about “Cayman Global”, yet another ‘IP’ proxy, this time for Faraday Future. “The Verge reports that Faraday Future does not own its intellectual property, and that it is instead owned by a separate entity called FF Cayman Global,” Business Insider wrote the other day. Microsoft too has created its own patent assertion entity — the one it uses to taunt Linux and Android all the time.

Florian Müller and LWN have both highlighted this good article published on December 27th by Daniel Nazer of the EFF. To quote: “Patent trolls were down but certainly not out in 2016. After a massive burst of litigation at the end of last year, we saw a noticeable drop in patent troll lawsuits at the start of this one. But trolls began returning to court as the year continued and 2016 will likely end with a relatively small overall decline. Consistent with recent trends, troll cases clustered in the Eastern District of Texas. Approximately one in three patent suits were filed in that remote, troll-friendly district, and these suits were almost all filed by companies with no business other than suing for patent infringement.”

“Microsoft too has created its own patent assertion entity — the one it uses to taunt Linux and Android all the time.”A lot of patent trolls lose their battles as software patents reach the wastebasket or never get used at all (due to low certainty of settlement/prosecution).

In 2017 we expect the case that will likely destroy trolls to be decided on by SCOTUS. This new article by Sasha Moss, Technology Policy Fellow at the R Street Institute, says that the “U.S. Supreme Court announced earlier this month it will hear the appeal of a patent infringement case brought by Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC against zero-calorie sweetener manufacturer TC Heartland LCC.”

Even lawyers’ sites wrote about this, e.g. “Will forum shopping days, like holiday shopping days, soon come to an end?”

“Only the more ‘extremist’ sites of (and for) patent lawyers, as we noted here before, prefer to say that nothing will change.”Professor Michael Risch wrote about this case that Patently-O, where he wrote/published his piece, predicts is going to kill patent trolls’ business model. To quote Risch, “I should note that the outset that I favor TC Heartland’s position from a policy point of view. I’ve long said in a variety of venues (including comment threads on this very blog) that there are significant problems with any system in which so much rides on where the case is filed. And I think that’s true whether you think they are doing a great or terrible job in the Eastern District of Texas.”

Only the more ‘extremist’ sites of (and for) patent lawyers, as we noted here before, prefer to say that nothing will change. We shall see next year, but the one newly-introduced factor will be the Republican government and perhaps several new appointments of Justices.

Fitbit’s Decision to Drop Patent Case Against Jawbone Shows Decreased Potency of Abstract Patents, Not Jawbone’s Weakness

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 5:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What a total waste of money!

Waste disposal

Summary: The scope of patents in the United States is rapidly tightening (meaning, fewer patents are deemed acceptable by the courts) and Fitbit’s patent case is the latest case to bite the dust

EARLIER this year we learned that the USPTO might have to reassess design patents, having already reassessed software patents. SCOTUS was poised to look into an Apple v Samsung case (one of several high-profile cases), which later turned out alright for Samsung.

Days ago we found a new article titled “US Supreme Court Sets The Bar Higher For Obtaining Damages For Design Patent Infringement” in the media of patent lawyers. At the same time patent law firms said that we all need more patents that fall inside/within a broader scope (i.e. more money paid for their ‘services’) , this time too in relation to design patents. Another patent law firm spoke in favour of design patents because it makes money out of patent maximalism. Shouldn’t we just ignore them all, knowing that they object to SCOTUS not because SCOTUS is wrong but because of greed? They want design patents, like those which are often applicable to gadgets, but such patents are being phased out, or defanged in the damages sense. The incentive too pursue such patents has just decreased and confidence in existing ones eroded.

Certainty surrounding software and design patents is declining and in fact just two days ago, regarding the Fitbit case that we covered here before, there was a major new development. The seminal lawsuit got dropped:

Fitbit drops patent infringement case against rival wearable tech company Jawbone

Fitbit Inc. has dropped one of its patent infringement cases against rival wearable tech maker AliphCom Inc.’s Jawbone, pointing to its belief that the company is already failing financially, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The two San Francisco-based companies both manufacture and market wearable fitness trackers and have been tied up in litigation with each other, alleging patent infringement and the stealing of trade secrets. Patents in the litigation dropped by Fitbit were related to heart-rate and physical activity monitor technology.

Fitbit’s case would have blocked Jawbone’s ability to bring their competing product into the U.S., however it seems as if financial issues have already hampered the company’s ability to do business. Jawbone no longer lists its products for sale on its website.

Fitbit’s implicit message here is that it was going to win but was merciful enough because of the defendant’s position, but that’s quite likely just spin. The legal battle soon became a two-edged sword because Jawbone fought back and now it looks increasingly expensive for Fitbit to fight on, especially relying on patents that high courts tend to invalidate at the end.

What we are seeing here is part of the trend of litigation declines (as noted by several sources so far this year). Bad news for patent lawyers, but excellent news to everybody else.

The EPO Under Benoît Battistelli Makes the Mafia Look Like Rookies

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 4:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And Battistelli hypocritically compares the staff union to "Mafia"

Benoît Battistelli in The Sun

Summary: Pretending there is a violent, physical threat that is imminent, Paranoid in Chief Benoît Battistelli is alleged to have pursued weapons on EPO premises

THE endless EPO scandals mean that the EPO is full of secrets but not full of surprises as nothing — however appalling — is surprising anymore. People from special services and the military are being recruited by Battistelli, making the EPO look like a warzone rather than something scientific.

“The EPO is becoming a madhouse by the day,” said a new comment from yesterday, as it’s rumoured that actual weapons on EPO premises were sought by Battistelli for his expensive goons (hired from the outside, i.e. hired externally at the EPO’s expense). To quote the comment:

wrt bodyguards the rumour has it that first they (Battistelli et al) expected them to carry their weapons IN the EPO before lawyers and infrastructures eventually convince them that this was perhaps a little overstrecht

The EPO is becoming a madhouse by the day. If you loved 2016 watch for 2017 since this is not yet the end of the circus

The internal “Gazette”, according to another new comment, is now being censored by the chronic liars at the top-level management of the EPO:

Your comment is certainly correct, but in the present instance, the contrary is true. An article was prepared, but not accepted by the editorial board of the Gazette.

It is not known whether the board received precise instructions from above or decided on its volition not to publish it. It might well be that the board asked for permission to publish it, but the result is the same in all three occurrences.

There is thus no coincidence.

This relates to a discussion which we previously covered in a couple of posts. These North Korea-like censures (strong criticism) and omissions by Team Battistelli — including Kongstad et al — have expanded their scope of media control to the whole Organisation, not just the Office, and they occasionally step on the toes of bloggers outside the EPO and manipulate the media worldwide (to the tune of over a million Euros of EPO budgetper year).

The Mafia never had this much control over the media.

Links 29/12/2016: OpenELEC 7.0, Android Wear 2.0 Smartwatches Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 3:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Microsoft Finally Admits Its Malware-Style Windows 10 Upgrade Sales Pitch Went Too Far

      We’ve talked a lot about how Microsoft managed to shoot Windows 10 (and consumer goodwill) squarely in the foot by refusing to seriously address OS privacy concerns, and by using malware-style tactics to try and force users on older versions of Windows to upgrade. While Microsoft’s decision to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 made sense on its surface, the company repeatedly bungled the promotion by making the multi-gigabyte upgrade impossible to avoid, which was a huge problem for those on capped and metered broadband connections.

      But at times Microsoft made things even worse by engaging in behavior that would make even the lowest scumware peddlers proud. Like that time the Redmond-giant began pushing Windows 10 upgrade popups that pretended to let users close the popup dialogue by pressing X, only to have that begin the upgrade anyway against the user’s wishes.

    • The Best Linux Desktop Environments for HiDPI Displays

      In the age of Apple’s Retina technology and 4k displays, HiDPI support is becoming more of a mainstream thing. This means that modern operating systems have started tweaking their UI so it looks good on bigger, denser displays. Big players like macOS and Windows 10 have been enabling pretty good HiDPI support to combat this. How has Linux been handling this new trend?

      For the most part, it varies. Most modern desktops on the Linux platform will have HiDPI support, but which are the best? Here we have compiled a list of the best desktop environments to use with HiDPI displays.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Details On The PS4′s Radeon GPU With Linux Driver Modifications

      At this week’s Chaos Communication Congress (33C3) one of the talks interesting us is on console hacking, due to the PlayStation 4 making use of a Radeon GPU and the work done to modify the open-source Radeon Linux GPU driver to run on the PS4.

      Hector Martin was the presenter for Console Hacking 2016 where he talked about his PlayStation 4 hacking and going from Sony’s FreeBSD-based operating system to the lengthy process of getting Linux running on the PS4 and being able to make use of the Radeon APU.

    • Console Hacking 2016 – PS4: PC Master Race
    • How Facebook Uses Linux and Btrfs: An Interview with Chris Mason

      Chris Mason is the principal author of Btrfs, the open source file system that’s seen as the default file system for SUSE Enterprise Linux. Mason started working on Btrfs at Oracle and then moved to Facebook where he continued to work on the file system as a member of the company’s Linux kernel team. When Facebook has new kernels that need to go out, Mason helps make sure that everything’s been properly tested and meets performance needs.

    • 2017′s Big Question: Who Pays for the Blockchain?

      Not since the heady dotcom days have we seen so many experts hyping a new technology. But, amid the hype, little attention has been paid to an important question. Who pays for the blockchain?

      This consideration is especially important to anyone evaluating blockchain technology for their organization.

      The blockchain buzz began in 2015. Bitcoin’s association with illegal activities earned it a bad reputation. This led startups to brand themselves as blockchain companies. They promised to deliver the benefits of the “technology behind bitcoin” without the undesirable baggage. Most didn’t understand that the technology behind bitcoin has existed for years.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Running The Intel NUC6i7KYK On Linux With Skylake Iris Pro Graphics

        I’ve managed to get my hands on an Intel NUC6i7KYK “Skull Canyon” NUC featuring the Core i7 6770HQ Skylake CPU with Iris Pro Graphics 580. When paired with 32GB of RAM and a Samsung 950 PRO 500GB NVMe SSD, it makes for a very speedy, small form factor Linux-friendly PC.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Builder 3.24 Promises Big Features, 3.22.4 Improves Flatpak Support

        The developers behind the open-source and free GNOME Builder IDE (Integrated Development Environment) app released the fourth maintenance update to the 3.22 stable series.

        That’s right, we’re talking about GNOME Builder 3.22.4, which comes approximately three weeks after the third point release in the series and promises to improve various components and features of the application, but also to address many of those nasty issues reported by users since GNOME Builder 3.22.3.

      • GTK+ 4 Development Continues with Vulkan Implementation and More Deprecated APIs

        A new development build of the upcoming GTK+ 4 GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkit used to create those beautiful GTK apps everyone adores arrived last week with a lot of new features and bug fixes.

        GTK+ 3.89.2 comes just one month after the first development snapshot, versioned 3.89.1, and it looks like it comes with a new Vulkan implementation that was added in parallel to the OpenGL one, CSS border-spacing support for the GtkBox and GtkGrid widgets, as well as the gadgets, and a working gtk4-icon-browser.

      • GNOME’s GTK Vulkan Renderer Faster Than OpenGL, Now Working On Windows

        GNOME’s GTK Vulkan renderer continues advancing in Git for GTK+ 4.0. This Vulkan renderer for the GTK Scene Kit is forming into a nice alternative to its OpenGL renderer.

        With the latest Git, there is now support for Vulkan context creation under Windows. So now their Vulkan code should work for GTK Windows users too and just not Linux.

  • Distributions

    • LXLE: A Linux Distribution Light on Resources But Heavy on Function

      Most lightweight Linux distributions are fairly standard: They use a window manager with a small footprint and install a minimal amount of apps to continue with the small size metaphor. In the end, many of those distributions function well…at a cost of functionality. Typically, to get a lightweight distro to do what you want, you wind up having to install numerous other apps, which basically defeats the purpose.

      Then there are distributions like LXLE. This particular take on the small footprint Linux feels more like it belongs in the good old regular footprint Linux. It’s stuck squarely in the middle and can stake the claim that it can truly revive your old hardware without doing so at the cost of productivity. And, with the latest release (Eclectica, based on Ubuntu 16.04.01), that distribution is better and more capable than you’d imagine.

    • New Releases

      • OpenELEC 7.0 Linux OS Out Now with OpenVPN & Bluetooth Audio, Based on Kodi 16.1

        Today, December 29, 2016, the OpenELEC development team proudly announced the release of a new stable build of their HTPC (Home Theater PC) Linux-based operating system for embedded devices.

        OpenELEC 7.0.0 is now the latest stable version of the GNU/Linux distribution built around the well-known, open-source, and cross-platform Kodi 16.1 (formerly XBMC) media center. It’s powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel and comes with support for Bluetooth Audio and VPN (Virtual Private Network) through OpenVPN.

      • [Stable] OpenELEC 7.0 released
      • OpenELEC 7.0 Kodi HTPC Linux Distribution Released

        The folks behind the OpenELEC Linux distribution that’s designed around the Kodi HTPC/multimedia software have pushed out their big “7″ release to end out 2016.

      • 64bit ISO images only for OMV3 [OpenMediaVault]

        Starting today there will be only 64bit ISO images for OMV3 to download. If you still need a 32bit installation, then use the Debian 32bit netinstall ISO image and install OMV3 manually.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 Released with KDE Plasma 5.8.4 LTS and Linux Kernel 4.9

        Softpedia was informed by the OpenMandriva team about the release and general availability of the OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 GNU/Linux operating system for personal computers.

        OpenMandriva Lx 3.01 is the first maintenance update to the Lx 3 stable series, bringing us all the latest and greatest KDE technologies and Open Source software projects. The biggest change being the rebased of the operating system on the recently released Linux 4.9 kernel, which was injected with BFQ as default CPU scheduler.

      • Random Musings on the New Year and Changes

        Come Mageia 6 and I will have to wave farewell to KDE 4. OpenMandriva has been training me on the ways of Plasma 5, so I will only have to forget about the wallpapers, just like I had to forget about GRUB when GRUB 2 came along. Who knows, maybe a new secret feature of Plasma 5 will make me love the DE, just like when I grew to love the ROSA SimpleWelcome screen in Mandriva 2011…

        Mageia 6 Sta1 has been on my laptop since September (for testing). When Mageia 6 is finally released, I will have an additional partition on my HD if I replace my current Mageia 5 install.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Out of the comfort zone: OpenSuSE support for an ordinary user – f*ck my morals

        A friend of mine choose for $reasons to install the latest OpenSuSE 42.2 release as his new laptop operating system. It’s been a while that I had contact with the SuSE Linux distribution. Must be around 12 years or so. The unsual part here is that I’ve to support a somewhat eccentric, but mostly ordinary user of computers. And to my surprise it’s still hard to just plug in your existing stuff and expect it work. I’ve done so many dirty things to this installation in the last three days, my system egineering heart is bleeding.

    • Slackware Family

      • Linux Kernel 4.9 Now Unofficially Available for Slackware 14.2 and Derivatives

        After announcing the availability of a remix of Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Raspbian PIXEL Linux OS that features Refracta Tools, GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton informed us about the availability of a custom Linux 4.9 kernel build for Slackware 14.2, Zenwalk, Slax, SlackEX, or other distro based on them.

        Linux kernel 4.9 was officially unveiled more than two weeks ago, on December 11, 2016, by Linus Torvalds himself, and it brought many cool new features. We recommend reading our report if you want to familiarize yourself with its changes, but if you’ve dreamed of using it on Slackware 14.2 or its derivatives, now you can.

    • Red Hat Family

      • NethServer: Linux without All That Linux Stuff

        Okay, that title really isn’t fair. NethServer has all the Linux stuff, it’s just that you don’t have to interact with it in the traditional way in order to reap the benefits. NethServer is a web-based management software package built on top of CentOS. You can download it as a separate distribution, but truly, it’s just software on top of CentOS. In fact, the installationmethods are either “install the NethServer distro” or “add the NethServer repository to your existing CentOS install”. I really like that.

        The concept behind NethServer isn’t a new one. Lots of distributions are designed to simplify managing a server. I’ve written about ClearOS, Untangle and several others in the past. Plus, you always can just install Webmin on your server and get a “roll your own” web-administered system. The thing I like about NethServer is how well it allows you to configure services while not doing anything proprietary underneath. I think the interface is simple and intuitive as well.

      • Finance

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • You Can Now Create Your Own Remix of Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Raspbian PIXEL OS

          GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton announced recently that he managed to create a remix of Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Raspbian with PIXEL desktop operating system for PC and Mac.

          If you’re reading the news lately, you should be aware of the fact that Raspberry Pi Foundation modified their widely-used, Debian-based Raspbian GNU/Linux distribution for Raspberry Pi single-board computers, with the new PIXEL desktop environment, to work on x86 computers and Macs.

          When we said “modified” above, we actually meant to say that there’s a new spin of Raspbian PIXEL, which you can use on your PC or Mac, but there’s a catch. It appears that there’s currently no installer including in this image to deploy the Linux-based operating system on your personal computer or laptop.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Here’s Ubuntu Budgie 16.10 Linux Operating System Running on an Onda Tablet PC

            According to a tweet posted by user Beto Sanchez, it would appear that the Ubuntu Budgie 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating system is running on an Onda Tablet PC device, which usually ships with either Windows 10 or Android, or even both.

            It’s a known fact that anyone can install Ubuntu or any other GNU/Linux distribution on Intel Atom Bay Trail tablets, and there are a bunch of tutorials on how to achieve that all over the Internet, so this news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. We’re just happy to see more users installing Linux on their devices.

            At the moment of writing, we have no details about how well Ubuntu Budgie runs, or which model that Onda Tablet device is. All we know is what you see in the photo attached, which shows budgie-remix 16.10 running live from a USB thumb drive with its beautiful customized Budgie desktop environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Whatever happened to Open Source in 2016?

    Open source was all the rage in the NHS in 2015, but it’s barely rated in the past 12 months. Jon Hoeksma examines the drivers behind the quiet pivot and whether there is still place for open source in the NHS.

  • Commercial open-source: Sentry

    Commercial open-source software is usually based around some kind of asymmetry: the owner possesses something that you as a user do not, allowing them to make money off of it.

    This asymmetry can take on a number of forms. One popular option is to have dual licensing: the product is open-source (usually GPL), but if you want to deviate from that, there’s the option to buy a commercial license. These projects are recognizable by the fact that they generally require you to sign a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) in which you transfer all your rights to the code over to the project owners. A very bad deal for you as a contributor (you work but get nothing in return) so I recommend against participating in those projects. But that’s a subject for a different day.

  • Software Freedom After Trump

    I’ll say it: it’s been rough since the election. Like so many other people, I was thrown into a state of reflection about my country, the world and my role in it. I’ve struggled with understanding how I can live in a world where it seems facts don’t matter. It’s been reassuring to see so many of my friends, family and colleagues (many of them lawyers!) become invigorated to work in the public good. This has all left me with some real self-reflection. I’ve been passionate about software freedom for a long time, and while I think it has really baffled many of my loved ones, I’ve been advocating for the public good in that context somewhat doggedly. But is this issue worth so much of my time? Is it the most impactful way I can spend my time?

    I think I was on some level anticipating something like this. I started down this road in my OSCON EU keynote entitled “Is Software Freedom A Social Justice Issue,” in which I talked about software freedom ideology and its place relative to social justice issues.

  • Facebook open-sources Atom in Orbit, a web-based IDE

    Facebook developers have crafted a version of the Atom open-source text editor that can be deployed in a web browser. Atom in Orbit, as the new technology is called, is now available on GitHub under a BSD-3 Clause open-source license, and a demo app lets you take the tool for a spin.

    The new tool builds on Facebook’s Nuclide IDE, which itself runs on top of Atom. Atom has a user base and plenty of extensions to choose from, and people are familiar with its keyboard shortcuts. Now it can just run in a browser, which has certain advantages.

  • Best of Opensource.com: Business
  • From Apache to Google: Notable Open Source Offerings from Tech Titans

    Each year, we at OStatic round up our ongoing collections of open source resources, tutorials, and tools. We regularly collect the best developer tools, free online books on open source topics, and newly open sourced projects.

    In this post, you’ll find some of the best new tools from 2016.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome will soon mark some HTTP pages as ‘non-secure’

        Beginning next month, the company will tag web pages that include login or credit card fields with the message “Not Secure” if the page is not served using HTTPS, the secure version of the internet protocol.

        The company on Tuesday began sending messages through its Google Search Console, a tool for webmasters, warning them of the changes that take place starting in January 2017.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Foundation Announces New Uranium Level Donation

      We are thrilled to announce we have received a $500,000 donation from an anonymous donor. We are incredibly grateful for this donation and want to extend a heartfelt thank you to this donor for recognizing the value we provide by supporting the FreeBSD Project and community worldwide. We are indebted to to donors like this, who are investing in FreeBSD and the Foundation to make FreeBSD the best platform for education, research, computing, product development, and gaining real-world skills. Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year!

    • FreeBSD Foundation Receives Another $500,000 USD Gift

      FreeBSD is ending 2016 on a high note by receiving another “Uranium Level” donation, marking it as an additional $500,000 USD for their foundation.

      Earlier this month the FreeBSD Foundation received a $500,000 donation from the founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum. That’s on top of Koum giving one million dollars to FreeBSD back in 2014.

    • The Top BSD News This Year: Ubuntu Atop BSD, FreeBSD 11.0, DragonFly’s HAMMER2


  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • A Chip to Protect the Internet of Things

      The Internet of Things offers the promise of all sorts of nifty gadgets, but each connected device is also a tempting target for hackers. As recent cybersecurity incidents have shown, IoT devices can be harnessed to wreak havoc or compromise the privacy of their owners. So Microchip Technology and Amazon.com have collaborated to create an add-on chip that’s designed to make it easier to combat certain types of attack—and, of course, encourage developers to use Amazon’s cloud-based infrastructure for the Internet of Things.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 87 in Stretch cycle

      100% Of The 289 Coreboot Images Are Now Built Reproducibly by Phoronix, with more details in German by Pro-Linux.de.

      We have further reports on our Reproducible Builds World summit #2 in Berlin from Rok Garbas of NixOS as well as Clemens Lang of MacPorts

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Catholic church targeted in Christmas Eve blast in Philippines

      Sixteen people have been wounded in a grenade explosion outside a Catholic church during a Christmas Eve mass on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, according to local police and a priest.

      Bernardo Tayong, Midsayap town police chief, said most of the injured had been standing outside the Sto Nino parish church in Midsayap town, North Cotabato.

    • Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte denies throwing person off a helicopter

      Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte denied reports that he threw a person off a helicopter in an interview with CNN Philippines Thursday, contradicting a statement he made on live television earlier this week.

      “We had no helicopter. We don’t use that,” he said. He described the incident as “just the creative imagination of this Tulfo.”

      Duterte did not clarify who Tulfo was, but he could have been referring to a number of journalists with the same surname.

    • Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines Calls U.N. Human Rights Chief an ‘Idiot’

      President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines called the United Nations’ human rights chief an “idiot” on Thursday, days after the diplomat suggested that Mr. Duterte be investigated for murder.

      “You there in the United Nations, you do not know diplomacy,” Mr. Duterte said. “You do not know how to behave, to be an employee of the United Nations. You do not talk to me like that, you son of a bitch.”

    • Syrian government and rebels have signed ceasefire deal, says Putin

      The Assad government and armed Syrian opposition have signed a ceasefire agreement and agreed to begin a new round of negotiations to find a political solution to the country’s civil war, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has said.

      The ceasefire, which was confirmed by a rebel official, the Syrian army and the Turkish foreign ministry, is to come into force at midnight on Thursday (22.00 GMT).

    • US expels Russian diplomats over cyber attack allegations

      The US has expelled 35 Russian diplomats as punishment for alleged interference into the presidential election.

      It will also close two Russian compounds used for intelligence-gathering, in Maryland and New York, as part of a raft of retaliatory measures.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • CIA Admits It Hasn’t Touched FOIA Request In Six Years… Says It Will Close Case If Requestor Doesn’t Reply

      Back in 2011, MuckRock user Jason Smathers filed a FOIA with the CIA for all responses they had sent to requesters containing the term “record systems.” This was a reference to two earlier rejections he had received from the Agency, which cited the inability to perform a search in the system based on the terms Smathers had provided.

    • The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False

      Julian Assange is a deeply polarizing figure. Many admire him and many despise him (into which category one falls in any given year typically depends on one’s feelings about the subject of his most recent publication of leaked documents).

      But one’s views of Assange are completely irrelevant to this article, which is not about Assange. This article, instead, is about a report published this week by the Guardian which recklessly attributed to Assange comments that he did not make. This article is about how those false claims – fabrications, really – were spread all over the internet by journalists, causing hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) to consume false news. The purpose of this article is to underscore, yet again, that those who most flamboyantly denounce Fake News, and want Facebook and other tech giants to suppress content in the name of combatting it, are often the most aggressive and self-serving perpetrators of it.

      One’s views of Assange are completely irrelevant to this article because, presumably, everyone agrees that publication of false claims by a media outlet is very bad even when it’s designed to malign someone you hate. Journalistic recklessness does not become noble or tolerable if it serves the right agenda or cause. The only way one’s views of Assange are relevant to this article is if one finds journalistic falsehoods and Fake News objectionable only when deployed against figures one likes.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The 2016 Election Wasn’t Hacked, But the 2020 Election Could Be

      After partial vote recounts in certain states, US election officials found no evidence that votes had been manipulated by a cyberattack on voting machines, security researchers told an audience at the Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival on Wednesday. But, the researchers called for a vast overhaul in voting machine security and related legislation, warning that an attack is still possible in a future election.

      “We need this because even if the 2016 election wasn’t hacked, the 2020 election might well be,” said J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, during a presentation with Matt Bernhard, a computer science PhD student.

    • Donald Trump Says ‘Nobody Knows Exactly What’s Going On’ Because of Computers

      Anyone who’s ever tried using “the Google” or “the Internets” might agree

      Asked whether the U.S. should sanction Russia over computer hacking on Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump cast doubt on the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies and said, “We ought to get on with our lives.”

      But it was his next lines that had an oddly familiar ring to them: “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly,” Trump told reporters in Florida, according to multiple media reports. “The whole age of [the] computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

      It isn’t the first time a U.S. leader has appeared uncomfortable with technology.

      When George W. Bush discussed “the Internets” in a 2000 presidential debate against democratic opponent Al Gore, it quickly became a “Bushism” — a neologism for folksy colloquialisms attributed to the then President.

    • Column: Verifying vote should be norm

      From the moment that Jill Stein requested a presidential recount in Michigan, Donald Trump and his Republican cronies have tried to thwart it at every turn. Despite their obstructionism, the recount began earlier this month but was stopped a few days later.

      The recount opponents prevailed after an onslaught of political maneuvers and lawsuits that finally found favor in the Republican bench of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

      It’s a sad day for our democracy when politicking prevails over ensuring the integrity of our election system. And in the media’s coverage of the political play-by-play, we missed the forest for the trees.

    • Voter ID proposal could disenfranchise millions, Labour warns

      Millions of people may be disenfranchised by the government’s plans to trial asking for ID in order to vote, Labour has said.

      Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, raised concerns that 7.5% of the electorate may not have the right kind of identification in order to exercise their right to vote.

      “Labour supports measures to tackle electoral fraud and will be backing a number of the reasonable proposals planned by the government,” she said on Tuesday. “However, requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions of electors a vote.

      “A year ago the Electoral Commission reported that 3.5 million electors – 7.5% of the electorate – would have no acceptable piece of photo ID. Under the government’s proposals, these voters would either be denied a vote entirely, or in other trial areas, required to produce multiple pieces of ID, ‘one from group A, one from group B’.

    • Obama Administration Looking To Expand Definition Of ‘Critical Infrastructure’ To Hit Back At Russians

      One of the ridiculous parts of all of the discussions around “cybersecurity” concerns what should be considered “critical infrastructure.” That’s because, thanks to various executive orders, what the President declares as “critical infrastructure” leads to different cybersecurity requirements. There have been concerns that this will result in broadly classifying the internet as “critical infrastructure” in a manner that will lead to easier surveillance. But, as we noted nearly a decade ago, broadly classifying the internet as critical infrastructure would be silly, when the use of that designation should be narrowly focused on things like voting and banking (not to mention things like energy grids and water supplies).

      Apparently, however, as the Obama administration is looking to respond to what it believes was Russian “interference” in the 2016 Presidential election, it is realizing that none of it targeted “critical infrastructure.” And thus… it now wants to change the definition of what’s covered. That should be concerning.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • South Korean envoy to France grilled over Park censorship

      South Korea`s ambassador to France was grilled by investigators Thursday over allegations that the government blacklisted thousands of cultural figures deemed critical of impeached President Park Geun-Hye.

      Ambassador Mo Chul-Min, who served as senior presidential secretary for education and culture from 2013 to 2014, returned home Wednesday following a summons from a special prosecutor probing a corruption scandal that led to Park`s impeachment.

    • Amos Yee awaits appearance before immigration judge

      There will be no ‘credible fear interview’ for Amos Yee after all, and it’s still up in the air whether the Singaporean teenage blogger will be paroled into the United States while applying for political asylum.

      The 18-year-old first became a household name in Singapore when he was arrested in March 2015 for an expletive-laden video entitled ‘Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead!’, released shortly after the death of the elder statesman. In the midst of a week-long period of national mourning, Yee lambasted the late Lee, comparing him to Jesus and describing them both as “power hungry and malicious”. He was held in remand for over 50 days before a judge found him guilty of wounding religious feelings and handed him a backdated sentence of four weeks’ imprisonment.

      In 2016, Yee was once again found guilty of wounding religious feelings for blog and social media posts on Islam and Christianity, and sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment. He was also given a S$2,000 fine (US$1,379) for failing to present himself to the police for questioning despite being issued a notice.

    • South Korea President Park Geun-hye accused of blacklisting 9000 artists for political reasons

      The list purportedly included one of South Korea’s most influential figures, film director Park Chan-wook. Sofia Lotto Persio. By Sofia Lotto Persio.

    • Who’s behind blacklist of artists?
    • South Korea investigators look into alleged artist blacklist
    • Prosecutors probe South Korean cultural ‘blacklist’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Top-Secret Snowden Document Reveals What the NSA Knew About Previous Russian Hacking

      To date, the only public evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacks of the DNC and key Democratic figures has been circumstantial and far short of conclusive, courtesy of private research firms with a financial stake in such claims. Multiple federal agencies now claim certainty about the Kremlin connection, but they have yet to make public the basis for their beliefs.

      Now, a never-before-published top-secret document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests the NSA has a way of collecting evidence of Russian hacks, because the agency tracked a similar hack before in the case of a prominent Russian journalist, who was also a U.S. citizen.

    • South Carolina Legislators Introduce Three Bills Targeting Police Stingray Use

      At this point, use of these devices by South Carolina law enforcement is unconfirmed. If, indeed, no agencies are in possession of IMSI catchers, this bill would maintain the status quo. If agencies are already in possession of the devices, the bill would require these agencies to discontinue use and… ask Harris Corp. for a refund, I guess. This wouldn’t prevent state agencies from asking for federal assistance and borrowing their devices, but it’s still the most restrictive Stingray-related legislation proposed yet.

      As such, it will probably never become law. The other proposals have a much better chance of reaching the governor’s desk. Rutherford’s backup proposal would prevent agencies purchasing cell tower spoofers from entering into nondisclosure agreements with manufacturers.

      The third bill being introduced should be pushed in concert with Rutherford’s second bill. Rep. Cezar McKnight’s proposal would prevent state law enforcement agencies from signing nondisclosure agreements with the FBI, which has been standard procedure since the modified military tech began making its way to police departments around the nation. This would help ensure any evidence obtained with these devices will be properly presented in court, rather than obscured behind parallel construction. Or it could, theoretically. The bill ties this to warrant usage, so nondisclosure agreements would be allowed if the agreement doesn’t stipulate the devices should be deployed without securing a warrant first. This ties it to the DOJ’s current Stingray guidelines, which is better than continuing to obscure device deployment behind pen register orders.

    • Telegram Now Being Targeted By Politicians Because Terrorists (Also) Use It

      Victims of terrorist attacks are busy suing Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for supposedly providing material support for terrorism by not shutting down ISIS-related accounts fast enough. Twitter has gathered more negative attention than most, thanks to its inconsistent application of the “Twitter Rules.” Not only has it fielded lots of complaints from so-called “alt-right” figureheads, but non alt-righter Senator John McCain tends to use the service as a national security punching bag during periodic bitchfests hearings on phone encryption.

      End-to-end encryption is also the bane of several governments’ existence, but even all this concern about unintercepted criminal communications has yet to tip the scale towards mandated backdoors. Instead, pressure is being applied in other ways. Twitter recently killed off a few hundred thousand terrorist-linked accounts, so those looking for a new terrorist support network d/b/a a social media service have begun sniping at secure messaging service Telegram.

      Telegram has been the recipient of periodic signup surges, thanks to government action around the globe. WhatsApp, which recently added end-to-end encryption, has been routinely blocked by a handful of national governments, with Brazil denying access to its citizens most frequently. Every time WhatsApp is blocked, other encrypted messaging services see their user bases grow.

    • Breast implants, fake hips and medication to have barcodes put on them in new trial
    • Barcodes stamped on breast implants and medical equipment
    • Barcoding breast implants and hip replacements ‘could save NHS £1bn’
    • Breast implants are being given barcodes by the NHS in an attempt to ‘revolutionise’ patient safety by being able to track them in case they are faulty
    • NHS trials barcode system to reduce mistakes during treatments
    • Breast implants and other medical items get safety barcodes
    • Police ask: “Alexa, did you witness a murder?”

      In November of 2015, former Georgia police officer Victor Collins was found dead in a backyard hot tub at the Bentonville, Arkansas, home of acquaintance James Andrew Bates. Bates claimed it was an accidental drowning when he contacted police at 9:30am, claiming he had gone to bed and left Collins and another man behind in the tub. But Bentonville Police investigators determined that Collins had died after a fight, while being strangled and held underwater—and that Bates was the only person at the scene at the time. Now investigators have reportedly served a search warrant to Amazon in hopes of getting testimony from a possible witness: the Amazon Echo that was streaming music near the hot tub when they arrived at the scene.

      The police were immediately suspicious when they found that the water of the hot tub was tinted red and that Collins had injuries suggesting a struggle—including cuts on an eyelid, a bloodied nose, and swollen lips. There were signs of blood on the sides of the hot tub and on the patio around it and evidence that the tub and the patio had been hosed down to remove the blood. A water meter record from the city’s utility department showed that 140 gallons of water had been used between 1:00am and 3:00am on the night of the incident.

    • Comcast still uses MITM javascript injection to serve unwanted ads and messages

      For years, Comcast and other large telecommunication companies around the world have injected javascript into your web browsing experience to serve advertisements and account notices. Their ability to do this stems from their upstream position as your Internet Service Provider (ISP). While Comcast is only currently using their javascript injection ability to serve customer account related information, the same message sending vector could be used to serve phishing expeditions, or other types of attacks. Not to mention that whoever your ISP is has access to your browsing history, your search history, your entire internet history unless you use a VPN. Some, like AT&T, even brazenly sold parts of this information for advertising profit unless you explicitly paid them not to – a pay-for-privacy scheme.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • I Thought Piracy Was Killing Entertainment? New Record In Scripted Shows In 2016

        Remember how piracy was supposed to be killing the entertainment industry and no one would make anything any more? Of course, almost exactly five years ago, we showed this wasn’t true at all, and the actual output of creative content was way, way up. Obviously, some of that was “amateur” creations, but it was true of professional creative content as well. One area that we pointed out was that the internet had made it possible to create much more new content and release it in new ways — and that certainly has held true in the realm of scripted TV shows. A new report from FX Research shows that the amount of scripted TV shows has absolutely exploded over the past few years. Since just 2010 the number of scripted series available has more than doubled.


Links 28/12/2016: OpenVPN 2.4, SeaMonkey 2.46

Posted in News Roundup at 5:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • A business plan for your open source project

    Open sourcing your code is only a small part of building a successful open source community. Like any new venture, you need a vision of what you want to achieve and a concrete plan that will take you there. You want to be able to answer questions about your project like…

  • Best of Opensource.com: Art and design

    After the introduction of “cheap” computers, we had boxes of floppy disks with amazing software like FreeHand, QuarkXPress, CorelDraw, and many others. And all could be had for only a few hundred dollars. At that time, we had to order the boxes of disks from software publishers and install them, disk-by-disk. Then publishers would introduce new, incredible enhancements and upgrades that could be purchased for… a couple hundred bucks.

  • 10 Best Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Programs I Found in 2016

    As 2016 comes to a close, it is time to bring you the best 10 Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) programs I have come across during this year.

    Some of these programs may not be new in that they weren’t released for the first time in 2016, but they are new to me and I have found them helpful.

  • Top open source projects to watch in 2017

    No one has a crystal ball to see the future of technology. Even for projects developed out in the open, code alone can’t tell us whether or not a project is destined for success—but there are hints along the way. For example, perhaps it’s not unreasonable to assume that the projects that will help shape our future are those projects that have first seen rapid growth and popularity among the developer community.

    So which new projects should an open source developer watch in 2017? Let’s take a look at a few projects that emerged in 2016 to achieve rapid notoriety in the GitHub community.

    To develop this list, I went through GitHub with a focus on projects whose repository was created in 2016, and looked at the projects ranked by number of stars. It’s not a perfect system; there are, of course, repositories that contain something other than an open source project, and so these were omitted from the list. Of course, there also were many great projects introduced in 2016 whose development took place somewhere other than GitHub. Admittedly, the process of picking these 10 projects to watch for 2017 from a pool of many choices was as much of an art as a science. But I still think these projects are worth keeping an eye on in the new year.

  • The Impact Of Big Data, Open Source On Oil And Gas

    The industry is still adapting after two years of significantly depressed prices. On top of this, ‘the great crew change’ has meant a significant loss of experienced folks who understood processes and the business. These two factors have forced a technology transformation throughout the value chain to help reduce costs and get ahead of the competition.

    Advanced analytics, enabled by open source technologies such as Apache Hadoop play a key part.

  • In 2016, Open AI and Machine Learning Tools Arrived in Droves

    As 2016 began, more bold predictions for the artificial intelligence and machine learning spaces were arriving, and there are very some promising, newly open sourced tools have arrived this year. We’ve been covering these promising tools and conducting some relevant interviews with leaders in the AI and machine learning arenas.

  • Events

    • NBD talk at FOSDEM 2017

      You may have noticed (but you probably did not), but on 2017-02-04, at 14:00, in room UB2.252A (aka “Lameere”), which at that point in time will be the Virtualisation and IaaS devroom, I’ll be giving a talk on the Network Block Device protocol.

    • HackIllinois, UIUC’s Student-Run Hackathon, Returns in 2017 With a Twist

      HackIllinois, a student-run hackathon hosted by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is heading into its fourth year this February. The event brings together students from around the country to work on coding challenges, learn new skills and connect with tech companies, at a school known for its coding prowess. It’s one of the premier events in the Midwest, organizers say: Last year they had over 1,500 attendees.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • SeaMonkey 2.46 Open-Source Internet Suite Is Out for Linux, macOS, and Windows

        Believe it or not, the free and open-source SeaMonkey Internet suite produced by Mozilla and consisting of a web browser, e-mail and chat client received its second big update for 2016, versioned 2.46.

        SeaMonkey 2.46 is here more than nine months since the 2.40 release, and it’s a major milestone that has been built on the same Mozilla platform as the Firefox 49.0 we browser. It brings lots of improvements and support for the latest Web technologies, including HTML5, JavaScript, as well as better hardware acceleration. The biggest change being support for HTML5 full-screen video playback on YouTube and similar sites.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Docker and Cloudera Team on Government-Focused Tech Solutions

      Late last year, Docker announced its Ecosystem Technology Partner program, thorough which it has sought to partner with organizations to offer customers better logging and visibility of their Dockerized applications. Throughout 2016, Docker continued to form key partnerships, and now Cloudera has announced that it has partnered with Docker, Inc. to provide Commercially Supported (CS) Docker Engines with a jointly developed solution to secure Docker container volumes.

      The integrated solution is targeted to let government agencies share data via cryptographically secure containers as part of a partnership where Cloudera provides level one and level two technical support backed by Docker.

    • Keynote: A Brief History of the Cloud from Servers to VMs to Buildpacks to Cloud Native Containers
    • Testing distributed systems in Go

      etcd is a key-value store for the most critical data of distributed systems. Use cases include applications running on Container Linux by CoreOS, which enables automatic Linux kernel updates. CoreOS uses etcd to store semaphore values to make sure only subset of cluster are rebooting at any given time. Kubernetes uses etcd to store cluster states for service discovery and cluster management, and it uses watch API to monitor critical configuration changes. Consistency is the key to ensure that services correctly schedule and operate.

    • “Prometheus itself is a product of a DevOps mindset”

      A lot of companies and organizations have adopted Prometheus and the project quickly gained an active developer and user community. It is currently a standalone open source project maintained independently of any company. In 2016, Prometheus joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as the second hosted project after Kubernetes. We talked to Björn Rabenstein, engineer at SoundCloud and Prometheus core developer, about how Prometheus can help companies adopt DevOps.

    • Keynote: Kubernetes: Finally…A True Cloud Platform by Sam Ghods, Co-founder, Box
    • Kubernetes: A True Cloud Platform

      The Kubernetes community is building a platform that will make application development completely cloud infrastructure agnostic. Sam Ghods, co-founder of Box, said Kubernetes’ combination of portability and extensibility put it in a class of its own for cloud application development, during his CloudNativeCon keynote in November.

    • Process Migration in the Orchestration World by Isabel Jimenez & Kapil Arya, Mesosphere
    • Saving Application State in the Stateless Container World

      Running applications in our brave new container orchestration world is like managing herds of fireflies; they blink in and out. There is no such thing as uptimes anymore. Applications run, and when they fail, replacements launch from vanilla images. Easy come, easy go. But if your application needs to preserve state, it and must either take periodic snapshots or have some other method of recovering state. Snapshots are far from ideal as you will likely lose data, as with any non-graceful shutdown. This is not optimal, so Apache Mesophere’s Isabel Jimenez and Kapil Arya presented some new ideas at LinuxCon North America.

    • Don’t Count OpenStack Out of Public Clouds Yet, Report Says

      A common rap against OpenStack is that the platform hasn’t caught on with public clouds. But that’s too U.S.-centric of a viewpoint, according to findings published by Forrester Research this week.

      OpenStack is generally associated with private clouds. When it comes to public clouds, the platform hasn’t had a great year, PR-wise. VMware scaled back its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) ambitions. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) sold its OpenStack assets to Linux provider SUSE. And Cisco recently announced the end of its Intercloud platform.

    • ‘OpenStack is not going to be an Amazon killer’: Open-source cloud tech faces U.S. market realities

      Some companies are even abandoning the public cloud in favor of private, OpenStack-based clouds, Bryce said. “We’ve seen a wave this year of companies that went very heavily into the public cloud and then started to bring pieces of their workload back in-house with an OpenStack private cloud because it was dramatically cheaper for steady-state workloads.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Dublin awards Moodle elearning system support contract

      The Education and Training Board of the City of Dublin has signed a EUR 158,400 support contract for its current Moodle eLearning environment, it announced in late November. The city’s cloud-hosted Moodle implementation was awarded to Wholeschool, an eLearning specialist in Northern Ireland.

  • BSD

    • Peter Hansteen on OpenBSD and you

      Undeadly editor Peter Hansteen (pitrh) recently spoke to the Bergen (BSD and) Linux User Group (BLUG) on the subject “OpenBSD and you”, and has shared the slides from the talk.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Denmark’s OS2 open source model challenges incumbents

      With its emphasis on open source and open data, and modular, interoperable ICT solutions, OS2 is challenging Denmark’s incumbent public administration ICT organisations. The community favours smaller ICT development cycles, avoiding IT vendor lock-in and fostering sharing and reuse.

    • Swiss BBL to extend its use of open source GIS

      The Swiss Federal Department for Building and Logistics (BBL) is looking for providers of ICT services with experience in the use of GeoNetwork, open source tools for geolocation information. BBL hopes to sign an 8 year framework contract for consulting, software development and support.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration


  • Science

    • Classifying humans into races the biggest mistake in history of science

      Science is one of the most remarkable inventions of humankind. It has been a source of inspiration and understanding, lifted the veil of ignorance and superstition, been a catalyst for social change and economic growth, and saved countless lives.

      Yet, history also shows us that its been a mixed blessing. Some discoveries have done far more harm than good. And there’s one mistake you will never read about in those internet lists of the all-time biggest blunders of science.

      The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • 17 Security Experts Share Predictions for the Top Cyber-Trends of 2017

      Enterprises, governments and end users faced no shortage of security challenges in 2016. As the year draws to a close, we wonder: What security trends will continue into 2017? What will be the big security stories of the year to come? Many trends emerged in 2016 that are very likely to remain key issues for organizations of all sizes and shapes in 2017. Among them is the continued and growing risk of ransomware, which emerged in 2016 as a primary attack vector for hackers aiming to cash in on their nefarious activities. In 2016, nation-states once again were identified by multiple organizations as being the source of serious cyber-threats, and there is no indication that will change in the year ahead. Among the emerging trends that could become more prominent in the new year are the widespread use of containers and microservices to improve security control. This eWEEK slide show will present 17 security predictions for the year ahead from 17 security experts.

    • Learning From A Year of Security Breaches

      This year (2016) I accepted as much incident response work as I could. I spent about 300 hours responding to security incidents and data breaches this year as a consultant or volunteer.

      This included hands on work with an in-progress breach, or coordinating a response with victim engineering teams and incident responders.

      These lessons come from my consolidated notes of those incidents. I mostly work with tech companies, though not exclusively, and you’ll see a bias in these lessons as a result.

    • Girl uses sleeping mom’s thumbprint to buy $250 in Pokemon toys

      The most famous, and unlikeliest, hacker in the news this week is little Ashlynd Howell of Little Rock, Ark. The exploits of the enterprising 6-year-old first came to light in a Wall Street Journal story about the difficulties of keeping presents a secret in the digital age. It seems that while mom Bethany was sleeping on the couch, Ashlynd gently picked up her mother’s thumb and used it to unlock the Amazon app on her phone. She then proceeded to order $250 worth of Pokemon presents for herself. When her parents got 13 confirmation notices about the purchases, they thought that either they’d been hacked (they were, as it turned out) or that their daughter had ordered them by mistake. But she proudly explained, “No, Mommy, I was shopping.” The Howells were able to return only four of the items.

    • FDIC Latest Agency To Claim It Was Hacked By A Foreign Government

      Caught in the middle of all this are the financial transactions of millions of Americans, in addition to whatever sensitive government information might have been located on the FDIC’s computers.

      But claiming the Chinese were involved seems premature, even according to Reuter’s own reporting, which relies heavily on a bunch of anonymous government officials discussing documents no one at Reuters has seen.

    • Parrot Security 3.3 Ethical Hacking OS With Linux Kernel 4.8 Released
  • Defence/Aggression

    • A World War II Marine looks back and wonders: Where’s the America of sharing?

      I am now 91 years of age and it has been 70 long, wide years since I returned home on Christmas Eve, 1945. My family was unaware that I was even in the U.S. because I did not want them to know I had spent a month in a Naval hospital before being discharged. My triumphant return was a Norman Rockwell painting; the cab stopped across the street, I tossed my seabag over my shoulder and walked across the street. A light snow was falling, I pressed the doorbell, the door opened, and there was my mom and dad, my brother and my sisters and a few family friends. I had not seen my family since June of 1942, 3 1/2 years earlier.

      I was home, I was still alive, I was the luckiest guy on the planet.

      As the title of Sebastian Bae’s piece says, war is only romantic if you have never been in one. I have seen close friends killed, I have held young boys in my arms as they died. I have taken the lives of other human beings. I have known fear so intense as to drive good men insane.

    • Symbolic Failure Point: Female Afghan Pilot Wants Asylum In The U.S.

      History loves little markers, tidy packages of symbolism that wrap up a big, complex thing.

      You know, the helicopter on the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon standing in for years of failed war, the Berlin Wall being knocked down to visually note the end the Cold War, that sort of thing.

      Well, the never-ending-gobsmacker of the Afghan War may have gotten its iconic moment.

    • Facebook safety check helped spread false reports of Thailand explosion

      A Facebook safety check for Bangkok, which the company claimed was prompted by a one-man protest near the prime minister’s office, helped spread a fake news report of an explosion in the city.

      The incident is the latest example of the social media platform’s algorithms failing to distinguish between reliable and faulty news sources.

    • Henry Kissinger has ‘advised Donald Trump to accept’ Crimea as part of Russia

      Is the veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger working to secure a rapprochement between the US and Moscow by pushing for an end to sanctions in exchange for the removal of Russian troops from eastern Ukraine?

      A flurry of reports suggest the 93-year-old diplomat is positioning himself as a intermediary between Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump. He has publicly praised Mr Trump, and traveled to Trump Tower in New York to offer his counsel built on decades of lobbying and diplomacy.

      A report in the German tabloid Der Bild headlined ‘Kissinger to prevent new Cold War’, claimed the former envoy was working towards a new relationship with Russia.

    • FULL TRANSCRIPT: Kerry Blasts Israeli Government, Presents Six Points of Future Peace Deal

      U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry strongly criticized Israel’s government in a speech on Wednesday, saying that trends on the ground are leading to a one-state solution and defending the U.S. decision not to veto a UN Security Council resolution against the Israeli settlements. Netanyahu’s office replied and accused the U.S. Secretary of State of obsessing about settlements.

      “If the choice is one-state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both and it won’t ever live in peace,” Kerry said.

      Kerry presented the principles of a future final status agreement: An Israeli and a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines; full rights to all citizens; a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue; Jerusalem as the capital of both states; an end to the occupation, while satisfying Israel’s security needs, with a demilitarized Palestinian state; an end to all claims by both sides.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Bill to ban pesky public-records requests in Arizona is back

      A bill to allow government officials to deny any public-record request they choose by arguing it is “unduly burdensome” or “harassing” is back for a second year in a row.


      Kavanagh last year said the bill was not meant to limit media or public access to information, but to curb abuse. He said he introduced it at the request of cities that say there are a handful of gadflies who make an extraordinary number of very broad requests for records, requiring significant work from city staff, and then don’t even look at the results.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Panasonic will spend $256 million on Tesla solar panel factory in Buffalo, NY

      On Tuesday Tesla announced that it had struck a deal with Panasonic to produce photovoltaic cells at the new Buffalo, New York, solar panel factory scheduled to go online in 2017. The factory’s construction was started by SolarCity, which was purchased by Tesla in November in a $2.6 billion all-stock deal.

    • Northern Michigan city aims for 100 percent renewables by 2020

      Local officials in Traverse City voted Monday night to become the second Michigan city looking to meet 100 percent of municipal electricity needs from renewable sources.

      Traverse City Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to set a goal of 100 percent renewables by 2020 to power city services, such as streetlights, a wastewater treatment plant and government buildings.

      “It seems like one of the right things to do with a changing climate and changing aspects of our energy production,” Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers said prior to Monday night’s vote.

  • Finance

    • Garden bridge charity warns more delays could terminate project

      The charity behind the proposed garden bridge across the Thames in London has warned that any more hold-ups to the controversial and much-delayed project could see it having to be scrapped altogether.

      While the Garden Bridge Trust insists it remains confident the tree and plant-filled pedestrian crossing will be built, it has conceded that the delays have affected fundraising and that any more significant obstacles could prove terminal.

      It was ultimately up to the charity’s trustees, who include the project’s originator, the actor Joanna Lumley, to demonstrate the money committed – £60m of which comes from taxpayers – was being used prudently, its executive director said.

    • Co-op Group planning 1,500 UK jobs with 100 new stores

      The Co-operative Group is planning to create 1,500 jobs in the new year by opening 100 stores across the country.

      The group will invest £70m in the new shops, which will be spread throughout London, south-east England, Yorkshire and Scotland.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Labour: new public appointments rules are ‘power grab’ by Tories

      Theresa May’s government has been accused of changing the rules on public appointments to make it easier in future for ministers to pick their political allies for senior jobs at the BBC and regulators such as Ofsted.

      The new code on public appointments will give ministers greater powers over who oversees a raft of agencies, watchdogs and advisory committees, while weakening the involvement of the independent commissioner for public appointments, who scrutinises the system.

      Labour said the changes, which will come into force on 1 January, represent a “power grab” by ministers and risk returning to the days of patronage and cronyism in public life.

    • [Issue No. 39: What's happening at the Commission on Presidential Debates?] Faced With a Lawsuit to Be Heard Jan. 5, CPD Loses One-Third of Its Board Members

      The Commission on Presidential Debates, or CPD, has been under fire for its policies for several years now. For the past 24 years, the CPD has excluded anyone but the Republican and Democratic nominees from participating in the three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate in September and October before the election.

      An important lawsuit, Level the Playing Field, et al. v. Federal Election Commission, goes before a federal judge on Jan. 5. That suit seeks to accomplish what the CPD has refused to do on its own: change the rules to stop systematically preventing independent candidates from debating – and becoming president.

    • ‘Alt-right’ groups will ‘revolt’ if Trump shuns white supremacy, leaders say

      Donald Trump will disappoint and disillusion his far-right supporters by eschewing white supremacy, according to some of the movement’s own intellectual leaders.

      Activists who recently gave Nazi salutes and shouted “hail Trump” at a gathering in Washington will revolt if the new US president fails to meet their expectations, the leaders told the Guardian.

    • For Fact-Checking Website Snopes, a Bigger Role Brings More Attacks

      The last line of defense against the torrent of half-truths, untruths and outright fakery that make up so much of the modern internet is in a downscale strip mall near the beach.

      Snopes, the fact-checking website, does not have an office designed to impress, or even be noticed. A big sign outside still bears the name of the previous tenant, a maker of underwater headphones. Inside there’s nothing much — a bunch of improvised desks, a table tennis table, cartons of Popchips and cases of Dr Pepper. It looks like a dot-com on the way to nowhere.

      Appearances deceive. This is where the muddled masses come by the virtual millions to establish just what the heck is really going on in a world turned upside down.

    • Women Hate Donald Trump Even More Than Men Hate Hillary Clinton

      If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the 2016 presidential candidates, gender will be part of the campaign in an unprecedented way. It goes beyond the fact that Clinton would be the first woman nominated by one of the two major parties as its presidential candidate: Polls consistently show that women really, really don’t like Trump, and men — to a lesser but still significant degree — really don’t like Clinton.

    • If you want to understand the age of Trump, you need to read the Frankfurt School

      In 1923, a motley collection of philosophers, cultural critics, and sociologists formed the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany. Known popularly as the Frankfurt School, it was an all-star crew of lefty theorists, including Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse.

      The Frankfurt School consisted mostly of neo-Marxists who hoped for a socialist revolution in Germany but instead got fascism in the form of the Nazi Party. Addled by their misreading of history and their failure to foresee Hitler’s rise, they developed a form of social critique known as critical theory.

      A guiding belief of the Frankfurt School, notably among Adorno and Horkheimer, was that mass culture, in all its forms, was a prop for totalitarian capitalism. The idea was that art, in late-capitalist society, had been reduced to a cultural commodity. Critical theory sought to expose this by rigorously examining the products of popular culture. In particular, they tried to show how culture became a stealth vehicle for the inculcation of capitalist values.

    • Michael Moore outlines steps for challenging Trump

      Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore on Tuesday detailed his five-step strategy for countering President-elect Donald Trump.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Ongoing TV censorship prompts rethink on subscription

      I was watching the Al Jazeera Channel on TrueVisions yesterday morning and heard that a news story was coming up about a Thai woman who has started an NGO that helps give meaning to the lives of underprivileged inner-city children in Bangkok by teaching them to play musical instruments.

      As I waited to watch this obviously inspiring story, the anchor announced it with the words, “Meanwhile in Thai…” At the sound of the cue word “Thailand”, TrueVisions blacked out the two-and-a-half-minute broadcast, showing in its place the irritating notice “Programming will be resumed shortly.”

    • Vice Joins Trend Of Killing News Comments Because Giving A Damn About Your Site’s Community Is Just Too Hard

      We’ve talked a lot about how the trend du jour in online media is to ditch the news comment section, then condescendingly pretend this is because the website just really values user relationships. ReCode, NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg, Popular Science and more have all proclaimed that they just love their on-site communities so much, they’ll no longer allow them to speak. Of course what these sites often can’t admit is that they were too lazy or cheap to cultivate their communities, can’t seem to monetize quality discourse, and don’t really like people pointing out their story errors in quite such a conspicuous location.

    • We’re Getting Rid of Comments on VICE.com

      As you may have noticed, earlier today we made some renovations here at VICE.com. Gave the place a facelift. Slapped a new coat of paint on the old URL. As with most redesigns, this is the first step in an ongoing process, and over the coming weeks and months we’ll be tweaking things and adding features to make the new site even better. But along with these additions will come the loss of some staples from our old site, notably the comments section.


      Unfortunately, website comments sections are rarely at their best. Without moderators or fancy algorithms, they are prone to anarchy. Too often they devolve into racist, misogynistic maelstroms where the loudest, most offensive, and stupidest opinions get pushed to the top and the more reasoned responses drowned out in the noise. While we always welcomed your thoughts on how we are actually a right-wing mouthpiece for the CIA, or how much better we were before we sold our dickless souls to Rupert Murdoch, or just how shitty we are in general, we had to ban countless commenters over the years for threatening our writers and subjects, doxxing private citizens, and engaging in hate speech against pretty much every group imaginable.

    • Democrats advance Palestine censorship ahead of Trump

      Fears are running high that US President-elect Donald Trump will crack down hard on civil liberties once he takes office next month. But Democrats are missing the opportunity to stand up for free speech when it comes to advocacy for Palestinian rights.

      The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act – presenting itself as a force against anti-Jewish bigotry, but actually a means of censoring campus criticism of Israel’s policies – was unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this month.

    • Fake news and the war over information

      The entire discussion over »fake news« might just be tactics in the endless war of power over information, over the agenda. Obviously, the establishment is not amused with the new competition.

    • #5 of Our Top Stories of 2016: Real-Time Censorship as PLOS ONE Retracts “Proper Design by Creator” Paper [Ed: Creationist site complains about quality control, naming it censorship]
    • Censorship reveals direct, likely illegal link between ISPs and Turkey’s government

      The Turkish government’s latest attempt to censor online news has exposed a direct and potentially illegal link between the country’s internet service providers and the government’s internet authority, according to ISP employees with knowledge of the country’s censorship mechanisms.

      The website of Dutch public broadcaster NOS.nl has been inaccessible in Turkey since Dec. 19. After a full week of investigations, however, all we know is who in the country’s censorship bureaucracy blocked the access, but not why. Further, the fact that NOS.nl was censored before a judge issued a court order reveals the new extrajudicial functions of Turkey’s censorship machine, which includes integrated servers between private Turkish ISPs and Turkey’s government.

    • Musical Censorship in India and Pakistan

      At the end of September, the Indian motion picture producer’s association, India’s largest organization related to entertainment, announced a ban on all Pakistani artists.

      In retaliation, Pakistan authorities imposed a complete ban on airing Indian content on all its TV channels, including Bollywood movies.

      This cultural war, triggered by the September Uri attacks in Kashmir, is far from new.

      Indeed it is a sad reminder of last year, when the Indian ultra regionalist Maharashtrian-based party Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt a performance by celebrity singer Ghulam Ali in Mumbai, forcing the concert to be canceled.

    • ‘Facebook bill’ banning terrorist posts gets Israeli ministers’ go ahead
    • Israeli Approves New Facebook Law Stopping Web Incitement
    • “Facebook Law” Approved in Ministerial Committee for Legislation
    • Foreign Ministry accuses Facebook of failing to remove thousands of inciting posts
    • Facebook (FB) Faces More Regulatory Troubles in Israel
    • Israel Jumps On The Internet Censorship Band Wagon
    • Israel approves bill to remove online ‘incitement’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Amazon Refuses To Comply With Police Request For Amazon Echo Recordings In Murder Case

      Well, you knew this was coming sooner or later. Reports came out this week (via the paywalled site The Information) that law enforcement in Bentonville, Arkansas issued a warrant to Amazon asking for any recordings that Amazon had from its Echo device that may have been relevant to a murder case they’re working on. At issue is the Amazon Echo device owned by James Andrew Bates, who is accused of murdering Victor Collins a year ago. The key bit of information here is that Amazon refused to hand over any recordings that it might have logged, but did hand over more general information about Bates’ account and purchases.

      Of course, just the request for possible audio information has lots of people paying attention. This kind of thing has been predicted for ages — now that pretty much everyone has “always on” microphones all around them in the form of either internet-of-things connected devices like the Echo, or merely your mobile phone with Apple’s Siri or Google Now.

    • Police request Echo recordings for homicide investigation

      You have the right to remain silent — but your smart devices might not.

      Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot are in millions of homes now, with holiday sales more than quadrupling from 2015. Always listening for its wake word, the breakthrough smart speakers boast seven microphones waiting to take and record your commands.

      Now, Arkansas police are hoping an Echo found at a murder scene in Bentonville can aid their investigation.

      First reported by The Information, investigators filed search warrants to Amazon (see below), requesting any recordings between November 21 and November 22, 2015, from James A. Bates, who was charged with murder after a man was strangled in a hot tub.

      While investigating, police noticed the Echo in the kitchen and pointed out that the music playing in the home could have been voice activated through the device. While the Echo records only after hearing the wake word, police are hoping that ambient noise or background chatter could have accidentally triggered the device, leading to some more clues.

    • The Fight to Rein in NSA Surveillance: 2016 in Review

      It’s been a busy year on a number of fronts as we continue to fight to rein in the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance of innocent people. Since the 2013 leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden, the secretive and powerful agency has been at the top of mind for those thinking about unconstitutional surveillance of innocent Americans and individuals abroad.

      In 2016 the courts, lawmakers, and others continued to grapple with questions of how much we know about NSA surveillance.

    • DHS Now Asking Visa Applicants For Their Social Media Account Info

      Macleod-Ball also said it “would be nice” if the government had listened to the civil liberties concerns expressed by groups like his, but, then again, it “would be nice” if the government was generally more proactive on that front — getting out ahead of complaints rather than just reacting to them. But it’s just not going to happen. The government tends to push until something pushes back. And it does a lot of this pushing behind closed doors without asking for public comment.

      Skipping this “optional” part of the application process may only increase scrutiny. Applicants will still be interviewed by CBP/DHS agents and the questions they field may revolve around any fields left blank. Agencies like these tend to operate with a “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” mindset and may view withheld information — optional or not — as the product of a guilty mind. The DHS says it won’t officially prevent anyone who doesn’t provide this information from entering the country, but there are several unofficial options that will achieve the same result.

      Then there’s the mission creep. Should this become part of the official form, you can expect other government licensing agencies to look at adding the same data gathering to their paperwork. In addition, the example set by the United States will only encourage countries far less interested in civil liberties from gathering this information from visitors to their countries, which means US citizens will need to get used to being more forthcoming with social media identifiers when looking to travel.

    • Court Says Government Needs Better Excuses If It Wants To Keep Hiding DEA Surveillance Docs

      The EFF has won a small battle in a larger war against the US government for its continued withholding of documents related to its Hemisphere program. Files on this custom-built AT&T/DEA surveillance system have already made their way into the hands of the public. Contrary to the government’s claims about other methods (warrants, subpoenas) taking too long to obtain phone records, previously-released documents showed AT&T employees worked directly alongside agents in DEA offices to perform instantaneous searches for records.

      The EFF is seeking information not included in the Powerpoint presentation already produced by the DEA. It’s looking for records on court cases where evidence derived from the program was submitted, communications between the government and AT&T concerning the program, communications between government agencies about the Hemisphere program, and Congressional briefings related to the side-by-side surveillance effort.

    • Police seek Amazon Echo data in murder case (updated)

      Amazon’s Echo devices and its virtual assistant are meant to help find answers by listening for your voice commands. However, police in Arkansas want to know if one of the gadgets overheard something that can help with a murder case. According to The Information, authorities in Bentonville issued a warrant for Amazon to hand over any audio or records from an Echo belonging to James Andrew Bates. Bates is set to go to trial for first-degree murder for the death of Victor Collins next year.

      Amazon declined to give police any of the information that the Echo logged on its servers, but it did hand over Bates’ account details and purchases. Police say they were able to pull data off of the speaker, but it’s unclear what info they were able to access. Due to the so-called always on nature of the connected device, the authorities are after any audio the speaker may have picked up that night. Sure, the Echo is activated by certain words, but it’s not uncommon for the IoT gadget to be alerted to listen by accident.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Turkish man arrested after saying he wouldn’t serve President Erdogan tea

      Turkish authorities have arrested the cafeteria manager of the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper for insulting the president after he said he would not serve tea to Tayyip Erdogan, one of the manager’s lawyers told Reuters on Monday.

      Senol Buran, who runs the cafeteria at the Istanbul office of Cumhuriyet, was taken into custody after police raided his home late on Saturday, lawyer Ozgur Urfa said. The newspaper is among the few still critical of the government.

    • Whistleblowers Don’t Need Elite Credentials To Help Protect Us from Government Overreach

      Author Malcolm Gladwell recently name-checked the EFF in an article published in The New Yorker. Mr. Gladwell’s piece examines what he sees as the differences between whistle-blowers Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg, and concludes that Snowden doesn’t deserve the respect (or apparently the same legal protection) that Ellsberg does. It’s always nice to be mentioned in respected publications, but as an organization that has actual experience with trying to make change with whistleblower information, we sharply disagree with Mr. Gladwell’s conclusion, and even more so with how he gets there.

    • Part 2: Jameel Jaffer on Obama’s National Security Legacy & What Lies Ahead with Trump

      AMY GOODMAN: It will be interesting to see what Donald Trump’s attitude to Julian Assange is right now—

      JAMEEL JAFFER: Yeah.

      AMY GOODMAN: —given the WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton emails—

      JAMEEL JAFFER: I think—yeah, I think that’s right.

      AMY GOODMAN: —which many attributed to helping defeat her.

      JAMEEL JAFFER: I think that’s right. I think that’s right. But then, there are also these questions that have arisen because of the statements that Trump has made during the campaign, and then over the last couple weeks, as well. You know, he has shown a kind of hostility to journalism and to—and, you know, I think to free speech, as well, reflected by the statement that Mike Pompeo made with respect to Julian Assange [sic]. So, I think there will be a set of—a set of issues—

    • The Enemy Within: Bribes Bore a Hole in the U.S. Border

      In 2012, Joohoon David Lee, a federal Homeland Security agent in Los Angeles, was assigned to investigate the case of a Korean businessman accused of sex trafficking.

      Instead of carrying out a thorough inquiry, Mr. Lee solicited and received about $13,000 in bribes and other gifts from the businessman and his relatives in return for making the “immigration issue go away,” court records show.

      Mr. Lee, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a report saying: “Subject was suspected of human trafficking. No evidence found and victim statement contradicts. Case closed. No further action required.”

    • Report finds Air Force retaliated against whistleblower by revoking clearance

      It appears some Air Force brass wish their subordinates would fly a little farther under the radar, especially when airing their office’s dirty laundry.

      In 2011, an Air Force whistleblower had his security clearance revoked after pestering his supervisor about fraud and waste within the agency, according to a Defense Department Inspector General report. The Inspector General’s investigation concluded in December that his supervisor retaliated against the civilian employee for disclosing the infractions.

    • Turkey detains journalists for reporting on energy minister’s leaked emails

      Turkish police detained five journalists and issued arrest warrants on four more who reported on the leaked emails of Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, according to pro-government daily Sabah.

      The emails were hacked by a Marxist hacker group, RedHack, and were leaked to the public in October after the group’s demand for the release of political prisoners was not met. Subsequent to the public leak, the government had banned cloud services. The email archive was later indexed by WikiLeaks, which remains banned in Turkey.

      On Sunday morning, Turkish police special forces units raided houses of journalists from various outlets known for their critical news coverage, including daily BirGun’s Mahir Kanaat. BirGun was one of the first outlets to report Albayrak’s email addresses were hacked by RedHack.

      Among the detained journalists, Eray Sargin is the editor-in-chief of news website Yolculuk, which was the first outlet to report on the leaks. Despite being censored for its news articles, Yolculuk kept reporting about the leaks.

      Investigative reporter Tunca Ogreten was the former editor of Diken where he revealed the details of the oil trade between Turkey and Northern Iraq. Based on the email correspondence, Ogreten showed that Albayrak—who is also President Erdogan’s son-in-law—was the real boss behind the private oil monopoly Powertrans.

    • UK’s key role in brokering UN resolution on Israeli settlements confirmed

      Britain played a key behind-the-scenes role in brokering the UN resolution condemning Israel for violating international law with its policy of building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, it has been confirmed. The UK helped draft some of the key wording to ensure it met US concerns.

      The UK role, first highlighted by Israeli diplomatic sources, leaves the UK on a collision course not just with Israel, but at odds with Donald Trump, the US president-elect and a strong opponent of the UN resolution, the first to be passed that is critical of Israel for seven years.

    • Dutch woman with two British children told to leave UK after 24 years

      A Dutch woman who has lived in the UK for 24 years, and has two children with her British husband, has been told by the Home Office that she should make arrangements to leave the country after she applied for citizenship after the EU referendum.

      The story of Monique Hawkins highlights the practical difficulties faced by millions of EU citizens concerned that they will not have the right to stay in Britain post-Brexit.

      Hawkins had considered applying for citizenship before but decided not to as it did not confer any rights beyond her current EU rights. However, after the referendum she changed her mind, fearful that those rights would be diminished after Britain leaves the EU.


      In a written complaint, Hawkins said the worst aspect about the process was the inability to contact anyone. She wrote: “I do not believe there is any other business, organisation or even legal process in the world that would treat its customers/clients/applicants in this manner.”

      The software engineer, from Surrey, said she never once thought she would be deported but said her experience highlights the absurdity of the Home Office permanent residency process.

    • Home Office ‘tells Dutch mother with two British children to leave UK’ after 24 years

      A Dutch mother with two British children who has lived in the UK for 24 years said the Home Office told her to make arrangements to leave the country.

      Cambridge University graduate Monique Hawkins, who has two teenage children with her British husband, decided to apply for UK citizenship after the Brexit vote over fears her EU rights would be diminished when the country leaves the 28 nation bloc, the Guardian reported.

      She told the newspaper she was concerned that if she did not apply for citizenship she would be forced “to join a US-style two-hour immigration queue” while the rest of her family “sailed through the UK passport lane”.

    • Dutch mum-of-two told by Home Office to ‘leave the country’ after 24 years living in UK
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • ExtraTorrent Under DDoS Attacks, Pirate Bay Down

        The popular torrent site ExtraTorrent has suffered several major DDoS attacks over the past ew days. The problems appear to be related to the site’s recent ban of ‘unofficial’ proxy services. Meanwhile, The Pirate Bay is also down, but for now it’s unclear what’s causing the issues on their end.

      • Why Does The USTR Still Think Any Website That Might Upset Hollywood Is Illegal?

        We’ve written a few times in the past about the USTR’s ridiculous “notorious markets” report, which is an offshoot of the already ridiculous Special 301 report, in which the USTR is supposed to name and shame countries that don’t respect US intellectual property laws… based on whichever lobbyists whined the most to the USTR (seriously: the process is no more scientific than that). The “notorious markets” report is even more ridiculous, and lets the USTR go even further afield, often naming perfectly legal internet services just because Hollywood doesn’t like them. It got seriously ridiculous last year when the USTR expanded the list of domain registrars, including the very popular domain registrar Tucows. The USTR claimed that it was okay to put Tucows on the list because it “failed to take action” when notified of infringement.

        Um. But that’s the correct thing to do. A registrar’s job is just to manage domain registrations and not to police what’s on those sites, or to strip those domains. If someone is infringing on copyrights/trademarks/whatever, take it up with whoever is behind the site, not two steps removed to the company that registered the domain. Many people pointed this out last year, but this is the USTR we’re talking about, and the USTR doesn’t give a fuck. It just went right back out and with the release of the 2016 Notorious Markets List is still listing domain registrars and other websites that are perfectly legal, but which Hollywood or other big legacy industries don’t like very much.

        While Tucows is no longer listed, they do name Domainerschoice as a “notorious market” because many online pharmacies have purchased domain URLs from that registrar. But, again, if the online pharmacies are the problem, go after those pharmacies, don’t blame the domain registrar. Domainerschoice is just creating a database and selling URLs, not hosting any content or selling any drugs, legal, gray market or illegal.


Bad Service at the European Patent Office (EPO) Escalated in the Form of Complaints to European Authorities/Politicians

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Toxic work environment has destroyed the quality of the EPO’s work and nobody can even be held accountable?

By Factio popularis Europaea, CC BY 2.0

Summary: A look at actions taken at a political level against the EPO in spite of the EPO’s truly awkward exemption from lawfulness or even minimal accountability

EARLIER TODAY we leaked a letter which had been sent to Quality Support (DQS) at the European Patent Office (EPO), demonstrating just how terrible things have become. Things were so terrible on so many levels (see the 7 points in the letter) and apparently it’s not so exceptional, either.

“I just read your article on Techrights about the leaked letter to the DQS at EPO,” one reader told us, “complaining about that mess made by examiners on Art 94 etc.”

“It is a general harassment climate made of mean and cheap feuds that examiners do perpetrate among themselves when induced by pressure from above, fed by malevolent lies and spread further by people with low social competence, highly and chronically frustrated, both in their work and in their life (I must assume).”
This reader told us this “can be a good example of how bad the “malevolent climate” (to use the words chosen by the Technologia survey) can influence the work of examiners, up to the point that the substantial quality of the job is compromised. It is a general harassment climate made of mean and cheap feuds that examiners do perpetrate among themselves when induced by pressure from above, fed by malevolent lies and spread further by people with low social competence, highly and chronically frustrated, both in their work and in their life (I must assume).”

There is an interesting followup on the said case, which we decided to also publish in redacted form (but separately from the letter so as to keep things tidier). We kindly asked, repeatedly in fact, for updates regarding interactions with MEPs and EPO ‘support’ folks. We won’t be revealing any names here, probably because some of those involved (even at the EPO) are not directly culpable and we definitely don’t want to interfere with ongoing political processes (wheels in motion, so to speak). Other people say to us that they’re having the same experience as in the said letter and it helps them to see evidence of that pattern. We need to aspire for power in numbers (number of complainants), as only this way we can demonstrate that there is a widespread, systemic failure, as some attorneys are already noticing and writing about.

The E-mails below show some input from European politicians. “This shows that matters are being progressed on a number of fronts,” as our source put it to us. Our source added that s/he “wonder[s] when they’ll [politicians] realise the EPO appears to be unaccountable to anyone.”

“The E-mails below show some input from European politicians.”Well, this is a known problem. “State within a state” some called it (there were press articles about that on numerous occasions* prior to the EPO's FTI Consulting Web-gagging/media manipulation deal). Our article about the unaccountability of the EPO go back to 2014 and nothing has improved since then. To make matters worse, the German media effectively gagged itself (maybe in connection to FTI Consulting and SLAPP actions from the EPO's lawyers).

We have been gathering this input for quite a while as confidentiality was needed and now is probably a suitable time to publicise it. Publishing at this late stage would probably not compromise the political process as much as before and as long as names are left out, retribution and witch-hunts from Team Battistelli — as notorious as this modus operandi has become — are not possible.

An early message about this actually relied a great deal on reporting by Techrights:

From: ███████
Sent: █████████
To: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
Subject: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear █████,

Please note that the following site http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/EPO has now published on its blog the generic problems I referred to: ██████.



The European Ombudsman and the European Commission got brought up/involved as follows:

From: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
To: ███████
Sent: ███████
Subject: RE: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear ███████,

Thank you for your emails & ███████ to you too- I have only returned to the office today and have been reading through your correspondence.

I did manage to discuss this quickly with ███████ before ███████ and he wanted me to contact both the European Ombudsman and the European Commission to try and establish if there is a role they could play here. I would like to see if they come back to me before sending off the letter.

The next meeting I have with ███████ is on Tuesday, if we have not had a response by then we will send the letter regardless. This should mean that it reaches Munich well before the end of ███████. I will also ask him then about the techrights campaign.

I have also thought about the prospect of contacting the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills- as they are responsible for the UK Intellectual Property Office. Have you had any contact with them? A letter from them to the EPO might be useful too.

Please let me know your thoughts



Now the British Department of Business, Innovation and Skills gets brought up:

From: ███████
To: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
Sent: ███████
Subject: Re: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear ███████,

Sorry that I have landed you with so much on your ███████.

I think contacting the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills a great idea. I haven’t contacted them at all. I was keen to get a further push from the UK so earlier today I had written to ███████ my MP asking if she could put her ore in too. I have told her that ███████ is already on the case. Clearly the more angles we explore the better provided we don’t trip over each other. With this in mind I will aim to share the actions with you and her so we are all on the same page at the same time. If you would like it handled differently please do let me know.

I also know a former judge who usually has an interest in people’s rights. I have asked her if she might be interested in helping but since I only asked today I at present don’t know if she will be willing to help. I will keep you posted.

Many thanks


One week later the UK Intellectual Property Office got mentioned along with Lucy (who is no longer in that job):

From: [Conservative in the European Parliament]
To: ███████
Sent: ███████
Subject: RE: EPO – Techrights Blog

Dear ███████,

Thank you for your patience whilst I get back to you

I’ve now heard back from the European Ombudsmen, they have confirmed that the EPO is outside of their mandate (Unfortunately the European Patents Office is not one of the bodies, offices or agencies of the EU. It was established under the European Patent Convention 1973 and finally set up in 1977. It contains the all the Member States of the EU and other countries which are not part of the EU. Further, the EU is also not a member of the Convention. As such it is a separate intergovernmental organisation and so not part of the Ombudsman’s mandate.) They have recommended the UK Intellectual Property Office as a further point of contact, in line with what I suggested last week.

As we have yet to receive a response to our Parliamentary Question, I have taken a look at some of the others submitted to the European Commission on this topic. Like the Ombudsmen, the Commission is also insistent that the EPO is outside of their mandate, therefore I do not think that it will be very useful for us to wait for their response.

So moving forward,

I have now spoken to ███████ and we have sent off a letter to Baroness Neville Roche, the head of the UK Intellectual Property Office. I have passed her along a copy of the original letter you sent to ███████, outlining your case, as well as a cover letter with an update on your case. ███████ has asked her to review your case and offer assistance.

Furthermore, we have now send [sic] off the response to the EPO in line with the drafting you sent through.

I will let you know when we have a response. Please keep us informed of any updates your end.

Best wishes,


“I believe the action of the EPO has effectively stripped me of all economic value of my invention already,” our source told us. “I think the only thing that will get them to sit up and pay attention/change is if they are sued. I am not sure if this is possible and what the risks and costs to myself might be. have you ever heard of them being sued?”

Well, my lawyers once explored that option and various people sent input about that. It seems as though the EPO is almost immune to lawsuits too — not just to the law itself — and as Minnoye serves to remind us, the EPO is happy to just ignore even a ruling from the highest Dutch court, so why bother? The European Patent Convention inadvertently created quite a monstrous institution. Monsters don’t die in peace; they fight whoever is eager to challenge them.
* In the EPO Wiki at Techrights, look under entries that fall (by colour coding) under “state within a state”. This links to (and translates into English) quite a few articles from German and Dutch media, published at a time when they still bothered covering the issue.

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