08.30.17

Dennis Crouch, Joined by Gene Quinn (Watchtroll), Still Attacking PTAB to Protect Patent Trolls and Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 5:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One among very many Watchtroll ‘articles’ (attack pieces) that may have led to Michelle Lee’s resignation

Watchtroll on USPTO

Summary: The attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and those who enable PTAB have not ended; instead, these attacks have intensified again because the Supreme Court will weigh in soon

THERE are two actions against the PTAB right now. We last wrote about that yesterday. One is at a legislative level, namely the anti-PTAB STRONGER Patent Act of 2017 (by “stronger” it actually means weaker and lower-quality patents). The other one is a US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case, in which the anti-PTAB blog Patently-O can’t help meddling. In most days of August it attacked PTAB (almost every single day), writing little more than/besides that.

“In most days of August it attacked PTAB (almost every single day), writing little more than/besides that.”As a reminder to non-regular readers (or occasional watchers of patent matters), SCOTUS almost always rules to improve patents, i.e. to improve patent quality rather than ‘dilute’ the whole lot with lousy patents. SCOTUS overturned CAFC about half a dozen consecutive times. Another case had been decided by SCOTUS (years ago, not just now). It was not about software (even by a long shot), but patents as judged by SCOTUS in this case (misuse for protectionism) resulted in punishment in the form of legal bills for the plaintiff:

A federal appeals court has upheld a decision mandating that Icon Health and Fitness pay $1.6 million in attorney’s fees for filing an unwarranted patent lawsuit against a competitor.

Icon sued Octane Fitness in 2009, saying that Octane’s high-end elliptical machines infringed US Patent No. 6,019,710, which describes an elliptical machine that allows for adjustments to accommodate individual strides. After two years of litigation, a district court judge found that Octane’s machines didn’t infringe. Octane asked for an award of legal fees, but in 2011, a judge rejected the company’s bid. That decision was upheld on appeal.

[...]

But the fact is that it was nearly impossible to win fees in a patent case in 2011. However, Octane didn’t take its loss sitting down. The company appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case in 2014.

In a 9-0 vote, the court issued an opinion (PDF) making it much easier to get attorney’s fees. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion, holding that patent laws call for awarding fees in an “exceptional” case, which is “simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position… or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated.”

It’s cases like these which discourage patent lawsuits. Suffice to say, the litigation ‘industry’ isn’t happy about it. Not only does it attack Alice (SCOTUS) but also PTAB (which enforces or applies Alice-inspired tests). Regarding PTAB, yesterday came out this article from Above The Law, speaking about a case that would likely get “tossed out within six months on an Alice motion” (Section 101).

Here is a portion about the relevance to PTAB:

Today? That same case would likely have been tossed out within six months on an Alice motion, or perhaps would have quickly settled after the inevitable IPR institution by the PTAB. Furthermore, the plaintiff would have likely had to contend with potential IPR filings by a host of third-parties, including from potential future targets interested in nipping a potential threat in a proverbial bud.

[...]

Want to minimize the risk? Assert more patents. (It is no surprise that one of the recommendations offered to anxious branded pharmaceutical companies — worried about increased susceptibility to generic companies filing IPR’s — was for them to file more patents on their drugs.) Prospective patent plaintiffs know that the most sure-fire (but not foolproof) way to avoid seeing their enforcement campaigns wither under an IPR onslaught is to assert as many patents as possible.

“IPR” is just legalese (i.e. confusing, non-English term) to mean petition. This is what really scares the litigation ‘industry’ because it can thwart litigation early on in the process whilst also dampening any incentive to sue in the first place.

“Why do these people so stubbornly resist patent quality?”This is why patent maximalists such as Dennis Crouch and Gene Quinn (Watchtroll) are trying to scandalise PTAB. Shame on Crouch for doing this on academic payroll, unlike Quinn who has always been a rude blowhard. Crouch now promotes Watchtroll links like this one from a week ago. These are serious attacks on PTAB and on the USPTO — reminiscent of their online and offline bullying of Michelle Lee. This sort of mob mentality does a great disservice to the US patent system, but they don’t care. All they want is lots and lots of patents and especially a surge in lawsuits (mostly trolls).

Another patent maximalist wrote yesterday that “ancient (1997) patent filing on net advertising gets killed under §101, u know, to protect Google kids’ monopoly: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2015003916-08-24-201″

“PTAB does not “kill” anything, it just belatedly assesses software patents to find errors made by the USPTO,” I told him.

“So to claim that PTAB just blindly eliminates patents is simply untrue. But that’s the sort of myth constantly being promoted by the above maximalists (all of them).”Why do these people so stubbornly resist patent quality?

Matthew Bultman, writing for Law 360 yesterday, picked out one of the rare cases where PTAB did, for a change, tolerate a software patent. To quote:

Xactware Solutions Inc. has failed to show a patent related to aerial rooftop measurement software is invalid, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board said Monday, in another disappointing decision for the New Jersey company in its effort to take down patents it’s accused of infringing.

So to claim that PTAB just blindly eliminates patents is simply untrue. But that’s the sort of myth constantly being promoted by the above maximalists (all of them). Watch what Crouch is now doing with a new multi-part series; it’s that tactic of using self-fulfilling prophecy-type predictions. Yet more lobbying by Crouch, as if PTAB is already dead:

An easy practical answer is that Oil States would effectively overrule those administrative decisions and thus removes any preclusive impact of an IPR cancellation. That approach runs into significant problems when a court has already relied upon an IPR cancellation to issued a final judgment (with appeals exhausted). Our federal courts strongly favor finality of judgments and are wont to revisit those judgments even when later evidence suggests that the judgment was based upon faulty information.

We are going to watch closely this sort of lobbying for the interests of trolls. They try to undo years if not almost a decade of progress. Without resistance they might even pull this off.

IP Kat Missing in Action as Unitary Patent (UPC) Rots

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The near silence (or occasional whisper) regarding the UPC isn’t just quaint; it’s a true testament to the fact that even the biggest cheerleaders of the UPC (litigation ‘industry’) accept impasse, or a total loss of momentum

THE EPO has said almost nothing; it just dumped a PDF that says nothing at all about the barriers to UPC. So did many UPC boosters’ blogs. They used to shout from rooftops with UPC (fake) ‘news’, but why not now? Not convenient?

As we noted the other day, the UPC is crumbling, yet almost nobody reports it. Yesterday, someone posted this comment to say:

Have the Kats been caught napping on the job? It has been almost two weeks now since potentially “bombshell” information was made public regarding the grounds of the constitutional complaint in Germany:

http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2017/08/16/upc-finally-some-news-from-the-german-federal-constitutional-court/

Depending upon one’s viewpoint, this could spell the end of the UPC as we know it. This alone is surely enough to justify a few mewsings on this development… or has the cat got all of the Kats’ collective tongues?

The Kats are not “napping on the job” but merely ignoring inconvenient facts; this comment rightly notes that IP Kat should be covering this, but it’s now dominated by CIPA and Bristows, so it ignored omission of UPC from British Parliamentary agenda (more than a month ago). Now it’s the same regarding Germany. What about Bristows? Well, their lobbying blog, which is full of half truths, lies, and sometimes gross bias by omission, wrote almost nothing lately. Shortly after we pointed this out (early yesterday) Bristows suddenly spoke of Lithuania, showing that these people have nothing important to say about the UPC (which is stuck in nations with the lion’s share of EPs).

Sometimes silence says a lot more than nothing at all. The UPC is likely broken beyond repair. Without a major rewrite it won’t be going anywhere any time soon (if ever).

Links 30/8/2017: New Stable Kernels, Paper on Security Record of Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 3:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • If Machine Learning is the question, open source is the answer. Right?

    A big reason for this gap is talent. Or, rather, a lack thereof. There’s a chance, however, that an influx of open-source code into the ML universe could improve things. How so? By lowering barriers to entry to experiment on and become proficient with high-quality ML software. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cloud giants that stand to gain from an influx of data-heavy ML applications are the same ones open sourcing the ML code in the first place.

  • VMware partners with Pivotal, Google Cloud to launch Kubernetes-based container service
  • Confluent Brings SQL Querying to Kafka Streaming Data

    With ever-increasing volumes of data comes an ever-increasing need to process that data. Confluent has made a business out of helping enterprises handle never ending streams of data with its commercial packaging of Apache Kafka. And now, at Kafka Summit in San Francisco this week, Confluent introduced a new open source project, called KSQL, that it says will allow users to apply SQL queries against streaming data.

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 17.08

    The flagship feature of Genode 17.08 has been in the works for more than a year: The support for hardware-accelerated graphics on Intel Gen-8 GPUs. This is an especially challenging topic because it is riddled with terminology, involves highly complex software stacks, carries a twisted history with it, and remains to be a moving target. It took up a lot of patience to build up a profound understanding of the existing driver architectures and the mechanisms offered by modern graphics hardware. On the other hand, with the proliferation of hardware-based sandboxing features like virtual GPU memory and hardware contexts, we found that now is the perfect time for a clean-slate design of a microkernelized GPU driver. Section Hardware-accelerated graphics for Intel Gen-8 GPUs introduces this work, which includes our new GPU multiplexer as well as the integration with the client-side Mesa protocol stack.

  • Genode 17.08 Now Supports Broadwell Graphics, Xen DomU Support

    Version 17.08 of the Genode open-source operating system framework is now available with a variety of changes.

    Genode OS 17.09 now features support for Intel “Gen 8″ Broadwell graphics thanks to its ported open-source Intel Linux driver code and also upgrading to Mesa 11.2.2. They have made other improvements too for their graphics driver stack in Genode, including an experimental GPU multiplexer.

  • BeOS-Inspired Haiku OS Had A Successful GSoC 2017: Swift, Btrfs, Preferences GUI

    With Google Summer of Code 2017 now in the books, the final reports on the various projects carried out within the BeOS-inspired Haiku operating system are now available.

  • Upskill U: OPNFV Director on Open Source & Automation

    As service providers strive to reduce costs, drive innovation and increase network capacity, they are exploring the ways white box initiatives, virtualization, open source and SDN can be combined with data analytics to further the automation of network processes. Enabling automation is central to improving network efficiency and customer experience by eliminating human errors and manual process delays.

    As they move forward in this endeavor, operators face a range of opportunities — such as applying best practices from web-scale companies — in addition to challenges such as interoperability in multi-vendor architectures.

  • Legal Technology and Smart Contracts: Open Source and Industry Source (Part III)
  • Focus: Open source

    Open source used to be an alternative to commercial off –the-shelf software. Today, the largest commercial software providers are big supporters of open source technologies. Enterprises are finding their software stacks increasingly rely on open source components, and developers have access to extensive open source repositories, which they can draw on to help them produce code more efficiently or to work around a particular technical problem they may have. Some enterprises are also contributing code back, supporting open source development, while at the same time, enabling a wide pool of open source developers to improve the code. Some companies are also starting to use open source to foster interest and develop a community to bolster their digitally-enabled product strategies.

  • Will Data Eat the World? Yes, With Some Help from Open Source

    In the Valley of the Geeks (not to be confused with Silicon Valley) open source magicians are laying place a number of the foundational innovations for enabling the next generation of intelligent software. The first software revolution was made possible by open source technologies such as Linux, Apache, MySQL, PhP, TCP/IP, and Ethernet. Industry creatively co-opted these open source innovations and made it the basis of the first wave of software innovation. A similar dynamic is at play today. Open source, which includes the academic research community, is spawning new technologies and methodologies which are now beginning to be at the data-driven intelligent software.

  • OpenStack sees new use cases in edge computing and fast-growing interest in China

    OpenStack, the massive open-source project that aims to bring the power and ease of use of public clouds like AWS and Azure to private data centers, today launched Pike, the sixteenth major version of its software. As usual, there’s a massive number of updates here, but the core theme is that the various development teams have focused on making OpenStack more composable, so that companies can more easily pick and choose the features they want. In addition, the community has renewed its focus on helping OpenStack operators manage the lifecycle of the various OpenStack tools with services like Kubernetes and Ansible.

    Mark Collier, the OpenStack Foundation’s COO, and Lauren Sell, the organization’s VP of Marketing and Community Services, told me earlier this week that they are now seeing a number of emerging use cases for OpenStack. One of these is edge computing — a trend that Microsoft, Amazon and other public cloud providers are also now addressing. “There is a huge demand for cloud computing in many different forms,” Collier said. “That’s impacting what we’re doing.” Some of the most prominent companies that are now looking at using OpenStack for their edge computing solution include Verizon (TechCrunch’s corporate overlords), Walmart (which wants to do computing right in its stores) and Inmarsat (which is looking at using OpenStack to power the on-board computing power on large ships).

  • OpenStack Pike Debuts Re-Defining the Open-Source Cloud Platform

    The OpenStack Foundation debuted its 16th milestone release today with the launch of the OpenStack Pike cloud infrastructure platform. Pike follows the OpenStack Ocata release which came out in February and had a focus on cloud federation.

    Unlike Ocata, the new Pike release has a particular emphasis on enabling standalone OpenStack services, without the need for an entire set of OpenStack projects. For several years, the OpenStack community debated a definition for a common set of projects, known as Defcore that define what it is to be an OpenStack cloud. Among the projects that Pike now enables to run in a more standalone, composable approach are the Ironic bare-metal and Cinder block storage projectS.

  • Events

    • Real-Time Linux Summit, KVM Forum, Fossology, and More Happening Along With ELC Europe in Prague

      The Embedded Linux Conference Europe is just around the corner. This year’s event — which is co-located with Open Source Summit Europe — will take place Oct. 23-26 in Prague, Czech Republic.

      [...]

      The Real-Time Summit, organized by the Linux Foundation Real-Time Linux (RTL) collaborative project, gathers developers and users of the PREEMPT_RT patch. The aim is to facilitate discussion between developers, tooling experts, and users

    • Building Healthy Open Source Communities: Please Join Me for a Very Special Event

      Community — what a profound difference it can make for projects, businesses and organizations of all types. I’ve spent my entire career helping organizations build communities, ranging from internal communities to developer communities, with a strong focus on open source communities. The goal in fostering a healthy community around open source is to engage consumers, customers, and others and encourage them to contribute. With these thoughts in mind, let us consider a few of the important first steps in setting a community strategy, and then I want to tell you about a very special community-focused event that is coming up.

    • MesosCon Europe Features Expert Talks from Netflix, Verizon, Microsoft, and More
    • The Linux Foundation Announces Agenda for MesosCon Europe

      MesosCon Europe is an annual conference organized by the Apache Mesos community, bringing together users and developers to share and learn about the project and its growing ecosystem. The conference will feature a one-day hackathon followed by two days of sessions focused on the Apache Mesos Core and related technologies. It is co-located with Open Source Summit Europe (separate registration required).

    • “Qubes OS from the POV of a Debian developer” and “Qubes OS user meetup at Bornhack”

      I wrote the following while on my way home from Bornhack which was an awesome hacking camp on the Danish island of Bornholm, where about 200 people gathered for a week, with a nice beach in walking distance (and a not too cold Baltic Sea) and vegan and not so vegan grills, to give some hints why it was awesome. (Actually it was mostly awesome due to the people there, not the things, but anyway…)

  • Databases

    • MongoDB quits Solaris, wants to work on an OS people actually use

      MongoDB has killed off its Solaris development efforts. The company’s director of platform engineering Andrew Morrow calls the decision “bittersweet,” but says “lack of adoption among our user base” made the decision easy and necessary.

      “Of our commercial users, we knew of only a handful who had ever been running on Solaris, and all confirmed that they had migrated away, or were in the process of doing so,” he writes. “Our download numbers for our Solaris builds confirmed this lack of interest, as did stats gathered from our managed operations tools.”

      Morrow also says that the company doesn’t think it is a good idea to invest in Solaris expertise. “While several of our senior developers know their way around Solaris well, our junior devs have never touched it. Investing in teaching them is of questionable value,” he writes.

  • CMS

    • Create your own Blog with Jekyll

      Every once in a while I think about creating a personal website. Something I could maybe use as an online CV, portfolio or a little blog. For the beginning, nothing special. It would be easy to spin up a WordPress page, find a nice template and within short time it would be ready to use. But first of all, I think it would be an overkill to use a big CMS with all it’s crazy features for “just” a small page with few sites that don’t change often plus a bunch of blog posts.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • How to do open source right: LinkedIn shows the way

      If you want to know how to do open source the smart way, pay attention to LinkedIn. It has delivered some of the industry’s most impressive open source software, most recently its Cruise Control load-balancing tool for Apache Kafka, a distributed streaming platform also developed by LinkedIn that is used to build real-time data pipelines and streaming apps in big data applications.

  • Programming/Development

    • [Old] Why We Argue: Style

      Code is read many more times than it is written, which means that the ultimate cost of code is in its reading. It therefore follows that code should be optimized for readability, which in turn dictates that an application’s code should all follow the same style. Adhering to a common style saves you money.

    • [llvm-dev] [5.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 4 tagged
    • LLVM 5.0 Release Should Be Imminent

      LLVM 5.0 was supposed to be officially released last week, but instead another release candidate was warranted while the stable debut is expected in the days ahead.

      LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg opted for a 5.0-RC4 release on Tuesday due to a few more changes trickling in as they try to clear their blocker bug list for this six-month update to the LLVM compiler infrastructure.

    • 3 open source Python GUI frameworks

      There comes a time in the journey of most any programmer when they are ready to branch out past the basic examples and start to build a graphical interface to their program.

      In Python, the steps to get started with GUI programming are not terribly complex, but they do require the user to begin making some choices. By its nature as a general purpose programming language with interpreters available across every common operating system, Python has to be fairly agnostic as to the choices it presents for creating graphical user interfaces.

    • Today is a Good Day to Learn Python

      The cool thing about Linux and FOSS is also an aggravating thing, which is that sometimes there’s too much of a good thing. There is such an abundance of goodies that it can be overwhelming. So I am here to help you decide which programming language you should learn next, and that is Python. Oh, yes, it is.

      Why Python? I like it because it is clean and straightforward. It’s a great introduction to object-oriented languages. The Python world is beginner-friendly and, as a general-purpose language, Python can be used for all sorts of things: quick simple scripts, games, Web development, Raspberry Pi — anything you want. It is also in demand by employers if you’re thinking of a career.

      There are numerous excellent Python books and tons of online documentation. I want to show off Python’s coolness for beginners so you will get excited and go “Yes! I too must love Python!”

      But what about all the other languages? Don’t worry, they won’t get lonesome, and everything you learn in Python is applicable to many other languages as well.

Leftovers

  • What the Controlled Chaos of Burning Man Reveals About Cities

    [...] but the festival’s most impressive feat may be this infrastructural coup. In a moment when the powers at be can’t even fund the country’s shambling roads and bridges, the 2,000 organizers and volunteers who run Burning Man put together—and then take apart—a 70,000-person city in the space of two months. (That figure does not include emergency workers, government personnel, vendors, or contractors.)

  • Crowdsourced gaming of Google Translate dubs Kim Jong Un “Mr. Squidward”

    Google Translate—the Web and mobile tool that performs machine-learning-based translation of over 100 languages—has a small problem: to some degree, it depends on the kindness of strangers, both directly and indirectly. And that dependence can be gamed for amusing (or enraging) result, as we discovered today while working on a story about North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches.

    When using Google Translate’s live feature—which performs machine-learning-driven translation of text viewed through a mobile device’s camera—to translate an article in the North Korean periodical Tongil Sinbo, we discovered that the feature translated the Korean characters for “Supreme Leader” as “Mr. Squidward,” as shown in the image above.

  • Tech support scam victims lost $120 million—and will get $10 million back

    The Federal Trade Commission is sending e-mails to victims of the scam with instructions on how to claim a partial refund, the agency said today. Scam victims will have until October 27 of this year to apply for a refund.

    The case stems from November 2014, when the FTC announced that “a federal court has temporarily shut down two massive telemarketing operations” that raked in more than $120 million “by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • NOAA Announces $2.2 Million in Marine Debris Grants

      On Aug. 29, NOAA announced 15 new marine debris projects that will support marine debris removal and research received nearly $2.2 million in fiscal year 2017 funding through the NOAA Marine Debris Program. These projects support efforts to address the pervasive global problem of marine debris that can impact wildlife, navigation safety, human health, and the economy. Shown here: In an earlier NOAA-funded project, derelict fishing gear and other large marine debris were removed from remote Alaskan shorelines by the Gulf of Alaska Keeper.

    • Dubious stem cell clinic got hold of smallpox vaccine. FDA just took it away

      The agency announced plans on Monday for new policies and enforcement efforts to stamp out what it called “unscrupulous actors” peddling unproven, potentially dangerous, and often expensive stem cell therapies—including a bizarre and troubling instance involving smallpox vaccine.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How Pentagon Officials May Have Encouraged a 2009 Coup in Honduras

      Fort McNair, one of the oldest U.S. military posts in the country, is nestled on an outcropping of land where the Anacostia and Potomac rivers meet in Washington, D.C. There, within the National Defense University, is the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, where hundreds of Hondurans took courses over the years. In mid-July 2009, Honduran military officials sought the center’s help to solve a problem that had recently arisen.

      The Honduran military had just dispatched of its previous problem, President Manuel Zelaya, with a military coup. Now, the Central American military was facing international and regional condemnations for a brazen display of 1970s behavior in the 21st century. The military officials needed friends in the U.S. to rally behind it, but the Americans were wary of open shows of support. The U.S. had just revoked visas from top Honduran civilian and military officials, and suspended some security assistance.

    • Violent Alt-Right Chats Could Be Key to Charlottesville Lawsuits

      The chatroom transcripts and a related audio recording offer a new window into the mind set of march organizers before and after the August 12 rally. They were obtained and disclosed by Unicorn Riot, which describes itself as a “media collective” focusing on “dynamic social struggles.” Lawyers say the discussions could be useful in the criminal case against James Alex Fields Jr., accused of driving the car that killed Heyer, or civil lawsuits filed by people injured in the confrontation.

    • The Alt-Right’s Alternative Reality

      One thing to keep in mind during the Age of Trump is that reality shows are far more scripted than they appear. That simple fact should be used like a decoder card to decipher the combative stories and click-baited headlines emanating from Steve Bannon’s portentous reboot of Breitbart.

    • Entire Families Are Being Killed by U.S. Airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria

      On June 6, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the beginning of a military campaign to liberate the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State. In an interview at the time, the commander of the force, which is known as SDF, highlighted the critical role that the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition would play in the fight to take back the city. “The coalition has a big role in the success of the operations,” the commander said. “In addition to warplanes, there are coalition forces working side by side with the SDF.”

      Nearly three months later, the battle for Raqqa is still raging, and more and more civilians are dying from U.S. airstrikes. A relatively small number of ISIS militants are fighting to the death to defend their putative capital, while an estimated 160,000 civilians are trapped in dire circumstances, caught between the armed factions on the ground and bombarded by U.S. airstrikes and artillery barrages.

    • Moscow’s mercenaries reveal the privatisation of Russian geopolitics

      Mercenaries are illegal under Russian law, but that doesn’t stop them from being a central element of the Kremlin’s geopolitical adventurism, whether in Ukraine or, even more clearly, Syria. The tale of Wagner, a St Petersburg outfit at the heart of the fighting in Syria, says much about the privatisation of statecraft and the mobilisation of private enterprise in modern Russia.

      The private security industry is a major sector in Russia, but private military companies (PMCs), those directly involved in fighting in combat operations rather than simply guarding people, goods and facilities, remain outside of Russian law. ChVK (Private Military Company) Wagner, despite having offices in St Petersburg and a training camp on the grounds of a Russian commando base in southern Russia, has managed to thrive, perhaps because its main client has been the Russian state and its Syrian ally.

    • As US Empire Fails, Trump Enters a Quagmire

      Trump’s Afghan policy is inaccurately described as a new approach but has only one element that is new – secrecy, as Trump will not tell us how many soldiers he will send to this war. His so-called new strategy is really a continuation of the permanent war quagmire in Afghanistan, which may be an intentional never ending war for the empire’s geopolitical goals. Ralph Nader reviews 16 years of headlines about Afghanistan, calling it a “cruel boomeranging quagmire of human violence and misery… with no end in sight.”

    • The Empire Stopper
    • Trump’s Afghan War Speech: More Of The Same, With More Killing

      As a private citizen and presidential candidate, Donald Trump railed against the Afghan war. A waste, he said. Americans should withdraw, he said. But in last night’s speech, Trump went against his own instincts (so he said) and went with the failed policies of his predecessors. The war will continue, no timetable set, no troop levels determined, with conditions on the ground dictating America’s actions, according to the president.

    • Why the US and Japan didn’t shoot down latest North Korean missile

      At 6am local time on August 29, a ballistic missile was launched from near Pyongyang in North Korea. Flying 2,700 kilometers (about 1,700 miles), the missile arced over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, prompting Japanese officials to issue a civil defense warning to citizens.

    • Tension boils as North Korea says missile strikes near Guam are still a possibility

      Tension between the US and North Korea heated overnight (Aug. 30) as the hermit state confirmed that the waters near Guam—a US territory in the Pacific with a strong American military presence—are still very much a target.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the latest missile test, which yesterday sent a domestically made Hwasong-12 missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island, was “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” according to an article today in government mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Earlier this month Pyongyang threatened to conduct an encircling strike around Guam involving four Hwasong-12 missiles landing in the surrounding sea.

    • NORTH KOREA’S MISSILE SHOT OVER JAPAN CALLS TRUMP’S BLUFF

      WHEN NORTH KOREA launched a ballistic missile toward northern Japan’s Hokkaido Island late Monday, its trajectory was initially unclear. Fearing the worst, the Japanese government interrupted television programming and issued digital alerts advising locals to find shelter. Though the missile ultimately flew over Japan and landed in the northern Pacific Ocean after a roughly 1,700-mile journey, the flyover was a powerful symbol of North Korea’s resolute effort to develop its missile program in spite of longstanding international opposition.

      North Korea has flown projectiles over Japan twice before. The first instance, in 1998, came with no warning; North Korea gave advance notice of the second, in 2009. The country couched both of those events as being part of satellite launches. Monday’s surprise launch came with no such explanation. But it fits into the larger context of North Korea’s rapidly escalating nuclear and missile ambitions—and, more alarmingly, it shows outright disdain for President Donald Trump’s recent bluster.

    • US may send more military might to Korean Peninsula, including F-35s and warships
    • Finnish president denies Trump claim of fighter jets sale

      Niinistö did not comment on Trump’s assertion at the time but looked surprised. He later denied the Boeing deal on Twitter and to reporters in Washington, as reported by Reuters.

      “It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed … The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here,” Niinistö said.

      Finland already has purchased roughly 60 Boeing-made F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, but in late 2015, sought to replace the aircraft.

      Five companies, including U.S. defense firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are in the running for the Finnish new contract, but the country will not make its decision until 2021. Also competing are Saab, Dassault Aviation and the jointly made Eurofighter.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Taking the Fight to the Appeals Court: Don’t Lock Laws Behind Paywalls

      It’s almost too strange to believe, but a federal court ruled earlier this year that copyright can be used to control access to parts of our state and federal laws—forcing people to pay a fee or sign a contract to read and share them. On behalf of Public.Resource.Org, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public access to law, yesterday EFF challenged that ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

      Public.Resource.Org acquires and posts a wide variety of public documents, including regulations that have become law through what’s called “incorporation by reference.” That means that they were initially created at private standards organizations before being adopted into law by cities, states, and federal agencies. By posting these documents online, Public Resource wants to make these requirements more available to the public that must abide by them. But six standards development organizations sued Public Resource, claiming that they have copyright in the regulations, and that Public Resource shouldn’t be allowed to post them at all.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I’ll never be the same

      Lightning crashed all around as I dashed into the dark night. The parking lot outside my apartment building had become swollen with rains, a torrent about a foot deep rushing toward lower ground God knows where. Amazingly, the garage door rose when I punched the button on the opener. Inside I found what I expected to find—mayhem.

      In dismay, I scooped up a box of books that had been on the floor. As I did, one of the sodden bottom flaps gave way, and a heavy book splashed into the water: From Dawn to Decadence, a timeless account of the Western world’s great works by Jacques Barzun. Almost immediately, a current from the rushing water beyond the garage door pulled the tome away, forever. Damn, I loved that book. An indescribably bad night had just gotten that little bit worse.

    • Hurricane Harvey: About That Wall…

      As I write this, Hurricane Harvey hovers off the Gulf Coast, menacing Louisiana and possibly ramping up for another go at Texas. Much of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is under water.

      It may be weeks before the storms end, the waters recede, and basic utilities are restored. But this, too, shall pass — and then begins the rebuilding. Who’s going to do that rebuilding?

      A few years back, a contractor who built houses in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 answered that question for me. Demand for construction workers was high, but many American workers weren’t especially interested in spending months away from home, living in trailers or tents. And those who were willing to take jobs that didn’t have them home every night understandably commanded premium pay.

    • How Washington Made Harvey Worse

      Storms are natural events, but floods are usually man-made disasters. That’s because flood damage depends not only on how much water is involved, but on how many people and structures are in its path and how prior human intervention had affected that path. Government policies affect all three of those variables, which is one reason why “500-year floods”—which are supposed to have a 1-in-500 chance of occurring in a particular place in a particular year—are becoming so common.

    • Houston’s Big Dams Won’t Fail. But Many Neighborhoods Will Have to Be Flooded to Save Them.

      As Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pummel an already devastated Houston, many residents are terrified that the dams on two of the region’s massive reservoirs will fail, releasing a torrent of water into portions of the city that are already submerged — including downtown.

      The extra water that has accumulated in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs has strained their earthen dams — which have been considered in critical condition for several years in large part because of how ruinous it would be if they failed.

    • In Houston’s Fort Bend County, a furniture showroom becomes an unlikely refuge from the storm

      Fort Bend County is a part of the new Texas: fast-growing, prosperous, diverse and dynamic where it segues into suburban Houston – rural and traditional in its outer reaches. Hindu temples and Indian restaurants co-exist with gun stores and ranchers in cowboy hats.

      Now it is the scene of an unfurling disaster as levees are stretched beyond their limits, water spills from creeks and rivers rise from relentless rain. The area’s population of 750,000 have either evacuated, stayed in place in subdivisions that are now islands or decamped for shelters that fill up almost as soon as they open.

      While central Houston was hammered by tropical storm Harvey over the weekend, fresh visions of calamity emerged on Monday in the sprawling suburbs to the city’s west and south-west, where housing developments and strip malls have ravenously consumed what once was absorbent prairie land.

      Their proximity to the area’s many lakes and streams was a selling point. On Monday it was an existential threat.

    • Undocumented and Seeking Safety During a Natural Disaster

      Hurricane Harvey has already resulted in at least 10 deaths and dozens of injuries. Unfortunately, immediate relief is not in sight for Texas residents. As individuals, families, and entire communities prepare to assess the catastrophic damage this storm has wrought on lives, homes, and livelihoods, it is critically important that the federal government’s immigration agenda does not put more people at risk.

      Regardless of their immigration status, the people of Texas are in the midst of a serious and dangerous natural disaster. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) should have put public safety first from the beginning. Yet, they have not been sufficiently transparent about their enforcement operations during Hurricane Harvey, so that undocumented Texans and mixed status families can make informed decisions about their safety.

    • Are Texas Shelters Safe for Undocumented Immigrants Fleeing Hurricane Harvey?

      Houston is reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Houses on the Texas Gulf Coast were devastated over the weekend, and tens of thousands of people fled their homes. The National Weather Service expects the rain to continue through Thursday. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates more than 30,000 people will be housed in temporary shelters, calling for all hands on deck in helping Texas recover from the disaster.

      But for unauthorized immigrants, dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster has an extra layer of complexity and risk.

    • Harvey to make landfall again, Texas death toll mounts from record floods

      Tropical Storm Harvey was set to make landfall again on Wednesday near the Texas-Louisiana border, adding more precipitation after a record rainfall that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the city of Houston.

      The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people, forced tens of thousands of people to leave deluged homes and caused damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters.

    • Tropical Storm Harvey takes out 911 centers, cell towers, and cable networks

      Tropical Storm Harvey has disrupted at least 17 emergency call centers and 320 cellular sites, and it has caused outages for more than 148,000 Internet, TV, and phone customers.

      The numbers come from the Federal Communications Commission, which activated its Disaster Information Reporting System to track Harvey’s impact on communications services. Communications providers are being asked to submit outage information each morning, and the FCC is publishing a daily summary.

      In 55 Texas and Louisiana counties that are part of the disaster area, 320 out of 7,804 cell sites were down as of yesterday at 11am EDT, according to the FCC’s latest summary published yesterday. That’s 4.1 percent across the area, but in a few Texas counties the cell blackouts affected more than 80 percent of cell sites.

    • Resting Sea Shepherd: A Pause in the Whale War Saga

      What a colourful run this outfit has had. Branded in 2013 by Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as pirates, the Sea Shepherd crew will be hanging up their hooks while rethinking their whale protection strategy. Their long designated enemy, the Japanese whaling fleet, will be given some respite this hunting season.

      A crucial point here is evolution. The environmental battle, spearheaded by the Southern Ocean Whale Defence campaign, had become more troublingly sophisticated. “Military” tactics, claimed founder Captain Paul Watson, were being used by Japan. An already slippery adversary had raised the bar.

      But Watson, in his announcement, was attempting to give some lustre to the long term efforts of the project. Against absurdly gargantuan odds, a small organisation’s resources were mustered to save whale species from imminent extinction.

    • Heroism in the Age of Crisis

      The flood waters are still rising in Texas, swallowing up homes and whole communities. Rain is predicted to continue for days. Our hearts go out to those who have lost lives, family members, homes and possessions, including the many on this list who have been affected or are still in the storm’s path

      While Hurricane Harvey is “unprecedented” in its destructive power, it is not unexpected by those who take climate science seriously. It is not an aberration, but rather a symptom of the climate crisis. Indeed, flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and India has killed 1,200 people this month.

    • Dr. Robert Bullard: Houston’s “Unrestrained Capitalism” Made Harvey “Catastrophe Waiting to Happen”

      The death toll continues to rise as massive amounts of rain from Hurricane Harvey flood Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana. The Houston police and Coast Guard have rescued over 6,000 people from their homes, but many remain stranded. Meteorologists forecast another foot of rain could fall on the region in the coming days. While the National Hurricane Center is now calling Harvey the biggest rainstorm on record, scientists have been predicting for years that climate change would result in massive storms like Harvey. We speak with Dr. Robert Bullard, known as the “father of environmental justice.” He is currently a distinguished professor at Texas Southern University. Dr. Bullard speaks to us from his home in Houston, which he needs to evacuate later this morning due to the rising Brazos River.

  • Finance

    • IVANKA BACKS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO SCRAP OBAMA RULES PREVENTING PAY DISCRIMINATION
    • DOJ investigating Uber for possible violation of foreign bribery law

      The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating whether managers at the ride-hailing app Uber illegally bribed foreign officials to do business in their country, according to a Tuesday report.

    • Robin Hood had the right idea: Why the left needs to deliver on the financial transaction tax

      This article was written for International Politics and Society and is republished here with permission. A financial transaction tax (FTT) — a charge on the buying and selling of stocks, bonds and derivatives — is an idea with widespread support amongst leading academics, many politicians and, most importantly, citizens. It was initially proposed by Maynard Keynes, the greatest economist of the twentieth century, and developed by Nobel Prize winner James Tobin.
      The economist’s answer to Robin Hood

      Numerous studies have shown a transaction tax helps diminish risks of costly financial crises by discouraging speculative behaviour and the short-term churning of assets. It is easy to implement, and can yield valuable tax revenue which can be used for financing investment. This in turn leads to inclusive and sustainable growth. Nicknamed the ‘Robin Hood Tax’, FTT is very progressive, as it is paid mainly by those with the deepest pockets. Indeed, a recent study by the US Tax Policy Center estimates that if an FTT were implemented in the US, the top one per cent of the population would pay 40 per cent of the total tax bill, and that the top 20 per cent would pay 75 per cent of the tax. This is because ownership of financial assets is concentrated among the richest people.

    • The Currency of Localism

      Local currencies favour local producers and discourage predation by multinationals, thereby retaining wealth locally and reducing environmental damage.

    • How President Trump’s Tax Plan Would Really Affect the Middle Class

      President Trump is set to speak in Missouri today where he will reportedly continue to tout his tax plan’s benefits for the middle class even though it would actually concentrate its tax cuts at the top — and could even hurt low- and middle-income families.

      Over the last two years, the President has released several different tax plans that would deliver trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations but do little to help working families. Yet, he’s consistently promised to help the middle class: in his inaugural address, for example, he said that “every decision” on taxes will “be made to benefit American workers and American families.” In fact, if President Trump’s proposed tax cuts are paid for through the types of spending cuts he has proposed in his budget, low- and middle-income Americans would clearly end up far worse off.

    • Ivanka Defends Trump Administration’s “All-Out Attack on Equal Pay”

      Civil rights groups spoke out on Wednesday about the Trump administration’s decision to scrap a rule aimed at preventing pay discrimination.

      President Obama introduced a directive that would have gone into effect early next year, requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to track wages for workers of various genders, race, and ethnicities and report the data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In defending their decision, the Trump administration claimed the rule would put unrealistic expectations on large employers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Michigan Suffers From Some of the Most Extreme Gerrymandering in the Country
    • Trump Is Failing Because He’s a New Yorker, Argues Incoherent WaPo Op-Ed

      What? The idea that there is “resentful bewilderment” between two rich, powerful, prep school–educated corridors of power is nonsensical. Firstly, most of the “DC” players in question don’t actually live in DC, nor are they from there. Secondly, the whole premise strips race, class, profession and other actually consequential factors out of the equation, and instead reduces two wildly diverse cities to handful of essential properties—presumably those the author has observed in his narrow, wealthy circle while at the Post. Aside from being dopey and racist, it’s unclear how this taxonomy illuminates anything beyond pandering to this very same narrow, wealthy circle.

    • ‘Media’s First Instinct Is to Strip Ideology From the Conversation’

      The spectre of white supremacists marching with guns and torches, throwing KKK salutes, and screaming about Jews and Commies is a test for Americans, individually and institutionally, and we’re still seeing how various folks are responding. One of the primary institutions that should be asking themselves some questions right now are corporate media. Trouble is, the press being among the most sacred of cows for the press, how likely are we to see serious consideration of their own role? Not just Fox News, which aired a video of cars driving into protestors in January, with instructions to viewers to “study the technique,” but, say, CBS, whose CEO Les Moonves joked that Donald Trump’s candidacy “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” a line that has yet to be seriously interrogated by media elites.

    • No Mention of the Victims, But ‘What a Turnout!’ Trump Declares in Texas

      President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in southeast Texas today to survey the damage and relief efforts there as the region continues to cope with the impact of Hurricane Harvey—but in keeping with his demeanor during most of his public appearances, the president was unable to address a crowd of residents without mentioning the size of the audience.

      “What a crowd! What a turnout!” Trump remarked to a crowd of supporters in Corpus Christi who had come out to see him speak at a fire station after he met with local and state officials.

      According to a media pool report, “Reporters heard no mention of the dead, dying or displaced Texans and no expression of sympathy for them.”

    • Georgia GOP Rep. Tells Former Colleague She May ‘Go Missing’ Over Criticism of Confederate Monuments

      Former Georgia Democratic State Rep. LaDawn Jones is a long-time advocate of removing the state’s confederate monuments. In 2015, she pushed for a boycott of Georgia’s Stone Mountain after a white supremacist massacred nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., arguing that the Confederate etching there had become a rallying point for far-right extremists.

      Jones’s advocacy, however has spawned a vitriolic reaction from some of her opponents. On Monday, GOP state representative Jason C. Spencer posted a photograph with a Jefferson Davis memorial on Facebook, saying that it represents the state’s history.

    • More than 100 charities claim they are being gagged by anti-lobbying rules

      More than 100 charities have warned that they are being gagged by controversial government legislation that they claim is preventing them from campaigning on issues affecting the poorest and most marginalised groups in society.

      An open letter signed by 122 organisations including Save the Children, Greenpeace and Christian Aid says campaigning is being “lost” from public debate due to the “draconian” requirements of the Lobbying Act.

      Dubbed the “charity-gagging law”, it dictates what charities can do publicly in the 12-month run-up to elections in order to ensure individuals or organisations cannot have an undue influence over the vote.

      Given the possibility of a snap election, charities say they are not able to carry out political campaigns now for fear of being hit with retrospective fines.

    • What Can We Do If A President Has A Conflict Of Interest But Doesn’t Think He Does?

      And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to government transparency, has been compiling a list of the president’s alleged conflicts of interest from news reports and legal documents. As of July 5, their count sat at 609 different ethical quandaries, of which only 46 had been resolved through the dissolution of a company, divestment by the Trumps, or some other means. That’s a lot for a leader who assured America back in December that the president “couldn’t have conflicts of interest” and promised he’d solved all of his in a January press conference.

      How do you deal with conflicts of interest when the person at their center doesn’t believe they exist? That’s not a question unique to the presidency. Twenty years ago, the medical and scientific fields were in much the same position, with a handful of ethicists struggling to convince doctors and researchers that financial conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies and other industry sponsors were real and dangerous. As the political community weighs the options for increasing presidential transparency, it’s worth looking at how the same process has changed science — and at how little we still know about whether those changes worked.

    • The Folly of White American Denial

      Let me be clear and unequivocal: While corporate media may not have noticed, Trump revealed over and over again precisely what he was during the campaign. Between dog-whistles and out-and-out racist siren calls, Trump telegraphed the fact that he was, as it were, one “bad hombre,” one who only condemned leaks when they didn’t (allegedly) come from Russian prostitutes. He defiantly adopted neo-Nazi catchphrases (“America First”), chose a white supremacist, the now, hopefully, politically moribund Steve Bannon, as a key advisor, and when asked whether he would reject support from David Duke, incredibly not only denied that he knew “anything about him” but also white supremacists – only belatedly and disingenuously to denounce them when called out on it (sound familiar?).

    • AntiFa’s Moral Superiority and the Potential for Left-Wing Unity

      It is false to qualitatively compare an organization that explicitly seeks to exterminate certain ethnic groups with another whose goals are to protect those very people and their rights. Further, though AntiFa are stigmatized as activists whose sole purpose is violence, they are in reality engaged in a multitude of other tactics that are aimed at combatting fascism. Finally, a simple quantitative comparison of the violence perpetuated by these groups, their targets and results, proves the complete moral bankruptcy of drawing such an equivalency.

      Let us examine Charlottesville as a case study. There, neo-Nazis marched with torches across the University of Virginia campus chanting “blood and soil” (a Nazi slogan), “Jews will not replace us” and “white lives matter”, paraded alongside militiamen in full combat gear and assault rifles, fired at counter protesters unimpeded by police, threatened clergymen and women, and finally drove a car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. What’s more, a recent article has shown that some of the fascists at Charlottesville were planning for murderous violence in advance.

      In contrast, counter protesters were predominantly nonviolent and used defensive, not offensive tactics other than publicly shaming members of the other side. Cornel West went so far as to say that AntiFa activists saved his life as well as the lives of other clergymen and women trapped in a church.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Judge throws out Sarah Palin lawsuit against New York Times

      A federal judge has thrown out a defamation lawsuit that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin brought against the New York Times over an editorial.

      Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said Tuesday there were a few factual inaccuracies somewhat pertaining to Palin that were rapidly corrected. He says it may have been negligent, but was plainly not defamation of a public figure.

    • ‘University censorship tactics are a threat to freedom of speech’

      Brendan O’Neill made the comments in a wide-ranging article for the Spectator magazine – in which he also slammed student groups for resembling “factories of conformism”.

      O’Neill said freedom of speech and liberty was under threat as universities “socialise youths to think censorship is good and other people’s opinions are bad”.

    • Have You Experienced Hate Speech on Facebook? We Want To Hear From You.

      Earlier this month, in the wake of the Charlottesville attack on protesters, a post began circulating on Facebook titled: “Heather Heyer, Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut.”

      You might have thought that the post violated Facebook’s rules against hate speech. But, in fact, it did not. Facebook’s arcane hate speech rules, revealed by ProPublica in June, only prohibit hate speech attacks against “protected categories” of people — based on gender, race or religious affiliation — but not against individuals.

    • In Europe, Hate Speech Laws are Often Used to Suppress and Punish Left-Wing Viewpoints

      Terrorist attacks, and the emotions they spawn, almost always prompt calls for fundamental legal rights to be curtailed in the name of preventing future attacks. The formula by now is routine: The victims of the horrific violence are held up as proof that there must be restrictions on advocating whatever ideology motivated the killer to act.

      In 2006, after a series of attacks carried out by Muslims, Republican Newt Gingrich called for “a serious debate about the First Amendment” so that “those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are, in fact, subject to a totally different set of rules.”

    • Miami Beach Mayor’s Lawyers Say Censorship Suit Is “Embarrassing” Him

      Poor, poor Philip Levine. The Miami Beach mayor has long been suspected of running a massive social-media-blocking campaign — over the past few years, he’s cut off critics, local activists, and even the main Miami New Times twitter account from reading his tweets. Multiple courts have ruled that politicians are not allowed to block people from viewing their social media accounts because those pages disseminate vital public information.

      So Levine is getting sued. And his lawyers tried to argue in court yesterday that the mayor shouldn’t have to sit for a deposition because answering basic questions under oath would apparently humiliate him.

    • The Evolution of China’s Great Firewall: 21 Years of Censorship

      In September 1987, a Beijing laboratory sent what became China’s first email. The message, to a German university, read: “Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner of the world.”

      The development of internet infrastructure in the past few decades has enabled Chinese people to continue crossing the “Great Wall” and communicate with the rest of the world. But Chinese authorities soon threw up another wall to prevent the people from accessing information they deemed threatening to the Chinese Communist Party.

      In 1996, Beijing enacted a set of interim provisions for governing computer information, and in 1998, the Ministry of Public Security launched the Golden Shield project — a national filter that blocks politically sensitive content from entering the domestic network.

      This censorship tactic scheme has long been nicknamed the Great Firewall, and has undergone periodic upgrades since it was first introduced, given that people’s efforts to cross the Great Firewall have been non-stop. Some describe the interplay between the Great Firewall and Chinese netizens as an ongoing “prison break”.

    • Blizzard vows tougher policies to punish Overwatch trolls

      Overwatch will soon start laying down harsher penalties on trolls that face player complaints under its existing reporting system, according to Director Jeff Kaplan. Posting in the Battle.net forums, Kaplan says that the current system of temporarily silencing accounts for abusive chat will be replaced with immediate account suspension for such issues “pretty soon.”

    • Western social media firms under fire as Iranians hint at dialogue over censorship

      Several social media companies in the West have been criticised for a perceived lack of transparency in alleged talks with the Iranian authorities on censoring content to the approval of the country’s strict religious authorities.

      Instagram, currently available in the country – as well as Twitter and YouTube, which are blocked but widely visited by Iranians using proxy servers – have all been reported by local media in recent weeks as as co-operating with the authorities to aid them in blocking or censoring “immoral” content.

      Newly installed communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi has been clear that he intends to shake up the status quo, promising citizens easier access to the internet and app platforms.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • India’s Supreme Court Rules Privacy Is A Fundamental Right; Big Ramifications For The Aadhaar Biometric System And Beyond
    • Court Calls Out Government For The ‘General Warrant’ It Served To Facebook

      In a disturbing case involving the sex trafficking of minors, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court has reached a few interesting conclusions involving digital searches and the Fourth Amendment. Included in the court’s findings are rulings on the use of the All Writs Act to force Apple to unlock a device, an email warrant served to Microsoft, and warrants used to obtain a vast amount of information from Facebook. [h/t Orin Kerr]

    • EU Intelligence vanity Project
    • IOT Devices Provide Comcast A Wonderful New Opportunity To Spy On You

      For some time now we’ve noted how poorly secured IOT devices provide a myriad of opportunities for hackers looking for new attack vectors into homes and businesses. That’s of course when these devices aren’t just coughing up your personal data voluntarily. Whether it’s your smart fridge leaking your Gmail credentials or your internet-connected TV transmitting your personal conversations over the internet unencrypted, we’ve noted time and time again how IOT manufacturers consistently make privacy and security an afterthought — one that’s going to ultimately cost us more than some minor inconvenience.

      But in addition to the internet of broken things being a privacy and security dumpster fire, these devices are providing a wonderful new opportunity for larger ISPs looking to monetize the data you feed into their networks on a daily basis. A new study out of Princeton recently constructed a fake home, filled it with real IOT devices, and then monitored just how much additional data an ISP could collect on you based in these devices’ network traffic. Their findings? It’s relatively trivial for ISPs to build even deeper behavior profiles on you based on everything from your internet-connected baby monitor to your not so smart vibrator.

    • Uber to stop tracking customers after ride is over

      The company last year began tracking customers from the time they requested a ride until five minutes after it was over. The surveillance strategy, Uber said at the time, would allow Uber to analyze whether people were being dropped off and picked up properly—like on the correct side of the street.

      That five minutes of post-ride monitoring is being discontinued first with an update to the iOS app this week, and was abandoned months ago for Android devices. An Uber spokeswoman tells Ars that Uber “never collected” post-ride data on iOS devices.

      The development comes days after Uber’s board picked Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief executive. Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Expedia, is replacing Travis Kalanick, who resigned under pressure after a bruising investigation into Uber’s toxic corporate culture.

    • New real name rules introduced for China’s internet users

      But now the country is going one step further with new rules that require websites to verify the real identity of their users before allowing them to comment online.

    • A Promising California Bill Could Help Communities Stop Secret And Discriminatory Police Surveillance

      California is on the verge of passing Senate Bill 21 (SB 21), a strong bill that, in its current form, would help empower communities and their local elected officials to stop secret and discriminatory use of police surveillance technologies. Making sure state lawmakers enact robust surveillance reform laws is all the more important right now as the Trump administration equips its deportation force with surveillance capabilities, aggressively pursues political activists, and escalates pressure on sanctuary cities. Now is the time to make sure a strong SB 21 — with no further amendments — gets across the finish line.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Body-slammed reporter wants to know why Rep. Gianforte still won’t grant interview

      Ben Jacobs, the reporter who was assaulted by Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, says Gianforte has reneged on what Jacobs believed was a commitment to grant him an interview.

    • Man born and raised in UK told he is not a British citizen

      A 21-year-old man who was born and raised in Britain has been told to leave the UK by the Home Office because he is not a British citizen.

      Shane Ridge, a joiner from Colne in Lancashire who describes himself as “as British as they come”, received a letter from the Home Office last week informing him that his driving licence would be revoked as he had “no lawful basis to be in the UK”.

      It came as a surprise because all of Ridge’s relatives are British citizens. His mother was born in Australia during a family holiday, but has lived in Britain since then and has dual citizenship.

      [...]

      The letter said the Home Office was working with the DVLA, NHS and banks to “stop access to benefits and services for those with no lawful basis to be in the UK”. It added: “This includes you.”

    • I’m a Police Officer Serving My Community. My Pregnancy Made Me Unwelcome On the Force.

      As a woman working in law enforcement, I’ve become accustomed to being in the minority — it’s something women know when choosing a career in policing. But after six years on the job, what I didn’t anticipate was the discrimination I would face for being pregnant.

      I joined the police department in my hometown of Cromwell, Connecticut, four years ago. I’ll never forget the pride I felt when my mother pinned my badge on me at my swearing in ceremony while my family looked on.

    • Trump’s Pardon Aside, Reporters Have Built Long Rap Sheet Against Sheriff Joe

      President Donald Trump issued his first pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff famous for using his local police force to aggressively pursue undocumented immigrants. In its official statement, the White House credited Arpaio with “more than fifty years of admirable service to our nation,” which made him “a worthy candidate” for a pardon.

      Below is a list of essential reading on one of the most reviled and beloved lawmen in the U.S.

      In November 2004, Arpaio won re-election to his fourth term as sheriff and quickly set about reorganizing the police force by transferring some 140 deputies to different positions. Mark Flatten, then a reporter at the East Valley Tribune, found evidence the moves were tied to the deputies’ political loyalty, or lack thereof, to Arpaio. “Those who worked to re-elect the sheriff moved into more prized positions,” Flatten wrote. “An analysis of the transfers of sworn officers by the Tribune shows deputies who backed Saban, Arpaio’s rival in the Republican primary last September, were moved to such jobs as transporting prisoners or standing watch in courtrooms.”

    • At Guantánamo, Men Accused in 9/11 Attacks Faced Their 24th Round of Pretrial Hearings

      Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his nephew Ammar al-Baluchi donned new Baluchi hats last week for the 24th round of pretrial hearings in the military commission case against the five men accused in the 9/11 attacks.

      A small group of media representatives and non-governmental observers, family members of five people who died at the World Trade Center, and a survivor of the Ground Zero recovery cleanup were witnesses to the week-long proceedings, as prosecution and defense argued over procedural issues involving document declassification and weighty issues involving legality of the death penalty charges against the defendants, and the destruction, most likely between July 2014 and December 2015, of a CIA black site where at least one of the men was tortured.

    • Bias in Arizona’s Reaction to Immigrants

      President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio over a contempt-of-court conviction when he refused to comply with an order to end racial-profiling in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants again shows Trump’s readiness to flout the law in protection of friends while his administration declared that even Hurricane Harvey wouldn’t stop the immigration crackdown.

      “The Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency and we will not abandon our law enforcement duties,” said a statement from the Rio Grande Valley Sector office last Thursday, vowing to “remain vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”

      Though overshadowed by the Arpaio pardon and the storm, Arizona students and their parents won a victory in Federal Court in Arizona with the restoration of a popular Mexican-American ethnic studies program. On Friday, I spoke with Cesar Cruz, an author and educator who was in Tucson to witness the court case.

    • Brexit makes labour exploitation more likely in the UK

      A report published today by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) and the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) reveals how growing uncertainty about the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK is increasing the risk of labour exploitation. It shows how rising levels of hate crime, and growing migrant worker uncertainty about their rights, have already had an impact on workers. More worrying for the future, it is now clear that Brexit poses a real threat to future rights and protections for all workers. By creating the conditions in which exploitation can thrive, Brexit is now a major obstacle to the prime minister’s commitment to tackle so-called ‘modern slavery’.

    • Turkish Security Officials Indicted for Attacking US Protesters

      A grand jury in Washington has indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with a brawl that broke out during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the U.S. capital in May.

      The indictments, announced Tuesday, charge the defendants with attacking peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence.

      All 19 are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of 15 years in prison. Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

    • Finally, MLK Jr’s Revolution? Challenging Confederate Generals and US Generals Today

      King’s revolutionary call to “get on the right side of world revolution” insists that we cannot separate the fight at home against white supremacy (and its legacy of slavery and Confederate generals) from resistance to US militarism wherever it is at work in the world today.

      Challenging statues of Confederate generals could become a way to begin the “revolution” that Martin Luther King, Jr. called for in his speech at New York’s Riverside Church. The militarism of the Confederate generals, however, is best resisted today by criticizing it within King’s vision of a world resistance to US militarism.

      2017 marks 50 years since King gave that address in 1967 on April 4. Maybe finally – after five decades and ten presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump – U.S. peoples will begin a comprehensive challenge to their own militarized government, one that King named that day as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” King’s joining of resistance to U.S. white supremacy with resistance to U.S. wars abroad was a theme of his last year, between that Riverside Church speech and his assassination a year later to the very day, on April 4, 1968.

    • Fighting the Klan in Reagan’s America

      The recent far-right rallies in Charlottesville and Boston seem to offer two possible visions of the future. Will the resurgence of white supremacist organizing take us down a path of chaos and spiraling violence, as in Charlottesville? Or will the far right — a still relatively powerless, if vocal, minority — be outnumbered, humiliated, and beaten back with little fanfare, as in Boston?

      At times it can seem like this dramatic reappearance of racist, far-right movements is a return to an uglier time. It’s harder to visualize such events as peaks in a long-running continuum.

      But examined from the perch of history, this is precisely how they appear. In fact, one of the last major resurgences of white supremacist organizing occurred relatively recently — not way back amid the rise of fascism in the 1930s, but at the start of the 1980s. Examining this history not only provides some much-needed perspective — it may provide lessons for antifascists today.

    • Samim Bigzad: UK Government’s attempt to deport Afghan asylum seeker fails after pilot refuses to take off

      The deportation of a young Afghan man refused asylum by the Government has been dramatically stayed after the pilot of the plane he was supposed to be removed on refused to take off.

      Samim Bigzad’s friends and family feared their efforts to prevent him being forced back to Kabul had failed when he was detained and booked on commercial flight to Afghanistan via Istanbul.

      The 22-year-old’s cousin previously told The Independent he feared he would be killed in the city he fled two years ago after being threatened with beheading by the Taliban.

    • France tells Philippines’ Duterte: human rights important

      France on Wednesday rejected claims by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that people were guilty until proven innocent in its legal system, as it emphasised the importance of human rights and rule of law.

      The statement released by the French embassy followed Duterte’s assessment of the judicial system in France on Monday as he defended his controversial war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives.

      “We have to point out that, as in the Philippines, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is at the core of the French judicial system, based on the principles enshrined in the French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of August 26, 1789,” the statement said.

    • Man in jail 2 years for refusing to decrypt drives. Will he ever get out?

      A now-fired Philadelphia cop has been behind bars for almost two years for refusing to decrypt hard drives that authorities found at his residence as part of a federal child-porn investigation. On Thursday, his lawyers are set to ask a federal judge to release him while he appeals the reason for his confinement to the Supreme Court. If the justices take the case, it would be the first time they weighed the constitutionality of whether forcing somebody to decrypt hardware amounts to a Fifth Amendment violation.

      [...]

      All of which is why Rawls has been behind bars for longer than anybody who has refused to unlock passcode-protected devices.

    • Georgia GOPer warns black attorney she ‘may go missing’ if she tries to remove Confederate monument

      A Republican member of the Georgia House of Representatives issued a veiled threat of lynching to a black former colleague who expressed anti-Confederate memorial sentiments on his Facebook.

      According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia State Rep. Jason Spencer (R) did exactly that on a Facebook post when former state representative LaDawn Jones expressed a distaste for a photo he took with a Confederate monument.

      “This is Georgia’s history,” Spencer wrote on a post accompanied by a selfie he took with a South Georgia monument to Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

    • Suit blaming iPhone for student’s death by texting driver is defeated by Apple

      A California judge is dismissing a lawsuit brought by the family of a 20-year-old Minnesota college student who blames Apple for his 2013 death by an iPhone-wielding texting teen.

      The dead boy’s family claims that Apple had a legal duty to help prevent texting while driving and that it could have used patented technology it has developed to prohibit motorists from driving while distracted.

      Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Maureen Folan, however, took Apple’s side. She agreed with Cupertino’s position that Apple didn’t cause the crash that killed David Riggs while he was riding his scooter. What’s more, the court agreed with Apple’s contention that it does not have a legal obligation to help prevent distracted driving.

      “The chain of causation alleged by plaintiffs in this case is far too attenuated for a reasonable person to conclude that Apple’s conduct is or was a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ harm,” the judge wrote (PDF). Further, the judge said that “defendant Apple does not owe a duty of care to plaintiff.”

    • Warrant Affidavit Shows How Easy It Is To Bilk The Government Out Of Excess Equipment

      Seamus Hughes, the Deputy Director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, happened across an extraordinary story — told in warrant affidavit form — of a man who faked up a research lab and started scoring himself truckloads of free equipment from the US government.

      According to the allegations in the warrant [PDF], Patrick R. Budic discovered a nifty way to exploit government excess equipment giveaways, utilizing a nonexistent company to make off with nearly $11 million in equipment ranging from GPS units to aircraft radios to hospital beds. The figure might have been much, much higher. The affidavit shows Budic tried (but failed) to acquire aircraft on more than one occasion.

      The setup echoes the sting operation the Government Accountability Office performed as part of its investigation of the Defense Department’s 1033 program. The GAO set up a fake law enforcement agency and was able to obtain over $1 million in excess military gear before wrapping up its investigation. In that case, there appeared to be almost zero follow-up by the agencies in charge of disbursement. No one called. No one visited the fake address to verify the fake law enforcement agency’s existence.

    • Human smuggling: the pride of Niger’s economy

      I’m Luca Raineri, and I’m a research fellow at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa Italy. I have been carrying out field research mostly in the Sahel, Mali, Niger, and Senegal dealing with extra-legal economies and the trafficking taking place in this huge Saharan region. This includes weapons trafficking, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and human smuggling.

    • Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is Deeply Disturbing

      During a speech to a group of police officers in July, President Trump returned to one of his favorite themes of the campaign season: violence. “Please don’t be too nice” to the “thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon,” Trump advised the officers. Be “rough.”

      The president’s endorsement of police brutality was met with applause from the officers and shock from activists and pundits alike.

      Sensing the brewing backlash, the White House insisted that the president was simply making a joke. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the country’s top law enforcement official — a man with his own complicated history of encouraging the worst impulses of the police — attempted to distance himself from the controversy.

    • Trump Is Trying to Cut Disaster Relief to Build a Border Wall

      Texas is still underwater, but the administration is so focused on mass deportation that it is openly neglecting real risks.

    • Trump Hides Behind the Storm

      As Hurricane Harvey raged, the president tried to use the disaster as cover. It may have worked.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality comment deadline is tomorrow; 21.9 million comments in so far

      You have until midnight Eastern Time tomorrow night (Wednesday) to file comments on the Federal Communications Commission plan to deregulate broadband service and roll back net neutrality rules.

      There are 21.9 million filings on the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” docket already, blowing away the four million received before the 2015 decision that imposed net neutrality rules. Many comments are apparently from spam bots and form letters, but Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to undo net neutrality rules has received massive attention.

    • California Case Against Backpage Moves Forward Over Money Laundering Claims

      Late last year, we wrote about ridiculous charges by California’s then Attorney General, Kamala Harris, against Backpage.com for “pimping.” As we pointed out at the time, Harris clearly knew the case was a loser. It completely exaggerated what Backpage had done, and Harris herself had earlier admitted that she had no authority to go after an internet platform for how people used it. A judge quickly threw out the charges against Backpage… and Harris turned around and filed even more charges against Backpage’s execs, including repeating the pimping charge and adding in “money laundering.”

      As we noted at the time, the money laundering charges seemed pretty questionable. It’s based on the fact that Backpage had set up a separate (and separately named operation) to handle billing. The complaint argues that this was a form of money laundering, to hide from credit card companies that the money was being spent on prostitution. That leaves out, of course, that part of the reason why Backpage likely had to set up such a structure was because Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart had threatened credit card companies if they didn’t stop working with Backpage — a move that was later deemed to be a clear First Amendment violation against the company by Sheriff Dart.

    • Sex Trafficking Expert: CDA 230 Helps Victims And SESTA Would Harm Trafficking Victims

      Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about SESTA — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. Part of our argument is that the bill will be completely counterproductive to its own goals. As we explained in a letter to Congress (signed by a bunch of tech companies), after two decades of watching CDA 230 in practice, it’s clear that SESTA will do the exact opposite of what supporters claim it will do. But that’s from the point of view of internet companies who know how the law intersects with technology.

      But what about experts in trafficking. In our letter, we admitted that area is not our expertise, but that we’re all supportive of the idea of stopping trafficking. However, someone who is an expert in trafficking is Alexandra Levy, a law professor at Notre Dame, who works at the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center and teaches a class entirely about human trafficking. She’s written up a fascinating blog post for professor Eric Goldman’s blog where she explains why SESTA will be a total disaster for human trafficking.

    • How Section 230 Helps Sex Trafficking Victims (and SESTA Would Hurt Them) (Guest Blog Post)

      When courts first tackled the question of whether internet intermediaries should be held accountable for material they publish, they struggled to come up with the right analogy. Were computer networks more like bookstores, or like newspapers? Should they be treated like real property, like common carriers, like radio stations, or as something else altogether?

      Congress finally addressed the issue in 1996. It found that the nature of the Internet called for an entirely new regulatory approach. Encouraging the proliferation of “political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services,” while minimizing the spread of “lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” material, required careful consideration of what, exactly, online intermediaries were in a position to do.

    • Even Many ISP-Backed Allies Think Ajit Pai’s Attack On Net Neutrality Is Too Extreme

      With its quest to gut net neutrality, privacy and other consumer broadband protections, the FCC is rushing face first toward stripping meaningful oversight of some of the least-liked — and least competitive — companies in America. The FCC’s plan, based on flimsy to no data and in stark contrast to the will of the public, involves gutting most FCC oversight of broadband providers, then shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC we’ve noted is ill-suited, under-funded, and legally ill-equipped for the job. That’s a real problem for a sector that’s actually getting less competitive than ever in many markets.

      Giant ISPs and their armies of policy allies often try to frame the effort as a noble quest for deregulation, often insisting they’re somehow “restoring internet freedom” in a bare-knuckled attempt to pander to partisan constituents. But by any sane measure the FCC’s quest is little more than a massive gift to despised duopolies like Comcast — at what might be the worst possible time for a severely dysfunctional industry. But there are signs that even many traditional big ISP allies think Ajit Pai’s plan is absurdly extreme.

    • China dwarfs the rest in the digital world

      With 751 million Internet users — nearly 55% of the population — and 663 million smartphone users, China dwarfs every other country when it comes to digital metrics. Of those Internet users, 72.1% are between 10 and 39 years old.

    • The Return of the Static Site

      Taking advantage of those pieces allows us to build fast, reliable, scalable sites using the technology we prefer — and as a bonus, weekends are a lot more carefree, knowing an entire site won’t go down without us. If the return of static sites is the way of the future (even if it was also the way of the past), we’re definitely on board.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • After Previously Claiming the Economics Would Never Work, HBO Streaming Now A Major Windfall

        For years, HBO and owner Time Warner fell into the trap of telling customers what they wanted instead of the other way around. You might recall that HBO and Time Warner spent years waging a rather scorched earth assault on piracy and other “unauthorized viewing,” going so far as to poison show torrents and shut down “Game of Thrones” viewing parties. A major problem with this approach is that HBO wasn’t fully providing pirates an alternative. While HBO was offering streaming to existing cable customers, it spent years ignoring consumer calls for a standalone streaming video platform that didn’t require cable.

        There were any number of reasons for this myopia, the biggest being that like any good legacy company, HBO and Time Warner execs were afraid of wounding the traditional cable cash cow (even if said cow was already showing signs of notable mortality at the time). More specifically, HBO was afraid of hurting the cozy, heavily-subsidized relationship HBO enjoys with many cable providers, who all but give the channel away on occasional promotion. So while offering a standalone streaming platform was essential in evolutionary context, HBO consistently insisted it just couldn’t make the economics work for such an option.

      • Horrible or non-existent Mayweather-McGregor fight streams prompt lawsuit

        Showtime was hit with a federal class-action lawsuit amid reports that it delivered shoddy or non-existent $99 streams of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight Saturday. This is contrary to Showtime’s promise of 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.

      • Mayweather V. McGregor: Showtime Got Injunctions On Pirate Stream Sites Which Didn’t Work & Neither Did Their Own Stream

        As you will already know, a boxing match recently took place between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. The fight itself was far better than it should have been, but you may not know it if you couldn’t manage to actually see it. Much as it did in the run up to the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight of a couple of years ago, Showtime went out and got some rather questionable injunctions against 44 sites it believed would be offering up the fight via an illegitimate stream during the live pay-per-view broadcast. That effort resulted in, ahem, only three million viewers watching the fight via illegal live streams. Thousands more downloaded video of the fight illicitly after it occurred. So, Showtime got a court to agree to questionable pre-crime activities with the result being rather mixed.

      • Judge Cracks Down on LinkedIn’s Shameful Abuse of Computer Break-In Law

        Good news out of a court in San Francisco: a judge just issued an early ruling against LinkedIn’s abuse of the notorious Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to block a competing service from perfectly legal uses of publicly available data on its website. LinkedIn’s behavior is just the sort of bad development we expected after the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered two dangerously expansive interpretations of the CFAA last year—despite our warnings that the decisions would be easily misused.

        The CFAA is a criminal law with serious penalties. It was passed in the 1980s with the aim of outlawing computer break-ins. Since then, it has metastasized in some jurisdictions into a tool for companies and websites to enforce their computer use policies, like terms of service (which no one reads) or corporate computer policies. Violating a computer use policy should by no stretch of the imagination count as felony. But the Ninth Circuit’s two decisions—Facebook v. Power Ventures and U.S. v. Nosal—emboldened some companies, almost overnight, to amp up their CFAA threats against competitors.

      • Renowned Kodi Addon Developer MetalKettle Calls it Quits

        MetalKettle, one of the most famous Kodi addon developers of recent times, has called it quits. Citing concerns over the current legal environment, ‘MK’ says he considered what would happen if he found himself targeted by lawyers. Not wanting to take any more risks, he says he’ll concentrate on being a husband and father instead.

08.29.17

Links 29/8/2017: Bodhi Linux 4.3.0, FSFE’s Digital-O-Mat for Germany

Posted in News Roundup at 9:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Bugs? What bugs? Microsoft sees no evil.

      On Aug. 23, Microsoft released Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Build 16273. This late beta doesn’t introduce new features. It’s all about stabilizing the next Windows 10 update before releasing it to the public. In short, it’s a bug-fix version — with a twist. While Microsoft tells us which bugs have been fixed in this build, it doesn’t say anything about new bugs, or old bugs that haven’t been fixed.

  • Server

    • What you should know about CephFS

      Today, new storage system interfaces are created regularly to resolve emerging challenges in distributed storage. For example, Amazon Simple Storage Service [S3] (an opaque object store) and Amazon Elastic Block Storage [EBS] (a virtual machine image provider) both provide an essential, scalable storage service within a cloud ecosystem; however even with these new technologies, the conventional file system remains the most-widely used storage interface in computing.

      Virtually all programs are written to use a file system at some level. This makes the file system the lingua franca for all storage access on any computing device—from small devices such as smartphones, to large high-performance computing (HPC) clusters at CERN and national labs. Programs are still written to communicate and store data through file systems because of their convenience, familiarity, and interoperability.

    • Finding a digital transformation roadmap with containers

      But to make containers actually work, you need to use them in the right way. Creating a digital transformation roadmap with containers is not as simple as installing Docker and letting everything else fall into place on its own.

    • DH2i Adds Docker Support to App Portability Platform for Windows and Linux
    • DH2i Launches DxEnterprise v17 – Unified Smart Availability™ for Windows, Linux & Docker
    • Distributed Systems Are Hard

      A lot of the traditional mechanisms for recovering from failure may make things worse in a distributed environment. Brute force retries may flood your network, restores from backups are not straightforward. There are design patterns for addressing all of these issues but they require thought and testing.

      If there were no errors, distributed systems would be pretty easy. That can lull optimists into a false sense of security. Distributed systems must be designed to be resilient by accepting that all possible errors are just business as usual.

  • Kernel Space

    • DRM Synchronization Object Improvements Queued For Linux 4.14

      Introduced in the Linux 4.13 kernel for the Direct Rendering Manager drivers was the concept of DRM synchronization objects while for Linux 4.14 this feature will be improved upon.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Lands Vulkan External Fences Support

        Lead Intel ANV Vulkan driver developer Jason Ekstrand has landed support for the VK_KHR_external_fence extension within this open-source Linux Vulkan driver.

        The external fence work landed with Vulkan 1.0.54 and is about allowing synchronized access to external memory using fences. In Mesa 17.3-dev Git, that work is turned on for ANV.

      • AmanithVG Brings Fast OpenVG To Linux, OpenGL ES Rendering
      • Work Begins On Kernel DRM Driver For BCM7268 With VC5

        Eric Anholt of Broadcom has been working on a new VC5 Gallium3D driver for supporting a new generation of Broadcom 3D graphics hardware that goes beyond the “VC4″ 3D notably used by the current Raspberry Pi boards. So far he’s been working on this new VC5 Gallium3D driver but now he’s beginning work on the related Direct Rendering Manager kernel driver for this next-gen hardware.

    • Cairo 1.15.8 Released With Support For Colored Emoji

      It has been a few months since the last Cairo 2D graphics library update, which is used by programs ranging from Firefox to GTK and WebKit, but today the notable 1.15.8 release is now available.

    • Vulkan-CPU Is Off To A Good Start Thanks To GSoC 2017

      Google Summer of Code participant Jacob Lifshay has written his final recap about the work he did this summer on starting the “Vulkan-CPU” project for writing a soft/CPU-based implementation of the Vulkan API.

      As we’ve been covering throughout the summer, he’s hit milestones like SPIR-V to LLVM IR translation, initial graphics pipeline setup, and the start of vertex shader support.

    • Benchmarks

      • Keeping The Ryzen Threadripper Busy With An Array Of Compiler Benchmarks

        While there are an array of interesting AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X Linux benchmarks in this morning’s review, after hitting a 36 second Linux kernel compilation time with this 16 core / 32 thread processor, I spent this afternoon seeing what I was getting for some other compile times of popular programs.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 7.4 M3 Released With OpenBenchmarking Seamless/Dynamic Comparisons
      • AMD Replaces Ryzen CPUs for Users Affected By Rare Linux Bug

        AMD’s Ryzen 7 has been generally well-received by the enthusiast community, but there’s been one low-level problem that we’ve been watching but haven’t previously reported on. In early June, Ryzen users running Linux began reporting segmentation faults when running multiple concurrent compilation workloads using multiple different versions of GCC. LVVM/Clang was not affected, and the issue appears confined to Linux. Moreover, it wasn’t apparently common, even among Linux users — Michael Larabel, of Phoronix.com, reported that his own test rigs had been absolutely solid, even under heavy workloads.

        Like the Pentium FDIV bug of yesteryear, this was a real issue, but one that realistically only impacted a fraction of a fraction of buyers. AMD had previously said it was investigating the problem (which isn’t present on any Epyc or Threadripper CPUs) and it’s now announced a solution: CPU replacement.

      • Core i7 / Core i9 / Ryzen 7 / Threadripper OpenGL+Vulkan Linux Gaming Benchmarks

        For those craving to see some fresh OpenGL and Vulkan Linux gaming benchmarks with the recent high-end Intel/AMD CPUs at Phoronix, this article is for you.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDevelop 5.1.2 released

        We are pleased to announce the release of KDevelop version 5.1.2, the second bug-fix release for the 5.1 series. This update contains bug fixes only, and we highly recommend all users of KDevelop 5.1.x to switch to this version. Given that it has been a few months since the release of KDevelop 5.1.1, this version contains quite a lot of changes.

      • Last week in Kube

        “Kube is a modern communication and collaboration client built with QtQuick on top of a high performance, low resource usage core. It provides online and offline access to all your mail, contacts, calendars, notes, todo’s and more. With a strong focus on usability, the team works with designers and UX experts from the ground up, to build a product that is not only visually appealing but also a joy to use.”

      • Summing up my GSoC experience

        The best thing about this experience is that I learnt a lot of new and exciting stuff: new technologies, pattern and development methodologies. Not only I improved my skills with modern web development tools but I also got quite proficient with the Vue.js and Webpack ecosystems. At the same time I got a bit better at writing and structuring documentation, something that many developers forget about.

      • Finalizing the GSoC project for KStars

        I worked on the KStars during this summer to improve the codebase with C++11 features with Google Summer of Code. I spent the last month to write the first GUI tests for KStars and KStars Lite. KStars Lite can be built and run also on Linux host now although it was developed for Android by a previous GSoC student in 2016. Additional contributions include fixing some bugs found by Clang Sanitizers, usability improvements and templeted FITS decoding. The GSoC period was successful, the goals were reached, but if I would have still more time…

      • My experiences with Summer of Code 2017

        How quickly the summer ran away, in a wild mix of fun, frustration, development, and success! It seems like just yesterday that I received news of working with Marble in the summer, yet now September quickly approaches, and it’s time to look back on all our experiences this summer.

      • Final Blog Gsoc 2017

        Over the past three months, I’ve been working on a telemetry project for the graphic editor Krita. I achieved almost all the goals. A working prototype was created, you can help in its testing by downloading a test version of the Krita with telemetry support. link

      • GSoC – Final Period

        I implemented some scripts to the showcase and some new plugins as well. You can find my task here and see more details about my progress during GSoC.

      • Kubuntu Artful Aardvark (17.10) Beta 1 testing

        Artful Aardvark (17.10) Beta 1 images are now available for testing.

        The Kubuntu team will be releasing 17.10 in October. The final Beta 1 milestone will be available on August 31st.

      • That was quick: Falkon web browser is now available as a Snap app

        The newly-named Falkon web browser is now available for testing on Ubuntu and KDE Neon.

        KDE Neon is adopting Snap packages as its containerised packaging format of choice (sorry Flatpak fans) and with Falkon now under the auspices of KDE its arrival as a Snap app was always a matter of when and not if.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • 3.26 Release Video in the Works

        3.26 is sneaking up on everyone and last week I started working on the release video which process you can follow on the wiki, I will keep it updated as I move on. I plan to be doing major work in the green screening, animation areas and video editing myself but others are contributing with soundtrack, writing the manuscript and recording videos.

      • Wrapping up GSoC 2017

        So, GSoC ends in a short while and I want to take advantage of that and show a preview of both features that we’ve worked on :).

        As I have described here and here, I worked on the gnome-shell search results and made them look different and then I added system actions to the mix. Without further ado, let’s see how they turned out.

        First up, the updated gnome-shell results. The idea was that we needed to fit as many results as possible on the screen, making it possible for lower resolutions to handle fitting those results on the screen. At the same time, we had to make sure that the screen won’t be cluttered, or it would’ve turned into a mess.

      • How Glib-rs works, part 2: Transferring lists and arrays

        In the first part, we saw how glib-rs provides the FromGlib and ToGlib traits to let Rust code convert from/to Glib’s simple types, like to convert from a Glib gboolean to a Rust bool and vice-versa. We also saw the special needs of strings; since they are passed by reference and are not copied as simple values, we can use FromGlibPtrNone and FromGlibPtrFull depending on what kind of ownership transfer we want, none for “just make it look like we are using a borrowed reference”, or full for “I’ll take over the data and free it when I’m done”. Going the other way around, we can use ToGlibPtr and its methods to pass things from Rust to Glib.

      • GSoC 2017 : wrap-up and code submission

        This post pretends to summarize what has been done during my project in the Google Summer of Code. This is also my Work Product Submission. The project has consisted on implementing a plugin manager for Pitivi and adding a plugin called the Developer Console.

      • GtkBuilder, Vala and WebKit

        To use a WebKitWebView inside a GTK+ template, one needs to workaround the fact that WebKitWebView breaks the heuristics in GtkBuilder to guess the GType from the human readable type name. That’s easy. Anybody who has used GObject is likely to have encountered some dialect of g_type_ensure, or, as the more learned will point out, GtkBuilder has a type-func attribute for cases like these.

      • Remote desktop capabilities set to make a comeback in GNOME on Wayland

        Remote desktop under Wayland seems to finally be happening; thanks to work on new APIs and a new GNOME Remote Desktop service undertaken by Jonas Ådahl!

        GNOME’s Vino remote desktop server was left behind when GNOME transitioned their desktop from the X compositor to Wayland. This meant that people who use distributions that stay close to upstream, like Fedora 25, have been left without a working VNC or even an RDP server for almost a full year.

      • Gnome Pie – A Circular Application Launcher (Menu) for Linux

        You know about Dash to Dock and Dash to Panel. But do you know about Gnome Pie? It’s a completely different concept from the app launchers typical of Windows, Mac, and Linux systems because it implements an idea known as “Fitts’ law”.

      • GNOME Tweaks 3.25.91

        The GNOME 3.26 release cycle is in its final bugfix stage before release.

        Here’s a look at what’s new in GNOME Tweaks since my last post.

        I’ve heard people say that GNOME likes to remove stuff. If that were true, how would there be anything left in GNOME? But maybe it’s partially true. And maybe it’s possible for removals to be a good thing?

      • These Pictures Show How GNOME Shell Search Is Improving

        GNOME 3.26 improves the appearance of GNOME Shell search results, making better use of screen space to show more results on screen.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Window Maker Live: Cool Retro Look, Even Cooler Performance

        Window Maker Live (WML) takes an unusual approach to desktop interface management. It has an old-fashioned look with a productive new feel.

        The latest version of Window Maker Live (0.95.7-4), released this month, is a Debian-based Linux distribution that uses the Window Maker window manager as the default graphical user interface. It integrates well-known open source components in a surprisingly satisfying interface.

        Window Maker itself has been around since 1997. It is an X11 window manager originally designed to provide integration support for the GNUstep Desktop Environment, a free adaptation of Cocoa (formerly OpenStep).

        A framework with application development tools for Unix-like operating systems and Microsoft Windows, Window Maker is part of the GNU Project.

        If you are into retro computing, you will marvel at Window Maker’s success in reproducing the cool look and feel of the Nextstep user interface. That nostalgia is reminiscent of Thinkpad T61 technology.

        If that level of computing nostalgia is not your passion, WML’s user interface can bring you a productivity boost without the excessive GUI bloat of modern-day Linux desktop environments.

    • New Releases

      • Bodhi Linux 4.3.0 Released

        Today I am pleased to announce the release of Bodhi Linux 4.3.0. This is a normal update release and it comes three months after the release of Bodhi 4.2.0. Existing Bodhi 4.x.y users do not need to reinstall as the primary goal of this update release is to simply keep the current ISO image up to date. This release image includes EFL 1.19.1, Terminology 1.1.0, Ephoto 1.5, and Linux kernel 4.11. As with every release in the 4.x.y Bodhi series it is built on top of the rock solid foundation that is Ubuntu 16.04.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Vs Funny People Wearing Red Hats

        Watching this video from SUSE, you might be excused for thinking you’re watching a trailer for a new Netflix original which looks suspiciously like “Game of Thrones.” To paraphrase an old Dodge commercial: “You can tell they’re bad guys because they all wear Red Hats.”

      • Run your Xen VMs on the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server

        While SLES does offer a specific installation pattern to make a server a Xen host, it’s mainly a DYI configuration, where the installation is like any other Linux installation. There is, for instance, no notion of a storage pool easily connected to external storage; the administrator who uses all default choices ends up with locally stored VM images.

    • Red Hat Family

      • How a leader can move forward without consensus
      • Intermountain begins shift to open IT platform

        Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare has begun the work of replacing its proprietary platform to an open one. The goal is to create a modern IT environment across the 22-hospital systems, which also includes 180 clinics and 1,500 physicians.

        Intermountain is using Red Hat platforms to transform its existing infrastructure by replacing legacy tools and migrating services from a proprietary platform to an open source Red Hat stack.

      • Red Hat (RHT) Names Narendra Gupta as Chairman
      • Red Hat Appoints Narendra Gupta as New Chairman of the Board [Ed: as above]

        Gupta co-founded Integrated Systems Inc. (ISI) in 1980 to develop products for embedded software development. He served as ISI’s president and CEO from founding until 1994 and as chairman until 2000 when ISI merged with Wind River Systems, Inc., a provider of device software optimization solutions. Gupta served as Wind River’s vice chairman from 2000 until its acquisition by Intel in 2009. He currently serves on the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology, the advisory board of Asia Society Northern California, and on the boards of several privately held companies.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • GSoC: Final Report

          This is the final report of my work on Google Summer of Code program. My name is David Carlos and I am a Brazilian software engineering student, at University of Brasilia. I already work as programmer, and really love what I do for a living. When I am not working I am with my family and friends, enjoying good beer and listening to the best Brazilian music style, Samba.

          [...]

          Static analyzers are computer programs that analyze other computer programs. This is generally done by checking source code through static analysis methods. This is a good means to support software assurance, since static analysis can in theory enumerate all possible interactions in a program, having the potential to find rare occurrences that would be harder to find with automated testing.

          kiskadee is a system designed to support continuous static analysis in software repositories using different static analyzers and to store this information in a database. Based on such database information, kiskadee will rank warnings reported by the different static analyzers, where warnings with the highest rank are more likely to indicate real and more critical software flaws, while warnings with the lowest rank are more likely to be false positives. In this context, a warning is a single issue produced by a static analyzer. Finally, kiskadee maps software flaws inserted in specific software versions, providing developers with a relatively small list of warnings to be investigated in a suggested order.

        • Fedora 26 – the MuseScore software.
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Must Have Linux Mint Software

              must admit that I’m still shocked at how popular Linux Mint has become. The reasons why are covered in my “Why Linux Mint won” article. But there’s more to Linux Mint than the distro itself. There are also what I’d call “must have” applications. This article will share my own must have applications that I think every Linux Mint user should check out.

            • [elementaryOS] AppCenter & The Future of The Universe

              About 3 months ago, we launched a new version of elementary OS and a new service that we call AppCenter Dashboard. In that time, we’ve helped developers publish nearly 40 new apps.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What Do the Most Successful Open Source Projects Have In Common?

    Thriving open source projects have many users, and the most active have thousands of authors contributing. There are now more than 60 million open source repositories, but the vast majority are just a public workspace for a single individual. What differentiates the most successful open source projects? One commonality is that most of them are backed by either one company or a group of companies collaborating together

  • IBM in Blockchain Collaboration for Food Safety

    Another new use has been found for blockchain. Last week, IBM announced that it’s collaborating with a group of 10 major food suppliers “to identify new areas where the global supply chain can benefit from blockchain.” It appears that initially the focus will be on tracking food products as they move their way from farm to processing facilities to grocery store shelves. The deal includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart.

  • Eurovision, Matrox, Telvue join open source alliance

    The SRT Alliance, an open-source initiative dedicated to overcoming the challenges of low-latency video streaming, announces that 14 new members have joined the initiative including Eurovision Media Services, Matrox and Telvue.

    Now with more than 35 members, the SRT Alliance’s rapid growth supports continued adoption and development of the low latency SRT open source video transport protocol across a variety of industries. Founded by Haivision and Wowza, the SRT Alliance is focused on developing SRT to be an alternative to proprietary and expensive transmission protocols by offering an open source solution that can deliver low-latency video with greater reliability and performance in sub-optimal networks.

  • Rocket.Chat Extends Support to Open Source Initiative and Community

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the founding organization of the open source software movement, announced Rocket.Chat has joined the global non-profit as a Premium Corporate Sponsor. Rocket.Chat joins Craigslist Foundation, Facebook, Github, Google, Heptio, HPE, IBM, USB Direct, and many more sponsors, supporters and members committed to increasing awareness of open source software, and participation within the innovative communities that enable its continued advancement.

  • The next release of OpenStack, Pike leaps up

    Whatever else has ever been said about OpenStack, no one has ever said the open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud was easy to deploy or update. With the release of Pike, the 16th version of OpenStack, that’s changing.

    Pike, and the two updates, Queens and Rocky, to follow it, won’t bring major new features or changes. Instead, each will build on the Ocata release. Ocata, too, was focused on improving stability, scalability, and performance of the core services.

  • What Do the Most Successful Open Source Projects Have In Common?

    Thriving open source projects have many users, and the most active have thousands of authors contributing. There are now more than 60 million open source repositories, but the vast majority are just a public workspace for a single individual. What differentiates the most successful open source projects? One commonality is that most of them are backed by either one company or a group of companies collaborating together

  • Leadership lessons from open source software

    As chief information officer, I leverage many of the lessons I learned from maintaining or contributing to open source software. While I find insights from other areas, experience drives learning, and my twenty years of personal experience in open source software has taught me much about accepting feedback, listening to others, and sharing the burden. This applies directly to my professional career.

  • The Importance of Choosing the Correct Mastodon Instance

    Remember, Mastodon is a new decentralized social network, based on a free software which is rapidly gaining users (already there is more than 1.5 million accounts). As I’ve created my account in June, I was a fast addict and I’ve already created several tools for this network, Feed2toot, Remindr and Boost (mostly written in Python).

    Now, with all this experience I have to stress out the importance of choosing the correct Mastodon instance.

    [...]

    As a social network, Mastodon is truly decentralized, with more than 1.5 million users on more than 2350 existing instances. As such, the most common usage is to create an account on an open instance. To create its own instance is way too difficult for the average user. Yet, using an open instance creates a strong dependence on the technical administrator of the chosen instance.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Using Client Side Decoration (Video)

        If you’ve been longing to see some progress on Firefox GTK header bar support you’re going to want to feast your eyes on this.

        Alex of WOGUE fame has posted a new video to showcase Firefox CSD as it looks and works right now.

        Now, he had to build (painfully, I hear) >from Git to try this out, but his video shows “all upstream work from Mozillians [and] no patches!”.

      • AdNauseam extension blocked

        Since proponents of this extension will likely be unhappy or have questions as to why, and likely want to be vocal about this addition:

        After investigating the AdNauseam extension’s behavior and the results for web publishers, the extension has been added to the Pale Moon blocklist with a severity level of 2 (meaning you won’t be able to enable it unless you increase the blocking level in about:config to 3). For those unfamiliar with this extension: it generates false ad “clicks” to ad servers in an attempt to generate “noise” for the ad networks in a protest against the advertising network system as a whole.
        While the premise behind this is similar to poisoning trackers with false fingerprints (which we are proponents of, ourselves), and we normally let users decide for themselves what they want to do with their browser, we are strictly against allowing extensions that cause direct damage (including damage to third parties). There is a subtle but important difference between blocking content and generating fake user interaction.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How open source analytics can boost your cybersecurity arsenal

      Data growth never stops and the sheer volume and variety of this data has challenged organizations to makes sense of it all. Over the last few years, these groups have been turning to big data solutions to extract valuable insights and actionable intelligence from these massive new sets of data. Now organizations are beginning to leverage this same technology to modernize and reinforce their cybersecurity posture.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • HAMMER2 File-System Continues To Stabilize For DragonFlyBSD

      For those interested in the work being done to the HAMMER2 file-system that’s being developed by Matthew Dillon for DragonFlyBSD, it is indeed getting closer to being a working reality.

      We recently heard how the next DragonFlyBSD release will offer it as an experimental option following recent advancements to it. That next DragonFly release should be coming in September.

    • OpenBSD Community Goes Platinum [iophk: "paypal is not an option, I'll have to send some bitcoin their way"]

      Paypal and bitcoin donations from the OpenBSD community have made the community the OpenBSD Foundation’s first Platinum level contributor for 2017!

    • openbsd changes of note 627
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Richard Stallman – the freedom defender whom we may not deserve but definitely need

      Stallman was always interested in Physics as much as in Maths. For him, the decision to opt for Physics in college was simply a matter of academic requirements. He explains, “To get an honours degree in Mathematics, one had to write a thesis whereas for Physics it didn’t require a thesis. I had an experience in my last year in high school where I had a class which required writing long papers and it was really hard for me.” In practice it didn’t make any big difference because he took classes in both and was happy to do so. But he didn’t take classes of things related to computers because he found another way to work on that.

    • Digital-O-Mat: Compare your views on Internet policies with the parties for the German federal election 2017

      CDU/CSU (conservatives) and FDP (liberals) marked their position as “neutral” and answered in a very similar fashion. Unfortunately, these parties avoid making a clear stance and ultimately confirm the status quo. On one hand, they do consider the use of Free Software, on the other hand, so they say, there are multiple other aspects to consider weigh in. However, they list functionality and usability for example, even though they have no relation to the licence in use. When asked about the migration of existing IT systems, CDU/CSU prefer decision making on a case-by-case basis, while FDP dodged our question.

      Although the SPD (labour) also marked their answer as “neutral”, they support the deployment and development of Free Software in public administrations and educational institutions, “to foster the creation of innovative businesses in the local market”. Die Linke (lefts) and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (greens) position themselves as supporters of deployment and public funding of Free Software. The greens consider Free Software to be a “cornerstone for secure and future-proof IT systems”, and the lefts also fully support it, as long as there are no concerns regarding security or operation.

    • Putting German Politicians On The Record

      In Canada, there seems to be only one party on the record as favouring FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software), but the other parties don’t even have a position… Too bad. Now that I’m determined to use renewable energy and drive an electric car, I may be in the mood to change my vote next election over one last issue.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Why Not to Overreact to Facebook’s React Patents License

      The reaction to this news is surprising, given the parallel patent licensing model is nothing new. Facebook released its “BSD+Patents” grant in 2013 (with a revision in 2015). But a similar model was used with some fanfare by Google with its WebM codec in 2010. This licensing model involves two parallel and simultaneous grants of rights: a BSD license to the copyright in the software, and a separate grant to practice patents that read on the software. Putting the two together means there are two independent and parallel grants of rights. In this respect, it is quite similar to the Apache 2.0 license which, like BSD, is a permissive license, and which also contains a defensive termination provision that exists alongside the copyright license grant.

      Much of the reaction to Apache Foundation’s announcement has just created confusion, such as this article misleadingly calling it “booby-trapped.” In fact, many open source licenses have defensive termination provisions — which are mostly considered a reasonable mechanism to discourage patent lawsuits, rather than a booby trap. They are also the rule rather than the exception; all major open source licenses with patent grants also have defensive termination provisions — each with slightly different terms. The difference between the Facebook grant, which Apache has rejected, and the Apache 2.0 license, which Apache requires for its projects, is more subtle than the controversy suggests.

      [...]

      Defensive termination provisions of the scope in the Facebook grant are very common in patent licensing, outside of the open source landscape. Most patent licenses terminate if the licensee bring patent claims against the licensor. The reason is that a licensor does not want to be unilaterally “disarmed” in a patent battle. Most patents are only used defensively — asserted when a competitor sues the patent owner. A sues B and then B sues A, resulting in mutually assured destruction. If B has released its software under an open source license without a broad defensive termination provision, B is potentially without recourse, and has paid a high price for its open source code release. A gets to simultaneously free ride on B’s software development and sue B for patent infringement.

      Finally, the Facebook grant itself is not new. The grant was released in 2013, and ReactJS’ popularity has been growing since then. As with many open source licenses, the industry’s willingness to absorb a new license depends on the tastiness of the code released under it. In the case of ReactJS, the code was great, and the patent license terms were new, but reasonable.

    • The Faces of Open Source: Till Jaeger

      Dr. Till Jaeger features in the fifth episode of Shane Martin Coughlan’s, “The Faces of Open Source Law.” The series was shot during breaks at the FSFE Legal Network ‘Legal and Licensing Workshop’ in Barcelona during April 2017, and is provided here to promote greater understanding of how the law and open source projects and communities are interacting and evolving.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • TinyCircuits Portfolio of Tiny Open Source Electronics Available Globally from Digi-Key

        TinyCircuits’ selection of small-size open source electronics, including the TinyDuino, is available for immediate shipment worldwide through Digi-Key Electronics, a global electronic components distributor, thanks to a new distribution agreement between the two companies.

      • Numworks graphing calculator is made for students raised on tech

        Now, an open-source calculator called Numworks is taking them on with a clean, simple look, an intuitive interface and open source programming and design.

      • Retrocomputing With Open Source FPGAs

        A few years ago, we saw the reverse engineering of the Lattice iCE40 bitstream, opening the door to a completely Open Source development tool chain for FPGAs. This was an astonishing amount of work from [Clifford Wolf], [Mathias Lasser], and [Cotton Seed], but since then we haven’t seen a whole lot from Project IceStorm. Now, that’s about to change, and in the coolest way possible. [hoglet] is retrocomputing on an ICE40 development board.

        This is an implementation of the Acorn Atom on a myStorm BlackIce board. This board is basically just a Lattice iCE40 FPGA, a few support components, and a bunch of pin headers, some of which are in the not-so-handy Arduino pinout footprint. By porting some Acorn Atom implementations and a 6502 core to verilog, [hoglet] was able to stuff a cool old retrocomputer onto an Open Source FPGA development board. Video output is through a resistor DAC driving a VGA cable, and keyboard input is through PS/2.

  • Programming/Development

    • My use-case for Go

      After using a few very good applications written in Go (Syncthing, Docker and Hugo are some examples) I wanted to get to learn a bit more about the language.

      I’m very interested in programming languages theory and how it could give developers the tools they need to write software in the best possible way and with as many guarantees as possible on the correctness of the resulting applications.

      To get an idea of where programming languages theory is headed have a look at the post Graydon Hoare (the creator of Rust and now one of Swift’s developers) published discussing possible new research directions for programming languages.

    • What was your first programming language?

      Whether you first learned to program in a classroom setting, on the job, or by teaching yourself, everyone who has contributed code to an open source project has a story of how they first picked up programming. And no matter if you still use it today, your first language played an important role in shaping your understanding of computer systems.

    • NVIDIA & Co Continue Working On LLVM Fortran “Flang” Compiler

      Since earlier this year NVIDIA posted their work on “Flang”, an LLVM-based Fortran compiler, to GitHub while now they have done a formal announcement and update about its status.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • PKI is needed for micro-services

      Someone would say: but we can trust the source IP!
      The short answer to this is: no.

      The long answer is: no! no! no! no! no! no! no! no! no!

      An IP address is not secure by design, the network can be manipulated quite easily with an L2 access (like one server compromised).

      Also, the IP layer is not encrypted by default, so if you have to use some kind of encryption on top in your application, what’s the point of encrypting everything with a pre shared key when you can use an asymmetric layout?

    • Google opens up on Titan security: Here’s how chip combats hardware backdoors

      Google has detailed how its custom Titan security chip will prevent threats that use firmware-based attacks.

      When it unveiled its tiny Titan chip, Google said it planned to use the processor to give each server in its cloud its own identity.

    • Disabling Intel ME 11 via undocumented mode

      Our team of Positive Technologies researchers has delved deep into the internal architecture of Intel Management Engine (ME) 11, revealing a mechanism that can disable Intel ME after hardware is initialized and the main processor starts. In this article, we describe how we discovered this undocumented mode and how it is connected with the U.S. government’s High Assurance Platform (HAP) program.

      Disclaimer: The methods described here are risky and may damage or destroy your computer. We take no responsibility for any attempts inspired by our work and do not guarantee the operability of anything. For those who are aware of the risks and decide to experiment anyway, we recommend using an SPI programmer.

      [...]

      Some users of x86 computers have asked the question: how can one disable Intel ME? The issue has been raised by many, including Positive Technologies experts. [, ]. And with the recently discovered critical (9.8/10) vulnerability in Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), which is based on Intel ME, the question has taken on new urgency.

      The disappointing fact is that on modern computers, it is impossible to completely disable ME. This is primarily due to the fact that this technology is responsible for initialization, power management, and launch of the main processor. Another complication lies in the fact that some data is hard-coded inside the PCH chip functioning as the southbridge on modern motherboards. The main method used by enthusiasts trying to disable ME is to remove everything “redundant” from the image while maintaining the computer’s operability. But this is not so easy, because if built-in PCH code does not find ME modules in the flash memory or detects that they are damaged, the system will not start.

      Intel representatives have been informed about the details of our research. Their response has confirmed our hypothesis about the connection of the undocumented mode with the High Assurance Platform program.

      [...]

      We believe that this mechanism is designed to meet a typical requirement of government agencies, which want to reduce the possibility of side-channel leaks. But the main question remains: how does HAP affect Boot Guard? Due to the closed nature of this technology, it is not possible to answer this question yet, but we hope to do so soon.

    • Researchers Find a Way to Disable Much-Hated Intel ME Component Courtesy of the NSA

      Researchers from Positive Technologies — a provider of enterprise security solutions — have found a way to disable the Intel Management Engine (ME), a much-hated component of Intel CPUs.

      Intel ME is a separate processor embedded with Intel CPUs that runs its own operating system complete with processes, threads, memory manager, hardware bus driver, file system, and many other components.

      Intel has always advertised Intel ME as a way for companies to manage computers running on their internal networks. Intel ME includes tools that allow system administrators to monitor, maintain, update, upgrade, and repair computers from a remote, central location.

    • Now you, too, can disable Intel ME ‘backdoor’ thanks to the NSA

      A team of researchers from Positive Technologies discovered an undocumented configuration setting, designed for use by government agencies, to disable Intel Management Engine 11. Now you too can partake in this government privilege to inactivate Intel’s proprietary CPU master controller.

    • Researchers say Intel’s Management Engine feature can be switched off

      That’s not an option for the general public, but researchers at Russian security firm Positive Technologies have found a way to use these government-only privileges to disable ME.

      ME is a core component of modern Intel chips that if compromised can provide an attacker with a powerful backdoor. As the researchers note, ME can’t be completely disabled because of its role in initializing hardware, power management, and launching the main processor.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #122
    • Security Concerns Engulfing IoT Applications, and What Vendors Are Doing About It

      If one device is compromised, it’s next to impossible for a vendor to issue an OTA and update millions of devices. An insecure device in a network is enough to put the whole network and the devices connected to it in jeopardy: servers, smartphones, and desktops in addition to IoT devices, letting a single device to compromise confidential data from bank and health information.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Get Trump’s Finger Off the Nuke Trigger

      President Trump’s ability to trigger a nuclear war is ‘pretty damn scary’ said former US intelligence director James Clapper this week. Remember when Trump vowed to ‘bomb the shit’ out of his enemies?

      I don’t have much respect for Clapper, who brazenly lied to Congress and is a ringleader of the deep government’s efforts to overthrow Trump. But this time, Clapper is 100% right. He’s scared and I am too.

    • Should South Korea Worry About Donald Trump?

      More recently, Trump is upset by the fact that he lost the popular vote in last fall’s election. The presidency is determined by winning the Electoral College, which depends on winning states. It doesn’t matter whether a state is carried by a huge margin or single vote. Since Hillary Clinton in effect wasted large numbers of votes in winning large states with large margins, she managed to lose in the Electoral College even though she beat Trump by more than two million votes.

    • How History Explains the Korean Crisis

      Many Americans simply view North Korea and its leaders as “crazy,” but the history behind today’s crisis reveals of a more complex reality that could change those simplistic impressions, as historian William R. Polk explains.

    • Finnish President refutes Trump’s claim on fighter jets

      Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has refuted President Trump’s claim that Finland would be “purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircrafts from Boeing.” At their joint Monday press conference, Trump said that Finland, which is gearing up to spend $8–10 billion on new fighter jets, will spend those dollars on Boeing-made planes. But Finland is not expected to make a final decision until the early 2020s, Reuters reports.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Is Wikileaks A “Non-state Hostile Intelligence Service” As Some Claim?

      Just before the annual rush to get out of town for the August District Work Period, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed its annual Intelligence Authorization bill by a 14-1 vote. The lone dissenter was Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, a recent guest at Cato and arguably the most articulate and well-informed member of Congress on Intelligence Community oversight issues. Almost a month after the vote, Wyden explained to The Hill why he elected to oppose the bill, which includes language aimed at Wikileaks and its founder and leader, Julian Assange:

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • When the Rains Came to Houston

      When this storm finally stops, upwards of 50 inches of rain will have fallen.

    • Harvey Didn’t Come Out of the Blue. Now Is The Time to Talk About Climate Change.

      Now is exactly the time to talk about climate change, and all the other systemic injustices — from racial profiling to economic austerity — that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes.

      Turn on the coverage of the Hurricane Harvey and the Houston flooding and you’ll hear lots of talk about how unprecedented this kind of rainfall is. How no one saw it coming so no one could adequately prepare.

      What you will hear very little about is why these kind of unprecedented, record-breaking weather events are happening with such regularity that “record-breaking” has become a meteorological cliché. In other words, you won’t hear much, if any, talk about climate change.

      This, we are told, is out of a desire not to “politicize” a still unfolding human tragedy, which is an understandable impulse. But here’s the thing: every time we act as if an unprecedented weather event is hitting us out of the blue, as some sort of Act of God that no one foresaw, reporters are making a highly political decision. It’s a decision to spare feelings and avoid controversy at the expense of telling the truth, however difficult. Because the truth is that these events have long been predicted by climate scientists. Warmer oceans throw up more powerful storms. Higher sea levels mean those storms surge into places they never reached before. Hotter weather leads to extremes of precipitation: long dry periods interrupted by massive snow or rain dumps, rather than the steadier predictable patterns most of us grew up with.

    • As Harvey Batters Houston, Donald Trump Is Focused Like a Laser Beam on His Twitter Feed

      As Hurricane Harvey battered the Gulf Coast, and floodwaters inundated Houston, pushing emergency responders to the brink, the nation’s president was clearly, as the New York Times reported, “riveted by the drama unfolding in Texas,” sending out two dozen Twitter updates on the storm over the weekend.

    • FLASHBACK: Trump took $17 million payout for hurricane damage that reportedly only cost $3,000

      As Hurricane Harvey bears down on Texas, some are recalling that Donald Trump claimed that a hurricane damaged his private Mar-a-Lago club in 2005, but investigators found little evidence to back up the assertions.

      LawNewz flashed back to the 2005 revelation in a Monday report about Trump’s $17 million insurance claim.

      According to an investigation by the Associated Press in 2016, there was “little evidence of such large-scale damage” at Mar-a-Lago.

      Trump claimed in a 2007 deposition that the damage was widespread: “Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion.”

    • Extreme Storms Like Harvey and Climate Change: ‘This Is the New Reality’

      As Hurricane Harvey continues to batter Texas—and as the death toll from monsoon flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh surpasses 1,200—experts are putting a spotlight on how climate change is linked to the “unprecedented” storm’s devastation.

      Trying to attribute Harvey to climate change “is an ill-posed question,” argues Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University. “While we cannot say climate change ’caused’ Hurricane Harvey,” writes Mann at the Guardian, “we can say is that it exacerbated several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life.”

    • Scientists fear censorship in new climate report

      It could be the biggest climate showdown of the entire Trump administration. On one side: dozens of America’s leading scientists. On the other: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and other top Trump officials promoting dangerous denial of climate science.

      Recently, scientists working on a legally mandated federal assessment of global warming’s threats to America expressed grave concerns that Trump officials may try to alter or suppress the report, which is currently awaiting “final clearance” by the EPA and other agencies.

    • Thousands of Katrina evacuees who moved to Houston are reliving a nightmare

      Among those affected by Tropical Storm Harvey’s unprecedented flooding of Houston are likely thousands of survivors of Hurricane Katrina’s 2005 strike on Louisiana, who in some cases are once again seeing their homes destroyed by rising floodwaters.

      Katrina hit New Orleans 12 years ago today. After the levees failed, inundating the city, as many as 250,000 evacuees temporarily relocated to Houston, and about 40,000 stayed permanently, according to a 2015 report in the Houston Chronicle. They and other Louisianans who came later generally praised Houston for its growing economy, with better jobs and salaries than in the New Orleans area. Parents also saw Houston as having a stronger school system, though many evacuees lamented the region’s sprawl and other cultural differences.

  • Finance

    • I Helped Low-Income Americans Save for Retirement—Until Trump Ended the Program

      The argument against myRA’s expense is hard to swallow, since the next item on President Donald Trump’s agenda is a tax reform plan that could cost as much as $7 trillion over the next decade. The myRA program would be 0.001 percent of the cost. The claim that enrollment has been unenthusiastic isn’t much easier to stomach, since the program was so new. Publicity efforts, such as partnerships with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs and promotions through government websites and TurboTax, have not yet been executed.

    • Spain: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

      When the Catalans goes to the polls Oct. 1, much more than independence for Spain’s restive province will be at stake. In many ways the vote will be a sounding board for Spain’s future, but it is also a test of whether the European Union—divided between north and south, east and west—can long endure.

      In some ways, the referendum on Catalan independence is a very Spanish affair, with grievances that run all the way back to Catalonia’s loss of independence in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). But the Catalans lost more than their political freedom when the combined French and Spanish army took Barcelona, they lost much of their language and culture, particularly during the long and brutal dictatorship of Francisco Franco from 1939 to 1975.

      The current independence crisis dates back to 2010, when, at the urging of the rightwing Popular Party, the Spanish Constitutional Court overturned an autonomy agreement that had been endorsed by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments. Since then, the Catalans have elected a pro-independence government and narrowly defeated an initiative in 2014 calling for the creation of a free republic. The Oct. 1 vote will re-visit that vote.

      [...]

      The European Union is in a crisis of its own making. By blocking its members from pursuing different strategies for confronting economic trouble and, instead, insisting on one-size-fits-all strictures, the trade group has set loose centrifugal forces that now threaten to tear the organization apart.

      The eastern members of the EU have charted a course that throttles democracy in the name of stability. The southern members of the bloc are struggling to emerge from austerity regimes that have inflicted widespread, possibly permanent, damage to their economies. Even members with powerful economies, like Germany and France, are trying to keep the lid on the desire of their people for a better standard of living.

    • Trump’s tough new sanctions will harm the people of Venezuela

      The Trump administration announced new, unprecedented sanctions against Venezuela on Friday that are designed to cut off financing to Venezuela. The Trump team pretends that the sanctions are only directed at the government. But as any economist knows, this is clearly false. By starving the economy of foreign exchange, this action will harm the private sector, most Venezuelans, the poor and the vulnerable.

      These sanctions will deepen the severe depression that Venezuela’s economy has been in for more than three and a half years, which has already shrunk income per person by more than a third. They will worsen the shortages of food and essential medicines. They will exacerbate the country’s balance of payments crisis, and therefore feed the spiral of inflation (600 percent over the past year) and depreciation of the currency (on the black market) that has been accelerating since late 2012.

    • Trump’s Labor Day

      This will be the first Labor Day of the presidency of Donald J. Trump, who came to office riding a wave of anti-establishment anger from average working people. No one can say they didn’t see it coming.

      By the time Trump was elected, the typical American household had a net worth 14 percent lower than the typical household in 1984. The richest 1 percent owned more than the bottom 90 percent.

      Last year’s annual Wall Street bonus pool alone was larger than the annual year-round earnings of all 3.3 million Americans working full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

    • 54 Years After the March on Washington, We’re Far From Racial Pay Equity

      Fifty-four years ago this week, on Aug. 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The event marked a turning point in our society in recognizing the need for civil rights and equality for African Americans. But it’s painfully clear we have yet to achieve the dream set forth that day by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    • Why 85% of Houston homeowners have no flood insurance

      Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Houston, Texas alone by Hurricane Harvey. The long-term damage from the catastrophic flooding engulfing the US’s Gulf Coast is expected to cost companies, small businesses, and homeowners as much as $100 billion, according to Imperial Capital. The insurance industry alone may pay out $10-$20 billion, JP Morgan estimates.

      While big corporations will probably survive the hit, many individual homeowners in Houston could be forced into debt or bankruptcy because they don’t have flood insurance. That’s despite the fact that scientists have been warning for years that unchecked development and climate change could cause severe flooding in Houston.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

      Andrei Iancu of California, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property {sic} and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce.

      [...]

      Adam I. Klein of the District of Columbia to be a Member and Chairman of the Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Mr. Klein is the Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, where [...]

    • Arpaio Pardon May Be Opening Act of a Constitutional Crisis

      Donald Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio marks the real beginning of the coming constitutional crisis in America.

      Trump started tweeting trial balloons about this a month ago — “all agree the US president has the complete power to pardon” — and he has even asserted the unlitigated idea that he can pardon himself. But what he did yesterday puts his presidency on a whole new plane: a Category 5 political hurricane. By pardoning a man convicted of criminal contempt for direct violation of a federal order, Trump is now flaunting his eagerness to overturn the rule of law in America.

    • When a President is Unfit

      A recently revealed memo by Rich Higgins, a top official of the National Security Council, was very interesting on this count and was responsible for his firing. Penned in May under the title, Potus & Political Warfare, he offers a full array of Trump’s opposing forces, his intention seeming to be to leave nobody out.

      His dominant theme is that cultural Marxism erodes the nation’s Judeo-Christian culture. He restricts cultural Marxism to relate to “programs and activities that arise out of Gramsci Marxism, Fabian Socialism and most directly from the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt strategy deconstructs societies through attacks on culture by imposing a dialectic that forces unresolvable contradictions under the rubric of critical theory. The result is induced nihilism, a belief in everything that is actually the belief in nothing.”

    • Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president

      While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

      As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.

    • Trump Trumped

      In the grand scheme, this doesn’t amount to much to irk citizens who love Trump, but, for the rest of us, this is a nice wrapping and a big fluffy bow to finish off the case against Trump. Now that all the smoke and fire comes together sensibly, there’s no reason not to impeach Trump and even lock him up.

    • Lurid Trump allegations made by Louise Mensch and co-writer came from hoaxer

      Explosive allegations about Donald Trump made by online writers with large followings among Trump critics were based on bogus information from a hoaxer who falsely claimed to work in law enforcement.

      Claude Taylor tweeted fake details of criminal inquiries into Trump that were invented by a source whose claim to work for the New York attorney general was not checked, according to emails seen by the Guardian. The allegations were endorsed as authentic and retweeted by his co-writer Louise Mensch.

    • Trump associate boasts Russia deal ‘will get Donald elected’: report

      “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Sater wrote on Nov. 3, 2015, almost exactly a year before Election Day. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

    • Trump Associate Boasted That Moscow Business Deal ‘Will Get Donald Elected’

      A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.

    • Trump Is A 19th-Century President Facing 21st-Century Problems

      Since President Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, commentators have asked whether he really understands the office. Over the last few tumultuous months, some have concluded that he does not.

    • Why Trump’s Lawyer Was Sued Over $350,000 He Says He Doesn’t Remember Cashing

      Long before he became Donald Trump’s feared attack dog, or began to visit the White House as the president’s personal attorney, or took a position with the Republican National Committee, or partnered with powerhouse lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, Michael Cohen ran a small legal practice in Hell’s Kitchen.

      He was a one-man show and handled a little bit of everything, from personal injury cases to a Ukrainian investment fund to a fleet of taxis to a trust account he managed for clients.

      One day in 1999, a check for $350,000 was deposited into that trust account, to be disbursed to a woman living in South Florida. As the lawyer in charge of the account, Cohen was supposed to ensure that she got the money.

      But he didn’t.

      Why not? And what ultimately happened to all that money?

    • How Donald Trump and Elaine Chao Sold Off Flood-Control Policy to the Highest Bidders

      Even before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, with devastating impact on the infrastructure of a flooded Houston and other communities, the Trump administration was thinking about and acting on flood-control policies.

      Unfortunately, the president’s team was thinking about what corporate interests wanted, and acting on their behalf—even as specialists on flooding issues pleaded with the administration to do otherwise. On August 15, Trump and his team overturned an Obama-administration rule requiring that infrastructure projects, including roads and bridges, be designed to withstand the consequences of climate change—such as rising sea levels.

      Experts in climate change, coastal management, and environmental policy begged the administration to maintain the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard for “climate resilience.” The concern crossed traditional lines of ideology and partisanship, as free-market economic groups and Republican members of the House praised the standard.

    • DONALD TRUMP IS BEING WARNED BY ADVISERS ABOUT IMPEACHMENT

      Donald Trump’s presidency already has been one of the most controversial in U.S. history, and its ending could be just as action-packed and unpredictable as his first seven months in office.

      As the 45th president deals with his stalled agenda, his sinking approval ratings and the investigations into his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia, White House advisers have reportedly been warning Trump about his potential political doom: the exhaustive impeachment process that could result in his removal from the Oval Office. And he isn’t doing himself many favors.

    • We Are Taking Trump to Court to Stop His Illegal and Cruel Ban on Transgender Service Members

      Military personnel who are transgender deserve better from their Commander-in-Chief.

      When President Trump took to Twitter on the morning of July 26 to issue a series of lies about transgender individuals serving in the United States armed forces and announce a ban on open transgender service, he disrupted the lives and careers of thousands of transgender troops.

      His announcement came as a shock to almost everyone, including members of Congress, military experts, and the Secretary of Defense.

      While he claimed to have consulted with his “Generals and military experts,” that was not the case. Instead, he allied himself with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who dismissed the service of transgender individuals as the “social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.”

      We hoped that the ill-advised ban would languish on the president’s Twitter feed, but unfortunately, he turned the tweets into a directive banning open transgender service on August 25.

      The new directive bars enlistment by transgender individuals, prohibits coverage for certain critical medical procedures, and bans those currently in the military from serving, with the Secretary of Defense given discretion to determine how to carry out that ban.

      Today, we and the ACLU of Maryland filed a lawsuit to challenge President Trump’s cruel policy on behalf of Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, Staff Sergeant Kate Cole, Senior Airmen John Doe, Technical Sergeant Tommie Parker, Airman First Class Seven Ero George, and Petty Officer First Class Teagan Gilbert.

    • 45 After Dark: Trump’s Deluge edition
    • Trump’s long history of seeking a politically inconvenient business deal in Russia
  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • CCTV + Lip-Reading Software = Even Less Privacy, Even More Surveillance

      That story from the Sunday Herald in Scotland focuses on the commercial “opportunities” this technology offers. It’s easy to imagine the future scenarios as shop assistants are primed to descend upon people who speak favorably about goods on sale, or who express a wish for something that is not immediately visible to them. But even more troubling are the non-commercial uses, for example when applied to CCTV feeds supposedly for “security” purposes.
      How companies and law enforcement use CCTV+lip-reading software will presumably be subject to legislation, either existing or introduced specially. But given the lax standards for digital surveillance, and the apparent presumption by many state agencies that they can listen to anything they are able to grab, it would be na&iumlve to think they won’t deploy this technology as much as they can. In fact, they probably already have.

    • Finding Aid to NSA History Collection Declassified

      The National Security Agency has declassified the finding aid for a collection of thousands of historically valuable NSA scientific and technical records that were transferred to the National Archives (NARA) last year.

      Up to now the contents of the collection had been opaque to the public. As David Langbart of NARA described the collection to the State Department Historical Advisory Committee last year:

      “These records mostly consist of technical, analytical, historical, operational, and translation reports and related materials. Most of the records date from the period from the 1940s to the 1960s, but there are also documents from the 1920s and 1930s and even earlier. The NSA reviewed the records for declassification before accessioning and most documents and folder titles remain classified. [. . .] The finding aid prepared by NSA was the only practical way to locate documents of interest for researchers, but it is 557 pages long and is classified.”

    • How the NSA identified Satoshi Nakamoto

      The ‘creator’ of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is the world’s most elusive billionaire. Very few people outside of the Department of Homeland Security know Satoshi’s real name. In fact, DHS will not publicly confirm that even THEY know the billionaire’s identity. Satoshi has taken great care to keep his identity secret employing the latest encryption and obfuscation methods in his communications. Despite these efforts (according to my source at the DHS) Satoshi Nakamoto gave investigators the only tool they needed to find him — his own words.

    • India’s Supreme Court Upholds Right to Privacy as a Fundamental Right—and It’s About Time

      Last week’s unanimous judgment by the Supreme Court of India (SCI) in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union of India is a resounding victory for privacy. The ruling is the outcome of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Indian biometric identity scheme Aadhaar. The judgment’s ringing endorsement of the right to privacy as a fundamental right marks a watershed moment in the constitutional history of India.

      [...]

      The decision is especially timely given the rapid roll-out of Aahaar. In fact, the privacy ruling arose from a pending challenge to India’s biometric identity scheme. We have previously covered the privacy and surveillance risks associated with that scheme. Ambiguity on the nature and scope of privacy as a right in India allowed the government to collect and compile both demographic and biometric data of residents. The original justification for introducing Aadhaar was to ensure government benefits reached the intended recipients. Following a rapid roll-out and expansion, it is the largest biometric database in the world, with over 1.25 billion Indians registered. The government’s push for Aadhaar has led to its wide acceptance as proof of identity, and as an instrument for restructuring and facilitating government services.

    • Sweden doubles down on data retention surveillance, includes VPN surveillance in new leaked proposal

      The Swedish government is doubling down on the court-banned and hated data retention surveillance. As a Western first, they’re also planning to introduce VPN surveillance, taking a page out of Russia’s and China’s oppression playbooks, and are mandating that the Internet be built not to optimize speed and throughput, but to optimize governmental surveillance. This is according to a leaked law proposal, which has been obtained by the Swedish internet provider Bahnhof.

    • Sarahah: Viral app surreptitiously collecting phone contacts data without notifying users

      Sarahah, the anonymous feedback app that recently went viral, has reportedly been silently collecting users’ phone contacts data, without the knowledge of its users. Once launched, the app reportedly harvests all phone numbers and email addresses stored on users’ phone contacts, without making any disclosure on the data collection.

    • Your broadband provider can use your smart devices to spy on you

      In March 2017, the US legislature voted to repeal Obama-era rules that would have prevented ISPs from selling personal information to third parties and given users more power over what information they shared with ISPs.

    • Aadhaar to be made compulsory for open learning examination

      Aadhaar will now be mandatory for those appearing for open school exams to ensure there are no proxy candidates appearing on others’ behalf.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How I Survived the Title IX Star Chamber

      Public scrutiny has finally arrived, most prominently in the work of Northwestern University scholar Laura Kipnis. Her April 2017 book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, is a sweeping indictment of how Title IX, originally intended to remedy campus sexism, has become a blight on American higher education.

    • Think innocent people are never wrongly convicted? Think again — then ask Marcellus Williams

      Last week, on the day he was scheduled to die, Marcellus Williams didn’t.

      Just hours before he was to be strapped down and pumped full of poison, Williams, the convicted killer of Felicia “Lisha” Gayle, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, received a reprieve. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens stayed the execution and announced formation of a panel to review the case.

    • Letters threatening acid attacks sent to Muslims in Bradford
    • White Supremacists Joked About Using Cars to Run Over Opponents Before Charlottesville

      Nearly a month before a car driven by an alleged neo-Nazi plowed into counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, white supremacists planning the “Unite the Right” rally joked about using vehicles to run over their opponents.

      That message and thousands of other conversations among white supremacists were leaked from a chat app called Discord and posted on the website of a left-wing media collective called Unicorn Riot. Many users’ participation could not be verified, but ProPublica was able to confirm that two people whose statements were included in the leaked trove made the comments attributed to them.

      The pre-Charlottesville chats include discussions of potential violence, the use of weapons, and excitement at the prospect of “fighting for the white race.”

    • ICE Plans to Start Destroying Records of Immigrant Abuse, Including Sexual Assault and Deaths in Custody

      Without a paper trail, it will become extremely hard for people who have been abused in immigration custody to seek justice.

      Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently asked the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain records, to approve its timetable for retaining or destroying records related to its detention operations. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill government request for record-keeping efficiency. It isn’t. An entire paper trail for a system rife with human rights and constitutional abuses is at stake.

      ICE has asked for permission to begin routinely destroying 11 kinds of records, including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody. Other records subject to destruction include alternatives to detention programs; regular detention monitoring reports, logs about the people detained in ICE facilities and communications from the public reporting detention abuses. ICE proposed various timelines for the destruction of these records ranging from 20 years for sexual assault and death records to three years for reports about solitary confinement.

    • Trump Just Gave Thousands of Bayonets And Hundreds of Grenade Launchers Back To Police

      Americans don’t want weapons of war in their towns, but President Trump is sending them anyway.

      President Trump continues to be a man of his word in all the wrong ways.

      Today the president made good on his campaign promise to the Fraternal Order of Police to rescind Executive Order 13688 and put thousands of bayonets and hundreds of grenade launchers from the U.S. military back in the hands of police. It also leaves law enforcement’s federally provided drones, explosives, and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles without oversight.

      The result? Weapons of war will again be used to police our communities, no questions asked. Your town could be the next Ferguson or Fallujah.

    • Gov. Jerry Brown’s Draft “Sanctuary” Bill Creates New Routes for ICE in California

      After Donald Trump’s election, California Gov. Jerry Brown pledged to lead the resistance to the president’s anti-immigrant policies. “You don’t want to mess with California,” he said in March, when Trump threatened to withhold federal funding if California became the first “sanctuary state.” “I’m not going to just turn over our police department to become agents of the federal government as they deport women and children and people who are contributing to the economic well-being of our state, which they are.”

      Now, California is moving toward “sanctuary state” status. Senate Bill 54 — designed to bar local law enforcement from using resources to aid federal immigration agents — is moving through the legislature. But a draft of amendments to the bill authored by Brown’s office and obtained by The Intercept indicate that the hope of defending California’s immigrant population, the largest in the nation, from Trump’s long reach may be in danger.

    • Report: ‘Anti-protester’ bills gain traction in state legislatures

      Republican legislators in 20 U.S. statehouses have proposed — and six legislatures approved — new restrictions on the right to assemble and protest so far this year, according to a new report by the Democrat-aligned State Innovation Exchange.

      “These bills would create a new set of crimes, significantly harsher penalties, and costly fines that could apply broadly to anyone — whether they are supporters of the president, members of the Tea Party, or just concerned parents speaking out at a school board meeting,” according to an advance copy of the report. SiX works to advance progressive policies at the state level and calls the wave of bills a “new and disturbing trend.”

      “Given this passage rate, there is every reason to think we will see more of these efforts in 2018,” said the report.

    • Appeals Court Says Gov’t Can’t Seize Untainted Assets Ahead Of Trial

      Using nothing more than one of the easiest things the government can obtain — a grand jury indictment — accused criminals can be locked out of their choice of representation. In essence, the government, right up until the Supreme Court’s 2016 Luis decision, was allowed to take everything a defendant had, whether or not the property could be linked to criminal activity.

      What this did was make a mockery of the Sixth Amendment. Prior to even taking the case to court, much less securing a conviction, the government could leave defendants with no funds to hire a lawyer. The Supreme Court rolled this back, limiting the government to taking tainted assets. It wasn’t a complete win. A complete win would have required the government to secure a conviction before taking any assets, or at least not until it was proven certain assets were tied to criminal activity.

    • Trump Rolls Back Ban On Transfer Of Military Equipment To Law Enforcement Agencies

      Attorney General Sessions loves rolling things back. This will give police departments access to mine-resistant vehicles, grenade launchers, and firearms, which should “assist” them in fighting the Drug War 1980s-style and/or pitching in with ICE’s efforts to pitch migrants back over the wall Trump can’t seem to get built.

      This is prime law-and-order stuff. Trump has made it clear law enforcement is on the right side of history. Everyone who doubts or criticizes cops is simply wrong. A ban put in place as a reaction to militarized police responses is being reversed because no one up top cares how police are perceived. AG Sessions has already killed off federal civil rights investigations of local law enforcement agencies. Now, police will find it easier than ever to dude up as war-fighters, rather than easily-identifiable public servants.

    • Bucking FDA, Peter Thiel funds “patently unethical” herpes vaccine trial

      Heavyweight tech investor and FDA-critic Peter Thiel is among conservative funders and American researchers backing an offshore herpes vaccine trial that blatantly flouts US safety regulations, according to a Monday report by Kaiser Health News.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Rumours That Another Frenchman is the Only Candidate to Succeed Benoît Battistelli at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 12:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Succession or appointment?

Order of succession
Reference: Order of succession

Summary: Selection procedures for next EPO President, according to the latest rumours, are hardly even selection procedures but a mere appointment

The German media says that António Campinos is the likely successor of Battistelli at the EPO. Campinos is believed to be French, for reasons we explained at the beginning of this month [1, 2].

“From our understanding (although we could never verify this), Jesper Kongstad is leaving next month because his government told him to. He’s also leaving the DKPTO.”“According to inside sources at the EPO,” somebody told us, “there is currently only one valid application for the position of EPO President. This application reportedly comes from Senhor Campinos.” (Or should that be Monsieur Campinos?)

Everyone refers to him as Portuguese, but he spent a lot of his life in France and most likely holds a French passport.

“The official job specification requires candidates to have nationality of at least one contracting state,” we’re told, “along with official confirmation of that state’s support.”

From the EPO’s own site (epo.org link): “The complete application files of the candidates must be sent to the Council Secretariat to arrive by 14 September 2017 (date of receipt by the Secretariat). They must be submitted in one of the Organisation’s official languages. They must include a curriculum vitae showing nationality of at least one contracting state, official confirmation of that state’s support, and a letter of motivation.”

So it helps to be well connected politically. From our understanding (although we could never verify this), Jesper Kongstad is leaving next month because his government told him to. He’s also leaving the DKPTO. This might render him unemployed for a while — something he’s not quite accustomed to because he’s somewhat of a workaholic, based on an interview from some years ago.

“From what is known,” we’ve learned, “Campinos is the only candidate so far who has the support of a contracting state (which is assumed to be Portugal rather than France although the questions about his alleged dual nationality have never been clarified).

“…there is currently only one valid application for the position of EPO President. This application reportedly comes from Senhor Campinos.”
      –Anonymous
“It is rumoured that other candidates have applied but that they failed to secure the support of their state (possibly due to political interference by the pro-Campinos lobby whose main cheerleader is said to be none other than Battistelli himself). However no information about the identities of other applicants is available.

“The closing date is 14 September so there is still time for other candidates to apply.”

“There are rumours that a group of states opposed to Battistelli may try to mount a last minute effort to push an alternative candidate but again there is no specific information about this or who the candidate might be.

“There are rumours that a group of states opposed to Battistelli may try to mount a last minute effort to push an alternative candidate but again there is no specific information about this or who the candidate might be.”
      –Anonymous
“It should become clear by the October meeting of the Administrative Council whether there is going to be a genuine open competition for the position or whether the succession has already been decided in advance by means of wheeling and dealing in smoke-filled backrooms.”

This is so typical. Remember the story of Brimelow’s departure and what she wrote amid her departure. Some speculated that Battistelli bullied her out to secure his very long and destructive tenure (after he had already served as Chairman of the Administrative Council).

If António Campinos does leave the EU-IPO in order to join the EPO, will that make a former EPO man, Christian Archambeau, potentially the new head of EU-IPO? Cross-pollination? Patricia García-Escudero Márquez is already there in the Management Board of EU-IPO while also serving as Battistelli's 'chinchilla' on the Boards of Appeal Committee.

Many Patents Are Being Passed to Android-Hostile Patent Trolls (by the Thousands) and Microsoft is in the Shadows

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 11:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shadow and trees

Summary: Some of the latest moves and actions (and auctions) which pose a danger to GNU/Linux in mobile devices in particular

THE daily (and sometimes bi-daily) links that we post here contain many news items about Android. It’s now dominant with nearly 90% of the mobile market. Android is based on Free/Libre Open Source software (AOSP) and contains Linux at the core, so it matters to us. We are not huge fans of Google, but having said that, Google is at least supporting Linux and not just posting promotional materials like leaflets with heart symbols on them. Microsoft actively attacks Linux in many ways (see recent examples in Munich and even patent lawsuits); Google does not.

“Microsoft actively attacks Linux in many ways (see recent examples in Munich and even patent lawsuits); Google does not.”Earlier today Benjamin Henrion pointed out that David Pridham, “CEO of the patent advisory [sic] Dominion Harbor Group,” now has a blog (even an attack on Google) over at Forbes. Dominion Harbor Group is a patent troll, not “patent advisory” or whatever euphemism they may choose. It’s also connected to Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll. So what we have here are anti-Google articles from a man who is connected to Microsoft’s patent troll. Ain’t that just too shallow? Is he going to sue Google next? He recently got a big load of patents from Intellectual Ventures [1, 2]. Such patents can never be used against Microsoft because Intellectual Ventures is deep in the pockets of Microsoft and Bill Gates (at a personal capacity, too).

“Telecom equipment giant Nokia is offloading more than 6,000 patents related to 4G, 5G, SDN, VR, and more in the wake of its recent merger deal with Alcatel-Lucent.”
      –WirelessWeek
A couple of days ago we also learned that after Microsoft ‘took over’ Nokia it is still passing patents to patent trolls which are likely to attack Microsoft’s rivals (even under Microsoft’s direct guidance). This is the latest:

Telecom equipment giant Nokia is offloading more than 6,000 patents related to 4G, 5G, SDN, VR, and more in the wake of its recent merger deal with Alcatel-Lucent.

According to a listing from transaction firm Aqua Licensing LLC, which was first spotted by Law360, Nokia is selling a portfolio containing 6,069 granted patents and 734 patent applications. The patents up for grabs come from patent families in six different technology categories, including Wireless; Services; IP and Networks; Access, Fixed, and Optical Networks; Hardware and Components; and User Experience, Mechanics, and Materials.

How many of these patents (many of which are likely bogus or ripoffs) are going to be used against Android OEMs? As we last showed earlier this year, Nokia is already shaking down some Android OEMs directly. So does Qualcomm, which has taken its battle to Europe in spite such battles being bad for business. The latest on Qualcomm is, they too acknowledged lack of merit in some of the claims:

In early July, Qualcomm brought an ITC complaint against Apple over six non-standard-essential patents (NEPs) related to efficient battery usage, seeking an import ban against iPhones with Intel (or other third-party chips) but not against devices that might include Qualcomm’s own chips.

A couple of weeks ago, the ITC instituted the investigation. As I wrote last month, it would have been unusual for the ITC not to investigate the complaint, despite the partly valid points raised in various public-interest statements.

But something unusual has happened now. On Friday, Qualcomm filed a motion (unopposed by Apple) for partial termination of the investigation by withdrawal of U.S. Patent No. 8,487,658 on a “compact and robust layout shifter design.”

What’s unusual here is not Qualcomm’s decision to drop a patent. I’m sure they’ll drop more as this investigation unfolds because that’s what the ITC expects complainants to do so it can keep its relatively ambitious timelines (Qualcomm’s motion makes reference to the normal course of business at the ITC, though the motion tends to portray a totally ordinary ITC timeline as something special, which it is not in my observation). What is strange and even pretty much unprecedented is the timing: two weeks into a just-launched investigation. In all other cases I’ve watched, with an exception I’ll discuss next, parties withdrew patents after significant procedural progress. At a minimum, parties would want to review the respondent’s non-infringement and/or invalidity arguments. Here, Qualcomm withdrew the patent without anything happening other than Qualcomm having changed its mind.

This case has a lot to do with Android because if Apple loses it, so will Android OEMs (some have already dissented).

As usual, when it comes to large companies like Microsoft, Nokia and Qualcomm (many thousands of patents), they just throw a whole bunch of patents of varying levels of quality to over-encumber the accused with legal fees. When this method targets Android OEMs (many small ones, unlike one large OEM known as Apple) the incentive to fight back or take things to court is very low. Sometimes Google jumps in to assist, but a lot of the time there are back room settlements. We can safely assume that this is part of Microsoft’s patent stacking strategy, so we cannot carry on pretending that Microsoft now “loves Linux”. It’s a colossal lie.

Virtually the Whole Technology Sector Supports PTAB, But Dennis Crouch Supports Patent Trolls and Bullies Instead

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When it comes to patent maximalism, the worst (for reputation) Conservative think tanks [1, 2, 3] including the Heritage Foundation and Dennis Crouch are on the same side

Heritage Foundation
Reference: Heritage Foundation

Summary: A radical patent policy which encourages deregulation and lack of patent quality assurance is being embraced by Patently-O, which has joined the lobby against the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

THE US patent system has been improving, but all the improvements are constantly under threat. We need eternal vigilance because quality of patents isn’t what the patent ‘industry’ strives for. Its economic motivations mean that infinite patent grants on any conceivable concept would be grand! It mirrors the activity of the copyright ‘industry’.

As covered here last night and on Sunday, Andrei Iancu might be the next USPTO Director and his track record gives reasons for concern. He’s part of that same pool of patent maximalists that trolls come from. Patent maximalists from Managing IP wrote about it today (or last night). To quote directly what the White House said (it has been known since Friday when there was a late night announcements dump): “Andrei Iancu of California, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property {sic} and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce.”

“He’s effectively siding with patent trolls and other malicious actors.”Remember the role played by Dennis Crouch when there was a witch-hunt against Michelle Lee. It paved the way to this. On many occasions earlier this month we wrote about Dennis Crouch’s meddling. It’s not the meddling itself that bothers us the most but the side taken by Crouch. He’s effectively siding with patent trolls and other malicious actors. He wants to see PTAB destroyed (or its authority profoundly limited). He has been doing a lot of that so far this year, but recently it became a lot more frequent. Here, in a post from yesterday, one can see Dennis Crouch boosting anti-PTAB arguments, removing pretenses of impartiality. Is he still an academic or just a trolls’ lobbyist these days? Going more than two centuries back (and sometimes making errors, which he later publicly admits), he say that his “basic argument is historic — Inventors had a right to a trial by jury prior to 1791; those rights were guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment of the US Constitution; and Congress cannot now eliminate those established rights.”

AIA passed 6 years ago. Why has he not complained until now? On the very same day Dennis Crouch continued his long attack on the reputation of PTAB (echoing tactics from Watchtroll) in order to help patent trolls and other radical elements. It’s like he’s trying to suggest that PTAB is corrupt, in effect insulting the judges like Watchtroll habitually does.

Ultratec’s patents relate to systems for facilitating phone calls for deaf people. In eight parallel IPR proceedings, the PTAB found the challenged claims anticipated and/or obvious. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated – holding that “the Board failed to consider material evidence and failed to explain its decisions to exclude the evidence.” As you might expect, the panel of Judges Newman, Linn, and Moore held the PTAB’s feet to the fire.

To us, as an independent site, it’s rather sickening to see what academia in the US has become, with some professors turning into patent maximalists and it’s clear for whose benefit. Even judge-bashing seems to be flirted with. Maybe Crouch has been receiving E-mails from people with a grudge and is thus acting as their courier. Whatever it is, what sort of patent academic seriously believes that patent quality (or quality assurance) is something to be challenged rather than supported? Every other patent academic seems to be on the other side of the argument, so is Crouch becoming somewhat of a “crank” here? Historically, the battle over patent scope was waged between greedy/corporate interests and academia; it’s clear which side was protectionist and which one was rational. If Crouch has decided to crouch under the bridge with the trolls, we have no choice but to point it out. This past month alone, for example, Patently-O was reduced to little more than a PTAB-bashing blog. The mask totally slipped off.

“This past month alone, for example, Patently-O was reduced to little more than a PTAB-bashing blog.”While Dennis Crouch protects patent trolls and bullies, it’s actually large corporations that now express support for PTAB. But not the nefarious front groups. “Patent reform is critical to protecting American inventors,” says the headline of this new column at The Hill, composed by Alden Abbott of the Heritage Foundation, in support of the anti-PTAB STRONGER Patent Act of 2017 (Crouch focuses on a Supreme Court case pertaining to PTAB). It’s very strongly in favour of abolishing PTAB, i.e. an anti-reform ‘reform’. To quote:

Throughout American history, patents have been key to making the United States the world’s leader in innovation. They have spurred the development of the telegraph, the telephone, electrical systems, automobiles, aviation, computers, smartphones, and numerous life-saving drugs.

But recent changes in U.S. patent law threaten to dethrone the United States as the world’s technology leader — and slow American economic growth.

Federal patent law has long granted American inventors a limited time right — currently 20 years from the date a patent application is filed – “to exclude others from making, using offering for sale, or selling” their novel inventions. Subject to certain conditions, the U.S. Patent Office must grant a patent to an applicant who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” This language on its face provides broad authorization for the grant of patents.

[...]

Patent experts (including leading judges, scholars, practitioners, and former PTO heads) have pointed out that PTAB’s record of overturning the vast bulk of patents presented for review is far out of line with historic rates of patent reversals by the courts. That high reversal rate, those experts say, shows that the PTAB process is seriously defective.

PTAB rulings have been a particular blow to small inventors, whose ability to attract seed capital to promote their innovative ventures is being seriously threatened.

When Heritage Foundation staff says “small inventors” it actually means patent trolls and sometimes large aggressors (may be be non-practicing) that shake down many of their small rivals. But don’t let facts get in the way; hey, it’s the Heritage Foundation — the very antithesis of facts and opponent of reality. Isn’t it funny that the Heritage Foundation basically cites patent maximalists to give the illusion of PTAB hostility? The vast majority of practitioners and the public support PTAB.

“When Heritage Foundation staff says “small inventors” it actually means patent trolls and sometimes large aggressors (may be be non-practicing) that shake down many of their small rivals.”Remember that PTAB does not just invalidate any patent; it specifically targets patents that should never have been granted in the first place. So what’s wrong with that? Those who like to stroke their ego over charts that show infinite growth in patents (accelerated rate of growth) aren’t happy about it. Crouch might need to change career or reassess his views of patents. Many of his colleagues and fellow academics do not agree with him; they write many papers about patents going overboard and harming the US economy.

In simple terms, PTAB means less money for trolls. Abolishing PTAB would mean their resurgence.

Hiring of German Judges for UPC Has Been Halted as the Future of UPC as a Whole Now in Doubt

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Padlock

Summary: Things keep getting worse for the Unified Patent Court (UPC), whose manifestation looks more and more like a distant dream (fantasy of the litigation ‘industry’) due to Brexit, the exit of Battistelli, and the departure of the Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council one month from now

THE situation is getting rather grim for Team UPC; they’re all very silent… silent for well over a week! (since the EPO released some PDF)

A month ago the German press published quite a few noteworthy reports. These covered EPO scandals around that time (SUEPO published translations and so did at least one German publication). Yesterday, SUEPO highlighted a couple more of those [1, 2]. Will SUEPO translate these to English some time soon? Regardless of these reports, the German media is still far too soft on the corrupt EPO. Well, what happened to guts in the media? It’s like they fear the prospect of unleashing another Dieselgate, which caused tremendous damage to German reputation/credibility, not to mention long-term economic harm.

“Regardless of these reports, the German media is still far too soft on the corrupt EPO.”Later this week we are going to resume the “EPO Silencers of the Media” series. For the past few days I have been getting numerous requests of self-censorship regarding the EPO (I ignored all of them, as usual).

More important for the time being is new information we found out on Monday. This new article from a biotechnology news site which is based in Europe, called “European Biotechnology Magazine,” said this yesterday: “As Spain and Italy resisted to adopt the rules because unitary patents will be only translated into few languages, reducing overall cost, the initial plan failed. Furthermore, the unitary patent and the UPC may make European companies more vulnerable due to the fact that a single proceeding in one country can annul their patent claims in all EU countries.”

“Language discriminations cannot happen,” said one of the comments from earlier this month, “even if the CJEU tolerates them.”

Here is the full comment (there’s more to that effect there):

For the automated non-legally binding translations, be prepared that there will be appeals at the national level and up to the ECHR.

Unfortunately, Germany, France or UK are not concerned about those automated translations under the UPC.

Language discriminations cannot happen, even if the CJEU tolerates them.

And that decision was a political one.

“Germany has stopped hiring of German judges for the court,” continued the above piece. Just like in the UK then; the UPC Preparatory Committee put the brakes on the UPC, having even advertised UPC jobs that quite likely would never exist because the Unitary Patent is dead in the UK (or will be officially dead soon).

Here is the relevant passage/paragraph: “Sources told European Biotechnology Magazine that Germany has stopped hiring of German judges for the court, a clear signal that Germany is going to halt the ratification process of the UPC agreement for a longer period of time than previously expected. Without the UK, Germany and France ratifying legislation for the UPC, the unitary patent cannot become reality. To date, only five EU member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Malta, and Sweden) have ratified the agreement.”

“What will be the fate of judges who were attacked by Battistelli (or those who saw their independence under attack)?”The UPC will languish or die like Battistelli’s career and health. Judging by the German media, there’s no hope for the UPC any time soon; even the patent microcosm is no longer as optimistic as it used to be. EPO abuses have a lot to do with that.

What will be the fate of judges who were attacked by Battistelli (or those who saw their independence under attack)? What will happen to prospective UPC judges? Will they be told that the job they applied for no longer exists? Here is a comment left a short while ago in IP Kat:

What is a “juristic person of corporations”? A very fat judge?

“I am the judge, the very fat judge, that waters the patent law!
Oh, I am the judge, the very fat man, that waters the patent law!
And what do I care about freedom to work, or the honest prior us-or?
For I am the judge, the very fat judge, that waters the patent law!”

The context for this comment is partly related to the EPO. But we no longer want to link to IP Kat, at least until it resumes covering EPO scandals (not ignoring them, cowardly pretending they do not exist).

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