Links 29/1/2017: Calibre 2.78, Liveslak 1.1.6

Posted in News Roundup at 6:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Election Technology Institute’s ‘Trust the Vote Project’

    The urgency of completing ElectOS by 2018 and/or 2020 is evident from the many irregularities experienced during our most recent 2016 primaries. To ramp up their efforts, the OSET Institute needs to hire at least six more technological engineers as soon as possible. They would prefer to maintain their financial integrity by directing their appeal to average citizens who share their concern for honest elections. If this describes you, consider donating to the OSET Institute at TrustTheVote.org (PayPal accepted), or address checks to Open Source Election Technology Foundation, Inc. and mail to:

  • Good usability but poor experience

    However, that last item is treading on different territory: User eXperience (UX). And UX is different from usability.

    If usability is about real people using the software to do real tasks in a reasonable amount of time, User eXperience is more about the user’s emotional response when using the software. Or their emotional attachment to the software. UX is more closely aligned to the user’s impression of the software beyond usability, beyond using the software to complete tasks.

  • Web Browsers

    • Icculus: EmScripten Audio Conversion Performance In The Web Browser

      Linux game porter and SDL developer Ryan “Icculus” Gordon has shared some performance measurements when bringing SDL’s new audio conversion support within web-browsers using EmScripten.

      Within the latest SDL development code is audio conversion support. Ryan Gordon was testing it by seeing how long it takes to use a 12MB Wav file and re-sample it 500 times.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Open Collective: A New Chapter of Open Source Project Funding

      One year ago, putting yourself entirely into a position of Open Source contribution was a difficult task, there was no consistent money out of working on one. One had to have a full-time job in a company for money. Open Collective, a platform for curating funds for open source projects, is changing that, starting with Webpack.


    • G’MIC 1.7.9 (Standalone Software And GIMP Plugin) Has Been Released

      As you may know, G’MIC (GREYC’s Magic Image Converter) is a editing tool, that can be used with GIMP or as a standalone application, being available for both Linux and Windows. G’MIC provides a window which enables the users to add more than 500 filters over photos and preview the result, in order to give the photos some other flavor.

      G’Mic comes with different interfaces: a command-line tool, an interface for webcam manipulation, build in Qt and a library and plugin for GIMP.


  • Science

    • Trump’s immigration ban is already having a chilling effect on science

      Maryam Saeedi, an assistant professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon, is effectively trapped inside the US.

      Under Trump’s immigration ban, which, among other things, restricts immigrants and visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days, she and her husband — both Iranian academics and green card holders — have learned they may not be able to reenter the US if they leave.

      “We’ve been living [here] for years,” she told Vox. “We are a productive part of this community — and now we’re banned. They just consider us to be terrorists.”

      As rumors began to circulate last week that the immigration ban might be coming down, Saeedi and a handful of Iranian colleagues started to mobilize. For researchers like them, who attend many international scientific conferences a year, restrictions on travel will take a heavy toll on crucial collaborations with other scientists from around the world, not to mention their personal lives.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Virus Genetic Information Hot Topic At WHO; Flu Framework Under Nagoya Needs More Time

      World Health Organization members decided more consideration is needed to address the genetic information of flu viruses in the organisation’s pandemic framework, and the suggestion to have the framework considered as a special instrument under the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources.

    • The US Is Suffering From a Very Real Water Crisis That Few Are Acknowledging

      On January 16, 2016, President Obama declared a federal emergency for the city of Flint, Michigan, over the contamination of the city’s drinking water.

      One year later, not only is the city still struggling to provide clean sources of water to the Michigan city’s population, but the plight of residents in Flint has opened up the conversation about a water crisis in the United States that very few people even knew existed.

      The sad story of Flint, Michigan, gained national attention because it was a crisis that was entirely avoidable, at least for the time being. Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was looking for ways to cut costs, so he hired an outside manager to come up with ideas on how to do that. Unfortunately, one of the ideas that was put into action was to change the source of Flint’s drinking water from the Detroit water system to the Flint River, which was known to be heavily polluted. When that contaminated water hit the city’s aging water delivery infrastructure, the chemicals interacted with the lead pipes, causing dangerous levels of lead contamination for residents who did not have water filters.

    • The Breakthrough: Uncovering Danger at the Pharmacy Counter

      Every time you pick up a prescription at the drugstore, you’re handed a set of instructions showing what the drug is for, how to use it, and its possible side effects.

      But millions of people across the country take more than one medication at a time, and some of those drugs can interact in dangerous, even deadly ways.

    • Texas Is Leading the Right-Wing Crusade Against Planned Parenthood

      At the end of a three-day hearing, a federal district court judge in Austin, Texas, on January 19 issued a temporary injunction blocking state officials from excising Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program — a move that would deny more than 11,000 of the state’s poorest residents from accessing preventive care from their provider of choice, and would annually strip Texas Planned Parenthood clinics of several million dollars.

      The current court action is just the latest in a long string of attempts by the state of Texas to defund local affiliates of the nation’s largest provider of women’s health and reproductive care. And it is part of a larger movement by conservative state and federal lawmakers to cut off Planned Parenthood from all government funding.

      If anti-choice lawmakers in D.C. have their way, it may be easier for Texas, and other states, to get their way.

  • Security

    • Police dept loses evidence in Windows ransomware strike

      In an incident that again underlines the danger posed by Windows ransomware, the police department of a city in Texas has lost video evidence dating back to 2009 and a host of documents following an attack by what appears to be a new strain of the Locky ransomware.

      The affected station is Cockrell Hill, a city in Dallas County. The story was first published by the TV station WFAA.

      In a media release, the police department said: “This virus affected all Microsoft Office Suite documents, such as Word documents and Excel files.

      “In addition, all body camera video, some in-car video, some in-house surveillance video, and some photographs that were stored on the server were corrupted and were lost.”

    • Backup?

      Of course, complexity grew too and intruders and malware attacked over the network. About 2003/4 the situation got so bad that the Wintel empire was threatened. Resources were poured into the problem. Code got better. Users became more aware of danger. The problem remains that the number of users and the number of attackers has grown to the point that no one anywhere at any time can be 100% secure. Of course, there is the backup, a copy of everything that can be rolled out to put things back the way they were. That’s what this police-department needed but it didn’t have a good backup, just a copy of the corrupted data where the backup should have been. Someone had the right idea but lacked the imagination to put in more depth.

    • Hotel ransomed by hackers as guests locked in rooms

      Hotel management said that they have now been hit three times by cybercriminals who this time managed to take down the entire key system. The guests could no longer get in or out of the hotel rooms and new key cards could not be programmed.

      The attack, which coincided with the opening weekend of the winter season, was allegedly so massive that it even shut down all hotel computers, including the reservation system and the cash desk system.

      The hackers promised to restore the system quickly if just 1,500 EUR (1,272 GBP) in Bitcoin was paid to them.

    • Microsoft won’t fix the most frustrating thing about Windows

      Maybe you’re delivering a presentation to a huge audience. Maybe you’re taking an online test. Maybe you just need to get some work done on a tight deadline.

      Windows doesn’t care.

      Windows will take control of your computer, force-feed it updates, and flip the reset switch automatically — and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it, once it gets started.

      If you haven’t saved your work, it’s gone. Your browser tabs are toast. And don’t expect to use your computer again soon; depending on the speed of your drive and the size of the update, it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to well over an hour before your PC is ready for work.

    • Thoughts on the Systemd Root Exploit

      Sebastian Krahmer of the SUSE Security Team has discovered a local root exploit in systemd v228. A local user on a system running systemd v228 can escalate to root privileges. That’s bad.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Migrant gang ‘burn down women’s centre’ just WEEKS after it opened

      The Women’s Centre at the refugee camp in Grande-Synthe on the outskirts of Dunkirk, northern France, was gutted by fire only a few weeks after it was officially opened by volunteers.

      The centre was opened as a safe place for women refugees and their infants to get emotional support, help and information around feeding babies and young children, and health advice.

    • Why did Hindustan Times remove a 10 year old article about Islamic invasion by Rizwan Salim?

      Rizwan Salim, narrates the historical aspects of the real Hindustan and how gradually the most developed civilization lost its sheen and became slave in the hands of foreigners. We all well know that after the Islam invasion thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed in an attempt to imprint the Islam practice in India. Every history books would narrate the stories of the barbaric act of Islam invaders and their forcible implementation of Islamic rituals. But what we failed to recognize was how their invasion destroyed the historical evolution of the earth’s most mentally advanced civilization, an unimaginable rich society with most creative culture.

    • Donald Trump: Parliament rounds on Republican but doesn’t ban him from UK

      A ban wasn’t their plan, though that was the ostensible excuse for meeting. It wasn’t in their power, anyway. Only the Home Secretary can decide to bar an individual from British shores.

    • Never mind the optics, Theresa May’s US dash was mortifying

      In normal times, you’d say everything went swimmingly. Sure, the American president seemed a tad unsure how to say the name of his guest – whom he greeted as Ter-raiser – slightly reinforcing the White House’s earlier failure, in a briefing note, to spell the British prime minister’s name correctly, dropping the “h” and thereby suggesting Donald Trump was about to receive Teresa May, who made her name as a porn star.

      But other than that, the PM would have been delighted. In the press conference that followed their Oval Office meeting, there were no bombshells: Trump managed to get through it without insulting an entire ethnic group, trashing a democratic norm or declaring war, any of which might have diverted attention from May’s big moment. He was on best behaviour, diligently reading the script that had been written for him, attesting to the “deep bond” that connects Britain and the US. May received all the assurances she craved that her country’s relationship with the US remains “special”. Why, he even, briefly, took her hand.

    • A Yazidi Refugee, Stranded at the Airport by Trump

      At 10:05 on Friday morning, a young Iraqi couple named Khalas and Nada were trading panicked texts. Would Nada escape Iraq before President Trump’s executive order barring refugees took effect, or would Trump’s pen-stroke bring all their plans to ruin?

      The day before was their second anniversary, but they couldn’t celebrate together: Khalas lives in Washington, D.C., and Nada in Sinjar, in the north of Iraq. Khalas, a former interpreter for the U.S. Army, was granted a Special Immigrant Visa for his service to America. He came last July, thinking that Nada would arrive shortly thereafter.

      They are also Yazidis, members of a pre-Islamic religion whose adherents have been severely persecuted in recent years, particularly by the Islamic State.

    • Federal Judges Push Back Against Trump Order, Stopping Deportations Nationwide

      Less than 36 hours passed after President Trump signed his executive order on Friday restricting immigration on several fronts before four federal judges had issued rulings in quick succession blunting the effect of the order and calling its constitutionality into question.

      The executive order — “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” — temporarily halted the US refugee program for 120 days; indefinitely suspended the intake of refugees from Syria; and blocked all people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days.

      The moves against the order started when federal judge in Brooklyn on Saturday evening granted a nationwide stay of removal — preventing deportation — for those people affected by the order.

      “Nobody is to be removed,” US District Judge Ann Donnelly told the government lawyers, issuing the stay after holding the first hearing on a challenge to the order.

    • WH: No mention of Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day because others were killed too

      The White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism because “despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” administration spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN on Saturday.

      Hicks provided a link to a Huffington Post UK story noting that while 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, 5 million others were also slaughtered during Adolf Hitler’s genocide, including “priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters.”

    • Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Culmination of War on Terror Mentality but Still Uniquely Shameful

      It is not difficult for any decent human being to immediately apprehend why and how Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim countries is inhumane, bigoted, and shameful. During the campaign, the evil of the policy was recognized even by Mike Pence (“offensive and unconstitutional”) and Paul Ryan (violative of America’s “fundamental values”), who are far too craven and cowardly to object now.

      Trump’s own defense secretary, Gen. James Mattis, said when Trump first advocated his Muslim ban back in August that “we have lost faith in reason,” adding: “This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system.”

    • Trump’s Muslim Ban Triggers Chaos, Heartbreak, and Resistance

      Following an executive order signed late Friday, President Donald Trump on Saturday launched a sweeping attack on the travel rights of individuals from more than a half dozen Muslim majority countries, turning away travelers at multiple U.S. airports and leaving others stranded without answers — and without hope — across the world.

      Trump’s order triggered waves of outrage and condemnation at home and abroad, prompting thousands of protesters to flood several American airports and ultimately culminating in a stay issued by a federal district judge in New York City on the deportation of people who were being detained by immigration officials. Similar stays were issued by judges in Washington, Massachusetts, and Virginia.

    • Netanyahu in hot water over praise of Trump’s wall

      When Benjamin Netanyahu sent a tweet in support of President Donald Trump’s plan for a wall along the Mexican border, the Israeli prime minister can barely have expected it would be retweeted 40,000 times and cause a backlash at home and abroad.

      Already under arguably the greatest pressure he has faced in his 11 years as prime minister, with police questioning him in two criminal probes into abuse of office, aligning himself with Trump may further undermine his standing.

    • Activists try to stop warplanes leaving UK bound for Saudi Arabia

      Two activists have been arrested while apparently trying to disarm warplanes bound for Saudi Arabia.

      A statement released on behalf of the Rev Dan Woodhouse and Quaker activist Sam Walton said the pair had entered the BAE Systems site in Warton, Lancashire, on Sunday morning with the intention of disarming planes.

      Lancashire police confirmed two people had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage following an incident at the site and officers were investigating.

    • The Drone Assassination Assault on Democracy

      After being released from the prison where he was detained without charges, Al-Awlaki was eliminated by US drone on September 30, 2011, along with Samir Khan, also a US citizen, who had been putting out pro-jihad propaganda. Two weeks later, Al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, who had only just turned 16 years of age (making him a “military age” male) was eliminated by a US drone as well, also in Yemen. Was the son intentionally killed? Or did a missile just happen to land in the remote village where he and his friends were preparing to enjoy their evening meal? The US government has declined to comment on the case, citing State Secrets Privilege under a pretext of national security.

    • Mexico ‘Astonished’ at Israel’s Netanyahu’s Tweet backing Wall

      Earlier on Saturday, Netanyahu tweeted: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border… Great success. Great idea.”

      Mexico’s government on Saturday rebuked Israel for a tweet by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that applauded U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to build a border wall with Mexico to keep out undocumented migrants.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Disappointed but Not Defeated: Battle Over Oil Pipelines Continues

      Despite the immense failures of the Democratic Party to live up to its stated progressive ideals, there are differences between the two major parties. Nowhere is that difference more obvious in recent days than in the decision by Donald Trump to reinstate the Keystone XL and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipeline projects. Tens of thousands of environmental, indigenous and other activists slogged for months, even years, to push President Obama to stop the climate-destroying projects. They marched, locked themselves to each other and to heavy equipment, faced arrests and felony charges, were hit by tear gas and rubber bullets, and even bitten by dogs. But they prevailed over Obama. With the stroke of a pen, Trump signed memorandums Tuesday to undo the results of those sacrifices and struggles, even though he knows he has no popular mandate. And he did it on day five of his administration.

    • It’s A Whole New World Of Engery, Trump

      See that? Solar and wind increased 25-32% per annum from a good base while “conventional” dirty fuels are declining rapidly like coal and oil. Natural gas is taking their jobs, not Mexico, not China, not NAFTA.

    • A Coalition of Scientists Keeps Watch on the U.S. Government’s Climate Data

      During Donald Trump’s first week in office, a steady stream of electronic signals pointed to upheaval within the agencies that deal with environmental protections and climate change. Via memos leaked to the press, rogue tweets, and unnamed agency sources, the public learned of growing pressure on federal employees to avoid sharing their scientific work. Meanwhile, small but significant changes to federal web pages hinted at the demise of former president Barack Obama’s efforts to manage climate change.

      The Trump team got to work editing the web starting on inauguration day, when most mentions of climate change vanished from the White House website. Trump’s team did not post a replacement page on climate, though they did publish an “America First Energy Plan” that noted, “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”

      A coalition of scientists, researchers, and technologists had been preparing for this scenario. At events held in Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles they had worked to pull as many climate and environmental datasets as possible off the federal web sites of departments including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Energy Department, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    • Prince Charles may raise climate change during Trump’s visit to Britain

      Prince Charles will not lecture Donald Trump over his policy on climate change during the US president’s state visit to Britain later this year but has not ruled out addressing the topic altogether, according to royal sources.

      Charles is being urged by some in Whitehall to challenge Trump’s pledge to abandon the United Nations climate change deal signed in Paris in 2015, as part of “harmonised” efforts with the UK government to keep the carbon-cutting treaty on track.

      But other UK officials are reported to be concerned that the likely meeting between the two men has become a risk factor for the visit. Another potentially controversial issue that could arise is religion, with Charles’s history of trying to promote better interfaith relations contrasting with Trump’s actions to block travellers from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

  • Finance

    • Media Consensus on ‘Failing Schools’ Paved Way for DeVos

      The nomination of billionaire voucher enthusiast Betsy DeVos for secretary of Education comes after nearly two decades of a largely bipartisan consensus around “education reform.” That consensus, repeated for years in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, posits, first and foremost, that public schools are failing.

      They are, the narrative goes, especially failing the nation’s most vulnerable students. That failure is presented, by education reformers and corporate media pundits alike, not as a result of inequality or poverty or resource scarcity, but of public education itself. The solution, pioneered by pro-privatization reformers and repeated by newspapers since the George W. Bush years, sounds both innocuous and innovative: school choice.

      As a result of the uncritical consensus around school choice, major papers like the Times and the Post are unable to report on an extremist figure like DeVos—whose pro-voucher and pro-charter advocacy fits comfortably within the school-choice ethos—without ceding even more ground to the corporate education reform movement. “School choice” is not as value-neutral as it sounds: It is a buzzword not only for the expansion of charter schools and vouchers, but for the divestment of public funds away from public education and into the private sector.

    • Greece’s best-selling daily newspaper to close due to debts

      Two historic Greek newspapers, including the country’s best-selling daily, will cease publication, the debt-ridden Lambrakis Press Group announced on Saturday.

      “To Vima weekly and Ta Nea daily are forced to cease their publication within days due to financial reasons,” the company said in a statement.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Roaming Charges: Populism With an Inhuman Face

      Depending on where you sit, a Barcalounger or a yoga mat, the first episodes of Trumplandia either fulfilled every expectation or confirmed your worst nightmares. With Trump there is no middle ground, no grey areas. Responses to him are purely binary, intensely so. And that’s the way Trump–and his opponents–want it. Total war from day one.

      There will be no apologies, no revisions, no concessions. Refreshingly, Trump offers no rhetorical filigrees about unifying the country and healing its divisions. The point is not to reassure, but to enrage. Trump the President is the same person he was on the campaign trail, only more so.

      In his first week, Trump has blasted out a blitzkrieg of divisive executive orders to the silence of GOP members of congress, who only a week ago were howling at the dictatorial nature of Obama’s executive actions. Trump’s rule by decree makes the Theory of the Unified Executive from Bushtime seem quaint, almost cautiously legalistic.

    • Macomb v media: voters who read little news think Trump had a great first week

      In one short week in the White House, Donald Trump has managed to shatter the tradition of the honeymoon period enjoyed by new presidents. While predecessors eased themselves into the role and were showered with national adulation, he has prompted widespread criticism with a stream of provocations.

      Trump has proclaimed war on the media, was accused of serial lying, declared open season on environmentalists and undocumented immigrants, outraged the Mexican president, begun stripping millions of Americans of healthcare coverage, and revived the prospect of torturing terror suspects. The pugnacity of his pronouncements has left even Trump-hardened observers aghast, prompting speculation that such an adrenaline-charged opening to his term couldn’t possibly be sustained.

    • Here’s How Republicans Plan to Kill Net Neutrality, Climate, and Labor Rules

      Republicans in Congress are wasting no time laying the groundwork for a wholesale attack on federal regulations protecting the environment, guaranteeing internet freedom, and ensuring consumer safety and labor rights.

      The Republican-controlled House has passed a trio of bills that would give Congress effective veto power over future regulations advanced by the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and a host of other federal government agencies.

      This is about more than just the new Trump administration silencing federal agency Twitter accounts—it’s a brazen GOP effort to fundamentally undermine the power of US regulatory agencies.

    • Countries where Trump does business are not hit by new travel restrictions

      The seven nations targeted for new visitation restrictions by President Trump on Friday all have something in common: They are places he does not appear to have any business interests.

      The executive order he signed Friday bars all entry for the next 90 days by travelers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. Excluded from the lists are several majority-Muslim nations where the Trump Organization is active and which in some cases have also faced troublesome issues with terrorism.

    • The president’s demolition derby: Trump wants to axe everything he doesn’t like — and he doesn’t like a lot

      We’re a week into the Trump administration and it’s pretty obvious what he’s up to. First, Donald Trump is running a demolition derby: He wants to demolish everything he doesn’t like — and he doesn’t like a lot, especially when it comes to government.

      Like one of those demolition drivers on a speedway, he keeps ramming his vehicle against all the others, especially government policies and programs and agencies that protect people who don’t have his wealth, power or privilege. Affordable health care for working people? Smash it. Consumer protection against predatory banks and lenders? Run over it. Rules and regulations that rein in rapacious actors in the market? Knock ‘em down. Fair pay for working people? Crush it. And on and on.

      Trump came to Washington to tear the government down for parts, and as far as we can tell, he doesn’t seem to have anything at all in mind to replace it except turning back the clock to when business took what it wanted and left behind desperate workers, dirty water and polluted air.

    • Democracy Wins One as a Federal Court Strikes a Big Blow Against Gerrymandering

      Democracy has taken very hard hits in the first days of the Trump interregnum, as Donald Trump and the mandarins of his “alternative-fact” administration have spun fantasies about “voter fraud” that clearly does not exist; obsessed about the dubious legitimacy of a president who lost the popular vote and drew a disappointing crowd for his inauguration; and attacked the free and skeptical press that provides and essential underpinning for the open discourse that sustains popular sovereignty.

      But sometimes democracy wins out—in a way that could transform our politics and our governance.

      Nothing has so sustained and advanced Republican dominance of the states (and of the US House of Representatives) as the gerrymandering of legislative and congressional district lines by Republican politicians who have used their overarching control of state-based redistricting processes to warp electoral competition in their favor. And few states have seen such radical gerrymandering as Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, where the governor and his allies skewed district lines so seriously that clearly contested state legislative races have become a rarity in much of a state that national elections suggest is evenly divided.

    • 9 Trump moments over lunch with Theresa May

      Fresh from public displays of affection at their joint press conference early Friday afternoon, Donald Trump and Theresa May retired to the White House state banqueting room for lunch. Then it got really interesting.

    • Grassroots Labour supporters revolt against Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit

      Jeremy Corbyn is facing a serious revolt by grassroots Labour supporters who backed him to be leader as the party’s crisis over Brexit escalates rapidly.

      With more members of Corbyn’s frontbench considering resigning – shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens became the first to quit the shadow cabinet on Friday – the rebellion is now spreading among local party members, who are furious at his support for Theresa May’s plans for triggering the article 50 process.

    • Theresa May’s visit to Turkey is more evidence of her desperate search for trading partners to replace the EU at any cost

      As the international political order fragments, Theresa May flies from seeing Donald Trump, who speaks approvingly of the use of torture, to a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is presiding over the reintroduction of torture in Turkey.

      The opportunism and hypocrisy of British foreign policy, as the UK flails around for new allies to replace the EU, is better illustrated by the Prime Minister’s Turkish trip than by her ingratiating speech to Republican Party leaders in Philadelphia. She told them that as close allies the US and UK would always win the war of ideas “by proving that open, liberal, democratic societies will always defeat those that are closed, coercive and cruel.”

      Yet within 48 hours of adopting this high moral tone, May will be in talks with Erdogan which will be seen as endorsing the destruction of Turkish democracy; he is replacing it with a presidential system as dictatorial and repressive as anything seen in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. Since a failed military coup last July, a sweeping purge has seen at least 137,000 judges, teachers, journalists, civil servants and military personnel arrested or sacked, according to the government’s own figures.

    • Supreme Court Puts Off Taking Up Texas Voter ID Case

      The high court lets stand the findings of lower courts that the strict Texas ID measure discriminated against minorities.

    • Trump gives National Security Council seat to ex-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon

      The president named Bannon to the council in a reorganization of the NSC. He also said his chief-of-staff Reince Priebus would have a seat in the meetings.

      Trump also said the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence, two of the most senior defense chiefs, will attend meetings only when discussions are related to their “responsibilities and expertise”. Barack Obama and George W Bush both gave the men in those roles regular seats on the council.

      In an interview with the New York Times this week, Bannon called the press “the opposition party” and said it should “keep its mouth shut”. He has previously described himself as “a Leninist” and an “economic nationalist”.

    • NYT Amazed That Republicans Are Embracing Republican Ideas

      The New York Times seems intent on exaggerating the ideological space between Donald Trump and traditional Republican Party policies (FAIR.org, 1/22/17). The latest example is a piece by congressional reporter Jennifer Steinhauer, “Republicans Now Marching With Trump on Ideas They Had Opposed” (1/26/17), that expresses amazement that Republicans in Congress seem to accept Trump’s ideas—most of which are longstanding GOP policies.

    • Beyond Romanticization: Reflections on Obama in the Age of Trump

      On January 10, when Barack Obama returned to Chicago to give his last speech as president of the United States, I could feel the city hold its breath and hold back tears. I live in Hyde Park — Obama’s old neighborhood. Here one can feel the pride Chicagoans have for Obama more than in most other parts of the city. A plaque where he and Michelle had their first date sits at the corner of 53rd and Dorchester. In the Cove Lounge on 55th St., a six-foot mural of his grinning face looms opposite the bar, and on January 10, hours before his speech, he dined at Valois in the heart of the neighborhood, while people eagerly waited in the Chicago chill hoping for a glance of our soon-to-be-former president.

    • Adding Insult to Injury, Trump Flirts With Classic Holocaust Denial

      He excludes Muslim immigrants and expunges Jews from memory but the new president sees himself as ‘incredibly inclusive.’

    • Carl Bernstein Nails Trump’s Voter Fraud Quack: ‘This Is the Birther Conspiracy All Over Again’

      CNN host John Berman hammered conspiracy theorist Gregg Phillips Friday not long after he received the same treatment from morning host Chris Cuomo.

      Phillips has alleged that he has evidence of 3 million to 5 million undocumented people who voted illegally in the 2016 election. His claim has been quoted by President Donald Trump, but Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen pointed out that the “study” doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Phillips has also refused to release evidence of the claim. At one point, Phillips went so far as to admit, “if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.”

    • Boston-area academics face bans on entering US

      President Trump’s order closing the nation’s borders to people from seven predominantly Muslim countries echoed across Boston’s academic institutions and research laboratories Saturday, blocking some scholars from entering the country and leaving scores more in limbo.

      The directive, which also halts refugees worldwide from entering the United States for 120 days, prompted leaders at schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University to offer support to students and academics whose lives might be upended by the order.

      The full extent of the upheaval triggered by the new rules wasn’t immediately clear, and a federal judge’s decision late Saturday night to halt deportations of refugees and those with valid visas added a layer of uncertainty. But research groups at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital were among those who lost incoming scholars to the travel ban.

    • Deep State vs. Donald Trump

      We do not know what President Trump’s foreign policy – in practice – will be. It is not at all clear (intentionally so, in part. But, also because the details have not yet been thrashed out within the team, who are busy with managing a complex transition). Nonetheless we can tease out, perhaps, a few solid pointers in the wake of the new U.S. President’s inaugural speech:

    • Donald Trump and His ‘Magic Mirror’

      President Trump’s vain tirades about crowd size and voter fraud make him look like Snow White’s evil queen gazing into her mirror, but he could turn that around by telling some important truths, says Robert Parry.


      While Trump’s refusal to accept unpleasant realities raises fresh concerns about his fitness for office – since his presidency will surely face some painful reversals and rejecting reality is a dangerous way to respond – he is certainly not the first president to lie to the American people.

    • Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal

      President Trump signed an executive order on Friday that purports to bar for at least 90 days almost all permanent immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria and Iraq, and asserts the power to extend the ban indefinitely.

      But the order is illegal. More than 50 years ago, Congress outlawed such discrimination against immigrants based on national origin.

    • Little National Security Benefit to Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

      Tomorrow, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order enacting a 30-day suspension of all visas for nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015. Six Iranians, six Sudanese, two Somalis, two Iraqis, and one Yemini have been convicted of attempting or carrying out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Zero Libyans or Syrians have been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that time period.

    • Game Over for Democrats?

      In 2008, the American people overwhelmingly voted for “change” in Washington. They never got it. Hence, Trump. To pretend that there’s not a straight line connecting the failed policies of Barack Obama and the subsequent rise of Donald John Trump, is to ignore the obvious and to shrug off responsibility for the situation the country is in today.

      Obama created Trump, the man didn’t simply appear from the ether. Had Obama acted in good faith and kept his promises to shake up the status quo, end the foreign wars, restore civil liberties, hold Wall Street accountable or relieve the economic insecurity that working families across the country now feel, Hillary Clinton would have been a shoe-in on November 8th. As it happens, Obama made no effort to achieve any of these goals, which is why Hillary was defeated in the biggest political upset of the last century.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship of a snowflake society

      While we’re at it, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has shown that he’s the biggest snowflake of all. After being asked a couple of questions by the very unscary journalist from the Labour media, Azzopardi called in the police, saying the Labour media were intimidating him. Luckily for him, the police were too stretched to jump into their cars, sirens flashing, to arrest the inoffensive journalist in question.

      Azzopardi later apologised for the incident, but not before he had become the butt of a thousand jokes about the lethality of microphones. It was an amusing interlude and all, but it also sheds light on the current set of politicians who are only too happy to see their opponents on the receiving end of a journalist’s questions but shy away from answering questions directed at them.

    • Letter: Censorship is wrong

      A recent Ledger headline stated, “Trump orders EPA contract freeze and media blackout” [Ledger, Jan. 25]. In our country, we don’t need an office of censorship between the federal agencies and the American people. President Donald Trump, that is not how it works in the United States; that is how it works in totalitarian countries.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • British Companies Are Using a Tracking Device That Monitors Their Workers’ Voices, Steps and Stress Levels

      At least four British companies are using a device to track details about their workers, reports the New York Times. Currently participation in the program is voluntary, but 90 percent of the employees have asked to be included.

      The technology was developed by a Boston-based company called Humanyze, which has created a tracker that monitors workers via their lanyards. The lanyards track the employees’ number of steps, location and even stress levels.

      “It’s looking at the amount of time you talk, who you talk to, your tone of voice, activity levels, dynamics like how often you interrupt,” Humanyze CEO Ben Waber told the Times. “By mining that data, you can actually get very detailed information on how people are communicating, how physiologically aroused people are, and can make predictions about how productive and happy they are at work.”

    • U.S. Seeks to Double Video Surveillance Towers Along Mexican Border

      On January 18, a week before Donald Trump issued Wednesday’s executive order decreeing the immediate construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency posted a “Request for Information” to a federal database of government contract opportunities for private businesses. Although released without fanfare, the solicitation appears to be one of the earliest operational glimpses into the federal government’s plans for heightened security along U.S. land borders under the Trump administration.

      The request makes clear that in the days preceding Trump’s swearing in, CBP was already taking steps to dramatically scale up its surveillance capabilities along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      Because of the often treacherous and desolate terrain along the country’s 1,954-mile southern land border, many have speculated that in such areas Trump’s wall could be more of a digital surveillance shield composed of video camera towers and drones that scan for border crossing activity.

      Now, according to the documents, the CBP is “contemplating an expansion” of Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS) that would deploy the program’s digital watchtowers to some of the border’s most isolated regions.

      A document attached to the request for information details CBP’s eventual goal of deploying RVSS towers in every section of its operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. The overhaul, according the CBP’s estimation, would more than double the program’s surveillance towers in six of its nine Mexican border sectors, increasing from 222 towers to 446 towers. The envisioned placement of the requested towers falls in line with Trump’s Mexico-focused anti-immigrant rhetoric: Of the 229 new towers detailed in the request, only 5 would be placed along the Canadian border.

    • For Data Privacy Day, Play Privacy As A Team Sport

      Protecting digital privacy is a job no one can do alone. While there are many steps you can take to protect your own privacy, the real protection comes when we recognize that privacy is a team sport. So as we celebrate Data Privacy Day on January 28, don’t just change your tools and behavior to protect your own privacy—encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to take action, too.

    • FBI request for Twitter account data may have overstepped legal guidelines

      Twitter has published a pair of FBI National Security Letters that had been served with gag orders. The company announced in a blog post that the gag order has been lifted.

      In its statement, Twitter’s Associate General Counsel for Global Law Enforcement Elizabeth Banker outlined that the company had been prohibited from notifying the affected accounts or the general public about the existence of the orders.

    • Twitter publishes FBI national security letters following gag order lift

      Twitter has published a pair of FBI National Security Letters that had been served with gag orders. The company announced in a blog post that the gag order has been lifted.

      In its statement, Twitter’s Associate General Counsel for Global Law Enforcement Elizabeth Banker outlined that the company had been prohibited from notifying the affected accounts or the general public about the existence of the orders.

    • Memo: New York Called For Face Recognition Cameras At Bridges, Tunnels

      The state of New York has privately asked surveillance companies to pitch a vast camera system that would scan and identify people who drive in and out of New York City, according to a December memo obtained by Vocativ.

      The call for private companies to submit plans is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s major infrastructure package, which he introduced in October. Though much of the related proposals would be indisputably welcome to most New Yorkers — renovating airports and improving public transportation — a little-noticed detail included installing cameras to “test emerging facial recognition software and equipment.”

      “This is a highly advanced system they’re asking for,” said Clare Garvie, an associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Privacy and Technology, and who specializes in police use of face recognition technologies. “This is going to be terabytes — if not petabytes — of data, and multiple cameras running 24 hours a day. In order to be face recognition compliant they probably have to be pretty high definition.”

    • Your Permanent Student Record

      This is a slightly older article that just came to my attention today, though the data systems it describes are currently being built out and used. It seems to be quite a well researched article, with a ton of links to sources.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Teens Report Onslaught of Bullying During Divisive Election

      A new national survey of more than 50,000 teens charts a surge in abusive and hateful behavior among young people since the beginning of the presidential election campaign.

      “Our biggest takeaway was that 70 percent of all respondents had witnessed bullying, hate speech or harassment since the 2016 election,” said Allison Turner, assistant press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent LGBT advocacy group that conducted the survey. HRC polled a large, though not demographically representative, sample of the nation’s youth.

    • Were police snooping on Women’s March protesters’ cellphones? Too many departments won’t say

      The Women’s Marches last weekend were collectively some of the largest protests ever conducted in the United States. While we would love to have some hard data to be able to inform the public about what type of surveillance being used on the demonstrations, unfortunately many of the police department’s we have requested in our Cell Site Simulator Census have either not given us any documents yet, or used sweeping law enforcement exemptions in order to not disclose some of the more sensitive, and important, information about their use.

    • EU leaders vow ‘firm’ response to Trump

      French President Francois Hollande vowed a “firm” response to a growing list of pronouncements by the maverick tycoon, including his encouragement for Brexit and suspension of all refugee arrivals.

      “We must conduct firm dialogue with the new American administration which has shown it has its own approach to the problems we all face,” the French leader said after a meeting of southern EU countries in Lisbon, flanked by fellow leaders.

      Another EU founder member, Luxembourg, also said Trump risks bolstering “hatred towards the West” by slapping tight new controls on travellers from seven Muslim countries including war-wracked Syria.

      Hollande spoke out a day after Trump – who has made clear he thinks other EU countries will leave the bloc – called Britain’s decision to leave the European Union a “wonderful thing”.

    • Massachusetts Top Court Orders Prosecutors to Remedy Thousands of Tainted Drug Convictions

      More than four years after a Massachusetts lab chemist confessed to manipulating drug test results, the state’s highest court has called on prosecutors to reverse potentially thousands of tainted convictions.

      The chemist, Annie Dookhan, may have played a role in more than 20,000 drug cases during her eight and a half years at a state lab, but to date prosecutors have resisted mounting a wholesale revisiting of the convictions that resulted at least in part from Dookhan’s work.

      At one point, prosecutors argued that they had no obligation to inform those convicted of their possible innocence. Another prosecutor suggested that many of the defendants might be too poor or busy dealing with more pressing issues, such as mental illness or addiction, to have any desire to contest old drug convictions. And when prosecutors tried to alert all of the affected defendants of their potential innocence — four years after Dookhan’s confession — the mailed notice they sent was “wholly inadequate,” according to the court. As of last November, fewer than 2,000 defendants had sought or received relief from their drug convictions.

    • Department of Homeland Security vows to enforce Donald Trump’s travel bans, despite court order

      Donald Trump’s travel bans will continue to be enforced by the The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), despite a New York judge placing a temporary stay on it being executed.

      Judge Ann Donnelly ruled the bans on refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim countries, were unconstitutional.

      But the DHS said it would “continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people.”

    • Getting Better Results Than Law-and-Order

      Despite President Trump’s tough law-and-order rhetoric, courts and schools are finding that “restorative justice” – as an alternative to traditional punishments – can reduce offenses and save money, writes Don Ediger.

    • Malnourished Prisoner’s Death Reveals Horrific Conditions in a Texas Prison

      Alton Rodgers was 31 years old and suffering from bilateral bronchopneumonia, bed sores, and severe malnutrition when he died of head trauma on January 19, 2016, in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Guards had found Rodgers unresponsive in his cell at the William P. Clements Unit in Amarillo, one of the most violent prisons in Texas, the previous day. His fatal injury, the official paperwork noted, was consistent with having his head “slammed onto the concrete floor.” The TDCJ immediately began investigating a suspect, Rodgers’s cellmate, Joe Greggs.

      But the official findings raised a cloud of doubt. Why did they ignore or make so very little of Rodgers’s dire medical condition even before the blows to his head? The inmate’s family has raised questions about Greggs’s alleged involvement, Rodgers’s medical treatment at the Clements unit, and the conduct of the prison staff. In October, the family, represented by attorney Jesse Quackenbush, filed a $120 million wrongful death lawsuit against the TDCJ, alleging that guard brutality and untreated tuberculosis contributed to his death. Rodgers was first diagnoses with tuberculosis in 2002 or 2003. “The purpose of the lawsuit is to change the way [the state of Texas] treats inmates who are suffering very serious diseases,” Quackenbush told The Intercept.

    • The Injustices of Manning’s Ordeal

      “Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” Obama said. “It has been my view that given she went to trial; that due process was carried out; that she took responsibility for her crime; that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received; and that she had served a significant amount of time; that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence. … I feel very comfortable that justice has been served.”

    • David Ignatius, the CIA’s Apologist-in-Chief

      There is universal agreement that President Donald Trump’s “advertisement for himself” in front of CIA’s memorial wall on Saturday was an unmitigated disaster for both the vainglorious president and the Central Intelligence Agency. But there are always favorable reviews to be found. In this case, there were two: one from the president who told ABC’s David Muir that the presentation was “great;” the other from the Washington Post’s long-time apologist-in-chief for the CIA, David Ignatius.

      Over the past several decades, Ignatius has defended the CIA’s political assassination program, and argued that no investigation was necessary because “nobody had been killed.” He never condemned the CIA training of death squads in Central America, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. He never deplored the CIA’s Phoenix operation during the Vietnam War, when the agency ran a paramilitary campaign of interrogation, torture, and assassination that targeted many innocent victims. And he never favored accountability for agency operatives who manned the secret prisons, and conducted the program of torture and abuse.

    • Pence once called Trump’s Muslim ban ‘unconstitutional.’ He now applauds a ban on refugees.

      Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis stood directly behind their boss Friday, one man on each side, as President Trump announced an order that will ban half the world’s Shiite Muslims from entering the country for months.

      “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States,” Trump said from his podium at the Pentagon. “We don’t want ‘em here.”

      Pence nodded along to the words. It was just over a year earlier when he had called Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States “offensive and unconstitutional.” That was before Trump picked him as his running mate and won the election.

    • Theresa May faces calls to cancel Trump visit over US travel ban

      Jeremy Corbyn has called for Theresa May to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit if the president does not overturn the ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries entering the US.

      The Labour leader said it would not be right for Trump to be hosted by the Queen this summer with the immigration order still in place. Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, issued a statement making the same demand.

      Theresa May was under pressure on Sunday to make a stronger condemnation of Trump’s ban, which has brought global condemnation and prompted travel and legal chaos within the US.

    • Trump redefines the enemy and 15 years of counterterrorism policy

      In just his first week in the White House, President Trump has sought to redefine America’s most lethal enemy in terms far broader than his post-9/11 predecessors.

      The net result of Trump’s new approach — outlined in speeches, interviews and executive orders — is a vast departure for a country that has often struggled over the past 15 years to say whether it is at war and precisely who it is fighting.

      With a few sweeping moves, Trump has answered those questions with a clarity that is refreshing to his supporters and alarming to some U.S. counterterrorism officials as well as most of the Muslim world.

    • Whether You Live in a Mansion or Under a Bridge, the Government Can’t Just Take Your Stuff

      The ACLU of Washington is suing the city of Seattle for taking away homeless people’s belongings without warning.

      Imagine if government agents came to your home and carted away everything you own, without warning and without telling you how to get back whatever they didn’t throw out.

      For Lisa Hooper, who lives with her partner outdoors near Interstate 90 in Seattle, this is an ever-present threat. One day in May 2015, workers tasked with cleaning up homeless encampments showed up. Lisa scrambled to pack up their things. Her partner was gone at the time, and Lisa couldn’t carry everything by herself. She took what was necessary for their survival, sleeping bags and cold-weather gear.

      When Lisa returned to their home of two years, everything she’d left was gone: baby teeth from her grown children and the only photos she had of them. Important legal paperwork. A mattress. The family Bible.

    • Trump’s Crazy Immigration Freeze

      The most disgraceful aspect of the ban is the notion that it does not apply to religious minority groups in the named countries, such as Christians, Yazidis and Jews. All the countries named are majority Muslim, so in effect it imposes a religious test. It is a ban plainly targeted by religion and not by nationality, and if the US court system had any integrity would be struck down on that basis. This is reinforced by the fact that other non-religious minorities facing persecution, such as gays, are not excluded from the ban.

    • ACTION ALERT: Tell CNN to Stop Using Trump Propaganda Term ‘Terror-Prone Countries’

      As several outlets have noted (e.g., Intercept, 1/28/17; NPR, 1/27/17; Huffington Post, 1/28/17), since at least 1975, nationals from the countries Trump is banning entry from have killed zero Americans in terror attacks. Whereas countries that have had some of their citizens involved in US political violence (and sometimes even fund designated terror organizations), such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, are entirely omitted from the administration’s list.

      If stopping immigrants from “terror-prone” countries was the objective, the list Trump provided would make no sense. By adopting the Trump administration’s framing, however, CNN is treating it as a rational response to a realistic danger.

      Smearing entire countries as “terror-prone,” of course, puts immigrants from these countries at risk at a time when xenophobic hate crimes are on the rise. Responsible news outlets should be discouraging scapegoating, not fueling it with lazy and malicious generalizations.

    • Judge Halts Deportations After Protesters Swarm Airports Over Trump’s Order Barring Muslims

      A FEDERAL JUDGE in New York issued a nationwide temporary injunction, halting the implementation of part of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration on Saturday night, blocking the deportation of travelers with valid visas detained at airports in the past 24 hours.

      Judge Ann Donnelly, a United States District Court Judge in Brooklyn, issued the ruling at an emergency hearing on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups on Saturday, as Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven nations with Muslim majorities from entering the U.S. took immediate effect.

      The judge ruled that the government must immediately stop deporting travelers from those nations, including refugees who already went through a rigorous vetting process, and provide a complete list of all those detained, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project Lee Gelernt told reporters in Brooklyn.

    • Trump Begins His Unconstitutional Program of Anti-Muslim Discrimination

      Yesterday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, The White House put out a statement that failed to mention the 6 million Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis. Hours later, President Trump signed an executive order suspending all refugee resettlement for 120 days and indefinitely suspending the resettlement of refugees from Syria. In addition to banning Syrian refugees, the president ordered a ban all entries of the nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, for 90 days, and provided that the ban might be extended and that additional countries might be added to that list.

    • We’ll See You in Court: Why Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees Violates the Establishment Clause

      In both respects, the Executive Order violates the “clearest command of the Establishment Clause.” First, as I developed in an earlier post, the Constitution bars the government from targeting Islam. One of the lowest of many low moments in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was his December 2015 call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration. The proposal treated as presumptively suspect a religion practiced by about 1.6 billion people worldwide, nearly a quarter of the globe’s population. Trump soon retreated to talk of “extreme vetting,” but never gave up his focus on the religion of Islam. Friday’s executive orders are of a piece with his many anti-Muslim campaign promises.

    • Deported Mothers, Separated From Their Children, Wait in Limbo at the Mexican Border

      When deported mother Yolanda Varona received a call from photojournalist Natalie Keyssar on Friday morning, her voice was quivering. Varona, a Mexican mother of two and leader of the Dreamers Moms of Tijuana, spoke clearly — and forcefully — about her feelings on Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall to fortify the border between the United States and Mexico. In an executive order signed Wednesday evening, President Trump called for the “immediate” construction of the barrier that has already escalated tensions between the two nations.

      “I woke up yesterday to this news, and it filled me with sadness,” Varona told Keyssar, a photographer who documented her life in Tijuana — separated from her children — last spring. “To me, the wall means misery. It makes me think of death, of how many people die trying to cross these borders, and it represents hatred for my community. It means separation of families.”

    • In President Trump’s First Week, ACLU Hands Him First Stinging Rebuke

      The United States is a nation governed by the rule of law and not the iron will of one man. President Trump now has learned that we are democratic republic where the powers of government are not dictatorial. They are limited. The courts are the bulwark of our democracy that protects individual rights and guards against the overreaching of an administration that confuses its will for the American public’s.

    • The President of the United States Explicitly Endorses Torture — a Crime Against Humanity

      Even George W. Bush called torture abhorrent.

      “Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law,” he wrote on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in 2004.

      Bush’s words were outrageously insincere and hypocritical, considering that his administration brutally tortured hundreds of captives in the war on terror, referring to it euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation.”

    • Customs agents ignore judge, enforce Trump’s travel ban: ACLU

      A Brooklyn federal judge took on President Trump Saturday night,…
      Federal judge grants stay for those detained under Trump’s travel ban

      The ACLU is getting “multiple reports” that federal customs agents are siding with President Trump — and willfully ignoring a Brooklyn federal judge’s demand that travelers from seven Muslim countries not be deported from the nation’s airports.

      “The court’s order could not be clearer… they need to comply with the order,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights project, told The Post late Saturday.

    • Trump Order Will Block 500,000 Legal U.S. Residents from Returning to America From Trips Abroad

      A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told Reuters on Saturday morning that the President’s executive order will, in fact, stop green card holders from seven countries from returning to the United States if they travel abroad. “It will bar green card holders,” the spokeswoman said.

      When details leaked earlier this week about a spate of immigration-related executive orders from President Donald Trump, much public discussion focused on a 30-day ban on new visas for citizens from seven “terror-prone” countries.

      But the order signed this afternoon by Trump is actually more severe, increasing the ban to 90 days. And its effects could extend well beyond preventing newcomers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, from entering the U.S., lawyers consulted by ProPublica said.

    • Fear Among Undocumented Immigrants

      The new mayor of the “People’s Republic of Berkeley,” Jesse Arreguin, is facing a trial by fire. The son and grandson of farmworkers and the first Latino to ever be elected mayor of Berkeley, California, Arreguin finds himself on the frontlines of the “sanctuary city” movement and in the cross hairs of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.


      And so, I’m angry. And I’m concerned about what the executive order the President signed today [Jan. 25] means for the people of Berkeley, and undocumented people throughout our country. And, now, more than ever, we’re going to stand up, and protect everyone, regardless of their national origin, their religion. And, I think, now more than ever, Berkeley needs to be a leader in the resistance against the Trump administration.

    • Hours After Landing in U.S., Cleveland Clinic Doctor Forced to Leave by Trump’s Order

      Hours after landing in New York on Saturday, a doctor at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic was forced to leave the country based on an executive order issued by President Donald Trump that bans visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.

      Her flight to Saudi Arabia took off minutes before a federal judge in New York put a temporary stay on turning back people in such situations.

      Suha Abushamma, 26, is in the first year of an Internal Medicine residency program at the clinic and held an H-1B visa for workers in “specialty occupations.” Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, she holds a passport from Sudan, one of the seven countries from which Trump barred visitors.

      On Saturday evening, Abushamma was forced to make a choice by Customs and Border Protection agents: She could leave the country voluntarily and withdraw her visa — or she could be forcibly deported, which would have prevented her from coming back to the United States for at least five years. The latter also would have resulted in a permanent black mark on her immigration record.

      She asked for a delay but was refused, she said in a FaceTime interview with ProPublica while she was flying over the Atlantic on her way back to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is not one of the countries on Trump’s list, but because Abushamma’s passport is from Sudan, she was told she is covered by the executive order.

    • Canadian Officials Say The White House Told Them Citizens Won’t Be Affected By The Trump Bans

      As the world processed the impact of President Donald Trump’s immigration and visa orders Saturday, tens of thousands of Canadian citizens — possibly including the country’s immigration minister — were told they were suddenly barred from entering Canada’s closest neighbor and ally.

      Trump’s executive action signed Friday bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days, even if they are also citizens of another nation. Trump’s actions on Friday also suspended the entire US refugee program for four months and indefinitely halted the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

    • Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban

      When President Donald Trump declared at the Pentagon Friday he was enacting strict new measures to prevent domestic terror attacks, there were few within his government who knew exactly what he meant.

      Administration officials weren’t immediately sure which countries’ citizens would be barred from entering the United States. The Department of Homeland Security was left making a legal analysis on the order after Trump signed it. A Border Patrol agent, confronted with arriving refugees, referred questions only to the President himself, according to court filings.

    • Trump executive order: US judge temporarily halts deportations

      A US judge has issued a temporary halt to the deportation of visa holders or refugees stranded at airports after President Donald Trump issued an order barring entry to them for 90 days.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a case in response to the order issued on Friday.

      The White House said 109 people were detained, and around two dozen travellers are still being held.

    • Counterattack On Trumpism

      Trump is building a house of cards. His government will be the laughing stock of USA for the mid-term elections if he’s not impeached earlier. An executive violating the constitution multiple times per week will be noticed. This week has made me proud to be a Canadian.

    • ACLU says it raised $10 million since Saturday

      The American Civil Liberties Union says it has raised over $10 million since Saturday morning and gotten over 150,000 new members in what the group’s executive director calls an “unprecedented” response to President Trump’s executive order blocking entry into the United States from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

      “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the civil liberties group, told Yahoo News in a telephone interview. “People are fired up and want to be engaged. What we’ve seen is an unprecedented public reaction to the challenges of the Trump administration.”

    • Merkel ‘explains’ refugee convention to Trump in phone call

      Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – has provoked a wave of concern and condemnation from international leaders and politicians.

      A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US, adding that she had “explained” the obligations of the Geneva refugee convention to the new president in a phone call on Saturday.

      “The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Shadow Regulation Around the World

        For close to 20 years, online copyright enforcement has taken place under a predictable set of legal rules, based around taking down allegedly infringing material in response to complaints from rights holders. In the United States, these rules are in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and in Europe they are part of the E-Commerce Directive. In a nutshell, both sets of rules protect web platforms from liability for copyright infringement for material that they host, until they receive a formal notice about the claimed infringement from the copyright holder. This system is imperfect, and has resulted in many mistaken or bad faith takedowns. But as imperfect as the rules are, the fact that they are established by law at least means that they are pretty clear and well understood. That may be about to change.

        Around the world, big media lobbyists are pushing for changes to the way copyright is enforced online, and they’re focusing on new codes of conduct or industry agreements, rather than new laws. In particular, we have written in depth about Europe’s plans to force platforms to enter into private agreements with copyright holders to filter files that users upload to the web, something that copyright holders would also like to see done in the United States. They’re pushing this new upload filtering mandate through private agreements to avoid the long and divisive process of developing such requirements through through laws debated in parliaments, regulations made on public record, or a balanced multi-stakeholder process.

      • The US ‘Six Strikes’ Anti-Piracy Scheme is Dead

        The “six-strikes” Copyright Alert System is no more. In a brief announcement, MPAA, RIAA, and several major US ISPs said that the effort to educate online pirates has stopped. It’s unclear why the parties ended their voluntary agreement, but the lack of progress reports in recent years indicates that it wasn’t as successful as they had hoped.

IRC Proceedings: December 18th, 2016 – January 14th, 2017

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: December 18th, 2016 – December 24th, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: December 25th, 2016 – December 31st, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: January 1st, 2017 – January 7th, 2017



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IRC Proceedings: January 8th, 2017 – January 14th, 2017



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Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: November 20th – December 17th, 2016

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: November 20th, 2016 – November 26th, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: November 27th, 2016 – December 3rd, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: December 4th, 2016 – December 10th, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: December 11th, 2016 – December 17th, 2016



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Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: October 23rd, 2016 – November 19th, 2016

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: October 23rd, 2016 – October 29th, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: October 30th, 2016 – November 5th, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: November 6th, 2016 – November 12th, 2016



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IRC Proceedings: November 13th, 2016 – November 19th, 2016



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Enter the IRC channels now

Battistelli Keeps Filling His Swamp at the European Patent Office for Social Control and Immunity Purposes

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO has its own Trump and Union Ban

Miscarriage of justice
Reference: Miscarriage of justice

Summary: The catastrophe which is today’s European Patent Office keeps making more of a mockery out of itself, based on rumours from the inside

THIS morning we saw two anonymous comments that contain new information. The first of these comments said the following:

Today the The Hague Local Staff Committee informed the staff that the Disciplinary Committee was not properly constituted in 2015 and 2016.
Sanctions (including dismissals) were inflicted by the president after consultation of a defective committee.

Can someone please pass this to us (the message, if any such message exists)? It ought to be publicly visible for accountability and enforcement — if any is possible — from the outside, e.g. Parliament. The EPO’s management spitting in the face of justice is a very severe violation of trust if not law; how are applicants expected to believe in patent justice when the EPO management so blatantly miscarries justice even when its own employees are concerned?

The second comment said this (with a tinge of sarcasm):

Good news ! at last hard workers are finally rewarded at EPO :

- the principal director Chairman of the disciplinary committee
- the director of the investigation unit
- the right hand of the president and husband of PD HR
- the director of personnel right hand of PD HR


Who said that talents aren’t rewarded at EPO ?

Does anyone have more information about this? If so, please get in touch. The EPO may have managed to almost silence SUEPO, but it cannot silence Techrights (it tried repeatedly).


Links 28/1/2017: New Plasma 5 for Slackware, Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • Oracle Switching Solaris To A Continuous Delivery Model

      Last week talk of Solaris heated up again with Solaris 12 being removed from the Oracle road-map, after rumors of Oracle canning Solaris occurred in early December, meanwhile there are also more layoffs happening at Oracle. Oracle finally issued a blog post this week with a bit more clarification on the matter.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Performance

      This page links to various Linux performance material I’ve created, including the tools maps on the right. The first is a hi-res version combining observability, static performance tuning, and perf-tools/bcc (see discussion). The remainder were designed for use in slide decks and have larger fonts and arrows, and show: Linux observability tools, Linux benchmarking tools, Linux tuning tools, and Linux sar. For even more diagrams, see my slide decks below.

    • Shutting down FTP services

      Those of you who have been around for a while may remember a time when you used to be able to mount kernel.org directly as a partition on your system using NFS (or even SMB/CIFS). The Wayback Machine shows that this was still advertised some time in January 1998, but was removed by the time the December 1998 copy was made.

      Let’s face it — while kinda neat and convenient, offering a public NFS/CIFS server was a Pretty Bad Idea, not only because both these protocols are pretty terrible over high latency connections, but also because of important security implications.

    • Video: LCA 2017 – The Kernel Report

      It is that time of year again… linux.conf.au. They have been doing a great job getting the videos up fast and they are still uploading more. Here’s Jon Corbet’s talk, The Kernel Report.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 Vulkan vs. Mesa 17.1-dev RADV Performance

        Given yesterday’s release of the AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 driver I’ve been busy running various benchmarks on this first AMD Linux hybrid driver release of 2017. A number of OpenGL benchmarks will be published this weekend compared to the latest Mesa RadeonSI Git driver while for your viewing pleasure today is a look at the Vulkan performance of AMDGPU-PRO 16.60 compared to the Linux 4.10 + Mesa 17.1-dev driver stack for Dota 2 and The Talos Principle.

      • Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu On An Intel Pentium CPU

        When we are usually running our cross-distribution/OS Linux comparisons, we are generally using Intel Xeon or Core i5/i7 CPUs and whatever else is the latest and greatest hardware, since that’s what excites us the most. But a Phoronix Premium member recently inquired whether Intel’s performance-oriented Clear Linux distribution would also be of benefit on lower-end hardware. So for some benchmarking fun this weekend, here are some Ubuntu 16.10 vs. Clear Linux results on an older Pentium system.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • New ISOs released!

        Today we released new BlackArch Linux ISOs. For details see the ChangeLog below.

    • Slackware Family

      • Plasma 5_17.01 for Slackware

        My previous post concerned itself with the question: what do I spend my time on? Keeping Plasma 5 working on Slackware 14.2 and -current, and for 32bit as well as 64bit architectures, is simply too time-consuming for a monthly release. I asked for your opinion and I was glad for all the feedback I have received. Predominantly, people are using 64bit Slackware and I saw both the stable 14.2 and the -current development tree mentioned. It looks like a small minority of people is running Plasma 5 on 32bit Slackware – not my target of choice but everyone has his or her own reasons and I am not here to doubt those.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Huawei Extends its Cooperation with Red Hat to Public and NFV Clouds
      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Make Fedora fonts better

          Citizens of the Internet, welcome. Fonts in Linux are a rather neglected topic; there are things with a higher delight factor we could talk about, discuss, test, and indeed, write. But fonts be probably one of the most important elements of modern computing. Because we spend countless hours staring at monitors, and the precision of displayed information affects our productivity, health, mood, and ability to remain in front of a screen.

          It’s not all about fonts, but then, it is. Types of displays, pixel density, color calibration, screen resolution, lighting, viewing distance, and many other factors affect how we experience text before us. But for any given hardware and setup, there’s a drastic variation among operating systems. Windows and Linux. And then, each distro has its own way of showing text. We talked about this in my songesque-titled article, and one of the things I mentioned was the inferiority of Fedora fonts compared to Ubuntu. I want to focus on this claim some more today, and eventually, give you better fonts. Let’s do-oo-oo-oo it.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian at FOSDEM 2017

        On February 4th and 5th, Debian will be attending FOSDEM 2017 in Brussels, Belgium; a yearly gratis event (no registration needed) run by volunteers from the Open Source and Free Software community. It’s free, and it’s big: more than 600 speakers, over 600 events, in 29 rooms.

      • Derivatives

        • Am I a target now?

          While reading the Tails 2.10 changelog I stumbled upon the fact that Tails now supports exFAT. Since Tails is Debian based I just checked the image and indeed it contains the fuse-exfat package. Do I’ve to assume that I’ve now another set of crosshairs on my back just because it’s one possible maintainer you could attack to place malicious code into Tails?

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Opt-In Flavors Finally Get Their Alpha Release, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical today released the second Alpha of the upcoming Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system, which, in fact, is the first Alpha of the new series.

          • Ubuntu 17.04 Spins Do Their Lone Alpha Release
          • Ubuntu 17.04 Alpha 2 Released, Available to Download Now
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released

              Today I am happy to announce the first scheduled update release of the Bodhi Linux 4 branch – Bodhi Linux 4.1.0. This release serves to package up the fixes for a few bugs that slipped through the cracks in the 4.0.0 release, as well as provided updated package sets for the install ISO images. Most notably these ISO images come with EFL 1.18.4, Linux Kernel 4.8, and a new Moksha Theme based on the “Arc Dark” theme. Existing Bodhi 4.0.0 users already have the bug fixes incorporated into these ISO images, but they will need to manually install the newer kernel and theme if they wish to utilize them.

            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Released with New Moksha “Arc Dark” Theme, Linux Kernel 4.8
            • Bodhi Linux 4.1.0 Ubuntu-based distro now available with updated kernel and new theme

              There are so many Linux distributions nowadays, that it can be hard to be excited by them. Linux Mint, for example, releases too many versions of its operating system; news of an update can become rather ho-hum. Major Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu and Fedora, remain exciting, however.

              Some smaller Linux-based operating systems are still worthy of attention, however, and one such distro is Bodhi. Based on Ubuntu, the lightweight OS is very unique thanks to the Moksha desktop environment. Because of its familiarity, that DE makes Bodhi a smart choice for Windows users looking to switch to Linux. Today, Bodhi reaches version 4.1.0.

              “Today I am happy to announce the first scheduled update release of the Bodhi Linux 4 branch — Bodhi Linux 4.1.0. This release serves to package up the fixes for a few bugs that slipped through the cracks in the 4.0.0 release, as well as provided updated package sets for the install ISO images. Most notably these ISO images come with EFL 1.18.4, Linux Kernel 4.8, and a new Moksha Theme based on the ‘Arc Dark’ theme. Existing Bodhi 4.0.0 users already have the bug fixes incorporated into these ISO images, but they will need to manually install the newer kernel and theme if they wish to utilize them,” says Jeff Hoogland, Bodhi Linux.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” Xfce And KDE Editions Available For Download

              The Linux Mint project has released Xfce and KDE version of its Linux Mint 18.1 operating system. Shipping with Xfce 4.12 and KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS desktop environments, these releases are based on Linux kernel 4.4 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The users can download the 32-bit and 64-bit images of these versions via Linux Mint’s website.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How communities in India support privacy and software freedom

    The free and open source communities in India, particularly Mozilla and Wikimedia communities, are leading two unique global events for better privacy and in support of free software.

    January Privacy Month is led by the Mozilla community in India to educate the masses about online privacy via both online and offline outreach events. And, Freedom in Feb is led by the Centre for Internet and Society to educate content producers like bloggers and photographers on how to donate their content under open licenses.

  • Who’s Responsible If An Open Source Software Powered Self-Driving Vehicle Kills Someone?

    Hotz recently wrote in an email that “It’s not my code, I did not release it” and that Comma.ai Inc. “released and maintains it.” Comma.ai Inc. includes the disclaimer, ““THIS IS ALPHA QUALITY SOFTWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLYING WITH LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED.” Hotz is technically protected by the standard MIT open source license.

  • Open source challenges reduce menu choices in Docker data storage

    I don’t think the decision that we made indicts the whole industry. There’s a lot of momentum around Docker itself; Kubernetes is going crazy right now. There’s definitely lots and lots of uptake. But I still think it’s going to be tough for people to make significant money with open source software, because the difference between usage and revenue right now for everybody is a huge gap.

  • The hackers religion of open source: A manifesto (kind of)

    Technology can be seen as a religious experience. Tim Bradshaw from the Financial Times, in an interview with Founders Fund compared the first VR experience with discovering faith: “You either have that experience and you believe in God, and you then feel so strongly about it you want to convince other people that their life would be improved by having God in it.”

  • Events

    • gbgcpp

      Another interesting weeks has passed by. We held our first Gothenburg C++ meetup with a nice turn up. We met at the Pelagicore offices in Gothenburg (thanks for the fika) and decided on a format, the cadence and future topics for the group. If you want a primer in C++ and Qt in the next few months, make sure to join us! All the details are on the gbgcpp meetup page. For those of you not based in Gothenburg, there is a Sweden C++ group based in Stockholm.

    • There’s One Week Until FOSDEM 2017

      Next week is the annual Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM) taking place in Brussels, Belgium.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 51.0.1 and Thunderbird 45.7 Land in All Supported Ubuntu OSes

        If you’ve been waiting to install the recently released Mozilla Firefox 51.0 web browser on your Linux-based operating system, today we have some good news for you, especially if you’re using the popular Ubuntu.

      • Mozilla delivers browsing privacy to millions of Firefox users

        Mozilla’s contribution to Data Privacy Day 2017 centers on its privacy browser Firefox Focus is now available for iOS in 27 languages benefitting millions of users worldwide.

        The company said this launch is part of its on-going campaign to give users more control over their web experiences. In this case the ability to erase their web history. The initial rollout of Firefox Focus took place in November 2016 and from that the company said it realized there were a huge number of people who wanted to wander through the web anonymously.

      • I cannot continue working on my add-ons anymore. I’m sorry, but it’s time.

        Some time ago, Mozilla announced WebExtensions as the future of Firefox add-ons. At the time, it was not fully clear to me what this would mean for my add-ons, I was optimistic in that they would at least keep working in some way, but over this past year it became clear that this is not the case.

        WebExtensions are great for adding functionality to the browser, and without a doubt are versatile and easy to use. However, manipulation of the browser window’s interface and functionality will be extremely limited by definition, and even if it wasn’t, the implementation of such abilities is nearly impossible to achieve in WebExtensions.

      • Firefox Focus Now Available in 27 Languages for iOS
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


  • Public Services/Government

    • UK’s GDS to renew focus on reusable software

      The UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) will renew its focus on the creation of reusable, open source software projects, says Anna Shipman, GDS’ Open Source Lead. It is a subtle shift from making source code publicly available – the default of the past five years, to creating real open source projects – getting a community involved and providing support for its reuse.

    • Germany and Italy to cooperate on standardisation

      The governments of Italy and Germany will intensify their cooperation on ICT standardisation, the two agreed on 18 January at a conference in Berlin. The countries want to advance the digital single market and set the pace for other European countries, announced the German government.

  • Programming/Development

    • GCC 7.0 vs. LLVM Clang 4.0 Performance With Both Compiler Updates Coming Soon

      LLVM Clang 4.0 is set to be released in February while GCC 7 will be released as stable in March~April. For those curious how both compilers are currently performing, here is our latest installment of GCC vs. LLVM Clang benchmarking on Linux x86_64.

      From an Intel Core i7 6800K Broadwell-E box running Ubuntu 16.04, I just wrapped up fresh GCC and Clang C/C++ benchmarks. On the GCC side were 4.9.4, 5.4.0, 6.3.0, and 7.0.0 snapshot. On the LLVM Clang side was Clang 3.9.1 and Clang 4.0.0 SVN.


  • Disqus Now Requires Either Ads or Paid Subscription for its Commenting Platform [iophk: “disqus is a common way to block comments in general while at the same time pretending to allow them”]

    You also used to be able to use Disqus for free, but that changed this past week when the company started telling websites that use Disqus that they had to either sign up for the paid service or turn on the Disqus ads.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • In fight for Americans’ health, Big Soda is winning

      Nearly two-thirds of kids (ages two- to 19-years-old) drink at least one sugary drink a day, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, kids and adults have stopped making progress in cutting back on their taste for sweet drinks. After a steady decline in the past decade, sugary beverage consumption appears to be hitting a plateau.

    • Antibiotic resistance on the rise: Superbug infections found in Chinese hospitals

      New research suggests a worrying number of people in China may be infected with bacteria resistant to an antibiotic used as a last resort.

      Researchers examined more than 17,000 samples from patients with infections of common bacteria found in the gut, in two hospitals in China’s Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, over eight years. About 1 percent of those samples were resistant to colistin, often considered the last option in antibiotics.

      The study, published Friday in the Lancet journal, is one of the first to document the extent of drug-resistant infections in more than one Chinese province.

      For decades, China has used colistin in its agriculture industry to speed animals’ growth, but the drug was not used in people. Scientists say the latest work is further evidence that overuse in animals can spread to people. Chinese officials earlier this year approved colistin for use in hospitals, raising fears that it could worsen the resistance problem.

    • US Army Extends Comment Period On Proposed Exclusive Zika Licence

      The US Army has extended the comment period on the proposed licence to pharmaceutical company Sanofi on technology necessary to create a vaccine for the Zika virus. This is the second extension, and will permit public comments through 10 March 2017.

    • WHO-Netherlands To Hold Fair Pricing Forum In May

      The World Health Organization and The Netherlands government will co-host a meeting in the spring that brings experts together to look at high drug prices and government purchasing of medicines.

      The forum is planned for the first half of May in The Hague, according to Daniela Bagozzi of the WHO Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products, which is handling the initiative at the WHO.

    • SNP calls on PM not to lower food and safety standards in her bid to get US trade deal

      THERESA May has been called on by the SNP leadership not to lower Britain’s food and safety standards in her desire for a trade deal with America.

      The issue was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions by Angus Robertson, the Nationalist leader at Westminster, who asked Mrs May if she would be willing to make sacrifices on privatisation of healthcare or food safety to secure a deal with President Donald Trump.

      He told MPs: “The European Union, which we are still a part of, has amongst the highest food safety standards anywhere in the world and we are proud on our continent to have public national health systems.

  • Security

    • WordPress 4.7.2 Security Release

      WordPress 4.7.2 is now available. This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

    • Alleged LinkedIn hacker is stuck between a Trump and a hard face

      PITY ALLEGED LINKEDIN HACKER Yevgeniy Nikulin. He is currently facing extradition requests from both the USA and Russia, suggesting that he is doomed for Putin or Trump style punishment.

      Nikulin is suspected of hacking LinkedIn, which is a glue-like social network for businesses and business people. If you are not on it, someone has probably still tried to connect you to it. If you are on it, you were probably hacked when it was. A lot of people were.

    • Security is now ‘number one priority’ in app development

      VESTED INTEREST AND APP TESTING COMPANY F5 Networks has advised that security is now a more important consideration than availability when it comes to application deployment.

      What a trade off to make. Security or availability? Surely there is equal room for both? We don’t make the rules and we don’t do the surveys. F5 does the latter, studying how the companies that buy and use apps decide where to spend their money.

      It produces this regular report called ‘The State of Application Delivery’. 2017′s is just out, and it finds that the whims of companies has changed because of the cloud and insecurity.

    • Securing MySQL DBMS

      MySQL, owned by Oracle since 2009, is the number one open source database for successful startups and Web-based applications, loved by such iconic social networks as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many others. The database comes in two different editions: the open source MySQL Community Server and the proprietary Enterprise Server. Today, we will discuss the MySQL Community Server, and more specifically the basic security aspects of setting up this DBMS.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How to make America great again? Bully Mexico.

      The inauguration of the new US President, Donald Trump, certainly carried some jingoistic overtones. His electoral success was to a great extent built on his promise to put America first and protect the interests of ‘our people’ and in doing so, he has organised a line-up of usual suspects: the political establishment, the CIA, radical Islam, the press, women’s rights, China, and of course, Mexico. As central points in his campaign, his short-term popularity as a president will be measured on his ability to get visible results in these areas. And anyone unconvinced by the President’s ability to put his words into action should only see his performance during his first week in office.

      On Mexico, Trump will continue the policy trend set by his two previous incumbents of heightened security on the US-Mexico border and deportations. “We’re going to build that wall” brought Trump’s controversial character into the international spotlight during the Republican primaries. Yet this is a symbolic policy, radical and controversial for the unacceptable prejudice and slurs against Mexicans with which it was delivered, rather than offering a new solution to the challenges of migration.

    • Food scarcity caused by terrorists will take time to fix – Lai Mohammed

      Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the food crisis caused by Boko Haram in the North East will take a while to resolve.

      Mohammed made the comment on Thursday, January 26, while receiving members of the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative in Abuja.

      “The Boko Haram insurgency affects seven countries and more than 20 million people are also affected. The food security or scarcity caused by the Boko Haram will take time to fix, this is because, for six years, people could not go to their farm,” Mohammed said.

    • FGM clinic hailed as ‘life-changing’ to close after losing funding

      A “life changing” clinic which helps women and girls subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) could be forced to close in March after losing its council funding.

      The Acton FGM Community Clinic in West London – where FGM figures are the highest in the country – is the only facility in the country to offer reversal of the practice.

      Ealing Council and Imperial NHS Trust have funded the service for the past decade, but the council is withdrawing money for rent of the space and other costs – and health commissioners have refused to plug the gap.

      The procedure, also known as female circumcision or “cutting” is considered child abuse under UK law, where it has been illegal since 1985.

    • Malmö police chief: ‘Help us’

      After a wave of violence in Sweden’s third city, police boss Stefan Sintéus has appealed to residents in Malmö: “Help us. Help us to tackle the problems. Cooperate with us.”

      In an opinion piece published by regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, he describes an “upward spiral of violence of great proportions” in the city, where police are currently dealing with 11 ongoing murder investigations and around 80 attempted murders.

    • American Muslims Stop More Terror Attacks Than The NSA

      An entry ban on the residents of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees was touted by President Donald Trump’s administration as a vital part of an effective counterterrorism policy.

      On January 27, he signed an executive order that temporarily banned refugees and indefinitely suspended resettlement for all Syrian refugees. The order reportedly targeted citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for “extreme vetting” if they would like to come to the United States.

      “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want ’em here,” Trump proclaimed, when signing the order. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

      Previously, Trump promised a “Muslim registry” and increased surveillance of Muslims.

      Yet, experts warn that this policy will be seen by American Muslims as discriminatory and could actually undermine one of the U.S.’s major counterterrorism assets: Muslims themselves.

    • Kamala Harris: ‘Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban’

      Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is ripping President Trump for his executive order on refugees, saying it is nothing short of a Muslim ban.
      Trump’s order declares that “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States” and suspends their entry until the president has determined they have been sufficiently changed.

      “On Holocaust Memorial Day, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban,” Harris said in a statement.

    • Islamophobia is alive in America

      Alaa Ibrahim spends most of her free time at school socializing and relaxing with her friends in the Student Center. Never could she have thought that her peaceful time could turn into a battleground of hate.

    • Editorial: Stop ignorance; Embrace understanding

      Since 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror, Muslims have become easy targets for discrimination in Western society. This is especially true for Muslim women who are easily identified as Muslim by their headscarf, known as a hijab, worn by certain practitioners.

      Despite what many people think, Muslim is not a race of people, but rather a name for practitioners of the religion of Islam.

    • Race politics: Racializing Islam and seeing beyond stereotypes

      In today’s political climate, many people overlook the difference between the “religious” and the “fanatical”, as the media often hastily interlaces those terms when it comes to Islam.

      Western media have regularly designated persons who allegedly follow Islam and have committed atrocious crimes as Muslims in headlines, while criminals and terrorists who follow other faiths are not branded by their religions.

    • In Trump Era, Young Muslims Question Respectability Politics of Mosques

      Possibly this week, President Trump might sign yet another executive order, this time restricting entry to the United States from majority Muslim countries [read a draft obtained by HuffPo here]. This, on the heels of the executive orders he just signed to ramp up immigration enforcement and enable the building of the U.S.-Mexico border wall he promised during his campaign. Muslim and immigrant groups, especially youth, are mobilizing against these actions, with a major protest taking place last night in New York City’s Washington Square Park.

    • Visit a mosque

      About half of Americans think at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, which is roughly the same amount of Americans who do not personally know a Muslim. Next to not knowing a Muslim, one of the other bigger shifts in opinion on Islam is due to age — according to FiveThirtyEight, a respondent was more likely to express negative sentiments towards Muslims the older they were. There is clearly a disconnect between what we Americans think we know about Islam and the actual facts.

    • A mix of despair and resolve for US Muslims in Trump era

      Four days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, mental health counsellors hosted a webinar on how their fellow American Muslims could cope. They surveyed the political landscape: a White House framing Islam itself as a threat, a surge in anti-Muslim hostility and suspicion of immigrants in general.

      The counsellors offered tips such as limiting time on social media. And they cautioned against withdrawing in discouragement, worried about losing whatever foothold Muslims have gained in public life since the crucible of Sept. 11.

    • Nobel Peace winner Malala ‘heartbroken’ by Trump order

      Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist and Nobel Peace laureate, said Friday she was “heartbroken” by Donald Trump’s order on refugees and urged the US president not to abandon the world’s “most defenseless.”

      “I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” said the 19-year-old, shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after publicly advocating education for girls in her home country.

      “In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families,” she added in a statement just moments after Trump signed the decree.

    • Nuclear ‘Doomsday Clock’ ticks closest to midnight in 64 years

      Atomic scientists reset their symbolic “Doomsday Clock” to its closest time to midnight in 64 years on Thursday, saying the world was closer to catastrophe due to threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

      The timepiece, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and displayed on its website, is widely viewed as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to disaster.

      Its hands were moved to two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes.

      “The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it’s ever been in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room,” Lawrence Krauss, the bulletin’s chair, told a news conference in Washington.

      The clock was last set this close to midnight in 1953, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thursday’s reset was the first since 2015.

    • From Tweet to Trade War, Trump Shreds US-Mexico Relations in 24 Hours

      President Donald Trump has bragged throughout his career that he makes “great deals—the best deals,” but it took him less than a week to create a major international rift with one of the nation’s neighbors and chief trading partners.


      Amid the dust-up about the border wall, it emerged Thursday that U.S. Border Patrol chief Mark Morgan is leaving the agency, the Associated Press reported, although it is unclear whether he resigned or was asked to leave.

    • Tomgram: William Astore, A Violent Cesspool of Our Own Making

      I came of age during America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union, witnessing its denouement while serving in the U.S. military. In those days, the USSR led the world’s weapons trade, providing arms to the Warsaw Pact (the military alliance it dominated) as well as to client states like Cuba, Egypt, and Syria. The United States usually came in second in arms dealing, a dubious silver medal that could, at least, be rationalized as a justifiable response to Soviet aggression, part of the necessary price for a longstanding policy of “containment.” In 1983, President Ronald Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union an “evil empire” in part because of its militarism and aggressive push to sell weaponry around the globe, often accompanied by Soviet troops, ostensibly as trainers and advisers.

      After the USSR imploded in 1991, dominating the world’s arms trade somehow came to seem so much less evil. In fact, faced with large trade deficits, a powerful military-industrial complex looking for markets, and ever more global military commitments, Washington actively sought to promote and sell American-made weaponry on a remarkable scale. And in that it succeeded admirably.

      Today, when it comes to building and exporting murderous weaponry, no other country, not even that evil-empire-substitute, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, comes faintly close. The U.S. doth bestride the world of arms production and dealing like a colossus. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms contractors sold $209.7 billion in weaponry in 2015, representing 56% of the world’s production. Of that, $40 billion was exported to an array of countries, representing “half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar,” as the New York Times put it. France ($15 billion) was a distant second, with Putin’s Russia ($11 billion) earning a weak third. Judged by the sheer amount of weapons it produces for itself, as well as for others, the U.S., notes Forbes, is “still comfortably the world’s superpower — or warmonger, depending on how you look at it.” Indeed, under President Obama, in the five-year period beginning in 2010, American arms exports outpaced the figures for the previous Bush-Cheney years by 23%.

    • The media–technology–military industrial complex

      Mills, like Eisenhower, reflected on the exponential growth and consolidation of corporations, the military establishment and government bureaucracy during the post-war period, along with the rapid development of communication technologies and infrastructures. These were not coincidental and autonomous processes but mutually constitutive of an ever more integrated elite power structure; and one that transcended the formal checks and balances of the political system.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • DOJ Blows Redaction Effort; Exposes Immigration Judges Accused Of Misconduct

      Some more inadvertent transparency has resulted from a FOIA lawsuit. Two years ago, the DOJ released a bunch of heavily-redacted documents containing complaints about immigration judges to the Public Citizen Litigation Group and the American Immigration Council. Withheld at the time — or so the DOJ thought — were the names of the judges named in the complaints.

      But that’s all history now. Even though the DOJ and the American Immigration Council are still litigating over the legality of redacting the judges’ names, those arguments have been rendered irrelevant. As Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast reports, additional research work by an immigration lawyer has uncovered the judges’ supposedly redacted names.


      Understandably, these judges aren’t happy that complaints have been linked to their mistakenly-unredacted names. This has led to talk of a possible lawsuit against the DOJ for doing an inadequate job of protecting the judges’ privacy.

      On the other hand, government agencies are well-known for doing everything they can to ensure the public knows as little as possible about misconduct or illegal activity committed by government employees. No matter how egregious the violation, the names are withheld for as long as possible — in some cases indefinitely. Meanwhile, the merest accusation of illegal activity committed by a taxpayer tends to result in the release of that person’s name in full — along with any background info that can be dredged up. If these judges are worried about their reputations as the result of unsubstantiated allegations… well, hey, welcome to the world the rest of us live in.

      But underlying all of this is an error that undoes months of litigation and thousands of taxpayer dollars. The government — at least until recently — has been arguing this information should be withheld. Right or wrong, the information hasn’t been, but constituents are still on the hook for the costs of this particularly futile legal battle.

  • Finance

    • Gov. Cuomo’s New Affordable Housing Proposal Would Make Some Rents Less Affordable

      Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal that he dubbed the “Affordable New York Housing Program.” Turns out, one of its provisions would likely increase rents for most New York City tenants who move into buildings constructed under the program.

      Cuomo’s initiative, included in his budget proposal for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, would water down the rent regulations associated with a $1.4 billion tax break for real-estate developers. This program, known as 421-a, has historically required developers who accept the benefit to cap rent hikes in new apartments — a policy aimed at slowing the explosive growth of the city’s housing costs. Developers who built in certain high-demand areas, such as Manhattan, also had to set aside 20 percent of their units for low-income renters. The program was suspended last year and is now closed to new applicants.

    • Senator Demands Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin Tell the Truth About Robo-Signing

      Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has angrily responded to treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s false responses to questions submitted for the record to the Senate Finance Committee, stating that Mnuchin’s “answers to basic questions are at war with facts.” The Intercept called attention to those responses on Wednesday.

      Casey had asked Mnuchin if OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin led from 2009 to 2015, engaged in “robo-signing” — a process by which employees rapidly signed off on affidavits and other documents in foreclosure cases without proper reviews, creating false evidence submitted to courtrooms and county offices.

      Mnuchin claimed that OneWest did not robo-sign documents, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including an admission of guilt from a OneWest employee in a 2009 deposition.

      “This seems to be part of a pattern with Mr. Mnuchin,” Casey said in a statement emailed to The Intercept.

    • Mnuchin Lied About His Bank’s History of Robo-Signing Foreclosure Documents

      Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin lied in his written responses to the Senate Finance Committee, claiming that “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” when ample evidence proves that they did.

      Mnuchin ran OneWest Bank from 2009 to 2015 in a manner so ruthless to mortgage holders that he has been dubbed the “Foreclosure King” by his critics.

      The robo-signing scandal involved mortgage companies having their employees falsely sign hundreds of affidavits per week attesting that they had reviewed and verified all the business records associated with a foreclosure — when in fact they never read through the material and just blindly signed off. Those records, in many cases, were prepared improperly, but the foreclosures went ahead anyway because of the fraudulent affidavits.

    • Md. Democrat wants to ban local governments from boosting minimum wage

      A top Democratic lawmaker in Maryland wants to ban counties and cities from increasing minimum wage in their individual jurisdictions, a proposal that is likely to pit progressive Democrats who have embraced a national push for a $15 hourly wage against the party’s center- and right-leaning members.

      Del. Derek E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, has introduced a bill that would put the General Assembly in charge of setting minimum wage even for cities and counties.

    • Theresa May’s Brexit Plan Will Leave Britain Subject To Secret Global Trade Courts

      Theresa May’s plan for Brexit could leave the UK exposed to a network of secret international courts able to rule in corporations’ favour over the NHS, food standards, environmental rules and more, leading trade experts have told BuzzFeed News.

      In a detailed speech in January, May set out a plan for Brexit which would see the UK becoming a pioneer of free trade, signing deals with countries across the world, and leaving the jurisdiction of the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice (ECJ). May and her ministers have said they want to sign deals quickly to show the UK can be a “great, global trading nation” after Brexit.

      But trade experts have warned that signing such deals without the EU judicial system will almost inevitably mean signing up to systems known as “ISDS” (Investor State Dispute Settlement) – secretive, binding arbitration systems that can force countries to overturn their laws when it hurts corporate interests. These formed the core of international opposition to trade deals such as TTIP (between the EU and US) and CETA (between the EU and Canada).

    • How to Cut Infrastructure Costs in Half

      Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota.

    • Why Trump’s Meetings With CEOs Seeking Mergers Trouble Observers

      When the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer met now-President Donald Trump earlier this month, eager for a nod of assent for their controversial merger into an agrochemical and seed giant, they promised jobs and investment.

      Sure enough, a week later, the companies and a Trump spokesman announced that the combined company would create several thousand new U.S. jobs. Trump himself Twitter-touted the companies’ pledge.

      But as Trump talked with the CEOs from his perch on Fifth Avenue, antitrust experts shook their heads.

    • Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism

      We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.

      All this is dangerous enough. What’s even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Executive Orders Are Normal; Trump’s Are Only Appalling Because of What They Say

      With President Trump issuing a flurry of executive orders in his first week in office, it’s important for everyone who opposes him to understand the history of this political tool.

      Unfortunately for those appalled by Trump’s directives, it cannot be said that the mere issuance of the orders is an outrageous departure from tradition. The truth is that previous presidents have successfully used executive orders to make significant policy changes.

      Prior experience also suggests that while it won’t necessarily be impossible to successfully challenge Trump’s executive orders in court — several of George W. Bush’s were — it will be quite difficult, since judges usually interpret presidential power broadly, especially if the legislative branch isn’t objecting.


      Almost everyone goes to bed at night. Some get up to urinate. The older, less continent ones can’t get up easily, so they urinate on themselves. If properly cared for, they do so in what is known in the geriatric product market as roll-ups.

      A small minority arrange to be urinated upon by others, though not usually on the bed they aim to sleep in. This may be an erotic pleasure for you, a perversion to the next man. The name for it is Golden Showers. If conducted between consenting adults, it’s not a crime. Paying for it may be a crime, depending on the local law on procuring. In the Russian criminal code it’s not a felony but a misdemeanour with a fine so small it usually isn’t enforced by the police; certainly not in expensive big-city hotels.

      A claim is being widely reported in the US media which supported Hillary Clinton for president that President-elect Donald Trump paid for at least two ladies to urinate on the bed in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel of Moscow. A former British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) agent named Christopher Steele has reported the episode in a memorandum dated June 20, 2016, because he was paid by a US client to do it; and also because he was paid to speculate that the Russian Security Service (FSB) filmed it, and has been blackmailing Trump ever since.

    • Trump called Park Service over inauguration crowd photos, report says

      The day after his inauguration, President Trump ordered the National Park Service to provide photographs of the National Mall crowds in hopes that they would corroborate his belief that the media misrepresented the inaugural crowd sizes, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

      According to the Post, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds provided the White House with additional aerial photographs after receiving personal orders from Trump last Saturday. The Post report also adds that Trump expressed displeasure over a tweet shared by the agency’s account, comparing his inauguration crowdto that of former president Barack Obama’s in 2009.

      Trump, who has become fixated with crowd-size totals since his presidential campaign, used his speech at the CIA headquarters — just hours after his inauguration — to claim that “one of the networks” had shown “an empty field,” while Trump felt the crowd he saw looked “like a million-and-a-half people” and “went all the way back to the Washington Monument” — a claim contradicted by aerial photos.

    • In world first, Denmark to name a ‘digital ambassador’

      Saying that tech giants like Google and Apple now have more influence than many countries, Denmark will become the first nation in the world to appoint a so-called digital ambassador.
      Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen revealed the plans in an interview with Politiken newspaper on Friday, saying that companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft “affect Denmark just as much as entire countries”.

    • ‘Calexit’ supporters can start work to make ballot

      Californians who want their state to secede from the United States can now start collecting signatures to put the initiative on the 2018 ballot.

      The Yes California Independence Campaign has been around for at least two years, but the election of President Trump only saw increased momentum for the so-called Calexit cause. Trump lost California by more than 4 million votes, fueling interest in a Calexit — a play on the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” campaign that saw that country’s voters decide to leave the European Union.

      The California secretary of state’s office announced that the group could begin collecting signatures on Thursday.

      The group needs 585,407 signatures from registered voters over the next 180 days to qualify for the ballot.

    • Tesla CEO Elon Musk joins President Trump’s new manufacturing council, again getting closer to the new administration

      Tesla CEO Elon Musk was already on President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but the White House announced today that he will also be joining the administration’s new manufacturing council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce.

      Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris was nominated as the head of the council by Trump last month.

      He headed a meeting on Monday at the White House. Musk was present along with several other industry leaders who are now also formally joining the manufacturing council. CNBC reports:

    • An open source insurgency against Trump?

      First of all it’s true, as many Leftist critics say, that Trump’s hardcore fascist voters simply don’t care if liberal commentators, mainstream journalists or fact-check websites prove his statements to be lie; they just laugh. And they just laugh at repeated statements that “this is not normal,” from liberals who judge the behavior of Trump and his henchmen from traditional civics textbook standards of legitimate behavior.

    • Trump says US will prioritize Christian refugees

      President Donald Trump said in a new interview Friday that persecuted Christians will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been “horribly treated.”

      Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been “impossible, or at least very tough” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.

    • After Denying Christian Refugees Refuge, Trump Promises Them Priority…

      I wasn’t planning to write anything more about Trump. I thought I’d seen it all… Today takes the cake however. After banning all refugees Christians, Muslims, Martians, all of them, he turns around and gives an interview promising to give Christians priority. He’s hurting all kinds of immigrants, even ones who already have started their travels to USA with a visa. He’s hurting families who have one or more members in USA and others being stuck in limbo somewhere else. He’s endangering refugees who are still mired in war somewhere. He’s endangering Christians who are targets of the murdering bastards. He’s destroying the long tradition of USA accepting refugees. What he’s done is not too different from banning Jews fleeing Hitler in WWII, yet now Trump claims to be a supporter of Israel, the country guilt built because of that.

    • How the Media Sowed the Seeds of Its Own Post-Trump Irrelevance
    • Donald Trump’s Muslim ban ‘means Iranian film director nominated for an Oscar won’t be able to attend ceremony’
    • Oscar-nominated Iranian director is blocked from attending awards ceremony, seven U.S.-bound migrants are stopped in Cairo and two refugees are held in JFK as Trump’s immigration ban kicks in
    • Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi to miss this year’s ceremony after President Trump’s Muslim ban
    • Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi to miss Academy Awards due to Trump immigration order
    • Oscar-nominated director can’t attend awards because of Trump ban: Iranian group
    • Donald Trump didn’t come up with the list of Muslim countries he wants to ban. Obama did.

      President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Friday that would impose a 30-day ban on entry to the United States for visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

      After word of Trump’s pending executive order spread, the administration faced a lot of pushback — especially the early stages of his Muslim ban.

      The executive order is widely viewed as the first step to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

      “We are excluding certain countries,” Trump said of visa issuances during a Wednesday interview with ABC News.

    • Google Parts With Podesta Lobbying Firm as Trump Enters Washington

      After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.

      The Podesta Group — whose chairman, Tony Podesta, is a major Democratic fundraiser and the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager — is no longer lobbying on behalf of Google, public disclosures show. The change coincided with Google’s bid to hire someone for “conservative outreach,” according to a December job advertisement.

      Veteran lobbyists say it’s not unusual to see such shifts after an election. U.S. companies are responding to a power shift in Washington that put Republicans in charge — but with a president who sometimes departs from party orthodoxy on issues like taxes and trade. President Donald Trump’s practice of calling out companies for cost-overruns on government contracts and decisions to move jobs overseas has also changed the stakes for corporate lobbyists.

    • Top Trump Adviser Stephen Bannon and Tiffany Trump Are Each Registered to Vote in Two States

      Early Wednesday, President Trump took to Twitter to call for “a major investigation” into voter fraud during the 2016 election. He specifically noted that this “include[s] those registered to vote in two states.”

      It seems that Trump’s investigation should start close to home, as one of his top advisers and his own daughter are currently registered to vote in two states. Stephen Bannon, former executive chair of Breitbart news, was registered in both Florida and New York during the 2016 election, and Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, is also registered in two states: New York and Pennsylvania.

    • Lawyer Who Defended Racial Gerrymandering Picked for A Top Civil Rights Job

      John Gore, an attorney who has worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, was selected by President Donald Trump to serve as a senior civil rights official at the Department of Justice.

      Gore’s new role as Trump’s choice for deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is notable because he will lead the division that oversees civil rights laws, including voter suppression issues. Trump and his nominee to lead the Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, are strong supporters of voting restrictions such as voter identification.

      The appointment of Gore represents a dramatic break from the the civil rights legacy of the outgoing Obama Justice Department, which has filed suits against voter restrictions in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, and other states. Under Obama, the civil rights division was restructured to take on more cases, with former Attorney General Eric Holder describing the team as the agency’s “crown jewel.”

      In stark contrast, Gore has worked to defend Republican redistricting laws in Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and Florida — including maps that opponents say were drawn to maximize Republican seats in Congress and frequently employed a strategy of packing African-American voters into a single district to dilute their voting power in neighboring districts.

    • Trump’s Ego-Driven Lies

      The practice involves the President’s disdain for truth, but it is not just a matter of the volume of lies and how he has built his political career on falsehood, as disturbing as that is. Rather it is the more specific technique of unrelentingly repeating a lie so often and with such apparent conviction, while ignoring all contrary evidence and refutations, that through sheer repetition many people are led to believe it to be true.

      The technique has been demonstrated by authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Many results of modern opinion polling suggest that now, in the post-truth era, there is even greater potential for making the technique work than for dictatorships of the past. Even a fact-checking free press cannot stop it; the fact-checking gets shoved aside amid the repetition.

    • Ignoring the Voice of the People

      The massive protests that followed the inauguration should have reminded Donald Trump that he is a minority president with a slim-to-none popular mandate, as Michael Winship describes.


      It sure didn’t sound like the troll we’ve come to know. A couple of days in, maybe the awesomeness of becoming the leader of the free world had penetrated his roiling psyche and settled him down. Nah. Clearly, he hadn’t written it. Because just two hours before, in a tone far more like the narcissistic whine we’re used to, the Trump account tweeted, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

      Not voting? Celebs? That sound you heard was my cognitive dissonance alarm hitting DEFCON 1. In both instances, the bad and not-quite-as-bad Trump personas were writing about Saturday’s worldwide protests, women’s marches in more than 500 cities in the United States — at least 3.7 million Americans — and more than another hundred demonstrations internationally, from London and Paris to that handful of hearty souls who displayed their protest signs in Antarctica.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How to Protect Your Digital Privacy in the Era of Public Shaming

      Every January, I do a digital tune-up, cleaning up my privacy settings, updating my software and generally trying to upgrade my security. This year, the task feels particularly urgent as we face a world with unprecedented threats to our digital safety.

      We are living in an era of widespread hacking and public shaming. Don’t like your political rivals? Beg Russia to hack them, and their emails mysteriously show up on Wikileaks. Don’t like your ex-spouse? Post a revenge porn video. Don’t like your video game opponents? Find their address online and send a SWAT team to their door.

      And, of course, the US government has the capability to do even more. It can spy on much of the globe’s Internet traffic and has in the past kept tabs on nearly every American’s phone calls. Like it or not, we are all combatants in an information war, with our data under constant siege.

      So how can ordinary people defend themselves? The truth is you can’t defend everything. But you can mitigate threats by reducing how much data you leave exposed for an intruder to grab. Hackers call this minimizing your “attack surface.”

    • Interesting times

      I usually don’t write political blog posts, especially if it relates to a country of which I’m not a citizen off nor live in. While I definitely have very clear opinions and views, I want to stay neutral in this blog and only talk about the technology side of things.

      It seems that the new US administration is in the process of shaking-up a lot of traditions and regulations, while also redefining the relations between the USA and the rest of the world. Even though a lot of these changes are very relevant to a lot of people on this planet, I want to focus on three topics that directly affect the IT, the free software world and especially my work at Nextcloud.

    • Column: Pardoning Manning doesn’t cover for new NSA powers

      Several days before leaving office, President Barack Obama did something few believed possible under his administration: He commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Manning was found guilty of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to Wikileaks.

      Like Edward Snowden, she was praised for doing so by multiple rights advocacy agencies and groups. This is a shocking outcome because the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act of 1917 more than any other administration, using more power to silence whistleblowers and their journalist contacts. From a public persona perspective, it may appear that the Obama administration is attempting to back its notion of being the “most transparent” administration, but one could argue the opposite after what was signed on Jan. 3.

    • NSA Keeps Contractor Records Secret Over ‘Changing Security Concerns’

      National Security Agency (NSA) officials refuse to release any information about its private contractors or even conduct search for related records.

      NSA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) chief liaison John Chapman denied a records request regarding the U.K.-based behavioral research company SCL group without searching for any responsive documents.

    • The Privacy Act Executive Order

      I teach internet law – and so I’m working through the Privacy Act statement in President Trump’s recent Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.


      I may still be stuck in the globalist view of civil liberties, but my perspective is that the US should not take the general stance of providing civil liberties to its citizenry while affirmatively trampling those same civil liberties for non-citizens. Exceptions may arise, but as a general matter, no.

    • Twitter Reveals Two National Security Letters After Gag Orders Lifted; Rightly Complains About Gag Orders

      In the last few months, we’ve seen multiple internet companies finally able to reveal National Security Letters (NSLs) they had received from the Justice Department, demanding information from the companies, while simultaneously saddling those companies with gag orders, forbidding them to speak about the orders. It started last June, when Yahoo was the first company to publicly acknowledge such an NSL. In December, Google revealed 8 NSLs around the same time that the Internet Archive was able to reveal it had received an NSL as well. Earlier this month, Cloudflare was finally able to reveal the NSL it had received (which a Senate staffer had told the company was impossible — and the company’s top lawyer was bound by the gag order, unable to correct that staffer).

      And now we can add Twitter to the list. On Friday, the company announced that the gag order on two NSLs had been lifted. There’s one from 2015 and another from June of last year. Twitter appears relieved that it’s finally able to reveal these, but quite frustrated that it was gagged at all.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Muslim Women’s March Organizer Attacks Female Genital Mutilation Survivor Hirsi Ali: I Would Take Her ‘Vagina Away’

      Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York who was co-chair of the Women’s March protesting against Donald Trump, calls herself a “racial justice & civil rights activist.”


      Sarsour is the same woman who tweeted one of the most vile attacks on a woman in the history of Twitter in 2011, when she targeted the heroic and outspoken champion of Islamic women seeking freedom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    • “A Hostile Act”: Mexico Braces for Trump’s Border Wall

      Less than one week into his presidency, Donald Trump has taken the first steps in making his vision of a massive barrier between the U.S. and Mexico a reality, signing an executive order Wednesday afternoon calling for the “immediate” construction of a sprawling border wall to separate the two nations.

      Though the move is likely to appeal to his core supporters north of the border, one place where Trump’s efforts are not playing well is Mexico, despite the president’s dubious assertion Wednesday afternoon that “our relationship with Mexico is going to get better.”

      By Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after his order was signed, Trump’s dubious optimism suffered a public blow when Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he would not be attending a meeting in Washington, D.C., scheduled for next Tuesday.

      Peña Nieto’s decision followed escalating tensions between his government and the newly empowered Trump administration that appear to have reached a critical point following Wednesday’s signing.

      Throughout his campaign, Trump insisted the Mexican government could be forced into paying for the wall, which would likely cost billions of dollars. He has walked that back in recent weeks, asserting instead that Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the project.

    • Theresa May refuses to condemn Donald Trump’s immigration controls

      Theresa May has refused to condemn Donald Trump when asked by Sky News about his new ban on refugees and controls on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

      The Prime Minister tried to avoid commenting on the controversial policy during a news conference with her Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

      On Friday Mrs May became the first foreign leader to visit the White House since Mr Trump’s inauguration – and talked stateside about their shared values.

      The new controls were announced after the PM left Washington DC and she was asked by Sky News whether she still believed she shared the values of President Trump.

      But while Mr Yildirim criticised the visa restrictions, Mrs May at first dodged the question.

    • ‘Sanctuary cities’ undaunted by Trump move to cut funding

      In New York, Trump’s hometown, city officials said the administration’s action could take away over $150 million in law enforcement funding mainly for counterterrorism efforts, protecting international missions and dignitaries and, arguably, safeguarding Trump Tower, city officials said.

    • New Bill in Illinois Would Increase Temp Worker Protections

      An Illinois lawmaker is set to introduce a bill in the state legislature today to increase protections for the growing army of temporary workers.

      The bill was prompted in part by a 2013 ProPublica investigation that highlighted the instability and dangers faced by temp workers nationwide and comes as President Donald Trump begins to address the economic anxieties that helped propel him to the Oval Office.

      Trump’s economic plans have focused on the effects of trade deals, but he has said little about other forces affecting blue-collar workers, such as the growth in temporary and contract jobs. His nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, and others leading the transition have been outspoken opponents of regulation of the “gig” economy or policies that would hold large employers, like fast-food restaurants, responsible for what happens to temp and franchise workers.

    • ACLU and Other Groups Challenge Trump Immigration Ban After Refugees Detained at Airports Following Executive Order

      One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was traveling on an Iraqi special Immigrant Visa and had worked as an electrical engineer and contractor for the U.S. government from 2003–2010. Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, said Mr. Darweesh had worked for him as an interpreter. He said on Twitter yesterday that Mr. Darweesh “spent years keeping U.S. soldiers alive in combat in Iraq.”

      The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had been granted a Follow to Join Visa. His wife and 7-year-old son are lawful permanent residents residing in Houston, Texas, and were eagerly awaiting his arrival. Mr. Alshawi’s son has not seen his father for three years.

    • The battle for minds, and role of human behaviour in generating plutocracies

      Just as there are mainstream media, mainstream narratives, mainstream academia, and mainstream organizations, so there are also ‘mainstream ethics’. These widespread and established ethical strands assert, for example, that humans are naturally egotistical, competitive and nationalistic and prone to sexism and racism and other similar mindsets that result in polarization among non-elites and their submission to elites.

    • US Immigration Ban

      The executive order ignores the single truth that we have come to know; talented immigrants have had outsized contributions to the growth and prosperity of the United States and countries around the world. Diversity in all of its forms is crucial to growth, innovation and a healthy, inclusive society.

      We recognize the rights of sovereign nations to protect their security, but believe that this overly broad order and its implementation does not create an appropriate and necessary balance. It’s a bad precedent, ignores history, and is likely to do more lasting harm than good.


      There is a simple and effective solution for Web 2.0 firms distressed by the unpredictable harmful effects of Trumpism. Move to Canada.

    • Apple, Google, Uber, Microsoft And Others React To Trump’s Refugee Ban

      Intel, Oracle, Tesla, and Hewlett-Packard did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Amazon declined to provide one. Oracle CEO Safra Catz and Tesla CEO Elon Musk both serve on Trump administration advisory committees.

    • “But I have a valid visa:” An Iranian researcher barred from flying to US for new job

      Samira Asgari had spent months planning her move from Switzerland to the United States. The 30-year-old Iranian woman had secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She’d won a prestigious award for her research in genomics that would even pay her salary at her new, American lab. “I was really happy, and it felt like everything was going right,” she said.

      But everything changed this morning, when Asgari flew from Geneva to Frankfurt. There, she attempted to board her second flight to Boston.

      “A gentleman stopped me from boarding the plane,” she said. “He told me he was a consulate of the American government in Frankfurt and not allowing anybody with a number of nationalities to board planes to the United States. They had already unloaded my luggage and everything.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Me And My ISP

      So, We are a lot more dependent on our ISP than I knew. Oh, how the Internet has changed. Almost nothing is flat HTML any more. Huge data, images and JavaScript pour down on us. I used to run a whole school on dial-up…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Jose Cuervo Loses Bid To Block Trademark Registration For Il Corvo Wine

        When it comes to trademark disputes involving alcohol companies, we should all agree by now that things tend to get really, really silly. Too often a reversion to protectionism causes company lawyers to stretch the plain meaning of words on matters of similarity and the potential for customer confusion. The latest example of this comes to us from South Africa, where the company behind Jose Cuervo tequila attempted, and failed, to block the trademark registration for Il Corvo branded wine.

    • Copyrights

      • Not guilty plea in landmark Kodi box trial

        Brian Thompson, a shopkeeper from Middlesbrough, has pleaded not guilty in a landmark case, challenging the legality of video-streaming set-top boxes that provide subscription content for free.

        Mr Thompson is accused of selling “fully loaded” Kodi boxes, modified with software that allowed users to watch pirated content.

      • ISPs Don’t Have Blanket Immunity From Piracy, BMG Says

        Music rights group BMG has asked a New York federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Internet provider RCN. The ISP requested a declaratory judgment on their potential liability for pirating subscribers. However, according to the music group, ISPs don’t have “blanket immunity” against secondary infringement claims.

An Unexpected Reality: The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Emerged as a Champion in Fighting Software Patents in the US

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents impose a “deadweight loss on the nation’s economy”, said Circuit Judge Haldane Mayer a few months ago

Haldane Robert Mayer

Summary: How the highest court below the Supreme Court lends a hand to the destruction of software patents in the United States (and by extension perhaps the entire world)

THE Federal Circuit (CAFC) has been growingly supportive of patent reform. CAFC even eliminated a lot of software patents, in lieu with the ruling on Alice.

CAFC is far from perfect, but it used to be one of the worst and now it’s actually one of the best. From being a big proponent of software patents (back in the Rader days) it’s now an opponent of them. Even Mayer, traditionally the proponent of software patents, is now strongly against these. The longer it goes on for, the lower the certainty software patents enjoy. See this new article titled “Federal Circuit Continues The Case-By-Case Approach For Determining Patent Eligible Subject Matter”.

“CAFC even eliminated a lot of software patents, in lieu with the ruling on Alice.”According to this new article, changes are afoot. “Since a preliminary injunction is ordinarily awarded well before any final judgment on the merits,” Patently-O explained the other day, “nobody actually knows which side will win the case. Because of the powerful nature of injunctive relief, the courts have long required that the party seeking relief to at least prove that it will likely win the case. Although termed a “factor” in the four factor analysis, it is actually a necessary element that must be proven before relief will be granted. “The movant must establish both “likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm” for the court to grant a preliminary injunction.””

As Patently-O points out further down: “With the broader construction, the Federal Circuit remanded to consider whether the presented prior art creates an invalidity problem.”

“What we don’t wish to end up pursuing is some kind of a system which, rather than reward, simply punishes inventors and makes their lives harder.”There are two principal criteria for invalidation: one is prior art and another is triviality or abstractness tests. With both ‘tools’ at hand, software patents are in a rather weak position at this Federal level. What happens a lot post-Alice is, companies attempt to sue others using software patents and merely burn their own pockets. IAM has this new “report” titled “Monetary consequences for falsely alleging patent infringement” and Patently-O, writing again about CAFC, mentions pre-AIA law in relation to a particular case which is deems likely the “Last Inventorship Case”. To quote: “Based upon these (and a few other) facts, Mylan argues that (1) the ’patent had been derived from someone at the FDA – and therefore the patentee was not the “inventor” as required by pre-AIA law, 35 U.S.C. 102(f); and (2) the invention would have been obvious in light of the FDA communications. On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit affirmed the lower court holding siding wholly with the patentee.”

While we are still waiting to see what happens to AIA and the USPTO Director under Trump (there are conflicting rumours about that) we sure hope to see more of the same progress — something along the lines of reducing patent scope. Red Hat’s OpenSource.com published “making-us-patent-system-useful-again” only a few days ago. “In the U.S. patent system,” it said, “if maintenance fees are not paid, an issued patent goes into the public domain. Find out how to search the database.”

Remember that the original purpose of patents was exactly that. The temporary monopoly was a reward or compensation for doing that.

What we don’t wish to end up pursuing is some kind of a system which, rather than reward, simply punishes inventors and makes their lives harder. That is exactly what software patents have done to programmers. Take Compuverde for example; based on its new press release, it has nothing to brag about except software patents (which are rather useless in the US these days).

As we noted earlier in the week, software patents do get accepted by CAFC on rare occasions, but one cannot rely on any of this. In almost 80% of the cases last year CAFC agreed with PTAB, which is still killing a lot of patents and certain firms — not law firms of course — are loving it enough to pay for press releases about it.

Good Luck to Apple in Its Fight Against Qualcomm’s Patents (Some of Them Software Patents), Not Just Against Nokia

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 9:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Qualcomm still one of the worst companies and most lethal patent aggressors out there…


Summary: OEMs that actually manufacture/sell phones rather than slap a patent fine on them need to (re)group around Apple and help ensure that the patent thicket is removed (or made a lot thinner)

“No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents,” Matt Levy wrote yesterday, having pushed for patent reform for a number of years, striving to improve patent quality at the USPTO and put an end to patent trolling (which would be an outcome of the former, as there’s a direct correlation). To quote Levy:

Why No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents

Qualcomm is a major opponent, perhaps the strongest opponent, of patent litigation reform. It’s becoming pretty obvious why. A few weeks ago, the Korean Fair Trade Commission went after Qualcomm for its anti-competitive licensing practices. This time, it’s the U.S. Federal Trade Commission going after Qualcomm for its licensing practices.


With the FTC complaint, we find a little bit more about Qualcomm’s practices. For example, we learn why requiring companies to take a separate patent license in order to purchase chips is abusive. Normally, the purchase of the chips would be enough without a license, because, under the first sale and patent exhaustion doctrines, a seller automatically gives a license to the purchaser for any of the seller’s relevant patents.

Qualcomm, however, forces its customers to take a separate patent license that entitles Qualcomm to a percentage of the price of the entire device that uses its chips. That is, a smartphone manufacturer has to pay Qualcomm a percentage of the price of the entire phone for each phone sold, in addition to paying for the chips. That’s essentially extortion.

On the other side of the debate we have trolls- and aggressors-friendly sites like IAM, which is actually funded by them. Watch this:

Barnett’s work is particularly timely given the spate of lawsuits that have recently been brought against Qualcomm by, among others, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Apple, over the chipmaker’s FRAND licensing. Those cases frame the argument around a dominant patent owner and technology supplier abusing its position to block out competitors and extract licences from manufacturers.

Qualcomm will no doubt counter with a robust defence; but, as Barnett’s research shows, like many licensors the company is on the wrong side of a set of theories that continue to shape much of the licensing narrative in the US.

So even those whom we expect to be very sympathetic to Qualcomm appear to have lost hope. Florian Müller has meanwhile told me that “one day that U.S. Apple v. Qualcomm case will go to the appeals court and Android OEMs will file pro-Apple amicus briefs” (it’s one rare situation where Apple and Android have a common cause and we believe that, inadvertently, Apple helps Android OEMs too in this case).

“So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further.”Going back to IAM (which seems to believe readers care patent applicants at SIPO, in spite of the appalling patent quality), here is a recent translation/interpretation of reports that are typically published in Mandarin alone. “According to media reports,” IAM says, “Apple lodged two separate complaints against Qualcomm with the Beijing IP Court. One alleges violations of China’s Antimonopoly Law, to the tune of 1 billion yuan ($145 million). The other is a challenge to the chipmaker’s licensing practices, which are described as “unfair and unreasonable”. The new move comes on the heels of a similar suit in the United States by Apple, that itself followed the FTC complaint covered in this blog last week. Qualcomm has dismissed Apple’s actions as a meritless effort to pay less for the technology it uses.”

So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further. This would, once again, be beneficial to Android OEMs, and not just Chinese ones. Remember that some of these Qualcomm patents are software patents.

“Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense.”At the same time Apple continues fighting back against Nokia, which became very aggressive just before Christmas. See these new reports [1, 2, 3, 4] about the ITC investigating Nokia’s patent claims against Apple. The ITC is not unbiased (typically favours US companies, as one might expect), so we suspect it will favour Apple (US) over Nokia (Finland). Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense. The same is true for BlackBerry.

In other news about Apple, the “Federal Circuit Invalidates Ameranth’s Menu Software Patents as Unpatentable Abstract Ideas,” so there is growing hope that Qualcomm’s and Nokia’s software patents too will be thrown aside, leaving only patents on physical things. To quote the latest report:

The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. highlights the potential impact of characterization of recited features as conventional, routine, generic, or known in the field without further discussion of an innovation that goes beyond these features. Employing the two-step analytical framework of Mayo/Alice to evaluate subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) determinations in Covered Business Method (“CBM”) reviews regarding the patentability of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,384,850 (“’850 patent”), 6,871,325 (“’325 patent”), and 6,982,733 (“’733 patent”).

Remember that software patents die 70-80% of the time at the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and PTAB is widely supported/honoured by CAFC.

CAFC, however, will be the subject of our next post.

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