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01.26.17

Links 26/1/2017: KDE Slimbook Release, LibreOffice 5.2.5

Posted in News Roundup at 8:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • GoboLinux: Questioning the Linux File Hierarchy

    Sometimes, distinguishing one of the several hundred available Linux distributions from another seems impossible. That, however, is not the problem with GoboLinux. Admittedly, its main claim to uniqueness is its radical reorganization of the Linux file hierarchy may seldom be seen by casual users, but as a challenge to the accepted standards, it is definitely worth a closer look.

    This reorganization is not the only innovation in GoboLinux. Its call for a reconsideration of a single, all-powerful user, like Solaris’ use of roles, would improve basic security. Similarly, its renaming of /home as /Users and /usrs as /Programs seems a sensible clarification — although one or two name changes, such as using “gobo” for “root” seems pointless, an in-joke that should have been resisted. Such improvements prove that GoboLinux is more than an arbitrary system of changes, or the implementation of personal idiosyncrancies. In fact, many of its changes amount to a modernization of the traditional Linux file hierarchy that takes into account the much larger system resources of today compared to those of the era in which the file hierarchy began.

  • Plain Text Productivity Redux

    On Ubuntu, I can use Meld for this process; on OS X, I can use Kaleidoscope. Yes, it will take a couple of passes to converge, but the process is super-quick and quite easy. I haven’t found a comparison/merge tool for iOS or Android yet, but I do have an iOS text editor (Editorial) that supports the TaskPaper format (as well as Markdown). Given that it’s very likely I’d only need to use a mobile device when my primary laptop would be offline, I think I can get away with just editing the primary laptop text file from my mobile device. I haven’t tested that part yet, so some additional fine-tuning may be necessary.

  • Pink Slips From Microsoft and Oracle

    In what appears to be little more than some light housekeeping, this week Microsoft will be saying goodbye to about 700 employees. This is a routine move, and about the only reason this is getting any attention is…well, Microsoft and jobs. A little more serious are layoffs at Oracle. In both cases, however, the number of jobs being lost amounts to little more than a drop in the bucket for these two tech giants. Of course, that’s little consolation if you’re one of the people getting sacked.

    The layoffs at Microsoft are part of a plan announced in June to cut 2,850 jobs by the end of this fiscal year. According to Business Insider, this isn’t a cost cutting measure, but an attempt “to update skills in various units” — a pruning, in other words. Most of the scheduled cuts have already taken place.

  • Server

    • IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

      IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. It’s another step in IBM efforts to lay claim to leadership in the nascent deep learning market. Offering supported distributions of popular frameworks, said Sumit Gupta, IBM vice president, High Performance Computing and Analytics, is a natural next step in expanding and commercializing deep learning use.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Budgie 11 Desktop Environment Development Kicks Off, Will Support GNOME Apps, Qt

      Solus Project leader Ikey Doherty is kicking off the development of the Budgie 11 desktop environment, which will be used by default for the main edition of the Solus operating system.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE and Slimbook Release a Laptop for KDE Fans

        Today KDE is proud to announce the immediate availability of the KDE Slimbook, a KDE-branded laptop that comes pre-installed with Plasma and KDE Applications (running on Linux) and is assured to work with our software as smoothly as possible.

        The KDE Slimbook allows KDE to offer our users a laptop which has been tested directly by KDE developers, on the exact same hardware and software configuration that the users get, and where any potential hardware-related issues have already been ironed out before a new version of our software is shipped to them. This gives our users the best possible way to experience our software, as well as increasing our reach: The easier it is to get our software into users’ hands, the more it will be used.

      • Slimbook
      • KDE Slimbook

        Naturally, as one of the neon developers, I was doing some software work to help this along. Last year already we switched to a more reliable graphics driver. Our installer got a face-lift to make it more visually appealing. The installer gained an actually working OEM installation mode. A hardware integration feature was added to our package pool to make sure the KDE Slimbook works perfectly out of the box.

      • Everything you need to know about the SLIMBOOK KDE laptop

        Founded by Alejandro López, Grupo Odín is a small business in Spain that sells high-quality laptops with Linux preloaded on them. Their goal is not to make a lot of money, but to bring Linux to more users.

        A majority of desktop Linux users buy Windows laptops, wipe the hard drive and install Linux on them. But then they are on their own with no support from the company that sold them the laptop. By contrast, López offers complete support for his hardware.

        Jens Reuterberg, an illustrator and designer who works with the KDE community, told me that the idea for the SLIMBOOK KDE came from Aleix Pol, vice president at KDE eV Board. Pol talked to López exploring the possibility of a KDE-powered SLIMBOOK and López was more happy to oblige. He worked with the KDE community members to create a laptop to their specifications.

      • KDE-Community veröffentlicht Laptop mit eigener Distro
      • There’s Now A KDE-Branded Laptop Running Neon With Plasma 5

        For KDE fans not interested in setting up a KDE-based Linux distribution on your own laptop and worrying about potential graphics driver bugs with Plasma or other possible headaches, there is now a “KDE laptop” backed by the KDE community.

        KDE has teamed up with Spanish computer hardware retailer Slimbook to offer the KDE Slimbook. It’s an Intel laptop preloaded with KDE Neon and thus running the latest KDE Frameworks 5 + Plasma 5 experience. This isn’t a laptop running Coreboot or the like or any other real innovations besides just being pre-loaded with KDE Neon and tested by KDE Developers to ensure you don’t run into any hardware troubles, etc.

      • Meet the KDE Slimbook, a Powerful Laptop Running KDE Neon

        On the hunt for a powerful new Linux laptop? You might be interested in this, the KDE Slimbbook.

        The KDE Slimbook is a KDE-branded laptop that comes pre-loaded with the Ubuntu-based KDE Neon Linux distribution. The device is not only packed full of the latest and greatest Plasma and KDE apps, but has been tested by KDE developers to ensure that everything runs super-y smooth out of the box, with all hardware support properly configured.

      • New developer features to come with iOS 10.3, KDE Slimbook released, and Node.js certified developer program—SD Times news digest: Jan. 26, 2017
      • KDE Slimbook is a Linux-powered laptop for $780 and up

        The developers of the KDE desktop environment for Linux-based computers have partnered with Spanish PC maker Slimbook to release a laptop that comes with KDE software pre-installed.

        The KDE Slimbook is 13 inch notebook that’s available with up to a Core i7 Skylake processor and which comes wit the KDE Neon operating system.

      • Would you pay $800 for a Linux laptop?

        KDE is one of the bigger Linux projects out there, and today the dev team behind it announced that it would be partnering with Slimbook (a Spanish PC company) to produce the KDE Slimbook, a laptop designed specifically for running KDE Neon.

        The driving idea behind the project was to help alleviate the biggest issue facing Linux distributions: hardware compatibility. Where a company like Apple simply can ensure that its hardware and software work in sync by controlling both of those aspects, and Microsoft’s Windows has hefty licensing fees and requirements to ensure that hardware partners provide proper drivers and support, Linux, by virtue of being an independent and open-source platform, can be far more difficult to get working on different hardware. The usual method for getting Linux on a computer typically involves trawling forums, following how-to guides, and hoping that another member of the community has tried the setup or encountered the issue that you’re working on.

      • Krita Devs Want to Know What Type of Hardware You’re Using for Digital Painting

        The Krita developers are currently working on a lot of goodies for the next major version of the popular, open-source, and multiplatform digital painting utility, which can be either Krita 3.2 or 4.0, depending on the amount of changes made.

        They are preparing exciting features like Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) support, text tools, Python scripting, as well as on improving existing functionality like the Lazy Brush interactive colorizing tool and palette handling. However, they are also planning on fixing as many bugs as possible to stabilize the application.

      • KIO GDrive 1.1 released

        One problem with this new approach is that the Network “folder” is actually provided by a kioslave, which currently lives in plasma-workspace. This means that if you use Dolphin from, say, Gnome Shell then Network will probably not work.

        The proper fix is moving this ioslave from plasma-workspace to kio, but it’s not trivial because Plasma and Frameworks have different release schedules, and also because in general moving things around is painful. I already made a patch but it got stuck, possibly because of Plasma 5.9 deadlines. I’ll clean it up and revamp it in the next weeks, hopefully.

        I also want to thank Andreas for the new gdrive icon that you see in the screenshots above. You need breeze-icons 5.29 or later to get it.

      • Un-deprecate your Qt project

        I personally feel that this was caused fundamentally by a perceived threat: there is a cost associated to porting away a codebase from a well-known construct (Q_FOREACH) to a new and yet-undiscovered construct (C++11’s range based for), especially when the advantages are not that clear. (With stronger advantages, maybe people would be more keen to move away).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Mutter Rolls Out New Monitor Configuration System

        GNOME developer Jonas Ådahl has begun landing his work on a new monitor configuration system in Mutter for the GNOME 3.24 desktop release.

        Of this new monitor configuration system, Jonas explained in this tracker bug, “moving all low level monitor logic (i.e. CRTC/connector/… things into mutter, hiding it behind a higher level configuration API). While the current API simply provides a getter and a setter for all KMS like state, the new will be placed a layer above, with a set of ‘monitors’ that can be placed in ‘logical monitors’. One will be able to rotate a logical monitor, set a scale, place multiple monitors inside one (i.e. mirroring).”

  • Distributions

    • More Linux on my new notebook: Fedora, Linux Mint and Ubuntu

      Three more Linux distributions installed on this notebook, and one failure. I should have anticipated the problem with Mint Debian because of the previous experience with Debian jessie, so I suppose that doesn’t count as much of a surprise. Everything else went pretty much as expected, though. As I said after installing the first three distributions on this notebook, it is very pleasant to use, and really amazingly good for the price that I paid.

    • New Releases

      • Netrunner 17.01.2 Desktop ISO Adds the Calamares 3.0 Installer, Fixes UEFI Bugs

        Netrunner Desktop 17.01 “Baryon” rolled out on the first day of 2017, based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, and a new minor update is now available for download.

        The Netrunner 17.01.2 Desktop ISO image is here to offer users an enhanced installation experience if they want to deploy the GNU/Linux distribution on their personal computers. As the headline suggests, it ships with the recently released Calamares 3.0 distribution-independent system installer, along with the KPMCore 3.0.2 package.

      • New ISO images for LMDE 2 “Betsy” – BETA Release

        LMDE 2 received many updates in the last 2 years, including many improvements which were ported from Linux Mint as well as all the new versions of MATE, Cinnamon and the Xapps.

        This release provides a new set of installation images for LMDE 2 which includes all these updates.

      • Linux Mint releases BETA versions of refreshed Debian-based LMDE 2 ‘Betsy’ ISO images

        Linux Mint is widely known as an Ubuntu-based operating system, but that isn’t entirely true. Yes, the main version is based on Canonical’s distro, but one version, LMDE, is instead based on Debian. In fact, “LMDE” stands for Linux Mint Debian Edition. Of course, Ubuntu is based on Debian which makes the entire thing even more confusing for users, but I digress.

        Today, the Linux Mint Team releases refreshed BETA versions of the LMDE 2 “Betsy” ISO images. What does this mean? There have been many updates since the last version of the ISO was released in 2015, meaning that new installs were very outdated and needed many updates. The Linux Mint team is packaging all of those updates into the ISO so that it is more modern for those doing a fresh install.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • New Package in Tumbleweed Enhances Rolling Updates

        Snapshots of openSUSE Tumbleweed are becoming more frequent once again and a new package in the rolling release should make the handling of updates easier.

        The new package called transactional-update was announced on the openSUSE Factory Mailing List on Jan. 21 and it allows for more fluent handling of updates and upgrades for a rolling release. Tumbleweed user are encourage to read the email and thread because the package has potential consequences for those using it if not used correctly.

      • New GeckoLinux Rolling and Static Editions Include the Calamares 3.0 Installer

        The developers of the openSUSE-based GeckoLinux operating system announced on January 25, 2017, the availability of new, updated versions of all supported editions.

        GeckoLinux Rolling 999.170124 and GeckoLinux Static 422.170124 editions are now available for download, shipping with the recently released Calamares 3.0 graphical installer, which adds countless fixes and improvements over the 2.4 series used in previous versions of GeckoLinux.

      • OpenSUSE board election suspended

        The election to pick two members of the openSUSE board has been suspended due to “technical problems”. The problems do indeed appear to be technical in nature, with at least some voters being presented strange and confusing ballots. The election was restarted on the 21st in an unsuccessful attempt to fix the problems; now it is on indefinite hold. The current board will continue to serve, possibly deferring any major decisions, until the issue is resolved.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Five ways the Raspberry Pi Foundation is supporting education in the UK

      Established in 2009, the Raspberry Pi foundation is a charity that aims to promote computer science in schools, while also putting fun back into computing.

      ComputerworldUK spoke to the Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Philip Colligan to discuss the various ways it’s supporting computer science in education, from primary and secondary schools to teacher training and higher education partnerships.

      “We are an educational charity which owns a computer company, which is unusual. We describe our mission as putting the power of digital making in the hands of people all over the world,” explains Colligan.

      Here are five interesting ways the Raspberry Pi foundation is supporting education in the UK.

    • A Switch for Your RPi

      In a previous article, I talked about an add-on card for the Raspberry Pi called the ControlBlock. It allows game controllers to be connected as regular joystick devices, but it also has a really incredible power switch feature. The folks at petRockBlog have created an add-on board for the Raspberry Pi that strictly does the power feature for a cheaper price!

    • Trimming Power on an Oceanographic Lab in a Can

      At last October’s Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Brent Roman, an embedded software engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), described the two decade-long evolution of MBARI’s Linux-controlled Environmental Sampler Processor (ESP). Roman’s lessons in reducing power consumption on the remotely deployed, sensor-driven device are applicable to a wide range of remote Internet of Things projects. The take-home lesson: It’s not only about saving power on the device but also about the communications links.

    • RPi expansion boards support up to 40-Pi clusters

      BitScope’s Blade carrier boards extend the Raspberry Pi in single to up to 40-unit clusters with 9-48V power for HATs and BitScope mixed signal gizmos.

      Australia-based BitScope Designs, which offers a line of BitScope mixed signal test, measurement and data acquisition systems, has developed a BitScope Blade platform that combines them with Raspberry Pi SBCs. Sold by Element14, the BitScope Blades also support third-party accessories such as HATs or the RPi Touchscreen. The Blade was originally revealed by Element14 at last year’s Raspberry Pi 3 launch.

    • OpenWRT Backfire on WRT54GL signal strength

      Because I wanted my home router to use at least decently supported software that provides complete out-of-the-box support for native IPv6, I recently got around upgrading my WRT54GL’s firmware from White Russian to Backfire, which is the most recent OpenWRT release that fits the hardware’s limited amount of flash memory.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • In Search of an Open Source DNS Server

    Does it matter whether the DNS server you use is open source? Most of the good ones run proprietary code. But after some tedious shopping and testing, I finally found one that’s open source, community-owned, and (so far, at least) as reliable as its proprietary competitors.

    One day Web pages started loading slowly for me. Not just on one computer, but on Linux, Windows, Mac, a Chromebook, and two Android phones. All the devices on my home network were suddenly spending a crazy amount of time displaying things like the FOSS Force front page.

    It wasn’t my connection speed. I pay Frontier for 25 Mbps FIOS. I did a fast connection speed test and I was getting 30 down and 30 up. That’s fi

    Another problem I’ve had with ISPs over the years is their DNS servers, which can be highly variable in speed, plus there are often privacy issues. And I hate hate hate their “typo penalty,” as I call it, where if you type a character wrong in a URL they shove you onto a bullshit search page instead of leaving the mistyped URL in your search bar so you can correct it.

  • Target CIO discusses how IT evaluates new tech and looks to open source for innovation

    Target has remained cutting edge over the years, not only compared to other brick-and-mortar stores, but also compared to young startups as well. In the second of a two-part interview, Target CIO Mike McNamara shares how his team chooses the best tools for the job – and what CIOs need to know to thrive in the future.

  • Standards remain ongoing open source challenge for operators

    Carriers see open source as a way to break vendor-lock model, but standards and compliance remain key challenges to deployments.

    Telecommunication operators appear to be full on board in terms of the movement towards open source platforms, or at least those large enough to be at a point of driving software deeper into their operations. However, there remain numerous challenges for those operators in actually deploying open source-based solutions into their networks.

    Operators have for years denounced the dreaded vendor lock scenario that has shackled them to a dwindling equipment vendor community. But, those vendors are exceedingly familiar with the needs of telecommunication operators and have built a level of trust with the network operations folks in terms of comfort with equipment deployments.

  • Events

    • Building the world we want to have

      Pia Waugh has been a mainstay of the Australian free-software community for many years; among other things, she was one of the organizers of the 2007 linux.conf.au event. She is also known for her open government work. Ten years after running LCA, she returned to the conference as the opening keynote speaker. Nobody could possibly accuse her of thinking small as she outlined a somewhat utopian view of where the world is going and how the free-software community can help it to get there.

      We are, she began, at a tipping point where we can reinvent our world. But we have to do it carefully, or we risk reinventing the past with a few shiny new things added. We need to make active choices about the future that we want to have.

      Human society has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, often helped by the “cooperative competitiveness” that causes us to try to outdo each other while working together. Early humans figured out their world and shared information through trade and travel; the latency tended to be high, but we collected a lot of information over time. Through continuous improvement, humanity was able to move far from its origins and occupy every continent on the planet.

    • Preparing for FOSDEM17

      The annual FOSDEM is nearing. This year I will be participating for the third time and I’m looking forward to it! It’s a great opportunity to meet GNOME users and mingle with the other free software projects. FOSDEM was the first free software conference I attended back 3 years ago and I still really enjoy it.

    • Camille Fournier, Donna Dillenberger, William ‘whurley’ Hurley to Speak at Open Source Leadership Summit Next Month

      Executives, experts, analysts, and leaders in open source at some of the world’s largest and most successful companies will speak at the invitation-only Open Source Leadership Summit next month in Lake Tahoe, The Linux Foundation has announced.

      AT&T, Cloud Foundry Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, IDC, Leading Edge Forum, Mozilla, and VMware are among the many organizations that will share insights on how to start, build, participate in and advance open source strategy and development.

    • 4Ccon – Second National Conference on Free Software

      4Ccon represents Collaboration, Contribution, Communities and Commons. There will be workshops, seminars and discussions on a wide range of topics that reflect the key issues around technology and its impact on India. The themes of the conference converge on aim to develop new understanding of what technology means in the rapidly evolving global and national contexts.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 56 rolling out to Mac, Windows, and Linux, full HTML5 by Default & ‘Not Secure’ label rollout

        Chrome 56 is rolling out now to Mac, Windows, and Linux with a number of features and security fixes. Beginning as a staged rollout in the previous version, HTML5 by Default is now enabled for all users. Additionally, all sensitive HTTP sites will be marked as unsecure in the address bar.

        With last month’s release, Chrome only defaulted to HTML5 for a small subset of users. Now, it is enabled by default, with the first visit to webpages prompting users about Flash usage. This deprecation of the Adobe plug-in should lead to a better and safer web browsing experience.

      • Google Promotes Chrome 56 to Stable with HTML5 by Default, 51 Security Fixes

        Google promoted today its Chrome 56 web browser to the stable channel for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, which comes about 55 days after Chrome 55 was released.

      • Google Chrome Now Defaults to HTML5 for All

        With the version 56 update, Google has enabled Chrome to default to HTML5-based rendering for better speed and security. This means that content still using Flash won’t display immediately and instead will require your manual authorization to run.

      • Chrome 56 Released With WebGL 2.0 By Default, FLAC Support

        Chrome 56 ships with HTML5 by default, WebGL 2.0 by default, sensitive pages (including those with password boxes) loaded over HTTP are now marked as insecure, support for FLAC audio is enabled by default (similar to the recent Firefox release), improves performance of the browser by throttling web-pages in background tabs, and a variety of other enhancements.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Focus Now Available in 27 Languages

        International Data Privacy Day is right around the corner and to mark the event we’re happy to announce that Firefox Focus, the privacy browser, is now available for iOS in 27 languages covering billions of users around the world. Mozilla’s community teams hustled to localize all these language versions in time to hit an aggressive launch timetable and we are so grateful for their help. This means that a huge chunk of the world’s population can use Firefox Focus in their language to browse privately, leaving no trace and keeping their thoughts and online activities confidential.

        Today’s version launch of Firefox Focus is part of our ongoing drive to give users more control over their web experiences. After we launched Firefox Focus, we saw there was a huge appetite for private web browsing that allows users to erase their web history with a single tap. After serving up many millions of searches on Firefox Focus, we wanted to give users the choice to use it in their native language.

      • Firefox 51 Improves Security Notifications for Insecure Forms

        Mozilla patches 24 security vulnerabilities in Firefox and now alerts users when they attempt to enter information into web forms that are not secure.

      • Designing for failure

        Nobody starts a free-software project hoping that it will fail, so it is a rare project indeed that plans for its eventual demise. But not all projects succeed, and a project that doesn’t plan for failure risks is doing its users harm. Dan Callahan joined Mozilla to work on the Persona authentication project, and he was there for its recent shutdown. At the 2017 linux.conf.au, he used his keynote slot to talk about the lessons that have been learned about designing a project for failure.

        Mozilla is a non-profit organization dedicated to the open Internet. It “does lots of stuff”, including the Firefox browser. Firefox helps to protect the net as an open resource in a number of ways, including giving Mozilla a place at the table in settings where the design of the web is under discussion. The web, he said, is too great to leave in the hands of corporations.

      • Are you Privacy Aware? Data Privacy Day, and Every Day

        In a world where apps, products and devices are all powered by your personal data, creating awareness and enabling people to protect their data privacy is more important than ever. Data Privacy Day is around the corner (January 28) and we’re happy to support this day dedicated to empowering individuals and asking businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust.

        At Mozilla, every day is Data Privacy Day. What do I mean by this? Respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust are built into the core of Mozilla, our products and everything we do. This is because we aren’t your average tech company. We’re also the champions of the internet and protectors of internet health. We fight to advance and protect the internet as part of our mission because we believe that the internet is a shared global public resource that needs to remain open and accessible to all.

  • Databases

    • Enterprise open source growth and new release sets Severalnines up for 10 out of 10 year

      Severalnines, Europe’s leading provider of open source database management software, opens the year with the launch of a new release of ClusterControl, its award-winning, all-inclusive database management system. ClusterControl lets businesses easily deploy, manage, monitor and scale their open source databases to run their business on the technology stack of their choice.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Announcement of LibreOffice 5.2.5

      The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 5.2.5 “still”, the fifth minor release of the LibreOffice 5.2 family. Based on the upcoming announcement of LibreOffice 5.3, all users are invited to update to LibreOffice 5.2.5 from LibreOffice 5.1.6 or previous versions.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Top Lessons For Open Source Pros From License Compliance Failures

      For companies using open source software in their commercial products, it is recommended to develop and maintain a good relationship with the members of the open source communities that create and sustain the open source code they consume. The communities of open source projects expect companies to honor the licenses of the open source software they include in their products. Taking steps in this direction, combined with an open and honest relationship, is very valuable.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Digital and open-source options have advantages over books

        Once the guideposts for most classes, textbooks are increasingly being pushed to the side as digital technology expands its reach.

        In Jennifer King’s seventh-grade math and science classroom at La Crosse’s Logan Middle School, the textbook is just one of the resources students can use. Increasingly, they use digital tools such as online scientific articles or educational programs on their iPads.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Mouser takes SparkFun’s open source hardware globally

        Mouser Electronics has signed a global distribution agreement with SparkFun Electronics, a leader in DIY electronics and open-source technology, to support the growth of the maker movement around the world.

        The agreement provides increased access to both Mouser’s and SparkFun’s extensive product ecosystems, enabling customers to easily shop for the right maker technology to support their projects. Mouser’s catalog now incorporates over 500 SparkFun products, including SparkFun’s signature Arduino Pro, RedBoard, and LilyPad tools, empowering customers at the industrial and enterprise level to utilize maker technology in their advanced projects.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • NISO Publishes “Understanding Metadata” Primer

      The NISO Primer Understanding Metadata, like its series companions, is licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons-BY-NC 4.0 license. It is available as a free download from the NISO website at: http://www.niso.org/publications/press/understanding_metadata.

Leftovers

  • As a Nefarious Media Agent…

    Yes, sometimes my opinions go too far. Nobody works in a vacuum. I’ve said offensive things, and apologized for them. Usually this is a case of “it sounded better in my head.” That’s part of being human. It’s one reason I solicit feedback on books before they’re published, to catch these things before they get out in the real world.

    This colors my view of people complaining about the media. Yes, every media channel is biased. As citizens, it’s our job to pierce our own media bubbles. I get most of my political news from an aggregator with a bias that opposes my own, specifically to counter my own bias.

    So go ahead. Disagree with me. I don’t mind. Really, I don’t even care. The world is full of opinions. I’m not going to argue with you.

    Admittedly, if you sign a contract with Oracle I’m gonna snicker.

    But I’ll try to be polite, and do it behind your back.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Jeremy Hunt admits Brexit could mean the end of free medical treatment for travellers to the EU

      British citizens may lose their right to free or subsidised medical treatment when they visit the EU after Brexit, the Health Secretary has admitted.

      Jeremy Hunt told MPs he could give no guarantees that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will survive EU withdrawal.

      Giving evidence to a Commons committee, Mr Hunt agreed that the card was “a very positive thing” but warned any decision on its future must await the final Brexit deal.

    • Molly Scott Cato: “The single market means we know where food comes from”

      “Here we sit with tea and sweet cakes,” says the Green MEP Molly Scott Cato. “That comes from the period of history we are talking about.”

      We are sitting in the airy, retro back room of Drink Shop Do, a tea shop near London’s St Pancras station, where Scott Cato will catch the Eurostar back to Brussels. In front of us is a Chinese willow teapot, two cups of Yorkshire Tea, and cakes.

      I’ve challenged Scott Cato, an economist, to explain the single market in terms of having your cake and eating it. Now, she is midway through a lecture on the history of colonialism and trade.

      “Why do we have so much tea with sugar in it? Because it was part of the triangular trade,” she says, referring to the notorious system of trading slaves, sugar and manufactured goods between Europe, North America and the West African coast. “People were encouraged to consume more sugar.”

    • US Could Agree To Slight Funding Increase At WHO Despite Trump Threats

      President Donald Trump’s promise to cut US funding to United Nations agencies has sent shock waves around the UN, but in a budget discussion at the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting today, the US delegation did not reject outright a call by WHO to increase government contributions to the organisation. Meanwhile, the WHO budget shows a deficit and many WHO members asked the WHO how it plans to remedy the situation and find solutions to reach financial sustainability.

    • The Mysterious Kidney Disease That Became a Public Health Epidemic

      Chronic Kidney Disease of undetermined causes (CKDu) is prevalent in several Central American countries, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and now India. It’s a fatal progressive loss of kidney function that has killed 40,000 people in the last decade—and no one knows what causes it. CKDu mostly impacts poor, agricultural workers, and is virtually undetectable until its latest stages when kidney failure is inevitable. As villages in Southeastern India grapple with this hidden disease, it has a severe impact on families and their livelihoods.

    • Lead in Flint, Mich., water below federal limits, still not drinkable

      After years of tap water in Flint, Michigan, being too dangerous to drink, a state monitoring agency said Tuesday that lead levels have dropped below federal action levels, suggesting the water is on its way back to being drinkable — but not quite yet.

      Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that 90 percent of water samples taken between July 2016 and December 2016 had levels of lead below 12 parts per billion, lower than the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

    • EPA Announces That Lead Levels in Flint Water Have Dropped Below Federal Limits, but Residents Still Can’t Drink It

      It’s been almost three years since residents in Flint, Michigan, could drink their tap water, and even though officials announced this week that lead and copper levels there had finally fallen below federal limits, they cautioned that it could still be a year or more before residents could take a sip from their taps.

      Because forgetting the water itself, a maze of up to 20,000 lead-tainted pipes that run all across the area still need to be replaced. Until then, residents have been instructed to continue to drink bottled water or use filters.

      “We are not out of the woods yet,” Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement. “We still need help and support from the state and federal government.”

      But those resources, the $100 million the city was promised in aid, are now potentially at risk. Local officials aren’t sure how the Trump administration’s decision to place a freeze on contracts and grants from Environmental Protection Agency will affect the funds Flint is supposed to receive. Press representatives in the office of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released a statement to MLive.com that said that officials “haven’t received any guidance from the federal government.”

    • Professor on Flint water crisis research team calls lead levels in Pittsburgh ‘worrisome’

      The lead levels discovered in some drinking water in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods is drawing an alarming comparison to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

      William Clark of Pittsburgh’s North Side is one of 81,000 customers who got a letter this week from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority that stated he had elevated lead levels in his water.

      “We all think about Flint,” he said.

    • WHO Director General Candidates Hold Colorful Meeting With The Press

      The three remaining candidates to be director general of the World Health Organization today met at length with UN journalists in the WHO and highlighted their plans for reform including finding new sources of funding for the continually cash-strapped UN agency that now could face threats from the US president to cut US funding.

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • Malware Authors Switch Focus from Windows to Linux, Thousands of PCs Infected

      Linux has always been considered a more secure operating system, but malware writers are now trying to take advantage of this premise with new forms of infections spreading across the web as we speak.

      Security firm Dr. Web warns that it has already discovered thousands of Linux computers infected with a malware called Linux.Proxy.10, which is used by cybercriminals to remain anonymous online.

    • Linux.Proxy.10 Trojan Infects a Few Thousand Linux Machines and Turns Them Into Proxy Servers

      When the backdoor is active, the hacker logs onto the machine that has been infected using an SSH protocol and then uses the Linux malware to install the SOCKS5 proxy server.

    • Tor Browser 7.0a1-hardened is released

      A new hardened Tor Browser release is available. It can be found in the 7.0a1-hardened distribution directory and on the download page for hardened builds.

      This release features important security updates to Firefox.

      Tor Browser 7.0a1-hardened is the first hardened alpha in the 7.0 series. Apart from the usual Firefox update (to 45.7.0 ESR) it contains the first alpha in the tor 0.3.0 series (0.3.0.1-alpha) and an updated HTTPS-Everywhere (5.2.9) + NoScript (2.9.5.3).

    • Disable Your Antivirus Software (Except Microsoft’s)

      Furthermore, as Justin Schuh pointed out in that Twitter thread, AV products poison the software ecosystem because their invasive and poorly-implemented code makes it difficult for browser vendors and other developers to improve their own security. For example, back when we first made sure ASLR was working for Firefox on Windows, many AV vendors broke it by injecting their own ASLR-disabled DLLs into our processes. Several times AV software blocked Firefox updates, making it impossible for users to receive important security fixes. Major amounts of developer time are soaked up dealing with AV-induced breakage, time that could be spent making actual improvements in security (recent-ish example).

    • Security Risks of the President’s Android Phone

      I’m not concerned about the data. Anything he reads on that screen is coming from the insecure network that we all use, and any e-mails, texts, Tweets, and whatever are going out to that same network. But this is a consumer device, and it’s going to have security vulnerabilities. He’s at risk from everybody, ranging from lone hackers to the better-funded intelligence agencies of the world. And while the risk of a forged e-mail is real — it could easily move the stock market — the bigger risk is eavesdropping. That Android has a microphone, which means that it can be turned into a room bug without anyone’s knowledge. That’s my real fear.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Spiritual leader of Thailand’s southern insurgents dies

      More than a decade ago, Sapae-ing Basor was one of Thailand’s most wanted, his face plastered on posters around the south offering 10 million baht, more than $250,000, for his capture.

      But when the spiritual leader of many Muslims in insurgency-torn southern Thailand died at 81 in self-imposed exile in Malaysia Jan. 10, it wasn’t just thousands of his followers mourning in mosques that noted his passing.

    • Mikhail Gorbachev: ‘It All Looks As If the World Is Preparing for War’

      I think the initiative to adopt such a resolution should come from Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin – the presidents of two nations that hold over 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • EPA data under scrutiny by Trump administration’s political staff

      The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

      The communications director for President Donald Trump’s transition team at EPA, Doug Ericksen, says the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

    • Trump’s Hiring Freeze Will Devastate Our National Parks

      President Donald Trump’s government-wide hiring freeze will devastate the nation’s public lands, including the National Park System, which is already overburdened with record attendance and staff shortages. The freeze is a nightmare scenario for the NPS and Bureau of Land Management, which is also understaffed.

      The hiring freeze, issued Monday in an official presidential memo to all of the executive branch’s agencies, is sweeping and resolute: The federal government will hire no new employees or contractors except for positions that agencies “deem necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.”

    • Trump’s Pipeline Orders Challenge Protesters

      He is violating existing, government to government policies between the United States and tribes, as federally recognized tribes. He never consulted… no one in his administration consulted with the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, nor any of the other federally recognized tribes, on this initiative that he is putting forward.

    • Pipeline leaks equivalent of 15 tanker trucks in Iowa

      An investigation is ongoing on how a pipeline leaked 138,600 gallons of diesel fuel about 15 miles from the Iowa-Minnesota border, according to the company that owns the line.

      The 3,300 barrels of diesel — the equivalent of about 15½ tanker trucks — leaked Wednesday morning out of Magellan’s 12-inch pipeline system near Hanlontown, Iowa, about 125 miles north of Des Moines, said Bruce Heine, spokesman for Magellan Midstream Partners.

      A portion of Wheelerwood Road will be closed for two days, according to the Worth County Sheriff’s Office.

      “It’s a big one. It’s significant,” said Jeff Vansteenburg, a field office supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The responsible party is Magellan, so they’ll have to bear the cost of cleanup.”

    • The Keystone pipeline will create just 35 permanent jobs. Don’t believe the lies

      For those who still insist fossil fuels are the future, the Trump administration represents a new day for some old ideas. In an early sign of things to come, the president showed his faith in big oil when he signed documents Tuesday pressuring federal agencies to support construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. Each of these projects faced enormous protests and was put on hold by the Obama administration because of legitimate environmental and due process concerns.

      Congressional Republicans frequently howled at far less heavy-handed exercises of executive power under the previous administration. Today, they applaud Trump’s move on the mistaken premise that these pipelines are good investments. Not only will these projects not create long-lasting jobs – as CNBC, not exactly an anti-corporate mouthpiece, has noted: “Pipelines do not require much labor to operate in the long term” – they will further delay the inevitable transition to clean, renewable energy our economy needs and the American people demand.

    • Get inspired by environmentalist Rachel Carson’s political fights

      If you’re feeling demoralized by the assault on our environment under the current administration, you might find inspiration in the PBS profile of environmentalist Rachel Carson.

    • What Would Censorship of the USDA Mean for America?

      Early Monday morning, the US Department of Agriculture sent out an email to staff members at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)—the agency’s primary in-house research arm—informing the nearly 3,000 employees that they were henceforth barred from relaying information to the public.

      The department-wide email—which was first reported by BuzzFeed News and later by many other outlets including The Washington Post, The Independent, Mother Jones, and Scientific American—read as follows: “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents.This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.”

  • Finance

    • In Nebraska, New Bill Proposes Protections Against Rampant Debt Collection

      Last year we reported on a little-known hardship facing Nebraskans struggling to pay their medical debts: They were being sued over doctor bills of just a few hundred dollars. Unheard of in most states, such lawsuits are filed in Nebraska by the tens of thousands, typically against low-income workers, in part because filing fees are so inexpensive.

      Last week, a Nebraska lawmaker introduced a bill that would curb what collectors can take from debtors after filing suit and obtaining a court judgment. The bill would automatically protect the first $2,000 in a debtor’s bank account from garnishment, among other reforms. Currently, collectors are allowed to clean out debtors’ bank accounts.

      “Right now, working class folks in particular are not on a level playing field and are at the mercy of predatory debt collectors,” said state Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Democrat who cited ProPublica’s investigation as a key inspiration for the proposed reforms.

    • Here’s Another Way Wells Fargo Took Advantage Of Customers

      Wells Fargo, the largest mortgage lender in the country, portrays itself as a stalwart bank that puts customers first. That reputation shattered in September, when it was fined $185 million for illegally opening as many as 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts without customers’ knowledge.

      Now four former Wells Fargo employees in the Los Angeles region say the bank had another way of chiseling clients: Improperly charging them to extend their promised interest rate when their mortgage paperwork was delayed. The employees say the delays were usually the bank’s fault but that management forced them to blame the customers.

      The new allegations could exacerbate the lingering damage to the bank’s reputation from the fictitious accounts scandal. Last week, Wells Fargo reported declining earnings. In the fourth quarter, new credit card applications tumbled 43 percent from a year earlier, while new checking accounts fell 40 percent.

    • Dance on the Grave of the TPP

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership was effectively dead before Donald Trump’s inauguration but, somehow, it always seemed poised to emerge from the grave and walk among the living once more.

      But now it appears to be buried for good, and it was Trump who dealt the final, though largely symbolic, blow. And it is Trump who will seek credit for doing away with the agreement, even though he clearly doesn’t deserve it.

      So what? Did anyone expect Trump to do otherwise, to humbly divert the spotlight?

    • Trump’s First Test on Taxes

      Trump’s voters didn’t vote to make the richest richer, but the Republican Congress is about to.

    • Mrs. May goes to Washington

      When British Prime Minister Theresa May visits the White House Friday, she will be cheered on by Brexiteers hoping for a quickly rekindled special relationship under the loudly Anglophile U.S. President Donald Trump.

      For the U.K., and for British Conservatives in particular, no other international relationship occupies a more totemic place in the imagination than the one with the United States. And in the wake of the Brexit vote, there is nothing that proponents of leaving the European Union want more from their longtime ally than a trade deal proving the country won’t be left out in the cold.

      Whereas former U.S. President Barack Obama was clear Britain would be “at the back of the queue” for a trade agreement once it leaves the EU, his successor has promised a deal “very quickly,” appearing to confirm the Leave campaign’s promises of new economic opportunities outside Europe’s single market.

    • What you need to know about the tech pay gap and job posts

      The problem starts when professionals enter the field, and that means factors as early in the process as job posts can influence this trend. That’s right — job posts can launch and perpetuate the wage gap in tech. Here’s how.

    • Dutch justice minister resigns over payments scandal

      Dutch Justice Minister Ard Van der Steur resigned Thursday over a controversial deal in which his ministry paid a criminal €2.1 million in exchange for information, NOS reported.

      Van der Steur, a senior member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD party, came under fire over his involvement in the so-called Teeven deal, a scandal that led to his predecessor’s resignation in March 2015.

      Former Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten, along with his secretary of state Fred Teeven, resigned after admitting to misleading parliament about the payments when it emerged the amount in question was closer to €2.1 million than the previously disclosed €385,000.

    • Government proposes cuts to postal services in cities

      Finland’s Communications Ministry wants to shake up postal services, with reduced deliveries in towns and cities and lengthened delivery times for domestic mail. The proposal has gone to parliament for consideration and is intended to come into force this summer.

      The Ministry says that the reform will ensure postal services remain available across the country, and allow companies to start offering new, market-based services in the sector.

      The ministry wants to retain weekday deliveries in rural areas, where postmen double as newspaper delivery staff—thus ensuring countryside residents are still able to receive their newspaper subscriptions. In towns and cities, newspapers are delivered by separate, specialist companies.

    • Posti to shed dozens of administrative positions

      “Posti’s operations will not be profitable without rationalising and other corrective measures,” it states.

      The primary objective of the consultative negotiations is to clarify the operating procedures of the state-owned company, according to the press release.

    • Trump didn’t kill TPP, the people did

      Can everyone stop saying Donald Trump killed off the Trans-Pacific Partnership? He didn’t. It was already dead. Thanks to pressure from ordinary Americans – yes, it really does work – TPP already lay without a pulse on the floor of Congress. There is no need to congratulate Trump’s bigoted regime or pretend he has assembled a cabinet that isn’t teeming with corporate interests. The Republicans didn’t co-operate with Barack Obama, and it would surely be a mistake for Democrats to normalise a deeply unpopular demagogue who actively threatens an admittedly already compromised democracy.

      That Trump has any ownership over TPP is a travesty, and a damning indictment of the Democratic establishment. The new president’s rightwing populism combines xenophobia, protectionism and policies which directly enrich the Donald Trump class. Yes, American workers have suffered years of stagnating or falling wages and the decimation of industries, devastating the communities they sustained. Both Republicans and establishment Democrats are responsible, and never considered the possibility they were creating anger and resentment which one day a vulgar demagogue would exploit.

      If the Democrats had listened to the likes of Bernie Sanders and other progressives who opposed trade deals which benefit corporate elites at the expense of workers’ livelihoods, the United States might not be currently embroiled in one of the worst crises since its foundation. TPP underlined why Hillary Clinton – despite standing against a serial liar – was so widely distrusted. As secretary of state she backed the treaty, then sat on the fence, then belatedly opposed it, feeding a sense she lacked any firm beliefs and would shift positions for crude political advantage. Clinton’s supposedly inevitable victory was sunk by an industrially ravaged Rust Belt: if the Democratic candidate in the ballot had offered authentic opposition to TPP, the current trajectory of the United States and the world would not be so horrifying.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Peter’s Choice

      I wanted to meet him halfway, until he started talking about history.

      “The reason I used the Civil War and Reconstruction is because it isn’t a secret that Reconstruction failed,” Peter wrote. “It failed and left the South in an extreme poverty that it still hasn’t recovered from.” And besides, “slavery was expensive and the Industrial Revolution was about to happen. Maybe if there had been no war, slavery would have faded peacefully.”

      As a historian, I found this remarkable, since it was precisely what all American schoolchildren learned about slavery and Reconstruction for much of the 20th century. Or rather, they did until the civil rights era, when serious scholarship dismantled this narrative, piece by piece. But not, apparently, in Peter’s world. “Until urban liberals move to the rural South and live there for probably a decade or more,” he concluded, “there’s no way to fully appreciate the view.”

      This was where he left me plumb at a loss. Liberals must listen to and understand Trump supporters. But what you end up understanding from even the sweetest among them still might chill you to the bone.

    • What is happening to America?

      I still remember vividly my first visit to Europe, back in 2010. I had just barely gotten off a plane in Hamburg and on to a bus to Lubeck, and struck up a conversation with a friendly, well-educated German classical musician next to me. We soon started to discuss politics and religion. Over the course of the conversation, in response to his questions, I explained I had twice voted against George W. Bush, that I opposed the war in Iraq for many reasons, that I did thought there was an ethical imperative to work to defeat climate change, that I viewed health care as an important ethical and religious issue, that I thought evolution was well-established, and that I am a Christian.

    • A Little Respect

      Trump’s “newspeak” continues. He’s now defining “respect” as a victim folding to the demands of the extortionist… See, Trump is the extortionist here, the party to NAFTA who has no respect for an equal partner, Mexico. Trump is demanding Mexico agree to paying unknown $billions for a wall that is of no benefit to Mexico. For Trump to demand respect when Trump has no decency at all is simply abuse of us all, our common sense, our sense of right and wrong, custom, law and the Constitution. Trump does not have the power to destroy USA’s reputation as a law-abiding nation in the world. The Constitution was set up with checks and balances to prevent that. Extortion of a major trading partner, an ally in the war on drugs, and a neighbour closely integrated socially with USA is an impeachable offence and the sooner the Congress gets around to that the sooner USA’s rapidly deteriorating reputation can be repaired.

    • Why Republicans Won’t Break with Trump

      Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday morning, Karl Rove, the veteran Republican strategist, seemed a bit bemused. “We have two Presidencies under way,” he said. In one of them, Donald Trump was “looking strong and fulfilling his campaign promises,” Rove explained. He was referring to a series of executive orders that Trump had issued in policy areas ranging from health care to trade to the environment. While these edicts outraged many liberals and moderates, they were broadly in line with what the new President had pledged to do.

    • Trump cranks up the crazy to 11 in this ABC interview. Highlights and full transcript

      In the interview with ABC’s David Muir, the narcissist-in-chief couldn’t stop obsessively returning to the topic of his perceived grudges over inauguration crowd size, his vote count in the election, even his appearance at CIA last week, roundly criticized by those at the agency. Trump didn’t get the memo.

      “In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal,” he lied.

    • Do You Want A Police State? Because This Is How You Get A Police State
    • Lock Them Up! Trump Staff Still Using Private Republican National Committee Email Accounts

      Given the President’s ability to make markets move with a single tweet, leaving accounts like these unsecured is begging for catastrophe. The news that the VP and President are still using Gmail accounts is also a problem and not just because of the lack of two-factor authentication. It signals that the Trump Administration is planning to do some official business off the FOIA-able/archivable books. That third parties are disclosing these accounts suggests the administration is in no hurry to do so.

      Trump’s staff may want to engage in some public disavowals of these personal email accounts, especially considering all the noise the campaign made about Hillary Clinton’s private email server, its security issues, and the dubious legality of routing classified documents through unsecured servers.

      If not, well… that will be completely unsurprising. Not that Trump won’t hold himself and his staffers to the same standard he held Clinton, but because politicians are a mostly-hypocritical bunch who like to point fingers at everyone but themselves.

    • The worst things you’ll read about Trump come from his own aides

      Adding literal insult to injury, the social media accounts of several parts of the National Park Service took to social media in recent days to tweet out information about climate change— which Trump dismisses as a hoax — and retweet a photo distinctly showing that his inauguration drew a far smaller crowd than Barack Obama did in 2009. Trump responded by ordering the Interior Department to temporarily shut down its official Twitter accounts.

      In the runup to the election, pundits like the Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger penned columns with titles like “How the government could resist President Trump’s orders.” Trump has been in office for less than a week, but there is more and more evidence that the resistance has already started.

    • Occupy is not the reason why Trump won

      Trump is a symptom of a reactionary response triggered when the problems requiring systemic transformation are blamed solely on the political establishment.

    • FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit

      The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.

    • Intel Panel Member Calls For 9/11-Style Joint Investigation Into Russian Hacking

      The top Democrat on the House intelligence panel wants a joint congressional committee to investigate whether high-ranking Kremlin officials were involved in ordering the hacks of key American figures and institutions in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election.

      Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested a joint investigation, not unlike the commission organized in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

    • Guantánamo in the Trump Era Moves Ahead in Slow Motion

      The prison at Guantánamo Bay has plenty of room if Donald J. Trump wants to send more people here, but the military commission hearing that began Wednesday is a perfect example of the potentially endless legal morass that would create.

      The first military proceedings to take place at Guantánamo since Trump took office were as uneventful as they were symbolic. After more than four years of pre-trial proceedings in a stop-and-start schedule, the judge was considering yet another delay.

    • States Move to Intervene in Federal Case on For-profit College Watchdog

      Democratic attorneys general from five states and the District of Columbia announced yesterday that they intend to intervene in a federal case involving an embattled for-profit college accreditor.

      The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, known as ACICS, filed a lawsuit last December after the former U.S. Education Secretary John King announced the department was severing ties with the troubled agency.

      It is unclear whether the Trump administration will decide to reverse King’s decision on ACICS, but some education experts view Tuesday’s motion as an important step in trying to continue the priorities of the education department under former President Obama.

      “You have an uncertain administration,” said Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, who views the action by the states as critical to protecting students and taxpayers. “The intervention serves as a form of insurance.”

    • Trump’s Voter Fraud Example? A Troubled Tale With Bernhard Langer

      On Monday, President Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception, served them tiny meatballs and pigs-in-a-blanket, and quickly launched into a story meant to illustrate what he believes to be rampant, unchecked voter fraud.

      Mr. Trump kicked off the meeting, participants said, by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the three million to five million ballots cast by “illegals.” He followed it up with a Twitter post early Wednesday calling for a major investigation into voter fraud.

      When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,” whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting.

      In the emerging Trump era, the story was a memorable example, for the legislators and the country, of how an off-the-cuff yarn — unverifiable and of confusing origin — became a prime policy mover for a president whose fact-gathering owes more to the oral tradition than the written word.

    • It’s No Trump Tower, but White House Has ‘Beautiful’ Phones

      President Trump, who flew across the country on hundreds of nights during the 2016 campaign to sleep in his own bed, has now spent five straight days in the unfamiliar surroundings of the White House. His aides said privately that he seemed apprehensive about the move to his new home, but Mr. Trump has discovered there is a lot he likes.

    • Trump’s Still Using His Old Android Phone. That’s Very, Very Risky

      The attack may not even be so direct. Many apps request permission to track a phone’s location for legitimate purposes, and a hacker could compromise one of these accounts to determine where the phone, and potentially Trump himself, is at any given time.

    • The BBC is neither independent or impartial: interview with Tom Mills

      Tom Mills, a Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University and former Co-Editor of New Left Project, has just published his first book, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service. Using archival research, original interviews, autobiographies and secondary sources Mills examines the politics of the BBC, arguably the most influential and trusted news organisation in the UK.

      I asked Mills about the popular image of the BBC as independent and impartial, its Iraq War coverage and what changes he would like to see made at the Corporation.

    • Donald Trump set to ‘eliminate arts funding programs’, cutting off NPR and PBS

      President Donald Trump is believed to be planning on shutting down arts and heritage programs as part of a raft of budget-tightening measures.

      The Hill, whose source is an unnamed member of Trump’s transition team, reported that Trump will eliminate both the National Endowment For The Arts and the National Endowment For The Humanities, and privatise the Corporation For Public Broadcasting.

      The latter partially funds National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), currently receiving $445.5 million a year from the government, around half of which goes to the US’ approx. 350 public television stations.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Prominent Iranian Directors Decry Censorship After Minister Bans Films From Tehran Fajr Festival

      Less than three months into his new post as culture and Islamic guidance minister, Reza Salehi Amiri boasted about banning ten films from entering the Tehran Fajr International Film Festival, “in line with the policies of the supreme leader,” on January 19, 2017.

      “For the first time, we cut out films with feminist and inappropriate themes and supported 30 films made by young directors about the sacred defense (Iran-Iraq War),” he said during a meeting with Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a senior Qom-based theologian.

      Amiri did not name the films, but the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned that they included productions by directors who focused in part on controversial topics like the hijab, which the Islamic Republic forces all women to cover their hair with in public, and domestic violence.

    • Government Scientists at U.S. Climate Conference Terrified to Speak with the Press
    • Will Trump scrub climate-change information?
    • Presidents Before Trump Have Meddled With The EPA — It Didn’t Go Well
    • Trump’s Web Makeover Softened After Bureaucratic Backlash
    • Trump team scrutinizing EPA climate science, grants in agency review
    • Trump Administration Will Review EPA Climate Change Web Page After Rumors It Might Be Deleted
    • Environmentalists warn of censorship: Trump gags scientists
    • Selective censorship

      And yet, when a couple of folks in Millheim put up an “F– Trump” sign in their yard on Inauguration Day, the wrath came down. Neighbors phoned code enforcement; a borough official arrived and called the sign-makers’ good parenting into question; passersby were, evidently, damaged for life. Based on the outrage, you’d have thought we live in a realm of muffins and white-picket fences, rather than the cussing, truck-testicle-swinging place that it is.

      Isn’t it funny that all the “b—-”-hurling, the caged women, the “historical” memorabilia and the nasty jokes haven’t merited censor? That folks are suddenly batting their eyelashes, concerned about “good parenting”?

      It’s cowardly to invoke “families” and “parenting” instead of naming and standing by inconsistent, retributive policies. It’s cowardly to drop your commitment to the First Amendment when it doesn’t suit. And hey, my neighbors — where’s all the bellyaching about “PC” censorship now, and whence does your hysterical fragility arise?

    • China Bolsters The Great Firewall, Cracks Down Harder On VPN Use

      It sometimes takes a little while, but sooner or later most governments engaged in ham-fisted internet censorship get around to taking aim at VPNs. While VPNs certainly have numerous, legitimate uses (including an additional layer of security when on public WiFi), they’re also great tools when it comes to preventing your government, ISP, or anybody else from nosily tracking your online behavior. As such, you’ll see broadcasters or even Netflix quick to villify their use to enforce increasingly pointless geographical viewing restrictions.

    • Lawyer for “inventor of e-mail” sends threat letter over social media posts

      Shiva Ayyadurai, the man who says he invented e-mail, has already sued two different tech publications for writing about his controversial claims. Now he also wants posts that he believes are defamatory to be removed from at least one social media network.

      Charles Harder, the attorney representing Ayyadurai, sent an e-mail on Tuesday to Diaspora, an open-source social network, demanding that three allegedly defamatory posts be removed. The posts were written by Roy Schestowitz, who also writes the blog Techrights.org.

    • Legal Threats By Charles Harder & Shiva Ayyadurai Targeting More Speech

      Let’s say right upfront: if you are unaware, Shiva Ayyadurai is currently suing Techdirt for our posts concerning Ayyaduria’s claims to have invented email. Ayyadurai’s lawyer in this matter is Charles Harder, the lawyer who filed multiple lawsuits against Gawker, and is credited by many with forcing that company into bankruptcy and fire sale.

      Now Harder, on behalf of Ayyadurai, has sent a demand letter to try to have social media comments posted in response to the lawsuit against us taken down. We are writing about this — despite the lawsuit against us — because we believe it is important and we do not intend to have our own speech chilled. This is also why we believe it is so important to have a federal anti-SLAPP law in place, because the chance to chill speech with threats or actual litigation is not a hypothetical problem. It is very, very real.

      Harder’s letter is to Diaspora, and it demands that certain posts by Roy Schestowitz be removed (which appears to have happened). Schestowitz is the guy behind the Techrights blog, which frequently covers issues related to things like free v. proprietary software and software patents. Harder’s letter to Diaspora claims that Schestowitz’s posts are defamatory, violate Diaspora’s terms of service, and “constitute harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

    • Outside Looking In: A Russian Filmmaker Fights Censorship from Abroad

      From his base in Latvia, Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky hopes to break the state media spell that has gripped post-Soviet audiences. The documentary filmmaker is president of Russia’s biggest and most controversial documentary film festival Artdocfest. Sitting in his office last fall, Mansky cut a figure that is half media mogul, half political operative. Earlier in the day Artdocfest’s e-mail addresses that are hosted on Russian servers appeared to be have been compromised, causing the festival team to scramble to set new passwords. As Mansky’s technical staff pored over their computers their boss fielded questions about Russia-Ukraine relations from a reporter at radio station Echo of Moscow via Skype.

    • Twitter search for “asshole,” “dickhead,” “racist” serve up Trump’s profile

      By Thursday morning, however, all of those results had vanished from Twitter. But, when quizzed by Ars, the Jack Dorsey-run firm declined to comment on whether it had scrubbed the results clean.

      A similar search on Wednesday night via the Twitter app for the word “crooked” didn’t lead to Hillary Clinton being recommended to users, despite Trump trying to ridicule his presidential campaign rival by repeatedly describing Clinton as “crooked Hillary.”

      But the word “corrupt”—another jibe heavily used by Trump last year—did return Hillary Clinton’s Twitter profile as a recommendation to users.

      And a Twitter search for “tiny hands” is still returning a recommendation for Trump’s personal Twitter profile.

    • The Alt-Right Is Trying to Crowdfund Twitter’s Destruction

      WeSearchr, a crowdfunding platform for the so-called “alt-right,” is threatening to sue Twitter for discrimination against conservatives and violations of antitrust regulation.

      “Twitter hates us, folks. And they’re $#@!ing us. It’s time to $#@! them back,” WeSearchr states on the funding page. “We’re going to sue Twitter for its discrimination against conservatives, its censorship, its violation of antitrust regulation, and for everything else that we can. We’re going to make Twitter the next Gawker.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 6 Shocking Ways The World Works (Nobody Told You About)

      We all know how big corporations make their money, right? They offer a service or product to us, the consumer, and we pay for it with our hard-earned money. It’s the cornerstone of capitalism, and why we no longer have to hunt, build fires, or whittle anything for ourselves. But in reality, the buying and selling of stuff only accounts for part of a corporation’s revenue stream. Big businesses have all sorts of tricks and schemes to increase their profit shares, and almost all of them make them look like waxily mustachioed cartoon villains. Like how …

      6 – AT&T Makes Bank By Selling Your Information To The Cops

      The reputation of telecommunications behemoth AT&T is roughly as positive as a recommendation letter for a baby-shaking nanny. They’re notorious for annoying customers with things like dropped calls, charging its poorest customers higher rates for slow-ass internet, and for generally not giving a single flat fuck. But they’ve managed to make at least one loyal friend through it all who doesn’t care so much about their service issues or sluggish connections: the police. And their cop buddies only want one thing out of this relationship: information on you.

    • Trump signs ‘no privacy for non-Americans’ order – what does that mean for rest of us?

      US President Donald Trump may have undermined a critical data sharing agreement between the United States and Europe that internet giants rely on to do business overseas.

      In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by the president this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.

    • The NSA Has Found a New Way to Categorically Deny FOIA Requests

      The notoriously secretive National Security Agency is raising “security concerns” to justify an apparent new policy of pre-emptively denying Freedom of Information Act requests about the agency’s contractors.

      The policy was cited by John R. Chapman, the agency’s chief FOIA public liaison officer, in a letter to Gizmodo on January 17, 2017, three days before Donald Trump’s inauguration. In explaining that the agency had declined to even conduct a search for records about a company called SCL Group, Chapman wrote, “Please be advised that due to changing security concerns, this is now our standard response to all requests where we reasonably believe acquisition records are being sought on a contract or contract-related activity.”

      The response appears to indicate that the NSA will no longer release—or even search for—any records pertaining to the private contractors it works with. SCL Group is a U.K.-based behavioral research firm that has reportedly worked with the Department of Defense in the past; its subsidiary Cambridge Analytica was a central component of the Trump campaign’s winning strategy.

    • Court Says Location Of FBI’s Utility Pole-Piggybacking Surveillance Cameras Can Remain Secret

      Last June, the FBI engaged in a public records lawsuit on its own behalf, seeking to prevent the city of Seattle from disclosing the locations of cameras the agency had mounted on city-owned utility poles. At the center of the case (for a short while) was privacy activist Phil Mocek, whose public records request for this information had spurred the FBI into action.

      In its arguments against the city’s disclosure of this information, the government posited the novel theory that revealing the cameras’ locations would violate the privacy of those the FBI was actively surveilling.

    • Stingray: A New Frontier in Police Surveillance

      Police agencies around the United States are using a powerful surveillance tool to mimic cell phone signals to tap into the cellular phones of unsuspecting citizens, track the physical locations of those phones, and perhaps even intercept the content of their communications.

      The device is known as a stingray, and it is being used in at least 23 states and the District of Columbia. Originally designed for use on the foreign battlefields of the War on Terror, “cell-site simulator” devices have found a home in the arsenals of dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

      In addition, police agencies have gone to incredible lengths to keep information about stingray use from defense attorneys, judges, and the public. Through the use of extensive nondisclosure agreements, the federal government prevents state and local law enforcement from disclosing even the most elementary details of stingray capability and use. That information embargo even applies to criminal trials, and allows the federal government to order evidence withheld or entire cases dropped to protect the secrecy of the surveillance device.

    • State Appeals Court Says Unlocking A Phone With A Fingerprint Doesn’t Violate The Fifth Amendment

      As was hinted heavily three years ago, you might be better off securing your phone with a passcode than your fingerprint. While a fingerprint is definitely unique and (theoretically…) a better way to keep thieves and snoopers from breaking into your phone, it’s not much help when it comes to your Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

    • More than 8M people own an Amazon Echo as customer awareness increases ‘dramatically’ [Ed: A lot of stupid people willingly put an always-on, send-all-data-to-CIA-Webmaster device because it says “smart”.]

      A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimates that there are now 8.2 million customers who own an Amazon Echo device, which first went on sale in late 2014 to Prime members and became generally available in June 2015.

    • Microsoft is making it easier for the Thai government to break web encryption

      The Thai government is looking to take greater control over its citizens’ web encryption, according to a new report from Privacy International, and Microsoft is part of the problem.

      At issue is the Thai government’s root certificate, which is used to verify HTTPS-enabled websites. Windows automatically trusts the certificate, but many competing operating systems do not. Used maliciously, the root certificate could allow the government to smuggle malware into otherwise legitimate pages, or present counterfeit versions of entire websites. Privacy International cites Thailand’s history of government surveillance as good reason to be suspicious.

      The report also claims that a 2014 Facebook outage in Thailand, which occurred amid a military coup, was orchestrated not only to censor users but to circumvent the social network’s encryption, as well.

    • Researchers Issue Security Warning Over Android VPN Apps

      A research team has issued a warning over the lack of security in many VPN apps available from Google Play. A worrying 38% of the apps tested contained some kind of malware while 67% featured at least one third-party tracking library. More than eight out of ten leaked IPv6 traffic.

    • Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin

      Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Bodycam footage leaks, resisting arrest charges dropped

      Texas police on Thursday dropped resisting arrest and other charges leveled against a mother and two daughters, ages 19 and 15, the same day leaked bodycam footage of the incident surfaced. The video shows a Fort Worth police officer manhandling the children, questioning the mother’s parenting skills, and not taking any action against a man the mother accused of assaulting her seven-year-old son.

      The video, leaked to the Associated Press by the family’s attorney who declined to say where he got it, shows Officer William Martin responding to mother Jacqueline Craig’s call to police. The woman had accused her neighbor, Itamar Vardi, of assaulting her son because he threw some trash on the ground by his residence.

      The officer, according to the video, grills the mother on her parenting skills, and she erupts in anger. That set the stage for the officer to pull a Taser, order her and others in the area to the ground, and to use force to quell the situation. The development is the latest example of how the publication of body cam footage or cell phone video is altering the criminal justice system at a time when more and more police agencies are deploying these video recorders.

    • Departing District Attorney To DOJ: Albuquerque Police Department Is A ‘Continuing Criminal Enterprise’

      District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is done with Albuquerque. More to the point, she’s decided not to seek re-election because she’s especially done with the city’s police force. On her way out the door, Brandenburg — who found herself locked out by the PD after bringing murder charges against two officers for shooting a homeless man — is letting the Department of Justice knows its work with the PD isn’t done yet.

      In early 2014, the DOJ released its report on the Albuquerque Police Department. In it were descriptions of the department’s indiscriminate, unchecked uses of force.

    • Outgoing DA slams APD in letter

      “Frankly, if any other group of individuals were acting the way APD has allegedly been acting, some of us in law enforcement might refer to them as a continuing criminal enterprise and/or engaged in the act of racketeering. I appreciate how bold a statement that is.”

      Albuquerque’s outgoing district attorney, in her final days in office, slammed the Police Department one last time – accusing it of cover-ups and other problems.

    • Draft executive order would begin ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants and visitors to the U.S.

      The Trump administration plans to start vetting would-be immigrants and visitors to the United States based partly on their opinions and ideology, and will immediately cease the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, according to a draft executive order leaked Wednesday to civil rights advocates and obtained by The Washington Post.

      The order, if enacted, would signal the beginning of the “extreme vetting” that President Trump promised on the campaign trail, as well as partial implementation of the “Muslim ban,” according to civil rights advocates.

    • Trump to Order Mexican Border Wall and Curtail Immigration

      President Trump on Wednesday will order the construction of a Mexican border wall — the first in a series of actions this week to crack down on immigrants and bolster national security, including slashing the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States and blocking Syrians and others from “terror prone” nations from entering, at least temporarily.

      The orders are among an array of national security directives Mr. Trump is considering issuing in the coming days, according to people who have seen the orders. They include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program; keep open the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

    • In Report, Watchdog Points to Growing Repression in Malaysia, Thailand

      Governments from South to Southeast Asia last year behaved repressively or failed to do enough to translate rhetoric about democratic values and freedoms into real action, Human Rights Watch said in a scathing assessment in its World Report 2017.

      The 697-page report, released Thursday, assessed the state of human rights in more than 90 countries. It pointed to deepening repression in Malaysia and Thailand, and criticized Bangladesh, Indonesia and India – the world’s most populous democracy – for problems ranging from extrajudicial disappearances and killings, to restrictions on free speech, or not doing enough to defend minorities and secular thinkers from attacks or discrimination.

    • Donald Trump says torture ‘absolutely’ works: ‘we have to fight fire with fire’

      Donald Trump has used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.”

      Speaking to ABC News, Trump said he would defer to the defence secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of terrorism.

      But asked about the efficacy of tactics such as waterboarding, Trump said: “absolutely I feel it works.”

    • Lying Once Again, Trump Declares Torture ‘Absolutely’ Works

      President Donald Trump doubled down on his embrace of torture on Wednesday, saying that it “absolutely works.”

      He made the fallacious claim in interview with ABC News, an excerpt of which was released before its airing on Wednesday evening.

      Trump said that he asked top intelligence officials whether waterboarding and other forms of torture work, and “the answer was yes, absolutely.”

      Ultimately, he said he is “going to go with” the opinions of Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo as to whether to reinstate torture.

      Asked by interviewer David Muir, “Do you want waterboarding?” he replied: “I don’t want people to chop off the citizens’ or anybody’s heads in the Middle East, OK, because they’re Christian or Muslim or anything else.”

    • White House Distances Itself from ‘Black Site’ Order After Outrage

      White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday said he had “no idea” where a controversial executive order that seemed poised to reinstate secret overseas CIA prisons came from, stating that President Donald Trump had not seen it.

      The draft, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” copies of which were obtained by the Associated Press and the Washington Post, would revoke former President Barack Obama’s decision to ban torture techniques and end the CIA program that allowed “interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States.” It would also send “enemy combatants” to the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    • Two Afghan migrants revealed as those arrested over horrific three-hour rape streamed on Facebook Live in Sweden

      TWO migrants from Afghanistan have reportedly been arrested over the three-hour gang rape of a woman that was broadcast on Facebook Live.

    • Theresa May will not confirm she will tell Donald Trump torture is unacceptable

      Theresa May has refused to say whether she will raise the issue of torture with Donald Trump when she meets him at the White House on Friday.

      During Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms May was quizzed on whether she would “make clear” to the US President that the UK would “under no circumstance” facilitate torture if he brings it back into US policy.

      While the Prime Minister reaffirmed Britain does not sanction torture and that that position would continue, she did not say whether she would make this clear to Mr Trump.

    • US could face human rights crisis after Trump’s xenophobic immigration orders

      Donald Trump is now effectively at war with undocumented migrants inside the US and those who attempt to cross the southern border without paperwork.

      Advisers and analysts alike have long suggested that Trump ought to be taken “seriously but not literally”, but Wednesday’s two executive orders on immigration show that he is living up to the blustering rhetoric of the 2016 election trail.

      It was a promise he made throughout an election campaign characterised by xenophobia, and one he has now underlined with a few flicks of the presidential pen.

      Attention focused upon Trump’s banner promise to erect a wall across an additional 1,200 miles of the US southern border – an order that will undoubtedly meet with stiff opposition when Congress is lobbied into funding the multibillion-dollar construction project that has, by Trump’s homeland security secretary’s own admission, limited effectiveness in deterring entry. There was also coverage of the aggressive declaration of intent to withdraw some funding to hundreds of sanctuary cities – those jurisdictions which offer protection to undocumented migrants – which will probably meet with vigorous legal opposition. However, Wednesday’s orders went further and carried instantaneous repercussions through dramatic immigration policy reversals that have been somewhat overlooked in the flurry of executive action.

    • Exclusive: Expecting Trump action, U.S. suspends refugee resettlement interviews

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has temporarily halted trips by staff to interview refugees abroad as it prepares for a likely shakeup of refugee policy by President Donald Trump, two sources with knowledge of the decision said on Thursday.

      The decision effectively amounts to a pause in future refugee admissions, given that the interviews are a crucial step in an often years-long process.

      The DHS leadership’s decision to halt the interview trips was communicated to those involved in the U.S. refugee admission process on Wednesday, one of the sources said.

      It means that though Trump has not yet ordered a temporary halt to the refugee program, future admissions are likely to be delayed.

    • Trump Strategist Steve Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’

      Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief White House strategist, laced into the American press during an interview on Wednesday evening, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.

      “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call.

      “I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

      The scathing assessment — delivered by one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted and influential advisers, in the first days of his presidency — comes at a moment of high tension between the news media and the administration, with skirmishes over the size of Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd and the president’s false claims that millions of illegal votes by undocumented immigrants swayed the popular vote against him.

    • Steve Bannon pretty much declares war on the free press

      In an outrageous interview with the New York Times, Steve Bannon declared the press an “opposition party” and suggests it “keep its mouth shut.”

    • Steve Bannon Tells NY Times The Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’

      Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News-chairman-turned-White-House-chief-strategist, said in a Wednesday interview that the media “is the opposition party” for President Trump and should “keep its mouth shut.”

      “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.

    • Will Trump’s immigration blitz hit Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee’s asylum bid?

      US President Donald Trump’s sweeping plans for an immigration clamp down, as made public on Wednesday, are unlikely to dramatically affect the asylum bid of Singaporean teenage dissident Amos Yee, his lawyer said, as the blogger’s stint in a US jail entered its 40th day.

      “It’s too early to tell what the impact would be of the president’s plans for refugees,” Sandra Grossman, the US-based pro-bono lawyer representing the 18-year-old, told This Week in Asia.

      Draft executive orders circulating on Wednesday showed Trump would “drastically cut the amount of Syrian refugees that the United States will submit,” Grossman said.

    • Trump’s Tough-Guy Talk on Torture Risks Real Lives

      In an interview with his biographer Michael D’Antonio, Donald Trump explained that although he received a medical deferment rather than serving in the war in Vietnam, “I always felt that I was in the military.” This was, as D’Antonio reported in “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success,” because he spent his high-school years at a military-themed boarding school, not far from West Point.

      Last Saturday, President Trump trumpeted his military expertise during a visit to the C.I.A.’s headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, where he praised his nominee to direct the C.I.A., Michael Pompeo, for being first in his class at West Point. Then he digressed, noting, “I know a lot about West Point. . . . Trust me, I’m, like, a smart person.”

      One difference between serving in the military and being a pretend soldier at the New York Military Academy, where Trump proudly led mock drills in snappy faux military uniforms, is that, in the real thing, officers are drilled not just in marching formations but also in the laws of war. These include the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, which impose absolute, unconditional bans on torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment of enemy combatants, categorizing such conduct, under any and all circumstances, as a war crime.

    • WATCH: Minnesota protesters erupt after Republicans pass bill to charge demonstrators for police overtime costs

      Protesters on Tuesday shut down a Minnesota House of Representatives hearing after lawmakers voted to pass a GOP-led measure that would charge activists for law enforcement costs associated with disruptive demonstrations.

      Tuesday’s committee meeting ended abruptly after the bill to allow local police departments to charge protesters for the costs associated with demonstrations passed nine-to-six along party lines in the House Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee — with every Republican on the committee voting for it, and every Democrat against.

      Citizens at the hearing shouted “Shame, shame!” after the vote, prompting lawmakers to walk out without taking up a second measure.

      The bill was proposed by Republican Rep. Nick Zerwas of Elk River, who said local law enforcement has spent $2.5 million dealing with protests in the last 18 months. Zerwas said he arrived at his total policing cost by adding up estimates in media reports — figures that cannot be independently verified. His bill has 27 co-sponsors.

    • Resisting arrest can now be considered a hate crime in Louisiana

      In May of 2016, Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, which protects police officers, firefighters and EMS officials under the state’s hate crime statute. The law went into effect in August, and now at least one police chief is ready to apply it to anyone resisting arrest.

      “We don’t need the general public being murdered for no reason and we don’t need officers being murdered for no reason. We all need to just work together,” St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Herbert told a local ABC affiliate. “Resisting an officer or batter of a police officer was just that charge, simply. But now, Governor Edwards, in the legislation, made it a hate crime.”

      While the bill does not specifically list resisting arrest as a qualifying offense, it empowers police officials to pursue more draconian punishments of crimes deemed to be motivated by animus towards the police. The Huffington Post’s Julia Craven offers a chilling scenario: “If a police officer grabs a protester’s arm during a demonstration and that person makes a movement the officer considers aggressive, a minor trespassing or disturbing the peace charge could be bumped up to assault and possibly considered a hate crime.”

    • Austrian expert says Islam is unsustainable in its current form

      A leading professor and expert on Islam has warned that the religion is “not sustainable” in its current form and called for more critical thinking.

      Ednan Aslan, 57, a professor for Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna in Austria and a frequent guest on German-language TV shows, said that in Islam too little is being questioned and too much simply taken for granted.

      He warned: “Islam, as it is now, is not sustainable,” and said he wanted to “reshape the face” of his religion.

    • Mario Silva: Persistence of anti-Semitism shows world has yet to learn lessons of the Holocaust

      This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sadly, the liberation of the camp on Jan. 27, 1945 did not put a stop to the mass killing of innocent Jewish men, women and children. Nor did it stop after the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division liberated the Westerbork concentration camp in Holland in April 1945. The Nazis continued their slaughter until the last moments of their murderous machine, which was put to an end when Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

      Nazism subscribed to theories of a “master race” — a racial hierarchy where superior people have a right to dominate others and purge society of so-called inferior elements.

      By the time the war ended, Nazi Germany and its many collaborators had exterminated one-third of the Jewish people, six million Jews. Those of us who look back at that dark period history become traumatized by the ease and speed with which the killing took place. Nowhere is this more evident that in Babi Yar, Ukraine, where from Sept. 29–30, 1941, over just two days, 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation.

    • A sinister British Sharia court and one girl’s tireless hunt for her father’s killer: How a brutal murder in Pakistan uncovered revenge killings in Lancashire

      The Muslim council of elders, or Sharia court, listened intently as the plaintiff outlined his case. He’d been disrespected by a neighbour, he told them, and in such a small Pakistani community, people talk.

      As atonement for that disrespect, the neighbour had agreed to the plaintiff’s demand that their children would marry each other. But when the neighbour’s children objected to the idea, he reneged on that promise.

      The plaintiff before the makeshift court was therefore demanding retribution.

      The price for that broken promise was clear, he argued: his neighbour’s recalcitrant children had dishonoured him as well, and what’s more, they were consorting with white people.

      As they were already promised to his own children, that constituted adultery: they should pay with their lives.

      The council of elders deliberated, then issued their judgment.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Neutrality fear over Trump appointee

      President Donald Trump has chosen Ajit Pai as the new head of the US Federal Communications Commission, the government agency which regulates telecoms issues.

      The appointment has raised concerns among internet rights activists that laws ensuring net neutrality are now under threat.

      Net neutrality is the term given to the view that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally – rather than, for instance, internet service providers being allowed to charge more for a “fast lane” for people wanting to use data-heavy services such as Netflix.

    • FCC Chairman Pai vows to close broadband “digital divide”

      On his first full day as Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Republican Ajit Pai yesterday spoke to FCC staff and said one of his top priorities will be bringing broadband to all Americans.

      “One of the most significant things that I’ve seen during my time here is that there is a digital divide in this country—between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not,” Pai said (transcript). “I believe one of our core priorities going forward should be to close that divide—to do what’s necessary to help the private sector build networks, send signals, and distribute information to American consumers, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else. We must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”

    • Google and Netflix join fight against municipal broadband restrictions

      Google and Netflix joined a handful of advocacy groups and other companies lobbying against a proposed Virginia state law that would make it far more difficult for municipalities to offer Internet service.

      As we previously reported, the “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act” would prohibit municipal broadband deployments except in very limited circumstances. For example, localities wouldn’t be allowed to offer Internet service to residents if an existing network already provides 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds to 90 percent of potential customers. Even if that condition is met, municipalities would have to jump through several legal hoops before being allowed to build a network.

    • Cable’s Congressional Allies Quickly Urge New FCC Boss To Kill Cable Box Competition Plan

      Last year, the FCC unveiled a new plan that would require cable operators make their content available via app for third-party cable boxes and other streaming hardware. The goal was to bring a little added competition and openness to the clunky old cable box. But because the FCC’s plan would have not only eroded the cable industry’s walled-garden control over content — but $20 billion in annual cable box rental fees — the cable industry, broadcasters, Congressional allies and even the US Copyright Office got right to work lying about the plan — repeatedly.

    • A Republican FCC Means You Will Have to Keep Renting Your Cable Box Forever

      Republicans in Congress want to force consumers to keep renting clunky, outdated cable “set-top” boxes, sending billions of dollars annually into the corporate coffers of Comcast, Charter and other industry giants.

      GOP lawmakers on Wednesday urged new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to formally kill a FCC plan to increase competition in the pay-TV market that would save consumers an estimated $20 billion every year.

      Big cable companies and their allies in Hollywood hate the proposal, which would require cable operators to offer software “apps” giving consumers access to content like ESPN on the device of their choice. Many cable operators already offer mobile apps, but the FCC proposal would require them to make such apps available on Android, iOS, Amazon and other third-party devices—without the need to rent a set-top box from the cable company.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • The (Viral) Ripple Effect of Ripping Off Journalism

        If you’d been strolling past my office last Tuesday and happened to glance in through the window, you would have been greeted by an odd sight: me at my desk crying and eating slice after slice of my daughter’s pink-frosted birthday cake. Six slices in total.

        In that moment, I was swamped with an immense feeling of fear and of powerlessness.

        Two days earlier, I’d published a devastating investigation about mothers who sexually abuse their sons. It was the result of weeks of painstaking work – academic reading, long and difficult interviews, fact checking, legal advice, writing and re-writing and discussion with my editor.

French Media Says Benoît Battistelli Turned the Patent Office Into a Sort of North Korea

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

North Korea flag and EPO

Summary: A new article from the French media shares some interesting new tidbits of information about the autocrat who has inadvertently come to destroy the European Patent Office

THE EPO continues to attract negative media attention, in spite of paying the media, which is Battistelli’s way of wasting millions of Euros of the EPO’s budget, corrupting the media in the process (the casualty outside Eponia, bloggers included).

Articles such as the aforementioned Le Canard Enchaîné article (mentioned last week) are good enough to be worth an English translation, so that is exactly what one reader sent to us. Here is the full translation:

Rich pickings at the European Patent Office

Completely out of control, this little-known but extremely rich organization treats its staff like in the old days – but not the good ones.

Imagine an offshore enclave, but in the heart of Europe, a sort of micro-state which dictates its own laws, completely out of control. Don’t imagine any more: It exists. The European Patent Office (EPO) is a discreet but extremely rich international organization, which answers to no-one. And no-one more so than its President, who turns out to be a Frenchman, and a graduate of the prestigious National School of Administration. Since he took over at the EPO in July 2010, Benoît Battistelli has behaved, according to his many detractors, like some kind of oriental potentate. Under his reign the Office has turned into a sort of North Korea.

On paper, working at the EPO is a good deal. The 7,000 officials, who are responsible for registering the patents for 38 countries, feature as among the best paid in Europe. More than half of them take home an average monthly wage packet of 11,000 Euros, and that’s after tax. Established forty years ago, the EPO, which sports a budget of two billion Euros, has never cashed in as much as it does under Battistelli’s iron rule, chalking up a profit of 300,000 Euros annually.

Strikes and pickets

But there’s a problem: Money doesn’t buy happiness. Last year, angry employees demonstrated in front of the headquarters in Munich, protesting against the management methods of the President, which are far from being patented. This has never happened before in the history of the organization. The staff union representing the majority of the employees, Suepo, pointed up the suicide of four staff members, two of which occurred at the workplace. What a coincidence; a number of Suepo representatives were then singled out for disciplinary procedures. To muzzle the competition better, the President of the Office, who in his off-duty moments is a Republican municipal councillor in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, decided to shut the union down. Faced with a democratic backlash, the National School of Administration graduate, who also holds the award of the Legion of Honour, also imposed restraints on the right to strike.

From now on, if the union wants to call a stoppage, it has to ask the management nicely, who will then arrange for the strike to be supervised. In order for a strike to be authorised, a majority of the staff members have to vote in favour of the principle, with a participation rate of 40%, if you please. And if, by some miracle, the strike is authorised, it cannot, under any circumstances, go on for longer than one month. This Friday, the High Court of Appeal of the Netherlands will be ruling on the complaint lodged by Suepo, advised by the French advocate William Bourdon, on the grounds of “Violation of fundamental rights against the rulings regarding the right to strike”.

Bercy backing all the horses

The French government is massively irritated by a situation which could damage the image of France abroad. Christophe Sirugue, Secretary of State for Industry, gives assurance that he “views with great disquiet the social climate which prevails within the Office, and which has seriously deteriorated over the past two years”. He hopes this will get up Battistelli’s nose – but Battistelli doesn’t give a damn.

With his six bodyguards, his diplomatic passport, and his CD plates on the official limousine, Battistelli is a lot more powerful than some under-minister.

One stash, more than one double deal

To help him run things, the President of the Office has recruited a dozen Frenchmen, close on half of whom come from the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi), of which he was the director for many years. It’s with them in tow that he is running the EPO milch cow in his own inimitable style. A veritable cornucopia, which in 2016 generated a profit of 560 million Euros. On the Administrative Council, the main management body, those who risk questioning the directives from the top are rare indeed.

“The only thing that matters to the members of the Administrative Council is that their countries get their cut from the patents registered with the EPO” was the sarcastic response from one EPO official, who preferred to remain anonymous. An annual manna of 500 million Euros. Germany alone, European champion when it comes to patents, pockets 150 million Euros every year. For having dared to stir things up, France has itself had to pay a price. French patents straight away went to the bottom of the pile….

That’s what you call a patented method.

Christophe Labbé

That last part was confirmed by a leak in 2015; if true, as evidence does seem to suggest, then Battistelli not only ‘buys’ votes but also ‘punishes’ countries that vote down his proposals or ‘dare’ criticise him. Not even North Korea went as far as this…

March on Battistelli, and worry not when the Office you once ‘led’ simply collapses. After the imminent retirement (Battistelli is too old to have been given this post in the first place) there will always be the memories and delusions of grandeur.

North Korean EPO

US Supreme Court Poised to Limit Patent Scope Even Further and Hamper Trolls-Friendly Courts

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 8:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Progress being made… (and the infamous patent on the progress bar would be a thing of the past)

Progress bar

Summary: The steps taken by US Justices, who view patents from a compassionate point of view rather than a maximalist perspective, undo decades of a patent gold rush

THE USPTO became “Great Again” under the latter Obama years (maybe the past three years). “Key Patent Law Decisions Of 2016″, a new article from the patent lawyers’ platform, recalls that “[t]he U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrestled with a number of important issues of patent law in 2016, including in three Supreme Court opinions (with more on the way) and three en banc Federal Circuit opinions. The issues in these cases were diverse and wide-ranging, including administrative review of patents in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) and the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), recognition of a new patent agent privilege, and the Supreme Court’s first design patent decision in more than a century.”

“The patent microcosm is still moaning about decisions that are years behind; it wants a resurgence of patent maximalism, i.e. the misguided belief that the more patents we have, the better off the economy will be (not just their own bottom line).”We have covered most of these and pointed out that SCOTUS limited patent scope in 2016, just as it had done in 2015 and 2014 (Alice, Mayo and so on). This is fantastic news to patent reformers and we hope that reformist policies will persist under Trump. Posted behind paywall yesterday was the article “The Supreme Court’s Impact on Patentable Subject Matter”. The patent microcosm is still moaning about decisions that are years behind; it wants a resurgence of patent maximalism, i.e. the misguided belief that the more patents we have, the better off the economy will be (not just their own bottom line).

The EFF, which has been habitually attacked by the patent microcosm (Watchtroll called it “a leftist anti-patent activist coalition” [1, 2]), has just released a statement titled “EFF To Patent Office: Supreme Court Limits On Abstract Patents Are a Good Thing”; it’s a powerful statement which cites Alice — a decision which is now killing software patents. To quote:

“EFF has submitted comments to the Patent Office urging it not to support efforts to undermine the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. The Patent Office had called for public submissions regarding whether “legislative changes are desirable” in response to recent court decisions, including Alice. We explain that, far from harming the software industry, Alice has helped it thrive.

“Every software engineer, system administrator etc. that I speak to absolutely loves Alice. It was belated (by decades) justice to the software profession and it gives many software companies peace of mind.”“When the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Alice, it was a shock to a patent system that had been churning out software patents by the tens of thousands every year. Back in the 1990s, the Federal Circuit had opened the software patent floodgate with its ruling in State Street and In re Alappat. That decision held that any general purpose computer could be eligible for a patent so long as it is programmed to perform a particular function. In Alice, the Supreme Court substantially moderated that holding by ruling that a generic computer is not eligible for a patent simply because it is programed to implement an abstract idea.

“Courts have applied Alice to throw out many of the worst software patents. Alice is particularly valuable because, in some cases, courts have applied it early in litigation thereby preventing patent trolls from using the high expense of litigation to pressure defendants into settlements. While we think that the Federal Circuit could do more to diligently apply Alice, it has at least been a step forward.”

Every software engineer, system administrator etc. that I speak to absolutely loves Alice. It was belated (by decades) justice to the software profession and it gives many software companies peace of mind. I personally know some people whose employer/customers got attacked by patent trolls and suffered severely as a result. These patent trolls, as usual, relied on software patents.

Speaking of patent trolls, are they about to lose it all? SCOTUS intends to look into their breeding ground, as Above the Law noted this week, under the title “Leaving The Heartland?”

To quote:

By accepting the case, the Supreme Court has already indicated it is willing to consider the question of whether the Federal Circuit has taken too expansive a view of venue in patent cases. If the Supreme Court decides that restrictive language in the patent venue statute controls, then patent cases will be permitted only in districts where either the defendant is incorporated or has a physical place of business. Since relatively few regular patent defendants meet either criteria in the EDTX, the thought is that the EDTX’s patent litigation well will quickly dry up. Which may be a boon to technology companies located on either coast, many of which would not miss the EDTX one iota. At the same time, the robust infrastructure that has arisen to support patent litigation in the EDTX would be adversely affected, likely to the economic detriment of the region.

Trump will likely nominate if not appoint a Scalia replacement. If all the rest of the Justices keep their seats, then we expect (as do others, including scholars) the Supreme Court to deal a mortal blow to patent trolls

Promising times ahead.

The United States Has Just Made It Even Harder to Appeal PTAB Decisions (Usually to Invalidate Software Patents)

Posted in America, Patents at 7:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep clean

Summary: The US cleanup operation, which involves weakening if not trashing abstract patents (notably software patents), culminates in reluctance by the Federal Circuit to review PTAB decisions

Marks & Clerk, the legal firm that promotes software patents (even where it is not legal) and said that pursuing such patents at the European Patent Office (EPO) is now easier than at USPTO, has a new article about the EPO. It’s about invalidation of patents based on technicality criteria:

Patenting of non-technical systems not ‘taking off’ at the EPO and late filed requests not taken ‘on board’

It is a situation many passengers will be familiar with: sitting on an aeroplane, fuelled up and ready to taxi to the runway, and the pilot announces a delay for reasons outside their control. This frustrating experience is one which the system of aircraft flow management in the patent EP1428195 under appeal at the European Patent Office (EPO) in T-497/11 sought to address. In this case, the Board of Appeal had to decide whether the system as claimed provided an inventive step over the prior art, as well as deciding if late filed requests should be admitted. The appellant (patent proprietors) requested that the decision of the Opposition Division to revoke the patent on grounds of, amongst others, exclusion from patentability (Art 52(2) EPC) be set aside and that the patent be maintained.

As readers of us would know too well, the US trashed so many software patents that we have lost count. We estimate the number to be thousands and by extension — if all patents were to be reassessed (e.g. by a court or a panel) — we expect that hundreds of thousands of patents are now toothless. They’re worse than unusable because trying to sue with them would only be costly to the plaintiff, never mind the defendant.

“As readers of us would know too well, the US trashed so many software patents that we have lost count. We estimate the number to be thousands and by extension — if all patents were to be reassessed (e.g. by a court or a panel) — we expect that hundreds of thousands of patents are now toothless.”We have already mentioned here the other day that the Federal Circuit (CAFC), for a change (a rarity of approximately one in five), disagreed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). It’s just one of the exceptional cases where CAFC overrules others on the subject of software patents, so obviously the patent microcosm was all over it [1, 2, 3], amplifying the message throughout the week. There is also this other case where the “Federal Circuit announced that not all inter partes review (“IPR”) proceedings at the U.S. Patent Office can be appealed. While anyone can file an IPR petition, not all persons can appeal. For petitioners without standing, i.e., an “injury in fact,” the Patent Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) is the last and final stop.”

“In simple terms, it means that pursuing and also upholding software patents in the US has become quite an incredible challenge.”There is an IAM “report” about it and some other rants about the same case, e.g. “Petitioner Must Show Actual Injury to Establish Standing to Appeal PTAB Final Written Decision”. To quote: “In this case, the Federal Circuit determined that in its nearly 35-year history, it had not established the legal standard for demonstrating standing in an appeal from a final agency action. The underlying dispute arose from an appeal by Phigenix, Inc. (“Phigenix”) of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision that the challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,337,856 (the “’856 patent”), which is assigned to ImmunoGen, Inc. (“ImmunoGen”), were not obvious in view of the prior art. Genentech Inc. (“Genentech”) has an exclusive license to the ’856 patent, which Genentech uses to produce the drug Kadcyla®TM. Phigenix, a research company that focuses on the use of therapeutics designed to fight cancer, does not manufacture any products, but has an intellectual property portfolio that includes U.S. Patent No. 8,080,534 (the “’534 patent”), which Phigenix claims is infringed by Genetech based on its activities related to Kadcyla®TM. After Genentech refused to take a license to the ’534 patent, Phigenix filed a petition for an inter partes review (“IPR”) against ImmunoGen’s ’856 patent. After Phigenix appealed the PTAB’s decision on its IPR petition, ImmunoGen filed a motion to dismiss claiming that Phigenix lacks standing to appeal the PTAB’s decision.”

What needs to be stressed again is that last year, for example, the Federal Circuit agreed with PTAB 77.4% of the time. It now has additional barriers for appeals, while adding no constraints to petitions (IPRs). In simple terms, it means that pursuing and also upholding software patents in the US has become quite an incredible challenge. If it’s perceived to be a monumental task, fewer people or businesses will even bother patenting software (or anything else that falls under Alice-inspired tests). This is basically the most desirable outcome.

Matt Levy (Computer and Communications Industry Association) Welcomes Michelle Lee as USPTO Director

Posted in America, Patents at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

USPTO panel

Summary: More of the same, i.e. elimination of patent trolls, welcomed by “Patent Progress”, a site owned and run by CCIA

THE USPTO has made progress, as in “Patent Progress”, since AIA (signed almost 6 years ago).

3 years ago CCIA told Michelle Lee about patent trolls — a problem she has been tackling (quite successfully in fact!) since. Right now a lot of the patent microcosm is attacking Michelle Lee (e.g. see what Watchtroll did in article form and tweet form) , so we wish to remind her that people who are technologists — not law firms — are behind her. Matt Levy published the following 2 days ago, under the headline “Why It’s a Good Thing If Michelle Lee Stays at USPTO”:

Well, this would be a nice surprise: it seems that Michelle Lee may be staying on as Director of the US Patent & Trademark Office. Director Lee has done a great job for businesses and innovators over the last few years.

Perhaps her most important contribution has been her recognition that the USPTO issued a lot of bad patents over the previous couple of decades, and that too many of those bad patents have been ammunition for patent trolls.

Patent troll litigation has exploded in the 21st Century. Even though there were fewer troll suits filed in 2016, there were still nearly 3,000 companies sued by patent trolls last year. Research shows that patent trolls typically use older patents; this means that a bad patent issued today might cause harm 10 or 15 years from now in the hands of a patent troll.

In short, bad patents can have real world consequences, many years after the USPTO was involved. It’s important to improve the examination process to improve the quality of patents issuing from the Office.

There are still mixed messages about whether Lee stays or not. We are waiting for an official confirmation and eagerly anticipate this year’s SCOTUS ruling against the status of the Eastern District of Texas, which we’ll write about separately later today.

Conflict Between Benoît Battistelli and Roland Grossenbacher, Former Chairman of the Administrative Council of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The older establishment is not happy with the way Battistelli runs the Office

Roland Grossenbacher
Image source

Summary: Things are not all rosy at the EPO, as the former boss and the predecessor of Benoît Battistelli is not happy with the way things are going

A reader sent us some important information about Roland Grossenbacher, whom we wrote about before. He has had a conflict with Battistelli [1, 2], which is why there is a cartoon about him circulating within and outside the EPO. Grossenbacher, unlike Battistelli, is a man of some honour, a guy with intellect and scientific background (with a Ph.D. on copyright, based on Wikipedia). Battistelli is just a right-wing politician with some certificate from the sociopaths factory known as ENA (never mind decorative nonsense like an honorary doctorate he seems to have gotten through personal connections, as we mentioned last year and even more recently). Does this remind anyone else of Trump and Wharton? Autocratic tendencies aside?

Here is the information we got:

There is an open conflict between ‘King Battistelli’ and Roland Grossenbacher (CH) but it is not clear when it all started.

Possibly it has to do with the case of the suspended Boards-of-Appeals member (Grossenbacher is the chairman of the Boards-of-Appeals Committee (BOAC)). I also heard that there is still a court case pending in Karlsruhe about a possible lack of independence of the Boards.

Known is the following:

During the Council meeting of October 2016, Grossenbacher proposed changes to Battistelli’s proposal concerning revised Investigation Guidelines along the following lines:

1) all changes should be in the Service Regulations (hence decided by the Council)

2) the right to remain silent should be anchored in the Service Regulations

3) there should be an exhaustive list of what can be considered as misconduct

4) only deliberate and grossly negligent breaches should be punished

5) the head of the Investigation Unit should be nominated and under the supervision of the AC (Administrative Council)

6) the Disciplinary Committee should be informed when the Investigation Unit finds evidence of malpractice

7) the AC must be informed, if investigations are launched against Staff/Union Representatives

8) the Head of the Investigation Unit should be independent and report directly to the AC

9) mediation and ombudsmen should be an option

10) the independence of the Internal Appeal Committee should be reinforced by a constitution of external independent judges

11) the elected Staff Representation must have a say in the nomination of the Appeals Committee

During the 2016 December Council meeting, Grossenbacher criticised the approach taken by Battistelli after the ILOAT judgement: there is “a great risk, that we will see ourselves in a short while in the same situation as today”. He also complained that Battistelli had not successfully dealt with any of the points of the March resolution.

We hope this answers some questions people may have had about Battistelli’s status and why Grossenbacher seemingly vanished not too long ago. Rumours we heard suggested that Battistelli, in his typical tyrannical fashion, lobbied hard to destroy Grossenbacher. Such is the nature of a career-climbing sociopath. Baby Benoît just throws toys out the pram whenever he doesn’t get his way and uses his hand on the spigot (EPO budget) to buy himself ‘allies’. The Chinchillas killer (Chairman of the Administrative Council) lets him get away with it, which says a lot about what the EPO has become. No wonder Grossenbacher is so deeply concerned.

“Battistelli looks like some kind of an ENA ‘liquidator’, and perhaps rightly so.”Days ago the EPO mentioned (in Twitter) the EPO's controversial French Chief Economist Yann Ménière going public (in an event) and spouting out his usual nonsense, but remember that the former Chief Economist of the EPO is anything but happy with Battistelli-like policies. It seems like there is a conflict brewing between the “old” (good) EPO and the “new” EPO, i.e. the one that is in rapid demise as inventories run out (expected to lead to massive layoffs shortly after Battistelli leaves). No wonder the unions are concerned and staff is generally mortified. Battistelli looks like some kind of an ENA ‘liquidator’, and perhaps rightly so. Unlike Trump’s businesses, Chapter 11 and bailouts are not a option for the EPO.

Journalists Have Learned to Ignore Claims From the EPO’s Management, Which Habitually Lies to Journalists

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli’s EPO faces a serious credibility crisis

Wikipedia on credibility
Reference: Wikipedia on credibility

Summary: The European Patent Office is failing to generate positive media buzz, having possibly alienated much of the media (except media which it literally paid)

THE EPO, which is still embroiled in many scandals, did not manage to silence the European public. In the latest Heise article, for instance, there are well over 50 comments. People are angry about politicians like Maas (never mind Dutch politicians) conveniently failing (or refusing) to uphold the law against Battistelli and his chums.

“Cambodia has zero European patents.”The latest EPO puff pieces, one about the former French colony and another about patent quality, have had virtually no effect or impact. In fact, media all across the world rejected that hogwash and we saw no press coverage of these cheap stunts. The EPO’s Twitter account keeps promoting this mirage of patent quality (lots about it so far this week), but nobody seems to care. Nobody out there should trust the EPO, which habitually lies to journalists (we have given many examples over the years). The only one piece which we found emanating from the latest PR stunts is this puff piece from Kali Kotoski in Cambodia. It’s almost like a rewrite (or ghostwritten, or worse — plagiarism) of what the EPO wrote. It says “Cambodia is set to become the first country in Southeast Asia to recognise and protect European patents after the Minister of Industry and Handicrafts signed an agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) yesterday.”

We have already explained why this is laughable, even as far back as last year. Cambodia has zero European patents. It might have some patents at the USPTO, but we have not checked. Either way, the pathetic level of EPO PR is quite revealing. There is nothing good left to say. Maybe tomorrow Battistelli will announce some ‘unprecedented’ MoU with Micronesia.

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