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04.29.17

RecogniCorp v Nintendo is Another Nail in the Coffin of Software Patents in the United States

Posted in America, Patents at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last night’s pleasant surprise came from Nintendo

Nintendo

Summary: A precedential new decision against software patents is terrible news for the patent microcosm — something for them to spin or moan about for a long time to come

LAWSUITS against Nintendo have been covered here for a long time. The company has quite a lot of cash, so it’s an attractive target for opportunists and patent trolls.

“Maybe Watchtroll is trying to come up with a way to insult the judge/s — the same thing he did the last time it happened.”Yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) did something which will likely to change the debate for months to come, maybe even years. We have made a local copy of this decision [PDF] because it’s likely to be mentioned (cited) a lot in the future and we don’t wish to risk losing easy/free access to it a decade down the line. Here it is as animated GIF:

Opinion on Nintendo

This decision will no doubt annoy the patent maximalists. It’s a catastrophe to them because it’s precedential. Watchtroll does not seem to have said anything about it (not that ignoring it would make it go away) and is instead mocking PTAB as usual or promoting software patents on Blockchain — a subject we explored here many times before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Maybe Watchtroll is trying to come up with a way to insult the judge/s — the same thing he did the last time it happened.

“This is a fantastic way to end the week (this decision was delivered late on a Friday).”Watchtroll could use “weekend” as an excuse, but his buddy, “Patent Buddy”, is visibly concerned with tweets like this: “Fed. Cir. Chips Away at McRO in Precedential Recognicorp v Nintendo”

Or even this: “RecogniCorp v. Nintendo, Decided Today by the Fed. Cir. Can Be Used to Kill Any Software Patent” (the word “kill” is a propaganda term of the patent microcosm, implying that patent invalidation is the moral equivalent of murder).

This is a fantastic way to end the week (this decision was delivered late on a Friday). It’s altogether very good news. CAFC has put out there quite a few precedential decisions against software patents recently. More on SCOTUS and CAFC will be published tomorrow (the less pressing/urgent news).

Battistelli is Busy Securing the Vote of Countries Whose Support and Tickets Are Easy to ‘Buy’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battistelli spends a lot more time protecting himself (and enriching himself) than the patent office he claims to serve

Monaco and EPO

Summary: Battistelli’s banana republic politics and tricks are viewed as his ticket to endless ‘leadership’ (domination by sheer force) of a sinking patent office, whose rules he repeatedly breaks (including lack of eligibility to run it, for multiple reasons)

FIVE months ago Battistelli made a notable visit which we wrote about in [1, 2]. Monaco is a ‘country’ whose vote is rather cheap to buy. The EPO can control even rich countries, provided they’re small enough (like Monaco). It’s an evident, obvious design flaw when the vote of a country like Germany carries the same weight as Monaco’s.

A couple of days ago the EPO published (caution: link to the EPO’s Web site, which means the EPO can harvest IP addresses) something familiar. The Corsican in Chief can have a little chat in French and then take another photo op for perceived legitimacy. Photo ops of Battistelli with officials of tiny ‘nations’ (whose officials have been easy to ‘buy’ for their vote/support) have become quite a routine modus operandi.

Why does this matter (or does not matter?

As someone pointed out in a comment yesterday:

Did you see the puff piece about the agreement with the Monégasque patent office? Not one patent application was published by Monaco in 2016 and it looks like they average around three per year. Hardly worth the bother travelling to Munich for that but at least the ambassador got to visit the out of bounds floor of the EPO.

Another comment, prior to this, seemed to hint things had been going on which we need leaks about. To quote:

People, do not make yourself too many illusions! Battistelli has already announced that he intends to further prolong his mandate. He has the support of the small contracting states whose votes he buys with plenty of cooperation money (there is no control on this and plenty of money is available).
He will proceed this way: 1) make sure that the post is not timely announced; 2) make the sacrifice and accept to remain at the request of the majority of the small states. A very simple strategy.
The big contracting states will have to accept: France for the pride: UK does not exist; the Germans do not care; the Dutch will have their building; Italy is totally irrelevant etc.
A disaster for the EPO !

We are not familiar with evidence showing that “Battistelli has already announced that he intends to further prolong his mandate.” Is this something that someone can leak to us? Apparently, based on the following comment, Board 28 completed its meeting a few days ago. We don’t know what happened there; all we know is that SUEPO wrote a letter to the Members of the Board of the Administrative Council. Here is what the comment said:

So Merpel, not even curious what the B28 decided yesterday about the selection of the new EPO President? Which countries are in the running? Or is it extension time? Chances of a post or pre Brexit UK President?? Timed to encourage signing that UPC document? The possible machinations and plotting could be infinite. Maybe even not an AC member for the first time? An external CEO, but with little or no IP knowledge? Who knows?

Someone ended up responding to it this morning by saying: “Jog my memory if you will … but unless I’m mistaken Alain Pompidou wasn’t an AC member … The smart money is on the head honcho of the EUIPO …”

That’s Antonio Campinos, who some believed would replace Battistelli.

We clearly have some lapse/gap of information here. We would like to know what happened at the meeting of Board 28 and what Battistelli’s position is on the upcoming (one year from now) end of his term. It certainly looks like the Organisation has got an Erdoğan in its hands and unless something is done to stop this, patent applications will continue to diminish, rendering both the Organisation and the Office obsolete, harming all past EPs and harming the European economy. Kongstad, for the record, is very much complicit in this.

Patent Snake Oil From Brunel University London and PatentDive

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

Things were working more or less fine before Battistelli, who is technologically illiterate, came

EPO Frame Breaking

Summary: The ludicrous notion of replacing patent examiners (or searches by humans) with machines is seriously considered by some who should know better… but don’t

THE EPO under Battistelli strives to replace examiners with machines. Anyone with a clue about science, i.e. not Battistelli, would immediately know that it’s bound to fail and it's already showing. This is what happens when politicians are put in charge of a patent office and anything a company like Google tells them they will swallow whole. They lack sceptical skills; their main skill is lying by omission, cleverly-worded non-denying denials and so on. This is why the EPO is in shambles.

The other day we spotted this snake oil from Brunel, which is advertised by stating: “A new computer tool is being developed by researchers at Brunel University London to help designers generate more innovative design solutions and avoid potential clashes with patent prior art emerging during a product modelling process.”

“This is what happens when politicians are put in charge of a patent office and anything a company like Google tells them they will swallow whole.”This is nonsense. Never mind how nonsensical patents on designs tend to be (just look what happens to Apple’s design patents at the SCOTUS and the EPO). There are many purely technical reasons why this won’t work and those who claim they can achieve this may as well just literally sell snake oil. In order to ‘automatically’ analyse patents one must grasp the semantics, use memory or deep knowledge of existing patents in a certain area, etc. That’s why there’s no substitute to highly experienced patent examiners in their respective fields. The more patents they have seen and become familiar with, the better prior art analysis (and reporting) can be carried out. It makes stakeholders happy. Crucial here is also lack of duplication, e.g. overpatenting. It’s a lot like peer review. A day or so later (after the above snake oil from Brunel) the following self-promotional nonsense got published as well. It says “PatentDive starts with an easy to understand assessment of what kind of patent an entrepreneur may need. Their are two categories, Appearance and Functionality. The platform explains that appearance dictates a design patent to protect the appearance and shape. If it’s functionality the startup is looking to protect, PatentDive points you towards a utility patent.”

“Will there be patents on patenting patent-generating machines? This can get recursive and outright ridiculous.”What we have here is proprietary software that would neither work nor save time. Last year there were many articles (dozens in English) about computer-generated patents and what these would mean (their total number, the assigned inventor and so on). We compared that to financial trading using algorithms — a growing ethical and practical problem in economics.

We worry that those who can fool the Battistellis of the world are so eager to replace people with machines (it’s profitable to the snake oil merchants) that they have completely lost touch with the purpose of patent systems and how these are supposed to function. Will there be patents on systems for filing patents? Or patents on patent-generating machines? Will there be patents on patenting patent-generating machines? This can get recursive and outright ridiculous.

This is How ‘Independent’ the Boards of Appeal Are Under Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Interview, Patents at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A rather revealing new factoid about the interview that never happened (potentially contradicting a previous one with Battistelli), or why it did not happen

Links 29/4/2017: Endless OS, Pinebook, and New Mozilla Foundation Board Members

Posted in News Roundup at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Endless OS: A Unique Take on Linux That’s Perfect for New Users

      You may not have heard of Endless OS. It happens to be the platform that powers Endless Computers (which includes the uniquely shaped, Endless One). The operating system is not just limited to Endless hardware, though. In fact, you can install the OS on standard systems (or as a virtual machine) and discover a rather interesting take on Linux.

      This is not your traditional, über-flexible, do everything Linux distribution. Endless OS is something different—an operating system that is truly ideal for those wanting to break ties with proprietary systems, but don’t want to face a steep learning curve (or any learning curve, for that matter). Endless OS is likely the easiest operating system platform you’ll ever experience.

    • Pinebook – 1st review

      So I got the Pinebook 11 inch with arm 64 bits…..

      And what can I say, I am amazed with the quality of the construction.

      Very good plastics, better than some chromebooks and cheap windows netbooks.

      The mousepad is outstanding and work really nice.

      The keyboard, only has one problem!! The right shift. Probably I will remap the shift to the “/” position. I use and abuse right shift (i rarely use the left one), so this is very important to me.

  • Server

    • DevOps lab: Learn to use GitHub for infrastructure deployments

      This article is part of a series to help IT ops professionals learn DevOps by building a home lab. In the second step, Git version control allows ops to manage infrastructure as code.

    • IBM Advances OpenWhisk Serverless Vision

      The computing paradigm commonly known as ‘serverless’ computing isn’t for everyone, but it does have a place and plenty of opportunities for those willing to explore. IBM has its own serverless platform called OpenWhisk which first became generally available in December 2016.

      In a video interview with ServerWatch, Jason McGee, VP and CTO for IBM Cloud platform discusses the opportunities for serverless, event-driven computing and where the technology intersects with Watson cognitive computing and the application container revolutions.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation Announces EdgeX Foundry To Drive Standardization Of Edge Computing
    • Graphics Stack

      • XWayland Picks Up Tablet Pad Support

        More feature work landed today in xserver Git for what will eventually become X.Org Server 1.20.

        Peter Hutterer, the lead developer of Linux’s input stack at Red Hat, has added support to the X.Org Server for handling tablet pads under XWayland.

      • Mesa 17.0.5 to Improve RadeonSI, Intel i965 and Vulkan Drivers for Linux Gaming

        Andres Gomez was pleased to announce that a Release Candidate (RC) milestone of the upcoming Mesa 17.0.5 maintenance update to the stable Mesa 17.0 series is out, giving us a glimpse over the new improvements and bug fixes.

        Mesa 17.0.5 should be available as soon as today, and it’s the fifth bugfix release in the series, coming about two weeks after the launch of Mesa 17.0.4, which added various improvements to the Intel OpenGL and ANV Vulkan drivers, as well as RadeonSI, Radeon RADV Vulkan, Nouveau, Galleon, and Freedreno drivers.

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 Creators WSL vs. Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu 17.04

        Windows 10 Creators Update was released earlier this month by Microsoft as the latest installment to Windows 10. Since it’s been a few months since last benchmarking the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” (WSL), a.k.a. “Bash for Windows”, here are some fresh benchmarks of Ubuntu atop Windows 10 Creators Update vs. Intel’s Clear Linux vs. Ubuntu 17.04.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A Simple, Straightforward Clipboard Manager for GNOME

        Clipboard Manager extension for Gnome Shell is a no-frills clipboard manager for GNOME.

        It adds an indicator menu to the top panel and caches your clipboard history. There’s nothing extra; no regex searching, or cross-device, multi-sync or pan-dimensional magic. Just a simple, easy to access clipboard history.

        I’ve never been a particularly big clipboard fan. I typically only need to access whatever I copy as I copy it.

      • First GNOME 3.26 Development Release Out, Some Apps Ported to Meson Build System

        GNOME Project’s Michael Catanzaro just informed us via an email announcement that the first unstable release of the upcoming GNOME 3.26 desktop environment is out now for public testing and early adopters.

        Yes, we’re talking about GNOME 3.25.1, the first development in the release cycle of GNOME 3.26, which is currently scheduled to launch later this year, on September 13. Being the first unstable release and all that, GNOME 3.25.1 doesn’t ship with many changes, and you can check out the CORE NEWS and APPS NEWS for details.

  • Distributions

    • [New but undated] Linux distros (Linux distribution)

      A Linux distribution — often shortened to “Linux distro” — is a version of the open source Linux operating system that is packaged with other components, such as an installation programs, management tools and additional software such as the KVM hypervisor.

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

      • IPFire 2.19 Now Supports On-Demand IPsec VPNs, Core Update 110 Is Now Available

        IPFire’s Michael Tremer announced today, April 28, 2017, the release of IPFire 2.19 Core Update 110, a new stable maintenance version of the open-source, Linux-based firewall operating system.

        Coming two and a half months after the previous point release, IPFire 2.19 Core Update 110 is here to implement support for on-demand IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), which might just come in handy to those who deal with a huge amount of IPsec net-to-net connections on their infrastructures.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • [Tumbleweed] Review of the weeks 2017/13 – 17

        And all this happens in parallel to the openSUSE Conference being planned. You should think about participating! It is always informative, a lot of discussions happen in face-to-face meetings and, in openSUSE’s tradition, everybody is having a lot of fun. If you can plan a visit, you absolute should do so.

    • Slackware Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Just Around the Corner, Live Images to Support UEFI

        Debian Project’s Steve McIntyre and Jonathan Wiltshire just informed the Debian GNU/Linux community about some of the important aspects of the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system, whose launch is imminent.

        The first aspect, revealed by Debian developer Jonathan Wiltshire, is that the final release of Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” might not include Secure Boot support, which is no longer a blocker to launch the forthcoming OS. However, Secure Boot support could be implemented sometime during the lifetime of Debian 9.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Devs Work on Rebasing Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) to Linux Kernel 4.11

            It looks like the Ubuntu Kernel team is back at work after taking a short break, and they recently published another installation of their bi-weekly newsletter to inform the Ubuntu Linux community about what to expect in the coming weeks.

          • Canonical Releases Snapd 2.25 Snappy Daemon for Ubuntu Linux, Here Is What’s New

            Canonical’s Snappy team, through Michael Vogt, announced today, April 28, 2017, the release and immediate availability of the Snapd 2.25 Snappy daemon for all supported Ubuntu Linux OSes, as well as other GNU/Linux distributions.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint-using terror nerd awaits sentence for training Islamic State

              A paranoid Welsh Muslim who wore gloves while typing on his laptop, admitted being part of Islamic State, and, gasp, harbored a copy of Linux Mint, has been described as a “new and dangerous breed of terrorist.”

              Samata Ullah, 34, who also used voice modulation software to disguise his thick Welsh accent while making instructional videos about encryption, pleaded guilty to five terrorism charges at Cardiff Crown Court. He was due to be sentenced Friday afternoon.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Glow LEDs with Google Home

      For the part one, the custom commands were possible thanks to Google Actions Apis. I used API.AI for my purpose since they had good documentation. I wont go into detail explaining the form fields in Api.ai, they have done a good job with documentation and explaining part, I will just share my configurations screenshot for your quick reference and understanding. In Api.ai the conversations are broken into intents. I used one intent (Default Welcome Intent) and a followup intent (Default Welcome Intent – custom) for my application.

    • Google Assistant SDK preview brings voice agent to the Raspberry Pi

      Google has released a Python-based Google Assistant SDK that’s designed for prototyping voice agent technology on the Raspberry Pi 3.

      Google’s developer preview aims to bring Google Assistant voice agent applications to Linux developers. The Google Assistant SDK is initially designed for prototyping voice agent technology on the Raspberry Pi 3 using Python and Raspbian Linux, but it works with most Linux distributions. The SDK lets developers add voice control, natural language understanding, and Google AI services to a variety of devices.

    • Huawei, Google create a high-powered single board computer for Android

      The Raspberry Pi is very popular with DIY enthusiasts because of the seemingly endless possibilities of how you can design devices with it. Huawei and Google have created their own single board computer (SBC), but this will probably benefit Android developers more than DIY enthusiasts. The HiKey 960 is a very robust SBC aimed at creating an Android PC or a testing tool for Android apps.

    • Huawei’s $239 HiKey 960 wants to be a high-end alternative to Raspberry Pi

      12.5 million sales in five years – Linaro and Huawei have unveiled a high-end (read: expensive) rival.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Is The Open Source Software Movement A Technological Religion?
  • Experts weigh in on open source platforms, market

    In this Advisory Board, our experts discuss the pros and cons of open source virtualization and which platforms are giving proprietary vendors a run for their money.

  • Light a fire under Cassandra with Apache Ignite

    Apache Cassandra is a popular database for several reasons. The open source, distributed, NoSQL database has no single point of failure, so it’s well suited for high-availability applications. It supports multi-datacenter replication, allowing organizations to achieve greater resiliency by, for example, storing data across multiple Amazon Web Services availability zones. It also offers massive and linear scalability, so any number of nodes can easily be added to any Cassandra cluster in any datacenter. For these reasons, companies such as Netflix, eBay, Expedia, and several others have been using Cassandra for key parts of their businesses for many years.

  • Proprietary Election Systems: Summarily Disqualified

    Hello Open Source Software Community & U.S. Voters,

    I and the California Association of Voting Officials, represent a group of renowned computer scientists that have pioneered open source election systems, including, “one4all,” New Hampshire’s Open Source Accessible Voting System (see attached). Today government organizations like NASA, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Air Force rely on open source software for mission critical operations. I and CAVO believe voting and elections are indeed mission-critical to protect democracy and fulfill the promise of the United States of America as a representative republic.

    Since 2004, the open source community has advocated for transparent and secure—publicly owned—election systems to replace the insecure, proprietary systems most often deployed within communities. Open source options for elections systems can reduce the costs to taxpayers by as much as 50% compared to traditional proprietary options, which also eliminates vendor lock-in, or the inability of an elections office to migrate away from a solution as costs rise or quality decreases.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • New Mozilla Foundation Board Members: Mohamed Nanabhay and Nicole Wong

        Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Mohamed Nanabhay and Nicole Wong have joined the Mozilla Foundation Board of Directors.

        Over the last few years, we’ve been working to expand the boards for both the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation. Our goals for the Foundation board roles were to grow Mozilla’s capacity to move our mission forward; expand the number and diversity of people on our boards, and; add specific skills in areas related to movement building and organizational excellence. Adding Mohamed and Nicole represents a significant move forward on these goals.

        We met Mohamed about seven years ago through former board member and then Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito. Mohamed was at Al Jazeera at the time and hosted one of Mozilla’s first Open News fellows. Mohamed Nanabhay currently serves as the Deputy CEO of the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), which invests in independent media around the world providing the news, information and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies.

      • Why I’m joining the Mozilla Board by Mohamed Nanabhay

        Mozilla has been at the forefront of shaping internet culture and fighting to keep the Internet open. Being able to join the Board and be of service to that mission is an honor as the open internet played such an important role in my life and my work.

      • Why I’m joining the Mozilla Board by Nicole Wong

        It’s an honor for me to join the Mozilla Board. I’m so inspired by the Foundation’s mission and by the incredibly talented people that lead it. And, I’m looking forward to contributing to Mozilla’s plans to build out a leadership network focused on protecting the open Internet.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Microsoft SQL Server on Linux – YES, Linux! [Ed: Marketing and PR from IDG's "Microsoft Subnet"; This headline is a lie from Microsoft; something running on DrawBridge (proprietary Wine-like Windows layer) is not GNU/Linux]
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Creative Commons Is Resurrecting Palmyra

      Creative Commons launched its 2017 Global Summit today with a rather moving surprise: a seven-foot-tall 3D printed replica of the Tetrapylon from Palmyra, Syria. For those who don’t know the tragic situation, Palmyra is one of the most historic cities in the world — but it is being steadily destroyed by ISIS, robbing the world of countless irreplaceable artifacts and murdering those who have tried to protect them (the folks at Extra History have a pair of good summary videos discussing the history and the current situation in the city).

      Among ISIS’s human targets was Bassel Khartabil, who launched Syria’s CC community several years ago and began a project to take 3D scans of the city, which CC has been gathering and releasing under a CC0 Public Domain license. He was captured and imprisoned, and for the past five years his whereabouts and status have been unknown. As the #FreeBassel campaign continues, Creative Commons is now working to bring his invaluable scans to life in the form of 3D-printed replicas, starting with today’s unveiling of the Tetrapylon — which was destroyed in January along with part of a Roman theatre after ISIS captured the city for a second time.

    • Creative Commons: 1.2 billion strong and growing

      “The state of the commons is strong.” The 2016 State of the Commons report, issued by Creative Commons this morning, does not begin with those words, but it could. The report shows an increase in adoption for the suite of licenses, but that is not the whole story.

Leftovers

  • ‘Sheeple’ is now in the dictionary, and Apple users are the example

    Sheeple dates back to 1945, according to the dictionary entry, most likely as a derogatory term for helpless followers of consumer trends of the time.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Retired GM worker speaks on three years of the Flint water crisis

      “I hate the use of the race card,” stated Gladyes emphatically. “If they can divide the working class, they can win. Snyder brought the Civil Rights Commission in here. They wore suits, got travel expenses, but what did Flint get? Nothing, only more division.”

      “Listen, white and black water faucets went out (of use) in the 1960s. When they say this is about color, no it isn’t. Those who say that are not looking, they’re blinking, they’re not seeing. This is not about color, it’s about harnessing and dividing a group a people. When you make them fight each other, then capitalism can just move right along and keep taking, taking and taking.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Amid scandal, former CIA Director admitted that you can never really know what the CIA’s up to

      A formerly SECRET memo from the White House shows that not longer after Seymour Hersh published an expose in the New York Times about the domestic operations of CIA, President Ford met with his advisors to discuss the allegations. Joining him in the Oval Office was James Schlesinger, the Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director, along with Brent Scowcroft and other senior advisors. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the history of the allegations, what to do, and what the investigation needed to look like.

    • Julian Assange Speaks Out: The War On The Truth

      Are Wikileaks and other similar organizations “hostile foreign agencies,” as CIA Director Mike Pompeo asserted recently? He’s looking at a way to punish media organizations for telling their readers the truth while being able to avoid going after the mainstream media companies that publish materials provided by Wikileaks. It is all about stripping some organizations and individuals from First Amendment protection. Don’t miss this exclusive Ron Paul Liberty Report with Wikileaks Founder, Julian Assange:

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook admits that political groups have abused it for propaganda purposes

      Political groups have been abusing your system to manipulate voters and stuff, and interfere with elections.

    • It’s Groundhog Day in Washington, With Trump Peddling the Same Old Reaganite Snake Oil

      The Gipper is long gone from earthly politics and Donald Trump is a pitifully inept substitute. He copied Reagan’s old tax schemes from the early 1980s without even giving credit. Trump is selling the same magical doctrine of “supply-side economics,” in which cutting tax rates was supposed to increase the government’s tax revenue. That didn’t happen the first time, of course, but it was a pleasing story and people liked to hear it.

    • Trump Diary 9: Black Blocs and U-locks

      Hillary Clinton easily won the vote of the overculture, while doing far worse than Obama among rural underculture groups. (African-Americans are the one underculture demographic on which the Democratics maintain a hold…for now.) Donald Trump did awful in the overculture, while winning enough of the underculture, particularly in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, to prevail. So what I am discussing is not exactly an economic divide, not exactly a racial divide, and not exactly a class divide either, because the underculture in particular is composed of many wildly disparate groups who are unified only by their lack of national voice. If you opposed the Iraq War in 2003, you were part of the underculture. If you supported Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders in 2016, you were part of the underculture.

    • Mark Zuckerberg helps build pickup trucks at Ford plant [iophk: "on the campaign trail"]

      The trip was part of his New Year’s resolution to connect with more Americans and mend what he said were societal divisions wrought by technology and globalization. Zuckerberg has said he plans to visit and meet people in every state by the end of the year.

    • Trump’s first 100 days destroyed the myth that government should be run like a business

      Trump’s ineffectiveness has helped puncture a glib myth that dates back to the early 20th century on how market-tested business skills can solve the eternal plague of government inefficiency. Trump was elected to transform the establishment, but his disregard for how the game is played has ensured that, in many respects, it’s been left untouched.

      [...]

      Trump has proposed only 50 nominations for the top 553 positions of the executive branch, which means 90 percent of senior positions have not yet received nominees. But he doesn’t believe that’s a crisis — he thinks it’s a virtue.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • California Democrats Make Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Disappear

      Monday April 24 was Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and in Los Angeles thousands marched in the street outside the Turkish consulate. Up in Sacramento, ruling Democrats ignored the Armenians and instead held “Muslim Day at the Capitol,” hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

      “Trump reignites ‘spirit of justice’ for Muslim Day at Capitol,” headlined the news article in the Sacramento Bee, whose April 24 edition included not a word about the Armenians’ day. As CAIR’s Yannina Casillas explained, “The election of Trump and the campaign in general kind of reignited a spirit of justice within the community that was very much dormant. A lot of people are really interested in getting more involved.”

    • Bill protecting student journalists from censorship clears key hurdle

      A bid to guarantee First Amendment rights to student journalists cleared a critical hurdle on April 27 despite claims by some lawmakers that students aren’t responsible enough to handle them.

      But a critical final vote remains.

      SB1384 would spell out in Arizona law that student journalists have freedom of speech and the press in school-sponsored media, even if the publication is supported by the public school, community college or university, and even if the paper is part of a class.

      There would be some curbs against libel, unwarranted invasion of privacy, violations of law or creating “imminent danger” of inciting students to break statutes or rules. And the legislation even permits officials at public schools – but not colleges or universities – to block distribution if any of those limits are violated.

    • Muzzling The Benefits Of CBD-Rich Cannabis Is Censorship

      “CBD cannabis oil has become a really hot commodity lately.”

      So says Sal Chan, who works at the Green Panda medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Vancouver, which sells a variety of cannabis oils.

      In fact, CBD-dominant strains of cannabis are the new go-to remedy for medical marijuana patients who don’t want to get “stoned”.

      That’s because therapeutic forms of CBD-rich cannabis are now being bred to be virtually free of the mood-altering chemical, THC.

      Yet Canada’s federal government is refusing to let the nation’s legal cultivators of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis spread the word about the CBD-rich kind.

    • New Zealand creates new censorship category in response to controversy over 13 Reasons Why
    • 13 Reasons Why: New Zealand bans under-18s from watching suicide drama without adult
    • Netflix teen suicide series gets unique classification
    • Pressed into silence: West Papua, Indonesia & World Press Freedom Day

      Unfortunately, the Indonesian government’s record does not match its rhetoric, particularly in the eastern Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (often known collectively as West Papua). These two provinces have faced serious issues: restrictions are placed on foreign journalists, while violence and discrimination against Papuan journalists and bribery are common occurrences.

      [...]

      Jayapura was obviously becoming a carbon copy of other major industrialized Indonesian cities. Sadly, all traces of Papuan culture had nearly vanished already. Through a massive and uncontrolled transmigration plan, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians had been relocated here. Dramatic demographic changes had occurred already: the Papuans had become a minority.

      So I decided to leave the city. And then the problems started.

    • Where Is ASEAN On Press Freedom?
    • Press freedom slumps again
    • New report from Index on Censorship paints a bleak picture for U.S. press freedom
    • It’s not just Trump: US media freedom fraying at the edges
    • US Detains Journalist For Exercising Free Speech

      US intelligence reporter Barrett Brown was arrested, again, on Thursday morning for criticizing the US government while appearing on radio interviews.

    • Barrett Brown Taken Back Into Custody for Talking to the Press

      Barrett Brown, famous “hacktivist” who spent four years prison in an arrest that started with his role in linking to some hacked {sic} documents online (though that investigation led to a video in which he was taken to be threatening FBI agents, another crime he was charged with) was taken back into custody today, according to D Magazine, for whom Brown had been working as a reporter.

    • A Global Threat to the Press

      Press freedom deteriorated in nearly two-thirds of countries of the 180 countries assessed in the past year, the organization’s report said. Worldwide, media freedom constraints and violations have increased 14 percent in the past five years.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Sketchy Bogus Crowdfunding Campaigns To ‘Buy’ Congress’s Private Web Browsing… Only Now Realize That’s Impossible

      Look, we warned everyone about this. Right after Congress stupidly stripped privacy protections so that ISPs could more actively sell your data (and make it harder for you to realize it or do anything about it), there were a few crowdfunding campaigns that popped up on GoFundMe, claiming that they were raising money to then buy the web browsing data of Congress. We pointed out at the time that this was dumb and dangerous because you can’t just go buy someone’s web surfing data. That’s not how any of this works. But, you know, it was one of those stories that people just really, really wanted to believe, so apparently unaware of it being flat out impossible (more people should read Techdirt…), tons and tons of people donated tons and tons of money, without realizing there was absolutely no way these campaigns could do what they they claimed. The more well-known campaign, by a self-declared “privacy activist” named Adam McElhaney, ended up raising over $200k (despite others claiming that it looked like a pure scam). The slightly lesser well-known one, by actor Misha Collins, took in just under $90k. Between them, they raised about $300k… with promises of obtaining data that anyone with any knowledge of the situation would know they couldn’t obtain.

    • Tor 0.3.0.6 Revamps Guard Selection Algorithm to Resist Guard-Capture Attacks

      The Tor Project announced that Tor 0.3.0 is now officially the new stable series of the free and open-source software project designed to prevent government agencies from learning your location or Internet browsing habits.

      After being in development for the past several months, Tor 0.3.0.6 is now the latest stable version of the software, introducing a bunch of new features and improvements. The most prominent one being the revamp of the guard selection algorithm to better resist guard-capture attacks by hostile local networks.

    • Vault 7: CIA tool to track people through Word docs released

      WikiLeaks has released the source code and documentation for what it says is software used by the CIA to track documents written in Microsoft Word.

      [...]

      There is a limitation to the Scribbles system: if a document that has the watermarks in it and is opened in OpenOffice, LibreOffice the watermark images and URLs may become visible.

    • WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Tool ‘Scribbles’ For Document Tracking

      WikiLeaks released details on what it said is a Central Intelligence Agency document tracking program called Scribbles, part of the agency’s effort to keep tabs on documents leaked to whistleblowers and journalists. Scribbles allegedly embeds a web beacon-style tag into watermarks located on Microsoft Word documents that can report document analytics back to the CIA.

      WikiLeaks released information Friday about Scribbles as part of its ongoing Vault 7 Dark Matter release that began last month. Also released is what WikiLeaks said is Scribbles’ source code.

    • Scribbles

      Today, April 28th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes the documentation and source code for CIA’s “Scribbles” project, a document-watermarking preprocessing system to embed “Web beacon”-style tags into documents that are likely to be copied by Insiders, Whistleblowers, Journalists or others. The released version (v1.0 RC1) is dated March, 1st 2016 and classified SECRET//ORCON/NOFORN until 2066.

      Scribbles is intended for off-line preprocessing of Microsoft Office documents. For reasons of operational security the user guide demands that “[t]he Scribbles executable, parameter files, receipts and log files should not be installed on a target machine, nor left in a location where it might be collected by an adversary.”

    • Surprise: NSA Stops Collecting Americans’ Emails ‘About’ Foreign Targets [Ed: I am guessing the NSA will rely on another “eye” collecting it for the NSA]
    • NSA ends controversial program that searches Americans’ emails [Ed: But just because NSA says it does or no longer does something doesn't mean it's true]

      Details of the program were largely overlooked when it was first disclosed in documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. The leaks provided a small but critical window into how the US government carries out surveillance on Americans, who are largely off-limits thanks to constitutional protections.

      The program allows the NSA to collect and search the emails and text messages to and from Americans who mention names, email addresses, phone numbers, or other kinds of details about foreign targets under government surveillance.

    • U.S. spy agency abandons controversial surveillance technique
    • The Email Collection The NSA Shut Down Has Been Abused For Years

      As was noted here earlier, the NSA surprised many people by shutting down its email collection. This collection was authorized by the FISA Amendments Act, which is due for renewal at the end of this year. Since the point the collection began, it was clear the NSA was also harvesting (inadvertently, it said) US persons’ communications.

      Ron Wyden, along with a few other lawmakers, has been asking the NSA for years to turn over information on this program — specifically, how many US persons had been swept up “incidentally” in the bulk collection. For years, the NSA has refused to do so, claiming it would be impossible to compile this information and, somewhat hilariously, claiming it would violate the privacy of those swept up in the collection to query the database for incidental collections.

    • NSA dumps spy program

      The US National Security Agency is stopping a program that collects communications between US citizens and foreign contacts.

    • NSA concedes violating surveillance limits and pledges curbs on US email collection
    • NSA ditches controversial aspect of its spy program
    • NSA ends controversial collection of Americans’ emails that mention foreign targets
    • The NSA will stop reading American emails that mention intelligence targets
    • NSA will stop illegally collecting American emails
    • NSA halts Section 702 ‘upstream’ collection
    • N.S.A. Halts Collection of Americans’ Emails About Foreign Targets
    • NSA cuts back on domestic spying after court pressure

      The US National Security Agency has backed down on one of its major surveillance programmes, announcing on Friday that it would stop collecting information from the US Internet backbone about foreign targets of interest, but only collect communications to and from those targets.

    • A Big Change in NSA Spying Marks a Win for American Privacy

      “NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” reads a statement from the agency. “Instead, NSA will limit such collection to internet communications that are sent directly to or from a foreign target.”

    • Amazon confirms advertising will become a ‘meaningful’ part of its business

      “Amazon is not only a platform for ecommerce, it is a huge research environment for users – figures from the second half of 2016 suggested that over half of US users begin product research on Amazon as an example. As such they own some of the most valuable advertising real estate out there and have access to some of the most insightful first party data on user purchases and behaviour. In an ideal world, Amazon will take this opportunity to accelerate their advertising capabilities – they really are a sleeping giant – and break the current duopoly of Facebook and Google”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Cup, the Martyrs and the Archbishop

      However, there is a good deal more to this story, none of it edifying except for the shining courage of two genuine latter-day heroes and martyrs to decency. The story is a little complicated but worth following. It wanders from the dusty, baking Pakistani field to the manicured lawns of Lambeth Palace.

    • The Rise of Vigilantism

      The mob that witnessed and participated in Mashal’s death was brainwashed using new media platforms. By reaffirming one another’s beliefs on social media, their moral conscience allowed them to watch a young man be tortured to death, and subsequently take a vow of silence. In their minds, they were just being vigilant.

    • PAKISTAN: Government adding fuel to fan religious violence

      Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law does not clearly define blasphemy, but states that the offence is punishable by death. Anyone can file a blasphemy case, claiming his or her religious feelings have been hurt. The accused are often lynched, and lawyers and judges defending or acquitting them have been attacked. Rights groups say the blasphemy law has even been used to seize money and property.

      Blasphemy law has long since morphed into an anti-Shia and anti-Ahmadi tool for vendetta; causes of allegations vary from financial to revenge, having little to do with hurt religious sentiments. Allegations of blasphemy are usually based on rumors, spread with the intention of whipping up violence.

    • [Old] Sentenced to death for a sip of water

      Since that day I haven’t left prison.

    • ‘Seductive’ dress gets girl barred from chess tournament

      He said that the chief arbiter told the girl and her mother that the tournament director deemed that his student’s dress was “seductive” and a “temptation from a certain angle far, far away.”

    • Former member of Iranian women’s football team ‘banned from sport’ after being photographed without veil

      A former member of Iran’s women’s football team claims she has been banned from the sport after being photographed with her hair uncovered abroad.

    • Lauri Love Opens Up About His Fight Against Extradition to the US

      Lauri Love, the alleged British hacker {sic} facing extradition to the United States on multiple charges after the country accused him of breaking into top federal computer networks, will now have a chance to appeal his extradition to the UK’s High Court.

    • Sikh girl ‘abducted’ and ‘forcibly converted to Islam’ in Pakistan.

      In the remote village of Ghorghasht in Buner District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Priya Rani, a 17-year-old Sikh girl was on her way to school on Thursday when she went missing. Hours later, Muslim neighbors started knocking on her family home’s doors, congratulating her relatives of her marriage and her conversion to Islam. The parents, the siblings and the extended family – who all live under the same roof – were shocked.

      [...]

      But it was not easy getting the police to register such a case. “They kept saying it’s a matter of religion and now nothing can be done,” he adds.

    • MEPs increasingly back kicking Viktor Orbán out of EPP

      Center-right MEPs are so exasperated with Viktor Orbán defying EU rules that more and more are calling for his party to be kicked out of their political group.

      Until now, the European People’s Party, which includes the Hungarian prime minister and his Fidesz party, has largely kept its head down whenever Orbán has breached European norms.

      But many in the EPP view Orbán’s crackdown on the Central European University (CEU) as the last straw after a series of measures that went against the letter and the spirit of EU rules — from erecting fences against migrants through mounting an anti-Brussels communication campaign to passing a law targeting NGOs that receive foreign funding.

      “We had sympathy for Fidesz, a sister party which did things a bit differently than we did,” said Frank Engel, a Luxembourgish MEP from the EPP. “Now we think that the best thing they could do is just leave the EPP.”

    • CIA tried to create ‘spy cat’ using implanted microphones to snoop on Russians

      The CIA once implanted microphones in a cat as part of a bizarre Cold War plot to spy on the Soviets, reveal declassified documents.

      The report details how ‘pioneering’ scientists surgically implanted a wire along the cat’s spine, using its tail as an antenna, while a microphone was planted inside its ear canal.

      A transmitter and power supply was sewn into the unlucky cat’s chest.

    • Amos Yee asylum appeal ‘likely to be expedited’: Lawyer

      The appeal against Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee before the US’ Board of Immigration Appeals “will likely be expedited” as he remains in detention, a lawyer representing him said on Friday (Apr 28).

      In an email, Mr Christopher Keeler, a co-counsel for Yee from legal firm Grossman Law, told Channel NewsAsia that the US government appealed immigration judge Samuel Cole’s ruling to grant the teen asylum there. It was filed on Apr 4 – within the 30-day window after the initial ruling was made, he added.

    • Amos Yee’s lawyer: Asylum appeal likely to be expedited

      Singaporean Blogger Amos Yee’s appeal to the US’ Board of Immigration Appeals will likely be expedited, a lawyer representing him said on Friday (28 Apr).

      Channel NewsAsia (CNA) wrote, Mr Christopher Keeler, a co-counsel for Yee from legal firm Grossman Law, told in an email to CNA that the US government appeal to the immigration judge Samuel Cole’s ruling which grants the teen asylum in the US was filed on 4 Apr, within the 30-day window after the initial ruling on 24 March was made.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • An open letter on DRM to the inventor of the web, from the inventor of net neutrality

      This is a live issue, too, because the W3C just held the most contentious vote in its decades-long history, on whether to publish a DRM standard for the web without any of the proposed legal protections for companies that create the kinds of competing products and services that the law permits, except when DRM is involved.

      As Wu points out, this sets up a situation where the incumbents get to create monopolies that produce the same problems for the open web that network neutrality advocates — like Berners-Lee — worry about.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Want To Promote Breastfeeding? That’s A Trade Barrier, Says US Trade Rep

      The case for breastfeeding, and against formula milk, seems pretty clear. But a new publication from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the “2017 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers” (pdf), begs to differ. As a post on the Public Citizen site explains, the USTR calls out several countries for promoting breastfeeding over formula as a “technical barrier to trade” that might harm the profits of US industries.

    • Legal war with Apple hits Qualcomm’s revenue projections

      Apple has filed lawsuits against Qualcomm in countries like the U.S., U.K., China, and Japan, accusing the chipmaker of using its dominant market position to overcharge licensing fees.

    • Apple Halts License Payments to Qualcomm in ‘All-Out War’

      “While Apple has acknowledged that payment is owed for the use of Qualcomm’s valuable intellectual property {sic}, it nevertheless continues to interfere with our contracts,” said Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s general counsel. “Apple has now unilaterally declared the contract terms unacceptable; the same terms that have applied to iPhones and cellular-enabled iPads for a decade.”

    • Copyrights

      • European Court Of Justice Tightens Screws On “Streaming”

        In a judgment this week, the European Court of Justice ruled that “the sale of a multimedia player which enables films that are available illegally on the internet to be viewed easily and for free on a television screen could constitute an infringement of copyright” (C:2017:300).

      • Mac DeMarco Tells Concert Goers To Go Pirate His Music

        We had just been talking about Ed Sheeran suggesting that piracy actually helped his career rather than hurt it, as well as his decision to go to bat against his label for a fan who covered one of his songs, but he’s not the only one out there who doesn’t see filesharing as the great music Satan the labels would have us believe. Artist Mac DeMarco announced on stage at Coachella that his latest album had leaked online. The instructions he then gave the concert-goers is not the norm amongst artists, to say the least.

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