Links 3/2/2017: New Stable/LTS Linux Releases, Olimex DIY Laptop Kit Launches

Posted in News Roundup at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Why Open Source ECOMP? AT&T Needs the Help

    AT&T’s ECOMP platform is in production but needs more maturation. Without that progression, the carrier won’t be able to make its goal of virtualizing 75 percent of its network functions by 2020.

  • AT&T ECOMP released to open source community through The Linux Foundation

    AT&T made good on its plans to release its ECOMP SDN and NFV platform into the open source community through The Linux Foundation.

    AT&T officially moved on its plans to migrate its enhanced control, orchestration, management and policy platform into the open source community through The Linux Foundation.

    The carrier said the move includes the release of source code, documentation, educational videos and a pair of sample use cases – one on virtual firewall and one on virtual domain name servers – into a public cloud for access to users and covered by the Apache 2.0 license. The code itself is said to use a continuous integration and continuous development environment and include 11 different modules set up as separate virtual machines with code in at least one container.

  • Report: SDN, NFV, and open source: the operator’s view

    Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.

  • NFV Interoperability Testing Needs to Accelerate

    Plus, vendors that have made major investments in MANO platforms for NFV environments are also validating NFV interoperability across their platforms. HPE, for example, has an OpenNFV partner program through which it tests and validates NFV interoperability.

  • Update on San Francisco’s Open Source Voting System!

    As many may know, the OSI has been involved in supporting the adoption of an open source elections system in San Francisco, California. The following is an update from Chris Jerdonek, Elections Commissioner & President of the San Francisco Elections Commission.

    We’d like to thank Chris for all of his hard work in raising awareness of open source software and its value for elections as well as keeping all of us up to date on the latest developments. If you’d like to learn more about the project, please contact Chris directly.

  • 4 questions to answer when choosing community metrics to measure

    Thus far in the Community Metrics Playbook column, I’ve discussed the importance of setting goals to guide the metrics process, outlined the general types of metrics that are useful for studying your community, and reviewed technical details of available tools. As you are deciding which metrics to track for your community, having a deeper understanding of each area is important so you not only choose good metrics, but also understand and plan for what to do when the numbers don’t line up with expectations.

  • Events

    • DevConf 2017

      Thorsten Leemhuis gave a talk about What’s up in Kernel Land. This was a general overview about new features and patches that are coming into the Linux kernel targeted at non-kernel developers. I was not the target audience but the talk was fantastic. It was easy to follow and gave a good picture of what the kernel community is doing. I appreciate when non-kernel developers give talks about the kernel since kernel developers can be a bit myopic in our topics (myself included).

    • Fedora speakers at FOSDEM 2017

      Excited for FOSDEM 2017? FOSDEM, or the Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting, is held every year in late January or early February. This year, FOSDEM is taking place on February 4th and 5th. At this year’s conference, an estimated 8,000 or more attendees are expected. As one of the largest open source conferences in Europe, there are many Fedora Project developers and representatives attending the event. In addition to our community stand, you will find 24 speakers from the community giving talks over the weekend. This post gives a quick way for you to find out who is speaking and where to find them in FOSDEM!

    • Find Fedora at FOSDEM 2017!

      It’s that time of year again for a new iteration of FOSDEM! FOSDEM, or the Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting, is held every year in late January or early February in Brussels, Belgium. FOSDEM 2017 is taking place over this coming weekend on February 4th and 5th. At this year’s conference, an estimated 8,000 or more attendees are expected. Several open source contributors, communities, and projects are represented at this event.

      As one of the largest open source conferences in Europe, there are many Fedora Project developers and representatives attending the event. In addition to our community stand, you will find 24 speakers from the community giving talks over the weekend. If you’re getting ready to make it into Brussels, here’s how to keep Fedora a part of your weekend.

    • FOSS Wave: FOSS Camp SJCE in Mysore

      A couple of weekends ago, Kanika Murarka and I (Sumantro Mukherjee) went down to the Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE) in Mysore, India to give a talk on GitHub and web virtual reality (VR) on their annual open source fest, FOSS Camp.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • What’s New in LibreOffice 5.3

      Open source’s premiere office suite keeps getting better with each new release. Here’s a look at some of the new features in LibreOffice 5.3.

  • CMS

    • WordPress Updates in CentOS 7 + Apache + SELinux

      A couple of weeks ago I moved my WordPress blogs from a trivial shared hosting to a more sophisticated VPS running CentOS 7 since I was in search of more flexibility from my server.

      During these days, I learned a lot about managing a web server on my own and I’m still currently learning a ton of interesting things about this topic.

      One of the most annoying problems I faced a couple of days ago concerned, in particular, my WordPress installation. Everytime I was trying to update its core and plugins, the dashboard showed me a message similar to this…

    • 8 Essential WordPress Plugins Your Website Must Have

      WordPress, what a CMS right? So many available plugins, themes, and tutorials. More than 27% of world websites are powered by a WordPress CMS. A staggering statistic which kinda indicates the level of functionality and flexibility it offers to webmasters. A complete website solution with an easy-to-use aura surrounding it.

      Chances are that while you are reading this another WordPress website has been launched into the vast ocean of information we call the Internet. Hell, you’ve probably reached this article by researching about WordPress after hearing that Joe from high school is making tons of money with his WordPress sites.

  • BSD


    • GIMP 2.8.20 Open-Source Image Editor Released for Linux, macOS, and Windows

      A new stable release of the open-source and cross-platform GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) image editor and viewer arrived recently for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.

    • GIMP 2.10 Coming, GIMP May Re-Target To GTK4 Rather Than GTK3

      The GEGL/GIMP team have decided some details concerning GIMP 2.10 as well as the future GIMP updates with GTK3, which may now be GTK4 instead.

    • GIMP 2.10 blockers and the road to 3.0

      During WilberWeek 2017 in Barcelona, the GEGL/GIMP team discussed further development plans.

    • The Free Software Foundation Overhauls its High Priority Projects List

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF), which many of us on the open source scene instantly associate with Richard Stallman, has remained a steady champion of certain technology project concepts that are driven forward with purpose and good intent. One of the ways it recognizes such projects is through its High Priority Projects list.

      Now, The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has announced a major update to its High Priority Free Software Projects (HPP) list. The latest revision of the list includes nine project areas, encompassing software projects, advancements in free software-compatible hardware, and efforts to expand and deepen the inclusivity of the free software community. Also, there is now a changelog to document revisions to the list. The committee published a full explanation of its work in March, and several members of the committee shared its findings at last year’s LibrePlanet conference.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • House Bill Would Curb Open Data on Race, Affordable Housing

        Open data supporters have expressed trepidation over a new House bill that states Federal agencies will no longer be able to use geospatial information to create open databases on racial disparities and affordable housing.

        HR 482, or the Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017, moved to the House Committee on Financial Services on Jan. 12. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, sponsored the bill, which would render Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) ineffective. AFFH, a 2015 ruling of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), requires certain HUD grantees to conduct an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) planning process.

      • Wallonia claims success for its Digital Strategy

        Wallonia wants to modernise government service delivery and make it ‘digital by default’. It has created a online enterprise portal, aggregating 18 existing services. It has also made the first 150 government data sets publicly available on its open data portal and overhauled its geoportal, providing access to all of the region’s geodata.

    • Open Access/Content

      • How the University of Hawaii is solving today’s higher ed problems

        Openness invites greater participation and it takes advantage of the shared energy of collaborators. The strength of openly created educational resources comes paradoxically from the vulnerability of the shared experience of that creation process.

        One of the leaders in Open Educational Resources (OER) is Billy Meinke, educational technologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The University’s open creation model uses Pressbooks, which Billy tells me more about in this interview.

  • Programming/Development


  • Hardware

    • Intel Celeron G3930 On Linux: A Dual-Core Kabylake CPU For $40

      Earlier this week we posted Linux benchmarks of the Intel Pentium G4600 as a 3.6GHz processor for around $90 USD. It was an interesting processor for the value, but if your wallet is tighter, the Celeron G3930 is selling for about $40 as a dual-core sub-3GHz Kabylake processor. Here are those test results.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Kenya’s Kuria to halt female genital mutilation in “unlucky” 2017

      Hundreds of young girls in Kenya’s ethnic Kuria community will be spared female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2017 because of a superstition that the number seven is unlucky, campaigners say.

      They called on the government to take advantage of the suspension to step up education around the ritual, which can cause serious health problems.

      The Kuria, who number around 260,000 in southwest Kenya, normally cut girls in the school holidays in December. The break means they are unlikely to resume the ritual until the end of 2018.

    • FGM Survivors, Rescuers Tell of Harrowing Experiences

      Kenya is fighting female genital mutilation by sheltering at-risk girls at a boarding school in the Maasai region.

      Deputy head teacher Lucy Itore has rescued more than 100 girls and sheltered them at the Ilbisil Boarding Primary School in Kajiado, where the Maasai live and practice FGM.

      FGM is a cultural practice that practitioners say ensures a girl’s purity and eligibility for marriage. A family member or practitioner often performs the cutting and mutilation of a girl’s genitals.

      Sometimes the cut removes the clitoris. Sometimes the vulva is sliced and sewn up, leaving a small channel. Sometimes all a girl’s external genitalia are removed.

    • House Republicans Vote to End Rule Stopping Coal Mining Debris From Being Dumped in Streams

      Moving to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s legacy on the environment and other issues, House Republicans approved a measure Wednesday that scuttles a regulation aimed at preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams.

      Lawmakers also voted to rescind a separate rule requiring companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments relating to mining and drilling.

    • No Shorter Floor Statements Nor Cap On Agenda Items, Says WHO Board

      Part of the reform of the organisation is to find ways to make the meetings of its governing bodies more efficient. Proposals to put a cap on the number of agenda items or to reduce the time for interventions were not approved this week. Separately, some members raised concerns at the characterisation of an advisory group to the director general, and remarked that the director general bears sole responsibility for her decisions.

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security advisories
    • The design of Chacha20

      Chacha20 is a secure, fast, and amazingly simple encryption algorithm. It’s author Daniel J. Bernstein explains it well in his Salsa20 and Chacha20 design papers (which I recommend), but did not dwell on details experts already know. Filling the gap took me a while.

      Quick summary: Chacha20 is ARX-based hash function, keyed, running in counter mode. It embodies the idea that one can use a hash function to encrypt data.

    • Ransomware completely shuts down Ohio town government [iophk: “Microsoft = lost productivity”]

      These sorts of attacks are becoming more commonplace and, as mentioned before, can be avoided with good backup practices. Sadly not every computer in every hospital, county office or police department is connected to a nicely journaled and spacious hard drive, so these things will happen more and more. Luckily it improves cryptocurrency popularity as these small office finally give up and buy bitcoin to pay their ransom.

    • Windows DRM Social Engineering Attacks & TorBrowser

      HackerHouse have been investigating social engineering attacks performed with Digital Rights Management (DRM) protected media content. Attackers have been performing these attacks in the wild to spread fake codec installers since Microsoft introduced DRM to it’s proprietary media formats. Despite their prevalence we could not find many tools to misuse these formats. We found only a small number of blog posts [2] on identifying the files being used to spread malware. We observed some interesting behaviours during our analysis which we have shared here. DRM is a licensing technology that attempts to prevent unauthorised distribution and restrictive use of a media file. It works by encrypting the video and audio streams with an encryption key and requesting a license (decryption key) from a network server when the file is accessed. As it requires network connectivity it can cause users to make network requests without consent when opening a media file such as a video file or audio file. WMV is using Microsoft Advanced Systems Format (ASF) to store audio and video as objects. This file format consists of objects that are labelled by GUID and packed together to make a media package. A number of tools such as ffmpeg & ASFView support opening, viewing and browsing these objects. There are three objects with the following GUID’s which are of interest for these attacks.

    • Click Here to Kill Everyone

      With the Internet of Things, we’re building a world-size robot. How are we going to control it?

    • New open source project Trireme aims to secure containers

      A team made of former Cisco and Nuage Networks veterans has developed an open source project it released this week named Trireme that takes an application-centric approach to securing code written in containers.

    • An Introduction to the Shorewall Firewall Tool

      Linux is well known for being a highly secure platform. One of the reasons for said security is the Netfilter system. For those that don’t know, Netfilter is a framework, provided by the Linux kernel, that allows for various networking operations, such as packet filtering, network address translations, port translation, and the ability to block packets from reaching specific locations. For most distributions, Netfilter is implemented through the user-space application, iptables. Although many would agree that iptables is the most powerful security tool you can work with, along with that power comes a level of complexity that stumps many an IT administrator.

      That’s where the likes of Shorewall comes into play. Shorewall is an open source firewalling tool that not only makes the task of network security easier, it also allows for much easier handling of zones. Shorewall uses zones to define different portions of a network. Say, for instance, you want to create a private internal network that can only be accessed by specific machines, a guest network that can be accessed by anyone, a network dedicated to production machines, and a network that can be accessed from machines outside your Local Area Network (LAN). With Shorewall, you can easily do this.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump defends chaotic foreign policy: ‘We’re going to straighten it out, OK?’

      Donald Trump defended his unpredictable approach to foreign policy, which has shaken the political establishment and roiled activists across the country, during a speech at the annual interfaith prayer breakfast in Washington on Thursday.

    • Raid in Yemen: Risky From the Start and Costly in the End

      Just five days after taking office, over dinner with his newly installed secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Trump was presented with the first of what will be many life-or-death decisions: whether to approve a commando raid that risked the lives of American Special Operations forces and foreign civilians alike.

      President Barack Obama’s national security aides had reviewed the plans for a risky attack on a small, heavily guarded brick home of a senior Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in a remote part of central Yemen. But Mr. Obama did not act because the Pentagon wanted to launch the attack on a moonless night and the next one would come after his term had ended.

    • Press Secretary Sean Spicer Falsely Accuses Iran of Attacking U.S. Navy Vessel, an Act of War

      White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted at Thursday’s press briefing that Iran had attacked a U.S. naval vessel, as part of his argument defending the administration’s bellicose announcement that Iran is “on notice.”

      National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday said he was “officially putting Iran on notice” following the country’s ballistic missile test and an attack on a Saudi naval vessel by Houthi rebels in Yemen (the Houthis are tenuously aligned with Iran’s government but are distinct from it).

      The White House press corps wanted to know what being put “on notice” entailed, and Spicer responded by claiming that Iran’s government took actions against a U.S. naval vessel, which would be an act of war. “I think General Flynn was really clear yesterday that Iran has violated the Joint Resolution, that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take,” he said. “I think that we will have further updates for you on those additional actions.”

    • New Book Details US Attempts to Topple Correa

      Norwegian journalist Eirik Vold identifies current vice presidential candidate for the right-wing CREO party as a key U.S. contact in the country.

      In his new book, “Ecuador In the Sights: The WikiLeaks Revelations and the Conspiracy Against the Government of Rafael Correa,” released this week in Quito, Norwegian journalist Eirik Vold details attempts by the U.S. government to topple Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and derail his Citizens’ Revolution.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Why Did The FBI Say It Couldn’t Release Documents To ‘FOIA Terrorist’ Jason Leopold That It Released To Me Months Earlier?

      What’s up, FBI? Back in early 2015, when the FBI and (specifically) Director James Comey ramped up their silly “going dark” moral panic about how strong encryption was making us less safe, I sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI for all of the FBI’s internal talking points about “going dark” or other views on encryption. My main reason for this was really to see if I might uncover some of the reasoning for why the FBI had quietly deleted a page on its website that encouraged people to encrypt their phones. It took until May of last year, but the FBI finally delivered me a stack of talking points, mostly focused on talking point lists and speeches given by Comey. I never wrote about it because the talking points alone weren’t even that interesting.

      In fact, I’d almost totally forgotten about that entire request. But then, a few weeks ago, right here on this site, Tim Cushing wrote about the latest escapades of Jason Leopold, the reporter whose use of FOIA requests is so prolific that he’s been dubbed a “FOIA terrorist” by the DOJ. It turns out that Leopold had made a similar request to the FBI… and was told that while they had found 487 responsive records, they were giving him a grand total of 0 of them, because they were all subject to restrictions on release. In that article, Cushing, rightly explains why this is ridiculous. The whole point of “talking points” is to share them with the public. There is simply no FOIA exemption that allows for blocking them.

    • Exclusive Spies and civil servants who leak secrets face 14 years in jail in first overhaul of the Official Secrets Act for 100 years

      Spies and civil servants who leak national security secrets face up to 14 years in jail, in a major overhaul of the Official Secrets Act in the face of the growing threat from Russia, the Daily Telegraph has learnt.

      Foreign spies who steal information from the Government and leak it overseas, or those who snoop on British embassies, will also face prosecution in British courts for the first time, under plans to be considered by ministers.

      Under the proposals, which are published today, officials who leak “sensitive information” about the British economy that damages national security could also be jailed.

    • EPA airbrushes climate webpage as Pruitt nears confirmation

      Scott Pruitt is on his way to approval as Donald Trump’s environment chief after Republican senators waved him through a committee vote on Thursday.

      The controversial choice, who as Oklahoma attorney general sued the Environmental Protection Agency he is about to lead, got through despite a Democrat boycott. He is expected to pass a full senate vote next week.

      Even before he takes up the position, mentions of climate cooperation have been scrubbed from the EPA website, in a clear signal of intent from the new US administration.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Republicans back off bill to sell 3.3m acres of public land after outcry

      In the small hours of Thursday morning, US congressman Jason Chaffetz announced that he would withdraw a bill he introduced last week that would have ordered the incoming secretary of the interior to immediately sell off 3.3m acres of national land.

      Chaffetz, a representative from Utah, wrote on Instagram that he had a change of heart in the face of strong opposition from “groups I support and care about” who, he said, “fear it sends the wrong message”.

      House bill 621 had ignited a firestorm of indignation from conservationists but also from hunters and fishermen, who contribute to the $646bn generated by outdoor recreation across the US each year.

      “Once that bill was introduced, the hornet’s nest was kicked,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a group that supported public land rallies in opposition. “What happened last week was just a small fraction of the ire the sportsman community has been feeling.”

    • Army Corp of Engineers Now Accepting Public Comment on the Dakota Access Pipeline
    • An Earth Day protest: The March for Science is set for April 22

      The original Earth Day is seen by many as a turning point in the environmental movement. The year itself also marks a major turning point for the U.S. government and environmental policy. In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Environmental Protection Agency into existence and it began operating that December.

    • House votes to repeal anti-corruption law for oil companies abroad

      Lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted 235-187 on Wednesday to repeal an anti-corruption rule included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, as regulations on industry come into Republican crosshairs.

      The Cardin-Lugar amendment required oil, gas, and mining companies to publicly disclose all payments made to the governments of foreign countries where they operate. Subject to disclosure are taxes, royalties, licensing fees, and a wide range of other project-level payments.

      The push to repeal seems to reflect the Republican Party’s shift away from expansive foreign-policy idealism and toward a business-first approach. And it highlights the United States’ retreat from the forefront of international transparency efforts, amid extractive-industry legal challenges that delayed the amendment’s finalization until 2015.

    • Iceberg lettuces and broccoli rationed as vegetable crisis hits supermarkets

      Some supermarkets are rationing the number of iceberg lettuce and broccoli customers can buy – blaming poor growing conditions in southern Europe for a shortage in UK stores.

      Tesco is limiting shoppers to three iceberg lettuces, as bad weather in Spain caused “availability issues”.

      Morrisons has a limit of two icebergs to stop “bulk buying”, and is limiting broccoli to three heads per visit.

      Prices have also risen, with Lidl’s iceberg lettuce up to £1.19 from 42p.

    • Trump administration’s threatened censorship of climate change research would set back science, harm jobs: John Brogan (Opinion)

      One of the bedrocks of modern culture and technological growth is the scientific method. The open transfer of peer-reviewed publications across the world leads to innovation in post-industrial and developing countries, thus increasing public awareness outside of political and partisan ideology.

      However, Doug Ericksen, communications director for President Donald Trump’s 2017 transition team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recently stated to the Associated Press that the new administration would mandate some existing scientific literature on the EPA’s website undergo review by political appointees before being released to the public.

      Although an EPA worker later reported to E&E News that they’ve since been told to stand down on the order — the climate-change research described by Ericksen to be put on “temporary hold” is still available online — the proposition from Ericksen and the new administration has brought up concerns in the scientific community. Many data specialists even downloaded the research files to independently preserve their contents.

  • Finance

    • Benefit cut may leave disabled claimants unable to meet basic costs, MPs warn

      The report also noted, that at current employment levels, halving the “disability employment gap” would require an extra 1.2 million to 1.5 million disabled people to find work.

    • Adobe blames Brexit as users rage over Creative Cloud price hikes

      ADOBE HAS become the latest company to hike its prices in the wake of Brexit (it says).

      The company sent out an email to Creative Cloud subscribers explaining: “Currency exchange rates have fluctuated significantly over the last few years.

      “Like many US-based global companies, Adobe is making pricing adjustments to offset fluctuations in foreign exchange rate. A number of markets have been impacted including Brazil, UK and Sweden. Existing customers will receive information about their subscription pricing directly from Adobe.

    • Snapchat files for a $3 billion IPO

      Five years after the launch of Snapchat, Snap is planning to go public. The company filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange today, picking the ticker symbol “SNAP.” The company hopes to raise $3 billion and says it has 158 million daily active users. The IPO would reportedly value the company above $20 billion.

      The filing comes at an exciting but challenging time for Snap. The company — originally named Snapchat — has declared its intentions to become “a camera company,” rather than just an app developer. And it’s already found some success with Spectacles, its fun pair of video-recording sunglasses.

    • Trump adviser Gary Cohn’s $285 million Goldman Sachs exit raises eyebrows

      Goldman’s willingness to give Cohn a chunk of that fortune ahead of schedule is causing unease among ethics experts, who say the huge payout will make him beholden to the Wall Street firm he worked at for 25 years. They say that Cohn should have to recuse himself from Trump administration matters linked to his former firm.

      CNNMoney reported earlier this week that Goldman Sachs said Cohn was leaving with more than $100 million. A separate filing by Cohn himself shows that he’s actually leaving with around $285 million.

      Goldman Sachs (GS) is immediately paying Cohn $65 million in cash in exchange for the stock awards he earned in recent years, the company said in a filing.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • EU leaders demand rejection of Trump’s likely ambassador pick

      The European parliament’s main political parties have made an unprecedented call for Donald Trump’s likely choice as ambassador to the EU be blocked from EU buildings.

      In a move that threatens a major diplomatic row, the leaders of the conservative and liberal groups in Brussels have written to the European commission and the European council, whose members comprise the 28 EU states, to reject the appointment of Ted Malloch. It is understood that the socialist group is also sending a letter, but a spokesman declined to comment.

      Malloch, a businessman who stridently supported Brexit ahead of the vote in June, is said to have been interviewed for the post by Trump.

      When recently asked by the BBC why he was interested in moving to Brussels, Malloch replied: “I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming.”

    • Prince Charles issues veiled warning over Donald Trump and return to ‘dark days of 1930s’

      Prince Charles has issued a warning over the “rise of populism” in a veiled apparent reference to the election of Donald Trump and increasingly hostile attitudes towards refugees in Europe.

      The Prince of Wales said there were “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s”, adding that “evil” religious persecution was taking place across the globe.

      The “suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land,” he said in the pre-recorded message for BBC Radio 4′s Thought For The Day.

    • The Nervous Civil Servant’s Guide to Defying an Illegal Order

      Imagine you’re a midlevel staffer in a federal department—any federal department. You come into work one morning in your drab Washington office and learn that President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that directly affects your job. Reading the order, you realize that to fulfill it, you’d need to act in a way you’re not comfortable with. In fact, the thing Trump’s asking you to do might be illegal. What now?

      Perhaps your first worried thought is of Sally Yates. When Yates announced Monday that (for “as long as I am the Acting Attorney General”) she would not defend President Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, she was fired, of course. Yates wasn’t simply refusing to execute a policy she found unwise. She was refusing to execute one that is probably illegal, just as she assured none other than Sen. Jeff Sessions she’d do during her 2015 confirmation hearings.

    • Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump

      Federal employees worried that President Donald Trump will gut their agencies are creating new email addresses, signing up for encrypted messaging apps and looking for other, protected ways to push back against the new administration’s agenda.

      Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.

    • Commentary: Trump’s visa ban isn’t as new as you think

      For those who say “This is not who we are,” look again. Sadly, it’s who we’ve always been.

      President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travelers and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries is only the latest twist of dark threads that have long been present in America. The executive order is not unprecedented. It is evolutionary.

      The countries affected by Trump’s executive order – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – have been singled out under American immigration law since the days following 9/11.

    • America’s Leading Authoritarian Intellectual Is Working for Trump

      The most intellectually important essay of the 2016 election cycle, and possibly of the whole political era that has begun, is “The Flight 93 Election.” Its previously anonymous author turns out to be former Bush administration speechwriter Michael Anton, reports Michael Warren. Anton is now working as a senior national security official in the Trump administration. Anton’s role in the administration lends his signature essay all the more importance as a statement of Trumpism. The essay has many interesting aspects, which made it the subject of fervent debate during the election. But its most notable characteristic is its almost textbook justification for authoritarianism.

      The premise of democracy is that — unlike dictatorships, in which the winning side gains total and essentially permanent power — the losers can accept defeat, because they know they have a chance to win subsequent elections. Without that predicate in place, the system collapses. Anton’s essay makes the case that conservatives should support Trump because, despite his manifest flaws, they cannot survive a single election defeat.

    • Calm Down, Trump Did Not Just Relax Russia Sanctions

      For sanctions-watchers, the familiar rhythm of responding to new general licenses issued by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is typically uneventful. You receive an email from OFAC announcing the measure, you momentarily consider its impact, and then return to whatever you were doing before. The era of Donald Trump, however, has injected “observe Twitter have a complete meltdown” into the cycle. I admire the passion and welcome new devotees to the exciting world of sanctions, but for today, a deep breath is required.

    • #DeleteUber: company automates account removal due to demand

      So many people have been deleting their Uber accounts, the company has set up an automated process.

      #DeleteUber was trending for much of the weekend after Uber lifted surge pricing around John F Kennedy airport during protests about Trump’s ban on migration from seven Islamic nations. Whether Uber was actively attempting to counter the strike is a matter of dispute – the company ended its “surge pricing” shortly after the end of the protest – but its actions, combined with a number of other aspects of perceived support for Trump including chief executive Travis Kalanick’s membership of a presidential advisory board, proved the final straw for many.

    • Uber CEO steps down from Trump advisory council after users boycott

      Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is stepping down from Donald Trump’s economic advisory council following intense criticism and an online boycott of the company over its ties to the new administration, the company confirmed Thursday.

    • Uber C.E.O. to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism

      Travis Kalanick needed everyone to take a deep breath.

      The chief executive of Uber was holding a regularly scheduled all-hands meeting on Tuesday at the ride-hailing company’s San Francisco headquarters when he faced an onslaught of questions from upset employees.

      Uber was under attack — unfairly, many staff members believed — after people accused the company of seeking to profit from giving rides to airport customers in New York during weekend protests against President Trump’s immigration order.

      But there was another matter disturbing the employees: Mr. Kalanick himself. He had joined Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council in December. After the immigration order against refugees and seven Muslim-majority countries, many staff members wondered why Mr. Kalanick was still willing to advise the president.

    • Elon Musk explains why he won’t quit Donald Trump’s advisory council

      On the same day that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has justified his presence at its meetings. In a statement, Musk said that his attendance does not mean that he agrees with the current administration’s actions and that he understood objections to his presence, but that he believed “at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.”

      The Tesla boss still plans to attend the next meeting of the advisory board, where he says he — and others — will “express objections to the recent executive order on immigration.” Earlier this week, Musk said that refugees “don’t deserve to be rejected.” But rather than condemn the president’s recent executive order outright as some of his peers did, Musk turned to Twitter to crowdsource potential amendments, arguing that while there was no possibility Trump would rescind the order, he could be convinced to tweak it.

    • DeVos poised to take step toward Trump Cabinet

      The Senate will vote at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s controversial pick to serve as secretary of Education.

      The unusual Friday morning vote will set up a final vote on DeVos for Monday or Tuesday where Vice President Pence may have to cast the deciding vote.

      Defections by two GOP senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have given the GOP zero margin for error.

      But it does not appear that opponents of DeVos have succeeded in picking off another GOP vote.

    • Charter advocate: DeVos ‘unprepared and unqualified’

      Billionaire charter school advocate Eli Broad sent a letter to Senate leaders on Wednesday calling for them to oppose President Donald Trump’s choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.
      In the letter written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Broad said he watched DeVos’ confirmation hearing with “dismay” and listed several of his top concerns with her nomination.

    • Trump hints at cutting federal funds to UC Berkeley after violent protests over Milo Yiannopoulos

      A speech by conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled at UC Berkeley on Wednesday amid violent protests that prompted President Trump to suggest cutting federal funding to the university.

      “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” Trump wrote on Twitter.

    • Dr. Seuss’s political cartoons re-emerge amid criticism of Donald Trump

      Little-known editorial cartoons by Dr. Seuss re-emerged online this past week, as critics of President Donald Trump’s order on immigration and refugees drew parallels between the beloved children’s author’s warnings and America’s current political climate.

      The cartoon most spread across social media depicts a woman reading a story about “Adolf the Wolf” to two children, all three drawn in the author’s unmistakable style.

    • Trump to delay rule requiring retirement advisers to avoid conflicts: official

      U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday will direct the Labor Department to delay implementation and review a rule designed to prevent conflicts of interest when advisers give retirement advice, a senior White House official said.

      “We think that they have exceeded their authority with this rule and we think this is something that is completely overreaching,” the official told reporters at a briefing on Thursday.

      Trump has pledged to sharply reduce U.S. regulations, which he says have harmed American businesses.

    • What will Trump want from Canada on NAFTA? A U.S. document may offer clues

      Wondering what the Americans might want from Canada in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement? Multiple clues might be embedded in a document published by the U.S. government.

      The U.S. publishes an annual list of complaints about trade practices in other countries.

      This list was cited in a policy paper written for the Trump campaign by Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro — both of whom now have senior administration roles.

    • Canada And NAFTA

      I’m all for Canada being able to supply its own food, which is the nominal intent of this policy, but it’s out of control. The other demands expected from Trump of Canada are generally inoffensive, reflecting new technology like “cloud”, except that Trump will likely insist on the right to spy on the Canadian government… which should be open anyway as we taxpayers aren’t getting enough GNU/Linux and openness as it is. Perhaps there will be some good come out of Trumpism after all, but I doubt it will balance out.

    • Poll: 4 in 10 support impeaching Trump

      Forty percent of registered voters support impeaching President Trump, according to a poll released Thursday from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP).

      Nearly half of voters, 48 percent, are opposed to impeaching Trump, and 12 percent remain unsure, according to the poll.

      Pollsters also found that a majority of voters, 52 percent, would prefer former President Obama in his old role rather than Trump; 43 percent prefer Trump, and 5 percent are uncertain.

      “Usually a newly elected president is at the peak of their popularity and enjoying their honeymoon after taking office,” PPP President Dean Debnam said in a statement.

    • Denmark Says Tech Giants Affect It More Than Entire Countries, Decides To Appoint Official ‘Digital Ambassador’ To Them

      There’s a certain logic there, but it does set a worrying precedent. If there’s an official digital ambassador, why not have an energy ambassador for the giant oil and gas companies, and a drug ambassador for Big Pharma? And won’t that kind of political apparatus provide yet more ways for already influential companies to bend and shape government policy in a country — tipping the balance against ordinary people even further?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Amos Yee won’t be affected by Trump’s executive order barring refugees

      Amos Yee, the 18-year-old teenager who ran away from Singapore to seek political asylum in the United States, will remain largely unaffected by President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders aimed at temporarily barring refugees and increased detention for asylum seekers.

      According to The Straits Times, Yee’s lawyer, Sandra Grossman, said Trump’s executive order would at most indirectly affect the Singaporean’s asylum-seeking bid.

      The South China Morning Post reported that Yee’s asylum bid could be “encumbered” by Trump’s immigration order.

    • Bad Idea Or The Worst Idea? Having The FTC Regulate ‘Fake News’

      Over the last few months, we’ve talked about the weird obsession some people upset by the results of the election have had with the concept of “fake news.” We warned that focusing on “fake news” as a problem was not just silly and pointless, but that it would quickly morph into calls for censorship. And, even worse, that censorship power would be in the hands of whoever got to define what “fake news” was. Thus, it was little surprise to see China and Iran quickly start using “fake news” as an excuse to crack down on dissent online.

      And, of course, just recently a pretty thorough study pointed out that “fake news” didn’t impact the election. It turns out that — just as we said — fake news didn’t really change anyone’s mind. It just served as confirmation bias.

      Either way, there are still a bunch of people who are really focused on this idea of “fake news” and how it must be stopped. The latest to step in with a suggestion is MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent Ari Melber, who is suggesting that “fake news” can be regulated by the FTC in the same way that it goes after fraudulent advertisers who put up “fake” websites pretending to be impartial news sites talking up the wonders of acai berries or whatever. To be fair to Melber, his suggestion is carefully framed and includes many of the important caveats. This isn’t a piece that’s filled with the “you can’t yell fire” kind of tropes, but it’s still problematic.

    • Bill protecting student journalists from censorship advances

      A Senate panel voted Thursday to give student newspapers new freedom from censorship by school administrators.

      SB 1384 specifically declares that student editors — and not administrators — “are responsible for determining the content of school-sponsored media.” More to the point, the legislation would prevent administrators from censoring publications and preventing publication except under four narrow circumstances.

      The unanimous approval by the Education Committee came after a parade of student editors and advisers told lawmakers of situations where administrators had stepped in to block stories or cartoons.

    • A Pirate Podcast App Takes on Iran’s Hardline Censors

      Reza Ghazinouri remembers the importance of pirate radio as a teenager growing up in in the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran. His father tuned in multiple times a day to the banned Farsi version of the BBC transmitted from neighboring countries, to hear the truth about Iranian political scandals like the impeachment of the country’s liberal minister of culture, and the shutdown of dozens of its newspapers. While Ghazinouri studied for his college entrance exams in 2003, he’d listen to the US government-funded Radio Farda coverage of student protests against university privatization. “I still remember those programs so clearly,” Ghazinouri says, “Every night I’d imagine myself protesting like the students.”

    • The Artist Son of Angola’s President Talks Style and Censorship in Today’s Angola

      This is how the documentary Bangalogia from Angolan artist and director Coréon Dú starts. While it might seem like a harsh place to begin a film, the rest of the documentary does a rather convincing job of explaining why Angolan vanity is, in fact, something to celebrate.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • A Good American documentary review: 9/11 didn’t have to happen

      Because there’s always room for more outrage, herewith A Good American, an absolutely infuriating documentarytweet about how 9/11 could have been stopped by intelligence software the National Security Agency had in its hands but didn’t use because of “corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse” within the agency, as a lawsuit brought by its inventor alleges.

    • A Good American: a documentary about Bill Binney, an NSA whistleblower who says 9/11 could have been prevented

      Bill Binney resigned from the NSA in October 2001, after 30 years with the agency where he was viewed as one of their best analysts: he quit because he believed that Bush-appointed leaders in the Agency had chosen to respond to the challenge of electronic communications by building out illegal, indiscriminate mass-surveillance programs that left the country vulnerable to terrorists while diverting billions to private contractors with political connections.

    • Undermining Encryption Not an Option, House Judiciary Chair Pledges

      The House Judiciary Committee wants to help police track terrorists and criminals who hide using encrypted communication tools this Congress, but undermining encryption is a nonstarter, Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said Wednesday.

      A bipartisan joint report from the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce committees in December urged against any legislative effort to weaken the encryption that protects internet activity from prying eyes but endorsed various workarounds to help the FBI and police officers track terrorists and criminals.

    • Britain at risk of cyber attacks due to lack of skilled staff and ‘chaotic’ management

      The Public Accounts Committee said ministers must “raise their game” to ensure Britain’s infrastructure could withstand a “high level cyber attack”.

    • UK should use ‘muscular diplomacy’ to counter cyber threat, ex-GCHQ man says

      Britain is “particularly vulnerable” to cyber attacks from states like Russia which do not operate under the same legal standards, a former GCHQ deputy director of intelligence and cyber operations has warned.

    • GCHQ cyber-chief slams security outfits peddling ‘medieval witchcraft’

      The chief technical director of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre has rebuked infosec companies for spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about hackers to sell products.

      At the Enigma 2017 conference this week, Dr Ian Levy said world-plus-dog were trying to flog security defenses to tackle “advanced persistent threats,” usually using photos of hoodie-cloaked blokes poised over a keyboard with Matrix-style green lettering in the background. But such figures – seen as untouchable, unbeatable, and untraceable – are chimeras, and it’s just “adequate pernicious toe-rags” who are doing the hacking, he argued.

    • How Facebook Is Getting Better at Recognizing Your Photos

      Facebook has long been able to recognize the people in your photos and sort images by where they were taken. But it hasn’t been as precise at understanding what’s actually happening in a photo. That’s now beginning to change, thanks to new developments in the Menlo Park, Calif.’s artificial intelligence software.

      Facebook says the new tech will improve its user experience in two ways. First, it’ll make it possible to search Facebook for photos based on what’s in them, rather than just by date taken, tags, or location. If you’re trying to find a photo of a paella dish you cooked last year, for example, you’ll be able to simply type “paella” in the Facebook search bar. This, Facebook hopes, will help its users quickly find images without having to remember when they were taken or how they were tagged.

    • All new Thai SIMs will require fingerprint registration from March

      It has been confirmed that Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) – who merely lease connectivity from infrastructure providers – will not be exempted from new legislation in Thailand which requires that a fingerprint be associated with all mobile SIMs distributed in the nation from March this year.

      In November the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) announced the mandate, outlining February 2017 as the deadline for operators to facilitate the ID registration scheme, which was ostensibly created to prevent online fraud and increase security in mobile banking.

      MNVOs had appealed for exemption due to the additional operating costs, on top of line lease tariffs. But NBTC Secretary General Takorn Tantasith is reported to have turned the request down, stating that consumer interests must be prioritised. “Any violation will face penalties ranging from a fine, to a ban on receiving new mobile numbers from the regulator, to a licence revocation.”

    • [Older] Companies are making billions off your medical data — and you won’t get a cent of it

      Doctor-patient confidentiality: This central tenet of health care in the United States may make you think your private medical details — from that weird mole to that laxative prescription to that test result — are just that. Private.

      But you would be wrong.

      Americans’ medical data are regularly sold — often without the knowledge of patients. It’s part of a trade worth billions of dollars.

      And even though your details are supposed to be anonymous, businesses actually have easy ways of finding more identifying information of yours.

    • Data from man’s pacemaker led to arson charges

      Investigators used the data from a Middletown man’s pacemaker to help get an indictment in a fire that caused about $400,000 in damages.

      Ross Compton, 59, has been indicted on felony charges of aggravated arson and insurance fraud for allegedly starting the fire on Sept. 19 at his Court Donegal house.

    • Cops use pacemaker data to charge homeowner with arson, insurance fraud

      If you are dependent upon an embedded medical device, should the device that helps keep you alive also be allowed to incriminate you in a crime? After all, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects a person from being forced to incriminate themselves.

      Nonetheless, that’s what happened after a house fire in Middletown, Ohio.

      WCPO Cincinnati caught video of the actual fire, as well delivered news that the owner’s cat died in the fire. As a pet owner, it would be hard to believe that a person would set a fire and leave their pet to die in that fire. The fire in question occurred back in September 2016; the fire department was just starting an investigation to determine the cause of the blaze.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Finland Amazed at How Many ‘Refugee Children’ Are in Fact Adults

      Finland, which in recent years received a fair share of asylum seekers, is increasingly questioning the applicants’ age. According to preliminary estimates, two thirds of asylum seekers posing as children are in fact adults.

    • Zimbabwe pastor behind protests faces 20 years in prison

      The Zimbabwe pastor who fled to the United States after launching the popular #ThisFlag protest movement faces up to 20 years in prison for organizing protests against President Robert Mugabe in New York.

      Evan Mawarire was arrested at Harare International Airport on his return home Wednesday. He is yet to appear in court.

      Mawarire has been charged with subverting a constitutionally elected government, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

    • Kellyanne Conway blames refugees for ‘Bowling Green massacre’ that never happened

      Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Donald Trump, has come in for criticism and ridicule after blaming two Iraqi refugees for a massacre that never happened.

      Conway, the US president’s former campaign manager who has frequently faced the press to defend his controversial moves, cited the fictional “Bowling Green massacre” in an interview in which she backed the travel ban imposed on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.

    • Kellyanne Conway made up a fake terrorist attack to justify Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’

      In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that aired on Thursday night, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway managed to get two huge things wrong in a short, 19-second answer. First, she said that the Obama administration banned Iraqi refugees from entering in the United States for six months in 2011 — which is flatly untrue.

    • Former NSA/CIA director: Trump’s travel ban an ‘abomination’

      The former head of the NSA and CIA says an executive order on immigration signed by President Donald Trump last week is “an abomination,” and it won’t make America or its allies any safer.

      Gen. Michael Hayden, in Ottawa on Thursday for a conference at Carleton University, sat down with Global News’s Vassy Kapelos to discuss the new Trump administration and what it might mean for the world. Hayden was one of the most prominent critics of Trump’s run for the presidency.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • [Older] Net neutrality: A top target for Trump’s FCC?

      Add internet access to the list of issues that the Trump administration wants to handle differently.

      On Friday, Politico, Bloomberg, and other news outlets quoted unnamed industry sources saying that President Trump has selected Ajit Pai to chair the Federal Communications Commission. No official announcement has come yet. But Mr. Pai, who previously served on the FCC’s five-member board after stints at Verizon and the Justice Department, is a vocal critic of the agency’s current “net neutrality” policy.

      “Net neutrality, or an open Internet, is the concept that ISPs [internet service providers] should give consumers equal access to all legal content and applications. That means ISPs could not favor or block some content-makers or charge them to provide faster delivery of their content, in what are known as ‘fast lanes.’” When The Christian Science Monitor’s Cristina Maza explained net neutrality in February 2015, the FCC had just adopted the policy, with support from consumer groups, internet firms such as Google and Netflix, and the Obama administration.

    • AT&T’s Downright Giddy About Weaker FCC Oversight And The Looming Death Of Net Neutrality

      AT&T’s a master in promising broadband deployment it never actually delivers in exchange for regulatory favors and government handouts, and has been doing it for decades without much fact-checking from the media. AT&T’s also incredibly good at bullshitting the press and public into falsely believing that massive telecom megamergers actually create jobs, despite thirty years of documentable history proving the exact opposite.

      So despite Trump’s campaign-trail promise to block AT&T’s latest megamerger (largely believed to be little more than pouting over negative CNN coverage), there’s an incredible opportunity here to field a merger sales pitch bullshit supernova — the scope and scale of which we’ve never seen before.

    • How Comcast’s Growing Broadband Monopoly Is Helping It Temporarily Fend Off The TV Cord Cutting Threat

      Except it’s not cable box innovation that’s helping Comcast fend off cord cutting, it’s the company’s growing monopoly over the broadband last mile.

      In countless markets Comcast competes solely with AT&T and Verizon, who have made it abundantly clear they’re no longer interested in the fixed-line residential broadband business. Both companies have made slinging ads and content at Millennials their primary focus, as evident by Verizon’s acquisition of AOL and Yahoo and focus on creative new snoopvertising technologies. As a result, these telcos are quite literally trying to drive many of these customers away with a combination of apathy and price hikes. If these users want broadband connections any faster than 3-6 Mbps, their only option is, increasingly, Comcast.

      When these users arrive at the nation’s biggest cable giant, they discover that signing up for TV and broadband is notably cheaper than just signing up for broadband alone. The problem is: while many have claimed that Comcast’s “bucking cord cutting,” there’s no evidence that many of these users are even watching the cable connections they pay for, nor that they’ll stick around as a traditional television viewer long term. Many just signed up because having television was actually less expensive than getting rid of it.

      But should they try and get rid of it Comcast’s got that angle covered too: the company’s growing monopoly means less broadband competition than ever in many of its markets, allowing it to impose draconian and unnecessary usage caps on the company’s customers. Caps that apply to competing streaming services, but not Comcast’s own content. All told, between bundling and usage caps, Comcast’s broadband monopoly means it simply doesn’t feel the pain a company would feel in the face of real competition, which is why it has little to no incentive to fix its historically bad customer service.

  • DRM

    • The Codification Of Web DRM As A Censorship Tool

      The ongoing fight at the W3C over Encrypted Media Extensions — the HTML5 DRM scheme that several companies want ensconced in web standards — took two worrying turns recently. Firstly, Google slipped an important change into the latest Chrome update that removed the ability to disable its implementation of EME, further neutering the weak argument of supporters that the DRM is optional.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WIPO Report Recommends More “Cooperation” Under Patent Cooperation Treaty [Ed: Villainous body - which attacks own staff and drives it to suicide - speaks of "Cooperation"]

      As it published the three-millionth international patent application under its Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) on 2 February, the World Intellectual Property Office suggested that there may be ways to improve the system in the future.

    • Medicines Issued From EU-Funded Research Should Be Widely Accessible, Groups Say

      Health advocacy groups called on the European Commission yesterday to change the way it funds research and development for new medicines so that innovations can serve a larger public.

      The call from eight civil society groups comes following the Commission’s public consultation for the mid-term review of the European Union’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020 (H2020), which administers a funding pool of nearly €80 billion, according to a press release.

      The groups co-authored a submission to the H2020 consultations with several recommendations. The submission was endorsed by another 16 groups.

    • Trademarks

      • Nine Years Later, Patriots Get ’19-0′ And ‘Perfect Season’ Trademarks, Despite Doing Neither

        Nine years ago we had a post about some of the ridiculousness surrounding trademarks and the Super Bowl (a popular topic this time of year). In particular, we mocked the fact that the New England Patriots had filed for some trademarks in the week before the Super Bowl. Then, as now, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, but that year they had done it with a perfect record, winning all 16 games in the regular season and the first two playoff games to go 18-0. They were heavily favored to win the Super Bowl, and had filed for trademarks on both “Perfect Season” and “19-0.” Of course, the NY Giants came away with quite the upset and sent the Patriots home as losers. Given that, we were kind of surprised a few months later to discover that the Patriots were still seeking the trademark on “19-0,” despite the fact that its actual record for the season was a demoralizing 18-1.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Party’s Pirate Site Was Legal Under EU Law, Court Rules

        Six years ago the Czech branch of the Pirate Party declared open war on a local anti-piracy outfit, opening several ‘pirate’ sites to draw fire from copyright holders. But, after being prosecuted in a criminal court last year, the matter has now been dropped after it was deemed the Pirates acted in accordance with a recent landmark EU ruling.

      • US and KickassTorrents Go Head to Head in Court

        The US Department of Justice and the legal team of alleged KickassTorrents owner Artem Vaulin went head to head in court this week. Defense lawyer Ira Rothken asked the court to drop the case as there’s no proof of actual criminal copyright infringement. The US prosecutor disagreed, describing the site as a piracy haven that made millions of dollars per year.

      • Sorry, gamers. You can’t copyright your face.

        Ready to go toe-to-toe against the likes of Steph Curry or LeBron James? You could with Take-Two Interactive’s MyPlayer feature of its NBA 2K15 and NBA 2K16 games, which — through the magic of facial scanning — puts your face on one of the virtual players. But if you’re worried about how Take-Two will store and use your biometric data, you might want to think twice about the feature.

      • Court Tosses Lawsuit Brought By Brother And Sister Against Take-Two Interactive Over NBA2K Face Scans

        It’s that face-scanning feature that was the subject of an attempted lawsuit by a brother and sister in Illinois, however, who argued that Take-Two was violating the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, which seeks to ensure that businesses that store biometric data for their customers are protecting that data and not using it in ways the customer had never intended. The idea is that if your bank requires a fingerprint to access your account, and either loses that data to theft or uses that data for some other purpose, the public can get monetary and injunctive relief from the court. To do so, however, the plaintiff must suffer actual harm from a violation of BIPA.

Why Randall Rader Must Never Be Inside the USPTO, Let Alone the Patent Profession

Posted in America, Patents at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This guy is “the swamp”

Randall R. Rader
Photo from Reuters

Summary: IAM ‘magazine’ helps promote a patent maximalist with scandals piled up around him in an attempt to propels him to a top USPTO position

AT the beginning of this year rumours began circulating that Rader was pursing (or being approached for) the Patent Office Director position. We have since then been writing about it and saw IAM promoting the lunacy. Rader’s positions are bad on numerous fronts (he even defends/excuses patent trolls) and he brought nothing but disgrace to CAFC, which has (since his departure) finally cracked down on software patents. The patent microcosm has been busy attacking the current Director of the USPTO, Michelle Lee ([1, 2, 3, 4], and as one can expect IAM is promoting Rader, even though “he is a patent maximalist,” as Benjamin Henrion told IAM after IAM had said: “I want the USPTO Director job ex-CAFC chief judge Rader tells IAM. But Big Tech will not be keen for him to get it.”

Rader’s history is worse than dubious. He’s basically another Trump. IAM, being the patent maximalists’ voice, is doing some marketing for Rader today and it looks like a coordinated effort. To quote:

Randall Rader, the outspoken former chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, has confirmed that he remains a candidate for the position of Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office in the new Trump administration, and that he has “the energy, experience, and ability to “make patents great again” as part of the campaign to “make America great again.””

In an email to IAM, Rader stated: “Few understand the international IP market as I do and can pursue the goal of protecting US IP worldwide. Few understand the inner workings of the USPTO as I do and understand ways to increase its efficiency and productivity.”

Shame that Rader doesn’t realise what people think of IAM. Or maybe he knows but couldn’t care less.

According to this new article from Patently-O, Rader’s legacy includes this:

Early damages contentions has been pushed by former Chief Judge Rader for several years, with the intent of ensuring proportionality in litigation. The basic idea is that cases worth lots of money justify more ‘lawyering’ and thus may be tied to reasonable attorney fees collected in exceptional cases. The German approach is something like this. Of course US legal tradition does not require defendants (or plaintiffs) to settle cases and traditionally does not penalize them even when the lawyer fees exceed any expected payout.

This is litigation based on one’s depth of pockets. In other words, this is the kind of “swamp” behaviour Trump has become so (in)famous for. This is the kind of thing IAM wants to impose on the world, or on the world’s (almost) largest economy? What does that say about IAM?

Team UPC Continues to be a Premier Source of Fake News About Unitary Patent in the United Kingdom

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows LLP is just one of many in Team UPC, which has become like a cult

Keltie Fake News
Kat-lie or Kel-tie?

Summary: The peddling of lies regarding the prospects of the UPC, or the dissemination of “inevitability” claims (self-fulfilling prophecies tactic), cannot withstand scrutiny, as people who don’t lie for a living rightly point out

THE EPO we’re already accustomed to hear nothing but lies from; but a growing number of law firms, including some that are based in London, tarnish their reputation by making false predictions that are politically and financially (self gain) motivated. These false predictions — if not outright lies and blatant falsehoods — can cost their clients dearly, as these clients are being fooled if not lied to, e.g. regarding the 'benefits' of UPC to SMEs.

One source of rebuttal to these lies has been Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, a Certified Specialist for Intellectual Property Law in Düsseldorf. Florian Müller has just amended his article to say: “The author of this guest post has now published a new article on the recent political statements as regards a ratification of the UPCA in the United Kingdom and their legal implications.” In Twitter he called it out as well, as follows: “just added a small update at the end of the recent guest post on Europe’s Unified Patent court…”

This is about the UPC in the UK — merely a hypothetical/theoretical idea that is extremely unlikely to ever materialise. But if one listens to CIPA, a bunch of lobbyists (front group) for the patent microcosm in the UK, fake news are abundant.

This tweet from CIPA says: “Kevin Mooney tells our UPC Seminar the process will be smoother if the UK can ratify the Court Agreement before the Govt triggers Article 50″

Another says: “Kevin Mooney on the question: Can UK stay in UPC post-Brexit? Refers to Gordon/Pascoe opinion that there’s no legal/constitutional barrier”

They are merely expressing their wishes rather than what will actually happen. And law firms from the UK nonetheless repeat this nonsense as though it is fact. “According to Kevin Mooney at @TheCIPA meeting on Tuesday,” one of them wrote, “UK may be aiming to ratify UPC before Article 50 is triggered. #UPC #Brexit”

“That means by 9th March,” IAM added (IAM, for those who forgot or don’t know, was paid by the EPO’s PR agency to help set up pro-UPC events, supported explicitly by the EPO).

“UPC Agreement to be ratified in UK before Art. 50 is triggered,” one person told us “i.e. until early March…”

“New assessment regarding the intended UK ratification,” told us this person, was published this week with an English version [PDF] and the following summary in English (it’s also available in German). To quote:

The British ratification paradox,

Article on the recent political statements as regards a ratification of the UPCA in the United Kingdom and their legal implications (02/02/2017)

Most recently, statements with relevance for the ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (“UPCA”) made by members of the British government caused astonishment. While the new British Minister of State for Intellectual Property, Joseph Johnson, underlined the ratification intent, Prime Minister Theresa May shortly afterwards, in her speech on the “Brexit” negotiations, defined a number of objectives which appear hardly reconcilable with such ratification. In this context, it is also of interest that, contrary to the political guidelines set by the previous Prime Minister Cameron and against the broad opposition of the professional circles, the CJEU can be expected to have gained an interpretation competence also in relation to material questions of unitary patent protection, as a consequence of the compromise in the dispute on former Art. 6 to 8 of the “unitary patent” Regulation. The following article describes the statements and their legal implications in more detail.

How long will people be gamed and manipulated by Team UPC with its fantasies? This isn’t the first time that the above author contradicts these false predictions and here is a new comment from IP Kat (“bye bye UK participation in the UPC”):

The Brexit White Paper makes an interesting read:
“We will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the CJEU in the UK”.

So bye bye UK participation in the UPC, then? Or might this not quite mean what it says? The subsequent sentence perhaps gives a clue.

“We will of course continue to honour our international commitments and follow international law”.

I guess that one could characterise the UPCA as “international law”, and so this perhaps leaves the government with some “wriggle room”. However, it will be interesting to see how (if at all) the government manages to “square the circle” where obeying international law (such as the UPCA) requires the CJEU to have jurisdiction in the UK.

Based upon my observations to date of UK politicians, I predict that the mutual incompatibility (with respect to e.g. the UPCA) between the two above-quoted statements will be handled in the usual manner. That is, the government won’t bother trying to explain itself. It will just be evasive and change the topic.

The same approach will be used to handle the question of how free trade with the EU can be achieved without submitting to common rules (and the jurisdiction of a court that interprets those rules)… especially as the proposed alternative (a dispute resolution mechanism that does not have direct effect in UK law) is very unlikely to be palatable to the other EU Member States.

We don’t expect the UPC to ever become a reality and as we wrote yesterday, neither do professionals in the area, based on a new poll/survey. We already wrote some long rebuttals to this a few months ago:

Remember that the person who promised ratification in the UK has since then been sacked or stepped down.

Weekend Talk in Brussels to Speak of “Open Patents”, Relevant to the EPO at Times of Growing Lenience on Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Frederik QuestierSummary: Professor Frederik Questier explains that “software patents are still a threat” and warns about patent trolls, like those with a history of operating in Belgium

ALMOST every year in Brussels (Belgium) there are some talks about patents at FOSDEM and this year is no exception. This time around there is the following talk, which covers (among other things) software patents. From the abstract:

Many people, also software developers, put their inventions or innovations on the ‘market’ without filing patents. For good reasons: the patent privileges to exclude others are not really compatible with freedoms and openness. However, to protect your freedom to operate, you need to avoid that others file a patent on your invention. Open Patents are a new way to do this.

Software patents are still a threat. When you publish your software code, a company or a patent troll might file a patent for the inventions in your code. The patent offices should not grant patents for existing knowledge (‘prior art’), but they will have a very hard time to find the ideas in your code. As such the troll might succeed in getting the patent, and might stop you and everyone else from further exploitation of your ideas.

People near Brussels can go to that talk on Sunday. The presentation starts at 10:20 and will be delivered by Professor Frederik Questier from the local university.

“This time around there is the following talk, which covers (among other things) software patents.”“Software patents are still a threat,” he wrote, and certainly they are now that Battistelli ignores the rules while pursing the UPC, which would bring patent trolls from abroad.

Incidentally, there are more articles emerging right now in light of a publication of a decision (G 1/15) from the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA or EBA).”I didn’t expect them to call it Tufty’s law (I didn’t call it that anyway),” said this comment, “but it’s nice to have been proven right. I’ve written a bit more about it here.”

Tufty’s blog post summarises the problem as follows: “The problem, put simply, is that if a European application claims an invention more broadly than is disclosed in a priority application, can partial priority be allowed for what is disclosed in the priority application. If not, then the priority application, if it also publishes as a European application, becomes A54(3) prior art and knocks out the claimed invention”

“Incidentally, there are more articles emerging right now in light of a publication of a decision (G 1/15) from the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA or EBA).”There is a discussion about the motivations of it. One person wrote: “I cannot but help feel that the EBA has decided what should be the “right” answer and crushed the meaning of the EPC to fit.”

Another said: “I would instead say the EBoA have purposively construed the EPC, having due regard for the intentions of those drafting it (FICPI memo etc).”

A later comment said: “Surely that is preferable to a literal interpretation that led to a ridiculous result? Laws should be fit for purpose, there is no point treating the EPC as an infallible text…”

“Are they following the EPC and the European Parliament or just “following orders” from a crooked tyrant like Battistelli?”“Shame they dodged the divisional question,” another one added. “What happens if priority is withdrawn for the parent case? Can the div be cited?”

As we have been arguing here for a long time, the loss of independence of the boards has made it even harder for them to combat software patents. I wrote to the Enlarged Board of Appeal in the past regarding the matter (they had asked for input) and now the subject is not even being brought up; not anymore. People who work for the EPO confess to us that they are against software patents but are still being compelled — under pressure — to grant them. Are they following the EPC and the European Parliament or just “following orders” from a crooked tyrant like Battistelli?

“Team Battistelli Continues With Intimidation Tactics”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The reckless attack on EPO staff continues, as yet another person in Rijswijk gets subjected to a ‘raid’ by the “gestapo” [1, 2] of Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić

SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, was recently weakened (resignations), Battistelli took further steps against it, and the press in Germany is conveniently not paying attention, quite frankly as usual. Battistelli’s guards and his goons were recently promoted and they seem to be emboldened by a Dutch court reaffirming that they are essentially above the law (not even rape or murder by EPO management seems likely to change that).

“One person in Rijswijk,” a source told us yesterday, “was removed from his office by the EPO’s Investigative Unit (IU). A group of several people, including members of HR, IU, security staff and others unexpectedly came to his office. Security staff then guided him off the EPO premises. His office was sealed, an investigation is running.”

We don’t know who their target was this time around, but these mortifying experiences, based on past stories, can result in severe consequences even when — and especially if — the target is innocent. Battistelli obviously wants a war on the unions and he wants to crush anything which he merely suspects can provoke dissent. He’s no better than Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; he just need a mustache added.

We’ve asked around for further information about it and were unable to find out much more at this point. “I do not hope that it is a SUEPO Committee Member,” one person told us, “as they risk a lot right know. Only a handful is left anyway.”

Staff in Munich has to some degree been ‘decapitated’ (not in the guillotines sense) and now Battistelli goes after the Dutch (even French staff), knowing that Dutch politicians are incapable of doing much. We recently wrote about this in the following articles:

We might soon find out more about the latest ‘case’ (union-busting effort a likely possibility) and we shall continue to protest against EPO management being above the law, breaking rules whenever it suits the thug, Battistelli.

Here is a new comment from IP Kat:

Flabbergasted and hugely disappointed (but, on reflection, not that surprised) by the Dutch decision.

What puzzles me, however, is the reasoning for dismissing SUEPO’s case:
“Insofar as VEOB et al. have based their claims in these proceedings on the right of collective negotiation, these fail because VEOB et al. – considering the reasoned challenge to these by EPOrg, partly on the basis of the legal precedents of ILOAT as cited in the court documents – have been unable to argue sufficiently that the staff representatives have inadequate possibilities to challenge that right with ILOAT”.

It is clear that the Dutch court has (conveniently!) overlooked ILO-AT’s judgement 1542, which stated that:
“a complaint is receivable only if it is about an individual official’s status as an employee of the organisation, not about the collective interests of trade unionists”.

This leaves a huge gap between the rights that should be afforded under Art. 11 ECHR and those that can properly be the subject of a complaint to ILO-AT. The Dutch court’s attempts to gloss over this point are particularly unconvincing… but not surprising given the interests of the Netherlands in not “rocking the boat” for the many international organisations that are located in that territory.

Next stop Strasbourg!

Well, Battistelli's right-hand man already face corruption indictments in Strasbourg. Maybe he and Battistelli can book plane tickets together, just as they recently did in their journey to Croatia, where Battistelli’s right-hand man faces many criminal charges.

The arguably criminal element that permeates and persists at the EPO does a huge disservice to the reputation of Europe, not just the EPO’s.

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