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05.29.17

Panic in Patent Maximalists’ Circles as Both Trolls and Software Patents (TC Heartland and Alice) Are Dying

Posted in America, Patents at 11:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Editor’s note: I’m on vacation until next weekend and am thus unable to get a comprehensive look at all the reactions from patent-centric blogs, which no doubt are spinning, protesting against, and moaning about TC Heartland]

Summary: Response to some of the latest patent news, based on news picks from Benjamin Henrion (FFII) in the wake of TC Heartland

THE US courts, panels, and even the Office (USPTO) belatedly bust a decades-long patent bubble.

The think tanks, like IAM itself (a lobbying site funded by patent trolls and bullies), worry so much that they disseminate lies like this one: “If the US patent system is not rebalanced, significant long-term damage will be inflicted on the country’s economy.”

Nonsense. The very opposite is true as patent lawsuits from trolls (entities that produce nothing) have utterly damaged the country’s economy (there are academic studies about that), with impact being worse on those who cannot afford court cases, i.e. the smaller businesses. “There has been much debate in recent years about the ongoing state of patent rights in the US,” IAM wrote, “with some arguing that their erosion poses a serious threat to the country’s economy.”

The mainstream debates actually spoke of the opposite effect (patent maximalism hurting the economy), but not debates organised by IAM and funded by trolls. “It was against that backdrop,” IAM wrote, “that the International IP Commercialization Council (IIPCC) recently held its first event in the US focused specifically on IP policy.”

Be sure that IAM will spin it in favour of patent maximalism. That’s all the site ever does and the author in this case is the most vocal maximalist among the bunch.

Incidentally, this new lawsuit against McDonald’s, the company that has got a patent on making a sandwich (not a joke!), feels the wrath of bad patents that can be squashed with Alice. Surveillance software patents are easy to squash (this has been done before) and McDonald’s can afford legal defense. Here is how WIPR put it: [via Benjamin Henrion]

McDonald’s has been sued for patent infringement over its use of location-specific internet technology software.

The case was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division on Tuesday, May 23.

Internet Media Interactive Corporation claims its patent (US number 6,049,835), “for providing automatic access to preselected locations on the internet”, was directly infringed by McDonald’s.

It’s one of those infamous “over the Internet” patents. It’s a software patent. It will be rejected and invalidated. Wait and watch…

Who’s in trouble still? Small companies or business owners to whom it’s easier and cheaper to settle with trolls than to fight back.

Patent firms, in the mean time, are shooting the messenger (or the Office/courts) for rejecting software patents. See this new rant and mind the disclosure:

Kilpatrick Townsend attorneys Kate Gaudry, Ph.D. and Thomas D. Franklin recently presented at the Practising Law Institute’s 11th Annual Patent Law Institute regarding “Software/EE: Are We There, Yet?”.

So nothing to see here. People who profit from patent maximalism promote patent maximalists’ agenda. When will actual software developers be given an opportunity to write articles on this kind of topic? Media coverage about patents is typically a farce (or marketing); that’s why we write so much about it (at the expense of other important topics).

Links 29/5/2017: Another Linux RC, Enlightenment 0.21.8 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Flagship Samsung Chromebook Pro finally gets a release date: May 28

      The Samsung Chromebook Pro is finally going to be a real device. Lost in the hubbub of Google I/O Friday, Samsung quietly dropped a press release pegging the device for a May 28 release date.

      With the Chromebook Pixel off the market, the all-aluminum, touch-and-pen enabled, Android app-packing Samsung “Chromebook” models were immediately looked to as the flagships of the Chromebook universe. Samsung announced the ARM-powered Chromebook Plus and Intel-powered Chromebook Pro at CES in January, and the Plus saw a reasonable release date the next month. Review units for the faster, Intel-powered Chromebook Pro went out in February, too, but the actual release date remained a mystery.

  • Kernel Space

    • So what the heck is a blockchain?

      It’s never too late to jump into the future, so if like me you want to jump into the world of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, and altcoins, it pays to have a fundamental understanding of the technology that makes it all possible.

    • Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new Internet

      Cryptocurrencies are booming beyond belief. Bitcoin is up sevenfold, to $2,500, in the last year. Three weeks ago the redoubtable Vinay Gupta, who led Ethereum’s initial release, published an essay entitled “What Does Ether At $100 Mean?” Since then it has doubled. Too many altcoins to name have skyrocketed in value along with the Big Two. ICOs are raking in money hand over fist over bicep. What the hell is going on?

    • Hyperledger Sawtooth Graduates to Active Status

      We’re happy to share that Hyperledger’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC) has granted the Hyperledger Sawtooth maintainer’s request to advance the project’s status from Incubation to Active. Hyperledger Iroha also graduated today.

    • Linux 4.12-rc3

      Hey, things continue to look good, and rc3 isn’t even very big. I’m
      hoping there’s not another shoe about to drop, but so far this really
      feels like a nice calm release cycle, despite the size of the merge
      window.

      Knock wood.

      Anyway, rc3 has a little bit of everything. The biggest single change
      is actually just a documentation update (the intel pstate docs were
      converted to rst format), so the diffstat actually looks a bit odd
      with a wuarter just being documentation. There’s also some tooling
      updates (perf and some bpf selftest).

      But if you ignore those two pieces, it looks pretty normal: two thirds
      of it being drivers (gpu, nvme, scsi, tty, block), with the remainder
      being about half networking and haf “misc” (core kernel, header files,
      XFS, arch updates).

      Go forth and test,

      Linus

    • Linux 4.12-rc3 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds has announced the third weekly test candidate for the upcoming Linux 4.12 kernel debut.

      Linus commented of Linux 4.12-rc3 that it isn’t a very big release over the prior RCs and so far it’s a “nice calm release cycle.” The biggest change this past week was actually documentation updates.

    • Linus Torvalds Announced the Third Release Candidate of the Linux 4.12 Kernel

      Even if it’s Memorial weekend, Linus Torvalds is on the job announcing the release and immediate availability of the third RC (Release Candidate) milestone of the upcoming Linux 4.12 kernel series.

    • Stronger Together: How Cloud Foundry Supports Other Communities

      The open source Cloud Foundry application development platform was publicly announced over six years ago, and along the way, we have connected with other projects, adopting technologies from other open source communities as they matured. For example, before Docker was a company or even a project, the Cloud Foundry platform was using Linux containers to isolate deployed applications from one another. Our container implementation wasn’t built in a general purpose way like Docker’s; it wasn’t designed to solve all of the potential use cases for a container runtime. It was designed specifically to support the stateless web applications that Cloud Foundry was initially intended to support, and to do that in a secure, multitenant fashion.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Enlightenment DR 0.21.8 Release

      This is another bugfix and stability release for the Enlightenment 21 Release series.

    • Enlightenment 0.21.8 Released

      Enlightenment 0.21.8 was released this week as the latest stable point release to the E21 series.

      Enlightenment 0.21.8 has a number of fixes, including some display fixes, avoid starting XWayland repeatedly, X11 and Wayland specific alterations, and other routine work.

    • Enlightenment 0.21.8 Desktop Environment Released with over 70 Improvements

      Simon Lees from the Enlightenment project announced earlier this week the release and immediate availability of the eight bugfix and stability release for the Enlightenment 0.21 desktop environment stable series.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Current Layout: Kubuntu 17.10 – 5/22/17

        I’ve been running Artful aka 17.10 on my laptop for maybe a month now with no real issues and thats thanks to the awesome Kubuntu developers we have and our testers!

      • KDevelop 5.1 Open-Source IDE Gets Its First Stabilization and Bugfix Release

        The development team behind the KDevelop open-source and cross-platform IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for C, C++, Python, JavaScript and PHP, were proud to announce this weekend the availability of KDevelop 5.1.1.

      • Which Linux desktop environment do you prefer?
      • 7 cool KDE tweaks that will change your life
      • Gnome integration for Qt based applications in Flatpak

        Following blog post from Patrick Griffis about new themes support in Flatpak, we started working on supporting this new feature too. Currently wherever you start a Qt application, it would always look like a KDE application or something would be missing, like icons so you would end up with bad experience and mixed feelings. This is going to change now as we now support Gnome in form of icons, widget style and Qt platform theme and with this, when you run a Qt application in Gnome, it will look definitely better and more natively than before. We packaged regular adwaita icons which are used by default in Gnome as extension of freedesktop runtime. For widget style we use adwaita-qt style, which is a Qt style attempting to look like Gtk’s adwaita and the most important part putting this all together is QGnomePlatform, a Qt platform theme which reads your Gnome configuration and applies it to running Qt applications. QGnomePlatform also enforces Qt apps to use adwaita icons and adwaita-qt style by
        default so that’s another reason why it is important. Both adwaita-qt and QGnomePlatform projects are by the way authored by Martin Bříza, a collegue of mine from Red Hat so if you meet him in person somewhere buy him a beer for that he cares about Qt integration in Gnome :). Now coming to a question how to install this and make it work. Basically all you need to do is install following extensions and you shold be done:

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Rejection report 4: BunsenLabs Linux & deepin

      This Chinese distribution is a very interesting piece of software. Very unique, and a refreshing departure from what you normally get. I was truly and deeply [sic] amazed by how well it was stitched together, when I last tested it, back in my Lenovo T61 days. It had its own presentation layer, its own applications, and it seemed to be doing well. Unfortunately, I was not able to get it running on my G50 box. Neither the official 15.3 release, nor 15.4 RC2. It does support UEFI, and you actually see the boot menu, and there’s the lovely Deepin splash screen, which features the effect of the distro name/logo getting filled with water. But then, when it’s time to reach the actual installation screen, which offers language selection, you only end up with a black screen. Oops. So close.

    • Reviews

      • Void Linux – the Strangely Overlooked Distribution

        Ahh, Void Linux. You may or may not have heard of it. If you have, more than likely it was by word of mouth, so to speak, from internet comments on a forum, YouTube video or in passing on Reddit. But this little distro rarely gets any press or recognition otherwise. Perhaps it’s time that changes, as Void Linux is an interesting distro in its own right and a good alternative to something like Arch Linux. It also has a no-systemd approach.

      • Returning to the Void

        Void is an independently developed, rolling release Linux distribution. The Void distribution runs on 32-bit and 64-bit x86 processors as well as several ARM boards including the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and Cubieboard2. The Void distribution is available in Cinnamon, Enlightenment, LXDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce editions with some additional desktop environments offered through the project’s software repositories. There is also a plain edition which I believe sets up a minimal command line environment.

        There are a number of features which set Void apart from most other Linux distributions. Void uses the XBPS package manager for working with source and binary packages. Void was an early adopter of OpenBSD’s LibreSSL library which acts as a drop-in replacement for the OpenSSL security library. Further, Void has an init implementation called runit which is unusually small and simple. Another interesting feature of Void is the distribution can use one of two C libraries. Most Linux distributions use the glibc library. Void does provide glibc and also offers installation media with the lightweight musl library.

        I decided to download the Void project’s MATE edition which is 637MB in size. Booting from the supplied media brings up a screen where we can choose between starting the distribution’s live environment or loading Void into RAM and then launching the desktop environment. The latter option uses more memory, but makes the distribution run faster and frees up the drive or port where our installation media is located.

    • New Releases

      • Peppermint 8 Linux OS Released, It’s Based on Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS with Linux 4.8

        Mark Greaves of the Peppermint development team was proud to announce today the release and immediate availability of the Peppermint 8 GNU/Linux distribution.

        Based on the Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system and the HWE (hardware enablement) Linux 4.8 kernel and graphics stacks from Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak), which includes the X.Org Server 1.19 and Mesa 17.0.2 packages, Peppermint 8 is here in its final, production-ready state to conquer your personal computers with a highly customized MATE desktop environment.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • BlankOn 10 Tambora – See What’s New

        BlankOn 10 tambora is the latest release of Linux Blankon. Linux BlankOn is a Linux distribution developed by the BlankOn Developer Team. This distribution is designed and adapted to the needs of the general computer user in Indonesia. BlankOn Linux is developed openly and together to produce a typical Linux distro of Indonesia, especially for education, office and government.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Intel Opens Up Compute Library for Deep Neural Networks
  • Coreboot Ready To Ship On Upcoming Purism Librem 13/15 Laptops
  • Web Browsers

    • Voice of the Masses: What’s your favourite web browser?

      We suspect many users have jumped between Firefox and Chrome/Chromium over the years. Some power users may have switched to keyboard-driven apps like Qutebrowser. Or maybe you’re still rocking Lynx! In any case, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll read out the best in our upcoming podcast.

  • Databases

    • Difference Between PostgreSQL And MySQL And How To Migrate From MySQL To PostgreSQL

      ​Databases are a crucial tool for any developer or a development enterprise. If you are a software developer you already know that your application needs a database to store data. One thing to have in the count is to choose the best database for your application. There are two types of databases, SQL and NoSQL databases. The first one being the oldest. SQL databases are very famous and still being used largely around big organizations and most of SQL solutions are paid but, there are good free solutions out there with MySQL Community Edition and PostgreSQL on the top. In this article, we will let you know more about this two databases and how to migrate from MySQL to PostgreSQL.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • WPS Office’s Linux development has been halted

      Users looking for a Microsoft Office clone on Linux will be disappointed to hear that WPS Office’s development on Linux has been halted. The most recent build for Linux was released almost one year ago, with the most recent version being v10.1.0.5672 Alpha.

      The fact that development had stalled was raised after one Twitter users reached out to WPS Office to ask why there hadn’t been a new release for a while. The response came back saying that it was “on a halt” and that it needs “community builds”; there’s little chance that community builds will become a thing within the next few months given that WPS Office is not even open source, making community maintenance somewhat of a challenge.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Lands Support For 64-bit Inodes (ino64 Project)

      While Linux and other operating systems (including DragonFlyBSD) have supported 64-bit inodes for data structures on file-systems, FreeBSD has been limited to 32-bit. But thanks to the work of many on the ino64 project, FreeBSD now has support for 64-bit inodes while retaining backwards compatibility.

    • KDE FreeBSD CI (2)

      The KDE Continuous Integration system builds KDE software from scratch, straight from the git repositories, and usually from master (or whatever is considered the development branch). It’s been building for Linux for a long time, and has recently been expanded with FreeBSD servers as well. KDE sysadmin has been kind enough to provide two more VMs (with some more compiling “oomph”) so that we can keep up better, and the CI has just been expanded with all of the Plasma products. That means we’re now building KDE Frameworks, and the Plasma desktop.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU libmicrohttpd 0.9.55 released

      I’m glad to announce the release of GNU libmicrohttpd 0.9.55.

      GNU libmicrohttpd is a small C library that is supposed to make it easy to run an HTTP server as part of another application. GNU libmicrohttpd is fully HTTP 1.1 compliant and supports IPv6. Finally, GNU libmicrohttpd is fast, portable and has a simple API and (without TLS support and other optional features) a small binary size (~32k).

    • GNU’s libmicrohttpd 0.9.55 Embeddable Web Server Released

      This lightweight web server continues to be HTTP 1.1 compliant and provides a simple API for integration into other GPL applications. There are security fixes in libmicrohttpd uncovered by the Mozilla Secure Open Source Fund initiative. There are also fixes for building on Linux in some conditions and other basic fixes and optimizations.

    • [Older] GNU Guix & GuixSD 0.13.0 released
  • Programming/Development

    • 10 JavaScript concepts every Node.js programmer must master

      With JavaScript and the V8 engine at the core, an event-driven architecture, and scalability out of the box, Node.js has quickly become the new de facto standard for creating web applications and SaaS products. Many frameworks like Express, Sails, and Socket.IO enable users to quickly bootstrap applications and focus only on the business logic.

    • PHP Tour – Nantes 2017

      As for every AFUP event, organization was perfect, and I was able to meet a lot of developers and PHP users.

    • More OpenACC 2.5 Code Lands In GCC

      More code for supporting the OpenACC 2.5 specification has been landing in mainline GCC.

    • D Language Front-End Proposed For GCC 8, 800k Lines of Code

      A set of 13 patches amounting to nearly 800k lines of new code were sent out Sunday morning for adding a D language front-end to the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC).

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • During a hospital stay, all microbial hell breaks loose between you and the room

      In the first few hours of a hospital stay, the microbes living on the walls and other surfaces of the hospital try to overthrow your skin microbiome. Then all hell breaks loose. Within 24 hours—and possibly as little as seven—your microbes rise up to beat back the invaders. Before the germ clouds settle, your microbiome has invaded the room.

    • NHS campaigners told to leave the town centre or face police action

      NHS campaigners have slammed town centre bosses after they were told to pack up and leave because they hadn’t paid for the right to hand out leaflets.

      Six members of Keep Our NHS Public’s recently launched Swindon branch were talking to shoppers and distributing leaflets at the junction of Canal Walk and Regent Street on Saturday morning when they were approached by the inSwindon street team.

      They were told that because they had not sought prior approval to be in the town centre they must leave – they were given ten minutes to do so and were told that if they refused the police would be called.

  • Security

    • E-mails phished from Russian critic were “tainted” before being leaked
    • In a throwback to the ’90s, NTFS bug lets anyone hang or crash Windows 7, 8.1

      Those of you with long memories might remember one of the more amusing (or perhaps annoying) bugs of the Windows 95 and 98 era: certain specially crafted filenames could make the operating system crash. Malicious users could use this to attack other people’s machines by using one of the special filenames as an image source; the browser would try to access the bad file, and Windows would promptly fall over.

      It turns out that Windows 7 and 8.1 (and Windows Vista, but that’s out of support anyway) have a similar kind of bug. They can be taken advantage of in the same kind of way: certain bad filenames make the system lock up or occasionally crash with a blue screen of death, and malicious webpages can embed those filenames by using them as image sources. If you visit such a page (in any browser), your PC will hang shortly after and possibly crash outright.

    • Important CentOS 7 Linux Kernel Security Update Addresses Five Vulnerabilities

      CentOS maintainer Johnny Hughes informs the community of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based and security-oriented operating system about the availability of an important kernel update.

    • British Airways tells angry passengers to leave airports without their luggage after IT meltdown sparks travel chaos [Ed: may be Windows security issues]

      Passengers at Heathrow were ordered to leave the terminal and told they would not be able to access their luggage for the rest of the day because the baggage system was down. One traveller claimed they had been told it could take a week for their bags to be returned, while another said she had been warned it could take three hours to exit the airport.

    • BA aims to resume most UK flights after IT failure

      The IT failure had affected check-in and operational systems, including customer service phone lines.

    • Researchers find Android design defects that allow attacks

      The researchers — Yanick Fratantonio of the University of California, and Chenxiong Qian, Simon Pak Ho Chung and Wenke Lee, all from the Georgia Institute of Technology — called it a Cloak and Dagger attack as it happened without the owner of the smartphone being aware that any attack had taken place.

      The attack does not exploit any vulnerability, but takes advantage of two permissions that are allowed for apps to use certain features on Android.

    • The internet of unreliable and broken things

      Fine, the current process is rocky. Some of that is that it’s not matured yet (Alexa, when did Vincent Price die? No, not “play vincent price die”, not “christ die”, not “do you speak some price dead”, you stupid pile of undocumented microchips!) Some of it is that basically every large company underestimates how much people’s accounts are set up incorrectly or incompletely; after all, employees have everything set up right, because they know what they’re doing, and so this never comes up in testing. Some of it is because I’m joining dots on three or four very different puzzles: I’m sure if I were to get a Google Home and use Google Mail to send my shopping list to Google Keep and then buy things from Google Shopping, or if I were to get some theoretical Home Siri device and play music from my Apple account and put things in my Apple iCloud account… then all this would be a lot more seamless. But you should beware people who proclaim that technology would be easy if all us heathens were just to
      renounce our diverse needs and join their true faith. Mastery goes to the designer who can cope with us real people, in all our glittering and varied patterns and colours and desires. Not just the ones who take the easy way out and block you if you haven’t already bought all the rest of your stuff from them too.

    • 9 Ways Organizations Sabotage Their Own Security: Lessons from the Verizon DBIR

      Datasets from the recent Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) show that some security teams still may be operating under false assumptions regarding what it takes to keep their organizations secure.

      For starters, the same security standards don’t apply across all vertical industries, says Suzanne Widup, a senior consultant for the Verizon RISK Team and co-author of the Verizon DBIR.

    • “Yahoobleed” flaw leaked private e-mail attachments and credentials
    • Web Developer Security Checklist

      If you have drunk the MVP cool-aid and believe that you can create a product in one month that is both valuable and secure — think twice before you launch your “proto-product”. After you review the checklist below, acknowledge that you are skipping many of these critical security issues. At the very minimum, be honest with your potential users and let them know that you don’t have a complete product yet and are offering a prototype without full security.

    • Obstacles to the Adoption of Secure Communication Tools

      [...] we interviewed 60 participants about their experience with different communication tools and their perceptions of the tools’ security properties. We found that the adoption of secure communication tools is hindered by fragmented user bases and incompatible tools. Furthermore, the vast majority of participants did not understand the essential concept of end-to-end encryption, limiting their motivation to adopt secure tools

    • VMware Patches Multiple Security Issues in Workstation

      VMware fixed two bugs in its VMware Workstation late Thursday night, including an insecure library loading vulnerability and a NULL pointer dereference vulnerability.

      The virtualization software company warned of the issues Thursday night in a security advisory VMSA-2017-0009.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Donald in Arabia: What did we learn from Trump’s encounter with the Saudi monarchy?

      Trump’s words were more a vindication of some of Obama’s major policies rather than a break from them.

    • In the South China Sea, the U.S. is Struggling to Halt Beijing’s Advance

      For the first time since President Donald Trump took office, a U.S. warship has sailed near a Chinese-controlled island in the disputed South China Sea, signaling an attempt to project a more assertive American stance against Beijing just before a major regional defense summit.

      The mission, a passage by the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey­ on Wednesday within twelve nautical miles of Mischief Reef, in the Spratly island chain, was long anticipated and delayed. The last such operation took place in October, and U.S. commanders who had already chafed under Barack Obama’s tight leash had hoped to get a freer hand and to carry out more patrols under Trump.

    • North Korea’s Media Says Anti-Aircraft Weapon Tested

      North Korean state media claims the country has tested a “a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon.”

      State-run media KCNA said on Saturday that Kim Jong Un watched the test and said that defects in the system have been fixed.

      The new reported test comes after heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula, and follows international condemnation of several banned ballistic missile tests the isolated nation has carried out so far this year.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A year of digging through code yields “smoking gun” on VW, Fiat diesel cheats [iophk: "this method does not scale"]

      Researchers from Bochum, Germany, and San Diego, California, say they’ve found the precise mechanisms that allowed diesel Volkswagens and Audis to engage or disengage emissions controls depending on whether the cars were being driven in a lab or driven under real-world conditions. As a bonus, the researchers also found previously-undisclosed code on a diesel Fiat 500 sold in Europe.

    • Calculating when your climate will start to seem weird

      Reducing greenhouse gas emissions may seem like taking responsibility for the sake of future generations. But the pace of climate change is certainly meaningful within a single lifetime.

      One way to think about climate change, as explored in a new study led by Victoria University of Wellington’s Dave Frame, is that temperature patterns eventually move out of the range you’re accustomed to. Weather and climate are naturally variable, but if the climate shifts, unusual conditions can become the new normal. The “unusual” end of the spectrum gets replaced with more extreme conditions than before.

    • Remote Pacific island is the most plastic-contaminated spot yet surveyed

      Plastic is durable—very, very durable—which is why we like it. Since it started being mass-produced in the 1950s, annual production has increased 300-fold. Because plastic is so durable, when our kids grow up and we purge our toy chests, or even just when we finish a bottle of laundry detergent or shampoo, it doesn’t actually go away. While we’re recycling increasing amounts of plastic, a lot of it still ends up in the oceans.

      Floating garbage patches have brought some attention to the issue of our contamination of the seas. But it’s not just the waters themselves that have ended up cluttered with plastic. A recent survey shows that a staggering amount of our stuff is coming ashore on the extremely remote Henderson Island.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • While Democrats Bicker, Another Bully Wins an Election

      In the meantime, the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party needs to show that it can do more than just draw crowds and raise money—though both are of crucial importance. And the Clinton wing needs to show—by action, as well as rhetoric—that it doesn’t put holding on to power ahead of either opposing the Republican agenda or actually winning elections.

    • Movie Review: New Documentary ‘Risk’ Doesn’t Do Justice to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

      “Instead of a documentary about the abuse of state power and WikiLeaks’ important role in exposing it,” the statement continues, “the emphasis of the film is now … disputed claims about an ex-boyfriend.”

    • Macron says handshake with Trump ‘wasn’t innocent’

      French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged to a French newspaper that his intense handshake with President Trump ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels “wasn’t innocent,” but instead was meant as a show of resolve, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

      “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche, according to the AP.

      The handshake between Macron and Trump on Thursday drew attention for its visible intensity, with both pairs of knuckles turning white from pressure.

    • Florida GOP consultant admits he worked with Guccifer 2.0, analyzing hacked data

      A Florida GOP campaign consultant who runs a blog under a pseudonym directly contacted the hackers behind the breach of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and he solicited material from them. The Wall Street Journal reports that Aaron Nevins set up a Dropbox account specifically for “Guccifer 2.0” to drop files into, and he received 2.5 GB of data from the Democratic Party breaches—including the “get out the vote” strategy for congressional candidates in Florida.

    • Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Those Who Do Not Remember History…

      If the age of Trump doesn’t end relatively soon, the daily effort to sort out what happened from what didn’t may eventually become too much for many of us. Memory fatigue may set in, and the whole project of keeping the past in focus shelved. In that case, we might very well start to give up the concept of citizenship altogether and decide instead to just get on with our own private uninsured, underpaid, and overworked lives.

    • Kick Donald Trump’s Circus Out of Town

      In other words, we can’t allow this White House circus of horrors to fold its tents and skulk away from truth under the cover of darkness. There’s too much at stake and too much to repair in its wake.

    • White House to release lobbyist details, ending spat with ethics office

      Independent ethics groups and some congressional Democrats have expressed alarm at reports that dozens of ex-lobbyists and others with ties to Wall Street and energy companies have found jobs in the Trump administration.

    • America the cruel: While hedge fund managers pocket windfalls, kids lacking lunch money are shamed

      Their cushy setup, known as 2 and 20, works like this: Right off the top, they take 2 percent of the money put up by each wealthy client, which hedge fund whizzes like Mercer keep, even if the investments they make are losers. If their speculative bets do pay off, they pocket 20 percent of all profits. Hedge fund lobbyists have rigged our nation’s tax code so these Wall Street miners pay a fraction of the tax rate that real mine workers pay.

    • Nicola Sturgeon defends Jeremy Corbyn linking terrorism in UK to foreign policy

      Nicola Sturgeon has defended Jeremy Corbyn’s view that there is a link between the deadly attack in Manchester and UK foreign policy.

      Speaking to Sky News’s Sophy Ridge, the Scottish First Minister denied Prime Minister Theresa May’s claims that Mr Corbyn had blamed foreign policy for the fatal bombing by Salman Abedi that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday.

    • Breaking down Kim Dotcom’s bizarre, conspiracy-theory filled week

      The conspiracy theory around murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich isn’t weird so much as sad: it drags a man’s fairly recent death into the spotlight in order to promote the idea of a “deep state” plot, based on evidence that’s either speculative or factually wrong. But it’s brought together a strange coalition of well-known subscribers — including the internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

    • Trump rode golf cart while G7 leaders walked through Sicily

      President Trump chose to ride in a golf cart while his foreign counterparts took a walk through Taormina, Sicily, on Saturday during the Group of Seven summit.

      The Times of London reported the six other world leaders — from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — walked 700 yards to take a group photo at a piazza in a hilltop town. The U.S. leader decided to wait until he could get a golf cart.

    • As Jeremy Corbyn narrows the lead in the polls, Theresa May resorts to desperate and dodgy measures

      As Jeremy Corbyn carries on narrowing the gap in the polls, the Conservative Party is seemingly resorting to increasingly desperate measures to target voters. It is accused of using “dark ads” to drown out advertisements that promoted 18-25-year-olds registering to vote. But these “dark ads” are causing further controversy because they are based on scaremongering and dodgy figures.

    • Guardian mourns Corbyn’s polling surge

      It is quite extraordinary to read today’s coverage in Britain’s supposedly left-liberal newspaper the Guardian. In the “man bites dog” stakes, the day’s biggest story is the astounding turn-around in the polls two weeks before the British general election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has narrowed the Conservatives’ lead from an unassailable 22 points to 5, according to the latest YouGov survey. It looks possible for the first time, if the trend continues, that Corbyn could even win the popular poll. (Securing a majority of the British parliament’s seats is a different matter, given the UK’s inherently undemocratic electoral system.)

    • Trump’s Trip Was a Catastrophe for U.S.-Europe Relations

      Seven years after the end of the Second World War, on the 10th of March 1952, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the newly established Federal Republic of Germany received an astounding note from the Soviet Union.

      The Soviet Union offered to withdraw the troops that then occupied eastern Germany and to end its rule over the occupied zone. Germany would be reunited under a constitution that allowed the country freedom to choose its own social system. Germany would even be allowed to rebuild its military, and all Germans except those convicted of war crimes would regain their political rights. In return, the Allied troops in western Germany would also be withdrawn—and reunited Germany would be forbidden to join the new NATO alliance.

    • The Supreme Leader doesn’t seem quite so invincible now

      Ever since anyone can remember, there have been complaints that British elections have become “too presidential”. Back in the 1970s, when the principals were Ted Heath and Harold Wilson, their duel was ridiculed as “a man with a boat and a man with a pipe”.

      So this spring’s contest, with its relentless focus on the woman with the bag and the man with the beard, is not so much a new development as the culmination of a long-established trend. This was by Tory design because making it a personality contest was supposed to be to their benefit. The name of Theresa May is emblazoned on her campaign coach in lettering so enormous that it probably can be seen from outer space. The word Conservative is a microscopic footnote. The Tory campaign has been organised around the projection of the Supreme Leader to the virtual exclusion of every other member of the cabinet. Even Margaret Thatcher in her pomp would share appearances with her ministers. Mrs May has granted just the one “podium moment” to a member of the cabinet when she appeared alongside Philip Hammond and conspicuously failed to reassure the chancellor that he was safe in his job.

    • Tom Watson slams “weak and unstable” Theresa May as opinion polls swing towards Labour

      Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has ridiculed Theresa May as “weak and unstable” as the Conservative leader’s engulfed by a doorstep backlash.

      With opinion polls moving dramatically Labour’s way the veteran campaigner said he’s picking up huge public concern over Tory raids on the elderly’s winter fuel allowances and social care price hikes.

    • Congress Busted Using Cable Lobbyist Talking Points In Attacks On Net Neutrality

      By now, most Techdirt readers realize that far too many members of Congress don’t so much have thoughts about technology policy, as they do bulleted mental lists of talking points provided by a lobbyist happy to do their thinking for them. That has been particularly true when it comes to telecom policy over the last few months, especially the GOP’s ham-fisted attack on popular consumer broadband privacy protections and the telecom sector’s self-serving frontal assault on net neutrality.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • World Of Tanks Developer Gets Negative Review Video Taken Down Under Threat Of Copyright Claim, Backlash Ensues

      We’ve heard many stories at this point about video game producers attempting to use copyright and the DMCA as a censorship tool against criticism. As it happens, the frequency of these stories has tapered off somewhat as best as I can tell, even as the indie gaming scene has resulted in an explosion of small gaming studios. The reason for that delta is probably that the gaming community as a whole has become both far more educated and vocal about any attempts to use copyright as a censorship tool. Rightly or wrongly, honesty and transparency in gaming reviews and commentary has become something of a thing the past few years and one of the possibly unintentional results of that campaign has been for attempts at stifling criticism about games to be top of the average gamer’s mind.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Senate Given The Go-Ahead To Use Encrypted Messaging App Signal

      Certain senators have repeatedly pushed for encryption bans or encryption backdoors, sacrificing personal security for national security in a move that will definitively result in less of both. Former FBI Director James Comey’s incessant beating of his “Going Dark” drum didn’t help. Several legislators always managed to get sucked in by his narrative of thousands of unsearched phones presumably being tied to thousands of unsolved crimes and free-roaming criminals.

    • UK Government Using Manchester Attacks As An Excuse To Kill Encryption

      As has been explained time and time again, the only way you prevent bad guys from having encryption is by preventing everyone from having effective encryption… and that makes everyone significantly less safe. Seriously, the only way to do this is to put dangerous vulnerabilities into encryption that will certainly be hacked fairly quickly. This doesn’t make people safer. It makes them less safe.

    • Samsung’s ‘Airtight’ Iris Scanning Technology For The S8 Defeated With A Camera, Printer, And Contact Lens

      The thing about biometric scanning as a security practice is it is one of those things that sounds great. “Lock your phone with your fingerprint or facial scan”, shout the manufacturers and security companies that came up with the scans. Well, shit, thinks the average person, if nobody else has my face I’m in the clear. Even when movies and television tackle the subject, the methods for breaking the biometric security typically involve convoluted plans and insane stunts so brazen they would make Danny Ocean’s jaw drop.

    • Windows, Spying, and a Twitter Rant [iophk: "Microsoft has been getting second chances for 30 years. ditch them now."]

      But that thing changed with Windows 10. A shift in Microsoft’s philosophy has lead to a massive collection of data from Windows computers. For me, it’s not only a privacy issue but a security issue. — it’s hard to control what is happening on your computer when you aren’t in control.

    • [Older] The privacy threat of IoT device traffic rate metadata

      The researchers noted that encryption alone does not provide adequate privacy protection for smart homes, as their analysis did not rely on deep packet inspection, just send/receive rates of encrypted traffic.

    • So You Want To Be An Internet Piracy Investigator?
    • Stephen Fry: Facebook and other platforms should be classed as publishers

      Stephen Fry has called for Facebook and other "aggregating news agencies" to be reclassified as publishers in order to stop fake news and online abuse spreading by making social media subject to the same legal responsibilities as traditional news websites.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • US again talks of extending laptop ban to all airlines

      The WSJ cited a survey by the Airline Passenger Experience Association, a trade group, that showed that 43% of global passengers carried a tablet aboard, and 70% of this group used them during the flight.

      The study also found that 38% of global passengers carried laptops on board, and 42% of these passengers used the devices.

    • Leaks: Mercenaries targeted Standing Rock water protectors with anti-terrorist tactics

      Tigerswan, a secretive private mercenary company, was hired by Energy Transfer Partners to run campaigns against Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in five states, including states in which they were not licensed to operate [...]

    • The strange death of liberal Europe
    • G7 Group unite to limit free speech
    • More Legislators Jump On The ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Bandwagon

      You hear that, you bunch of ungrateful Americans? No matter how many citizens are gunned down for holding game controllers or toddlers torched by carelessly-tossed flashbang grenades, these fine men and women are to be given “unparalleled support.” They apparently “deserve” it — a term that must be wholly divorced from the process of earning it.

    • I was a Saudi arms dealer’s ‘pleasure wife’

      Billionaire Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi is best known for his roles in some of the most infamous political scandals of the 1980s. They include the Iran-Contra affair (he was a key middleman in the arms-for-hostages exchange) and accusations that he concealed funds alongside Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos. (Khashoggi was acquitted on federal charges of obstruction of justice and mail fraud after more serious charges of racketeering and conspiracy were dropped.)

    • DOJ Officials Express An Interest In Prosecuting Leakers And Whistleblowers

      We’ve already discussed a memo read by some FBI officials that supposedly was a record of an Oval Office conversation between former FBI Director James Comey and Donald Trump apparently contains the president asking after the possible prosecution of journalists for publishing leaks. Hearsay squared, but still in line with Trump’s antagonistic relationship with free speech.

      There’s not much popular support for treating journalists like criminals just for doing their job, but there appears to be plenty of administrative support for the idea. Comey claimed he wouldn’t go after journalists for publishing leaks — something he said with one side of his mouth while redefining journalism to exclude Julian Assange and Wikileaks, which the DOJ is apparently considering pursuing charges against.

    • Law Enforcement ‘Training And Expertise’ On Parade!

      The question that must be asked (but can’t be answered) is: how many times has this sort of thing happened? Only a very small percentage of frisks receive courtroom challenges. And stop-and-frisk programs have been heavily criticized for their routine abuse of civil liberties. There’s no expertise on display here: only the inability to work backwards from an illegal search, even when given a chance to “correct the record” post-search by aligning the paperwork with a less-unconstitutional narrative.

    • Yet Another Bad Idea: Dropping Facial Recognition Software Into Police Body Cameras

      Taking the surveillance out of the Middle East isn’t going to solve at least one logistical problem keeping this from becoming a day-to-day reality for already heavily-surveilled UK citizens. As is pointed out by officers in the discussion thread, Digital Barrier’s real-time face scanning is going to need far more bandwidth than is readily available to law enforcement. One commenter notes they can’t even get a strong enough signal to log in into their email out in the field, much less perform the on-the-fly facial recognition Digital Barrier is promising.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The GIF Turns 30: How an Ancient Format Changed the Internet

      Compuserve needed to display stock quotes, weather maps, and other graphs—simple images that would suffer from having jagged lines. So Wilhite decided to base the GIF on a lossless compression protocol called Lempel–Ziv–Welch, or LZW.

      [...]

      The file format also became the center of one of the web’s first patent disputes. In 1994, IT giant Unisys claimed to own the LZW protocol that Wilhite used in the GIF specification.

    • The FCC’s case against net neutrality rests on a deliberate misrepresentation of how the internet works

      The FCC has just published the notice of proposed rulemaking that would roll back the 2015 Open Internet Order establishing net neutrality. Its first and primary justification for doing this is a way of defining broadband access that’s so backwards it’s ridiculous. It would be funny, if the future of the internet didn’t depend on this incredibly disingenuous maneuvering.

      After the introductory bloviation and half-told history, the “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal begins its argument in earnest. The first point the FCC makes is regarding the text of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and how it defines “telecommunications service” (how broadband is currently defined, allowing net neutrality rules to be effected) and “information service” (how it was before the net neutrality rule).

    • Republicans claim 1st Amendment right to send you robo-voicemails

      You might start getting many more voicemails if Republicans get their wish.

      A marketing company called All About the Message recently petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for a ruling that would prevent anti-robocall rules from being applied to “the delivery of a voice message directly to a voicemail box” without ringing the recipient’s phone. These ringless voicemails are already happening, but their legal status is unclear.

    • Some Of The Best Net Neutrality Reporting Is… Coming From Sites Owned By Verizon?

      You may remember, a few years ago, Verizon attempted to start its own tech blog, called “SugarString,” where the founding editor they hired was telling potential reporters they couldn’t write about net neutrality. After that got mocked around the web, the whole idea of SugarString faded away. However, these days, Verizon actually owns a ton of content sites. It bought AOL in 2015, which already owned the Huffington Post, Techcrunch, Engadget and more. More recently, of course, it bought Yahoo as well. Suddenly, Verizon owns a ton of tech reporting.

      [...]

      Of course, you might claim that Verizon just purchased Yahoo, so perhaps word had not yet filtered down. But let’s shift over to TechCrunch, which has been on the AOL banner for years, and the Verizon/AOL banner for quite some time as well. Over there, a reporter by the name of Devin Coldewey has written a series of truly excellent articles about the FCC’s plans to roll back net neutrality. Those pieces are thorough, detail-oriented and not prone to the sorts of hyperbole that (unfortunately) have been seen on both sides of the net neutrality debate. For example, look at his article from last week that carefully goes through the arguments against net neutrality that people are making, and then carefully debunks each one.

    • Theresa May Plans To Regulate, Tax And Censor The Internet

      With UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently calling for a new election there, which she is expected to win easily (despite recent reports of narrowing polls), last week May’s Conservative party released its Manifesto (what we in the US tend to call a party’s “platform”). There are all sorts of things in there that are getting press attention, but for the stuff that matters here on Techdirt, let’s just say May’s view of the internet is not a good one. A part of the plan is basically to regulate, tax and censor the internet, because the Conservative Party leadership doesn’t seem to much like the internet — and they especially dislike the fact that Google and Facebook are so successful.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • [Older] Lawyer who founded Prenda Law is disbarred

        John Steele, one of the masterminds behind the Prenda Law “copyright trolling” scheme, has been disbarred. Court papers indicate that Steele agreed to the disbarment, which was announced by the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday.

      • Even Fake Leaks Can Help in Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy Wars

        Disney chief Bob Iger recently announced that hackers had obtained one of the company’s movies and were holding it to ransom. This Wednesday, TorrentFreak concluded it was a hoax, and on Thursday, Disney admitted that was indeed the case. When the ‘hack’ had so little credibility from the beginning almost a month ago, why debunk it so late?

      • Colombian researcher cleared of prison-term criminal charges for sharing one academic paper online

        Three years ago, Colombian researcher Diego Gomez was charged with copyright infringement for uploading one (1) academic paper to Scribd, and was facing four to eight years in prison for the allegedly heinous act of sharing knowledge. This week, the Colombian court acquitted him of all charges.

        [...]

        Unfortunately, the case is not over: the prosecutor is expected to appeal the case to the Bogota Appeals Court.

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