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02.15.17

Links 15/2/2017: Linux 4.9.10 and Linux 4.4.49

Posted in News Roundup at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 7 features Linux could borrow from other systems

    Linux (or, GNU/Linux, if you prefer) distributions are absolutely amazing—stable, fast, flexible. Your average Linux-based system is a veritable powerhouse of functionality—a tour de force of what computers can accomplish. But from time to time, other operating systems have some pretty great ideas. Here are seven of my personal favorites that Linux distributions might want to consider “borrowing.” Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.

  • Desktop

    • A musician’s transition from distro to distro

      I got news about Ubuntu Studio in 2007, and moved to it. As a musician and sound technician, I had used a digital Portastudio to record and mix because I enjoyed turning actual knobs when mixing. I used Ubuntu Studio for mastering in Audacity before I had the chance to upgrade all my studio equipment with a new laptop and sound card in 2010. I did a lot of research to get the best USB sound card and compatible laptop for recording. I was quite sad when I realized that even though it looked good on paper, everything didn’t quite work well in reality. I could only get the card work on 16 bit in Linux, but in Windows it would record with 24 bit and 96 KHz. I felt frustrated, I was back to a dual boot life.

      Then Ubuntu Studio 12.10 was released and my sound card and laptop finally played nicely together. What a joy! However, much had changed in my life with family and work, and I wouldn’t be doing much recording at home for quite some time. Instead I found out I could contribute to open source without being a programmer, which had never occurred to me before. Because I had so much joy and benefit from open source I wanted to give something back. I had participated in the Ubuntu Forums for a while and reached out to the Ubuntu Studio team.

      For a few years, I would contribute when I could with the little time I had available between family, work, sleep, and all the other things I wanted to dabble within the 24 hours available each day.

    • Why Munich should stick with Linux

      Once more, the drums are beating for Munich to turn its back on Linux and return to Windows. Oh please! Get a grip!

      A Munich administrative and personnel committee recommended an immediate start to the creation of a uniform, Windows 10-based client architecture that can be deployed across the council by the end of 2020.

    • Statement by The Document Foundation about the upcoming discussion at the City of Munich to step back to Windows and MS Office

      The Document Foundation is an independent, charitable entity and the home of LibreOffice. We have followed the developments in Munich with great concerns and like to express our disappointment to see a minority of politicians apparently ignoring the expert advice for which they’ve sought.

      Rumours of the City of Munich returning to Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office have been regularly leaking since the election of Mayor Dieter Reiter, who was described as a “Microsoft fan” when interviewed by StadtBild magazine in 2014.

      [...]

      In spite of the suggestions, on Wednesday, February 15, Munich City Council will discuss a proposal – filed by a minority of city councillors – to install Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 on all workstations by 2020. This would cost taxpayers close to 90 million euro over the next six years, with a 35% aggravation over the 66 million euro figure suggested by Accenture.

      [...]

      Based on the above considerations, The Document Foundation thinks that the proposal to be discussed on Wednesday, February 15, represents a significant step backwards for the City of Munich, with a substantial increase in expenditure, an unknown amount of hidden cost related to interoperability, and a questionable usage of taxpayers money.

    • TDF On Munich

      Beware politicians promising solutions to nonexistent problems. Read TDF’s post. Read the report from Accenture, M$’s “partner”. Even Accenture doesn’t believe the politicians’ solution. Monopoly is never the solution to diverse problems. Accenture advocates using web-applications. That provides independence from the OS and GNU/Linux would work for them. Sigh. Politics, the game that never ends.

    • Stay with Free Software, City of Munich!

      The city of Munich is currently considering a move away from Free Software back to Microsoft products. We consider this to be a mistake and urge the decision makers to reconsider.

      For many years now the City of Munich has been using a mix of software by KDE, LibreOffice and Ubuntu, among others. Mayor Dieter Reiter (a self-proclaimed Microsoft-fan who helped Microsoft move offices to Munich) asked Accenture (a Microsoft partner) to produce a report about the situation of the City of Munich’s IT infrastructure. That resulted in a 450-page document. This report is now being misused to push for a move away from Free Software. However the main issues listed in the report were identified to be organizational ones and not related to Free Software operating systems and applications.

      [...]

      The City of Munich has always been a poster child of Free Software in public administrations. It is a showcase of what can be done with Free Software in this setting. The step back by the City of Munich from Free Software would therefore not just be a blow for this particular deployment but also have more far-reaching effects into other similar deployments.

    • Munich’s great Linux desktop initiative may end [Ed: Misleading summary - if not altogether factually incorrect - from Microsoft Peter and now Andy Patrizio. Is Microsoft giving them marching orders? Longtime Microsoft propagandist Patrizio helps his bosses with Munich FUD.]
    • Munich May Ditch Linux Desktops For Windows [Ed: “End of an era,” it says. No. It’s not. It hasn’t even been decided yet. Old tactics again…]
    • Should you run Linux without a desktop environment?

      One of the best things about Linux is that there is a wide variety of desktop environments available to choose from for your computer. But not everybody uses a desktop environment like GNOME, Unity, etc. Some folks prefer to skip them entirely, for various reasons.

      A redditor recently asked about Linux users who skip desktop environments, and he got some interesting answers.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Lumina Adds Luster to Linux Desktop

      The Lumina Desktop Environment desktop is a standout in the crowded field of Linux graphical user interface choices.

      Lumina is a compact, lightweight, XDG-compliant graphical desktop environment developed from scratch. Its focus is on giving users a streamlined, efficient work environment with minimal system overhead.

      Lumina was first developed for the BSD family of operating systems (such as FreeBSD and TrueOS). It is gaining interest among Linux users, having been introduced for a growing number of Linux distros.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt 5.5.1-2 for Wind River® VxWorks® Real-Time Operating System Released

        The Qt 5.5.1-2 release for VxWorks Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) release supports the new VxWorks 7 release SR 0480 (September 2016) on ARM-v7 with updates in the Qt Base, Qt Declarative and Qt Quick Controls modules. For full list of changes, please see the change log.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9.2 Desktop Rolls Out on Valentine’s Day with Multiple Bug Fixes

        It’s Valentine’s Day, and to celebrate this important event, the KDE developers demonstrate their love for KDE Plasma users by bringing them a new maintenance update for the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment.

        Yes, we’re talking about KDE Plasma 5.9.2, the second point release to the latest KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop, which launched just two weeks ago for various GNU/Linux distributions, including KDE Neon and Arch Linux. Because of the new, fast release cycle, you see this new version just one week after the first update, namely KDE Plasma 5.9.1.

      • An Early Qt 5.9 Alpha Snapshot: Qt 5.9 Packing A Ton Of Features

        While Qt 5.8 was released less than one month ago, the Qt 5.9 Alpha release is on approach for landing.

        Jani Heikkinen today announced the first Qt 5.9 Alpha snapshot. This isn’t the formal Qt 5.9 Alpha release, but will become the official Alpha source package if there isn’t anything important that’s missing. Hit up that mailing list link if you are interested in testing.

      • First Qt 5.9 alpha snapshot available
      • KDE’s Plasma Discover Package Manager to Support Flatpak Packages and Repos

        It looks to us like Flatpak, the open-source application sandboxing and distribution framework for GNU/Linux systems is on its way to becoming the norm on most distributions.

        Not only that GNOME Software offers support for Flatpak runtimes, but it appears that KDE’s Plasma Discover graphical package manager will do too, as KDE developer Jan Grulich reports today on the upcoming availability of a Flatpak backend to implement support for handling Flatpak packages and repositories in the app.

      • KDE Discover flatpak backend

        As some of you might already know, I’ve been focusing lately on Flatpak and its integration into KDE. You can check my work on Flatpak KDE portals, which are being currently included in our KDE runtimes and repositories were migrated to KDE git so there has been made some progress since last time I talked about them. Recently I started looking into adding Flatpak support to KDE Discover, to have same support for Flatpak as Gnome has with gnome-software. From the begining it was a nightmare for me as I have never used any glib based library so that slowed me down little bit. I also went through gnome-software code to understand how flatpak integration is done there to get some inspiration. Things went well since then and I have already quite nice stuff to share with you. We currently support most common functionality, like listing available/installed flatpak applications in Discover with possibilities to install/remove/update and of course launch them. We also support flatpak bundles and flatpakref files already.

      • KDE Discover Making Progress With Flatpak Support

        KDE developer Jan Grulich already tackled Flatpak KDE portals support and one of his latest support has been integrating a Flatpak back-end into KDE Discover.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Nautilus 3.24 File Manager Enters Beta, Adds New Keyboard Shortcuts and Features

        We already told you the other day when we reported the availability of new development releases of GNOME Software and GTK+ that the GNOME developers are currently preparing to unleash the first Beta version of the GNOME 3.24 desktop.

        Since yesterday, a lot more apps and core components from the GNOME Stack have appeared on the project’s FTP servers, including the Nautilus file manager, which is used by default in numerous Linux-based operating systems that use the GNOME Stack, including Ubuntu, Fedora Workstation, Solus, and many others.

      • GNOME Calendar App to Finally Add a Week View in GNOME 3.24, Flatpak Support

        As part of the soon-to-be-released GNOME 3.24 Beta version, due later today or by the end of the week, the GNOME Calendar applications received its first development release.

        We’ve already told you that the GNOME developers are working hard these days to give us the first Beta preview of the upcoming GNOME 3.24 desktop environment, due for release on March 22, and we recommend reading our in-depth stories about what’s coming new in Nautilus (Files), GTK+ 4, and GNOME Software components.

      • GParted 0.28 Begins Read-Write LUKS Encrypted File-System Support

        For those using GParted as a way to visually manage your Linux disk partitions/file-systems, GParted 0.28 was released as a Valentine’s Day present for Linux users.

        The primary change with GParted 0.28 is that it adds partial read-write support for LUKS-encrypted file-systems. GParted 0.28 is now able to copy/resize/manipulate file-systems within LUKS volumes as well as moving closed LUKS sub-volumes. However, this GNOME Partition Editor isn’t yet able to create, open, or close LUKS encryption volumes.

      • GParted 0.28.0 Adds Partial Read/Write Support for LUKS Encrypted Filesystems

        Curtis Gedak announced today the general availability of GParted 0.28.0, a new stable update of the widely-used open-source partition editor for Linux-based operating systems.

        GParted 0.28.0 comes approximately four months after the release of GParted 0.27.0, and the most important feature it introduces is partial read/write support for LUKS (Linux Unified Key Setup) encrypted filesystems, allowing users to resize or copy a file system enclosed in a LUKS volume. Additionally, it allows the move of closed LUKS volumes.

      • Watch: the New, Revamped Users Panel of the GNOME 3.24 Desktop Environment

        As we reported last year, the upcoming GNOME 3.24 desktop environment will come with a revamped GNOME Control Center component, and GNOME developer Felipe Borges now gives us a sneak peek into the new Users panel.

        GNOME Control Center’s Users panel got a new design recently, which represents the developers’ first attempt to move away from the old two-column panel and implement a single page concept, as you can see in the video attached below.

      • GTK+ 3.89.4 Released With More Vulkan Work, Wayland Fixes

        Matthias Clasen has issued the newest GTK4 development release with more feature work.

      • Dark Windows for Dark Firefox

        I recently set the Compact Dark theme as my default in Firefox. Since we don’t yet have Linux client-side window decorations yet (when is that happening??), it looks kind of bad in GNOME.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ONF, ON.Lab launch Open Innovation Pipeline
  • A Networking Open Source Innovation Pipeline Can Accelerate Businesses
  • Open Networking Foundation Unveils New Open Innovation Pipeline to Transform Open Networking
  • Open Networking Foundation Announces Restructuring of Board of Directors to Align the Missions of ONF and ON.Lab
  • Open Source Accessibility Tools Help Streamline Inclusive Development

    IBM is embarking on a new era of open source accessibility by releasing tooling, samples and design patterns to help streamline the development of inclusive web and mobile applications.

    IBM has released two new projects on the developerWorks/open community, AccProbe and Va11yS, to help alleviate accessibility roadblocks during the agile development process, strengthen the user experience by adhering to industry standards, and reduce costs by ensuring accessibility is done right from the beginning.

  • Software-Defined Storage Opens Up: 10 Projects to Know

    Throughout 2016, the SDS (Software-Defined Storage) category achieved many new milestones and became increasingly tied to successful cloud deployments. With SDS, organizations can manage policy-based provisioning and management of data storage independent of the underlying hardware. They can also deploy free and open source SDS solutions. Many people are familiar with Ceph and are leveraging it within their OpenStack deployments, but Ceph is far from the only relevant open source SDS project.

  • What Is Open Source Software?
  • Interview: Cloud Foundry on its 2017 awareness-raising plans for open source PaaS

    The Cloud Foundry was originally developed in-house at VMware before being handed over to EMC/VMware spin-off Pivotal Software, which, in February 2014, put in motion a plan to establish an open governance model for the PaaS. This, in turn, paved the way for the foundation to be established in January 2015.

  • Events

    • Third free, open source software conference begins at Oman’s SQU

      In an effort to localise information technology, a conference aiming at supporting free and open source software began on Tuesday.

      Activities of the 3rd Free and Open Source Software Conference began at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) on Tuesday under the patronage of Dr. Ali bin Mas’oud Al Sunaidi, Minister of Commerce and Industry.

    • SQU to host FOSSC-17 Oman on February 14 and 15 Join our daily free Newsletter
    • Copyleft in Commerce.

      How GPLv3 keeps Samba relevant in the marketplace

    • KiCad Project Status

      This talk will discuss the status of the current stable version 5 release of KiCad and road map for the version 6 release of KiCad.

    • Control Plane Engineering Is Key for Big Kubernetes Deployments

      If you’re interested in running a complex Kubernetes system across several different cloud environments, you should check out what Bob Wise and his team at Samsung SDS call “Control Plane Engineering.”

      Wise, during his keynote at CloudNativeCon last year, explained the concept of building a system that sits on top of the server nodes to ensure better uptime and performance across multiple clouds, creates a deployment that’s easily scaled by the ClusterOps team, and covers long-running cluster requirements.

    • Intro to Control Plane Engineering by Bob Wise, Samsung SDS

      Large, high-performance and reliable Kubernetes clusters require engineering the control plane components for demands beyond the defaults. This talk covers the relationship between the various components that make up the Kubernetes control plane and how to design and size those components.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Try out Firefox on Wayland easily

        Today I finally managed to compile and run a Firefox version, which was patched to work on Wayland natively. To achieve this, I used the forked and enhanced Firefox version of the Red Hat developer Martin Stransky.

        For all those who are unaware of the Wayland project, it’s an succesor to the very old, but still common X display server for Linux operating systems. Compared to X, Wayland is a lot smaller in its code base, written from scratch, far more secure and build up on the newest 3D graphic driver stack. Unfortunately not all big Linux applications support it yet. The work on Wayland compatibility for Firefox was already requested some years ago and it was not moving forward very fast. Fortunately, some days ago it looks like the first patches have been merged into master.

      • It’s Now Easier Trying Firefox Wayland Support On Arch Linux & Flatpak Distributions

        Jonas Heinrich took to a Firefox branch maintained by Red Hat developer Martin Stransky to getting it working on Arch Linux, getting the Firefox build into an AUR repository, and also producing a Flatpak build of the Wayland-patched Firefox.

        With his firefox-wayland-git package via AUR, Firefox can run without any usage of XWayland. This is as upstream Firefox continues getting closer to landing all of the Wayland support upstream so it will be an out-of-the-box experience in the hopefully not too distant future.

  • Databases

    • RethinkDB Resurfaces With Linux Foundation

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has bought the source code to the recently mothballed RethinkDB NoSQL JSON database. It relicensed the code under the Apache License, and contributed it to The Linux Foundation.

      As we reported recently, the news was announced in October that after more than seven years of development, the company behind RethinkDB was shutting down, although RethinkDB and Horizon would continue to be available, distributed under open source licenses.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • I love Free Software Day 2017

      In the Free Software society we exchange a lot of criticism. We write bug reports, tell others how they can improve the software, ask them for new features, and generally are not shy about criticising others. There is nothing wrong about that. It helps us to constantly improve. But sometimes we forget to show the hardworking people behind the software our appreciation.

    • GCC 7 To Have Better Test Coverage, Unit Testing

      Red Hat developer David Malcolm has shared the work he’s been doing on improving the GCC compiler’s internal testing to ensure the GNU Compiler Collection is working as anticipated and is generating correct code.

      GCC 7 has many new features while Malcom’s focus recently has been improving GCC’s own test suite to ensure the quality and correctness of the code being generated.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Award for Latvian Archives’ use of open source

      The Latvian National Archives have won the “Most Open Organisation” award for their extensive use of free and open source software for their online audiovisual archive. The system combines (Red Hat) Linux servers, the Apache web server, and content management system Drupal to offer access to Latvian documentaries, newsreels, cartoons and feature films from 1910 to the present day.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • How and Why to do Open Source Compliance Training at Your Company

      Education and communication are two essential building blocks in any open source software compliance program. Both help ensure that employees, as well as others outside the organization, possess a good understanding of the organization’s policies governing the use of open source software.

      Employee training serves as a venue to publicize and promote the compliance policy and processes within the organization and to foster a culture of compliance.

  • Programming/Development

    • Vala is not a Programming Language

      Vala provides you a way to write C/GObject/GInterface code using a different syntax. Vala doesn’t require to develop a “core library” in order to provide its features. Its “compiler” is not a compiler, is a C code generator.

      Vala can’t be compared with Rust, Go, Python, Java or C#, all of them provide their own “core library” in order to provide most of their features, allows you to create modules (like a library) to extend the language for their users consume. Their core generally is written in C, for very basic features, but almost in the language itself.

    • Vala 1.0?

      Yes is time to consider a Vala 1.0 release. Vala 0.34 code generator and bindings support LTS versions of GTK+ 3.22 and GLib 2.50. Next stable version of GTK+ will be 4.0 and GLib 2.x, but they have to traverse through 3.9x versions and any GLib 2.x on the way. Reaching that point we can consider Vala 2.0 release.

    • Using Scripting Languages in IoT: Challenges and Approaches

      Scripting languages (aka Very High-Level Languages or VHLLs), such as Python, PHP, and JavaScript are commonly used in desktop, server, and web development. And, their powerful built-in functionality lets you develop small useful applications with little time and effort, says Paul Sokolovsky, IoT engineer at Linaro. However, using VHLLs for deeply embedded development is a relatively recent twist in IoT.

    • Things Every Hacker Once Knew

      One fine day in January 2017 I was reminded of something I had half-noticed a few times over the previous decade. That is, younger hackers don’t know the bit structure of ASCII and the meaning of the odder control characters in it.

      This is knowledge every fledgling hacker used to absorb through their pores. It’s nobody’s fault this changed; the obsolescence of hardware terminals and the near-obsolescence of the RS-232 protocol is what did it. Tools generate culture; sometimes, when a tool becomes obsolete, a bit of cultural commonality quietly evaporates. It can be difficult to notice that this has happened.

      This document is a collection of facts about ASCII and related technologies, notably hardware serial terminals and RS-232 and modems. This is lore that was at one time near-universal and is no longer. It’s not likely to be directly useful today – until you trip over some piece of still-functioning technology where it’s relevant (like a GPS puck), or it makes sense of some old-fart war story. Even so, it’s good to know anyway, for cultural-literacy reasons.

    • Futhark: A Pure, Functional Language For GPU Computing

      Futhark was presented earlier this month at FOSDEM as a “purely functional array language” with its compiler able to “efficiently generate high-performance GPU code.”

      Futhark is a high-level, parallel-focused programming language that aims to compete with the performance of hand-written code targeting particular GPUs. Futhark hopes to be more portable across GPUs while tapping into the full GPU potential if you were writing finely-tuned code targeting a particular graphics processor. Futhark’s compiler currently translates this code into OpenCL for GPU execution, but I’m told by one of the attendees at FOSDEM for this event, Futhark is also working on an approach to turn their code into pure-OpenGL for execution on GPUs without OpenCL, CUDA, or Vulkan.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • [Older] Open Standards and Open Source in Telecom

      “Open standards” and “open source” are two terms that can often be confused. While regular readers of this blog are likely able to differentiate, for clarification’s sake, open source is the term used for software when the original source code is freely available and can also be redistributed and modified. But it doesn’t just reference access to the source code – distribution terms of open source software must comply with its own set of criteria.

      When telecommunications was in its infancy, standards were needed and established before any technology was released. As the development of new networks and technology grows, it will mean prototypes in open source, collaborative projects, which are challenges that we’ve discussed in a previous blog post. The development of new internet-enabled mobile devices and internet service providers have brought telecommunications to the forefront, as well as trends towards cooperation between the Open Standards and Open Source communities, as previously highlighted in our blog about the need for collaboration in mobile security.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Justice Alito Declares “Carbon Dioxide Is Not a Pollutant” in a Candid, Confused Speech

      Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivered a fascinating keynote speech at the Claremont Institute’s 2017 annual dinner on Saturday night. Alito, who received a Statesmanship Award from the conservative think tank, devoted much of his address to criticizing his bêtes noires, including environmental regulation, affirmative action, the “media elite,” the European Union, and emergency contraceptives.

    • How algorithms (secretly) run the world

      When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome.

      The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a “no fly” list.

      [...]

      O’Neil argues that while some algorithms may be helpful, others can be nefarious. In her 2016 book, “Weapons of Math Destruction,” she cites some troubling examples in the United States:

      - Public schools in Washington DC in 2010 fired more than 200 teachers—including several well-respected instructors—based on scores in an algorithmic formula which evaluated performance.

      - A man diagnosed with bipolar disorder was rejected for employment at seven major retailers after a third-party “personality” test deemed him a high risk based on its algorithmic classification.

      - Many jurisdictions are using “predictive policing” to shift resources to likely “hot spots.” O’Neill says that depending on how data is fed into the system, this could lead to discovery of more minor crimes and a “feedback loop” which stigmatizes poor communities.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cancer Rates Are Dropping — But Not In Rural Appalachia

      Just over a year ago, Natasha Lucas, an agent for the University of Kentucky’s Owsley County Extension Office, needed a local lung cancer survivor to speak at a popular annual cancer awareness event in Booneville, Kentucky. But she had a devil of a time finding one. It took weeks to track someone down, but as sad as that was, it wasn’t surprising. When it comes to lung cancer, Lucas said matter-of-factly, “there are just very few survivors.”

      [...]

      The Appalachian region technically comprises all or part of 13 states, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. However, cancer clusters are often concentrated in the center, or the heart of Appalachia: southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Researchers say the extraordinarily high cancer rates are the result of a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. “On the surface, it’s lifestyle factors,” said Nengliang Yao, who led the Virginia study. But there are also economic, social and environmental factors, he said. “There are layers of risk for people to die early from cancer.”

    • Flint seeks meeting with Gov. Snyder on state aid for water bills

      Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said Monday she expects to meet with Gov. Rick Snyder either late this week or early next week to discuss her unhappiness with last week’s news that state credits to help residents pay their water bills are scheduled to end Feb. 28.

      Weaver said the city received too little notice about the change and understood the credits would continue until the end of March.

      “We know that there’s money there,” Weaver said of the State of Michigan, citing a Rainy Day Fund that is projected under Snyder’s recent budget to grow to $1 billion in the next fiscal year.

      “It’s not as though they don’t have the money.”

    • Flint council may try to subpoena governor over ‘war’ on water credits

      The Flint City Council said it may attempt to subpoena state officials, including the governor, to answer questions about the discontinuation of water credits for city residents — a move one councilwoman called “war.”

      Flint City Council members, public officials and residents spoke out Monday, Feb. 13, against a recent move by Gov. Rick Snyder’s office to end the city’s water bill credits, saying the decision was unfair to the Flint community.

      “Gov. Snyder wants these people to pay for water that they feel is not safe to drink,” said Councilwoman Jackie Poplar. “This is war. This is war … there is money to cover these bills.”

    • Exotic trip planned? Packing antibiotics may mean bringing home superbugs

      Those bitten by the ‘travel bug’ risk getting another type of bug—the drug-resistant kind. But trying to fight off those bacteria with drugs may make things a whole lot worse.

      In a series of studies, Finnish researchers confirmed that those traveling to exotic locations—places with poor hygiene and free-flowing antibiotics—often bring home drug-resistant bacteria in their intestines (with or without symptoms). But the people who took antibiotics while exploring those locales came back with the most extensively drug-resistant cargo.

      The findings, published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, suggest that taking antibiotics while abroad may be far more dangerous than most travelers know. After all, it’s common for world explorers to preemptively pack antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, for common ailments, like travelers diarrhea, the authors note.

    • NHS: Seven times ministers have promised the health service will ‘go paperless’

      One of Jeremy Hunt’s first tasks when he became health secretary in 2012 was to set the NHS a challenge to ‘go paperless’ by April 2018. That meant that any crucial health information on patients would be available to staff across the health service ‘at the touch of a button’ within three years, according to Hunt.

      Despite committing more than £1 billion out of a £4 billion transformation programme towards achieving the target, the deadline was abandoned by the end of 2016. The cancellation was revealed when comments from House of Lords select committee on the Long Term Sustainability of the NHS were published in February 2017.

      His pledge was far from the first time that a minister had committed the NHS to ditching paper and using digital tools instead. It had initially promised as far back as 1992 – a whopping 25 years ago.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Experts worried about ransomware hitting critical infrastructure

      Expect ransomware to grow more aggressive in the coming years, including higher ransom payments and attempts to go beyond attacking data — by shutting down entire computer systems to utilities or factories.

      “I see no reason for ransomware to stop,” said Neil Jenkins, an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “It’s shown to be effective.”

    • RSA 2017: SophosLabs report examines Top 10 Android malware
    • Re-thinking Web App Security

      The implications of storing your data locally are quite profound.

    • ASLR^CACHE Attack Defeats Address Space Layout Randomization

      Researchers from VUSec found a way to break ASLR via an MMU sidechannel attack that even works in JavaScript. Does this matter? Yes, it matters. A lot. The discovery of this security flaw along with the practical implementation is really important mainly because of two factors: what it means for ASLR to be broken and how the MMU sidechannel attack works inside the processor.

    • The Biggest Risk with Container Security is Not Containers

      Container security may be a hot topic today, but we’re failing to recognize lessons from the past. As an industry our focus is on the containerization technology itself and how best to secure it, with the underlying logic that if the technology is itself secure, then so too will be the applications hosted.

      Unfortunately, the reality is that few datacenter attacks are focused on compromising the container framework. Yes, such attacks do exist, but the priority for malicious actors is mounting an attack on applications and data; increasingly for monetary reasons. According to SAP, more than 80 percent of all cyberattacks are specifically targeting software applications rather than the network.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Minister visits Malmö as shootings continue

      Sweden’s interior minister, Anders Ygeman, visited Malmö on Monday, just a day after another man was shot dead in the southern Swedish city.

      A 23-year-old man died in hospital after being shot outside a restaurant on the central Möllevången square at 6.40pm on Sunday. The man was known to police, with a series of previous convictions.

      He is the latest person killed in a spate of gun violence in Malmö this year. On January 3rd a 22-year-old man was shot dead in the Fosie district, just a week before a 16-year-old boy was killed in Rosengård.

      A janitor who was shot last week while clearing walkways from snow remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

    • Is Trump Headed for a War With China?

      Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that US troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.

    • Russia has deployed missile in violation of treaty

      Russia has deployed a cruise missile in violation of a Cold War-era arms control treaty, a Trump administration official said Tuesday, a development that complicates the outlook for U.S.-Russia relations amid turmoil on the White House national security team.

      The Obama administration three years ago accused the Russians of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing and testing the prohibited cruise missile, and officials had anticipated that Moscow eventually would deploy it. Russia denies that it has violated the INF treaty.

      U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the missile became operational late last year, said an administration official, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter and demanded anonymity.

    • NSA’s exit could hit Trump’s Russia reset

      Michael Flynn’s resignation as the National Security Adviser to Donald Trump over his Russia contacts could reset the U.S. President’s attempts to reset ties with Moscow.

      Mr. Flynn said in his resignation letter that he held numerous phone calls with foreign diplomats and officials in course of his duties as the incoming NSA. At the core of the controversy is whether or not Mr. Flynn told the Russian ambassador in Washington that Mr. Trump would reverse the new sanctions that Mr. Obama was imposing on Russia for allegedly interfering in the U.S. elections.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

      Campaigners have expressed outrage at new proposals that could lead to journalists being jailed for up to 14 years for obtaining leaked official documents.

      The major overhaul of the Official Secrets Act – to be replaced by an updated Espionage Act – would give courts the power to increase jail terms against journalists receiving official material.

      The new law, should it get approval, would see documents containing “sensitive information” about the economy fall foul of national security laws for the first time.

    • The Judge Who Sent Me to Prison and His Bachelorette Daughter, Rachel Lindsay

      In the latest in the string of bizarre and possibly supernatural incidents that have plagued me since childhood, it was announced Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that the star of the upcoming season of The Bachelorette is the daughter of Sam Lindsay, the federal judge who sentenced me to 63 months in prison in a case that was denounced as retaliation for my work in exposing government wrongdoing by outlets ranging from the New York Times to Der Spiegel to U.S. News and World Report, by NGOs including Reporters Without Borders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, by former U.S. prosecutors, and by foreign members of parliament. Lindsay also ordered me to pay $800,000 in restitution to Stratfor, a State Department-linked firm that was revealed by Wikileaks to have conducted surveillance for Dow Chemical on Bhopal activists, among other things.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Judge denies request to halt Dakota Access pipeline work

      A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is progressing much faster than expected and could be operational in as little as 30 days.

      U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled after an hourlong hearing that as long as oil isn’t flowing through the pipeline, there is no imminent harm to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, which are suing to stop the project. But he said he’d consider the arguments more thoroughly at another hearing on Feb. 27.

    • Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago

      Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

      The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”

    • Dakota pipeline: US judge denies request to halt construction

      A US judge has rejected a request from two Native American tribes to halt construction on the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline.

      The final stretch of the $3.8bn (£3bn) pipeline is being built under a North Dakota reservoir.

      The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have filed a lawsuit against the pipeline, saying it endangers their drinking water.

      They also say the pipeline will damage sacred burial sites.

    • Judge denies request to halt Dakota Access pipeline work

      A federal judge declined Monday to halt construction on the final disputed section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite the vocal objection of Native American tribes who claim the project threatens an important Indian country water source.

      U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision not to grant a temporary restraining order means that work may proceed toward the completion of the 1,172-mile system that will run from North Dakota to Illinois. Boasberg set a Feb. 27 hearing on a further request from the Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to block the work, which has been shadowed by heated protests for months.

    • Vindictive Trump dragged on providing aid to 188,000 Americans displaced by Oroville dam crisis

      By delaying federal aid for days while he partied at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump failed evacuees threatened by a failing spillway in Northern California’s Oroville Dam complex. Some 188,000 people from counties that mostly supported him were evacuated when authorities said the risk of a sudden and dramatic overspill became too high, but Orange Julius remained silent for days after California governor Jerry Brown requested he declare a federal emergency in the state.

      This winter has been one of the wettest in recorded west coast history, and has slammed California’s aging infrastructure. While the welcome water has refilled reservoirs and left a massive snowpack, weather has also destroyed roads and left the State’s second largest reservoir in real danger of a catastrophic collapse, flooding the Feather River and destroying thousands of homes in the waters’ path. County officials made the difficult decision to evacuate around 188,000 residents on Sunday. Since then, conditions have improved, but not enough that it is safe to allow those evacuees to return home. More rain is expected on Wednesday.

    • There’s the threat of Oroville Dam. Then there’s Trump

      It all happened so quickly. Water poured down the rapidly eroding hillside of Oroville Dam on Sunday evening. Engineers with the state had to make a series of quick decisions to avert a catastrophic flood.

    • Oroville Dam: California officials ignored warnings a decade ago

      Environmental groups warned nearly 12 years ago that the nation’s tallest dam in California was an imminent disaster.
      They worried that heavy rain and fast-rising waters could overwhelm the main concrete spillway of the Oroville Dam, overflow the emergency spillway and flood communities downstream.

      They were ignored.
      And this weekend, some of their fears were realized.
      Ron Stork, policy director with Friends of the River, a Sacramento environmental group, said state and federal officials were told to reinforce the spillway.
      “We urged them to put concrete on the spillway — our argument was that without a proper spillway, the hillside would wash away and cause catastrophic flooding,” Stork said.

    • California Dam Emergency: 5 Dams That Did Fail

      More than 100,000 people were evacuated from below the United States’ tallest dam on Sunday, after an auxiliary floodway threatened to fail.

      The Oroville Dam in Northern California looked poised to release floodwaters from Lake Oroville into the Feather River, threatening thousands of homes and businesses. According to the Los Angeles Times, rains had filled the reservoir to capacity, sending water over the dam’s emergency spillway for the first time. On Sunday (Feb. 12), a hole developed in the spillway, prompting the evacuation order. As of Sunday evening, the reservoir level had dropped enough to ease the pressure on the spillway, but more rain was forecast, triggering a race against time to repair the dam’s spillways with sacks of rocks dropped by helicopter.

      The situation is still dangerous, officials emphasize, and a look back at some of the most notable dam failures in history shows what’s at stake. [Lessons From 10 of the Worst Engineering Disasters in US History]

    • An Oroville message: As climate shifts, so will water strategies

      Even when everything is going right, managing a dam is a juggling act. What the flooding this week at California’s Oroville Dam may be demonstrating is how that juggling act is growing even more complicated due to climate change.

      Many factors are at play in the ongoing emergency, which has caused more than 100,000 people downstream to be evacuated. Neglect of infrastructure has played a clear and primary role – with homes being evacuated because of signs that the dam’s emergency spillway is failing to safely carry even a portion of the overflow it’s licensed to handle.

    • Trump’s likely science adviser calls climate scientists ‘glassy-eyed cult’

      The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness.

      William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met with Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.

  • Finance

    • Minister postpones airport strike until after winter vacation

      Justice and Labour Minister Jari Lindström has intervened to defer imminent strike action by airport ground and handling staff. The strike would most certainly have affected families planning trips abroad, but it has now been postponed by two weeks.

    • The Delusion That Trump Is “Good for Business”

      “California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers,” read the headline on a New York Times story last week. Big agribusiness types in the Golden State who thought President Trump would reduce regulation and taxes are now coming to grips with the fact that his executive orders on immigration could destroy their business model, which relies on the availability of workers who are not in the country legally. And, no, the wages these farmers pay to radicchio pickers aren’t high enough to lure underemployed working-class citizens to the fertile fields of the Central Valley. Still, farmer Joseph Marchini hopes that because Trump is a businessman himself, he’ll somehow understand that farmers’ massive investments in agriculture rest on the status quo. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now,” Marchini told the Times.

      Expect to hear more of this, in sector after sector. Industry leaders and entrepreneurs who thought that Trump and his policies would be “good for business” are suddenly realizing that, actually, the president’s attitudes and herky-jerky policy moves will in fact be very bad for their particular businesses. And despite the available evidence, they’re still holding out hope that he will eventually help out their bottom lines.

    • European Parliament Passes CETA After Debate Over Whether It’s A Good Or Bad Deal

      After a somewhat tumultous debate, the European Parliament today in Strasbourg voted in favor of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. With 408 members of Parliament voting in favour and 254 against (33 abstentions) the 1598-page thick deal can become provisionally effective as early as April. The national parliaments still have to ratify it over the coming months, and possibly years.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The New Twitter Detectives Want To Bring Down Trump Without Becoming Alex Jones

      Just after 3 a.m. last Friday morning, Huffington Post contributor and progressive advocate Alex Mohajer set to work on a brief investigative project on Twitter. Pulling together red marker–circled articles, graphs, and screenshots from numerous financial websites, he rifled off 16 tweets with prosecutorial zeal and one ambitious goal: to build a compelling case linking Donald Trump to Russia’s $11 billion sale of its oil giant, Rosneft.

      “It’s getting harder to ignore growing evidence that Trump was involved with Russian oil deal,” Mohajer wrote after compiling his tweets into a longer Twitter Moments thread. “CONCLUSION? Koch-backed front cos financed climate deniers/alt-right, took control of govt while Trump diverts attn for Exxon, Koch, Rosneft,” he wrote. A minute later he offered a hedge: “ALTERNATIVE CONCLUSION: I am batshit crazy and need some sleep! Good night world. I will be curious to see if others are able to confirm.”

    • The man just elected as Germany’s next president once called Trump a ‘hate preacher’

      Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s long-serving foreign minister who once called Donald Trump a “hate preacher,” was elected as the country’s 12th post-war president on Sunday by a special assembly in Berlin.

      Steinmeier, 61, representing the center-left Social Democratic Party, won 931 votes among the 1,239 delegates to the federal assembly, known as the Bundesversammlung, made up of state and federal politicians and celebrities. He will serve a five-year term in the largely ceremonial post.

      The election of the usually impeccably mannered diplomat, who spent seven of the last 11 years leading the foreign ministry, marked a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative Christian Democrats, who had failed to agree on their own candidate.

    • Why You Won’t Be Able To Trust Anything You See Or Hear Soon

      Regardless of where you are on the political hypercube, we can all agree that fake news has become a real problem. We might each have different ideas about which stories count as fake news, but we all agree that they’re a danger to democracy and breed sheep like a Nazi New Zealander.

      With investigative journalism being pushed out of our lives to make room for whatever Buzzfeed does, it can seem like you can’t trust anything but what your own eyes and ears take in. Well, because of recent technological advancements, please don’t believe that either.

    • Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, resigns over Russia lies

      In late January, acting Attorney General Sally Yates delivered a startling message to the Trump administration: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had lied to other top White House officials about his dealings with the Russian ambassador to the US and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Kremlin.

      Now those lies have cost Flynn his job: On Monday night, Flynn resigned amid growing questions about whether he had misled Vice President Mike Pence, and potentially the FBI, about his phone calls with the Russian envoy on December 29, the same day the Obama administration slapped new sanctions on Moscow for its interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

      [...]

      Flynn had long denied discussing sanctions in his call with Kislyak, but US officials had told the Washington Post and New York Times that Flynn explicitly talked about the sanctions and hinted that Trump might be willing to lift them. That kind of conversation could be a violation of an obscure federal law, the Logan Act, which prohibits people outside the executive branch from making foreign policy on behalf of the US administration.

    • Full text of Michael Flynn’s resignation letter

      President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned on Monday, ending a brief stint in the position following reports he provided top White House officials — including Vice President — misleading information about his dealings with Russia’s ambassador shortly after sanctions were announced in the final days of the Obama administration.

      Last week, The Washington Post reported, citing nine unnamed intelligence sources, that Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak discussed the sanctions. Initially, Flynn said he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak, a denial passed on to the public by White House press secretary Spicer and Pence, among others. In past weeks, Flynn has said the conversation was general in nature, including holiday greetings. Flynn later adjusted his story.

    • Justice Department warned White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say

      The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.

      [...]

      In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House. They feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled, according to one of the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

    • Donald Trump Is Selling Access to the ‘Winter White House’ for $200,000

      As President Donald Trump headed to his private resort in Florida this weekend—his second trip in two weeks, and probably not his last this month—ethics experts and multiple senators voiced serious concerns about the president’s conducting business in a bustling, elite, members-only club.

      Over the past 48 hours, Trump validated those concerns with gold-plated gusto. He hashed out a response to a North Korean missile launch on a busy patio, as people snapped photos and waiters cleared his salad. He hobnobbed with members and visitors at the club, making it clear that paying the $200,000 member fee at Mar-a-Lago was an easy way to parlay with the most powerful man on earth. And passersby were apparently able to get close to classified documents and the presidential limo whenever they pleased.

    • How to not do presidential opsec: Crisis management over dinner in public

      This weekend, as news of a ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) reached President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump got on his phone, and Abe consulted with staff. This didn’t happen behind closed doors, however; it took place as members of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club watched on in the resort’s dining room. One club member even posed for photos with Trump’s aide-de-camp—the Air Force major carrying the president’s “nuclear football”—and posted pics of the scrum around Trump’s table on Facebook.

      Trump is comfortable conducting business over a meal. Last month, Trump approved a raid by US Navy SEALs in Yemen on an Al Qaeda compound not after a briefing in the White House situation room but rather over dinner with senior officials. These and other details of how the new president and his administration operate suggest that despite hitting Hillary Clinton hard for her security foibles, the Trump White House is not big on operational security (opsec).

      President Trump may not be making phone calls on his old, vulnerable Android device, but he keeps it close at hand. He regularly posts to Twitter from his Samsung phone based on his Twitter metadata. And we know he’s using an unsecured Android device because the secure one he’s been issued wouldn’t even allow Twitter to be installed.

    • Mar-a-Lago guest takes picture with nuclear ‘football’ briefcase

      A visitor to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida posted a Facebook photo with a person he says is responsible for carrying the black bag that contains the nuclear launch codes for the president of the United States.

      “This is Rick…He carries the ‘football’ The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the President’s emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room,” the caption reads.

      The two images, one of which shows the man carrying the briefcase, is tagged at “Donald Trump Palm Beach Home.”

    • US officer in charge of Trump’s nuclear football ‘poses for photo with Mar-a-Lago guest’

      A member of Donald Trump’s private Florida club has posted an image of himself posing with a man he claimed carries the president’s nuclear football.

      Reports from Mr Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the weekend, said the two leaders had been briefed about a missile launch in North Korea, while they were eating. CNN said that the two leaders began to discuss how to respond in full public view, and images of the two men and their staffs were snapped by club members.

      Now, it has emerged that one of the members, Richard DeAgazio, posted an image with a member of Mr Trump’s entourage, he claimed was responsible for carrying the nuclear football – the briefcase that never leaves the president’s side and which allows him to authorise a nuclear strike. The Independent has blanked out the person’s face and left out his name.

    • Members of Trump’s Club Can Just Pose With the President’s Nuclear Codes Guy Now

      Do you have $200,000 and a fascination with the prospect of nuclear annihilation? You may want to look into purchasing a membership at Mar-a-Lago, the “winter White House,” where this weekend some guy posted a selfie with the Trump aide who carries the United States’ nuclear football.

      Richard DeAgazio, an investor and actor, posted several pictures from Mar-a-Lago this weekend showing President Donald Trump and his entourage. One post, first reported by the Washington Post, read, “HOLY MOLY !!! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan.”

    • Trevor Noah talks Trump, censorship in candid interview

      The Daily Show host expressed concern that a culture of segregation and oppression was brewing under President Donald Trump.

      The Daily Show host Trevor Noah joined Talk To Al Jazeera on Saturday, the day after his autobiography, Born a Crime, won the Debut Author and Outstanding Biography/Autobiography prizes at the American National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) Image Awards.

    • Get Ready For ‘Leak Investigations’ In The Trump White House

      As we discussed over and over again during the past eight years, the Obama White House — despite a first day pledge to be “the most transparent administration in history” — was actually quite famous for its extreme secrecy, combined with a seriously paranoid view of anyone leaking anything unflattering to the White House. As we detailed, the Obama White House declared any unflattering leaks as “aiding the enemy.” And, of course, the Obama administration went after more leakers/whistleblowers with Espionage Act claims than all other Presidents in history combined.

    • Jakarta governor election a ‘litmus test’ of Indonesian Islam

      Millions of Jakarta residents will go to the polls on Wednesday in a vote that is being seen as a “litmus test” of Indonesian Islam.

      In the capital of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, the incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja, better known as Ahok, is battling to retain his seat.

    • The Embarrassment of President Trump

      This can’t go on much longer, can it? In the past, the nation has had do-nothing Presidencies, and scandal-ridden Presidencies, and failed Presidencies, but until Donald J. Trump came along there hasn’t been a truly embarrassing Presidency. Trump himself looks out of place (that squinty-eyed frown, meant to bespeak firmness, or serious purpose, doesn’t succeed), and it’s easy to understand why he looks that way. He’s living a bachelor’s life in an unfamiliar house, in a so-so neighborhood far from his home town, surrounded by strangers who have been hired to protect him but cut him off from any sort of real privacy. His daughter Ivanka is close by, in the Kalorama neighborhood, but she has her own life to live, and her own problems—most recently, Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying her fashion brand. His wife, Melania, is two hundred miles away, in Trump Tower; for the time being, according to the family’s public statements, she’s there to look after her son, Barron, who’s finishing the school year in familiar surroundings.

      [...]

      After little more than three weeks, Trump’s behavior is no more erratic than it used to be, but in the context of the Presidency it seems so. This year’s “Saturday Night Live” season has been very funny, but the most startling moment was not a sketch but a depiction of something real: Trump’s obsessive tweeting, four years ago, about the end of the relationship between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It’s been fascinating to watch him change policies in the twinkling of a tweet, as with his briefly confrontational China policy, inaugurated in December with a telephone call to Taiwan’s leader, and then reversed; or to witness his cobra-like lunges at newfound enemies, including the Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who revealed that Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had told him that he found the President’s attacks on the courts “demoralizing.” Trump just can’t seem to stop himself. Three months after the election, which he won, he’s still talking about those mythical fraudulent voters, and still calling Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.” When he again alleged voter fraud recently, in a room filled with senators, it got awkward; one attendee told Politico that “an uncomfortable silence” filled the room.

    • The House Oversight Committee wants to know more about Trump’s Mar-a-Lago briefing

      Over the weekend, the president received a controversial intelligence briefing on a public Mar-a-Lago terrace — and now, the House Oversight Committee wants to know whether the unusual setting resulted in a security breach. In a letter sent by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the House Oversight Committee today asked Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus for more information on possible security risks incurred by the public briefing.

      Among other demands, the letter asks for more information about cellphones being used while the president was discussing the news.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DuckDuckGo Ups Ante: Gives $300K to ‘Raise the Standard of Trust’

      For the seventh year in a row, the search engine that promises not to stalk your online moves puts its money where its mouth is, this year by donating $300,000 to organizations that work towards online privacy.

    • Scottish Sheriff Awards Couple Compensation For ‘Distress’ Caused By Neighbor’s Use Of CCTV

      We’ve written plenty about CCTV here on Techdirt, and its creeping normalization around the world, but particularly in the UK. So it’s good to read a story on the legal news site outlaw.com about a rather unusual ruling from a Scottish court pushing back against the use of an intrusive CCTV system. It concerns a dispute in Edinburgh between the individuals Nahid Akram and Debbie and Tony Woolley. The latter couple live above a guest house run by Akram.

      [...]

      Although he is talking about surveillance in the physical world, his concerns have obvious parallels in the online world, which is under growing government surveillance, not least in the UK. Already, some people are starting to restrict their digital movements and their conversations as they are “aware that they are being recorded and do not know the extent of the coverage.” The question is: why should such “distressing” surveillance be punished in the real world, but permitted in the digital one?

    • India’s database with biometric details of its billion citizens ignites privacy debate

      “Indians in general have yet to understand the meaning and essence of privacy,” says Member of Parliament, Tathagata Satpathy.

      But on Feb. 3, privacy was the hot topic of debate among many in India, thanks to a tweet that showed random people being identified on the street via Aadhaar, India’s ubiquitous database that has biometric information of more than a billion Indians.

    • Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

      Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

      American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

    • The high cost of being digital

      AT THE 2010 TechCrunch conference, Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, described his ambition for the company. It would, he said, collect and analyse data about its users until “we know more or less what you are thinking about”. This would offer a “new future [in which] you’re never lost… never lonely… never bored… never out of ideas”.

      Recent years have seen not just more data of more kinds being produced, but a fundamental shift in our experience of the world: our news, entertainment, routes home, products and potential romantic partners are data-driven: evolving in real time, and wrapping us in personalised market segments of one.

      These services are enormously convenient. The idle thoughts and urgent worries we express in searches are autocompleted and autocorrected; information, products and opportunities tailored to our interests surround us. But questions about the effects of letting commercial services in on our most critical and intimate choices are growing ever louder and more urgent.

      In Data for the People, Andreas Weigend, former chief scientist at Amazon and consultant to a host of data-driven businesses, sets out to explain how many of these technologies work, how companies profit from them, and the ways in which he believes the balance of power needs to be shifted back in favour of users.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Filming a Protest? 6 Tips to Capture the Action

      As sensational headlines become currency in the age of internet and “fake news,” short documentaries are playing an increasingly important role in the dissemination of nuanced perspectives, and filmmakers have a unique ability to capture and share actions as they happen.

    • Bureau of Indian Affairs Working on Lease for Montana Prison

      The Bureau of Indian Affairs says it could secure a lease in coming months to operate a vacant Montana prison, which closed after the agency dropped its previous contract with the detention facility.

    • Jakarta election pits Christian against rising tide of Muslim extremism

      This week’s hotly contested election for governor of this capital region is exposing the fault lines of tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

      The incumbent is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity — Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname, Ahok — the first non-Muslim governor of Jakarta in 50 years. He took over the post in 2014, when then-governor Joko Widodo was elected president.

      Most agree Ahok has done a good job of reducing corruption, cleaning up pollution and improving infrastructure in this crowded and chaotic city of more than 10 million.

    • Upset About Border Patrol Cruelty? It Didn’t Start Under Trump

      But here’s the thing: none of this is new, unfortunately. Yes, the specifics of the executive order are new, and the awful plan and rollout by the administration are new, but CBP being arbitrarily cruel to people is not at all new. We’ve reported on it many times in the past. Last week, On the Media put together a collection of stories that it had done in the past about egregious behavior by CBP at the border, almost all of which we covered in the past — and all of which occurred under President Obama.

    • Prosecutors And Anti-Sex Trafficking Advocates Aren’t Happy With The Government’s Treatment Of Backpage

      Kamala Harris — former California Attorney General and current US Senator — may have failed in her attempt to take Backpage down, but her dubious legacy lives on. The same day the US Supreme Court denied certification to an appeal of a decision in favor of Backpage and its Section 230 protections, Backpage shut down its adult ads rather than face additional prosecution/persecution from misguided politicians like Harris.

      While all those who went after Backpage pat themselves on the back for making NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in the battle against sex traffickers, those involved in the day-to-day work of tracking down sex traffickers down aren’t nearly as thrilled.

      As has been noted here on multiple occasions, shutting down a service used by some for illegal activity just buries the illegal activity even deeper underground. Backpage’s adult ad closure means traffickers will be moving to other venues — ones not being actively watched by law enforcement, no doubt including sites they’re not even aware of. As for sex workers who used Backpage to advertise adult services, they’ve simply moved their ads to other sections of the site. So, all the grandstanding has done nothing to harm sex traffickers. It has done a bit of damage to sex workers. But it’s caused the most harm to law enforcement.

    • Walk of shame: Sweden’s “first feminist government” don hijabs in Iran

      In a statement that has gone viral on Twitter and Facebook, UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights NGO in Geneva, expressed disappointment that Sweden’s self-declared “first feminist government in the world” sacrificed its principles and betrayed the rights of Iranian women as Trade Minister Ann Linde and other female members walked before Iranian President Rouhani on Saturday wearing Hijabs, Chadors, and long coats, in deference to Iran’s oppressive and unjust modesty laws which make the Hijab compulsory — despite Stockholm’s promise to promote “a gender equality perspective” internationally, and to adopt a “feminist foreign policy” in which “equality between women and men is a fundamental aim.”

      In doing so, Sweden’s female leaders ignored the recent appeal by Iranian women’s right activist Masih Alinejad who urged Europeans female politicians “to stand for their own dignity” and to refuse to kowtow to the compulsory Hijab while visiting Iran.

    • Brothers burst into pizza shop and hit family members with bat and hammer in honour attack

      TWO brothers carried out a brutal ‘honour attack’ with a baseball bat and hammer as a family dined at a pizza shop.

      Burnley Crown Court heard Khalil Hussain, 24, and Munir Ali Hussain, 35, burst into Planet Pizza in Croft Street, Burnley, to settle an ‘honour feud’.

      Prosecutor Andy Evans said the sustained attack on several members of another family left one man unconscious and others ‘fearing for their lives’

    • Malaysia: Youth group tells Muslim women to avoid using emoticons, perfume on V’tines day

      IN a bid to prevent gestures that lead to pre-marital sex, a Muslim youth group in Malaysia has called on Muslim women to avoid using emoticons and using fragrance in an anti-Valentines day message.

      The two items were part of the seven things Muslim women were advised to avoid when meeting men who were “non-mahram”, or not their kin, even when not celebrating the day to commemorate love, the Malay Mail Online reported.

      In it’s step-by-step guide, the National Muslim Youth Association (Pembina) also warned the women against going out with men at “inappropriate” times by dealing with them only in daytime, and to keep their text messages simple.

    • Edward Snowden’s New Job: Protecting Reporters From Spies

      When Edward Snowden leaked the biggest collection of classified National Security Agency documents in history, he wasn’t just revealing the inner workings of a global surveil­lance machine. He was also scrambling to evade it. To com­municate with the journalists who would publish his secrets, he had to route all his messages over the anonymity soft­ware Tor, teach reporters to use the encryption tool PGP by creating a YouTube tutorial that disguised his voice, and eventually ditch his comfortable life (and smartphone) in Hawaii to set up a cloak-and-dagger data handoff halfway around the world.

    • Amnesty International uncovers phishing campaign against human rights activists

      Over the course of the last year, a number of human rights organizations, labor unions, and journalists were targeted in a “phishing” campaign that attempted to steal the Google credentials of targets by luring them into viewing documents online. The campaign, uncovered by Amnesty International, is interesting largely because of the extent to which whoever was behind the attack used social media to create a complete persona behind the messages—a fictional rights activist named Safeena Malik.

      Malik translates from Arabic as “King,” so Amnesty International refers to the spear-phishing campaign in a report posted to Medium today as “Operation Kingphish.”

      The party or parties behind the operation created Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles for “Safeena Malik” using a young woman’s photos, which were apparently harvested from another social media account. “It appears that the attackers may have impersonated the identity of a real young woman and stole her pictures to construct the fake profile,” wrote Nex, a security researcher working with Amnesty International, “along with a professional biography also stolen from yet another person.”

    • FBI Arresting More Americans For Targeting Muslims, Than Muslims For Targeting Americans

      We’ve been pretty damn clear that we think the Trump administration’s targeting of people from a few countries by banning them from entering the US is both inhumane and misguided. We were proud to sign on to an amicus brief opposing it and happy that the 9th Circuit agreed — though the case is far from over. As I’ve noted repeatedly, to me it’s an issue of basic humanity and decency, but some have insisted on making arguments about how certain people are somehow out to get us and we need to protect ourselves from them. I know that, these days, it’s considered silly to rely on things like facts for an argument, but it seemed worthwhile to actually explore some facts on this particular topic.

      We’ll start with a post at Lawfare, by Nora Ellingsen. And we should start out by noting that Techdirt and Lawfare have a pretty long history of… well… not agreeing on much. The site is generally supportive of the intelligence community and supportive of actions taken to protect “national security.” We tend to be more skeptical. Ellingsen worked in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division for five years, specifically working on international terrorism investigations inside the US. Since leaving the FBI to go to law school, she’s been tracking counterterrorism cases in the US, using DOJ data. And she’s gone through that data to try to determine if there’s any truth to the idea that people from those countries represent a big ongoing threat.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • T-Mobile Backs Off Added Fee For HD Streaming As Unlimited Data Wars Heat Up

      While the U.S. wireless industry isn’t quite as competitive as it’s portrayed as (non-price competition is generally the law of the land), T-Mobile has still managed to disrupt the sector with a crazy idea: giving users what they want. That was again made evident this week when Verizon was forced to bring back sort-of unlimited data after spending the last several years telling consumers they didn’t really want such simple, straightforward plans. Verizon’s long-standing belief that it can tell consumers what they’re supposed to want took a notable blow this week by any measure.

      Shortly after Verizon announced it was returning to unlimited data, T-Mobile once again upped the ante, announcing it would no longer be charging an extra fee to stream HD video over the company’s LTE Network. According to the announcement, T-Mobile not only stopped charging a premium for HD quality (the de-prioritization of which you may recall T-Mobile lied was happening at several points), but also eased up on the restrictions surrounding tethering (using your phone as a modem).

    • What is Verizon Unlimited? Here’s everything you need to know (Updated)
    • The Unlimited Data Party Will Last Until the Big Four Become the Big Three

      Verizon is finally bringing back unlimited plans. Yes, the plans come with catches. But they’re great news for Verizon customers who want to stream or upload lots of video. At least as long as the company faces enough competition to keep up the pressure—in other words, as long as the big four don’t become the big three.

      [...]

      But the competition might not last. T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, has been trying to sell the wireless carrier for years, and T-Mobile’s aggressive pricing has always looked in part like a ploy to grow its subscription base to make itself more attractive to potential acquirers. If Deutsche Telekom were finally able to sell T-Mobile, its new parent might get stingier with pricing and pizzas. If not, its current parent might do the same.

    • Is this the end of »mere conduit«?

      But this doesn’t make sense.

      You cannot have a rule stating that ISP:s have no legal liability for the consequences of traffic relayed via their networks – unless illegal. That is the same as saying that ISP:s do have legal liability for the consequences of traffic relayed via their networks. And this is the opposite of what is stated in the eCommerce directive.

      And even though the ISP in question have not been charged with any criminal offense – it is to be considered liable, as the verdict states that it will have to pay a hefty fine unless blocking The Pirate Bay. (The ISP also had to pay the copyright owners legal fees.)

    • How to talk to your non-tech friends about Net Neutrality

      Net Neutrality is being discussed again, and it’s important that your friends understand why this concept is crucial. Instead of explaining it in typical technical terms, it’s usually better to draw parallels to if we hadn’t had infrastructure neutrality in other fields. Roads are frequently mentioned; I find electricity to be a much better example to get the point across.

      Imagine if all your kitchen appliances only worked with one power company. The electricity they provided was somehow coded so that only their fridge, their freezer, their stove, and their washing machine could be used when their power is in your outlets.

    • Internet 3.0: How we take back control from the giants

      AT THE heart of the internet are monsters with voracious appetites. In bunkers and warehouses around the world, vast arrays of computers run the show, serving up the web – and gorging on our data.

      These server farms are the engine rooms of the internet. Operated by some of the world’s most powerful companies, they process photos of our children, emails to our bosses and lovers, and our late-night searches. Such digital shards reveal far more of ourselves than we might like, and they are worth a lot of money. They are not only used to target advertising and sell stuff back to us, but also form the building blocks for a new generation of artificial intelligence that will determine the future of the web.

      “Very big and powerful companies own a huge chunk of what happens on the web,” says Andrei Sambra, a developer with the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the main standards organisation for the web. But we – the ones producing this valuable data – have lost control.

    • Comcast, AT&T Are Paying Minority Groups To Support Killing Net Neutrality

      For years, we’ve noted how one of the greasier lobbying tactics in telecom is the use of minority groups to provide the illusion of broad support for what’s often awful policy. Such groups are given cash for a shiny new event center in exchange for parroting any policy position that comes across their desks, even if it dramatically undermines their constituents. As a result, we’ve shown how time and time again you’ll see minority coalitions like the “Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership” supporting awful mergers or opposing consumer-centric policies like more cable box competition or net neutrality.

      [...]

      While there’s no debate that a Congress-made net neutrality law would be the ideal solution, you may have noticed that Congress is so awash in telecom campaign contributions that crafting a law unriddled with fatal loopholes has been impossible. As a result, the best path forward for those that actually care about net neutrality is to leave the existing rules in place. But since that’s not what ISPs want, they’re pushing Congress to pass a new law — one that will claim to be “solving” net neutrality — but will actually work to kill it through “compromise.”

  • DRM and ‘Right to Repair’

    • Counterpoint: As Denuvo Lauds Its Weeks-Long Control, 20 Year Old Game Still Selling Due To Its Modding Community

      I’ve covered the saga of Denuvo DRM regularly as of late. The once-vaunted anti-piracy tool, thought to be the end of video game piracy altogether, has instead had its protection window reduced to somewhere between a week and some weeks. Despite the headwinds of reality, the folks behind Denuvo have bravely soldiered on, proclaiming the tool still useful for protecting the ever-important early-release window of new video games.

      And that’s where I think a counterpoint needs to be made. The idea that the most important time in the sales cycle for a new video game is its initial release is almost gospel within the industry. And it’s not without its logic, I suppose. Many, many games experience the vast majority of their sales upon initial release. But what if that wasn’t the case? And what if by simply embracing the gaming community and releasing control over the product, instead of trying to cling to it with tactics like DRM, the sales cycle for a game became so long that it changed the math?

      What if more games were like Quake, in other words. And I mean the original Quake, released by id Software some twenty years ago. The game has continued to sell throughout these past two decades, but is going through something of a comeback recently. Why? Well, it’s because the modding community that has developed around the game has kept it fresh and relevant.

    • Source: Apple Will Fight ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

      Apple representatives plan to tell Nebraska lawmakers that repairing your phone is dangerous.

      Apple is planning to fight proposed electronics “Right to Repair” legislation being considered by the Nebraska state legislature, according to a source within the legislature who is familiar with the bill’s path through the statehouse.

      The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.

    • Apple Planning to Fight Proposed ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

      Apple is preparing to fight proposed “Right to Repair” legislation proposed in the Nebraska state legislature, reports Motherboard. The legislation aims to make it easier for both customers and indie repair shops to repair electronics, similar to how car repair works.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Kenya Works With Communities On Genetic Resources And Traditional Knowledge Protection

      Excessive degradation and over-exploitation of plant biodiversity in Kenya has led to depletion of some species and narrowed their genetic base. Apart from the conservation challenge, utilisation and sharing of benefits from plant genetic resources and traditional and associated knowledge among communities has also remained opaque despite constitutional guarantees.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay Blockade Signals Copyright Industry’s Death Throes, ISP Boss Says

        After a court ruled yesterday that The Pirate Bay must be blocked in Sweden, reaction has been polarized. While copyright holders celebrated, the boss of ISP Bahnhof criticized the move, deriding the court action as signaling the death throes of the copyright industry. Interestingly, the company also teased a potential workaround.

      • Canada Remains a “Safe Haven” for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

        The MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups are calling out Canada, claiming that it remains a “safe haven” for copyright infringers and pirate sites. The new “notice and notice” system is ineffective, they say, and the broader legal copyright regime fails to deter piracy.

      • EU Court Of Justice: EU Is Competent To Ratify Marrakesh Treaty

        The European Union ratification of a treaty allowing an exception to copyright for the benefit of visually impaired people might be yet one step closer as the Court of Justice of the EU found today that the EU has exclusive competence to conclude it.

      • The Pirate Bay Must Be Blocked in Sweden, Court of Appeal Rules

        A Court of Appeal has ordered The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer to be blocked by an ISP in Sweden. The landmark ruling, in favor of Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, and the Swedish film industry, will see local ISP Bredbandsbolaget forced to block the sites for the next three years.

      • Pirate Bay sank in Sweden as court orders ISP-level ban

        SPLICE THE MAINBRACE AND FEED THE PARROT, we have piracy news for you. The Swedish courts have ordered a ban on the Pirate Bay at an ISP level.

        That might not sound like a big deal, but it might be one of those domino scenarios. TorrentFreak reports that the courts have sided with copyright people, including Sony, in an appeal against an earlier ruling, and decided that ISPs that do not block access to the torrent site should be fined.

Claude Rouiller (ILOAT) and ILO Rulings Effectively Disregarded by the European Patent Office

Posted in Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 9:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like anyone seriously thought that Battistelli would obey the law, for a change

Claude RouillerSummary: The compositions of kangaroo courts at the EPO continue to be absurd, in spite of a ruling from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which insisted that change must be made following a lot of mistrials

EARLIER THIS year we heard about escalations in Battistelli’s attack on staff, emboldened by a Dutch court’s decision to maintain Battistelli’s immunity. In December the International Labour Organisation ruled that for a couple of years Battistelli’s EPO had not offered justice to workers] (a hundred if not several hundreds people are affected by this gross injustice).

Of high relevance to this is the following statement from the written determination:

ILO composition of EPO trials

This morning, EPO workers (i.e. colleagues) had disseminated among them information about what had been happening behind the scenes (quiet before the storm?). In a nutshell, Battistelli’s ‘herculean’ actions continue to rattle or threaten staff representatives and thus provide less incentive to keep one’s place there (or even join). These aren’t mere deterrence tactics but union-busting tactics. Anyone can see that.

“In Judgement 3785,” said an insider, “ILOAT declared the composition of the internal Appeals Committee (ApC) illegal for the years 2014 (partly), 2015 and 2016. With CA/D 18/16, the Office and the Administrative Council reacted and revised Article 36(2) of the Service Regulations in December 2016. Staff representation considers that this proposal is flawed as not responding to the requirement of the ILOAT regarding the balance representation of parties [excerpt of the Judgment can be seen above]. The CSC counterproposal to the B28 remains uncommented so far.”

So the more things ‘change’, the more they stay the same. The person who leaked this to us remarked: “I would suggest that a copy should also be sent to Mr Rouiller, President of the ILOAT [and Former President of the Federal Tribunal (Supreme Court of the Swiss Confederation)] who poignantly declared his satisfaction as the EPO is implementing “some” of the rulings issued by the Tribunal. Sounds like Mr. Rouiller spoke too early. A corrective disapproval would be welcome.”

It turns out, based on letters which are circulating these days, that ILOAT should escalate its actions (not that it has much authority or power over the EPO, as long as immunity remains and Battistelli prevails).

“The nominations made by the CSC in December,” wrote the insider, “were turned down by the President who called in January the 25th on individual elected Staff Representatives to volunteer for the ApC, in accordance with new Article 36(2)(a) ServRegs, last sentence, first alternative. Besides one staff representative, none of the elected Staff Representatives Office-wide responded positively to the call (see exemplary letter below).”

Here is one such letter from one week ago:

Hague justice

Hague justice

“It seems that the President decided to selectively apply its own rules and proceeded on 13 February 2017,” said the insider, “with the drawing of lots (new Article 36(2)(a), last sentence, second alternative) only to complement the three further members of the ApC. And the “winners” are…:

1) ███ ███ (███ ███)
2) ███ ███ (███ ███)
3) ███ ███ (███ ███)

“The Administration was not in a position to indicate who would be a full member and who would be alternate [so folks] are awaiting a decision of the President of the Office about the new complete composition. The mandate of the members will end on 30 June 2017.

“In fine, the ApC is now composed with
· one volunteer* appointed “ex officio”, who was previously member of the declared illegally composed ApC;
· one Staff Representative, who is the complainant of the ILO Appeal which clarified the illegal composition of the ApC;
· and two SRs [staff representatives] with who sent beforehand a letter to the President explaining the reasons why they were not eligible for the job and the drawing of lots.

“It is hard to see how a flawed rule, applied “flexibly” by the captain of the ship, with more than questionable results does serve the interest of Staff and the Office in an adequate and balanced manner?

“Without being a lawyer, under these conditions the quote from the CH [Swiss] delegation in the AC [Administrative Council] takes a particularly acute meaning: “There is a great risk, that we will see ourselves in a short while in the same situation as today”. Just with a more complicated legal situation.

This issue has already been raised (2 days ago) in Munich:

Central Staff Committee Members Munich

Munich
13 February 2017

Dear Mr. President,

We refer to your letter of 26 January 2017, in which you asked all staff committee members to volunteer for a function in the Appeals Committee. We further refer to the email of 10 February inviting all CSC and LSC members to attend a drawing of lots today.

Already when you called for volunteers in December 2014, the CSC sent you a letter explaining why it could not nominate. There were also no volunteer from among the CSC. The same reasons remain valid today. Accordingly, you will have noticed that we did not volunteer this time, either.

At this stage, we would like to notify you that we will not be available for being included in the pool for the drawing of lots. We specifically request that you do not include us in the pool of eligible staff members within the meaning of Article 36(2)(a) ServRegs.

In addition, we wish to draw your attention to the following facts:

1. We stood for election in the Central Staff Committee in 2014. We had no intention to be members of the Appeals Committee, nor was there any such obligation then in the Service Regulations. We have a legitimate expectation to be left to carry out our duties as staff representatives, without being saddled with additional burdens we have never considered taking on.

2. In a meeting with PD43, PD53 and Director 5.3.2. on 8 December 2016, we apparently came to a common understanding about the staff members which would be eligible for sitting in the Appeals Committee, e.g. excluding so-called “repetitive” appellants or members of the Boards of Appeal. The outcome of these discussions as well as our repeated requests to broaden the pool of eligible staff members available for appointment by the CSC were ignored later, most notably in the GCC meeting on 12 December 2016 when you submitted the proposal to amend Article 36 ServRegs.

3. As members of the Central Staff Committee in the biggest place of employment, we are not only dealing with all the central issues which fall under the competence of the CSC, but we are also directly or indirectly advising individual staff members about their rights, and in some cases act as counsels in internal appeals. This role was and is an integral part of our duties as staff representatives. There would be a direct and fatal conflict of interest if we were also to sit in the Appeals Committee. (Please refer to the statement of VP4 and VP5 of 30.09.2014 and to your Communiqué 61.)

4. If you were to coerce us into participating in the Appeals Committee, we would not be able to act impartially as staff representatives. If you were to oblige us to resign from the staff representation to avoid that quandary, you would be violating the principle of freedom of association.

5. Within the framework of the Working Group on resources for the Staff Committees, a specific budget for external expertise was requested – including lawyers to advise staff. We did so promptly upon taking up our tasks as elected staff representatives, as we realised that we could not cope effectively with all the workload involved in advising staff. PD43 has refused to make such budget and technical means available to us until today. Therefore, the Office itself bears a fundamental responsibility in creating the situation in which we cannot sit in the Appeals Committee.

6. At this point in time, there are even more severe problems of capacity for the remaining members of the CSC in Munich than in the previous years. Contrary to your assurances in CA/4/14 and in Communiqué 48 that the time budget for the staff representation would not be reduced with the introduction of “Social Democracy”, the figures show a massive decline. Moreover, the Office has imposed more and more constraints and hurdles in 2016, making our job exceedingly difficult – particularly for those exonerated from examiner duties only to 50%. It is simply physically impossible to take on (additional) demanding projects like the Appeals Committee. SUEPO members or officials amongst us have been particularly targeted.

Putting us in an impossible bind is not in the best interest of staff, the Office and of its reputation. It is also inadvisable to proceed in any way that could cause the Tribunal to condemn the EPO as it did in judgments 3694 and 3751. We trust that, upon careful reflection, you will not go down this road. We firmly believe that there are other ways to solve the issue, all within the current legal framework. We draw your attention to the letter sent by the CSC on 7 February 2017 (sc17016) which entails proposals which would immediately resolve the deadlock of the Appeals Committee.

From our side, we can only reassure staff, the President, and the Administrative Council that we will not act contrary to well-established legal principles and our ethical principles. We will not bring ourselves into any conflict of interest situation that will harm staff members, produce further undue workloads, and harm the sense of justice in our Office.

Sincerely,

The undersigned CSC members in Munich.

And on the same day at The Hague (we haven’t had time to transcribe):

Hague volunteers

Hague volunteers

Justice cannot ever happen in darkness or in secret (secrecy betrays trust and breeds suspicion), so Techrights believes that the above should be publicised, excepting names. We urge our readers to contact Claude Rouiller (from Switzerland, so English, German and French should be fine) immediately and tell him that Battistelli takes him for a fool. According to this page, his E-mail address may still be claude.rouiller@hispeed.ch. This is the kind of thing that Dutch authorities must become aware of, otherwise the Netherlands will become renowned not for international justice (e.g. ICC) but for the very opposite. It has already become quite a farce which we wrote nearly a dozen articles about. Among them:

  1. Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It’s OK, Holland’s High Council Says
  2. EPO Abuses Now Make the Netherlands Look Like a Facilitator of Human/Labour Rights Abuses
  3. Media Blasts EPO Over Immunity Amid Suicides, Battistelli’s Behaviour Compared to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s
  4. Leaked: Team Battistelli, Exploiting a Controversial Decision From the Netherlands, is Trying to Squash SUEPO
  5. The EPO’s Freedom to Disregard the Law and Abuse Employees is “Being Taken up by the Council of Europe”
  6. The Netherlands With Its Bizarre Decision to Let the EPO Violate Dutch Law, Now in English
  7. “Team Battistelli Continues With Intimidation Tactics”
  8. The European Patent Office Officially Dishonours Justice, So It’s Time for SUEPO to Become Clandestine
  9. Culture of Terror at The European Patent Office Escalates Thanks to Dutch Government’s Complicity

Remember that the basis for the High Court’s decision to let the EPO off the hook is the supposed supervision — in the legal sense — by ILO, which obviously continues to not safeguard staff’s rights (too many referrals back to the kangaroo court) as Battistelli virtually snubs the ILOAT. This is part of an ongoing and never-ending pattern. The EPO views itself as above the law and it acts accordingly.

Help put an end to the "Mafia" that the EPO has become. Many people’s lives — not just economic welfare — may be at stake.

National Law Journal Believes That Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice Would be Opponent of Patent Reform

Posted in America, Patents, Rumour at 8:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Neil Gorsuch
Reference: Neil Gorsuch

Summary: Whispering campaign surrounds Neil Gorsuch’s alleged or perceived views on patents, and in particular the America Invents Act (AIA) which brought the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a serial invalidator of software patents, owing to Alice (a Supreme Court decision)

HIDDEN behind an obnoxious paywall today (as is usual for National Law Journal) is this article with an access token (if someone can access the whole, please get in touch with us). To quote the summary: “Though Gorsuch’s views on patents are mostly unknown, the Tenth Circuit judge has had plenty to say in other areas of intellectual property. And attorneys see signs that he might scale back some procedures created by the America Invents Act.”

“So far it’s mainly an enigma, much like Obama in 2008 (people just impose their own projections onto this blank slate).”We don’t know who these attorneys are (could be professional spinners like Watchtroll), but they might be trying to convince themselves — and the media — that Gorsuch, whom we mentioned in [1, 2, 3], would turn the Supreme Court into an opponent of the AIA, which brought PTAB among other things. The other day we mentioned how in January PTAB broke its own all-time record and this is recalled this week by MIP, which has done a decent job tracking PTAB’s workload.

It would be useful to know on which side Gorsuch sits, at least as far as patents go. So far it’s mainly an enigma, much like Obama in 2008 (people just impose their own projections onto this blank slate).

“If Trump’s Administration promotes patent maximalism, then it can eventually find itself sued for patent infringements.”Will Gorsuch be a secret weapon of patent maximalists or more like a Nemesis to them? They still try very hard to scandalise Michelle Lee [1, 2, 3, 4] and install Rader as Director of the Patent Office.

Incidentally, on the subject of patent maximalism in government, there is this new article titled “Suing The United States Government For Patent Infringement And Defending Against A Claim Of Obviousness”, written by a law firm. To quote:

A patentee may bring patent infringement claims against the United States government pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1498, in which Congress waived the sovereign immunity of the United States against such claims. Patent infringement actions against the government are similar to those brought against non-governmental entities, but they do have some idiosyncrasies. For example, patent owners can only sue the government for infringement in the United States Court of Federal Claims, as opposed to a district court, and jury trials are not available in the Court of Federal Claims.

If Trump’s Administration promotes patent maximalism, then it can eventually find itself sued for patent infringements. They ought to pursue patent quality (Make Patent Quality Great Again), not patent litigation (Make Litigation Great Again).

Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) is a Lobby Group for Software Patents and Patent Maximalism

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 7:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Backed by IBM, Microsoft, and all the usual suspects…

Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) logo

Summary: An introduction to what the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding [sic] really is, what it is for, and who is behind it

YESTERDAY we wrote about OIN's role in the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU), which is the opposite of what its name says (common practice among front groups). Watch the composition: this is a software patents lobby with David Kappos, a clear IBM role, and Microsoft role also.

IAM, the mouthpiece of patent maximalists, says this right now (shielded behind a paywall, so it’s easier for them to evade scrutiny):

As well as being headed by Berman, CIPU includes former IBM and Microsoft IP supremo Marshall Phelps as vice-chairman. A number of other high profile IP figures have helped with getting the Center off the ground. These include Philips CIPO Brian Hinman, former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel and former USPTO Director David Kappos. Microsoft, Philips and Duke University are among those providing support.

It is too easy to see whose interests are served by this front group. Now watch the sole comment on this blog post, published by Peter Harter of The Farrington Group (friend of IAM): “Glad to see that the FAKE NEWS of the infringer lobby can be countered. Perhaps all ethics reviews for IP professionals, journalists and bloggers should include a literacy evaluation built on the CIPU rubric?”

“They try to strike down Alice, bring back software patents, and extort a lot of companies for many billions of dollars.”We are probably going to hear a lot from this front group in the coming weeks/months. It will also lobby politicians behind closed doors, we are pretty sure about that…

It’s clear what they want as they repeatedly write about it. They try to strike down Alice, bring back software patents, and extort a lot of companies for many billions of dollars.

Christopher Hall, writing for the National Law Review right now, seems to be on that same bandwagon. He seems to have not gotten the memo about death of software patents, or maybe he just conveniently pretends that Alice does not exist. People like him, along with the CIPU backers, have been constructing a bunch of tricks for loopholes that often work in the EPO; they try to pass off algorithms as a “machine” (to quote, “could be a computing machine of some sort, for computer-based algorithms”).

These are technically meaningless terms (Deepak Chopra-style mumbo-jumbo) that may in fact suggest that Hall does not know how computer programs work (Watchtroll evidently has the same problem). Here is the full paragraph, which does cite §101:

Claims written with the above template capture initial values, iterative values and results in the context of an iterative algorithm tied to a machine (which could be a computing machine of some sort, for computer-based algorithms). Variations on this can be written for tangible media and for system claims. This approach should pass muster for arguments and subject matter patent eligibility under 35 USC §101, because the algorithm and presumably tangible result are inextricably tied to the machine that is executing the algorithm, so that a computer is not a mere field of use limitation.

We need to keep track of all these firms and front groups that are trying to spin things and even lie in major newspapers, basically telling people that the potency of software patents is just fine (when clearly that is not the case).

Apple, for example, based on its patent promotion sites (not affiliated with Apple but always pushing Apple agenda on patents), is still gambling its future on Steve Jobs’ “thermonuclear” patent wars against rivals. The same goes for IBM and Microsoft, both of which are attacking companies that use GNU/Linux. If software patents are taken away from them, then they are pretty hopeless. That’s why they lobby so hard against Alice (Apple, IBM and Microsoft pay Kappos through his front group for lobbying on this).

The European Patent Office Looks More and More Like the Sicilian Mafia Every Day

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tommaso BuscettaSummary: Battistelli has constructed or pulled together a Mafia-like family inside the EPO, where all those who protect the ‘King’ (or Don) are rewarded and the rest are removed with prejudice

FIFA analogies (or even Dominique Strauss-Kahn) have not been exhausted, but the Sicilian Mafia emerges as another match for what Battistelli has turned the EPO into.

“Remember when the thug in chief, Mr. Battistelli, had five security guards escort a bailiff off the EPO premises after his endless abuses culminated in a subpoena?”No mailbox will be available anymore at the EPO “because security” — the universal catch-all excuse, according to this new announcement (warning: epo.org link). Remember when the thug in chief, Mr. Battistelli, had five security guards escort a bailiff off the EPO premises after his endless abuses culminated in a subpoena? It’s like some kind of Mafia dynasty in a bunker. The outside world, including those who try to uphold the law, are treated like some kind of “enemy combatants” and treated as a security threat. “New security measures at EPO buildings,” the EPO called it (this was also mentioned in Twitter), but we guess that Battistelli and his goons just don’t wish to be “interfered” or “distracted” by all those people trying to enforce law.

“I see that the EPO considers the Isar building to be at a higher risk than elsewhere,” one person sarcastically wrote in a comment. “Could this be due to BB [Battistelli] having his flat there?”

Battistelli has been a chronic paranoid for a great number of years, and it is costing a fortune to the EPO (six bodyguards).

Another sarcastic comment said: “So maybe The Boards are being sent to Haar for their own safety?? How considerate…”

“”The Godfather’s Mafia Model,” one reader told us, is the model that Battistelli has unofficially embraced.”Battistelli viewed the Boards as a threat to his totalitarian powers, so he drove them away (or will toss them out soon). They don’t belong in Battistelli’s Mafia-esque fortress.

Not too long ago we saw Battistelli paying countries whose votes he needed and are relatively cheap to 'buy'. We did not accuse him of bribery (that’s a strong word), albeit his right-hand man faces bribery charges and the EPO as a whole often seems to an outsider like organised crime (not that we suggest so ourselves, but many people do believe so). Dutch media calls it an office of terror (it actually uses that word).

“The Godfather’s Mafia Model,” one reader told us, is the model that Battistelli has unofficially embraced. Here is the explanation:

La Famiglia (Sicilian business style at EPO)

Last year we were informed by DG4 insiders that:

- the chairwoman of the Internal Appeal Committee

- the Head of the Investigation Unit

- the members of the IU both in MUC and TH

all enjoyed the max. functional allowance ( = 2 steps per month), a financial reward attributed under opaque criteria;

This year we heard of the recent promotions of

- the chairman of the Disciplinary Committee

- the Head of the Investigation Unit

- the right hand of PD HR

Now more bread for the braves! we just heard that the participants to the farcical “social conference” should get 1500 EUR bonus
Who said this was corruption ?

Well, all these promotions were covered here before and were confirmed by several independent sources. The EPO has become the shame of Europe and its Vice-President already faces corruption indictments in Strasbourg. If it wasn’t for the inexcusable immunity, the EPO would have long ago come under an extensive probe. If FIFA was rife with bribery and the Vatican with paedophelia, we are not quite sure what it will take for authorities to take action. Does Battistelli need to literally gun people down before someone tiptoes his/her to Eponia and finds the courage to merely (and politely) suggest that Battistelli’s Mafia officially lost its immunity? Things continue to get worse, not better. Many of the latest top hirings at the EPO are from the Army, not from scientific disciplines.

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