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01.24.17

US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Keeps Introducing Changes to Patent Law and Patent Policy Under the Trump Administration Still Looks OK

Posted in America, Patents at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No indications yet of a doomsday scenario like highly regressive patent policies

The leadership staff
Leadership positions mostly vacant as of today (screenshot taken minutes ago)

Michelle Lee listed
Michelle Lee still listed

Summary: Judging by what we are seeing so far this year, the US patent system won’t be going back into the sordid mess it once was, thanks in part to the Justices of the US Supreme Court and the America Invents Act, signed into law over half a decade ago

2017 is looking pretty good so far, especially if leadership of the USPTO remains the same (we are still waiting for an official confirmation, as we last noted last night). There are some upcoming SCOTUS cases that promise to change the patent system for the better.

“There are some upcoming SCOTUS cases that promise to change the patent system for the better.”With the Lexmark case pending — a case on which the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) weighed in — some people have reasons for optimism. Today we found quite a few news articles about it, e.g. “How Lexmark’s patent fight to crush an ink reseller will affect us all” (from the British media), “Supreme Court Should Block Printer Company’s Ploy to Undermine Consumer Rights” (from the EFF), “Printer Co. Urges Justices To Uphold ‘Bedrock’ IP Standard” (from the patent micrososm’s site), and “Consumer Rights at Center of Impression v. Lexmark Supreme Court Case, Groups Argue” (from Public Knowledge). To quote from that last one:

The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge:

“We are proud to stand with a diverse group of organizations in supporting the most basic consumer right, the right to use one’s own property without interference from the seller.

“Today, companies who make consumer products go to astounding lengths to control what consumers may do with the products they purchase. Manufacturers and their product terms of service have gone so far as to cut off consumers’ right to speak about products, to block product safety research, to restrain competition, and to eliminate the most basic property rights to use and resell one’s own possessions.

“Patent exhaustion has long stood as a bulwark of consumer protection, preventing seller companies from overrunning the rights and expectations of buyers. We hope that the Supreme Court continues to recognize the importance of patent exhaustion as a consumer protection doctrine.”

An article from yesterday, published by Matthew Berkowitz, Patrick Colsher, Mark Hannemann, Eric Lucas, Thomas Makin, and Joseph Purcell of Shearman & Sterling LLP, speaks of the recent reforms, which were initiated by Obama with AIA, later culminating in SCOTUS cases like Alice:

Predicting Patent Policy Under the Trump Administration

The America Invents Act (“AIA”), signed into law by President Obama on September 16, 2011, was the biggest legislative overhaul to the United States patent system since the Patent Act of 1952. Among other changes, the AIA moved the U.S. to a first-inventor-to-file patent system, created a variety of new post-grant validity proceedings, and eliminated “best-mode” as a litigation defense. The AIA received broad bi-partisan support in both Congressional chambers over the objections of the National Small Business Administration, which argued that the first-to-file provisions would favor “large incumbent corporations.”1 Since its enactment, the AIA has already significantly changed the patent landscape for stakeholders and practitioners alike. For example, inter partes review proceedings have exploded in popularity and have drastically affected litigation strategy, arguably making it much more difficult for patent owners to enforce their patents.

[...]

This article provides informed speculation on the Trump Administration’s potential positions on patent policy, especially as it contrasts with what patent practitioners were expecting from Ms. Clinton.

So far we have not seen any reason to panic over Trump when it comes to patent policy — a topic on which he has been totally cryptic throughout his campaign. We hope to see more of the same, i.e. a continuation of SCOTUS rulings in favour of patent reform and AIA-related initiatives such as PTAB. Speaking of PTAB, there is this Federal Circuit case from some days ago in which software patents “survived” (a term used by the patent microcosm) and two articles that we saw about it [1, 2] associate that with Alice by saying: “The Federal Circuit on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s decision that two Trading Technologies International Inc. electronic trading patents are not invalid under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice ruling, leaving intact a $16 million jury verdict the company won against CQG Inc.”

As a reminder to our readers, Trading Technologies is somewhat of a patent troll or patent bully these days. We last mentioned it over a year ago, but it’s evidently still busy suing.

Leaked: Team Battistelli, Exploiting a Controversial Decision From the Netherlands, is Trying to Squash SUEPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team Battistelli versus SUEPO

Summary: The latest leak (above) suggests that Battistelli not only celebrates immunity from the law but also uses that to take further steps against the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO)

AT THE END of last week the Dutch media began blasting the EPO and the government for allowing people to flagrantly disregard human rights on Dutch territories, in the name of attracting bodies with immunity and impunity. We have since then published 3 articles about it, namely:

The above message has just appeared on the EPO intranet. It says: “It is then hoped that SUEPO leaders, who initiated litigation before German and Dutch courts and have based an intense communication campaign on the quashed decision of the Court of Appeal for two years, will acknowledge EPO’s legal framework and consider the signing of the MoU.”

That would be suicide. It’s part of the plan to squash SUEPO, with the help of the yellow union propped up by Bergot and her ilk. SUEPO can still sue the Dutch state and based on what their lawyer said, it seems like a real possibility. It’s not just about SUEPO anymore but about a lot of abusive organisations (inwards and outwards), including WIPO.

Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna: UPC’s “Entry Into Force is Not at all Secured,” Contrary to What Team UPC Says

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

False predictions sometimes have an agenda

New York Times on Clinton
Reference: How Data Failed Us in Calling an Election (New York Times)

Summary: The ludicrous notion that the UPC is inevitable and just a matter of time is challenged by longtime UPC observers, including Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, who wrote an entire book on the subject

WRITING FROM Düsseldorf for the blog of a fellow German, Florian Müller, Stjerna, whom we respect for his honesty on the UPC (unlike other people in his field), makes a list of barriers to the UPC (other than Spain's longstanding opposition). Stjerna already published a book on the subject, but this new article deals specifically with the latest barriers to the UPC (there are more). Here are some excepts:

The European Unified Patent Court: what can still go wrong?

[...]

III. Contradictions in recent UK government statements

Nonetheless, the UK government seems to be eager to ratify the UPCA, relying on said concept of emphasizing the UPC’s formal status as an international organization and rather closing their eyes on the Union law obligations inevitably tied to it. After a statement on how the UK intended to proceed in terms of the UPCA after the “Brexit” vote had been long in the waiting, it was announced at the end of November 2016 at the EU Competitiveness Council meeting that the UK “is proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement”, pointing out that “The UPC itself is not an EU institution, it is an international patent court.” (cf. the press statement here).

This approach was also followed in a recent meeting of the Science and Technology Committee of the UK House of Commons in a statement by the new “Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”, Joseph Johnson, who is also responsible for intellectual property aspects (cf. footage here, starting at 11:07.22). Indicating once more that the UPC was “not an EU institution” and describing it as being “independent of our membership in the European Union”, Mr Johnson started to flounder when asked whether non-EU members could remain members of the UPCA and just answered: “These are questions which will form part of the bigger discussion around the Brexit negotiations.”

In short, the plan of the UK government appears to be ratifying the UPCA without knowing whether a continued membership will be possible after a withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Bearing in mind the industry’s overarching fundamental need to be provided legal certainty on questions like these, this is a remarkable approach and reaffirms the impression of a reform for a reform’s sake.

[...]

IV. Violation of German Constitutional law?

Apart from the “Brexit” implications, further obstructions to the UPCA’s entry into force may well happen in the ratification procedure in Germany, the German ratification, as indicated, also being required for the UPCA to come into effect. The ratification procedure was initiated by the German government at the end of May 2016, with the first reading in the German Parliament taking place in the late evening of 23 June 2016, the day of the “Brexit” vote in the UK, only to be suspended immediately afterwards. Despite its limited practical use due to its apparent bias, the mentioned Gordon/Pascoe Opinion has – unintentionally, as it would seem – underlined the UPCA’s doubtful compatibility with Union law by noting that the political approach to align the two after the aforementioned CJEU decision in 2011 is merely an unworkable legal fiction, thereby joining sides with a number of commentators who have been arguing that the UPCA was incompatible with Union law for a number of reasons all along. More details can be found in the aforementioned article “Unitary patent and court system – The Gordon/Pascoe Opinion and the UPCA’s incompatibility with Union law” here.

The specific relevance of the German ratification proceedings for this aspect lies in the fact that, in Germany, it is, in principle, possible to directly subject any legislative act approving an international Agreement to judicial review by the German Constitutional Court for its compatibility with the German Constitution before it will be allowed to enter into effect. The UPCA’s doubtful compatibility with Union law is only one of a number of aspects on the basis of which its compatibility with the German Constitution might be challenged. Should judicial review indeed be requested on this basis, the German Constitutional Court will usually request a preliminary ruling from the CJEU on the Union law issues in question. Should the CJEU confirm the understanding that the UPCA is incompatible with Union law, this could well be the end of the UPCA, at least in its present form. As the legal effectiveness of the two European regulations on the “unitary patent” and its translation regime is bound to the UPCA’s entry into force, the whole reform would be affected by such finding. Thus, such judicial review procedure could well constitute yet another major obstacle on the way to making the UPC a reality.

IAM, a proponent of the UPC (and the EPO that keeps promoting it), says about the above that it’s a “thought-provoking article. UK UPC ratification looks increasingly like a bargaining tool for a wider negotiation.”

“We don’t expect the UPC to become a reality; not in its current form and certainly not in the UK.”What we quite like is the conclusion of Stjerna. Just like us, he takes note of misleading claims from Team UPC and opportunistic politicians who serve it (people like Michel Barnier). To quote: “Ultimately, different from what political circles and the usual UPC proponents want to make the public believe, the UPCA’s entry into force is not at all secured. Major political as well as legal decisions may still have to be made before the UPCA, and with it the European patent reform, will be allowed to come into effect.”

We don’t expect the UPC to become a reality; not in its current form and certainly not in the UK. Don’t be easily bamboozled by all that fake news yanked out so habitually by Team UPC.

01.23.17

Media Blasts EPO Over Immunity Amid Suicides, Battistelli’s Behaviour Compared to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When immunity (placing predatory people like Battistelli above the law) costs people their lives…

Dutch people are unhappy to have become the unwitting hosts of infamous rights violators like Battistelli

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’

Edmund Burke

Summary: Backlash in the Netherlands is growing again, primarily as a result of media reports about the EPO’s abuses against basic rights and the government’s reluctance to put an end to these abuses

THE EPO has modified the headline of its conceited remark on last week’s ruling in the Netherlands (a remark which we remarked on during the weekend). It was modified this morning to remove the word “today’s” and the PR staff was eager to spread the word as if the Office is ever so proud to violate human rights while the Dutch government, which famously welcomes euthanasia, now accepts suicides without any investigation/probe. What does that say about the country? A lot of Dutch people are rightly concerned about the effect this may have (or already had) on their country. We wrote more about that in our prior two articles (since the ruling).

Haar is already becoming a Gulag/Siberia analogy, rendering Battistelli a modern-age Stalin. Someone has already asked: “Any update on the Boards of Appeal being sent to Siberia by Trump of the EPO, PB? I didnt realise Haar was a place in Siberia.”

“Haar is already becoming a Gulag/Siberia analogy, rendering Battistelli a modern-age Stalin.”“Trump of the EPO” seems to be another new nickname for Battistelli.

Quite a few people have noticed the deafening silence from Merpel and others at IP Kat, which has been relatively if not completely silent (except two posts in the past half a year) after the site was censored by the EPO.

“The Supreme Court of the Netherlands delivers its long-awaited judgement on the EPO’s immunity,” one person noted, “and not a peep out of IPKat. How disappointing…”

“The Kat appears to have overlooked this interesting blog posting,” points out this other comment, linking to this Dutch (but English language) coverage that says:

Dutch Supreme Court upholds immunity EPO in conflict with trade unions

The European Patent Office can invoke its immunity from jurisdiction of Dutch courts in its conflict with the EPO trade unions SUEPO and VEOB. The highest court in The Netherlands, the Hoge Raad, has ruled so today. The Supreme Court set aside a decision of the so-called Gerechtshof, which had ruled to the contrary in 2015.

The SUEPO and the VEOB started legal proceedings against the EPO in the Netherlands (where one of its main premises is based), more than three years ago. They argued that that the EPO violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by limiting the workers’ right to strike, by blocking mails from the trade unions and by refusing to recognize these. The EPO invoked its immunity from jurisdiction.

[...]

It is not likely at all that the decision will lessen the tensions between the trade unions and the EPO president however. Last year Battistelli, widely criticized for his dictatorial behaviour, fired several SUEPO union members, though he has always maintained their activism had nothing to do with it. Moreover, last June Battistelli pushed through a controversial reform of the Boards of Appeal, and he tried to intervene in judicial proceedings concerning the removal from office of a BoA-member. Increased pressure from (parts of) the EPO’s Administrative Council, which is supposed to supervise Battistelli, nor external reports on the social situation at the EPO have led to improvements. After its most recent meeting in December 2016, the Administrative Council reported: ‘Underlining the need to improve the social dialogue, the Council mandated its Chair to work together with the Board 28 and the Office on concrete proposals in the first half of 2017.’

‘King’ Battistelli possibly gets more power in the mean time, as this new comment says: “The latest rumor about Minnoye is that he will not be replaced after he leaves. There will just be a vice-president “at interim”, meaning somebody who is chosen by BB and reports directly to him. There are quite a few of these “at interim” positions for managers lately.”

“There were recently yet more suicides, but the EPO did not even mention these.”Minnoye is the one responsible for saying that even if the Dutch court ruled against the EPO, the EPO would simply ignore/disregard the ruling. How long before the Dutch authorities realise that they shoot themselves in the foot by implicitly stating that institutions on their territories can violate human rights, including courts which supposedly guard human rights (like ICC)? Dutch attorneys and their clients are already very concerned about the EPO.

Battistelli, according to this new comment, is in certain ways similar to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in the immunity and bad behaviour sense, not just the nationality. Let that sink in for a moment. The commenter wonders why the EPO is “allowed to violate human rights, to harass individuals, to push their victims to suicide.”

There were recently yet more suicides, but the EPO did not even mention these.

Here is the full comment, posted by “Tulips from Amsterdam”:

The judgement of the Supreme court of the Netherlands is obviously a good news.
After the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, French diplomats feared that it would be impossible to violate human rights abroad anymore.
Hope comes back.
Obviously they have to avoid the USA but the Netherlands is the new dreamland.
The Supreme court of the Netherlands gives full immunity/impunity.
Psychopaths with diplomatic status are allowed to violate human rights, to harass individuals, to push their victims to suicide.
Dutch police covers his ears. The Dutch government covers his eyes. The Dutch Supreme court covers his mouth. (don’t hear, don’t see and don’t speak)
The victims suicide. The psychopath is laughing.
Welcome to the Netherlands.

We invite our Dutch readers to get in contact/touch with their elected officials (politicians) and petition them for change in behaviour. This mirrors or echoes what we see with Maas in Germany, where there is new coverage about the latest developments. Heise Online’s Stefan Kremp wrote about it this afternoon (accurate translation is needed).

Things are starting to boil over at the EPO. It didn’t take long and it won’t be the end of it. No problems have been resolved at all, so under the surface it’s only getting worse.

Hilarious: Battistelli Goes to Former French Colony With No Patents to ‘Buy’ the EPO a Perception of Legitimacy

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 6:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One of the poorest and smallest countries in Asia becomes “Asian country to recognise European patents”

Cambodia and EPO

Summary: Having toured various banana republics in pursuit of easy-to-sign deals, Battistelli now goes to Cambodia again, in order to make it seem as though the EPO is conquering Asia

WE are not sure whether to laugh or cry at the sight of this ridiculous new (published this afternoon) announcement from the EPO (warning: epo.org link).

This latest Battistelli farce is too embarrassing for words. A country with no EPs at all is going to respect EPs (European Patents) on its territory? No offense to Cambodia, but when the country makes anything high-tech it’s usually done on behalf of foreign corporations (e.g. bicycles, clothing) and the Cambodian market is hardly relevant to them. It’s worth almost nothing to them.

This isn’t the first time Battistelli rushes to Cambodia, a former French colony, for truly cheap PR stunts. We wrote about this in the past. Here is what the latest text says: “EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Senior Minister Cham Prasidh, Cambodian Minister of Industry and Handicraft, have signed an agreement in Phnom Penh to extend, upon request of the applicant, the validity of European patent applications and patents to Cambodia. This means that Cambodia is set to become the first Asian country to recognise European patents on its territory. The agreement will enter into force once it has been adopted into Cambodian law, tentatively 1st July 2017.”

That has no meaning whatsoever to 99.x% of the Asian market, so the accompanying headline can simply be dismissed as propaganda.

If this is what the EPO is up to these days, then things are indeed pretty grim.

Patent Trolls Like Finjan Holdings and Thomas Edison; the Latest Loss for Software Patents in the US and Their Move to China

Posted in America, Asia, Patents at 5:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China is copying a failed experiment

Chinese teapot

Summary: A look at the very latest patent news, which suggests further improvements in the US, pushback from the patent microcosm, and an outsourcing of a terrible system to Chinese territories, where the overpatenting plague grows rapidly

PATENT scope went out of control back in the days of David Kappos and some of his predecessors at the USPTO. They made it their goal to simply increase the pace of patenting irrespective of patent quality — the same mistake the EPO is now making under Battistelli’s truly awful leadership. In the process, the USPTO granted a lot of patents on software (algorithms). This, in turn, gave rise to patent trolls.

Speaking of patent trolls, remember Finjan? It is a nasty patent troll that received money (along with other support) from Microsoft and now goes after legitimate companies. Its new press release (from today) says in the summary: “Avast’s Acquisition of AVG Has Resulted in Claims for Breach of Contract and Infringement on Finjan’s Patents” (suing via Finjan Holdings, as usual).

Trolls will be trolls.

“Speaking of patent trolls, remember Finjan? It is a nasty patent troll that received money (along with other support) from Microsoft and now goes after legitimate companies.”Remember that Thomas Edison (now a patent icon) was a patent troll; he was not an epic inventor but a famous ‘thief’ (of ideas). Now see this new article by Jason Rantanen regarding a book he has read. “I recently read Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night,” he said, “a tale about the patent war between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse from the point of view of Paul Cravath, the young lawyer representing Westinghouse (and yes, that Cravath). The book is historical fiction (which means that it consists of made up/condensed elements set within the broader landscape of historical evidence), but many of the themes within it ring true today. Among them are divergent views of the role of patents in technological development. Edison personifies the corporation-as-inventor, with his organized system for inventing. Westinghouse embodies the practical aspects of invention–the need to take a technology and make it into a commercial reality. And Nikola Tesla is the “flash of genius” inventor who invents for the love of inventing rather than for material rewards.”

In the field of software, where a lot of code gets published as Free/Open Source software, people receive credit for their work through attribution, reuse, etc. They don’t want or need to pursue patents. Those who want software patents typically develop no software at all; they don’t even know how to. The patenting of software is pointless as it’s the domain of copyrights, not patents.

“The patenting of software is pointless as it’s the domain of copyrights, not patents.”Watchtroll, which has resorted to publishing press releases (desperate for money perhaps; software patents are a dying business), is still complaining that PTAB is fixing patent scope (i.e. more of the same) and Law 360, which targets the patent microcosm, says that “Kinglite Loses Final Round In PTAB Software Patent Fight” in an article published over the weekend (behind paywall) to say:

Kinglite Loses Final Round In PTAB Software Patent Fight

Claims in two Kinglite Holdings Inc. computer software patents were found invalid Thursday, capping a spate of recent decisions from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board involving more than a dozen patents owned by the Singapore company.

The PTAB said a group of computer hardware companies, led by American Megatrends Inc., had persuasively shown all claims in one Kinglite patent were obvious. Numerous claims in a second patent were also found to be unpatentable.

Another site which favours software patents has just written a little rant about § 101/Alice. To quote:

Refusing to consider only elements of patent claims that differed from the prior art in considering patent-eligibility under the test of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank and 35 U.S.C. § 101, a court has denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss. Capstan AG Systems, Inc. v. Raven Indus., Inc., No. 16-cv-04132-DDC-KGS (D. Kans. Jan 11, 2017). The patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent Numbers 8,191,795 and 8,523,085, claim systems and methods for controlling valves of agricultural sprayers. For example, the claimed invention controlled flow rates to provide even spraying when a tractor was turning.

It seems rather apparent that the “golden age” of software patents in the US is over, but over in China the disease of these patents — and trolls that accompany such patents — is spreading. See this new article which deals with patents on graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and the latest from IAM, which suggests an expectation of increase in patent litigation:

Back in December, Supreme People’s Court vice president Tao Kaiyuan told media that top authorities were considering the introduction of a national IP appeals court for China. Details are sparse at the moment, but the nation’s top court is likely to be consulting with stakeholders now in order to come up with a more detailed proposal. Madame Tao is a heavy hitter in the Chinese IP policy world, and has been an advocate of both specialised courts and a greater IP role for the judiciary (versus administrative bodies). Her comments are a good indication of what shape the next round of IP reform in China will take.

It sometimes seems like not only jobs are moving to China but so do software patents (which nobody wants anyway) and patent trolls.

Still Waiting for Official Confirmation That Michelle Lee Will Head the Patent Office Under Donald Trump’s Administration

Posted in America, Patents, Rumour at 5:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Department of Commerce

Summary: As of today, there is still no official word on whether or not Lee continues her tenure, which saw the demise of patents on software and along with that the demise of patent trolls and frivolous litigation

WITH almost 50 comments in this thread, from which the above screenshot came, we are still not sure (as of Monday night) if Michelle Lee will definitely lead the USPTO. The author proceeds to other topics like pendency, but there is no update on the above.

Lee’s position is important because based on some rumours the person (or people) who might replace her would be devastating and corrupt. Lee has done a decent job cracking down on patent bullies and trolls, as we noted here before, and there are now new kinds of lawsuits over patents (lawsuits for patent abuses/bullying rather than infringements).

The following report from a trolls expert emerged some days ago and said:

With President Donald Trump having taken office today, many government offices are in the midst of a major transition. In one office that’s closely watched by technology and internet companies, however, the leadership looks to remain the same—the US Patent and Trademark Office.

There’s been no official announcement about USPTO leadership from Trump’s team, with the new president having been inaugurated earlier today. But The Hill reported yesterday that Michelle Lee, a former top lawyer at Google, will remain as USPTO director under President Trump. Politico reported the same news, sourcing it to statements by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and confirming it with other unnamed sources.

Lee’s remaining at USPTO is a a surprise victory for the technology sector, which offered scant support for President Trump while he was campaigning for office. She supported President Barack Obama’s patent reform agenda, and Trump’s views on patents are a cipher.

We are still waiting patiently for an official announcement. Lee’s haters, the patent microcosm, will certainly hope it never happens.

Links 23/1/2017: Wine Releases, Microsoft Layoffs

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Wikimedia in Google Code-in 2016

    Google Code-in 2016 has come to an end. Wikimedia was one of the 17 organizations who took part to offer mentors and tasks to 14-17 year old students exploring free and open source software projects via small tasks.

  • Events

    • All the videos from Linux.conf.au 2017
    • Keeping Linux Great
    • Building communities

      This week, I finally got time to start pushing forward with this year’s edition of foss-north. It will be held on April 26 in Gothenburg and it is a great opportunity to visit Sweden and Gothenburg and mingle with the FOSS community. We’ve already confirmed Lydia Pintscher and Lennart Poettering as speakers. If you want to speak the call for paper has just opened and will run until March 12. Tickets sales will open shortly too, as well as the call for sponsors.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • So you want to create a new official OpenStack project…

      OpenStack development is organized around a mission, a governance model and a set of principles. Project teams apply for inclusion, and the Technical Committee (TC), elected by all OpenStack contributors, judges whether that team work helps with the OpenStack mission and follows the OpenStack development principles. If it does, the team is considered part of the OpenStack development community, and its work is considered an official OpenStack project.

      The main effect of being official is that it places the team work under the oversight of the Technical Committee. In exchange, recent contributors to that team are considered Active Technical Contributors (ATCs), which means they can participate in the vote to elect the Technical Committee.

    • Why you should hire upstream
    • The OpenStack Interoperability Challenge Update: Phase Two Progress

      In 2016 the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge was originally announced by IBM GM Don Rippert at the OpenStack Austin Summit. This effort was the first initiative to use the deployment and execution of enterprise workloads using automated deployment tools as the means of proving interoperability across OpenStack cloud environments. The first phase of the OpenStack Interoperability Challenge culminated with a Barcelona Summit Keynote demo comprised of 16 vendors all running the same enterprise workload and automation tools to illustrate that OpenStack enables workload portability across public and private OpenStack clouds. Here is a short trip down memory lane:

    • OpenStack’s Stewardship Working Group and what it can do for you

      Stewardship is defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. OpenStack Foundation community members formed a Stewardship Working Group to ensure that “people at the bottom and the boundaries of the organization choice over how to serve a customer, a citizen, a community.”

    • Tips for instance configuration, creating a new project, and more OpenStack news
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • TrueOS Making Use Of OpenRC Init System, Faster Boot Times

      For those still looking to escape systemd, the BSDs remain free and the FreeBSD-based TrueOS is currently working on making use of OpenRC.

      OpenRC is the dependency-based init system used by NetBSD, Alpine Linux, Gentoo, and other select operating systems. TrueOS is using OpenRC for managing system services rather than FreeBSD’s RC.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Charlie Shrem and Richard Stallman to Speak at Central European Bitcoin Expo

      The Central European Bitcoin Expo (CEBE) is setting up to be one of the largest conferences to take place in Central Europe. Taking place in Vienna from May 31 to June 1, the expo will feature notable speakers from within the cryptocurrency space, which will provide insight into technology, international legislation and the future of virtual currency in Europe and abroad.

      Recently added to the list of speakers for the event were Charlie Shrem and Richard Stallman. These two virtual currency advocates will be joined by the already extensive list of speakers to be featured at the expo including, Dan Held, Adam Vaziri, David Johnson, Kingsley Edwards, Vitalik Buterin and many more.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Why Tolkien’s fantastic imaginary languages have had more impact than Esperanto

    JRR Tolkien began writing The Fall of Gondolin while on medical leave from the First World War, 100 years ago this month. It is the first story in what would become his legendarium – the mythology that underpins The Lord of the Rings. But behind the fiction was his interest in another epic act of creation: the construction of imaginary languages.

  • It’s time to spring-clean your IT contracts

    The start of a new year is a time for review and planning, in business, as well as in our personal lives. It’s likely that you will be focused on finalising your company’s objectives and strategy for the year ahead. But it’s also important to consider whether the tools and processes that you have in place remain fit for purpose – and that includes your contract templates and contractual risk and compliance processes.

    When it comes to the law, “the only thing that is constant is change”. Without fail, each year brings the introduction of new legislation, case law and regulatory guidance that may have an impact on your contracts – whether it’s the terms of use or privacy policy for your website or app, or the contract terms that you use when supplying or purchasing technology services. Therefore, it’s important to carry out a regular review of your contract terms (and any existing contracts) to make sure that they remain compliant with law and are future-proofed as much as possible in terms of new legal and regulatory developments that you know are around the corner.

  • Chinese investors buy owner of PCWorld, IDC

    International Data Group, the owner of PCWorld magazine, several other tech journals and the IDC market research organisation, has been bought by two Chinese investors.

    China Oceanwide Holdings Group and IDG Capital (no affiliate of IDG) have paid between US$500 million and US$1 billion for IDG sans its high-performance computing research businesses.

    The two Chinese entities had made separate bids but were told by investment banker Goldman Sachs to join hands. The sale of IDG has been cleared by the US Committee on Foreign Investment and should be completed by end of the first quarter this year.

    China Oceanwide Holdings Group, founded by chairman Zhiqiang Lu, is active in financial services, real estate, technology, and media among others.

  • Oracle lays off more than 1,000 employees

    According to the Mercury News, Oracle is laying off approximately 450 employees in its Santa Clara hardware systems division. Reports at The Layoff, a discussion board for technology business firings, claim about 1,800 employees company-wide are being pink-slipped.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • City devastated by OxyContin use sues Purdue Pharma, claims drugmaker put profits over citizens’ welfare

      A Washington city devastated by black-market OxyContin filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the painkiller’s manufacturer Thursday, alleging that the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to “reap large and obscene profits” and demanding it foot the bill for widespread opioid addiction in the community.

      The suit by Everett, a city of 100,000 north of Seattle, was prompted by a Times investigation last year. The newspaper revealed that drugmaker Purdue Pharma had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking across the nation but in many cases did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills.

    • On his first day in office, Trump’s top issues don’t include health care

      President Trump’s election campaign focused on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed “Obamacare.” But on his first day as president of the United States, health care didn’t appear to be a priority — at least, not according to his website or inaugural address.

      In fact, it wasn’t until the news broke on Friday evening that Trump signed an executive order to “minimize the economic burden” of Obamacare that we got even a hint of his plans. What those might be, though, are still far from clear.

    • 1,000 days of toxic drinking water in Flint

      It was later determined that the Flint River water was not being treated properly, and that lead from aging water pipes was bleeding into the water supply. Lead is a deadly neurotoxin, and exposure is especially dangerous for children, who may experience stunted growth, behavioral problems and neurological damage. During the crisis, 12 people died from Legionnaires disease, while residents, including young children, were continually exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

      If phosphate had been place in the water at a cost of $200 a day, the leaching would not have occurred, according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. The city would switch back to the Detroit-supplied Lake Huron water in October 2015.

      The city’ drinking water supply is improving, according to Marc Edwards, a researcher at Virginia Tech who was instrumental in first identifying the contamination issues.

    • Scott Pruitt Is Bad for Your Health

      On Wednesday, during the confirmation hearing for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, there was a good deal of talk about “balance.” Pruitt, who sued the agency he’s slated to lead 14 times during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general, spoke of a “false paradigm” stipulating “that if you’re pro-energy you’re anti-environment, and if you’re pro-environment you’re anti-energy.” His record, he insisted, revealed a public servant who’d stood up for his state’s interests—which at times meant suing federal regulators, and at other times meant taking on polluters. He promised to uphold the EPA’s “core mission” of “protecting the American people through common sense and lawful regulations.”

      But Pruitt was hard-pressed to identify cases in which he’d stood up for environmental and health protections and against corporations. One of the environmental successes he cited in his opening statement concerned pollution in the Illinois River watershed from chicken manure. When he assumed office, Oklahoma was suing several major poultry producers in an attempt to get them to pay for the damage and change their waste-dumping practices. Pruitt, who’d received at least $40,000 from executives at the poultry companies in question during his election campaign, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that he resolved the lawsuit by crafting “an historic agreement to clean up that river.” In reality the agreement was toothless, as The New York Times reported recently, amounting to a decision to “conduct a study of the appropriate level” of pollutants in the watershed.

      Pruitt was asked repeatedly about his cooperation with energy companies in suing federal agencies, and in sending letters they’d written under his own name, while also collecting significant campaign contributions from those same businesses. In his defense, Pruitt argued that what was good for industry was good for Oklahoma’s economy and its people. It was New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker who challenged him most successfully on this point. Booker asked if Pruitt knew how many children in Oklahoma have asthma; he didn’t. The figure is 111,000, or one in 10. Booker pointed out that the vast majority of lawsuits Pruitt filed against the EPA were efforts to undermine limits on air pollution, which directly affects asthma.

    • Burned toast can increase risk of cancer, UK scientists say

      Potatoes and bread cooked at high temperatures for a long time could increase the risk of cancer in people who eat them regularly, British government scientists said on Monday.

      The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) said a substance called acrylamide, produced when starchy foods are roasted, fried or grilled for too long at high temperatures, has been found in animal studies to increase the risk of cancer.

  • Security

    • Your Computer’s Clipboard is a Security Problem – Fix it in Linux With xsel and cron

      Any program you run can read your clipboard, and its contents linger until another copy event or a reboot. Modern browsers enable multiple ways for malicious websites to read the clipboard contents (or add items in), so eliminate the worry by using a script with cron that auto-clears your clipboard regularly.

    • The long road to getrandom() in glibc

      The GNU C library (glibc) 2.25 release is expected to be available at the beginning of February; among the new features in this release will be a wrapper for the Linux getrandom() system call. One might well wonder why getrandom() is only appearing in this release, given that kernel support arrived with the 3.17 release in 2014 and that the glibc project is supposed to be more receptive to new features these days. A look at the history of this particular change highlights some of the reasons why getting new features into glibc is still hard.

    • Maintainers for desktop “critical infrastructure”

      That work is great, but it is limited by a number of factors: funding and the interests of its members, primarily. Few of the companies involved have much, if any, interest in the Linux desktop. Some might argue that there aren’t any companies with that particular interest, though that would be disingenuous. In any case, though, desktop Linux is a community-supported endeavor, at least more so than server or cloud Linux, which likely means some things are slipping through the cracks.

      Kaskinen left his job in 2015 to be able to spend more time on PulseAudio (and some audio packages that he maintains for OpenEmbedded). For the last four months or so, he has been soliciting funds on Patreon. Unlike Kickstarter and other similar systems, Patreon is set up to provide ongoing funding, rather than just a chunk of money for a particular feature or project. Donors pledge a monthly amount to try to support someone’s work going forward.

    • Important CentOS 7 Linux Kernel Security Patch Released, 3 Vulnerabilities Fixed

      CentOS developer and maintainer Johnny Hughes is announcing the availability of a new, important Linux kernel security update for the CentOS 7 series of operating systems.

      CentOS 7 is derived from the freely distributed source code of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system series, which means that it also benefits of its security patches. According to the recently published RHSA-2017:0086-1 security advisory, which was marked as important, three security vulnerabilities are patched.

    • Trump’s New Cyber-Security Advisor Runs a Very, Very Insecure Website

      According to Phonos Group founder Dan Tentler, Giuliani’s security company website runs a very, very old Joomla distribution, an open-source, free-to-use CMS.

      That’s Joomla 3.1.1, released in April 2013. Since then, two major zero-days have plagued Joomla, so grave that they could allow attackers to take full control over a Joomla installation. Those are CVE-2016-9838 and CVE-2015-8562.

      But that’s not the worse of it. The Joomla admin panel login page is also freely available, meaning anyone could access it and attempt to brute-force the admin password.

    • Reminder: Microsoft to no longer update original Windows 10 release after March 26 [Ed: Microsoft will leave even more Vista 10 back doors open, unless you install the latest doors]

      As Microsoft noted last year, the company plans to update only two Current Branch for Business versions of Windows 10 at any given time.

    • St. Louis’ public library computers hacked for ransom [iophk: “Those who installed Windows on them have not been brought to justice”]

      Hackers have infected every public computer in the St. Louis Public Library system, stopping all book borrowing and cutting off internet access to those who rely on it for computers.

      The computer system was hit by ransomware, a particularly nasty type of computer virus that encrypts computer files.

      This form of attack renders computers unusable — unless victims are willing to pay an extortion fee and obtain a key to unlock the machines.

    • Microsoft Targets Chrome Users With Windows 10 Pop-up Ad

      Microsoft really wants you to use its software products as well as running Windows 10, and that includes the Edge browser. But it can’t stop you choosing to use an alternative web browser. However, if you opt to use Chrome, then expect to start seeing adverts right on your Windows desktop.

    • United Airlines Domestic Flights Grounded for 2 Hours by Computer Outage

      All of United Airlines’ domestic flights were grounded for more than two hours Sunday night because of a computer outage, the Federal Aviation Administration said as scores of angry travelers sounded off on social media.

    • There’s no glory in patching

      Regular patching is essential but not without risks. Missing a critical patch is an easy way of getting your service compromised but insufficient testing is an even easier way of getting it to fall over. Here at drie we talk a lot about why trying to build your own infrastructure around AWS can be, to put it mildly, a bit of a pain. Today I’d like to go a little deeper on one issue most people encounter when going it alone in AWS and why you’re better off making it someone else’s problem. While it may seem like a mundane concern, keeping up to date with the latest patches and security fixes for your dependencies is a significant undertaking and neglecting server patches is a swift route to getting your infrastructure hacked.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Theresa May ‘faith’ in Trident after test ‘malfunction’

      Theresa May says she has “absolute faith” in the UK’s nuclear weapons system despite reports that an unarmed missile went off course during a test.

      The Sunday Times says the missile, fired in June, veered off course, weeks before a crucial Commons vote on Trident’s future.

      When questioned by the BBC, Mrs May repeatedly refused to say if she knew about the misfire ahead of the vote.

      Nicola Sturgeon said it was a “hugely serious issue”.

      Scotland’s First Minister, who is a passionate opponent of Trident, tweeted: “There should be full disclosure of what happened, who knew what/when, and why the House of Commons wasn’t told.”

      Meanwhile Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it called for “a serious discussion”.

      He told Sky News: “It’s a pretty catastrophic error when a missile goes in the wrong direction, and while it wasn’t armed, goodness knows what the consequences of that could have been.”

    • Downing Street ‘covered up serious Trident missile malfunction’ weeks before crucial Commons vote

      Downing Street has been accused of covering up a Trident missile malfunction weeks before a crucial Commons vote on the future of the submarine-based missile system.

      The Sunday Times reports that a Trident II D5 missile test ended in failure after it was launched from the British submarine HMS Vengeance off the coast of Florida in June last year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Solar Employs More Workers Than Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Combined

      U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

      6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth.

    • All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website

      At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.

      It’s customary for www.whitehouse.gov to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. To reiterate: It is normal that the site is completely new; it is notable that climate change is not mentioned on any one of Trump’s new pages.

    • Sea levels ‘could rise higher than a three-storey building due to climate change’

      The last time ocean temperatures were this warm, sea levels were up to nine metres higher than they are today, according to the findings of a new study, which were described as “extremely worrying” by one expert.

      The researchers took samples of sediment from 83 different sites around the world, and these “natural thermometers” enabled them to work out what the sea surface temperature had been more than 125,000 years ago. This revealed that over the course of some 4,000 years the oceans had got about 0.5C warmer, reaching about the same temperatures as are found now – after a similar increase achieved largely as a result of human-induced climate change in little over a century.

    • Indonesia to fight against forest fires starting early this year

      January is not over yet, but two regencies in Riau province have already declared emergency alert statuses to tackle any potential forest fires, which could get out of control when the weather gets drier in upcoming months. The decision made by Rokan Hulu regency and Dumai city to raise their alert statuses, which would allow the central government to send aid to the regions, has been lauded by government officials in Jakarta. Indonesia has learned the hard way that failing to act as fast as possible to address forest fires would cost it dearly. In 2015, massive forest fires ravaged Sumatra and Kalimantan and caused diplomatic tensions as cities in Malaysia and Singapore, were covered by smoky haze for weeks. With the weather in 2017 expected to be drier than in 2016, the country could not afford to risk another disaster. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has called on other fire-prone regions in Sumatra and Kalimantan to follow the initiatives of Rokan and Dumai before the dry season starts in late January and runs until the end of March, the period hot spots could quickly turn into fires if treated late. A break from fires is expected to take place between April and May this year when rain pours down on the country, but threats of fire could recur from June to late October in haze-producing regions like Sumatra, Riau and Kalimantan, said BNPT spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. By setting emergency standby statuses early, regions could ask for aid…more detail

    • CU Boulder professor helps assess danger of primates’ extinction

      Three-quarters of the world’s primates are declining in population and 60 percent are threatened with extinction, according to a new study to which a University of Colorado professor is a contributing author.

      “At the rate we’re going, we’re not taking care of our home very well,” said study coauthor Joanna Lambert, a professor in CU’s Department of Biological Anthropology. “The next few years will be critical.”

      The study, “Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter,” was published Wednesday in Science Advances.

    • Government ‘tried to bury’ its own alarming report on climate change

      The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.

      The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.

      But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.

  • Finance

    • HUD suspends FHA mortgage insurance rate cut an hour after Trump takes office

      An hour after Donald Trump assumed the presidency Friday, his administration indefinitely suspended a pending rate cut for mortgage insurance required for FHA-backed loans, which are popular with first-time home buyers and those with poor credit.

      The move by the Department of Housing and Urban Development — one of the first acts of Trump’s administration — reversed a policy announced in the waning days of the Obama presidency that would have trimmed insurance premiums for typical borrowers by hundreds of dollars a year.

      Some Republicans expressed concern that the rate cut could cost taxpayers if the loans started to go sour and the Federal Housing Administration was unable to cover the losses. The agency needed a $1.7-billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury in 2013 after it expanded its role last decade after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

    • Cross-party group of MPs plots to halt hard Brexit plans

      A powerful cross-party group of MPs is plotting to thwart Theresa May’s attempts to drive through a hard Brexit amid rising fears that UK businesses could soon have to pay huge export tariffs on goods they sell to the EU.

    • Lloyds of London are leaving London

      After three centuries, the Lloyds of London will no longer be “of London.” The company is moving its headquarters, its CEO Inga Beale confirmed on Friday.

      Talking to Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Beale confirmed that following Prime Minister May’s announcement last Tuesday, Lloyds was going ahead with its contingency plan.

      Many insurance companies will be moving a big part of their operations, since passporting rights and licensing are key to the sectors’ business in Europe. Lloyds stands to lose as much as 11% of its premiums that come from Europe or little under 1bn Euros.

    • Sneak Preview Of Trumpism In Action

      Trump can break trade deals and impose tariffs but businesses can relocate to continue enjoying free trade and avoiding tariffs. Trump urged UK to jump off a cliff with Brexit and now UK is reaping their own whirlwind.

    • Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending

      A report in the Hill details the extent to which the incoming administration of Donald Trump wants to slash the federal budget. Big cuts to major government departments are mentioned, as are cuts to cultural programs that receive federal funding.

      “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized,” the Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports, “while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” In total, the administration aims to cut spending by $10.5 trillion over the next decade.

    • Trump team prepares dramatic cuts

      Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending.

      Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

      The changes they propose are dramatic.

      The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

    • President Trump’s first White House petition: release your tax returns

      That didn’t take long. A petition for new US president Donald Trump to release his tax returns has already appeared on whitehouse.gov, the administration’s official website. In fact, it’s the first petition to appear on the newly-updated website.

    • The Great Trump Heist Is Underway

      Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul and reality-television superstar, descended the steps of the Capitol around 11 am to take the oath of office as president of the United States. An audacious looting of the country had begun.

      In attendance were several corporate titans on the verge of the biggest merger and acquisition of all time—the ExxonMobil CEO who may soon take control of the country’s foreign relations, the fast-food CEO ready to take over the Labor Department, and the handful of powerful Wall Street titans who have been appointed to almost every critical economic post. Not least is Trump himself, who brazenly decided to essentially remain in control of his corporation while simultaneously directing the affairs of the country.

      In true Trump style, he painted a picture perfectly at odds with this reality during his inauguration speech. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” Trump declared. “Washington flourished—but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered—but the jobs left, and the factories closed.” “That all changes—starting right here, and right now,” Trump declared.

    • Dollar slump; Samsung’s blame game; McDonald’s earnings

      U.S. stock futures are declining.

      Investors are putting their money into safe haven sovereign bonds, causing yields to fall across the board.

      Markets had been rallying since Trump’s election in November. All the main U.S. indexes hit all-time highs earlier this year.

    • Putting Rubber On The Road

      Trump is serious about wrecking the world’s trading system. After all, his business largely doesn’t import or export, so what does he care? Here is the first evidence of a critical conflict of interest. While he’s actively sabotaging world trade and global businesses, he’s more concerned that the press report extravagant claims about attendance at his inauguration than dealing with important issues, like running the government.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump begins with action on Obamacare, regulation freeze and confirmations

      resident Trump spent the evening of his first day in office ordering all federal departments and agencies to find ways to ease the economic burden of President Obama’s health care plan as Congress works to repeal and replace it.

      Vice President Pence swore in Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ordered government agencies to freeze any regulations that haven’t already been published.

      “Thank you, it’s a great day,” Trump said after the signings in the Oval Office, before leaving for a set of inaugural balls.

      The first-day executive actions served to signal a marked departure from the policies of the Obama administration but provided little indication of the direction Trump would chart.

    • Trump draws far smaller inaugural crowd than Obama

      Far fewer people attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday than his predecessor’s swearing-in eight years ago.

      Photos of the National Mall from President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 show a teeming crowd stretching from the West Front of the US Capitol all the way to the Washington Monument. Photos taken from the same position on Friday show large swaths of empty space on the Mall.

    • From Obama to Trump: No Ordinary Lurch

      One thing to remember about Trump’s flagrant defiance of institutional norms is that it has worked for him. Whether or not he’s correct that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any votes, it’s certainly true that his supporters on the Mall today saw his political incorrectness as a feature rather than a bug. “He’s not the most polished guy we’ve ever had, but he says it like it is, and for a lot of us that’s a breath of fresh air,” says Gerald Turner, who owns an asphalt business in Knoxville. Turner suggested that Trump’s unorthodox style could even help him unite the country in a way that Bush and Obama couldn’t: “I know the press doesn’t think that, but the press has been wrong a few times, hasn’t it?”

    • NAFTA

      The complete inability of Trump to remember the bad old days of trade wars means USA is bound to bring them back and we all lose. Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. What a waste of time. I was there. Those weren’t the good old days. The enemy of jobs these days is lack of education and an inability of products of the USAian education system which cranks out people suited to the old economy rather than the future. I’m sure DeVos will wreck the rickety education system with her war on universal public education. Already teachers aren’t paid enough and she wants to pay them less unless they are working in schools reserved for her rich friends. Expect some circling of the drain before USA goes down hard with self-inflicted wounds.

    • Pamela Anderson: Hillary’s ‘Truthful Words’ Influenced Election, Not WikiLeaks

      Actress Pamela Anderson said President-elect Trump should pardon WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, adding that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, influenced the outcome of the presidential election, not the document-leaking website.

      WikiLeaks posted hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Podesta’s account during the presidential race between Clinton and Trump.

      Earlier this month, Anderson wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to pardon Assange.

      “He is protecting and informing us all. He has no agenda but to help end corruption of governments and empower people,” she wrote to Obama.

    • Trump claims media ‘dishonest’ over crowd photos

      President Donald Trump has accused the media of dishonesty over the number of people attending his inauguration.

      Mr Trump was speaking after photographs were published appearing to show more people attended the inauguration of his predecessor Barack Obama in 2009.

      Mr Trump’s press secretary said it had been “the largest audience to ever see an inauguration” even though figures he cited add up to under 750,000 people.

      He said the new US administration would hold the media accountable.

      On Saturday, millions in the US and around the world took part in protests to highlight women’s rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration.

    • We could’ve avoided President Donald Trump. Now, we must learn the lessons

      The road to President Trump was long and bumpy. There were many turns not taken, countless alternative routes that would have spared us this outcome. Instead, we kept going, corruption, infighting and sheer obliviousness stopping us changing course.

      What could have been different? There are a thousand possibilities. You could start with the long decay of the US news media into a branch of the entertainment industry, primed to seize on Trump’s celebrity. A wiser society would have demanded better, resisted more vocally, criticised more intelligently.

      Or the rise of Silicon Valley, its hypercapitalist, libertarian ethos helping to weaken traditional sources of information. We now suffer pandemic attention deficit disorder, fake news, hackable everything, cyberwar, and social media bullies, of whom Trump is bully-in-chief. An internet run as a public commons rather than an ad-driven free-for-all would have had very different social consequences. We missed that turning long ago.

    • Donald Trump Quoted Batman Villain Bane in Speech, Briefly Swiped 2009 Barack Obama Inauguration Photo

      Bane lives?! Donald Trump accidentally quoted Batman villain Bane during his inauguration speech in Washington, D.C., on Friday, January 20. Watch the mashup in the video above!

      Trump’s remarks were similar to what Bane (Tom Hardy) said to the people of Gotham before he viciously took control of their city.

    • Donald Trump Plagiarized Bane in His Inaugural Speech

      Donald Trump officially became president today, and in an inaugural address he promised many things, some of which may sound familiar, because they were directly lifted from the D.C. comics villain Bane.

      Compare Trump’s declaration that, “Today’s ceremony, however has very special meaning. Because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you… the people. For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”

    • Some Trump protesters to face rioting charges

      Federal prosecutors say most of the approximately 230 protesters arrested on Inauguration Day will be charged with felony rioting.

      The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The people who were arrested are appearing in court on Saturday in Washington.

    • Some things never change! Obama heads back out on the golf course for a round on exclusive estate owned by billionaire Larry Ellison on his first full day of retirement (at least he’ll have time to work on his putting)
    • With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift

      President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

      In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

      He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

    • White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds

      “That’s what you guys should be writing and covering,” new White House press secretary Sean Spicer angrily lectured reporters on Saturday during his first remarks from the podium of the press briefing room.

      He was referring to the delay in Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, but the comment came after a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.

    • Trump’s Flack Said a Lot of Wrong Stuff. Nerds Ain’t Having It

      Excuse me, are you the incoming spokesperson for President Donald Trump? You are? Great. You should hear this: If you try to mislead the American people you will incur the ridicule of Twitter, period. They will take you to task—and they’ll do it with Star Trek references.

      First off, some background: Earlier today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference—or, maybe more properly, issued a statement—and instead of discussing Trump’s speech to the CIA or the Women’s March events worldwide, Spicer attacked the media for their reporting of the crowd numbers from Inauguration Day. He said magnetometers kept crowds off the Mall in Washington (not true) and that newfangled, never-before-used ground coverings made the empty spaces look more sparse (also not true). And Spicer added that “this was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

    • Trump team doubles down on media criticism

      Members of Donald Trump’s team continued Sunday to blast the media for its coverage of the crowd sizes at the president’s inauguration.

      Trump’s top aide and the White House chief of staff took to the Sunday show circuit to defend the president and White House press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom accused the press of lying about the number of people who attended the inauguration.

      Trump’s team hit the media Sunday for focusing on crowd sizes, and accused members of the press of trying to delegitimize his presidency.

      Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Spicer provided “alternative facts” to reporters during his press briefing on Saturday afternoon.

    • Donald Trump’s presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway says Sean Spicer gave ‘alternative facts’ at first press briefing

      When questioned on why Mr Spicer provided a ‘falsehood’ about crowd size at the Inauguration, Ms Conway responded that the press were being ‘overly dramatic’

    • Kellyanne Conway: lies are “alternative facts” and if the press says otherwise, there’s gonna be trouble

      Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer inaugurated his first day on the job by telling easily falsifiable lies about the relative sizes of the Trump inauguration crowds and those of the Obama administration.

      To its credit, the press has responded with vigor: the New York Times called Spicer’s statements false claims (though stopped short of calling them lies).

      When asked to explain why Spicer devoted the president’s first press conference to lying about petty bullshit like crowd-sizes, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted that Spicer’s remarks were not lies, but were, rather, “alternative facts.” She then threatened the press if they failed to accept this, saying “If we’re going to keep referring to the press secretary in those types of terms I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”

    • White House website touts Melania Trump’s modeling and jewelry line

      Visitors to the newly revamped White House website get more than a simple rundown of first lady Melania Trump’s charitable works and interests — they also get a list of her magazine cover appearances and details on her jewelry line at QVC.

    • Donald Trump Fires All Foreign US Ambassadors

      Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States, all foreign ambassadors were fired and with no concrete replacement ambassadors lined up.

      Mr Trump had demanded that every ambassador in countries all over the world, who had been appointed by former President Barack Obama, were told to leave their offices by midday on 20 January and with no grace period.

      His transition team had said on 23 December there would be “no exceptions” for ambassadors requesting to extend their postings past Inauguration day, in contrast with other Presidents, even for ambassadors with young children.

    • The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun

      The effort to impeach President Donald John Trump is already underway.

      At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment went live at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House.

      The organizers behind the campaign, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, are hinging their case on Trump’s insistence on maintaining ownership of his luxury hotel and golf course business while in office. Ethics experts have warned that his financial holdings could potentially lead to constitutional violations and undermine public faith in his decision-making.

    • There’s Already a Campaign to Impeach President Donald Trump

      Two civil rights groups trying to boot President Donald Trump from the nation’s highest office have launched an online campaign to get the brand new commander-in-chief impeached.

      Their website, www.impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org, went live on Friday just as Trump was officially sworn in. It is run by two groups, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, which believe Trump’s possible conflicts of interest are grounds for his ouster, the Washington Post reports.

      “The nation is now witnessing a massive corruption of the presidency, far worse than Watergate,” the campaign’s website says. “From the moment he assumed the office, President Donald Trump has been in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. The President is not above the law. We will not allow President Trump to profit from the presidency at the expense of our democracy.”

    • The Women’s March movement is taking place on every continent, even Antarctica

      Today, millions of women across the world are taking part in the Women’s March movement, to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.” The marches are taking place in over 60 countries, spanning every continent — even Antarctica.

    • Women’s marches draw huge crowds as Trump takes office

      Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in the nation’s capital and cities across the country Saturday in protest of Donald Trump on the first full day of his presidency.

      Dubbed the Women’s March on Washington, the event spurred by a Facebook page led to “sister marches” in major cities around the world, including Paris, London and Sydney.
      More than 2.5 million people participated in marches across the U.S. on Saturday, according to a review of official and unofficial estimates from the nation’s largest cities.

    • Massive Women’s March on Washington Gives Voice to Roar of ‘Resistance’

      It was a call to action, a primal scream, an arts and crafts project and a massive group therapy session all rolled into one.

      The Women’s March on Washington brought an estimated 500,000-plus women and men to Independence Avenue near the National Mall to raise voices and fists against the policies and the personal behavior of the nation’s newly minted president, Donald Trump.

      Speakers during the marathon five-hour rally that preceded the march to the Washington Monument included actresses America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson and veteran activists Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. Filmmaker Michael Moore led attendees in a recitation of the telephone number for the main Congressional switchboard as he urged them to call their representatives every day on various action items.

    • Ex-CIA director: Trump should be ashamed of himself

      Former CIA Director John Brennan was reportedly “deeply saddened” by President Trump’s remarks at the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday.

      According to former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro, Brennan believes that Trump “should be ashamed of himself” for his “display of self-aggrandizement.”

      “Former CIA director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself,” Shapiro said in a pair of tweets.

    • We need an alternative to Trump’s nationalism. It isn’t the status quo

      A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

      One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

      However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost. Project Fear in the UK, the troika in continental Europe and the unholy alliance of Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the surveillance apparatus in the United States are its manifestations.

    • Watchdog group to file lawsuit over foreign payments to Trump businesses

      A liberal watchdog group plans to file a lawsuit Monday, contending that President Trump is violating the Constitution by continuing to accept payments from foreign governments at the businesses operated by his family.

      “It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office,” said Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW. “He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action.”

      At issue: The foreign “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which bans payments or gifts from foreign governments.

    • Even the firm that hired actors to cheer Trump’s campaign launch had to wait to be paid

      On the morning of his inauguration, a remarkable coda to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

      Carrie Levine of the Center for Public Integrity found a report from the Federal Election Commission examining an under-reported aspect of Trump’s campaign launch. Trump’s announcement, held on the lower level of the Trump Tower lobby, was framed by cheering crowds watching from the floors above. Some of the members of that crowd, it was soon reported, were apparently paid to be there.

      The Hollywood Reporter sussed out the evidence. An email from a firm called Extra Mile, soliciting people to be paid $50 to attend “an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making.” Instagram photos of an actor in attendance that day. A reference in that email to Gotham Government Relations, the firm that hired Extra Mile and which Trump had used in the past.

    • Pussy Power Fights Back

      Nearly 3 million Americans, women and plenty of men, cared enough to turn out in dozens of cities across the country to march for a broad human-rights agenda. Hundreds of thousands more marched worldwide, from Antartica to Canberra to Dublin and Nairobi. In Washington, where I marched, organizers expected 200,000 women; they got an estimated 1 million—four times as many people as showed up for Trump’s inauguration here on Friday. You know those parade stands that sat empty along Trump’s parade route? Today many of them were full, as marchers made good use of them, to sit and rest, or take a moment to watch the incredible crowd, every race, every age, every religion, and men—so many men!—protest our sad new president. Where Occupy Wall Street protesters once chanted, “We are the 99 percent,” marchers today adopted the rhythm to yell, “We are the popular vote!” And it felt good.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amos Yee: the childish thinker trying to rock a nation [Ed: Calling a 15-y-o “childish” and pretending Singapore is some king of Heaven rather than an autocracy of gagging]

      His belief that free speech should be unbridled, and his hope to continue criticising Singapore and the government without fear of persecution, is driving his attempt to seek political asylum in America. Indeed, it is no secret that Yee was persecuted for the content of his online posts, but the good order of Singaporean society practically required that to be the case.

    • Ark: Survival Mod That Replaces Dinos With Pokemon DMCA’d, Possibly By Another Rival Modding Group

      This story is a rather fast-moving, so let’s dig in. Ark: Survival is a survival game in which you hunt dinosaurs. Being a PC game, there is a fairly healthy modding community working with the game to expand it, make slight alterations to it, and even inject other instances of pop culture into it. Case in point is the Pokemon Evolved mod, which replaces the dinos that are to be hunted with, you guessed it, pokemon. As you probably also have already guessed, the mod was hit with a DMCA notice and was briefly taken out of the Steam Workshop.

      You would be forgiven at this point if you immediately assumed that it was the folks at either Nintendo or The Pokemon Company, both of which have been noticed policing the Pokemon IP aggressively. It was therefore head scratching that much of the reporting was peppered with caution over assigning blame for the DMCA, such as was the case in the original PC Gamer post linked above.

    • N.J. judge holds hearing in press censorship case

      A court hearing on press censorship unfolded over more than two hours on Friday, pitting a newspaper’s right to publish sensitive information against the state’s right to keep it secret.

      Superior Court Judge Lawrence DeBello heard arguments in Trenton over a temporary court order barring The Trentonian newspaper from publishing articles based on a confidential child-abuse complaint obtained by one of its reporters.

    • The “Fake News” Censorship Industry
    • Correctiv Will Help Facebook Detect Fake News

      The social network commissioned the Correctiv research network to identify the false news. But does Facebook assume its editorial responsibility?

      Criticism for the spread of fake news rained on Facebook without stopping, and now that company responds with a concrete proposal to stop them, at least in Germany with the help of Correctiv research network.

      This is a precautionary measure in the run-up to Germany’s general elections in October 2017. After the massive fake news scandals in the US, Germany fears a similar phenomenon that could influence the outcome of the election.

    • The real secret of Chinese internet censorship? Distraction

      If you ever want to annoy western policymakers or politicians, then here is a surefire way to do it. Tell them that the only government in the world that really understands the internet is the Chinese communist regime. And if you want to add a killer punch, add the assertion that almost everything we think we know about Chinese management of the net is either banal (all that stuff about the great firewall, paranoia about keywords such as “Falun Gong”, “democracy”, etc) or just plain wrong. Having thus lit the fuse, retreat to a safe distance and enjoy the ensuing outburst of righteous indignation.

    • Cheong Wa Dae’s censorship

      President Park Geun-hye lashed out at the independent counsel, Sunday, for its investigation into an alleged blacklist of cultural figures who are critical of her policies.

      In a statement through her lawyers, Park denied she gave instructions to create such a list. She even vowed legal action against the media that reported that she gave orders to create the list of anti-government cultural figures a month after the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking.

      Park’s furious reaction came after two former key presidential aides Kim Ki-choon and Cho Yoon-sun were arrested Saturday for their alleged involvement in creating the list. Kim was Park’s chief of staff and Cho, who resigned as culture minister after being arrested, was senior presidential secretary for political affairs at the time.

    • Amos Yee complaining he’ll be detained in US longer than being jailed in S’pore

      Amos Yee, the 18-year-old teenager who ran away from Singapore to seek political asylum in the United States, is facing the prospect of a prolonged detention that exceeds the number of days he had been jailed in Singapore.

      This was after he came face-to-face with the reality that the world doesn’t care about him or his case.

      In a Facebook post published on Jan. 22, 2017, Yee ranted that he will be kept in detention in the US longer than he was jailed in Singapore as the court takes its time deciding on his case.

    • President Donald Trump parades through Washington as unprecedented clashes erupt just a few blocks away

      When Donald Trump made his way to the White House after he had been sworn in as the country’s 45th President, he may, or may not, have been able to detect the whiff of burning.

      Just a couple of hours before Mr Trump sat and watched a military parade and prepared to head off to the traditional inaugural balls, protesters had clashed with riot police in streets not far away, an event unprecedented at a presidential inauguration. Protesters set fire to at least one vehicle and smashed windows, while police fired tear gas and pushed people back with shields. More than 200 people were arrested and six police officers were hurt.

      When he spoke to the nation on Friday afternoon for the first time after taking the 35-word oath with which he became president, Mr Trump delivered a populist, nationalist rallying cry in which he vowed that “this moment on, it’s going to be America first”.

    • Fighting Censorship with ProtonMail Encrypted Email Over Tor

      As part of our efforts to continue protecting user privacy, we are launching a Tor hidden service to combat censorship and surveillance of ProtonMail users.

      In the past two years, ProtonMail has grown enormously, especially after the recent US election, and today we are the world’s largest encrypted email service with over 2 million users. We have come a long way since our user community initially crowdfunded the project. ProtonMail today is much larger in scope than what was originally envisioned when our founding team met at CERN in 2013.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 1-in-10 people do not own a single book, but UK households have 8 web-connected devices

      New research shows that one-in-10 people in the UK do not own any books, although many households have over eight devices connected to the internet.

      Technology has become so intertwined with domestic life that almost 50% of households with children say they often send texts to each other, even when they are all at home.

      Research by the National Literacy Trust found that 85% of those aged 8-15 own a games console, and 81% have a mobile phone.

    • How to Protest Without Sacrificing Your Digital Privacy

      There will be many watchful eyes taking notice of your activities this weekend. On Thursday, several days of planned protests started in Washington DC in anticipation of the inauguration of President-elect Trump. Tomorrow, the Women’s March on Washington will kick off, with thousands expected to turn up.

      Naturally, law enforcement will likely be heavily surveilling these protests and others with all sorts of tech and spying gear. And it’s not just the cops: when much of a protest is broadcast via tweets or live-steaming, those watching may also want to digitally target protesters, perhaps by identifying them publicly.

    • Your ‘anonmyized’ web browsing history may not be anonymous

      Researchers have written computer programs that found patterns among anonymized data about web traffic and used those patterns to identify individual users. The researchers note web users with active social media are vulnerable to the attack.

    • Edward Snowden Tweet Hints That The NSA Can Access Your ‘Secret Thoughts & Feelings’ – Telepathy?

      As most of you know, Edward Snowden is the former intelligence contractor who leaked the NSA’s mass surveillance program and discovered some of the most solid evidence for the existence of clandestine black budget operations. But did we really need the leak in order to believe this? Prior to his leaks, the issue was still considered a conspiracy theory by many, despite the fact that there was still good evidence for these programs prior to Snowden’s revelations.

    • Locations are hard

      Turns out that figuring out people’s locations is hard, especially if you want to try to reduce the amount of work someone has to do or if they are likely to be using a mobile phone.

      For some reason, I’d thought that this was already a solved problem, so was somewhat surprised when feedback on a mockup made me question that assumption. After pinging Máirín Duffy to find out if we had access to a database of countries, and how they break down into cities/states/provinces/etc, she realized that we needed a longer discussion.

    • A response to ‘Strong Encryption and Death’

      To be honest, I didn’t actually go through with this project as there were just too many variables that I hadn’t figured out. There is a lot of trust involved in this that potentially requires a very small number of people (2) to really hose things up. It’s not that I wouldn’t trust my “trusted friends” with the responsibility but it potentially makes them targets and two is just a really low threshold for an adversary to recover this information.

      What really threw me was that the author also included a copy of his private key in case they couldn’t locate it on his computer to, I’m assuming here, access other data. I have one word for this: NOPE!

      Okay, short of the private key thing, what was proposed was quite logical. Like I said above, I had a very similar idea a while back. Springboarding from that idea, I’d like to propose another layer of security into this whole process.

    • Lavabit relaunches secure email service, encrypted mail goes open-source

      Lavabit has resurrected itself from the ashes to once again provide secure email services in a post-Snowden world.

      Ladar Levison, CEO and owner of Lavabit, chose the US Inauguration Day to announce the firm’s relaunch, saying in a statement to users that the email service will once again become available in order to protect “freedom, justice, and liberty,” as secured by the US Constitution.

    • Lavabit Reloaded

      Former Lavabit users will be able to access their accounts in “Trustful” mode and update their credentials to the new DIME standard. Anyone who wants a future Lavabit account can pre-register for our next release available in all security modes. Anyone can access our free, open source library, and associated command line tools capable of creating, and handling the new DIME standard. Anyone with a domain can deploy Magma or implement their own encrypted DIME compatible server. These are just the first steps of many as our implicit goals are to build the graphical clients for Windows, Mac OS X/iOS, and Linux/Android and help others implement this new technology.

    • Encrypted Email Service Once Used by Edward Snowden Relaunches

      In 2013, Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, took the defiant step of shutting down the company’s service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers’ communications.

      The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit’s most prominent users — Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service’s SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden’s password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden’s account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well.

      Lavabit had 410,000 user accounts at the time.

    • Android permissions and hypocrisy

      There’s no reason to assume that they’re being malicious here. The reasons that these permissions exist at all is that there are legitimate reasons to use them, and Kaspersky may well have good reason to request them. But they don’t explain that, and they do literally everything that their blog post criticises (including explicitly requesting the phone’s IMEI). Why should we trust a Russian company more than a Chinese one?

      The moral here isn’t that Kaspersky are evil or that Meitu are virtuous. It’s that talking about application permissions is difficult and we don’t have the language to explain to users what our apps are doing and why they’re doing it, and Google are still falling far short of where they should be in terms of making this transparent to users. But the other moral is that you shouldn’t complain about the permissions an app requires when you’re asking for even more of them because it just makes you look stupid and bad at your job.

    • Android apps, IMEIs and privacy

      There’s been a sudden wave of people concerned about the Meitu selfie app’s use of unique phone IDs. Here’s what we know: the app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China. It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.

      Why would anybody want these IDs? The simple answer is that app authors mostly make money by selling advertising, and advertisers like to know who’s seeing their advertisements. The more app views they can tie to a single individual, the more they can track that user’s response to different kinds of adverts and the more targeted (and, they hope, more profitable) the advertising towards that user. Using the same ID between multiple apps makes this easier, and so using a device-level ID rather than an app-level one is preferred. The IMEI is the most stable ID on Android devices, persisting even across factory resets.

    • About backdoors in Signal and other apps

      tl;dr: There is a “backdoor” in Signal nobody cares about, only Google can use it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How We Can Work Together To Keep Our Nation’s Youth Out Of The Prison System

      Last summer on July 19, a then 14 year-old Bresha Meadows was arrested for the alleged homicide of her father. On January 20, she’ll stand in a hearing as a 15 year-old who has spent 175 days in jail. According to her relatives, Bresha responded in self-defense to her father Jonathan Meadows’s menacing abuse on his family, specifically Bresha’s mother Brandi. In 2011, she filed a civil domestic violence protection order against her husband for fear that he would continue to torment her and her children.

      Despite a history of abuse, Bresha Meadows is being tried for aggravated murder. If convicted, the maximum sentence she would serve would order for her to be released at the age of 21. Although she no longer faces the possibility of a life sentence, activists are dedicated to an agenda that demands her freedom.

    • Protesters Face Increasing Criminalization in Trump Era

      Changes aim to hit protestors with criminal records and beefed up fines and pardoning their accidental killing.

      Donald Trump was officially sworn in Friday as one of the most unpopular U.S. presidents in recent history, sparking off widespread protests around the world. Resistance through protest and mass organization in the U.S. is likely to become more difficult and increasingly regarded as a criminal act. Trump has voiced his intolerance for peaceful protest and a number of Republican-backed state laws have been proposed to crack down on peaceful demonstrations.

    • Commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence is not enough

      In early July 2016, Chelsea Manning was found to be unresponsive in her cell at the prison barracks of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she was serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking secret military archives and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. She barely survived.

      The military responded by punishing her with solitary confinement, which led to another unsuccessful suicide attempt. For people who had long followed Manning’s case, one thing was becoming clear: she was likely to take her own life if President Barack Obama didn’t commute her sentence.

      During her trial in 2013, it was obvious that Ms Manning was clearly suffering from gender dysphoria. She had been struggling with it while being deployed in Iraq during the war at a time when being openly gay was grounds for discharge from the US military. Her conviction meant that she could finally be seen as Chelsea Manning, but her struggle to get gender reassignment surgery, which included a hunger strike, and being forced to cut her hair to male standards owing to prison rules, continued to affect her mental health.

    • Policing For Dummies: DOJ/Baltimore PD Edition

      Apologies to everyone in America. The Department of Justice can’t fix what’s wrong with the nation’s police departments. It’s up to those departments to make the changes and stick to them. There has to be a desire to change, otherwise all we’ll end up with is better documentation of police misconduct and excessive force.

      A police department has to fall pretty far before the DOJ is willing to step in. Consent agreements follow reports — all of which can be described as “scathing”. These follow DOJ investigations in which it’s routinely discovered the officers employed by the police department either don’t know the first thing about constitutionally-compliant policing… or just don’t care.

    • Jogger punched into Acocks Green canal by thug, escaped by speaking ARABIC

      A jogger has told how he was almost drowned by a canal-path thug – and only escaped by speaking to them in Arabic.

      Dad-of-two Lee Skinner, 38, was punched in the face and knocked into the freezing water as he ran past five hooded youths in Acocks Green .

    • SWEDEN CRUMBLING: Demands for military intervention as thugs turn Malmo into ‘no-go zone’

      Launching a seething attack on the red-green parties in Malmo, Magnus Olsson said it was time to call in the military to end the surge in violent crimes that have been sweeping the city.

      Painting a blake picture of Sweden’s third largest city, the opposition politician blasted Malmo has lost enough of its citizens to shootouts, grenade attacks and murders.

      Speaking to Expressen, Mr Olsson also said there was a great lack of police officers in Sweden, which means officers could benefit from the armed forces’ resources.

    • Michael Moore and Mark Ruffalo Lead Inauguration Protest at Manhattan’s Trump Hotel

      With organizers and speakers taking to a stage set up in front of the Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle, crowds funneled onto Central Park West bearing signs that read “Hate Ain’t Great,” “Not My President” and “This Is Not Normal,” among other slogans. The gathering stretched some four blocks deep, with one estimate pegging the number of attendees at as much as 20,000. A big screen broadcast the speeches for people too far back to see.Baldwin broke out the Trump impression he’d honed on “Saturday Night Live,” riffing on Trump’s ties to Russia and on some of the seamier claims in the intelligence dossier that hit the press last week. Imagining Trump standing in the middle of the rally with no access to a bathroom, Baldwin-as-Trump told the crowd, “When I get to the Russian consulate after this, I’m gonna have a really, really long pee.”

    • How Unworldly Are The Pretend Security People Of The TSA Who Grope You At The Airport?

      It seems the repurposed mall food court workers now providing “security” (aka a massive, pointless slowdown and search of passengers) need a memo instructing them in the most basic basics…

    • Texas lawmaker polls mosque leaders on Sharia law support

      A Texas lawmaker is asking state mosque leaders to pledge support for the “safety” of former Muslims in a mailed survey being condemned by Islamic civil rights groups.

      A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Thursday that he told mosque leaders to ignore Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann.

      One question asks respondents to renounce any possible persecution that those leaving Islam could face. Others inquired about renouncing “institutionalized Sharia law” and gauged support for having the U.S. State Department label the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.

    • Muslim clerics attack rally for missing Pakistani activists

      Pakistani police say Muslim clerics attacked a rally calling for the release of five anti-Taliban activists and bloggers who went missing earlier this month.

      Police official Niaz Kundi says the clerics hurled bricks at the rally in the southern city of Karachi on Thursday without wounding anyone, and were later dispersed by police.

    • Europe’s Islam problem and U.S. immigration policy

      I come from the American Left. I am a feminist. I am a gay rights activist. These commitments form the core of my professional and personal life. Consequently, the argument I am about to make for tighter U.S. controls on the immigration of Muslims may surprise some readers. It shouldn’t. Islam is endemically antithetical to the well-being of gay people—primarily the people about whom and for whom I write. American liberals don’t want to hear this argument, however, because they share, ironically, with American conservatives a rather unreflective commitment to the defense of religion at all costs. Conservatives think the answer to most any problem is their religion. Increasingly, liberals seem to think that the answer is simply more religion—something they like to call diversity.

    • Piers Akerman: Unholy matrimony and the Islamic culture’s hidden stain

      In the 2015-16 financial year alone, the Australian Federal Police investigated 69 ­incidents of forced marriage, more than double that investigated the previous year.

      Just last week, an imam, a Muslim religious leader, faced a Melbourne court after allegedly forcing a child into marriage, while the 34-year-old “husband” of the minor appeared via videolink charged with sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16.

      Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday over an alleged forced marriage at Noble Park, in Melbourne’s southeast, along with the husband, who cannot be identified. The latter is also charged with being a party to a forced marriage.

    • The Saudi women afraid to go home

      “This is it,” Arwa said as she sat in the US immigration office on the outskirts of Houston, Texas last month. Having fled Saudi Arabia two years earlier, her 7 a.m. appointment would reveal if her application for asylum had been successful or whether she would be forced to leave America.

      “What I really want is just to live normally without fear and not have to pretend to be somebody else, that’s all I ever want,” Arwa told CNN on the eve of her appointment.

      “What really scares me is that I wouldn’t get this asylum, and I would be returned and I would die young, and that I would lose everything that I tried to build, that I would just fail.”

    • Man in Sweden ‘live-streamed gang rape on Facebook’

      The men have been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of gang-raping a woman, after one allegedly live-streamed the crime on a closed Facebook page.

      According to Sweden’s Aftonbladet tabloid, the alleged crime took place in an apartment in the city of Uppsala early on Sunday morning. The victim was reportedly close to unconscious.

    • Sweden gang rape ‘live-streamed on Facebook’

      A gang rape that was reportedly live-streamed on Facebook has led to the arrest of three people.

      The trio was detained after the alleged attack in an apartment in Uppsala, Sweden, on Saturday night.

      The crime was broadcast on a closed Facebook group, according to Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet.

    • Another teenager shot in Malmö on Saturday night

      Yet another teenager has been shot in Sweden’s third city of Malmö — but this time the youth’s life was saved because he was wearing a bullet-proof jacket.
      According to police, the man was shot several times, suffering severe but not life-threatening injuries to his leg.

      The police were called at around a quarter to eight on Saturday evening by a man working at a grocery shop in the area around the Lindängen housing estate.

    • Man dies after coming to Stockholm hospital with gunshot wounds

      A man has died in Stockholm after turning up at a hospital in the Swedish capital with gunshot wounds.

      The 25-year-old came injured to Karolinska University Hospital on Sunday evening, but died later that night.

      Police have been cautious in releasing details about the incident, saying only that he was shot “in the Stockholm area” and came to the hospital without the help of the police or an ambulance.

    • I Had All of My Electronics (That I had at the time) Seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

      After my trip in Hamburg, Germany, for the 33rd Chaos Communication Congress, I left Germany for the United States for a short vacation to visit family and friends. Upon my arrival in the United States, I was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) where my belongings were picked apart and I was asked lots of strange, some offensive questions about my personal life. I refused to answer any questions and instead gave them the contact information for my lawyer. They demanded I decrypt my phone so they could “make sure there isn’t any bad stuff on there”. When I told them no, they said they would seize all of my electronics and search all of them for “contraband”. I persisted and they seized about $2,000 worth of electronics and told me I would “get them back”. We’ll see about that. In total I was detained over 3 hours by CBP alone, and despite that CBP documentation says that I can notify someone of my detainment if I have been detained for more than 2 hours, I was not allowed to even after that point. This seems to have been a violation of CBP policy.

    • Anupam Kher dedicates poem for Kashmiri Hindu and Pandits’ 27 Years of Exile.

      Kashmiri Pandits are a minority in the Muslim majority Valley. Many reportedly started being killed by militants in 1990, prompting fearful Pandits to migrate to the plains of the peaceful Jammu region of the state. Every day, dozens of Pandit families would pick up whatever little they could and cross the Banihal tunnel to reach Jammu, where they had to live in camps and tents and in inhuman conditions.

    • UK woman imprisoned in Iran has conviction upheld in appeals court

      A British-Iranian woman sentenced to five years in jail in Iran on unspecific charges relating to national security has had her conviction upheld in the appeals court, according to judiciary officials.

      Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency’s charitable arm, appealed against her sentence earlier this month in what was her last legal opportunity to challenge it.

      “Her sentence has been confirmed,” Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the judiciary spokesperson, told reporters in Tehran on Sunday, the semi-official Isna news agency reported.

    • Central Java city renames Pork Festival after protests by Muslim groups

      Organisers of a culinary event named the Pork Festival in the Central Java city of Semarang have been forced to rename it following protests from Islamic groups.

      The event will now be known as Imlek Culinary Festival. Imlek is the local name for Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 28 this year.

      The Islamic groups met the festival’s committee at the Semarang Police station to discuss the event, which will be held at the Sri Ratu Supermarket in Semarang on Jan 23 to 29.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Disruptive Technologies Pose Challenge To IP Protection, Speakers In Thailand Say

      He said the court has already adapted to new environments by allowing use of video conferencing, digital audio and video records of witness’ testimonies, and electronic filings in its court proceedings.

    • Copyrights

      • Mystery as controversial list of predatory publishers disappears
      • Powerful Copyright Alliance Mulls its Own Anti-Piracy Service

        The powerful pro-copyright organization Copyright Alliance appears to be mulling its own anti-piracy service. In a survey published this week, the organization, which counts the MPAA, RIAA and dozens of other large groups as members, asked if copyright holders would use such a service if one was available.

      • UK Police Threats Fail to ‘Impress’ Pirate Site Operator

        City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit is targeting online piracy on multiple fronts. Besides pressing advertisers and hosting companies, pirate site owners are also being contacted directly. This week some fresh letters were sent out, urging operators to shut down or go legit. However, not all recipients are impressed by the latest enforcement action.

      • Netflix VPN Crackdown, A Year of Frustrations

        Last year Netflix launched an aggressive campaign to prevent its users from bypassing geo-blockades through VPN services. The crackdown has met fierce resistance around the world but is still in effect. Today we review the current state of affairs with some prominent VPN providers, many of whom voice concerns about the ongoing blocking efforts.

      • Megaupload 2.0 News Delayed By ‘Expected’ Roadblock

        A few hours ago Kim Dotcom was gearing up to make an important announcement about a new version of the defunct Megaupload service. However, with minutes left to go, the Megaupload 2.0 plans hit an “expected” roadblock, which means that the wait continues.

      • London Has Fallen Copyright Trolls Test Norway After US Retreat

        The copyright trolls behind the action movie London Has Fallen are testing out the Norwegian market after things got tricky in the US. In November, LHF Productions backed away from suing a US citizen after they were threatened with exposure, but now they’re demanding money in Europe.

      • CBS & Paramount Finally Settle With Fan Film Axanar

        A little over a year ago, we first wrote about the unfortunate situation in which CBS & Paramount had sued a group of people trying to make a fan film in the Star Trek universe, called Axanar. Beyond the basic legal questions, there was a bigger issue here. Paramount has actually been pretty good about allowing fan films. The difference with Axanar was that it was shaping up to be a really good fan film, with professional level actors, sets and staff. And that was what set off Paramount and CBS, who jointly hold the copyrights on Star Trek. The big question then is what’s the line between a fan film… and an unauthorized derivative work? This wasn’t necessarily a question in the past, but today with the ease of making films (and funding them through platforms like Kickstarter), it becomes a much bigger question.

        Something of a wrench was thrown into the proceedings last May, when JJ Abrams and Justin Lin — who are involved in the official new Star Trek films — claimed on stage that they were quite upset with Paramount for going after Axanar, and claimed that they’d gotten word from the company that it was going to settle the lawsuit. Of course, in the intervening months, no settlement showed up, and the filings back and forth between the parties got more and more rancorous. Things were finally heading towards a trial in just a few days… but now a settlement has finally been reached.

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