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10.23.17

Links 23/10/2017: Wine Staging 2.19, GNOME 3.27.1

Posted in News Roundup at 5:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Containers And Chromebooks: The Future Of Chrome OS

      Last month, I penned my thoughts on what the future of Chrome OS could look like and how devices like the Pixelbook could play a big part in the implementation of containers on Chromebooks. Running non-native apps on top of the Chrome operating system without the need for hacky workarounds would be a monumental watershed for Google who has now tossed a hat in the ring to capture their share of the consumer PC market.

      Virtual Machines, like VMWare, aren’t new and as a third-party solution work very well. However, the development we have been tracking goes well beyond a traditional, web-based solution. The work being done here seems to remove the third-parties and eliminate a browser by creating a built-in container system that can run, in theory, any app the hardware will support.

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Users Discuss DRM 1 on 1 – Unleaded Hangout

      Linux Users Discuss DRM. Today my Brandon and I discuss encrypted media extensions, digital rights management and our freedom on the Linux desktop. So join Brandon and I as we as Linux Users Discuss DRM.

  • Kernel Space

    • ZenStates Allows Adjusting Zen P-States, Other Tweaking Under Linux

      ZenStates is an independent effort to offer P-States-based overclocking from the Linux desktop of AMD Ryzen processors and other tuning.

      ZenStates-Linux is an open-source Python script inspired by some available Windows programs for offering Ryzen/Zen CPU overclocking from the desktop by manipulating the performance states of the processor.

    • Civil Infrastructure Platform Announces the Release of CIP Core

      Hosted by The Linux Foundation, CIP addresses the needs of long-term software for the power generation and distribution, water, oil and gas, transportation and building automation industries. CIP members such as Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens and Toshiba are working to create a reliable and secure Linux-based embedded software platform that can be sustained more than 10 years and up to 60 years.

    • Linux Foundation Launches OpenMessaging Project

      ​Through a shared exertion bnb m from endeavors and groups put resources into the cloud, enormous information, and standard APIs, I’m eager to welcome the OpenMessaging project from The Linux Foundation. The OpenMessaging group will likely make a comprehensively embraced, merchant impartial, and open standard for dispersed informing that can be conveyed in the cloud, on-commence, and half and half utilize cases.

    • The Linux Foundation Releases Three New Open Source Guides for the Enterprise

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has released the next three in a series of Open Source Guides for the Enterprise, created to help executives, open source program managers, developers, attorneys and other decision makers learn how to best leverage open source. These three new guides add to the six released last month at Open Source Summit North America.

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMDGPU DC Gets A Final Batch Of Changes Before Linux 4.15

        The AMDGPU DC display code has a final batch of feature updates that were sent in this weekend for DRM-Next staging and is the last set besides fixes for the “DC” code for the 4.15 target.

      • Valve Developer Lands VK_EXT_global_priority For RADV Vulkan Driver
      • Vulkan 1.0.64 Adds In Another AMD-Developed Extension

        Vulkan 1.0.64 is out this weekend as the newest specification refinement to this high-performance graphics/compute API.

        As usual, most of the changes for this minor Vulkan revision are just documentation clarifications and corrections. This week’s update brings just under a dozen fixes.

      • NVIDIA TX2 / Tegra186 Display Support Isn’t Ready For Linux 4.15

        While the Jetson TX2 has been out since this past March and it’s a phenomenal ARM development board, sadly the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver support for it still isn’t ready with the mainline Linux kernel.

        Thierry Reding of NVIDIA sent in the Tegra DRM driver changes for DRM-Next that in turn is staged for Linux 4.15. Reding commented that there is prepatory work for the TX2 (Tegra186) but it’s not all ready for upstream yet.

      • i965 Shader Cache Revised As It Still Might Squeeze Into Mesa 17.3

        Intel’s Jordan Justen has sent out his third revision to the recently renewed patches for allowing an OpenGL on-disk shader cache for the “i965″ Mesa driver.

        Just a few days back Jordan sent out a revised Intel shader cache implementation for this code that’s long been baking on the Intel side but yet to be merged for mainline Mesa while the RadeonSI shader cache and co has been present now for many months.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • ArchLabs Linux Mínimo

        ArchLabs is a great combination of lightweight and, thanks to its Arch base, constantly up-to-date software. While probably not for everyone, ArchLabs is a polished distribution that anyone looking for an Arch-based distribution that has a pre-configured desktop and software selection should check out. The only drawback is that, like many lightweight distributions, selecting applications based on what is deemed best for an individual task can result in an odd hodgepodge of applications that all behave differently. Of course, the choice of what to install is up to the user, so that might not be a problem for some, but having applications from Xfce, GNOME, KDE, etc., can lead to a jumbled user experience.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

      • Open source innovation in the public sector

        With digitalization, open source technology is gaining momentum and governments are increasingly embracing open source solutions. In open government initiatives, open source has led to greater citizen participation and contribution. eGov Innovation speaks to Damien Wong, Vice President & General Manager ASEAN, Red Hat, on how government agencies can tap on open source to foster innovation, accelerate digital transformation and benefit citizens.

      • InFluxData Teams With IBM And RedHat To Simplify Analyzing The IOT Data Deluge
      • Finance

        • Career Briefs: Red Hat Inc. Board of Directors Appoints Narendra K. Gupta as Chairman of the Board

          Red Hat Inc. announced that its board of directors has appointed Narendra K. Gupta as chairman of the board. Gupta, who has served on Red Hat’s board of directors since 2005, is a technology industry veteran with more than 40 years’ experience. In 2006, the Indian American entrepreneur co-founded Nexus Venture Partners, a leading venture capital fund, and he currently serves as the firm’s managing director. Gupta co-founded Integrated Systems Inc. in 1980 to develop products for embedded software development. He served as ISI’s president and CEO from its founding until 1994 and as chairman until 2000 when ISI merged with Wind River Systems Inc. He currently serves on the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology, the advisory board of the Asia Society Northern California, and on the boards of several privately held companies.

    • Debian Family

      • pk4: a new tool to avail the Debian source package producing the specified package

        UNIX distributions used to come with the system source code in /usr/src. This is a concept which fascinates me: if you want to change something in any part of your system, just make your change in the corresponding directory, recomile, reinstall, and you can immediately see your changes in action.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, September 2017

        Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

      • Sal Mubarak 2074

        Wishing all Debian people a prosperous and auspicious Gujarati new year (V.S. 2074 called Saumya.)

      • APT 1.6 alpha 1 – seccomp and more

        I just uploaded APT 1.6 alpha 1, introducing a very scary thing: Seccomp sandboxing for methods, the programs downloading files from the internet and decompressing or compressing stuff. With seccomp I reduced the number of system calls these methods can use to 149 from 430. Specifically we excluded most ways of IPC, xattrs, and most importantly, the ability for methods to clone(2), fork(2), or execve(2) (or execveat(2)). Yes, that’s right – methods can no longer execute programs.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — October 2017

        Here’s are some of the bugs against the Debian Policy Manual. In particular, there really are quite a few patches needing seconds from DDs.

      • Free Software Efforts (2017W42)

        Here’s my weekly report for week 42 of 2017. In this week I have replaced my spacebar, failed to replace a HDD and begun the process to replace my YubiKey.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Mir running on Fedora

            Last week we released Mir 0.28 and this week we settled down to tidy up a few bugs fixes and feature requests that didn’t make the release. I’ve started collecting these for a Mir 0.28.1 release to come in the next few weeks.

            The most interesting of these comes from conversations at the Ubuntu Rally: there were several requests from community members around getting Mir working (or even building!) on other distributions.

          • Ubuntu Developer Gets Mir Running On Fedora

            Lead Mir developer Alan Griffiths has spent the time getting the Mir display server running on Fedora. This is part of a broader feature request of getting Mir running on more Linux distributions than just Ubuntu.

            The changes to get Mir running on at least Fedora should be merged for the upcoming Mir 0.28.1 point release. Mir 0.28.1 will also incorporate other bug fixes.

          • A look at Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

            I’m going to preface this review, and say that I liked Ubuntu 17.10 after using it for a few days. However, there were multiple issues with it, that ultimately ruined my experience; however, your mileage my vary.

            Ubuntu 17.10, code-named Artful Aardvark, is the latest Ubuntu Linux release from Canonical, and was released Oct. 19.

            It’s the first desktop release of the pure Ubuntu flavor, to not feature the Unity desktop, since Ubuntu 11.04. Now, Ubuntu uses the GNOME desktop environment now.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Desktop Installation Guide with Screenshots
          • Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark Has Been Released (Download Links)
          • Winners of the Ubuntu 17.10 Free Culture Showcase

            Every new Ubuntu cycle brings many changes, and the arrival of Ubuntu 17.10, the “Artful Aardvark” release, brings more changes than usual. The default desktop has changed to GNOME Shell, with some very thoughtful changes by the desktop team to make it more familiar. And of course, the community wallpapers included with this exciting new release have changed as well!

            Every cycle, talented artists around the world create media and release it under licenses that encourage sharing and adaptation. For Ubuntu 17.10, 50 images were submitted to the Ubuntu 17.10 Free Culture Showcase photo pool on Flickr, where all eligible submissions can be found.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Samsung is adding Linux support for DeX with the new ‘Linux on Galaxy’ app

      Since Samsung debuted the DeX feature earlier this year with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones, the company has been making small changes to improve the whole experience of using your smartphone as a PC. In order to further enhance Samsung DeX, the company has announced “Linux on Galaxy”, an app that will let developers run Linux-based distributions on their mobile device, allowing them to code on-the-go. The app is DeX-enabled, which means developers can code on a bigger device, powered by their Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ or Galaxy Note8.

    • You can run any Linux distro on Samsung smartphones using Linux with Galaxy App

      The convergence of a smartphone with a PC/laptop is not new and has been in making for several years. In fact, the idea of such a convergence started with Nokia’s Communicator phone launched in 1996 when it was the undisputed king of feature phone and mobile phone arena.

      Ubuntu devs tried a similar theme with the now-dead Ubuntu for smartphones and tablets. The Ubuntu os was launched with the idea to run full Linux apps on your smartphone. The smartphone even gave users an option to connect a keyboard, mouse, and display. However, that did not sell.

    • Success! Beelink S1 Running Linux – Courtesy of the Open Source Community

      We recently published a post summarizing why the Beelink S1’s hardware specs look so promising for an inexpensive Linux mini PC. But I hit a brick wall when trying to install any flavour of Linux on the machine. I simply could not get the machine to boot a live Linux distro, either from a USB DVD or USB key.

      I contacted Shenzhen AZW Technology Co. Ltd., the manufacturer of the Beelink S1, twice to see if they could offer any support. They replied recommending I get used to running Windows 10, as they contend Ubuntu is difficult to install on this mini PC. The second email has yet to elicit a response. I must have exhausted my support quota. Undeterred, I made a call for help to Linux enthusiasts. And half a dozen good folk promptly stepped forward to offer a simple solution, which I’ll detail below. This is one reason why I love Linux; the community.

    • Purism Librem 5 Linux Smartphone Campaign Set To End At Around $2 Million

      Tomorrow marks the end of the crowdfunding campaign for Purism’s Librem 5 smartphone campaign.

      The campaign is looking like it will close at around two million dollars with the current tally as of this morning being at $1,962,517 in funds raised for this effort to build an original GNU/Linux smartphone stack with either GNOME Shell or KDE Plasma Mobile comprising the UI/UX elements.

    • Librem 5 Linux Phone to Include Nextcloud’s End-to-End Encrypted File Storage

      Purism and Nextcloud announced partnership to bring Nextcloud’s end-to-end encrypted file sync and sharing services to Purism’s mobile and desktop computing products

    • Librem 5 Privacy-Focused Linux Phone Crowdfunding Campaign Ends with $2 Million
    • Nextcloud to be available on ‘free’ smartphone
    • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Canada’s Spy Agency Releases its Cyber-Defense Tool for Public
  • Canadian govt spooks open source anti-malware analytics tool

    The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) said the AssemblyLine tool is designed to analyse large volumes of files, and can automatically rebalance workloads.

  • Microservices served on blockchain, in open source

    Cloud application marketplace company Wireline is working with open source blockchain project developer Qtum

    The new union is intended to provide a conduit to consuming microservices at [web] scale using blockchain at the core.

    As we know, microservices offer the ability to create Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) without having to manage the underlying hardware and software infrastructure.

    [...]

    The Qtum a blockchain application platform combines the functions of Bitcoin Core, an account abstraction layer allowing for multiple virtual machines and a proof-of-stake consensus protocol aimed at tackling industry-use cases.

    The Qtum Foundation, headquartered in Singapore, is the decision-making body that drives the project’s development.

  • Party Like It’s 1987 – PC-MOS/386 Goes Open Source

    The idea of a multi-user operating system is almost a tautology today but back in the 1980s it wasn’t all that common – at least when it came to personal computing. PC-MOS was a multi-user operating system that, like DR-DOS and others, competed with Microsoft’s MS-DOS before eventually disappearing at the Redmond juggernaut crushed almost all its competition. Now, Roeland Jansen, Gary Robertson and Rod Roark have put the operating system onto GitHub as an open source project so we can all mess with its source code.

  • How to manage casual contributors to open source projects

    Increasingly, people want to contribute to projects casually—when they want to, rather than adhering to a schedule. This is part of a broader trend of “episodic volunteering” noted by a wide range of volunteer organizations and governments. This has been attributed not only to changes in the workforce, which leave fewer people able to volunteer with less spare time to share, but also to changes in how people perceive the act of volunteering. It is no longer seen as a communal obligation, rather as a conditional activity in which the volunteer also receives benefits. Moreover, distributed revision-control systems and the network effects of GitHub, which standardize the process of making a contribution, make it easier for people to contribute casually to free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) projects.

  • Events

    • openSUSE.Asia Summit 2017 in Tokyo
    • GStreamer Conference 2017 Videos

      Taking place this weekend in Prague has been the 8th annual GStreamer Conference, which is preceding next week’s Linux Foundation Embedded Linux Conference Europe.

    • Call for sessions at the FSFE assembly during 34C3

      With the CCC moving from Hamburg to Leipzig, there are not only logistic changes to be done but also some organisational changes. We are still figuring out the details, but in the context of this call, one of the major changes will be the loss of free available rooms to book for self-organised sessions. Instead, assemblies that match with each other are asked to cluster around 1 of several stages and use that as a common stage for self-organized sessions together. To make the most of this situation, the FSFE will for the first time not join the Noisy Square this year but form a new neighbourhood with other freedom fighting NGOs – in particular with our friends from European Digital Rights. However, at this point of time, we do not yet have more information about the concrete or final arrangements.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Rendering HTML5 video in Servo with GStreamer

        At the Web Engines Hackfest in A Coruña at the beginning of October 2017, I was working on adding some proof-of-concept code to Servo to render HTML5 videos with GStreamer. For the impatient, the results can be seen in this video here

  • Education

    • 5 ways to invigorate education with Raspberry Pi

      A couple of years ago, I was talking to PayPal senior director of software development Harper Reed at All Things Open in Raleigh, N.C., when he suggested that the best way to invigorate education would be to purchase Raspberry Pis en masse and put them in public libraries.

      Although many schools have made sizeable investments in classroom technology, those investments have done little to advance students’ understanding of how the technology works. That’s where the Raspberry Pi comes in, as it’s the ideal vehicle to demonstrate the educational efficacy of open source software and open hardware in the classroom.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Ikea’s Open-Source Showrooms

      Ikea Group will also roll out a new digital platform called ‘Co-Create Ikea’ which mimics its IT division’s open-source software development, where customers have the chance help develop and test new products.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Working Intel CET Bits Now Land In GCC8

      A few days back I wrote about Intel’s work on Control-flow Enforcement Technology beginning to land in GCC. This “CET” work for future Intel CPUs has now landed in full for GCC 8.

      The bits wiring up this control-flow instrumentation and enforcement support are now all present in mainline GCC SVN/Git for next year’s GCC 8.1 release.

    • Using Gitea and/or Github to host blog comments

      After having moved from FSFE’s wordpress instance I thought long about whether I still want to have comments on the new blog. And how I would be able to do it with a statically generated site. I think I have found/created a pretty good solution that I document below.

    • Glibc Picks Up Some More FMA Performance Optimizations

      The GNU C Library, glibc, has picked up support for some additional functions as FMA-optimized versions.

      The newest functions now getting the fused multiply-add (FMA) support are powf(), logf(), exp2f(), and log2f(). The FMA instruction set is present since Intel Haswell and AMD Piledriver generations and like past FMA optimizations, the benefits can be quite noticeable.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Linux Foundation Debuts Community Data License Agreement

        he Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced the Community Data License Agreement (CDLA) family of open data agreements. In an era of expansive and often underused data, the CDLA licenses are an effort to define a licensing framework to support collaborative communities built around curating and sharing “open” data.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Landmark release of Termination of Transfer tool from Creative Commons and Authors Alliance

        For more than a decade, Creative Commons has developed and stewarded legal tools that give creators the opportunity to share their work on open terms. We have focused on tools that empower sharing at the moment of publication, leaving out an important group of creators: what about those who previously signed away their rights to their works long ago, but who now want to share on open terms under a CC license or renegotiate unfavorable publishing terms?

  • Programming/Development

    • linl 0.0.1: linl is not Letter

      Aaron Wolen and I are pleased to announce the availability of the initial 0.0.1 release of our new linl package on the CRAN network. It provides a simple-yet-powerful Markdown—and RMarkdown—wrapper the venerable LaTeX letter class. Aaron had done the legwork in the underlying pandoc-letter repository upon which we build via proper rmarkdown integration.

Leftovers

  • Several women accuse tech pundit Robert Scoble of sexual assault, harassment

    By 2003, Scoble took a job at Microsoft as a tech evangelist, and later worked at other tech and media firms, including Rackspace and Fast Company. In 2014, he publicly wrote about his own experience as a child victim of sexual abuse. More recently, Scoble was the company’s “entrepreneur-in-residence” at a company called Upload VR. Scoble, who in his Twitter profile calls himself an “authority on the future,” also founded a consultancy called “Transformation Group” earlier this year.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Who Profits from the Opioid Crisis? Meet the Secretive Sackler Family Making Billions from OxyContin

      This week, President Donald Trump’s nominee for drug czar, Republican Congressmember Tom Marino, had to withdraw from consideration after a Washington Post/”60 Minutes” investigation found he led a drug industry-backed effort to pass a law that weakened the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to crack down on addictive opioids. Meanwhile, calls are growing to look at the major pharmaceutical companies that have fueled the opioid crisis. A new investigation by Esquire magazine reveals how the secretive Sackler family, owners of the company that invented OxyContin, downplayed the risks of addiction and exploited doctors’ confusion over the drug’s strength. We speak with Christopher Glazek, the Esquire reporter behind the story.

    • THE SECRETIVE FAMILY MAKING BILLIONS FROM THE OPIOID CRISIS

      The descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, a pair of psychiatrist brothers from Brooklyn, are members of a billionaire clan with homes scattered across Connecticut, London, Utah, Gstaad, the Hamptons, and, especially, New York City. It was not until 2015 that they were noticed by Forbes, which added them to the list of America’s richest families. The magazine pegged their wealth, shared among twenty heirs, at a conservative $14 billion. (Descendants of Arthur Sackler, Mortimer and Raymond’s older brother, split off decades ago and are mere multi-millionaires.) To a remarkable degree, those who share in the billions appear to have abided by an oath of omertà: Never comment publicly on the source of the family’s wealth.

      That may be because the greatest part of that $14 billion fortune tallied by Forbes came from OxyContin, the narcotic painkiller regarded by many public-health experts as among the most dangerous products ever sold on a mass scale. Since 1996, when the drug was brought to market by Purdue Pharma, the American branch of the Sacklers’ pharmaceutical empire, more than two hundred thousand people in the United States have died from overdoses of OxyContin and other prescription painkillers. Thousands more have died after starting on a prescription opioid and then switching to a drug with a cheaper street price, such as heroin. Not all of these deaths are related to OxyContin—dozens of other painkillers, including generics, have flooded the market in the past thirty years. Nevertheless, Purdue Pharma was the first to achieve a dominant share of the market for long-acting opioids, accounting for more than half of prescriptions by 2001.

    • Why Isn’t Pharma Paying for the Opioid Addiction Epidemic It Caused?

      By now, the contours of Pharma’s opioid prescription scam which has driven a heroin epidemic have emerged. Between 1996 and 2002, Purdue Pharma, who makes OxyContin, funded more than 20,000 pain-related “educational” programs reports Vox Media and “launched a multifaceted campaign to encourage long-term use of [opioid painkillers] for chronic non-cancer pain.” It gave money to groups like the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the Federation of State Medical Boards and “grassroots” patient groups to advocate “for more aggressive identification and treatment of pain,” says Vox.

    • Thousands of DIY foodies sickened in outbreak from poor agricultural practices

      Since 2015, the number of Salmonella infections from contact with backyard poultry has quadrupled across the nation. This year, nearly every state has been pecked by outbreak strains; only Alaska and Delaware can crow about dodging them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 1,120 cases. Nearly 250 of those involved hospitalization, and one person died.

      But that is likely just scratching the surface of the real numbers, according to CDC veterinarian Megin Nichols. “For one Salmonella case we know of in an outbreak, there are up to 30 others that we don’t know about,” she told the AP.

    • Zimbabwean activists condemn ‘absurd’ World Health Organization honour for Robert Mugabe

      Zimbabwean human rights activists have accused the World Health Organization of hypocrisy after it appointed Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador.

      Mr Mugabe, who regularly flies abroad for his own medical treatment and has been accused of running his country’s health system into the ground, received the honour at a conference on non communicable diseases in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, on Wednesday.

  • Security

    • Where Did That Software Come From?

      The article explores how cryptography, especially hashing and code signing, can be use to establish the source and integrity. It examines how source code control systems and automated build systems are a key part of the software provenance story. (Provenance means “a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.” It is increasingly being applied to software.)

    • Judge: MalwareTech is no longer under curfew, GPS monitoring [Updated]

      A judge in Milwaukee has modified the pre-trial release conditions of Marcus Hutchins, also known online as “MalwareTech,” who was indicted two months ago on federal criminal charges.

      Under US Magistrate Judge William Duffin’s Thursday order, Hutchins, who is currently living in Los Angeles, will no longer be subject to a curfew or to GPS monitoring.

    • [Older] Leicester teen tries to hack CIA and FBI chiefs’ computers

      A teenager attempted to hack senior US government officials’ computers from his home.

      Kane Gamble, 18, from Coalville, Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to computer hacking.

      His targets included the then CIA director John Brennan and former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano.

    • The recent catastrophic Wi-Fi vulnerability was in plain sight for 13 years behind a corporate paywall

      The recent Wi-Fi “KRACK” vulnerability, which allowed anyone to get onto a secure network (and which was quickly patched by reputable vendors), had been in plain sight behind a corporate-level paywall for 13 years. This raises a number of relevant, interesting, and uncomfortable questions.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Qatar: Cambridge Analytica And Trump Working In Russia’s Interests

      On the 5th of June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Egypt, and Bahrain suddenly “cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar …accusing it of supporting terrorism, meddling in their internal affairs and advancing the agenda of regional foe Iran.”
      Qatar vehemently denies the allegations and has been working with both US and UK security services in the wake of a Russian hacking and disinformation offensive.
      According to extensive reporting “The following day, Trump stunned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle by unexpectedly joining in on the Qatar-bashing.”

    • Gloucester man charged with terrorism in connection to Williamsburg IED explosion

      A Gloucester man was arrested and charged late Friday with setting off an improvised explosive device in a parking lot Thursday evening near Colonial Williamsburg.

      Stephen Powers, 30, was arrested at his home in Gloucester and was charged with possessing and using an explosive device and committing an act of terrorism, according to Williamsburg Police.

    • Man Bites Dog: NYT Does Journalism

      But there are occasional moments when some reporter at an MSM outlet behaves responsibly and those instances should be noted at least under the classic definition of “news” – something that is unexpected – or as the old saying goes, “dog bites man is not news; man bites dog is news.”

      One such moment occurred earlier this month when a Times science editor assigned science reporter Carl Zimmer to look into the mysterious illnesses affecting U.S. diplomats in the recently reopened U.S. embassy in Cuba.

      About two dozen U.S. diplomats supposedly were suffering hearing loss and cognitive difficulties due to what has been labeled a “sonic attack.” The Trump administration blamed the Cuban government even though the Cubans claimed to be mystified and would seem to have little motive for disrupting a long-sought détente with Washington along with the expected boon to their tourist industry. President Trump “retaliated” by expelling 15 Cuban diplomats.

    • EXCLUSIVE: US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert

      The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

      That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice.

      “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.”

    • Donald Trump Is Rush-Shipping Condolences to Military Families

      The Trump administration is scrambling to defend the president’s characterization of his communications with grieving military families, including rush-delivering letters from the president to the families of servicemembers killed months ago. Donald Trump falsely claimed this week that he had called “virtually” all fallen servicemembers’ families since his time in office.

      Timothy Eckels Sr. hadn’t heard anything from President Trump since his son Timothy Eckels Jr. was killed after a collision involving the USS John S. McCain on August 21. But then, on October 20, two days into the controversy over the president’s handling of a condolence call with an American soldier’s widow, Eckels Sr. received a United Parcel Service package dated October 18 with a letter from the White House.

    • John Brennan’s Police State USA

      Did US agents and diplomats warn their Russian counterparts that Russian troops would “come home in body bags” and that the western media would launch a propaganda campaign against them?

      Yes, again.

      Did US officials say the western media would concoct a phony story about “Russian hacking” that would be used to persuade the American people that Russia was a dangerous enemy that had to be reigned in with harsh economic sanctions, provocative military maneuvers, and threats of violence?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Seeking To Root Out Leakers, The Intelligence Community Is Destroying Official Routes For Whistleblowers

      The Trump Administration is continuing its war on leakers. It’s probably meant to keep whistleblowers at bay as well. This isn’t necessarily a trait unique to Trump’s White House. There really hasn’t been a whistleblower-friendly administration in pretty much ever, but this particular administration has been awash in leaked documents, each one prompting more severe crackdowns.

      But it’s going to come to a head at the national security level. The “Intelligence Community” — sixteen agencies participating and partaking in intelligence analysis and collection under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — is basically ousting its internal oversight. Jenna McLaughlin, writing for Foreign Policy, has the details.

    • Malta offers “unprecedented” $1.18M reward for information on journalist’s killer

      The Maltese government offered a reward in a bank heist case a few years ago, but this was believed to be the first time it posted a reward in a murder case. In the last 10 years, there have been 15 Mafia-style bombings or similar attacks in Malta, and many of the crimes have gone unsolved.

    • #GavinRemembered: in memory of our founding director

      This weekend we remember our founding director Gavin MacFadyen, who died of lung cancer a year ago.

      It was impossible not to like Gavin. His enthusiasm, love of life, courage and incredible capacity for friendship won you over immediately.

      An investigative journalist and a filmmaker, he founded the Centre for Investigative Journalism in 2003. Since then the CIJ has gone from strength to strength, establishing itself as the bastion for tough investigative reporting and training.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • What the Koch Brothers do in the shadows — and why

      MacLean is also deeply concerned about how the radical right-wing is much more sophisticated in their strategic thinking than are Democrats, liberals and progressives.

    • Our Summer of Fire and the Fires to Come

      Explosive wildfires have raged in Northern California over the last two weeks. Forty-one people are dead, and at least 6,700 structures have been destroyed, making these the most destructive fires in the state’s history. Parts of the city of Santa Rosa have burned to the ground. Extremely hot and dry conditions, continuing impacts of the state’s drought, and high winds combined to create fires so fast-moving, many residents were forced to flee for their lives with only minutes notice. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate. In the last several days, better weather has been helping firefighters fight the blazes, though many are still continuing. Air quality in the region has been called the worst in recorded history due to wildfire smoke.

    • EPA says it won’t cut biofuel quotas after corn states push back

      The agency had been considering some changes to rules set by the Obama administration that ratchet up the amount of renewable biofuel that refineries must blend into the gas and diesel they sell. According to Bloomberg, the EPA had specifically been considering “a possible reduction in biodiesel requirements” as well as “a proposal to allow exported renewable fuel to count toward domestic quotas.” In early October, the EPA asked for public comment on cutting biodiesel quotas.

      The Bloomberg story cited unnamed sources who said President Trump personally directed Pruitt to back off any proposals that would relax biofuel quotas after pressure from lawmakers from corn-producing states like Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois. Trump, who courted both fossil fuel interests and corn-belt states in his campaign, has had pressure from each side on this debate. Uncertainty surrounding the future of biofuel use during Trump’s administration has caused volatility in biofuels markets for months, Reuters notes.

    • U.N. Officials Urge the World to Ignore Trump on Climate

      The hurricanes and wildfires that have severely damaged large areas of the United States in recent weeks have had no impact on US president Donald Trump’s determination to ignore the perils of climate change and support the coal industry.

      In a deliberate denial of mainstream science, the Trump administration has issued a strategic four-year plan for the US nnvironment Protection Agency that does not once mention “greenhouse gas emissions”, “carbon dioxide” or “climate change” in its 48 pages.

      Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager of the Union of Concerned Scientists, describes this as “stunning” in its ignorance. “This was not an oversight,” she says, “this is a deliberate strategy by this administration.”

    • New Zealand’s New Prime Minister is Promising a Zero-Carbon Nation by 2050

      New Zealand’s new Prime Minister elect, Jacina Ardern, is not wasting time to commit to fighting climate change. With the help of her coalition government, Ardern has set a target for New Zealand to become a zero-carbon nation by the year 2050. This includes promises to reduce overall carbon emissions and to offset what remains with international carbon credits and tree planting.

    • CO₂ benefits of regrowing forests nothing to sniff at

      It’s a common suggestion that we should just plant trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, but this isn’t quite the solution it may seem. Reforestation would roughly make up for the carbon added to the atmosphere by past deforestation, but our burning of fossil fuels is another matter.

      Still, that’s no argument to ignore reforestation. There is no silver bullet solution to climate change, and many things like reforestation add up to make meaningful contributions. And reforestation has a host of other benefits, including improving air quality and providing species with habitats.

      So how much of a difference could efforts to save and regrow forests—together with conservation of other ecosystems—really do? That’s the question asked by a group led by Bronson Griscom, an ecologist at The Nature Conservancy. By including a broad set of possible reforestation actions, Griscom and his colleagues found a larger opportunity than we’d previously estimated.

    • Relocated Puerto Rican Families are Florida’s Latest Class War Targets

      As the Puerto Rico disaster unfolds before our horrified eyes, shortages of water, food, housing, medicine, and healthcare threaten countless lives. As of October 13, 2017, 30,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived at the Orlando International Airport– which has established a disaster relief center to aid incoming islanders who are hungry, thirsty, and need essential living assistance. Florida has taken other steps towards welcoming Puerto Ricans to the state as well. After all, the Sunshine State is already home to over 1 million Puerto Ricans, right? Already embroiled in widespread class bludgeoning and racial engineering tactics, the state is ill-prepared to meet this historic humanitarian challenge as it already faces job, housing, food, healthcare, and quality education shortages. Governor Rick Scott’s publicly funded services–like education, food stamps, and medicaid programs– are like Trump’s Puerto Rico paper towel toss: grandstanding displays, with zero substance, that brazenly and condescendingly reward almost randomly fortunate recipients. Let them eat paper towels!

  • Finance

    • Bitcoin Breaches $6,000 for the First Time

      Bitcoin soared to another milestone Friday, as the digital currency breached $6,000 for the first time to put its gain in 2017 to more than 500 percent.

    • [Older] Why governments should protect us from barely-taxed tech monopolies

      They owe their dominance to innovation, but also to tax avoidance.

    • As tech companies get richer, is it ‘game over’ for startups?

      Startups drive job creation and innovation, but the number of new business launches is at a 30-year low and some economists, investors and entrepreneurs are pointing their fingers at big tech.

    • Senate Republicans Are Trying to Give the 1 Percent a $1.9 Trillion Tax Break

      Senators Bernie Sanders and Tammy Baldwin led the opposition with a pair of amendments that challenged a “horrible bill.”

    • Brexit: UK will struggle to change UK borders in time, says watchdog

      The government will struggle to deliver the “huge changes” required to the UK’s borders in time for Brexit, Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee.
      The Labour MP was responding to a report by the National Audit Office, the UK’s spending watchdog.
      The report warned of a significant increase in workload for border forces following Brexit.
      The government said it would ensure border forces had adequate resources.

    • With evidence of a failing Brexit, who needs prophecy?

      Prophets of doom are not much fun to be around. Nobody wants a “Jeremiah next door”, which is how the Daily Mail recently described Philip Hammond’s relationship to Theresa May. The chancellor was accused of spooking the prime minister with Old Testament fire-and-brimstone economic forecasts. His refusal to spread the Good News about Brexit was cited as grounds for dismissal.

    • Creative industries facing ‘catastrophic’ loss of talent after Brexit

      Brexit could cause “catastrophic” damage to the UK’s booming culture industry, according to a survey of over 1,000 creative companies.

      The Creative Industries Federation report into the impact of international talent on Britain’s thriving arts sector, suggests a severe skills shortage is only going to worsen when freedom of movement comes to an end after leaving the European Union.

    • Who actually trades solely under WTO rules?

      The likelihood of the UK crashing out of the EU seems to be increasing with every step of the negotiation.
      For those of us that believe in the merits of the EU, this would be a disaster, but the counter point used by some opponents of the EU[1] is that, even if we leave with no deal, we can fall back onto the tariffs agreed under the World Trade Organisation

    • Brexit dark money revelations trigger MP’s question on ‘foreign interference’

      openDemocracy’s investigations into Leave donor Arron Banks and the DUP make global headlines, prompting calls for transparency.

    • How I stopped worrying and learned to love Brexit

      If you’re one of those sad, unsaved souls still losing sleep about Britain’s messy divorce from Europe then I have some advice: cheer up. Remember being British doesn’t mean you have to be miserable all the time; a little bit of optimism is OK. So, please, I implore you: take a deep breath, ignore all logic and reason, dismiss any inconvenient truths and look on the bright side of Brexit. If you’re having trouble doing that then help is at hand: I’ve compiled a six-point plan on how to stop worrying and learn to love Brexit.

    • Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens

      On June 14, 2014, the State Council of China published an ominous-sounding document called “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”. In the way of Chinese policy documents, it was a lengthy and rather dry affair, but it contained a radical idea. What if there was a national trust score that rated the kind of citizen you were?

      Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.

      A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Defends Frequent Twitter Bickering with US Officials
    • Amazon spends $3.4M on lobbying in record quarter

      Amazon spent $3.4 million on federal lobbying over the past three months, a new record for the company in a quarter that saw its acquisition of Whole Foods quickly approved by the Federal Trade Commission.

      With a total of $9.5 million spent so far in 2017, Amazon, which declined The Hill’s request for comment, is on track to surpass the $11 million it spent last year.

    • Czech Republic election won by party of populist billionaire who says he can easily fix things

      The Pirate Party won seats for the first time, coming in third with 10.8 percent of the vote, [...]

    • TABLE-Czech billionaire’s ANO party wins big in election

      Pirates 10.79

    • Pirates enter another parliament: Congratulations to the Czech Pirate Party!

      UPDATE 1: The final score appears to be close to 10.79%, which makes the Czech Pirates the third largest party, ahead of such parties as the Social Democrats (7.27%), Christian Democratic Union (5.80%), and Greens (1.46%). It also means the Pirates are getting a full 22 seats, tentatively indicating that all fourteen districts’ list-toppers and some of the list-seconds have a new job. At this time (20:07 on Saturday), the list of new MPs is not yet presented by the Czech Election Authority.

    • Czech Election Won by Anti-Establishment Party Led by Billionaire

      [...] with 10.7 percent, doubled its proportion from the previous election. That was just a fraction of a percentage point behind the youth-oriented Czech Pirate Party, an anti-establishment movement from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

    • Exclusive: Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims

      In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

      The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

    • O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claims, Then Fox Renewed His Contract
    • Many unhappy with current political system

      Public attitudes about the political system broadly and the national government specifically vary considerably around the world, though many are critical. Opinions are closely related to the status of the economy and domestic politics. Publics who have experienced high economic growth and are happy with their country’s economy are more confident in their national government. Similarly, people who support the governing party or parties in their country tend to give more positive evaluations of their democracy than those who support either the opposition or no political party at all.

    • Report: Twitter CEO took a Russian impostor’s bait in 2016

      In fact, the example Daily Beast reporter Ben Collins found was a single account, @crystal1johnson, getting two juicy retweets from Twitter’s very own “@jack.” The discovered posts (which are now archive-only, thanks to the account being deleted in August) date back to March 2016. Both revolve around black identity in the United States.

    • Russia’s free pass to undermine British democracy

      You’d never guess it, but Britain is a lucky country. Across the democratic world, Russia pursues its interests by corrupting elections with black propaganda. But in their insouciance, our government and intelligence services show dear old Blighty has no reason to worry. On the rare occasions it bothers to discuss the subject, the British state says “it can’t happen here”, even though “it” is happening everywhere else.

      The FBI is investigating how Russia hacked the Clinton campaign and used Facebook and Twitter to spread fake news. Ukrainians are preparing for the next stage of resistance to Russian forces. European foreign ministries and intelligence services have finally understood that Russia’s imperial strategy is to weaken the EU and Nato in every country except, it seems, this sceptred isle.

      Russia knows its best tactic is to use migrant crises to stoke nativist fears. “German government threw their country under feet of migrants like a rug, now try wipe their crimes under carpet,” tweeted the Russian embassy in London in 2016 as the Kremlin began a successful campaign to promote the interests of the chauvinists in Alternative for Germany. A bank close to Vladimir Putin loaned $10m to Marine le Pen’s anti-EU Front National. He encouraged the anti-immigrant Freedom party in Austria, the Lega Nord in Italy and Jobbik in Hungary.

    • Spanish government announces plan to seize power in Catalonia, remove elected government

      Yesterday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced plans to remove the democratically elected regional government of Catalonia and replace them with direct rule by the national government in Madrid.

    • The national conversation: free, open and broad debate

      Those two interventions were in some ways very different. Snow, who delivered the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh television festival in August, spoke movingly of the Grenfell fire, and not only of the social distance between journalists and the residents of Grenfell, but also the former’s proximity to the rich and powerful.

      He worried that broadcasters were on the ‘wrong side of the terrible divide that exists in present day society’, having lined up ‘comfortably with the élite, with little awareness, contact, or connection with those not of the elite’. Snow also criticised Facebook and Google in his lecture, noting that the multinationals were profiting from journalism, but not contributing, and were thereby undermining the profession. ‘Facebook,’ he said, ‘feasts on our products and pays all but nothing’.

    • The Catalan experience

      The European Union may have decided that Catalans should forget all about independence for the sake of the peace of mind of everyone, but these people honestly don’t seem to give a damn.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship fears as Philippine parliament fails to renew Catholic radio licence

      The Philippine House of Representatives has not renewed the licence of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to operate dozens of radio stations across the country.

      The bishops lodged an application to renew the licence in January, because their previous one was due to expire on August 7, reported ucanews.com. The application, which sought the extension of the licence, or franchise, for another 25 years, remains stuck at the committee level of the Lower House of Congress.

    • Despite its name, the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act threatens free speech

      But the truth is that SESTA could create calls for even more censorship. The legislation would revise Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms such as search engines and social media from being charged for the misconduct of their users. That immunity is premised on the idea that online services are simply neutral tools.

    • Biggest drop in Facebook organic reach we have ever seen

      Facebook Explore Feed is rolling out globally this week. Most people around the world can see it in their bookmarks and they can discover new content here. But in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia it works differently: all posts by pages are moved from newsfeed to Explore Feed. In main newsfeed are now just friend and sponsored posts.

    • Protest of class amounted to censorship

      A group of concerned community members organized a protest against the series and sent a letter to the society’s board asking that the series be canceled and the course removed from the society’s website.

      Teachers should not fear that their interpretation of class material or historical figures will be censored or the class canceled because it is upsetting to someone else.

    • Florida prison officials step up censorship against ‘Militant’

      The Florida Department of Corrections has stepped up its censorship of the Militant over the last several months. On Sept. 19 the prison system’s Literature Review Committee upheld the impoundment of the July 17 issue. Prison authorities claimed that an article reporting on the fight against censorship of two previous issues — which the committee itself had reversed — was a “threat to the security, good order, or discipline” of the prison.

      That same day the Militant received notice that the Sept. 11 issue had been barred. The reason this time? A front-page article on a San Francisco protest against racism and one explaining why working people should defend the right to free speech. Both articles appeared under a banner headline reading, “Socialist Workers Party: Protest Racist Attacks!”

    • In its new timeline, Twitter will end revenge porn next week, hate speech in two

      In the beginning of 2017, Twitter said it would take on harassment and hate speech. CEO Jack Dorsey said the company would embrace a “completely new approach to abuse on Twitter” with open dialogue along the way.

      For months, though, the company has offered few details about what it would do, or when. That changed late yesterday, when Twitter posted a timeline with specific promises on actions it will take.

    • BJP demands censorship of anti-Modi film in India
    • Kamal Hassan Supports Tamil Movie Against Censorship
    • ‘Don’t demonetise Tamil pride’: Rahul Gandhi tells Modi on ‘Mersal’ censorship
    • Thalapathy Vijay’s Mersal runs into trouble, political parties ask for re-censorship of the film
    • US Senators take Apple to task over China VPN app removal
    • Hypocritical Ted Cruz Attacks Apple’s Hypocritical Concession To Chinese Censors

      US senator Ted Cruz, who just last year expressed his support for a governmental backdoor into the iPhone, is absolutely outraged that Apple would restrict the freedom and privacy of Chinese citizens by removing VPN apps from its App Store in China. And he’s sent a strongly worded letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding answers.

    • When Can Private Entities Censor Speech?

      Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Georgia answered a question that has long tormented American youth—or at least me when I was an American youth: If I flip off the pastor, can the police put me in jail?

      The answer, in Georgia at least, is no: “a raised middle finger, by itself, does not, without more, amount to fighting words or a true threat,” the state court said. For that reason, a disgruntled parishioner could not be convicted of acting “in a violent or tumultuous manner” and placing another person “in reasonable fear of” their safety.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK and US Citizens: Please Request Your Personal Data Held By Cambridge Analytica

      By now, many people have probably heard about the company Cambridge Analytica. By its own admission, it played a major role in the success of Donald Trump. There are also numerous indications that it was involved in the Brexit campaign.

      Because Cambridge Analytica is intimately bound up with the London-based company SCL it is possible to make a subject access request in order to find out what information is held about you. This applies to both UK and US citizens.

    • Aadhaar, a problem for women seeking abortions

      The linking of Aadhaar to seek abortion services poses risk of life to the life of a woman, doctors at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh have stated. According to the latest paper published in British Medical Journal (BMJ), a 28-year-old housemaid was forced to seek services from an unqualified quack after being turned away by the government hospital at Chandigarh, because she did not have an Aadhaar card.

      After having not menstruated for two-and-a-half months, she realised she was pregnant and visited a government dispensary. Weighing 45 kilos, the woman already had three children.

    • GCHQ shares citizens’ ‘exceptionally sensitive’ data with Bristol University researchers daily, tribunal hears

      Privacy International has told a tribunal this week that MI5 and MI6 sidestepped legal safeguards when they shared huge amounts of data with foreign intelligence services and partners.

      The tribunal has also heard that GCHQ shared enormous amounts of data with researchers at Bristol University.

      Documents unearthed by Edward Snowden indicate researchers at the university are given access to GCHQ’s entire raw unselected datasets – including internet usage, telephone call logs, online file transfers and websites visited as well as others.

    • Google’s annual report shows more web traffic is encrypted

      For several years now, Google has been exerting pressure to increase the usage of HTTPS across the internet. By defaulting to secure connections on both ends, users can be protected from anyone who may intercept or even manipulate data as it flows back and forth — quite useful in a world where you can’t even trust WiFi. For its own products, Google says HTTPS use is up to 89 percent overall, up from just 50 percent at the beginning of 2014. The number of top 100 websites defaulting to HTTPS has nearly doubled since last year (way to catch up), growing from 37 to 71.

    • Take Back Our Voter Data
    • The Rhetoric of “Responsible Encryption”

      I want to focus on the rhetorical framing Rosenstein used. Much of it is transparently hyperbolic. Yet its confrontational tone also signals that the Justice Department believes it may yet be able to seize the upper hand in the current round of the crypto wars.

      As in any war, propaganda is an indispensable component here. Branding is key. As cryptography professor Phil Rogaway pointed out in an award-winning paper, even the label “going dark” has a Lakoffian aspect to it, evoking our ancient fear of the dark. When we call this the “going dark” debate (or a “war”), we’re giving more power to that framing. Whoever dictates the labels we use has already begun to channel the discussion in their preferred direction, as Rogaway observed.

    • Rice expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

      As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates only a fraction of those. Americans should be concerned about how these apps collect, save and share their personal health data, she said.

      [...]

      And, she said, the likelihood that the data from the unregulated health apps makes its way back into a medical setting where a patient could benefit from a physician’s review of that data is “almost nil.”

    • Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend
    • 10 reasons why Aadhaar has now become the very basis of your life

      While Aadhaar is compulsory to avail of most government services, now even the private sector has started relying on it.

    • Linking Aadhaar number to bank accounts mandatory, says RBI

      The RBI clarification followed media reports quoting a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application that suggested the apex bank has not issued any order for mandatory Aadhaar linkage with bank accounts.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trump Is Wrong: ISIS and Al-Qaeda Would Benefit From Bringing Back Torture

      On September 11, 2001, the purposes and methods of war radically changed. A group of unsophisticated thugs, in service to a charismatic leader, used a few thousand dollars to mount a surprise attack. Armed with box cutters, airline tickets and some rudimentary knowledge of flying, they executed one of the most successful military strikes in the history of the world, obliterating the heart of the international financial industry and nearly scoring a direct hit on the Pentagon, America’s supreme military command.

    • Uber, Intel, and other tech firms will urge Congress to let “Dreamers” stay

      A slew of major companies—including tech giants Uber, Intel, Facebook, and Google—are forming a bloc to seek Congressional immigration reform.

      According to Reuters, which first reported the news late Thursday evening, the companies will band together under the name “Coalition for the American Dream” and seek support to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

      This Obama-era executive action allowed “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who arrived as minors, to register with the government and legally study or work without fear of deportation. The newly organized Coalition appears to be unrelated to an Oklahoma-based group founded in 2006 that shares the same name: Coalition for the American Dream. (The Oklahoma group also “advocate[s] for and protect[s] the rights of disenfranchised immigrants and new Americans from all nations.”)

    • NYPD Tells Judge Its $25 Million Forfeiture Database Has No Backup

      The NYPD is actively opposed to transparency. It does all it can to thwart outsiders from accessing any info about the department’s inner workings. This has led to numerous lawsuits from public records requesters. It has also led to a long-running lawsuit featuring the Bronx Defenders, which has been trying to gain access to civil forfeiture documents for years.

      The NYPD has repeatedly claimed it simply cannot provide the records the Bronx Defenders (as well as other records requesters) have requested. Not because it doesn’t want to, even though it surely doesn’t. But because it can’t.

      The department has spent $25 million on a forfeiture tracking system that can’t even do the one thing it’s supposed to do: track forfeitures. The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is apparently so complex and so badly constructed, the NYPD can’t compile the records being sought.

    • NYPD can’t get story straight on evidence system backups

      In response to an Ars report on a court hearing in New York on October 17, New York City and New York City Police Department officials attempted to clarify the nature of the issues surrounding a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit legal defense organization Bronx Defenders. In response to reporting that the Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) did not have database backups, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said via e-mail, “Contrary to some published reports suggesting that NYPD does not electronically back up the data in its Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS), all such data is backed up continuously in multiple data centers.”

    • Key e-mail from feds got caught in body-cam maker’s spam filter

      According to Bloomberg, the snafu was due to an e-mail that the SEC sent on August 10 to the company’s new chief financial officer—however those messages were quarantined in a spam filter, and he seemingly did not see them.

    • No, Trump, British Crime Isn’t Going Up Because of Muslims

      That is, there has been a profound reduction in the percentage of Britons affected by violent crime over the past twenty years. At the same time, millions of immigrants have come in, including Muslims (the Muslim population in Britain has doubled over this period). So we can only conclude that high immigration rates, which began after 1995, go along with a reduction in the proportion of the population affected by violent crime.

      Predictably, Trump managed falsely to blame the increases on Britain’s small Muslim population, which is 4.3 percent of the population of 65 million.

      This sort of conspiracy theory is extremely dangerous, and is the sort of thing that led to the Nazi genocide of German Jews. As it is, Trump is feeding into the trend toward increased hate crimes against minorities in the UK with which I began this essay.

      The slight increase in violent crime, after two decades of steep decline, is completely unrelated to British Muslims.

      Violence is connected to poverty, but it is as connected to white Christian poverty as to any other kind.

    • The History of Russian Involvement in America’s Race Wars

      According to a spate of recent reports, accounts tied to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency—a Russian “troll factory”— used social media and Google during the 2016 electoral campaign to deepen political and racial tensions in the United States. The trolls, according to an interview with the Russian TV network TV Rain, were directed to focus their tweets and comments on socially divisive issues, like guns. But another consistent theme has been Russian trolls focusing on issues of race. Some of the Russian ads placed on Facebook apparently targeted Ferguson and Baltimore, which were rocked by protests after police killings of unarmed black men; another showed a black woman firing a rifle. Other ads played on fears of illegal immigrants and Muslims, and groups like Black Lives Matter.

      Except for the technology used, however, these tactics are not exactly new. They are natural outgrowths of a central component of covert influence campaigns, like the one Russia launched against the United States during the 2016 election: make discord louder; divide and conquer. “Covert influence campaigns don’t create divisions on the ground, they amplify divisions on the ground,” says Michael Hayden, who ran the NSA under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and then became CIA director. During the Cold War, the Kremlin similarly sought to plant fake news and foment discontent, but was limited by the low-tech methods available at the time. “Before, the Soviets would plant information in Indian papers and hope it would get picked up by our papers,” says John Sipher, who ran the CIA’s Russia desk during George W. Bush’s first term. The Soviets planted misinformation about the AIDs epidemic as a Pentagon creation, according to Sipher, as well as the very concept of a nuclear winter. “Now, because of the technology, you can jump right in,” Sipher says.

      [...]

      The Soviets also exploited the oppression of Southern blacks for their own economic benefit. It was the height of the Great Depression, and the Soviet Union was positioning itself not only as a workers’ utopia, but as a racial utopia as well, one where ethnic, national, and religious divisions didn’t exist. In addition to luring thousands of white American workers, it brought over African-American workers and sharecroppers with the promise of the freedom to work and live unburdened by the violent restrictions of Jim Crow. In return, they would help the Soviets build their fledgling cotton industry in Central Asia. Several hundred answered the call, and though many eventually went back—or died in the Gulag—some of their descendants remain in Russia. One of Russia’s best-known television hosts, for instance, is Yelena Khanga, the granddaughter of Oliver Golden, an agronomist from Tuskeegee University who moved with his communist Jewish-American wife to Uzbekistan to develop the cotton industry there.

    • Priscilla Presley quits Scientology after nearly four decades

      Priscilla Presley has reportedly quit Scientology, the infamous religion which counts Tom Cruise among its members.

      Presley joined Scientology after the death of her husband Elvis in 1977, after reaching out to her friend John Travolta, who has also been a long time member of the church.

    • John Kelly’s Lies About Frederica Wilson Are Part of a Pattern of Not Believing Black Women

      A LOT OF GROSSNESS oozes out of Donald Trump’s White House. Yesterday, though, something happened that I’m a bit embarrassed to say left me stunned; I say embarrassed because nothing that the Trump team does should surprise anyone at this point, but they keep finding new ways to lower the bar on integrity and decency. In a snap press conference on Thursday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly took time out to address the latest controversy that is enveloping his boss — not just the death of four troops in Niger, but Trump’s controversial call to the family of a fallen soldier, Sgt. La David Johnson.

      In that press conference, he took direct aim at Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat, by recounting the dedication of a new FBI building in her district. Kelly, a retired general, recalled being present for that dedication and used his memory of the event to defame her character and integrity. She spoke at the dedication and he was not pleased. I’ll give background on that in a second, but first, read his words on her.

    • Demand for ‘Clean Dream Act’ Grows as Trump Pushes Xenophobic Wish List

      With more than 800,000 young immigrants facing the possibility of deportation following President Donald Trump’s widely denounced decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last month, immigrant rights groups took to social media and the streets Thursday to demand that their representatives work to pass a “clean” DREAM Act and reject the Trump administration’s “xenophobic” policy wish list.

    • Waldemar Haffkine: Pioneer of plague vaccine and the “Little Dreyfus Affair”

      Haffkine was soon thereafter exonerated. Some called this incident the “Little Dreyfus Affair” (here, for Dreyfus Affair), suggesting that Haffkine’s Jewish background played a role in the handling of the accusations against him. While it does not appear that anti-Semitic motivations played an overt role, at least as reflected in the official record, the issue is still debated. In any event, by the time that Haffkine returned to India, the position at the Institute was occupied and so he moved to Calcutta, where he was appointed the director of the Biological Institute there, reportedly warmly welcomed by the local Indian staff, less so by his English colleagues. He retired in 1914 and returned to France.

    • UK plan to register EU citizens would be illegal, say MEPs

      The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has been warned by a cross-party group of MEPs that her plans to force EU nationals to add their names to a register in the transition period immediately after Brexit would be illegal and unacceptable to the European parliament.

      The MEPs from across Europe have written to Rudd following her suggestions to the home affairs committee that she would expect EU nationals to have to register with the authorities in the period immediately after Britain left the EU. Brussels is planning to insist that a transition period after the UK leaves in March 2019 would involve Britain remaining under EU law and all its institutions, without exception.

      The MEPs wrote: “Is the Home Office suggesting that only non-UK EU citizens needs to register? Article 26 of the freedom of movement directive makes it very clear that residency cards are for everyone, or no one.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • After Report Suggests It Ripped Off Taxpayers, Frontier Communications Shrugs When Asked For Subsidies Back

      For years we’ve noted how if you want to really understand the dysfunction at the heart of the U.S. broadband industry, you should take a closer look at West Virginia. Like most states, West Virginia’s state legislature is so awash in ISP campaign contributions it literally lets incumbent ISPs write state law, only amplifying the existing lack of broadband competition in the state. So when the state received $126.3 million in broadband stimulus funds, it’s not particularly surprising that a report by the US Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General (pdf) found more than a few examples of fraud and waste.

      More specifically, Frontier was accused of buying and storing miles of unused fiber to drive up costs, as well as the use of various “loading” and “invoice processing” fees to milk taxpayers for an additional $5 million. The report’s findings come on the heels of previous reports that found Frontier and the state used taxpayer money on unused, overpowered routers and overpaid, redundant, and seemingly purposeless consultants. As is often the case with regulatory capture, efforts to hold anybody accountable for any of this have so far gone nowhere.

  • DRM

    • Multiple Titles Using Denuvo Cracked On Release Day As Other Titles Planning To Use It Bail On It Completely

      If you’ve followed our series of posts about Denuvo, the DRM once claimed to be the end of video game piracy, you may have thought we had reached the end of its saga a couple of weeks ago when Denuvo-”protected” title Total War: Warhammer 2 was cracked and defeated within a day of its release. After all, once a game has been cracked in a time increment that can be measured in hours, you likely thought that was the finish line of Denuvo’s lifespan.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

SUEPO Has Just Warned That Patent Quality at the EPO is About to Get Even Worse

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The staff union of the EPO (SUEPO)

Summary: The staff union of the EPO (SUEPO) speaks of increasing “production” pressure, which is certain to result in low-quality European Patents

LAST night we wrote about worsening quality of patents (European Patents) — a problem that goes several years back and went unaddressed. Right now, circulating among EPO staff is the following document. It shows that not only is Team Battistelli unwilling to discuss the problem; it’s about to make things worse:

Introducing the (brave) new DG 1

Dedicated to an end-to-end staff pressurising process (1)

Dear SUEPO Members, dear Colleagues,

DG1 has been reorganized in “sectors”, each comprising several large directorates. VP1 has announced on the Intranet the “reallocation” of DG1 Directors to several posts in DG1: the first batch in early August, the second in late September.

This was Mr Minnoye’s last gift to the Office. For many, a poisoned gift. As of 1 January 2018, about half of the DG1 directors will be stripped of their managerial tasks. A persisting rumour has it that, before leaving, Mr Minnoye even drafted a list of DG1 directors he explicitly wanted to exclude from any chance of being assigned to large directorates. A list that, we hear, was amended and expanded by PD43 after Mr Minnoye’s retirement.

We have no insight in the “criteria” used, but we have noticed that among those stripped of their managerial function are all the DG1 directors appointed by the Staff Representation to the Disciplinary Committee (as required by the Service Regulations!) over the past 3 years. Conversely, we have to note that three of the DG1 principal directors appointed to the Disciplinary Committee by the President have been promoted to COO 2

This observation correlates with a new phenomenon: DG1 directors appear reluctant even to exchange pleasantries with staff representatives they meet in the cafeteria, requiring furtive contacts, as if they had been forewarned that any indication of “proximity” may be bad for their career.

__________
1 Our greatest thanks to the inspiring cover of the latest Gazette.
2 Ms Romano-Götsch: Job Group 2 DC appointee since 2016; Ms Seegert: DC Alternate Chair since 2015 until today (now also appointed Alternate Chair of the Joint Committee on Article 52 & 53, i.e. the new body dealing with “professional incompetence”); Mr Philpott: DC Chair in 2014.


But of course all of this is “pure coincidence”, as Mr Minnoye would have said.
Meanwhile, there is not a week in which we do not receive bad news:
- Examiners in profound distress (and we do mean profound),
- Sick colleagues being demeaned and abused, brought to the brink of collapse,
- Overzealous team managers abusing their new position,
- High tensions within Examining Divisions,
- Formality Officers about to crack under the strain, etc.

There is no sign of improvement in the short or even middle term. The production/productivity of the Reference Examiner will again rise in 2018, and so will management expectations. From 1 January 2018 all new EPO colleagues will be recruited under 5 years’ renewable contracts3. There is no need for a crystal ball to predict that the production pressure on examiners recruited under these conditions will be enormous, resulting into further production increase that will translate later again into higher production demand for all examiners4. This sky-is-the-limit madness will unfortunately not stop on 30 June 2018.

Is this the Office’s way of “modernising” itself? No, this is an out-dated, inefficient and above all dangerous management style that increases the level of psychosocial risk, which was already at an all-time high beginning of 20165.

It is now important to protect yourself, as management won’t. You are not responsible for management’s failure to organise the work in a way that is respectful for all staff, including the weakest. It is not for you to pay their bill. We intend to soon inform you on how to best protect yourself (and your weakest colleagues) in the current circumstances.

SUEPO Committees Munich & The Hague

__________
3 Cf. CA/103/17 and CA/103/17 Add. 1
4 which poses even further challenges to the quality of our “products”, but this is not the subject of this paper.
5 Cf. the results of the Technologia 2016 EPO Staff Survey

How much longer does the EPO’s management think it can fool stakeholders? The number of patent applications is declining and work is running out. Many new recruits probably have no job security; even a two-year contract might not last that long.

“How much longer does the EPO’s management think it can fool stakeholders?”“In so-called ‘social’ media,” I recently told someone, “I think it’s [low patent quality] already widely known. I didn’t know that even in the flea market people would know; I used to try to push journalists to cover (waste of time).”

The only publication which occasionally speaks about low patent quality is The Register. German and Dutch media never even bring up the subject. We can only venture to guess why…

“Mr. Campinos will be under incredible pressure to turn things around and prove his critics/sceptic wrong.”We still have a LOT of things left to publish. Possibly thousands of articles in the coming few years. EPO staff just needs morale and patience. Europe cannot carry on without a patent system (national patent offices may be insufficient), so one way or another things will eventually be rectified.

Mr. Campinos will be under incredible pressure to turn things around and prove his critics/sceptic wrong. We hope he’ll prove everyone wrong (but strongly doubt it). Dr. Ernst is still in denial about the patent quality problem (as per reports from a recent event), but ultimately he’ll need to acknowledge this.

10.22.17

The EPO No Longer Measures Quality of Patents; Instead It Publishes Fake Statistics

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Silencing those who dare say the truth rather than treating it as constructive feedback

Minnoye MAGA

Summary: The decline in patent quality at the EPO is a long-known issue and suppression of information about it merely enabled several more years of questionable patent grants, thereby putting at risk the perceived value of EPO services

THE EPO is generally regarded as something that used to be good and is no longer good. We’re not only speaking of the human rights aspects but also technical merit/s.

“The EPO is generally regarded as something that used to be good and is no longer good.”Stakeholders of the EPO too have realised that something is amiss and they’re not getting their money’s worth with EPs (European Patents). Published by SUEPO a few years ago was the following warning regarding ISO 9001 — the so-called standard (ISO is worthless) that claims to pertain to quality. The recently-retired and recently-promoted VPs kept bragging about it (to the point of attacking truth-tellers) and SUEPO wasn’t particularly impressed even 3 years ago. To quote:

ISO 9001

Nobody is perfect, neither is CASE

The CASE [1] system was allegedly set up in DG1 to improve quality and achieve ISO-9001 certification. CASE replaces the former CL-OCQ and is designed to assess and record the conformity of searches, grants and positive written opinions. The first comparison results are now available for the whole DG1:

CASE

In view of the ever increasing emphasis put by DG1 management on production figures, i.e. quantity, it is unlikely that these results reflect a remarkable improvement in quality. This is confirmed in an email sent by Mr Minnoye (VP1) to directorates in which “zero non-compliances have been recorded”. “Since nobody is perfect, a 100 % compliance is not very realistic considering previous audit results [...] You are urgently requested to ensure that CASE is used in your directorate”.

The overall result of DG1 as well as the 100% score of many directorates should not have come as a surprise to Mr Minnoye. The Staff Representation had cautioned the administration about the likely failure of the CASE concept (see the opinion in GAC/AV 27/2013 [2]). Management ignored the warning and went on with the implementation. Achieving the above results.

As explained in a presentation of PDQM in cooperation with BSI [3], user acceptance is essential for an ISO 9001 certified Quality Management System. Users should feel confident with the system. They should not fear punishment. They should not be used to check and report on their colleagues.

Instead, the CASE system records the confidential deliberations of the Examining Divisions which become then accessible to the line managers, and can be used for reporting (CASE Questions Answered [4]). No wonder that there is great mistrust in CASE! The fact that management wants to set “quantitative quality” targets in the future reporting system (from 2015 on) will certainly not reassure them.

The Staff Representation has always been proactive in supporting quality improvement at the Office. It had formulated counter-proposals (see GAC/AV 27/2013 [2]) before the introduction of CASE but these have been ignored. Instead of ordering that “CASE should work” – an impossible challenge -, the administration should rather take the appropriate corrective measures. Because, “nobody is perfect”.

SUEPO Central

References:
[1] Conformity Assessment for Search and Examination (CASE)

http://my.internal.epo.org/portal/private/epo/organisation/strategicrenewal/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/epo/intranet/organisation/strategicRenewal/quality/objectives_metrics/case

[2] Opinion on “A new procedure for addressing non-conforming products in DG1 as a
replacement for CL-OCQ”

http://babylon/projects/babylon/gacdoc.nsf/0/79ff86d609cd0a1fc1257c47004d0895/$FILE/av%2027-13.pdf

[3] British Standards Institution (BSI)

http://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/iso-9001-quality-management/

[4] CASE Questions Answered:

http://babylon/projects/babylon/pdqms.nsf/0/DEA1E435872927C7C1257D17002681C7/$FILE/CASE%20questions%20answered.docx

This is hardly surprising to us. What’s worth noting here is that SUEPO warned about it a very long time ago and Battistelli did not heed the warnings. As a result of this vanity, there are now years’ worth of EPs whose legitimacy may be questionable. That’s hundreds of thousands of EPs!

The reputation of the EPO cannot be guarded and talented recruits (potential staff) won’t be attractable if the EPO carries on like this. The EPO certainly has a grip on European media (threatening the media and paying the media), but the truth somehow gets out nonetheless. Earlier on we received the following message, which we are posting below with redactions:

…we all would wish more press coverage for the EPO scandals, but unfortunately nothing happens. Money corrupts and can buy almost everything. After all, money and corruption are familiar to the EPO cronies.

I had in the last week two gratifying encounters in █████████████████ with persons I hadn’t met before. The first was with a venerable old man who used to live near ██████████. Engaging small talk he asked about my employer. I told him European Patent Office, being almost certain that he had never heard of it. Oh what a surprise when he told me with a sad face: “das EPA? Das ist ziemlich heruntergekommen”. Translation: “the EPO? a rather sordid place.” No comment.

The second encounter was a █████████ years old lady in flea market. Talking about this and that, she told me about friends of her as soon as she knew about my employer . Her friend in the EPO was rather depressed and couldn’t endure the dreadful working conditions. Again no need to comment. She also quoted that the boss “a French guy with an Italian name” was held responsible for the mess.

Therefore, even if the press is silent about the scandals, the word is spreading.

As far we as know, many people who read this site aren’t EPO staff but former EPO staff and EPO stakeholders (including some large corporations). Back when we were suffering DDOS attacks we had to check the back-end logs and map the networks traffic was coming from. It certainly seemed like many companies with a lot of EPs (possibly many thousands) were growing concerned about the EPO scandals. What if patents which they thought were worth billions would be worth only millions? Or worse: What would happen if the EPO collapsed? Remember we’re not against patents; we’re pro patent quality — an entirely different thing.

“What if patents which they thought were worth billions would be worth only millions?”There’s a massive media vacuum/blackout regarding the EPO. I have a rough idea/concrete clues about why certain publishers refuse to touch the subject. I have spoken to and even met some good writers. It’s their bosses who are trying to spike articles regarding the EPO. They help protect thuggery at the EPO almost as though it’s a business model. Maybe the media owners (or advertisers which bring the lion’s share of revenue) prefer for the world not to see the annals. The sausage factory has a big “DO NOT ENTER” sign at the door.

For those not familar with the term “Ag-gag”, check it out in Wikipedia. It helps explain a lot of the mentality embraced by Battistelli’s EPO. Suffice to say, slowly but surely this backfires because they refuse to accept constructive feedback/criticism and instead obsess about hiding the truth.

“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source.”

Linus Torvalds

Speaking of “Social Democracy” While Suffering Extreme Democratic Deficiency

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sarkozy and Battistelli

Summary: The EPO represents an even broader assault on democracy in Europe (implicating ILO, Team UPC, national delegates, and national governments), but Benoît Battistelli is unique in the sense that he’s disguising it or lying to himself about it

IT is generally regarded as black comedy inside the EPO that Battistelli attempted to frame his regime as "social democracy". Nothing could be further from the truth because Battistelli is antisocial and his regime is undemocratic (even antidemocratic).

“Laws were composed by lobbyists behind closed doors and politicians with a stake in the outcome turned up at 1:30AM to ‘vote’ (even if about 95% of the public representatives were asleep and likely unaware of the vote).”We previously described as “antidemocratic” the UPC campaign. The whole thing had been a sham from start to finish (by “finish” we mean the likely scuttling of it). Laws were composed by lobbyists behind closed doors and politicians with a stake in the outcome turned up at 1:30AM to 'vote' (even if about 95% of the public representatives were asleep and likely unaware of the vote).

The UPC comes tumbling down these days. There are too many delays — certainly some may be fatal. “Then all dreams of a quick judgment seem increasingly unlikely,” Mathieu Klos‏ (Juve) wrote. (“Dahin alle Träume auf schnelles Urteil aus Karlsruhe Klageabweisung immer unwahrscheinlicher”)

“The UPC deserves to die because it has corrupted the media (which published puff pieces for Team UPC, directly or indirectly), misrepresented businesses, misled people and even corrupted political systems (all the way up to constitutions).”“More than that,” Dr. Thorsten Bausch‏ replied, it could be the end of “all dreams of a UPCA in its present form. What comes then?” (“Mehr noch: Dahin alle Träume auf ein UPCA in seiner jetzigen Form. Doch was kommt dann?”)

The UPC deserves to die because it has corrupted the media (which published puff pieces for Team UPC, directly or indirectly), misrepresented businesses, misled people and even corrupted political systems (all the way up to constitutions). It’s pretty incredible that it managed to get as far as it has.

At what cost do patent fanatics think they can carry on? Six EPO workers committed suicide in recent years, the atmosphere/morale among patent examiners is appalling, and national laws are being violated in Munich and The Hague as a matter of routine. As one person put it last night , “for the EPO’s paymasters, the more human rights abuse of employees at the EPO, the better.”

Sadly, they (the millionaires and billionaires) don’t suffer from it; they just don’t care. Here’s the full comment:

I said above that the Big Corporate Fish don’t care about abuses of human rights at the EPO. I was wrong.

They do care. If the EPC Member States evidently abuse their own employees, it becomes hypocritical of elected Governments to criticise Big Corp, when it, in turn, abuses the rights of its own employees.

This neutering of any political criticism of labour abuses in multi-national corporations is extremely useful for them and their lobbyist forces.

Thus, for the EPO’s paymasters, the more human rights abuse of employees at the EPO, the better. Shame on you, Member States, in the pockets of the sociopathic multi-national corporations.

The next comment after that was responding to conspiracy theories and noted “Battistelli is what is called in FR a prolo. A man with no education and no behavior.”

“Sadly, they (the millionaires and billionaires) don’t suffer from it; they just don’t care.”“He owes his position to the activism of Sarkozy,” it added, perhaps alluding to a subject we covered before (Battistelli and Sarkozy are indeed very closely connected).

“Believe it or not,” it says, “Battistelli was the ONLY candidate classified as totally unsuited for the position of VP (in particular for his obvious lack of social skills and arrogant behaviour).”

…please do not spread fake info of the kind wrt Battistelli’s ring.

His cheap ring is called a chevaliere. This is a pleb ring which no decent frenchman mastering etiquette would wear for at least fourty years (except in the deep countryside province). It is a sign of utterly bad taste, as is, his pathetic golden Hermes belt which again no one disposing upon a decent education would wear since the 1970s.

Battistelli is what is called in FR a prolo. A man with no education and no behavior.

As to the Masonery. No one knows (by nature unless he reveals it which is not the case) if he is a free mason but many speculate. Even if he was, all what he did to the EPO has nothing to do with Masonery but with his cheap behaviour.

Do not forget that when he candidated for the position of VP1 (when FR ex VP1 Mr Michel retired about 13 years ago) the EPO organised for once (and never again) a real high level assessment center (with Roland Berger). Believe it or not: Battistelli was the ONLY candidate classified as totally unsuited for the position of VP (in particular for his obvious lack of social skills and arrogant behaviour).

Few years after, after 30 rounds or more of votes he was elected president. He owes his position to the activism of Sarkozy.

So Pink there is no illuminati involved nor Opus Dei as many wrongly speculate. This pathetically human and cheap human in the very case of Battistelli.

We did not know about that above-mentioned assessment. If anyone has any more information about it, please contact us. We wrote about Michel many times before, but we did not know about a “high level assessment center”. It must be pretty old, going back to the days Battistelli was just a politician trying to learn what on Earth patents were (for his INPI position).

“It must be pretty old, going back to the days Battistelli was just a politician trying to learn what on Earth patents were (for his INPI position).”Battistelli’s political career must not have been very exciting. He just had some diplomatic positions (nothing too fancy). It’s therefore not too shocking that Battistelli and his ilk would pursue fake elections, just like rogue politicians.

We’re reminded of attempts to organise a strike almost exactly three years ago. There was a strike ballot on October 23rd, 2014 (today is October 22nd) and at the end of October an open letter was circulated regarding this planned strike. The Central Staff Committee wrote the following message to Battistelli:

Dear Mr Battistelli,

We have the following observations concerning the implementation of the strike ballot held on 23 October 2014:
- You refused to accept our nominations to the ballot committee. As a consequence, we were not in a position to verify whether the voting regulations were respected, in particular with regards to fairness and confidentiality of the ballot.

- The list of voters included senior managers such as the Vice-Presidents and yourself. This is inappropriate.
- The ballot was held to coincide with school holidays in The Hague and Berlin: this most likely had a negative impact on the final participation rate.
- We received feedback from some staff that proxy votes have been lost. We are not in a position to judge the frequency of such technical irregularities, but again this most likely had a negative impact on the participation rate.

Given that the outcome of the ballot is nevertheless clear, unambiguous and simply confirms the feedback we receive daily from staff, we will refrain from challenging the results.

We do, however, strongly object to what seems to be an impaired implementation performed in bad faith of the new strike regulations, regulations that themselves already infringe fundamental staff rights.

A notification of strike was sent to Battistelli on the 12th of November (2014) by the Central Staff Committee to say: “Ms Bergot announced in her publication to staff dated 23 October 2014 the result of the strike ballot organised by the Office: Staff has voted in favour of a strike. Following this decision to start a strike, we inform you of the following…”

“A year later the leadership of SUEPO got suspended and the following year Battistelli rendered them unemployed.”It was an open letter at the time. It made it clear that all other options had been exhausted. To quote their open letter: “Please be assured that the Central Staff Committee has always been prepared to enter a fair social dialogue and continues to be so. If social dialogue in the time between the above blocks of strike days leads to a substantial progress on the grounds for strike, we are willing to recommend to Staff to terminate the strike actions.”

A year later the leadership of SUEPO got suspended and the following year Battistelli rendered them unemployed. He arrogantly ignored the recommendations (even of his very own Disciplinary Committee), reaffirming the widely-held view that he does not comprehend democracy and the Rule of Law.

One heck of a leader, eh? That’s the “social democracy” Battistelli had in mind all along.

Management by Intimidation Has Caused Deaths at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Management by Intimidation

Summary: An accurate diagnosis of the conditions created at the European Patent Office (EPO) by Benoît Battistelli and his cronies, who have essentially hijacked the Organisation — not just the Office — then attacked every ‘enemy’, either real or perceived

THE previous article about Professor Alain Pompidou (former EPO President who, as far as we know, EPO staff at the time did not hate). Nobody is perfect, but Professor Pompidou was at least regarded not as a bully. People in circles close to the EPO generally told us positive things about him. Pompidou did complain about productivity or laziness (IP Kat covered it at one point). When Alison Brimelow stepped down IP Kat said that “Brimelow is reported to be unhappy at the quantity of politics that has invaded her senior administrative job description [and] calls for the clarification, extension and abolition of the computer program “as such” exception to patentability.”

We covered all this (at the time) and at no point did we hear about suicides, for instance. Staff did occasionally protest (we covered that and posted photos), but back then there was no aggressive crackdown on staff and their representatives. When Battistelli took over he introduced a de-motivational career path, which was explained also in this presentation [PDF]. But what pushed people to depression and sometimes even suicide (not to mention brain drain due to departures and inability to attract/recruit talent) was explained in the following document from 3 years ago:

Zentraler Vorstand . Central Executive Committee . Bureau Central

03.11.2014
sc14260cp – 0.2.1/4.1

Management by FEAR

Dear colleagues,

Some of you may still remember a power-point presentation from a management meeting years ago that suggested “fear, isolation and punishment” as a method for dealing with “under-performers. The staff representation requested the (then) President to distance herself from such statements. She never did and neither did Mr Battistelli, when asked.

There are various names for such management methods. “Management by intimidation” (“MBI”) is one of them. As an annex, we have copied list of warning signs for MBI. We invite you to do the test and see which apply to our organization.

The article from which the list was copied1 states that MBI practices lead to a demotivated work-force and are costly for an organization. In the EPO the consequences of MBI might be less quickly visible because the quality of the work done (the most obvious part to suffer) is not properly measured, and our income derives in part from the work done in the past (renewal fees). Still: the long-term impact will be negative on the organisation and the costs in terms of human suffering and reputation will be huge.

We therefore call on the individual responsibility of each staff member and each manager to resist the current development. For managers this means in particular not exposing staff under their responsibility to the isolation2 and punishment3 that is part of the Office’s new way of dealing with “challenging people4”.

SUEPO Central

_______________
1 Impact of Management by Intimidation on Human Capital: Is It Destroying Your Organization?
http://www.acua.org/ACUA_Resources/Auditor/Summer2006.pdf, pages 5-10
2 e.g. suspension
3 usually dismissal.
4 “DG1 Teaming Up: Challenging People”, A. Bailas, Yann Chabod

http://babylon/projects/babylon/acedg1.nsf/0/268766D76E00FFB8C1257C8200471D56/$FILE/Presentation_MM14_Challenging%20People.ppt


Warning Signs of MBI (Management by Intimidation)

After years of consulting and management reviews, the authors discovered patterns of behavior. Do you see these in your organization?

1. Use of Threats: MBI practitioners threaten or intimidate people to perform, not inspire people to do their best. Letters of warning, informal threats of dismissal and informal requests to resign are some of the popular tactics used by MBI practitioners in organizations. Show of unchecked power is the basis for their operating philosophy.

2. Ineffective Oversight Body: Members of the oversight body (e.g., board of directors) are carefully screened and hand-picked. The intent is to ensure that members, who do not habitually question the activities of management, are selected and retained. Such an ineffective oversight body gives MBI practitioners a carte blanche to act administratively with unchecked powers. The body views auditors as necessary evils, rather than partners who assist its members in discharging their oversight responsibilities. The need to avoid micro-management is used as an excuse for this kind of hand-off oversight philosophy.

3. Censored Communications: MBI practitioners do not like employees to communicate openly and frankly about their views on organizational matters. They manipulate communication channels to ensure that only positive things are said and written about the organizations to external parties. Employees who express unfavorable opinions about the working conditions are routinely reprimanded by superiors who subscribe to the MBI philosophy. Commitment to truth is nonexistent. Board members, external auditors, internal auditors, and regulators receive communications censored or sanitized by MBI practitioners to conceal the real organizational climate and culture.

4. Self-Centeredness: MBI practitioners are self-centered leaders. They make decisions that are usually best for them, their favorite subordinates, their friends and their business partners. Personal agendas are disguised as organizational agendas.

5. Unchallenged Authority: MBI practitioners do not like their authority challenged or questioned by anyone. They have no compunction whatsoever in eliminating and neutralizing people who habitually challenge their authority.

6. Lack of Accountability: MBI practitioners are the least accountable people in organizations. They are quick to take credit for successful initiatives and equally quick to apportion blame on others for organizational failures. They are meticulous in building cases – real or imagined – against dispensable employees or scapegoats. MBI practitioners last long in organizations mainly because the culture of accountability is nonexistent.

7. Lack of Transparency: MBI practices are not transparent to people who are not directly and indirectly impacted by such practices. We either experience or learn about them from colleagues who were affected by the practices. MBI practitioners are too concerned about leaving audit trails that they have adopted the practice of not documenting their activities as much as possible and tacitly asking their subordinates to do the same.

8. Questionable Hiring Practices: MBI practitioners tend to ignore good personnel policies and resort to cronyism and nepotism in their hiring decisions. Covert tactics are used to ensure that friends and relatives are given preferential considerations. Ruse interviews are occasionally conducted just to satisfy legal requirements.


9. Lack of Diversity: MBI practitioners preach but do not practice diversity. They develop policies, procedures and plans that extol the virtues of diversity. They organize events intended to create the illusion that their organizations believe in diversity. A closer look will reveal that the people they surround themselves with in key leadership positions are not diverse. Lucrative positions, contracts and bonuses are typically awarded to people who look, think and act like them.

10. Double Standards: Activities that are acceptable to MBI practitioners are not necessarily acceptable to ordinary employees. Double standards are consistently applied in organizations. It is acceptable for MBI practitioners to circumvent rules if it suits their whims, but employees who commit the same type acts are involuntarily terminated.

11. Disdain for Independent Reviewers: MBI practitioners treat internal auditors, external auditors and other independent reviewers with open disdain. They do not want anyone to review and criticize their activities nor the activities of their “trusted” employees. They operate under the illusion that their actions are beyond reproach and not subject to audit. MBI practitioners prefer to have “other people” audited or investigated so that they can get the ammunition to eliminate certain people and show that certain conducts cannot be tolerated. The philosophy of “trust but verify” is foreign to MBI practitioners.

12. Management Myopia: MBI practitioners are inherently reactive managers. They like status quo. They dislike people who rock the boat or think outside the box. They rarely communicate their expectations to employees in a clear, unambiguous manner. They conduct periodic performance evaluations based on their moods at a particular time. Disliked employees are harshly criticized and “trusted” employees are richly rewarded. MBI practitioners manage to survive for as long as possible to aggrandize themselves – not to ensure the long-term health of their organizations.

13. Bliss in Feigned Ignorance: MBI practitioners find bliss in feigned ignorance. The less they know about bad things in their organization, the better for them. That is why they harbor visceral hatred for whistleblowers or employees they perceive as “bad news” messengers. They work hard to erect corporate buffers that will deter unfavorable news from reaching their attention. When confronted by the reality of things in their organizations, they are quick to use
the standard excuse of “I didn’t know” or “I was not aware” of the problems and their associated risks.

It’s interesting just to what degree the above describes the EPO under Battistelli. Almost every single point is an accurate description of today’s EPO. It’s almost as though the entire article was composed regarding or based on the EPO.

The Difference Between Alain Pompidou and Benoît Battistelli as EPO President

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Letter from Pompidou

Summary: The different approaches adopted by Pompidou and Battistelli; one pursued amicable mediation and training, whereas the other resorted to vindicative witch-hunts, kangaroo courts, and a culture of terror which resulted in many suicides (nearly seven)

THE EPO is nowadays being managed by a right-wing politician. It has been the case for about 7 years and the next President will be an ex-banker (earlier this morning we finished a series about that). Remember that the EPO, at its core, should be about science and technology. Scientists tend to be more professional and compassionate than ENA graduates. They also better understand scientists (such as examiners). Pompidou is the adopted son of Georges Pompidou, former President of France, but he is also former professor of histology, embryology and cytogenetics, according to Wikipedia. António Campinos too is the son of a politician (Joaquim Jorge de Pinho Campinos), but he is not a scientist.

The redacted mail at the top shows us how President Pompidou dealt with conflict — a sharp contrast to how Battistelli handles things.

The following 3-page document from 3 years ago shows how the Central Staff Committee (not SUEPO) viewed Battistelli’s approach:

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité central du Personnel

12.11.2014
sc14265cp – 0.2.1/5.1/6.1

Disciplinary Committee

Introduction

The Disciplinary Committee is a statutory body set up under the EPO Service Regulations. The Committee has to be consulted if the President intends to impose a serious disciplinary measure against a staff member1 or wishes to dismiss a staff member for poor performance.

As with all such bodies at the Office (the GAC – now GCC – the Medical Committee, the Internal Appeals Committee, the COHSEC etc.), the legal construct is that the Committee considers the facts and gives a reasoned opinion. The President then decides.

Problems

This legal construction functions if the Office has a President who is prepared to consider the reasoned opinions which the consultative committees give him. However, Mr Battistelli has in the past ignored the medical opinions of doctors in the Medical Committee and decided that staff members not capable of performing their job for medical reasons should nevertheless not be sent on invalidity. This is something that no other President has done. Not even Mr Pompidou, who in contrast to Mr Battistelli, was a doctor. It should also be well known by now that Mr Battistelli as a matter of course ignores opinions of the Internal Appeals Committee that are favourable to staff. Mr Battistelli so disliked the reasoned opinions of the GAC that he abolished it and replaced it with the GCC, which, according to his understanding, is not allowed to give opinions, and merely votes on proposals2.

It should thus come as no surprise that Mr Battistelli also ignores the reasoned opinions of the Disciplinary Committee. In the past, he has imposed disciplinary measures on staff which are more severe than the Committee recommended. In other cases, he has imposed severe disciplinary measures even though the Committee considered that no disciplinary measure should be applied.

The above is worrying enough. However, there are further reasons why staff should be concerned with the functioning of the Disciplinary Committee:

1. The President’s nominations as Chairman and deputy

The President nominates the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee and his deputy. The Disciplinary Committee is not a “standing committee”. That is to say, it does not have a fixed constitution. Rather, its membership (other than the Chairman) changes from case to case (see below). Thus it is of crucial importance who the President nominates as Chairman. This person is the only member who has an overview of similar cases and has experience in
___________________________________
1 A warning or reprimand may be issued without consulting the Disciplinary Committee. More serious measures e.g. downgrading or dismissal require consultation.
2 This is one reason why the GCC is for staff inferior to the GAC and thus a reason why abolishing the GAC severely limits staff’s consultation rights.


handling cases, drafting opinions and so on. This is particularly important since the Committee has limited e.g. legal support for reasons of confidentiality.

Up until this year, the President nominated members of the Legal Board of Appeal. That is to say, people who are both legally qualified and neither appointed by himself nor under his disciplinary authority. From this year, Mr Battistelli nominated managers on contract at grade A6. Thus, the President sends a case to the Disciplinary Committee chaired by a manager on contract who falls under his disciplinary (and managerial) authority. The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee drafts a recommendation. This recommendation goes back to the Chairman’s superior, namely the President. The President then decides.

This is precisely the construct which, in Findlay v. The United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights ruled against in case 22107/933 (see in particular §70 – 80 of that case)!

2. Significantly more cases

This year has seen a more than doubling of the number of disciplinary cases. In itself, this should be a cause for concern. In the course of their normal duties both the Chairman and deputy have a heavy burden of other work and duty travels. Indeed, the Chairman has staff in both The Hague and Munich. We thus hope that both of them will be able to give this task the time it requires, especially (as seems likely) should the number of cases increase further. This was not a problem in the past (see above), when both nominees had tasks that ensured that they were generally available.

3. The President interfering with Staff Committee nominations

According to Article 98(1) ServRegs, half the nominations to the Disciplinary Committee are made by the President and half by the Staff Committee. These nominations are made by grade or group-of-grades. Who is to serve as member in a particular case is decided by drawing of lots. The names in the draw may not be of a grade (or group-of-grades) lower than that of the subject of the case. For example, if the case subject is an A3 examiner, then only Disciplinary Committee nominees in group of grades A4(2)/A1, A5 or A6 are in the draw.

For reasons of independence (see above) and procedural expertise the Staff Committee has mainly nominated members and chairmen of the Boards of Appeal for the A5 and A6 slots. These nominations have all been deleted by Mr Battistelli (see also recent Communiqué 62). This despite the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO already having decided in Judgment 1147, that the Staff Committee may nominate DG3 members to statutory bodies. Indeed, in a submission in the proceedings leading to this Judgment, the Office even argued in its surrejoinder (see §E) that “Since disciplinary committees are quasi-judicial bodies it is proper for them to benefit from the experience of a DG 3 official”.

The effect on staff of this change is that there are fewer Staff Committee members whose
names may be drawn in a particular disciplinary case.

4. No possibility of internal appeal

As part of the appeal reform in 2012, decisions taken following consultation of the Disciplinary Committee are excluded from the internal appeals system. That is to say, there is
___________________________________
3 http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-58016


no further internal oversight mechanism. The affected staff member has to file a complaint directly with the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO.

The Internal Appeals Committee used to be relatively good at picking up formal violations. It also performed an important fact finding role – a job which the Tribunal does not do; it expects that already to have been done.

Removing oversight of disciplinary decisions from the IAC thus means that an important instance for staff has been removed. It also increases the need for the Disciplinary Committee to produce error free, comprehensive and legally sound opinions which can form the basis of complaints in front of the ILO. Given that the Disciplinary Committee is not a standing committee and given that the Chairman is no longer legally qualified, we would be surprised if this was always the case.

Conclusions

For the above reasons, we consider that at the moment the Office no longer has a properly functioning disciplinary mechanism. We thus recommend all staff whom are unfortunate enough to have a case brought against them to raise the above procedural violations should they bring their case in front of the Administrative Tribunal.

Finally

If the above sounds bad enough for “normal” staff members such as examiners, administrators, lawyers, formalities officers etc. consider the position of A5, A6 and A7 staff.

Owing to the President’s actions, there are now only two A5 and no A6 Disciplinary Committee members nominated by the Staff Committee (see above). Thus, it is not possible to form a valid committee for staff in these grades. How do you draw lots for two names from a pot comprising two (for A5 staff) or no (for A6 staff) names? However, we note that the Internal Appeals Committee is currently carrying on its work without any Staff Committee nominees. We thus suspect that Mr Battistelli would likewise instruct the Disciplinary Committee to proceed in such cases with only members nominated by himself!

From Article 98(3) ServRegs it is obvious that it was originally intended that a Disciplinary Committee would be formed for dealing with proceedings affecting staff at grade A7. However, under the latest vice-President contracts, these provisions no longer apply. That is to say, disciplinary measures may be imposed, by the Council, following an investigation by the President’s investigative unit, against a vice-President without first consulting a Disciplinary Committee.

Is it any wonder that, by their silence, these groups of staff have shown remarkable loyalty to Mr Battistelli?

As Thomas Jefferson put it: “when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty”.

The Central Staff Committee

Since then, the Administrative Tribunal of ILO found the composition of these Disciplinary Committees to be invalid, thus voiding over a hundred prior rulings. But ILO being ILO, it succumbed to Battistelli and eventually let sheer injustices remain in tact, rendering ILO itself complicit (rather than an effective watchdog).

The Darker Past of the Next President of the EPO – Part IV: Links Between CGD (Former Employer of António Campinos) and the INPI

Posted in Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 12:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everything comes together

INPI and banks
Large (legible) version

Summary: More information about connections between CGD and the Portuguese Intellectual Property Office (INPI)

THE next President of the EPO isn’t quite what he seems. There are things about him which he isn’t eager to disclose, hence our series about his past.

Previous parts of this series are as follows:

Campinos and his supporters boasted/showed off his experience in the field of “IP” (they intentionally don’t say trademarks, which are not the same as patents). But what does his track record in trademarks really show? This is the subject of today’s final part of this series.


Some interesting details about links between CGD and the Portuguese Intellectual Property Office (Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial – INPI) have been unearthed on the official Web site of the INPI.

An undated press release posted on the INPI Web site reports on the establishment of a “strategic partnership” agreement between Caixa Capital, a venture capital company of CGD Group, and INPI for the promotion of technology-based entrepreneurship.

The collaboration protocol was signed the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Caixa and by the President of INPI, António Campinos.

Campinos took up his position as President of the OHIM in Alicante (now EUIPO) on 1 October 2010 just three months after Battistelli had been installed as President of the EPO.

This means that the press release must date from some time between 2005 and 2010, in other words from the time that Campinos was Director of the INPI.

Translation of the text of the undated press release:

Technology-based entrepreneurs with easy access to financial resources

Caixa Capital, a venture capital company of CGD Group, and INPI have established a strategic partnership agreement for the promotion of technology-based entrepreneurship.

This agreement aims to support national inventors, creators and entrepreneurs in the protection and economic valuation of their innovations, in particular by promoting the availability and facilitating access to financial instruments and resources to enable them to realise business ideas.

It was also announced during the signing of the protocol, the creation of the Invention Award of the Year, to be launched in the first quarter of 2010 within a fair that will showcase inventions and other intellectual creations registered with INPI.

It is also planned to jointly organise a series of Academy-Industry meetings, with the aim of facilitating the transfer and valorisation of the research results developed by the entities of the National Technological and Scientific System.

The collaboration protocol was signed by Eng. Faria de Oliveira, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Caixa and Dr. António Campinos, President of INPI.

A more recent press release from January 2015 reports on a further and much more far-reaching “collaboration protocol” between the INPI and CGD.

Translation of the text of the January 2015 press release:

INPI and CGD sign Collaboration Protocol

Taking into account INPI’s strategic orientation, to promote cooperation with national organisations and entities with a view to increasing Portuguese business competitiveness and strengthening the use of Industrial Property among the academic, scientific and business communities, it was signed on 5 January of 2015, a Protocol of Collaboration between INPI and Caixa Geral de Depósitos.

The Protocol, in addition to establishing the terms of the partnership between the two entities, also intends to implement the following activities:

- Sharing of statistical information related to Industrial Property rights, made available by INPI;

- Sharing of publicity materials made available by INPI;

- Organisation of training actions in matters of Industrial Property, within the framework of the activities promoted by the Industrial Property Academy of INPI;

- Participation in events and publicity actions organised by CGD.

If the INPI and CGD deem it appropriate to pursue the objectives set out in the Protocol, other forms of cooperation may be established, duly agreed upon and introduced in an addendum to the Protocol.

23 January 2015

An earlier press release from February 2011 reveals that the INPI had already been closely involved in events and publicity actions organised by CGD.

In this case, the event in question was the “INVENTA – Caixa prize” which is an “Inventor of the Year” award of the kind which will be familiar to observers of the EPO. Of course the Portuguese event is a small-scale one and far more low key than the “European Inventor of the Year” ceremony.

By a curious coincidence, the “personalities” who turned up for the “INVENTA – Caixa Prize” ceremony in Lisbon in February 2011 included none other than EPO President Benoît Battistelli. Maybe this is where he got his inspiration for his EPO extravaganza?

Translation of the text of the February 2011 press release:

INVENTA – Cash Prize | INPI – Winners

The winners of INVENTA – Caixa Prize | INPI.

In a ceremony held yesterday at Caixa Geral de Depósitos headquarters in Lisbon, the sector and absolute winners of INVENTA – Caixa Prize | INPI.

INVENTA.com

PT Innovation with the patent “High Performance Discovery Device for Content Transmission”

INVENTA.san

University of Coimbra with the patent “Nouveaux derives de porphyrine, notamment chlorines et / or leurs applications en therapie photodynamique”

INVENTA.eco

Oon Recycling Solutions with the patent “Transforming food oil used in candles”

Overall Winner

University of Coimbra with the patent “Nouveaux derives de porphyrine, notamment chlorines et / or leurs applications en therapie photodynamique”

The sector winners will be awarded a prize of 15,000 euros and the overall winner a prize of 25,000 euros.

The prizes were delivered by the following personalities:

Dr. Maria Leonor Trindade of the National Institute of Industrial Property;

Dr. Jorge Tomé of Caixa Geral de Depósitos;

Dr. Luís Portela from Health Cluster Portugal;

Dr. Diogo Vasconcelos of the Portuguese Association for the Development of Communications;

Prof. Daniel Bessa from COTEC and

Dr. José Honório from the Business Council for Sustainable Development,

all members of the jury,

the President of CGD Faria de Oliveira,

the President of the Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market António Campinos,

the President of the European Patent Office Benoît Battistelli and

by the Secretary of State for Justice and Judicial Modernization José Magalhães.

To all candidates, nominees, sector winners and absolute winner, INPI presents its congratulations.

25 February 2011

A Portuguese press article from May 2017 (see the top) reported that CGD had been successful in a trademark dispute between CGD and the Spanish-owned Caixabank. The dispute involved the “Caixa” trademark.

The word “caixa” in Portuguese means something like a cash desk (similar to the Spanish “caja” or French “caisse”) so it seems somewhat surprising that such a generic term can be protected by trademark. But with the right connections to your local Intellectual Property Office it seems that nothing is impossible these days.

10.21.17

Links 21/10/2017: Purism Against ME, Pop!_OS Ready

Posted in News Roundup at 4:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • How Purism avoids Intel’s Active Management Technology
    • Purism disables Intel’s flawed Management Engine on Linux-powered laptops

      LINUX PC MAKER Purism has devised a process to disable the flawed Intel Management Engine.

      The company’s line of Librem laptops, which run flexible open-source firmware Coreboot, are now running with Intel’s management service completely disabled.

      As a core part of Intel Active Management Technology (AMT), the management engine is present in all the company’s CPUs and is capable of powering a computer, even when it is powered off.

    • Purism’s Linux laptops now ship with Intel Management Engine disabled

      Most computers that ship with recent Intel processors include something called Intel Management Engine, which enables hardware-based security, power management, and remote configuration features that are not tied to the operating system running on your PC.

      For free software proponents, this has been a pain in the behind, because it’s a closed-source, proprietary feature designed to provide remote access to a computer even when it’s turned off. While it’s designed to provide security, it also poses a potential security and privacy threat, since it’s a proprietary system that can only be patched by Intel

    • Purism Now Shipping Their Laptops With Intel ME Disabled

      Purism has announced today all laptops to be shipping from their company will now have the Intel Management Engine (ME) disabled.

      Thanks to work done by security researches in recent years for finding ways to disable ME, especially in light of recent security vulnerabilities, Purism’s Coreboot-equipped laptops are now shipping with ME disabled out-of-the-box. Those already with a Librem laptop are able to apply a firmware update to also disable it.

    • POP!_OS is a developer-focused minimalist Linux distro from System 76

      There aren’t that many Linux hardware manufacturers around. Of the few that exist, System 76 is amongst the most well-known. It offers a slew of laptops and desktops, all shipping with the popular Ubuntu distro pre-installed, saving customers hours of wasted time dealing with driver hell.

      But it recently announced it’s changing gears and creating its own Linux distro, which will replace Ubuntu on its systems, called POP!_OS.

    • Pop!_OS Is Finally Here — System76’s Ubuntu-based Operating System For Developers

      The first ever stable release of Pop!_OS is finally here. You can go ahead and download it from this link. Don’t forget to share your feedback. Earlier this year in June, we reported that System76 is creating its own Linux distro called Pop!_OS.

    • Why and how you should switch to Linux

      When you start comparing computers, you probably pit Windows against macOS—but Linux rarely gets a mention. Still, this lesser-known operating system has a strong and loyal following. That’s because it offers a number of advantages over its competitors.

      Whether you’re completely new to Linux or have dabbled with it once or twice already, we want you to consider running it on your next laptop or desktop—or alongside your existing operating system. Read on to decide if it’s time to make the switch.

    • Another Million Learn About GNU/Linux

      Ordinarily, I would not notice or even recommend a brief article in a magazine but this is Popular Science, the Bible of DIY types especially the young and restless who might actually take the plunge into FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software). It’s a general magazine with a million subscribers.

  • Server

    • How to Choose a Linux Container Image

      A comparison of Linux container images talks about the best-practices in choosing an image. Architecture, security and performance are among the factors, while commercial users would also look for support options.

      A Linux container allows separate management of kernel space and user space components by utilizing cgroups and namespaces, which are resource and process isolation mechanisms. Solaris and BSD also have abstractions similar to Linux containers but the article’s focus is on the latter only. The host running the container has the operating system kernel and a set of libraries and tools required to run containers. The container image, on the other hand, has the libraries, interpreters and application code required to run the application that is being distributed in the container. These depend on underlying system libraries. This is true for interpreted languages too as the interpreters themselves are written in low level languages.

    • The Four Pillars of Cloud-Native Operations

      As organizations shift their application strategies to embrace the cloud-native world, the purpose of the cloud transitions from saving money to delivering and managing applications. Platforms such as Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, and Docker redefine the possibilities for application environments that utilize the cloud. It’s time for us as operations professionals to rethink how we approach our jobs in this new world. We should be asking, how do our organizations take advantage of cloud-native as a new mode of application delivery?

    • How to align your team around microservices

      Microservices have been a focus across the open source world for several years now. Although open source technologies such as Docker, Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Swarm make it easier than ever for organizations to adopt microservice architectures, getting your team on the same page about microservices remains a difficult challenge.

      For a profession that stresses the importance of naming things well, we’ve done ourselves a disservice with microservices. The problem is that that there is nothing inherently “micro” about microservices. Some can be small, but size is relative and there’s no standard measurement unit across organizations. A “small” service at one company might be 1 million lines of code, but far fewer at another organization.

    • DockerCon EU 17 Panel Debates Docker Container Security

      There are many different security capabilities that are part of the Docker container platform, and there are a number of vendors providing container security offerings. At the DockerCon EU 17 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, eWEEK moderated a panel of leading vendors—Docker, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aqua Security, Twistlock and StackRox—to discuss the state of the market.

      To date, there have been no publicly disclosed data breaches attributed to container usage or flaws. However, that doesn’t mean that organizations using containers have not been attacked. In fact, Wei Lien Dang, product manager at StackRox, said one of his firm’s financial services customers did have a container-related security incident.

    • DockerCon EU: Tips and Tools for Running Container Workloads on AWS

      Amazon Web Services wants to be a welcome home for developers and organizations looking to deploy containers. At the DockerCon EU conference here, a pair of AWS technical evangelists shared their wisdom on the best ways to benefit from container deployments.

      The terms microservices and containers are often used interchangeably by people. Abby Fuller, technical evangelist at AWS, provided the definition of microservices coined by Adrian Crockford, VP of Cloud Architecture at AWS and formerly the cloud architect at Netflix.

    • Docker CEO: Embracing Kubernetes Removes Conflict

      Steve Singh has ambitious plans for Docker Inc. that are nothing less than transforming the world of legacy applications into a modern cloud-native approach.

      Singh was named CEO of Docker on May 2 and hosted his first DockerCon event here Oct. 16-19. The highlight of DockerCon EU was the surprise announcement that Docker is going to support the rival open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system.

      In a video interview with eWEEK, Singh explained the rationale behind the Kubernetes support and provided insight into his vision for the company he now leads.

  • Kernel Space

    • Hyperledger Stitches in Another Blockchain Project

      The Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Project, which works on blockchain technologies, added a sixth sub project — this one dubbed Quilt.

      Hyperledger Quilt started around 18 months ago and is an implementation of the Interledger Protocol (ILP), which helps facilitate transactions across ledgers.

    • Chinese Search Giant Baidu Joins Hyperledger Blockchain Consortium

      Chinese search engine giant Baidu has become the latest member of the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger blockchain consortium.

      In joining the group – which focuses on developing blockchain technologies for enterprises – Baidu will assist the project’s efforts alongside other member companies including Accenture, IBM, JP Morgan, R3, Cisco and SAP, among others.

    • Cramming features into LTS kernel releases

      While the 4.14 development cycle has not been the busiest ever (12,500 changesets merged as of this writing, slightly more than 4.13 at this stage of the cycle), it has been seen as a rougher experience than its predecessors. There are all kinds of reasons why one cycle might be smoother than another, but it is not unreasonable to wonder whether the fact that 4.14 is a long-term support (LTS) release has affected how this cycle has gone. Indeed, when he released 4.14-rc3, Linus Torvalds complained that this cycle was more painful than most, and suggested that the long-term support status may be a part of the problem. A couple of recent pulls into the mainline highlight the pressures that, increasingly, apply to LTS releases.

      As was discussed in this article, the 4.14 kernel will include some changes to the kernel timer API aimed at making it more efficient, more like contemporary in-kernel APIs, and easier to harden. While API changes are normally confined to the merge window, this change was pulled into the mainline for the 4.14-rc3 release. The late merge has led to a small amount of grumbling in the community.

    • Improving the kernel timers API

      The kernel’s timer interface has been around for a long time, and its API shows it. Beyond a lack of conformance with current in-kernel interface patterns, the timer API is not as efficient as it could be and stands in the way of ongoing kernel-hardening efforts. A late addition to the 4.14 kernel paves the way toward a wholesale change of this API to address these problems.

    • What’s the best way to prevent kernel pointer leaks?

      An attacker who seeks to compromise a running kernel by overwriting kernel data structures or forcing a jump to specific kernel code must, in either case, have some idea of where the target objects are in memory. Techniques like kernel address-space layout randomization have been created in the hope of denying that knowledge, but that effort is wasted if the kernel leaks information about where it has been placed in memory. Developers have been plugging pointer leaks for years but, as a recent discussion shows, there is still some disagreement over the best way to prevent attackers from learning about the kernel’s address-space layout.

      There are a number of ways for a kernel pointer value to find its way out to user space, but the most common path by far is the printk() function. There are on the order of 50,000 printk() calls in the kernel, any of which might include the value of a kernel pointer. Other places in the kernel use the underlying vsprintf() mechanism to format data for virtual files; they, too, often leak pointer values. A blanket ban on printing pointer values could solve this problem — if it could be properly enforced — but it would also prevent printing such values when they are really needed. Debugging kernel problems is one obvious use case for printing pointers, but there are others.

    • Continuous-integration testing for Intel graphics

      Two separate talks, at two different venues, give us a look into the kinds of testing that the Intel graphics team is doing. Daniel Vetter had a short presentation as part of the Testing and Fuzzing microconference at the Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC). His colleague, Martin Peres, gave a somewhat longer talk, complete with demos, at the X.Org Developers Conference (XDC). The picture they paint is a pleasing one: there is lots of testing going on there. But there are problems as well; that amount of testing runs afoul of bugs elsewhere in the kernel, which makes the job harder.

      Developing for upstream requires good testing, Peres said. If the development team is not doing that, features that land in the upstream kernel will be broken, which is not desirable. Using continuous-integration (CI) along with pre-merge testing allows the person making a change to make sure they did not break anything else in the process of landing their feature. That scales better as the number of developers grows and it allows developers to concentrate on feature development, rather than bug fixing when someone else finds the problem. It also promotes a better understanding of the code base; developers learn more “by breaking stuff”, which lets them see the connections and dependencies between different parts of the code.

    • Graphics Stack

      • “NonDesktop” Proposed For RandR: Useful For VR & Apple Touch Bar Like Devices

        Besides Keith Packard working on the concept of resource leasing for the X.Org Server and resource leasing support for RandR, he’s also now proposing a “NonDesktop” property for the Resize and Rotate protocol.

        The resource leasing has already been worked out as a candidate for the next update, RandR 1.6, while now this veteran X11 developer is proposing a new “NonDesktop” property for identifying outputs that are not conventional displays.

      • More AMDGPU Changes Queue For Linux 4.15

        Adding to the excitement of Linux 4.15, AMD has queued some more changes that were sent in today for DRM-Next.

        Already for Linux 4.15, the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver should have the long-awaited “DC” display stack that brings Vega/Raven display support, HDMI/DP audio, atomic mode-setting and more. Other pull requests have also brought in a new ioctl, UVD video encode ring support on Polaris, transparent huge-pages DMA support, PowerPlay clean-ups, and many fixes, among other low-level improvements.

      • Running Android on Top of a Linux Graphics Stack

        Traditional Linux graphics systems (like X11) mostly did not use planes. But modern graphics systems like Android and Wayland can take full advantage of it.

        Android has the most mature implementation of plane support in HWComposer, and its graphics stack is a bit different from the usual Linux desktop graphics stack. On desktops, the typical compositor just uses the GPU for all composition, because this is the only thing that exists on the desktop.

        Most embedded and mobile chips have specialized 2D composition hardware that Android is designed around. The way this is done is by dividing the things that are displayed into layers, and then intelligently feeding the layers to hardware that is optimized to handle layers. This frees up the GPU to work on the things you actually care about, while at the same time, it lets hardware that is more efficient do what it does best.

      • Many Vega Improvements & Other Fixes Land In Mesa For RADV Vulkan Driver

        With Mesa 17.3 expected to be branched this weekend and this marking the end of feature development for this last stable Mesa series of 2017, the RADV Radeon Vulkan drivers in particular have been busy landing a lot of last minute code.

      • Occlusion Queries Land In Etnaviv For Mesa 17.3

        Landing in Mesa Git this morning ahead of the imminent 17.3 branching is support for OpenGL occlusion queries.

      • Intel Wires In EGL Context Priority Support For Their Mesa Driver
      • Intel Continues Landing New i915 DRM Features For Linux 4.15

        Jani Nikula has sent in another drm-intel-next update for David Airlie’s DRM-Next tree. They continue prepping more updates to their Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) for targeting the upcoming Linux 4.15 cycle.

        There have already been several Intel “i915″ DRM driver updates queued in DRM-Next for this new kernel version. Past pulls have included marking Coffeelake graphics as stable, continued Cannonlake “Gen 10″ graphics enablement, various display improvements, and quite a lot of other low-level code improvements.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Graphics Performance: Ubuntu 17.04 vs. 17.10

        Given the Ubuntu 17.10 release this week and its massive desktop changes from GNOME Wayland to Mesa/kernel upgrades, we’ve been busy benchmarking this new Ubuntu OS release. Complementing the Radeon Ubuntu 17.04 vs. 17.10 gaming comparison are now some OpenGL/Vulkan benchmarks when using Intel Kabylake graphics hardware on Ubuntu 17.04, 17.10 with X.Org and Wayland, and the performance if upgrading against Linux/Mesa Git.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Hey Mycroft, Drive Me to our Goals!

        Almost three months after Akademy 2017, I finally found the time to write a blog post about how I experienced it.

        Akademy is where I learn again about all the amazing things happening in our community, where I connect the dots and see the big picture of where all the effort in the various projects together can lead. And of course, I meet all the wonderful people, all the individual reasons why being in KDE is so amazing. This year was no different.

        Some people voiced their concern during the event that those who are not at Akademy and see only pictures of it on social media might get the feeling that it is mostly about hanging out on the beach and drinking beer, instead of actually being productive. Everyone who was ever at Akademy of course knows this impression couldn’t be further from the truth, but I’ll still take it as a reason to not talk about any of the things that were “just” fun, and focus instead on those that were both fun and productive.

      • KDE Edu sprint 2017 in Berlin

        I had the privilege to attend the KDE Edu sprint in Berlin that happened from the 6th to the 9th of October.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • Anarchy Linux Dispels Fear of Arch

        Arch-Anywhere/Anarchy Linux is one of the nicest Arch-based distributions I have encountered. However, Anarchy Linux still requires familiarity with terminology and processes that usually are not needed to install Linux distros from a fully-functioning live session installation disk. Not having a demo mode to preview how the OS runs on your particular hardware can be a time-consuming setback.

        However, once you have Anarchy Linux up and running, it will give you a very pleasing computing experience. Much of what happens after installation depends on the desktop environment you selected.

        If you have a desktop preference or prefer one of the included window manager environments instead, you can forget about the sullied reputation that comes with Arch Linux distros. For many reasons, Anarchy Linux is a winning choice.

    • Slackware Family

      • Chromium 62 ready for download

        chromium_iconEarlier this week, Google released a security update for its chrome/chromium browser. The new version 62.0.3202.62 plugs the holes of 35 more or less serious issues, several of them have a CVE rating.

        When the topic of Chromium 62 came up in the comments section of a previous post, I mentioned that I was unable to compile it on Slackware 14.2. Errors like “error: static assertion failed: Bound argument |i| of type |Arg| cannot be converted and bound as |Storage|” yield some results when looked up on the Internet, and they indicate that Slackware’s own gcc-5.3.0 package is too old to compile chromium 62.

    • Red Hat Family

      • A Red Hat Satellite tutorial to install an update server

        Is server patch management the best part of your job? Stop reading here. Many IT organizations struggle with OS patching processes. For Red Hat administrators who are willing to invest some initial energy to simplify later tasks, Satellite provides infrastructure lifecycle management, including capabilities for provisioning, reporting and configuration management. To this end, follow this Red Hat Satellite tutorial to set up a simple server for updates. Once we review how to install the basic update server, we’ll create one example client.

      • Red Hat updates Gluster storage for OpenShift container apps

        Red Hat bolstered Gluster storage for its OpenShift Container Platform, adding iSCSI block and S3 object interfaces, as well as greater persistent volume density.

      • Red Hat to Cover Open Source Collaboration at Gov’t Symposium; Paul Smith Comments

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is set to hold its annual symposium on federal information technology on Nov. 9 where the company will host discussions on open source collaboration and its potential benefits for government, GovCon Executive reported Oct. 11.

      • Red Hat’s Container Technologies and Knowledge Were Chosen by SoftBank to Embrace DevOps

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that several of Red Hat’s open source technologies, including Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, as well as the knowledge of Red Hat Consulting, were chosen by SoftBank Corp (“SoftBank”), a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., to implement DevOps methodology for its Service Platform Division, IT Service Development Division, Information Technology Unit, and Technology Unit, the company’s in-house IT organization. This large, varied organization develops, maintains and operates SoftBank’s IT systems for internal work and operations, supporting 600 diverse systems.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Looking back at Fedora Workstation so far

          So I have over the last few years blogged regularly about upcoming features in Fedora Workstation. Well I thought as we putting the finishing touches on Fedora Workstation 27 I should try to look back at everything we have achieved since Fedora Workstation was launched with Fedora 21. The efforts I highlight here are efforts where we have done significant or most development. There are of course a lot of other big changes that has happened over the last few years by the wider community that we leveraged and offer in Fedora Workstation, examples here include things like Meson and Rust. This post is not about those, but that said I do want to write a post just talking about the achievements of the wider community at some point, because they are very important and crucial too. And along the same line this post will not be speaking about the large number of improvements and bugfixes that we contributed to a long list of projects, like to GNOME itself. This blog is about taking stock and taking some pride in what we achieved so far and major hurdles we past on our way to improving the Linux desktop experience.

        • Resigning from Fedora Council for Fedora 27

          Since I became a Fedora contributor in August 2015, I’ve spent a lot of time in the community. One of the great things about a big community like Fedora is that there are several different things to try out. I’ve always tried to do the most help in Fedora with my contributions. I prefer to make long-term, in-depth contributions than short-term, “quick fix”-style work. However, like many others, Fedora is a project I contribute to in my free time. Over the last month, I’ve come to a difficult realization.

        • Fedora meets RHEL
        • Fedora 27 Making It Easy To Deploy Free RHEL7 VMs

          For those wanting to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 within a GNOME Boxes driven virtual machine, you can do so for free now with Fedora Workstation 27.

          Red Hat has made it possible to easily deploy RHEL7 from within the GNOME Boxes virtualization software even if you are not a paying Red Hat customer. All that’s required is a free Red Hat developer account.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How To Install Vanilla GNOME Shell on Ubuntu 17.10

            So you’ve installed Ubuntu 17.10 but you’re not 100% sold on the direction Ubuntu has taken the GNOME desktop in — no shame in that.

            The customized version of GNOME that Ubuntu 17.10 uses is very much in the mould of the (now defunct) Unity desktop, so it won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

            If you’d like to sample GNOME Shell as GNOME developers intend it to be sampled you can do so very easily.

          • Happy 13th Birthday, Ubuntu!

            Believe it or not but today is Ubuntu’s 13th birthday!

            Thirteen terrific, and occasional tumultuous, years to the day since Mark Shuttleworth sat down to tap out the first Ubuntu release announcement.

          • Ubuntu Linux will never be the same after version 17.10

            Ready for a really new Ubuntu desktop? Then start downloading Ubuntu 17.10 today. Canonical has abandoned its Unity interface in favor of the new GNOME 3.26 desktop, and has replaced its homegrown Mir display server with Wayland.

            That may sound like a radical change, but it you look closely at the new Ubuntu 17.10, Artful Aardvark, desktop, it will look familiar. That’s because while the underlying technologies have changed, Ubuntu’s developers have customized its default GNOME desktop to look and feel like Unity.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark is ready for download
          • Ubuntu 17.10 releases with GNOME, Kubernetes 1.8; delivers minimal base images
          • How to install and use Uncomplicated Firewall in Ubuntu
          • 10 Major Updates In Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

            So there you have it finally, Ubuntu 17.10. The release which we have been talking about because of its switch to Gnome from Unity. We’ve talked about most its features in a previous article here but let’s again look at the final version of Ubuntu 17.10. At the end of this article, do take a poll and tell us if you’re going to upgrade to Ubuntu 17.10 or not.

          • Ubuntu 17.10: Hands-on with Artful Aardvark

            Ubuntu 17.10, Artful Aardvark, has now been officially released. I have not been much of an Ubuntu fan for a long time now, but this release includes a lot of significant changes, many of which might address some of my most serious objections about Ubuntu. So I think I should take a closer look at it than I normally do.

            The release announcement mentions the major updates and changes – including the biggest of all, the switch from Unity back to Gnome 3 / Gnome Shell for the desktop. As I have not liked Unity from the very first time I saw it (that’s a polite way to phrase it), I am very, very pleased with this change.

            The release notes (for all versions) give a more complete list of packages updated, and a list of known issues. It also includes a statement that I know some users will not be pleased with

          • 15 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark”

            ​The New Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” launch with GNOME3 has brought a big change and got a lot of people excited to try it as soon as they can. If you don’t know yet the new stuff in Ubuntu 17.10, read the article we published today.

          • NEC Partners with Canonical and Screenly on Ubuntu Digital Signage Platform
          • How To Download Ubuntu 17.10 via Torrent
          • Ubuntu 17.10 launches welcoming back the laughing GNOME

            Ubuntu 17.10 is the first to return to the GNOME runtime following the decision to abandon Unity 8 and therefore end the company’s official involvement with mobile phone development.

          • Canonical on Path to IPO as Ubuntu Unity Linux Desktop Gets Ditched

            In October 2010, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu open-source operating system and CEO of Canonical, announced his grand plan to build a converged Linux desktop that would work on mobile devices, desktops and even TVs. He called the effort “Unity” and poured significant financial resources into it.

            Seven years later, the Unity dream is dead.

            On Oct. 19, Ubuntu 17.10 was released as the first Ubuntu Linux version since 2010 that didn’t use Unity as the default Linux desktop. In a video interview with eWEEK, Shuttleworth details the rationale behind his decision to cancel Unity and why he has now put his company on the path toward an initial public offering (IPO).

            Because Ubuntu has moved into the mainstream in a bunch of areas, including the cloud, he said some of the things his company had been doing were never going to be commercially sustainable.

          • Ubuntu 17.10 delivers new desktop and cloud enhancements
          • Ubuntu 17.10: We’re coming GNOME! Plenty that’s Artful in Aardvark, with a few Wayland wails

            Ubuntu has done a good job of integrating a few plugins that improve GNOME’s user experience compared to stock GNOME – most notably a modified version of the Dash-to-Dock and the App Indicator extensions, which go a long way toward making GNOME a bit more like Unity. It’s worth noting that Ubuntu’s fork of Dash-to-Dock lacks some features of the original, but you can uninstall the Ubuntu version in favour of the original if you prefer. In fact you can really revert to a pretty stock GNOME desktop with just a few tweaks. Canonical said it wasn’t going to heavily modify GNOME and indeed it hasn’t.

          • What’s New in Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark
          • Ubuntu Podcast: S10E33 – Aggressive Judicious Frame

            This week we’ve been protecting our privacy with LineageOS and playing Rust. Telegram get fined, your cloud is being used to mine BitCoin, Google announces a new privacy focused product tier, North Korea hacks a UK TV studio, a new fully branded attack vector is unveiled and Purism reach their funding goal for the Librem 5.

          • Newbie’s Guide to Ubuntu 17.10 Part 3

            This is Part 3 of the newbie’s guide to operate Ubuntu 17.10. Here you’ll learn most basic settings in Ubuntu divided in 2 parts (basics & installing applications) plus special part (GNOME Tweaks and Shell Extensions) at end. Basic needs such as changing wallpaper and enabling touchpad are explained with pictures, including repositioning the dock to bottom (many users will like it) and choosing repository mirror source too. I wish this simple tutorial helps you to operate Ubuntu fluently. This is the last part and I will republish them soon as an ebook. Enjoy!

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Tried Elementary OS 0.4.1 Loki again – Negatory

              The Linux desktop needs a reset. We’re now in a post-Ubuntu world, with Unity gone, and we’re back in sad and forlorn 2005. There isn’t a single major project out there where you can look and say, wow, there’s gonna be a fun and exciting year ahead of us. Well, maybe one or two. The rest? Just run-of-the-mill stuff. The forums are quiet, because there isn’t anything to report, and rehashing kernel versions and desktop versions isn’t really worth anyone’s time.

              I think elementary OS represents this crisis quite well. On its own, it’s a badly cobbled release, with too many issues and inconsistencies and a dreadful approach to ergonomics, making it useless to most people, all other things notwithstanding. But it was too buggy for me to even attempt to install it. Not going well. Alas, unless something cardinal changes, I cannot recommend this one at all. The combo of visual glitches, mediocre performance and middling hardware support does not warrant a longer adventure. Perhaps one day this will change, but for now, you’re better off with stock Ubuntu. And by that I mean up to Zesty, ad I haven’t tried Aardvark yet. Take care, and stay golden.

            • Ubuntu MATE 17.10 Welcomes Unity Fans with New Mutiny Layout, Ships with Snaps

              Ubuntu MATE 17.10 was released today as part of today’s Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, bringing six month’s worth of improvements and new features for fans of the MATE desktop environment.

            • Lubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) released!
            • Xubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” Released
            • Refreshing the Xubuntu logo

              Earlier this year I worked a bit with our logo to propose a small change to it – first change to the logo in 5 years. The team approved, but for various reasons the new logo did not make it to 17.10. Now we’re ready to push it out to the world.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Flint OS, an operating system for a cloud-first world

    Given the power of today’s browser platform technology and web frontend performance, it’s not surprising that most things we want to do with the internet can be accomplished through a single browser window. We are stepping into an era where installable apps will become history, where all our applications and services will live in the cloud.

    The problem is that most operating systems weren’t designed for an internet-first world. Flint OS (soon to be renamed FydeOS) is a secure, fast, and productive operating system that was built to fill that gap. It’s based on the open source Chromium OS project that also powers Google Chromebooks. Chromium OS is based on the Linux kernel and uses Google’s Chromium browser as its principal user interface, therefore it primarily supports web applications.

  • Room for Improvement: Areas Where Open Source Can Get Even Better

    Open source software delivers a huge amount of value. But it stands to offer even more. Here’s a list of the ways open source can evolve to meet the needs of developers and organizations even better than it does today.

    Opportunities for continued evolution and improvement in open source include

  • 7 years of open source: Twilio, Synopsys & Veracode

    “What was once considered fringe and anti-establishment has now become the norm powering some of the largest technological innovations of our times. In the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous driving and block chain, OSS leads the way,” said Mel Llaguno , open source solution manager at Synopsys Software Integrity Group.

  • F-Droid, the open-source app repository, has been updated to v1.0

    If you are a big Android enthusiast, then you’re probably familiar with the name F-Droid. If not, it’s an extensive repository of open source apps, as well as the name of its accompanying client. Today that client has been updated to v1.0.

    If you remember our coverage of v0.103, v1.0 should look pretty familiar. While there have been some significant changes behind the scenes, apart from a general improvement in performance and ease of use, you’re not likely to notice much.

  • Rackspace ends discount hosting for open source projects

    Rackspace has ended a program under which it offered “generous discounts on hosting for more than 150 OSS projects and communities”, but flubbed the announcement.

    The closure of the program came to our attention after Reg operatives noticed the Tweet below from Eric Holscher, who posted an image in which it appears the fanatical services company planned to withdraw the discount entirely.

  • Oracle Joins Serverless Race with Open Source Fn Project

    Oracle has released Fn, a new open-source, cloud-agnostic, serverless platform. While supporting ‘any programming language’, it initially launched with extensive Java capabilities and a JUnit test framework.

    Fn comprises four of main components: Fn Server, Fn FDKs, Fn Flow and Fn Load Balancer. Written in Go, Fn Server is the platform that runs the code.

  • CableLabs Hints That It’s Planning an Open Source Group

    In a meeting at the SCTE-ISBE Cable Tec Expo show yesterday, Randy Levensalor, lead architect at CableLabs involved with the group’s software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) work, mentioned that CableLabs is planning to announce an open source group soon. He didn’t provide any further detail other than to say CableLabs will be making an announcement in about a month.

    We can speculate that it relates to CableLabs’ SNAPS initiative. SNAPS stands for “SDN/NFV Application development Platform and Stack.” The key objectives for SNAPS are to make it easier for NFV vendors to onboard their applications and to reduce the complexity of integration testing. The initiative attempts to accelerate the adoption of network virtualization, wrote Levensalor in a recent blog posting.

  • Effective Strategies for Recruiting Open Source Developers

    Experienced open source developers are in short supply. To attract top talent, companies often have to do more than hire a recruiter or place an ad on a popular job site. However, if you are running an open source program at your organization, the program itself can be leveraged as a very effective recruiting tool. That is precisely where the new, free online guide Recruiting Open Source Developers comes in. It can help any organization in recruiting developers, or building internal talent, through nurturing an open source culture, contributing to open source communities, and showcasing the utility of new open source projects.

    Why does your organization need a recruiting strategy? One reason is that the growing shortage of skilled developers is well documented. According to a recent Cloud Foundry report, there are a quarter-million job openings for software developers in the U.S. alone and half a million unfilled jobs that require tech skills. They’re also forecasting the number of unfillable developer jobs to reach one million within the next decade.

  • Open source software group for modernizing factory robots seeks SA industry partners
  • Room for Improvement: Areas Where Open Source Can Get Even Better

    Open source software delivers a huge amount of value. But it stands to offer even more. Here’s a list of the ways open source can evolve to meet the needs of developers and organizations even better than it does today.

  • What Lightning Will Look Like: Lightning Labs Has Announced Its User Interface Wallet

    As part of the announcement, Lightning Labs also introduced Neutrino, the new open-source Bitcoin light client that powers the Lightning Desktop App. As a main benefit, Neutrino users don’t need to download the entire Bitcoin blockchain, which is currently over 140 gigabytes in size. This makes the desktop app much more accessible to regular users who transact small amounts, for which the lightning network is particularly suited. And because Neutrino uses a new method of transaction filtering (client side instead of bloom filters), it offers more privacy than most light clients, too.

  • Suite of free, open-source tools to help even non-experts monitor large-scale land use change

    Collect Earth is part of Open Foris, a set of free and open-source software tools developed by FAO with Google Earth, Bing Maps and GEE to facilitate flexible and efficient data collection, analysis and reporting. It is hosted on GitHub, a platform for collaborative software development.

  • AdaptiveScale Releases LXDUI as an Open Source Project.

    As part of AdaptiveScale’s newly released Custer Manager 1.3 software, we are proud to announce that we have released LXDUI as an open source project under the Apache 2.0 license.

  • Lamden Announces Open Source Blockchain Development Suite and Token Sale

    Lamden, the Switzerland-based technology company behind a new innovative blockchain development suite for enterprise applications, has just announced the token sale of their Lamden Tau Token.

  • Events

    • Hacktoberfest 2017 @ Tel Aviv

      I gave my “Midburn – creating an open source community” talk in Hacktoberfest 2017 @ Tel Aviv. This is the local version of an initiative by DigitalOcean and GitHub.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Bringing Mixed Reality to the Web

        Today, Mozilla is announcing a new development program for Mixed Reality that will significantly expand its work in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for the web. Our initial focus will be on how to get devices, headsets, frameworks and toolsets to work together, so web developers can choose from a variety of tools and publishing methods to bring new immersive experiences online – and have them work together in a fully functional way.

      • Firefox 57 coming soon: a Quantum leap

        Over the past year, Mozilla has been working on a series of major changes to the Firefox browser, mainly for performance and security. These changes are referred to as Project Quantum. Some improvements arrived already with no major differences for its users.

        Last month the major changes landed in the developer channel. These changes mark a major deadline for how extensions work. This deadline gave third party developers a chance to look at their extensions and make changes to remain compatible. It was an important milestone date for the various Firefox add-ons. Firefox 57 marks an end to the legacy XUL based extensions. Starting with version 57, Firefox supports only a new type of extension, named WebExtension.

  • Databases

    • MongoDB’s successful IPO reflects its differences with traditional open source

      MongoDB had a good first day of trading with share prices popping roughly 25% over their opening. As the latest big data platform company to IPO, Mongo’s fortunes are being compared and equated to Cloudera and Hortonworks.

      As upstarts, each is in a race to grow business while whittling down the red ink. Cloudera and Hortonworks are a bit further along this path as their operating losses have begun trending downward – but that happened only after those companies went public.

    • MongoDB’s IPO Beats the Market Out of the Gate

      The folks at MongoDB raised a whole lot of money today in their debut on NASDAQ.

      Yesterday the open source company announced it was going to be asking $24 a share for the 8 million Class A shares it was letting loose in its IPO, which had some Wall Street investors scratching their heads and wondering if the brains at Mongo were suffering from some kind of undiagnosed damage. Analysts had been estimating an opening price of between $20-22 per share, and on October 6 the company had estimated an opening price in the range of $18-20.

    • Wall Street likes databases, as MongoDB soars over 30 percent in its IPO

      Shares of fast-growing cloud database provider MongoDB closed well above the initial asking price of $24, finishing the day at $32.07 after the company successfully raised $192 million in an initial public offering Thursday.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Why it’s pointless to criticize Amazon for being ‘bad’ at open source

      Apparently AWS is B-A-D because it’s a net consumer of open source software. You know, like every single company on earth, inside or outside of tech, probably even including Red Hat. The simple truth is that everyone consumes far more open source software than they contribute. It’s just how the world works.

      For those trying to keep score, however, and paint Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a bad open source citizen, the question is “Why?” Accusations of open source parsimony don’t seem to have damaged developers’ love for AWS as a platform, so exactly what are critics hoping to accomplish? Is it simply a matter of “paying a tax,” as some suggest? If we’ve been reduced to inventing taxes to be paid, with no apparent reason for imposing them, we’re doing open source wrong.

    • PrismTech Moves Market-Leading Proven DDS Solution to Open Source as Eclipse Cyclone
  • BSD

    • DragonFly 5.0 released!

      The normal ISO and IMG files are available for download and install, plus an uncompressed ISO image for those installing remotely.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • An update on GnuPG

      The GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) is one of the fundamental tools that allows a distributed group to have trust in its communications. Werner Koch, lead developer of GnuPG, spoke about it at Kernel Recipes: what’s in the new 2.2 version, when older versions will reach their end of life, and how development will proceed going forward. He also spoke at some length on the issue of best-practice key management and how GnuPG is evolving to assist.

      It is less than three years since attention was focused on the perilous position of GnuPG; because of systematic failure of the community to fund its development, Koch was considering packing it all in. The Snowden revelations persuaded him to keep going a little longer, then in the wake of Heartbleed there was a resurgent interest in funding the things we all rely on. Heartbleed led to the founding of the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII). A grant from CII joined commitments from several companies and other organizations and an upsurge in community funding has put GnuPG on a more secure footing going forward.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Digital Impact Alliance Announces Formation of New Open Source Center and First Round of Catalytic Funding for ICT4D Projects

      Today, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) announced the formation of its new Open Source Center (OSC), and two partners – Digital Square and Software Freedom Conservancy – who will support the Center’s work. The Center will act as a resource to open source software projects serving international development and humanitarian response, providing a variety of shared services, insights and mentorship from partners, as well as funding opportunities. The Center is currently offering its first round of catalytic grants to address a range of challenges including effectiveness and momentum. In this first round, four grants will be made, up to $25,000 each, to projects that foster a healthy, sustainable open source community and products. Applications for funding of new participating members is now available, with a November 8 deadline for initial letters of interest.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Nana Oforiatta Ayim’s Open-Source Encyclopedia of African History Starts With Ghana

        It is a rare kind of woman who enjoys a project so vast that it’s practically unfinishable, but Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a Ghanaian gallerist, writer, and historian, never quits what she has started. She’s discussing her work on the “Cultural Encyclopaedia”, an attempt to “facilitate the re/ordering of knowledge, narratives, and representations from and about the African continent” through an online resource that includes an A-to-Z index and vertices of clickable images for entries. Eventually, a 54-volume book series—one for each country on the continent—will be published with selections from the encyclopedia’s long, long list. Oforiatta Ayim is working with a small team of editors, and, starting with her native country, she has taken on the task of documenting all significant cultural touchstones in the thousands of years of African history. Plus, it will be open source to prevent it from having a top-down logic. “I’m a little bit crazy to take it on,” she says. “But if I’m not going to do it, who is going to be as crazy as me?”

  • Programming/Development

    • How Eclipse is advancing IoT development

      Eclipse may not be the first open source organization that pops to mind when thinking about Internet of Things (IoT) projects. After all, the foundation has been around since 2001, long before IoT was a household word, supporting a community for commercially viable open source software development.

      September’s Eclipse IoT Day, held in conjunction with RedMonk’s ThingMonk 2017 event, emphasized the big role Eclipse is taking in IoT development. It currently hosts 28 projects that touch a wide range of IoT needs and projects. While at the conference, I talked with Ian Skerritt, who heads marketing for Eclipse, about Eclipse’s IoT projects and how Eclipse thinks about IoT more broadly.

    • Intel Begins Landing GFNI Support In GCC 8

      Intel compiler engineers have begun landing “GFNI” support within the GNU Compiler Collection as one of the new ISA extensions not expected until the Icelake processor debut.

    • Control-Flow Enforcement Technology Begins To Land In GCC 8

      Intel Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET) support has begun landing within the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) for this code safety feature.

      Patches have been in the works for several months while now the start of the patches are being merged to mainline. Coincidentally, at the same time Intel is also landing their GFNI instruction patches in GCC as well.

    • Facebook open sources concurrent programming debugger

      Learning how to do sequential computing, where one calculation is made after the other, is easy. Anyone who learns programmings gets that. Parallel programming, which empowers super-computing calculations to be made simultaneously, is much harder, but doable. Concurrent computing, where multiple calculations are made within overlapping time frames, now that’s hard. It’s also extremely useful whether it’s tracking multiple trains on a single train-line or multiple comments on a single Facebook page. That’s why Facebook has worked hard on concurrent programming. Now, Facebook is sharing its newest debugger tool: RacerD, its new open source race detector.

    • Facebook open-sources RacerD tool to prevent pesky programming problems
    • RacerD detects hard-to-find race conditions in Java code
    • Facebook tackles race hate problem head on with programming tool
    • Facebook open sources RacerD: A tool that’s already squashed 1,000 bugs in concurrent code
    • The Only Person I’ll Pair Program with is my Cat

      I could argue (to varying degrees of success) that pair programming isn’t productive. Productivity of a practice is an easy thing to attack because, in our capitalist dystopia, it’s the end-all-be-all metric. But I hate pair programming, and it’s not just because I don’t feel productive. It’s a lot more than that.

Leftovers

  • The Risks of Unsolicited and Automated Engagement

    I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant and I always admire companies who are open about both their successes and failures. It reminds me when GitLab had their downtime incident: instead of battening down the hatches, they spun up a Google Doc, a live YouTube stream and brought their customers in to help rectify the issue. They got a lot of goodwill from their community.

    If you work for an organization where this article smacks a little close to home, I would be open about it, identify where there are failings, and bring your customers in where they can help you to understand the primary value they are seeking and how you can craft that. People respect humility in cases of failure.

    The reason I am writing this is because I suspect the folks at Bark are good people making some mistakes, and I suspect other companies are making similar mistakes, so I figured this might be a useful article to mull on.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Jane Doe Wants an Abortion but the Government Is Hell Bent on Stopping Her

      The federal government is holding a young woman hostage to force her to carry her pregnancy to term against her will.

      After Jane Doe, a 17-year-old immigrant from Central America, found out she was pregnant last month, she decided to have an abortion. But the Office of Refugee Resettlement — the federal government agency charged with caring for unaccompanied immigrant minors once they enter the country — is prohibiting her from getting one.

      The federal government has a new policy that allows it to veto an unaccompanied minors’ abortion decision, and government officials are doing everything imaginable to prevent Ms. Doe from accessing abortion. They have instructed the shelter where Jane Doe is staying not to transport Ms. Doe or allow Ms. Doe’s court-appointed guardian to transport her to the health care center to have an abortion — essentially holding her hostage.

    • New Study Shows Glyphosate Contaminated Soils Put Half of Europe at Risk

      Pesticides, once used, do not dissolve into thin air, but persist in the environment, contaminating soil, air and water. This is the most recent red flag to emerge as a result of a new joint study by the University of Wageningen, the Joint Research Center of the European Commission and RIKILT laboratories – recently published in the scientific journal “Science of the Total Environment” – which shows that almost half of European soils are contaminated. Results of the analysis of 300 soil samples in 10 different European countries reveal that 45% of agricultural land in Europe contains glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA. This is just the latest, and certainly not the last blow to the theories on the presumed, and never proven safety of agrochemicals in agriculture.

  • Security

    • 8 ‘Minecraft’ apps infected with Sockbot malware on Google Play found adding devices to botnet

      Security researchers have discovered that at least eight malware-laced apps on Google Play Store are ensnaring devices to a botnet to potentially carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and other malicious attacks. These apps claimed to provide skins to tweak the look of characters in the popular Minecraft: Pocket Edition game and have been downloaded as many as 2.6 million times.

    • KRACK Vulnerability: What You Need To Know

      This week security researchers announced a newly discovered vulnerability dubbed KRACK, which affects several common security protocols for Wi-Fi, including WPA (Wireless Protected Access) and WPA2. This is a bad vulnerability in that it likely affects billions of devices, many of which are hard to patch and will remain vulnerable for a long time. Yet in light of the sometimes overblown media coverage, it’s important to keep the impact of KRACK in perspective: KRACK does not affect HTTPS traffic, and KRACK’s discovery does not mean all Wi-Fi networks are under attack. For most people, the sanest thing to do is simply continue using wireless Internet access.

    • FERC sets rules to protect grid from malware spread through laptops

      The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday proposed new mandatory cybersecurity controls to protect the utility system from the threat posed by laptops and other mobile devices that could spread malicious software.

      The standards are meant to “further enhance the reliability and resilience of the nation’s bulk electric system” by preventing malware from infecting utility networks and bringing down the power grid, according to the nation’s grid regulator.

    • Hack These Apps And Earn $1,000 — Bug Bounty Program Launched By Google And HackerOne
    • Security Vulnerability Puts Linux Kernel at Risk
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Security Central: Open Source Risks Examined [Ed: Is Flexera pulling a Black Duck now? Badmouthing FOSS while ignoring worse issues with proprietary software?]
    • Reaper: IoT botnet ‘worse than Mirai’ infects one million organisations worldwide

      Check Point first unearthed the botnet, codenamed ‘IoT_reaper’, at the beginning of September and claims that, since, it’s already enslaved millions of IoT devices including routers and IP cameras from firms including GoAhead, D-Link, TP-Link, Avtech, Netgear, MikroTik, Linksys and Synology.

    • Google will pay out bounties for bad Android app flaws

      “Google Play is working with the independent bug bounty platform, HackerOne, and the developers of popular Android apps to implement the Google Play Security Reward Program. Developers of popular Android apps are invited to opt-in to the program, which will incentivize security research in a bug bounty model,” says HackerOne.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • No, US Didn’t ‘Stand By’ Indonesian Genocide—It Actively Participated

      “Standing by,” however, is not what the United States did during the Indonesian genocide of 1965–66; rather, it actively supported the massacres, which were applauded at the time by the New York Times.

      Indonesia in 1965 was run by President Sukarno, an anti-colonial nationalist who had irritated Washington with friendly ties to the Indonesian Communist Party, known as the PKI. When an abortive coup attempt was dubiously blamed on the PKI, this was seen by both the Indonesian military and the US as an opportunity.

    • Uncle Sam: The Ultimate Gun Nut

      It’s beginning to look like we may never fully understand Stephen Paddock’s “military-grade” assault on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Law enforcement keeps looking in vain for some sort of motive in the dark abyss of Paddock’s odd life. Alt-Right conspiracists are churning out click-baited concoctions that often border on the comical. And the rest of us are left to ponder how and why a wealthy cipher amassed a huge arsenal of weapons that allowed him to become a one-man army.

    • Aides ‘hustled’ after Trump interview to secure list of fallen soldiers: report

      White House aides were “hustling” to secure an up-to-date list of soldiers who died this year after President Trump claimed in an interview earlier this week that he had contacted the families of “virtually everybody” in the military who was killed since he took office, Roll Call reported Friday.

      An email exchange between the White House and Defense Secretary James Mattis’ office reportedly shows the White House asking the department for information regarding the families of service members killed after the president’s inauguration in January.

      The White House asked for the information on surviving family members so Trump could make sure to contact all of them, according to Roll Call.

      The report said that the email exchange came hours after the president said in a Fox News Radio interview Tuesday that he had called nearly all of the families of those killed since he took office.

    • Please Stop Using ‘Woman in Chador Walks by Anti-US Mural’ Stock Photo for Every Article About Iran

      The general mindlessness in choosing a stock photo is what makes them so pernicious. Editors reach for an image that captures the overall theme of the article while drawing the eye of distracted media consumers—typically as an afterthought, something that accents a piece rather than defines it. It’s not an easy task, but it’s one that, left unexamined, can become a form of propaganda independent of any written text.

      One of the most overused and toxic stock photos–and one that highlights perfectly this genre of image making—is the “Woman in Chador Walks by Anti-US Mural” image accompanying countless stories about US/Iran relations. In several variants, the photo shows one or two Iranian women clad in black chadors, faces usually barely visible, walking past a mural of the Statute of Liberty with a skull face.

    • Trump and His ‘Beautiful’ Weapons

      Capturing the wisdom and the beauty of Donald J. Trump in just one statement escaping from his charming mouth: “Our military has never been stronger. Each day, new equipment is delivered; new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world – the best anywhere in the world, by far.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Clinton, Assange and the War on Truth

      On 16 October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an interview with Hillary Clinton: one of many to promote her score-settling book about why she was not elected President of the United States.

      Wading through the Clinton book, What Happened, is an unpleasant experience, like a stomach upset. Smears and tears. Threats and enemies. “They” (voters) were brainwashed and herded against her by the odious Donald Trump in cahoots with sinister Slavs sent from the great darkness known as Russia, assisted by an Australian “nihilist”, Julian Assange.

    • Julian Assange hits back after CIA director likens WikiLeaks to Isis and Hezbollah
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • On NAFTA, America, Canada and Mexico are miles apart

      On October 17th trade representatives of the three countries gathered to mark the end of the fourth round of talks. A collapse does not seem imminent. Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative (pictured, centre), denied that abandoning the deal was even being discussed, and announced an extension of negotiations into the first quarter of 2018. But he also played down the damage that would be done if no agreement is reached. And Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign-affairs minister, said that in a “no-fuss Canadian way” she was preparing for “the worst possible outcome”.

    • Three-quarters of the UK public say Brexit is going badly, new poll reveals

      The British public have delivered a damning verdict on the Government’s Brexit strategy after a new poll revealed a huge majority think negotiations with Brussels are going badly.

      The exclusive BMG Research survey carried out before and during the European Council summit at which the Prime Minister won a small concession from EU leaders, shows more than three-quarters of people still think her strategy is failing.

      Almost half also think that the no-deal scenario threatened by ministers would be “bad” for Britain, and reject outright the hard Brexit plan to abandon talks at Christmas if the EU does not allow progress, according to the poll.

    • A Suspected Network Of 13,000 Twitter Bots Pumped Out Pro-Brexit Messages In The Run-Up To The EU Vote

      Researchers have uncovered new evidence of networks of thousands of suspect Twitter bots working to influence the Brexit debate in the run-up to the EU referendum.

      The findings, from researchers at City, University of London, include a network of more than 13,000 suspected bots that tweeted predominantly pro-Brexit messages before being deleted or removed from Twitter in the weeks following the vote.

      The research – which is published in the peer-reviewed Social Science Computer Review journal and was shared exclusively with BuzzFeed News – suggests the suspected bot accounts were eight times more likely to tweet pro-leave than pro-remain content.

      “This is research that corroborates what Facebook and others say: that there are bots that serve to falsely amplify certain messages,” co-author Dan Mercea told BuzzFeed News.

      “There is a potential distortion of public communications and we want to get to the bottom of that. This amplification is of concern as it gives us a false sense of momentum behind certain ideas… If there is false amplification, how do we know if someone is genuine?”

    • How every investor lost money on Trump Tower Toronto (but Donald Trump made millions anyway)

      It’s 2002 and you’ve agreed to have your name emblazoned across the top of the tallest residential tower in Canada, a $500-million, five-star condo-hotel in downtown Toronto.

      Here’s the thing: Only months into the project, your lead developer is publicly exposed in the pages of the Toronto Star as a fugitive fraudster on the run from U.S. justice. Your major institutional partner — the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company — bails shortly after.

    • (Why) The English-Speaking World is the New Soviet Union

      The English-speaking world is in an ideological bubble. The fall of the Soviet Union was the failure of pure socialism. Now, ironically, the fall of the Anglo world is it’s perfect, almost precise, mirror image: the failure of pure capitalism. The simple lesson of the last century is this: either system alone cannot last, endure, or work. Now, the rest of the world knows this. Even Rwanda is building public healthcare — Rwanda, which just three decades ago, was the byword for genocide. Even Pakistan is building public transport and hospitals and schools. The entire rest of the world knows that capitalism is just one tool in the box of building genuinely prosperous societies — and quite often it is precisely the wrong tool. Yet on the Anglo world goes, impotent but still monogamously wedded to capitalism, so now you can get same-day drone delivery of anything at all from Amazon, recommended by your Fakebook friends — but you can die for lack of basic medicine, you don’t have savings, and you’ll never retire, while everyone else knows that trying to use capitalism alone to build, say, working healthcare or educational or financial systems is like trying to water a garden with napalm.

      Limited by that childish belief, in America, for example, public investment has become completely verboten, sacrosanct, beyond imagining, to the point that hospitals are closing down. Have you ever heard of a society closing hospitals? Why would a sane society ever do that, if its population is growing (or even if it isn’t, because healthcare is always advancing)? Such insensible, unreasonable, thoughtless, inhumane, grotesquely foolish extremism is the precise mirror image of a few decades ago, when, it was forbidden in the Soviet Union to, say, even set up a little dry cleaning shop. In just this way, the ideological bubble that the Anglo world is in trapped in, like a web holding a fly, condemns it to fall behind the world, and it’s future resembles that of Russia’s. We’ll discuss that more in a moment.

    • EU summit: UK must adjust to a new reality

      ‘The fundamental difference between the UK vision of what this is about and the Franco-German view is that the British still think this is a negotiation,” Pascal Lamy, the former director general of the World Trade Organisation, told the Financial Times this week. Certainly, six months into the Brexit talks, London appears not to have adjusted its expectations to reflect the cold reality it faces. In advance of the European Council summit in Brussels this week, the chief UK negotiator, David Davis, complained, as if some conspiracy were afoot, that the EU was “using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us” – a reference to the EU’s refusal to move the talks to the next phase before agreement on the UK’s financial liabilities. Of course that’s what the EU is doing – using its vastly stronger negotiating position to make London pay its outstanding bills.

      The EU has no interest in seeing the talks fail, but London’s claim that each side has as much to lose as the other is fantasy. For the EU, the worst case scenario is bad. For the UK, it’s catastrophic. While European leaders could do more to recognise the limited room for manoeuvre that prime minister Theresa May enjoys at home, the truth is that the British Conservative Party created its own problem by failing to level with its own public about the costs and the pain Brexit would entail.

    • Malcolm Tucker: ‘Brexit is like committing suicide by walking into a door over and over again’

      The new edition of The Big Issue is out, which means Malcolm Tucker’s thoughts on Brexit are in.

      Armando Iannucci has guest-edited this week’s magazine, the centrepiece of which is a conversation between his beloved characters Malcolm Tucker and Alan Partridge.

      We still hear from Alan a fair amount through his various TV shows, so it is The Thick of It’s PR man who is the main draw here, and unsurprisingly he has some pretty caustic thoughts on Brexit (via iNews) and the ensuing omnishambles (to use a Thick of It term):

      Tucker: “Brexit’s idiotic. It’ll be like committing suicide by walking into a door over and over again for years, leavers are imbeciles.”

      “[Brexit is] a f****** death cult.”

    • Cocoa Thoughts

      Cocoa has been one of the most successful areas of endeavour for the Fairtrade movement, but all of that has only resulted in that 5.5% figure, which without Fairtrade would be still lower. It is possible to buy Ghanaian made finished chocolate product in British supermarkets now, and excellent it is too, but it has a very small market share. Producing finished chocolate in Africa has its problems; chocolate is a much more delicate cargo than cocoa beans and reacts badly to either heat or refrigeration. Recipes which overcome this problem result in a certain harshness.

    • Egypt’s Rainbow Raids

      Sisi is whipping up homophobia and targeting gay people to distract his base from rising unemployment and inflation.

    • GE’s nightmare just got worse
    • In blow to Britain, Goldman CEO says to spend more time in Frankfurt

      Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is planning to spend a lot more time in Frankfurt, he said on Thursday, as the Wall Street bank pushes ahead with plans to make the German city a major base after Britain leaves the European Union.

    • A Tale of Two Transparencies: Why The EU And Activists Will Always Disagree Over Trade Deal Negotiations

      Although the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has dropped off the radar completely since Donald Trump’s election, for some years it was a key concern of both the US and European governments, and a major theme of Techdirt’s posts. One of the key issues was transparency — or the lack of it. Eventually, the European Commission realized that its refusal to release information about the negotiations was seriously undermining its ability to sell the deal to the EU public, and it began making some changes on this front, as we discussed back in 2015. Since then, transparency has remained a theme of the European Commission’s initiatives. Last month, in his annual State of the Union address, President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his proposals for trade policy. One of them was all about transparency:

    • Blockchains: How They Work and Why They’ll Change the World

      Bitcoin was hatched as an act of defiance. Unleashed in the wake of the Great Recession, the cryptocurrency was touted by its early champions as an antidote to the inequities and corruption of the traditional financial system. They cherished the belief that as this parallel currency took off, it would compete with and ultimately dismantle the institutions that had brought about the crisis. Bitcoin’s unofficial catchphrase, “In cryptography we trust,” left no doubt about who was to blame: It was the middlemen, the bankers, the “trusted” third parties who actually couldn’t be trusted. These humans simply got in the way of other humans, skimming profits and complicating transactions.

    • The Power of Stories: Why We Need More Than Facts to Win

      You cannot take away someone’s story without giving them a new one. It is not enough to challenge an old narrative, however outdated and discredited it may be. Change happens only when you replace it with another. When we develop the right story, and learn how to tell it, it will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum. Those who tell the stories run the world.

      The old world, which once looked stable, even immutable, is collapsing. A new era has begun, loaded with hazard if we fail to respond, charged with promise if we seize the moment. Whether the systems that emerge from this rupture are better or worse than the current dispensation depends on our ability to tell a new story, a story that learns from the past, places us in the present and guides the future.

    • Cities around US offer billions in tax breaks to be Amazon’s HQ2

      Cities around the country are pulling out all the stops to entice Amazon to set up its second headquarters in their area.

      The online retail giant is taking proposals from around North America, and today’s the deadline. Some of the proposals include massive tax breaks, while other cities are trying out humorous gimmicks to get the company’s attention.

      New Jersey has offered the biggest tax incentives, consisting of up to $7 billion in state and local tax rebates if Amazon locates in Newark and hires the 50,000 workers it has said it would. The company has also promised $5 billion in spending on construction of the headquarters. The New Jersey offer, announced Monday, is $2 billion more than what Republican Governor Chris Christie and the Democratic-led New Jersey legislature agreed to last month.

    • Freed Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera on U.S. Colonialism After Hurricane Maria

      One month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we hear from longtime Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who was released in May and is now in San Juan to visit with community members affected by Hurricane Maria. Until earlier this year, Rivera had been in federal prison for 35 years—much of the time in solitary confinement—after he was convicted on federal charges of opposing U.S. authority over the island by force. President Obama commuted his sentence in January.

    • I’ve annotated the government’s response to the petition calling for another Brexit referendum

      It’s funny how some numbers that sound big are actually small, isn’t it? If 111,507 people turned up at your door demanding you do something, you’d probably feel under quite some pressure to do it.

      But there are more than 65 million people in the UK: those 111,507 people are less than 0.2 per cent of the population. So it is that Theresa May’s government feels quite happy to ignore them and get on with doing exactly what it wanted to do anyway.

      That, at least, is the subtext of its response to a petition on the official parliamentary website demanding that it “hold a referendum on the final Brexit deal”. At time of writing, it’s been signed by 111,512 people (ooh, that’s five more since I started writing) – and the rules state that any petition which tops 100,000 signatures “will be considered for debate in parliament”.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Spain Moves To Strip Catalonia’s Autonomy After Secession Showdown

      At the Cabinet meeting, the government would invoke Article 155 of Spain’s constitution allowing it to strip Catalonia of its self-governance. That would take effect on Saturday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office said in a statement.

      Madrid had given Puigdemont a 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) deadline to clarify his government’s stance on a non-binding declaration of independence passed by the regional legislature following a successful referendum on secession.

    • Banning Democracy in Catalonia

      There is a fundamental disconnect between the real Catalonia and the Catalonia the political Establishment and its lackey media want us to believe exists.

      All of the major Western broadcasters, plus newspapers like The Guardian, Washington Post and New York Times, have repeatedly pumped out the mantra that it is only a minority in Catalonia that support Independence. They have never attempted to explain why therefore Carles Puigdemont is President, and why the pro-Independence parties got 48% at the last Catalan elections while the Spanish Nationalist parties got 39%.

    • Republican official ‘would have shot’ Guardian reporter attacked by Gianforte

      A Montana Republican party official “would have shot” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs if he had approached her as he did Greg Gianforte, who assaulted Jacobs one day before he was elected to Congress.

      Jacobs approached Gianforte in May, in a room where he was about to give a television interview. The Republican slammed Jacobs to the floor, breaking his glasses, and then punched him several times.

    • Lawyers: Trump’s Twitter Account Not Presidential; Also: Trump Is President, Can’t Be Sued

      A lawsuit filed against President Trump alleges a host of First Amendment violations stemming from Trump’s Twitter blocklist. According to the suit filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, an official government account shouldn’t be allowed to block users from reading tweets. Sure, there’s an actual official presidential Twitter account, but nothing of interest happens there. Everything from retweets of questionable GIFs to arguable threats of nuclear war happen at Donald Trump’s personal account. But everything’s all mixed together because the president insists on using his personal account (and its blocklist) to communicate a majority of his thoughts and opinions.

    • Bill to halt election meddling on social media introduced

      Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), are supporting the bill, which aims to put social media companies on par with radio and TV in their disclosure requirements.

    • What’s Even Scarier Than Donald Trump?

      Donald Trump’s flailings are ever more terrifying. In the course of a few days, he tossed a grenade into the health-care markets that millions rely on, traduced the Iranian nuclear deal, threatened to abandon US citizens ravaged by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, continued to sabotage action on climate change, tweeted about censoring the media, and so undermined his own secretary of state that Republican Senator Bob Corker accused him of castration. For all of that, Trump’s grotesqueries are exceeded by a Republican Congress intent on a course so ruinous as to be, one hopes, impossible to sustain.

      This week, Senate Republicans will seek to push through a budget resolution for the current fiscal year. The resolution provides guidelines for spending and tax cuts, with projections for the next decade. Although its provisions are destructive and absurd, it has the support of virtually all of the Republican caucus.

    • New Whistleblowers Highlight How Russia’s Information War On U.S. Was Larger Than Initially Reported

      A few years ago, Russian whistleblowers like Lyudmila Savchuk began to reveal that Vladimir Putin had built a massive new internet propaganda machine. At the heart of this machine sat the “Internet Research Agency,” a Russian government front company tasked with operating warehouses filled with employees paid 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($800 to $1,000) a month to create proxied, viable fake personas — specifically tasked with pumping the internet full of toxic disinformation 24 hours a day. Initial reports on these efforts were often playful, suggesting little more than shitposting and memes.

    • Retired ‘Navy SEAL’ praising Trump on Fox News was a fake
    • ‘Worst people in the world’ becoming face of GOP: Conservative commentator

      Author Charlie Sykes was best known as a top Wisconsin conservative talk show host who frequently interviewed fellow cheeseheads and GOP favorites Paul Ryan and Reince Preibus. But when candidate Donald Trump appeared on the political scene, Sykes became a vocal member of #NeverTrump, warning his listeners about this “dangerous” candidate.

    • CIA corrects director’s Russian election meddling claim

      CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the US intelligence community determined that Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election did not affect its outcome — a statement that was quickly clarified by his own agency.

      The “intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election,” Pompeo said, speaking at an event hosted by Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

      The CIA issued a clarifying statement after Pompeo’s remarks.

    • Detailed anatomy of Wisconsin’s election-rigging, racist voter suppression

      In 2008 and 2012, Wisconsin ranked second in the USA for voter turnout; in 2016, following the enactment of a series of racist voter-suppression tactics, the voter turnout was the worst it had been since 2000.

      The voter suppression tactics in Wisconsin are a combination of poll-tax; fraudulent promises of easy access to voter ID (whose hollow nature was repeatedly verified by undercover voting rights activists, who recorded officials directly contradicting the policies that supposedly ensured access to voting ID); special measures aimed at reducing student participation in elections; and out-and-out sleaze.

      The Democratic loss in Wisconsin is unquestionably due to voter suppression, and Trump’s fake voting fraud panic is aimed at repeating the feat in other states.

    • Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump

      She’d lost her driver’s license a few days earlier, but she came prepared with an expired Wisconsin state ID and proof of residency. A poll worker confirmed she was registered to vote at her current address. But this was Wisconsin’s first major election that required voters—even those who were already registered—to present a current driver’s license, passport, or state or military ID to cast a ballot. Anthony couldn’t, and so she wasn’t able to vote.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Libraries are losing their literary value

      They risk becoming hangouts rather than places of discovery.

    • A Joke Tweet Leads To ‘Child Trafficking’ Investigation, Providing More Evidence Of Why SESTA Would Be Abused

      Think we’re unduly worried about how “trafficking” charges will get used to punish legitimate online speech? We’re not.

      A few weeks ago a Mississippi mom posted an obviously joking tweet offering to sell her three-year old for $12.

      [...]

      This story is bad enough on its own. As it stands now, actions by the Mississippi authorities will chill other Mississippi parents from blowing off steam with facetious remarks on social media. But at least the chilling harm is contained within Mississippi’s borders. If SESTA passes, that chill will spread throughout the country.

      If SESTA were on the books, the Mississippi authorities would not have had to stop with the mom. Its next stop could be Twitter itself. No matter how unreasonable its suspicions, it could threaten criminal investigation on Twitter for having facilitated this allegedly trafficking-related speech.

    • Don’t Mourn the Loss of Free Media Till You Pay for Your News

      Over the last few days, I have seen with a sense of dismay a ‘tu-tu main-main’ over NDTV censoring its journalists. One of NDTV’s senior-most journalist and well-known face, Sreenivasan Jain, on Tuesday, alleged that a report by him on loans given to companies owned by BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah was taken down from NDTV’s website. This was done in the name of ‘legal vetting’ he said in a detailed Facebook post.

    • If You’re Boycotting Israel in This Texas Town, Then No Hurricane Relief for You

      If you’re a resident of a small Texas city and in need of hurricane recovery funds, you’ll have to certify that you’re not boycotting Israel.

      Dickinson, Texas, announced earlier this week that it was accepting applications for grants to help residents rebuild homes and businesses damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which took a particularly devastating toll on this Houston-area town of some 20,000 people. The application is mainly comprised of unremarkable legalities, with one notable exception: a clause stating that the applicant will not take part in a boycott of Israel for the duration of the grant.

    • ACLU Slams Houston Suburb for Withholding Hurricane Relief to Anyone Boycotting Israel

      “The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to boycott, and the government cannot condition hurricane relief or any other public benefit on a commitment to refrain from protected political expression,” said ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura.
      “Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity,” Segura added.

    • Beyond ICE In Oakland: How SESTA Threatens To Chill Any Online Discussion About Immigration

      First, if you are someone who likes stepped-up ICE immigration enforcement and does not like “sanctuary cities,” you might cheer the implications of this post, but it isn’t otherwise directed at you. It is directed at the center of the political ven diagram of people who both feel the opposite about these immigration policies, and yet who are also championing SESTA. Because this news from Oakland raises the specter of a horrific implication for online speech championing immigrant rights if SESTA passes: the criminal prosecution of the platforms which host that discussion.

      Much of the discussion surrounding SESTA is based on some truly horrific tales of sex abuse, crimes that more obviously fall under what the human trafficking statutes are clearly intended to address. But with news that ICE is engaging in a very broad reading of the type of behavior the human trafficking laws might cover and prosecuting anyone that happens to help an immigrant, it’s clear that the type of speech that SESTA will carve out from Section 230′s protection will go far beyond the situations the bill originally contemplated.

    • US Senators Ask Apple Why VPN Apps Were Removed in China

      Two US senators have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking why the company reportedly removed VPN apps from the company’s store in China. “If these reports are true,” the senators wrote, “we are concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the Internet.”

    • Senators press Apple to explain removal of apps in China

      In a letter that was released by the senators on Thursday, Cruz and Leahy criticized Apple for going along with China’s internet regulations.

    • Apple Cook roasted for Chinese app takeaway

      A pair of senior US Senators are calling out Apple CEO Tim Cook for what they call “enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the internet.”

      Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-Zodiac) said this week they are concerned with how quickly Apple caved to demands from the Chinese government to remove VPN apps from its China App Store.

    • Australian Government Wants to Give Satire The Boot

      The National Symbols Officer of Australia recently wrote to Juice Media, producers of Rap News and Honest Government Adverts, suggesting that its “use” of Australia’s coat of arms violated various Australian laws. This threat came despite the fact that Juice Media’s videos are clearly satire and no reasonable viewer could mistake them for official publications. Indeed, the coat of arms that appeared in the Honest Government Adverts series does not even spell “Australian” correctly.

      It is unfortunate that the Australian government cannot distinguish between impersonation and satire. But it is especially worrying because the government has proposed legislation that would impose jail terms for impersonation of a government agency. Some laws against impersonating government officials can be appropriate (Australia, like the U.S., is seeing telephone scams from fraudsters claiming to be tax officials). But the proposed legislation in Australia lacks sufficient safeguards. Moreover, the recent letter to Juice Media shows that the government may lack the judgment needed to apply the law fairly.

    • The spector of censorship

      I’ve audited a few courses in nearby colleges and was deeply disappointed to discover that a large number of students are not familiar with Jack London’s books and short stories. I was told that London’s writings have “racists language”-translation-not politically correct. I also discovered that our children do not know how to write or read cursive penmanship. These are just two examples, but what else is being abolished by education administrators to keep our children from achieving their full decision-making potential.

    • 8 Strangest Examples Of Censorship In Video Games
    • ‘Don’t demonetise Tamil pride’: Rahul Gandhi tells Modi on ‘Mersal’ censorship
    • Germany: Full Censorship Now Official
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • [Old] Uber Tracks Devices Even After Owners Uninstall App, Report Claims
    • How Russian Firm Might Have Siphoned Tools From the NSA

      Kaspersky Lab has come under intense scrutiny after its antivirus software was linked to the breach of an NSA employee’s home computer in 2015 by Russian government hackers; U.S. government sources, quoted in news reports, suggested the Moscow-based company colluded with the hackers to steal classified documents or tools from the worker’s machine, or at least turned a blind eye to this activity. The Department of Homeland Security banned Kaspersky products from civilian government systems, and Best Buy has removed the software from computers it sells based on concerns that the software can be used to spy on customers.

      But a closer look at the allegations and technical details of how Kaspersky’s products operate raises questions about the accuracy of the narrative being woven in news reports and suggests that U.S. officials could be technically correct in their statements about what occurred, while also being incorrect about collusion on the part of Kaspersky.

    • Is the FBI Setting the Stage for Increased Surveillance of Black Activists?

      The ACLU and CMJ are demanding more information on why the FBI recently named “Black Identity Extremists” a threat.

      A recently leaked FBI “Intelligence Assessment” contains troubling signs that the FBI is scrutinizing and possibly surveilling Black activists in its search for potential “extremists.”

      The report, which the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division prepared, identifies what it calls “Black Identity Extremists” as security threats. Their “perceptions of police brutality against African Americans … will very likely serve as justification” for violence against law enforcement officers, the report claims. Today, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Center for Media Justice seeking other records regarding the FBI’s surveillance of Black people on the basis of a supposed shared ideology, including records using the term “Black Identity Extremists.”

    • Expanding E-Verify is a Privacy Disaster in the Making

      E-Verify is a massive federal data system used to verify the eligibility of job applicants to work in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) administer E-Verify. Until now, the federal government has not required private employers to use E-Verify, and only a few states have required it. However, a proposed bill in Congress, the Legal Workforce Act (HR 3711), aims to make E-Verify use mandatory nationwide despite all the very real privacy and accuracy issues associated with the data system.

      EFF recently joined human rights and workers rights organizations from across the United States and sent a letter to Congress pointing out the flaws of E-Verify.

    • Government Drops Its Demand For Data On 6,000 Facebook Users

      It’s amazing what effect a little public scrutiny has on government overreach. In the wake of inauguration day protests, the DOJ started fishing for information from internet service providers. First, it wanted info on all 1.2 million visitors of a protest website hosted by DreamHost. After a few months of bad publicity and legal wrangling, the DOJ was finally forced to severely restrict its demands for site visitor data.

      Things went no better with the warrants served to Facebook. These demanded a long list of personal information and communications from three targeted accounts, along with the names of 6,000 Facebook users who had interacted with the protest site’s Facebook page. Shortly before oral arguments were to be heard in the Washington DC court, the DOJ dropped its gag order.

    • Facebook is struggling to meet the burden of securing itself, security chief says

      Facebook is Struggling to live up to the responsibility it faces for adequately securing the vast amount of personal information it amasses, the social network’s top security executive said in a leaked phone call with company employees.

      “The threats that we are facing have increased significantly and the quality of the adversaries that we are facing,” Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said during a taped call, which was reported Thursday by ZDNet. “Both technically and from a cultural perspective, I don’t feel like we have caught up with our responsibility.”

    • European Parliament failed to protect our Privacy

      The European Parliament has just adopted its position on ePrivacy. It is bad. Major threats pushed by Internet giants were rejected, but the so-called “pro-privacy” groups failed to reject them all. Liberals, left-wing and ecologist groups lost sight of our fundamental rights in an absurd attempt to reach compromises at any cost.

      The so-called “pro-privacy” groups (the liberals of ALDE, left-wing S&D and Greens) have lost months in negotiating with regressive right-wing groups (EPP and ECR), pursuing unreachable compromises. At the last minute, right-wing groups left the negotiation table, creating an opportunity for a reasonable text to be adopted. But this opportunity was not seized at all: the groups pretending to defend our privacy did not even try to improve the draft ePrivacy Regulation but only focused on winning today’s vote. Shame on them.

    • Good news on the privacy front: no more EU demands for crypto backdoors

      Governments all around the world hate encryption. Unless they are being incredibly cunning by pretending they can’t break strong encryption when they can, this seems to be because crypto really does keep messages and data safe from prying governmental eyes. Banning strong encryption is clearly a non-starter – even the most clueless politician knows by now that e-commerce would collapse without it. As a result, the favorite approach has been the backdoor – that magical weakness that somehow is only available to those operating lawfully, and not criminals or hostile governments. That’s despite the fact that every top security expert has explained that it is simply not possible to add backdoors to encryption while retaining the protection it is meant to offer.

    • Thrive: the new showing off online is showing off that you’re not online
    • Lyft taxi app boosted by $1bn investment from Google-led consortium

      The funding round was led by CapitalG (formerly known as Google Capital), the strategic investment arm of Google’s corporate parent Alphabet, and takes the valuation of Lyft up to $11bn.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Questions and Answers on Proposed US Ban on Laptops in Luggage

      The Federal Aviation Administration recently recommended that the U.N. agency that sets global aviation standards prohibit passengers from putting laptops and other large personal electronic devices in their checked bags.

    • Police body cams were meant to keep us safer. Are they working?
    • Axon wants you (yes, you!) to submit photos, videos to police
    • Women’s eNews Founder Rita Henley Jensen Dies

      And award-winning journalist Rita Henley Jensen has died at the age of 70. Jensen was a domestic violence survivor who in 2000 founded Women’s eNews, then the only independent daily news service focusing on women. She also founded the Jane Crow Project, an investigative news outlet focused on how racial and gender bias affects women’s health and reproductive rights. She died Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer.

    • John Thompson Received 18 Wrongful Years On Death Row, Yet Never Received Justice

      John Thompson was many things: death row exoneree, abolitionist, advocate for prosecutorial accountability, spokesperson, founder of an exoneree-run re-entry program, and mentor. Before the news cycle moves on from John, we are compelled to acknowledge the way he most profoundly affected the world.

      After his untimely death on October 3rd, the media described him as a man who saw the world as it should be, as angry, and as a warrior. To those of us who enjoyed the enormous privilege of knowing and loving John, he was so much more.

      John survives as a symbol of the impunity with which prosecutors may disregard the life and rights of a young black man. Yet he was a wonderfully regular man with a sharp wit and irreverent humor. He loved his wife, family—especially his grandchildren—and friends. He liked a strong coffee in the morning and a beer in the evening. He went to church, and then cursed at the football game. John didn’t sugarcoat anything. He had 100 big ideas a week. He issued straight line challenges—to his colleagues and to the world. Consequently, those who truly knew and loved him maintained a more real, raw and rewarding relationship with John Thompson, compared to others in their lives. He was our friend, and a brilliant, honest, funny, smart, present, and—at times—difficult colleague.

    • Spain is Operating Way Beyond Democratic Legitimacy

      In imprisoning Catalan leaders for peaceful campaigning for Independence, and in choosing both in rhetoric and in court to treat support for Independence as “sedition”, the Spanish government is acting way beyond the limits of a democratic society. It is ignoring the basic human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It is also undertaking massive blocking of communication and censorship of the internet in a manner never seen before in a “Western” state.

      To move now to suspend the democratically elected Catalan administration, which is explicitly offering dialogue as an alternative to UDI, is to escalate the crisis in an unreasonable fashion, in the true meaning of the word unreasonable. All of this is truly dreadful, without even mentioning the violence inflicted on voters taking part in the peaceful Independence referendum.

      As regular readers know, the EU reaction to the peaceful movement for Catalan independence has caused me to rethink my entire position on that institution. The failure to condemn the violence and human rights abuse has been bad enough, but the EU has gone still further and offered unqualified support to Spain, with the Commission specifically declaring Spain has a right to use violence, and Juncker saying straight out that the EU opposes Catalan Independence.

    • White Nationalist Richard Spencer’s Supporters Charged in Post-Speech Shooting

      Three men who traveled from Texas for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s Thursday speech at the University of Florida were charged with attempted homicide for allegedly opening fire on protesters, authorities said.

      No one was injured in the shooting after the Gainesville speech, which drew hundreds of protesters and a smaller group of Spencer fans, along with a massive deployment of police trying to prevent a repeat of the street violence that marked a Spencer-related rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, police said.

    • Federal Judge Unseals New York Crime Lab’s Software for Analyzing DNA Evidence

      A federal judge this week unsealed the source code for a software program developed by New York City’s crime lab, exposing to public scrutiny a disputed technique for analyzing complex DNA evidence.

      Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York lifted a protective order in response to a motion by ProPublica, which argued that there was a public interest in disclosing the code. ProPublica has obtained the source code, known as the Forensic Statistical Tool, or FST, and published it on GitHub; two newly unredacted defense expert affidavits are also available.

      “Everybody who has been the subject of an FST report now gets to find out to what extent that was inaccurate,” said Christopher Flood, a defense lawyer who has sought access to the code for several years. “And I mean everybody — whether they pleaded guilty before trial, or whether it was presented to a jury, or whether their case was dismissed. Everybody has a right to know, and the public has a right to know.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • $100 Internet bill became $340 for no reason, Frontier customer says

      Frontier Communications’ purchase of FiOS and DSL networks from Verizon last year led to immediate problems for customers that took weeks to resolve.

      More than a year later, some ex-Verizon customers in Florida say they are still having major problems with their new provider.

    • Trump’s “free market” FCC loves monopolies, especially when they rip off prisoners’ families

      The American prison system is home to one of the greatest market-failures in the history of telephony (which is saying something): a monopolistic system in which sole-supplier, hedge-fund owned telcoms operators charge as much as $14/minute for prisoners to talk with their lawyers, families and loved ones.

    • FCC Shouldn’t Give Up on Reforming Inmate Phone Services

      These services are provided by companies—the two largest are owned by private equity firms—that are willing to skirt rules to turn a profit. For instance, when the FCC banned the practice of charging exorbitant fees to connect calls, the companies simply renamed the fees, calling them “first minute” charges. On top of that, these companies charge to put money into inmates’ accounts. They charge to take money out of their accounts. They even limit the amount inmates and their families can put into that account at one time, thereby enabling them to charge the same fees over and over again. They also charge to refund any money left over in the accounts once prisoners are released.

    • Michigan Lawmaker Doesn’t Understand Her Own Bill Hamstringing Broadband Competition

      For the better part of a decade we’ve noted how if America really wanted to improve its horrible broadband problem it would stop letting industry giants like Comcast write shitty protectionist state telecom law. Over the last fifteen years, more than twenty states have passed laws preventing towns and cities from building their own broadband networks even when no incumbent broadband provider will. In many instances these bills also hamstring public/private partnerships, which are often the only way to creatively bring better broadband to under-served or unserved areas of the country.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Author Who Lost Copyright Case Over The Da Vinci Code In The US In 2007 Looks To Revive It In The UK In 2017

        Author Dan Brown is certainly not a stranger to copyright claims and lawsuits over his bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Not long after publishing the book in 2003 to wide acclaim, several legal actions took place against Brown and his publisher, as well as some action initiated by the publisher to stave off claims of copyright infringement and plagiarism. One such case that we did not cover here was brought by Jack Dunn of Massachusetts, who authored a book called The Vatican Boys, and sued Brown in Massachusetts for copyright infringement over the usual claims: there were claimed similarities in characters, plots, and factual assertions (including some that are erroneous in both). In 2007, Judge Michael Ponsor threw out the case, claiming that all the evidence Dunn’s legal team provided amounted to thematic and structural similarities, which are not copyrightable.

      • What “Future Made in the EU” After the © Reform?

        Science fiction usually mirrors contemporary challenges and anxieties better than the future it tries to predict. Nevertheless, that does not stop creators from imagining that future. Rightfully so, even if as nowadays the technology advances so fast that some concepts age before they have a chance to be applied.

        Centrum Cyfrowe, a Polish COMMUNIA member, does not usually deal with science fiction, but the ongoing yearlong debate on the copyright reform has unexpectedly directed them towards speculative design in modeling the future. A Future not Made in the EU campaign presents future objects and services that may enhance cultural and educational experience, but their future is uncertain – their utility does depend on whether the copyright reform addresses future challenges properly.

      • The Recommendation on Measures to Safeguard Fundamental Rights and the Open Internet in the Framework of the EU Copyright Reform

        Article 13 of the Proposed EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market and the accompanying Recital 38 are amongst the most controversial parts of the European Commission’s copyright reform package. Several Members States (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany) have submitted questions seeking clarification on aspects that are essential to the guarantee of fundamental rights in the EU and to the future of the Internet as an open communication medium. The following analysis discusses these questions in the light of the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It offers guidelines and background information for the improvement of the proposed new legislation.

      • UK ‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Seller Handed a Suspended Prison Sentence

        A man who sold devices loaded with Kodi and ‘pirate’ third-party addons has been handed a suspended sentence. After protesting his innocence and insisting he wanted to test the limits of the law, last month Brian Thompson pleaded guilty, ending the possibility of a landmark case testing unchartered areas of copyright law.

      • Cloudflare Counters MPAA and RIAA’s ‘Rehashed’ Piracy Complaints

        Cloudflare has responded to the repeated criticism of entertainment industry groups, which accuse the company of helping pirate sites. The CDN provider informs the U.S. Government that it operates in accordance with the law and that the complaints bring nothing new to the table.

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