Links 2/2/2017: darktable 2.2.3, Krita 3.1.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Best Linux distros

      While it may not be as popular as Windows or MacOS, Linux is often the operating system of choice for those in the know. A combination of power and versatility has made Linux a firm favourite among developers and self-professed tech geeks over the years.

      Contrary to popular belief, however, you don’t need to be a programmer or a lifelong tech head to start using Linux. Most of the more popular distros are exceedingly easy to use, with heaps of documentation and guides available online. Best of all, Linux is classed as ‘open source’ software, meaning that it’s completely free!

      One brief disclaimer before we dive in; due to the nature of open source development, most of these distros are available in multiple different flavours – each of which will have various strengths and weaknesses. They’ll all be broadly similar, but it’s worth having a quick look at the specifics to decide which particular variant is best for you.

    • The new Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition is the little Linux laptop that can

      Installing Linux on a laptop is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to adoption of the OS. After all, taking a perfectly good PC, nuking Windows, and replacing it with an unfamiliar OS can seem a lot like performing open-heart surgery to an inexperienced user. When you take into account that there are precious few laptops with Linux preinstalled, it’s no wonder that desktop Linux adoption numbers are so grim. (There are other reasons too, but I won’t go into those here.)

      One of the few laptops to come correct with a Linux OS is Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition. I got a chance to benchmark the 2015 model a few months ago, and really enjoyed playing with the little ultrabook. Physically, it’s virtually identical to the consumer version of the XPS 13, only it came loaded with Ubuntu 14.04. Flash forward, and Dell has updated its Developer Edition with Intel’s Kaby Lake CPU and Ubuntu 16.04. I have to say, there’s not much to dislike about the revamp.

      (If you’re curious, Gordon Ung put a Core i5-equipped Windows model of the 2016 XPS 13 through its paces, too.)

  • Server

    • Beyond Exascale: Emerging Devices and Architectures for Computing

      In this video from SC16, Thomas Theis from the Fu Foundation School of Engineering, Arts and Sciences presents: Beyond Exascale: Emerging Devices and Architectures for Computing. Research on new and emerging devices, circuits and architectures for computing, such as that pursued under the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), can ultimately take high performance computing well beyond Exascale. Investing in exploratory research now can have a big impact beyond 2025.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.9 Update Now Available in KDE Neon

        KDE Plasma 5.9 is now available in KDE Neon User Edition.

        The latest stable release of the popular desktop environment, Plasma 5.9 was released at the beginning of February. It brings a number of new features to user’s desktops, as well as general improvements, bug fixes and updates.

        Support for global menus, improved ‘drag and drop’ functionality, rich previews in notification toasts, and a new network configuration panel all feature.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Hands-On: A case for the Raspberry Pi Zero with camera

      Last May the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced the Pi Zero (v1.3), with a camera connector. Thanks to the good people at Pi-Shop.ch, I was fortunate enough to get one in the first week after the announcement, but demand has been so high that they have been like hen’s teeth ever since. Now it seems like production is finally catching up with the demand, and they have been showing up in stock at some distributors.

      They’re still not growing on trees (or raspberry bushes), though. There are two ways to buy a Pi Zero – either the board only, for about £4/$5, or in a “Kit” or “Starter Pack” with some assortment of port adapters and/or GPIO headers and/or cables and/or microSD card and/or power supply. The kits cost something like £10-£25 / $15-$50 depending on the content.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

      • Android

        • Martin Vidner: Capturing and Decoding Lego Mindstorms EV3 Bluetooth Communication

          The Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots can be controlled with an Android app (Lego Mindstorms Commander) communicating with the brick via Bluetooth. The command protocol is documented by Lego in the EV3 Communication Developer Kit and the commands themselves in the EV3 Firmware Developer Kit (get them from Mindstorms Downloads).

        • Lottie is Airbnb’s new open-source tool for effortlessly creating app animations

          Animations are an important part of an app’s design and user experience, so much so that Google made them an integral part of material design. The folks at Airbnb just made making an animation a whole lot easier, with a new tool called ‘Lottie.’

        • Samsung Electronics to launch web payments service for Android phones in South Korea

          Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Thursday it will launch a mobile web payments service for all smartphones powered by Google Inc’s Android mobile operating system in South Korea in the first quarter.

          The service, called Samsung Pay Mini, will allow Android smartphones to make online transactions in Samsung’s home country after downloading a dedicated app. The company did not comment on whether the service will be offered in other markets.

        • ​Samsung Pay Mini to launch for Android

          Samsung Electronics will launch Samsung Pay Mini, the company has announced, which will offer online payment services for all Android-powered smartphones.

        • Android 7.1.2 brings the Pixel’s fingerprint gesture to the Nexus 5X and likely 6P
        • AndEX Project Now Lets You Run Android 7.1.1 Nougat Live on Your PC or Laptop

          If you’ve been waiting to install the latest Android 7 Nougat mobile operating system on your PC, we’d like to give you the good news that developer Arne Exton just updated its AndEX project to the latest Android 7.1.1 stable release.

          AndEX is a commercial fork of the well-known Android-x86 project, whose main goal is to port Google’s Linux-based Android operating system to x86 platforms. AndEX is highly customized with numerous Android apps, the latest long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel, and comes with GAPPS package pre-installed.

        • Source: The first new smartwatch with Android Pay, the LG Watch Sport, will cost $349

          After revealing late last week that LG’s Watch Style will come in at $249, today we can confirm via one of our trusted sources that its bigger, LTE-enabled brother will cost $100 more. The LG Watch Sport will have an MSRP of $349 here in the US, though it is unclear if color or band options could raise that price for certain configurations.

        • Popular Android manufacturer OnePlus caught cheating in benchmark tests

          A few years ago, many high-profile Android device makers were caught cheating in benchmark tests. The list of cheaters included HTC, LG, Samsung, and Sony, and these companies then had to take steps to prevent cheating in future phones. Well, it looks like some companies did not get that memo — or they just thought they would not be caught.

          A new report indicates that popular Android smartphone maker OnePlus and other companies from China were recently caught boosting their benchmark scores to impress potential buyers.

        • Samsung is bringing an Android tablet to Mobile World Congress

          The device is most likely the Galaxy Tab S3, Samsung’s first Android tablet since the Tab S2 launched in 2015. Recent leaks claim that the device will have a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and a 9.6-inch, 2048×1536 display.

        • How to install the latest Android beta on your Nexus or Pixel phone
        • Open Source Eye for the Android Guy

          Do you ever look at your Android phone and wonder how much of the software on it is open source? I just did, and I was surprised at how little FOSS I had on it. Could I change that? After a bunch of searching, I did. But only a little.

          Android itself is an open source project. Google controls the main branch and can keep you from using the “Android” trademark if you fork the project, but otherwise you can do anything you like with the code.

          Now let’s talk about Android applications. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this in public, but until the idea for this essay came up last week in a conversation with FOSS Force editor Christine Hall, I hadn’t thought much about Android app licenses, not even when choosing apps for my own use.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Five Open Source Projects that MSPs Should Be Following

    If you’re in the managed services business, you need to stay on top of the latest technologies. Here are five open source projects that MSPs should be watching.

    Some of these open source projects are still young and evolving. Others are established. Either way, the projects are building platforms that are poised to become increasingly important in the managed IT services market.

  • New open source app helps protect children displaced by conflict

    A life–saving service for vulnerable children caught up in crises is now available to government, aid agencies and social service workers through an open source app developed by UNICEF and its partners.

  • Google Go-powered object storage server offers open source AWS alternative

    There’s a new object storage server that has been introduced as an open source alternative to Amazon S3 and other API-compatible services.

    Minio, written in Go and available under the Apache license, allows unstructured data (up to 5TB per object) to be stored on a pool of drives of your choosing. Included in the box are protections against data loss and an event-notification system that can be used to build AWS Lambda-like functionality.

  • A look at 6 iconic open source brands

    The beloved Linux penguin is named Tux, and he is considered the mascot, not the logo.

    Tux was created by Larry Ewing, using GIMP 0.54 in 1996. The story, as told by Jeff Ayers, is that Linus Torvalds had a fixation on penguins after being bitten by one at an Australian zoo in 1993. Torvalds was looking for a fun image for Linux and felt that a fat penguin resting after a meal was the perfect solution. Tux has found his way into video games, cereal commercials, and even has a female pal, named Gown. Tux is as familiar to Linux users as the bitten-apple is to Mac users and the flying window is to Windows users.

  • Why we need open leaders more than ever

    Leadership is power. More specifically, leadership is the power to influence the actions of others. The mythology of leadership can certainly conjure images of not only the romantic but also the sinister side of the human condition. How we ultimately decide to engage in leadership determines its true nature.

    Many modern understandings of leadership are born out of warfare, where leadership is the skillful execution of command-and-control thinking. For most of the modern era of business, then, we engaged leadership as some great man or woman arriving at the pinnacle of power and exerting this power through position. Such traditional leadership relies heavily on formal lines of authority through hierarchies and reporting relationships. Authority in these structures flows down through the vertical hierarchy and exists along formal lines in the chain of command.

  • Google Earth Enterprise Going Open-Source In March
  • AT&T wants to be the Linus Torvalds of network software

    Carriers are starting to look more like cloud companies, turning to standard hardware, virtualization and machine learning for rapid development of new services.

  • AT&T Networking Code Goes Open Source

    Network virtualization functions are poised to be automated, prompting the Linux Foundation to launch an open networking automation initiative aimed at leveraging a code donation to the open source group by networking giant AT&T.

  • Open source network software promises major industry shifts

    When it comes to open source network software, emotions run high. The topic has caused a fair amount of hand-wringing and any number of gut-wrenching conversations in recent months, as well as excited commentary from analysts and venture capitalists predicting imminent industrywide disruption.

    The stakes are also high, with thousands of jobs and millions of dollars up for grabs, and industry giants like Cisco are feeling the heat. The vendor recently experienced steep layoffs, and according to a 2016 poll by JPMorgan Chase & Co., its standing as a key network infrastructure supplier to enterprises has slipped. Peter Levine, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said the slide came partly from the rise of open source startups delivering network services via the cloud.

  • Haiku OS Still Working Towards Beta Release, Adds 1360 x 768 Mode Support

    The folks working on the Haiku operating system that continues striving towards BeOS compatibility is advancing for 2017. While the first alpha of Haiku OS came in 2009, in 2017 they are working towards hopefully getting the beta shipped.

    Some recent accomplishments for Haiku OS development included the continued work on UEFI system support, adding 1360×768 video mode support, the Atheros813x wireless driver was ported over from FreeBSD 11, packages were updated, there is continued work on system internals, and a range of other happenings.

  • Events

    • Unik: Unikernel Runtime for Kubernetes by Idit Levine, EMC
    • Automating Software Testing on Linux SBCs

      Demand is increasing for embedded software projects to support a variety of Linux hacker boards — and that requires time consuming hardware testing to prove that your software works reliably. Fortunately, you can integrate test automation tools into your software development process to streamline the task, as explained by release engineer Paweł Wieczorek at last October’s Embedded Linux Conference Europe.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation announces feature-rich LibreOffice 5.3

      The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 5.3, one of the most feature-rich releases in the history of the application. The office suite is immediately available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and for the first time also for the private cloud.

    • LibreOffice under the hood: six months of progress to 5.3

      Today we release LibreOffice 5.3.0, the next step in our journey: rich in features indeed – but (understandably) the media like to focus on the things you can see. What about the things you cannot ? the increasingly awesome underpinnings on which we’re building the next round of improvements. Again – to see the pretty things people made and (more importantly) who did the heavy lifting checkout the user visible features from many great hackers, translators, UX designers etc. Here I am going to focus on the under-sung heros of making everything else better. There is an official 5.3 wiki page, but I expand on this and dive in more deeply here.

    • LibreOffice 5.3 Is Here
    • LibreOffice Update Offers Fresh Experience

      Dubbed “5.3 Fresh,” this latest release takes the development of LibreOffice in a new direction with a focus on updating the user experience, according to Italo Vignoli of the Document Foundation. The 3.x Family centered on code cleanup, while the 4.x Family focused on code Refactoring.

      LibreOffice 5.3 extends the User Interface with an experimental Notebookbar. It also provides a new UI option. The experimental UI offers a choice of two toolbars: the Single Toolbar UI and the Sidebar with a Single Toolbar.

      Each UI layout targets a different cluster of LibreOffice users. The new focus should appeal both to early adopters and power users.

  • CMS

    • Hippo, Magento, OroCommerce & More: Keeping Up With Open Source CMS

      Open source CMS projects hit the ground running in January, barely pausing after the end-of-the-year break.

      A Forrester web content management Wave was released, summits were held and words of digital war were declared.

      If you missed out on any of last month’s action, here are the latest open source CMS headlines.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Why Open Science matters and the FSFE’s position on Horizon 2020

      “Open Science” is an emerging movement that asks to transfer the four freedoms that we practice in Free Software into science. Although it is still emerging, Open Science receives more and more strategic importance for decision-makers. In the eyes of financial ministers of the European Union, Open Science produces and uses a lot of Open Data, which in turn has the potential for big economic benefits. The “European Cloud Initiative”, for example, is part of the European Commission’s strategy for Open Science, intended for building a “competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe”. It aims at strengthening Europe’s position in data-driven innovation and is thus considered to become an important part of the European Digital Single Market. Or, as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development puts it: “Encouraging the sharing and re-use of research data could generate more value for public money”.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • The 7 Elements of an Open Source Management Program: Strategy and Process

      An open source compliance policy is a set of rules that govern the management of open source software (both use of and contribution to). Processes are detailed specifications as to how a company will implement these rules on a daily basis.

      Compliance policies and processes govern the various aspects of using, contributing, auditing, and distribution of open source software. See the figure below for a sample compliance process, with the various steps each software component will go through as part of the due diligence.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Source BioHack Kit in courses and on tour

      This week, the fourth annual BioHack Academy has started. Over a period of ten weeks, two full days a week, participants at half a dozen locations all over the world will learn to build a small biotechnology lab, deploy it, and share the results.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • OpenScope Open Source Multi-function Programmable Hardware Hits Kickstarter (video)

        A new open source multifunctional piece of programmable hardware has been created by Digilent which can be used to perform a number of different functions such as an Oscilloscope, a Function Generator, a Logic Analyser, Power Supply, or a Data Logger.

        Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the multifunctional programmable instrument which can be used for capturing, visualising and controlling our analog and digital signals whenever you may need.

  • Programming/Development

    • Agile Is More Than Scrum

      On the developer level, there are myriad engineering practices (DevOps, Continuous Delivery, XP, Pair Programming). XP fits very well within Agile, as engineers are motivated to develop features based on customer value (and even to not develop things until it’s clear that they are needed). XP encourages code reviews on a continuous basis in order to improve software quality. Pair Programming is encouraged, as two brains can solve problems faster and better than one brain.


  • How To Lose Your Entire Career In Two Minutes On Twitter

    If that doesn’t make sense to you, let me put it in context. Late Monday night, Patton Oswalt made a political joke. This guy responded with “Oh (bleep), the little troll has an opinion again,” and not satisfied with being only a partial dick, followed up with “I’m a psychic and I am channeling his wife’s opinions.” He’s talking about Oswalt’s wife, who passed away not even a year ago.

    The thing is, Oswalt has 3.4 million followers on Twitter, and most of them are more than just fans. He’s a fellow geek who made himself a damn nice career, so he’s a pretty big inspiration for us. “Big” as in fat. Ha! Suck it, Patton! Anyway, a group of people looked at the profile of the guy harassing Oswalt and found out that, “Holy shit. This is his goddamn business account. There’s the link to his employer’s website. I wonder …”

  • Science

    • Completely paralysed people use thoughts to say they are happy

      Paralysed people have communicated with their families by thought alone, thanks to a technique that learns to recognise brain activity associated with “yes” or “no”. The method is non-invasive and has enabled completely “locked-in” people to describe their lives as “wonderful”.

      The four people involved in the study all have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a degenerative disorder that causes people to stop being able to control their muscles, until they are unable even to move their eyes.

      It has been impossible to know what such completely locked-in people are thinking. “It is assumed that being cut off from communication is one of the worst states a human can be in,” says Niels Birbaumer at the Wyss Center in Geneva.

  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. military probing more possible civilian deaths in Yemen raid

      The U.S. military said on Wednesday it was looking into whether more civilians were killed in a raid on al Qaeda in Yemen on the weekend, in the first operation authorized by President Donald Trump as commander in chief.

      U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens was killed in the raid on a branch of al Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al Bayda province, which the Pentagon said also killed 14 militants. However, medics at the scene said about 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.

      U.S. Central Command said in a statement that an investigating team had “concluded regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed” during Sunday’s raid. It said children may have been among the casualties.

    • Elderly Sufi woman found with throat slit in Bangladesh

      An elderly woman believed by followers to be a Sufi mystic has been found with her throat slit in Bangladesh, police said Monday, amid a wave of religiously motivated attacks.

      The body of 72-year-old Nurjahan Begum was found in her shanty home in the capital Dhaka late Sunday, local police chief Faruqul Alam told AFP.

      “Her throat was slit,” he said.

      The woman was considered a “pir“, or Sufi leader, by her followers who built her a home and donated food and cash, the English-language Daily Star newspaper reported.

    • British Quaker ‘prepared for jail’ after allegedly trying to disarm Saudi Arabia-bound fighter jet

      A Quaker activist who was “just metres” from allegedly disarming Saudi Arabia-bound fighter planes with a hammer says he is prepared to spend up to 10 years in prison.

      Sam Walton and Methodist reverend Daniel Woodhouse were arrested on Sunday morning after allegedly breaking into the BAE Systems weapons base in Lancashire.

      It was the pair’s “last option” in their campaign for the Government to scrap arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the Gulf state’s bloody involvement in the Yemen civil war.

    • Pastor, Eight Others Missing in Uganda after Muslims Beat, Rape Congregation

      A pastor in eastern Uganda and eight other Christians are missing two weeks after a Muslim mob attacked a church prayer meeting, locked the congregation in, beat several members and raped 15 women, sources said.

    • Britain and the ‘Yemeni Threat’

      Britain is backing a Saudi invasion of Yemen that has cost thousands of innocent lives. It is providing advanced weaponry to the Saudis, training their military, and has soldiers embedded with the Saudis helping with targeting; and there is suspicion that British soldiers may even be involved in flying sorties themselves.

      This is true of today. But it also describes exactly what was happening in the 1960s, in a shameful episode which Britain has, like so much of its colonial past, effectively whitewashed out of history.

    • Killing “Schizophrenics”: Contemporary U.S. Psychiatry Versus Nazi Psychiatry

      In many indigenous and tribal societies, people experiencing altered and extreme emotional states do not create havoc but are seen in a positive light. This can be seen in Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening, by filmmaker Phil Borges, who has been documenting indigenous and tribal cultures for over 25 years. Similarly, the late ethnobotanist, Terence McKenna, who also studied indigenous and tribal societies, also concluded that our society does great harm by devaluing the gifts of this population who are instead told: “You are not of equal worth to the rest of us. You are sick. You have to go to the hospital. You have to be locked up.” Their “treatment,” McKenna notes, renders them “on a par with prisoners and lost dogs in our society,” and McKenna concludes: “So that treatment of schizophrenia makes it incurable.”

      When people get treated as unwelcome burdens, they can become angry and agitated or, depending on their temperament, become passively dysfunctional.

      In American society—just as in any other society that prioritizes economic efficiency, productivity and order over life and all of life’s varieties—people experiencing altered and extreme emotional states are seen as defective and as burdens. In the American economic system—just as in any other system that obliterates genuine community and creates extremely stressed families already struggling to find enough hours in the day to survive—people experiencing altered and extreme emotional states create havoc for families. And so, families are susceptible to resenting those in altered and extreme emotional states who need a great deal of attention, support and time; and families are vulnerable to acquiescing to any societally sanctioned authority who has taken charge of this population. And given the priorities of American society, an authority with a lengthy record of abuse and dismal failure is a good enough authority.

    • Was Trump’s Muslim Ban his “Shock Event” Diversion?

      President Trump’s recent immigration ban on Muslims entering the United States for 90 days incited an uproar and protests at airports around the country. Outrage unified the left in the common goal of opposing the ban. Several Democrats capitalized on the outrage to gain some political points. The ACLU quickly maneuvered their attorneys together to receive a federal court order in their favor, granting a nationwide stay, temporarily placing the ban on hold. But some political theorists have conveyed skepticism over whether the ban was just a diversion for the Trump Administration to achieve an alternative goal that normally would’ve received greater opposition and outrage.

      “What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos,” theorized Political History Professor at Boston College, Heather Cox Richardson, in a Facebook Post. “People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order. When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.”

      Richardson explained the Muslim Travel ban fit within the parameters of what could be described as a shock event because, “it was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The March for Science isn’t partisan or anti-Trump—it’s pro-facts

      First came the Women’s March. Now comes the March for Science. Given the ongoing protests sweeping the US, one might assume that scientists are organizing to voice their general disagreement with Donald Trump’s policies—or perhaps that they simply want to protect their grants and jobs from federal funding cuts.

      But what’s at stake is much bigger than funding. It’s true that the US spends more on science than any other country. This long-term commitment has led to the US being awarded more Nobel Prizes than any other nation, with the majority of the 365 prizes being awarded for physics. The US also publishes more scientific papers than any other nation—twice as many as China, which ranks second.

    • Beyond Extreme

      One of the animals most stressed by the rapid large changes in the Arctic is the polar bear, Ursus maritimus. It’s main food-source are seals which it can skillfully hunt from sea ice. With less area and time for sea ice, the polar bear fasts more and is in worse shape at the end of summer to hunt and raise young in the winter. This is good news for seals but bad news for the fish the seals eat and for the polar bears. 17 years ago when I first lived amongst the polar bears it was already evident that the bears further north were in much better shape and grew much larger than the ones further south. Now the differences are huge.

    • Comment: Crazy times in the Arctic

      To start, in the winter of 2015–2016, an unprecedented heat wave occurred over the Arctic Ocean. At the end of December 2015, there was a brief period when the surface air temperature at the North Pole appears to have actually risen to above freezing. Late December temperatures at the North Pole at or above zero degrees Celsius are unheard of in the climate record. The heat wave persisted, slowing the wintertime growth of sea ice and, on March 24, when Arctic sea ice reached its seasonal maximum extent, it was the lowest maximum ever recorded, breaking the previous record set just a year earlier in 2015.

    • Army Corps ordered to issue final Dakota Access pipeline permit, two lawmakers say

      The acting secretary of the Army has instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to provide the final permit needed to complete the Dakota Access pipeline, according to two Republican North Dakota lawmakers who support the project.

      Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer both issued statements Tuesday night saying the acting secretary of the Army, Robert Speer, had ordered the Corps to grant an easement for the pipeline to run under Lake Oahe.

      “This will enable the company to complete the project,” Hoeven said, “which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.”

    • Four Democratic Defectors Join GOP to Confirm Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

      Four members of the Senate Democratic caucus broke ranks and joined Republicans to confirm former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. The vote was 56-43, with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., not voting.

      Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, voted for Tillerson.

      As secretary of state, Tillerson will have tremendous power to influence climate-related negotiations — and to help energy firms secure rights to pump fossil fuels overseas.

      Warner, Heitkamp, and Manchin are long-time boosters of the Keystone XL pipeline; the State Department has major authority over its construction due to it being a cross-border project.

    • On the same day Rex Tillerson is confirmed, the House votes to kill a transparency rule for oil companies

      On the same day the Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson as Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the House voted to kill a transparency rule for oil companies that Tillerson once lobbied against while CEO of Exxon Mobil.

      So all in all, a good day for America’s largest oil and gas firm.

      Using the little-known Congressional Review Act, the House GOP voted on Wednesday to kill an Obama-era regulation that would require publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose any payments that they made to foreign governments, including taxes and royalties.

    • Rex Tillerson Is Confirmed as Secretary of State Amid Record Opposition

      Rex W. Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 56-to-43 vote to become the nation’s 69th secretary of state just as serious strains have emerged with important international allies.

      The votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation were the most in Senate history for a secretary of state, a reflection of Democratic unease with President Trump’s early foreign policy pronouncements that threaten to upend a multilateral approach that has guided United States presidents since World War II.

    • Heathrow third runway plans published for public consultation

      Plans for the third runway at Heathrow are to be published on Thursday as the government begins a four-month public consultation on its decision to expand Britain’s biggest airport.

      The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, is expected to herald the launch as a sign that Britain will be open for business after Brexit and that the government is delivering the major infrastructure the nation will need.

      The conditions for planning consent are being outlined in a national policy statement, the first step in enacting the decision the government made in the autumn. MPs will still have to vote on the statement for it to become law.

    • Trump, Tillerson and the South China Sea: What’s at stake

      Rex Tillerson, who was sworn in as US Secretary of State Wednesday, takes responsibility for US policy in one of the world’s biggest flashpoints: the South China Sea.

      President Donald Trump says the former Exxon CEO will bring “a clear-eyed focus to foreign affairs.”

    • Steve Bannon: ‘We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt’

      The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.

      Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

      In the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Bannon has emerged as a central figure. He was appointed to the “principals committee” of the National Security Council in a highly unusual move and was influential in the recent travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, overruling Department of Homeland Security officials who felt the order did not apply to green card holders.

    • Sketch: The banality of Ebell

      Myron Ebell is perhaps the least Trumpian person you can imagine.

      The bespectacled right-wing policy analyst is rather plain, certainly not showy, and seemingly uncomfortable with the spotlight.

      A bookworm in a bad suit.

      And yet here he is, the belle of the ball at Awards House in the heart of London, surrounded by Britain’s leading environmental and energy journalists — and preaching the gospel of Trump.

    • Red Hat and SLASSCOM introduce open source innovation to Lankan market

      Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, recently launched their open source innovations to the Sri Lankan market in collaboration with SLASSCOM as their industry partner. The launch took place at the Park Street Mews in Colombo, attended by CIO’s and CXO’s of many leading blue chip and start-up companies.

  • Finance

    • Some people are having issues deleting their Uber accounts — here’s why

      Many #deleteUber protestors went beyond just uninstalling the app from their phones, opting to delete their account entirely. Now days after the movement went viral, people are complaining on Twitter that the company either hasn’t deleted their accounts or is taking too long.

      The fresh round of outrage comes on the heels of an email sent to those who had deleted their account, asking them to click an extra link to complete the process days after they thought they had deleted it.

      The company will delete the accounts of anyone who requested, but it’s taking longer than usual after Uber needed to build a system to catch up with the volume of requests from its riders outraged over the company’s ties to Trump and its actions during a taxi strike at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

    • Predictions and Article 50

      I am not a fan of the EU and have never written in favour of it. Had I been able to vote in 1975, I would have voted against membership. I have opposed every EU treaty since Maastricht. So this was not wishful thinking (as far as I can tell). In fact, it was almost the reverse.

      One reason the UK should never have joined the EU is because it would be so difficult for the UK to leave. UK law and policy became entangled with the EU so much one could not see where one began and the other ended.

      Given this immense entanglement (which will take years, if not decades, to chop away), I thought the government would go for the path of least resistance. Very few people with power in Westminster and Whitehall want the UK to leave the EU. There is a national habit of putting things off: procrastination is a principle of the British constitution. And there are always events to knock things off course.

      I just though there would be delay after delay. And I still think this is a fair view, on the basis of information available last summer.

      So what changed?

      Two things changed. Both are significant. The first thing is somewhat amusing to admit (that I thought a politician would be rational), but it needed the second thing. The first one by itself was not enough.

      The first thing is that Theresa May became determined for political reasons to push for notification, regardless of any other factors, and even if there was no rational basis for such speed. This determination was shown in her conference speech.

      The second thing is that it became plain the two year period of the Article 50 process could be circumvented: things could be put off and dealt with as part of transitional arrangements and adjustment phases.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘To the Secretary’ Illustrates Importance of Diplomats, and American Disconnect

      The WikiLeaks cables showed that American diplomats are interested in a wide range of topics, some of which were specific to the challenges of the 2006-2010 period and some of which reflect perennial issues diplomats confront. She also illustrates her argument that stakeholders in Washington, often with their own varying agendas, are disconnected from the realities on the ground that diplomats in the field encounter.

    • Europe, this time we’re counting on you to save us

      You’ve heard us tell our lame joke over and over: If it weren’t for us, you’d all be speaking German now. When tyranny and despotism marched over democracy in World War II, we swept in to help you push back the flames of fascism, wipe out the enemy and rebuild the foundations of democracy.

      Turns out the joke is on us. We’ve accidentally invited Russia into the White House. As we build walls and close our borders, we’re looking to you to save us this time.

      For nearly 70 years, the United States was the keystone of the West’s security alliance. We proudly served as a bulwark against Russian aggression in Europe. As the biggest member of NATO, we have been the giant behind the guarantee of collective security, our enormous economy and mighty military always hovering in the background for our adversaries to see, winking quietly to tell them: The U.S. has Europe’s back.

    • Trump ban leads Dutch to halt talks with the US on clearance at Schiphol

      The Dutch government has halted talks with the US on setting up border and customs controls at Schiphol airport because of president Donald Trump’s entry ban.

      The talks on allowing the US to carry out pre-clearance checks on travellers to the US while on Dutch soil began in December. The aim was to help travellers bypass long waits at US passport control.

      Foreign minister Bert Koenders told MPs on Tuesday that the talks had been suspended temporarily.

      MPs from across the political spectrum criticised prime minister Mark Rutte for not coming to parliament for Tuesday’s question and answer session.

    • Donald Trump’s White House is in chaos. And he loves it.

      On Monday night on CNN, Carl Bernstein made this proclamation: “The president and his presidency is in chaos.”

      It’s a remarkable statement given that we are only 11 days into the presidency of Donald Trump. It’s also very hard to dispute.

      Consider this amazing — and I do mean amazing — WaPo story today about how Trump and his inner circle produced the very controversial executive order instituting a travel ban on refugees and all visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The story details the infighting and blame game among Trump’s top advisers and includes some eye-popping lines.

    • Facebook changes feed to promote posts that aren’t fake, sensational, or spam

      Facebook is prioritizing “authentic” content in News Feed with a ranking algorithm change that detects and promotes content “that people consider genuine, and not misleading, sensational, or spammy.” It’s also giving a boost to stories that are going viral in real-time right now that could help it compete with Twitter for in-the-moment news sharing

      To build the update, Facebook categorized Pages that frequently share inauthentic posts like fake news and clickbaity headlines, or get their posts hidden often. It then used these posts to train an algorithm that detects similar content as its shared in the News Feed. Facebook will now give extra feed visibility to posts that don’t show signs of similarity to inauthentic content.

      Meanwhile, Facebook wants to more quickly surface big stories going viral either because the topic is being posted about by lots of people, or a Page post about the topic is seeing tons of engagement. Facebook will then take that as a signal that you might temporarily care more about the topic, and therefore show it in your News Feed while it’s still hot.

    • U.S.-Australia Rift Is Possible After Trump Ends Call With Prime Minister

      A phone call between President Trump and the Australian prime minister is threatening to develop into a diplomatic rift between two stalwart allies after the two men exchanged harsh words over refugee policy, and Mr. Trump abruptly ended the call.

      The phone call last Saturday between Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned contentious after the Australian leader pressed the president to honor an agreement to accept 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

      Late Wednesday night, Mr. Trump reiterated his anger over the agreement on Twitter. He called the agreement a “dumb deal” and blamed the Obama administration for accepting it but then said that he would “study” it. The tweet was posted after The Washington Post reported details of the phone call.

    • President Trump reinstates ‘Global Gag Rule’

      On 23 January 2017, family planning services worldwide received a blow when President Trump reinstated, and expanded, the ‘Global Gag Rule’. The policy stipulates that no US overseas aid money will be given to any organisation providing abortions or information about abortion. The move was widely condemned by family planning organisations.

    • Trump’s Chaotic Management Style

      The fiasco of President Trump’s executive order involving travel bans from selected Muslim-majority countries has consumed public attention for several days, although it was only one of several actions that have constituted the most disorganized and strife-laden opening ten days of any U.S. administration in memory.

    • Trump Vows to ‘Destroy’ Law Banning Political Activity by Churches

      President Trump vowed Thursday to overturn a law restricting political speech by churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to his political base.

      Mr. Trump said his administration would “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from engaging in political activity at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status.

      Repealing the law would require approval by Congress. Certain tax-exempt organizations — in this case, churches — are not allowed to openly endorse or campaign for political candidates. If they do, under existing law, they risk losing the benefits of their tax-exempt status.

      Speaking to a gathering of religious leaders, the president also defended his immigration policy, brushed aside concern about his harsh phone calls with foreign leaders, and ridiculed Arnold Schwarzenegger for his poor ratings in replacing Mr. Trump as host of “Celebrity Apprentice.”

    • Ursula Le Guin on fiction vs. ‘alternative facts’: Letter to the editor

      Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.” The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.

    • Trump’s calls and tweets on foreign policy are threatening rivals, allies

      Apparently following through on his pledge of aggressive foreign policy, President Trump has used his first two weeks in office to put Iran “on notice” from the United States, shut down refugee programs, and engage in reportedly contentious, sometimes threatening, telephone calls with leaders of two U.S. allies — Australia and Mexico.

      Trump’s national security adviser announced the notice on Iran on Wednesday over a reported missile launch, while leaked documents reflected the calls between Trump and the presidents of Mexico and Australia over the fraught issues of drug trafficking, immigration and refugees.

      Speaking at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, Trump told people they shouldn’t worry about his “tough phone calls” and the country has to be “tougher” in meeting its challenges.

      “It’s time we’re going to be a little tough folks,” Trump said. “We’re (being) taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • “A Good American” Fails to Skewer the NSA

      Following Edward Snowden’s exposure of the National Security Agency’s global and domestic surveillance programs, people have begun to pose more questions about government agencies’ secrecy and deceptive practices. “A Good American” provides even more reason for citizens not to trust these organizations. Disappointingly, however, Austrian filmmaker Freidrich Moser’s documentary about an NSA official who created a program that foresaw 9/11 and the NSA’s subsequent cover-up of the attack is unconvincing in its attempt to show that the bureau’s willful negligence allowed the terrorist attack to occur.

      Bill Binney, the documentary’s protagonist, is a former NSA official who utilized his unrivaled mathematical abilities to create ThinThread, a program that collected metadata to identify people who were possible threats to America’s security. However, when building this surveillance tool, Binney did not want to ask the NSA for clearance whenever he needed to buy equipment. Instead, he recruited five other renegades within NSA — as well as one sympathetic House Intelligence Committee staffer who could ensure federal funding — and built the program without his employer’s interference. The result of their efforts was an invention that Binney claims could have prevented 9/11.

    • Film Review: ‘A Good American’

      The issue of national security – and the various means by which the government achieves it – has been at the forefront of President Donald Trump’s early days in the Oval Office, replete with an impending executive order on cyber-security safeguards. Thus, “A Good American” arrives at a fortuitously timed moment, given that it profiles a former NSA official who created a system that supposedly would have prevented the 9/11 attacks, were it not for his superiors’ actions. While compelling in its explanation of intelligence-gathering procedures, Austrian director Friedrich Moser’s documentary ultimately resorts to making charges it can’t convincingly corroborate. Still, as a history lesson about the birth of our modern surveillance apparatus, it’s an intriguing work that should find a welcome home on VOD.

    • The government’s spying agency tries to woo social media, then falls flat on its face (TWEETS)

      Aside from GCHQ, the government is currently using its ‘domestic extremism’ police unit to spy on the Green Party, environmental activists and children. So it would be naive to think that the government does not have its own motives for collecting our data.

    • New Italian eID used by over 1 million

      In just under a year, Italy’s new eID solution has reached the 1 million user milestone, reports the Agency for the Digitalisation of the Public Sector (Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale, AGID).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Peter Thiel’s New Zealand citizenship stokes political debate

      New Zealand’s ruling center-right National Party is heading into an election campaign plagued by questions over a decision to grant citizenship to Peter Thiel, a billionaire tech tycoon and adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump.

      Thiel was granted citizenship despite not meeting the normal requirement to live in the country for 75 percent of the time over five years, a fact that would normally disqualify an application.

      Center-left Labour opposition member of Parliament Iain Lees-Galloway said in a statement the granting of citizenship raised “serious questions as to why a New Zealand passport needed to be granted to a wealthy foreign businessman who does not live here”.

      Documents released this week showed the government granted Thiel citizenship under an exception to the rule normally requiring someone to live in New Zealand. German-born Thiel is based in California.

    • Suffragettes would “turn in their graves” at the suffering of women under sharia, says peer

      Baroness Cox has launched a fresh attempt to tackle sharia councils operating in the UK and protect women’s rights.

      Speaking at the second reading of her Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, Baroness Cox said that “We must not condone situations where rulings are applied which are fundamentally incompatible with the laws, values, principles and policies of our country.”

      Baroness Cox said that “Muslim women are today suffering in ways in which would make suffragettes turn in their graves” and that the proposals in her legislation, supported by the National Secular Society, were a “lifeline”. She thanked the NSS for its support and said the problems were “escalating”.

    • Afghan woman’s ears cut off by husband

      A 23-year-old Afghan woman has described to the BBC how her husband tied her up and cut off both her ears in a domestic violence attack in the northern province of Balkh.

      The woman – Zarina – is now in a stable but traumatised condition in hospital.

      “I haven’t committed any sin,” she said. “I don’t know why my husband did this to me.”

      The woman’s husband is on the run in Kashinda district following the attack, police have told local media.

    • A New State Department Order to Revoke Visas Could Have Far-Reaching Effects

      The Trump travel ban could have far wider effects than previously understood for foreigners who waited years as State Department officials reviewed their immigrant visa applications. The new policy, disclosed yesterday, means that immigrants hoping to join their families in the United States from the affected countries may have to start the lengthy process all over again.

      The policy, laid out in a State Department letter filed in court and previously noted by Politico, has sowed yet more confusion about President Donald Trump’s executive order.

    • Cleveland Clinic Medical Trainee Sues to Come Back to U.S.

      Dr. Suha Abushamma was denied entry to this country Saturday, hours after President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning visitors from seven countries. Her plane out of the country took off as a judge was issuing an order blocking the government from removing people like her.

    • Trump’s Travel Ban is Wreaking Havoc on Families, Especially Those With Valid Visas

      President Donald Trump’s travel ban has torn apart Dr. Abubaker Hassan’s family.

      A few months ago, his wife, Sara Hamad, took their infant daughter Alma from their Detroit home to visit relatives in Qatar. Hassan is in his second year of an internal medicine residency program at Detroit Medical Center, an inner-city hospital that serves a low-income and minority community. He and his wife are citizens of Sudan and they’re both in this country on visas — Hassan on a J-1 for work-and study-based exchange visitor programs and his wife on a J-2 for dependents. Together, they came to Detroit, where Hamad gave birth in September, making Alma an American citizen.

      When the baby was a month and a half old, Hamad took her to visit her family in Qatar, the country where Hamad was born and raised. It is traditional in Sudanese culture for a new mother to be surrounded by her own mother and family after giving birth. Hassan stayed behind to work.

    • In Response to Steve Bannon Appointment, Bill Aims to Get Politics Out of National Security Council

      The top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence introduced new legislation on Wednesday in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to give political strategist Steve Bannon a seat on the White House’s most critical national-security committee.

      The bill is a direct response to a Trump order appointing Bannon to the National Security Council’s “principals committee,” giving the right-wing ideologue a permanent seat at the table — while excluding the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    • Neil Gorsuch, Trump SCOTUS Pick, Has History of Ruling Against Workers, Women & Regulation
    • Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch Is a Donald Trump-Style Authoritarian

      Donald Trump’s announcement of 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for Supreme Court was greeted with lavish praise from Republicans who commended his constitutional literalism.

      The mainstream press, meanwhile, fixated on comparing him to the man he would succeed, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, rather than digging into his record.

      Gorsuch was said to be the least controversial pick on Trump’s shortlist, having sailed through his early confirmation hearings in 2006 with only a few questions on assisted suicide from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. But now Gorsuch has a 10-year record of legal opinions, some of which disturbingly echo Trump’s aversion to limits on law enforcement power.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s Supreme Court pick founded and led club called ‘Fascism Forever’ at his elite all-boys Washington prep school

      Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch founded and led a student group called the ‘Fascism Forever Club’ at his elite high school, DailyMail.com can reveal.

      The club was set up to rally against the ‘left-wing tendencies’ of his professors while attending a Jesuit all-boys preparatory high school near Washington D.C.

      The name may be inconvenient for a Supreme Court nominee facing a tough confirmation battle. However it also shows the depth of Gorscuch’s right-wing credentials – and his penchant for mischief while attending his exclusive prep school in the 1980s.

      President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch, a 49-year-old U.S. appellate judge, to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday.

      Gorsuch founded the ‘Fascism Forever Club’ during his freshman year at Georgetown Preparatory, a now-$30,000-a-year private Jesuit school that is one of the most selective in the United States.

    • After the Apocalypse: Trying to Describe Reality in Unreal Times

      Since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, I’ve seen several photos of chalkboards in front of bookstores, reading something along the lines of, “Dystopian Fiction Has Now Been Moved to Current Events.”

      It’s a good joke, and one that gets a lot of clicks and reposts on Facebook and Twitter. For a journalist, it also underscores the struggles of accurately describing current events when they do feel impossible, unreal, dystopian.

      This election in particular was marked by debates about media, its biases and “fake”-ness, and even allegations of foreign propaganda. From the primaries to the cabinet selections, debates over the appropriate amount and tone of coverage raged and rage on.

    • Anti-Semitic hate crime at record high, says UK charity

      Anti-Semitic hate crime in the UK increased by more than a third last year, with recorded incidents now at record levels, charity figures suggest.

      The Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitism, recorded 1,309 incidents in 2016 – surpassing the previous high of 1,182 in 2014.

      Mark Gardner, from the CST, said anti-Semites currently felt “emboldened”.

      Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government was providing £13.4m to increase security in Jewish areas.

    • Reports of antisemitic incidents increase to record levels in UK

      The number of antisemitic incidents in the UK rose by more than a third to record levels in 2016, according to data released by the Community Security Trust.

      The CST, which monitors antisemitism and provides security to Jewish communities, recorded 1,309 incidents of anti-Jewish hate last year, compared with 960 in 2015, a rise of 36%. The previous record number of incidents was in 2014, when 1,182 were recorded.

    • Cybersecurity researchers halt work with law enforcement, cancel conferences in travel ban’s wake

      Cybersecurity researchers are not working with law enforcement agencies and conferences are reconsidering events in the U.S. in the wake of President Trump’s executive order temporarily halting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and refugee resettlement.

      “I have incredible respect for the law enforcement community,” Jon Sawyer, a well-known Android phone hacker, told The Hill in an interview. “I have a brother that’s a sheriff — who is a good sheriff. But when you have law enforcement blatantly ignoring the courts, that’s a big issue.”

      Sawyer announced via Twitter over the weekend that he would no longer assist law enforcement in forensic investigations until Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) “complies with the court orders, and again when we have sane leadership.”

    • Police Say No Evidence Of Value Was Lost In Ransomware Attack, Except Maybe Some Stuff Defense Lawyers Might Find Useful

      This would be video evidence Beggs has been asking for since last summer — well before the PD’s files were wiped out by ransomware. It could be very critical information, despite Police Chief Barlag’s assertion to the contrary. What’s useful to a defendant is seldom viewed as useful by law enforcement. Hence the difference of opinion.

      But even while stating nothing of (subjective) value was lost, Chief Barlag did admit there was a possibility that defense lawyers might be interested in finding out what evidence might no longer be available. And the department may not have made this loss public if it hadn’t needed to speak to defendants about its inability to secure relevant evidence.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Denuvo Responds: Five Days Is Better Than No Days, Amirite?

      It certainly looks for all the world like Denuvo is unraveling as a valid option for DRM in video games. The software, once described as the final solution to piracy, has had its defenses cracked in time intervals following an exponentially shorter curve. For how long it would take to crack a Denuvo-protected video game, reality went from “never”, to “months”, to “less months” in the case of the latest Doom game. After Doom was cracked, and after the developer removed Denuvo from the software via a patch, the makers of Denuvo spun it as a victory, stating that developers were protecting their games during the early release window and then removing it later.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Texas A&M Accused Of Committing Copyright Infringement In Effort To Bolster Trademark Protection For ’12th Man’

        I’m not sure there is a more annoying group of stories about trademark protectionism than that of the “12th Man.” What most likely assume is a common term at football games, popularly denoting the impact a raucous crowd can have on the opposing team, is actually a closely guarded trademarked term of Texas A&M. So closely guarded, in fact, that the school has not only policed use of the term by other football organizations, but it has also seen fit to threaten breweries and double-amputees over their use of the term. So concerned is Texas A&M by the moral position on intellectual property, in other words, that there are no limits on how it will act to protect its trademark.

        That includes violating someone else’s intellectual property, it seems. It appears the university is being sued for copyright infringement after having posted on its website a large swath of an unpublished book by an author on the history of Texas A&M, all in order to bolster its own claims on the trademark for the “12th Man.”

    • Copyrights

      • A Mickey Mouse Reason to Support the TPP

        Retroactive copyright extension has been a practice in the United States in large part to keep Mickey Mouse under copyright protection. The length of copyright has twice been extended retroactively in the United States as a result of Disney’s ability to lobby Congress.

        This sort of protectionism is very costly. The Obama administration, at the request of the entertainment, software and pharmaceutical industries, insisted on stronger and longer patent- and copyright-related protections in the TPP. Unfortunately, the projections of the economic impact of the TPP do not take account of the costs of these protections.

      • Police Seize Domains of Fifty ‘Pirate’ Newspaper and Magazine Sites

        Italian authorities have seized 50 domains involved in the unlawful distribution of copyrighted content. The seizure, ordered by the Court of Rome, targeted sites that were offering free digital versions of dozens of national newspapers and magazines including Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair.

      • In an EU without Britain and France, weaker and sensible copyright policy would emerge

        Britain and France have been the primary copyright hawks in the EU, pushing for stronger distribution monopolies and harsher penalties at every turn. With Brexit in the cards, and a possible Frexit following this spring’s French elections, a hypothetical future EU copyright law looks much more sensible. Let’s review the dynamics at play.

        Britain has already voted to exit the European Union, and with the possiblility of Marine le Pen winning the presidency in France, along with a campaign promise to leave the eurozone and/or the entire EU if she wins, there’s a possibility France will also be preparing an exit soon. In order to understand what impact these developments may have on future copyright legislation, let’s take a look at the dynamics at play over the last decade and how France and Britain have used their influence on the Union.

        When the EU massively expanded eastward on May 1, 2004, the copyright industry realized the expansion would mean a permanent shift against evermore-policies of evermore-copyright: Eastern Europe isn’t fond of this rich-man’s-protectionism scheme at all. Therefore, the copyright industry tried their damndest to get everything they could crammed through the door before the expansion date, the date Eastern Europe would get their voting rights in the Union, in the so-called IPRED federal law (“directive”) – the IPR Enforcement Directive. This legislative package gave the copyright industry more far-reaching powers than the Police in many European states. Yes, you read that right: it gave the private copyright industry the right to break anonymity and privacy in many cases where the Police weren’t allowed to.

      • Sony to Take $1 Billion Writedown on Movie Business

        Sony Corp. said it will take a 112 billion yen ($1 billion) writedown in its movie business after reviewing the future profitability of its operations.

        The company said it would book the charge in the fiscal third quarter and is examining how that will affect its forecasts. To offset part of the loss, the company also said it would sell shares in the medical web service M3 Inc. to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Japan unit, in a deal worth about 37 billion yen.

        The announcement comes two weeks after Sony said the chief executive officer of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton, is stepping down after a 13-year run. The studio has struggled recently, including with last year’s Ghostbusters sequel and a movie based on the Angry Birds video game. Sony warned in June the division was at a risk of posting more losses.

Growing Rift Between EPO Stakeholders and the Office, Due to Battistelli’s Appalling Leadership

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thin-skinned Battistelli has turned the EPO into an autocracy almost nobody wants to serve

U.S.-Australia Rift Is Possible After Trump Ends Call With Prime Minister
Reference: U.S.-Australia Rift Is Possible After Trump Ends Call With Prime Minister (today)

Summary: The toxic relationship between the European Patent Office and those who are subsidising it (with fees to the monopoly) is bound to explode sooner or later, as stakeholders are growing tired of the tyrannical leadership and its negative effect on the quality of service, quality of patents, etc.

Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister, is in the headlines today. It was being reported by Australian media and the Washington Post that Trump had hung up on Turnbull, having not managed to accept any criticism. Sounds familiar? Well, the EPO‘s President ragequit his meeting with Martijn van Dam. The Dutch media reported on that at the time.

The autocracy which developed under Battistelli is not entirely unique. As one reader told us, “I have come across the below quote in a comment” on The Register‘s recent report:

What is it with Patent Organisations around the World and their bloody leaders???

The European Patent Office has Battistelli acting like a complete d%&k and needing to be removed by the EU. With the EU naturally failing to do that.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation has Gurry acting like a complete d%&k and needing to be removed by the UN. With the UN naturally failing to do that.

The US Patent Office is broken (although that cant be blamed on the guy at the top this time), and needs for the US Government to sort it out. With the US Government naturally failing to do that.

I’m seeing a pattern here, and I dont like it very much!

Looking at some new comments in IP Kat, we find similarly strong criticisms of Battistelli:

The complete text of the JUVE PATENT POLL in the german language can be seen here:http://www.juve.de/nachrichten/namenundnachrichten/2017/01/industrie-umfrage-zum-europaeischen-patentamt-mehrheit-fuer-ruecktritt-von-amtschef-battistelli .
With the Google translater you can get very good understandable translations in french dutch and english. Some small things like: The ¨Verwaltungsrat¨(AC) is translated as ¨board of directors¨ It is clear that the EPO clients do not like to continue with Battistelli. I am afraid that Battistelli will say, just like President Trump, that these are all lies and JUVE is a dishonest press. Battistelli has much better information and all the examiners love him. Everything is okee in EPONIA and with King Benoit.

Somebody wrote in response that Europeans deserve to “get European Patents which are not taint by Human rights’ abuses, don’t they?”

As we noted here a couple of years ago, repeatedly in fact, the EPO enjoys a monopoly, so the idea of taking one’s business elsewhere is not quite applicable. The EPO has special duties and it fails to fulfill these. Here is the full comment:

“It is clear that the EPO clients do not like to continue with Battistelli

Oh, is it? And maybe now they will finally vote with their feet and go somewhere else where they can get European Patents which are not taint by Human rights’ abuses, don’t they?

Another person says that “many many other articles and reactions say Benoit Battistelli has to go.”

There is no good and economic alternative for the EPO. From the JUVE PATENT POLL is clear what the EPO clients like and not like from the EPO under Benoit Battistelli. They not like less quality and a from Battistelli dependent board of appeal. Not only JUVE but many many other articles and reactions say Benoit Battistelli has to go. The Human rights’ abuses and violation of the EPC have to stop now.

“I suspect the real response [of EPO to the aforementioned Juve survey] will be to ignore it,” said another person. “Or to shout at a minion to get an investigation about who these traitors are so that they can be taught where they are not understanding right.”

The latest article from The Register is then mentioned as follows:

Well, of course the abuses will stop just after the Dutch High Court has given free hand to Mr. Battistelli to continue do as he pleases him by upholding the “immunity” of the Office – and it appears that Mr. Battistelli got the message clear and loud, as reported by The Register:

King Battistelli tries again to break Euro Patent Office union

The stakeholders need to (re)group and do the right thing. They ought to work together and sanction in order to remove Battistelli. EPO staff would be grateful, no doubt about it. Nobody wants Battistelli; neither insiders nor outsiders.

The following latest comment speaks of avoiding the EPO altogether, even for applicants:

Regarding alternatives to European Patent Office,

In case you look from the customer perspective, German patent office is as good as European patent office. There are only very few products, which you can develop economically, in case you are excluded from German market. We have unified market in European Union and if such product cannot be sold in Germany, typically such product is not economically feasible. Think about cars, semiconductors, industrial equipments, trucks,…

What if all the law firms and applicants made it clear to the Organisation that unless or until Battistelli is removed they refuse to pay a dime? That would actually work, but only if all of them agree to do this at the same time (like a strike).

New WIPR Survey and Other Data Points Suggest That the Unitary Patent (UPC) is Dead, at Least in the UK

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Without the United Kingdom — let’s remind ourselves again — there is no UPC (in its currently-envisioned form)

UPC Dead

Summary: The UPC has suffered enough blows from quite a few major European countries and even legal professionals in the UK no longer believe that it will ever see the light of day

THE UPC is stuck. The EPO has not even mentioned the UPC in a long while. The last time the British government mentioned it was months ago and since then the person behind the move got sacked or stepped down. As a reminder, here is what we wrote at the time:

A new WIPR survey (30-01-2017) says: “Readers say May’s statement means UK leaving UPC”

Here are the details:

Readers responding to WIPR’s recent survey have agreed that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has sent a strong message that the UK will look to leave the Unified Patent Court (UPC) as part of her Brexit plan.

On January 18, WIPR reported on May’s 12-step plan that the UK government will use for negotiating Brexit terms. She said that the UK will not “seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave”.

This sparked concerns that the UK may seek to leave the UPC after Brexit.

In November last year, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, former UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property, announced that the UK will implement the unitary patent and UPC.

On January 16, the UPC preparatory committee announced that the UPC is due to become operational in December 2017.

Responding to WIPR’s latest survey, 61% of readers agreed that May’s statement sent a strong message that the UK will leave the UPC after Brexit.

Readers had varying responses to the question.

Writing about the above, FFII’s Benjamin Henrion told me that “the hack is to leave after joining, so that the UPC can run anyway.” He later added: “The UK hack is to ratify the UPC so that it can run ASAP, then leave it eventually…”

It would only further destabilise the UPC and it would not work. What if the UPC got ‘orphaned’ because of London-based firms, courts, and British judges? It would never fly. The UPC as we know it (just a concept) is doomed; they’ll probably just start a new idea from scratch, perhaps with a new name, other host nations (courts) and so on. Remember that prior to the UPC they had several other projects and they all failed. How many people even remember the days of “EU patent”, “Community patent” and more? Our predictions about these were always correct. Under the UPC, according to this new report, judges are “40% from Germany, 16% each from the UK and France…”

That’s yet another reason for the UK to dump the UPC. It’s an unfair ratio which grossly benefits the Germans. Need we even recall the appalling discrimination against everything British at the EPO except the language (recruitment of Brits is down by 80%)? Almost all the top-level management at the EPO is French and German, except perhaps that thug from Croatia (who faces many criminal charges). Here is how IP Kat put it yesterday:

Stefan Luginbühl presented on the latest developments in European patent law, notably the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC). To make it short, nobody’s blinking so far, the UPC system is expected to come into force January 2017. Germany’s parliament is expected to approve ratification in spring, but the ratification document will not be submitted until the UK has ratified. The preparatory committee has received 840 applications for the positions as judges at the UPC (40% from Germany, 16% each from the UK and France), among them all the well-known patent judges of Europe. It was pointed out during the discussion that the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court contains no exit provision – should the UK actually ratify, it is unclear how it could leave should it want to (or have to) once it is leaving the EU.

Tilman Müller-Stoy gave an outline of the procedural rules of the UPC with a focus on the rules of evidence. Points of discussion were the affidavits and the obligation to produce evidence favouring the other side. Affidavits must be submitted with a statement of the witness that he is aware of his obligation to tell the truth and of his liability under applicable national law in the event of any breach of this obligation – the consensus being that the applicable law is the law of the place of the local division where the affidavit is submitted, not the law where the witness resides. It is an open question what happens if the law at the place of the local division does not provide for sanctions for false written witness statements because such statements are unknown in the national law. A hearing of the witness in person must be explicitely requested. On the production of evidence, a party may be obliged to disclose evidence in its possession, provided that the requested items of evidence are reasonably specified (R 170.3, 190). The only sanction that can be imposed for non-compliance with a production order seems to be adverse inference. Whether this is a sharp or blunt instrument depends on how this will be handled in practice.

Read the first comment there:

“the UPC system is expected to come into force January 2017″

Did you mean December 2017?

Regardless, I am fascinated by the comments on the lack of an exit provision in the UPC. Is it really the case that “pro-UPC” attorneys cannot see the elephant in the room, namely that Article 2b and 2c of the UPCA together make it impossible for the provisions of that Agreement (at least in its current form) to continue to apply to the UK?

Carrying on regardless is only an option if you are prepared to crash and burn at a later date… when those disadvantaged by a UPC judgement inevitably question its enforceability (and/or compliance with EU law). Pretending (or assuming) that everything will be OK therefore amounts to nothing more than a reckless form of wilful blindness.

Remember that Team UPC told us that the UPC would start in “2015″, then “2016″, then “2017″… well, now these people says “2018″ (“I meant January 2018. January 2017 is definitely wrong”). They’ve lost credibility with their fake news. It’s almost always a “real soon now” and Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna agrees with us that it's about manipulating/fooling politicians.

Don’t believe anything that Team UPC says anymore. Their track record on truth is absolutely appalling and there’s nothing they won’t say to advance their agenda. They even posted fake (non-existent) job advertisements. We caught them in a lie that may constitute more than just an ethical breach.

“EPC52 exceptions all share abstractness criteria,” Henrion wrote in another context, and the “US should just copy the UPC without the as such provision.”

Well, the US is now distancing itself from much of the world, Europe included, so the idea of copying anything from Europe seems almost far-fetched.

The following person says s/he has “to come to the conclusion that UK cannot stay in the UPC after Brexit [and] you do not even have to have studied law” to know it. Here is the full comment:

I fully support Proof of the pudding

Whilst it understandable that UK law firms would like UK to stay in the UPC in spite of Brexit, it is amazing that an official of the EPO comes up with such a stupid statement, implying that UK could stay in the UPC after Brexit.

It should be clear for every sound person that the UPC is intimately linked with the EU and the CJEU. Deleting this essential feature ends up in an intermediate generalisation, and the person skilled in the art receives a different information after the amendment. In other words we are in presence of unallowable added subject-matter.

Wait and see what the CJEU will do then. One does not have to look into a crystal ball to guess: rip it to pieces. And then. All for nothing!

In order to come to the conclusion that UK cannot stay in the UPC after Brexit, you do not even have to have studied law. Just read the text of the UPCA with a will to understand it, not to misunderstand it.

There might not be an exit clause, but the exit is not to be avoided for any EU contracting state leaving the EU. The same applies to all statements to the effect that non-EU member states may join the UPC, once the UK has left the EU. Why not before then? Has anybody ever heard of decision 1/09? All this gobbledygook is wishful thinking at its best!

One could also bet that Germany might not submit the ratification document even if the UK has ratified. I cannot see German politicians gambling with their industry. Bringing into force a legal construction with such a weak foundation is anything but good for non-UK industry in general, and German industry in particular. By the way, what is UK industry? There are less European patent applications from UK (2%) than from Switzerland or the Netherlands (4% each). Lets put things in perspective.

We all know that the President of the EPO wants UK to ratify as quickly as possible and stay in the UPC, but even without wanting to offend a very touchy boss, a more careful way of expression should be expected from an official representative of the EPO.

Also noteworthy is the next comment:

I think the BGH’S Problem and Solution Approach is flawed, unfair and deflates under pressure. Can we have a comment from a person who litigates at the BGH, about the discrepancy between the EPO’s robust, tried and tested Problem and Solution Approach and the dodgy one that the BGH stubbornly clings to?

Can we have a comment what it is in the EPO’s Approach that it cannot bring itself to swallow?

Perhaps it is just the impossibility of a real judge of the Supreme Court conceding that a mere Patent Office could out-think his colleague judges at that Supreme Court.

This actually relates more to BGH than to UPC and in our next post we shall cover the relevance of it to the EPO’s monopoly in Europe. It’s time to end it. The EPO, if it has the burden of proof, no longer justifies this supposedly benevolent monopoly.

The Quality of European Patents is Nosediving and Those Who Can Put an End to It (Appeal Boards) Are Controlled by Fear of Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The boards still lack independence from the rogue regime that Battistelli has nurtured and expanded

Metal pieces

Summary: The EPO is broken beyond repair, as even parts of the Organisation that should in principle be capable of supervising the Office are reduced to subservient elements of ‘King’ Battistelli

THE quality of patents at the EPO declined sharply. Many insiders say so; they would know, wouldn’t they? They are, after all, those under pressure to work faster and more sloppily, often granting or rejecting patents based on a more superficial examination.

“It’s a lot better when an application or a patent is found ineligible/invalid early on, albeit that kind of trajectory is becoming rare as workload grows and the appeal boards are further marginalised, threatened, understaffed, and even illegally suspended.”Watch this new press release (found today). A company “on Wednesday had received so-called Intention to Grant from European Patent Office (EPO) regarding the company’s patent application for Europe” (and beyond, as EPO covers not only Europe).

Is this what “Early Certainty” (i.e. superficial examination) might look like? Or “legal certainty on pending applications,” as the EPO euphemistically calls it? Here is yet another example of patents in this week’s press releases [1, 2, 3]. “The EPO upheld a decision that found the patent to be invalid,” it says. It’s not unusual for European patents (EPs) to be found invalid some time down the line these days. Each time a patent is granted in error the outcome would be innocent people (defendants, the public etc.) being punished. It’s unjust. It’s a lot better when an application or a patent is found ineligible/invalid early on, albeit that kind of trajectory is becoming rare as workload grows and the appeal boards are further marginalised, threatened, understaffed, and even illegally suspended.

Yesterday, on the 1st of February, Matthew Fletcher from Abel & Imray wrote about the Enlarged Board of Appeal and his colleague Paul Brady wrote about the Enlarged Board’s recent case, which IP Kat mentioned as well (as the referral got published). To quote the detailed analysis from Abel & Imray:

Has The EPO’s Enlarged Board Detoxified “Poisonous Divisionals”?

In G 1/15, the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal was asked to clarify the position regarding the entitlement to “partial priority”. A key issue was whether it is necessary for subject matter to be defined as alternatives in a claim in order for the claim to be entitled to multiple priority dates.

While the full decision in G1/15 is not yet out, the Enlarged Board has issued an order to the effect that the only aspect that needs to be considered is whether the subject matter claimed is disclosed in a priority document. This possibly more liberal approach to partial priority may be good news for many applicants.

“Under the EPC,” IP Kat wrote, “entitlement to partial priority may not be refused for a claim encompassing alternative subject-matter by virtue of one or more generic expressions or otherwise (generic “OR”-claim) provided that said alternative subject-matter has been disclosed for the first time, directly, or at least implicitly, unambiguously and in an enabling manner in the priority document. No other substantive conditions or limitations apply in this respect.”

“We are growingly pessimistic about patent quality at the EPO and so are stakeholders of the EPO, based on a new survey.”What we are basically seeing here is lenience being expanded/broadened, thanks perhaps to boards that are under growing pressure from Battistelli and his thugs not to “interfere” with “production” (i.e. devaluation of patents for artificial growth).

We are growingly pessimistic about patent quality at the EPO and so are stakeholders of the EPO, based on a new survey. They want Battistelli out, but Battistelli is guarded by a Chinchilla of a person (who is otherwise supposed to boss him). Chinchilla Man of the Administrative Council actually played a role, at Battistelli’s behest, in trying to get a judge fired. It serves to show just how crooked the whole Organisation has become.

International Labour Organisation to Issue More Judgments on ‘Above the Law’ European Patent Office Next Week

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has a long history of complaints about the European Patent Office (EPO)

Labour Day in Zurich

Summary: The Police State and the bogus justice system (kangaroo court) of the EPO continue to receive scrutiny from the judges of ILO, which is based in Switzerland (the above image is from Labour Day in Zürich)

THE EPO, as one might say, was recently slammed by ILO, which ruled that the EPO had violated the principles of fair trial for a couple of years (impacting hundreds of cases and/or individuals).

The next set of ILOAT judgments will be announced next Wednesday, the 8th of February. Here is what ILO says: “The Administrative Tribunal held its 123rd Session from 17 October to 11 November 2016 at the International Labour Office (ILO in Geneva.

“During the Session, the Tribunal adopted 97 judgments including 22 summary procedures, which corresponds to 113 cases, 103 complainants and 188 interveners from 21 organisations. The Tribunal registered 8 withdrawals.

“The Tribunal’s judgments will be exceptionally announced in two parts. Four judgments will be announced in public on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 at 3pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2). All remaining judgments will be announced, as previously indicated, on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 at 3pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2).”

We don’t know how many of these will involve the EPO, but it could be as much as a dozen or two. As soon as these become public we hope to cover some of them and highlight the important bits.

We don’t expect Battistelli and his swamp to resign because ILO deems them in violation of the rules. But it sure contributes towards the collapse of this rogue element that waged a war or a coup against the EPO, exploiting the 2-billion-Euros-per-year operation for the benefit of Battistelli and his (largely) French cronies.

According to this new article, after Cambodia, China, Cuba and so on (each with its infamous tyranny) the EPO turns to Russia. Here is the background:

Back in October 2015, the offices announced their intention to launch the programme.

The aim of the PPH pilot programme is to use fast-track patent examination procedures already available at the offices, allowing applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently.

Now that Trump is in the White House perhaps it’s time for Battistelli to also tie the knot with the US. Who needs rules and regulation anyway? Who cares about international laws? Such is the nature of today’s EPO.

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