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10.14.17

Links 14/10/2017: Windows Breaks Dutch Law, Wine 2.19 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Haiku OS Is Still Chugging Along To Get Its First Official Release Out

    The BeOS-inspired Haiku OS has been around since 2002 and its alpha release came out five years ago while the beta and first “R1″ stable release are still being pursued.

    This week the open-source operating system project published a new report entitled Where is Haiku R1?

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • pfSense 2.4 BSD Operating System Debuts with New Installer, Drops 32-Bit Images

      Rubicon Communications’ Jim Pingle announced the release of the pfSense 2.4.0 operating system, a major release that introduces support for new devices, new features, and numerous improvements.

      Based on the latest FreeBSD 11.1 operating system, the pfSense 2.4 release comes with an all-new installer based on bsdinstall and featuring support for the ZFS file system, UEFI machines, as well as multiple types of partition layouts, including the widely used GPT and BIOS.

    • Coda revival

      Coda is a distributed file system developed as a research project at Carnegie Mellon University, descended from a older version of the Andrew File System. It got dropped from FreeBSD some five years ago, due to not having been adopted for a MPSAFE world. The focus for this current project is to bring it back into sufficiently workable shape that it could return to the kernel. It is currently in a working condition. Work is underway to test it better, fix whatever issues are found, and commit it to 12-CURRENT.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GLib tools rewrite

      If you’re still stuck with Autotools, though, you may also want to consider dropping glib-genmarshal, and use the FFI-based generic marshaller in your signal definitions — which comes at a small performance cost, but if you’re putting signal emission inside a performance-critical path you should just be ashamed of yourself.

      For enumerations, you could use something like this macro, which I tend to employ in all my projects with just few, small enumeration types, and where involving a whole separate pass at parsing C files is kind of overkill. Ideally, GLib would ship its own version, so maybe it’ll be replaced in a new version.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Fashion Needs an Open-Source Sustainability Solution

      Fashion brands are treating sustainability with new seriousness, but only an open source approach will move the entire industry forward.

    • Open Data

      • ‘Need open-source data platforms to curb corruption’

        Gandhi delivering a lecture on political reforms at NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad on Friday.
        BJP MP Varun Gandhi delivers a lecture at NALSAR University of Law

        Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sultanpur MP Varun Gandhi steered clear of the Jay Shah controversy when asked about it at NALSAR University of Law here on Friday.

        Mr. Gandhi was asked his views by a student, following a lecture on political reforms, on the response of the Indian government to a media story that alluded to an alleged connection between the profits made by businesses of Jay Shah, son of BJP national president Amit Shah, and the government. Without naming Jay Shah, the 37-year-old parliamentarian said nobody can be held guilty just by pointing a finger.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • How do you dump the firmware from a “secure” voting machine? With a $15 open source hardware board

        One of the highlights of this year’s Defcon conference in Vegas was the Voting Machine Hacking Village, where security researchers tore apart the “secure” voting machines America trusts its democracy to.

        The Voting Machine Hacking Village just released its master report on the vulnerabilities they found, and the participants are talking about it on Twitter, including Joe Fitz’s note that he dumped the firmware off a Accuvote TSX with one of Adafruit’s $15 open source hardware FT232h breakout boards.

  • Programming/Development

    • Google’s Learning Software Learns to Write Learning Software

      In a project called AutoML, Google’s researchers have taught machine-learning software to build machine-learning software. In some instances, what it comes up with is more powerful and efficient than the best systems the researchers themselves can design. Google says the system recently scored a record 82 percent at categorizing images by their content. On the harder task of marking the location of multiple objects in an image, an important task for augmented reality and autonomous robots, the auto-generated system scored 43 percent. The best human-built system scored 39 percent.

    • Intel Begins Working On “Knights Mill” Support For LLVM/Clang

      Intel compiler engineers have begun mainlining “Knights Mill” enablement within the LLVM compiler stack.

      Knights Mill is the codename for an upcoming Xeon Phi expected for release later this quarter. Details on Knights Mill are relatively light but it will cater to deep learning / AI use-cases and more efficient than Knights Landing (KNL).

      Intel has previously said Knights Mill is capable of twice the performance of Knights Landing for floating point operations per cycle and there are also new/optimized instructions for 8-bit and 16-bit arithmetic.

Leftovers

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak launches his own online tech education platform

    Woz U also offers access to tech companies interested in using the tools and resources provided to recruit and train employees. The platform will be available to students K-12 through partnerships with school districts too. Down the line, Woz U wants to offer one-on-one instruction to students and, later on, to offer its own accelerator program for prospective startup founders. The overall goal is to increase interest in what Woz U calls STEAM careers, or science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, with the addition of arts presumably a nod to Wozniak’s role at Apple and fellow co-founder Steve Jobs’ lifelong mission to blend technology with the humanities.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Jeremy Hunt considers banning patients from walking up to A&Es
    • ‘Sadistic’ Sabotage: Uproar After Trump Declares End of Healthcare Subsidies

      Just hours after signing a widely denounced executive order that is expected to drive up insurance costs for sick Americans, President Donald Trump took what critics called another “absolutely despicable” step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) late Thursday by cutting off cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income individuals and families afford out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

    • White House Attempting to Railroad Obamacare Repeal Through Executive Order, After Congressional Embarrassment

      President Trump is attempting to relax healthcare rules by fiat after failing repeatedly to pass an Obamacare-rollback law through Congress.

      The President signed an executive order on Thursday in an effort to allow the propagation of health insurance plans without key requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

      “Every congressional Democrat has blocked the efforts to save Americans from Obamacare along with a very small, frankly, handful of Republicans,” Trump said.

      The White House rolled out its decree at a ceremony featuring an introduction from one of those Republicans–Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

  • Security

    • Australian defense firm was hacked and F-35 data stolen, DOD confirms

      The Australian Cyber Security Centre noted in its just-issued 2017 Threat Report that a small Australian defense company “with contracting links to national security projects” had been the victim of a cyber-espionage attack detected last November. “ACSC analysis confirmed that the adversary had sustained access to the network for an extended period of time and had stolen a significant amount of data,” the ACSC report stated. “The adversary remained active on the network at the time.”

      More details of the breach were revealed on Wednesday at an IT conference in Sydney. ASD Incident Response Manager Mitchell Clarke said, “The compromise was extensive and extreme.” The attacker behind the breach has been internally referred to at the Australian Signals Directorate as “APT Alf” (named for a character in Australia’s long-running television show Home and Away, not the US television furry alien). Alf stole approximately 30 gigabytes of data, including data related to Australia’s involvement in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, as well as data on the P-8 Poseidon patrol plane, planned future Australian Navy ships, the C-130 Hercules cargo plane, and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb. The breach began in July of 2016.

    • IRS changes its mind about giving Equifax $7.5m to fight fraud (for now)

      Weeks after Equifax announced its worst-in-world-history breach, the IRS awarded the company a $7.5 million no-bid contract to prevent fraud.

      The announcement attracted incredulity and derision, but the IRS pressed ahead…until this week, when it was revealed that Equifax had been hacked again and was serving malware to people who were trying to correct errors in their credit records.

      That, finally, was the bridge too far for the tax-man. The IRS has (temporarily) yanked the contract. My guess is that they will try to quietly reinstate the contract later, with the tiniest, most obfuscated notice in the Federal Register. After all, the IRS single-sourced this contract because they said that Equifax is literally the only company in America with the data and skills to do the task they say they want done, so either the IRS pays another company a lot more to develop the capabilities, gives up on the project, or just waits until the heat is off and cuts a $7.5m check to the muppets at Equifax.

    • After second bungle, IRS suspends Equifax’s “taxpayer identity” contract

      The tax-collecting agency is now temporarily suspending the contract because of another Equifax snafu. The Equifax site was maliciously manipulated again, this time to deliver fraudulent Adobe Flash updates, which, when clicked, infected visitors’ computers with adware that was detected by just three of 65 antivirus providers. The development means that at least for now, taxpayers cannot open new Secure Access accounts with the IRS. Secure Access allows taxpayers to retrieve various online tax records and provides other “tax account tools” to those who have signed up.

    • Google, IBM Partner to Tighten Container Security
    • Grafeas, new open-source API for the software supply chain, released
    • Senior U.S. legal official meeting UK leaders to tackle online security issues

      “The approach taken in the recent past – negotiating with technology companies and hoping that they eventually will assist law enforcement out of a sense of civic duty – is unlikely to work,” he said at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday.

    • Over 500 Million PCs Are Secretly Mining Cryptocurrency, Researchers Reveal

      Research by ad blocking firm AdGuard found 220 popular websites with an aggregated audience of half a billion people use so-called crypto-mining scripts when a user opens their main page.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Mass hysteria may explain ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba, say top neurologists

      Senior neurologists have suggested that a spate of mysterious ailments among US diplomats in Cuba – which has caused a diplomat rift between the two countries – could have been caused by a form of “mass hysteria” rather than sonic attacks.

      The unexplained incidents have prompted the US to withdraw most of its embassy staff from Havana and expel the majority of Cuban diplomats from Washington.

      The neurologists who talked to the Guardian cautioned that no proper diagnosis is possible without far more information and access to the 22 US victims, who have suffered a range of symptoms including hearing loss, tinnitus, headaches and dizziness.

    • Desensitised to Tragedy

      Islamophobia has become so insidious, so all-pervasive, and so powerful in media culture that there is virtually no concern expressed at the probable killing in a US drone strike of a 12 year old British child, Jojo Jones, whose short life was so spectacularly horrid through absolutely no fault of his own. Child soldiers in conflict are a dreadful problem. I tried in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo to convey the extremely powerful emotions I experienced when faced very directly with those who had seen atrocities and themselves been forced to kill at primary school age.

      But nobody in their right mind thinks that the answer to child soldiers is to kill them. If it is correct young Jojo is killed, I mourn him, the childhood he hardly knew and the potential for realising the dreams of normality such children always have.

      But Jojo is one of many thousands of children killed by the US in its “war on terror”, including the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is only the dehumanising of Muslims that causes the near total lack of visible western empathy for the nine young kids under 13 killed this year in one US raid in Yemen alone.

    • How Chicago Gets Its Guns

      John Thomas set up the deal the way he had arranged nearly two dozen others. A friend said he wanted to buy as many guns as he could, so Thomas got in touch with someone he knew who had guns to sell.

      The three of them met in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in south suburban Lansing at noon on Aug. 6, 2014. Larry McIntosh, whom Thomas had met in his South Shore neighborhood, took two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun from his car and put them in the buyer’s car. He handed over a plastic shopping bag with four handguns.

    • The House of Saud Bows to the House of Putin

      The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.

    • Trump’s Mendacious Speech on Iran

      Donald Trump’s speech on Iran is the latest chapter in his struggle to reconcile his overriding impulse to denigrate and destroy any significant achievements of his predecessor with the fact that the most salient of those achievements in foreign policy— the Iran nuclear agreement or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — is working.

    • How the CIA Staged Sham Academic Conferences to Thwart Iran’s Nuclear Program

      The CIA agent tapped softly on the hotel room door. After the keynote speeches, panel discussions and dinner, the conference attendees had retired for the night. Audio and visual surveillance of the room showed that the nuclear scientist’s minders from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were sleeping but he was still awake. Sure enough, he opened the door, alone.

      According to a person familiar with this encounter, which took place about a decade ago, the agency had been preparing it for months. Through a business front, it had funded and staged the conference at an unsuspecting foreign institution of scientific research, invited speakers and guests, and planted operatives among the kitchen workers and other staff, just so it could entice the nuclear expert out of Iran, separate him for a few minutes from his guards, and pitch him one-on-one. A last-minute snag had almost derailed the plans: The target switched hotels because the conference’s preferred hotel cost $75 more than his superiors in Iran were willing to spend.

      To show his sincerity and goodwill, the agent put his hand over his heart. “Salam habibi,” he said. “I’m from the CIA, and I want you to board a plane with me to the United States.” The agent could read the Iranian’s reactions on his face: a mix of shock, fear and curiosity. From prior experience with defectors, he knew the thousand questions flooding the scientist’s mind: What about my family? How will you protect me? Where will I live? How will I support myself? How do I get a visa? Do I have time to pack? What happens if I say no?

    • Sanders Responds to Trump’s Iran Deal Announcement

      “President Trump’s speech today was the latest in a series of rash and reckless moves that make Americans less safe. By refusing to re-certify the Iran nuclear agreement, President Trump ignored the public statements of his own national security officials. Last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Dunford and Secretary of Defense Mattis affirmed to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran is meeting its commitments under the agreement and that staying in the agreement is in the national security interests of the United States.

      “Trump’s decision also isolates the United States from some of its most important allies. France, the U.K. and Germany all continue to support the agreement and have consistently said that it is in their own national security interests.

    • Trump’s Scary Nuclear Doctrine

      Pleasing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and terrifying almost everybody else, President Trump is threatening nuclear war against North Korea and, by implication, war with Iran, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.

    • Trump’s Speech Against Iran Deal a National Disgrace

      Trump’s speech today was a national disgrace. This isn’t an effort to stiff a contractor over a real estate project, it’s a matter of war and peace. Donald Trump is in way over his head.

      Contrary to the reporting, Donald Trump is killing the deal – not in one move, but in several moves. First, Congress will attempt to kill it through deal-killing legislation from Sen. Tom Cotton. If that is blocked, Trump has vowed to kill it himself. Either way, the deal will get killed by this process triggered by Trump.

    • We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

      It is not America’s gun laws that are the issue when it comes to the mass shootings which occur with banal regularity in the land of the free, it is the gun culture that underpins those laws – a culture symptomatic of the moral sickness the country is suffering from, and for which in 2017 there appears no sign of a cure.

      In the wake of the latest mass shooting to erupt in the US, this one at an open-air music festival in Las Vegas – during which 59 people were killed and hundreds more wounded by lone gunman Stephen Paddock, spraying automatic gunfire into the crowd from the window of a room overlooking the event at the Mandalay Bay Hotel – the same debate over America’s notorious gun laws has ensued, involving the usual parade of fulminating defenders of the country’s ‘sacred’ Second Amendment of the US Constitution, enshrining the right of citizens to bear arms.

      Said supporters of this provision within the country’s constitution, adopted and ratified in 1791 at a time when automatic and semi-automatic weapons were still centuries away from being invented, have in time honoured fashion been extending themselves in arguing that freedom in America means the freedom to be able to walk into a gun store on any given day and procure enough firepower to wipe out a herd of elephants.

      But as mentioned, the question is not over the rights or wrongs of the Second Amendment; the question is the culture of violence married to the near total lack of social cohesion that pervades in a country suffocating under the weight of its own nauseating hypocrisy. This culture and this lack of social cohesion are the underlying causes of the mass shootings and massacres that are so ubiquitous in America that they have become part of the cultural fabric, just like the Superbowl and Kim Kardashian’s tits.

      [...]

      The gun culture in America is also central to law enforcement. The inordinate number of people killed by cops across the country on a regular basis is less to do with trigger-happy police officers in fear of their lives committing catastrophic and fatal errors, and more to do with an ethos of vigilantism born of the dehumanization of the poor and/or of minorities, who make up the vast majority of victims of cop violence across the country. Indeed, in this respect, things have got to the point where within US law enforcement it seems that executing young black males, regardless of whether they happened to be armed or unarmed, has become more acceptable than ‘protecting and serving’.

    • A Peace Prize That Means Something: ICAN’s Nobel

      In the mid-1980s, there were 70,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Today there are just under 15,000. ICAN’s goal and NAPF’s goal is a world with zero nuclear weapons. This must also become the goal of all humanity. The great hope in the Nobel Peace Prize going to ICAN is that it will help draw global attention and concern to the ongoing threats posed by nuclear weapons and tip the scales toward ending the nuclear weapons era with its abundant dangers to all humanity.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Media coverage of climate negotiations greeted with indifference

      As the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement demonstrates, the agreement is not a binding contract requiring countries to act on climate change. In fact, given the fact that the emissions pledges in the agreement were voluntary, political and civic engagement will play an important role in ensuring that governments keep to their pledges.

      So, did the widespread media coverage of COP21 negotiations in Paris make any headway toward achieving this kind of civic engagement with climate policy? According to a paper in this week’s Nature Climate Change, it seems as though coverage may have done the opposite. People’s understanding of the issues at stake improved slightly over the course of the conference, but not much changed in their sense of personal or national responsibility. If anything, the authors write, “this global media event had a modest appeasing rather than mobilizing effect.”

    • Tail end of Hurricane Ophelia to bring rain, wind and warmth to UK

      As Hurricane Ophelia approached the UK on Friday night, forecasters were warning of heavy rain and gusts of up to 80mph, while some areas were set to enjoy a balmy 25C (77F).

      The Met Office issued severe weather alerts, warning of potential power cuts, damage to buildings and disruption to transport and mobile phone signals.

      The storm, which was losing force as it crossed the Atlantic, was forecast to reach the UK on Monday.

    • Trump Lies as Global Warming’s Victims Die

      Legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone often cautioned, “All governments lie.” But even Izzy would have been dizzy with the deluge of lies pouring out of the Trump administration, including President Donald Trump’s claim that human-induced climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt the U.S. economy. Global warming has exacerbated recent catastrophic events from Houston to Miami to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and, now, to raging fires sweeping across California. The corporate TV weather reporting aids and abets Trump’s misinformation by consistently ignoring the role of climate change in this string of disasters.

    • Trump’s War for Coal Raises Risks

      President Trump’s war for coal is threatening progress on alternative energy while creating hazards both in the weather effects from global warming and in health risks from breathing dirty air, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • Rep. Luis Gutiérrez: Trump Wants to Own Puerto Rico But Not Help Those Dying After the Hurricane

      As President Trump threatens to withdraw federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, home to 3.5 million U.S. citizens, residents of the island and their supporters respond with outrage and disbelief. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz called Trump the “hater-in-chief.” We get response from Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez.

    • As Trump Fumes, Puerto Rico Struggles

      Some three weeks after Hurricane Maria shredded Puerto Rico, the situation on the U.S. island territory remains grave with only about 10 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents having electricity, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Meanwhile, thousands of people remain in packed shelters in San Juan.

    • Robert Jay Lifton on the Apocalyptic Twins of Nuclear and Climate Threats & Reflections on Survival

      We spend the bulk of the hour with Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a leading American psychiatrist and author of more than 20 books about the effects of nuclear war, terrorism and genocide. As NBC News reports President Trump has called for a nearly tenfold increase in the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal, and as he threatens to attack North Korea and decertify the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Lifton examines what he calls the “apocalyptic twins: nuclear and climate threats.” His new book is titled “The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival.”

  • Finance

    • Taxing the Wealthy to Pay for Universal Home Care

      Maine is developing a well-deserved reputation for cutting-edge progressive ballot initiatives. In 2016, voters approved proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage, raise taxes on the wealthy to fund education, introduce ranked choice voting, and legalize marijuana.

      The key force behind the state’s progressive ballot initiatives, the Maine People’s Alliance, has just launched a campaign to put another landmark issue on the 2018 ballot: universal home care for the elderly and disabled.

      There’s no question that such services are sorely needed — particularly in Maine, the state with the country’s highest median age. Caring for this rapidly aging population is extremely costly. The median annual cost for home care is now more than $50,000. That’s about on par with Maine’s median income for an entire household.

      Medicare does not cover the costs of in-home care and Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low that employers have difficulty finding workers willing to do this tough work for the meager wages they offer.

      Universal home care would be a huge relief for family members facing impossible choices between paying bills for basic needs versus covering the exorbitant cost of services for their loved ones.

    • Tax Cuts for the Rich, Paid for with Your Health Care
    • Trump administration’s zeal to peel back regulations is leading us to another era of robber barons

      The late 19th century in the United States was the heyday of robber barons – John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould and many others – who secured exorbitant wealth by building unregulated monopolies. They controlled the country’s oil, steel and railroads, and they used their wealth to bankrupt competitors, buy off politicians and fleece consumers. They manipulated a growing market economy that had weak rules and even weaker legal enforcement.

    • Digital Trade Agreements Failing to Reflect Internet Community Input: UNCTAD

      A hallmark of the new generation of trade agreements under negotiation, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), is the inclusion of chapters on e-commerce or digital trade. But interest in using trade agreements to address issues such as data localization, disclosure of software source code, and platform safe harbors, isn’t restricted to these regional trade negotiations.

      The same issues have also been raised at the international level at bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Recent reports from some of these bodies highlight some serious shortcomings in the way that these digital issues are being shoehorned into new trade agreements without adequate transparency and consultation.

    • Corporate Media Have Few Apologies for Getting IRS Scandal Backwards

      Back in May 2013, corporate media outlets expressed alarm at a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that suggested that from 2004 through 2013, the IRS had applied extra scrutiny to groups applying for tax-exempt status with conservative-sounding names. The report, “based on concerns expressed by members of Congress,” said that 96 groups applying for 501(c)(4) exemptions had been targeted for heightened questioning because of terms like “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their names.

    • Britain’s top Brexit negotiator faces legal threat for withholding secret research

      Brexit Secretary David Davis has been threatened with legal action over his refusal to publish 50 secret studies commissioned on the impact of Britain leaving the EU.

    • This is why we’re taking David Davis to court over Brexit

      There have been letters, Freedom of Information requests, Parliamentary questions and, earlier this week, a letter signed by 120 cross-party MPs – all demanding that the government release studies they are sitting on about the economic impacts of Brexit.

      But David Davis has remained bullish, refusing to publish the findings.

      So, I have teamed up with Jolyon Maugham QC, a barrister and director of the The Good Law Project, to demand the Government release these studies within 14 days or face legal action. If the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the Treasury fail to do so, we will issue judicial review proceedings before the High Court, which would seek to compel the Government to release them.

    • Colorado’s Alamosa Municipal Court Tramples on the Rights of Poor People

      Municipal judges have incredible power over the lives of the people who enter their courtrooms. When these judges refuse to follow the law and instead run their courtrooms like fiefdoms, they can ruin lives. This is starkly true for people already living in poverty who must appear in Colorado’s Alamosa Municipal Court.

      In our new investigative report, “Justice Derailed,” we examine Alamosa’s local court, which operates under the sole leadership of Judge Daniel Powell. This court stands out for the frequency and seriousness of its constitutional abuses, which most often affect low-income individuals. The striking inequity in treatment between defendants with means and those without reveals the unfairness of a system that is supposed to be just, but which is actually the opposite.

      While Alamosa is the focus of this report, it is not alone in its abuses. Colorado has more than 200 local city courts that deal mostly with low-level offenses, which are often tied to drug addiction and poverty.

      For six years, the ACLU of Colorado has been investigating injustices in municipal courts. We have challenged debtors’ prison practices through letters sent to several municipalities and settlements reached in Colorado Springs and Aurora. We also brought evidence to the state capitol resulting in legislation to address debtors’ prisons, the lack of counsel in municipal courts, and lengthy waits in jail to see a municipal judge when an individual cannot afford to post bond.

    • Seattle Teacher: Dear Betsy DeVos, You’re Not Welcome Here

      There will be students there questioning your qualifications to serve as Secretary of Education, given that they have more experience with the public schools than you. They might point out that you never attended public schools and neither did any of your four children.

      There will be black people and civil rights organizations because you refused to say if the federal government would bar funding for private schools that discriminate. These anti-racist activists will protest your claim that Historically Black Colleges and Universities are “pioneers of school choice” as a way to promote privatizing public education—as if the segregation that forced African Americans to start their own colleges was a magnificent choice.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Internet Mocks Donald Trump for Not Knowing He Is the President of the Virgin Islands
    • Twitter Is Crawling With Bots and Lacks Incentive to Expel Them

      Despite all the recent attention, the exact dimensions of Twitter’s bot community remains opaque. Academics have asked Twitter to collaborate on research, to no avail, Ferrara, the USC professor, said. He said without internal Twitter data, he cannot figure out the origin and controller of the bots he has uncovered that posted politically-motivated Tweets. The last time he was in contact with Twitter was after the French elections to follow up on his research and ask the company about how bots were used during the election.

    • Lessig wants to fix the electoral college

      Writing in USA Today, Lawrence Lessig and Richard Painter compare the disenfranchisement of the electoral college to the much more hotly debated disenfranchisement due to gerrymadnering, and float a tantalizing idea for fixing it.

    • Let’s fix Electoral College. It’ll be easy compared to gerrymandering: Lessig & Painter

      The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that “one person, one vote” principle applies to the “presidential selection process” too. That was the basis of its judgment in Bush v. Gore (2000). But the court has never considered directly whether the state imposed rule of winner-take-all is consistent with that fundamental federal principle of equality.

      It’s time that it did. [...]

    • Getting the Fairness Doctrine Wrong–Again

      Actually, the Fairness Doctrine did not require equal time (Extra!, 1–2/05). Fisher is making a common error, confusing the Doctrine with the FCC’s Equal Time rule, which is still in force, but applies solely to political campaigns and candidates.

      Additionally, opinionated talk radio was not “a relatively new concept” in 1989 (Extra!, 1–2/07). Indeed, opinionated talk radio, which was always dominated by right-wing personalities, was born in 1960, and flourished in local markets under the Fairness Doctrine, which wasn’t jettisoned until 1987. By taking callers with contrasting views, talk radio was actually seen as comporting with the Fairness Doctrine.

      Fisher is not alone in these errors. Over the years, liberals and conservatives have respectively blamed and credited the demise of the Fairness Doctrine for the rapid growth of right-wing talk radio in 1980s and 1990s.

    • Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump. The world should be wary

      AMERICAN presidents have a habit of describing their Chinese counterparts in terms of awe. A fawning Richard Nixon said to Mao Zedong that the chairman’s writings had “changed the world”. To Jimmy Carter, Deng Xiaoping was a string of flattering adjectives: “smart, tough, intelligent, frank, courageous, personable, self-assured, friendly”. Bill Clinton described China’s then president, Jiang Zemin, as a “visionary” and “a man of extraordinary intellect”. Donald Trump is no less wowed. The Washington Post quotes him as saying that China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, is “probably the most powerful” China has had in a century.

    • ‘He is failing’: Trump strikes out solo as friends worry and enemies circle

      Donald Trump’s decision to go it alone with rapid fire announcements on healthcare and Iran reflects his boiling frustration with the limits of presidential power, analysts say.

      The US president made a brazen move on Thursday night to halt payments to insurers under Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Democrats accused him of a “temper tantrum” and spiteful attempt to sabotage legislation he promised but failed to replace. Less than 24 hours later, he condemned the “fanatical” government of Iran as he decertified his predecessor’s nuclear deal, defying his own cabinet and disquieting European allies.

      The one-two punch showed Trump straining to assail Obama’s legacy but stopping short of terminating either the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, or the Iran nuclear accord. Both are back in the hands of Congress, a source of constant exasperation for the property tycoon turned novice politician, who finds himself isolated and lashing out.

    • ‘Partisan’ Gerrymandering Is Still About Race

      The Wisconsin voting rights case before the Supreme Court has been cast as the definitive test of whether partisan gerrymandering is permitted by the Constitution. But a closer look at the case and others like it shows that race remains an integral element of redistricting disputes, even when the intent of those involved was to give one party an advantage.

      Consider Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin case that was argued last week before the nation’s highest court.

      During its journey through the legal system, the case has turned on whether Republicans secured an impermissible advantage over Democrats in the way Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature redrew district lines after the 2010 census.

      But because of the deep racial divides that pervade American politics, the story is not that simple.

      Wisconsin’s Democratic Party includes a substantial number of African-American and Latino voters, particularly in cities like Milwaukee. When you look more closely at redistricting plans drawn in Wisconsin and elsewhere, you see that both parties have improved their statewide prospects by diminishing the political power of minority voters.

    • On Being Unable to Discharge the Powers and Duties of His Office

      The catastrophes pile up, from large – Iran, Obamacare, immigration, Puerto Rico, North Korea, women’s rights, the atrocity of a serial sexual predator lecturing about “values” at a hate-filled “summit” – to small, like rhyming Tanzania with mania, confusing the national debt with the stock market, and not knowing that he, himself, Little Man-Child Donny, is in fact the president of the Virgin Islands, who he says he just talked to. Amidst such chaos, opposition is slowly, slowly mounting: A GOP lawmaker argues his moves on health care will do the opposite of what he says, Pelosi insists everything he does represents violence – “He’s saying, ‘Stop the world,’ because he doesn’t know how to deal with it” – and questions about fitness repeatedly arise: Is he just a moron, or also mentally ill?

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Tech Giants Protest Looming US Pirate Site Blocking Order

      The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, is protesting a looming injunction that would require search engines, ISPs and hosting companies to stop linking to or offering services to several “pirate” sites. The injunction requested by — is overbroad, the tech giants warn.

    • Angered by gun control, this lawmaker drafted a bill to require licenses for journalists

      The measure would require journalists — defined as anyone writing or broadcasting news for a newspaper, magazine, website or television or radio station — to be registered and fingerprinted by the police and vetted for their “character and reputation.”

    • Donald Trump Thinks the Freedom of the Press Is ‘Disgusting’

      Donald Trump has pledged to defend the Constitution — even an article that doesn’t exist — but he can’t seem to lay off that pesky First Amendment.

    • Statute Of Limitations Has Run Out On Trump’s Bogus Promise To Sue The NY Times

      A year ago, we wrote in great detail about just how ridiculous it was that then Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s lawyers had threatened to sue the NY Times over a story about two women who claimed that Trump had groped them inappropriately. Trump insisted to the NY Times that none of it happened, and one of his favorite lawyers, Marc Kasowitz sent a letter calling the story “reckless, defamatory, and constitutes libel per se.” It also demanded the article be removed from the Times’ website and that a “full and immediate retraction and apology” be posted instead. The letter insisted that “failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies.”

    • Another Ridiculous Lawsuit Hopes To Hold Social Media Companies Responsible For Terrorist Attacks

      Yet another lawsuit has been filed against social media companies hoping to hold them responsible for terrorist acts. The family of an American victim of a terrorist attack in Europe is suing Twitter, Facebook, and Google for providing material support to terrorists. [h/t Eric Goldman]

      The lawsuit [PDF] is long and detailed, describing the rise of ISIS and use of social media by the terrorist group. It may be an interesting history lesson, but it’s all meant to steer judges towards finding violations of anti-terrorism laws rather than recognize the obvious immunity given to third party platforms by Section 230.

      When it does finally get around to discussing the issue, the complaint from 1-800-LAW-FIRM (not its first Twitter terrorism rodeo…) attacks immunity from an unsurprising angle. The suit attempts to portray the placement of ads on alleged terrorist content as somehow being equivalent to Google, Twitter, et al creating the terrorist content themselves.

    • Trump’s threats against NBC aren’t empty — look at the damage done by Nixon

      The right-wing war against the mainstream media goes back at least as far as Nixon — and it’s effective

    • Trump May Not Be Serious About His NBC Threats… But He May Have Violated The First Amendment

      By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about President Trump’s multiple tweet attack on NBC for having a story he didn’t like. A few times, Trump has suggested that NBC should “lose its license” because he doesn’t like the company’s reporting.

    • Turkey: Artistic freedom or self-censorship

      The motto of this year’s Istanbul Biennial is ‘A good neighbor’. But what do you do when your neighbors turn away, and your government grows increasingly autocratic? Some have cricized the event for being too apolitical.

    • Copyright Isn’t a Tool for Removing Negative Reviews

      At EFF, we see endless attempts to misuse copyright law in order to silence content that a person dislikes. Copyright law is sadly less protective of speech than other speech regulations like defamation, so plaintiffs are motivated to find ways to turn many kinds of disputes into issues of copyright law. Yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected one such ploy: an attempt to use copyright to get rid of a negative review.

      The website Ripoff Report hosts criticism of a variety of professionals and companies, who doubtless would prefer that those critiques not exist. In order to protect platforms for speech like Ripoff Report, federal law sets a very high bar for private litigants to collect damages or obtain censorship orders against them. The gaping exception to this protection is intellectual property claims, including copyright, for which a lesser protection applies.

      One aggrieved professional named Goren (and his company) went to court to get a negative review taken down from Ripoff Report. If Goren had relied on a defamation claim alone, the strong protection of CDA 230 would protect Ripoff Report. But Goren sought to circumvent that protection by getting a court order seizing ownership of the copyright from its author for himself, then suing Ripoff Report’s owner for copyright infringement. We filed a brief explaining several reasons why his claims should fail, and urging the court to prevent the use of copyright as a pretense for suppressing speech.

    • Corporations Have Utterly Failed to Protect Speech

      Let us take stock of how the private companies that manage two of the largest communication platforms in the world—Facebook and Twitter—have managed people’s speech in the last week alone:

      Rapper Lil B was temporarily banned from Facebook for “hate speech” after calling out gun-loving white people (calling them “violent”) in the wake of a deadly shooting in Las Vegas committed by a white retiree; actress Rose McGowan was briefly suspended from Twitter after speaking out about those who enabled her own abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein; and Twitter first blocked but then allowed US congresswoman Marsha Blackburn to run an ad promoting a far-right conspiracy theory about Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts, which has been thoroughly debunked.

    • NBC Reportedly Axed the Harvey Weinstein Story as Hollywood Made Rape Survivors the Butt of Jokes

      As part of a roundtable discussion on the rape and sexual assault allegations against disgraced and now-fired movie producer Harvey Weinstein, we speak with journalist Irin Carmon, who wrote an essay titled “Women shouldn’t trust the men who call themselves allies.” We are also joined by two women who are survivors of assaults by Weinstein: Tomi-Ann Roberts, professor of psychology at Colorado College, and Louise Godbold, executive director of Echo Parenting & Education.

    • A lighter, softer censorship in Vietnam

      Vietnam’s first ever licensed nude photography exhibition took place last month in Ho Chi Minh City, a collection of portraits entitled Tao Tac, which translates loosely to “subtle pieces making a whole when put together.”

      Hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association Headquarters, the show collated over four years of shoots, editing and planning by Vietnamese photographer Hao Nhien.

    • China’s Internet censors know how to block Russian interference
    • Great Firewall of China
    • President Xi Nails Shut Chinese Internet’s Coffin
    • Here are the Reasons Why China’s Digital Media Landscape is Dominated by Local Players
    • China’s Great Firewall Grows Higher Ahead of Party Congress
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Kaspersky asks for proof of claims made in American media

      Under pressure after a series of articles in the US press made various claims about its links to Russian state authorities this week, security firm Kaspersky Lab appears to be reluctant to dismiss the allegations out of hand.

    • US government calls for ‘reasonable’, er, breakable encryption

      “I wouldn’t describe my goal is to put pressure on the tech industry…Regulation is a potential option”.

    • Facial Recognition for Porn Stars Is a Privacy Nightmare Waiting to Happen

      The underlying tech being used by Pornhub could one day be used by more nefarious actors to identify amateur and unwitting porn models.

    • How Facebook Outs Sex Workers

      Her “real identity”—the public one, who lives in California, uses an academic email address, and posts about politics—joined Facebook in 2011. Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name. Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila (a name I’m using using in place of either of the names she uses) was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.

    • US Congress mulls first ‘hack back’ revenge law. And yup, you can guess what it’ll let people do

      Two members of the US House of Representatives today introduced a law bill that would allow hacking victims to seek revenge and hack the hackers who hacked them.

      The Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act (ACDC) [PDF] amends the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to make limited retaliatory strikes against cyber-miscreants legal in America for the first time. The bill would allow hacked organizations to venture outside their networks to identify an intruder and infiltrate their systems, destroy any data that had been stolen, and deploy “beaconing technology” to trace the physical location of the attacker.

      “While it doesn’t solve every problem, ACDC brings some light into the dark places where cybercriminals operate,” said co-sponsor Representative Tom Graves (R-GA).

      “The certainty the bill provides will empower individuals and companies use new defenses against cybercriminals. I also hope it spurs a new generation of tools and methods to level the lopsided cyber battlefield, if not give an edge to cyber defenders. We must continue working toward the day when it’s the norm – not the exception – for criminal hackers to be identified and prosecuted.”

    • Congress wants to tie the intelligence community’s hands for no reason

      What happens when you start with panicky civil libertarians, sprinkle in some right-wing conspiracy theories about “unmasking” intelligence, and polish it off with a healthy dose of congressional dysfunction and a self-imposed legislative deadline? You get bad surveillance policy in the name of reform. Don’t look now, but that’s what’s shaping up in Congress at this moment.

    • FBI director warns against restricting controversial NSA surveillance program

      FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned Friday that changing the rules of a soon-to-expire surveillance program could create new barriers to preventing terrorist attacks, similar to those that existed before 2001.

      In defending his agency’s information-sharing program with the National Security Agency — which civil liberties groups have criticized as a threat to privacy — Wray said his agents get just a small piece of the NSA’s intelligence gathering.

    • Pass the Protecting Data at the Border Act

      The federal government sees the U.S. border as a Constitution-free zone. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims that border officers—from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—can freely ransack travelers’ smartphones and laptops and the massive troves of highly personal information they contain. This practice is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and free speech rights. Congress can and should fix this problem by enacting the bipartisan Protecting Data at the Border Act (S. 823 and H.R. 1899).

      The need for reform is urgent. In the last two years, DHS more than tripled the number of border device searches. It conducted about 8,500 in fiscal year 2015, about 19,000 in fiscal year 2016, and is on track to conduct 30,000 in fiscal year 2017. DHS’s written policies specify that border officers may search electronic devices “with or without individualized suspicion.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Victory! California Just Reformed Its Gang Databases and Made Them More Accountable

      Gov. Jerry Brown has signed A.B. 90, a bill that EFF advocated for to bring additional accountability and transparency to the various shared gang databases maintained by the State of California. With a campaign organized by a broad coalition of civil liberties organizations—such as Youth Justice Coalition, National Immigration Law Center, Urban Peace Institute, among others—the much needed reform was passed.

    • Narrow path walked by the non-religious just got narrower

      Lately, the non-religious are in the news for all the wrong reasons : from Malaysia’s minister denouncing atheists and wanting them tracked down; to Singapore’s former top civil servant insinuating atheists to be the potential cause in Singapore’s imminent demise; to Amos Yee’s release from a Chicago immigration jail and vowing to ply his old tricks. I feel the non-religious community in Singapore is very much misunderstood by people with religion, and hence marginalised by the politics of majority.

    • The 6 Agencies Where Employee Morale Has Declined the Most

      A number of agencies with fewer than 1,000 employees saw much worse declines, although organizations with smaller workforces often see more drastic changes from year to year.

      The African Development Fund saw the worst drop-off in employee happiness, reversing some of its landmark gains from the previous year. The agency jumped from a satisfaction index of 18 in 2015 up to 62 last year. But in 2017, it fell again to 47.

    • Muslim Ban 3.0 Is Heading to Court — Here’s What You Need to Know Right Now

      This Monday, we are back in court, fighting to block Muslim Ban 3.0 before it can go into effect on October 18, 2017. President Trump’s latest proclamation is largely the same as his first two bans, in terms of who will suffer, but worse — because it has no end date.

    • How Trump’s Threats Against the NFL Could Violate the First Amendment

      Official threats of retaliation can chill speech, with or without actual punishment.

      Across the country, African-American athletes have been taking a knee or raising a fist during the national anthem. They are protesting the killings of Black men and women by law enforcement officers and the systemic failure to hold anyone accountable for those killings. They have put their lives and livelihoods on the line for doing so.

    • Can We Call Trump a Fascist Now?

      He has contempt for democratic norms and procedures, and has repeated undermined them;
      He has threatened violence against his political enemies;
      He espouses militant nationalism;
      He is patriarchal, hyper-masculine and misogynist;
      He uses racism, ethnocentrism and bigotry to advance his political goals;
      He lies compulsively in order to twist reality to his will and keep supporters enthralled;
      He stokes a sense of racial grievance and victimhood among his voters;
      He acts with contempt and utter disregard for the law;
      He uses his position as president to personally enrich himself, his family and his political allies;
      He openly admires authoritarian leaders from other countries;
      Through voter purges and other means, he is trying to ensure a permanent Republican majority and de facto one-party state;
      He believes in “blood and soil” racism;
      He is trying to remove any regulations or other types of restrictions on corporations;
      He appears to be a malignant narcissist who believes he is above the law;
      He grants pardons to his political allies;
      He has utter contempt for freedom of the press and the concept of “checks and balances”;
      He encourages police and other paramilitary forces to abuse racial and ethnic minorities;
      He has been acclaimed by white supremacist and other right-wing fascist groups as their leader.

    • We Don’t Think an 8-Year-Old Boy Should Be Put in Handcuffs. A Judge Finally Agreed With Us.

      A federal judge just put a small crack in the school to prison pipeline.

      In the fall of 2014, “SR,” a little 8-year-old boy in Kenton County, Kentucky, had a terrible day at school. The assistant principal put him in a restraint hold after he yelled at kids who were mean to him. And then she confined him to her office, where he kicked and screamed to be let out because he needed to go to the bathroom.

      But then it got worse.

      The assistant principal called the local deputy sheriff who served as a school resource officer (SRO). By the time Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner arrived, SR had calmed down. He had spoken to his mother, and the assistant principal had told him he could go to the bathroom when the deputy arrived. When they returned from the bathroom, the deputy sheriff said SR — all 54 pounds of him — swung an elbow at him. The deputy sheriff’s response was to clap him in handcuffs.

      Really. We could barely believe it either, but the assistant principal video-taped it. So the Disability Rights Program of the National ACLU filed suit, along with the ACLU of Kentucky, the Children’s Law Center of Cincinnati, and the law firm of Dinsmore Shohl.

    • I am in Guantánamo Bay. The US Government is Starving Me to Death

      I haven’t had food in my stomach for 23 days. The 20 September was the day they told us they would no longer feed us. They have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead.

      I am in so much pain every minute that I know it can’t go on much longer. Now as each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning. When will my organs fail? When will my heart stop? I am slowly slipping away and no one notices.

      There is a man who is in charge of all the medical staff. I don’t know his name but they call him the senior medical officer. He was the one who called us all in and told us they would stop feeding us. As soon as he took over I knew he was bad news and now he has decided to end our lives.

    • We’re Suing the Government for Violating the Rights of Passengers on Delta Airlines 1583 in Police-State Fashion

      CBP agents detained every passenger on a domestic flight and forced them to show their papers before deplaning.

      On February 22, 2017, Delta Airlines Flight 1583 departed San Francisco and headed for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. As the plane was landing, passengers heard a strange announcement.

      Speaking over the intercom, a flight attendant announced that everyone would have to show their documents in order to get off the plane. After passengers expressed their consternation, the flight attendant repeated her announcement, stating that officers would be meeting the plane and every passenger would have to show government-issued ID to deplane.

      The announcement immediately unsettled Kelley Amadei, who was traveling with her wife and 7-year-old son. Kelley flies frequently for work, both internationally and domestically, and she knew this did not feel right. Around her, other passengers wondered aloud how the government had the authority to prevent them from leaving the plane and requiring them to show identification again.

    • Congress Can’t Keep Letting The White House Enforce Secret Laws

      Intelligence agency leaders are waging an all-out public relations campaign in support of their favored surveillance authority, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which expires at the end of this year. But at the same time they demand Congress renew this far-reaching spying power, officials are refusing to tell Americans how the government interprets this authority to sweep up and search their phone calls, emails, and other communications, all without a warrant.

    • Think You Have a Constitutional Right to an Attorney? Not in Many South Carolina Courts

      Municipal courts in South Carolina are treating the right to counsel as a luxury the poor cannot afford.

      Imagine getting arrested, charged with a crime, prosecuted, convicted, and hauled off to jail. Imagine that happening without ever being represented by a lawyer. Not in America, right? Wrong. This injustice happens with shocking regularity to people in South Carolina in the city of Beaufort and town of Bluffton.

      Take the case of Tina Bairefoot, whose constitutional rights were trampled upon in Beaufort.

      Ms. Bairefoot was arrested for shoplifting at Walmart and charged with a misdemeanor in Beaufort municipal court. She pleaded not guilty. Despite the fact that she was facing criminal charges and possible incarceration if convicted, Bairefoot was never even advised of her right to have a court-appointed lawyer if she could not afford to pay for one.

      In fact, not only was she on her own to defend herself, but it was the police officer who arrested her who then acted as the prosecutor in court. After a “trial” that took a matter of minutes, Ms. Bairefoot was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail without counsel by her side.

    • Psychologists are facing consequences for helping with torture. It’s not enough.
    • Guantánamo’s USS Cole death-penalty case in limbo after key defense lawyer quits

      It also comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear an appeal brought by Nashiri’s Pentagon lawyers that asks the justices to intervene in the war court case.

      Nashiri, 52, is accused of orchestrating al-Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide bombing of the warship off Yemen. His lawyers say his years of torture in CIA custody merits pre-trial review of the case. The Supreme Court could announce Monday whether it will accept the challenge.

    • Trump Becomes First Sitting President to Speak at Hate-Filled ‘Values Voter Summit’

      Advocates of LGBT rights and religious freedom denounced President Donald Trump as he became the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit on Friday. In his speech, Trump assured his supporters that Judeo-Christian religious values would be protected by his administration and pushed the narrative that social conservatives have been under attack in the U.S.

    • Our Fight to Stop Discriminatory Screening Practices at AmeriCorps

      The program’s intrusive health screening forms and guidelines discriminate against people with disabilities.

      Has your employer, school, or volunteer program ever required you to disclose all the medications you are taking – including birth control and antidepressants? Have you been asked if you saw a counselor or if you visited a hospital in the last five years?

      Shockingly, AmeriCorps requires this information – and many more medical details – of all applicants to the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), the federal service program for young people ages 18 to 24. Even worse, it rescinds offers it has given based on the information it receives, even when the applicant is qualified to serve.

      This is what happened to Susie Balcom, who applied to join AmeriCorps NCCC during her last year of college. With a 4.0 GPA, two successful terms with the state AmeriCorps program, and a demonstrated commitment to public service, she received multiple offers from AmeriCorps in April 2017. She accepted a one-year position to serve as a Support Team Leader, which would require her to coordinate logistics and trainings for corps members from the AmeriCorps office in Mississippi, starting in June. Thrilled to be able to serve her country, she made plans to move and postponed the start of her graduate studies.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Supported by Congress, a Federal Judge, Soon to be Supported by the Supreme Court Too?

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 6:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) may ‘rubberstamp’ PTAB pretty soon

William Bryson
Judge William Bryson, by his own words, wonders “whether the Tribe should be joined as a co-plaintiff in this action, or whether the assignment of the patents to the Tribe should be disregarded as a sham.”

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board is still widely defended, except by the patent microcosm which likes (and profits from) patent trolls and litigation Armageddon

THE latest news about immunity [1, 2, 3] from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board is quite positive. The latest news is, politicians have begun intervening. Now judges too are asking ‘funny’ questions, alluding to a “sham” or scam. This judge, as per this report, seems to be reading critical analysis of the anti-PTAB ‘hack’ used by Allergan.

To quote the key passages:

The six patents protect the blockbuster drug Restasis, a treatment for dry eyes which earns $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Generic drug companies have challenged the Restasis patents, through both IPRs and federal court litigation. Allergan agreed to pay the St. Regis Mohawk tribe $15 million annually as long as the patents are alive, because the company believes that the tribe will be immune to IPR under a legal principle known as sovereign immunity.

Allergan’s tactic has come under fire from the tech sector, from Congress, and perhaps soon, from a federal judge.

[...]

The legal battle between Allergan, Teva, Mylan, and two other generic drugmakers came to a head in August 2017, when a week-long bench trial was overseen by US Circuit Judge William Bryson. (Bryson, an appeals court judge at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, was sitting by designation in the Eastern District; this is a common practice for appeals judges to gain trial experience.) Final briefs were filed in the case on September 20, and Bryson has yet to render a decision about whether or not Allergan’s patents are valid and infringed.

[...]

The judge ordered Allergan to provide all documents relating to the patent assignment and ordered both sides to file briefs addressing the question of “whether the Tribe should be joined as a co-plaintiff in this action, or whether the assignment of the patents to the Tribe should be disregarded as a sham.”

Even IAM, a supporter of patent aggressors, is asking ‘funny’ questions like: “How can Allergan grant anyone a license to use Restasis patents when it does not own them?”

Exactly.

The matter of fact is, this entire incident served to discredit not PTAB but those who criticise PTAB and try so hard to dodge it (to the point of exploiting immunity of Native American tribes).

“The matter of fact is, this entire incident served to discredit not PTAB but those who criticise PTAB and try so hard to dodge it (to the point of exploiting immunity of Native American tribes).”Why even mention discreditisation? Because ahead of a SCOTUS case there are many attempts — always by the patent microcosm — to scandalise PTAB in an effort to scuttle it. Watchtroll, for example, continues to attack PTAB almost every day now (this is one of the latest examples). The patent trolls’ lobby, sometimes pretending to be a “blog”, keeps trying to generate negative publicity about PTAB. Here is Watchtroll coming out in defense of patent trolls such as Blackbird Technologies [sic].

Watchtroll is now attacking publications that say the truth about trolls, which are bad, and about PTAB, which is very good because it helps annihilate low-quality patents and trolls.

As expected, Patently-O has common goals with Watchtroll and it continues cherry-picking the unusual cases where the Federal Circuit (however rarely) disagrees with PTAB. Here is the latest:

After being sued for infringing Fast Felt’s U.S. Patent No. 8,137,757, Owens Corning retaliated with a petition for inter partes review. Although the PTO instituted the IPR, the PTAB eventually determined that the claims were not obvious — i.e., that “Owens Corning had failed to show obviousness of any of the challenged claims.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit has reversed — holding that under a proper BRI claim construction, that the claims are obvious.

As a reminder, the Federal Circuit agrees with PTAB about 80% of the time — not a statistic the likes of Watchtroll or Patently-O would wish to share with their readers.

Mind this new upcoming event from the Illinois Institute of Technology. The headline says “The Power of PTAB: The New Authority in Patent Law” and here are some statistics:

This one-day conference examines the rise of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which is on pace in 2017 to set a record of deciding over 2,000 inter partes reviews (IPRs) initiated by parties challenging the validity of existing patents.

The public conference will convene leading patent academics, patent attorneys from law firms and corporations, and PTAB judges to examine many facets of the PTAB’s expanded powers under the America Invents Act, including those related to PTAB procedures, claim construction and decisions. This conference is ideal for all patent attorneys.

PTAB is incredibly popular among technology companies. This is why some of them support campaigns in support of PTAB.

The CCIA’s Josh Landau has in fact just continued (2 days ago) his good series in support of PTAB — an important apparatus which helps eliminate software patents.

From the latest part:

Assuming, as I think will be the case, that IPR survives Oil States and that sovereign immunity doesn’t render IPR ineffective, the question becomes: what’s next? While IPR is a generally fair and effective procedure, what changes could be made to continue to promote IPR’s role as a fair and efficient way to provide a second-level review of issued patents?

[...]

Beyond actions the PTO can take, Congress could improve IPR in a number of ways.

First, in the event that the Supreme Court decides in SAS that the PTO’s interpretation of the statute does not receive deference, Congress could amend the statute to make clear that the PTAB can institute on less than all challenged claims in order to promote efficiency of the proceeding.

Second, with the covered business method (CBM) proceeding sunsetting in the near future, Congress should consider whether to incorporate challenges to subject-matter eligibility, written description, enablement, and indefiniteness into IPR. Expanding IPR to include these types of validity concerns would help petitioners place all their challenges to a patent’s validity into a single place, rather than challenging prior art validity at the PTAB and then challenging the patent’s eligibility and clarity in district court, as is currently the case.

IPR has had a good first five years. In five year’s time, I hope to see a similar post showing how improvements have cemented IPR’s place as an efficient, effective way to adjudicate all forms of patent validity.

As we said before (many times in fact), we expect SCOTUS to defend PTAB and therefore further cement its place in the system. But nothing should be taken for granted.

Patents Are Turning BlackBerry and Nokia, Which Used Android, Into Anti-Android Fronts That Tax Android OEMs

Posted in America, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 4:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When patents are treated like an ‘insurance’ plan for the moment business runs dry

BlackBerry finances

Summary: The Canadian BlackBerry has sued BLU in the US only to compel it to pay ‘protection’ money; Nokia’s patents are being scattered to trolls, which are doing something similar (without risking litigation themselves)

MR. Kokes has left BlackBerry, but his ugly and (self-)destructive legacy remains. It probably won’t be long before BlackBerry’s bankruptcy (maybe a couple of years). What would happen to the company’s trove of patents then? BlackBerry has a very large number of patents. Would these be sold to trolls? BlackBerry’s rise and fall were pretty fast (in relative terms), which means that many patents remain that aren’t expired and can potentially do a lot of damage.

Currently, things are not rosy. It has been pretty grim for a number of years. BlackBerry already operates a bit like a troll. The patent microcosm crafts many misleading terms by which to refer to such behaviour, so the term “troll” is only occasionally used in relation to BlackBerry (some of the mainstream media did this years ago). If only the public knew better what BlackBerry had been reduced to…

“BlackBerry already operates a bit like a troll.”When patent litigation/settlement is being framed as “licensing” and then “technology transfer” (see this new example) it’s difficult to trust the mainstream media. Days ago there were many articles to that effect, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. They were all about BlackBerry and BLU, but the headlines were mostly misleading. The outcome of the trial makes one wonder if the BlackBerry “licensing” campaign is nothing but a cover for blackmail; in other words, maybe the true story is that BlackBerry threatens litigation and when there’s settlement it’s touted as an amicable agreement instead (Microsoft does its blackmail this way). Remember that
BlackBerry uses patents against Android OEMs and even takes litigation down to Texas (BlackBerry is based in Canada).

“BlackBerry is a lost cause. It’s just a pile of patents now.”Here is what Indian media wrote, what Canadian media wrote, and what Android sites wrote yesterday [1, 2]. These mostly repeat the same euphemisms as the press release [1, 2], which went along the lines of “BlackBerry (BBRY) Announces Patent License Agreement with BLU Products”. To quote: “BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY) and BLU Products announced today they have entered into a patent license agreement. This will result in settlement of all existing patent litigation between the two companies and withdrawal of pending actions in the United States. The financial structure of the agreement includes on-going payments from BLU Products to BlackBerry. Additional terms of the agreement are confidential.”

They keep it secret, as usual. This secrecy is intended to help BlackBerry leverage better negotiation power in ‘protection’ money (or “settlement” as they euphemistically call it).

“This secrecy is intended to help BlackBerry leverage better negotiation power in ‘protection’ money (or “settlement” as they euphemistically call it)”BlackBerry is a lost cause. It’s just a pile of patents now. A better coverage said “Here’s How BlackBerry Plans to End Its Patent Dispute With This Google Android Phone Maker” or “BlackBerry details patent deal with Android maker BLU” (Reuters).

Reuters actually wrote not one but two articles about this [1, 2], emphasising the role of Android in the grand scheme of things:

BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) said on Thursday it signed a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Does BlackBerry intend to use this to demand money from many more Android OEMs? “They still own QNX,” one person told me. “It’s a very impressive RTOS.”

“Does BlackBerry intend to use this to demand money from many more Android OEMs?”But it’s competing with Linux and Android.

We are saddened to see not only BlackBerry being reduced to this but also Nokia. Look what Microsoft has turned Nokia into (intentionally, in order to attack rivals). It is connected to MPEG-LA, as explained in
this new report. Apple is being sued by proxy after settling with Nokia:

New patent-holder grabs Nokia patents, sues over Apple iPhones

A patent-holding company that stands to win 12.5 cents for every iPhone sold has filed a new lawsuit (PDF) against Apple.

Ironworks Patents LLC is a patent-enforcement company formed earlier this year, with no apparent business other than filing lawsuits over patents. It’s a business model that’s now decades old, and companies that engage in it are often derided as “patent trolls.”

Yet Ironworks isn’t your everyday patent enforcer. The company has inherited a patent portfolio belonging to MobileMedia Ideas LLC, which has already proven its value. MobileMedia Ideas was a kind of “corporate troll,” majority-owned by a patent pool called MPEG-LA. Minority stakes in MobileMedia were owned by Sony and Nokia, who also provided patents that could be used in lawsuits against other tech companies.

How long before these patents are also used against Android OEMs (if it’s not happening already)? Remember that Microsoft has already passed some of Nokia’s patents to this notorious patent troll.

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is Rotting Like the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A system which would work only for parasites

Unified Patent Court parasites

Summary: The Unitary Patent litigation pipe dreams (or prosecution/trolling fast lane), which Battistelli’s EPO long relied on, turn out to be the road to nowhere

THE purpose of patent offices is to assess the eligibility of applicants’ inventions and decide whether to grant a monopoly on some device or compound (usually not just a mere idea). The purpose of patents isn’t just to cushion the litigation ‘industry’. Everyone knows that.

“The purpose of patents isn’t just to cushion the litigation ‘industry’.”A few days ago a popular US-based blog wrote about patent trial misconduct in the US. We have been covering many examples like this; it’s a timely reminder to those who have blind faith in patent justice. Sometimes only the lawyers win (legal fees). Another failed patent lawsuit in Germany was also reported just before the weekend [1, 2]. It turns out there was no infringement and moreover:

Although ResMed’s products do not infringe, ResMed will continue its challenge of the validity of the German utility model before the German Patent and Trademark Office (GPTO).

Will GPTO and EPO take note? Don’t let patent ‘SLAPP’ like the above happen. Don’t allow spurious litigation, irrespective of the eligibility of a patent (which is still a subject of controversy here). Germany is already being flooded with nuisance (or ‘SLAPP’) litigation and the UPC promised to make things even worse for a lot of companies. SMEs would be hurt the most (cost of litigation).

Thankfully, the UPC is stuck. Just before the weekend, in fact, Mark Engelman published this article (behind paywall) titled, “Is the door closing on the Unified Patent?”

From what’s not behind paywall:

A cloud continues to loom over the implementation of the Unified Patent Convention…

Engelman must be one among many who now realise that timing matters (momentum) and time is running out.

Two days ago this Team UPC blog bemoaned the situation in Ireland. To quote the conclusion/concluding part:

Ireland is one of the few member states of the UP system where a referendum is held as part of the ratification formalities. In Denmark a referendum was held on 25 May 2014. 62.5% of the Danish voters approved joining the UPC. So far, 14 member states have ratified the UPCA. If the UK and Germany ratify as well, the system will start. The UK may complete the ratification process later this year, but in Germany this depends on the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court about the complaint that has been filed against ratification.

It links to this article from the Irish media; it says that the “referendums on the establishment of a Unified Patent Court” have been canceled. Rightly so in fact, for the UPC is a dead project. Here is the relevant bit:

There are a number of referendums omitted from the list.

These include the promised referendums on the establishment of a Unified Patent Court, changes to how the Ceann Comhairle is elected and also a vote on the public ownership of Irish Water.

It is worth noting that the above Team UPC blog no longer names the authors like it used to. Notice how a lot of pro-UPC lobbying is nowadays being published anonymously by UPC boosters. Unitary Patent lies (expectations/predictions that repeatedly turn out to be false) make them look bad. Bristows has said nothing about the subject for weeks (which is very atypical). The above post was promoted by UPC proponents who have dedicated accounts for this purpose, e.g. “UPCtracker” (they’re still hoping), but with no English-speaking countries in the UPC there will be no Unitary Patent (because English is an official language). Expect not much to happen on this front any time before next year.

Lying and Faking Now a Standard Procedure at the European Patent Office

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Diesel emissions scandal
Reference: Diesel emissions scandal

Summary: The European Patent Organisation (EPO) under the leadership (or chairmanship) of Christoph Ernst continues to relay lies from Battistelli’s Office, SUEPO rejects these, the Office lies about SMEs, prioritises Microsoft (again), and probably buys fake Twitter “followers”

THE PAST week was eventful at the EPO because of the relatively secretive meeting of national delegates, who expectedly fulfilled Battistelli’s wishes of French succession. We prefer not to comment any further on that. We sincerely hope that Campinos will surprise his critics and put things back on track, i.e. improve patent quality, bring back the dismissed staff representatives, reinstate the judge from the appeals boards and maybe improve the opposition/appeal process (to improve patent quality). Campinos looks like a decent person and we hope he can grasp the feelings in the minds and hearts of EPO staff. Leadership must do that.

“We sincerely hope that Campinos will surprise his critics and put things back on track, i.e. improve patent quality, bring back the dismissed staff representatives, reinstate the judge from the appeals boards and maybe improve the opposition/appeal process (to improve patent quality).”Yesterday we wrote about the EPO's lies regarding patent quality (intentional lies, measuring the wrong things intentionally). It’s almost as though Christoph Ernst does not care enough about this problem, which SUEPO is again stressing (see what it wrote yesterday in this update). EPO staff is very smart; it’s very difficult to fool these people. They know firsthand about the decline in patent quality and they can also see that assessment tools for quality — as used by Battistelli — are scientifically unsound. It’s insulting to their intelligence. Kieren McCarthy from The Register has criticised these repeatedly. The only ones eager to deny it or refrain from commenting on the matter are the patent microcosm. A few courageous exceptions like Dr. Thorsten Bausch should be commended for breaking that silence.

There are other EPO lies that we cannot help but notice every day this month. This tweet from yesterday, for example, said this: “Share your thoughts on Twitter about the benefits of a strong IP portfolio. Use this hashtag: #IPforSMEs Details: bit.ly/SMEstudies2017 pic.twitter.com/ztioBUZotJ” (the EPO has been posting things like these every day for about a fortnight).

“The EPO totally lacks integrity.”They even came up with that stupid hashtag, #IPforSMEs (remember that the EPO actively DISCRIMINATES against SMEs, based on leaks which show that this was centrally planned). Companies such as Microsoft receive preferential treatment and yesterday the EPO promoted Microsoft’s proprietary formats. “How to file in DOCX format? Find out during this interactive workshop,” it said. As we mentioned/noted the other day, this is just one among many examples of the strong relationship between the EPO and Microsoft, a company with a history of corruption (including, quite notably, in Munich these days). For those who don’t know, Microsoft gives “gifts” to the Mayor of Munich and hires a firm to do fake “consulting” and help undermine GNU/Linux (LiMux). Microsoft has tried hard to undermine LiMux for many years (without success).

Much of this is only to be expected from the Office that became accustomed to lying and faking (e.g. ‘evidence’ against staff, performance, and even Twitter following; notice how the proportion of fake Twitter followers of the EPO has grown. Compare earlier this year to the latest).

“These are already-debunked claims (lies) from the EPO, but in Latin America it’s apparently credible enough to be worth citing.”The EPO totally lacks integrity. Yesterday the EPO also retweeted this thing about SMEs. It just links to the EPO as ‘evidence’. These are already-debunked claims (lies) from the EPO, but in Latin America it’s apparently credible enough to be worth citing.

Yesterday the EPO went further than painting patents as an “SME” thing; it painted these as academic or “university”, failing to explain that patents are assigned (not “owned” as the EPO put it). Moreover, when public money supports universities (as is often the case) patents as such should be verboten. They privatise something which should be given back to the public free of barbwire.

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