Links 23/6/2017: Wine 2.11 Released, HPC Domination by GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 8 ways to contribute to open source when you have no time

    One of the most common reasons people give for not contributing (or not contributing more) to open source is a lack of time. I get it; life is challenging, and there are so many priorities vying for your limited attention. So how can you find the time in your busy life to contribute to the open source projects you care about?

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should warn you that I was late getting this article to the editors because I couldn’t find the time to work on it. Take my advice at your own risk.

  • Open Source Valued Despite Poor Documentation and Bad Behavior [Ed: Not a good headline, as it ignores the fact proprietary software often lacks communication, merely hides conflicts/disputes]

    Findings from an Open Source Survey designed by GitHub together with researchers from academia, industry, and the community, provide interesting insights about the attitudes, experiences, and backgrounds of those who use, build, and maintain open source software. The full results are available as an open data set available on GitHub.

  • New open-source Python library helps developers create reactive web apps

    As interest in the Python programming language increases, a new open-source project wants to help developers start building applications in the language. Dash, created by the online data analytics and visualization solution provider Plotly, is a Python library for analytical, web-based applications.

  • Google open-sources TensorFlow training tools

    This week, Google open-sourced a project intended to cut down on the amount of work in configuring a deep learning model for training. Tensor2Tensor, or T2T for short, is a Python-powered workflow organization library for TensorFlow training jobs. It lets developers specify the key elements used in a TensorFlow model and define the relationships among them.

  • Google unveils new open-source project Istio

    Google, in a partnership with IBM and Lyft, recently announced a new open-source project called Istio. Istio’s purpose is to provide a uniform way to connect, secure, manage, and monitor microservices for application development.

  • To compete or to collaborate? 4 criteria for making the call

    In my series on becoming more open, I’ve written about selecting teammates for an open project, working with people that have different personalities, and encouraging front-line decision-making.

  • ONF/ON.Lab’s ONOS Project

    Networks have become indispensable infrastructure in modern society. The danger is that these networks tend to be closed, proprietary, complex, operationally expensive and inflexible, all of which impede innovation and progress rather than enable them. Presenting an alternative vision—that networking can serve the public interest—is the Open Network Operating Sytem, or ONOS Project. ONOS is an open-source, software-defined networking (SDN) OS for service providers that has scalability, high availability, high performance and abstractions to simplify creation of apps and services. The platform is based on a solid architecture and quickly has matured to be feature-rich and production-ready.

  • The role of open source software in telecommunications

    The telecommunications space has conventionally used proprietary hardware and software to deploy solutions from various vendors. Using multiple vendors enabled telecom operators to open source some network functions, but not to the extent usually fastened to open source software.

    Proprietary and open source programs are made of codes written by programmers. A proprietary program is a closed source, meaning it is owned by a developer, restricted to a licensing agreement and cannot be copied. An open source program, as the name suggests, is an open source, meaning it can be copied and modified under the developer’s license.

  • Events

    • Session Lineup Announced for The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit North America

      The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit is the premier open source technical conference in North America, gathering 2,000 developers, operators and community leadership professionals to collaborate, share information and learn about the latest in open technologies, including Linux, containers, cloud computing and more.

    • All Systems Go! 2017 CfP Open

      All Systems Go! is an Open Source community conference focused on the projects and technologies at the foundation of modern Linux systems — specifically low-level user-space technologies. Its goal is to provide a friendly and collaborative gathering place for individuals and communities working to push these technologies forward.

    • Get Ready for Open Source Summit 2017 in Los Angeles

      One of the biggest open source events in the world is right around the corner, and the full schedule has now been announced. The Open Source Summit — Sept. 11-14 in Los Angeles, CA — features more than 200 sessions, with additional breakout sessions throughout the day covering technical, leadership, and professional open source tracks.

    • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Platinum Sponsor of DebConf17

      We are very pleased to announce that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has committed support to DebConf17 as a Platinum sponsor.

    • Visiting ProgressBar HackerSpace in Bratislava

      When traveling, I make an effort to visit the local hackerspace. I understand that this is not normal behavior for many people, but for us (free / opensource advocates) is always a must.

    • Why Enterprises Are Using Node.js for Digital Transformation

      The Node.js Foundation will be talking more about why companies are turning to Node.js for digital transformation and Node.js best practices during the above mentioned free webinar on July 12 at 11am PT with Rick Adams, Senior IT Manager with Lowe’s Digital. The conversation will highlight other key findings from the Forrester report.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD now has Trapsleds to make life harder for ROPers
    • Historical: My first OpenBSD Hackathon

      I was a nobody. With some encouragement, enough liquid courage to override my imposter syndrome, and a few hours of mentoring, I’m now doing big projects. The next time you’re sitting at a table with someone new to your field, ask yourself: how can you encourage them? You just might make the world better.

      Thank you Dale. And thank you Theo.

    • Finish the link-kit job

      We’ve had the linkkit components in the tree for a while, but it has taken nearly 20 rounds between rpe/tb/myself to get the last few bits finished. So that the link kit is cleanly used at reboot, but also fits in with the practices kernel developers follow.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Norway register shares dataset tools as open source

      Norway’ Brønnøysundregistrene (Brønnøysund Register Centre), the government agency managing many of the country’s public registers and digital information exchange systems, is developing a semantic catalogue which it will make available as open source software in autumn. The tools are intended for Norway’s public sector, that can use them to for task involving public and not-public datasets.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • XOD: A New And Open Source Visual Programming Language For Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Etc.

      However, when it comes to hardware tinkering, programming knowledge is a must. To take care of this issue, developers have been trying to create what’s called visual programming languages. Many of them are already popular, including the likes of Node-Red and NoFlo, and others are budding.

      One such new visual programming language for Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and other development boards is XOD. In an email sent to Fossbytes, the creators of XOD programming language told that they’ve added graphical functionality and functional reactive principles. XOD language, XOD IDE, and library sources will be open sourced and published on GitHub once it’s launched.

    • PHP 7.2 Alpha 2 Released

      The second alpha release of the upcoming PHP 7.2 is now available for testing.

      PHP 7.2 Alpha 2 contains a number of fixes, updated SQLite3, SQLite3 support for writing to blobs, some compatibility improvements, and other work as outlined via the NEWS file. This second alpha comes just a few weeks after the first PHP 7.2 alpha.

    • Updates on my Python community work: 16-17

      At FOSSASIA, we had many professionals attending the talks, and the kids were having their own workshops. There were various other Python talks in different tracks as well.

    • Do you have what it takes to be a software developer?

      The language that finds itself on the top of the mountain is Java. Being around open source software for over 15 years, this was not always the case. Early on, we did not see a lot of interest in Java developers, but boy has that changed. It is the definitive leader in the application space currently. While the numbers have not grown in the last six quarters, the sheer overall number is impressive. On average, companies are asking for Java skills in over 1 in 3 job postings focused on FLOSS. Quite a feat for a language that did not register on the radar years ago. And, based on its heavy use with Android, it would not be a surprise to see this number increase in the future.

      Another language that is used prominently in the application space is C++. While its numbers can’t quite compete with that of Java, it still commands a large marketshare in this arena. Whereas Java is asked for in 1 of 3 postings, C++ is required in 1 of 4. Much like that of Java, its numbers have remained relatively stable over the last six quarters. C++ has always been heavily utilized, and even though Java has superseded it, it remains a highly relevant language.

    • RcppCCTZ 0.2.3 (and 0.2.2)

      A new minor version 0.2.3 of RcppCCTZ is now on CRAN.

    • 3 mistakes to avoid when learning to code in Python

      It’s never easy to admit when you do things wrong, but making errors is part of any learning process, from learning to walk to learning a new programming language, such as Python.

      Here’s a list of three things I got wrong when I was learning Python, presented so that newer Python programmers can avoid making the same mistakes. These are errors that either I got away with for a long time or that that created big problems that took hours to solve.

    • Are you a Python coder?

      It seems like every day I’m coming across a new project written in Python.

      And really, this should be no surprise. Python is a general-purpose language which works great in a variety of environments; it abstracts away a lot of the complexities of underlying systems, which giving you access to them whenever you need them. While both the language itself and toolchain around it help make it a great language for beginners, it is powerful enough to run some of the world’ most complex websites and applications, including entire data centers with the OpenStack project.


  • BBC technical glitch leaves Huw Edwards in silence on News at Ten

    Paul Royall, the editor at BBC News for the 6pm and 10pm bulletins, said there had been a “technical system crash” seconds before the start of the programme. This led to the director having to switch to a backup system.

  • BBC cuts mean news anchors will no longer be sent to cover stories
  • Driverless shuttle service coming to North Campus

    The service will use two fully automated, 15-passenger, all-electric shuttles manufactured by French firm NAVYA to transport students, faculty and staff on a nonstop two-mile route between the Lurie Engineering Center and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road.

  • This adorable driverless bus will soon be making stops at the University of Michigan

    The university plans to deploy two of the shuttles, manufactured by French startup Navya, to service a two-mile route between the Lurie Engineering Center and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road. The shuttle can carry a maximum of 15 passengers, and lacks a steering wheel or pedals. The vehicles are being deployed in partnership with Mcity, the university’s 32-acre testing facility automakers and tech startups often test their self-driving cars.

  • Colorado Voters Will Get A Chance To Prevent Preteens From Using Smartphones

    Because parenting is hard, Farnum has decided to see if the state can’t pick up his parenting slack. He has introduced a ballot measure that would ban retailers from selling phones to preteens, even indirectly. If this anesthesiologist can find 300,000 like-minded idiots willing to follow him into legislative infamy, his proposal could possibly become law.

  • Colorado Legalizes Another Vice: Texting While Driving

    Distracted driving laws and the crusade against distractions in the car have a history that goes back many years. Generally, the trend has been to try to ban each new distraction that comes along, and to seek to place the blame on device makers and automakers for not figuring out how to reliably disable those devices. There was even a ruling in California that made it illegal for a driver to use a mapping app. But now, the state of Colorado has done something unexpected, and perhaps even… reasonable.

    The state has made it legal to text while behind the wheel, unless it’s done in a “careless or imprudent manner.” While the new law does give a reprieve to those who use their phones in a safe manner (e.g., while at red light, or stopped in traffic), it also significantly increases the penalties for those who run afoul of the “carelessness” provision. As we’ve written before, there are many potential distractions inside a vehicle, and eliminating them all would be impractical, if not impossible. So this new law puts the focus on the dangerous behavior instead of the potential distraction itself, holding the driver responsible for unsafe actions.

  • OTA Report: Consumer Services Sites More Trustworthy Than .Gov Sites

    The Online Trust Alliance on Tuesday released its 2017 Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll.

    Among its findings: Consumer services sites have the best combined security and privacy practices.

    FDIC 100 banks and U.S. government sites are the least trustworthy, according to the audit.

  • California earthquake alarm sounded – 92 years late

    A warning about a massive earthquake off the coast of California has been sent 92 years late.
    A computer error caused the US Geological Survey (USGS) to issue the false alarm about the magnitude 6.8 quake.
    The quake actually took place in 1925 when it laid waste to the city of Santa Barbara and caused 13 deaths.
    In a statement, the USGS said its computers had “misinterpreted” data causing the alarm to be wrongly issued.

  • Wall Street Is Starting To Get Very Nervous About Cable TV Cord Cutting

    Wall Street is finally starting to realize there’s a storm brewing on the horizon for the nation’s biggest cable companies. Cable stocks took a notable dip this week after MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett downgraded the entire cable sector because of worries surrounding cord cutting and streaming video competition. Moffett, who not that long ago used to mock cord cutters for being irrelevant basement dwellers, has seen the light — more recently noting that 2016′s 1.7% decline in traditional cable TV viewers was the biggest cord cutting acceleration on record.

  • Hardware

    • Imagination Formally Announces It’s Selling Itself

      Following countless rumors about PowerVR-maker Imagination Technologies, the company has formally announced today it’s selling itself.

    • The tragedy of FireWire: Collaborative tech torpedoed by corporations [iophk: "just took my very last firewire peripheral off to recycling yesterday; not mentioned: IEEE-1394 had some fatal DMA security shortcomings though"]

      The rise and fall of FireWire—IEEE 1394, an interface standard boasting high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data transfer—is one of the most tragic tales in the history of computer technology.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Heat can kill and we’re turning up the thermostat

      By 2100, rising temperatures mean we can only choose between “more of this” and “a lot more of this.” The best-case, most-aggressive-emissions-cutting scenario limits warming to just below 2°C above pre-industrial times. Even there, we would expect the share of the population experiencing dangerous heat to rise from 30 percent to 48 percent.

    • The Senate GOP Isn’t Fixing Health Care. It’s Waging Class War.

      The baseline for comparison, however, shouldn’t be this Senate draft, or the bill that passed the House. The question is whether the GOP legislation improves on Obamacare and current coverage. It doesn’t come close—unless, of course, you happen to believe that we provide too much help to the poor and elderly, and not enough tax cuts to the wealthy.

    • Does It Matter That Senate Republicans Wrote Their Health Care Bill In Secret?
    • Who Is Getting Rich Off the Secret Health-Care Overhaul?

      One of the biggest scandals in American politics right now is that 13 Senate Republicans are developing a health-care bill that will impact one-sixth of the economy and the livelihoods of millions of Americans, and nobody knows the details.

    • Why Is US Government Giving A Pharma Giant Exclusive Rights To A Zika Vaccine Whose Development Was Paid For By The US Public?

      Here on Techdirt we’ve written much about the way Western pharma companies fight for their “right” to charge unaffordable prices for medicines in emerging and developing economies. In particular, they routinely take governments and local generic suppliers to court in an attempt to shore up highly-profitable monopolies on life-saving drugs. But to be fair, it’s not only poorer people who are dying as a result of Big Pharma’s desire to maximize profits: Western drug companies are equally happy to charge even higher prices in richer countries — notably in the US. That’s old news. But there is a pharmaceutical saga unfolding that manages to combine all the worst aspects of this kind of behavior, and to throw in a few new ones.

    • UN Human Rights Council Adopts Access To Medicines Resolution

      The United Nations Human Rights Council today adopted a resolution on the right to health in relation to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including a call for medicines and vaccines access for all. The resolution also requested the UN human rights commissioner to report on the right to health.

    • Theranos reportedly settles $140M Walgreens suit for less than $30M

      Theranos told its investors that it has reached a tentative settlement with former business partner Walgreens and will pay out less than $30 million in the agreement, The Wall Street Journal reports.

      The drugstore giant filed a searing lawsuit late last year against the beleaguered blood-testing company. Walgreens was seeking $140 million—presumed to be the amount it invested in a 2012 deal with Theranos to host blood-testing ‘Wellness Centers’ in its stores. In court filings, Walgreens alleged that Theranos had broken all its promises and “failed to meet the most basic quality standards and legal requirements” of their partnership.

  • Security

    • Debian, Red Hat and CentOS All Patch the Stack Clash Linux Kernel Vulnerability

      Red Hat, Debian, and CentOS have all announced that they have patched the recently discovered “Stack Clash” Linux vulnerability in the kernel packages for their supported operating systems.

    • Canonical Also Patches Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Against the Stack Clash Vulnerability

      Canonical today announced that it released a new kernel security update for the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) operating system series to patch the infamous Stack Clash vulnerability discovered recently by Qualys Research Labs.

    • Brutal Kangaroo

      Today, June 22nd 2017, WikiLeaks publishes documents from the Brutal Kangaroo project of the CIA. Brutal Kangaroo is a tool suite for Microsoft Windows that targets closed networks by air gap jumping using thumbdrives. Brutal Kangaroo components create a custom covert network within the target closed network and providing functionality for executing surveys, directory listings, and arbitrary executables.

      The documents describe how a CIA operation can infiltrate a closed network (or a single air-gapped computer) within an organization or enterprise without direct access. It first infects a Internet-connected computer within the organization (referred to as “primary host”) and installs the BrutalKangaroo malware on it. When a user is using the primary host and inserts a USB stick into it, the thumbdrive itself is infected with a separate malware. If this thumbdrive is used to copy data between the closed network and the LAN/WAN, the user will sooner or later plug the USB disk into a computer on the closed network. By browsing the USB drive with Windows Explorer on such a protected computer, it also gets infected with exfiltration/survey malware. If multiple computers on the closed network are under CIA control, they form a covert network to coordinate tasks and data exchange. Although not explicitly stated in the documents, this method of compromising closed networks is very similar to how Stuxnet worked.

      The Brutal Kangaroo project consists of the following components: Drifting Deadline is the thumbdrive infection tool, Shattered Assurance is a server tool that handles automated infection of thumbdrives (as the primary mode of propagation for the Brutal Kangaroo suite), Broken Promise is the Brutal Kangaroo postprocessor (to evaluate collected information) and Shadow is the primary persistence mechanism (a stage 2 tool that is distributed across a closed network and acts as a covert command-and-control network; once multiple Shadow instances are installed and share drives, tasking and payloads can be sent back-and-forth).

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Reproducible Builds: week 112 in Stretch cycle
    • 5 things you need to know about Stack Clash to secure your shared Linux environment

      The vulnerability is present in Unix-based systems on i386 and amd64 architectures. Affected Linux distributions include Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE, CentOS and Gentoo. Solaris is owned by Oracle. FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD are also impacted. Qualys has been working with distributions and vendors since May to get the vulnerabilities fixed, and the updates are just beginning to be released. Administrators need to act promptly to update affected machines with the security updates.

    • Traffic lights in Australia hit by WannaCry ransomware [Ed: Well, who uses Microsoft Windows to manage traffic?!?!]

      Radio station 3aw reports that dozens of pole based traffic calming measures are infected and that this came as a surprise to the local minister and Road Safety Camera Commissioner when radio reporters told him about it.

    • Honda shuts down factory after finding NSA-derived Wcry in its networks

      The WCry ransomware worm has struck again, this time prompting Honda Company to halt production in one of its Japan-based factories after finding infections in a broad swath of its computer networks, according to media reports.

      The automaker shut down its Sayama plant northwest of Tokyo on Monday after finding that WCry had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China, and other regions, Reuters reported Wednesday. Discovery of the infection came on Sunday, more than five weeks after the onset of the NSA-derived ransomware worm, which struck an estimated 727,000 computers in 90 countries. The mass outbreak was quickly contained through a major stroke of good luck. A security researcher largely acting out of curiosity registered a mysterious domain name contained in the WCry code that acted as a global kill switch that immediately halted the self-replicating attack.

    • GhostHook: CyberArk finds new way to attack Windows 10

      Researchers at CyberArk Labs have discovered a new way of gaining access to the innards of Windows 10 64-bit systems that can bypass existing safeguards, including the kernel patch protection known as PatchGuard that Microsoft developed to improve system security.

    • John McAfee claims ‘every router in America has been compromised’ by hackers and spies

      Technology pioneer John McAfee believes that every home internet router in America is wide open to cyberattacks by criminal hackers and intelligence agencies. He makes the claim speaking after revelations from WikiLeaks that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) targets the devices.

    • ‘Stack Clash’ Smashed Security Fix in Linux

      What’s old is new again: an exploit protection mechanism for a known flaw in the Linux kernel has fallen to a new attack targeting an old problem.

    • Continuous defence against open source exploits

      Register for next month’s expo for the public sector DevOps community to hear key speakers from the front line of public sector digital transformation and see the latest technologies at first hand.

      Andrew Martin, DevOps lead in a major government department, has been added to the line-up of speakers to talk about the importance of getting the approach to security right with open source software.

    • IoT goes nuclear: creating a ZigBee chain reaction [iophk: "use 6lowpan instead"]

      If plugging in an infected bulb is too much hassle, the authors also demonstrate how to take over bulbs by war-driving around in a car, or by war-flying a drone.

    • Passengers given a freight as IT glitch knocks out rail ticket machines

      The network of machines are operated by the individual franchises, but share a common infrastructure from German software company Scheidt and Bachmann.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Stack Clash Bug Could Compromise Linux and Unix Defenses
    • Ztorg malware hid in Google Play to send premium-rate SMS texts, delete incoming SMS messages
    • The Stack Clash Vulnerabilities Mitigated in Container Linux

      Security researchers at Qualys recently disclosed new techniques to exploit stack allocations on several operating systems, even in the face of a number of security measures. Qualys was able to find numerous local-root exploits — exploits which allow local users of a system to gain root privileges — by applying stack allocation techniques against various pieces of userspace software.

    • Let’s Encrypt ACME Certificate Protocol Set for Standardization

      The open-source Let’s Encrypt project has been an innovating force on the security landscape over the last several years, providing millions of free SSL/TLS certificates to help secure web traffic. Aside from the disruptive model of providing certificates for free, Let’s Encrypt has also helped to pioneer new technology to help manage and deliver certificates as well, including the Automated Certificate Management Environment (ACME).

    • How the CIA infects air-gapped networks

      Documents published Thursday purport to show how the Central Intelligence Agency has used USB drives to infiltrate computers so sensitive they are severed from the Internet to prevent them from being infected.

      More than 150 pages of materials published by WikiLeaks describe a platform code-named Brutal Kangaroo that includes a sprawling collection of components to target computers and networks that aren’t connected to the Internet. Drifting Deadline was a tool that was installed on computers of interest. It, in turn, would infect any USB drive that was connected. When the drive was later plugged into air-gapped machines, the drive would infect them with one or more pieces of malware suited to the mission at hand. A Microsoft representative said none of the exploits described work on supported versions of Windows.

    • WikiLeaks Publishes CIA Documents Detailing “Brutal Kangaroo” Tool and LNK Exploits

      On June 22, 2017, WikiLeaks released a new cache of documents detailing four tools allegedly used by the CIA as part of its ongoing “Vault 7” campaign. The leaked tools are named “EzCheese,” “Brutal Kangaroo,” “Emotional Simian,” and “Shadow.” When used in combination, these tools can be used to attack systems that are air-gapped by using weaponized USB drives as an exfiltration channel. Per the documentation, deployment of the tool takes place by unwitting targets; however, the use of such tools could also easily be deployed purposefully by complicit insider actors.


      This exploit works against Windows 7, 8, and 8.1; the current CVEs surrounding this technique are currently unknown.

    • Microsoft says ‘no known ransomware’ runs on Windows 10 S — so we tried to hack it
    • 32TB of Windows 10 internal builds, core source code leak online

      A massive trove of Microsoft’s internal Windows operating system builds and chunks of its core source code have leaked online.

      The data – some 32TB of installation images and software blueprints that compress down to 8TB – were uploaded to betaarchive.com, the latest load of files provided just earlier this week. It is believed the data has been exfiltrated from Microsoft’s in-house systems since around March.

      The leaked code is Microsoft’s Shared Source Kit: according to people who have seen its contents, it includes the source to the base Windows 10 hardware drivers plus Redmond’s PnP code, its USB and Wi-Fi stacks, its storage drivers, and ARM-specific OneCore kernel code.

      Anyone who has this information can scour it for security vulnerabilities, which could be exploited to hack Windows systems worldwide. The code runs at the heart of the operating system, at some of its most trusted levels.

    • If these universities had run an ad blocker they might have been saved from ransomware attack

      Earlier this month a number of British universities, including University College London and Ulster University reported that their systems had been hit hard by a ransomware attack.

      Although initially it was thought likely that the attacks had entered the universities’ servers via poisoned emails (it’s very normal to see ransomware being spread via malicious email attachments), it transpires that the actual vector for infection was malvertising instead.

      More details can be found in this technical article by researchers at Proofpoint, who believe that an AdGholas drive-by malvertising campaign helped infect the universities with the Mole ransomware, taking advantage of an exploit kit.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘US approves sale of 22 Guardian drones to India’

      The deal, estimated to be worth $2 to 3 billion, has been approved by the State Department, the sources said.

    • Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, US approves sale of 22 Guardian drones to India

      The sources, who requested anonymity as the deal has not been formally announced, said the sale of 22 predator drones being manufactured by General Atomics is “a game changer” for US-India relations as it operationalises the status of “major defence partner”.

    • Why Michigan’s Iraqi Christians thought Trump would spare their loved ones

      Like many 30-somethings, Alen Hirmiz has tattoos. His – a large one of a cross and one of Jesus on each arm – bear witness to his Christian faith. His sister and family are now afraid they could endanger his life.

      On June 11, a Sunday, immigration agents detained Mr. Hirmiz in front of his shocked parents at the family’s home in suburban Detroit. He’s now waiting in a holding facility in Youngstown, Ohio, where – barring an emergency stay – he will be sent back to an Iraq he hasn’t seen since he was a teenager.

    • Pizzagate shooter sentenced to four years in prison

      A man who barged into a Washington, DC, pizzeria with an AR-15 rifle to “self-investigate” an Internet conspiracy theory was sentenced to four years in prison today.

      District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said “the extent of the recklessness” exhibited by 29-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch was “breathtaking,” according to a report by ABC News. Welch pled guilty in March to charges of transporting a firearm across state lines and assault with a dangerous weapon.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Secret Defense Dept. Report Shows Manning Leaks Did No Serious Damage

      Prosecutors seeking to justify a lengthy sentence (and the abuses that had already occurred) in the Chelsea Manning case insisted the documents she leaked had caused serious damage to those exposed by them. They said this even as multiple government officials admitted the most the United States had suffered was some embarrassment.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Obama’s Energy Secretary is starting a low-carbon energy think tank

      Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that he is establishing an energy-focused think tank to provide research and analysis for state and local governments, industry leaders, and NGOs.

      The organization, called Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), aims to provide analytical and technical reports on a wide variety of energy-related topics. The first eight topics that EFI will address are listed on its website and cover areas from “Modernizing the North American Energy Sector” to “Decarbonization of Energy Systems” and “Evolution of Natural Gas Markets.”

    • DIY professional grade solar panel installation

      I’ve installed 1 kilowatt of solar panels on my roof, using professional grade eqipment. The four panels are Astronergy 260 watt panels, and they’re mounted on IronRidge XR100 rails. Did it all myself, without help.

  • Finance

    • Trump plans to dismantle Obama-era “Startup Visa”

      A regulation from the Obama administration that would have allowed foreign-born entrepreneurs who raise investor cash to build their startups in the US won’t be allowed to go into effect.

      The Department of Homeland Security will file an official notice to delay the International Entrepreneur Rule for eight months. The intention is to eliminate the rule entirely, according to sources briefed on the matter who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

    • Insurance industry making the leap to blockchain

      Blockchain is making inroads into the insurance sector with the announcement of new initiatives aimed at expanding the use of the digital ledger technology.

      Last week’s news of the initiative between American International Group Inc. and Standard Chartered Bank P.L.C. was the latest in a recent run of activity around the insurance sector’s potential use for the budding technology.

    • Privatizing public services could spell their demise – and the end of democracy

      These companies wouldn’t have customers if better public alternatives existed. It can be hard to find a water fountain in Manhattan, and public transit in American cities ranges from mediocre to nonexistent. But solving these problems by ceding them to the private sector ensures that public services will continue to deteriorate until they disappear.

    • Grenfell Tower fire: Up to 600 high-rise blocks using similar cladding

      Hundreds of tower blocks in England have similar cladding to that used in the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, Downing Street has admitted.

    • Grenfell Tower: Fire-risk tests on cladding on ’600 high rises’
    • Indians brace for Saudi ‘family tax’

      Migrant rights activist Bheem Reddy Mandha said several people had already sent their families back in the past four months. “The men have become forced bachelors,” he said.

    • Cheese: The Final Frontier For The Completion Of The Canada-EU Trade Deal CETA

      The last one of these is particularly problematic. Macron has adopted a surprisingly muscular style in his first few days as French President, most famously in his handshake with Donald Trump, and won’t want to be seen backing down from his promise to seek expert scrutiny of CETA before ratification. Looks like there’s life in that cheesy CETA saga yet.

    • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns after pressure from investors

      Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned effective immediately, following an indefinite leave of absence that was announced just last week. Kalanick said that the leave of absence was to grieve for the recent death of his mother.

    • A Short History of the Many, Many Ways Uber Screwed Up
    • Waymo tells judge: Uber’s ex-CEO knew about Google files
    • With help of coal tax credits, Mylan had a negative 294-percent tax rate in 2016

      While reviewing Mylan’s tax filings, Reuters dug up an intriguing investment by the pharmaceutical company: refined coal.

      Since 2011, the company has purchased 99-percent stakes in five US companies that process coal to make it cleaner burning. Mylan then sells the coal at a tax-deductible loss and earns tax credits, intended to incentivize cleaner energy production. Over the last six years, the drug maker has earned hundreds of millions in tax credits that have lowered its already very low tax rate and raised its overall bottom line.

    • ‘Italy’s use of eInvoicing has saved EUR 1 billion’

      Electronic invoicing is one of the key projects in Italy’s Digital Agenda, AGID adds. Since the beginning of this year, the FatturaPA system can be used for free by companies and citizens to send invoices.

    • Indian IT industry not H-1B dependent, says Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka
    • Indian IT industry not H-1B dependent: Infosys CEO

      Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka has refuted the general impression that the Indian IT industry is overly dependent on H-1B visas

    • Reality Check: What has happened since the Brexit vote?

      It’s a year since the referendum in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, and it’s safe to say that no-one yet knows how this is going to turn out.

      This month’s general election has only served to heighten the sense that much of the Brexit process is still unknown – particularly the final destination.
      So what has changed in the past year?

      Well, in terms of the process, in March the UK triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the formal route out of the EU that has never been put to the test before.

      And – after an unexpected UK election that produced an unexpected result – formal face-to-face negotiations on the terms of divorce finally began earlier this week.

    • May’s rights offer falls flat on its face

      It was supposed to be a “big and generous” offer that would start the negotiations off on the right foot. Theresa May would even personally brief EU leaders on her plan for how to safeguard the rights of 3.2 million EU citizens residing in the U.K. ahead of its official publication to reassure them.

      Good idea? No. At least not the way she went about it. The U.K. prime minister leaves Brussels today with the EU27 more annoyed than they were before she arrived.

      Partly this is about style. May is not the world’s best communicator. Telling EU leaders over dinner not to worry and that no families will be split up because of Brexit only riled the other leaders sat around the table — and EU citizens in the U.K. who are still worried about their future status. Their private reaction, briefed out by aides later, was: Why are we even talking about families splitting up? Is this how far we’ve fallen?

    • The Guardian view on Brexit: Wrong then, wrong now, wrong in the future

      In one of the several low points of her stunningly inept general election campaign, Theresa May warned that Jeremy Corbyn would be “alone and naked” in the Brexit negotiating chamber. This week, though, it is Mrs May herself who has been revealed as Brexit’s empress with no clothes. Everything about her performance in Brussels over the last two days has underlined both the larger national tragedy of Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the deepening personal failure of Mrs May’s attempts to deliver it.

      Mrs May went to this week’s Brussels summit promising a “fair and serious” offer on the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and of UK citizens in the EU, after Brexit. She met a humiliating response. The EU-27 told her these were not matters for a summit but for the negotiations. Angela Merkel said the proposals were no breakthrough. Emmanuel Macron said there was a long way to go. Even Donald Tusk, often a friend of Britain, called them “below expectations.” Meanwhile in Britain, EU citizens’ groups dubbed the plan pathetic, and George Osborne revealed that Mrs May had unilaterally prevented a fairer and more serious offer immediately after the referendum last June because that would strengthen her leadership election chances.

    • Labour politicians join forces to fight against Tories’ hard Brexit

      More than 50 Labour politicians, including frontbenchers, have signed a statement claiming young voters backed their party in 2017 because they wanted it to “stop the Tories in their tracks” over Brexit.

      The group, made up of dozens of MPs, peers and MEPs on the left and right of the party, claimed the best way to do that was by “fighting unambiguously for membership of the single market”.

      In an intervention that will increase the pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to further differentiate his position from that of the Tories, the politicians say “mere access” to the internal market will make working people poorer and hit revenues.

      That will make it harder to “bring an end to years of damaging Tory austerity”, they say.

    • A year after Brexit, in figures

      Today marks the one-year anniversary of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Much has changed in the country since then — a new prime minister, a resurgent Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, the Queen wearing a flag on her hat.

      Here are some of the more notable numbers from the past year.

    • Brexit: May ‘blocked unilateral offer for EU citizens’ rights’ last June

      Theresa May was the sole cabinet minister to block a unilateral offer to EU citizens that they could remain in Britain in the days following the referendum, according to an editorial in the London Evening Standard.

      The paper, edited by former chancellor George Osborne, reports that David Cameron had prepared an offer to give EU citizens certainty in the days following the referendum result last June.

      Cameron had already resigned and a leadership contest was under way in the Conservative party, but May and Osborne were still in post as chancellor and home secretary.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Tories Embroiled in New Election Law Breach Scandal

      A new undercover investigation has revealed that the Conservative Party may have broken election and data protection rules, urging people to vote for Theresa May under the guise of a phone poll.

      A Channel 4 News reporter applied for a job with a secretive call centre in Neath, South Wales, run by a failed Tory council candidate and discovered marketing calls to marginal constituencies implying a vote for Theresa May was a vote for an orderly Brexit.

    • EU leaders look beyond Brexit and love what they see

      Call it summer EU-phoria.

      There was a blazing sun overhead as European leaders arrived in Brussels for their summer summit Thursday, and the political outlook seemed just as bright, with an array of crises in check, economic indicators on the upswing across the Continent, and spirits lifted by a series of ballot-box triumphs.

      Perhaps most importantly, the leaders arrived to tackle an agenda packed with issues that showed them not only unbowed by Brexit but even capitalizing on the U.K.’s impending departure to push forward in areas such as defense cooperation where London had long thrown up obstacles.

      Summing up the optimism, Council President Donald Tusk said: “This is the 80th European Council in which I have participated as prime minister or European Council president, but never before have I had such a strong belief that things are going in a better direction.”

    • Exclusive: DUP broke off talks with Tories for 36 hours this week as they demand £2billion for Northern Ireland

      The Democratic Unionist Party broke off talks with Theresa May this week as it told her to spend £2billion in Northern Ireland if she wants the party to prop up her minority Conservative Government.

      The DUP demanded the cash – which works out as £1,100 per person in the Province – as talks veered dangerously close to breaking down altogether.

      The talks became so strained in the past few days that the DUP negotiators in Belfast refused to pick up the phone to the Prime Minister’s team for 36 hours, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

      Westminster sources said they now hoped a “confidence and supply” deal could be agreed next week, days before Thursday’s key vote on the Queen’s Speech.

    • Poll reveals Jeremy Corbyn has overtaken Theresa May on who’d make the best Prime Minister
    • 7 Secret (And Stupid) Rules For Working For President Trump

      At the best of times, the White House must be a pretty chaotic environment to work in. And whatever your politics, it is probably fair to say that the present is not one of the better times. President Donald J. Trump is having an insanely difficult time both filling his administration with new hires, and keeping those new hires longer than a dishwasher at a chain restaurant. Life inside the White House sure seems to have gotten a lot weirder in the past few months. And we’ve found the stories that prove it.

    • The Lasting Damage of Trump’s ‘Tapes’ Bluff

      The president’s attempt to intimidate James Comey didn’t merely backfire—it may also embolden hostile regimes to conclude his other threats are equally empty.

    • A registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia now has a spot in Trump’s White House
    • Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist

      Hohlt also lobbies for numerous corporate clients. This year, he’s been registered to lobby on behalf of oil giant Chevron, the Motion Picture Association of America and a division of tobacco giant Altria, among others.

    • Trump: ‘I just don’t want a poor person’ in top economic roles
    • Democrats urge Trump administration to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

      A group of mostly Democratic senators led by Al Franken (D-Minn.) today urged the Department of Justice to block AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. The senators’ letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions predicts that “the combined company’s unmatched control of popular content and the distribution of that content will lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans.”

      The Democrats couched their language a bit and said that the DOJ should block the merger if it “determine[s] that the substantial harms to competition and consumers arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits.” But the senators made it clear that they believe the merger’s potential harms will outweigh the benefits for consumers even if the government imposes conditions on the transaction.

    • The neo-fascist philosophy that underpins both the alt-right and Silicon Valley technophiles

      From the outside, America’s alt right is a nebulous movement based on racism, nationalism, and white supremacy. In contrast, the tech elites in Silicon Valley look like a relatively worldly bunch, despite the calls from some quarters of the valley to break away from the plebeian masses of the US.

      But despite their differences, strands of the two groups share strong links to “Dark Enlightenment,” an obscure neo-fascist philosophy started by a British academic in the 1990s.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • An Attack on Net Neutrality Is an Attack on Free Speech

      Several US senators spoke out this week on the importance of net neutrality to innovation and free speech. They are right. The Internet has become our public square, our newspaper, our megaphone. The Federal Communications Commission is trying to turn it in something more akin to commercial cable TV, and we all have to work together to stop it.

    • Saudi Arabia demands Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera, cut ties with Iran
    • List of demands on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations

      Acting as a mediator, Kuwait has presented Qatar a long-awaited list of demands from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, four Arab nations that cut ties with Qatar in early June. A copy of the list was obtained by The Associated Press and translated from Arabic.

    • ‘An attack on free thought’: Middle East Eye responds to Saudi demands

      A Saudi coalition of states has placed 13 demands on Qatar to lift their blockade, including the closure of Al Jazeera and what it states are publications and websites “directly or indirectly supported by Qatar”.

      The list from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt also calls for Qatar to cut all ties with Iran, pay compensation to the petitioning states for “victims and losses” due to Qatari foreign policy and a 10-year “mechanism” to ensure Qatar sticks to the deal.

      The media organisations the petition claims are “supported” by Qatar include Arabi21, al-Araby al-Jadeed, Sharq, and the London-based Middle East Eye.

      Qatar has 10 days to accept the demands, it said.

      David Hearst, Middle East Eye’s editor-in-chief, said his organisation was not funded by Qatar – or any other state or group – and was here to stay.

    • Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press review – Hulk v Gawker in portrait of wealthy arrogance

      The Hogan attack was a vanguard operation in the aggressive new reactionary philistinism and hatred of press freedom being nurtured by some of America’s super-rich which is encouraged as a political diversionary tactic by the US president.

    • Did Hulk Hogan Neuter the First Amendment?

      But they all fade into the background once Thiel emerges. As the film explains, he donated $10 million to fund Hogan’s case against Gawker, intent on bringing down the site that had outed him back in 2007. And it’s at this point that Nobody Speaks shifts focus to the general threat wealthy and agenda-driven figures pose to a free press.

    • Bob Murray’s Lawsuit Against John Oliver Is Even Sillier Than We Expected

      Yesterday we wrote about coal company Murray Energy and its CEO, Bob Murray, actually following through and suing John Oliver — something that Murray’s lawyers had threatened to do when Oliver and his team had reached out to Murray for a piece Oliver was doing on coal. The result of being threatened was that Oliver spent nearly half of the 24 minute segment on Murray, carefully detailing some of Murray’s history and positions.

    • John Oliver, a giant squirrel and a defamation lawsuit by a coal industry titan

      Murray is known for aggressively suing journalists and media organizations that run critical content about him and his companies. Between 2001 and 2015, he filed at least nine lawsuits against journalists and news outlets that published a negative advertisement from an activist group, claiming they maligned his character and threatened his employees’ jobs, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Most if not all never went to trial.

    • Coal magnate sues John Oliver for defamation

      A top coal executive is suing John Oliver over the “Last Week Tonight” host’s mockery of him during a segment on the decline of the coal industry.

    • Coal Boss Files Total SLAPP Suit Against John Oliver & HBO

      This one is clearly no surprise at all, given that — as we wrote about just a couple days ago — Bob Murray and his company Murray Energy were threatening John Oliver with a SLAPP suit if Oliver’s satirical report about the coal industry was used to “defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy.” Of course, Oliver’s report did no such thing… but, alas, Murray has now sued Oliver, HBO, Time Warner… and the writers of the story. The lawsuit was filed in West Virginia state court. In my original post, I suggested it might be filed in Ohio, where Murray Energy is headquartered, but it does also have operations in West Virginia as well. Either way, as with Ohio, West Virginia is a state with no anti-SLAPP law.

    • Former University Official Files Libel Lawsuit Against His Replacement For Things A Journalist Said

      We’ve covered a lot of ridiculous defamation lawsuits here at Techdirt. A ton. MANY. We like covering them so much we bought the company. But this defamation lawsuit passed on to us by Adam Steinbaugh is just baffling. Even more baffling, it’s been filed with professional representation. Its attempt to fashion a libel lawsuit out of nothing bears far more resemblance to those filed by plaintiffs with fools for lawyers.

      In March of last year, Jim Myers of the The Tennessean wrote an article about some staff changes at a local university’s culinary arts program. If this seems like extraordinarily innocuous subject matter, you’re obviously not former director Tom Loftis or his legal representation. Loftis has formally shouted “defamation” in a crowded courthouse. But his accusations aren’t levied against Myers or The Tennessean, but rather against someone featured in the article: new culinary arts director Randy Rayburn.

    • Pakistan Sentences First Person To Death Over Social Media Posts
    • Censorship Returns to Central Europe
    • Germany wants to fine Facebook over hate speech, raising fears of censorship
    • China’s censorship fingers reach into our cyberspace
    • North Korea Tech and the internet censorship of the most wired country on Earth
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Rhode Island bill sees highway surveillance cams ticketing uninsured motorists

      A Rhode Island legislative committee has approved a bill that would greatly expand the surveillance state through the deployment of license plate readers. For the first time in the US, these devices would be attached along Rhode Island highways and roads for the stated purpose of catching uninsured motorists from any state.

    • Legislators Want To Open Up Wiretap Laws To Target Sex Workers And Their Customers

      Currently, the forerunner for “worst” is one that makes a mockery of federal wiretap statutes. The laws governing government eavesdropping have been modified over the years with an eye on protecting something even more sacrosanct than someone’s home: someone’s private conversations. Wiretaps are only supposed to be used for felonies — dangerous, possibly life-threatening criminal activities. They’re supposed to be issued only when law enforcement has exhausted all other options and subjected to strict oversight to prevent their abuse. (Note: what’s supposed to happen and what actually happens are two very different things.)

    • Judge rips lawyers in IP rift over viral Facebook childbirth video

      A year ago, the US Supreme Court announced guidance to lower courts in determining whether the prevailing party in a copyright lawsuit should be awarded attorney fees. Under US law, the losing side of a copyright suit can be ordered to pay the legal costs to the winners—no matter which side originally brought the case.

    • CIA penetrated by insider network of snack thieves who stole 3k worth of junk food
    • Espionage suspect totally thought messages to Chinese intel were deleted
    • NSA’s use of ‘traffic shaping’ allows unrestrained spying on Americans
    • Facebook wants to shift its focus to ‘meaningful’ online communities and connections [Ed: It wants surveillance (personal data its sells) to be "meaningful"]
    • Deportation Is Going High-Tech Under Trump

      In a leafy Detroit suburb last March, federal authorities raided a one-story brick house. Their target: Rudy Carcamo-Carranza, a 23-year-old restaurant worker from El Salvador with two deportation orders, a DUI, and a hit-and-run.

      The incident would have seemed like a standard deportation case, except for a key detail unearthed by The Detroit News: The feds didn’t find Carcamo-Carranza through traditional detective work. They found him using a cell-site simulator, a powerful surveillance device developed for the global war on terror.

      Five days after his election, Donald Trump announced his plan to quickly deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants—“people that are criminal,” “gang members,” “drug dealers.” How would he do it? How would he deport more people, more quickly, than any of his recent predecessors? The Carcamo-Carranza case suggests an answer: After 9/11, America spent untold sums to build tools to find enemy soldiers and terrorists. Those tools are now being used to find immigrants. And it won’t just be “bad hombres.”

    • DHS Is Starting to Scan Americans’ Faces Before They Get on International Flights

      Air travel already features some attributes of a police state. Metal detectors. Bomb-sniffing dogs. Pat-downs. A gloved TSA agent peering at your toothpaste. But it could get worse. What if your check-in also involved a face recognition scan?

      Decades ago, Congress mandated that federal authorities keep track of foreign nationals as they enter and leave the United States. If the government could record when every visitor stepped on and off of U.S. soil, so the thinking went, it could easily see whether a foreign national had overstayed a visa.

    • Deputy Attorney General Asks Congress For $21 Million To Solve The FBI’s ‘Going Dark’ Problem

      The request came during Rosenstein’s testimony before the Appropriations Committee — the place where all government officials perform their most sincere acts of begging. Not that the FBI was likely to be faced with budget cuts — not with a “law and order” president running the country and overseen by an Attorney General who appears to believe we’re currently engulfed in a massive drug-and-immigrant crimewave.

    • California may restore broadband privacy rules killed by Congress and Trump

      A proposed law in California would require Internet service providers to obtain customers’ permission before they use, share, or sell the customers’ Web browsing history.

      The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, a bill introduced by Assembly member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) on Monday, is very similar to an Obama-era privacy rule that was scheduled to take effect across the US until President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated it. If Chau’s bill becomes law, ISPs in California would have to get subscribers’ opt-in consent before using browsing history and other sensitive information in order to serve personalized advertisements. Consumers would have the right to revoke their consent at any time.

    • Google Glass is apparently back from the dead, starts getting software updates

      Remember Google Glass—Google’s ultra-dorky, poorly supported, $1,500 face computer? Conventional wisdom said that the product was dead: it’s not sold anymore, the website was more or less shut down in 2015, its Twitter and Facebook were deleted, and the OS stopped receiving updates. But someone at Google apparently still cares about this clunky little headset, and this week the device got both a firmware update and a companion app update.

    • Police use of trojans to hack into mobile phones will become routine under new German law

      A new law allowing the German police to hack into mobile phones for even minor crimes, is expected to be passed by the German parliament this week. Currently, the use of a “Staatstrojaner” – government trojan – is only permitted in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. Under the new law, the authorities will be allowed to implant surveillance malware to help secure convictions for over 70 types of crime. These include serious ones such as genocide, treason and murder, but also less serious crimes such as money counterfeiting, vehicle theft, computer fraud, rigged sports betting and tax evasion. Two kinds of trojans will be available. The first allows the authorities to eavesdrop on calls made with the mobile phone, whether using standard telephony or VoIP, while the second gives access to all information held on the device.


      The CCC demonstrated that placing trojans on a person’s system in order to carry out surveillance brings with it the risk that others will be able to exploit the same functionality, not least because of flaws in the code. Allowing the police and intelligence services to use malware to gather evidence is not only questionable for its assault on privacy, but inevitably undermines computer security too, which is never a good idea.

    • [Old] Free Dmitry Bogatov
    • British ISP: Of course you can be a protected anonymous press source, you just need to show us photo ID first

      The British Internet provider O2 disputed the previous story that they don’t permit people to access tools that give them anonymity protection, like this VPN service. “You only need to show photo ID in one of our stores”, they said, via a link provided. So in order to be an anonymous and protected press source, you need to show a photo ID. You couldn’t make it up if you tried. Britain, what’s happened to you?

    • City of Chicago develops big data platform to improve the lives of citizens

      A selection of 36 data sources is integrated into the MongoDB database to understand all manner of issues in the city as they develop over time. They include 911 calls, the non-emergency 311 line, business licenses, building violations, Tweets, city traffic, weather, emergency vehicles, and environmental complaints.

    • Facial Recognition Software Brings Personalized Ads To The Supermarket

      That’s from a story in the Guardian last year, so it’s likely that the technology has moved on considerably since then. It’s easy to think of more troubling extensions to the idea of scanning shoppers: for example, linking up to other databases of troublemakers and ne’er-do-wells, or to selfies derived from social networks.

      As well as obvious privacy issues, explored in the Deutsche Welle report, a more general concern is the normalization this latest application of facial scanning might produce. Once cameras coupled with facial recognition software are routinely installed in everyday settings like supermarkets — with appropriate warnings — perhaps we will begin to accept them as the norm, and barely notice their silent spread to other locations and situations.

    • Florida Cops Shut Down Secret Spy Plane Plan After Backlash By Locals

      A classic case of asking forgiveness rather than permission, coupled with a deliberate attempt to circumvent the part of the process that would have caused the most problems for the MDPD’s surveillance plans: the public’s comments.

      Once the document was posted publicly, the backlash began, led by a number of rights groups including the ACLU and the Defending Rights and Dissent Foundation. The surveillance system sought is repurposed Iraq War tech: a high-powered camera system mounted on an airplane that proponents and opponents both describe as a “DVR for real life.” Capable of capturing a 32-square-mile area, the cameras don’t provide much in terms of close-up detail, but do allow law enforcement agencies to track people’s movements over a several hour period, whether in real-time or by replaying recordings.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • An indigenous woman is facing federal charges for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline

      In an escalation of the criminalization of protesters, an indigenous woman is facing several federal charges for her involvement in the Standing Rock protests last fall.

    • The Dangers of Secret Law

      This kind of government secrecy is toxic to democracy. National security is important, but we will not survive if we become a country of secret court orders based on secret interpretations of secret law.

    • The ACLU must fight for liberty, not social justice
    • Flint, Michigan airport assailant shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he stabbed officer, FBI says ‘an act of terrorism’
    • When Making Fun Of World Leaders Gets You Thrown In Jail

      It’s kinda fun having a president who wets himself on Twitter every time someone mocks him. Well, if you ignore all the devastation and injustice, anyway. But at least we still have the ability to mock — in some places, making fun of your leader gets you real punishment. Teenager Amos Yee knows that all too well. He was arrested in Singapore for a handful of insulting videos he posted on YouTube. This is his story.

    • [Older] Free Raif Badawi! – IHEU delivers personal plea from Ensaf Haidar to UN

      Raif’s own lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, is another prisoner of conscience under the Saudi regime. He was jailed in 2014 after setting up a human rights organisation, Monitor of Human Rights. Abulkhair was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, followed by a 15 year ban on travel. The Specialised Criminal Court in Jeddah found him guilty of “undermining the regime and officials”, “inciting public opinion” and “insulting the judiciary.”

    • [Older] Saudi Arabia: Release blogger Raif Badawi, still behind bars after five years
    • US interrogates detainees in Yemen prisons rife with torture

      Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.

      Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. Interrogating detainees who have been abused could violate international law, which prohibits complicity in torture.

    • The Potential Legal Implications for the U.S. in the AP’s Disturbing UAE Torture Scoop

      There is a lot to say about Maggie Michael and Maad al-Zikry’s deeply disturbing Associated Press story out early this morning—that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has operated (and may still be operating) a number of different secret terrorism detention centers in Yemen; and that there is evidence that dozens of individuals suspected of being al Qaeda (and/or AQAP) members were tortured and subjected to other abuses by UAE agents at those facilities. And most relevant here, the AP reports that the United States has played at least some role in these cases—which may include feeding questions to (and perhaps even observing) some of the interrogations; receiving intelligence from those interrogations; and even conducting subsequent interrogations of some of the same detainees by US forces themselves inside UAE detention centers. According to the AP, the Pentagon’s response has been to acknowledge the interrogations, to deny that any US personnel were directly involved in committing any of the alleged abuses; and, apparently, to otherwise wash its hands of responsibility for the actions of the UAE—even if those actions softened up the detainees for American interrogators and produced intelligence information shared with (and utilized by) the US intelligence community. (Never mind how troubling such an apparent “not our problem” response to this story is as a matter of policy, ethics, or, you know, basic human decency.)

    • How The Supreme Court’s Recent Free Speech Ruling May Destroy Hollywood’s Plans To Kick People Off The Internet

      As we noted in our original post, I expect that to be quoted in many other cases — and a big one may be the ongoing attempts right now by the legacy entertainment industry to force ISPs to kick people off of their service based on accusations (not convictions) of infringement. Those cases, like this Packingham case, involve using a law to claim that people should be blocked from using the internet. And based on the quotes above, it seems quite likely that parts of the DMCA are clearly unconstitutional. The lawsuits — mainly the BMG v. Cox ruling which is currently on appeal, and the more recent UMG v. Grande Communications (which follows the same basic outlines of the Cox case) — involve arguing that 512(i) of the DMCA requires ISPs to kick users off their service entirely based on accusations of infringement. As we’ve explained, this already appears to be a twisted interpretation of 512(i), but now it appears there’s a very reasonable chance that the Supreme Court could find 512(i) outright unconstitutional under the First Amendment for broadly blocking internet access in a way that harms free speech rights.

    • Sheriff Defends Deputies’ Lies In Court By Saying Officers Didn’t Know They Were Supposed To Tell The Truth

      The Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s office remains in the news. It’s not often an entire prosecutors’ office gets booted off a high-profile murder case, but that’s what happens when misconduct occurs on a massive scale. An open-and-shut murder case with eight victims is now the DA’s perpetual nightmare. Judge Thomas Goethals kicked the agency to the curb after uncovering repeated discovery violations committed by prosecutors.

      But the problems go back further than this case. The office has hidden the existence of a law enforcement database from defense lawyers (and judges) for a quarter century — a database holding all sorts of information about jailhouse snitches that may have made the difference in a number of cases.

      A quarter-century of obfuscation followed by outright lying on the stand by prosecution witnesses is something you’d think would be addressed by a swift housecleaning. You’d be wrong. So far, there have been no announcements from the DA about pending investigations — either into its own misconduct, or the repeated abuses of the jail’s snitch program run by the local sheriff’s office.

    • Pakistan journalists thrashed over ‘drinking water’ in Ramzan

      Crew of a Pakistani TV channel earned the wrath of students of an Islamic seminary for drinking water during the fasting period in Ramzan – the Muslim holy month of fasting.

      The incident occurred on Tuesday day in the heart of capital Islamabad, where a team from Din News was beaten up by students of Madrasa Haqqania, Dawn reported.

      The madrasa management claims the journalists were drinking water during the day and that they were initially asked to stop and beaten when they continued to drink water.

      A reporter of the channel, Ali Usman, told the paper that he and five other team members were assigned to interview lawyer Salman Akram Raja who is representing Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz in the Panamagate corruption scandal.

    • Video: CIA Officials Forced to Testify About Torture Program

      A lawsuit against the two psychologists who devised a CIA torture program reached another new milestone last month, as three victims asked a U.S. court to rule in their favor and to find that the psychologists were liable for aiding and abetting the illegal program.

      The ACLU has filed a motion asking the judge in the case to rule that James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a critical role in designing, implementing, and profiting from the CIA torture program. Our clients are Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a fisherman from Tanzania; Mohamed Ben Soud, a Libyan citizen who opposed the Gaddafi regime; and Gul Rahman, an Afghan citizen who died as a result of his torture.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon Bucks AT&T And Comcast, Supports Utility Pole Reform For Faster Fiber Deployment

      In addition to high costs and the slow pace of digging up streets, one of the reasons Google Fiber is contemplating a pivot from fiber to next-gen wireless broadband is the boring old utility pole. As it stands now, new market competitors often have to navigate an archaic, elaborate and expensive process to attach fiber to poles. Quite often, attaching fiber requires having any other ISPs in the area notified in writing, then waiting for each one to move their own equipment piecemeal, one of several bureaucratic processes incumbents have long abused to slow down the arrival of new competitors.

    • Tumblr Goes Radio Silent On Net Neutrality After Verizon Acquisition

      Back when Verizon first began expressing interest in pivoting from broadband duopolist to media and advertising, you might recall that it launched a short-lived technology blog named Sugarstring. Sugarstring quickly made headlines for all the wrong reasons however, after it was revealed that Verizon was banning any new hires from writing about hot-button subjects like net neutrality, or the fact that companies like Verizon and AT&T are now bone-grafted to the nation’s intelligence and surveillance apparatus.

      Sugarstring is long-since dead, replaced in large part by Verizon’s acquisitions of Yahoo and AOL, which also brought Huffpo, Engadget, and Techcrunch under the Verizon umbrella. And while Verizon itself has been busy using fake reporters to blatantly lie about the company’s ongoing role in killing net neutrality, there’s no indication (yet) that the company has pressured any of its own news outlets to quiet down on the subject. In fact, we’ve noted previously that some of the best reporting on net neutrality in recent months has originated at TechCrunch (this piece in particular is worth a read).

    • Verizon is killing Tumblr’s fight for net neutrality

      One reason for Karp and Tumblr’s silence? Last week Verizon completed its acquisition of Tumblr parent company Yahoo, kicking off the subsequent merger of Yahoo and AOL to create a new company called Oath. As one of the world’s largest ISPs, Verizon is notorious for challenging the principles of net neutrality — it sued the FCC in an effort to overturn net neutrality rules in 2011, and its general counsel Kathy Grillo published a note this April complimenting new FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to weaken telecommunication regulations.

      Now, multiple sources tell The Verge that employees are concerned that Karp has been discouraged from speaking publicly on the issue [...]

    • Cable Lobbyists Try To Scuttle State Inquiries Into Shitty Broadband Service, Slow Speeds

      Whether it’s rolling back already agreed upon merger conditions, killing net neutrality, or eliminating broadband privacy protections, giant ISP lobbyists are having a field day under the Trump administration, slowly but surely stripping away oversight of one of the least competitive — and most anti-competitive — sectors in American industry. We’ve noted repeatedly that as giant cable providers like Comcast nab an ever larger monopoly over next-gen broadband services, the end result of this myopic pursuit will be even higher rates — and even worse customer service — for everyone.

      But there’s a problem in this quest to create a new, golden era of telecom sector monopoly dysfunction: individual states.

    • Charter promised more broadband but didn’t deliver, now must pay fine

      Charter has agreed to pay $13 million to New York State after failing to complete broadband construction that was required as part of its purchase of Time Warner Cable. Charter can get $12 million of that back if it completes the buildout under a revised schedule.

      Charter was required to extend its network to 36,250 homes and businesses in the state within one year of the TWC merger being approved, but it only completed the buildout to 15,164 of them by the May 18 deadline, state officials said in an announcement Tuesday. The NY Public Service Commission is taking public comments on the settlement before giving it final approval.

    • Comcast accused of cutting competitor’s wires to put it out of business

      A tiny Internet service provider has sued Comcast, alleging that the cable giant and its hired contractors cut the smaller company’s wires in order to take over its customer base.

      Telecom Cable LLC had “229 satisfied customers” in Weston Lakes and Corrigan, Texas when Comcast and its contractors sabotaged its network, the lawsuit filed last week in Harris County District Court said.

    • Scammer who made 96 million robocalls should pay $120M fine, FCC says

      The Federal Communications Commission today said that a scammer named Adrian Abramovich “apparently made 96 million spoofed robocalls during a three-month period” in order to trick people into buying vacation packages. The FCC proposed a fine of $120 million, but it will give the alleged perpetrator a chance to respond to the allegations before issuing a final decision.

    • Low-latency satellite broadband gets approval to serve US residents

      A company seeking to offer low-latency broadband from satellites yesterday received a key approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

      “Over a year ago, OneWeb was the first company to seek approval to enter the US market with a system of high-capacity satellites that orbit closer to Earth than any satellite has ever before,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said before yesterday’s vote. “The goal of this non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) technology is to provide global, high-speed broadband service—and its use case is particularly compelling in remote and hard-to-serve areas.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • [Old] Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal

      In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass*, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.”

    • Who owns AI-generated inventions?

      The question is then who is the inventor? An answer is not given in the article, which simply states that a court or patent office would need to decide who was entitled to be named. This to me seems to miss an important point or two, as well as being a bit of a cop-out.

      Firstly, let’s say the invention is about the use of a specified material in a tail fin for an aircraft (why it has to be an unmanned drone is not clear to me, so let’s leave that aside). The inventive concept, given that tail fins for aircraft are known, is the use of the specific material.

      Person A has devised a system for identifying a material given a series of inputs. By itself this has nothing to do with the invention, so this person can be discounted as being the “actual deviser of the invention” (section 7(3), UK Patents Act).

    • Where There Is A Will There Is A Way: Speakers At WIPO Event Discuss Indigenous Knowledge Protection

      An event held on the side of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on traditional knowledge meeting last week looked at ways to move discussions forward in the light of the committee’s expected renewed mandate. Speakers explored different perspectives and possible new avenues for indigenous and local communities to protect and manage their knowledge and cultural heritage, without the threat of misappropriation.

    • Trademarks

      • A googol of generic questions in Ninth Circuit’s Elliott v Google decision

        The dispute concerned the attempt of Mr. Gillespie (later joined in the suit by Mr. Elliott) to acquire 763 domain names such as “googledisney.com” and“googlebarackobama.com”, all containing the word “google”. Google Inc. objected to the registration and filed a complaint of domain name infringement, or “cybersquatting”, before the US National Arbitration Forum. Upon refusal, the claimants petitioned the Arizona District Court for the cancellation of the Google trade mark on grounds of “genericide”. In other words, according to the claimants, the Google trade mark would have lost its uniqueness as it is used as a verb in common language. In fact, in the cross-motions for summary judgment, the claimants stated that the use of a trade mark as a verb, i.e. “I will google this”, constitutes genericness automatically. On grounds of insufficiency of evidence provided to support this argument, the District Court sided with Google and dismissed the claim. The claimants decided to appeal the judgment, focusing on two arguments in particular:

    • Copyrights

      • US court grants Elsevier millions in damages from Sci-Hub

        One of the world’s largest science publishers, Elsevier, won a default legal judgement on 21 June against websites that provide illicit access to tens of millions of research papers and books. A New York district court awarded Elsevier US$15 million in damages for copyright infringement by Sci-Hub, the Library of Genesis (LibGen) project and related sites.

        Judge Robert Sweet had ruled in October 2015 that the sites violate US copyright. The court issued a preliminary injunction against the sites’ operators, who nevertheless continued to provide unauthorized free access to paywalled content. Alexandra Elbakyan, a former neuroscientist who started Sci-Hub in 2011, operates the site out of Russia, using varying domain names and IP addresses.

      • MPAA & RIAA Demand Tough Copyright Standards in NAFTA Negotiations

        The MPAA and RIAA have made their positions clear in submissions to the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Both want allies Canada and Mexico to commit to tightened copyright law, including restrictions on safe harbor provisions that go beyond current US practice.

Primer to the Crisis and Scandals at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An introduction to the chaotic state of what used to be the world’s leading patent office and quickly became Europe’s biggest embarrassment

WHEN DEALING with subjects for a number of years it’s easy to delve into pertinent details and lose sight of the overall picture, which in turn can put off or turn away an ordinary audience with no prior knowledge of the subject. Back in the days when we focused on Novell we occasionally wrote short summaries about the subject (upon request/demand from errand readers). Today we wish to do the same about the EPO, which is, in our assessment, Europe’s biggest scandal that the media intentionally ignores (with few exceptions) because media owners have no interest in ‘scandalising’ the subject and moreover the EPO pays a lot of European media, thereby buying its loyalty/silence.

“Patent law firms would benefit from a surplus of litigation, so they conveniently lie (often by taking over the media) on behalf of Europeans, bragging about the supposed advantages of the UPC.”The EPO stands either for European Patent Office or European Patent Organisation. These are not the same thing. They came into existence a number of decades ago — irrespective of and predating the EU (the EPO has nothing to do with the EU) — through a long document known as the European Patent Convention (EPC). It is the de facto ‘treaty’ of the Organisation, which is supposed to manage or oversee the Office through a set of national delegates, who are in practice (typically) heads of national patent offices (NPOs).

In recent years a massive set of blunders came with ambitions of so-called ‘reforms’, supposedly in preparation for the Unitary Patent — a horrible regime constructed by (and for) patent law firms and their largest clients, which are not even European. The Unitary Patent, or Unified Patent Court (UPC), merits a separate primer, but in a nutshell it offers no benefits to European people, European businesses, or European workers of the EPO. It would be mostly beneficial to patent trolls from abroad — those who would like to target (in the prosecution sense) a lot of European people and European businesses. Patent law firms would benefit from a surplus of litigation, so they conveniently lie (often by taking over the media) on behalf of Europeans, bragging about the supposed advantages of the UPC. There are dangers associated with patent scope too, namely the expansion of patent scope in the whole of Europe without proper national debates on the matter.

“Workers of the EPO are rightly upset about all this. They will lose their job if this carries on.”Workers of the EPO are not bad people. They are highly educated staff (not just the examiners) who thought they had joined for a good cause and as specialists in various fields of science (some have academic background) they want to reward real innovation, not merely operate like production line workers yanking out a lot of worthless patents. But the EPO is now run by a tyrant, who not only ruined the Office but is also ruining the entire Organisation (which is capable of firing him, but never did it due to cronyism) and stomping on the EPC. The situation is untenable. To make matters worse, this tyrant brought over many of his old friends (sometimes even their family members) to top positions, hired highly notorious thugs who face criminal charges in their home countries, and ousted anyone who dares question his authority, e.g. actions in defiance of the law, the EPC and so on. To use an analogy, think of Mugabe, Erdoğan, or Putin. Separation of powers was gradually and deliberately vandalised. There is no democracy at the EPO; it’s akin to monarchy even if it’s not formally labeled as such.

Workers of the EPO are rightly upset about all this. They will lose their job if this carries on. They regularly go on protests, they go on strikes, and their unions are being attacked by the tyrant, who already strategically fired some of them using bogus (or highly dubious) charges. The tyrant enjoys supposed immunity which is guarded by self-serving governments and his terrible gymnastics in ‘justice’ are defended by a cowardly ILO, which only gives an illusion of recourse to justice.

“The EPO does not need scorn; it needs our help. It has been hijacked by malicious actors and nefarious interests.”In the course of this tyrant’s regime the tyrant has not only hired firms to corrupt the media but also to illegally spy on staff, to censor the Internet connection (banning sites such as Techrights), and to send threatening legal letters to bloggers who are in no way affiliated with the EPO. Contracts are habitually being signed without tenders (especially for big projects), contractors are being ‘burned’, waste and abuse are a matter of norm, and EPO stakeholders (e.g. applicants, law firms) are understandably upset. Any person who ever received a European Patent (EP) suffers from this and staff of the EPO is growingly depressed, many to the point of being suicidal (the number of suicides is said to have grown tenfold under the tyranny).

The EPO does not need scorn; it needs our help. It has been hijacked by malicious actors and nefarious interests. If the EPO cannot be rescued from this self-serving, money-draining tyranny, Europe as a whole and science as a whole will suffer dearly.

Workers of the European Patent Office (EPO) Are Going on Strike Again, Almost 90% Voted in Favour

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Too many’ people managed to find out that there was a vote taking place

Mikhail Gorbachev meets Margaret Thatcher
Mikhail Gorbachev meets Margaret Thatcher. Photo credit: Yuryi Abramochkin / Юрий Абрамочкин, RIA Novosti

Summary: Thousands of brave EPO employees chose to cast a vote and make it known that they are in favour of another strike

Strike results are in. The EPO strike will, in fact, happen. What a disaster for Battistelli. How might he explain this to the delegates in a few days? Here are the pertinent numbers:

Dear colleagues,
I hereby announce the result of the vote on the call for strike signed by members of the CSC and the chairpersons of the four local staff committees and received by the Office on 22.05.2017.
The number of employees entitled to vote is 6755. The necessary quorum is 40% representing 2702 votes.
The total number of votes cast is 2736 representing 40,5% of the employees entitled to vote.
The quorum has therefore been reached.
The result of the vote is as follows:
- Votes in favour of a strike = 2440
- Votes against a strike = 162
- No opinion = 126
The number of votes cast in favour of a strike is 2440 representing 89,2% of the total votes cast.

Staff have therefore voted in favour of a strike.

Last year there was a strike also. We showed how Willy Minnoye, who is now leaving, pressured people to vote against the strike or sign some ludicrous letter of confidence in Battistelli.

In this latest vote, what’s worth noting is that Team Battistelli tried hard to hide its existence! These are classic suppressing tactics.

Despite the dirty tricks, like the election that we said Battistelli had just lost, staff of the EPO made it indisputable that Battistelli is as popular as garlic inside ice cream.

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